Thursday, October 1, 2015

Blog Hijack: Meet the Creative Team Behind the Magic of THE WITCHES

For our latest edition of Blog Hijack, the creative team of The Witches are here to tell you about their upcoming production and the inspiration for the magic of their production!

Valerie Redd, Director and Adaptor 



What source material(s) served as your biggest inspiration for what you are creating for The Witches?
One of the biggest inspiration sources was a book called "The Witches' Book of the Dead", by Christian Day, that details actual rituals and beliefs pertaining to how witches converse with the dead. I pulled a lot from Spiritualism, Seance practices, and studied various forms of spiritual possession.


How have you incorporated magical and pre-existing ritual aspects into your designs? How has that process been different than your work on past projects? (Have you found that theatre is predisposed to any of them?)
The entire show is structured in the form an actual ritual, and there is a constant presence of real life practices throughout. A lot of it is simple and intuitive, but profound in how basic it is. For example, the belief that candles serve as beacons to guide the spirits of the dead to you, or entering a space backwards to prevent a spirit from following you. The tiniest gestures and details have huge significance. I think the theatre as a medium has a particularly strong connection with the concept of death and the spirit world. There is a nice unity and elegance in combining the process of actors taking on a character and the idea of a spirit possessing a body as a vessel. The experience of theatre, just like a spiritual ritual, transforms the energy of the room, opens up doors to new understanding, and leaves the participants changed.


What have you found to be the most exciting challenge or opportunity during your work on The Witches?
The most exciting aspect has been finding ways to create supernatural moments onstage. We've had to get really creative, and fuse actor physicality and design elements in a very exciting way.



What experience do you hope to create for the audience?
I hope that the audience will experience the thrill of the unknown, and feel the excitement of witnessing something together, and feel that rare mixture of the chill of fear and the glee of being entertained. This is a very unique way to experience the story of Macbeth. All of the beauty and tragedy and darkness is there, along with the larger structure of magical practices serving as a conduit.



Brad Landers, Choreographer 



What source material(s) served as your biggest inspiration for what you are creating for The Witches?
Upon meeting Valerie to discuss my involvement in The Witches, she showed me the wealth of source material she had already accessed, which provided such an amazing springboard.  There were a lot of creepy images that really helped with tone but also information from an actual witching book that described, in detail, what things were used for, what role elements play, how and why seances are performed...etc, etc. I had also done work on another project involving possession and recalled some of those old source videos as well as returned to my love of horror movies.  I re-watched a couple old classics to help enhance elements of suspense and clear, violent moments that I knew would be integral to my involvement on this production.

How have you incorporated magical and pre-existing ritual aspects into your designs? How has that process been different than your work on past projects? (Have you found that theatre is predisposed to any of them?)
In a way--my entire design incorporates magic and / or ritual aspects.  A large chunk of my responsibility for this piece was to set the vocabulary and framework for the opening seance, as well as make possessions and murders believable in an intimate setting. The biggest component that makes this work different than my past projects is that I had to build a framework from scratch-without the help of say, music or even an existing "style" of movement.  I did, however, find that theater is certainly predisposed to the elements that make a movement or movements successful. For example, focus, sharp unison movement.  There will always be success in simple, direct movement or design-whether "magical" or not.  I find the human body's natural reactions to be the most valuable tools - regardless of what type of story you are telling.



What have you found to be the most exciting challenge or opportunity during your work on The Witches?
For me, the most exciting challenge while working on The Witches, has been striking a balance between a product that is polished but also not so polished that it loses a raw/organic and surprising quality.

What experience do you hope to create for the audience? 
A version of Macbeth that is Intriguing, surprising and frightening.  I want the audience to feel uncomfortable and a little nervous.  I want you to buy the world of this witchcraft so much that your own reality begins to skew...




Anastasia Romantsova, Scenic Designer 



What source material(s) served as your biggest inspiration for what you are creating for The Witches
I found this image of an ink drawing of a face with eyes emotionally very striking. Darkness, a person and many many eyes that stare at you...and you sort of don't know how to escape from it...the constant presence of something. And images of rooms with white walls, there is something absolutely uncomfortable in that. It may feel like an empty room, but that emptiness creates something. And that something is disturbing.  That makes you pay attention to the elements that are in the room. You start wondering more about their history and their meaning.



How have you incorporated magical and pre-existing ritual aspects into your designs? How has that process been different than your work on past projects? (Have you found that theatre is predisposed to any of them?)
The idea of a circle that is often found in different rituals became the central idea and a starting process for the design work. If you look up different symbols, you always find a representation of a circle in many different meanings. And I think there is a strong energy flow to this symbol. So, how do we translate the idea of it? Translating this idea into an audience seating arrangement felt like a very natural response, and that has dictated the further design choices that were build to support the idea of the circle. I think that theatre is definitely predisposed to the elements found in magical rituals in many different ways. The most exciting for me seems to be the idea of the energy and power that is being translated through the ritual and through the show. Because in the theatre we create energy with the design choices, then actors create and give energy that does something to an audience. It's exciting to see how the energy we share with our audience is being absorbed, transformed and shared just as it is being absorbed, transformed and shared through the different rituals that people perform.

What have you found to be the most exciting challenge or opportunity during your work on The Witches?
I think the challenge that I'm most excited to see the results for is how the audience will receive this experience, and what kind of energy it will give back from the environment that we have created. I think this is fascinating to tell the story through this ritual. And ritual is a very engaging experience, where every person in the room is engaged in whatever is happening in that space, and sort of responsible for the outcome. People usually come in with an idea that they are about to see a play, which is very different set of mind, and I cannot wait to see how choices that we’ve made will affect the audience and wether it will be more engaging and emotionally challenging/demanding for them.



What experience do you hope to create for the audience?
I hope that the design choices that were made will help the audience to emotionally engage in the show, feel that they are the part of the room, part of what is happening, and even though they are the observers, they are active observers that in fact do participate in the ritual they are seeing.

Kevin Novinsky, Sound Designer



What source material(s) served as your biggest inspiration for what you are creating for The Witches?
The biggest source material for me were albums and soundtracks to horror films. Listening to them allowed me to find the right sounds and musical elements appropriate for the production.

How have you incorporated magical and pre-existing ritual aspects into your designs? How has that process been different than your work on past projects? (Have you found that theatre is predisposed to any of them?)
I've tried to incorporate familiar sounds in my design that fit the genre, such as strings, drones, sound manipulations and etherial sounds. Though the process has been largely the same as other projects, the content I used to create the sound was new.



What have you found to be the most exciting challenge or opportunity during your work on The Witches?
The most exciting opportunity working on The Witches, was the fact that this project is different from others I've done, as it is the first horror/mystical production I've worked on. The Witches exists in a genre I haven't work much in, which made it intriguing.

What experience do you hope to create for the audience?
I hope that the sound really helps bring the audience into the world we are creating, and they don't feel any disconnect to what is happening in front of them, instead that they are a part of it.


The Witches runs October 7th-11th and 13th-17th at 8:00pm at The Access Theater

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