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      FACT OR TRUTH.....DOES IT MATTER? by Barbara Biddison

      b29oiwk817u1Rehearsal can be more interesting than performance. Truth? Performance is better than rehearsal. Fact? It's time to explore that a bit. All this is based on my watching an early rehearsal of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT. It's HG's next mainstage in the Warehouse, and since there were two more performances of the current show, the rehearsal took place on the stage which still had the brick walls and bare floor for STRAY CATS. Upon which sat (for the rehearsal time) a couch and a chair and a desk/office area. Now, where is the fact or the truth in that? It's enough to make a person look up "juxtaposition"...later.

      Jessie Thompson is directing this LIFESPAN OF A FACT play. I really like watching her work with actors, and I've experienced just a little of that myself. On August 22 HG offered a monologue workshop for women led by Jessie. I participated in that. For each of us she would ask how we were feeling personally, and then she would move on to how our monologue character was feeling, all before we delivered the lines. I was very interested in the personal feeling question as compared to the almost identical phrasing of "the character feeling" question. Fast-forward to LIFESPAN rehearsal. One of the actors commented on "feeling like I'm changing gears from what I was doing before I got here....to this rehearsal," and then the next question was something like, "How does that work for this scene? That changing gear feeling?" This is early exploration, before lines are totally memorized. Mostly they put down the script, and they called for "line" when necessary. Really fascinating to see this early work.

      The actors, the three of them, all have theatre experience. Gabe Hakvaag has done just about everything from acting, and producing radio shows, to directing main stage shows, and sharing his technical theatre skills freely. My favorite mental picture of him is from the first get-together for 2016 Women's Project directors. He stood up on that Warehouse stage and spoke to each new director individually, asking questions and offering suggestions with respect and clarity, as each came up with note-taking materials in hand. It is really fun to see him in this pompous writer role now, throwing the phone at the intern on the couch. Cody Losinger was most recently in A POUND OF FLESH, and he was a summer intern about 5 years ago. My very best memory dates back to the 2007 ONCE UPON A SHOE tour when two adults and eight kids performed in SHOE for 15 performances in area public schools. I was Mother Goose and Larry was Mr. Smith, and we picked Cody up at the middle school for each performance. And here he is in LIFESPAN as the fact-checker intern insisting on ethical realism, falling asleep on the pompous writer's couch. Lilace Guignard first came to my stage attention in VANYA, SONIA, MASHA, AND SPIKE, and she also leapt into the Women's Project with vigor and talent. She played Ms. Skye Locke in A POUND OF FLESH. Currently she's an all-businesswoman and go-between in LIFESPAN.

      I listened to the director's good-humored observations. To Cody on the couch: "You gotta start waking up because he's shouting at you." To Gabe, standing up: "Right now sit in your chair. It's your "home." To Lilace: "Why do you think you have these 'cringey moments'?" It never feels critical. It's always helpful.

      So, of course, I googled "juxtaposition." It's "just a fancy word for 'contrast,'" I found amongst many other offerings. OK Contrast between past and present, or between present and future as far as the stage set is concerned. And between fact and truth for the LIFESPAN play itself. We're going to see a really interesting play in early November!


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