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Design Meeting, Nov. 18th

Notes:

Gian Scarabino wrote: Some notes taken during Midsummer Design meeting, 18th Nov.

Bold text denotes response from TD Daniel Neeland

Scenic:

We are looking to have a projection screen in the Inner Above – as opposed to using the Above as a playing space.  The ideal dimension of the screen is 14′ wide, but we will have to get a projector in the space ASAP to see just how large we can make the image, and then we can determine the actual size of the screen.  In terms of screen build John specified muslin wrapped and stretched around a hogtroughed frame and with potential to screw into floor and ceiling.

As I recall we have a projector that will produce a large image while resting on the support beam upstage of the opening in the inner above.

In addition to the Inners Above and Below as well as the deck, we will want to paint the cheeks and associated elements to the edge of the stage “white,” or whatever specific variant of white is agreed upon, hereafter referred to as “white.”

Daniel ~ We would like to cover the exposed columns/supports in Wyatt with the existing hard surrounds, also to be painted white.  Do we still have coverage for all sides of all columns?

We have most of them, We will need to remake some that got damaged.

Daniel ~ How wide is the widest roll of muslin?  Ten or twelve feet?  For rehearsal on Tuesday, Nov 24th (Jenna or John Zibell, correct me if I am wrong about this date), we would like to obtain a piece of muslin as wide as possible, 10′ or 12′ by 28′, so the actors can begin working with the unstarched fabric.  For this we will also need long lengths of sash cord to play with.

The muslin is 10 feet wide and costs  $4 a yard. we also have sash cord available in varying lengths. We need to schedule a time for me to do a knot tying class with the actors and crew. Perhaps at the start of the rehearsal process.

We would like to use three trunks (all already tagged in prop storage), only one of which will have a false bottom and be positioned, tentatively, over a trap downstage center.

John Iacovelli drew up a plan for a projector cart, pyramidal in design, to be made of steel or possibly scrap wood and painted white.  We may need two of these.  Alternatively, we may want to find stools with wheels.  In either case these will have to be able to accommodate a hard drive (unless we can operate them remotely), projector and power strip.

We have discussed the possibility of incorporating rock climbing holds into the playing space.  No official word, yet.

Not thrilled with that idea for safety reasons. please discuss with me before making your final decision.

I am working to provide a preliminary ground plan in electronic form shortly.

Lighting:

Tom ~ What happened to the little green stars we used above the audience for Nest?  Are these available to use?

One is out on loan, but we can get it back if needed

Projection/Video:

Tom ~ How many slides does the Pani projector accomodate?  Six?  Are there two Pani projectors and can we use one or both for performance in the Wyatt?  Will they be too noisy if mounted in the house?

We are interested in using the auto yoke for a projector if it is available.

A suggestion was made that we would get twice as much throw if a projected image were bounced down off a mirror and onto the canopy.  Would anyone care to elaborate or make a correction?  Does the mirror, then, remain on stage?

Depends on the size of the mirror in relation to the image and distance from the projector. the further you are from the projector, the larger mirror you need to ‘catch ‘ the image to bounce it.

If we can create a cylindrical shape out of the muslin onstage we can potentially project from within the cylinder using a projector cart.  This is not unlike Bill Dudley’s current production of Peter Pan featured in Live Design magazine. Furthermore, we might be able use the Pani projectors to simulate this effect in the Wyatt itself, projecting on areas above the heads of the audience.

There was loose discussion of simulating daylight within and from one of the cheeks to give the space depth.  We may also be able to utilize screens for this.

Environmental video is being taken right now by several filmmakers, to be compiled at a later date.

We will not be able to begin rehearsal filming until the second week of January, when costumes are available.

Miscellany:

An inflatable tree has been suggested, possibly to be pulled out of the vaudevillian bottomless trunk.  Concerns range from how it will maintain air pressure quietly to what materials are suitable for its construction (muslin, nylon).  Can it be spandex with a flexible frame, eliminating the need for constant air pressure?

I don’t see how spandex will eliminate the need for constant pressure. we should talk more about what you want the end result to be so we can determine how to get there.

Building on the bottomless trunk idea, we may also want a straight ladder or A-frame (to use for height and pick points) to appear via one of these trunks.

We have only 8′ clearance in the pit, so anything that comes up must fit in there with enough room to allow the trap door to swing, as well as any support structure needed for the crew to operate the effects.


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[Hermia/Helena – Demetrius/Lysander] and the cloning of culture according to Jean Baudrillard

I came across the following quote from Jean Baudrillard and it figures directly into my thinking about this piece so I’m sharing it here.

Non-Occidental cultures do not discriminate between the human and the inhuman. We invented the distinction, and we are in the process of erasing it. Not by crossing the line and reconciling the two; rather, the erasure operates in absentia, through technological undifferentiation.

Again: the final solution, the vertigo of the final solution.

It might be argued that whatever the genetic destination of the clone may be, it will never be exactly the same as the original. (Well, of course not, as the clone will have had an Original, which cannot be said of the original itself.) But the main argument is that there is nothing to fear from biogenetically engineered cloning, because whatever happens, culture will continue to differentiate us. Salvation lies in our acquirements: culture alone will preserve us from the hell of the Same.

In fact, exactly the reverse is true. It is culture that clones us, and mental cloning anticipates any biological cloning. It is the matrix of acquired traits that, today, clones us culturally under the sign of monothought-and it is all the innate differences that are annulled, inexorably, by ideas, by ways of life, by the cultural context. Through school systems, media, culture, and mass information, singular beings become identical copies of one another. It is this kind of cloning-social cloning, the industrial reproduction of things and people-that makes possible the biological conception of the genome and of genetic cloning, which only further sanctions the cloning of human conduct and human cognition.

— Jean Baudrillard, The Vital Illusion, pp. 24-25.

I’ve been thinking of Lysander and Demetrius as cultural clones of each other. Can we cast twins? Hermia and Helena become, in the end, cultural clones of Hippolyta. We want to begin the exploration of this part of the story in our use of costume. We want to tell this part of the story in terms of what Baudrillard refers to as “cloning of human conduct and human cognition.” Personalities (i.e. behavioral patterns), like fashion choices, can be downloaded and easily installed into one’s operating system. This metaphor works on a couple of levels. One’s operating system, these days, can itself be downloaded and installed onto one’s hardware, even swapped out for a freeware system posted in cyberspace not by the corporate megaliths like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, but by radically democratic, benevolent, anarchists intent on egalitarianism at all costs. There are still only five or so operating systems in wide use on the planet (looking at our young people, I wonder if there are even as many personalities available for download). And yet we identify with our operating system as though it were our most pure self… until we download another. I don’t mean to categorize this as bad news. I simply think it’s how we function though we completely disavow the process.

Most interesting to me in the quote above than all the stuff about cloning (for our purposes anyhow), is the use of the idea of “the final solution.” The book’s title The Vital Illusion is a fantastic pun here which I just realized. If we look at Hitler’s infamous “final solution” as dispassionately as possible we may see an attempt on the part of the members of the master race to identify the inherent antagonism within society, personify the antagonism, and eradicate that (ultimately ineradicable) antagonism. “Make us all the same!” could have been the battle cry of the SS. It is the battle cry of Egeus at the start of the play. He’s identified the radical and wants her to conform or die. Hermia is willing to die for her freedom. Hippolyta is not and we know this at the start. Hippolyta transforms from warrior queen into doting bride. Is not this the path also taken by Hermia and Helena in the end? They’re mute for the final act of the play. I keep coming back to this as it’s the most perplexing thing I’ve found in the piece.

What does Shakespeare seem to be saying about “dying most gallant for love”? He portrays love as a kind of sickness here. This sickness is as antithetical to the patriarchal society of Athens as Titania’s woman’s intuition is to Oberon’s vision of how things will go from now on in fairy land. Love is a drug-induced hallucination that infects the brain reconfiguring its chemistry in such a way that the user of the machine believes that the hallucination comes from deep within the self – that the self is born with such a love within and simply searches to find the right vessel into which it may be poured. Shakespeare also seems to say that switching the vessel out for another is not at all as hard as it’s cracked up to be. A little fear, a little lust, a little glimmer in the eye of the right person (even if that person is an ass), and we throw over the one we were willing to die for. Then, after we’ve been through hell and we return to the place of comfort becoming forever knit to our one true love in the end, how can we forget our desire for that magical other who so moved us against all reason?

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Costumes: Hippolyta / Titania

Costumes

Hippolyta & Titania

The main arc of the Hippolyta character is from captive warrior Queen to dutiful wife. The obvious choice for her costuming while she’s Theseus’s captive is nudity. But maybe there’s something even more humiliating. I have images from Abu Ghraib creeping into my thoughts (see below). In fact, I can’t keep them out right now.

There will be a projected “Press Conference” where she stands behind Theseus looking like Hillary Clinton or Jackie O. Jackie O’s pink suit may be perfect. Or a version of it. There has to be something in stock.

Theseus says: Hippolyta, I wooed thee with my sword and won thy love doing thee injuries, but I will wed thee in another key. With Pomp, with triumph and with reveling.

In the end, however, what’s different? What does she wear for her wedding dress? Could it be a version of Titania’s robe?

Abu_Ghraib

JKO 603Pjackie_o_weddingjackie_o_pink_suitjackie_o

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Notes: Design Meeting Thursday, Oct. 21st

The set: A sheet of muslin 12′ x 24′ or even 36′ stretched above the stage as a ceiling onto which we’ll project the opening images. It drops and becomes a kind of scoop that covers some of the floor sloping up to reach up to about 8′ high under the theatre’s inner above. We can front and back project onto this. We talked about using one stand-alone screen somewhere on stage. Maybe it’s moveable.

What if the Mechanicals build the set as the audience is coming in? I love this idea. It gives them something real to do that roots them in the world of manual labor. Provides the immediate contrast between the lower and upper economic classes.

Trunks: Talked about using four trunks – possibly placed over the traps in the floor and pulling piles of costumes out and chairs. Of course, there’s the old vaudeville image of taking a coat rack out of a trunk.

Ropes: John brought up the idea of using hemp ropes to string the muslin scoop. We can teach the mechanicals to tie some really interesting knots. The hemp thing is good because we’ll use it in the costumes of Oberon and Titania (possibly) if we go with the shamanic motif for them.

White floor or black gloss: We love the white because we can project on it! We love the black gloss because it can reflect projected images. Need to make tests of this soon. Is there a way to get white gloss paint to reflect the images?

Children’s Chairs: We discussed using small scale chairs. This can be particularly useful in the final act in the court. If there’s no furniture in the opening and the tiny chairs come out in the forrest scene. There’s some good comic moments to be created. Then in the end, the tiny furniture makes it back to the court and nobody notices this major change.

Splitting the stage down the middle. For the climactic moment in the forest when Puck is leading Lysander and Demetrius around, we may hoist a screen that splits the thrust with half the audience on either side. We can have players on one side of the screen and on the other side the audience sees their shadows, or they can see a live projection of the players on the other side. It’s tough to imagine exactly what we can do but the possibilities are exciting.

Costumes: The period is present day with Hermia moving in the circles of, movie stars, rock musicians and the sons and daughters of senators. Lysander and Demetrius are (both) John Kennedy Jr. I’ve entertained the idea of switching these two players sometime between the forrest and the wedding. Leaning away from this, but who knows. Kara was going to pull some magazine photos before next meeting.

Kabuki: I don’t have a thematic or dramatic justification for using Kabuki in the forrest scenes, but it’s one of those unformed hunches that I can’t shake. I see Titania and Oberon in those broad robes that could be magnificent screens for projecting. And there’s something great about the slow, deliberate movement of Kabuki that can totally change the tone and pace of the play. The chanting and soundscape could also help sell the dream logic.

Puck: Puck is a shape-shifter so all the players (except maybe for Hermia) will play the goblin at various times. We need a costume piece that all the players can trade. John suggested some kind of mask and it can possess the player who puts it on. There has to be a moment when this is made clear to the audience. Probably during the meeting of Puck and the First Fairy. Kara was going to do some research before next week’s meeting.

Oberon: We all continue to like the shamanic motif. White powder and shells, shakers, rain sticks.

Images and Projection: We’ll more than likely use 90 minutes of continuous projection of one kind or another and this week John Iacovelli brought in Gian Scarabino as projection designer. Gian’s researching the technology of projectors this week and doing some tests with different screens. We talked about generating most of the images and video. I like the idea of having projections that look like still images for a long while and then they come alive in one form or another. Still collecting resumes for digital artist collaborators!


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Film/Video Collaborators Wanted!!

I’m looking for creative, experienced filmmakers, photographers, video artists, and animators to work on this project. It goes up in the Wyatt Pavilion, February 24th-28th, 2010.

If you know someone who is, or are yourself, interested in doing any one of the following cool jobs, please contact me.

Are you an Animator who would like to develop visualizations of Titania’s “fairies” (this won’t require traditional character animation, but rather skill in the representation of moods or emotions – particularly the darker moods and emotions)

or

are you interested in being part of a Video Crew, for example, if you’re an experienced DP, or sound recordist

or

if you’re a Video Artist / Filmmaker who can collaborate with a theatre director and design team to create and edit video and find, or shoot still images to be used for projection,

then I’d love to talk to you.

Please shoot me an email right now: jzbrooklyn@gmail.com or post your info in a comment below. Make sure I have your name, phone number and email.

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