Venus in Fur
Venus in Fur by David Ives
This Is Water Theatre - Fall 2014
Co-Directed with Amy Guerin
Stage Manager - Jared Zamutt (& Amy Russell)
Board Op - Michelle Schovaers Wagley
Why this show?
This production began as a "just-for-fun" project between Amy and myself in the summer of 2013, right around the time I was starting This Is Water Theatre. Our goal was to push ourselves with challenging material and try our hand at self-directing, since we both had experience as actors and directors. Unfortunately, we weren't able to procure the rights to actually produce it until over a year later.
We chose to explore the relationship of the audience with the highly-charged material. While I didn't realize it at the time, this was the beginning of my interest in exploring the spatial relationship between audience and performers. We established a rectangle of audience seating, with playing space in the middle of and outside of that rectangle. This provided some fascinating discoveries about which space "belonged" to which character, where their safe spaces were, and how our characters' willingness (or lack thereof) to play "out of bounds" impacted the physical performance.
While we had always envisioned the performance in a no-frills rehearsal room, it ultimately took place in a found space: the weight room of a local school gymnasium. This location afforded us some great opportunities to play with the inherent flourescent lighting, and it made the reveal of the simple theatrical lighting we were able to put up even more striking and effective.
Self-directing definitely challenges you to trust your instincts. Despite the fact that Amy and I were able to successfully self-direct this show, it confirmed for me the risk and difficulty associated with self-direction in the theatre. I also learned a great deal about rights acquisition and the larger artistic community's impact on a popular production through this process.