On the road to the Directors Project
Trailer for His Girl Friday the 1940s film. Directed by Howard Hawks, starring Cary Grant
by Krista Jackson
It’s hard to believe it is the middle of July and in less than a month we begin rehearsals for our own Directors Projects. Despite the long hours in the rehearsal hall, being in all three theatres tech-ing, production meetings, teaching academy sessions and joining the audiences of Present Laughter and His Girl Friday on the terrace for my pre-show chats, this internship has felt like a sabbatical. I have had the time to read novels and plays from the mandate.
I am learning phonetics from the amazing voice and dialect coach Laurann Brown. (we are using the IPA while working on an American Southern dialect). I have regular Alexander sessions with the Victoria Heart; a technique I have not explored since theatre school. I have also had a Manners of The Mandate tutorial from Sharry Flett and look forward to a more intensive workshop with Guy Bannerman and Sharry before the season ends to incorporate these details into my project.
My first choice for the project was approved! I I will be doing two shorter American one acts with the same set. George S. Kaufman’s If Men Played Cards As Women Do will transition into Alice Gerstenberg’s Overtones. Kaufman has four men meeting to play cards and Gerstenberg has two childhood friends – with a history – meeting for tea. She gives each woman “a primitive self” who speaks what she is really thinking and feeling. The shows compliment each other even though they are very different in style.
Trailer for His Girl Friday by John Guare. Directed by Jim Mezon, assistant directed by Krista Jackson
I submitted Tina Howe’s translation of The Bald Soprano by Ionesco as my third choice and a John Galsworthy’s short Punch and Go. It turns out it was also Associate Director Eda Holmes’ second choice when she was did this internship in 2001. I am in the process of casting and have lined up some fantastic ensemble members so far, but i’ll let you know the full cast in the next post and let you in on some design ideas as well. It is a very small budget but we have the furniture, props and costume warehouses to pull from. This past winter, all the costumes at the warehouse were barcoded and ensemble members who have been here for many seasons have their own closets.
The Festival celebrated a second round of openings the first week of July which included His Girl Friday! Tonight is our first dress rehearsal for Hedda Gabler. Bill Schmuck’s set and costumes, Kevin Lamotte’s lights and Todd Charlton’s sound design are gorgeous and I can’t wait to see everyone in their costumes. Investigating Ibsen again (I played Regina in aproduction of Ghosts) from the other side of the table with Martha Henry has been a masterclass. Martha has put me to work staging the two transitions and I have been soaking up her vocabulary of over fifty years in the theatre.
A few of her insights from my notes…
“Props have a life of their own – once they expose themselves. Don’t put them away until they have finished accomplishing their purpose.”
“All the motivations come from the other person.”
“Actors’ technique is knowing how to arrange your being so that you are emotionally availablein the moment.”
I have also learned that the key to a characters’ journey can lie in a single word and thatsometimes the pronoun as the operative word is your friend!