Post-show discussion – Sunday, August 13

We had a fantastic discussion Sunday, with a majority of the audience sticking around to ask questions. It was one of those discussions that could have gone on for hours, although I’ll try to keep the summary here short.

We started off with a conversation on the different choices that each production makes with the same script (several audience members had seen the premiere of Spinning into Butter at the Goodman Theatre in 1999, and were curious about the differences between their show and ours). Each time a play is produced, it’s being produced by a unique group of artists guided by a director with a unique vision; a personal connection to the words on the page. Because of this, every production is inherently unique.

We talked about some of the specific choices that are different here – the little moments that the actors and director find (like Burton Strauss massaging Catherine Kenney’s shoulders, a moment of intimacy and connection that’s not in the script but developed during the rehearsal process). We talked about the differences in the script – Rebecca Gilman had made minor changes to the play after its premiere, and she tweaked some of the dialogue during our rehearsal process. Some of this was to keep the play contemporary (an inter-office memo became an e-mail, for example), and some of it was because the story simply evolves over time – the final moment of the play has become more complex and, I think, more hopeful than it was in the original version.

This production is also very different from past productions because of the physical reality of the space we’re in; the upstairs studio at Victory Gardens is a small space, and the sixty or so people in the audience feel very much a part of the action on stage. Where the Goodman production needed to be big and broad to be understood in a large theater, here we can be (have to be, in fact) more intimate, more personal, smaller. A few audience members commented on this, with one woman describing the sense of visceral discomfort that she felt at certain points in the story.

We spent a lot of time talking about the relevance of the play – both when it was first produced, in 1999, and today. The issues of racism, political correctness, identity and ethnicity are important and sometimes divisive, and they’re as relevant today as they were seven years ago (and certainly much earlier than that). One audience member commented that he hoped the play would be seen as a museum piece at some point in the future, no longer relevant to contemporary audiences.

For now, it’s a good way to start having some important and honest conversations that make us all feel a little bit uncomfortable.

 

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2 Responses

  1. Can you expand on the differeneces between the Goodman’s production of “Spinning” and Eclipse’s? I saw your version but did not see the Goodman’s and would be interested in hearing a little more about the differences, or at least where I could read more about them. Are there archived reviews of the Goodman’s performance that are easily accessable or does the dramaturg have information on this? I understand that every time a show is produced it is drastically different but I would like to hear more on this.

  2. I didn’t see the Goodman production either (I’m one of the many who couldn’t get tickets), so I can’t really talk about the differences myself. From what I’ve heard, it was in a much larger space, which usually leads to less subtle work from the actors (and that’s not to say it’s worse or better, but if you have a bigger room to fill, you gotta be bigger to fill it). There were also some script changes, and, as you said, every time a different group of artists works with a script they make it their own.

    I’ve also heard that the production at the Lincoln Center (about the same time as the Goodman, I think) in New York was staged on a very bare set, which I think would be very different. I think the set that Kevin Scott designed for our production becomes a character in this show – its weight, history, and beauty are intimidating and important to the development of Sarah Daniels’s character especially.

    I’ll check with Cheryl, our dramaturg, and/or look for some info online about the Goodman and other productions, and if I can find something I’ll post it in the comments here.

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