Onsite Theatre Commission: Days 10 & 11 (+Glowworm)

The Goat (Tobie L. Windham, on platform) conjures up Marveaux (Kyle Schaefer), a soldier in World War I. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Mermaid Philomel (Emily Kitchens) calls Marveaux to her island in the middle of the lake. Photo by Kevin Berne.

I was on such a roll: 9 days straight of blogging! If you couldn’t tell, I was trying to post every day throughout the Onsite Theatre commission process, but last night I got home at midnight from our 3rd-year students’ gorgeous production of Glen Berger’s O Lovely Glowworm and just couldn’t do it. I did, however, start reading Ayckbourn’s House & Garden while eating dinner before the show: note #1 = lots of entrances and exits (no surprise there); note #2 = discord! If the characters aren’t fond of each other, it makes it real easy for them to leave the room. More to come on that. First: Glowworm.

I mean, look at theses images. Come on! The subtitle of Berger’s play is “Scenes of Great Beauty” and I have to say the scenic designer Melepomene Katakalos and lighting designer Benjamin Wilhelm (and of course director Alex Harvey!) FLOORED me with the pictures they created. I first read Glowworm when I was applying to be a reader at Berkeley Rep before I came out here and was looking for an in into the Bay Area theater scene. It is not an easy show to read. It makes you work, and it certainly has got some girth to it. But as I hope you gathered from my last post, Berger has some important things to say and he is saying those things in a unique way. There are a lot of messages in Glowworm, but the one I am taking away is this: that reality is only what we agree on . . . and if not one is around to disagree with you, reality is whatever you want it to be and can be constructed from whatever scraps you can hold on to.



I HIGHLY recommend you catch our truly spectacular students in this show before it closes on the 20th, but please come prepared: it is a 3-hour ride. It goes quickly, and the lobby does sell snacks (and coffee), but 3 hours is 3 hours however enjoyable.

One random note: the student matinees for our last three shows have been amazing. Students have not only understood Racine’s Phedre, Brecht’s Chalk Circle, and now Berger’s Glowworm, they have loved them! There is a lot of talk about the growing cultural illiteracy in our youth and, in theater specifically, a fear of diminishing attention spans and appreciation for live . . . anything. Are these concerns warranted, or are they excuses we have given ourselves when we fail to reach them?

Okay, that was Day 10.

Day 11: I have my actors for the Onsite Commission. Laaaaaaaaaaaaa! Rule # . . . what are we up to? 9?

Early-30s white female
Late 20s/early-30s white female
Early 20s white female
Early 20s white male
Middle-aged African American male

So many possibilities. A Three Sisters spin-off perhaps? A married couple mirrored by the newly blossoming love of the two youngsters? Do any of these characters work at the hostel, or are they all guests? This commission was first proposed to me right around Salinger’s death and I had thought about writing a play stealing characters from Nine Stories. Do we have a Seymour here? Possibly a Mary Jane and Eloise from “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut”?

Next steps:
1. Finish House & Garden
2. Call my actors to hear their speech patterns.
3. Find out the distance between the two playing spaces. I looked at the map my director drew up for me: there may be a courtyard separating the rooms. No sound bleed in that case . . . unless you can hear shouting from the courtyard in BOTH space simultaneously. Gold.

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