Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Blue Trunk

For anyone who has followed my directing work, you will have noticed that a trunk has shown up in several of my recent shows - and often it is the same blue trunk. The blue trunk is a literal representation of a belief in theater of possibility. In my time as Artistic Director of Promethean Theatre Ensemble I often talked about "theater out of the box," a notion that anything you needed to create a play could come out of a single box and imagination would supply the rest. It is very similar to the beginning of Man of LaMancha where Cervantes uses his trunk of props and make-up to tell the story of Don Quixote in the prison.

The trunk grew into a literal manifestation the more I wanted to push the idea of creating theater from whatever is on hand. In the original production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a band of travelers enter a theater with their instruments and a trunk. They use the things contained there in to tell the appropriate and necessary story for the moment. In my short version of Pericles, the Chorus (Gower) opens the trunk and assigns characters to the acting troupe by pulling masks from the trunk and giving them to the actors. I believe that it is a very powerful invitation to extend to the audience. One that says we are creating this story through the use of our imaginations - we invite you  to take part as well.

It is also an image that connects us to thousand of street performers both past and present. It conjures images of magicians being able to pull things out of magic trunks or even thin air. It represents limitless possibility and that, I believe, is what theater is. It is a theme I explored in an earlier blog post when I talked about the unlimited potential of my high school prop room.

But the idea of theater out of the box should never get stuck in the literal representation of the metaphor. You do not need to have the box present onstage. The theater itself is a box. And as Oliver Wells says in Slings and Arrows "it is our task to fill it with fury and ecstasy... with revolution."

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