"Old Man: Our corpses will land far from one another, and we’ll rot in watery solitude… mustn’t complain too much."
"In Ionesco's Les Chaises, we see an old couple imprisoned in their blown-up, delirious memories of a past that they do their best to bring back to life. They give a party to which nobody comes; they welcome invisible guests, giving them chairs, moving them about, bumping into them; and all the time more and more chairs come onto the stage. It is the very reality that their wandering minds call up– the brilliant soirées and fashionable gatherings– which is shown to be absurd. And when in the end they jump out of the window they do so because in losing all meaning their life makes it clear to them that it never had one."
–Simone de Beauvoir
To be performed in the double squash court of Oberlin's gym (as a two-and-a-half story room with a five-foot-high door, it is a total, unintended funhouse), this production of Ionesco's The Chairs will rehearse almost entirely in the space, almost always in costume. The usage of studios will be minimal, and thus we will truly spend our two months of rehearsal (using Suzuki and Viewpoints techniques to begin rehearsals) discovering the intricacies of our makeshift theater; traditionally, college theater is rehearsed in provisional spaces, then transferred to the stage a week predating the actual show– there is a change that happens here that disorients much of the blocking and the actors' notion of visibility and presence, and we'd like to see what happens if we allow our play to be tailored to and fill the space from the get-go. Unlike the theaters at Oberlin College, the double squash court has an abundance of personality to contribute to the show– it helps that it is a truly unfriendly personality. There is an overwhelming vastness that is contradicted and made claustrophobic by the court's absurdly tiny, Being John Malkovich-y door. Just as the characters in this play have been isolated long enough to stage a spectacle of their own deterioration and death, we'd like to be equally comfortable in this otherworldly squash court/vacuum/shithole as the characters, and thus create a tangible sense of discomfort for the audience once they feel that they're stuck in the very intimate yet alien (and always enjoyably twisted) last hour-and-a-half of a couples' lives.
We hope to integrate original music, lighting, and computer/projection technologies into the production in order to truly craft a unique theatrical experience. Fortunately, we have some peerless tech people and artists working on the show free of charge, and since we're situated on a particularly well-equipped campus, most of their gadgetry will be borrowed. We don't need much. However, we DO need capital to rent the space and buy the necessary materials to turn the Squash Court into The Chairs. Again, we've managed to put together a very cost-effective budget and so your contributions are truly going to go to excellent use– giving Oberlin College an exciting alternative to the black-box and auditorium-bound theater experiences it is used to.
Our production will involve the aforementioned original music and sound design from Oberlin's "Technology in Music and Other Related Arts Departments" students, as well as video design by cinema studies majors– in order to make these elements work and mesh with the world of the court and the set, we need certain supplemental elements for which we need funding: the projections will act as changing, framed portraits, and for this we'd like to find some large, flowery, gold-plate-y frames. The set will consist of a series of 7 hollow door frames in a semi-circle– the two closest to the audience being disproportionately enormous (disproportionate to the actors but perhaps proportionate to the space), the middle door frames being normal sized, the two back door frames being small, and the door that already exists in the farthest point in the space being minuscule. With this usage of perspective, the characters can shrink and enlarge themselves as they move about the space, which will also allow them to shift from looking like elderly adults to looking the size of very small children– for all this, we'll need lumber, which can be surprisingly costly. Likewise, we're going to be using impressionistic painting styles on both the characters' costumes and faces to give the characters the quality of being walking portraits, attempting– as these two elderly characters do with their glamorous symposium of invisible participants summoned to hear their last message and witness their suicide– to memorialize themselves before they have even died. Quality paint and face make-up will be one of our biggest investments, and since this image is very important to our production, we'd really like to have the budget to realize it as fully as possible.
The lovely thing about Kickstarter is it helps turn artistic fantasies into realities. And if, through Kickstarter, we can garner the finances to turn this project into a reality, our production of The Chairs will portray the most awesomely devastating unreality a college-gym-double-squash-court-in-the-middle-of-rural-Ohio has ever seen.
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For a donation of 5–49 dollars: A mixed CD of music used in the play/evocative of the mood/themes of the play and a free ticket to the show (if the contributor lives in the area), and, if not, a thank you card from the cast/crew.
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For a donation of 50-99 dollars: A mixed CD, a free ticket (or a thank you card from the cast and crew) and a small photo book of stills from the show.
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For a donation of 100 or more dollars: A mixed CD, a free ticket for anyone in the neighborhood/anyone who wishes to make the journey to see the show, a photo book of stills from the show, and a thank you note from the cast/crew.
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For a donation of 200 or more dollars: A mixed CD, a free ticket for anyone in the neighborhood/anyone who wishes to make the journey to see the show, a photo book of stills from the show, and a thank you note from the cast/crew, and a DVD recording of the show.
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