After the matinee last Sunday, the audience was invited to stay, and make comments or ask questions of The Killdeer director, designers and cast – and about half the audience stuck around to do so.
Producer Lynne Patterson had everyone introduce themselves – in addition to the actors, onstage were director Barbara Larose; assistant director Ellen Green; sound designer Rick Jones; and sitting in the audience, set designer Marysia Bucholc and props designers Tess Hendaoui and Deborah Roed. Here is what I transcribed of the Q and A. Unless otherwise specified, the responses are from director Barbara Larose.
Q: The play is written in blank verse?
A: Yes, and it was also one of the first plays to be performed in Toronto with the local accent and colloquialisms.
Q: Would like to compliment the cast on their physical language – the way Eli and Harry in particular grew up before our eyes was very impressive.
Q: What was the significance of the tree in the room?
A: The tree was something that [playwright James] Reaney envisioned, but in discussing the set design with Marysia, we tried to show the battle between the natural world and civilization. The tree is in the middle of the room, painted purple with gold tips and covered with Mrs. Gardner’s knick-knacks, representative of her attempt to control her son.
Marysia adds: I was influenced by the pockets of nature in southern Ontario (wild growth) and the imposition of order (cultivated fields, houses) on it.
Q: Did anyone involved in this production see the previous production?
A: The original production was in 1960, and most of the present cast were not yet born! Reaney revised the script significantly after that – fewer characters, no courtroom scene (play ends with a birthday), etc.
Marysia adds: “I saw a production of the revised script in Ottawa around 1975. It was too earnest; there was no humour.”
Barbara: “I much prefer the original script – the myth, fairytale, crazy journey that’s somehow more real. It’s got poetry, magic and imagination that drew me in.”
Q: What’s the significance of Rebecca telling Madam Fay “I know what you want”?
A (Blythe Haynes, who plays Rebecca): I see Madam Fay as being like the Evil Queen, who just wants to belong and never has. So Rebecca helps her to play – go back to childhood; turn back the clock.
Barbara adds: James Reaney said this play was about “two girls and a bird”!
In response to a question about the music used in this production, sound designer Rick Jones mentioned that he was lucky enough to hear John Beckwith‘s music (on cassette!) which he composed for the 1960 production. Had hoped to use it, but it wasn’t possible due to sound differences that would have been impossible to match: the original was recorded in Beckwith’s kitchen on an upright piano, using a handheld microphone. Instead, Jones re-recorded new arrangements and composed new pieces to fill the gaps. For example, a viola represents Madam Fay – gives her the sense of being an outsider; it contrasts with the “town band” feeling of the other residents.
Q: Is the revised script published?
A: Yes, and it has been produced much more often than the original. James Reaney’s work is dense and delicious, and asks a lot of audience: to accept things on emotion and without logic.
Three more chances to catch The Killdeer before it flies away – Thursday, Friday and Saturday (April 25 – 27) at 8pm. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased online at http://alumnaetheatre.com/tickets.html, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve seats, and pay cash on arrival.