Men and Boys and the Sea
Recently, I was lucky enough to see The Lookingglass Theater Company's production of Moby Dick at South Coast Repertory. A visual wonder, the show made us of aerial arts, stylized movement, singing, acrobatics and theatrical innovation to tell the rambling and psychological journey of the ill-fated Pequod. Especially effective was a chorus of 3 Victorian women played mothers, townspeople, sirens, whales and Moby Dick himself and the ocean. With minimal costume changes the story relied on significant acting styles switching from natural and realistic choices to animalistic and poetic. Overall the effect was emotional.
About a month ago I saw an adaptation at Orange County School of the Arts of the novel Lord of the Flies with the 7th, 8th and 9th grade actors in a small blackbox theater. The set consisted of rehearsal cubes and costumes were kept simple. Much of the adaptation incorporated the psychological journey some of the young kids experienced in the story and the production used a type of Greek chorus with stylized movement, dialogue underscoring, creation of beats and sound with their hands and bodies. The night I saw it (the performers apparently switched every evening) the boys played the survivors on the island while the women acted as the chorus.
The effect was fascinating and dynamic. The acting of the young students was clean, direct and very simple. The production made subtle correlations to our current political climate; the director definitely had something to say with about our society.
The parallel of seeing these shows back to back was obvious - I was fascinated with how modern interpretations of classic stories that once excluded a female narrative have been reevaluated. This is both encouraging but also continues to be frustrating. Producing these stories serves to illustrate the exclusion of these voices but the act of attempting to acknowledge it means there may be a trend to re-examing these works in a new way.
Ultimately, I am excited about this new perspective on male-centric stories. It was an added bonus that both of these productions were such a delight and have me pondering new stories set upon the tempestuous ocean....