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.
This week's post is by The Ravagers director and Savage Umbrella founder Blake E. Bolan.
Well hello, America!
Here we are, one week away from the official start of rehearsals for The Ravagers. Is that even possible? As I spent my personal life rushing to transition out of one country and into another, out of one home and into another, the rest of my headspace was filled with The Ravagers. Drafts, casting, designers, scheduling, location, all of the vital components that have to be in place before you start a show. So, one week left to go before we dig in, and there’s still so much to do. However, I will tell you something that you probably already have guessed: it’s a lot easier to work on a project of this magnitude when you are, in fact, in the city in which it will be produced. Just saying.
Since I’ve been back in the country, I’ve Skyped in to the very first production meeting with all of the incredible design and technical staff. I’ve led a movement workshop with a good portion of the cast, where we got a chance to really play together before we push it into high gear next week (check out the pics on our Facebook page). I’ve gotten a chance to meet some of the actors that I helped cast but have never seen in person before. I met with our technical director, tomorrow I will meet with our inimitable costume designer, Sonya Berlovitz, and as I’m writing this, I’m awaiting the arrival of our sound designer. We have one more big round of changes to the script before we have a colleague with an extremely keen eye take one last look. And then: we begin!
This project has experienced so much growth, so much nurturing, so many exciting beginnings. Beginning to read source material, beginning to think in a larger context, beginning to workshop material, beginning to write, beginning to garner interest. And it will continue to grow, and we will continue to see beginnings.
Alright, Savage Umbrella, let’s do this thing!
This week’s post by Savage Umbrella member and all-around awesome educator Christina Lein.
*Sigh* Summer is coming to an end. We’ve nursed our Minnesota Fringe Festival 2011 hang overs, the Minnesota State Fair is now a hazy memory, and most Minnesotans ages 4-18 are heading back to school! And so is Savage Umbrella!
As we forge ahead with a jam-packed, brand-spankin’ new, fabulous 2011-2012 season, education is on our minds. After all, we believe education leads to inspiration and inspiration leads to education. We include an educational component for each of our productions to broaden, awaken, and encourage our community and ourselves. And most importantly, to continue the vital conversations that surface as a result of our work.
Since Savage Umbrella’s inception we’ve held stylistic workshops, panel discussions, and talk-backs. During The Awakening a panel of experts led a discussion on the novel and feminist discourse. The Winter Adventures of Happy the Sad Clown brought us a free community clowning workshop. Back in March of this year, The Ravagers workshop presentation talk-back sessions helped to bridge the gap between artists and audience as everyone in the room participated to create new ideas for the continuing script development. The myraid discussions after ExGays performances created a sanctuary for continued conversation about the show’s difficult subject matter.
As we look to the future, we want to hear from you. Explore our website to get a sneak peek into what our 2011-2012 season holds for you, our audience and fans, and then holler at us. What would you like to discuss? Is there a workshop you’d like to take? Is there a conversation you’d like to have with us? We want to create space for all of our imaginations to expand, rising upward and outward to gain a greater view of our world. So shoot us an email to savageumbrella [at] gmail.com, leave a comment here on the blog or on our Facebook page or tweet at us. We want to hear from you.
Get under the umbrella… and hang on to your notebooks, kids, we got some learnin’ to do together!
We couldn't be more excited about our awesome cast for The Ravagers. Thank you to all the amazing people who auditioned - you made our decisions super difficult! Stay tuned here at the blog for more info about the show, our rehearsal process, and more.
Lynceus...Carl Atiya Swanson
We've made it to Duluth. We've been to the Mayor's Reception. We've done an interview with KDLH TV News. We've got tech tomorrow for Ex-Gays at the Duluth Play Ground. But most importantly, we've done mad-libs.
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