March 31, 2008

The Cry of the Reed Previews

The Cry of the Reed began previews this past Friday Night in the Wimberly after a long but very productive tech week. Our designers have all gone home and now we will use the next 10 performances, and about 20 hrs of rehearsal, to give the director, actors, audience, and playwright some time with each other to discover what more this play has to offer.

The Globe had a couple of preview articles on Friday - read this one first, and then this one.

I think this show is one of the most visually arresting works we've done in the Wimberly, and the simplicity of the design is one of the reasons it works so well. Simple never means without challenges, and we had a few.

Here are a few factoids for you:

The walls are constructed completely from found objects from a salvage yard. They arrived aged, beat up, and weathered, but we needed to make them structural. And there are ten working doors. Doors that need to latch shut, stay open at exact angles, and withstand lots of banging, fighting, leaning, and slamming. Pretty typical criteria - but not when you aren't allowed to build a casement around the door.

We wanted to make the Wimberly feel even more intimate by bringing the audience closer and right into the the action. We lowered the proscenium - building a new header that beautifully matches the existing gold leaf arch.

We have also suspended a fabric canopy over the audience house using a fabric that we were able to make look like canvas. But it also needed to work with our life safety systems in case of an emergency - we were lucky enough to find a product that is inherently flame retardant, will allow smoke to escape up through it, and water from the sprinkler system to rain down on the areas it was intended to cover. Thank goodness for synthetics and new manufacturing processes. This fabric has seams every foot that disintegrate should there be a fire.

And then there is the floor - the director and playwright wanted to use sand or dirt. But we needed to find dirt that did not kick up dust (or allergies), provided solid footing, and was relatively easy to clean up. We found that too. But it's not dirt - it's rubber.

Take a look a the show - tell me what you think and send in your questions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw the Cry of the Reed at the Calderwood Pavilion and thought that it was good. The Canadian was right. I thought that the character of the reporters mother was very good. I think it interesting that the only characters in the play that believed in the "Religion of Peace" were an old woman and her half-wit assistant.

I also found it very disturbing. I could not help thinking of Daniel Pearl and his family.

The ending (which I will not ruin) was a little imaginary given the seemingly realistic treatment of the rest of the play. I guess it needed to be this way otherwise the most probable ending would just make us all too angry.