I am so sorry that it has been so long since my last posting. I have been very busy finishing my dissertation (I defend on March 25--just 5 days!!). I am currently in pre-production for King Arthur and the Sword of Britain for Columbus' Actors Theatre Company. We start rehearsals in April, and open May 23.
Recently, I was asked to attend a workshop on audition monologues, and in making my notes, I put together a do/don't list for auditions. This may be helpful to some, and less helpful to others, and other directors may completely disagree with me on every point. But...here are my thoughts on picking/preparing audition material:
Back from Ireland, and off on my next project...The Illusion by Tony Kushner for Evolution Theatre Company. What a treat this show is to work on...such a beautiful difficult text, an AMAZING cast, and an outstanding design team. SO EXCITED.
Here are a few of my thoughts from my Director's Concept for the show:
Corneille’s L'Illusion Comique is a masterpiece in theatre genre and style…one that refuses simple classification by playing upon nearly every available theatrical convention present upon the 17th Century French stage. His is a veritable “every-play”, and a case-study in meta-theatre. It is also DEEPLY French, and rooted solidly in the 17th Century in its style and form. These things are important to know…HOWEVER…we are not doing Corneille’s play. We are doing Tony Kushner’s “freely adapted” version of the classic…and so the rules are different.
Tony Kushner has given us a play that defies time, that refuses place, and that demands us to follow suit. He gives us a surprise ending that must shock even as it makes absolute sense. This version of the play is densely philosophical and eloquent, confounding and lyrical, beautiful and sinister. As ALCANDRE says of his illusions, Kushner’s are build through a violent synthesis. Kushner makes it very clear that, although his play claims to be set in 17th Century France, adherence to this idea is unnecessary. He does this by the incorporation of the characters of the first phantasma—Calisto, Melibea, Elicia, Pleribo—inspired by characters in the Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, a 1499 Spanish Novel by Fernando de Rojas. By adding these characters to those written by Corneille, Kushner accomplishes several things all at once...and gives us a great deal of freedom.
As I bring Spring quarter to a close, I am getting busier and busier. Here's a quick snapshot into the life of a scholar/practitioner/educator/father/husband.
Last night we opened Elysium Interrupted for a VERY short run of just 2 days. I am so delighted by how this show has turned out, and I'll have pictures online very soon. I wanted to share my Director's Note from the program:
Recently, I heard writer Pat Wynn Brown on WOSU. During an interview with Ann Fisher, Brown asked her audience not to be the star in the film of their lives, but to be the writer of that film. Immediately I thought of this play—because this is exactly what each of the characters here are on about. The problem, though, facing both of our heroes—Hermia and Anton—is one of visibility. Anton wonders how one can successfully write the story of their life if nobody will read it. Hermia is constantly fighting against her understanding that, even if she writes her own life, circumstances will always relegate her to the sidelines.
Last summer, I walked through a parking lot with my amazing friend Jill Summerville. As I helped guide her wheelchair, a man with 2 lovely dogs approached us. The man looked directly over Jill’s head, and asked ME if she might like to pet the dogs—then crouched to her and, speaking like one would to a child, told her that the “doggies were friendly.” For the first (and sadly not the last) time, I saw first-hand how Jill’s physical circumstances will always color how others see her. The luckiest of us will get to know Jill, to understand how brilliant and profound and delightful she is. Too few will even venture to try.
Rehearsals are going very well still...we're balancing hectic schedules, Thesis defenses (BREAK A LEG, Allison!), and--apparently--the plague (my whole family is sick, although since I am too busy to be sick, I am not--despite the cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, and sinus pressure).
I am struck, today, by the ability negotiate a terribly short rehearsal process when one has very talented and very experienced actors. It seems as though, even though we are wildly short on time and availability, we'll certainly make it. There is no way this would be true without the cast I have on this project. It also makes me ashamed that I have not named them here on this blog--so here you go:
Hermia: Jill Summerville
Danielle (Dan): Allison Brogan
Anton: Mark Hale Jr.
It is a tremendous honor that Jill entrusted this piece to me for its world premier. I hope that you will come and check it out, if you are able.
Here's the info so you can come and see us:
by Jill Summerville
directed by C. Austin Hill
May 14 - May 15
Tix HERE (they will be available very soon)
We've now begun rehearsals for the world premier of Elysium Interrupted. I am reminded, once again, of how lucky I am to be surrounded by such talented people. I have a wonderful cast who are committed to bringing Jill's work beautifully to life, and by an able and creative designer to help us do just that. I am working on my sound design for the play--heading in a substantially different direction now than I thought I would before our first rehearsal. As a director, I tend to think in terms of music--the peaks and valleys and overall lyricism of the words, the tempos of delivery, the importance of silence, the ability to shape mood and contour emotion--so I very frequently design my own sound, and begin very early in the process. Right at this moment, I am inspired by a number of different musical directions--from Marina and the Diamonds to "folk metal" and "steampunk. We'll see where this goes!
My next project is the world premier of a new play by my wonderful friend Jill Summerville. The play, Elysium Interrupted, is a remarkable piece of theatre that challenges the audience to reconsider how they view disabled actors on stage, and by extension, disabled bodies off-stage. I am so honored to have been asked to direct this play, and so glad to have a chance to work closely with Jill on the project.
We have a very limited amount of time for this project--due to a number of factors. It opens on May 14, just 26 days from today. We will--I hope--have a read-through this week (or what remains of it) and begin rehearsing in earnest next week following the oral portion of Jill's Ph.D. candidacy exams (a stressful process that I endured in November).
I'll use this space to write updates about this process as we go.