Thoughts on Other People’s Children – Cristina

Blog Post by Cristina Cugliandro, Nov. 2, 2018

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by Cristina

I adore watching the work. The nature of the process is fascinating because, though staging a play is often technical and logical, I have yet to shake the feeling that there is more at play than what we see, in the literal world.

The synergy that is birthed in the rehearsal room and which later inhabits the theatre and performance is hard to explain but there is no question that it is present. It is a stride, and it is accompanied by the ancients who fill the room to watch over the tradition of its ritual.

When asked about the instinctive knowledge of when a moment is right, when the length of a pause hits, when a movement cuts the air at the right angle, director Micheline Chevrier and movement director Leslie Baker weighed in on their interpretations of this specific yet enigmatic feeling.

I feel my body respond viscerally to [the characters’] experience  and then I feel like we’re cookin’.”

-Leslie Baker

Leslie compares this experience to a line of energy she perceives starts at the beginning of the play and holds until the end. The challenge is keeping that line ‘alive and in tension’ so that when the line slacks it indicates the moment needs to be revisited and tested again.

“Without the knowledge, you can’t be intuitive.”

-Micheline Chevrier

Micheline feels the experience in a similar way but names it rhythm. When the rhythm breaks she knows the moment was either too short or too long. She connects this intuition to ‘having spent time with the text’ in order to feel its build and to know where the events lie, ‘[this innate understanding] comes from having thought about the text and worked the bodies. It’s a building of knowledge that becomes intuitive.’

To this Leslie added the importance of technique and how it holds that rhythm and line between the three characters. Once the technique is embedded it makes way for ‘the content and experience [to become] more important than the equation, the machine, technique of theatre.’

Micheline and Leslie are beautiful collaborators. They admire each other and are invested in sharing their knowledge and practice with one another. They balance.

Other People’s Children walks a fine and delicate line when it comes to the presence of the comedy and violence. Both divine in their own right, they are the two most difficult things to portray on the stage.

Violence is not only physically present but also inhabits the comedy in this play. From my perspective, this is what creates the constant discomfort that holds the line taut and drives the rhythm of the piece. The violence surprises the characters, and the comedy surprises the audiences.

Micheline explains that the nature of this violence is responsive instead of aggressive. It does not belong to any gender but rather, as Leslie worded it, is ‘new emotional territory’ all three characters find themselves in, lacking the ‘skill set to rationalize it’. Therefore this paves the way for those feelings to ‘manifest in action.’

The comedy and violence live side by side. Whether through an action or a look, this coexistence plays an important part in capturing the play.

“I think it is very useful in this case cause it reminds us they’re human. The contrast makes us see what it is.”

-Micheline Chevrier

 

Man was made for Joy & Woe 

And when this we rightly know 

Thro the World we safely go 

Joy & Woe are woven fine 

A Clothing for the soul divine

-William Blake

 

*This blog was written on All Hallows’ Eve, this set the tone which was happily unchallenged by its writer.