Sunday, December 9, 2012

Alison Garrigan

Heather N. Stout is an evil queen.

My friend Ali Garrigan has lived in the creative service of others, and by that I mean she has existed as collaborative partner in all manner of artistic endeavors, always providing an unending fount of positive energy and enthusiasm along with bottomless creativity and joy to whatever pursuit she is currently engaged in.

Quite often toward more than one project at a time. Sometimes twelve.

Since 1996, for this theater artist alone, she has created original music and created soundtracks for, performed in, directed others and directed me in plays I have written, designed and created costumes for and performed in plays I have directed, designed and created costumes for plays I have performed in directed by others, and we have performed together in plays.

We have collaborated in well over fifteen plays in fifteen years. That’s just with me.

This weekend the family traveled to see the second offering from Talespinner Children’s Theatre Magic Flute (a new adaptation based on the original folk tale written by Anne McEvoy) and remained after to witness auditions for the 2013 productions.

Ali’s skill at working as a great collaborator in others’ companies has prepared her for the most creative, collaborative, and positive-spirited environment I have walked into. She is “in charge” but only in the sense that she empowers all participants to step up and confidently contribute to the best of their ability.

It is astonishing how much sound, color, music, movement and magic is compact onto on small stage, with seven actors, in one hour during Magic Flute. The producion does not represent one theatrical discipline, it samples from plenty, whichever suits the situation, from Far East to Africa to European folk tradition, with one or two contemporary quirks thrown in, but only one or two.

At the risk of quoting myself, she suits the action to the word, the word to the action.

I owe Ali a script for Adventures In Slumberland. It will come. Attending Magic Flute was necessary, even after witnessing The Tale of the Name of the Tree last summer. I wanted to pay attention to the text, and how much was text, and what they do with it. She calls our work “Guide Scripts” which I like. I like the opportunity to be that kind of collaborator, that the writing is as fluid as the direction or the performance, or any and all of the technical elements.

Watching her, as I am right now, leading actors who (in some cases) have never met, to discover how they move, and think, and collaborate, and take imaginative risks with each other … well, it’s a lot like auditioning to be a GLT actor-teacher, honestly (which means I am in my comfort zone) but unique to the task at hand, and unique to Ali, as director.

How often does someone have the opportunity to consider the company before writing the play? It happens. It is rare. It is a gift. I got a lot of dreams for Slumberland. I have confidence that Ali will make them reality.

MAGIC FLUTE continues at Talespinner Children's Theatre through December 23.

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