Shipwrecked! Meet and Greet

Shipwrecked! An Entertainment at Actors Theatre

Shipwrecked! An Entertainment at Actors Theatre

Director Marc Masterson opened Friday’s Meet and Greet literally with a bang – a bang of a mysterious gong, which will presumably be used as one of Louis de Rougemont’s accoutrements in the show. (Marc jokingly said that he sounded the alarm as an attempt to one-up the rock concert sampling Sean Daniels and the Rock & Roll gang gave us at their Meet and Greet earlier this month).

Marc discussed Donald Margulies’ history with the theatre (Dinner with Friends, etc.) and described the play as “a vaudeville … filled with all the cheap theatrical effects that I love” including music hall entertainment, shadow puppetry, and foley sound effects (The last two will be created almost entirely by several apprentices as if they were de Rougemont’s crew, with some hidden assistance from modern technology). Everything will be “on the cheap. These folks were broke and they had to be inventive – just like us!”

Michael Raiford described the set as an effort to create a “found [performance] space.” The space will be reminiscent of the rotunda of a Victorian music hall that’s out-of-shape by the time the play takes place. A “cobbled-together wooden stage” within a stage will gradually take shape as the evening’s “entertainment” and story unfold.

Marc talked about sound and puppetry in place of Darron West and the puppeteers, who weren’t there. Gramophones will be onstage and wax cylinders will be placed on them in full view of the audience, but the actual sound will come from an electric sound pit, either live or recorded to sound live.

The turtle will rise out of the stage floor in a “cone of imagination” (and will be manipulated by acting apprentice Eric Eteuati!).

The shadow images will be projected onto a screen that looks old-school but is actually using a modern video camera to get the right brightness out of the light. Slides representing places like Louis’ boyhood home will be placed on a table and then projected through the camera onto the screen. Puppets will be placed and manipulated against these slides; all of the shadow puppetry will be overseen by directing intern Nathan Green. There will be some prerecorded backgrounds and sequences, as well.

Sonya Berlovitz (the former lead costume designer at the Theatre des la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis) described the costumes as full of the “eccentric details and ragtag appearences of Victorian music hall.” One small costume piece will often be used to create an entire character (eg a small piece of cloth an actor wears will represent de Rougemont’s dog, and someone’s tie will be attached to a wire to indicate a sailor’s vest with the sea wind blowing through it).

—- Tommy


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