Monday, May 26, 2008

Do You Ever Storyboard? - More Practicing What I Preach

It has been a while since I directed someone else's script. I've been directing since 1991, but aside from one instance, it has been only my scripts or adaptations since 1999. This Tuesday will be the final performance of a short scene I directed The Bone Weaver written by Merrie Greenfield. The scene is part of an evening entitled RAW. RAW consists of ten scenes/short plays written by members of WNEP's Write Club.

Requisite promo...Now some shoptalk and process questions.

Sometimes, I block a show from a ground plan, especially when working in a non traditional space with nooks and crannies. But, if the audience's orientation is proscenium...I will often storyboard. The image above is one such example.

I remember when Merrie first read her piece to the Write Club. It started as a perfectly formed simulation of Victorian narrative. The tone and quality were spot on. I was lulled into expecting a traditional sort of Dickensian monologue, but then the narrative morphs into something sinister that haunts without stepping into the realm of the paranormal. The piece stayed squarely within the material plane, where Merrie didn't need ecoplasmic apparitions to creep out her audience.

The challenge for me was now how to stage it. The images, the story were fantastic...but aside from a brief sinister appearance by an archetypal Undertaker, The Bone Weaver is a fictional memoir in monologue. I, as audience member at what is understood to be a reading, am perfectly willing to sit still close my eyes and listen to Merrie's monologue unfold over a period of fifteen minutes...that doesn't necessarily happen in the same way at a theatre with a full house. The short version...I had to figure out a way to stage this piece, to make it active visually, so that the audience wasn't watching someone sit and talk. Regardless how intriguing the monologue was... it needed to be active within the black box style space. Storyboarding helps me to do plan it out and estimate if there is diversity in what we are presenting visually without being a detriment to the amazing words Merrie had crafted so well.

Does anyone else out there Storyboard? How do you approach staging monologue in a black box environment? What sorts of questions do you ask yourself and your performers?

Related Posts
Practicing What I Preach
Raw Tech Rehearsal
RAW May 27th

1 comment:

RVCBard said...

I have used storyboarding before as a way of articulating in my script the action I see in my head. I often lost myself in the doodling, though.


I found that using a cheap plastic chessboard with some pieces helped me imagine a space a lot better. But once again, I often lost myself in playing around with them.