Monday, September 22, 2008


My last rehearsal for Lord Oxford Presents was the 18th and the first time working with music for my song. It is very Kurt Weill in style; gritty, cabaret-esqe and ironic. At the same time, Nataliya, my character, is singing about her family, her identity and the treatment she has received in this country. The challenge is to be true to the style without diminishing the thought and emotion that compel her to sing.  Moira Stone, our director, suggested I look at Marlene Dietrich as an actress to study, specifically her performance in Blue Angel. Also, interestingly enough, Mick Jagger, two masters of self-image.

Nataliya is a consummate performer who has been in "show biz" all her life. She comes from a circus family and knows how to work a crowd.  She uses her talent to manipulate and control an audience, but there comes a break when she releases her anger and emotion to demand dignity for herself and her people. 

The plot of Lord Oxford Presents is a "what if" scenario where England won the Revolutionary War and America is still a colony of the Crown.  African slaves were freed by the British and given the lands of their owners, elevating them and their descendants to the status of "Southern Lords", part of the present day ruling class along with white Loyalists of European heritage.  The European descendants of the rebels and immigrants not loyal to the British are suppressed and perform all the menial labor including entertainment.  The circumstances mean to show the nature of propaganda and how history is truly written by the victors.  In the world of this play, George Washington is not a hero. He has gone down in history as a traitor and war speculator. Sally Hemmings is a national hero for killing Thomas Jefferson by slitting his throat. 

This interests me not because they are "facts" in the play, but because they are stories and legends taken as fact in order to create a national identity, much like the stories we have today. We really go to war to preserve freedom? George Washington really couldn't tell a lie? The signers of the American Constitution, being the wealthiest land owners in the colonies, really only acted out of the need to create a new country with liberty for all? 

I am very fortunate to be part of such a great cast. Audrey Crabtree and Lynn Berg, playing Pattie O' PattyCake, an orphan playing an Irish stereotype and Winston Berg, an American Loyalist (or is he?), respectively, have been performing their hysterical Bouffon Glass Menagerie at the Dublin Fringe Festival in Ireland.  Below are their fantastic and well-deserved reviews here and here.

1 comment:

Yoli said...

Love the theme. You sing? Oh my goodness, did not know this.