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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Making of Trojan Women: Part 3

J. Ed Araiza, Katherine Crockett, and Ellen Lauren. Photo: Craig Schwartz

The third part of a blog series about the creation of SITI Company's Trojan Women.

Day 20 – J. Ed Araiza (Menelaus)

Today we did not Za’ar, or even work on the music/singing/dance, but after more discussion we went straight outside after a short break and AGAIN looked at the beginning of the play, the very important entrance of Poseidon and then the “SETing” of the chairs by the Chorus. This has been a long discussion—a real investigation into what the rules are, what is the world we are setting up, and WHO is setting it up. It began perhaps as a simple question of where does Poseidon enter from and how does the stage get set, and by whom and why?

Then, where does the Chorus enter, what is he doing, and does Poseidon see him or enable him or control him?

Then, where and why does Hecuba enter and is it more “FORMAL” or character driven?

Then, how do the Women enter—from where and why and how?

But now… I really do believe we have a real and “true” beginning and it is a beautiful yet simple image.

Day 21 – Akiko Aizawa (Kassandra)

Our rehearsal flow has been: run the lines, remember what we made last week (feels like decades ago), then re-consider/re-construct the scene. It’s been challenging. Simply remembering is difficult. And the new position of the chairs tells the new story spatially. Brian [H Scott] has refocused the lights already. Wow, it’s quick.

Andromache added more floor pattern, strengthened the relationship with Hecuba. Makela [Spielman]’s weeping sound gave me shivers. Barney [O'Hanlon]’s questions about the Ode—“why?” and “when does it happen?”—led to the new timing. Christian [Frederickson] has been amazingly flexible and creative.

Then we got into the court scene with Hecuba, Helen, and Menelaus. Their line through/around the bench was comedy indeed. They argued at a rapid speed with full gestures (aka bad miming) and full of energy. We were exhausted but we just kept laughing.

Staging: We set it once last week with complicated patterns. But now it seems wide open to possibility. I think this is our strength, not holding onto what has been done, but questioning what is going on here and why, and re-examining. I don’t remember how many versions J. Ed, Ellen [Lauren], and Katherine [Crockett] explored.

Day 23 – Gian-Murray Gianino (aka GM) (Odysseus)

I lead Suzuki training with the end of the play in mind. We start with marching (straight downstage and center) and then into some sitting statues and, of course, stomping and shakuhashi [exercises within the Suzuki Method]. We are on quite a run with stomping and shakuhashi—today was our 24th day of doing it at every rehearsal—and I feel like it is giving me so much information. I think we are really playing inside of it, having a conversation about what we are attempting—both inside of it and inside of this play Trojan Women. Currently, my knee has an opposing argument, but there you go. As has been mentioned, and I didn’t know this before, stomping and shakuhashi comes straight out of Mr. Suzuki’s production of Trojan Women. Of course it does, I say to myself.

Anne [Bogart] wants us to continue playing with this idea of “walk” and “forward feet”—two lines right at the end of the play—in our Viewpoints session. At the end she remarks on the intensity of our state in both trainings. I think that's because we sense, despite our fatigue, that we are really in the thick of the hunt and the hill only gets steeper next week.I really love where we find ourselves in the process and am excited about how we will continue to refine what we've created next week.

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