Guest Blog Post #2

January 28th, 2017

Tenara here again.

Today in rehearsal, our marvelous outside eye/director Rebecca Noon said the following: “Today, we are deep sea explorers. We are diving into the darkness. We are probably going to encounter some beautiful coral reefs, but we might get a little lost, and that might make us panic a little bit. But we all have oxygen masks, and we can all share our oxygen. Look around the room – these people are deep diving with you, and if you need them, you can rely on them.” And she sent off the creators to generate the last third of the play.

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Fearless explorer, Rebecca Noon

On the idea of deep dive theatrical exploration: the creators at Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor have been working on Sans Everything for three years. Not every artist has the opportunity – the wonderful, challenging, ultimately edifying opportunity – to live in and mine out one artistic world for that long a time. For this stretch of Sans Everything, we’ve only got three and a half weeks to carve out the final and most true iteration of Sans. That’s very little time, but the good news is that we’re not starting from square one. Actually, the opposite is true.

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Jenn got the bends — er, the giggles

The challenge in these kinds of timelines is how to hold onto what feels most gold, how to kill your darlings, and how to find, remind, re-find, and rework what the ultimate question of the show is. For Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor, the creators don’t feel particularly obligated to be chained to one static and perhaps unyielding conceptual question this play is asking – but then when are we leaving behind what no longer applies, and when are we scrapping everything we’ve done to create something completely different? Is that bad? Is that useful? Is that still Sans Everything? Is it another show? Is Sans Everything merely a proposal, or a play made of marble that we are responsible for sculpting? To answer any of these questions in a way that is theatrically satisfying for all requires creators with brains and instincts that move rapidly from performer to playwright to audience to director to performing artist and back. You can rest assured that Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor supply just that.

But then, in an instant, it clicks. You find yourself in an improvisation that is offering absolutely everything you’ve been looking for – it’s the right tone, it’s the right question, it’s theatrically mesmerizing, and suddenly you know that while it may not be the exact scene that goes into the show, it is the first yellow brick on your road to what the audience will see on February 9th. You sit down with your fellow artists and share what it was that made that moment the right moment, and the action plan of how to make it the best moment, the piece’s moment. These kinds of rehearsals are the product of deep sea theatrical diving, and of witnessing the most gorgeous coral reefs down at the bottom.

~Tenara

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From Thursday’s designer run

What we’re watching this week: Time Lapse View of Earth from Space, by astronauts on the ISS

Do you have your tickets yet? Get them HERE.

Guest Blog Post #1

January 22nd, 2016

Hello from a drizzly and gray Washington, D.C.! My name’s Tenara Calem, and I’m the Assistant Director for Sans Everything, coming to you this February 9th at FringeArts.

This Wednesday, Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor kicked off their first week of rehearsals for the spectacular Sans Everything – an exploration of art, body, voice, instruction, culture, love, violence, and humanity. The singularity, Artificial Intelligence, Shakespeare. Space ships! Stretching out your fingers because it’s the first time you’ve ever had fingers. All the World’s a Stage. In a Fishtown studio, a group of performers and makers gathered to look at where we’re starting from: several iterations of one show that we’re still carving out, with past productions in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Providence, and Boston. 

 

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Clara, Jenn, Rebecca, and Jed at our first script-read after 9 months away from the show!

 

I’m going to talk about the body in today’s blog entry, because we at Sans have been thinking a lot about its function and utility, how it performs, what it performs. The humans on our ship in Sans Everything read a quiet little proposal that perhaps all the world’s a stage, and your body the player. But what if you refuse to perform? What if you boldly reject the assertion that by existing in a body, you are complicit in the grand performance of your life? What if you desperately want to stop the performance and replace it with existence? Exactly how do you go about doing that?

People have been arguing about that for longer than we makers have been in the room devising this play, and so one of our wonderful challenges is to try to create a world in which the body is not performing, but being. In a performance at FringeArts. The camp of humans on the ship who challenge Shakespeare’s assumption explored how to put body as existence first, performance second. And how do you do that if you’ve only just arrived into your human body a day ago? (And how do you do that as a group of performers in front of an audience?)

We ended rehearsal on Friday night at ten o’clock after one such discussion, because now our bodies, the bodies of Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor had a different job to do. We got into our cars and we drove the two and a half hours south to Washington D.C. that night, to attend a rally, a march, and a gathering the following morning on 3rd and Independence. Well, we tried to get to 3rd and Independence, but it turned out that half a million people had the same idea, so we could only get as close in as 7th and Jefferson. The Sans Everything crew – both artistic and space crew – tried on a different use for the body: to be a member of a mass of bodies representing a cause. Estimates are still coming in, and in the new paradigm of tweeted misinformation, this Assistant Director is hesitant to accept statistics from just any which news outlet, but it might be safe to say that close to 3 million people in the United States alone gathered and marched against hate. That’s half a million in D.C., 750,000 in L.A., 250,000 in Chicago, 125,000 in Boston, and 50,000 in our own Philadelphia – among countless other cities across America. In a lot of ways, the devisers of Lightning Rod Special and Strange Attractor encountered the same fundamental question that the humans on the Sans Everything ship grapple: if all the world’s a stage, and your body is the player, what will your body say?

~Tenara

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LRS+SATC+D.C.

 

What we’re reading this week: Reflections of Avant Garde Adaptations, on HowlRound

 

 

SANS EVERYTHING Approaches

Yesterday we began rehearsals on SANS EVERYTHING, our collaboration with Strange Attractor three years in the making.

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We sat on the floor of the Red Horse Studio discussing characters, reading the script, and talking about our goals for the show. We’ve been reading Antonin Artaud’s “No More Masterpieces” essay, chatting with Artificial Intelligence experts, trying desperately to reach a Luddite (NOT EASY), and prepping for a busy week of collective actions. (More below)

We’ve got three jam-packed weeks of rehearsals before the show goes up. Stay tuned here for an inside look: Sunday begins our LIVE WIRE guest blogger series.

SANS EVERYTHING

LIGHTNING ROD SPECIAL + STRANGE ATTRACTOR

FEBRUARY 9, 8PM

FEBRUARY 10, 8PM AND 10:30PM

FEBRUARY 11, 2PM AND 8PM 

—–>CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS<—–

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Rehearsals Have Begun!

Today was the first rehearsal for LET THE DOG SEE THE RABBIT.

We’ve been workshopping this piece for over a year now (using the working title WILD) and have begun our final development period before the premiere! We have gathered together an exciting team of 13 Philadelphia actor-creators and an amazing 6-person production/design crew.

The piece is an exploration of “looking at looking at” animals. We agree with Levi-Strauss when he opined “animals are good to think,” but now we want to know why? What is it about animals that make them an endlessly fascinating subject? Today’s rehearsal involved embodying rabbits (not so easy for those in the cast over 6 foot), groups moving in flocks, and exploring all the nooks and crannies of the Sanctuary space where we will be performing.

Rehearsal updates will be posted here, but check our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for pictures!

Yesterday's production meeting in the Sanctuary.

Yesterday’s production meeting in the Sanctuary.

The cast embraces their new home.

The cast embraces their new home.