New Ideas: week three reading

The reading this week, Moon and Murna (Act II) (by Betty Jane Wylie, dir. by Jeanette Dagger), began with an extremely amusing, informative & brisk recap of Act I (“Previously on Moon and Murna… and that’s what you missed on Moon and Murna.”), which ended with Murna braining Moon with a wine bottle, knocking him unconscious.

At the beginning of Act II, Moon is still unconscious and tied to a chair & when he comes to, Murna’s intentions become increasingly apparent as she proposes a game of Bingo, with Moon as the caller and her as the player – using various pharmaceuticals in place of chips, which she pops throughout. Murna doesn’t want to die alone – & Moon is her captive audience. She continues to challenge him as he attempts to convince her to untie him, but to no avail.

In the end, Moon’s chair topples over & while he lays there on his side, Murna collapses into her chair – unconscious? Dead? He manages to set off her personal alarm & yells for help as the lights go to black.

During the talkback that followed, we learned that Wylie was inspired by Douglas Coupland’s book Generation X; the large margins allowed for copious note-taking & the play is her rebuttal. This was Dagger’s first time directing a staged reading – & she chose to have the actors up on their feet (as opposed to a directed reading where the actors read from music stands). The number of props in the script prompted a decision to go props-free, as well as mime-free, with the read stage directions kept to a minimum. Casting was important for the older woman/younger man dynamic – & actors Brenda Somers & Conor Hefferon were exceptionally good. Aside from being a response to the Gen X cohort phenomenon, Wylie, an older woman herself, is also interested in the place of older women in the world – & in telling their stories.

Actors’ choices were also discussed, especially Somers’ decision on when Murna picks her candidate at the food bank & when she realizes that Moon is the right one for her purposes. As her plan unfolds, Murna challenges Moon continually, pushing him along a journey of testing boundaries & self-discovery.

This generational clash is thought-provoking, funny & touching – & I’d be very interested to see this play produced. Photo courtesy of Jeanette Dagger: Conor Hefferon and Brenda Somers.

After the talkback, I joined Ed Rosing & the GuineaPigging painting team on the main stage. We finished earlier than expected, so I was able to see Two Weeks in Normandy a second time. And I love it all over again.

And that, my friends, is a wrap for New Ideas 2011.

I’ll be continuing to help with painting on GuineaPigging (thanks to co-producers Tabitha Keast and PJ Hammond for the great snacks yesterday!) – and will be back soon with more fun and games on this last wacky show of the season.

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