Thursday, 26 May 2016

Highlights of the Detailed Adjudication of 33 Variations at Theatre Ontario Festival 2016

By Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Highlights of the detailed adjudication by Mimi Mekler of Theatre Sarnia’s production of 33 Variations by Mois├ęs Kaufman (representing the Western Ontario Drama League—WODL)
  • Director’s research process began two years ago; actor handled research of ALS; learned that even research can lead astray (pronunciation correction that came up following their performance in WODL Festival); virtual tours of the places described.
  • Gertie’s German accent involved Skyping with a friend in Germany.
  • Conversation with actors around their goals, objectives, tactics for each character.
  • Is assisted death legal in Germany? If so, why not in the hospital? Company believed character would want it at home.
  • Used projections as required in script; established pre-show with the title of the play and single light on the piano.
  • Opening moment: the pianist behaving as if starting a concert.
  • Good choice in set design to use piano benches as furniture.
  • First audience laugh in the opening scene—line helps us recognize the character and go with her
  • Diabelli’s costume—Could it have told us more about his personality, beyond shabby and worn (needs money), evolves as his status grows.
  • What is the status between Schindler and Diabelli; Diabelli is lower status, trying to grow his company.
  • Katherine was well blocked in the negotiation scene between Diabelli and Schindler: demonstrating she is “immersed” in her work.
  • Brought great clarity of choice to Katherine—there is no other possibility for her than work.
  • The next Diabelli / Schindler scene had a lot of presentational blocking.
  • Mike and Clara at the tech support office: Find ways to “turn up the heat” in this scene between them. Why does she kiss him? A thank-you for a break in the stress of being a caregiver. When we’re feeling stressed, the moment that makes us cry is when someone is nice to us. Explore these significant moments.
  • Beethoven’s hair—he walked on stage and got a laugh, which was not the intention. Went to a place of caricature. They realized at performance that it was bigger than it had ever been before.
  • Found ways to use projection scenes when not projecting by showing images of windows.
  • Gertie’s initial costume made her seem dowdy, but the remainder of costumes were successful.
  • Projection of the archives room was challenging: hard to convey size of the room on the smaller screens.
  • One folio was small and hard to read in projection; may have benefitted from giving up realism.
  • Strong balance of sound, awareness of music.
  • Mike’s tie for the date was a great choice of costuming: he got dressed up, but he clearly has odd taste in clothes.
  • Find ways to bring specificity and focus to the stakes in a scene: Example was the “When will it be ready?” scene between Beethoven, Diabelli, Schindler.
  • Excellent projection at train station; nice intimate bench as set piece to physically force Katherine and Gertie together; great clarity between the two.
  • Disco music—Did they try keeping it going? Experimented at rehearsal but decided to keep it like the other sound cues. The pounding music does reinforce Mike and  Clara’s relationship, similar to the way Beethoven’s music does.
  • X-ray scene was extremely tasteful: brief flashes of light gave us impressions, sound cues were percussive, with actor’s breath over top of it; moment ends with Katherine leaning on Beethoven’s back.
  • Blocking of finale of Act One: Choice made between options of realism vs stylized; carefully choreographed.
  • The walker brought colour onto the stage; fortunate that it fit the colour scheme.
  • Opening monologue—Mike and Clara were not frozen (which had previously been convention), drew focus.
  • Well-executed comedy: humour is not in the line, but in the reaction to the line.
  • Beethoven’s hair—Was it possible for the greying to layer over time? No, given backstage logistics, actor’s own hair.
  • Schindler’s active listening while Katherine is discovering the lies in his biography, example of how you can own a moment without having dialogue.
  • Cafeteria scene was extremely well-blocked with straight line, order of characters.
  • Beethoven wandering while composing—Director wanted him to take up the full-stage; the fugue as struggle in all spaces. Did they ever try the monologue in stillness, with the full stage lx eventually reducing itself to a spotlight? Did his movement convey to us anything we didn’t already know.
  • Clarity of Gertie’s accent was excellent—carried through to the final words of sentences. Emotionally she is withdrawing, theatrically she must keep going.
  • The stakes of the Katherine/Gertie friendship falling apart were high and well-played.
  • Wonderful directorial choice of the wheelchair dance, which was not written into the script.
  • Kyrie was lovely to hear—strong vocal range by the cast.
  • Great contrast of Katherine playing the opposites in the subsequent hallucination scene.
  • Chose not to use the German pronunciation of Beethoven to keep it simple for the audience.
  • The cuddle between Katherine and Clara in the bed was a wonderful, active choice.
  • Minuet steps were historically accurate.
  • Vocal warm-ups included singing Kyrie on piano; had homework and exercises to find their own.
  • Props creation involved significant detail, and read well.
As always, this is my best effort to record the conversation at the Detailed Adjudication, with a standard apology for any misrepresentations of the ideas of the adjudicator and the members of the company. Corrections and clarifications are welcome in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment