With less than a month to go until our production of White Rabbit Red Rabbit, we wanted to ask our cast members how they’re gearing up to perform a show they’ve never read or seen.
First up, we have Jen Taschereau, who’ll be performing on Tuesday, November 15.
So much of White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a mystery. You can’t read the script, can’t memorize the script, can’t rehearse anything. We, of course, love the idea–but what makes this sort of risk attractive to you as a performer?
I love challenging myself as a performer with tough scripts, whether it’s the language itself or themes that are difficult to tackle. I’m also very big on physically seeing how far I can push my body and mind. When Carissa approached me with this project, just the description terrified me, so I knew it was the right project for me to say yes to. I haven’t been on stage in three years, so coming back to something that forces me to jump in with no time for questions seems right. I also love connecting with the audience as a performer, and I imagine I’ll need them immensely the night I get to read WRRR for the first time. I believe the audience members who sign on for this kind of evening of theatre are also there to make connections. It’s the perfect relationship.
The possibilities that accompany performing a work you’ve never read or seen are wide open. What are you most excited about?
I’m just excited to actually read the script! I’m dying to know what’s inside that envelope. I’m excited to see how I react to it for the first time. How the audience reacts to it. And how that shapes the evening.
On stage, you’ll be holding a script and reading the words as you’re about to speak them. This setup could be limiting. How do you connect with an audience when you’re constrained in these ways?
I’ve thought about this a lot. I’ve done staged readings before, but I’ve known the script and had time to get familiar and comfortable with them, so it’s easy to build in moments to take your eyes away from the paper and make audience connections. I have faith those moments will be found in the moment of WRRR. I don’t know how to describe it in words, it’s just a feeling I have. I have to be completely receptive and exposed and vulnerable up there. That state of being alone is going to open the door for connections, I believe.
Are there any other steps you’re taking to prepare to perform White Rabbit Red Rabbit? (Reminder: Googling is against the rules.)
So far, I haven’t done anything to prepare because, to be honest, I’m not sure what that would be outside of any dramaturgical work. And I’m not allowed! I have been following this instruction so much that outside of the description Aforementioned gives of the play, I know nothing. Normally, I would be researching the time and place of the script, the author’s life, anything I felt was relevant and needs my attention. Instead, I’m completely in the dark. It feels both odd—like I’m being a lazy actor—and liberating—like I’m being told, “Don’t worry, just do this.”
I do plan on taking a few pieces of text, poetry maybe, or a book I’m unfamiliar with, and doing some out loud reading on the spot for some cold reading practice.
Outside of this show, what else are you working on creatively?
If you had asked me this question three or four years ago, I would have started listing off a season of projects (3-5, maybe more depending on the year!), but I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from creative work these days—though I guess that’s not true. I’ve been teaching in Newton for 11 years now, and I write or adapt a show for about 70 children every year, which I then direct, music-direct, and produce. I have an amazing team behind and beside me. This year, it’s a crazy version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, adapted from the brilliant mind of Matthew Woods and his ensemble of artists over at Imaginary Beasts. I also spend many hours a day making up crazy stories and voices for my five-and-a-half-month-old son. So I guess the creative juices haven’t stopped flowing, really!
To see Jen in White Rabbit Red Rabbit, head over to OBERON and reserve your seats for Tuesday, November 15!