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A history of everything

Jonathan adam
Commencement slot

Production Workshop
Application for the Downstairs Space
NAME: Jonathan Adam
CLASS YEAR: 2016
PHONE NUMBER: 401-209-5681
If you cannot be reached by phone immediately after the meeting, would you prefer
we:

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The black box of the theater has the power and potential to act as a lens to magnify any issue or aspect of our world that we wish. solitude. How has our past shaped the world 2 . and time in general. Shadow: Ben Silver SLOT PREFERENCE: (*note: you are only proposing for one of the below seasons) Spring: 2nd slot is over Commencement IS THERE A SLOT YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO ACCEPT? April Slot REQUIRED STAFF (include name and year):  Set Designer: Max McInnis (RISD) ’18  Lighting Designer: Luke Denton ‘18  Sound Designer: Brendan Bongi ‘16  Costume Designer: Sofia Kadieva ‘16 ADDITIONAL STAFF: Bailey Life ’17: Stage Manager (Tentative): Sabina Kariat (RISD) ’18: Props PLEASE NOTE – By submitting this application it is understood that you have acquired rights by contacting a board member: I contacted Joshua Cape. We can investigate the nature of movement. embarrassment.CALL BACK TITLE OF PROJECT: A History of Everything AUTHOR (if applicable): (Originally conceived by Ontroerend Goed) PROPOSAL BOARD BUDDY: Andrew Ganem. We can investigate social problems that we experience within the world around us. fear. such as racism. of sound. PROPOSAL: Please attach proposal and any other appendices. environmental issues. We can investigate the whole gamut of human emotions: love. anger. The theatrical process I would like to undertake investigates history. Introduction Theater is a place for investigation. or of speech. or sadness. or violence.

its past. faster and faster through time. We regress through ancient civilizations and find ourselves at the root of civilization itself. the performance grows more and more abstract and image-based. We zoom. Description of the Performance The stage is incredibly sparse. witches burnt at the stakes. news headlines. I hope to bring to PW an attempt to come to grips with our world. all in reverse order. the world. quoting or re-enacting various historical events. the two world wards. We experience the moon landing. Then. away from the earth to see our entire solar system when it first formed. the greater scheme of history. The stage becomes serene as we progress in retrograde through the first forms of life on earth. the performers move across the globe. As the projected date moves backwards in time. As the backwards timer accelerates. chaotically explaining. when we are just such small specks in the vastness that is the passage of time? Our investigation into history will culminate in us having written a history of everything. we will blaze a trail from our present day back to the beginning of time itself. Overview of the Process Casting 3 . We keep going. and gossip. In about one hundred minutes. rewinding through the birth of galaxies. marriages.around us? How do we remember our past? Why are certain events or people remembered and celebrated and others mere footnotes in our collective conscience? How significant have I been within my lifetime so far? How significant has all of humanity been within the lifetime of the universe? How can we approach comprehending history. we find ourselves going backwards through the evolution of man. and yet simultaneously completely insignificant within. the release of Casablanca. but for a giant world map laid out over the floor and a projection on the back wall of today’s date. until finally we arrive at that time and space before time and space were even real entities. and start announcing various events of the day: obituaries. plagues. The show ends in an attempt to convey how the universe began: in a flash of blindingly bright light. We see Renaissance paintings restaged. Crusades. the colonization of Africa. and our own personal place in it: how we are both instrumental to. the universe. Seven performers enter.

My ideal performer is a curious. As soon as our work takes to staging. For every historical fact we consider pertinent. Particular moments will go through various iterations before public showings: we may begin with presenting an event by a mere announcement. we will have to figure out how to convey it within the performance. I will present people with various stories (historical or fictional) and will ask them to convey them to me in various ways. as they might occur in History: announcing the events like a public speaker. Our script will be a forever growing entity of historical facts. Callbacks would continue in a similar vein but would also shift focus into ensemble work. I will also ask people about their academic and life interests: what topics and issues do they consider important. We may then find that the event becomes too significant or is taking up too much time and therefore obstructing the pacing of that particular historical period. Rehearsal Process Research will be the driving notion behind the creation period of History.Where most theatrical productions hone in on the lives of a few main characters. global scale and therefore requires a different attitude from the actors. and may consider switching it back to an announcement or by presenting it through a quote from a major historical player. this show operates on a macroscopic. but we may change our mind and decide there is a strong visual element that we can bring forth and shift to that. with various specific foci. body language. interacting with some basic props. so in assembling a cast I would challenge performers in terms of body and spatial awareness and mutual collaboration. Another strand of research consists of performance research. and would they bring into our writing of history? It is crucial that there is a wide spread in ideas. taking salient quotes and imitating the speakers. A significant feature of History would be using live tableaux to establish certain landmarks in photography and art history. Different aspects of the show will require different skills or ideas to be explored. engaged scholar in rehearsal and a child playing dress-up on stage. the team must 4 . but at every step of the way we will be mindful to delve deep into the matters at hand and be rigorous in examining various options and making informed choices about how to present material on stage. in the hope that at every step on the way through history we can hope to have someone nearby who has at least some knowledge on where we are. One strand of activity throughout the process will be the mass amalgamation of historical facts and anecdotes to load into our show. and in the audition process I will aim to look out for both these qualities. Everyone will have to contribute at some point and this research will not stop for the duration of the run of our show.

I fully intend to sit down with my team and generate our own timeline of history throughout the process. once we more fully see how it operates within the show. researched function. to symbolize various historical trends) but these sections specifically I imagine really having to devote significant time to of pure movement research. and it will be interesting to negotiate not just the “choreography” but also how to transition organically from the heavy text-based material in the beginning to this more distilled physical language. as I feel it would be counterproductive: the script is not written in easily performable form and ultimately. Use of the Text The text that Ontroerend Goed has published is a snapshot of one particular performance that they carried out of the History they wrote. I believe the power and importance of this show rests in that it forces a group of performers to confront what they consider important and memorable. Other parts of the show will already require us to consider the physics and choreography of our movements in space (to create tableaux.become incredibly mindful about how each piece functions within the collage of the whole. researched process. which may have us settling for one thing one day only to have us revisit it a little later. yet the pace of the show becomes intentionally glacial. Again. to evoke historical figures. starting from a blank page and adapting the script as we go along. Every moment in the show will be deliberate and have a specific. and we will constantly be asking ourselves to delve into the pieces and figure out whether they present the material in the most effective way possible. A particularly salient part of this performance research will be figuring out how the later sections work theatrically. Every performance as well will force us to change at the very least the first few minutes of the show. and how they themselves occupy a role within the timeline of history. I do not anticipate doing a full read-through of the script that is provided to us. Early on. and not just blindly follow the script. 5 . the company suggests that anyone recreating the performance should assemble their own collection of facts. They provide unique challenges in terms of staging: historical time is presented at a faster speed than at any point previously in the show. This may be just outside of the usual comfort zone of many theatrical performers not accustomed to dance. These sections deal with natural history: evolution and eventually the creation of the universe. which literally deal with the days of and immediately preceding the performance. this will be an iterative. I envision our role not as parrots but as restagers. The performance shifts away from words into a realm of movement and abstraction in an attempt to convey those aspects of history that we can only grasp at.

which split up time into various discrete components. for example. Week of April 27th. More movement exercises. I also imagine retaining still some aspects of the text almost literally. and rehearsals from then on will either become stop-and-start run-throughs/work-throughs of the show. Between the sections are a series of monologues which ground the ideological underpinnings of the show and explicitly touch upon the themes of History. Week of April 15th: First Rehearsals. Section 1. Due to the collaborative nature of the show. In the final sections there is an apparent disconnect between how long the pieces are and how sparse the text becomes. Particularly sound is quite prescribed. Regular runthroughs of the first section as well. movement exercises and tableaux creation on the basis of historical images. What I do know is that the show will come to life layer by layer: we will quite early on have an initial groundwork idea of the show. whereas section 2 relies more heavily on presenting historical trends visually. 6 . is primarily facts-laden. I remain open to the idea that during the research process our team comes to a different conclusion. and invites us to think about how to depict the slowness of evolution and the physical origins of the universe. Focus on: huge brainstorming sessions trying to map out entire history. I do anticipate giving performers access to the script in order to get a sense of how the show “works” (in the hands of Ontroerend Goed) and to start people thinking about how exactly to respond to the prompt that each section brings up. a pattern which becomes more and more pronounced through section 5. I’m a little hesitant to pin down exactly how time will be spent. Week of April 20th: Focus on the events in Section 2 and 3. This discrepancy gives us an indication of how the pacing of the show slows down. people would be expected to come in on quite a regular basis. with song titles and playing times explicitly listed in the script. each with a different performative focus.However the text will be used extensively for various aspects. or hone in on particular sections that require more analysis. I would tentatively consider running along with these unless an alternative is found during performance. I personally am quite taken by these texts and imagine to keep them verbatim – however. Focus on Sections 4 and 5 and a big push on general blocking. (The matter of the songs is actually a little less trivial than initially seems. Move to the space. which will be quite intense and hands-on. Because I mentioned this is a research driven process. I have a similar feeling about many of the technical directions in the script.) Schedule I imagine this will be a 5 or 6-week research process. We will adhere to the section headings presented by the company.

The show’s design should seem minimalist and basic in order to highlight the actions of the performers as the great driving force of the show: they are not mere pawns in this show. design choices will have to be very deliberate. Sound.May 1 Design Run 1 Week of May 4th: Solidification of the script and the events. bright light. though. All the audience will see in terms of set is this white world map on the PW floor. starts off with exactly none. and the incorporation of tableaux. is responsible for creating a world map out of some sort of durable fabric that can stand a little manhandling. Lights begins in a warm. they are the driving force of history. May 8 Design Run 2 Week of May 8th: Show run-throughs and troubleshooting. There is a progressive trend towards darkness (representing our weaker and weaker grasp of historical accuracy) until the final section. Set. we want to remember that this is a work of theater that we are using to find out about the world. but to stay in line with the overall feel of the show I want to keep the color palette incredibly minimal. As history moves on. as mentioned before. lights gets more leeway and can experiment a little more. The whole stage should be washed in a plain. No effort should be made to pretend this is not the PW downspace: after all. The stage directions give specific instructions to songs played at certain 7 . for example. What sections still feel incomplete? What movement sequences are awkward? May 15 Final Design Run + Paper Tech May 16 Wet Tech May 17 -19 Tech Week May 20-23 Performances Design Philosophy This play frames theater as a place of research and investigation. and a black bar at the back of the stage hiding the props tables. As such. where almost all stage lighting is replaced by some sort of handheld lights manipulated by the performers representing the planets. neutral pose. and the design of the show will be more restricted than usual in that we’ll have to work closely together to establish a look and feel that establish that idea.

Lights and Sound will operate generally on their usual schedule. An idea worth considering from Ontroerend Goed is the use of some highly specific props in a consistent way. will have to follow closely along with what we plan to present in the show. Ontroerend Goed suggests using hoodies with lots of pockets for props. design choices must be deliberate. Props has a bigger budget than usual. any revolutionary movement uses the same banner. Set: 400 $ Costumes: 200 $ Props: 80$ Lights: 20$ Printing: 50$ This may still not be enough for props but it will definitely get us started and force us to think creatively. but even then. I hope that props can appropriate some of costume’s budget and potentially be supplemented with grants. 8 . though lights may be called in to help work on the “planets scene” as a consultant or technical assistant. For all assassinations they use the same toy gun. as these suggestions frame certain sections as more choreographed or theatrical than others. though. collars or other accessories to portray different elements of history. Props. and I intend tentatively to follow these. little sleeves. Costumes and props will have to work closely together because we will need a huge number of accessories: wigs to denote historical figures. because it is a more significant design element than in other plays. all wars on earth are labeled with the same type of little flag. Budget Breakdown The specific demands of this show demand a lightly different budget breakdown. Due to the simple nature of the set (continents made out of fabric). An important note about design is that the schedule will probably be a little more front-loaded than usual. Depending on how expensive fabric for the set turns out to be we might have to shift things around. We’ll have to remain on top of the props demands in order to adequately rehearse the logistics of having that many items to work with. Props is the only place where the designers may go crazy.times. I hope to have one quite soon when we enter the space as it is an important component in the later parts of the show. Costumes for the entire cast will be an all-black uniform.

We had issues with actors dropping out en masse in just the first week of performance. I may be a fish out of the water when it comes to scripts and line delivery. The reason I have stayed away from performing at Brown is simply because I have little experience with theater repertoire. At Brown. I feel up for the challenge. My fascination with theater grew out of pieces devised by particular companies. The show was an incredibly challenging experience: the music was tough for actors to learn and there was no plot to speak of. I cannot anticipate all that would go wrong with History (as always seems to happen. and more to learn. I directed for Brown Opera Productions last spring. a Philip Glass opera named Hydrogen Jukebox. Alumnae Hall proved to be a nightmare to work in.S. using my time here to gain technical skill. I was heavily involved as a dancer in a dance theater company. This background role is definitely not a result of my lack of interest in performing: before coming to the U. and deal with obstacles in a responsible way. or loose reinterpretations of existing theater. Hydrogen Jukebox was also an enormous logistical challenge. and Health and Safety all but shut us down during tech week. are right up the Hydrogen Jukebox alley when it comes to abstraction and inscribing meaning into mathematical choreography. sometimes lights. and even a brief stint as a stage manager. Particularly the latter sections. but when it comes to sitting down and creating a show from the ground up. The experience taught me not just a lot about directing but also showed me that I can be incredibly pragmatic about problem solving. and I simply felt I had more to offer. This skill will be useful in History. I hope that I can 9 . where the show tackles evolution and physics. but in my weaker moments I imagine I am also qualified to do other things. We had to figure out a language to convey abstract ideas on stage which was heavily gestural and expressionist. I have mostly stuck to the technical aspect of shows: sounds. these things turn out a lot larger than originally imagined) but I do think that I can keep my cool. and even now when I go back to Belgium in the holidays I try to engage in some shape or form with performance projects recruiting volunteers as performers. or pieces that strayed away from the theatrical “norm” in any number of ways.The Director About Myself Most people at PW know me best as a sound person. where I imagine a similar process will have to occur to translate real-world events of huge scale to images and text that can be conveyed on top of a toy map by six performers. The experience definitely showed me that I am able to take difficult theatrical premises and engage with them in a meaningful way. Yet somehow we still managed to put on a show.

Having sat through many a production meeting and tech weekend. to point out things they might have missed. I am not there to facilitate people’s character explorations or psychological conflict. I hope to initiate the rehearsal process with an intensive look into factual history and then hope to keep that momentum going during the month-long process. Another fine line I have to tread is between a decisive and an open-ended director. I do not aspire to be the most charismatic person in the rehearsal space and hope that performers will get into a routine of initiative – of stopping the show themselves during rehearsals. and I feel that PW is the place where it should be shown. there is no point in doing this show if I impose what people “should” consider historically memorable. I feel it is important to communicate clearly.both in rehearsal and for the production team – where people feel they can do their job and be respected when they run into problems. My Role Because of this show’s different tone. A History of Everything at PW. I have some idea of what particular designers need to know of the director. where design is more specific than in other shows. as a director. I feel my experience as a sound designer will help me significantly in conveying the necessities for the production team. Ultimately it will be mostly in the cast’s hand to determine what the content of the show will be. However. I do consider that I should encourage people to look beyond what they already know or assume. But I do hope to be an invaluable tool to the production: I want to be both the biggest motivator and the most helpful editor in the room. or if certain elements are more recurrent. what sort of issues to anticipate and how to convey appreciation and critique work done by various members of the design team. and engage in conversations with each other instead of me about certain aspects. and make them feel comfortable and respected. Ultimately. When it comes to designers. This becomes relevant especially when we are researching staging: as the outside eye I might notice patterns or things that may work better if structured in a different way. at Commencement I feel that History is a show that will resonate with Brown University. Instead. Especially in this show. I have to provide different guidance. 10 . what sort of vocabulary to use.create an environment . accurately and specifically with designers. I have to inspire people to research further. I am faced with an interesting balancing act because on the one hand I will have to ensure people keep looking into the history but on the other hand I need people to come out more and more on stage.

More than a show about particular people in a particular time and place. Walking into this black box is a psychological transition that will prove invaluable for audience members to truly engage with the events on the stage as a view on the world outside of this space. As a student-run theater. Even though the technical requirements are minimal. and opens up conversations about why certain groups or people are represented in one way or another. and who we were. how significant we are. the narrative scope of this show has literally never been done before at Brown. and how insignificant we always will be. and audience members will wonder why they agree or protest certain choices. what we consider important. This show belongs at PW by virtue of its experimental. and I think it is a crucial role of the organization to foster this atmosphere. and allows performers and audience alike to project their own visions of the world onto this show. This show takes a different premise. We are all intellectually driven to find out more about the world around us. This show asks questions about what we remember. Commencement has audience members in the right mindset to engage in the show. The theater population at Brown needs to be challenged continuously. There are many outlets for student theater at Brown. ranging from Shakespeare to musical theater. History is a risky project. PW is one of the few places that we have access to where it should be possible to take risks. there are many outlets to do so. Some may be grappling with what to do with the 11 . and why we remember it. Performers will have to make certain choices about history. I will only ever propose this show for commencement slot. While we all take different intellectual avenues and lenses to examine this world. researchbased approach. who we aspire to be. it is what binds us all at this school. that make it a play worth watching. and the Downspace provides this feeling. essentially starting from just a template and filling that template in as we go along. History fits at Brown because ultimately. but also by being accommodating to shows out of the mainstream. and the quest towards it. We need a space on campus to invest in new ideas and approaches to theater. and what we forget about in the large scheme of things.From a “how big is this show?” perspective alone History should claim the Downspace. and is in a way set up to fail: of course we won’t be able to portray a history of everything. we Brown students have a common sense of curiosity. History allows many people to engage with the material as it is pertinent to all of us in some way. performances that dare go out on a limb in pursuit of an idea. But it is exactly this failure. It is important that the space that this is performed in feels like a theater. PW needs to actively encourage experimentation and theatrical diversity. not just by staging classics or much-loved theater. This show exploits that curiosity to create a show from the ground up. If somebody wants to take a script and stage an existing text.

While I hope that by assembling a good team we might bring forward some underrepresented aspects of the story of the universe to the present day. think. remembering them. Closing thoughts A History of Everything does not set out to revolutionize how we perceive history. measure out what we have and say: We’ve come this far.knowledge they’ve collected in the world at large. It is a rare moment that an audience can come in in exactly the right state of mind to hear the message of this show. We drag along more and more baggage forever trudging forward. and only just giving them enough time to think about them before moving progressively faster backwards through time. It is my hope to show people both how meaningful their time on earth is. Others may wonder what they learned in the past four years or more. and hopefully this show can respond to their mindset in a significant way. It’s a cruel game that we play on the stage. and simultaneously how insignificant. ultimately. and it’s hard to take a moment. remembering reading about them. Others may be wondering how to make their life meaningful. but it’s the same cruel game that we are forced to deal with in the real world. to stop. in real history. Others still might be wondering how they will be looking back at this moment. the show hinges on people recognizing the events on stage. 12 . and how beautiful that paradox is.