Tuesday, May 7, 2013

You're Going to Bleed - Director's Notes

I wish theatre performances could have an audio commentary just like on a DVD extra. You could see the show once and then see it again with headphones on and the director talking to you about the creative process. Why? Because it’s FUN! Oh so much fun to know about the gossip, the mistakes and the successes. But, that day has not yet come. So, until there’s an app for that, please consider the following less of a dramaturgical aid and more of a fun extra.

On Music:
Our theme music for the play is based on Aaron Copeland’s “Hoedown” from his ballet “Rodeo”. “Hoedown” was lifted almost entirely from a folk tune called “Bonaparte’s Retreat”. “Rodeo” is the story of a cowgirl in love with a fellow cowhand. She has an identity crisis: should she be who she is or should she try to be more feminine to win the man of her dreams? Of course, most people know this music from the “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” commercial in the 1990′s. We use it as a masculine piece of Americana and slowly disfigure it and dismantle it until it is a shadow of itself by the end of the play. This dismantling follows along with the story line as each character embraces fantasy then must live with the consequences in reality.

On Set:
We’ve tried to embody a sense of disillusionment in the design of the set itself. The foundation has literally dropped away and everything appears to be floating in the air. We hope this also increases the sense of danger. Just as at any moment these heavy objects may be brought to the ground by force of gravity, so too many unstoppable forces change the course of the play. Theatrical conventions, and increasingly television conventions, have it that characters can break from the action of the play to give the audience a little bit of their inner selves. This peak into their inner lives is usually like a private conversation between the audience and the character. It is the uninhibited truth as that character sees it. So we’ve set the play using outdoor elements that anyone walking through a neighborhood might see, but like those monologues (or “talking head moments” as television puts it) we’ve brought the interior to the exterior. In this way you are not a voyeur in the private living room of a private family living a private life, but you are an invited guest made to witness the private turned public.

On Video:
The play takes a hard look at the foundations of modern literature and the portrayals of women therein. The motion picture industry’s romantic movies also fall under Melissa Fall’s gaze. For that reason, I couldn’t envision doing this play without bringing a cinematic element in. Just as the physical book of The Crucible exists in this play, I wanted a physical representation of the television and motion picture industry.

On Unicorns:
There are so many fun and wonderful treats each play gives a director. So often this comes in the form of a prop. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with a strawberry handkerchief, an AK-47, a torture chamber, a living piano, a full tea set, and a microscope. But, to this date, no prop has given me as much grief or joy as the little glass unicorn in You’re Going to Bleed. This is as it should be. You should know, in mythology only virgins may touch unicorns, and so unicorns are often most treasured by those who can no longer touch them at all. In Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Laura’s favorite animal is her glass unicorn, but we are watching Tom Wingfeild’s flawed and one sided memories. When the unicorn breaks and it looses its horn, it is really Tom who feels the pain of its new normalcy and not Laura.

On Feminism:
When writing the press release for this show, we ran into trouble with the word “period”. Should we use it or find a euphemism? It had to be pointed out to us that “on her period’ was itself a euphemism. The play asks that we be able to openly converse about a bodily function as natural as any other and it asks that the shame associated with it be put away, and yet here we were trying to come up with a euphemism for a euphemism because some people may be uncomfortable with the topic. Yet, the fact that Anne is on her period when this play begins is the most comfortable and conforming moment in the play, the rest is squirm-inducing to say the least. Having a vagina doesn’t make me a feminist; wanting to say “period” without having to worry about loosing male audiences just might.

You’re Going to Bleed
Directed by Claire Rice
Written by Melissa Fall
 
At the EXIT Theatre 156 Eddy Street San Francisco, CA
 
Previews May 9 and 10 – 8pm – Tickets are $10
Opening May 11 – 7pm – Tickets are $15-$25 – There will be a discussion after the show with the playwright and myself.
May 16-June 1 - Thursday, Friday, Saturday performance – 8pm - Tickets are $15-$25
 
There’s a nice little cafĂ© you can order drinks from in the theatre and free pretzels! 
 
 

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