Here’s the press release from The Building Stage:
THE BUILDING STAGE ANNOUNCES THEIR 2009-2010 SEASON,
FEATURING AN ORIGINAL THEATRICAL ADAPTATION OF WAGNER’S RING CYCLE
CHICAGO – The Building Stage, a Chicago theater company noted for unique retellings and adaptations of various media to the stage announces their newest and largest endeavor to date: a non-operatic theatrical re-imagining of the famous Richard Wagner opera cycle, The Ring of the Niebelung, into an epic long-form theatrical piece. Opening February 13, 2010, this epic project will synthesize 16 hours of opera into a 6-hour theater piece co-directed by Artistic Director Blake Montgomery and company member Joanie Schultz.
Previews begin January 30, 2010, Press Opening February 13, 2010. The show will begin at 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays, a one-hour dinner break will occur around 6pm, dinner packages will be available.
The Ring Cycle is an exciting project for The Building Stage, not only due to the challenge of adapting a story of massive size and scope, but also because the story itself is not relatively well known. Aspects of this great story of mythology and psychology are echoed throughout other great hero epics such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. Wagner’s original vision was inspired by German and Norse mythology and sagas, and with that inspiration he created an amazing epic opera cycle that has a narrow but dedicated audience. The Building Stage will be working towards the creating a massive re-envisioning of The Ring Cycle that will bring new audiences to Wagner’s world and provide his fans with an exciting new look at the work that they love. The Building Stage Ring Cycle will focus on making this ancient story immediate, modern, fun, and moving. Our piece will be devised using Wagner’s libretti as a starting point to be developed by the ensemble and conceived by co-directors Montgomery and Schultz.
While in this production will not be operatic, music will play a large role in the production. The orchestral score of The Ring of the Niebelung is well known for its complex leitmotifs adding layers of meaning and weight to the text. These motifs will be a partner in the final theater piece, both in finding theatrical ways to express them, and with our own musical component. Kevin O’Donnell, composer and bandleader, is charged with working from the original score to create a new soundtrack for a rock orchestra that will perform live onstage in our show.
And as with all Building Stage creations, the production design will evolve alongside the creation of the piece, taking shape as the scenes begin to inhabit the space. The core design team for the piece are production designers Lee Keenan and company member Meghan Raham who previously collaborated with the Building Stage on the visually astounding, and award winning, Noir.
Cast of The Ring Cycle includes 11 performers taking on over 30 characters including mythical creatures. The cast includes company member Daiva Bhandari and Wm. Bullion, Lucy Carapetyan, Lindsey Dorcus, Pat King, Darci Nalepa, Bill O’Connor, Chris Pomeroy, Sarah Scanlon, Nick Vidal, and Mandy Walsh.
Due to the ambitious nature of the project, the Building Stage will commence rehearsals in September for this piece, leaving months of room to create what should be the most exciting Building Stage production to date.
While The Ring Cycle project will be the only fully developed production the company presents in the coming season, it will be accompanied by our new program: the Building Stage LAB, a bi-monthly series of theatrical experiments exploring particular aspects and questions of performance in short form projects. The experiments will be presented for free on off-nights at the theater bi-monthly throughout the year. The LAB, a reflection of the spirit of investigation driving the work of the Building Stage, will create an ongoing opportunity for artists within our company—as well the community at large—to boldly experiment with performance in an atmosphere of artistic conversation.
The Directors of The Ring Cycle
Blake Montgomery is an actor, director, and creator whose approach to theater reflects his training at L’École internationale de théâtre Jacques Lecoq (as well as its scenographic wing, Le Laboratoire d’Etude du Mouvement), the Dell’Arte School of Physical Theater, the Margolis-Brown Movement Theater Lab, and with master clown Ronlin Foreman. He has conceived and/or directed the Building Stage productions: Hamlet, Dustbowl Gothic, Moby-Dick, Noir, and Dracula. Blake played Halvard Solness in the Building Stage production of The Master Builder. Last fall he appeared as Dr. Prentice in What the Butler Saw at the Court Theater. Previous to founding the Building Stage, he worked extensively with Redmoon Theater where he performed in Seagull at the Steppenwolf Studio, Nina outdoors in Los Angeles and in Humboldt Park, and Salao: The Worst Kind of Unlucky Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare.
Joanie Schultz is a theater and opera director whose recent Chicago theater work includes A Acis and Galatea at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park, Perfect Wedding and Stone Cold Dead Serious at Circle Theatre, the Jeff Award winning In Arabia We’d All Be Kings at Steep Theater, frag and Faster at the side project, Many Loves for Caffeine Theater, and Betty’s Summer Vacation with Infamous Commonwealth Theatre. She also recently directed Carmen at the Bay View Music Festival. She has directed opera for Roosevelt University, and is on the theater directing faculty at Columbia College Chicago. In 2007, she made her Off-Broadway debut, directing the world premiere of Sean Graney’s Autophagy with the Drama League Directorfest. Joanie is Co-Artistic Director of The Estrogen Fest and formerly founded and was Artistic Director of Flush Puppy Productions. She holds her MFA in directing from Northwestern University, her BA in directing from Columbia College, was a Drama League Directing Fellow, is the 2009 Michael Maggio Directing Fellow at the Goodman Theatre, and is a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. www.joanieschultz.com
The Building Stage opened its doors with a critically acclaimed new vision of Hamlet in the fall of 2005, described as “an exquisite bare-bones [production]” (Performink Year in Review), and “a triumph of extraordinary achievement” (Gay Chicago). Since then the company has been honored with an After Dark Award for Outstanding Production (Dustbowl Gothic) and has presented a world premiere adaptation of Moby-Dick, an original work created out of clips from 1940s cinema classics called Noir (After Dark Award for Outstanding Technical Achievement), a minimalist adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder, and a silent film-inspired adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.
In founding the company Artistic Director Blake Montgomery, after a decade of training and creating work in the tradition of Physical Theater, wanted to take what he had learned in a new direction “Most people—if they are aware of it at all—think of the physical theater only in terms of its technical and stylistic variations: mask, clown, movement, and mime. But what these forms have in common is how they lead to a whole different way in thinking about theater and the methods of its creation. I wanted to create work from this physical perspective while being free to explore a wide range of subjects, styles, and forms.”
The Building Stage operates on the belief that theater is made not written. And while every project has its own unique process of creation, each is driven by the spirit of investigation: to ask, through the action on stage, how a piece functions, how it is constructed, and what must be done to make it work. Whether applied to the staging of an original idea, the adaptation of literature and other media, the reinterpretation of a pre-existing dramatic text, or the exploration of a specific theatrical form, it is this approach to the work that defines us.
Building Stage company members include: David Amaral, Daiva Bhandari, Christopher Hibbard, Fannie Hungerford, Lori Myers, Meghan Raham, and Max Wirt. Blake Montgomery is Artistic Director, Joanie Schultz is a company member and Interim Managing Director.