Three Rectangles of White. John Iacovelli suggested at the production meeting two weeks ago that instead of painting the entire space white, we paint a rectangle of white on the black stage and part of the back wall. I’ve been considering this during the past week’s rehearsals and have decided to use the idea. We will have three rectangles of white: 1. The muslin canopy over the stage. 2. A white rectangle painted directly beneath it on the floor in the same dimensions as the canopy. 3. And another painted on the back wall (in the same dimensions as the first two) covering the inner above (and perhaps part of the inner below). The doors to the inner above will, however, remain open revealing the RP screen behind them.
Playing space. The rectangle will give us two defined areas of floor: the white playing space and the margin, a black band around the outside of the playing space. These will serve as two distinct zones for the players to use and will provide a separation between (for lack of better words) fantasy and reality. The players exist in fantasy, the audience, reality. When one of the players makes an exit into the black space, they become audience. They sit and witness. They’re safe. The agents of action within the play cannot harm them. One moment in which this separation will serve us is during the fight between Hermia and Helena. Hermia chases Helena out of the space, when Helena makes it to the black she can turn back to Hermia triumphantly like a child playing tag who makes it to home base and celebrate the invulnerability granted her by the black area. Lighting, in as much as is possible, should help with this division.
Fairies in the margin. When Puck, Titania and Oberon are in the margin they can address the audience, they can play to each other without the players on the white space “hearing.” When they step into the white area with a mortal, they can be seen. Puck, while tormenting the two men, might streak behind them across the space. These kinds of games will give an immediacy to the actions and make the separation between the dream space and the waking space tangible. We should push this idea to its limits and not just accept it as a stage convention, but something of use that will heighten the play between the players.
Some scenic notes taken Wed 4th, November. Afternoon. 2-ish.
In terms of prop storage:
- Did I understand correctly that we could use laundry carts as trunks since they are equipped with wheels? [JZ: We discussed using one. I’m inclined to stay with the different varieties of trunks.]
- We looked at trunks in prop storage, and I will tag three of them for use in rehearsal: two trunks with false bottoms to be painted white that can sit over the traps and one that is light cream in color, slightly more elaborate in terms of hardware and cannot be painted. We have fittings to use these items over the central trapdoors in Wyatt. [JZ: We’ll only be able to place one trunk over the traps unless we pay for the construction of another mechanism.]
- I will also tag the white, slat back chair selected by John Zibell and John Iacovelli for use in rehearsal.
- There are numerous bottles in prop storage that could be used to contain the faeries. One suggestion to represent them is to use natural materials in conjunction with LED lighting. We have not yet secured LED lights for the faerie bottles. We are looking, in particular, for LED lights that are movement activated, activated by manipulating the bottle. See John Iacovelli for details.
In terms of projection surfaces:
- There is the possibility of using cage-like metal painted white: three sets of bars, each perhaps 4’x8′
- We have numerous flats and doors to use. We also have 3-panel folding screens to delineate space.
- There is talk of using the stair unit(s) for play between the stage floor and the inner above. Preferably, these stair units would receive some kind of treatment to eliminate the riser gap between treads, in order to make the surface more projection friendly. Materials for this include muslin, lauan, or even foam core. John Iacovelli would like to see plans for these stairs, if available.
- The production will need a 10′ or 12′ wide (more or less, whatever the largest available width is from the roll) by 20′ or 25′ long piece of muslin to be used for rehearsal. This piece of muslin should have eye holes or some other regularly spaced means of being attached to structural members using dog clips or sash cord etc.
- The heavy sheeting from John Jasperse’s show was examined and is still under review. The flame retardant properties make the material whiter and more opaque than desired. Suggestions were made to still use it for its noisemaking capabilities, such as dragging the sheeting through a hole in the stage as though it were quicksand or merely disappearing. [JZ: I like the image of someone being pulled down the trap by the plastic and my immediate idea for using this image would be for Hermia to be sucked in right after the scene where she wakes from her nightmare. How we get it in and how long we use it for will be tricky as the noise level of walking on it will completely cover dialogue.
- It was determined that the rear projection screen from the main stage is too large to be installed in the inner above. A projection screen made of muslin, however, would fit nicely and could be installed with enough room for actors to play in silhouette downstage of the screen. Whether this is desirable has yet to be determined, but it is an option.
In terms of other screens,
- there appears to be a 5 panel screen with a metal frame and a grey tree motif painted on it that is available to use. Discussion surrounding this item suggested that the existing tree motif might be too unpleasantly iconographic or discordant with the show concept. [JZ: The fact that it is discordant with the show concept may be the reason to use it. I’d like to consider using this piece particularly if the Mechanicals can erect it during the show.]
In terms of video production/projection:
- A filmmaker is needed, as well as a sound recordist. John Iacovelli mentioned the possibility of using his Film Festival contacts to generate some leads for these positions.
- Following a chat with Ned regarding a light package stored at the Regency, John Iacovelli also mentioned needing to email Sarah Pia Anderson.
- I still need lens info/photometric data for the projections from Brian Webber and will inquire about this in more depth shortly.
The opening: I think we need to introduce the projections before we introduce the characters. Don’t have much of an idea on this. Maybe a music montage and then flood every square inch we can with rapid-fire images and land on the press conference w/ Theseus and Hippolyta. Two projectors hit the entire back wall with the primary image. Another projector hits the ceiling with beautiful blue sky and a military jet fly-over. The final projector hits a stand-alone screen with a close up on Hippolyta from a different angle. In the wide shot she looks like Jackie O w/ JFK. In the tight shot, she looks a little nervous. As we’re watching this the lights come up on the stage to reveal Hippolyta looking like something out of Abu Ghriab. Perhaps there is a bit of business where two guards bring her the clothing she wears in the scene we’re watching. A version of Jackie O’s pink suit would be perfect. Theseus enters and watches his captive dress. He talks to her about four days lingering his desires. Here we have to be delicate but I think we need to go after the idea that she’s his to do with as he will. If we spell it out that he rapes her, we’re killing some tension that we need to tell Hermia’s story.