Block 317: January 18, 2014

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Sunny side up!

Date: January 18, 2014

Crane: 317

Days Spent on Project: 336

Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC

Person I would have sent it to: Sara C.

Sara was in the year ahead of me; she was a set designer that I had the chance to work with twice during my time at the Yale School of Drama. My first year, when I assisted Chloe on a production of the Lonesome West, Sara designed the set. It was supposedly a simple play, set entirely in a small cottage/house in rural Ireland, but there is one scene that takes place at night, outside. Sara designed and had the technical department figure out how to make the transition from that cramped inner-space to a wide, open expanse.

The house broke in pieces, and moved back and to the sides, as it was built on tracks. A partial drop of the hilly landscape came down, floating above the action. A bench slid into place for the two actors to have their scene.

It was one of the most beautiful scenic transitions I’ve ever seen; in its simplicity, it didn’t draw any attention to it. It’s effectiveness was inspiring.

I think it was at that point that I realized that I was going to grad school with some very talented people.

My first semester of my second year, I was assigned to design a playwright’s thesis with Sara as the costume designer. This time the set was a high school, with multiple locations. Again it was good, and all about the transitions. I enjoyed working with her on that project.

An avid runner, I would occasionally see Sara running around town… when I was also running around town. We never ran together, but it was nice to see someone else in the department who enjoyed that.

Music I listened to while sewing: I’ve got the Great Gatsby soundtrack on again this morning. I should be listening to the Sleep No More playlist, after last night’s trip, but I wasn’t in the mood for it. (Shocker!)

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Well, last night’s visit to SNM and the McKittrick was epic. I don’t know if it was due to it being a late night performance (the show started at 11pm, I didn’t walk out until 2am), or the size of the crowd (smallest I’ve personally experienced), but it great.

Have I mentioned that a director asked me last summer what kind of theater I’d most like to work on? And that my response, half serious and half joking, was that I’d like to be a part of theater that was similar to McQueen’s runway shows?

I think, and I know it’s just my fandom talking here, but I think that SNM *is* that kind of theater.

I find McQueen runway shows interesting to watch, and yes I do spend some evenings watching them on Youtube, because they’re engaging and maybe a bit confrontational, they’re obviously thought over, the skilled craftsmanship is there, they’re always a bit sexy and a little naughty, they have a clear point of view, they feature strong central characters (the clothes are empowering in their attention-getting), and you can’t leave them without having formed an opinion- good or bad.

As I was running around the SNM building last night, I realized I find it so intriguing because the production combines many of those qualities. In order to experience the show, you have to involve yourself with it, however you choose that involvement to be; there isn’t a right or wrong way to approach the show. You can make it personal and exploratory, or you can follow the cast and see what their characters are up to. The more I see of the show, the more I realize it IS Shakespeare’s Macbeth combined with Rebecca, but it’s more layered than that. All those characters have been taken from their source materials and wrapped into one world- and they all belong there. The amount of thought, and skill, that went into learning about the subject matter- Shakespeare, De Maurier’s work, witchcraft, superstition- it’s intense and deep. Every trip I find a new scene that places other scenes in a new context. You realize causality. You understand reasons why the space is designed the way it is. I think it’s all kind of brilliant.

And, yes, I have met some people who didn’t “get it” or like it. And their reasonings are sometimes valid. Most of the time they wanted to be told more of what was going on or what to do.

That’s the beauty of it; it’s theater that places the expectation on YOU. They ask you to enter their world, break the fourth wall in a way, and engage with their story. It’s not easy theater. It’s not lazy theater.

So, yeah, I’ve already got a ticket for next Friday… same time… 11pm.

Cheers.

 

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