THE FLAT WORLD
—Being An Illustrated Compendium of Captions related to our Adventures into Cankerblossom
Pig Iron's Workshop at La Jolla Playhouse, February 2010
by Co-Artistic Director Dito van Reigersberg
For two weeks in February 2010, Pig Iron workshopped a new play, a kind of playful echo of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream entitled CANKERBLOSSOM. We were at La Jolla at the invitation of Associate Producer Dana Harrel (thanks to the timing of the workshop, we missed the Snowpocalypse). At the center of our inquiry were three related investigations: stop-motion animation, interaction of live performers and video, and the cardboard world of artist-performer Beth Nixon. Dan Rothenberg was the director of the workshop; Beth Nixon, Alex Torra, Dito van Reigersberg, and Hinako Arao were the performer-creators; and video designer Jeff Sugg and lighting designer James Clotfelter led us our technological explorations. CANKERBLOSSOM will premiere at the 2010 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival.
Eureka! Alex Torra and Beth Nixon have devised a way to set the cardboard world into motion, and the first moment of the play CANKERBLOSSOM is born. In this picture they play a married couple that receives a mysterious package in the mail-a flat cardboard baby in an envelope. From that moment a voyage into a flat world “unfolds”— if you'll pardon the pun.
Alex Torra points at the sign for the rehearsal rooms at La Jolla Playhouse. Three stop-motion animation stations, several tricked-out backpacks fitted with video projectors, loads of cardboard and staplers, art supplies, props and costumes on loan from La Jolla, and us — we all live in the blackbox theatre together for two weeks.
This is Tareena Wimbish, our stage manager for the workshop (she's about to graduate from the UCSD stage management program, or maybe she has by now?). She was very kind to us—she told us where to find the best fish tacos, tolerated our bad jokes, and took copious notes as our imaginations wandered.
Beth Nixon in another one of the many wigs we tried out for her character. Very 1980.
Hinako Arao as her smarty-pants character, with Beth-Nixon-manufactured cardboard hair, backpack, and glasses. A sort of A-plus student , the kind the teacher loves and all the other kids despise. She had a little “No, no, no, no” song that she would sing in her superior way, as she walked along wagging her finger.
A friendly face from home! Miriam White of Philadelphia's Nice People Theatre Company (she's moved to San Diego recently) kindly shows me around Balboa Park on our day off.
A view of a true white wedding-cake of a building, the Mormon Church in La Jolla, as seen from the Whole Foods parking lot.
Hinako Arao and Beth Nixon (as the Colonel) demonstrate the terror of the Flattening Machine in CANKERBLOSSOM.
Rosie Langabeer, a fearless New Zealand-based musician and composer, happened to be in California during the workshop. Together we wrote two songs complete with lyrics and she provided a lot of cool underscoring on accordion, piano, drum and thunder-sheet for our final showing. Here she is with bearded director Dan Rothenberg and of course the flat baby.
Alex Torra as the King of Latitude 22.9, with an insatiable appetite for turkey and a cardboard scepter and capelet.
Me as A-Knight-Like-This. A very timid knight indeed, with a very wimpy sword, but full of puns. And a cardboard horse!
Alex Torra as the bird who swoops down and steals the cardboard baby, setting in motion a chase for the missing infant.