About half the way through Act IV, Irina, one of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, lays her head on Olya’s chest, and tells everyone how sad she is that she knows nothing about the universe. She laments her place in the frightening and all-consuming Nothing and, then, she proclaims that to work will be to live. And so she must work and create… even if all she makes is but a shadow of Something.
This week, the team at Copious Love Productions announced auditions for Kiki Penoyer’s Taphouse, simultaneously an adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters and a modern prose-poem lamenting the modern existential crisis. How very grandiose… and maybe I’ve missed the point.
The play is an adaptation, sure. It is a beautiful and elegiac contemplation of itself and of what it means to truly fear your future. At its core, however, it is something so much more pure, so less… apart from its audience. Much more a part of the simple lives of the artists around the production table, and those we are soon inviting into our fold.
This last Monday night, we had a production meeting.
On the recommendation of our Assistant Director, Cady, #TeamTaphouse gathered in the cold concrete basement of the Dexter and Hayes Public House. Clustered between red columns, reaching at pint after pint and digging at piles of cheesy potatoes, we talked.
There’s been a lot of this, hasn’t there? I mean, on this blog. Since before Thanksgiving we have been meeting and drinking and talking about the world of Taphouse. Who are these people? What story are we telling? What story matters most? How do we tell our story? …Chekhov’s story? …Kiki’s story? …Jenn’s story?
A lot of theoretical-this and ethereal-that has passed between the members of the production team and this has done wonders in setting the tone for our work. Around the rickety tables, watching winter yield unto springtime sunsets, we began translating questions of “What?” and “Why?” to “How?”
The team (a playwright, properties designer, costume designer, fight choreographer, beer-wizard (be excited), business manager, executive director, artistic director, assistant director, regular director, ad infinitum [oh! and me, one dramaturg]) gathered to bear witness to a laundry list of calendars and deadlines, processes and tactics. What do we need to do? Secure sets, stage elements, props, outfits, and actors.
Hypotheticals and the great unknown Nothing have given way to work.
This is a vital transition all productions have to engage with, making dreams and ideas into something people can walk on. Auditions, as mentioned, are posted and we would be remiss to not build a world for the rest of our team (our cast) to inhabit, to tell the collective’s story. What makes this process unique is that Taphouse has never been fully-produced before. No one has ever built anything.
Implicit in the act of building, of working on a show, is knowing what that show is. So this week, for the first time in over three years, the script became “locked.” On the 11th Kiki turned in a final draft of Taphouse to allow designers and technicians to make their lists and plans. Kiki’s work is done, and will be passed along to the rest of the team… this of course doesn’t mean we’re done writing, but that is a story for another
day blog post.
How very complicated. How very fun! How very fitting for the world the playwright has conceived.
There are ideas, and there is fear of the future. There is Nothing and there is Ambition and Abstraction. And, so, we must work so that this play can live.
Audition. Work with us.