At The Center of ZooZoo

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3rd, 2009 by jerry

What makes FROGZ and Biglittlethings so popular?  Sure the images are great. The masks are intriguing.  The lighting and music are wonderful.  Yet what really grabs the audience?  I think if we had a snap answer to that question we could be rich (and we’re not.)  If we had a snap answer to that question, we could be the new Disney (and we’re not.)

All I know is that for each piece, we searched for a human condition phenomena or “bit of business” or situation that resonated with most of the planet.  Yes, that’s right, with most of the planet. Perhaps that is why so much of what we created  landed on the of the cutting room floor. Pieces, which qualify this standard, exhibit at the center something about the human experience.

Here’s a quick stab at what I believe is at the center of each piece in ZooZoo (opens April 10th.)

Polar Bears  Breaking the barrier between the real world and the fantastic is a great mischief. The stage is a  sacred place, but the bears destroy it. 

Bug Eyes  Childhood memories of bugs and snakes and the magic of a summer night. The mystical time when the sun sets just right before you have to go inside.

Anteaters Hunger manifested by very long tongues.

Frogs  All of us have trouble keeping up with peers who seem to always jump higher, no matter how hard we try.

Rabbits  First you’re an animal, then you’re the one watching the animal, then, you’re the animal again. Rabbit Zen.

Paper Bag The phenomena of knowing inanimate objects are not real, yet seeing that the inanimate is more real than reality itself.

Hippos  Marriage, insomnia and domesticity relived through the body of some very heavy hippos.

Dress Caper  The abstract clown world. Don’t know why we like it, but things that are funny and transformational and absurd – we long for.

Penguins  Sure it’s musical chairs, but when played by penguins, it’s a battle for who can win in the ongoing struggle to be best.  The human condition on ice.

Paper  Flair, imagery, choreography and finally the unmasking. Who are the people behind those masks? The magic revealed and yet maintained.

That Special Something

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2nd, 2009 by carol

The Casting of FROGZ and Biglittlethings

We hold auditions for FROGZ and Biglittlethings both in New York and in Portland.  Who we cast is always a combination of an interesting array of skills.  In a few instances, I have watched some people who were working at Imago in administrative roles and asked them to audition.  By watching them move I could tell they had that something special.  They might not have had any theater or performance background what so ever. In one case the person was very reluctant to consider.  I asked her repeatedly to come to workshops.  She finally put some of her inhibitions aside and took the plunge.  She hugged the walls, she never volunteered to step out and perform. I pushed her. When she did perform her inhibitions were so strong that she flipped to the opposite and her will to perform overtook her fears. To make a long story short within seven years she became our lead performer and her talents excelled in mask theater.  Her debut on Broadway with FROGZ was highly acclaimed by the press.

That old saying you can’t teach talent is true.  You can’t.  In these shows were looking for, as we use to write in the auditions notices,  the depth of an actor, the timing of a comedian, and the grace of a dancer. All those attributes are very true.  Funny thing is you could have taken 6 years of drama classes, 5 years of comedy classes and 12 year of dance and not have “it.”  Experience doesn’t give you those talents, but it will do one of two things – either give you bad habits and techniques if you have the wrong exposure and teachers, or with the right exposure and teachers, study can make you better.

So next time, you see an Imago audition and think to yourself, I’ve never done anything like that – remember that’s who we might be looking for.

ZooZoo, the best of FROGZ and Biglittlethings, opens April 10th.