Because Ms Ehle's Best Featured Actress Tony is two months old today, here's a little bit of Utopian nostalgia:
First, opening night playbills from Voyage, Shipwreck, and Salvage are available at Ebay.
Shortly after the winning a Tony Award for The Coast of Utopia, Jack O'Brien was interviewed by one of his former fraternity brothers, John Emmerling, who has kindly posted the interview on his blog. In it, Mr. O'Brien talks about collaborating with Tom Stoppard and discusses his 'processes' for visualizing and directing Utopia. Here are a few of the Q&As:
It strikes me that directing a big, wide-spectrum play must be a little like herding cats?
The whole idea of directing a play or an opera or a musical is to try to get everyone there, independently, to tell the same story in exactly the way you would have told it yourself. And you can’t do that except by convincing the actors that what they’re doing is their own idea. Theater is for all intents and purposes an act of faith—the actors must actually believe in the moment and then, by their conviction, they make the audience believe it too.
What is your creative relationship with Tom? As you discuss things, does he take creative input from you?
(LAUGHING) To begin with, I’m a University of Michigan graduate—and he’s Tom Stoppard. But mostly I’m with him as a student and I need to know more. And so I’m questioning: “I don’t understand this? Why is this in here?” And he tells me. Little by little, we talk more about what it should be and how he wants to make it clearer. Eventually we’re coming together. He might say: “I need to do more work on this.” “I think I did this better once.” “I think I can make this clearer.” But through all these conversations, I still didn’t know how to do it.
Let’s get back to your amused collaborators who insisted that you turn them on. Were you able to come up with something?
This is what I said to them at those first meetings: “Okay here it is. There are three plays. The first one takes place on a dome that is in fact a field of blue flowers. And only at the end of first act do you understand that you’re not looking at a dome with blue flowers on it but you’re looking at a painted Russian Easter egg. Number two. The second play takes place in black and upstage you see a giant Fabrege egg. And slowly that egg comes downstage until it’s in front of the audience and then it splits and is in fact the apartment that is being rented in Paris. All of this is suspended about 8 to 10 feet in the air. And when the revolution happens the egg cracks in two and the rest of the scenery is red or bathed in red light and the characters don’t notice it. They look across—and act across—the void but they don’t notice that it’s broken. And the third play? It takes place entirely in—and of—eggshells.”
Those are stunning pictures. How did they react?
They were gobsmacked. They loved it! They roared, they laughed, and John… (PAUSE FOR EFFECT) …we didn’t use any of those ideas. [More]
While we're on the subject, a new website has just been launched for Sir Tom's latest play, Rock 'N' Roll. Go check it out.
Also on the "marginally related to this blog" front, there is some discussion of the first few previews of A Midsummer Night's Dream at All That Chat. Once again, Martha Plimpton seems to be winning the hearts of the audience.
For the Janeites out there:
- Livejournaler MacaroniProtest has posted an interesting discussion of the many movie adaptations of Jane Austen's works, including, of course, Pride and Prejudice.
- Grace Magazine offers some advice for relieving stress. They suggest, "a perfect way to relax is to put on Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and crochet." Sounds good to me (though perhaps the crocheting part is superfluous).
- Finally, in honor of Colin Firth's upcoming birthday, Colin Firth 24/7 has arranged to have a donation sent to Oxfam America in Mr. Firth's name. Go to Colin Firth 24/7 to find out how to contribute to his birthday gift.
[Edit: It has just come to my attention that I have incorrectly credited Colin Firth 24/7 with arranging the Oxfam birthday project. My deepest apologies to the Firth Sisters who originated this projet and have organized it for three years running. Thank you ladies for all of your hard work!! I'd also like to point out that by visiting Firth Sisters, you can see a tally of how much money has been donated thus far. As of August 10th, the total is $2,410!]