Our Associate Artistic Director Sofia Lindgren Galloway writes our newest blog post:
On a sunny Saturday at the beginning of June, I sat down at Empire Coffee and Pastry with Maiden Voyage playwright Rachel Teagle to talk about her process and why we need more adventure stories featuring women. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting Rachel, you know that this conversation was filled with humor and hope. Rachel is bright. Both her spirit and her mind are big, bold, bursts of light and energy. I wish I could include every inspiring word she shared with me but, instead I’ve attempted to narrow her radiant wisdom into the paragraphs below.
The other wonderful thing about this conversation was the fantastic playlist playing at Empire Coffee and Pastry as we spoke. I’ve recreated it and included it here. These feel-good tunes were the perfect background to the morning. I encourage you to listen along as you read. The final track might just be a perfect summary of Rachel’s unique aesthetic.
Playwright Rachel Teagle
Who is Rachel?
SOFIA LINDGREN GALLOWAY: For folks out there who don’t know you, I wanna give them a quick introduction. So, if you had 5 words to describe who you are and what you care about, what would they be?
RACHEL TEAGLE: Playwright, storyteller, rogue, brevity, and women.
SLG: By rogue, is that, like, DnD rogue?
RT: I think more of like, a mischief maker, in terms of being playful. And I think that’s something that’s very important to my work is that there is a bit of a mischievousness to it. I like to invite people in with comedy and then punch them in the face with truth. So, if that’s five words, that’s what they would be.
SLG: Hey, this is an interview with a playwright, not a mathematician. So, whatever 5 words means to you is fine.
RT: Yeah, language is malleable! Hyphens are important.
SLG: Hyphens are important. You have opinions about hyphens.
RT: I do actually have really strong opinions about punctuation. I didn’t realize that until I started really working through things and trying to edit and I realized, “Oh no, this comma is really important.” And then, sometimes I’m wrong. An actor will come around and do it completely differently and not listen to my punctuation. And I’m like, “Oh no, actually, you are correct.” And that’s kind-of the beauty of writing for other people. You surprise yourself and [those actors] make you look better. And you know, my favorite thing to do is to write, and listen to people say it, and listen to people make it better. I didn’t get into theatre to do all the work myself, you know? That’s the joy of inviting all these other brains and bodies into the room, they make something bigger than all of us. And right now, I’m really excited to get the chance to tell so many stories. This is a frickin’ cool year.
SLG: So, lets talk about that. What else are you working on right now?
RT: We’ve got the Maiden Voyage coming up in June, and actually, right now, Sofia and I are sitting in a coffee shop about to go into auditions for our play with Theatre Pro Rata where, once again, Sofia is directing a play that I have written. It is about cockroaches, and the end of the world, and women’s bodily autonomy. And I’m disappointed that it is so relevant, consistently, but I’m also excited to be telling this story right now. And, on my own, I’m working on developing musical. One of my collaborators from Nautilus is taking one of my children’s scripts and musicalizing it. I’m putting it out there in case anybody wants to work on some children’s musicals, send me some development opportunities! Oh, and I’ve got a piece in the Minnesota Fringe, I’m part Danger Vision Productions, it’s called Visitation, it’s about grieving, and I have a scene in that. They’ve tapped five writers, and they have some filmmakers, and they’re making a whole exploration of grief, and mine is super weird. It involves a large, dressed up lawn goose. So, it’s gonna be a trip.
Playwriting and Process
SLG: When did you become interested playwrighting?
RT: I always liked telling stories; writing things, making things up, doing elaborate parody videos in my English classes. But I walked into college convinced I was going to do film. And it wasn’t until I actually got to a setup that involved some more set dressing, and you looked in a camera and it looked like a dressing room, and then you leaned out and realized, “Oh, these are three coats in an empty room!” and it felt like a trick. And then I would watch a play and someone would lift a box and say, “This is a ship!” and it felt like magic. I realized, I don’t want to play tricks, I want to make magic. So, that meant theatre for me.
SLG: Where do you pull inspiration from? Like, for Maiden Voyage, inspiration has come from a lot of strange places. Everything from a Hasidic folk tale to The Odyssey to My Little Pony. Or, for The Ever and After, with Theatre Pro Rata, you’ve got politics and Sci-Fi simultaneously.
RT: I feel like, as a writer, you’re always listening. You always have one ear to the ground to see if something is gonna resonate. And when you find two disparate things that spark something, that’s where you go from. So, it’s finding moments that you carry around and then it’s like, a rock tumbler, you let it roll around for a little bit and then you pick it up and go “Oh, this is actually very shiny, and I would like to put it into something.” And I watch a lot of TV, man. I tend to watch a lot of cartoons, partially because I have a three year old, although, I watched a lot of cartoons before that. But, I like the malleability of the universe and the fact that literally anything is possible. And I like when people stretch the form. I don’t do as much reading as I should. But, I tend to pick up a lot of stories that don’t take place in reality, and think that’s where I tend to find some information. And then I read news stories and thing in that tends to click with things in [cartoons] and that’s where the stories end up coming from.
SLG: What do you think is the benefit of placing contemporary news stories in made-up worlds?
RT: It’s a lot easier to listen when you’re able to have some distance. And you’re able to see different things. If I tell you a story that touches on issues but kind-of, goes around this sideways, Twilight Zone back door, then you realize, you can hear the stories differently, and it kind of sneaks up on you. And, you also get to play with monsters. The monsters that we fight every day are exhausting. But when we fight monsters that feel a little bit more like fairy tales, we’re able to fight better in the real world.
SLG: What stories are missing on stage? Who do we not see enough of.
RT: Women who talk. Non-binary people, at all. I think also, the different kinds of strength is important. You know, finding ways for there to be room for femininity and strength and femininity that’s not just for female people. And, ways to distribute power among folks who don’t look like those in power. I know for me, there’s a caricature of me in my mother’s house where I’m reading a book that says adventure along the side. The artist asked me what I like to do and I said, “read.” So, they said what do you like to read and I said, “Adventure Books!” Those are all books with male protagonists and male stories. And at that point in my life it was really important that I wasn’t like other girls, and there was a time when all the stories I told were about boy people. Looking back, I just want to hug my 12 year old self and say “Girl, you can be you, and you don’t have to escape into male people to have adventures.” But, the more stories that are out there, the less we have to conform to one story or another.
SLG: Yeah, I remember, specifically in 5th grade and into middle school, I was really into the Artemis Fowl and Pendragon books which are magical, fantasy, adventure stories with male protagonists. And, the only other kids at my school reading those books were super nerdy, video game playing boys. But, I wasn’t a super nerdy video game playing boy. And, I don’t think I ever read Babysitters' Club, or some of those “teen girl books” and it was really alienating. Like, what stories are for me? I think I found the Chronicles of Narnia came close, because they had more than one protagonist story.
RT: Well, I think that notion of splitting the protagonist journey is really rich and interesting because we’re not all gonna be King Arthur. And to pretend that you’re only worthwhile if you’re Kind Arthur, that’s a really upsetting thing to put into people’s hearts. But making sure there are adventures that have cooperation, that have stories you can solve with someone else, and it’s okay to reach out for help, and it’s still a victory if you do it with other people. And that’s part of what we’re doing with Maiden Voyage. We’re trying to find a way to make a new protagonist who can ask for help.
SLG: So, why do we tell stories?
RT: I think its partially to shape the way you interact with the world and to project a better tomorrow on it. I think telling a story that connects you to your childhood self and all the hope, and the fears, and the joy, and the potential that you had, remind you that you still have potential today. And I’m so excited to play, and to tap into this magical sea voyage with everybody.
SLG: Me too.
6/5/2019 0 Comments
Six years ago, I had just wrapped up my MFA degree at the University of Iowa. Upon moving back to Minneapolis, I was quickly snatched up to teach on the faculty of a local university theatre program. During my summer orientation, the chair of the theatre program introduced me to four students who were entering the program that coming fall. One of those students turned out to be Sarah Modena! Immediately, Sarah and I clicked, and in the two years that I was on faculty, we collaborated on multiple productions and projects. I still remember the day that Sarah came in to audition for my 2014 production of Rat’s Tales. It was here that Sarah sang for me for the first time, and I still remember the chills-up-my-spine-feeling and just being completely gobsmacked by her pure, gorgeous singing voice. When I founded Collective Unconscious, I knew that I wanted Sarah involved in our work, and I’ve enjoyed the evolution of our professional collaboration. With each new Collective Unconscious production, I’ve tried to find new ways to continually challenge Sarah. With our fall production of Into the Darkness, Sarah will be taking on multiple new roles--singing, playing the piano, and music directing. Earlier this week, I sat down with Sarah to chat about her new roles for this production, and the process of workshopping the songs with composer-lyricist Dan Dukich this past May. Here is an excerpt from our conversation together...
DAVID HANZAL: Can you tell me about the first time that you heard music that deeply affected you?
SARAH MODENA: I heard music a lot in church growing up. It was the same kind of sound all of the time, but it was really pretty. The first time, though, that music really affected me was watching The Nutcracker. Tchaikovsky’s music was so dramatic and conveyed so many emotions--I didn't realize that instruments could sound like that!
DH: When did you start making music yourself?
SM: There are lots of videos of me as a little kid constantly banging on the piano and singing. My parents had me start taking piano lessons when I was six, and I kept on studying through high school. Growing up, I also studied viola, guitar, hand bells, and organ. Church was also a big influence and something that I was really highly involved in all through high school. I was in church choir all growing up.
DH: When did you start studying voice?
SM: When I was fifteen, I began attending North Hennepin Community College and I auditioned for chamber choir. I don’t think my voice was well developed or particularly good, but Karla Miller [the director] liked me and she could tell I had an ear for music and harmonies. From then on, I started taking other voice classes and acting in musicals. Eventually, I transferred to Minnesota State University Moorhead for a year. It was there that my teachers started talking to me about pursuing operatic training, due to the quality and color of my voice. They told me that I needed to really kick it into gear and get into a conservatory before I got too old. Even though opera might have been something I could have been really successful at, I was more passionate about theatre so I didn’t pursue opera beyond a few years of private voice lessons with Judy Bender.
DH: You’ve performed in every Collective Unconscious production since our inception. Into the Darkness will be unique in that for the first time you won’t be playing a character onstage, and instead you’ll be wearing several other hats--singer, pianist, and music director. In these new roles, what has been the biggest challenge so far?
SM: Learning--and helping notate--Dan [Dukich]’s songs. I love Dan’s songs--they are poetic and ethereal, and the melodies are soaring and beautiful. But while Dan’s music is really beautiful, it’s also really hard. He doesn’t take shortcuts or write in easy keys There are lots of sudden key changes and time signature changes, as well as vocal harmonies that you can’t learn by ear.
DH: Dan is a very experienced singer-songwriter and sound designer, but I believe Into the Darkness is the first time that other people are singing and playing his music without him. Because of this, we had to spend time notating everything for you and the other musicians. I noticed that during the May workshop that you worked very closely with Dan in notating the vocal music, as well as the piano accompaniment. What was that process like for you?
SM: Initially, I thought I could just listen to Dan’s demo recordings and that I’d be able to pick it up by ear from the basic chord structure. It wasn’t like that at all because his music is very specific and complicated. It turned out that we actually had to notate every single note, and we had to painstakingly go measure by measure to make sure it was exactly correct. Dan had partially notated some of the songs in a way that made sense to him, but he didn’t always know how to put his vision on to the paper--but he always knew what he wanted it to sound like. I had to fill in the rhythms for him, which is hard when the time signature is constantly changing. During the workshop, we worked hand in hand--I would often sing or play options, and he would say yes or no, and then we would transcribe that down on the paper so that it would make sense to another singer.
DH: Over the past four years, you’ve been very closely involved with all of Collective Unconscious’ work, and you’re considered one of our “Core Collaborators.” What is it like being a member of a company, versus a one-off collaborator?
SM: I enjoy both kinds of experiences. As a company member, I enjoy the rapport, trust, and shorthand that we can have. Something that I particularly value about working with Collective Unconscious is the importance of people’s energies and what they bring into the room that’s not just raw talent--kindness and a willingness to be on a team is valued as much as training and a good work ethic. It makes the rehearsal process a lot more enjoyable as an actor, and I can’t wait to see how it will be as a music director!
To support artists like Sarah working on our upcoming fall production of Into the Darkness, please consider making a tax-deductible gift on our GiveMN page here. Thank you for your support!
I first saw Dan Dukich onstage in Open Eye Figure Theatre’s delicious production of Elijah’s Wake in fall 2009, and I was immediately smitten by his commanding stage presence and quirky sensibilities. In January 2010, I had become fast friends with artist Laura Lechner, who just so happened to be roommates with Dan. While Laura and I devised puppet shows out of her living room, I tried not to fangirl out when I would overhear Dan writing music from his upstairs bedroom just above us. As he’s developed as a musician over the past decade (now going by the moniker Daniel Bonsepur), I’ve kept close tabs on him and his career (my favorite album of his is Daniel’s in Love, which you can listen to in full here). Over the years, I’ve frequently worked with Dan as a sound designer, but I’ve never had the opportunity to closely collaborate with him as a composer. When Sofia and I decided to curate an evening of phantasmagorical fairy tale puppet shows that riffed on the transformational power of love for our fall 2019 production (entitled Into the Darkness), I immediately knew that I wanted Dan to create original music and lyrics for us. Before the script was fully “on the page,” Sofia and I commissioned Dan to write a “concept album” of sorts that I would then interweave into our eventual script. I gave Dan copies of the two tales that I wanted to adapt, a very early proto-draft of the script that I had written, and some inspirational source material. From there, Dan has been pecking away at seven original songs for the past several months, which culminated in a development workshop earlier this month. I recently sat down with Dan to chat about his musical history and his songwriting process. Here’s an excerpt from that conversation...
Composer-lyricist Dan Dukich sips coffee while donning his favorite musical theatre memorabilia.
DAVID HANZAL: What’s your first memory of learning to play a musical instrument?
DAN DUKICH: My grandparents had this old piano from the 1930s that had real ivory keys--it was a gorgeous antique pianette--but my brother had bashed in the keys with a baseball bat. I remember playing the piano and cutting my fingers on the broken, jagged ivory.
DH: How old were you at this point?
DD: I think I was thirteen. Around that time I took one year of piano lessons with this elderly woman named Molly. She was a very beautiful, sweet person. We would basically hang out and play music in her cottage once a week. It was totally not at all a strict, regimented process. After that, I learned how to play the guitar. That was better because I could just be in my room by myself. I would listen to music and play along with songs that I liked.
DH: You mean you taught yourself to play the guitar by ear?
DD: Yes. I would listen to music and try to play what I thought should have been in the song--not trying to play with what is recorded but trying to add what I would have done had I been there on the day of the recording.
DH: At that time, what kind of music were you listening to?
DD: I really liked REM as a kid. I didn’t quite understand what I was listening to. It was opaque and oblique and open. I didn’t understand the words and I liked that. But there was still some kind of logic to it; it wasn’t complete nonsense. In high school I was also in a band with my friend John, and we grew up playing music together and learning about music together.
DH: When did you start writing music as a solo artist?
DD: Right out of college. After my friend John moved to South Dakota, our band Gladiola became a solo thing and I recorded an album of my own. Then I moved to the moniker of Daniel Bonespur.
DH: How did you make the transition of writing music for theatre?
DD: I was always doing theatre and music, but separately--I didn’t see how they could overlap at first. Now, the music that I make for theatre more and more gets turned into the songs that I write and record on my albums.
DH: I’m always fascinated when I learn about different writers’ processes. For example, Fiona Apple is a wordsmith and will collect new words or phrases, and then after months of things spinning around in her head will sit down at a piano and write a new song in 45 minutes; whereas, Stephen Sondheim will fill up a thimble full of vodka and sip it while he lies on his couch and starts writing a song right away (re-filling his thimble full of vodka whenever it goes empty, as a means of gently letting go of his inhibitions). What’s your songwriting process?
DD: Maybe a combination of both? There’s some thimbles involved and some gathered lines and words. I’ve recently been on a thing of starting at the end of the song and working my way to the beginning. Like, with the song “Where All Eyes Can See” [to be featured in this fall’s Into the Darkness] that started with the title and then I had to work my way to the beginning.
DH: What was the process like writing songs for Into the Darkness?
DD: This was a unique process in that it lined up very cosmically with my own life. [One of the tales within Into the Darkness concerns a princess who loses her vision while she is in the midst of questioning if love exists in the world.] I found a personal connection to this princess. I am blind in my left eye right now, and I’m also in a place of pondering the transformational powers of love; specifically, being out of love. I had to find the inner logic that I needed for myself to form the point-of-view for this character. Before I could write the melody, lyrics, or chords, I had to first understand that inner logic. I had never done that so intensely before.
DH: What was the biggest challenge for you?
DD: I don’t usually write the songs before the play exists. That was a challenge--having such a great freedom. You often hear the classical thing--having restrictions and limitations can open up choices. Not having those limitations, it was hard to know which choices would fit well in the structure of the whole piece. Once I came to the understanding that the songs were like a concept album, it was a lot easier to let go of the intellectual understanding of how the songs would work in a theatrical plot with characters. Also, practically speaking, learning how time works was also a challenge. You can think on something, and think on something, and think on something, and it’s just with you all day every day for many days, and then it all comes out in the thirteenth hour. I learned to appreciate being in that head space and have songs be with me all day while walking through the world.
DH: Why should audiences come see Into the Darkness this fall?
DD: They will get to see a performance that is not only beautiful and dreamy, but is also critical of some of the oppressive systems in the world. Hopefully, this piece will inspire people to create a better world to live in.
DH: What’s your next adventure, now that you’ve finished writing the bulk of the songs for Into the Darkness?
DD: I’m developing a new play with Lisa Channer and Savannah Reich called Denim. We had a workshop of that with a group of students last fall, and we will continue to workshop the project again this coming summer. I’m also going to start recording another album this summer as well.
To keep up to date with Dan and his music, you can follow him here. And, to support artists like Dan working on our upcoming fall production of Into the Darkness, please consider making a tax-deductible gift on our GiveMN page here. Thank you for your support!
Our 2019-2020 season is here, and we’re pleased as punch! In our fifth year of creating original performance works in the Twin Cities, we are delighted to unveil not only a new logo but also THREE brand spanking new productions in-the-works.
Into the Darkness
A new music-theatre piece based on forgotten fairy tales about the transformational power of love, with original songs composed by
singer-songwriter Daniel Dukich. Directed by David Hanzal, this production will be performed November 15-24, 2019 at Studio 306 in the Vandalia Tower.
A new ensemble-driven play about women pirates written by Rachel Teagle and directed by Sofia Lindgren Galloway,
created in collaboration with the ensemble. This production will tour the Twin Cities metro area in May 2020, with SpringHouse Ministry as its home base.
An intimate toy theatre spectacle for intergenerational audiences, loosely based on the fairy tale “Thumbelina.”
Directed by David Hanzal, this puppet theatre production will tour the state of Minnesota in summer 2020.
We hope that you’ll be able to contribute to our upcoming season on our GiveMN page.
Your gift - large or small - makes a tremendous impact.
Thank you for your support this season, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated with all that we have planned for the year ahead!
David Hanzal & Sofia Lindgren Galloway
Last weekend, Sofia and I returned to the studio to explore source material for an upcoming new work with some old and new friends. Even though we’ve been creating new work for the past five years, every time I step into the studio to delve into a potential new piece, I have first day of school jitters. I have to remind myself to take a moment to breathe, focus only on the present moment, silence my inner saboteur, and dive in with an open heart. New work developed by an ensemble is scary—you never know what’s going to happen–and that’s why I ultimately love it.
(L-R) Leif Jurgensen, Katie Kaufmann, Seth Eberle, Sarah Modena, Angela Olson, (L-R) Jenny Reierson-Naumann, Katie Kaufmann, Angela Olson, Seth Eberle, and Leif Jurgensen
Jenny Reierson-Naumann, and Sofia Lindgren Galloway
The ensemble watches videos on David's laptop for source material inspiration before devising puppet shows in small groups. (L-R) David Hanzal, Angela Olson, Seth Eberle, Katie Kaufmann, Leif Jurgensen, Jenny Reierson-Naumann, and Sarah Modena
While it might appear that Sofia and I have been hibernating since this past November, it has been anything but humdrum. After we wrapped up our workshop about femme pirates and our production of Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus) this past fall, we took a hot second to ask ourselves:
What seems like the next wild and crazy adventure that Collective Unconscious might go on next?
what new piece are we scared to make?
We’ve had countless brainstorming sessions over coffee-and-pizza slices (at our new favorite hang out, the Geek Love Cafe at Moon Palace Books), in addition to meeting with writers, writing grant applications, fabricating puppets, and oh so much more. We’ll be holding our open call general auditions over the next two weeks, before making our big 2019-2020 season announcement in mid-April. Until then, we will be bursting at the seams trying to hold in our excitement about all that’s in store for the future. Keep your eyes peeled...
It follows a clever princess named Judith who must run away from her home to be with her lover but she and the beau are shipwrecked and separated. Judith vows to be reunited with her love but along the way, she meets men who keep trying to marry her. In each case, she agrees to the wedding but tricks her suitors at the last minute and kills them, captures their ladies in waiting, or steals their treasures. Eventually, she assembles a mighty crew of lady-pirates and by a strange miscommunication, ends up as the king of another land! Needless to say, I was head over heels for this fast paced adventure that lets a princess have all the fun and “close-calls” of the stories from my childhood that seemed to be reserved for courageous (male) royalty and benevolent (male) street urchins. It inspired me to stage a play that lets women and queer folks move through a traditionally masculine narrative without question, judgement, or being “saved” by another character.
This fall, we focused on generating content based on some of the following questions:
I had the absolute privilege and delight of working with some of the most creative, sensitive, and silly performers in town: Addison Sharpe, Bethany McHugh, Jasmine Porter, Jex Arzayus, Mickaylee Shaughnessy, Morgen Chang, Nora Huxtable, Stephanie Johnson, Stephanie Ruas, Suzi Love, and Victoria Pyan.
Based on the content we generated, I will be creating a new draft of the script that we will workshop again in early 2019. We’ll be sure to keep you all posted on upcoming workshops and public readings over the next year!
David's Little Red co-director Laura Lechner writes an update on the status of the short film:
It’s been almost exactly a year since we shot our short film, Little Red. Our cast and crew definitely lucked out, as Minnesota last October was an autumnal paradise (sorry about that early snowstorm, everybody!).
Director of photography Joe Valenzuela and actor Angela Olson shoot a scene from Little Red in the woods of Lindstrom, MN.
After spending all last winter in post-production, we realized our film out into the world this spring. So far, we’ve had the pleasure of screening Little Red at several festivals, including the Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image, NewFilmmakers NY, and the Austin Spotlight Film Festival. And in November, we’ll have another screening in NYC, as we’re an official selection of the New York Short Film Festival.
Co-director Laura Lechner and Artist Forum festival director Amos White V after the Little Red screening.
It’s been a pleasure watching our film on the big screen. Even though I spent hundreds of hours as the editor of the film watching and re-watching (and re-watching and re-watching...) it, it was truly special to see and hear it larger than life, and with an appreciative audience. So far, Little Red has been very well-received. At both NewFilmmakers NY and the Artists Forum festivals, I was able to participate in a Q&A, and the audiences asked thought-provoking questions. One of the joys of art-making is to hear how others interact with your work, and in both my formal and informal discussions with audience members, I gained new insights through different viewer’s interpretations of the film.
Laura with film contributors Nick Buonincontri, Emily Helgerson, and Brad Horras.
At the Artists Forum Festival of the Moving Image, David and I were nominated for Best Director. I was proud to accept this recognition on behalf of the two of us, and am happy that our work was recognized out of 40 short films that screened at the festival.
I know both David and I are excited to continue to share Little Red. We’ll keep you posted about any and all opportunities to watch our film. We hope to have a screening in Minneapolis, sometime soon!
I can't believe that Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus) closed nearly two weeks ago. Thank you to our brilliant actors for working so hard at developing this brand new script, our designers for making them look fabulous, our stage management crew for keeping us on task, and to our audiences for supporting new work. I was so sad to say goodbye to this show (and the dream cast!!!) after spending over a year working on it, but I suspect that this isn't the last time that you'll see this show. I hope to revisit it someday, sometime soon. THANK YOU!!!
9/21/2018 0 Comments
Woo-hoo!!! It'll be our opening night in less than two weeks, and rehearsals are flying by. Seating will be limited, so be sure to reserve your tickets before it's too late!!!
In the mean time, check out the core team behind Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus) and what they have to say about the show...
KATHERINE KUPIECKI, Performer
KATIE WILLER, Performer
SARAH MODENA, Performer
KAYLA DVORAK FELD, Performer
LEIF JURGENSEN, Performer
ALISON RUTH, Dramaturg
MARIA SIGNORELLI, Stage Manager
SOFIA LINDGREN GALLOWAY, Associate Artistic Director
DAVID HANZAL, Artistic Director
Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus)
October 5-14, 2018 at the Off-Leash Area Art Box
4200 East 54th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55417
Reserve your tickets today!
WOW! I can’t believe that the first week of rehearsals has already come and gone - it has been a whirlwind. As I prepared for our first day together at the start of last week, I couldn’t help but feel first-day-of-school-like jitters. These characters and this story had been rolling around in my brain for well over a year, be it leading a research group, collaborating on a script with a playwright, facilitating script development workshops, or fabricating a plethora of puppets and masks. But no matter how long you research or rewrite, preparing for the first day of rehearsal for what will be a world premiere script is always a little extra nerve-wracking.
Leading up to our first day of rehearsals, I was plagued with insecurities. I knew that I (as the director/conceiver/co-creator) was still fascinated by our script and source material, but would actors (some of whom were brand-new to the project) feel the same way? Would the questions and themes that seemed so inspiring and resonant to my research group twelve months ago, still ring through as powerfully today? Luckily for me, my fears were instantly smashed after a few minutes on our first day together - our entire ensemble has been a dream to work with since day one, and I couldn’t feel more blessed to have this amazing collective of actors bring these characters to life for the very first time.
This world premiere production has been a glimmer in my eye ever since I first accidentally stumbled upon Madame Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy and her real-life friends while researching for another project way back in March 2017. I instantly felt a kinship with these forgotten souls, and almost immediately felt compelled to bring their historically-erased lives and subversive tales to the stage -- it’s rare that I so hastily or impulsively commit to a theatrical project. I still remember reading about how Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy helped her friend murder her abusive husband (and get away with it!), or how Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force dressed up as a bear in a traveling circus to rescue her imprisoned fiancé who she had been forbidden to marry. I remember immediately thinking -- these are my people and I have to tell their story!!!
I think of the first day of rehearsal as a way of uploading everything that I have on to the ensemble’s mutual desktop. I always try to bring in every relevant scrap of research, every idea that the design team has arrived at thus far, every hunch, and every question. I always like to share -- What do I know about our play? What do I not know? What questions do I still have? What is still left for us as an ensemble to discover?
Over the last week, playwright Emily Dendinger has swooped in from New York City to “exfoliate” our script with us, cutting, revising, and rewriting our text based on the discoveries and choices that the ensemble has made around the table and on their feet. We’ve also started animating puppets in the rehearsal room, which has informed several script revisions and generated new moments onstage. We still have a few more weeks of rehearsal before our week of technical rehearsals begin, and the only thing that’s certain for the future is that this script and production will change and evolve and grow based on the collective discoveries of the ensemble.
I hope that you’ll join us this coming October at the Off-Leash Area’s Art Box - this is bound to be a special one, and I couldn’t be more excited. Onward!
Tickets are on sale now: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/15437
Le Cirque Féerique (The Fairy Circus)
Directed and conceived by David Hanzal
Written by Emily Dendinger, created in collaboration with David Hanzal and the ensemble
October 5-14, 2018 at the Off-Leash Area Art Box
4200 East 54th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55417
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.