This is the second post in a series of blogs about our current production, The Ravagers, written by Blake E. Bolan & Laura Leffler-McCabe. The Ravagers opens at the Hollywood Theater in November. This post was written by cast member, Emily Dussault.
Rehearsals for The Ravagers begin in a couple of days, and I honestly don’t know what to expect. Most of us just met writer/director Blake Bolan, so it’s hard to say what her process will be like. We have a near-finished script, but we have been told that most things are still subject to change. And out of the cast of 22, I have only ever worked with 6 of them. But still, I know enough about Savage Umbrella to be really excited.
The Ravagers will be my third SU show in two years. My first was The Awakening, a huge undertaking that involved months of workshopping and group discussion. The experience was a good initiation into the Savage Umbrella world. Would we have real water onstage? Did the movement sequences convey the right tone and fit into the more realistic scenes? How the heck should we end the play? I was not used to a process that involved so much collaboration, conversation and change. Every single person involved had a voice and was encouraged to use it. At times it was scary and even frustrating. But I felt so intricately connected to the final product and to the people I had worked with, that my appetite had been whet.
The next fall, I was in Leaves. The prospect of taking a huge body of iconic poetry and making a little play was dizzying and enticing, but also overwhelming. But somehow, after many improvisations, long conversations, and a quick and crazy trip to the woods, we had a show. A touching, sweet and lovely show.
So although I don’t know exactly what to expect from The Ravagers, I do have a pretty good idea of some of the things I will encounter:
Playing. Lots of playing. Silliness, laughter, and sloppy little moments of behaving like children. To my constant amazement, some of the truest moments onstage can be inspired by friends acting like complete dorks together.
Beauty. Someone wise once said to me, “Why go to the theatre if not to see beauty?” Savage Umbrella fully subscribes to that belief, and also knows that beauty can be found in strange places and unexpected moments.
Fear. I don’t mean for that to sound negative. In fact, I think it is quite healthy. I don’t want to make safe art. I want there to be moments of fear; fear that we will fail or make a huge mistake or go over people’s heads. Because that fear is what will drive us to take risks and find those truly breathtaking moments. I want to make art with people who are willing to be afraid and then rise to the challenge.
And if Savage Umbrella is anything, it is brave. They do not aim low. They do not play it safe. They shoot for the biggest and the boldest, which is naturally a bit scary. These people are fierce and bright and inspiring, and I am so lucky to be working with them.
Emily Dussault is a local singer and actor. She lives in St. Paul with her husband Tanner and her cat Henry. You can see her next in The Ravagers.