A year ago (this week) I was in Estonia as part of an initiative thru the O’Neill Theatre Center to bring one director, playwrights and set of actors from: The United Stated, Latvia, Estonia and Russia together to work on on some new material from each country.
Jill Anderson asked me to represent the United States.
And really, no one has ever said those words to me before, so I said yes.
It was great to bring the word and work of Geva to the far side of the globe.
Here’s the recap:
Upon returning home, I emailed around a script that I was taken with, DOVE by Andri Luup.
What amazed me is that it’s about life in the theater – what do we do with aging actors? How do we hold on to what’s sacred about our craft? How do we define ourselves as artists against the onslaught of Christmas programming? BUT FROM THE ESTONIAN PERSPECTIVE. What was heartening and fascinating was that they share the exact same issues we do – and when I asked them if they had ever read “NOISES OFF” or watched “Slings and Arrows” they said no!
As artists around the world, we were all struggling with some universal questions and we didn’t even know it.
I emailed the script to George Judy who is the Artistic Director at Swine Palace in Baton Rouge, LA, and as luck (?) would have it, a hurricane hit just as I did that…..George was trapped at the office, and decided to use the time to read thru some scripts in his email….he read Andri’s piece, fell in love with it, and we booked it for a World premiere production.
Also, a fun side note, George was my acting teacher in college, back when I was in college (call it 1812), and is starring in this show – so it is a pure and sheer joy to get to direct one of the people that inspired me to keep going in theater.
So, now we are in week two of workshopping it. We have our first run thru this evening. It’s a wild romp, part farce, part heart-break, all charm. We spend a lot of our time trying to interpret Estonian motivation thru our American perspective. For example, we are all taught that in a scene you “want something” and you “get it from your partner” and you “acknowledge things that stand in your way and come up with tactics to get it”. All very capitalistic ways of acting, correct? It feels as though the Estonian take is often different – life is often suffering, and to battle that you work, as there is always pride in work, even if it’s outcome isn’t what you want….fascinating.
We’re learning Estonian songs to perform in the show, one of our actors is even tackling learning to sing IN ESTONIAN. Bravery. But they sound (high pitched voice) amazing!
But at it’s heart, it’s a comedy – about theater people – it is the “Estonian Noises Off”. So wonderfully large flawed characters loving each other, making ego filled mistakes, while falling over couches and slamming doors. A bit of a dream!
As I write this, Deb Laufer (INFORMED CONSENT) is back over in Estonia with Jill. Our hope is to keep this international dialogue going, to share more work, to continually expand our knowledge of our fellow artists around the world….one doorslam at a time.
We open Nov. 15th in Baton Rouge, LA. Come visit?