Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Randy Baker on the Free Reading of New Play

Monday night was the first rehearsal of our workshop of Jacqueline E. Lawton’s BLOOD-BOUND AND TONGUE-TIED. Rorschach is developing this play as a part of our MAGIC IN ROUGH SPACES new play development program. Not to be confused with ROUGH MAGIC, the play that is currently running!

BLOOD BOUND tells the story of Jocasta, a light-skinned black woman who leaves her small town to live as a white woman in World-War-II-era Dallas. There she meets a wealthy lawyer named Laius whom she falls in love with and marries. With the birth of a black child Jocasta’s lies begin and an epic tragedy begins to unfold. If the names sound familiar it’s because Lawton’s explosive play is an adaptation of the OEDIPUS story.

As I listened to the extraordinary actors bring words to life, I found myself thinking, what is it that makes a play a Rorschach play? And what kind of play would we like to have associated with our development process? Too often, it seems, play readings and workshops are added to theatre seasons as an afterthought – without really thinking about what it means to choose a work and develop it. I would posit that at times the plays a theatre chooses to DEVELOP say more about a company than what plays they choose to PRODUCE.

And we couldn't be more excited to produce Jackie's play.

We at Rorschach love plays that have their roots in ancient stories, stories that have been told for hundreds for thousands of years - the idea of bringing new life to them is something powerful. Like we are a campfire
around which the fabric of our stories are told and retold. But it’s more than just simply retelling stories – we like works that make fables, myths and old tales RELEVANT - by resetting them in time, by finding forgotten meanings, by conveying a passionate need to make old truths new. The places where worlds meet: past/present, imaginary/real, theatre/audience… it’s in these places that the real magic happens.

But trying to put into words what makes a play a Rorschach play is always difficult. We are still trying to figure that out ourselves…

A dream of mine is a day when explanations won’t be necessary… when our company becomes an adjective… it would be an amazing thing if there came a day when someone in San Francisco or London or Topeka said “I read this play the other day… it’s a very Rorschach play.” I can dream can’t I?

As we grow as a theatre company and we think about how we can pay our actors more and how we can keep the roof from leaking… I find it thrilling to think about a day when plays that are uniquely “us” are developed, produced and put out into the world with our stamp on it. That there will be these plays that no one else will take a chance on but that are perfect for us…

The public reading of BLOOD-BOUND AND TONGUE-TIED is going to be a remarkable event. Come see some great artists bring to life a ferocious new play. And listen to an ancient story told new, an old tale made relevant…


By Jackie Lawton
Directed by Patrick Crowley
Monday, February 19 at 8pm
Free Admission


Paige Hernandez as JOCASTA
Clay Steakley as LAIUS
JJ Johnson as CREON
Greg Reid as OEDIPUS
Adrienne Nelson as JENNA

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