Going away and coming back. It's what we love about the process that every Savage Umbrella show goes through. We come together with an idea for a thing. We grow it in a workshop. We nurture it. Then we show it to people, take the best from it, and step back. When we return to the idea in a full production, it’s often changed in ways we could have never imagined at the beginning of a process.
I sat down with Creator/Director (also Savage Umbrella's Managing Director!) Hannah Holman to discuss the ongoing journey of our upcoming adventure, June.
June was birthed for the first time as a workshop the summer of 2014. It’s been simmering ever since in Hannah’s mind until this winter, when rehearsals started for a full production to be performed in February as part of ARTshare. One of the things Hannah wanted to do when returning to the project was to start rehearsals off with a blank slate, creating a “mini-workshop” of sorts during two weeks in December.
During the first two rehearsal weeks, actors dug into compositions and exercises exploring characters, physicality, and queer histories, all without referencing the workshop script. “Since we had new people in the room who weren’t in the workshop, we wanted to make something new, not holding ourselves to what was written before,” she says. After this intense ensemble building and incubation period, we've seen new themes, ideas, and characters arise and link while writing the script. “Every time we step back, it becomes a little clearer.”
“For example, we were working on this character, called B, and talking about how she’s so smart; maybe she’d be into science, or math,” says Hannah. “When we just laid out where B’s energy center came from, what her job was, and what her relationships were, it suddenly made sense to link it to what was going on at the time [with Sputnik and the race to the moon]. It's amazing how we all came to similar conclusions about the character, even though everyone was working in separate groups.” It shows how in sync the group had become so quickly. Collaboration in action! Talking about the space race has become a great tangible way to feel the effects of McCarthyism, communism and nationality in the everyday lives of the characters.
The most unexpected theme that’s come up since November? “I’ve become really interested in the ways that sex is used- for comfort, as a connection between two people, as currency, and as baggage,” says Hannah. “We can all relate to it in some way. There’s also really rich language that comes up around sex and euphemisms for sex.” The story has morphed into this beautiful exploration of time, space, and physical connection. "It really is a story about the place."
Hannah is most excited to dive into creating some of the more abstract movements in the show; as she says, “there’s definitely a balance in June between these everyday people and their realistic dialogue and a more magical world of poetry and monologues and music and movement sequences, which creates a heightened state for the audience.”
Tickets for June are available now! Get yours at southerntheater.org