Backstage Blog

Behind the Scenes with George Yé

 

George Ye

Katie Harroff sat down with director George Yé to talk about the his experience working on Shakespeare’s R&J.

What is your history with Cygnet Theatre? 

I’ve been working with Cygnet ever since 2004, I think, way back when Sean and Bill opened the space in Rolando.  I designed sound for a number of shows, directed a production of Copenhagen in 2006, and other staged readings.  In 2005, I produced and directed an independent project in the Cygnet Theatre space called   . . .and then he met a woodcutter.  Around that time I was asked to join Cygnet as an Associate Artistic Director.  It was an honor I could not pass up.  I continued to design, and work on various productions, and helped develop the sound system for the Old Town Theatre.  Some years back we produced Escanaba in da Moonlight; for which I won a Craig Noel Award for sound design.  I’m deeply committed to the continued growth and development of the company and humbled and overjoyed to participate artistically as well on R&J.

What drew you to R&J

I love working on Shakespeare. Though I don’t get to do it very often, I actually have some intensive training.  Working on this production afforded me the chance get my feet wet with some classic text while at the same time working in a contemporary way.  It tells a coming-of-age story fueled with teenage angst, hormones, sensations of first love, and lust.   It’s gritty.  I like how Calarco’s interpretation of the original text and the students’ story align perfectly and call on the audience to experience the play through a new optic making it seem quite fresh.  I was attracted to the potential the play has to challenge and reveal assumptions people have about gender, identity, and also how we can and should interpret and stage classic texts in 2013.  I also was very excited to work with some of the great designers who usually work with Cygnet.

What was the hardest part about staging this piece? 

The end.  The actors and myself deliberated on the ending a number of times.  I suspect years from now, I’ll be sitting in a café with a friend and will yell out of nowhere, “Ah!  That’s it!  That’s what we should have done for the ending!”  I waited till very late to set the ending of the play.  I knew it was a sacred moment for the cast, and I didn’t want to shut down the creative process too early, yet at the same time, everyone was looking for the right way to end the play.  I had to wait and see a few run-throughs with the cast fully committed to each moment before I could start to feel comfortable with a plausible ending.

Why should people come see this show?

It celebrates the medium of theatre on so many levels.  The play calls on the audience to use their imagination.  Peter Herman the costume designer found us a sturdy bolt of red silk that weaves it’s way through all the action of the play.  This elegant prop transforms into many items that help tell the story; vial of poison, rapiers for fight scenes; a knife, a turban, and many more.  It really has turned out to be the fifth performer on stage.  It’s miraculous to see how the actors use it.  It’s a great play for the thrust space in the Old Town Theatre, and it addresses contemporary issues of censorship, oppression of youth, filial love and friendship, the power of first love.  It’s something not to be missed.

Cygnet Announces 9th Season!

(Updated Jan 25th)
We are excited to announce our 2011/2012 line-up. Cygnet’s ninth season will offer productions ranging from Shakespeare to Williams; and for Cygnet’s musical-lovers, two uniquely thrilling productions!

Cygnet’s season begins with LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, a rock musical based on the 1960s camp film, The Little Shop of Horrors, which follows the story of a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood. Cygnet’s production, featuring the amazing Audrey II puppets designed by Monkeyboys Designs, will be a B-movie, campy horror-fest staged in black and white film-noir style! This quirky dark comedy – with music composed by Alan Menken and written by Howard Ashman – received a long off-Broadway run, a subsequent Broadway production and was turned into a 1986 film of the same name. The LITTLE SHOP music features rock-n-roll, doo-wop and early Motown sounds with several well-known tunes including “Skid Row (Downtown)” and “Suddenly Seymour.” Cygnet Resident Artist David McBean (It’s A Wonderful Life, Fully Committed) will feed the horror and the hilarity as the human-hungry plant, Audrey II. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS will run July 28th through September 11th, 2011.

In early October, Cygnet Theatre will present it’s first Shakespearean main-stage production, RICHARD III. This play, which depicts the rise to power and subsequent short rein of Richard III, is widely considered to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest works. Regarded as an “antihero” of the medieval age, the deformed Richard III was known for being both frighteningly vicious and eerily funny. Shakespeare’s fascinating depiction of his murderous path to the English crown is one of his most beloved and oft performed plays. RICHARD III runs October 13th through November 13th, 2011.

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, adapted by Joe Landry. Each year, Cygnet audiences delight in this new-found wintertime tradition as Tom Andrew performs his San Diego Critics Circle Award-winning role of George Bailey, whose life alters for good upon meeting Clarence the Angel. Once again the 1940′s radio actors of “WCYG Theatre of the Air” will recreate the classic story in a “live” radio broadcast filled with music, sound effects and the beloved characters from the film. It’s A Wonderful Life returns to the Cygnet stage from November 30th through December 31st, 2011.

The new year offers starts off with a bang with the Southern California Premiere of A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE by Martin McDonagh.  The title is just the starting point to McDonagh’s black comedy, his first American-set play. Take a man searching for his missing hand, two con artists out to make a few hundred bucks, and an overly curious hotel clerk, and the rest is up for grabs. Strong, adult language. A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE will  run January 19th through February 19th, 2012.

In the Spring, Cygnet Theatre will present PARADE, with book by Alfred Uhrey and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The musical dramatizes the 1913 true story of the trial of Jewish factory superintendent, Leo Frank, accused of the murder of a thirteen-year-old employee, Mary Phagan, in Atlanta Georgia. The play, which won Tony Awards for best book and best score and six Drama Desk Awards, is both hauntingly beautiful and bitingly frank in its depiction of love in the midst of adversity and growing racial tensions. The show was Brown’s first Broadway production and his award-winning melodies drew from a variety of influences including pop-rock, folk, rhythm and blues and gospel. PARADE will run March 8th through April 22nd, 2012.

Cygnet Theatre will close its season with Tennessee William’s A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. The Pulitzer Prize winning drama is considered a landmark play. It has also been at the top of Artistic Director Sean Murray’s lists of dream projects for Cygnet Theatre since his award-winning production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 2005. The story deals with the culture clash of two iconic characters, Blanche DuBois, a fading relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski, a rising member of the industrial working class. The production received multiple runs on Broadway, was adapted into a film, an opera, a ballet and was even produced for television. The steamy drama comes to Cygnet Theatre May 17th through June 24th, 2012.

Current Subscribers can contact the box office starting Wednesday to renew.  New Subscriptions for the 2011-2012 will be available soon.

We think this is going to be an exciting season, and certainly hope you will join us.