Monday, April 27, 2009

What's the Deal?

It's a riddle. That's what the director and I decided one day, chatting after rehearsals for The Seafarer. I had mentioned to David (O'Connor, the director) how at the Arden we had joked that The Seafarer was just like The Piano Lesson (the August Wilson play that I stage managed last year) only set in Ireland.

And, from a certain viewpoint, the two shows are quite similar:
  • Both shows take place in one house
  • Both deal with family struggles and strife
  • In both shows, there is a lot of drinking (and I mean a lot)
  • Something spooky happens in both plays
  • Furniture gets busted.
For those interested here is quick synopsis of The Piano Lesson and here is one for The Seafarer.

David and I agreed that shows can be so similar yet still present it's own set of questions and issues. The director deals with most of these issues with the help of the stage management and production staff. These can range from how many glasses or bottles of whiskey do we need, to how to create a dank, messy basement on stage, to how to keep the furniture from falling apart in the first week of the run. But there is a very interesting question, unique to this production that I'm not sure how or if we're going to solve.

In the play, 5 guys sit around playing poker on Christmas Eve. Conor McPherson, the playwright, has written very specifically, what card each player holds in his hands. Yet, the guys shuffle the deck of cards between each hand played (they even refer to shuffling in the script). How do we ensure that each actor gets the cards specified in the script and still allow the cards to be shuffled between hands.

It's an interesting question. Most of the other theaters that produced this play presented it in proscenium (which means the audience is all on one side of the stage, like a movie theater) which meant that the audience did not see the cards. But we're presenting it in thrust (audience on three sides) so the audience may just see the cards.

So what do we do?

We don't have an answer yet but it's one of those fun riddles, peculiar to each production, that's keeps it interesting.

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