Inside, Outside

I scanned my book shelf looking for something that was a classic and had some artistic depth. I ended up pulling out Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”…

Good news friends, I’m starting a new page to stage project! I’m adapting classic literature into musical pieces. There is more that can be explored in the relationship between music and writing than just song lyrics. I intend to replicate moods, tones, structures, characters of great works of literature through music alone.

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BUT in my process of digging up research for exploring music related to “A Doll’s House,”I found the image I’ve been seeing of Loyola’s performance and it was still running! I snatched up some tickets and headed over to the lovely Newhart Family Theatre.

The cast shined, a very talented group. Especially Nora, the lead, was dynamic and engaging. The performance was in the round and the staging took some risks. The full cast would surround the stage with handheld lights to emphasize the theatricality of some of the moments or to highlight tension. In the ending scene, the cast dismantled the “doll’s house” taking the furniture off one piece at a time. There was a weird way the door frames were angled though that stilted characters walking paths in a way that no house would be laid out. Though all and all a thought provoking take on the classic play.

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The sound design was well polished and emblematic of the time period. They even played a piano on stage for the music for the tarantella scene.

I made this little piece thinking about the effect of inside/outside in the play. Nora sees the vast opportunities that she realizes she may have missed out on from being enclosed in the “Doll’s House.” I took a simple intersecting line drawing, in which the house isn’t apparent. But once the color is added, the inside and outside of the house become distinct. The border outlining the top is a line that traces the main melodic theme I wrote for the play.

What can be gained from looking at an art from the outside? By stepping outside, a different perspective can be gained by translating the art form into another medium.

Also at Loyola University, there is some interesting inter-disciplinary work happening in partnership with the Pivot Arts Incubator. Artists are given the opportunity to explore their work through the residency program. I had been helping as a dramaturg with one of these residencies, Azure & Indigo, a multi-disciplinary jazz project.

There was a showing of the incubator works on March 26 at Loyola also featuring work from Walkabout Theater and a new play Rumpspringa! It was inspiring to see work that incorporates theater, dance and gesture and music. Especially as Walkabout Theater ended their performance with an a cappella version of Heart’s Crazy On You, the interdisciplinary power was felt!

This series of performances at Loyola had me thinking of the power in risk taking in the arts. Using artistic license to play can overturn some exciting possibilities, perhaps just outside our comfort zone.

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