Friday, June 3, 2016

“Sometimes it’s the smallest things that are the hardest to do.” Natalya Baldyga

by Judith Jerome

Day four of rehearsals. Danny McCusker, the choreographer for the piece has arrived, and the ensemble has begun to develop a movement vocabulary; the chorus parts have been set; and blocking in the space has begun.

I walk into a run-through of the rapid-fire opening scene, which is full of movement around the still-only-imagined central set piece. It’s gorgeous and funny. So much gets said—in far more than language—established, in these opening moments. The cast takes a break and then they are on to the second scene, a relatively still moment up on the small stage of the Burnt Cove Church. Natalya sets some opening blocking, they try it, adjust, try it again, adjust, again, adjust. They are trying to figure out how to get the queen off the dias. Try it again, adjust. Ok, let’s leave it until we know a little more.

“Sometimes,” Natalya says, “it’s the smallest things that are the hardest to do.”

And the first of OHA's summer interns has arrived: Gwen Higgins, Directing Intern 2016! watching rehearsal. Gwen is from Stockton Springs and is in school at the University of New Hampshire

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Day 1: Rehearsing Orlando and the pleasures of gender

by Judith Jerome

Tiresias, the Greek seer who, among other things, foretold Oedipus’ troubles, gained hard-won wisdom from the gods in several ways: he was blinded, and thus became a seer; his ears were reamed out in compensation, such that he understood the song language of the birds; and his sex was changed from man to woman and back again—giving him particular understanding of the pleasures of gender. Surely Virginia Woolf had the story tucked somewhere in her mind when she wrote Orlando: A Biography.

What an extravagant love song it was! And Sarah Ruhl’s stage adaptation condenses, distills the song, retaining Woolf’s language, but creating another kind of melody, quick and funny and something else I haven’t got words for yet. In the first read-through the actors read round-robin, each taking only a single line. Director Natalya Baldyga quipped that it would keep them on their toes—it also created a kind of ensemble, group reality to the story that seemed fitting to me. It is us. In the happy gender elastic world we live in it is us, and in the pleasure of that round-robin moment I wanted the play to always be done like that.

Woolf’s love song was written to her lover and friend Vita Sackville-West, and it is sexy! Certainly in the mouths of this fine group of actors, and through Ruhl’s distillation. I adore Woolf but tend to think of her as a sort of gorgeous heady, asexual creature, at least in part because she was a troubled “person to whom things happen,” as she wrote (and Parul Seghal recently reminded us in the NYT Magazine Be not prepared for headiness here, my friends! 

Director Natalya Baldyga liking what she hears. And Per Janson, back again!

Back, too, Jason Martin (The Last Ferryman), plus stage manager, Lindy Lofton, Natalya, and the backs and sides of other actors you will meet, Barry, Liz, and Jade.