This is the second in a series of posts about our upcoming show, The Ravagers, which will be presented on March 4th and 5th. Today’s post is from Sarah Teich, the director of the US cast.
It’s 7:30 in the morning. Admittedly, it’s not the crack of dawn, but I definitely sound groggier than the energized voice coming out of the computer. Then again, it’s 10:30pm in Seoul, so Blake’s day is wrapping up as mine is beginning. I try to sip my tea faster in order to get my brain up to speed, but the excitement of collaborating internationally with an innovative and talented writer seeps in quicker than the tea, and we’re off to the races.
My early morning Skype companion is Blake Bolan, who is currently living and teaching in Seoul, South Korea. She is deep in development on a piece titled THE RAVAGERS (for better-written-than-mine details on the origins of the piece, read her blog post here). THE RAVAGERS will be a full-blown production in Minneapolis this fall, and Blake is in the throes of generating material for her script. I am on board to help with this process, from over 6,000 miles away.
I fell in love with Blake’s work here in the Twin Cities at Bedlam’s 10-Minute Play Festival in 2008. I loved the sense of streamlined simplicity in her work that also had this capacity to arouse complex emotions. We worked as collaborators the following year for a Fringe show, LOVE ME OR DIE!; she as a writer and I as a performer. I found the process unique and invigorating – we all worked from the same source material, generated a variety of ideas, and she cultivated scenes and characters that were rooted in our findings as an ensemble.
Her process for THE RAVAGERS is similar, but with a twist (like a good drink, yeah?). There are workshops happening in Seoul and Minneapolis throughout the month of February. We are both using Aeschylus’ THE SUPPLIANTS as source material, with the politics of North Korea and South Korea informing the narrative. Each week, Blake brainstorms what material she wants to work on (ex: What is the backstory of the rift between these brothers? Is there an early-on romance that we see develop between two characters? What do the daughters dream about? What would be a terrifying quality that 50 brothers could possess?), and divides it between the two groups. We each work with our talented cadre of brave and creative actors, and then discuss our findings.
I am amazed by all the barriers that are instantly removed by technology. Workshops are documented in three ways – notes, photos, and video. At no cost (and who doesn’t love free?), everything is uploaded online, and we can basically sit in on what the other workshop group worked on, discussed, and created. Sometimes it’s actors pairing off and creating a scene through improv, other times it’s a larger scene living in Blake’s head that is staged. Sometimes it’s just sitting and discussing characters and plot points. Notes taken from these discussions are uploaded to Google Docs, and everyone is instantly on the same page (no pun intended).
It has been so informative seeing the work they are doing in Seoul; at our rehearsals we are able to take some of their ideas and build off of them, even though they workshopped those ideas across the country 14 hours earlier.
I am lucky to be working with an insanely skillful and inventive team of actors here in the Twin Cities, who show up every Sunday night ready to dive into whatever material is given to them that evening. They have been instrumental in bringing this story to life. We’ve had some great brainstorming sessions generating materials and questions, and now will be focusing on areas we want to bring to an audience.
We are really looking forward to sharing our work with a new group of people. We will be at Tarnish and Gold Gallery in NE Minneapolis at 8pm on March 4th and March 5th. Please come and give your feedback – we’ll even throw in some food and wine! Blake will be joining us as well, through the power of the Internet.
Let’s get Ravaged, y’all!