August 27. . . Madness Dance, Music and Visual Art

August 27. . . Madness Dance, Music and Visual Art

Paula Kramer and I meet dancers Helen Hansen French, Crystal DelGiudice, Ethan Barbee and Deisha King at The Studio@620 for our first exploration of the movement in Madness – in particular, how The Contraption made of dancers will work.

Helen, Crystal, Ethan and Deisha are skilled and inventive, solid good sports and full of surprises. They first figure out how to dress the set, since part of the action early on is watching the dancers construct the imaginary Forest where the play takes place.

Paula and I unfurl all the many lengths of lovely cloth we found at Creative Clay – and several fiery lengths of cloth that have now shown up in three or four of my plays. The 40-foot red scarf I just keep writing in, to Paula’s bemusement.

Working with dancers is always full of pleasant surprises. I knew things were going to go well when Helen and Crystal, tasked with draping gold cloth over a ladder to make a sunset, figured out that they could stash the cloth under a couple of chairs in the first row of seats, and tug it out between the legs of a surprised audience member, like a magic trick. They tried it out and it looked so good I wrote it in another time or two.

Tom Sivak came to get an idea of what the dancers would be doing, while experimenting with The Studio@620’s piano. He forgot to bring the nuts and screws he was planning to use to prepare the piano, so our excellent house manager Chris Rutherford pointed him toward some forks in the kitchen, which worked like a charm. Tom took the piano’s sound from scary to celebratory by adjusting the forks.

Printmaker Coralette Damme came to watch, to get ideas for the homemade woodland creatures she’s kindly creating for our forest.

We worked our way through the many movement cues throughout the story, as Paula and the dancers figured out the different ways The Dance Contraption could work, how their bodies could become a garden, and a campfire. And best of all, how they’re going to make an actor fly.

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