Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Baltimore Waltz and Confession: A Note from the Artistic Directors

Welcome to another first at the Dragon! As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we head into the uncharted territory of repertory theater, a theatrical tradition that goes back centuries, but is new to us. Why are we doing this? Because sometimes it takes looking at things from different points of view to get clarity. We bring to you in this ‘rotating repertory’ two brilliant plays directed by two thoughtful and generous directors, leading one incredible production team of designers, technicians and a team of five amazing actors. It has been such a delight for us to experience these plays back to back, and seeing as different as they are in tone and style, how they reflect off of one another in the themes they explore or the questions they ask. One play is by a giant among American playwrights, Paula Vogel (our first ever Vogel play!), and one is a world premiere by local playwright Barry Slater. Whether in Confession or The Baltimore Waltz you see through the mists of 80’s nostalgia, to a world you still recognize now. Be swept away by the personal tragedy and comedy of it all. We hope you enjoy, and get a chance to experience both sides of our little journey back in time! 

Alika & Max Koknar
Co-Artistic Directors

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Nether: What is an intimacy consultant?

Most people who to go the movies or the theatre know that there's always a fight choreographer on the behind the scenes team to choreograph any kind of violence between actors. It might range from a simple shove to something much more elaborate like sword play. However in 2016 a new branch was founded - intimacy directing. Let's face it, kissing or simulating sex with a co-worker is awkward at best or leads to terrible situations at worst. The Me Too scandals that have rocked Hollywood have made it abundantly clear that this type of protection is absolutely necessary for a healthy and safe acting environment.

Artists can now be certified as Intimacy Directors via a nonprofit organization. You can read more about their mission and training here. The New York Times has laid out a pretty interesting story about this here and it's worth a read.

When we read The Nether with its very difficult role of Iris, it was pretty clear that we needed to bring in an expert to work with the actress, a high school student, the rest of the cast, and be very transparent with the parents to make sure that everyone was on the same page and felt good about what was happening. We're so proud of what Arcadia Conrad, the Intimacy Director for The Nether, brought to the show and we'll utilize Intimacy Directors again for Spring Awakening, a teen musical, and The Baltimore Waltz. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Anne of the Thousand Days: Director's Note

Anne of the Thousand Days presents some special challenges to its cast, crew, and audiences. It catalogs the span of an entire relationship - all 1,000 of its days - in the span of a few hours of moments. It requires the audience to meet and get to know the many other names and faces involved in Anne and Henry's lives, from first meeting to final (and permanent) end. The play also presents its highly stylized (and fictionalized) story through two unreliable narrators as they attempt to justify the ending of their lives together. Heavy stuff.

From the very beginning, I hoped to stage this play in a way that put a unique focus on the performativity of memory. So many people go in and out of the lives of these two characters during their story - and when they outlive their place in the narrative, where do they go? In this production, the small cast ensures that the faces and bodies of Anne and Henry's memories are remade and recycled into the next wave of moments. Faces become familiar, but interchangeable, as the dynamics of the play's relationships blur and change along with them. 

In the end, I hope the cast, crew, and audiences of this play are left with a sense of how memory - how we remember, and how we are remembered, the impermanence of people, places, and moments - can be embraced and experienced as a performance in its own right.

Melinda Marks

Anne of the Thousand Days: A Word from the Artistic Directors

Dragon’s 2nd Stages Program is one of the biggest factors that attracted Max and myself to take up the role of Co-Artistic Directors at the Dragon. Giving local artists opportunities to produce their passion projects in the Bay area, where options can be limited, really makes our job so worthwhile. 

Melinda Marks left quite a lasting impression with her robust pitch of Maxwell Anderson's play Anne of the Thousand Days. We could tell that Melinda had done her homework and that Anderson's text really had struck an artistic chord with her. The story of King Henry VIII and his courting of Anne Boleyn and the founding of The Church of England has always been a personal fascination, and with the today’s Me Too movement, the themes of gender power dynamics resonate even louder. Melinda’s approach to this production not only serves the story spectacularly, but also pays forward the opportunity she got in producing this show by creating roles for brilliant actors who may not otherwise get to play any roles quite like these. You're in for quite a treat! 

Alika & Max Koknar