A Director’s Perspective
Since this is our first time working with an actual director, we asked the amazingly talented Rebekah Scallet to write a blog entry about her process and experience. Enjoy!
Working on this project has been a totally unique artistic experience for me. I am trained as a director, and all of my prior experience has been working on plays with text. In fact, much of what I love about plays is their texts—I am a huge fan of Shakespeare and the classics, as well as contemporary writers who play with language like Stoppard and Mamet. So I must admit the idea of going into a project with no text was a bit daunting. I soon discovered I was wrong, however. There is a “text” to The Weaver’s Tales. It’s not spoken, but it’s heard—it’s music.
Lindsey and I began the process for “the fearless boy and the loveless girl” with a written narrative that we created by weaving together two fairy tales. From this Lindsey created a “story board,” a loose outline with ideas of what specific actions might happen and how they would work with the music to tell our narrative. And that’s where I was really blown away by what we were doing in this project—as we began to work on individual scenes, I discovered that often the music itself suggested the story. For example, in the first movement of the Vaughan Williams Piano Quintet, the music goes back and forth between lushly romantic and dark and ominous. This was the perfect setting to establish the conflict between Father Frost and his daughter the Snow Maiden. Her actions are scored primarily by the beautiful sound of piano and strings, while Father Frost’s anger is urged on by aggressive dark notes from the bass and cello. A particularly large crescendo gave us the idea that a large action needed to happen, and now it is the moment that the Snow Maiden chucks her new present from her Father, a doll, across the room in an act of defiance. In this way, we were able to build and discover the richness of our story through the music.
I have really seen how the music has become our text, however, now that we are doing full runs with the members of Fifth House. I find that the interactions this allows are incredibly powerful.In moments where we would typically expect to hear a conversation, like when the boy and girl meet for the first time, the instruments carry out the dialogue. This works particularly well because we are working with fairy tales. The stories are already magical and larger than life—using music to tell them also allows our presentation to leave the realm of reality and move into that magical world. The music becomes the actor’s voices, expressing eloquently through sound the feelings the characters wish to communicate. It is amazing to watch the effect this has on the actors. As joyous music plays, that joy imbues their bodies, their faces, their entire being—musician and actor come together to express this perfect moment. It is truly exciting to watch. Even I, the Shakespeare lover, find that I don’t miss the words at all.