Sunday, June 1, 2008

Staging Memory and Exploring Space

The Bluest Water is a memory play. In a film, traveling through time is done by simply fading from the past to the present through editing. On stage memory can be handled in many ways. The beauty of theatre is that it is an art form of imagination. The theatrical space is more malleable than film. Film provides you all the information you view. This can be fantastical and magical but what you see is what there is. The theatre space is more subjective. The magic of theatre is that the convention allows the audience to actively participate in the creation of time and space.

This doesn't look like much right now (three actors standing in place reading scripts), but this bit of video comes from an early blocking rehearsal of The Bluest Water. Each of the actors will be isolated by a pool of light. The acting space will be malleable with location and time, moving us from memory to the present and back again. Here Jared (Ken Parks) moves from a scene with his wife (Sally Southall) in the present and returns to a conversation he had with a police officer (Thomas Bell) earlier that week about a former patient of his who committed suicide earlier that night. The police officer will be on a raised platform about two feet above the ground. In the back is Nathan (Michael Stablein), the patient, and he too is raised above the ground on a scenic element of debris that stretches across the upstage portion of the stage.

Our set is specific in look and feel but it is not specific to location. This means that we move from location to location and time to time by engaging the audience in this activity. The space is flexible. We change location through the placing of chairs and the actors relationship to the space and each other. We move through time through light and sound and by actually seeing the memories come to life and moving through the space. "Seeing" what the characters recall and what haunts them.

I love working in a malleable space. I think it is what is so exciting about the live form. The audience participates in the action. Where we are and what we are watching is informed by the action of the actors, the visual and aural cues of the designs, and by the engagement of the audience's imagination. Very exciting. Stay tuned for some video of our work with some of the sound design.

Now a little on R and J and their staging process...

Here is director Bill Kershner looking down from the balcony of Benedict. Today the cast of Romeo and Juliet moved outside and began staging the show on the space.

Bill (aka Dad) has discovered the importance of being in the physical space as much as possible during the staging process. This is such a unique setting for the play and trying to problem solve and explore in a mocked rehearsal space would still leave many unanswered questions. Rehearsing in the space creates an organic and practical process. It is also energizing. Envisioning what this will become with an audience watching is very exciting.

The process continues!

Geoffrey Kershner
Endstation Blogger and Artistic Director

1 comment:

Will Shakespeare said...

You guys are working hard to put on Romeo and Juliet outdoors - there is some irony in that because we were working hard to get it indoors. We were stuck opening at the Curtain because of some kickback scheme Burbage had with Hunsdon, but the plan always was to get out of that rat trap and move into Blackfriars. That bombed because the neighbors were too respectable to have actors in their neighborhood, so they got a fancy lawyer to block it. Too bad, because the balcony was first rate in Blackfriars, though not as good as yours - brick, no less with pillars! Burbage lost a ton of money on Blackfriars, which cheered me up a little, though he would stick me for the tab at the Cross Keys claiming he was poor.