A Valentine’s Day Wedding Dress

Happy Valentine’s Day – 2014 This afternoon finds Pawn in a pensive mood, somewhat contemplative, and rather content. Killing some time with friends R & L in a DC hotel, before the shuttle to Dulles International Airport comes along at 5:35. Rebecca Holderness premiers her latest directorial success, The Wedding Dress by Nelson Rodrigues, at Spooky Action Theatre, here in The District, in the basement stage of the oldest Universalist congregation in the country, on the corner of 16th & S NW.

Visual from Wedding Dress

Visual from Wedding Dress

Pawn & G were lucky enough to get to see the final dress/tech rehearsal on Wednesday night, and had this to say:

This is a beautiful and special piece of work, one of which they can be quite proud. The realization on stage of such a difficult piece of writing is itself an achievement, but to do so with such depth, soul, wit and humor is truly a gift. A gift from them, each, to us. Thanks! I don’t mean to be all drippy here, but really, this was a lovely, visually stunning, engaging, and moving experience. This being a dress, we have no program, and so cannot cite specific performers by name, but that’s hardly necessary here. The ensemble worked so well together, the blocking and stage pictures constantly brought us to see the whole. This was brilliant. Add to this wonderful ensemble the contributions of each of the technical creatives — video, audio, lighting, costumes and set — and I was left with one indelible reaction once it was over: It was orchestral. When the production staff asked me where it was set, I answered honestly, “In a dream.” I am not given to such praise lightly, but Holderness, et alia earned it. Surely as the cast inhabit this world over the next four weeks they will grow with it and in it and find ever more nuance not just in the words of the script, on the page, but in the interpretation of that difficult model of life for which Rodrigues has provided a scaffold in text, you have imbued with the dressing of truth and thus made real.

Rodrigues (1912-80), the most gifted of Brazilian playwrights, penned this piece, Vestido de Noiva in Portuguese, in 1943. It was hailed at the time as a extraordinary work with its use of vernacular dialogue and its explorations into the psychological states of the lead characters. He was a journalist and fabulist, whose joy of scandal, and scandal sheets, is reflected in this work. Holderness and her team play liberally with this motif, as teams of scribes and camera men regularly appear on scene to document what’s happening, or to cause it. They dangle at the ends of telephone umbilical cords linking them with copy desks back at their competing journals. This is a compelling component of the production, and leads us to weigh the rest of the action as we would any other scandal-sheet melieu.

An actor's feet on stage

The newsman is ready to strike

If you find yourself in our nation’s capitol city between now and March 9, 2014, please go take a look. You won’t regret it.

What’s next for Pawn you ask?  A red-eye from Dulles to Heathrow, and a fortnight in London, which side trips to Manchester and ???  Stay tuned!

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