Friday, August 14, 2009

Inside The Festival: Thoughts From A Lowly Intern, Take Two

Tonight the festival proper kicks off with the first of our staged readings, David Wiener's Extraordinary Chambers. It is a deeply moving play about an American couple on a business trip to Cambodia, and the individuals they encounter there. Inspired by the UN Tribunals presently being conducted against several surviving former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, and the ongoing fallout of its genocide against its people in the 1970's. I have been lucky enough to travel to Cambodia myself and have to say that, based on my limited perspective of the circumstances surrounding the play, David grapples masterfully with some pretty heavy stuff. I had the privilege to hear a draft of the piece read during last week's pre-conference at Twin Peaks ranch. I know David has been working feverishly on the piece since then, and am excited to see how much it has grown.

Last night was the Solo Performance Symposium, which completely blew me away. While each of the six performers who took the stage was inspiring and powerful, being a sometimes slam poet I was particularly struck by Sekou (The Misfit) and Steve Connell's pieces. It was bizarre seeing them in this context, though; I wanted to get involved and respond to their performances as their work so strongly begs for, but found myself somewhat embarrassed to be the only audience member really willing to break the fourth wall. Nevertheless, it was a rare treat. Robert Egan described it as the only time we would ever see those six performers on the same stage, literally once in a life time, and by the end of the evening I realized how profound and true that really was. As different as each piece that took the stage that evening was, they managed to compliment each other in a strange and uncanny way.

It also seemed to mark a sudden and bizarre shift in the mood of the conference. I know I commented in my first post that time was running short here, but up until last night it still seemed like the arc of these two weeks was still heading upwards; now I get the distinct impression that things are starting to wind down, resolve themselves. This feeling was even more marked after our last rehearsal for Lidless in our production room today. Seeing two of the tables moved out, and the (more or less) final reading draft of Frances' script (which has grown remarkably, especially with a rewrite that turned a place-holder scene into one that tied the whole play together), made me very aware our shift into the denouement of the conference.

Craziness. I'm getting nostalgic already. I hope that there is still enough time to pull one or two more profundities out of the experience.

More later.


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