The OK Trenton Project Workshop
Well, that was a lot.
You may not have expected a different voice so early in our Blog schedule but our Artistic Director just had a baby. Congratulations to the Domingues’ family; Ryanne, AJ, and little Gabi Jean.
The Show Must Go On! This past weekend, right before Gabi showed up, Ryanne had just led an Online PlayLab Workshop for The OK Trenton Project. This play is being devised from the ground up using Moment Work (you can read all about it under the PlayLab tab). You may wonder if Moment Work and Devised Theatre can even happen over a Zoom Workshop. The answer is yes, theatre magic is possible anywhere!
As Production Manager, PlayLab is on my periphery. How the plays are being developed, what will they feel like, and what does that mean from a technical standpoint. Every Production Manager is preparing for design meetings to start and bracing for Tech Rehearsals. I usually observe the workshops and take some minor notes. However, this time I was able to participate with the actors and designers in the workshop in a hands-on way and watch moments come to life. Moment Work is an attempt to tell a story with any and all the elements of theatre, not just the words of the script. The Ensemble used everything at their disposal. It’s fascinating how resourceful artists are when given little to work with. Oh, did you notice I said script and designers? Yes, this show finally has a working script and designers have been brought into the room!
Let’s finally destroy the old “Is the theatre dying?” conversation. This pandemic has forced theatre to evolve. Theatre today uses Zoom as a new storytelling tool. With everything over video you can add images, text, sound and music, lighting and even some visual special effects by our computer savvy scenic designer. The story of the “Helping Hands” statue and what has happened to Trenton since took our Ensemble to many new discoveries. We now have a language for what light and shadow mean in the world of our play. We know how the physical stage will embody Trenton and tell it’s own story. Characters will be represented by multiple actors in the same costume pieces, by a vocal sound cue, or even by a simple silhouette. I personally enjoyed putting my Sound Design hat on and splicing together live interviews of Trentonians to underscore some dramatic lighting effects. Effects which were made just with the backlight from a laptop and a whole lot of creativity.
This is a lot of colorful language to say that the process of developing a play is very possible online and even verges into the creation of a new art-form. While The Ok Trenton Project will definitely be a live production, we were still able to give this play a voice, a body, and a soul, with only WiFi bringing us together. This is a riveting story that asks brave questions about the very fiber of our community, and who gets to tell that communities’ story. When audiences witness this production something will be awakened that has been yearning to burst free, and I was able to see this all from my webcam.
Now, as a technician, this means planning for a very versatile and non-traditional experience. This show is really going to move! The set, lights, and costumes will have to transform at a moment’s notice, which means planning and building for many different outcomes. Every one thing will have to essentially be five things, my entire prompt book may be just a giant swiss army knife.
But that’s where the magic starts.