Advisory Board Member Scott Burson shares his first impressions of Ulysses on Bottles from the First Rehearsal / Meet & Greet.
Although I go to a lot of theater, I haven’t had many opportunities to see professionals work together to put a work on stage. It was a great privilege to sit in on the first rehearsal of Ulysses on Bottles. I had been to a previous reading of the play, so I already knew it had “good bones.” The play is written by an Israeli and probes important questions about the Israel’s “management” of Gaza. Ulysses wants to bring the grandeur of the human spirit — represented by Russian literature — to Gaza. The Israeli authorities do not want to allow this. How can anyone deny others access to the greatness of the human spirit represented by literature? On the other hand, does the quest even make sense, or is it suicidal romanticism? The play was written several years before the conflict of the summer of 2014: incredibly, the play has not been overtaken by events: if anything, the questions it raises are even more cogent. I don’t think it is a spoiler to say the play raises questions that continue to evade resolution.
For me, just recognizing the cast was exciting. A number of Boston’s most accomplished actors are in the production, and it was a pleasure to watch them begin to work with this material, molding complex and authentic characters attempting to wrestle with a Gaza that Israel can neither walk away from or resolve. It was also fascinating to hear sketches about the plans for staging, lighting, and sound design. In the finished production, these aspects are often just part of the fabric of the piece: it was great to be reminded that they don’t just happen, that they are carefully conceived and woven into the final product.
I am looking forward to the production. A great cast and a great script, thoughtfully staged: I expect to leave the theater thinking. I don’t think I will be alone.
Founding Board Member Bruce Lynn shares his first impressions of Ulysses on Bottles from the First Rehearsal / Meet & Greet.
I’ve never been to a first rehearsal/read through of a new theater production before. It was easy to find the Emerson Paramount Performance Center at 555 Washington Street by the huge, lighted sign over the theater next door. When I walked into Studio 7, I encountered a room filled with more than 30 people for the first rehearsal of Ulysses on Bottles, an award winning play by Israeli playwright, Gilad Evron. I recognized the actors in the cast sitting at a large square table, a few fellow board and advisory board members, a handful of our wonderful supporters, our terrific presenting partners from ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage, two actors who performed in other Israeli Stage productions (but guests at this event), and some friends of Guy Ben-Aharon, the Found and Producing Artistic Director of Israeli Stage. But who were the other 20+ people sitting at the table and in seats surrounding it, who seemed to know so many people in the room?
This is what it means to mount a stage production! And what more at Emerson College. A lighting director, assistant lighting director, production manager, assistant director, set designer, sound designer and even a member of the cast were faculty and some were students at Emerson College, all supporting Guy, an Emerson alum, who is directing this production. The set designer gave a presentation showing some examples of where he gained inspiration and how a set can convey a sense of profound aloneness that will reach out and almost literally touch the audience. The sound designer played recordings of experiments he had conducted that would blend with the stage setting to create a new reality that is Ulysses on Bottles. I never imagined how much thought and collaboration goes into lighting. Who knew how Israeli sunlight differs from Egyptian sunlight. He did!
Lastly, I hear the cast do their first reading through of the script. How they were able to bottle (in this case, pun intended) so much emotion, to interrupt each other in heated, back-and-forth arguments, just as I image the Gilad Evron imagined when he wrote the words — on the first read through? I can’t wait to see all of these elements come together in the full production next month! And I know I’ll be spending more time at the theater in the future admiring the set designs, the sound, and the lighting base on this experience on the 4th floor in Studio 7.
On March 16th, 2015 we held our First Rehearsal Meet & Greet for Ulysses on Bottles at Emerson College’s The Paramount Center. So honored and humbled by the community that surrounds us!
As part of our exploration of Russian literature for the upcoming production of Ulysses on Bottles, we will be sharing some of our favorite quotes with you here on our website.
“If you want to be happy, be” ― Tolstoy
We hope you’ve been keeping warm and cozy during this crazy weather. Unfortunately, due to the amount of snow days we’ve experienced and the extreme frost we are expecting this upcoming weekend, we will have to postpone Edna Mazya’s Games in the Back Yard (scheduled for this Sunday, February 15th at 7PM) until later in the Spring.
As always, we look forward to seeing you at the theatre –– that is, if the snow ever melts!