Time is ticking as we are now less than one month away from opening our first MFA ensemble show, Fleatown, and everything is on track! Costumes are being assembled, we’ve walked through the entire first half and are adding in the details to the script. Our next step is to take what we have and try it out on our stage. Our stage, however, might not be what you are thinking. There will be no curtains, no wings, no real place to step off-stage or relax out of character. Our stage will be outdoors at the top of one of the busiest pedestrian streets in Arezzo where there is a multi-level, grassy area.
This location is ideal for our production because it will allow us to easily distinguish the master characters (the “actors” or lovers and the main family characters) from the servant characters. Not only that but it will let us play with directing the audience where to look in the show so that they don’t miss an important plot element. With the entire cast of 14 on the stage at all times, we will have the chance to develop our skills in directing attention and helping the audience focus on different parts of the stage.
In this location we will need to work on distinguishing where private scenes (between two characters) can happen, where the master characters can see the crew or servant characters below which will tie into a visual representation of power amongst the characters. Together we need to create the rules of the stage in order to enhance the world we are presenting to our audience.
The other element of working in this type of a setting is that since we will be in view of the audience the entire time we need to develop our characters in a way so that we constantly stay alert. In this style of stage we will be able to really focus on the other characters in our area, playing off of what they are doing, while developing our own actions and reactions as we listen to our colleagues on stage and stay ready to act or react.
Without the use of lights or curtains or any of the traditional tools that theatre uses to progress the story forward we find this a wonderful challenge to play with as we continue developing our show. As we continue our exploration together as an ensemble we find ourselves growing together artistically as we create solutions to our challenges.