Thursday, June 23, 2016

Q&A with ORLANDO director Natalya Baldyga

A Q&A between OHA's Director of Development & Engagement Amy Kyzer and Orlando's director, Natalya Baldyga:

What specifically about this script and this season of Opera House Arts Mainstage productions were you drawn too?
Orlando was compelling to me because of the way that it combines storytelling, wonderful language, and the possibility for physical theatre. I find the story of Orlando (in both Virginia Woolf’s novel and Sarah Ruhl’s play) to be extremely moving, while at the same time not taking itself too seriously. There are equal parts poignancy and humor. I enjoy that Orlando makes a statement about how we view gender, but I’m particularly affected by the main character’s journey through life. The play reminds me that we experience the act of living differently at different stages in our lives, and that there are sometimes no words that can do justice in describing what means to be alive in the world.
I love how the season pairs classical and contemporary plays together in order to ask a central question – how do you respond when the world is changing around you?

What is the connection from your piece to our island and situations that affect us on a larger scale?
I’m just getting to know the island, so I don’t want to make any assumptions, but something that might resonate with audiences is the profound connection that Orlando has to home. The character has many adventures and some exciting travels, but always returns home to regain a sense of self. 

What was your preparation leading up to auditions and now entering rehearsals?
Leading up to auditions, I spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of actors I needed for this play and especially the qualities that I was looking for in the lead actress. I needed actors who were comfortable playing both men and women, who could move well and who handle language well. I also was looking for actors who would be good in an ensemble piece like this one, and who seemed like they would be fun to work with. We have a small number of actors who play all the roles – they have to work well together to create a cohesive world.
Now that we’re in rehearsals we’ve been doing a lot of movement work with Danny McCusker, who is doing the choreography for the show. We don’t have any dancing, but we do have moments when the cast helps to create the world of the play through movement. The physical work that Danny has done with the actors has given him the building blocks to start creating some of the choreographed moments of the show.

What outside sources are you utilizing as research to assist you in your creative process?
Other than images of the historical elements of the costuming, we’re relying primarily on Virginia Woolf’s novel, Orlando, on which the play is based. The novel has given us insights into characters and specific moments in the play, really allowing us to flesh them out.

Will our audiences have had to read the script to understand the play?
Absolutely not! Some audience members might enjoy knowing the story of Orlando in advance, but audiences should be able to walk in without any advance preparation and still have a good time. You can either walk in thinking, “I know this story – I wonder how they’re going to make it happen?” or walk in thinking, “I wonder what the story is?” Both should be equally fun.