Posts Tagged MARY’S WEDDING
by Carlyn Aquiline
City Theatre Literary Manager and Dramaturg
Happy New Year! After some brief holiday time, we headed back into the rehearsal hall just before the new year for the start of rehearsals for The Clockmaker by Stephen Massicotte (the author of last season’s Mary’s Wedding). It hadn’t struck me until then how appropriate it was that we had scheduled this rehearsal process—by no conscious design—at a time of year when people are remembering and re-evaluating their pasts and making choices for the future. The Clockmaker is all about time, and memory, and consciously pursuing the well-lived life—literally, creating the time of your life while you still can. In the play, Heinrich Mann, the clockmaker, meets Frieda Mannheim when she brings him her husband’s mangled cuckoo clock to repair. And this action in due course sets them off on a race against time to solve a puzzle that ignites universal and existential questions of identity, the mystery and meaning of life, personal responsibility, choice, the ethical life—never let it be said that Stephen Massicotte flinched from the big questions!
Artistic Director Tracy Brigden is directing The Clockmaker, so she said a few words at the first rehearsal to the assembled staff and cast, which includes Harry Bouvy as Heinrich Mann (look for Harry’s blog—I’m sorry, “not a blog”—entry following this one on his triumphant return to his hometown just for this role), Tami Dixon (A Marriage Minuet, The Missionary Position, The Muckle Man) as Frieda Mannheim, Joel Ripka (Mezzulah, 1946) as Adolphus Mannheim, and making his first appearance at City Theatre, Daryll Heysham as Monsieur Pierre. Here are some highlights of her remarks:
“Time belongs to the people.” It’s sort of the slightly Communist catchphrase of the play. Jeff Cowie [set designer] and I almost made a red neon sign that was part of the set that said that. [She was kidding.] But what does it mean? Other time slogans in the play: “We can’t make time, that’s up to you” and “…making the best with the time they have.” …Time bounces all over the place in the story—and makes us piece together a complicated puzzle out of order. Time moves differently in different scenes…What strikes me most in the time theme is the idea of how you spend time….the idea of enjoying it while you can.
Those who saw Mary’s Wedding last season may read Tracy’s remarks (and mine) and be reminded of it since Stephen’s storytelling in that play is told with a fluid sense of time, place, and memory. Mary’s Wedding is the story of Mary and Charlie, who connect in her dreamscape even after he has gone off to fight in World War I and she has remained behind in Canada. In The Clockmaker, however, Stephen may have invented a new genre: absurdist romantic comedy metaphysical murder mystery, in reverse. He calls the tone “Kafka lite” and refers to it as his “atheist play”—but the world of the play actually has a clear theology, just one invented by the playwright. Another characteristic it does share with Mary’s Wedding is a charm and sweetness in the love story. And despite having its genesis in the death of Stephen’s stepfather, which got him to thinking about things like existence and the root of morality, the play has a distinctive and winning sense of humor. (Stephen told us on the first day of rehearsal that all of his plays end up being about how to live well and how to die well. He said, when he’s in the process of writing, he’ll be thinking he’s writing a new play and then realizes he’s writing the same play again. I think that’s not unusual—all playwrights have one or two recurring themes that crop up again and again.)
Perhaps an anecdote from the Clockmaker Meet and Greet will provide a glimpse into the mind that can achieve equilibrium among such a number of elements that seem incongruent. As an ice breaker, we introduced ourselves and then answered a question related to the show’s themes: something along the lines of “what would you want to make sure was present in Heaven (or your version of the “good” afterlife) when you get there?” (which was already making a number of big assumptions!). Lots of people said things like “ice cream,” “chocolate,” “books,” and “my family.” Stephen Massicotte said, “Charles Darwin—because it would be ironic.” See? It opens a window, doesn’t it?
Senior theater critic Chris Rawson talks with Stuart Carden, associate artistic director of City Theatre, about his production of Mary’s Wedding, the intimate epic about love and loss, running at City through April 5.
To listen to the interview click here :
I’m not an experienced blogger as evidenced by my extreme neglect of my blogging duties…but my inability to find the time to compile some thoughts more regularly throughout the rehearsal process is a great testament to the tremendous amount of attention this play requires! I knew the simplicity on the page was deceptive – but I didn’t know how deceptive. It’s one of the more complex shows I’ve worked on and demands a good deal of imagination, focus, and technical facility. There are only two actors on stage the whole time so just memorizing the lines is a job in and of itself!
It’s been an absolute blur of activity since we started rehearsal… as we’ve begun to pull the layers back on the show, the depth of the text continues to reveal itself in fantastically surprising and continually challenging ways. As we discover those new challenges, the magnitude of the amount of work involved (on all levels of the production) is daunting but invigorating. I couldn’t be more excited about the team of artists compiled by City Theatre for Mary’s Wedding…it’s an honor and a privilege to be counted amongst them. Every day at work is a joy…there is something so wonderful about this play that inspires very unique and individual responses…and everyone involved has a great passion for the telling of this story.
We’ve begun previews of the show – which means we’re rehearsing for about 5 hours during the day and then performing the show at night. Those rehearsals allow us to continue crafting the show to best fit into the space as well as add new technical layers of lighting, costumes and sound to flesh out the dream world we dwell in. We’ve been learning a great deal about the show as we’ve had our first audiences…and one of the things I’ve learned is that it is physically and mentally exhausting – in a good way!! It’s a nightly workout and I appreciate that from a show…It continues to grow nightly as we settle into the space and the technical elements combine with the work we did in the rehearsal hall…
This is a fun time for an actor…the whole things starts to come together and the technical elements that have been living only in your imagination throughout rehearsal are suddenly vibrantly alive in the space. Our designers and crew have done a fabulous job of complimenting the work we’ve done in rehearsals and – in many ways – elevating it to another level. I cannot rave enough about all of their work…
And I can’t wait to see how it’s received by people…I think we’ve got something really lovely on our hands and am excited to share it with City Theatre’s audiences!!
Here at City Theatre we are in the heart of technical rehearsals for Mary’s Wedding – this is when all of the technical elements of the performance get added to the hard work the actors have done in the rehearsal room. Director Stuart Carden and actors Braden Moran and Robin Abramson have moved into the theatre where they are joined by lighting designer Andrew Ostrowski, costume designer Susan Tsu and sound designer/composer Andre Pluess. Everyone is working hard to put the finishing touches on the play before the doors open to the public for previews.
(If you want to learn more about Andre Pluess and Susan Tsu, click on their links to the right under “Designers”)
Posted by Christine Pini, Artistic Assistant
The technical crew has been working tirelessly to build the set for Mary’s Wedding. They have made great progress as can be seen in the photos below, taken only a week apart. What began as a skeletal structure of platforms and ramps has been fleshed out with facing made of rough-hewn “barn” wood, a textured treatment on the floor that resembles cracked, dried mud, and the beginnings of the photographic paper sky being hung. With previews only days away, the pace and hard work will continue and Tony Ferrieri’s stunning set will be fully brought to life.
Posted by Christine Pini, Artistic Assistant
Early in the rehearsal process, director Stuart Carden and actors Robin Abramson and Braden Moran explored how to physically express several key moments in the play. In addition to generating ideas for the physical vocabulary for the production it also gave the actors and director the opportunity to explore the stage space. One of the exciting parts of this process was testing how the moments in the play that take place on horseback might be realized in a theatrical way on stage (there will be no live horses in this production!). You will find some snapshots of this part of the rehearsal process below. In addition, there are some great photos of the actors on a special horseback riding trip.
Posted by Christine Pini, Artistic Assistant