Hi, again from the whole of Taphouse- it has been far too long, hasn’t it?
Do not fear! Our apparent blog-based apathy has not trickled into other elements of the production- our artists are working as frantically as ever! Posters, walkthroughs, talkthroughs, dreams, schemes, and designs abound- your dramablogaturg just had his finals week for his first quarter at grad school and has now been reduced to a blubbering mess who only speaks in the third person.
He thinks he’ll be fine.
So what have we been up to? Posters, scrawlings, measurings, conceptualizings, and dreaming. Mostly enough reading and planning to sink a ship. Jennifer (read as: Fearless Director) is preblocking and working closely with designers on creating the world in which our actors (read as: TBD) will bring Kiki’s amazing words to life.
So why post now?
Last week we I sat around a table with two directors, two producers, and one playwrights and we spent the night talking through the text. What did we learn? We love this play. Never apologize. Tugboats.
I asked Fearless Director to meet with me and Kiki and so, clustered around a table within blocks of the theatre we plan on invading this Spring, we simply talked text. This, as Fearless Director was ready to point out, is my favorite part of the process.
Any sound and engaging telling of any text needs to be well considered. All choices must be deliberate and motivated by the text. This is not to say that I suggest all decisions related to design and performance need to be immediately echoed in the script’s ink- simply that when we make a decision that will impact the storytelling, it needs to be made with the purpose of furthering the story. Red curtains make look great but do they move the story along? Even if there is no evidence in a careful reading of the text to support one curtain color over another, you- an artists armed with available evidence- there is evidence to suggest what one color or cut will do to other colors on stage. The dramaturg poses questions and insists that they all have answers and that all answers come back to the text (even if that is to suggest a glaring gap or confusion in the text).
How do ideas interact? How do they do battle on the page? Which idea do you want to win? How will that image come about its victory? Whose story is this? What is “villainy” in this world and who, therefore, is our “villain?” Is there justice in the play? Where does fear live? What is certain and what is unknown? What are we missing? What is overly abundant? How do we elaborate on the text? How do we deliberately contradict the text? Who is your favorite Z (and why)? What is your favorite X (and why)? What confuses you? What brings you joy?
As with democracy in the grandest sense, if we create a culture of constant questioning, then we create one of constant attention.
Alone, late- pouring over the script for the ten thousandth time as an actor or sharpening the seventeenth HB pencil you have sacrificed to the Costume Rendering Gods… what keeps you sharp? What keeps it new and alive and motivates every decision you make? Even just the mere act of questioning a text awakens something of the artist in all of us.
The greatest art that ever was is simply one artist asking another something unanswerable and then attempting an answer.
Kiki asked a question of Anton Chekhov. What that question is may be wholly irrelevant to us. Simply that she asked created a germ which we now seek to nurture into a fully realized production.
So we played question and answer and these answers begot more questions and at the end of it we, technically, knew nothing more- but, instead, we had an idea of what to ask next of our actors, designers, marketers, producers, our writer, and even of me.