Emory Report: Theater Emory and Emory Dance collaborate cosmically

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“Under the leadership of director Janice Akers, along with choreographers and Dance Program faculty Lori Teague and George Staib, a company of 16 professional and student actors, dancers and writers take on the notion of why we take risks and sometimes follow what might be perceived as reckless impulses.”

Read the full Q&A with director Janice Akers, choreographers George Staib and Lori Teague, and composer Kendall Simpson here

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Emory Report: "Pulitzer-Prize winning 'Native Guard' adapted for stage

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Feb. 4, 2014

“U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey adapts “Native Guard,” her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry for the stage Friday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. in the theater lab of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Trethewey is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing and director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.”

Read the full Emory Report article here

Photo by James Crissman

Q & A: Michael Lewis

Senior Michael Lewis, co-set designer for Theater Emory’s upcoming production of “Macbeth,” sits down with Theater Emory to give us a peek into his creative process and share what excites him about his chosen field.

Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis at work on his designs

Q: Tell us how the set for Macbeth developed during your design process.

A: The idea for the design developed through countless conversations I had with Sara Culpepper (co-set designer) and Clint Thornton (director). The concept for the play evolved dynamically during the design process; my original ground plans and thumbnail sketches represent a production with a much more literal academic and militaristic setting than it currently has. We were always interested in creating tension between the modern elements of the set and the more period-influenced elements of the set. All along, we wanted to make the set appear timeless, which is what drew us toward our most influential piece of research, a design rendering by Edward Gordon Craig. Craig’s design is certainly not modern, but gives a sense that the world of the play has no determinate time whatsoever. We decided to draw from Craig’s scenic designs to create large, looming panels (that also act as projection surfaces) which would then be confronted by sleek, modern balconies.

Edward Gordon Craig

Q: Is there any particular element in the design that you’re most excited to see come to life?

A: The majority of the important moments in the play are staged on a hexagonal platform (center stage). The hexagon will be faced with translucent plexiglass that will light up during the witches’ scenes (to act as their cauldron). I am particularly interested in seeing how the lighting will work– this element has presented numerous challenges to the production staff as the translucent facing requires that all integral structure be somehow justifiable in the grand scheme of the design. As the construction process draws closer to completion, I anticipate this element changing the entire aesthetic of the set.

Set model for “Macbeth”

Q: If you could choose one production to design a set for, what would you choose and what would the set look like?

A: I do not have a particular “dream show,” but I am always interested in designing scenery for plays with a heavy period influence. Research is my favorite aspect of design– I love to read about the ways in which architecture and painting are influenced by history.

Q: Any artists or designers that inspire you? What’s the coolest image of scenic design that you’ve ever seen?

A: One of my favorite scenic designs comes from the Bregenz Festival, an Austrian music festival that stages opera on a stage floating over Lake Constance. Richard Jones and Antony McDonald directed and designed a rather spectacular production of La Boheme. The set is an assemblage of different artifacts on a few giant cafe tables. I am fascinated by images from this particular production for the sheer scope of its scenery and for the creativity of playing with scale and period to create a unit set to serve a story that requires so many locations.

La Boheme
Richard Jones and Antony McDonald’s “La Boheme”

Q: So what’s next for you?

A: I am in the process of applying to graduate school for an MFA in scenic design. Hopefully I will be accepted for this coming fall– if I am not I am interested in several year-long internships in scenic art and design.

Thank you so much for your time, Michael and good luck with all your future endeavors! We can’t wait to see your amazing design come to life on November 14 (not to mention the incredible creations that are surely in your future).

 

 

Day in the Life: Jake Krakovsky

Jake Krakovsky is a senior theater major from Atlanta, Ga. He has taken on many roles with Theater Emory including his turn as Malcolm in the upcoming production of “Macbeth.” In addition to his acting work, Jake is currently working on an honors thesis exploring Holocaust comedy.

9:00 AM – Wakey wakey, mornin’ Jakey! Waking up is the hardest part of my day, every day. I think to myself, “If I succeed in this monumental task, if I can rend myself from the world of dreams and once again enter the realm of the living–what can’t I achieve?”

10:00 AM – Stagecraft. I spent half of class working on a woodworking project with the jigsaw and half working on the Macbeth set. I’ve never helped to build a set before, let alone one on which I would later perform. Cool beans!

CostumeFitting1:00 PM – Today is my costume fitting for Macbeth. Designer Alan Yeong has created a visual world that marries traditional military and Scottish imagery with a more futuristic, cyberpunk aesthetic. Wouldn’t you be terrified if this came charging at you with a broadsword?

2:00 PM – This past summer, alongside some of my closest friends and artistic collaborators, I independently produced Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The project was funded in part by Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory (SIRE) and today I presented our work at a research symposium.

6:00 PM – Time for Macbeth rehearsal! We started off today with what we in “the biz” call “table work.” Here Seth Langer (Angus) and I are deep in thought over the scansion of a particularly difficult line of Shakespearean verse. Or something.

7:30 PM – Student actors Walid Said (Sergeant/Murderer) and Tom Zhang (Fleance/Young Siward) take some time during a 10-minute break to practice for an upcoming scene.

8:00 PM – For busy theater students, every moment is precious. So while Nysa Loudon (Ross) is off-stage, she goes over lines, reads for English class, and does homework for her Theater History class. Oh, that hanging above her? That’s a bustle that she’s sewing for Starving Artist Productions’ Stardust, opening this Thursday. Theater Student Extraordinaire!

9:00 PM – Spoiler alert: this show gets a little  violent. While props designer Sara Culpepper is putting the finishing touches on Macbeth’s severed head, we’re using this one made for TE’s production The Lieutenant of Inishmore. It’s modeled after the handsome head of my dear friend, alumn Tim Harland. It’s great having you in the rehearsal hall with us, Tim!

10:00 PM – I scamper out of Macbeth rehearsal over to the Rich Memorial Building–I’ve got Rathskellar rehearsal. Rathskellar is Emory’s only improv troupe, of which I have been a proud member for almost 5 years now. In this photo, I’m up to some kind of hi-jinks with Julia Weeks and Josh Jacobs. I can’t tell you quite what, but I can assure you it was hilarious.

1:00 AM – A day in the life of a theater student is a long one. I haven’t finished all the honors research I’d like, but baby needs his beauty rest–and I’m baby. Plus, I’ve got Fitness for Dancers at 9 AM. Goodnight, internet!

 

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