Note: This is a cross-posting from Paul Holmquist’s “Neverwhat?” blog, chronicling his research for directing our spring MainStage production of Neverwhere. This post is by Maren Robinson, our production dramaturg.
I was not in attendance at our first Neverwhere production meeting and Paul‘s blog post on that particular meeting gives you a great idea of the roles the various contributors to the artistic process of producing a play. I was delighted at the way our second production meeting started with our director, and birthday celebrant, Paul, announcing that we needed to talk about blood and transitions.
It made me laugh and it highlighted the difference between what it means to read a book or watch a film and what it means to stage a play. Questions like: how a death will be handled? Will there be blood? Will it still be on the stage floor in the next scene? Will it be on the costumes and should it be on the costumes in the next scene? If not how will it get off? Will this costume work in a fight scene? Which weapon is right for Hunter? When can we visit the dump together?
Most people never get to see the men and women behind the curtain (so to speak) in theater or know that we meet months in advance to hash out these sorts of questions so that there is a shared aesthetic and continuity to a production. Theater continually amazes me in that it is an art form that can not be practiced alone and it amazes me further that you there are a room full of artistic and enthusiastic people working together for a shared goal.
It is also inspiring to see set sketches and hear sound inspirations and costume collages, having colleagues to feed each other’s work is worth the challenges of collaboration. I should also point out that this meeting involved a pile of weapons in the middle of the room and listening to Tom Waits. (I wish I had a photo of the impressive pile of weapons to share with you all).
It also struck me that that blood and transitions are the crux of almost any good story and good life, well maybe blood on the floor or clothes is not a good thing but certainly action and transition.
It makes me think of the line from the Player King in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,
“We’re more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can’t give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They’re all blood, you see.”
There is something of the roving band of players in any modern theater group who come together to try by alchemy, sweat and late nights to create magic. It is fun to be a part of a rag tag band that shares a goal. It is the making of an adventure.