Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
 
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Michael Nathanson

 
Michael Nathanson's Journal Entry: Preparation for the Upcoming WJT Play on Israeli-Palestinian conflict: DAI (Enough)

by Michael Nathanson, posted September 23, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are only ten days until the first rehearsal. At this point, as the director of the play, I’ve read it dozens of times. Between now and the first rehearsal, I’ll read it a few more times, at least. When I first read a play, my expectations tend to be pretty low. I’m a playwright and a dramaturge as well and I find most plays to be badly written. Generally, within the first few pages, I have a strong sense if I’m going to be interested in the play. I stumbled across DAI (Enough) during a trip to New York in 2010. I knew nothing about it, find it at a bookstore and read it on the flight back home. I’m especially wary of plays that feature the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as its subject. Part of it is personal; I did write a play about that very subject and think I did a pretty good job of it. However, it’s so easy for a politically inspired play to fall into polemics and nothing could be less engaging as theatre. With DAI (Enough), I was hooked early on and when I finished reading it my only thought was "WJT has to produce it." It took two years of convincing the playwright to allow us to do it. She wrote the piece as a vehicle for her to perform it but I had to explain that as a non-profit Canadian theatre, it would tough to convince our Federal, Provincial, and Municipal arts funders that bringing in a one-woman show from New York was going to help Canadian theatre artists. She finally understood and agreed to give us the rights.

The time before rehearsals start is known as prep. As director, I’m responsible for the overall concept of the production. I consult with the various designers (lighting and costume for this show) and talk with them about what’s suggested in the script and what our approach might want to be. For me, the words of a play are sacrosanct and not to be touched. The playwright’s suggestions as to costumes and lights are open for interpretation. DAI is a show where one actress will portray eleven characters. So I’ve talked with the costume designer about what the base costume will be as the actress will change into additional clothing pieces on stage as she transforms herself into each character. We know that it will be imperative that the different costume pieces be easy for the actress to take on and off; we don’t want the audience to lose patience or their suspension of disbelief by watching her struggle trying to take off a shirt that has a dozen buttons, for instance.

A very specific challenge for DAI is that the eleven different characters entail the actress have command of eleven different accents. For the first time as a director, I’m working with a dialect and voice coach. In prep mode, this means I’m listening to various audio samples of accents (Israeli, American, Palestinian, etc.) and deciding which ones we’ll want the actress to learn. I listened to one sample that was of an Israeli-born woman who had spent four years in Australia. You could hear the strong influence that Australia had on her accent, it wasn’t quite right. In fact, for one of the male Israeli characters, I asked an Israeli-born person who works on Campus to read a passage that I recorded on my iPhone. It was a great working example of what I’m looking for.

I’m also busy looking at pictures of possible props that we’ll use for the play. Most of the props are clearly identified in the script for DAI, this isn’t always the case. The props coordinator is going around town trying to find the items and will email me photos for consideration. Again, this is where my overall vision for the play comes into play. If it doesn’t look right, I’ll tell her to keep looking. While the audiences’ enjoyment of the production won’t hinge on a cell phone not looking "right" the goal is to get the details right.

Also, during prep, I’m researching references in the script that I’m unfamiliar with. An example would be when I read about one of the characters having a son who was going to serve in Unit 669 of the IDF. My job was to find out what this Unit was all about so that I can communicate that information to the actress. (Unit 669, called Six Six Nine, is the Elite Search & Rescue Unit which was created after the Yom Kippur War and whose main mission is to extract injured IDF soldiers and provide them medical treatment.) This type of detail won’t be visible in the actual production but the hope is that the knowledge of what this unit is all about helps the actress accurately convey the immense pride this character feels in having his son serve in the Six Six Nine.

Over the next week, there will a production meeting where all the department heads come together to talk about where they’re at in the process. At this point, we still have some time to get the details right. Given the nature of the script, however, we know that getting the actual costumes into the rehearsal hall early will be a priority, so that will be a strong focus. For me, in reading the script a few more times, I’ll cement my understanding of the story that we want to communicate to the audience. I want to have deep familiarity with the play so I can help guide the actress through its nooks and crannies and help her to avoid some of the traps that exist. There’s one thing that we’re all in agreement about, already in this prep stage, it’s a great play and we’re all trying to create a production that serves the story.

 

NEXT WEEK: Anticipating Day One of Rehearsals

Editor's note: In this article belwo Michael Nathanson writes about the preparation of  the play he is directing DAI (Enough), by Iris Bahr, playing October 24 – November 4, 2012, Berney Theatre,www.wjt.ca

 

 

A  brief description of the play: This solo show takes us into the world of a Tel Aviv cafe moments before a suicide bombing. DAI brings to life eleven different characters that span the ideological and physical spectrum of Israeli society. DAI has played to critical acclaim and sold out runs in New York, London and the Edinburgh Fringe. This is one evening of theatre that will not soon be forgotten]

 
<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Jewish Federation of Winnipeg
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • GTP
  • Jim Muir
  • Bruce Shefrin
  • Fair Service
  • Eddie's Gravel Supply Ltd.
  • Sveinson Construction
  • The Home Store
  • John Bucklaschuk
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • John Wishnowski
  • Stringer Rentals & Power Products
  • JLS Construction
  • Roseman
  • Dakota Chiropractic Office
  • Holiday Inn
  • Maric Homes
  • Artista Homes
  • Southwynn Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Imperial Soap
  • Winnipeg Drapery
  • Ingrid Bennett
  • Chochy's
  • Interlake Service
  • Hugh's Electric
  • Lakeside Roofing
  • KC Enterprises
  • Bulrushes Gallery
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Trevor Arnason Plumbing
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Dr. Gary Levine
  • Fetching Style
  • Winnipeg Prophecy Conference
  • Thorvaldson Care
  • Country Boy Restaurant
  • Total Lighting Sales
  • Shenanigan's On The Beach
  • Nikos
  • Sean Fisher
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Whytewold Emporium
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.