Valleys and Mountains

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20th, 2009 by jerry

It’s 3:07 AM and I can’t sleep. Why? Because at rehearsal I climbed a mountain, got to a valley and tomorrow will climb another mountain. Theatre is scaling, climbing and short breath. I hear it’s different in Poland where the arts are heavily subsidized. In Poland, the valleys and mountains must be spread out with their long rehearsal periods lasting months, maybe years. Here in the United States we gotta hike rough to rich artistic gold. Whether I am working at a large regional theatre, or at our comfortable little niche of a laboratory at Imago, the valleys and mountains are plentiful.

3 Weeks before opening – Climbing, climbing trying to find a clear view of the play, been at it for weeks.  Weeks to go before I sleep.

2 1/2 Weeks before opening – Climbing. Do I see the clearing? Is there something here? Maybe that’s a shape ahead! Or a mirage? No, it’s a shape! A shape! I’ve find form!

(small valley of hope, start again at dawn)

12 Days before opening – Climbing the great wall of technology. Complex design! Ouch! (the curse of a designer/director.) Climb color palate, climb style, climb all the senses. Climb the silences.

11 Days before opening – Harsh awful steep terrain, the sound design is killing me.

10 Days before opening – Almost fell off, the multimedia is treacherous and deadly.

9 Days before opening –Walking in the dark. I don’t think I’ll I make. Why did I start this journey?

8 Days before opening – Oh ?%!#, the lighting, do I have to design everything? Why do I do this myself?

7 Days before opening – What happened? I’m at a clearing. How the hell did I get here? The techno mountain fell away. The play is not 3 hours long. It’s under an hour? How the ?%!# did that happen?

(small valley, tomorrow I go on, pray for me)

And so it goes.

Maybe being American we see art like business — as mountains and valleys. Maybe the Poles see it as one long horizon with no end in sight. mmm? ….I doubt it.

The Cuban Missile Tango opens Aug 17 (in 7 days, yikes!)

The Chemistry of Economy

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14th, 2009 by jerry
My next show The Cuban Missile Tango opens in less than two weeks.  I’ve have 1500 movements, two pages of streaming overhead supertitles, sound fx blasts here and there and an abstraction of a story of a world crisis. I feel like Michelangelo trying to find the sculpture in the stone (let me take a moment here to say I by no means place myself near any rank with this master.)  What I’m trying to say is that  the theatre I create is always discovered through a “reduction.” Skimming away the fat to finding the economy of the soup. Taking away what isn’t necessary to let the crystal shine.  After weeks of meticulous staging I am at the point where I need to be a delicate surgeon.   Cut too deeply and the patient (the show) suffers. To lightly and it’s overburdened with excess. Economy in theatre is an art. Sometimes I find this economy before a show opens. Sometimes never. It’s like a puzzle with too many parts.  First you must get rid of the pieces that don’t fit and then fit the puzzle together.  The tricky part is knowing what the puzzle is.
At this juncture, I am battling, as always, between narrative and non-narrative.  Too much narrative and the piece is laden with exposition. Not enough story and the work is all abstraction.  The Cuban missile crisis was a complex event.  With my dramaturg, Mona Huneidi, we distilled  the outline of the events to a Reader’s-Digest-Hollywood-version. Now I know why so many movies about historical events are flat.  It’s too difficult to reveal history in the short period of a film or a play. Hopefully, what will lift The Cuban Missile Tango is that so much of what I’ve staged is movement and dance.  The form lifts away from the narrative to create that which is, well, hard to say it any other way - performance.   In performance, the story and narrative pull away from its source and become something else.
Remember this is not The Cuban missile crisis, this is The Cuban Missile Tango.
The show plays Aug 27, 28, & 29 @ 7:30; and Aug 30 @ 2:00 (these are the correct dates, our website has not been updated.)