Now that we are past the midpoint of the course we have a sense of our individual responsibilities and understanding of what each person should work to accomplish.
For myself, I know that my biggest task is working with Penn and Rachel to publish one or two interviews before the release of the Triumph of Teresa Harris.
We’ve been helping each other and keeping each other updated, and as a group we have finished designing a flyer or handout that can given out to publicize the play and hopefully help build interest at Western and London as well. In a way, the interviews that Rachel and I are looking to accomplish are methods of publicity as well. Interviewing Penn, we are able to present who she is as a writer and also her views on her play and provide a discussion around the work that we are helping in our own small way to produce.
I have been able to see that plays are collaborative productions by working on this project and by working with the group so far. I’ve seen that although the play could not succeed without Penn sitting down and writing the work, there is a collaborative process. There are people with backgrounds in stage design, in sound production, as well as acting. In the case of this play in particular, I think that the actors will come at least in part from the community. This would make the project really community theatre – something written about this community in that it deals with the history of London, and will be produced by the local community because Penn Kemp is from here, some of the actors will be from here and really the spirit of the project is in London – it could not be more central than the grounds of Eldon House at the forks of the Thames River.
I have been considering how I will go about making the stage prop that I signed myself up for. The instruction that Penn gave to us as was that she wanted a representation of Eldon House, “a house on a stick”. My design for such a prop would be a sketch of Eldon House drawn onto a blank piece of white or yellow cardboard, made to resemble a faded sketch on an old page. This could then be held aloft with something resembling a broom handle by a person in the background at different times in the play. I realize that my design of such a stage prop is not very sophisticated, but I think that my true goal is to help Penn develop an idea of what a the final prop might look like, or give an idea for something completely different. I think that designing such an object is important because it would be a part of the overall stage design. My prop in particular might contribute to an element of symbolism, although what that symbolism might be I would have to discuss with Penn to make sure that it is consistent with her vision of the play. In my view, I see this as Eldon House being on a precarious position, like an old relic besieged by a modern city on all sides. These ideas I would have to discuss further with Penn.
One further way in which the play is collaborative is in the way that it makes use of different media and forms of art. This really ties in with our course overall because we’ve gone into the city to look at different projects and cultural institutions, and we’ve looked at different forms of art and expression as well. Going to the Eldon House was fantastic for my group because my group is working so closely with Penn and her work on the Harris family and Teresa Harris in particular. But going to Museum London, where we saw different paintings and were able to learn about visual art and its history in London, or even going to the Archeology Museum of Ontario and trying to look at history from a different point of view is all interrelated with our project in a way. Having worked with Penn, we’ve seen that she is a writer, but she’s discussed with us how she likes to present her work through music as wel. As part of her project she will be releasing a track list to accompany the release of her play, and all of the CDs that Pendas Productions makes incorporate visual design in the CD cover art, and the design of the CD in general is a kind of aesthetic effort in itself. In short, I’ve seen that expression does not have to be limited to a medium, which I think Penn herself would agree with. I’ve also learned that literature, as all art, has roots in history and geography, and can associate itself with other art.
Steps for myself going forward, I will work to get our interview out and published, and I will contact different publications around campus, such as Western News and Alumni Gazette. At these publications it would be fantastic if we could have even a brief news excerpt published noting that Penn’s play will be opening in March, to hopefully get the word out.