Songs And Stories from JANE/EYRE – A New Adaptation 0

Grapefruit Lab’s premier production takes a new look at Jane Eyre from a queer perspective, with original music by Teacup Gorilla and Dameon Merkl.

It is billed as an exploration of Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre. The new look at the 1847 Charlotte Brontë story features original songs by Teacup Gorilla and Dameon Merkl (Lost Walks, Bad Luck City). The creative team behind the hybrid play/concert adaptation is author/musician, Miriam Suzanne, and former director at The LIDA Project, Julie Rada.  They describe it as a dark and often humorous look at the early feminist novel — bringing a contemporary, queer perspective to Jane’s story.

2017 © Grapefruit Lab Julie Rada | Kenny Storms | Miriam Suzanne Denver, Colorado

My email Q&A with Miriam Suzanne

EL: What was is about Jane Eyre that inspired you to create this as your first full-length show?
MS: Julie has loved Jane Eyre since she read it in school. When she proposed it as one of several options, Miriam had to do some research to get caught up – and fell in love quickly. (Julie Rada clarified: “I didn’t read it in high school. I read it a few years ago for fun.”)
We were excited by the first-person, internal perspective of a woman growing up – a format that jumps quickly between exposition, private emotional ruminations, and cutting political statements. This is complex woman, trying to find independence in a world that won’t allow it. She’s acutely aware of power, privilege, and class in every moment – and willing to step outside the story to address it.
Meanwhile, she’s just a kid growing up: falling in love, experiencing heart-break for the first time, and pondering death, religion, and forgiveness. She’s in the action, and also looking back on it. This wild mix of personal and political, action and reflection, is how life feels to me – and I find that interesting to explore. We highlight it in production by having two Jane’s on-stage, passing the story between very personal moments, and outside commentary or narration. Lindsey Pierce plays in the action, with Miriam commenting as she provides underscore with the band.
For the second edition of the novel, Charlotte Brontë (as Currer Bell) writes a scathing preface – a defense of her character against pious critique – and then suddenly wanders off into a tangent about her favorite author: William Thackeray. The books has an attitude, and an agenda, in addition to an interesting character. We love the tangents as well as the layered authorship – Brontë writing as Bell, who writes as Jane, narrating from 10-20 years in the future. So we put Brontë on stage as well, played by Julie – sometimes defending her work, and sometimes commenting on it from a more contemporary perspective.
EL: How would you describe the music for anyone not already familiar with Teacup Gorilla?
MS: Teacup Gorilla was once called “too moody for pride” – and that seems
 appropriate. We merge instrumental “post-rock”/”indie-rock” aesthetics with poetry, and story-telling – for a sound that is both moody and cinematic, even when we play at bars. We enjoy big dynamic shifts, and carrying the audience along on a journey from one song to the next – shifting musical genres as necessary to get where we’re going.
According to Tom Murphy in the Westword: “Teacup Gorilla’s amiable creative approach, unorthodox roots and sense of community have resulted in a sound that is difficult to pin down: part instrumental rock, part glam, part psychedelic, part jazz-inflected. And it sounds like nothing much else in this highly imitative era.”
On a more practical level, we’re often compared to early Modest Mouse, Explosions in the Sky, and Velvet Underground. For this piece we’ve also taken inspiration from Django Reinhardt, Parlement Funkadelic, Mark Knopfler, Anglican hymns, and elsewhere.
EL: You described the project as “bringing a contemporary, queer perspective to Jane’s story.” — there are many intersections of identities that can be encompassed in ‘contemporary, queer perspective’, can you describe what queer perspective(s) are at work in this adaptation?
MS: Julie and I are both “contemporary queers” – so on a very basic level, our own perspectives fit that description, and we’ve gone out of the way to include our perspective in the piece: adding ourselves to the authorial stack: writing as Bell, as Brontë, as Jane. And we’re not alone: there are queer women in the band, and playing music before some performances.
But we also bring an understanding of queer history, queer theory, intersectionality, and contemporary thought to a story that is both feminist and problematic at times. When Brontë writes about Jane’s close, physical relationships to Helen Burns or Diana Rivers, we can read those as queer relationships – written before “lesbian” or “bi/pansexual” identity-groups had formed. So we dig into that un-named queerness and draw it out. Suddenly Mr Rochester becomes one of several love interests, treated on equal footing with the others.
We say “queer” with a sense that it is different from a more descriptive “lgbtqia” – a way of understanding fluid identities, sexualities, and labels – concerned with intersections of the political and personal. Queer theory starts from questioning “normal” – what is it, who decides, and what power dynamic is behind it? That’s the same foundation that Jane seems to work from: constantly questioning what she’s been told about gender, class, religion, mental health, and so on. Sometimes that provides problems for us, when Brontë’s understanding of race and colonialism fall far short – brushed to the side without much thought. How can we as adapting authors comment on that, and critique the story as we tell it?

JANE/EYRE

The Bakery (map)

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Eden Lane is a freelance journalist based in Denver Colorado

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Disney’s Aladdin at The Denver Center – A Wish Granted 0

It shouldn’t surprise many to hear me say I LOVE most things Disney. Movies, Theme Parks, and Musicals.  The special wonder of my childhood is given freedom to squeal, giggle, and dream. If you share that affection for the big, splashy, earnest shows Disney is known for then you wont want to miss Disney’s ALADDIN while the tour is bringing Agrabah to life at the Buell.

For me the three wishes granted in this tour are Michael – James – Scott. (Well, also the costumes…and the sets…and the music…and the company…okay, they granted several of my wishes.) Michael James Scott (he plays the Genie) is a Megawatt Showman.

 

Denver Center_Disney's Aladdin_Photos by Deen van Meer

Michael James Scott Photo By Deen van Meer

About Aladdin

Produced by Disney Theatrical Productions, the show features music by Tony Award and eight-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Sister Act), lyrics by two-time Oscar winner Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid), three-time Tony Award and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice (Evita, Aida) and four-time Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book by Beguelin, and is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon) 

Aladdin, adapted from the Academy Award®-winning animated Disney film and centuries-old folktales including “One Thousand and One Nights,” is brought to fresh theatrical life in this bold new musical.  Aladdin’s journey sweeps audiences into an exotic world of daring adventure, classic comedy and timeless romance.  This new production features a full score, including the five cherished songs from the Academy Award-winning soundtrack and more written especially for the stage

Denver Center_Disney's Aladdin_Photos by Deen van Meer

Arabian Nights Women. Disney's Aladdin Original Broadway Company. ©Disney. Photo by Deen van Meer.

Aladdin_3x3.375_Show Tile

Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – denvercenter.org – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for Disney’s Aladdin in Denver. Ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker, or any third party, run the risk of overpaying or potentially buying illegitimate tickets. If they do, they should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and are unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance. Patrons found in violation of the DCPA Ticket Purchase and Sale Terms and Policies  may have ALL of their tickets cancelled.

Q&A with Playwright Rebecca Gorman O’Neill 0

And Toto too Theatre Company is presenting two one act plays THE WAY STATION & THE SOUTH STAR by Colorado Playwright Rebecca Gorman O’Neill.

THE WAY STATION is the story of three strangers from different places and times, each pulled out of their travels and dropped off at a mysterious way station. At this surreal crossroads, no excuse, lie, or self-delusion holds up to scrutiny, and each person must find the strength to face his or her own dark secret, only then may they move on.

SOUTH STAR is set seven years in the future, during the second American Civil War, South Star is the story of a survivor, an inspiration, a reluctant hero who wishes she could just stop running. Stel finds herself in the company of two people – one an apparent victim, and one an apparent predator. What commences is a figurative game of three-card-Monty; the stakes are Stel’s life.

Here is my Q&A with Playwright Rebecca Gorman O’Neill 

Rebecca Gorman ONeill

Eden Lane:

 The Way Station and South Star are one act plays that share a few elements but do not seem directly related. How do you describe them, and did you conceive them as companion pieces?

Rebecca Gorman:

I would describe the Way Station as a mystery, and South Star as a suspense story.   The two of them do share some elements that I always find intriguing: 1 – a space that doesn’t belong to any of the characters – a space that is on the way to another space and 2 – a trap: a reason the characters can’t leave.  In The Way Station, the trap is physical, in South Star, it’s psychological.  Also, I love a 3-person play.  They provide a great opportunity to keep shifting alliances – one person is always against two, and you can keep shifting that dynamic around.

I didn’t specifically conceive them as companion pieces – South Star is much more clearly a companion to my full-length, The Greater Good, which And Toto Too was the first to produce – but I love the way that they’re coming together under Susan’s guidance. The actors, I hope, get to have fun showing some range, and, like any 2 pieces of art when you put them side-by-side, one gives a different context to the other.

EL:

After reading these plays I first thought of Rod Serling, (like you he also taught writing) not as a direct comparison, but simply as a salute. Is there any connection to his style for you?

RG:

Oh absolutely!  The Way Station is very much inspired by The Twilight Zone, which I think is a classic of American Literature.  I think that Rod Serling, (and Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King) are strong influences on my writing.  They are giants.  So if you see the salute, I’m more than flattered.  South Star a little less directly inspired.  That idea came from an immersion in literature about the WWII French Resistance movement.

EL:

What drew you to writing one act plays?

RG:

One-Acts are how I learned to write plays.  I started writing plays in college, and took the (two) playwriting classes my college offered.  My mentor, Peter Parnell, encouraged us to write for the One-Act Festival my school hosted, which is how I got my first productions.  The length and the limit of the one act suited me – I like compact stories.   One acts were all I wrote until grad school, because it’s all I thought I knew how to write.

EL:

On the New Play Exchange you write that you are “bored of cynicism and I appreciate cleverness.”, how did that point of view develop for you?

RG:

Thank you for reading my NNPX page!  I sometimes think I’m whistling in the wind on that one.  OK, so, I teach, and I’m a judge for a couple play contests, and the result is that I read a ton of plays.  (I also watch a lot of TV and movies) a ton, mostly by beginning writers, who tend to lean comfortably back into being cynical about the state of, well, everything.  But then I sometimes get to see cleverness – innovation – something I haven’t seen before. That’s so, so exciting.  Cynicism is a place where one can rest. Cleverness is like a call to action, innovation, and movement.

EL:

How would you describe working with And Toto Too Theatre Company?

RG:

It’s straight-up wonderful working with And Toto Too.  Susan and I figured out that we had been working together in some capacity since the first Play Crawl, 2010.  They produced a reading of, then a full production of The Greater Good , which went on to be published.  Susan takes such good care of her actors, designers, and playwrights.  She’s professional and focused, and what’s really lovely, is I always feel in very good hands.  I trust And Toto Too with my work, and I have always been treated with care and respect.  I’m really very grateful for this opportunity.

EL:

Anything else you would like to share?

RG:

The actors are wonderful! The set design is exciting!  The Lighting designer is talented!  I’m very much looking forward to seeing how And Toto Too brings the plays to the stage, and I am really, very proud to be working with And Toto Too again.

The Way Station & South Star

The Way Station & South Star by Rebecca Gorman O'Neill. April 19-May 5 got tickets https://www.andtototoo.org/buytickets/

Posted by And Toto too Theatre Company on Tuesday, March 27, 2018

April 19-May 5, 2018
Thursday-Saturday-7:30pm
ASL performance April 27

For Ticket Information

The Way Station and South Star-Two one Acts
by Rebecca Gorman O’Neill
Directed by Susan Lyles

Starring Kate Poling, Seth Palmer Harris and Austin Lazek

Set & Sound Design Darren Smith
Light Design Alexis K. Bond
Stage Manager Carol Timblin
Fight Choreography Benaiah Anderson