Contributed by Elizabeth Dowd
We’ve had an incredibly productive week here at The Orchard Project in the beautiful Catskill Mountains, working on Deb Brevoort’s Blue Moon Over Memphis. In residence with TN this week are Richard Emmert (who composed the music for Blue Moon), John Oglevee (who secured this residency for TN), Gary Mathews, and Tom O’Connor (who is also busily planning for the Costume Workshop). At John’s suggestion, we each choreographed our own version of the kuse. It was both an interesting exercise and a great resource for whoever makes the final decision on what the dance will be. We videotaped each of them and found resonances that worked at different places in each one. It is also notable how quickly we are able to get the feel for kuse sung in English.
We had great discussions on nearly every aspect of Blue Moon. I love that it can take thirty minutes of discussion to determine a single movement in a noh play. It reminds me that the economy of noh is effective because gesture is so carefully and deliberately used. Tom and John built a makeshift “music gate” and we replaced the waki’s fan with flowers to be placed at Elvis’ s grave. Looking at the possibility of a battery operated votive candle as well.
This morning we did our first full run through for the Core Company and some of the other artists in residence here at The Orchard Project. Though there were chuckles of recognition early on, the hypnotic power of noh took hold and we felt very good about how it was received.
We worked really hard this week, but it was joyful collaboration and the six hour rehearsal days passed quickly. The folks at Orchard Project have created a very special place. Not only did we take our meals with the wonderful variety of artist here, we attended their work-in-progress showings, Core Company performances, and led three noh workshops in the evenings. We leave tomorrow with high hopes for Blue Moon Over Memphis. It is a great addition to our repertoire. “ELVIS WILL NEVER SOUND THE SAME AGAIN.”