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Excelsior: Heading to the Hangar

May 24, 2015 / by Austin Regan, Hangar Directing Fellow


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Look! That's me! All the way to the right!

It's just eight days after our Professionals Week ended, and I don't know about my fellow Fellows, but my head is still reeling. A week of meetings with some of the most incredible New York theater artists, culminating in the Drama League Awards -- what an experience! I have only just begun to process what this means for me. And since I leave for the Hangar Theatre tomorrow, I have been trying to wrap up as many loose ends as I can with current New York City-based projects, before we hop in a van tomorrow and head to the Hangar for an incredible summer. One of my favorite people I met during Professionals Week, the extraordinary costume designer Michael Krass, encouraged me to "do some MAD things" this summer, and that is what I hope to do.

Excelsior! onward to the work of the 2015 Hangar Fellows!

The Hangar is a fast-and-furious creative furnace. Due to the slow moving nature of the theater, I am used to having a lot more lead time on developing work -- being able to sit with the script at leisure for months, have a drink with designers, explore dramaturgy with the writer, read the play and explore what actors bring to each role. Not so at the Hangar! It was just a few weeks ago that the four Hangar fellows (myself and Aneesha, Dan, and Paul) were madly pitching projects that were exciting to us and our vision for the Lab Company, and our brilliant and inimitable artistic director, Jen Waldman, was sorting through them.

Jen and I settled on a project that is thrilling and terrifying for me -- the world premiere of a brand new adaptation of Euripides' The Trojan Women, by one of my favorite new friends and collaborators: actress, teacher, writer, and genius-about-town Alexandra Silber. Her adaptation is a devastating and painfully relevant look at the aftermath of war, and its effect on our communities, our culture, and our selves. As my fellow Hangar fellow Dan Rogers said, The Trojan Women is one of those plays that people say you're "just not supposed to do, ever" -- but I say, damn the torpedoes! Let's see what this powerful masterpiece, in Al's extraordinary adaptation, reveals.

The above picture, by a French artist named Viviane Cisinski, is one of my favorite images I have discovered in reference to this play. Her contorted figures, nude, in tones of ivory, grey, and yellow, bring to mind the twisted pain of the Trojan widows by way of both abstract expressionistic haze and human forms that conjure classical Greek sculpture. The red and black fields are dramatic and violent, and to me often resemble physical or psychological wounds. With some of my other research, these images are starting to inspire what I hope the space and physicality of this production may look and feel like.

 

I am also so excited about the KIDDSTUFF show I am directing -- a musical adaptation of Red Riding Hood by Mike Kenny and Julian Butler. This play is an ode to the power of storytelling and the imagination, and is by turns beautiful, intelligent, imaginative, joyful, spooky, whimsical, hilarious, and moving. I can't wait -- get ready for some theater magic!

Above, I have an image of the title character attributed to the notorious English graffiti artist Banksy. Kenny and Butler's adaptation is contemporary, and the tale exists in the imagination and souls of two kids -- and I am really curious what today's smart, savvy, plugged-in kids feel like Red Riding Hood looks and acts like. Banksy's depiction here is sly, tough, and urban, and is one of about forty or fifty cool images and illustrations I have gathered of this character from the 18th century to 2015, as a part of my visual exploration of who she is in this particular production.

But for now, I literally must step away from my computer and continue packing. How many pairs of pants will Austin decide to bring to Ithaca? Will Austin find somewhere to get a haircut today? Should Austin buy a new pair of sneakers for the summer? The answers to all these questions and more will have to wait for the next blog post!