Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ruined Blog

If you look over at the blogroll you will see a new blog called Ruined. It is a research and information site for the creative team and cast of our production of Ruined. There will be links, pics and embeds etc but mostly it will be a way to package a lot of information about the Congo so that we can have a shared basic understanding of the world we are going to be living in.

If you find anything that you think might be of interest please send it on to me and I will get it up.

So for those of you who like to follow a process all the way through from pictures on line to sitting through the performance, the Ruined Blog will be a place for you to check in on.

Monday, March 29, 2010

who knew grannie: a dub aria...last week

Miranda Edwards

The cast with Ordena in the centre

Andrea Scott, Marcel Stewart, Joseph Pierre, Ordena, Miranda Edwards

Amina Alfred

all photos by Nicola Betts

Sunday, March 28, 2010

World Theatre Day

A particularly stunning message for World Theatre Day by Lynn Nottage. I love where she says "I challenge all of us to sustain the complexity of our world" as this is a re-statement of what was said to her by a Rwandan refugee.

Sunday Quickies

At long last the return of the Sunday Quickies.

So to start off an interesting coupling of sounds: Just What Ahk-Sent Is That Onstage? and Accent Speaks Louder Than Race for Finding Friends

There is something intriguing about this as it has often been said that like hires like. But if accent is a stronger binding factor then shouldn't we be seeing more mixed hiring if people sound the same?

If you don't shy away from The Messiness Ghetto and you Want to be a theatre director? then maybe you will reach The Mountaintop pulls off shock win at Olivier Awards

A bit of lighter fare in How to fake tattoos for the stage and the Roundabout Theater changes course with playwrights

Finally an Obsidian salute to Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti: 'I'm not scared'

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

2010/11 Season Announcement


For Immediate Release:
March 24, 2010

New addition to the 2010/2011 Season:
Citadel Theatre Company (Edmonton) presents Obsidian’s touring production of Intimate Apparel by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage, October 2010.
-Dora Award-winner Raven Dauda, Kevin Hanchard and Alex Poch Goldin star

**** (out of 4) TORONTO STAR

“It's work not only of star quality, but of profound spiritual beauty as well.”

“Intimate Apparel is one of those productions so perfect in every way, it's hard to praise properly. It's better to say that you simply have to see it.” R. Ouzounian, TORONTO STAR

Edmonton, AB (October 2-24, 2010)- Citadel Theatre Company presents the touring production of Obsidian Theatre’s acclaimed production of Intimate Apparel by Pulitzer Prize- winning playwright Lynn Nottage. A turn-of-the-century love story set in New York, the production reunites director Philip Akin with original Canadian cast members and creative team. Intimate Apparel runs October 2-24, 2010 at the Shocter Theatre, and tickets are available in person, by phone (780) 425-1820 or online at www.citadeltheatre.com

Intimate Apparel made The Wall Street Journal’s list of America’s top 10 most produced plays of the decade. It was originally co-commissioned and produced by South Coast Repertory (California) and CENTRESTAGE (Baltimore) and had its world première in early 2003. The play made its Off-Broadway debut at Roundabout Theatre Company in April 2004 where it received numerous awards, including the 2004 New York Drama Critic’s Circle Award for Best Play, the Outer Circle Critics Best Play Award, the John Gassner Award and the American Theatre Critics/Steinberg 2004 New Play Award among others. Obsidian Theatre Company brought the play to Toronto’s 167 seat Berkeley Street Theatre Upstairs for its Canadian première. In 2010, the Canadian Stage Company presented the Obsidian Theatre production in the 876 seat Bluma Appel Theatre. The 2008 Canadian première garnered Dora Mavor Moore nominations for Production and Direction and won for Costume Design.

Toronto, ON (January 16-Feb 13, 2011)- Obsidian Theatre, in association with Nightwood Theatre present the Canadian première of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined directed by Philip Akin at the Berkeley Street Theatre. In addition to winning the 2009 Pulitzer, Ruined has won seven Best Play awards including the New York Critics’ Circle Award, two Drama Desk Awards, four OBIE Awards—and most recently, four Joseph Jefferson Awards. Ruined was also chosen by Time Magazine as the #1 Play for 2009.

Ruined- Set in a present-day small mining town in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ruined follows a young woman's nightmarish path to Mama Nadi, a savvy businesswoman who—in the midst of a complex civil war— both protects and profits from the women whose bodies have become battlegrounds. At once heartbreaking and captivating, Ruined pays homage to the courageous and resilient women who must piece themselves together after the ruin.

Ruined reaches well beyond the regular theatre audience and opens up very real and devastating issues that are of vital importance.

For more information, please visit: www.obsidian-theatre.com

Friday, March 12, 2010

June Faulkner 1926-2010

June Faulkner

What a pleasure it was to have worked at TWP with June and Calvin.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

All about the Voice

I remember reading that when sound engineers first digitally created the sound of an orchestra it sounded wrong because it was too clear. So they added in the sounds of fingers / bows on strings: breath flowing over reeds: the rasp and slides. All the messiness of music and life was added back in and then it sounded right.

It is those seeming peripherals, those barely acknowledged touches where rich connotations lay. It is as if the notes without the rest only tell us a part of the story.

So, why go on about this. It is because I believe that the same principles exist in the actor’s voice.

I listen to plays, direct actors, coach auditions and for the vast majority it is clear that from the day that they left theatre school people stopped doing whatever voice exercises that they had learned. I cannot speak to how they are taught but what I hear is vocal disconnection, unsupported imprecise diction and no vocal richness.

I am often heard to say: “stay in the center of your voice”. Sometimes people take that to mean that there is only one note that is perfect. In fact it is not that at all. The center of your voice is the place where there is an unconstrained open passage from crotch to mouth where the full richness of every emotion has free and easy passage. Thus the voice gets to carry all the emotional messiness of the character in each and every word.

Mostly what happens though is a constraint in the throat that strips emotional connotations so that the artist begins to push harder emotionally and vocally which further thins the emotional voice.

Fecund: \FEE-kuhnd; FEK-uhnd\ , adjective;
1. Capable of producing offspring or vegetation; fruitful; prolific.
2. Intellectually productive or inventive.

For me fecundity is rich, ripe, an oak log rotting in a forest that is home to moss and mushrooms. It is amber and alto and soprano ribbons of autumnal honey sunlight. It is a place where life and death are in a slow motion dance. It is the primeval, primordial home (center) of our voice. And so the voice must become the conduit of that emotional fecundity.

Why do we shy away from it? Is it only the lack of vocal exercise? I think not. It takes a profound leap of courage, faith and desire to actually live in that place. It forces us to be open, to reveal ourselves, to know that after the minutiae of work that we do not need to push and strain but know confidently that we can allow that fecundity to flow out of us complete, multi-layered, carefully woven and right for the character.

So the character’s voice can be whatever it needs to be as long as it is part of that open emotional corridor.

In Intimate Apparel I have pushed this kind of work fully into the performances and I am grateful that the cast has followed me to this place. Once you do this kind of work and your director’s ear is tuned to this it becomes both amazing and frustrating.

Amazing for when it soars it is like being wrapped in subliminal textures that have you feeling with your whole body.

Frustrating because even ½ a note too high and seduction becomes lecture and drawing in becomes sitting back.

So finally for me it is all about the voice. The voice and the necessary emotional connotations that must cozen it. The actor’s voice should sit atop of emotional nuances as deep as the Mariana Trench but all too often what we get is just the vocal thinness of a puddle

And that is the great shame of our theatre.