Allison Plamondon Conversation– RAISON D’ÊTRE: AN EVENING OF PIRANDELLO Preview

Editor’s Note: As writer Bob Dreyfuss notes in his review, “Jennifer Jewell Presents RAISON D’ÊTRE: AN EVENING OF PIRANDELLLO - Absurdly Affecting”, Pirandello’s work is rarely produced in the United States. How interesting that there are currently productions by cutting edge companies in both New York City and Chicago bringing his work to the States!  For more on Pirandello, read "Trap Door Theatre Presents NAKED Review – Humanity Laid Bare".

Here, Picture This Post (PTP) seizes the opportunity to learn more about Pirandello and more from valued Picture This Post contributor, choreographer and actress Allison Plamondon (AP).

Allison Plamondon RAISON D’ETRE: AN EVENING OF PIRANDELLO
Choreographer Allison Plamondon says, "Using the Pirandello text for inspiration, we cultivated emotional and behavioral gestures that would become the movement language for the piece. "

PTP: Have you worked on a Pirandello play before? When and how were you first exposed to his work?

AP: Though I had read Six Characters in Search of an Author years ago, this is my first chance to work on Pirandello-it’s been a great opportunity to get to know this Master Playwright’s work!

Do you consider his work—“theater of the absurd” or?

For me, Pirandello’s writing certainly has moments of absurdity and/or the surreal. That said, the needs and wants of the characters tend to still be quite recognizable and universal. My favorite aspect of Pirandello’s work is how he masterfully weaves the existential with the meta-theatrical - especially because of how these heightened moments lend themself so well to movement!

What are the challenges of choreographing a work like this one? In this venue? With this cast?

I would say the biggest challenge of Raison d’Etre - an evening of Pirandello is penetrating the text. Not unlike Shakespeare, the language is rich and complex and the storyline is intricate. Luckily, we are working from a new, lovingly meticulous translation by Roberto Di Donato and Giovanni Villari, adapted by director Patrick Mulryan. Patrick has been so fabulous at creating a collaborative, investigative playpen where understanding and clarity are the are key. Connecting this to choreography - I always begin my work with the text. Though most of the movement in this piece is more abstract and evocative rather than literal, it was paramount for us to physicalize with specificity.

The venue is really interesting - Theatre 71 at Blessed Sacrament is a converted theatre in the basement of a (you guessed it) church. The space is intimate, has lots of character and even gives us the chance for some immersive theatrical moments!

The cast is pretty darn remarkable so I would call working with them an opportunity rather than a challenge.

How did your collaboration on this work come about?

Last summer, I choreographed Goblin Market (also produced by JJewell Productions) which previewed Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters and then went on to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I was lucky enough to travel to Edinburgh with Jennifer, Patrick and production associate Bridge Coffman and am now even luckier to be working with them again!

Allison Plamondon RAISON D’ETRE: AN EVENING OF PIRANDELLO

How much of the choreography did you create before the rehearsals began? Has it changed much during rehearsals?

I did research ahead of time and then attended many of the initial acting rehearsals where they did table work. I went into movement rehearsals with several images in mind but no actual choreography. The movement has definitely evolved throughout the process. As the actors delve deeper into their characters, we all work together to fine tune the movement and moments (hopefully while still letting them be organic).

Is the way you have worked on this project typical of how you usually work?

Though every project is unique, I would say this process has been consistent to how I love to work. I find creating movement with actors extremely rewarding because they tend to share my passion for intention-based movement. Because they already have a strong connection to their character, they have immediate freedom to explore. Using the Pirandello text for inspiration, we cultivated emotional and behavioral gestures that would become the movement language for the piece.

 

 Other comments to help our readers get a mental picture of this production and whether it will be their “cup of tea”?

I would recommend Raison d’Etre to the theatre goer who enjoys intellectual, thought-provoking drama (there are laughs too of course). The costume design by Maureen Freedman is incredible and the music is composed by the stellar Nashville-based musicians, Chris Tench and Brett Ryan Stewart.

 

Editor’s Note: As writer Bob Dreyfuss notes in his review, “Jennifer Jewell Presents RAISON D’ÊTRE: AN EVENING OF PIRANDELLLO - Absurdly Affecting”, Pirandello’s work is rarely produced in the United States. How interesting that there are currently productions by cutting edge companies in both New York City and Chicago bringing his work to the States!  For more on Pirandello, read "Trap Door Theatre Presents NAKED Review – Humanity Laid Bare".

 

When:

Thru September 29

Nightly, except Monday 9/24, at 7:00 PM

Where:

Theatre 71 at Blessed Sacrament
52 West 71 Street
New York, NY

Tickets:

$20

Buy tickets for Raison D’Etre online here.

 

All photos by Michele I. Arazi

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