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Posts Tagged ‘illness’

Photos: Luna & Stella
Drive-in version of the dramatic production
Constellations in Providence.

A few nights ago, Suzanne attended a drive-in theatrical performance in Providence and posted photos to her Luna & Stella account on Instagram. She went “with” a friend. That is, Suzanne was in her car, and her friend was in another car. The husbands were at home babysitting.

Suzanne’s understanding from the article she had read was that the play had something to do with an illness, maybe not too far from what we are all dealing with now. She had no idea that the illness in question was the one my sister died of a year ago. All illnesses are metaphors these days.

From Susan McDonald’s special report to the Providence Journal: “Two years ago, when Josh Short assumed a role in ‘Constellations,’ it was in the black-box space of Wilbury Theatre Group, where he is artistic director, framed by walls and a ceiling, the audience an arm’s length away.

“When he next slips into the persona of Roland, half of a romantic duo grappling with love and pain against the shifting backdrop of the cosmos, there will be a limitless feeling to the stage and, hopefully, a twinkling drape of actual stars overhead.

“Wilbury and Short teamed with WaterFire Providence to bend the constraints of traditional theater environs and follow the governor’s COVID-safety directive in taking the show outdoors.

“Fueled by a grant from the state’s Take it Outside initiative, the groups offer a new take on Nick Payne’s play ‘Constellations’ through Dec. 19 [in Spanish on Dec. 18, thewilburygroup.org]. Audiences will stay in their vehicles and listen through their radios while a production crew streams multiple angles of the performance on a 40-by-30-foot screen.

“While ‘Constellations’ is staged simply without set or props, Short says the challenge in restaging it has been to maintain the intimate feel of romance. …

‘We stylized it to combine original elements because the intimacy is important. This is a love story about connections and missed connections.’

“Compelling outdoor performances are the bailiwick of Barnaby Evans, WaterFire’s artistic director, who long wanted a towering screen for outdoor movies and artistic performances. The social distancing guidelines in place during the COVID-19 pandemic provided even more impetus. …

“The screen worked well for smaller productions, but he says ‘Constellations’ called for more advanced planning and elaborate production elements, such as four cameras. …

“The story’s health crisis — the female character Marianne, played by Rachel Dulude, grapples with serious illness — also parallels COVID.

“ ‘With COVID, we really understand connections versus distance and random versus determined,’ Evans adds. ‘The context makes the play much, much richer. … Artists thrive on creative challenges, and we just make the safety of the audiences and production team front and center.’ …

“Being safe means tapping CVS for twice-weekly COVID-19 tests for the cast and production crew and working with an epidemiologist on a plan to minimize risk, Short says. The actors union demanded proof of their efforts before granting project approval.

“ ‘It took months to get their approval, and there were hoops to jump through, but you’ve got to drive forward,’ Short says.”

Driving forward. That’s another metaphor for our times.

More here.

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