Well, we’re on our way. I revealed the outline and the main ideas of the show to the actors after sending out the cast list (with final casting for both parts of the play).
I guess I should explain a little bit here what I’m doing so that this and future entries make a modicum of sense to people other than me…
The play opens in 1941. When the audience walks into the Theatre, they will be confronted with a 1941 Japanese train station. Through sound (mental note: need to recruit a sound designer) and dialogue, it will be revealed that this is February xth, at 23:30, and there is a blizzard raging outside. The station is rural, but it is a major rail hub nonetheless.
A variety of people are trapped here: from foreign amateur actors, to a war widow, to a girl being sold by her family into factory work. Between themselves, to pass the time, they decide to put on a play: Tartuffe.
Using items from their suitcases, they dress the station up to look finer and make themselves costumes. The Station Master volunteers his gramophone for music, and they’re off!
The idea behind my production is the transformative power of Theatre, with a touch of the usual Tartuffe moral about blind faith vs reason. Each of these individuals is changed somehow (maybe not obviously to the audience) by the performance of this play, and they all leave the station different from the way they were when they arrived. (And, with luck, some of this will rub off on the audience.)
In any case, I gave the cast the whole breakdown of the show, including Tartuffe scene breakdowns, thus lifting the veil of secrecy that I’d unintentionally laid over the production.
I’ve also assigned research topics to each of the actors, which, in all the cases it was possible, I’ve tried to tie in with their 1941 character. Presentations are next Sunday, and I’m really looking forward to see what they come up with.
We played some status games tonight, since status is so important in Japanese society, particularly in the era in question, and particularly across the lines of nationality and gender.
From here, we start working and developing the 1941 characters. Once that process bears some fruit, it will give me some options on how to attack the Tartuffe adaptation, which I’m trying to tie in as closely with what I’m seeing in rehearsal.