Friday, August 22, 2008
Ready to Begin Rehearsals for GOSSAMER
By Jeff Frank, Artistic Director and Director of GOSSAMER
In the summer of 2006 I sat down to dinner with Stan Foote, the artistic director of Oregon Children’s Theatre. OCT is very similar to us – they are a professional company with a theater school attached that produces plays using age appropriate casting. I had been to Portland to see their workshop of THE GIVER and was getting ready to produce the play as part of our 06-07 season. Stan and I are kindred artistic spirits and thrive on our discussions of the work that we do. At that dinner, he had an idea he wanted to share with me. What would I think about collaborating on a commission of Lois Lowry to write her first play based on her book GOSSAMER?
Well, coincidentally I had just finished reading the novel a few weeks before, and I thought it was brilliant, and that Stan was inspired to have had such a thought. He approached Lois, and our triumvirate was born.
Over the past two and a half years Lois has written and tirelessly revised, and Stan and I have tried to help her shape the piece into it’s strongest artistic form. We have had workshops in Portland, Milwaukee and NYC, and all have proved critical in the development of this piece. Although Stan and I are producing the play with different approaches, we have tried to communicate with one voice to Lois – rather than playing devil and angel on her shoulders. Hopefully, we’ve accomplished that.
All of the work has led us to this coming Monday when we will begin rehearsals. I couldn’t be more excited. We’ve got a fabulous cast of young performers, and our adult cast includes Milwaukee stage veterans Flora Coker, Richard Halverson and Mark Metcalf. It is truly a blessing to have that level of experience and wisdom in the room as we work on this challenging and elegant piece.
This past Thursday our puppet designer spent part of the afternoon working with Lexi Block who will be one of the puppeteers for the Old Woman’s dog Toby. Mark has created an amazing puppet that can walk, sit, lift its ears, bite and more. It truly has a personality – just as the Toby from the novel has.
Until next time,
(Top photo: Director Jeff Frank helping young performer Lexi Block get comfortable with the puppet "Toby". Right photo: "Toby" the puppet)
Posted by First Stage Children's Theater