Category Archives: Island of Dr. Moreau

Updates

Season auditions
We just had our general auditions for the year and – dang!  There is so much sparkly talent in this city. And it just kills me how many people totally rock and we don’t have a darn thing in this particular season that fits them.  Makes me want to do more plays. Except that would probably kill us. But we had our directors and writers and composers from our various shows in 09-10 there to see (the three days of) auditions and we were wowed by the people who auditioned.

More states and fresh blood in Busman!
Okay, Erica says it’s too early to post another map but I must report that we’re up to 22 states! We’ve added South Dakota and Connecticut and Rhode Island!   We’ve got 5 weeks to go so I’m hoping we add to the tally!  We’re welcoming some new folks into the cast for the extension.   Jon Stutzman, Chris Hainsworth and Jean Vanier will be joining us and we’re excited to have ’em.  Jean is a newcomer to Lifeline.  Jon was in Rikki Tikki Tavi and The Island of Dr. Moreau.  Chris was in Talking It Over and will be in Treasure Island this fall.

Our very first Property Condition Assessment
Constructed as a ComEd substation in 1933, Lifeline is built like a bomb shelter. (Our city building inspector recommends we all meet here in case of disaster.) But it’s also freakin’ old. We’re getting an expert guy over here next week to go over our building with a fine tooth comb. His report will tell us of “existing deficiencies, deferred maintenance, repair cost estimates and a reserve table of the expected useful life of building components.” I expect it to be sobering. But at least we’ll know. And it’s better to know….isn’t it?

Dorothy Milne
Artistic Director

To build a flying machine…

WE SPIN
WE TWIRL
WE SAIL
WE SWIRL
WE PLUNGE
WE DROP
ASCEND
AND STOP

Our first rehearsals began officially a week ago and already we’re tackling some of the most challenging aspects of the script.  Working with Rob (ensemble member, Robert Kauzlaric) as adapter on a few projects now I know to expect heightened language and an infectious joy for theatricality.  Also inherent in a “Kauzlaric” is bold physical imagery.  His challenge to the director includes vivid descriptions of the seemingly impossible – from The Island of Dr Moreau “The compound collapses as fire sweeps over it” is a good example.

His adaptation of Flight of the Dodo, a book with probably no more than 100 words in it to begin with, involves over thirty minutes of four flightless birds flying through the sky in a hot air balloon. The above quote from the song “Fol-de-rol-ery & Daring-do” describes a flying contest between our heroes and their rivals, The Geese.  Right, I’ve got 30 or so square feet to stage a flying contest between a hot air balloon full of actors and a flock of geese?

As a director, this gets me really excited – how do I inspire designers and actors to help me solve this physical riddle on Lifeline’s famed postage-stamp-sized arena?  Even better, how do we solve this conundrum with respect for both the script AND the audience?  Directing and acting for children requires, one could argue, a special kind of integrity.  In my experience, an adult audience has a natural patience that meets you half way in creating the suspension of disbelief necessary when creating a representational theatrical answer.  For children, if you don’t believe in the construct, if you don’t commit to it 110%, they will see through your shallow “trick” and get bored – fast.

So I did some thinking on ways to fly without leaving the ground.  I looked at puppetry techniques from kabuki and bunraku traditions.  I watched with great envy the viral YouTube video of “Matrix Ping Pong” and did some thinking about forced perspective changes – different sized puppets? A flying machine that has an organic range of movement?  Can we make the floor the sky and the ceiling the ground?  I brought all these questions and inspirations to my design team. Our first and most important job – design the Dodo.

At our first production meeting I suggested that the basket of the Dodo be soft sided, built like an inverted hoop skirt, the birds standing the middle, holding onto the rim, able to tip the top to and fro to indicate movement and allowing for them to travel “Flintstones – style” from one end of the stage to other.  Scenic designer Chelsea Warren ran with this idea.  With practical assistance from Lifeline’s new technical director Ian Zywica, Chelsea created a structure sturdy enough to hold four actors and move with ease around the stage floor while supporting a five foot diameter red weather balloon and integrating the pliable basket idea I had requested.

I am thrilled with the movement of our Dodo – rehearsals are proving that a tremendous range of possibilities are available to us.

Now… how will I stage the singing Penguin Poo? Hmmm….

Paul Holmquist