In my program note, I discuss how Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play, We Are Proud to Present…, uses the device of a young company of actors devising work together to uncover how ill-prepared we are as Americans to discuss issues of race and the experiences of and privileges afforded by structural racism.
For lighting designer Porsche McGovern, life itself is the biggest inspiration. “I watch my toddler run around and try to think about her sense of wonder. I try to bring that sense of openness and vulnerability to the rehearsal room.” Porsche does research, however prefers looking towards nature itself because it’s difficult to capture real sunlight in photographs.
Despite its title, this play is not a history lesson about German colonialism at the turn of the 20th century. It is not a chronicle of traditions and culture of the Herero; it does not detail the structural and institutional details of genocidal violence. That said, as Actor 4 observes “everything we’re talking about happened to real people, a whole people, not just one family, thousands of families.” In an effort to honor those people, we offer these resources for your own investigations.
PlayMakers audiences will remember Desdemona Chiang’s direction of last season’s beautifully delicate 4000 Miles as well as the fun and fantastical Hairspray for Summer Youth Conservatory. She returns to us now for something else completely different with the wildly provocative and bitingly funny We Are Proud to Present….
When you’re trying to make something, not everyone’s going to be happy during every minute of it.
—We Are Proud to Present…
Vivienne Benesch is drawing raves with her directorial debut as PlayMakers’ Producing Artistic Director, a critically-acclaimed look at Anton Chekhov’s timeless classic Three Sisters. See what the reviewers have to say about her staging based on Libby Appel’s new adaptation.
In our previous post, Tracy Christensen shared with us her ideas for creating costumes for Three Sisters. Those concepts are now reality on the stage of the Paul Green Theatre, and the results are beautiful.
While Three Sisters is set at the turn of the 20th century, costume designer Tracy Christensen and director Vivienne Benesch worked together fusing modern influences to create its period clothing. The duo drew inspiration from contemporary fashion and runway couture photography. “There are a lot of fashion designers putting out lines that evoke early 20th Century ideas,” says Tracy.
Unlike other playwrights Chekhov’s dramaturgy eschews climactic encounters and theatrical pyrotechnics. What would be central aspects of a different type of play: a fire that nearly consumes the town, love affairs, duels to the death; occur offstage. We see only the consequences of these events, not the events themselves. Like an impressionist painter Chekhov gives us the passing moments in his characters lives. His landscapes are ephemeral, provisional, and richly informative artistically, but not historically detailed.
I discovered Chekhov’s plays when I was 16 years old and an English teacher in my junior year high school class assigned us The Cherry Orchard to read. It was a revelation for me from the first moment I picked it up. I still have difficulty understanding how a teenage girl could fall so madly in love with this play about loss, memory and grief, but fall in love I did. And this was the start of a lifelong passion with all of Chekhov’s works.