Articles about dramaturgy


The Doctors Are In

 


The Doctors are In and our Winter Announcement

This event begins at 6:30pm on Monday, April 25 at Third Rail at Imago
First, join us for The Doctors are In – the second installment of our salon series that takes a closer look inside the script and behind the curtain with resident Dramaturgs Brian Myers and Ellen Walkley! Our first installment of this series, The Abusrdism Salon, explored the comical and dark undertones of Mr. Kolpert. We now move on to discover the role of storytelling and mythology in The New Electric Ballroom. Our resident dramaturgs Ellen Walkley and Brian Myers each received their PhDs in English Literature from the University of California – Berkeley. These doctors will explore the script and lead discussions on the resonance of story-telling as ritual and the power of personal mythology. They will be joined by Company Member and Lighting Designer, Jennifer Linn who will talk about the dramaturgy of light inThe New Electric Ballroom Immediately following this fun, informative, and participatory event we will be announcing our Winter Main Stage Show. This evening will be an open and FREE introduction to a Member’s Only event giving you all a chance to taste the kind of things normally only available to Members! So bring a buddy or two to join the fun – it’s a chance to share what Membership’s all about and get an inside look at what will be heating up our stage in the Winter! Please RSVP with our Box Office at (503)235-1101 or boxoffice@thirdrailrep.org


The Dramaturgs on Mr. Kolpert

Here are some thoughts about Mr. Kolpert from our superb Dramaturgical team, Brian Myers and Ellen Walkley:

“Startling, jarring and unexpected, the antics in Mr. Kolpert have had a worldwide appeal. Since the first production in 2000 in London, Mr. Kolpert has been produced in 24 countries, from Iceland and Romania to Israel and New Zealand. The play was originally written in German, while Gieselmann was a resident playwright at the Royal Court, and first performed in English. In addition to this comedy, Gieselmann has written a translation of Edward II, a libretto for The Onyx Hotel and an award-winning play for children, About Boys. His blog, Popticker, follows popular music.”

Mr. Kolpert shares with many absurdist plays a silence about the causes of or the remedies for the characters’ predicaments. As in Waiting for Godot or The Birthday Party, the action begins in an unexplained present and proceeds without arguing for a particular resolution to the characters’ underlying problems. In Mr. Kolpert, the characters become increasingly extreme in their efforts to put their world right, but Gieselmann allows the audience to relieve whatever discomfort it may have at these extremes through laughter. That discomfort may linger, however, leaving us to wonder about what makes us laugh and what makes us stop.”

Come find that wonder! Mr. Kolpert runs February 5- 27 at our home in Imago Theatre.


The Realistic Joneses Dramaturgy

The Realistic Joneses.

Meet Jennifer and Bob. They’re the Joneses. Meet Pony and John. They’re also the Joneses. They’re next door neighbors. Keeping up with them can feel awfully familiar in this hilarious and humane look at how we live. Literate and slyly hilarious, this award-winning play dives deep below the surface with probing grace.

Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses opened on Broadway in 2014, where it won a Drama Desk Award, was named USA Today’s “Best Play on Broadway,” topped the Guardian’s 2014 list of best American plays, and was included in the New York Times’ “Best Theater of 2014.” We are deeply proud to be sharing it with Portland audiences. The show is an unconventional, unexpected, original and outrageous look at the people who live next door and the truths we think we know. The show is funny and banal and profound and intimate. Eno’s voice is one of the most singular of his generation.

I hope with all of these four characters, who have very different responses to the big, big things in life – I hope that people find one or the other or the other or the other of them or some mix of them to be something that’s very recognizable to how they go through their day and their lives.Will Eno

To be able to hear the play and be part of the play is transforming for me as a human being… I have the exquisite pleasure of standing backstage and hearing something that is cracking me up and changing my perspective on life… It comes so organically out of [Eno’s] heart and soul, that ineffable something, that always gets you in the stomach.Marissa Tomei (who starred in the show on Broadway)

Plays as funny and moving, as wonderful and weird as The Realistic Joneses, by Will Eno, do not appear often on Broadway. Or ever, really… [the show] brought me a pleasurable rush virtually unmatched by anything I’ve seen this season.Charles Isherwood, The New York Times


Or, Dramaturgy

Here at Third Rail we’ve enjoyed the services of two magnificent dramaturgs, Brian Myers and Ellen Walkley, for several years. They’ve been with us since 2011 when they took over managing our NT Live program, and took over dramaturgical duties from Larkin Sackett (who ran off to a little school called Columbia University to pursue her MFA) during Sweet and Sad. They both hold PhDs from UC Berkeley, and we are blessed to have their incredible brains in the rehearsal room. Brian and Ellen tend to tag-team our seasons, each taking the lead on alternating shows, so we asked Ellen to write up a bit of information about our upcoming show Or, by Liz Duffy Adams:

Or,
 looks ripe for the easiest of a dramaturg’s job—researching historical references—but it is less immediately yielding to the more difficult task of finding the heart of the script. Charles II was indeed fond of exclaiming “Odd’s fish,” for example, but his visit to Aphra in debtor’s prison is pure fiction. Aphra spied, London burned, the plague raged, Charles returned and theaters reopened, but this play is not dependent on a precise chronology.
Adams directs us in many ways to the play’s essence. In her stage directions, she states that the play is set during the Restoration “but plays off the echoes between the late 1660s, the late 1960s and the present.” These echoes are evident in the diction, which is often anachronistic; “kinky,” “It girl,” “quickie,” and “nostalgia queen” are not words likely heard in Charles’ court. Echoes between the 1660s and 1960s are also found in the background of the play, unfolding as it does in the midst of an unpopular war and the loosening of sexual morés. The pastoral lyricism of Aphra’s speech about Arcadia and Nell’s restatement of that speech in contemporary terms matches the joys of Arcadia with the expectations of the Age of Aquarius.

But Adams suggests that this combination of destruction and hope can be found in any age. Her primary interest is in a “subculture that can look incredibly naïve, but is exactly what gives us hope.” The advice that Nell gives Aphra could work as well in the present as it does in the 1660s:

Nell: We are lucking to be alive right now. This is our utopia, and it’s never going to end.
Aphra: How lovely it would be to believe that.
Nell: O, just choose to believe it, that’s what I do.


Understanding the Mystery of Irma Vep

by Director Philip Cuomo

Third Rail Core Company member Philip Cuomo gives us some insights into directing the very funny and challenging The Mystery of Irma Vep by Charles Ludlam. Be sure to bring the whole family to this hilarious, quick-change romp of a play, December 5, 2014 – January 10, 2015. 

Welcome to The Mystery of Irma Vep.  Playwright Charles Ludlam refers to his play as a Penny Dreadful, which (according to our crack dramaturgical team) is a 19th-century British publication that featured lurid serial stories, each part costing a penny—as opposed to Dickens’ work that cost a shilling. Charles (I feel like he wouldn’t mind me calling him by his first name) used a vast array of elements that would attract readers of Popular (with a capitol P) culture in the 19th century: monsters, mummies, vampires, werewolves, etc.  The play embraces the romantic, the gothic, the melodramatic and, most fully, the ridiculous. In fact, Charles named the theatre company that he founded and ran for 20 years The Ridiculous Theatre Company.  (For more insight into Charles and his company, check out the article on the next page.)

In Irma Vep, Charles writes one opulent detail on top of another all in service of celebrating the form of the Penny Dreadful; all to delight and entertain today’s audience.  His advice on how to do this?  “Take things very seriously, especially focusing on those things held in low esteem by society and revealing them, giving them new meaning, new worth…”

Wonderful!  To be given permission to take monsters, mummies, werewolves, and vampires so seriously and to revel in their magic. To work on moments requiring outlandish commitment, revealing how dangerous, scary, and dramatic living and loving truly are, and how we must pursue our need for love and so live boldly and shamelessly.  Amazing!

Producing Irma Vep is a magnificent opportunity for Third Rail to ply our craft to the fullest, to embrace high-wire derring-do, and stretch our imaginations in order to create Charles’ amazing, ridiculous world.  No matter how serious or ridiculous, Charles has written a sensational entertainment that we have the pleasure to share with you, sharing the same space and breathing the same air so that together we can manifest wonder and mystery. What a gift.