After two days of rehearsal for The Cuban Missile Tango I find that plates, cigars and keys are giving me inspiration. Early in the process of this movement, dance, mime, vaudeville play-without-word, it’s the action that gives it the drive. I have these headlines in my head, which I don’t reveal to the performers. These headlines will be projected like a teletype onto the set. The first one is something like “New Years Day, 1959: Fidel Castro overthrows brutal dictator Fulbencio Batista to liberate Cuba. Castro’s world-wide celebrity intensifies.” My actors are at a party, a dozen men and women finishing a meal, wait staff come and go, bits of business fill the scene. In my mind I see the headline, but how to bring it to life at the party? What will make it interesting for the audience (and for me.) Soon I have one actor tell a story of his climb in a business scheme, the group cheers – this all with music blasting, thus the audience can’t hear specific dialogue only the gist of the scene. I am not interested in narrative, but action.
But still how do I drive it forward? The party celebrates the businessman hero. I add dance/movement. It’s getting better, but no spark. Then I discover what I’m after – the plates. The glass plates at the dinner party! I work a movement sequence were plates are handled by the ensemble, they move here, there, fly, dart in a dangerous sequence. The plates look like they are executing guests. Now the muse has struck (will she stay around?) With the movement, the plates, the choreography, the unintelligible voices and the overhead teletype – I’m getting close to what I’m after.
What am I after? An event – a party – that resembles and takes the shape of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Rational men, if you can all them that, came very close to ending the world. Thus, a party that comes dangerously close to ending the lives of all that are present. But I can’t rely on that motivation alone, thus the plates. Yea, for the plates! The plates give it metaphor, and give it spice and lift.
I will continue to work with more headlines tonight. I’m having the prop master bring in cigars and keys.
The Cuban Missile Tango opens end of August at Imago Theatre.