Post-show discussion – Sunday, August 20

hpim0366.jpgWe had a wonderful group in attendance on Sunday – our good friend and advisor Sandra invited everyone she knows to fill the house and join us for a reception before the show and discussion afterwards (including another backstage tour – Anish is demonstrating the lighting effects on the back of the cyc in the picture on the right. Or possibly he’s making a shadow-dog). We had champagne and cookies as we mingled in the lobby before the performance, and got to spend a good amount of time meeting audience members and talking about the show and the season.

In the discussion, we talked about many of the same issues that had come up in previous discussions – the absence of Simon in the script, the joy of working with Rebecca Gilman during the rehearsal process, the tablework and research that the actors begin the process with, and the personal effects on the actors of exploring these issues through the characters. If you missed it a few posts ago, Emily started a great discussion online about this last topic.

hpim0365.jpgWe talked a lot about the difference between responding to racism on an individual level (i.e. one person struggling with their own conscious or unconscious racism, or struggling with someone who expresses racist thoughts) versus responding to racism in the context of an institution (i.e. a school administration dealing with the abstract idea of racism without addressing the individual concerns of those involved). There were different opinions about how believable the actions of the faculty were – some audience members felt that each faculty member would have reacted in a more personal way to the racism that appears at Belmont College, while others felt that the defensive posturing of the administration made sense in the context of a school that prides itself on being a liberal and inclusive community.

hpim0364.jpgThe conversation continued after we had ended the formal discussion – Anish led a small but excited group of people back to the dressing rooms and backstage area, I took a few pictures and had another glass of champagne (which may explain the quality of the later pictures), and our dramaturg Cheryl talked to audience members whose curiosity held them in the theater.

There’s only two weeks left – if you haven’t made it out to see the show yet, please make plans to join us here. And feel free to get involved with the discussion here online even if you haven’t seen the show yet.

2 Responses

  1. To further the earlier discussion. What do you mean by “tablework” before you even start the production? What kind of information are you looking for and where do you look? And how much/often does the dramaturg come into the individual character studies?

    Thanks for the responses on the earlier post! I’m glad to see the actors are actively involved in the blogs.

  2. Sorry for not responding sooner, Emily.

    “Tablework” is simply work that’s done at a table. Okay, well actually sometimes it’s done on couches and big comfy chairs, but most of the time there’s a table involved somehow.

    Each director has a different process – mine is to read through each scene individually (I’ll create “scene” distinctions in a play where there aren’t breaks in the action, just so we have manageable chunks to work with) and ask a lot of questions at the end of each scene; questions about the characters’ backgrounds, the elements of their relationships that aren’t clear from the dialogue, the historical/geographic/philosophical context of the play, etc. I try to mostly lead this discussion, which can take anywhere from a few hours to a week depending on the script, but I also encourage actors to ask questions of me, of themselves and of each other.

    Usually the dramaturg is actively involved with this part of the process – they’ve spent a lot of time by this point researching the time period, the social climate, the relevant historical information, etc., and it’s important to have their insights as we’re doing this work. The dramaturg will also be available to answer questions or research specific things that come up anytime during rehearsals, though they may not actually be present at rehearsals much after those first few days.

    I’m not necessarily looking for “answers” during this early part of the process – it’s more important in my mind to know that we’re actively thinking about the questions and starting to create the framework we need to go through the rest of the rehearsal process. Ultimately, we’re making choices about who these people are and what this story we’re telling is, and taking the time to do this “tablework” at the beginning helps to ensure that our choices are the ones that best tell the story.

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