Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Match Made In Hawaii? (And Alaska)

Our Aloha read-through last night was most notably punctuated by a surprise guest appearance from Bonnie, straight off the plane from Russia! I have to say, it sure is nice having your Artistic Director back in town. Especially when she's chock full of great ideas and new approaches to theatre. And since Bonniwell was able to show up last night too, it marked the first time our entire creative team have been in the same room since August. Turns out you get a much more complete view of a show when everyone can contribute their own expertise. Huh.
In addition to the four of us, we were joined by Alison Haracznak, Becca Muhleman, Joe Carlson, and Brandon Crowder. I can't say enough how nice it is to hear a script out loud. Suzanne and I have lately been working on audition pieces from Aloha, and therefore have been studying parts of the play. But it's never the same as having 5 other people approach all the different characters (and there are a lot of different characters).
Aloha Say The Pretty Girls by Naomi Iizuka is one of the scripts that we're thinking about for a future Night Light production. We wanted to introduce it into our read-through program to see if we still liked it after really hearing and studying it. I'd like to hear other opinions, but I certainly did.
One of the questions Bonnie asked us before the read-through was what the relevance of this particular show was. Why was it important for us to do this show now? Taking that into consideration, we found a lot of parallels between the script and our own situations.
The story follows ten or so twenty-somethings as they forge and break relationships, migrate, evolve, and deal with all those questions that twenty-somethings deal with. On paper, admittedly, it sounds pretty boring (is the plight of the twenty-something interesting to anyone not 21-29? Is it even interesting to us anymore?) However, one character turns into a lizard, one gets (possibly) eaten by a giant dog, several live in an Alaskan terrarium, and there are so so many pinatas. The constant coming and going, and the migration of the characters from NYC to the far western states is a trend that still rings true for any age group. We are a nation, generation, whatever, etc. of people wary of settling down and setting up roots, yet feel compelled to, nonetheless. Families are established between characters that have nothing to do with blood ties, and are all the stronger because of it.
The show features an Altman-like ensemble story. No one character plays the lead or has a more important plot line that any of the other, and over the course of the show, everyone interacts with everyone else. As a company that believes highly in ensemble work, as well as using everyone involved equally (actors, designers, etc.) to build a show, I think that this script really lends itself to that process.
So, while not dealing with the current political system or the economic crisis we're facing right now, I think a good argument can still be made for the timeliness of Aloha, as well as it's relevance to Night Light Collective.


Suzanne said...

I really enjoyed the mythological aspects of the script as well. I am really curious to find out what greek/roman/indigenous mythologies the characters' stories draw upon. Interpretation of mythology is one of the aspects of Iizuka's writing that I find to be most fascinating.

Andrew Bonniwell said...

I woke up this morning still pondering the question of where to put this show on its feet. We talked a very little bit about a larger space to create the size and dimensions and distance, and we talked about intimacy and I was wondering how we arrived at the extremes. And I think the play does that to us. The parts in Hawaii are expansive and there is nothing but the horizon that limits the characters. But in Alaska, it does seem more confined and, therefore, intimate. I think this set up the thought that maybe settling down, as in Alaska, might limit your grasp/comand/view of the world because family, etc. would force focus away from the outside. I also found it interesting that this debate over large space small space was brought about by Alaska and Hawaii. Hawaii being a tiny dot on the map and making me feel that it should be expansive, and having Alaska, the largest state confined to a room. Very interesting.

I had a ton of thoughts about this show off and on, and the fact that it is still on my mind is a good sign. More to come in the future from me, but I just wanted to throw out this one more example of how this play pushes the audience/actors/directors/designers to the extremes.