Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010

Keeping the Pacing and Respecting The Characters

FREAKSHOW Director Jason Economus pt. 2

By Russ Bickerstaff
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A talented actor in his own right, Jason Economus has had some extremely memorable performances in Milwaukee. By far the most memorable had to be his turn in the final production of the late Bialystock and Bloom Theatre Company—a production of Edward Albee’s ZOO STORY that brought remarkable dramatic intensity to the stage of the Broadway Theatre Center’s Studio Theatre. This week, Economus looks to bring a similar kind of dramatic intensity to an entirely different stage as he directs Youngblood Theatre Company’s production of FREAKSHOW—a hauntingly poetic drama the company is staging in a warehouse. A little while ago, Economus took some time to answer a few questions I had about the show:

How is the rhythm of the show coming along? Imagining the flow of the action is a bit difficult. The online preview of the script has over 25 individual scenes. Moving the action through that many distinct scenes can end up slowing down the dramatic rhythm of a show. 

I gotta be honest-I still don't quite know the rhythm of the show overall.  I think we are really trying to break down and explore the play scene by scene at this point and then my hope is once we put it all back together and start running it the pacing/rhythm of it will work itself out.  There are a lot of scenes and that is both great-because many of them are short and sweet and move action quite quickly forward but then there is the challenge of keeping the audience engaged and not just falling in the trap of scene/blackout, scene/blackout which Ive seen other similar types of stories fall into and it really prevents the momentetum from developing and sustaining an audiences interest.   But again we are exploring a lot, do we need all these blackouts? Can sound, almost as another character in the show, help the transitions move along?  is there way to play with entrances and exits and the space itself to help tell the story and keep that rhythm up that the playwright has offered-it feels almost like a movie at times-short scene, some action, and then bam onto something else, not always tying up neatly the last scene we've just watched-so it feels like more a culminative piece rather than a linear scene a leads to scene b and so on.

You're working with kind of a big cast here. You've got an ensemble of seven working on really fascinating characters that stray pretty far from the traditional theatrical stage character. What types of challenges are you running into with this cast of actors and characters?

Well there really are no more challenges at this point of the process then I would expect for any show.  I tend to embrace completely whatever story or group of characters I happen to be working with at the time.  This means I don't really look at any of the characters or the story as something untraditional-in fact I think I try to do and the script here also seems to be working at this-is to find what makes these 'freaks' normal, what things do they share with the 'rest of us' and i think this cast is doing a remarkable job of rising to the occasion and being very successful in finding what is endearing and attractive about these characters even if they are quite a ways out of their comfort zone or the character is unlike anything they've approached before.  I try not to judge the characters in anyway and instead work with the actor to find what that character is about, what they want, and why are they in the story in the first place.

I'm having a great, great time!  Youngblood is as passionate and talented as an up and coming theatre group could be!  I think we really are working on something that will be a totally unique and fulfilling night at the theatre for Milwaukee audiences.

Youngblood Theatre’s FREAKSHOW runs October 29th – November 20th at the Lincoln Storage Warehouse on 2018 South 1st Street. 

 

 

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