Archive for October, 2011

What I’ve Learned From Falling In Time’s Rehearsal Process

Posted in Production updates on October 30, 2011 by cegatchalian

We are just six days away from opening night of Falling In Time, and during the last two and a half weeks of rehearsal I feel as though I’ve acquired a lifetime’s worth of playwriting wisdom. I’ve been a professional dramatist for the better part of fifteen years, so I thought I knew a lot; as it turns out, I knew very little. More accurately: truths have hit home for me more deeply while rehearsing this play than while rehearsing previous plays.

The biggest of these truths: that what may work on paper as literature doesn’t necessarily work on stage as theatre. For example, there was a sequence in the play where one of the actors, in previous drafts of the script, was required to morph from her primary character into several other characters within a space of two minutes. While it seemed joyously theatrical on the page, when we put it on its feet in rehearsal, it revealed itself as merely theatrical; that is, it resulted only in creating logistical confusion and interfering with the integrity of the primary character’s story. So we’ve ditched it, and the play is (I think) stronger as a result.

Because I come to playwriting from a literary background as opposed to a theatrical one, thinking about stage logistics doesn’t come naturally to me, so I always welcome the necessary tug-of-war that happens during rehearsal between what is called for in the script and what makes sense theatrically. That said, there’s value in not restricting oneself to write only what is in conventional terms “theatrically possible.” As an admirer of the late British playwright Sarah Kane, I’ve always held fast to her credo that if it is possible to imagine something, it is possible to represent it. This can often result in theatre that is innovative, startling and sensual–all good things, in my opinion.

Speaking of tugs-of war, there have been several in the last two and a half weeks. But they have all been for the sake of advancing the show rather than advancing egos, and always with the knowledge that with thesis and antithesis come synthesis.

Building Community: All the World’s A Stage

Posted in Production updates on October 13, 2011 by cegatchalian

The idea for All the World’s A Stage, Screaming Weenie’s newest community-building initiative, stemmed from my desire to truly engage the community in our production of Falling In Time. I wanted the production to have a real impact on people, not simply with regards to it being a good play that people liked, but also with regards to making it a springboard from which community members could, first, wrestle with and talk about the issues the play explores, and, second, fulfill their own artistic and expressive aspirations.

All the World’s A Stage is a program that selects seven individuals from diverse cultural, ethnic and sexual backgrounds and gets them to create theatre. The program occurs in two phases. Phase One has them engaged as production mentees on Falling In Time; in Phase Two they will use what they learn from their experience in Phase One to collectively create a new play that they will present at the Vancouver Playhouse Recital Hall in March 2012. The overarching purpose of the program is twofold: first, to give individuals theatre-making skills that will enhance their personal development and/or open doors for them to pursue further professional work in this field; and second, to build bridges across differences in culture, ethnicity, gender and sexuality.

The All the World’s A Stage group had their first meeting last week at the Leaky Heaven studio, and it was inspiring to see the chemistry and instant rapport the participants had with each other. This was no doubt helped by the presence of David Beare, our brilliant and passionate program facilitator who has years of experience in theatre education and drama therapy.  It’s an eclectic group–four men and three women; four queer and three non-queer; one a native of Canada, two longtime immigrants, one recent immigrant, two refugees and one currently applying for refugee status.

This was Week One of what will be a twenty-four week journey. Stay tuned for more updates.

Hello, Narcissism!

Posted in Production updates on October 8, 2011 by cegatchalian

Well, here it is, my entry into the world of blogging. I am embracing its built-in narcissism with full gusto, at least for this month leading up to the world premiere of Falling In Time, and who knows–maybe I’ll enjoy it enough that I’ll keep with it after the show closes.

The way I look at it, if you can use blogging to further something beyond your own mercenary interests, it’s a worthwhile activity. And Falling In Time is a project that is much larger than myself–it involves a director, actors and designers who are putting their souls and imaginations to the task of bringing a difficult play to life, and a production team with the smarts to make it all run as smoothly as an S-Class Mercedes. The play also deals with issues that are either taboo (male victims of sexual abuse) or forgotten (the Korean War). And I also think the many theatre artists in Vancouver and elsewhere who are trying to produce new work will find some inspiration in how Screaming Weenie Productions, a theatre company who, like many other arts organizations in BC, took a huge hit when the Direct Access cuts came down two years ago, was able, through unflinching will and determination, to make this show happen.

I’ll be blogging pretty regularly over the next four weeks. So buckle in as I give you updates on how the world premiere of Falling In Time is coming to be.