the 2 greatest democrats of my lifetime on stage together.
Here’s Bill Clinton’s fantastic speech last night.
I used to underestimate the power of images in creative process. I didn’t know what I was missing.
I first started to figure it out during my set design class in graduate school. Designing sets was completely foreign to me. As anyone who has worked with me knows, generally I focus first on the performances and the text and work upwards to set requirements which tend to be minimal in this grassroots attempt.
But this was a different exercise. A fascinating exercise. If you have unlimited money and resources, what would you do? My wonderful teacher told us to focus on research, specifically, the compilation of images which spoke to you in some ways about the script we were reading.
In doing this, I developed this little google image game I would play. I would go into google images and search for, say “snow + boat,” and that would give me a bunch of images, I’d find some interesting stuff. And a polar bear might randomly end up in one. Interesting. Ok, “polar bear + boat.” The craziest stuff would come up. One might show a man freezing to death. Interesting. “Frozen + boat + body.”
That’s a literal exercise. I would also search themes and motifs which are very interesting. When I was designing the set for A Midsummer Night’s Dream I have words like “magic” “fairy” “tree” “magical tree.” My set I believe ended up with one, mystical, magical, huge tree upstage center with sparkling branches and leaves like beautiful tentacles over-stretching.
In another design, for the play Terra Nova by Ted Tally which deals with a grueling race to the South Pole, after tons of image research on ice and ice caps and sled dogs, etc. I ended up with this extremely abstract set that was just a gigantic sloped whiteness, that I felt captured all the themes in one streamlined way, and gave the play a chance to breathe. (Of course, who knows if any of these ideas would have actually worked, the farthest I got was making models).
Now this kind of image research is absolutely essential to my creative process. I do this google exercise before every play I direct to try and capture its essence and give me a visual basis to work off of. This is useful not just in designing the production, but is also a huge part of blocking, and creating stage pictures, and even casting.
Now, with my newest project, I am doing my own adaptation. I have been struggling of late, hit some sort of wall. So yesterday, having never tried it before, I did some image research on the play I was adapting, and it opened up this whole new visual world for me. Reminding me that writing a play is not an exercise in literature (a trap that’s so easy to fall into), but it is actually an exercise in creating/generating action. Which is actually not so different from working as a director, or even as an actor, especially as an actor, actually.
Much more to say on images, as they continue to work as a huge driving force for me in all the work I do in the theatre.
Theatre for a New Audience Presents
The New York Premiere of
directed by Robert Woodruff
featuring Stephanie Roth Haberle
Previews Friday, December 5; Opens Wednesday, December 11, at The Duke on 42nd Street
NEW YORK – Remember Theatre for a New Audience’s production of Edward Bond’s Saved directed by Robert Woodruff?
Acclaimed British playwright Edward Bond, will reunite with acclaimed American director Robert Woodruff for Theatre for a New Audience’s New York premiere production of Mr. Bond’s Chair featuring Stephanie Roth Haberlebeginning previews Friday, December 5, at 8:00pm for an opening Wednesday, December 11, at 8:00pm for a run through December 28 at The Duke on 42nd Street , a New 42nd Street® project, 229 West 42nd Street.
This is the third pairing of playwright and director who also worked together on Mr. Bond’s Olly’s Prison at American Repertory Theater in 2005.
Single tickets are $75.00 are may be purchased via phone at 646-223-3010 or via web at www.dukeon42.org.
I just wish the damn ticket prices for these kind of fantastic events weren’t so expensive!
Copying and pasting what I recently posted on a NYC theatre listserv…. I think it’s an important issue…
About a month ago I was thinking about the casting issue….. besides the obvious reasons of trust and friendship, why do off-off broadway companies never publicize auditions for their shows to expand their casting pools?
I realize, as a director, that it’s fantastic to work with the people you know, can trust, and enjoy spending time with, not to mention believing in the talent they bring. And I also realize that people get worried about too many people auditioning and being able to accommodate them.And when we’re self-producing at the same time, and have a million other things to worry about, why worry about collaborating with new actors that don’t know you or the company??
That being said, I know that for me artistically, I love working with different actors, and I learn SO much from them every single show. If, for example, you’re a company that has a specific aesthetic niche, it is amazing when such a company breaks out and has different people working on the material because it brings a completely new and exciting perspective.
Also, with regards to company development, it exponentially expands the breadth of the company’s awareness and personal connections. It helps to exponentially create a large network of artists spread all over New York City. And with these artists come friends and family as potential audience members, and friends and family as potential donors (!), not to mention a huge increase in awareness for the company.
So I would love to encourage companies to begin expanding their casting pools by at least posting notices to this and other list servs. I’m not saying backstage cattle calls, but I am saying a more public notification of auditions for off off broadway shows. I know that I’ll be doing it from now on.