Monday, July 02, 2007

Cock-a-doodle-do you feel it?

We had our reading of The Skriker by Caryl Churchill this Sunday and it went very nicely. It's a hell of a script. It's not easy to breeze through. The actresses reading the Skriker, Josie and Lily did a great job wrapping their lips around the words and the story. I think and hope they walked away with a disturbed feeling, an injection of healthy brain food and a desire to speak in riddles.

I directed The Skriker when I was a senior at Michigan State University during the fall of 1998, so it's been almost 10 years since I've heard it outloud. A lot of the staging came rushing back to me ... I remembered my actors' deliveries and movements and silently gave them props again while I heard the new voices. To take on such a challenge and go down to the Underworld each night while taking classes, having other rehearsals, having college dramas, etc was a huge commitment and I'm so thankful that the people committed to the project back in that day. It was really hard, there were a lot of tears, a lot of discussions, a few arguments, a few cast replacements, a few friendships made and ended, but ... that time and the play has stuck with me. I'm elated to come back to the story again and the previous experience under my belt will really help me this time through as a director.

The Skriker could be directed a million different ways and still bring people salivating for more.

Listening to the actors read this time around, I was struck by how much tablework this play will require. Which is great because I could talk about this play until the cows come home. Each line can be discussed, researched and deciphered ... my actors will need to be willing to do their research, grab from their deepest emotional places, take huge risks and can't be afraid. This script is a lightning bolt that needs to be grasped with both hands and the actor needs to be able to take the charge of being a conductor for it. I'm happy that I've had close to ten years to obsess on the script because the actors will be able to use me as a resource, but they're going to need to embrace and make their own discoveries of the faerieworld and the ether as well. Or at least understand it and do their research of its history. Wolves, snow and 1066. New Orleans voodoo. American Gods and Ghosts. And once the tablework's done, we'll go to town and it'll be amazing.

I'm going to have an audition in the late Fall for performers. I'll be looking for underlying acting experience, but I'm going to allow the performers to show me their individual talents in five minutes ... so, if you're a fire-breather, poi spinner, stilt walker, knife thrower, gymnast, dancer, aerial artist, performance artist, musician, vocalist, etc ... I'm interested in collaborating with you on this project. You'll get to come play in the Underworld and Urban Nightmare. You know that "Additional/Special Skills" section of your resume? That's going to be what I look at first when you hand over your headshot and resume.

We had the reading for A View from the Bridge last week and it's really interesting to compare the straight scripts and their accessibility to the actor. Miller really lays it out and makes it easy for the readers ... the stage directions are firmly there, beats laid out, identifiable characters, well-written exposition. The Skriker's the polar opposite. There are historical faerie creatures that not many people have heard of (Rawheadandbloodybones, Black Annis, Jenny Greenteeth, etc.) and they're present during the scenes but are given very little direction from the playwright. Churchill sets the scene with as few words as possible, which allows the recreators of the script a lot of freedom to build their own exposition, their own through-stories, their own blocking.

Next season is going to be a lot of fun and I'm glad that we're giving the theatre company enought time to do its backwork because both plays are going to require a good deal of it. I'm going to write a little later about how our producing/directing is going to change and the steps we're going to follow moving forward with our theatre company.

We're expecting a lot out of our collaborators ... we always have, but we've raised the bar again. I like standing on my tippy-toes and reaching for that bar. I hope that those who want to work with us will feel the same.

"The Skriker" will be performed in Spring 2008. "A View from the Bridge" will be performed in January 2008 at Stage Left Theatre.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

In all my fear, joy, strength, weakness and hope, I know The Skriker will be what we want it to be. We must be fearless leaders and demand that the ship sinks deep down in to the black earth where we will all reach the rich bedrock to lie and dance upon. This is how the Skriker must feel when she thinks of the children she could have had and have had. I know that the homework will be done. Let's get together next week and play with some Brian Froud books. ~Lz

Anonymous said...

The dramaturgy of this script is so emmense and exciting. I hope you find a way to share the experience. I remember doing research for this show back in the day (I've forgotten most of it). Awesome stuff.

dv

GreyZelda said...

LZ -

Froud time will be had and will not be froud upon. (OK - that was the worst joke.)

That was a beautiful metaphor, my dear.

dv - I agree. I'll think about that ... either by posting thoughts online where people can discuss it ... we could have a field day with the opening paragraph alone ... or just getting a group of people together to start dissecting.

Have a great 4th!

rz