I think it’s certainly more difficult. Chiefly, you lose the structure that creates the arc of the play. There is also something magical for audiences about witnessing 6 actors transform into over 50 different characters and we lose that effect with this approach.
However, creativity flourishes when boundaries and rules are applied, and the pursuit of that creative vision has to be clear. Therefore, the limitations presented to the directors in the Bake-Off have forced all of us to explore ways to push the boundaries of what is actually possible within our vision, and to ultimately create something that is uniquely ours.
Are you approaching your section of The Dining Room as mutually exclusive from the other two pieces?
I’m approaching section 2 of The Dining Room as a stand-alone play within a play. It has it’s own micro-arc, dramatic structure, unique design elements, and specific message. I don’t believe my directorial choices would hold up if I were applying them to the entire play, but for this project, it was my desire to make interesting and bold choices that reflect the message I’m trying to relay.
There do exist themes and qualities that will naturally bleed over into the two sections that bookend mine, but I believe John and Jamien will present their “slices” in a way that is completely unique to mine. I’m excited for them to unveil their work and put all three of these segments together. I imagine the journey and message of the play as it was originally intended will transcend the three different directorial approaches.
There are clear challenges to not having control over the entire show.
Do you find anything to be particularly challenging about your “slice” of The Dining Room?
One particular challenge has been to keep the actors focused on playing authentic and truthful scenes within the odd world I’ve created. I’ve not made it easy for them by choosing to present an atmosphere with overt, non-realistic design elements that express the themes I’m trying to get across to the audience. It’s easy for them to “indicate” or “point at” or “suggest at” some of the thematic expressions I’m making, but in order for my vision to be effective, they have to accept the design elements as reality and play the truthful actions and motivations for the characters, as writ, in each scene.
At its core, The Dining Room is about: …the struggle between desire to escape the disparaging guilt of WASP culture, and holding onto the social, financial, religious, and political comforts it provides. Although antiquated, this play presents a relevant opportunity to be a voice for the masses, expressing disapproval for the excessive power and wealth of the 1%.
Tell us a story from your life that happened at a dining room table.
As a child, I spent more time under the dining room table than I did sitting at it. The table legs, hardware, supports, leaf latches and slides, tucked-in chairs, and draping tablecloth provided the ultimate atmosphere for GI-Joe military and ninja missions. With a bit of yarn from my mother’s knitting basket, I could create elaborate systems of ropes, zip lines, and webbing for my Joe warriors to climb, swing, rappel, and get tangled in. To be a child again…