|Madville is no more
||[Apr. 14th, 2013|12:01 pm]
|||||elvis. no fooling. i'm listening to elvis.||]|
Madville, playwright Paul Kuhn's epic ode to his childhood in the wilderness of Canada has completed its run. The final performance (like many of the others) was sold out so I had to sit on the steps outside the theater and wait. But that's OK; I'd seen it twice and I'd rather my seat went to someone else.
Remarkable about this performance was that the "real people" were there -- each character in the play was based on a real life person, now thirty years older than the children in the play and there was much worry, I think, whether or not they would appreciate their words and actions performed on stage. When the show ended I recreated the panorama we'd done to advertise the show but put the real people next to the actors who portrayed them. trillian_stars played Paul's mother, who'd gone into the wilderness with her husband and her children so unprepared they had to burn clothes in the winter to stay warm. It's her indomitable, though quirky, character that holds the family together. For the children the imaginary land they've created, Madville is a wonderful almost Peter Pan in-reverse world, everybody is a child play-acting at being an adult. There are rules ("No one may enter or leave Madville without spitting upon the spitting stone.") and consequences (If anyone does, they must spend the day in the jail -- one of the three structures in Madville) and eventually the children are pitted against an entire Scottish highland regiment on manouvers in the wilderness. One of my favorite characters was older brother Saul, played by Harry Slack. Saul is domineering and leads the band, and he doesn't need to goad them into dangerous acts, they practically beg him to. Saul is based on Paul's brother Sam, who looked bright eyed and perky but I still couldn't judge his reaction to the play as he sat with Harry in Madville's courtroom.
The Madville cast with the real citizens of Madville.
Clickenzee to Embiggen!
After 60 seconds for a photo shoot a large crew started to dismantle the set. They moved like ants with power tools. There's always been something special about striking the set. The first time that I actually felt like I was trillian_stars' boyfriend was when the set for The Green Bird was struck. I was standing around waiting for Trillian to come out of the dressing room and she came out in jeans and a black top with little gussets or something along the sleeves and we helped take down this giant clockwork of a set and it felt like we were a couple.
In any event, I didn't help much during the strike of Madville, but I did takes some time lapse video on my phone.
As the carpet came up I saw that part of the risers were made with the wonderfully painted flooring from Slaughterhouse 5 which made me think about how in theater things are so impermanent -- it's something of the exact opposite of what I do, making things stay. In theater something is the most important thing in the world for four or eight weeks and then it's gone, it's a memory and a line on a resume. I was sad that Madville was over, I was sad that Slaughterhouse 5 was over, but just that night Trill had heard she'd been cast in something incredible, so our thoughts were reaching out toward that one at the same time this bit of empty started trailing behind.
The set came apart and got stowed very quickly (within an hour) and everybody headed back to the Curio house where I screwed up some courage and found Sam on the front porch and asked him how he like the play. The next three hours were lost in reminisces of the real Madville as the brothers and sister tumbled down a rabbit hole. They loved the play. And -- shockingly, most shockingly, they said that everything was true -- it had all happend. All the insanity, all the danger, all the ridiculousness of a family unprepared for living where they did and children mostly oblivious to it -- not only was it true, but there was more. We learned that eventually their father broke down and got electricity but he refused to allow more than one outlet, and that would only be used to power the freezer during the summer, and it hung in the middle of the cabin. The bales of clothes burned in the winter because, somehow, they'd never gotten enough wood, the battle between the children and the Scottish Highlanders.
Clickenzee to Emgiggen!
We left feeling like we'd been part of the most elaborate insider story every created and I wished there were DVD special features that went along with this play. Be sad that you missed Madville if you missed it. Feel special if you saw it, because it was a special thing. And the thing that's coming up -- you'll want to see that, very much.
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A terrific analysis! Wonderful photo of cast and family. Yes, theatre becomes a memory, but sometimes what a memory. I still can "see"
Shirley Booth and Sidney Blackmer in a revival of "Come Back Little Sheba" some 48 yrs ago- It was that great. Of course Vanessa Redgrave in "Orpheus Descending" and "Anthony and "Cleopatra" remain vivid. Your colorful photo of Cast and family from Madville, will help sustain a vivid memory of the production.
Just when I was longing for a really good Kyle post, here comes this gem. I need to come see Trillian in a show again very soon. Since my only view was of a very special dress rehearsal--it's time for the real thing.
Just wanted to say how much I loved this post and its careful language and insights.