Backstage Blog

5 helpful hints before the rain stops falling…

When the Rain Stops Falling follows four generations of family over the span of 80 years and on two continents. The interconnected stories of these fathers, sons, mothers and lovers circle back over each other. You, as an audience member, will begin to make connections as the stories unfold. To make sure you get the most out of your theatre experience, Director Rob Lutfy put together these five helpful hints.

  1. WHAT’S IN A NAME? Make sure you look at the genealogy chart below (and in your program) before the show starts. It will help you understand the older/younger versions of characters, and those with the same name, of which there are three!
  1. SAME ACTOR, DIFFERENT CHARACTERS. Two actors play different characters. Gabriel York/Henry Law are played by Adrian Alita and Gabriel Law/Andrew Price are played by Josh Odsess-Rubin.

    Josh Odsess-Rubin & Adrian Alita

    Josh Odsess-Rubin & Adrian Alita

  1. SAME CHARACTER, DIFFERENT ACTORS. Elizabeth Law and Gabrielle Law (pronounced Gabriel) are played by two sets of actors.

    Younger/Older Gabrielle & Younger/Older Elizabeth

    Younger/Older Gabrielle & Younger/Older Elizabeth

  1. WATCH THE BACKDROP BETWEEN SCENES. It may be raining, but we won’t leave you high and dry. Watch for the projections on the backdrop for titles of where the scene takes place and in what year.
  1. GO WITH THE FLOW. The critics say it best…

“It’s hard to figure out who’s who and how they intersect, but all becomes clear by the end of the play, which runs an intermission-less yet gripping 110 minutes.” -Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune

“It’s best to just sit back and let the saga wash over you.” –Pat Launer, Center Stage

“[It’s] a lot to swallow, but worthy of the effort to chew because Cygnet has a tremendous four-course meal in store for you. –Milo Shapiro, Stage and Cinema

Genealogy

Photo Credit : ShowerHacks.com

CREATING A TIMELESS AND EXPANSIVE DESIGN

Theatre is by its nature, a very collaborative art form. Writers, designers, actors, choreographers, costume, sounds and lighting designers all work together to create a single, final product. For the production of When the Rain Stops Falling, Cygnet Associate Artistic Director Rob Lutfy is especially excited be collaborating with set designer, Jungah Han. A former Cygnet Theatre Lipinsky Foundation design fellow at SDSU, she is now based in New York. The recent Yale School of Drama graduate studied extensively with Ming Cho Lee, the noted theatre artist who designed over 30 productions for Joseph Papp at The Public Theater, including the original Off-Broadway production of Hair. She brings a sparse sensibility to the set design. Robby took some time away from the show to share some of his thoughts with us.

Jungah Han & Rob Lutfy

Jungah Han & Rob Lutfy

Set of When the Rain Stops Falling

Set of When the Rain Stops Falling

This play takes place over the course of 80 years and includes ever changing settings; from the intimacy of a domestic room to the grandeur of a vast natural environment. Jungah and I both wanted a vast space for the actors to play in. We wanted a space that felt like an art installation, using lots of natural elements and was flexible enough to go from intimacy of a dining room to the vastness of a the night sky. And of course, it had to have a big rock!

We exist in relation to one another, not as individuals each caught up in our own narrative, but as a part of a great interconnected web of human experience. Bovell shows this in his layering and nonlinear narrative. Bovell writes, “But only on the stage can the past, the present and the future be revealed in the same moment. It is a wonderful medium in which to play with time and the shed light on the human condition.”

Pina Baush, Vollmond

Pina Baush, Vollmond

We needed to create set that would allow our actors to play with these variations in time and place. Jungah and I both were drawn to Pina Bausch’s Vollmond, a production we saw in NYC. Bausch was a German performer of modern dance, choreographer, dance teacher and ballet director known for her unique style, a blend of movement, sound, and stark, prominent stage sets. She created what we now know as Dance Theater (Tanztheater). She became a leading influence in the field of modern dance, cinema and art influencing everyone from David Bowie to the creators of American Horror Story.Follow the Printmylogo.co.uk blog if you want to learn more.

4. WTRSF MODEL PHOTO

I didn’t want literal or “designed” space but something poetic to match the complexity of the narrative. Jungah and I are a perfect match in that way. I wanted “epic theatre” in a way.

I wanted the actors to be ghosts for one another, always present, always layered on top of the current scene. Things move fast in the play and we have a set that allows for that to happen. It is anchored by the fragile water and the solid rock.

Set of When the Rain Stops Falling

Set of When the Rain Stops Falling

It is also a beautiful moment for me to be working with Jungah. Her mentor, Ming Cho Lee and my mentor, Gerald Freedman, met early on in their careers and collaborated for over a decade. Gerald calls Ming, “the greatest collaborator of his life.” Ming designed almost every play Gerald directed. According to The New York Times, “It is hard to overstate the impact Ming Cho Lee has had on the world of theater design.”

I feel proud to continue the tradition of creative collaboration.

Catch When the Rain Stops Falling through Feb. 14, 2016.

Michael Mizerany – Choreographing a Drama

Michael Mizerany, a noted dancer and choreographer, is thrilled to be returning to Cygnet Theatre! Audiences might remember Michael’s powerful choreography from our 2013 production of Spring Awakening.

Spring Awakening - Craig Noel Award Nominee

Spring Awakening – Craig Noel Award Nominee Photo by Darren Scott

We’re thrilled to have him back as a choreographer for our upcoming production of When the Rain Stops Falling. Michael has been working closely with director Rob Lutfy, and we chatted with him about his role with this show and how movement can reflect intention, character and time.

What is your role in this show as there is no dance?

This is a beautifully written play with many surprises and “Aha!” moments. It spans four generations over two continents and manipulates time in a very interesting way. That being said, I will try to give you a glimpse inside the process without divulging any secrets.

There is no traditional dance in the show per se, but if we think of dance in the broader sense of movement and not codified technique, I would say that dance/movement is an integral part of the telling this story.

When the Rain Stops Falling Rehearsal

When the Rain Stops Falling Rehearsal

One pivotal scene is ROOMS. There is no dialogue, so the challenge is to convey character through gesture/movement. In this scene particularly, where, when and how the actors move is very important.

The play also manipulates time. It jumps back and forth from 1968 to 2039. This is reflected in the choreography for ROOMS as well. As this scene begins, the actors initiate movement in a counter-clockwise fashion. As the movement shifts to a table center stage, the actors sit at the table; sequentially arriving in a clockwise direction.

This gives the scene a kaleidoscope effect that mirrors the many emotions and situations the audience will experience viewing the play.

Do you enjoy working in theatre? What are some recent highlights?

Though I am a contemporary choreographer, I really enjoy working in theatre. I majored in acting when I was in college (until I took a dance class), so I really love actors. Recent highlights include Spring Awakening at Cygnet; Thrill Me, Bare: A Pop Opera and A New Brain at Diversionary; Ass, Or A Midsummer Night’s Fever and Chicago: A Speakeasy Cabaret at Ion theatre; and Scrooge in Rouge at Desert Rose Playhouse in Palm Springs.

Michael in Malashock Dance: Chagall & Tribe (2010)  Photo by Manuel Rotenberg

Michael in Malashock Dance: Chagall & Tribe (2010)
Photo by Manuel Rotenberg

Can you give some examples of how you are working directly with the cast?

In ROOMS, there is a sequence where each character enters the stage space, looks out a window, looks in a mirror and then pauses in thought. I discussed with each actor: “Who are you looking for?”, “Why are you staring in the mirror?”, “What are you thinking about when you pause in thought?” Based on their answers, I built movements/gestures that reflected that intention.

These gestures will be repeated as the drama progresses, so we have specific, character movement/gesture threads that will be woven together throughout the course of the play.

This is an unusual show to stage. What is Rob looking for from you to help the audience/actors?

One of the wonderful things about When the Rain Stops Falling is that it gives the audience tidbits of information that, at the time, seem to have no relevance. But as the play progresses – those tidbits have great significance.

I think one of the aspects Rob was curious about was how the movement could have a similar impact. For example, in ROOMS, the characters have gestures at a window but the audience has yet to know their meaning. As the play unfolds, and the gestures are combined with those tidbits of information, the importance becomes very apparent.

For more information on Michael Mizerany and his work visit www.mizerdance.wix.com/michaelmizerany

Catch When the Rain Stops Falling, directed by Rob Lutfy, Jan. 14 – Feb. 14 at Cygnet Theatre.

 

Announcing Season Thirteen

 From a fish falling out of the sky in the year 2039, to a “sweet transvestite”, to one stupid f**king bird…our next season will take you to seven different times and places filled with humanity, laughter, destruction and compassion. And we’re excited to share it with you now.  Without further antici…pation, here’s our 2015-2016 season!

DOGFIGHT
Music and Lyrics by BENJ PASEK & JUSTIN PAUL
Book by PETER DUCHAN
Based on the Warner Bros. Film and Screenplay by BOB COMFORT
Directed by SEAN MURRAY
July 16th – August 23rd, 2015. Opening July 25th, 2015.

It’s November 21, 1963. On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying and maybe a little trouble. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of compassion. Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and praised by countless critics, Dogfight takes audiences on a romantic and heartbreaking theatrical journey that stays with you long after the performance. Featuring Dave Thomas Brown (Shakespeare’s R&J, Spring Awakening)  “Superbly crafted, gratifyingly intelligent, richly observant, and immensely enjoyable. This is musical theatre at its finest.” – Backstage

Dave Thomas Brown in Spring Awakening

Dave Thomas Brown in Spring Awakening

HAY FEVER (Performed in Rep with The Vortex)
By NOËL COWARD
Directed by ROB LUTFY
Semptember 23rd – November 8th, 2015. Opening October 3rd, 2015.

Retired stage star Judith Bliss, her novelist husband and their two bohemian adult children have each invited houseguests for the weekend. But as the Blisses indulge their artistic eccentricities in a hilarious whirlwind of flirtation and histrionics, the guests begin to wonder if they’ve landed in a madhouse – and if they can survive with their own wits intact. Set in an English country house in the 1920’s, Noël Coward’s hilarious comedy of bad manners has been a favorite amongst theatregoers ever since it first dazzled London’s West End in 1925.  “An evening of intoxicating escape” – The New York Times

THE VORTEX (Performed in Rep with Hay Fever)
By NOËl COWARD
Directed by SEAN MURRAY
September 24th – November 8th, 2015. Opening October 3rd, 2015.

Nicky Lancaster brings his elegant fiancée, Bunty, home to introduce her to his famous mother, stage actress Florence Lancaster. Nicky is shocked to discover that Florence has taken a much younger lover, and when Bunty ditches Nicky to run off with his mother’s boy-toy, both are forced to confront the truth about themselves. Noël Coward’s first commercially successful hit, The Vortex premiered in 1924 in London, and its scandalous subject matter of drug abuse, repressed homosexuality, nymphomania and Oedipal jealousy made Coward an overnight sensation. Hay Fever and The Vortex will feature Rosina Reynolds (The Glass Menagerie, Noises Off)  The Vortex (1924) is the play that turned Noël Coward into a star….Almost nine decades later, it still packs a powerful punch.” -The Telegraph

Rosina Reynolds in The Glass Menagerie

Rosina Reynolds in The Glass Menagerie

A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Adaptation and Lyrics by SEAN MURRAY
Score by BILLY THOMPSON
Directed by SEAN MURRAY
November 27th – December 27th, 2015. Opening December 5th, 2015.

Cygnet Theatre invites you to start your own family tradition with one of ours. This season welcomes the return of theholiday classic adapted from Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of hope and redemption. This re-imagined, fully staged production features original new music, creative stagecraft and puppetry, and live sound effects. Step into a Victorian Christmas card for a unique storytelling experience that is sure to delight the entire family!  “Critics Choice” in 2014 – UT San Diego

A Christmas Carol 2014

A Christmas Carol 2014

 WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING
By ANDREW BOVELL
Directed by ROB LUTFY
January 14th – February 14th, 2016. Opening January 23rd, 2016.

Alice Springs in the year 2039. A fish falls from the sky and lands at the feet of Gabriel York. And it still smells of the sea. It’s been raining for days, and Gabriel knows something is wrong. Fifty years earlier, his grandfather, Henry Law, predicts that fish will fall from the sky heralding a great flood which will end life on earth as we know it. In an intricate, multi-layered story that spans four generations and two continents, When the Rain Stops Falling explores patterns of betrayal, abandonment, destruction, forgiveness and love. This powerful drama unfolds with humanity, surprising humor and hope, as the past plays out into the future.  “The Best New Play of Year” in 2010 – Time Magazine

RICHARD O’BRIAN’S THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW
Book, Music and Lyrics by RICHARD O’BRIEN
Directed by SEAN MURRAY
March 10th – May 1st, 2016. Opening March 19th, 2016.

A satirical tribute to the science fiction and B-list horror movies of the 20th century, the show centers around two naïve lovers, Brad and Janet. Seeking shelter from a thunderstorm in an old castle, they find themselves thrust into the laboratory of the cross-dressing mad scientist Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter and his motley crew. Stripped of inhibitions — and their clothes — Brad and Janet embark on a wild, unforgettable journey of pleasure and self-discovery. Reality, fiction, and camp collide in this mash-up of comics, rock and roll, and late-night horror flicks.  “A musical that deals with mutating identity and time warps becomes one of the most mutated, time warped phenomena in show business.” – The New York Times

STUPID F**KING BIRD
By AARON POSNER
Directed by ROB LUTFY
May 19th – June 19th, 2016. Opening May 28th, 2016.

In this irreverent, contemporary, and very funny remix of Chekhov’s The Seagull, award-winning playwright Aaron Posner wages a timeless battle between young and old, past and present, in search of the true meaning of it all. An aspiring young director rampages against the art created by his mother’s generation. A nubile young actress wrestles with an aging Hollywood star for the affections of a renowned novelist. And everyone discovers just how disappointing love, art, and growing up can be. With music, meta-theatricality, and mad humor, playwright Aaron Posner beats The Seagull to a bloody pulp.  “Bitterly sardonic…Ferociously funny” – Stage and Cinema

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