Posts Tagged ‘Olga Koumoundouros’

Marcel Duchamp said that the audience completes the work, and we got a taste of how our work would be completed with our invited dress rehearsal. We had about 100 people attend the rehearsal, and watching the audience interact with the production was an enormous joy–mostly because watching the audience is a significant part of the experience from every angle of the show. Whether you’re walking or seated, the rest of the audience is part of the performance in this configuration, and I love what that does for the audience’s engagement with the work.

My pictures of the audience are not particularly good but here’s Olga Koumoundouros’s Dive Bar in its proper state at last: populated by audience!

I was particularly encouraged by how exciting it was to be on the Pedestrian Pathway. I absolutely loved the ability to walk freely through the space as the performance happened and see the action from constantly different perspectives, leaning against the wall, passing my fellow audience members, catching a bit of action that is not the “main focus,” and so on. This walking path was in some ways one of the biggest experiments in a process full of experiments–and yet I think it’s a real success.

Here’s a shot of the team behind the Dive Bar: Anne, Olga, Timur, and me, courtesy of Dana Ross:

Opening night is finally here!


We got through all of Act I, even though time was against us for a full Act I run. Nonetheless, we got great work done, and lighting and video made massive strides. Among the trippy activities that happened throughout the day, pictures within pictures offered the most surprising perspectives around the space, like this one of Jason:

Our Revelers are now in full gear, manipulating the video cameras, creating a ruckus, and occasionally having spoken–and sung!–lines, like Justo Leon:

And Timur got to strut his stuff in full costume and wig on Olga Koumoundouros’s Dive Bar:

Transitioning from Timur on the catwalk to Cedric Berry in Mason Cooley’s Shack was an absolutely thrilling moment:

Now on to Act II!

The tech process is about to start, so these entries are going to start getting pretty short–but I’ll keep updating with pictures from the day’s activities! The costume ladies Ivy and Cindy decreed Monday “Margaritas Monday,” and while it seems a bit late in the process to initiate such a good idea, better late than never, I say:

Olga Koumoundouros’s bean bag chairs are nearly ready, and I think they are soon to be both a highly coveted perspective for the show and an object afterwards. Until then, they were being stuffed in a perfectly painted room:

Elizabeth Harper and projections designer Jason Thompson were in full gear today, and the space shows it:

We’re almost there!!

The visual artists have been making significant progress on their installations, and every new element they complete makes the space feel more and more astonishing. Their work is moving hand-in-hand with the performer’s development: they each get more and more confident, more nuanced, and more open with each rehearsal. Brianna Gorton installed her illuminating columns, which gives fantastic dimension to the cemetery when viewed in a constantly shifting perspective:

Olga Koumoundouros completed her spectacular chandelier for the Dive Bar:

Mason Cooley’s Shack has a jaw-dropping oragami-like roof:

Jeff Kopp diligently continues to add to the Hospital, and Alice Könitz’s swamp is taking beautiful shape, with a series of mirrored plexiglass towers creating an unbelievable landscape for the Swamp.

The total effect of all this great work is nothing short of incredible, and the singers and I are having an amazing time exploring this world:

Something just wasn’t sitting right. All the installations were off to a great start, but one side of the world was very spacious and open, and then halfway through we had monumental structures that not only made visibility challenging but forced the pieces right on top of each other. Viewing Mason’s Shack and Katie’s Junk Heap was going to be compromised by how close they were to each other. In general, the space didn’t feel like it was “breathing.” Olga reminded me that the original configuration had the Dive Bar in the middle; we switched it around based on Olga’s original design and the fear that the Shack would be “shoved into a corner,” but now that we are looking at the reality, the original order made a lot more sense.

But dealing with the reality of moving the shack was a bit daunting: we weren’t working with a computer program with drag-and-drop capabilities but with heavy, three-dimensional sets that were also in a somewhat delicate state. We were also under time pressure: the opportunity to make these changes was disappearing by the day, especially with lighting beginning its installation and cable run.

Luckily we had planned a production meeting with all the artists and production team that evening, so we had many hands on deck.

Seeing the Shack move through the space on a few dollies was pretty exciting–I couldn’t help but think of Fitzcarraldo, although luckily our trek was shorter, less steep, and less under siege by warring tribes. This was a group effort to make a significant change that everyone instantly realized was the right thing to do. I’m constantly reminded that the theatrical process is one where you can’t cling to anything that isn’t working, no matter how much effort it will take to fix. The path of least resistance is also the path of least chance for success. I think here we have a real ally with a visual artist mind-set.

Meanwhile Alice made great progress on the swamp, and the floating surface started to take on its shape in a really exciting way:

Today marks the beginning of the production stage for Crescent City: our first day in our space at Atwater Crossing! We’ve already set the first three songs of our production playlist: “We Built This City (on Rock n’ Roll),” “Feeling Good,” and “Changes.” (Anne LeBaron responded to make sure we had something connected to New Orleans, so she suggested “Jambalaya on the Bayou” by Hank Williams.) I’m predicting a 3-CD set at this rate!

The space is like a blank slate, a tabula rasa ready to be filled in with six incredible installations. Laura and I made sure we focused the energy of our endeavor, and so, with the help of our Founding Members Rajika and Tino Puri, we offered a prayer to Ganesh, the lord of all obstacles, begging him to oversee our journey.

We focused on Olga Koumoundouros‘s installation of the Dive Bar, which takes up the northeastern portion of our warehouse space. Thanks to the fantastic work of Olga and Tech Director Eric Nolfo, the structure for the runway Deadly Belle uses in the Chit Hole (Crescent City’s sad home-away-from-home) is ready for tenor Timur Bekbosunov to strut his/her stuff. It was thrilling to start seeing Olga’s world come to fruition in the space around us!