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Same Play, Different Day

September 14, 2012

Have you ever worked on the same play twice in a row?  Different place, different people, same play.  I recently had this experience.  As you know from reading my TEACHING REVISITED post, I work for a High School in the afternoons and a Middle School in the evening.  What that post did not mention was that I worked on the same play for both!  I was literally in tech for HS Pippin the same days as MS Auditions. I got the rare chance to re-imagine a world that I had already seen created, just days before.  I’ve always found it amazing how different actors can make you feel like you are meeting the character for the first time; and how different directors stylize their visions so that the you leave with a totally new experience every time. The Truth be told, this is the first musical I’ve worked on in a Dramaturgical capacity.  The first time around, it was all research and textual analysis; but the second round of Pippin, my role became more about clarity of production.

How do you keep it new each day?  After a while I found myself repeating the same information in my head and actually trying to change the words to make it sound like new information.  It worked for a while, but, in the end, it was the style that saved me.  Taking what has been done and deconstructing it just to then reconstruct it anew!  That’s the fun for me.  I’ve always been one who reads a play before she sees a play.  I don’t want to be surprised by the story; I want to be surprised by how the story is told onstage.  So say I spend the rest of my career doing Pippin (please, no!); I guarantee that each production would be severely different from the ones that came before, if for no other reason other than the fact that I’ve seen what has been done.  Knowing your production history before walking into a rehearsal room is expected, but being able to recall what worked (and what didn’t work) in rehearsals for previous productions of the same play, that’s impressive.  The nature of theatre is to be ever-changing and versatile, but sometimes, in order to be that, you must take on plays that you have done before.  Actors may be playing the same role for years, but once a show opens, the Dramaturg must move on to the next, and so, I say, if you have to do the same play, make sure it ends up a very different show.

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