Thursday, 25 May 2017

Highlights of the Detailed Adjudication of “Lucy” at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017

Sault Theatre Workshop's production of Lucy
by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Highlights of the detailed adjudication by Annette G. Procunier of Sault Theatre Workshop’s production of Lucy by Damien Atkins (representing QUONTA, the northeastern Ontario community theatre association.)
  • Home theatre has a 20-foot proscenium, 16-feet deep (with 4-feet added for this production); seats 90 people around tables with dessert service
  • Found the play at last year’s Theatre Ontario Festival; director responded to portrayal of autism in a positive light; autism is a significant part of her life: works with people with autism, family
  • Strength of the play is that text invites examination; interested in the fate of the characters after the play is over
  • Seemed like they performed originally in a more intimate space: things happen in small, intimate ways; does the larger environment help the actors?
  • Furniture C.S. would have benefited from places to create triangular/diagonal action to enhance the space; Morris’s office D.S.L. was an excellent choice: the cold side of the stage (theory is that since English reads from left to right, that is the way the eye looks as well, makes us uncomfortable) 
  • Lucy had her own spotlight, effective choice
  • Set design had black and white squares: Director wanted it to be unfinished, with gaps; White panels turned around to show us Lucy’s drawings—in the original production they looked too good to be Lucy’s work; drawings may have benefited from more colours; What about Vivian drawing too?—showing the growing closeness of their relationship
  • Projections represented outside; were intended to be used in the exterior scene
  • D.S. was used only for Vivian and Gavin’s opening scene; compromise in moving from space to space
  • Lucy’s hoodie: kept us from seeing her face a little too much
  • Sound design featured strong choices: not pastoral, music depicted a different living environment
  • Autism sign on the set drew our eye because of the colour
  • Company worked strongly on creating character; sometimes heard to hear the performers (e.g. in the opening scene: “How long?” “A year” – this was critical information we needed to hear better)
  • Action was most poignant and provocative when the vocal work was at its clearest and strongest
  • Vivian and Julia had a believable relationship; Julia’s intensity rose her with voice
  • Characters are always trying to drive action, or convey information: What is it you want / From who? In rehearsal, play with driving the action, push further so the director can rein you back
  • Vivian leaving her child with Gavin is an unusual choice: there is a lot to be mined in their relationship
  • Intensity when Gavin returned was successful—his stakes were really high
  • Challenge in climactic scene, both Morris and Julia felt they would have a normal response to intercede; especially since we have seen Julia intercede in the past. They didn’t want to draw focus—perhaps Julia could have tried to intercede and Morris stopped her. Actors should never feel uncomfortable in a scene; play around with the situation: interaction between Vivian, Gavin and Lucy was strong, but how to Julia and Morris fit in?
  • Lucy was making her debut: Fun and difficult challenge for her: character is closed-off, actress is touchy, makes eye contact, etc.; she appreciated how the director helped her make her monologues feel real, less “fake/dramatic”
  • Lucy was successful in being on stage, without being involved in the action
  • Vivian’s truthfulness to her character’s “quirks”—the moment with the paint was a strong moment of connection between the two of them; similarly the touching of their foreheads was played truthfully
  • Lighting and sound helped us visualize an internal situation; problem with dark spaces—seemed to be a problem throughout the Festival; actors need to keep their heads up and lighting designers should raise level slightly: atmosphere is important, but seeing the actors is more important
  • When Lucy gives Vivian the fossil, the audience needed to see it more clearly: hold it up, be theatrical rather than realistic
As always, this is my best effort to record the conversation at the Detailed Adjudication, with apology for any misrepresentations of the ideas of the members of the company and the adjudicator. Corrections and clarifications are welcome in the comments.

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