By Adriana Sevahn Nichols
Silk Road Rising
Directed by Lisa Portes
Set design by Lee Keenan
Costume design by Elsa Hiltner
Sound design by Peter Storms
By Frank Higgins
Directed by Steve Scott
Set design by Jack Magaw
Costume design by Emily McConnell
Sound design by Christopher Kriz
There are a few things to celebrate.
The least of which is not the well-deserved success of Festen at Steep Theatre. “Festen” means celebration…but this party gets a little…um…uncomfortable?…when certain things are revealed about the man being celebrated. Steep Theatre pursued this script for a long time before they landed it, and it was delightful to work with their talented ensemble, as well as to team up with director Jonathan Berry and set designer Dan Stratton again after the much-lauded Suicide, Inc. last year.
And for something completely different, I am looking forward to teaming up again with Lookingglass’s David Kersnar on two projects next season: first up is Goodnight Moon. A musical based on the book we all know and love from childhood, it will come to life at Victory Gardens with a production by Chicago Children’s Theatre.
Then in early 2012 Lookingglass and David Kersnar are back at the Chicago Symphony with a special co-production. Into the Big Green Meadow was a blast last year, so I am excited to be invited to play again.
Also in 2012 I’ll be back at Lifeline with the same wonderful team from Wuthering Heights and Mariette in Ecstasy, adapter Christina Calvit and director Elise Kauzlaric for Pride and Prejudice. Can’t wait!
By David Eldridge, based on the film and play by Thomas Vinterberg, Mogens Rukov and Bo hr. Hansen
Directed by Jonathan Berry
Set design by Dan Stratton
Costume design by Janice Pytel
Sound design by Christopher Kriz
Research and renderings
Festen began its life as a story captured on film by artists using the “Dogme 95” outline for film-making, which emphasizes naturalism and eschews any special effects of lighting or elaborate camera set-up. When playwright David Eldridge adapted the story for the London stage, he channeled that school of thought into an emphasis on gaining a gritty, uncensored look at the relationships of these twisted family characters.
In Jonathan Berry’s Steep Theatre production, the goal of the design was to ground the family in a world that feels rich, but dark; and allows scenes to move fluidly from one cold hotel room to another, before settling around the large celebration table where the secrets, lies, and accusations that mar the patriarch’s birthday take place. In lighting, that meant supporting the deliberate, spare set with a cool-to-cold color palette, sharp lines of light for figures to pass into and out of rooms, and careful use of high contrasts between highlight and shadow. Christian’s struggle with the truth is underscored by visions of his dead sister, supported with light by a mysteriously warm and shadowy look that obscures the face of his young niece and drives him deeper into confusion. Once all is laid bare, and all of his siblings are forced into a confrontation with their father, an awkward breakfast under a soft, less shadowy light suggests that from the ugly truth might arise new life.
It is a busy January.
The New Electric Ballroom opens at A Red Orchid Theatre on Tuesday, January 25th. My grad school chum (and revered Chicago director) Robin Witt directs Irish playwright Enda Walsh’s weirdo play about…well, its about loneliness and love and the safeties and dangers of locking oneself away from the outside world. Its dark and disturbing and funny. AROT Artistic director Kirsten Fitzgerald and founding ensemble member Guy Van Swearingen appear with Kate Buddeke and Laurie Larson and, man, do these kids know how to tell a story. Jessica Keuhnau designed the set, Izumi Inaba designed the costumes, and AROT ensemble member Joseph Fosco designed the sound.
Next, I am thrilled (understatement) to be back at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra! I have just posted photos of Into the Big Green Meadow from November. That project was so much fun, and I am so delighted to have been invited back. Opening to an audience of school children on Friday is From the City to the Country. Guest Conductor Mei-Ann Chen leads the CSO in several selections that highlight how the sounds of the orchestra can set the scene, from the cacophony of the city to a gentle country rain. We will hear from Gershwin, Bernstein, Copland, Bach, Rossini…and a guest appearance by “Inspector Noteworthy.”
Then I take a quick walk down to the #12 Roosevelt bus and head to Provision Theatre for Shadowlands. It is my first project with Provision. They have a lovely space and it is a beautiful little love story, so I’m quite excited to get in and get started. Shadowlands is directed by Provision artisitic director Tim Gregory, with scenery by Inseung Park, and costumes by Isaac B. Turner. Previews start February 2nd, and the show runs through March 20th.