Still a work in progress, but Silent Protagonist’s production blog for Or Be Eaten can be accessed at silentprotagonist.ca. Enjoy.
This is what it looks like when three people wearing rat/goblin puppets rehearse book-in-hand at a hellaciously early hour on a Sunday. I took these earlier today; left to right, it’s Graeme Black Robinson, Scott T. Garland, & Amy Marie Wallace, the cast of Silent Protagonist’s Or Be Eaten. I’m directing the thing for the Fringe this summer – we’re in St. Vlad’s theatre, which is a thoroughly sucky & disappointing venue (though it has better air-conditioning than the Factory, which makes up for a lot).
Or Be Eaten‘s a sort of urban-fairy tale, told with puppets & half-masks. I’m also incorporating a lot of le Coq-ish physical work into the piece. Basically it’s about a homeless youth named Ash who goes on a Neil Gaiman-esque odyssey into the bowels of the Torontonian subway system, on a quest to find some Edenic west-side neighborhood where “rent is affordable even after utilities, getting a job is easy, even without a reference.”
Graeme (Silent Protagonist’s AD) apparently has a production blog going, I’ll link to it when it’s live. Rehearsals for Or Be Eaten have a very different vibe than the rehearsals for my other show, The Hystericon (fewer tears, for one). It’s both refreshing & exciting to be able to work simultaneously on two pieces that differ so significantly in both tone & style. Amy’s got a bunch of gorgeous concept art that I might post, & Graeme’s puppets are consistently spectacular – more on that to come. In the meantime, enjoy the view.
And please please please please please please please read this.
My stage manager Nadia took this photo today:
She claims she was looking for inspiration for poster design &c., but in truth I think there’s a bit of the voyeur in her (she’s also a filmmaker, I think it comes with the territory). We’ve got an extremely rough & underdeveloped “blocking” to the piece (i.e., the actors know where they’re standing on stage), but now we move into a much more detailed kind of physical work. My stuff tends to be highly choreographed & stylized; I’m a bit of a Robert Wilsonian, I guess, a Meyerholdian, maybe. The trick will be to see whether an avant-garde aesthetic can be used tell what is essentiall a very human & honest & I hope capital T-True story. The Hystericon is a tricky beast.
But the actors – Renée Haché, Nicholas Porteous, Lesley Robertson, & Nicole Wilson – are all really taking to the work & the piece is already feeling “alive.” The key to success is to always surround yourself with people more talented than you are.
Also had the first read-through of Or Be Eaten…, the second (gulp) show I’m directing for the Fringe this year, produced by Silent Protagonist. It’s got a different vibe entirely; a puppet show, for one thing, urban fairy tale, a lot of fun. Graeme Black Robinson wrote the story & is also designing & building all the puppets – they already look gorgeous.
Moving into the new place at the end of the week. At some point I’ll manage to calm my pulse.
Stick in it the fridge, kiddos.
I am thrilled to officially announce my latest project – The Hystericon, debuting this summer in the Toronto Fringe Festival. We have just begun rehearsals with my theatre company, Good Old Neon.
In late 19th century Paris, Augustine, Blanche, & Geneviève are the most famous patients of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière insane asylum for women. They are his personal lab rats & performance artists, models & test subjects, as he conducts his experiments in “hysteria,” that dark recess of psychiatric medicine. Through the nascent technologies of photography & the black arts of hypnotism & psychopharmacology, Charcot turns them from troubled women into Hysterics, celebrities of the Belle Epoque: Augustine the Photogenic, whose pictures adorn Charcot’s publications; Blanche, “The Queen of Hysterics,” star performer in his public lectures; & Geneviève la Pucelle, who talks to God & believes she is possessed by demons – tonight they perform for their audience an hysterical revue, a cabaret, en Comédie en vaudeville, demonstrating the history & pathology of hysteria – but something seems to be going wrong. As lines are dropped & cues missed, the show starts to crumble, & the odyssey takes turn for the strange…
The Hystericon was inspired by the true life-stories of Augustine, Blanche, & Geneviève, & by the hundreds of black-&-white photographs taken of them by Dr. Charcot & his associates, found in the infamous Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière, the asylum’s annual photo album. Long a subject of fascination for art critics, historians, psychologists, feminists, & the darkly curious, now the first time a stage play is devoted not to the doctors & their experiments, but to the women themselves; their hopes, desires, loves, & fears.
Check out the Good Old Neon production blog at www.goodoldneon.ca! & follow us on Twitter @goodoldneonTO.