Saturday, May 22, 2010
There is a scene in Ariadne on the Island where the two women pluck and disembowel chickens. Because this play has only been heard in a reading or viewed as quasi-staged reading with music stands, the problem posed by the staging of plucking and cleaning of the birds has yet to be solved in theatrical terms. While people like the scene, it never fails to elicit the comment, "Yeah, but, how are you gonna do the chickens?"
I always answer, "Nothing is real in the theater - and chickens are easy."
Of course, "easy" may not be the best word - but something like how to handle chicken plucking is a minor conundrum compared to solving the broader complexities of the play-world... and yet -- How we gonna do the chickens? It turns out - simple!
The plasticity of the play-world in Ariadne holds the key. One of the things that the readers of play enjoy about the world is that it is constructed from barrels of various sizes, nets, boards, ropes, and a few benches. The elements are rearranged throughout the play to define and create the spaces that the characters inhabit. In a world that is constructed of wood, ropes and nets in various configurations, why can't chickens be made from knots of heavy ropes? The ropes would lend themselves to the illusion of dead weight, and small bits of white cloth could be pressed into the knots and braids to be "plucked" as feathers.
Ta-dah! An elegant solution to a sticky problem.
And this solution came about through an intermission convo with a tech-guy during the first public showing of the play at a workshop. Now that solution is included on the front-page of production notes and descriptions. When public workshops of new plays inspire that kind of inquiry and problem solving -- yea workshops!