Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lyonesse Under the Sea

Lisa Wilson and I have begun work on dissecting and discussing The Skriker by Caryl Churchill. She will be playing the shape shifter and is wonderful at wanting to get as much research in as possible. She's one of the most dedicated actors I've had the pleasure to work with and it's going to be incredible helping her shape and become the role. Lisa played Morse in One Flea Spare, which was GreyZelda's first production in Chicago and, during the rehearsal process, we went to T's Bar and Grill, I told her about The Skriker and how it's been one of my favorite plays since I directed it in college. I promised her that evening that if we ever did The Skriker, I would love her to consider playing the role. The time has come to do the show ... she's available and I can't think of another artist I would want to work on with this other than the talented LZ.

We started the initial meeting by watching the old video of my 1998 production performed at Michigan State University ... there were many things we laughed about ... for example, she thought I was kidding when I said I used Studio 54 as an inspiration, but when the party struck up in the Underworld midway through the play and the disco music started blaring and the disco ball started sparkling, she realized that, yes, indeed I went for a Studio 54 theme ... ah ... college. I was really into (and still am) the subject of "glamour" which a faerieworld creature can put on and off so blending 70's party culture with the dionysian splendour of the Skriker's cast of characters seemed perfect to me ... plus you had the drug culture, rampant sex and fabulous polyester clothing.

There were a few things from my initial blocking that I may end up exploring more, but a lot of it will be sparkling and brand new with the new cast. GreyZelda really likes its actors and we try to cast people that will really bring a sense of originality and exploration to the process, so there's going to be tons of room to play and create scenes around the performer's individual talents.

Lisa also brought over a ton of Faerie books ... oodles of Froud, history and stories ...

We started going through the Srikers's first monologue and broke down its meaning. We only got as far as the first page because there's so much in there and we loved spending as much time on a single word and idea as we wanted to ... there's so much time to explore, at this point, that we're taking full advantage of it. We first discussed the initial feelings and images from the line then we started researching and coming up with historical backing and logical conclusions. Right and left brain conversations.

"Heard her boast beast a roast beef eater, daughter
could spin span spick and spun the lowest form of
wheat straw into gold, raw into roar, golden lion
and lyonesse under the sea, dungeonesse under the
castle for bad mad sad adders and takers away.
Never marry a king size well beloved. Chop chip
pan chap finger chirrup chirrup cheer up off with
you're making no headway. Weeps seeps deeps her
pretty puffy cream cake hole in the heart operation.
Sees a little blackjack thingalingo with a long long
tale awinding. May day, she cries, may pole axed
me to help her. So I spin the sheaves shoves
shivers into golden guild and geld and if she can't
guessing game and safety match my name then I'll
take her no mistake no mister no missed her no
mist no miss no me no. Is it William Gwylliam
Guillaume? It is John Jack the ladder in your
stocking is it Joke? Is it Alexander Sandro Andrew
Drewsteignton? Mephistopheles Toffeenose
Tiffany's Timpany Timothy Mossycoat? No
't ain't, says I, no tainted meat me after the show
me what you've got. Then pointing her finger says
Tom tit tot! Tomtom tiny tot blue tit tit! Out of her
pinkle lippety loppety, out of her mouthtrap, out
came my secreted garden flower of my youth and
beauty and the beast is six six six o'clock in the
morning becomes electric stormy petrel bomb.
Shriek! shrink! shuck off to a shack, sick, soak,
seek a sleep slope slap of the dark to shelter skelter
away, a wail a whirl a world away.

Slit slat slut. That bitch a botch an itch in my
shoulder blood. Bitch botch itch. Slat itch slit
botch. Itch slut bitch slit."

I'm not going to share all the discoveries publicly, but just know that in that bit of loveliness there's talk of Arthur and Guinnevere and a country below the sea, betrayal, cranky Rumplestiltskin, vaginas, castration, newborn and dead babies, the antichrist, hospital terrors and a healthy dose of types of food and what you can do with said food. So much fun to play with, my friends.

When we were done, Lisa said, "Was that as good for you as it was for me?"

And I said, "Totally, dudarina."

She and I are going to meet weekly until we feel absolutely satisfied with everything ... what's wonderful about this type of language is that we can think one way on one day and then wake up the next day and have a brand new discovery and idea. It's the type of stuff that we can totally geek out on and have way too much fun putting our heads in books and studying.

If you'd like to contribute any thoughts on the language and the play, please feel free ... I'll take everything into my discussions with Lisa and we'll add it to this amazing time of learning and, for me, relearning ... I've taken so much time away from the script ... it's been almost ten years ... that talking with Lisa has provided tons of new insight.

(Posted by Rebecca Zellar)


Anonymous said...



Tony said...

Wow early start.

GreyZelda said...

Yes, it is early, but by the time we hold auditions for the other 14 roles, Lisa will be an expert with her Skriker monologues so when we start rehearsals, we won't have to spend all the time dissecting those bits of script while the other actors are discovering. She'll be able to offer her assistance and guidance with any questions they might have on the lines.

Part of the reason we took a little bit of a break this year was because we felt like we weren't giving ourselves the time needed to really get a show up with all the bases covered - we're proud of what we did last year, but there was an underlying, competitive pressure to endlessly produce that we were putting on ourselves. We're not currently committed to doing shows right now, so both Chris and I are able to figure out all the background stuff needed to really get a show on sturdy feet once the rehearsal/production process starts. Chris has been having a lot of wonderful coversations about "View" with our designers and it's giving everyone a sense of "time" which has been really helpful.

Plus we were able to step back and take a few huge breaths that we really, really needed.