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“Spaces” from Atesede Makonnen

In Atesede Makonnen, Shakespeare Dramaturgy Residency on February 11, 2014 at 8:17 AM

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I seem to be preoccupied with spaces – last week’s post was about the bigger, encompassing space that is Ashland. This week, I focus on rehearsal spaces. The first week of read-through happened in the Great Hall, with all of us sitting at tables and reading the script together. Those first few days, the room felt almost impersonal, a place to meet and talk but not where art was created. We quickly moved to the actual stage of the Bowmer, wandering in awe around the bright red stage that was so uniquely cushioned and carpeted. I don’t want to say that it all became ‘real’ at that moment because that space is so very surreal, like walking through a dream or a nightmare. Even in plain clothes, the actors are transformed into otherly beings and the theatre seems to narrow into a colorful and limited/limitless world.

Going back to the Great Hall was a shock, back to the basement of an administration building, neutrally painted and with a flat, white floor. But suddenly a rack of costumes appeared, designs were taped to walls, and snacks began to appear. The floor got scuffed and brightly colored tape appeared to mark out the traps and boundaries of a real stage. The focus in this space is on the actors and their every move and word, on the text and the movements. The bright red of the Bowmer stage is only here in pictures on a wall, a lonely model, and the minds of the actors. This room, under the clacking keyboards and busy people in administration, is where the nitty-gritty takes place, where one scene is hammered out to perfection. This is where the art is created.

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