Saturday, November 01, 2008

New show, new process

As with each new Stolen Chair collective creation, Theatre Is Dead and So Are You, presents us with a radically new rehearsal challenge, one which our past productions have prepared us for only insofar as they have helped us build a language to talk about what's working and what's not. Stepping into the lab today with Stolen Chair veterans Alexia, Liza, David, Emily, and Kiran, all I really knew with any conviction was that I wanted to push our characterizations to stylized grotesques and I wanted to use elements of Commedia dell'Arte to test and develop bits that will eventually become "acts" in our vaudevillian funeral.

I've been working with Alexia and David for more than 4 years now and Liza for over 2.  Cackled my ass off though as they surprised me again and again and again today.  We spent the first half of rehearsal attacking character from a few different angles: from prose descriptions, from photographs, outside-in, inside-out, upside-down and everything in between.  Tried to capture it all on video but they had the nerve to let their impulses take them out of frame.  How dare they!

After lunch (during which I decided that my clothes just didn't have enough black bean sauce on them), we came back to lazzi and concetti, some fun throwbacks to my Commedia training.  What's pretty funny here, though, is that I think this developmental process will more closely mirror Commedia training than our masked Commedia dell'Artemisia.  As of this moment, I imagine most of the elements that will eventually find their way into the script and onto the stage at the Connelly this January will begin their lives as improvised Commedia-esque scenarios.  While Stolen Chair actors have always collaborated intensely on the playwriting and directing processes of our productions, offering compositions to create plots, physical worlds, kinesthetic dynamics and more, Kiran has never had the opportunity to script with quite so much support from improvising performers and the only other project on which I've been able to cull my staging from moments of actorly inspiration has been Kinderspiel.  

Theatre is dead.  Long live theatre.

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