Monday, May 21, 2007

Dispatch from Superman's Buddy Jimmy O.

This the dispatch that arrived in my mail box this morning from Co-Artistic Director Randy Baker. Scroll down to the previous entry to get the 411 on the what 365 is about, but here Randy has done a pretty impressive job of explaining the Rorschachian twist on the sha-bang. The event is tonight so get yourselves over to Casa for a good old fashioned throw-down. Here is the link if you want more details.

So I’m playing Scott’s Jimmy Olsen today, out in the field, being his intrepid reporter.

On Saturday I attended the remarkable rehearsal/creation process for our entry into the 365plays/365days festival. It was a blast watching everyone furiously create their interpretations of Suzan-Lori Parks’ weird little plays. The six casts were rehearsing at once in every corner of the building. It was a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday.

The festival is a pretty amazing event… Suzan-Lori parks committed to writing a play a day for an entire year… Now the world premiere of this play cycle is being performed as a yearlong national festival simultaneously in 14 major cities and communities around the country by over 600 theatres. It’s the largest theatre collaboration in U.S. History.

Six months ago I remember thinking, so that’s all fine and good but… one of our hang-ups was that we thought the event might become more of an obligation rather than an exciting event unto itself. We were about to pass on the idea when our good friend Becky Peters called us up and said. “No! Don’t do that! It can be cool! I can help you make it cool!” So we took her word for it. Teamed her up with another good friend of ours, director Jessie Gallogly, and said: “You two. Make it cool.”

The “concept” we came up with was one that we hoped would simultaneously speak to the whirlwind spirit in which Parks wrote her plays and one that used some of Rorschach’s signature elements: uncommon use of space, good ensemble work and maybe even adding a little bit of the epic into these little pieces.

So actors and directors met on Saturday at 11am and received their scripts. No one had seen their plays before then. The casts and their directors then had 5 hours to create a fully staged piece.

To make things interesting, we imposed a series of 10 “rules” to which every group had to

1. Time: Each group was told their plays had to be AT LEAST 8 minutes long and NO MORE than 15 minutes long. Keep in mind, that some of the plays that Parks wrote were less than a page long.
2. The Space/architecture: Each group was instructed to use the space and the architecture in some unique way.
3. The Props: Each group had to use a total of three props - no more, no less. One of those three props had to be the NOWHERE sign.
4. The Costumes: They had to use them. No limitations or instructions were given beyond that…
5. The Budget: They were not allowed to spend more than $10 on the show.
6. The Twist: ….they could not add any props, costumes or any theatrical elements to the play between Saturday and now. What they could find on Saturday is what they are using tonight.
7. The Scripts: Needed to be memorized.
8. The Juggler: aka Ken. Each group had to find a way to incorporate him into their play.
9. The Audience : Make them happy and each play had to incorporate at least one member of the audience in some way.
10. The Title / The Text: The name of the title had be worked into the play. This was the ONLY text that could be added to the play. Lines could be repeated or even moved around but nothing could be added or subtracted from the scripts.

The plays are amazing. The words on the page were really just a jumping off point. What these crazy young directors and actors created is nothing short of brilliant. So funny and at times maybe even a little moving.

Ya gotta come see this tonight. You won’t be disappointed

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