Adrien Reju took the helm today and took our growing company on a musical journey through the streets of Belle Époque Paris.
The cancan debuted, as did Adrien’s new melodies and stunning physical work from both Cara Pifko (Réjane) and Jaylen Moore (the Lover). Directeur du Marketing Michelle Furnace not only took more beyond-helpful notes, she read two parts, the Mother and the Sage of Paris, in and out of sound cues.
Next week two (or three!) more actors join us but sadly Adrien will return to New York. She will leave us her recorded music and sound effects, which will no doubt be fabulous (though less fabulous than Adrien herself).
Our first day in the theatre. Jaylen Moore joined us as the Lover to Cara Pifko’s Réjane. Christopher taped a grid on the floor to map specific scenes geographically.
After an invigorating warm-up we read through the script on our feet, incorporating Adrien’s music and starting to building a soundscape. The Franco-Prussian war came to life for the play’s opening and for the first time we heard the traditional Offenbach cancan juxtaposed with Adrien’s original and modern beats. So, so titillating!
Armed with a slew of musical research and an arsenal of musical instruments, we read through “To Live, Darling.”For each song, transition or scene requiring sound, we tested beats and melodies over, under and through the text. Musical Collaborator Adrien Reju (pictured) and Director Christopher Sivertsen guided the table read/fabulous cacophony of sounds.
Cara Pifko (Réjane) and Ilana Turner (Writer/Blanche) read with a new actor, Chris, who volunteered to lend his voice for the day. Directeur du Marketing Michelle Furnace continued her impeccable work noting all that was said, thought or acted.
The fabulous Adrien Reju works something equally fabulous out on our (toy) accordion. (L)
Together Adrien, Director Christopher Sivertsen, Writer Ilana Turner, Actress Cara Pifko (Réjane) and Marketing Director-turned-Stage Manager Michelle Furnace talked through each song or musical interlude in the script.
We explored musical themes for each character and began to establish a rhythmic pulse to delineate ‘on-stage’ action from real life ‘backstage.’ Michelle was like a stealthy sponge, soaking up everything everyone said and sending an amazing list of to-dos and ideas at the day’s end.
We also drank a lot of coffee. (See Christopher serving coffee below.) Weeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Plane tickets are booked, rehearsal space is reserved and an Indie GoGo campaign to fund the workshop has been launched! This April-May workshop will focus on integrating Adrien Reju’s music into “To Live, Darling.” Christopher Sivertsen will direct. Cara Pifko will return as Réjane and I’m meeting with actors to play the Lover. This workshop will also focus on the relationship between Réjane, the Lover and Blanche, her best friend. I’ll play Blanche. The other characters may join us for a day or two…
Tonight we had an enlightening table read of the latest draft of “To Live, Darling.” The lovely and talented Cara Pifko, Marguerite Moreau, Christopher Redman, Joseph Will, Maria Policastri and Kerrie Keane leant me their voices over wine, cheese and über-tasty white bean hummus.
I heard the second act in a whole new way, and am now crystal clear on exactly how to frame the latter part of Réjane’s journey. Stay tuned for a journey to symbolism!
The results of our short work week on “To Live, Darling” were shown as a work-in-progress. Despite some technical difficulties and the ever-present time crunch, we staged all of Act 1, and read the last scene from Act 2 and the Epilogue.
After an introduction, our amazing cast Cara Pifko (Réjane), Kerrie Keane (Mother), Joseph Will (Porel), Jason Denuszek (the Lover), Jennie Sheffield (Blanche) and Maria Policastri (Sage of Paris) performed Act 1, then read a scene from Act 2 and the Epilogue. They gave 110% and it was a joy to watch them.
Christopher also talked about his work, the development of his involvement with the project and where we are heading. At the end of the showing, we all answered questions from the audience, which were thoughtful, interesting, and genuinely helpful. Perhaps the wine, cheese and homemade chocolate chip cookies got the audience talking.
Without the support of Olya Petrakova and Bryan Brown whose Art viaCorpora co-produced the workshop and showing with The Réjane Project and The Awake Project, this week would not have been possible. A huge thanks also to Debbie McMahon and Jared Fladeland from AvC/Artworks who jumped in to grab hold with much-needed helping hands.
Over the past four days in Los Angeles, Director Christopher Sivertsen and I have been working on “To Live, Darling,” with a fabulous cast: Cara Pifko (Réjane), Kerrie Keane (Mother), Joseph Will (Porel), Jason Denuszek (the Lover), Jennie Sheffield (Blanche) and Maria Policastri (Sage of Paris). We were also lucky to have dancer and choreographer Sophie Bortolussi (Sleep No More) join us for the first two days.
Our main goal in such a short time has been to get as much of the text as possible on its feet so that we can begin to see where movement, music, design and other elements can support and elevate the show’s story. Christopher has been able so some physical work with the actors, and begin to integrate some of the movement into and between the text to create the foundation for a whole piece.
There is a work-in-progress showing tomorrow night, Thursday October 11th, co-produced by Art viaCorpora at Art/Works in Hollywood. It looks like we’ll present what we’ve worked on for all of Act 1 and read scenes from Act 2 and the Epilogue. Should be a very interesting Q&A…
Two weeks ago some truly wonderful actors: Cara Pifko, Christopher Redman, Kerrie Keane, Nancy Dobbs-Owen, Eric Truehart and Kristen Marie Holly donated their time and lent their voices to a full table read of the play.
The most striking thing, listening to the post-reading feedback, was the intense (if not quite) war that broke about between the sexes. All the men a the table felt one way about Réjane, while all the women felt another. Having no sense I’ d written a feminist manifesto, it was really interesting to hear how the women were more sympathetic to Réjane’s choices in life and work.
Also great was the suggestion I shorten the title, and use “To Live, Darling,” which I wholly love. It was Réjane’s joie de vivre and quest for authenticity that make her worth writing about 92 years after her death.
Other jewels were mined from the wine-fueled post reading discussion, but they remain to be cut, set and polished for the stage.