The Creepy Corner: Victorian Era v. Dracula

The Creepy Corner

Episode #3: Victorian Era v. Dracula

By: The Dracu-Lady

Hello my little Creepy-Crawlies! I apologize for being away for so long, time flies when you’re the Un-Dead, but now I’m back and ready to hit you with some knowledge. I promised last time that I would enlighten you about sexual repression in the Victorian age and how Dracula was a form of release and possible social commentary for the famously stoic era, and now I make good on said promise. Let’s go!

A little history on the Victorian Era: it is named for Queen Victoria who ruled the United Kingdom from 1837 until 1901. This was a time of great population growth in both England and Scotland who both doubled their number of subjects; Ireland, on the other hand, was not so lucky due to an issue with local potatoes. It is a time characterized by the belief that a person’s sex and sexuality form the most basic core of their identity.

To prevent gossip and social stigma, people began cultivating an outward appearance of dignity and restraint, while their private lives were riddled with ‘depravity’. This was a time where prostitution exploded across every level of society from the dirty alleyways to the posh homes of the aristocracy. It is no wonder then that Dracula was written. Many literary specialists have theorized that Dracula, and vampires in general, is one big sex metaphor.

Count Dracula, played by Benjamin Kolis, poses a huge threat to the chaste world of our living characters by releasing them from their moral bonds and freeing them sexually. They live happy, vestal lives with happy, vestal people and go about their happy, vestal way, until they meet the Count. He shows them the way to be free and take what, or whom, you want when and how you want them. The best example of this is the lovely Lucy, played with beautiful truthiness by Ali Close, before and after death her tragic death.

Before death, Lucy is innocently wondering which of her suitors she will choose to wed, and after death she drains the life from many men and boys and tries to seduce Dr. Seward, Eric Eichenlaub,  to join her in her liberation. When she first ‘wakes up’ she says “Kiss me...Haven’t you wanted to? I have.” She pulls him in with his desire for her and would have killed him, presumably with her sexuality, had not Van Helsing, Christopher J. DeVaan, burst in at that moment, wielding a symbol of purity and holiness. It’s starting to make sense, right? As soon as someone is bitten and transformed into a being with no inhibitions or moral code they must be destroyed in order to save the rest of the God-fearing world from their disease and depravity. If you think this is a fluke, start typing ‘Victorian Sexual Repression’ into your search engine, and the second hit you’ll get is ‘Dracula.’

Some other interpretations include Vampires as a stand in for tyrants, or a person in power who uses his wealth, influence and ‘other means’ (a.k.a. fangs) to literally and figuratively suck the life force from people. This could be, metaphorically speaking, by taxing people into deep poverty (very common during the Victorian Era), or by trapping them into a bargain they can’t hope to pay off. An example of this would be when Jonathan Harker, Paul Willis Jr., is brought to Dracula’s castle and is lavished by the posh surroundings but is later trapped there and left to die when Dracula has no more use of him.

My personal favorite explanation, however, is the idea that a vampire could be seen as a type of emotionally abusive relationship. I would say that when your boy/girlfriend tries to bite your neck to drain your blood to not only kill you but make you one of the Un-Dead where you spend the rest of your days lonely, in constant hunger and with a severe sun allergy, you are most definitely in an abusive relationship. From a more emotional/mental standpoint this could be a person who seems perfect or irresistible, but who constantly sucks away a victim’s energy, ambition, or even life as they know it due to the vampire’s selfishness. Victims may think that they need the vampire to survive when, really, it’s the other way around.

A fun catalog of different vampires is found in the song “Die, Vampire, Die!” from the Broadway production [title of show]  by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell. It’s quite hilarious.

Well kids, it’s that time again. The time where this Dracu-Lady crawls back into her pink, sparkly coffin until the next episode of the Creepy Corner is completed. Stay tuned because that episode will be an interview with the cast of Lyric Arts’ Dracula! We’ll discuss how they found their characters and what they did to prepare for the show.

Until next time. Scare ya later!

The Dracu-Lady

A little bit about The Dracu-Lady: The Dracu-Lady’s secret identity is Emily Anderson (Shhh, don’t tell anyone!). She is a recent addition to the Lyric Arts family working in the box office and as house manager. She just graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point with a degree in Arts Management, but grew up in the Twin Cities and has spent many an evening at Lyric Arts Main Stage with her mother, sister, and grandmother. Her favorite color is red; her favorite food is macaroni and cheese and chocolate (but not together, cause that would be gross) and when she grows up she wants to be Batman.

Dracula Review: Won't You Invite Me In?

Won't You Invite Me In?

By Roxy Orcutt

The story of Dracula can be easily bogged down.  Bogged down by theme, unnecessary characters, Victorian repression and the possibility of getting swept up into the moodiness of the Carpathian mountains. The people behind the Lyric Arts production of Dracula realized this and gave us exactly what we needed.  A lovely and vulnerable Mina, a bawdy and fun Lucy, a logical and straightforward Dr. Seward, a confused and protective Harker, a strong and superstitious Van Helsing, a manic and crazy Renfield, and a sleek and scary Dracula.  Along with staging that made incredibly good use of the limited space, shadows, smoke, and audio effects that could have easily leaned towards Halloween-ish but managed to avoid that for the most part.  This story of the terrifying undead Count and the people tasked with destroying him was everything and exactly what it needed to be.

Lyric Arts production of Dracula was not only appropriately frighting (the row of women sitting next to me gasped and giggling nervously when Dracula emerged from his coffin for the first time) it was also funny, which helped it avoid being a too serious show for people looking for a fun night of theater.  Yes, there was blood, it is a show about vampires after all, but it wasn't ever used unnecessarily, and with the enthusiasm that it was lapped up by Dracula's Brides, you couldn't help but enjoy its presence.

I enjoyed the somewhat Steampunk influences I  noticed in the costuming and props. Mina, in particular was costumed beautifully.  I coveted her black satin skit she wore towards the end of the show, as well as her travel worn coat she donned to retrieve Harker from Budapest.

As for the vampires, creatures that always runs the risk of coming off as cheesy or silly, were done perfectly.  The fangs the vampire actors wore were some of the best I have ever seen.  Especially the ones Dracula was wearing since he not only had his fair share of dialogue, he also had an accent, and seemed to speak with ease around his fangs.  The lighting effects, especially during a pivotal character's transformation was done with undertones of green and red, making it frighting and dramatic.

One of my favorite things about this production was the narrative in which the story was told.  In the book Dracula, the story is told through letters, as is in this production, but in the book it is told linear.  This Dracula was told with flashbacks intertwined with present happenings, which I thought was very creatively done.

The stage design to tell this story that travels across seas and mountains, takes place in grand homes of London, an insane asylum, cemeteries and a castle in Transylvania, was done so impressively and smart. Containing only one set change from Act One to Act Two.

Despite the occasional audio effect drowning out the dialogue, this Dracula was spooky fun and perfect for getting into the classic Halloween spirit!

A little bit about Roxy Orcutt: Roxy Orcutt, a self-professed “Professional Halloween Lover” lives in Anoka with her husband, children and various pets, including a black cat, of course.  Roxy runs the website The Halloween Honey, a year-round destination for all things Halloween.  www.halloweenhoney.com.

Meet Nissa Nordland who is Performing in Dracula

Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Nissa Nordland, who is performing as Mina Murray in Dracula. Read on to hear what she has to say about her experience thus far. LA: Where are you originally from?

NN: I was born in Austin, Texas. When I was five years old, my family moved to Albert Lea, MN, where I primarily grew up.

LA:  Why did this particular play interest you?

NN:  I have been fascinated by vampires since I was a kid. I used to make up vampire stories with my Barbies, and stare at the watercolor illustrations in my dad’s copy of Dracula. My adoration grew when I was a teen-ager and I began reading Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire, etc). The story of Dracula is classic, and I was excited by the possibility of being involved in this beloved, supernatural thriller. Plus, it’s fun to be scary!

LA:  For those that are unfamiliar with Dracula can you tell us about the show?

NN: Strange events occur when a mysterious and alluring Count arrives in England. (That’s putting it simply.)

LA: Talk about the character that you play in Dracula.  How have you developed this character?

NN: Mina Murray is a strong, intelligent young school teacher. She’s kind and fiercely loyal, especially to her longtime friend Lucy Westenra and her beloved fiancé Jonathan Harker. She’s sweet, but no push over.

In personifying such an endearing character, I’m focusing on creating as honest relationships as possible with the actors around me. This will both keep her from being a cardboard cut-out heroine, as well as blandly, unbelievably “sweet”. This can be tough task due to the Victorian dialogue. But throughout rehearsals we are working on breaking down the language into true human interaction. Along with the language, I am building the physical behavior of the corseted Victorian woman (posture, posture, posture!), which is a new challenge.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

NN: My cast mates are having a lot of fun building their characters. Rehearsals are creative and not only fun to be involved in, but to watch. There’s a lot of work in creating such an intense world, and together we’ve had some rehearsals that leave us exhausted both physically and mentally. Of course, there’s a lot of joy in each other’s company as well. I’ve especially enjoyed creating the friendship between myself and Ali Close, who plays Lucy. She’s a talented actress and it’s easy to fall in love with her character. Plus, Benjamin Kolis, Dracula himself, is very hypnotic.

LA: What are some of the most impressive elements of Dracula?

NN: The production itself is filled with intensely detailed designs and many sound, light and prop effects. The coordination of all of these elements in combination with the stage action will be very impressive.  Our stage manager, Marcie Anderson, has quite a task ahead of her.

LA: Why should people come and take a chance and see this version of Draucla?

NN: Our Dracula’s basis is in honest relationships which build into an intensely strange situation. The cast provides drama, suspense, even a few laughs – and through it all you can still relate and believe in the characters’ actions in their world. Plus, the special effects will be a jolt of fun!

LA: Being that you are performing Dracula in the Halloween Capital of the World, what is your favorite thing about Halloween?

NN: Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday! I love that kids are rewarded for being creative, instead of being bullied. My most memorable costume was ‘Juliet After the Suicide’ when I was 8 years old. My dad fashioned a dagger belt for me, caked in dried ketchup, so it looked like I had stabbed myself a la the Shakespearean heroine. I love that being different is embraced on Halloween, and that the childhood spirit can be expressed freely by adults.

LA: Who is your favorite Halloween character (e.g. Frankenstein, Dracula, Werewolf) and why?

NN: I’d have to say the witches from Hocus Pocus. The Sanderson Sisters are funny, dangerous and can harmonize! I loved Sarah, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, especially in the scene where she gathers the children of Salem by her singing on her broomstick. Second favorite is the Great Pumpkin.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

NN: I like to act and to write. I’m a big Beatles fan. I am a comic book geek. My favorite color is orange. I enjoy knitting, Shakespeare, board games and playing acoustic guitar. I am also a proud cat mama.

Meet Eric Eichenlaub who is Performing in Dracula

Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Eric Eichenlaub, who is performing as John Seward  in Dracula. Read on to hear what he has to say about his experience thus far.

LA: Where are you originally from?

EE: My home town is Marshall, MN

LA:  Why did this particular play interest you?

EE: I saw a production of Dracula when I was a kid and it really stuck with me.

LA:  For those that are unfamiliar with Dracula can you tell us about the show?

EE: A mysterious count makes his way to England, threatening the lives of the people he encounters.

LA: Talk about the character that you play in Dracula.  How have you developed this character?

EE: I’ve done some research with the original text. But I’ve found that most of my character development has come through the interactions I’ve been lucky enough to have with the rest of the cast.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

EE: It’s been great seeing what everyone has brought to the table.  I’ve been especially impressed by the skill with which Ali and Ben are able to talk around their teeth!

LA: What are some of the most impressive elements of Dracula?

EE: I think people are going to be blown away by the design aspects of this show. Everything I’ve seen so far has been hugely impressive. 

LA: Why should people come and take a chance and see this version of Draucla

EE: This version of the story offers us a lot of opportunity to dig into the relationships at the heart of the story.  This isn’t just the story of a vampire running amok.  It is the story of the people being affected by that vampire.  

LA: Being that you are performing Dracula in the Halloween Capital of the World, what is your favorite thing about Halloween?

EE: Candy.  It’s always been about the candy for me.

LA: Who is your favorite Halloween character (e.g. Frankenstein, Dracula, Werewolf) and why? 

EE: I like Frankenstein’s monster because of Young Frankenstein and Phil Hartman’s sketches on Saturday Night Live (“Fire Bad!!!!!”)

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself? 

EE: I’m a graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University.  I like acting quite a bit.  I’m a Taurus.  I like to wear hats.  I think the right hot sauce can make an otherwise boring meal fun and exciting or something.  I have a cat.

 

Meet Ali Close who is Performing in Dracula

Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Ali Close, who is performing as LucyWestenra  in Dracula. Read on to hear what she has to say about her experience thus far. LA: Where are you originally from?

AC: Stoughton, WI. It's a city a little smaller than Anoka near Madison, WI.

LA:  Why did this particular play interest you?

AC: I've had a weird fascination with vampires ever since I was a little girl. Not in a creepy way. I have no desire to be one and blood actually kind of make me squeamish. And while I'll admit- and without shame- to being a fan of the romanticized vampire culture that is so popular today, it's really the history behind the myth of the vampire that I find so fascinating. Some form of vampire exists in just about every culture. It was a way for people to explain the inexplicable- plagues, droughts, body decomposition, even pregnancies out of wedlock- before science did. Bram Stoker took this myth and then connected it with issues of the Victorian Age- sexual mores, blood disease, imperialism. This play is probably the most faithful to the original of the version that are out there.

LA:  For those that are unfamiliar with Dracula can you tell us about the show?

AC: It is the story that all the others vampire stories sprang from, but its surprising hard to summarize without giving away everything. Strange things start to happen to a group of closely knit Londoners, all involving encounters with a Count from Transylvania. After they discover that he is actually a vampire, they enter a battle to destroy him... I'm terrible at summaries.

LA: Talk about the character that you play in Dracula.  How have you developed this character?

AC: I play Lucy Westenra. She's Mina Murry's best friend, the love interest of Dr. John Seward and Dracula's first conquest. Lucy has always been my favorite character in this story. This is technically my fourth time playing an incarnation of her. Over Halloween for the past three years I have been involved with a ballet version of Dracula in my hometown. I was Lucy in the original cast in 2009 and then reprised the role in 2010 and 2011. It's been both a blessing and a curse to have played her before because, while the sequence of events and basic character attributes are the same, there is so much more going on with this version of Lucy. It's a different medium of performance; spoken word brings out things that dance simply can't (and vice versa).

The playwright Stephan Dietz has done a beautiful job of making Lucy a very real woman with very real fears and desires, some of which she doesn't understand because of her age and her place in society as an unmarried Victorian woman. So often in versions of Dracula, Lucy is overly sexualized from the beginning of the story. Now, that's one interpretation and it's all well and fun, but she's not written that way in the novel. And she's not written that way in this play. Sure, she may say or do things that are a little more brazen and there's a touch of a flirt to her, but there is always a reason for it. I've loved trying to pick through her psyche and through that, I've found a lot that I relate to.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

AC: Can I say that everyone has amazed me in some way without it sounding disingenuous? Because it's completely true. Everyone fits their role beautifully. Nissa has such a beauty as Mina, both inside and out. I felt an instant click with her- acting as if we are old friends when we've only known each other a few weeks couldn't be easier. Eric is tender and funny as Seward- he keeps me on my toes as an actor and gives me so much to work with. Chris as Van Helsing has probably had the biggest transformation from day 1. Each rehearsal the pieces of his already strong character fall into place. Ben's physical transformation from himself to Dracula is breathtaking. Just the way he holds his body and places his voice in his register makes him both incredibly seductive and utterly terrifying. Paul has such a determination and a gentleness as Harker and his scenes with Nissa are so lovely. It's been fun to watch Tim play with the fine line of sanity that Renfield walks and teeters on.

The four actors who play the vixens, maids, nurses, and attendants all help create the atmosphere of the show and make it that much more realistic. Michael is has us in stitches with his comments that lighten the rehearsal mood. Brandon was my original audition partner. He rocked then and his still rocking it now. Amber and Alison are wicked vixens, which is the complete antithesis of their true natures. The show requires a lot of trust between actors- mental trust, emotional trust, physical trust. I know they all have my back (both literally and figuratively in this show) and I have theirs.

LA: What are some of the most impressive elements of Dracula?

AC: We are just now starting to add all the spectacle elements of the show. I just got to try on my beautiful costumes. I've heard snippets of the sound that will be added. The set is starting to come together. The world that is being created is so amazing. It's lavish and simple at the same time.

LA: Why should people come and take a chance and see this version of Dracula?

AC: The script is beautifully written. The characters, even the mythological ones, are real and fighting fiercely for survival and love. It's more than just a horror story. It's a human story. And it's Halloween! What better show can you see to get you in the spirit?

LA: Being that you are performing Dracula in the Halloween Capital of the World, what is your favorite thing about Halloween?

AC: I love the fall- the cooler weather, all the holidays in those months, the changing leaves. And Halloween to me has always been about imagination. My family went all out. Our porch transformed into a graveyard complete with Styrofoam graves, cheesecloth ghosts and cobwebs. My brother, sister and I all had homemade costumes that usually went together. It was just such a fun day and I have so many good childhood memories.

And anything that allows me to wear a costume in public is ok by me.

LA: Who is your favorite Halloween character (e.g. Frankenstein, Dracula, Werewolf) and why?

AC: I'm a vampire girl. Always was. Always will be.

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

AC: I'm a Wisconsin girl who moved to the Twin Cities last November to get out of my comfort zone and explore life in a bigger city. I've been onstage since I was three year old, when my parents put me in ballet. I come from a very theatrical and musically inclined family. We all at one point in our lives acted, sang and played instruments. I graduated from University of Wisconsin- La Crosse with a degree in Theatre Performance and a minor in English with a classics emphasis (aka- it was an excuse to study Shakespeare). I've worked with too many companies to count, including Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, MN and Children's Theatre of Madison and Music Theatre of Madison back home.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out where life is taking me. I'll probably be going back to school to get my education degree to teach kindergarten, using the arts as my focus. Right now, I live in Saint Paul with my amazing and supportive boyfriend, Mike, and our two "furbaby" kitties, Pearl and Mina (yes, named after the character in Dracula long before I even auditioned). Theatre feeds my soul and I intend to do as much as I possibly can.

Meet Paul Willis Jr. who is performing in Dracula

Lyric Arts had a chance to interview Paul Willis Jr., who is performing as Jonathan Harker in Dracula. Read on to hear what he has to say about his experience thus far.

LA: Where are you originally from?

PWJ: I was born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia where I lived until I was seven years old, at which point I moved to Mounds View, where I have lived ever since.

LA:  Why did this particular play interest you?

PWJ: The idea of Dracula (especially Bram Stoker’s Dracula) has always intrigued me, especially with this recent popularity of vampires in pop culture. I think Stoker had a much more enticing and difficult vampire compared to the sexualized and romanticized vampires of today. I like the contrived weaknesses Dracula has, and the absolutely fascinating lust he produces in his victims and enemies; even Van Helsing is plagued by the desire for Dracula.

LA:  For those that are unfamiliar with Dracula can you tell us about the show?

PWJ: Know that this is a reworking of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that is very closely written to the original novel. Dracula is a very different beast than he is often imagined to be; he is desirable and pitiable. This is something often lost in vampires today.

LA: Talk about the character that you play in Dracula.  How have you developed this character?

PWJ: Jonathan Harker is a good man. He is an honest lawyer who is haplessly swallowed up into involvement with Dracula through an assignment for his work. It took a lot of work to develop Harker. I could go into detail, but simply, he is a strong man with values that he betrays against his will and it wrecks him for the remainder of the story. It always comes up within him. Mostly, Harker is similar to myself in a lot of ways, and his adoration of Mina is something not far away in my own life.

LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?

PWJ: I am very impressed with the other actors in Dracula. Everyone has been working incredibly hard developing an internal understanding of each experience their characters have with both one another, and the world over the course of the show. The tiny hints of backstory and subtext really flesh out the believability of this play.

LA: What are some of the most impressive elements of Dracula?

PWJ: I am most impressed by the writing of the show (and the set design…) that Steven Dietz worked obviously quite tirelessly on. He throws in impressive one-liners like “Men, like galaxies, end in dust.” I think Dietz outdid himself on descriptions of the action of this show; allowing himself to become completely immersed in the drama and spectacle of Stoker’s Dracula, which he tirelessly transcribed into this remarkable piece of theater.

LA: Why should people come and take a chance and see this version of Draucla?

PWJ: I think this performance of Dracula is not only special for its set design and fabulous cast, but also for its rather novel direction. Mark Hauck has been taking us in a very personal, raw, and realistic realization of the usually melodramatic script, which is refreshing, and original. I am pleased with the cast, and designers; and I think it would really be a loss to miss this performance. It should be very enjoyable (and scary) overall.

LA: Being that you are performing Dracula in the Halloween Capital of the World, what is your favorite thing about Halloween?

PWJ: My favorite thing about Halloween is the theatricality of it all. People dress up like the Greeks used to in the Festival of Dionysus (yes, it’s that old…), and parade around town in costumes they would never wear regularly. I think sometimes Halloween provides people an opportunity to be what they’ve always wanted to be—an astronaut, superhero, movie star—but may have never had the means or place to become. I also love really well-thought-out costumes; some people are just awesome at coming up with stuff.

LA: Who is your favorite Halloween character (e.g. Frankenstein, Dracula, Werewolf) and why?

PWJ: My favorite Halloween character would have to be Dr. Jekyll. I may be biased because of my love for the Wildhorn musical, but there is something really fantastic about Dr. Jekyll’s struggle with Mr. Hyde—a struggle we all share. However, I am also a big fan of Dorian Gray, Van Helsing, and Camilla (the first literary vampire).

LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?

PWJ: Well, I am fully devoted to theater. My life ahead of me will be more than washed in the lights of the stage: I plan to write plays and musicals, direct shows, act, sing, perhaps…own my own theater? Who knows? Right now, my life is about school. I am a full-time student at Anoka Ramsey Community College, studying theater and I will be receiving my AFA in Theater from ARCC this spring. Come January 2013, I will be auditioning at the Unified Auditions in Chicago, given the world doesn’t end before then. Currently, I am working on over fifteen scripts, three musicals, and numerous design concepts for famous shows I love dearly. I work as a valet in Minneapolis, and I am the president of the theater club at Anoka Ramsey. Hopefully this time next year, I’ll be in Boston or Seattle or somewhere else I’ve never been going to school full-time and living out my dreams. Time will tell.

On Being Late to Rehearsal

I arrived at rehearsal a few minutes late on Thursday.  A quick meeting in Bryn Mawr, on my way to Anoka, left me winding my way through a tangle of police cars and emergency vehicles as I found my way back to the freeway.  The car radio filled in the blanks, “Police are reporting a mass shooting at a workplace in Minneapolis.” I did not know until the next morning that two of those killed were people whose lives brushed against my own.  Reuven Rahamim lived down the block from my home and had donated signs for the summer theater I direct, and Rami Cooks was the beloved “Abba” of a former student who is now a friend and work colleague.   Rami had greeted me vivaciously many evenings in the theater.  He was a ray of light and joy.

Events like this disrupt us. The firestorm of violence consumes the mundane and comfortable leaving blistered questions we struggle to answer.

At Rami’s memorial service, Rabbi Cohen of Bet Shalom congregation reflected on Sukkot, the time in the Jewish calendar we have just entered, in which families construct a temporary shelter, a sukkah, outdoors where meals are shared and, for some, where chilly October nights are spent.  I live in a predominantly Orthodox neighborhood and have come to love the vicarious experience of the sukkoth being built as a reminder that we are all pilgrims—we pass through in search of home.  Rabbi Cohen reflected on these temporary structures.  We build them and brace them to the best of our ability, but the storms will come, the winds will blow, and even our best attempts will be laid flat by forces we cannot control.  Then we rebuild.

And the question is how?  How to find the strength, the hope, the bonds of love and friendship to build when the worst winds have reminded us that nothing we build and cherish is permanent?

As I walked with my own uncomfortable questions, and struggled to regain focus in rehearsals, it slowly dawned that the starting point of rebuilding is almost always the same.  We tell stories.  Stories about people and places we have lost, stories about others who travel on, stories about faith, about presence.  We share stories and we are a little less alone, a little less frightened, and we find ourselves placing the first brick and erecting the first column.

It was good to come back to the rehearsal hall where digging deep in to stories is the work of the day.  It reminded me that while making theater can at times seem childish and trivial—hardly worthy of a life’s time and energy—it is really an act of building, of bracing the walls against the storm, and discovering that we are not alone when the winds shake us.

A little bit about Mark: Mark Hauck is very excited to be joining the fun at Lyric Arts. He has directed or designed over 100 productions including work at Public Theater of Minnesota, Workhouse Theatre, Park Square, Mixed Blood, Eye of the Storm, and Theatre Latte Da. Mark was a co-founder of Great River Shakespeare Festival. This spring he will be guest directing at the U of MN/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program.