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Showing posts from June, 2014

ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG – PART 6

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ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG – PART 6 ELEMENTS OF THE DRESS REHEARSAL
By the end of Tuesday afternoon we indeed got through tech-ing the entire play, but there was no surplus time to rehearse anything additionally, let alone to run Le Whole Shebang before Tuesday’s dress rehearsal. This means that Tuesday night we will be running through the entire play for the first time. An invited audience will be present, which is good for finally gauging the response, but this of course means one’s adrenaline and stress are ratcheted up considerably due not only to the “unknown factor,” but to the dramatic placement of the process’s final puzzle piece—that long-awaited entrance of the actor’s cruel dominatrix: the audience and her judgment. It, of course, matters not whether the audience is made up of paying customers or your friends and family. The anticipation of judgment pretty much feels the same. There is a kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” phenomenon that often happens when you …

ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG - PART 5

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ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG PART #5 SECOND AND THIRD DAY IN THE THEATER: TECH-TEQUE
So we starts tech at the beginning of the play on Saturday morning and slowly work our way through every moment—the actors’ performances, the lighting cues, sound cues, scenery shifts, and costume changes (many of the costume changes are “quick changes” as there are a lot of actors doubling roles in this company)—gently folding them all together like ingredients in the batter of a soufflé. I believe the goal is to finish the play by the end of Sunday, basically one day per act, leaving time for revisions, a margin for error, and enough time for a proper dress rehearsal before the first preview performance. That is about eight-and-a-half hours to tech each of the two (approximately) sixty-five minute acts for each day. Why does it take so long?
The tech process is partly tedious because it is in a constant state of stopping and starting. Repeating a part of the show that hasn’t been e…

ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG - PART 4

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ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG - PART 4 SECOND AND THIRD DAY IN THE THEATER: TECH-TEQUE
Time management always baffles me. Time is so mercurial. We humans have figured out how to measure it, and we can predict somewhat how we can negotiate our way through it when faced with a time-sensitive task, but not much thought goes into how that negotiation actually happens. I suspect this is because if we do try to figure it out, our heads will explode.
So, you have a finite amount of time to tech a show. Tech-ing a show means that you take the performance of the play that the actors have rehearsed in the rehearsal room, bring it into the theater, and then spend that finite amount of time prior to the final dress rehearsal adding every remaining technical element that gives the production its physical identity. Months or sometimes years before a production goes into technical rehearsals, designers are preparing their work. Director Carey Perloff shared costume designer Linda Cho…

ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG FIRST DAY IN THE THEATER - PART 3

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ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG FIRST DAY IN THE THEATER (FRIDAY, MAY 30) PART 3 A PERSPECTIVE FROM THE HOUSE
On Friday, the day following our run-thru in the 30 Grant rehearsal room, we spent our first thrilling day in the theater. This experience is a little like Christmas morning. You start seeing the actual costumes that you’ve watched slowly materializing at every fitting (I believe most of the cast had three interspersed appointments with the inspired costume designer Linda Cho and her immaculate crew). You walk into the theater and actually see how the set looks on the stage in all its glory, and you can compare your reaction to it to the reaction you had when the set designer proudly presented his lilliputian model at the meet-and-greet on the first day. You go into your dressing room and start organizing the supplies you brought from the drugstore and from your personal arsenal and start picturing how your routine will go as you arrive every night. Gradually, you…

ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG FIRST DAY IN THE THEATER - PART 2

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ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG FIRST DAY IN THE THEATER (FRIDAY, MAY 30) PART 2 A WEEK THREE-STORIES UP
The third week of rehearsal was eye opening. This was the week Stage Management moved all of the props and personal items that had accumulated in the 30 Grant rehearsal room and transported them to the scene shop on Florida Street, where the entire set was already erected and ready for us to explore. Carey tells us that early in the planning of the production, she was rather despondent that the play could not be properly rehearsed in the Grant Avenue rehearsal rooms because of their lack of vertical space (Dan Ostling’s set is three stories high), and it was A.C.T. production manager Andrew Nielsen who introduced the inspired notion of pre-building the set with the goal of bringing the rehearsal to the actual scene shop, so the actors could become properly accustomed to climbing around on it.
This is not a generally common practice in my experience—the one place I reme…

The History of The Orphan of Zhao

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By Shannon Stockwell
James Fenton said of the process of adapting The Orphan of Zhao, “There seems to be nosingle text that presents the whole story from start to finish. It is a livingpiece of drama—continuously evolving and mutating.” Indeed, the tale has gone through many permutations, passed from country to country, translated from Chinese to French to English and back to Chinese again, leaving us with as many interpretations as there are adaptations. The origins of the tale reach back impossibly far, all the way back to the seventh century BCE.
The Orphan of Zhao is based on actual events that occurred during the Spring and Autumn era (722–481 BCE), which is a subdivision of the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BCE). The Spring and Autumn era is named after Chunqiu, or Spring and Autumn Annals, which record the history of the small state of Lu during the years 722 BCE to 481 BCE. The earliest known roots of the Orphan of Zhao story are found in the Zuo Zhuan, or Zuo’s Commentary, which was…

ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG FIRST DAY IN THE THEATER - PART 1

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ZHAO BUSINESS: THE ORPHAN DIARIES OF BD WONG
FIRST DAY IN THE THEATER (FRIDAY, MAY 30) PART 1 REMEMBERING THE BEGINNING
We’ve enjoyed an intense and productive rehearsal process: first, two weeks in the A.C.T. rehearsal spaces on Grant Avenue, with a modified uni-level rehearsal version of our multi-level set designed by Dan Ostling, and then for the better part of the third week rehearsing on the actual scenery in the A.C.T. scene shop in the Mission District. The rehearsal room on Grant Avenue that had a ceiling high enough to accommodate this particular set was recently relinquished due to a rent hike, and of course our director, Artistic Director Carey Perloff, misses that space with great nostalgic frustration—it compromises the comfort of her company, but I have no doubt that she will either get it back or acquire something even better, as she is quite the force of nature.
The actors were surprised when Ms. Perloff moved right from the first read-thru of the play to immediately…

The “Heartprint” of The Orphan of Zhao, How Ink Art Influenced the Production

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By Shannon Stockwell

“The centerpiece of this whole play is when Cheng Ying finally has to tell his son who he is. But it’s so painful and frightening that he can’t—so he paints a scroll. Cheng Bo looks at his life in the scroll and discovers who he is,” Orphan of Zhao director Carey Perloff told the cast and design team at the first rehearsal of in May. Costume designer Linda Cho agreed, “We talked a lot about this being a story that’s written down. It’s a legendary story.”
The crucial role that writing and painting play in The Orphan of Zhao led Perloff to an exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art called Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China. The exhibit, which opened in December 2013 and closed April 2014, was the first major exhibition of Chinese contemporary art at the Met, and featured about 70 works by 35 artists. Every piece of artwork was inspired by ink, which has been the principal medium in Chinese art for over two millennia.>

“It’s among the most amaz…