Introducing: Beating of Wings
I'm a few weeks late to bragging about this, but the women-driven, LA-based theatre company, Beating of Wings Collective, found its way into my heart so quickly and unconventionally that I was still in quiet awe of the whole experience long after the applause ended and the chairs were put away.
I'm smiling at the the remarkable timing and joyful buzz of this opportunity, even now.
In the land of Hollywood gatekeepers, depressingly specific casting breakdowns, and packed audition calls, I booked a role in a full-length, feminist reimagining of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.
Retitled: A Sad Tale's Best For Winter, and sporting original choreography and music, the concept pokes fun at Shakespeare's 16 year gap between a criminal tragedy and it's 'romantic' resolve.
Director/Playwright Anna Miles, a kind, driven, and sharp-witted creative, offered me the job through a friend's name-drop and a perusal of this very website (Thanks Wix!). We met over breakfast in the NoHo Arts District, discussing typical theatre preconceptions and the ambitious dreams she had for Beating of Wings and the Sad Tale project. My first art language being dance, and Anna's being theatre/song, we connected over mutual admiration for both art forms (and a really good scone). I felt a silent, shared trust of each other's passion and dedication. Anna was featuring choreography and hiring a more dance-minded actor for the first time. I was jumping from commercial dance gigs and classically misogynist musicals straight into her indie, experimental theatre with Shakespearean text and A-cappella soundscapes. A scone was eaten, a bond was forged, and the excitement was palpable.
A Sad Tale's Best For Winter was presented through A Noise Within Theatre in Pasadena and their showcase of diverse, emerging talent program: Noise Now. Over the course of three weeks, our team of versatile artists fused harmonic melodies, challenging monologues, extensive prop work, and visceral movement in one 2.5 hour performance on a Sunday in November.
We were billed as a staged reading, but as the play went on, lighting, sound, costumes, and clever original dialogue transformed our office-like studio space into something other worldly. Script pages were torn and littered across the staging area, to be replaced by flowers in the second act. The corseted, oppressed women of the court became barefoot songstresses in a warmer, freer place. The story didn't just reveal the consequences of toxic masculinity and female oppression...it also uncovered the flaws of an all-out dismissal of men and what they've built. There were moments of intense grief and childlike awe. There were genuine laughs and friendly jabs at the current social norms, as well as the upturned expectations of a Shakespearean theatre experience.
The costumes were hand sewn; each prop movement a mulled-over decision that reflected back on the story (we were traveling between worlds, after all). A bucket of mud served as a sticky reminder of where we all came from, and where we all eventually return.
My general impression? It was awesome. The people and project were a much-needed departure from the usual commercial dance rooms (or my guilty avoidance of them). I was diving in with my fresh acting/song training and all the discipline I carry with me from a dozen years in production shows of all types. It felt wildly refreshing to be part of something so off the beaten track (No high kicks? No winks to the 4th wall? Wha?!) And...it just plain felt good to bring in a diverse set of skills and to take in the talent of my lovely peers.
I want to thank Anna and the entire cast and crew of Sad Tale for taking a chance on me, for using me as dance captain, and for inviting me in to the Beating of Wings Collective. We're coming at the LA community with more plays, events, outreach, and even merch in 2020!
Stay tuned. :)