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