Last night’s rehearsal changed from what was supposed to be an on-our-feet Italian run with props (yikes!) to a regular sit-down Italian – phew. While lighting designer Ed Rosing tweaked the lighting plot and conferred with stage manager Margot Devlin about programming the new cues, the cast gathered in the theatre lobby with director Barbara Larose and assistant director Ellen Green to do an Italian run of the play. In theatre lingo, that means to speakquicklyandwithoutpauses.
It was an interesting exercise, especially for a play like The Killdeer, with such a convoluted plot. Listening to lines spoken this way really brought home such things as the sequence of events; who knew what and when; who was lying and who was telling the truth. The acid test will be to see if the audience can understand it on their first (only) viewing!
DID YOU KNOW?
In 1960, Alumnae Theatre’s Pamela Terry (1926-2006) directed the first play written by esteemed Canadian poet James Reaney (1926-2008) – The Killdeer. She continued to direct several other of Reaney’s plays, including One-man Masque, Night Blooming Cereus, and The Easter Egg. In recent years Terry promoted Alumnae Theatre’s participation in cultural festivals such as Doors Open Toronto, and took charge of the company’s participation in Toronto’s first Nuit Blanche in 2006.
Mr. Manatee the hangman (played by Mike Vitorovich) spouts some unusual words – here are some:
BURDOCK: coarse herb with globular flower heads and prickly bracts.
CAMPION: plant of the pink family. Herb with white flowers.
FREEMARTIN: sexually imperfect, usually sterile female calf, twinborn with a male.
SHRIKE: thrush; grey or brownish bird with strong notched bill hooked at the tip. Feeds chiefly on insects which it impales on its bill.
From the website www.jamesreaney.com/:
Pamela Terry … and her husband, composer John Beckwith, were friends of James Reaney’s, and she encouraged him to write The Killdeer and persuaded the Alumnae Theatre to produce it. John Beckwith put together a background score for The Killdeer, and in his book, Unheard Of: Memoirs of a Canadian Composer, he describes how he composed the score: “… following Pamela’s directorial suggestions, I improvised musical cues at the piano, as she and I devised various muting devices after the model of John Cage’s ‘prepared piano’…”
I checked with current sound designer Rick Jones, who tells me that ‘prepared piano’ is a term for effects created on the piano, other than by the normal use of the keyboard – striking the strings inside, for example. This was “something that musicians were “playing around with” in the 50’s and 60’s but has since fallen out of vogue. Rick also pointed out an interesting coincidence: in both the original and current productions of The Killdeer, the sound designer and director were husband and wife!
Playwright James Reaney’s son has blogged about our upcoming production: http://blogs.canoe.ca/brandnewblog/general/the-killdeer-flies-back-to-alumnae-theatre/
The show opens on Friday April 12 and runs to April 27. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html, or you can reserve seats by phone (416-364-4170, box 1), then pay in cash (sorry, no credit or debit cards accepted at Box Office) on arrival.