Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Could’ve Sworn She Said Its Name Was “Angus.&rdquo

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Opening night for the Rep’s production of Endgame was Easter Sunday, so there weren’t many people there. It always seemed vaguely strange that the Rep chose to open its Stiemke shows on Sunday, but I’ve never asked for a reason. Whatever the reason is, it’s probably something really obvious. In any case, the Easter Sunday opening was sparsely attended. I found myself in the same row as Deborah Staples, David Cecsarini and that guy who always carries around the devil sticks. The guy from the Journal-Sentinel was sitting one row closer than I. The assembled sat facing Scenic Designer Todd Rosenthal’s ingenious little pre-show creation. The set itself is circular. Before and after the show, a curtain is drawn around the set. A blue sky complete with slowly moving clouds appears on the curtain, presumably projected from inside the curtain somewhere. It’s a staggeringly clever, utterly simple visual . . . the type of thing that René Magritte would’ve come up with had he not been dead. My wife could not make it, so I sat alone. Conversation drifted into my ear from over my right shoulder. (Usually I don’t like the conversation that drifts into my head before a show, but like McLuhan said—we don’t have earlids.) The conversation drifting in over my right shoulder ended up coming from a woman who was involved in handling props for the show. I wasn’t actually listening to what she was talking about, but I could’ve sworn she’d mentioned that she’d named the three-legged dog.

Those familiar with Endgame know that the often overlooked fifth member of the cast of a production of the script is a plush three-legged dog. It doesn’t have any lines. Beckett only mentions it in the script a couple of times. Evidently deciding that the three-legged dog needed a name, the woman sitting over my right shoulder decided to name it “Angus.” At least, I think that’s what she said.

Sadly, Angus will probably not get work again for quite some time. There really isn’t much call for a stuffed three legged dog in local theatre. Years ago I was on tech crew for a tiny opera in the UWM studio theatre—a production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. My biggest job ion the two-person tech crew was that of Teddy Wrangler. This particular production featured a huge silent cast of teddy bears and I had a chance to work quite closely with all of them. Some of them had been in local theatre for quite some time, residing quite uneventfully in a props department somewhere. The bears were all very professional and all seemed quite excited to be involved in the production. They weren’t very prominent onstage, but they seemed happy to be working. There isn’t much call fro stuffed animals in local theatre. I’d suggested that they unionize or perhaps start their own theatre company. People might pay decent money to see an all stuffed animal production of Hamlet or The Importance of Being Earnest. They had no response to my suggestion.

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