The Eyes-Closed Breathing One, Where you Make Noises and Roll on the Floor: Co-Directing an Unstageable Play

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Wecht, Michael
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My SIP started with an audition. In the spring of 2013 I auditioned for The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre's production of Les Miserables, hoping to be cast and turn my experience into a performance SIP. However, I was not cast. This turn of events left me without a SIP idea and struggling to come up with a new topic as the looming proposal deadline approached. One week before my proposal was due, Ed Menta, director of theatre at Kalamazoo College, approached me with a proposition. The 2013-2014 golden anniversary season of the Festival Playhouse had already been announced and Ed was directing August Strindberg's A Dream Play in the fall. Knowing that I was struggling to find come up with a SIP, and that I was finding a great deal of enjoyment and success in Ed's Directing I class, he asked that I consider the possibility of being his assistant director for this production. Still grappling with the basics of directing in class, I had not even considered that an option. At this time, I was taking both Ed's Directing I class as well as Karen Berthel's Developing a Character class. With a theatre background that was primarily rooted in the performance side of productions, I was just beginning to explore the possibilities that directing had to offer. But after I read A Dream Play, I knew immediately that it was a project I wanted to work on. From an actor’s perspective, I was so excited by all of the possibilities that Strindberg’s text had to offer. It is full of wild, fantastical characters that would challenge the company to explore both their vocal and physical capabilities. It was abstract and poetic, deemed by many critics as effectively “unstageable.” To me, as an aspiring director, the prospect of helping actors realize this challenging text was exciting. The possibilities of the text were endless and overwhelming.
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