Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hopefully, a Chorus Line: The 'Bhopal' Tour

Ilanna left today with the ensemble to tour 'Bhopal' to three festivals in India and Nepal.  She is the Chorus Leader and choreographer, and writes about her thoughts, concerns, and excitement about introducing new Chorus members during the tour!

Birsa, one of my fellow chorus members in Bhopal (and the only other chorus member to be embarking on our upcoming India and Nepal tour), asked it most succinctly when he looked at me after our show at the South Asian Theater Festival, a bit bewildered, and asked, “How are we going to train new chorus members in a couple hours what took us two months to learn?”

Ilanna rehearses with the rest of the cast in New Jersey.
Feeling optimistic (and hoping to appear so to appease his worried glance), I casually replied, “Don’t worry! It took us a month and three weeks to figure out what we were doing, and only about a week to internalize it and make it look flawless!” This statement is more true than false, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s 100% truthful. 

I am concerned about how we will transpose the images that we spent weeks creating to a new stage, with a new group of chorus members, but I’m not losing sleep over it. Birsa and I know the play and the chorus’s parts so well now. Much of the trickiness comes from timing -- when’s the exact moment the chorus enters (in the light? or at the whistle sound cue?), when do we take a step as a group (are we following the leader? or waiting for the word “no”?), how many seconds do we count before we break our held poses (I know this one... it’s 8). 

Between the two of us, I think we will be able to direct traffic well. What we don't have quite enough time to perfectly teach, the chorus will pick up by our example.  Joanna, the director, has the chorus doing a series of repetitive movements throughout the play that are simple to teach and easy to learn.  The beauty and impact for the audience comes from the simplicity, timing, and group mentality of our actions. I feel confident that once we teach our new chorus members the actions, they will effortlessly find their places onstage, and find their own ways to influence how we tell this story.

Above all, I am so excited to be interacting with new actors in each location we will be touring to. How exciting to get to meet local actors at each festival, who jump in and become part of a bigger story! I am looking forward to meeting our newest collaborators, who will add to our story and enrich our experience

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The YAP Rebooted!

Heddy Lahmann updates us all on the progress that she and Ilanna are making on the new Young Audience Program show, Amelia.

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers." – Amelia Earhart

When I jumped on board with Bond Street Theatre in February of this year, I was thrilled to get involved with the international social development work that the company is doing, and also expressed an interest in the local New York City outreach via the Young Audience Program. Joanna and Michael encouraged me to go for it and get the fires burning under the YAP again.

As of September, Ilanna Saltzman and I began collaboratively creating a new piece for the Young Audience Program to take to NYC public schools, museums and libraries. Our subject? None other than the fearless pioneering aviatrix, Amelia Earhart. We were inspired to tell the tale of her courage to dream and desire to stand up and go against the grain, at a time when women were only just getting the right to vote.

We’re weaving our story through the lens of two explorers on a quest to uncover the details of Amelia’s life’s story and ultimately the mystery of her disappearance. Dealing with the disappearance in the context of a show for children does have its challenges. We obviously want to keep the story playful and uplifting as well as educational and historically accurate. In an effort to achieve this, we’re putting the focus on Amelia’s determination and bravery and throwing in some stilting to manifest the thrill of flight. Amelia said, "Decide...whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying." Amelia's moxie is contagious, and we're excited to pass it on to the young people of NYC.