Playwright Katharine Sherman writes about beginning technical rehearsals:
We’re in tech for The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood!
Something I love about tech is the community of people working on the show expanding. This week we have Søren Olsen and Dan Dukich in the room with us. They’ve been on ladders, hanging microphones, checking microphones, walking through the house to see and hear from every angle. We started adding light and sound cues to the show last night and we’re over the moon about it.
Søren and Dan are the dream team. They’ve worked together - and with David - before. I asked Søren a bit about how he begins to make worlds with light:
You start with the background,
and then pick out pieces of the foreground that are the most interesting.
Light is a subtractive art in general, like sculpture -
your canvas has the subjects on it - you’re removing elements to make your subjects visible.
I asked him if there was anything unusual about lighting this piece:
In devised theatre, the context or the setting isn't given
so light shapes the world most distinctly - it’s a larger challenge than lighting a play or musical set in a certain time and place.
You have to know what world you’re in, and I have to build that world out of light.
Søren and Dan have a shorthand. Last night they worked seamlessly together building moments, knowing that light and sound work together to create variation, tempo and tone. It was creepy, and I wrote down a conversation they had :
Dan: Søren, are you doing any kind of fire effect?
Søren: Not an effect but a shift.
Dan: When does it start?
Søren: I was gonna take it off your sound how long is the cue.
Dan: About twelve seconds.
Søren: Thank you.
Our dream team doesn’t end there. On Saturday, Alex Olsen came in to paint the stage. On Monday night, we welcomed board op Steve Modena to the room.
Beginning to see the show with lights and sound (not to mention the devastatingly attractive costumes) has been incredible so far. It’s going to be beautiful - get your tickets now here!
As he prepares for load in and technical rehearsals at the end of this week, director and designer David Hanzal reflects on the rehearsal process for The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood:
I can’t believe that four weeks of rehearsal have come and gone! We’ve sweat, we’ve fought, we’ve cried, we’ve re-thought and re-written the opening and closing scenes more times than we can count. We’ve had nights where our experiments have failed, and nights where I have thought to myself, This devised new work thing is too hard! This is the last play I’m ever going to direct! But then we pick ourselves back up and go back into the rehearsal room the next day, and it always gets better and we always discover what the play was meant to be. We move forward. We revise. We refresh.
We have two days of rehearsal left, before we take a couple of days off for the Thanksgiving holiday. But even though we’ll be “away” from the rehearsal room, I know that my director-designer-creator brain will still be firing away at top speed: Am I taking care of the audience? Are all of the dramaturgical systems tracking? Will we ever find the “right” ending? Is the play compelling… and complicated? Are all of the visual and design elements working together to evoke Beauty’s visceral/creepy/magical/sexy dream world?
When we come back the day after Thanksgiving, we will be loading into our performance venue, adding technical elements (lights, sound, costumes, and set), and adjusting our blocking and choreography from small rehearsal rooms to the vast scope of the Red Eye Theater’s stage. It’s quick, it’s stressful, and it’s exhilarating. (Coffee helps.)
Even though rehearsals for a new, multi-disciplinary, ensemble-driven play are never easy, we’ve emerged stronger, more articulate artists, and we are now more specific and more intentional about the choices that we are making as storytellers. From questions come conversation and exploration, which breeds a product that is richer and far more complex than what we could have created all on our own. I’m proud of the work that we’ve created together, collaboratively, and I can’t wait to share it with an audience, starting December 2.
So, please – join us for this new, never-before-seen, original work of theatre before it’s too late. Because, after we close on December 11, this magical world that we have created will cease to exist forever.
Tickets are selling fast! More information about purchasing tickets for The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood may be found here.
All photos by Logan Verdoorn
Stage manager and assistant director Sofia Lindgren Galloway writes about the rehearsal process:
I met David when I was a reference for a costume designer he hired three years ago. He had just finished his MFA in directing and moved back to Minneapolis. I was a recent college graduate and had just moved to the Twin Cities to start my own directing career. We’ve been keeping in touch about our directing paths and I’m SO EXCITED to be joining him as his assistant on The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood. I met playwright Kat Sherman and choreographer Justin Leaf last December when David invited me to a couple devising workshops for a “performance work inspired by early variations of Sleeping Beauty, and potentially structured as the dreams that Sleeping Beauty has before she wakes up.” A few months later, after the spring work-in-progress presentation with Savage Umbrella’s Night of New Works, I was invited back as David’s assistant and stage manager.
Left: David tries a crown on Torre; Right: Patrick (left) and David (right), working with the Crone costume
I have worn many hats in the last few months as Stage Manager, Assistant Director, composition participant, rehearsal photographer/videographer, and one time post-clogged toilet cleaner. The most exciting thing about working with Collective Unconscious Performance is that we’re all wearing several hats, and often at the same time. David is simultaneously staging moments and designing them. Kat will come into rehearsals with script edits and then jump into a composition. Justin is bouncing back and forth between playing Beauty and choreographing dances. Even the cast is playing multiple roles. They move from mask work, to puppeteers, to dancers, to actors in a matter of minutes; both in rehearsals and in the performance! The versatility of the artists involved with this production is astounding.
Left: Composition moment (I swear I’m somewhere in that pile of bodies); Right: Alana (left) and Mikey (right) waiting for their next pose in a song
We spent the first two weeks of rehearsal training in Viewpoints, Bunraku puppetry, shadow puppetry, and composition work. By devoting time to those specific ways of creating performance, we have learned to move from one to the other quickly in rehearsals. In week three, we’ve moved into staging the show based on composition work. In a matter of days, we’ve managed to stage almost all of the play and by the time you read this, we’ll be well into running the show! (Just don’t look at my blocking notes… they won’t inspire confidence… haha)
Left: Justin teaches choreography; Right: (Left to right) Sarah, Alana, Jessie, and David learning how to use shadow puppets
It's exciting, it's challenging, and I think we will create some really beautiful moments beyond our wildest dreams! But, maybe not beyond Sleeping Beauty’s wildest dreams. I guess you’ll have to come find out for yourself! :)
Patrick, in a moment from the scene “Sun, Moon, and Talia”
11/7/2016 1 Comment
David Hanzal and Katharine Sherman first invited me to play the role of Beauty in their upcoming production of The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, and I was later engaged to provide dances for the multidimensional performance work premiering next month at the Red Eye Theater.
With my history as a choreographer equally comfortable in concert halls and cabaret theaters, the project was good fit for my range, blending the classical beauty of an ethereal fairy tale with more modern influences of pop dance styles, including burlesque and hip hop. Also, my penchant for the dreamlike had been a hallmark of my choreographic work, evident in dances I’d made for Minnesota Dance Theatre and James Sewell Ballet. And so now I was invited to enter the world of Beauty’s dreams and illumine the musical sequences with a distinctive movement dimension.
The choreographic process began last spring with a work-in-progress showing in Savage Umbrella’s Night of New Works series. In collaboration with the ensemble, I developed three of the dances at that time. David shared his intentions for the scenes to be choreographed and often provided links to source material that inspired his vision. I would reference this material, allowing it to loosely inform my own vision.
I ran with the delicious dichotomy captured in what I saw in this new rendering of the story: both poetic gravitas and campy satire. Some of the dances lean toward one end of that spectrum, while some lean toward the other. And sometimes they are interwoven—a sort of dark humor pervading Beauty’s dream world. But also gorgeous, creepy, wild, wistful, obnoxious, exalted, and sublime.
However, that first iteration was specific to the alley-style seating arrangement at Savage Umbrella’s SPACE and to the performers who were working with us then. Coming back together to prepare for the Red Eye Theater production, we have begun transforming the orientation of the dances for a much larger proscenium theater. Also, we’ve been incorporating refreshed intentions and additional performers.
In the midst of this process, working both inside of the dances as a performer and outside as choreographer, I have a unique perspective on the work, seeing it from different angles. I also get to experience the approach of “theater people” and bring my dance perspective into the mix. Through this collaboration, we discover new avenues for creating the movement sequences that help to bring The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood to life.
11/1/2016 0 Comments
i’m doing edits.
we had a read-through at our first rehearsal,
which of course disturbs your perception of the play and makes you see and hear all kinds of things you haven’t seen or heard before.
the fact that you’re hearing it spoken, instead of reading the words
or looking at paper instead of a screen
or hyper awareness of the other minds and eyes and voices in the room,
encountering this thing you wrote for them for the first time -
whatever alchemy it is, you walk away with edits.
i see my edits as separate from rewrites.
i have rewrites to do, too, post-read-through, but i’ll get to those. (tomorrow).
edits aren’t about story or pacing or tone or character arc
they’re mostly about rhythm
sometimes they’re about rhyme.
edits are analogous to line notes, except the correction is both for and from me, my ear telling me that i wrote a line wrong,
that there’s a better way for it to sound.
one of the edits i made tonight was to change the word “truly” to the word “so.”
you’d think that wouldn’t be madly important, but.
i’m bad at writing about writing. absolutely terrible. to me writing is this secret sacred silent thing that you just don’t discuss. progress, you can talk about. process — i have no idea. i daydream till i panic, then i write.
but editing. editing makes sense. i hear a line and it sounds wrong. it needs a tweak or a tune or a rhythmic shift. maybe i can’t articulate this any better than i can anything else about writing. so here’s an example:
another thing i’m really interested in when it comes to writing is notation, arrangement of words on a page.
i feel like the same applies for line edits. tonight i made a document, that i hope makes intuitive sense, in terms of what changes have been made to lines and how the new ones will read. will it make any sense to the actors? this and more highly self-conscious ramblings on the process of play-making, coming up!