By Ponder Goddard
Actor in the Strindberg Cycle
Have you ever watched and wondered at professional dog-walkers? I think they are amazing people. At the tips of their fingers are often half a dozen individual creatures, each with different fascinations, speeds, dominance patterns, social habits and bladder sizes. Walking one dog can sometimes require a zenlike calm and willingness to go with the creature at its own pace, and honestly I don’t understand how a single human being is capable of walking 5 of them at a time without losing one or two along the way. Or maybe even “losing” one, *wink wink*.
That’s my awkward analogy for the amazing, impossible, heroic work our director and designers and my fabulous castmates are doing right now. Each of these plays is like a willful little being with a set of needs all its own; our job is to somehow walk with them all together, noticing as one rockets ahead or trails behind, keeping a coherence and a pace while also giving space for developmental differences.
For example, each character Jim Carpenter or David Sinaiko or Danielle O’Hare are bringing to life are their own beings, and at the same time it can seem like they share a common ancestor. And, amazingly, as each iteration of these archetypes and oddballs Strindberg created becomes more distinct, more separate, more clearly articulated– it becomes easier to see how they reflect, echo, and diverge from one another through the series. The same is happening on the larger level of every play as a whole; the more clearly we feel out and hone our sense of a play’s core need and reason for being, the more delicately it harmonizes with each of the other 4 as they, in turn, settle into themselves and come to life. It’s unlike any process I’ve ever been a part of. It is a struggle, to be sure. And I can’t overstate the amount of humbling and inspiring work happening at all ends to pull this crazy thing off. It’s fascinating, delicate, mysterious and beautiful, absolutely beautiful, to see happening all around me.