Rabbits from Hats


Hwaet: Zuppa del Giorno is returning to Italy. Some are flying out as early as the 6th, but I don't depart until the evening of the 8th. We all come flocking home the 21st. In between, we are scheduled to perform at several theatre festivals, thereby offering up our very first solicited original work abroad. It's an incredibly exciting opportunity, and one on which a lot relies. We will get more exposure than ever before, and exposure specifically to theatre artists we want to involve in In Bocca al Lupo, and collaborate with on other projects. People will judge us by what we do, and their opinions will dramatically affect our ability to move forward with an international program, be it educational or performing, or both.


And we have no show to perform.


You might suppose that a troupe specializing in improvisatory theatre would relish this situation but, if so, you'd be wrong. Call us nancies, but when this kind of thing is on the line, we generally like to have something pretty tight put together. Then, should circumstances flatter it, we might depart from our show to enjoy a good tangent or two. How do we find ourselves in this particularly awkward position? Well, these trips always seem to pull together at the last of all possible moments, and commitments can be tough to come by. Our intention had always been to somehow resurrect (read: restructure) Silent Lives for performance in Italy. Not only do we not have the time nor resources to accomplish that, but one of our numbers has a conflict and can not join the trip. That leaves me and Friend Heather to conceive, build and perform an hour-long, wholly original show.

Friend Heather moved to Scranton about a year ago. Which kind of makes me want to smack her right now. (But Heather's always kind of fun to smack, anyways.)

So we've met a total of three times -- repetitions of three being inherently funny -- for about four-hours-a-go to develop a show we can perform between the two of us; a show that is not verbally language-based, that is easily transportable and, one hopes, entertaining as all hell. No pressure. Prior to these rehearsals, we collaborated over email a bit, as we are wont to do, unless we actually set up a blog or two to coordinate multiple input sources (read: folks). I wrote out a strenuously over-involved, quasi-scenario (for three; this was when we thought we still had three with which to work), and Heather wrote back with her version of the same (including such useful responses as, "I'm not sure about the sock puppets..."). After all this, we met in New York to "rehearse," and, as though I hadn't enough to thank her for by now, Heather took the onus of the travel upon her martyred self.


I'll skip to the end a bit here, to say that what we now have is a largely silent clown piece that -- we hope -- should take about 45 minutes to play out, about a couple growing up and old together. How we got there was a good deal different from creative processes Zuppa del Giorno has heretofore engaged in, driven as we were in a unique way by necessity. Heather and I actually have a couple of ideas for independent collaborations together that we discuss whenever we're frustrated with whatever we're supposed to be working on, but none of these ideas could be squoze (is SO a word) into the framework of our festivals. Given our limited time to develop the show, we elected to mine previous material as much as possible. Which, oddly enough, is a very traditional commedia dell'arte thing to do. After four years of working together, we have several lazzi that can be dropped in to whatever we do.


Our first thought was simply to compile all the couples we had played in Zuppa shows (Heather and I are the Burns & Allen of northeastern Pennsylvania) into a kind of review. The trouble with this idea was that most of our couples spoke as part of their characterization, and it didn't provide us with a simple through-line, which is something we knew we'd need. You can pfutz about with conventional narrative, sure, but we have enough problems confronting a language barrier. Eventually, we recognized that the characters we had played could be pretty handily slotted into different stages of life, which reminded us of our conceit of three people growing up together in Silent Lives. So when we met, Heather and I immediately started playing with old-couple characters. It was the least-explored aspect of a life-cycle for us thus far. She had recently played an older woman in Time, Timing, Timeless, and I had a farcical old man in Legal Snarls, but never together and neither with any romantic or quibbling overtones. So a matter of days ago, we met in an aerial acrobatic rehearsal space in Williamsburg and explored.


More to come on this piece as it progresses, but David (Zarko) has already had to title it for submission: L'amore e' mazzo, ma buona (Love is Crazy, But Good).
 
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