Aimee directed Lisa Barnes and I in the Astrov/Yelena map scene from Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya for Daniel Talbott's site-specific directing class for Primary Stages. This is the second piece I've done for this class and both have been like Top Chef challenges. “Normally, you'd have your stocked kitchen and tools of the trade but today you'll cooking deconstructed Thai dishes for angry reform school children over a pit of vicious alligators.”
This week's challenge was doing Chekhov around Lincoln Center. I love his plays because you can always DIG and never get to the bottom of them. Aimee searched LC for a decent location and came upon a series of public space gardens slightly south near 60th St. and Columbus Ave.
While the choice of scenes was up in the air, I began growing a goatee to hedge my bets. That lasted less than 4 days. Never a good idea. I always look extra creepy, although I was compared favorably to Robert Downey Jr.
Doing such an intimate and revealing piece outside near several large and loud AC units forced us to open up and make it a bigger, more visceral scene. Lisa worked specifically and from a smaller and more real place. I started off as a circus barker and eventually geared down. I kept thinking she think I'm insane.
What was really great was using 3 different areas as maps rather than pulling out props. So the actors and the audience were actually on the maps.
It was a trip to rip through the scene in performance. The audience never went anywhere we hoped or expected. It flew by and I was surprised to be on the other side of my huge monologue. “Whoa, how did we get here so fast.”.
And then it was over and all the hours of work became a memory.