Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hearts, Wings and Exposition

We’re two weeks and four drafts into our workshop of The Dog in the Manger. The plays title is taken from a fable by Aesop. It is briefly explained in the play and in a previous blog. However another fable, or myth, is also referenced in the play: the story of Icarus. One actor in our workshop suggested we cut the retelling of the myth saying that our audience would already be familiar with it. Another responded that she’d not heard the myth till reading our script. (I myself have known the story for some time, but was introduced to it in 1986 by the Nintendo game Kid Icarus which took… liberties.)

This discussion led to the larger issue of exposition. The conventions of de Vega’s time allowed for a great deal. Our adaptation has attempted to streamline this, looking for opportunities to show rather than tell. James, our playwright, has begun to explore a visual language for the piece including a giant heart, a crucifix and other moving set pieces that become associated with particular characters. As the workshop progresses the visual elements have taken on a larger role as the dialogue continues to pare down. How we’ll realize these in performance is yet to be determined though Red Tape has had some positive experiences with video projections.

James quote of the week: “I never thought I’d find an excuse to write the stage direction 'the heart breaks.'

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

For more information on The Dog in the Manger please visit

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