The Fair Maid of the West Parts I & IIposted by Damaso Rodriguez at 8:20 AM
I was asked to write this first blog entry for our production of The Fair Maid of the West Parts I & II ("Fair Maid") well over 6 weeks ago by marketing director (and fellow co-founder), Eric Pargac. Finally, 3 weeks before our first performance I'm getting to it. Here we go.
Fair Maid is Furious Theatre's 10th production, and arguably our most complicated. It's certainly the most challenging project I've worked on as a director, and my first as a co-adaptor. James C. Leary (a member of our ensemble) and I began the process of turning the two original Fair Maid plays by Elizabethan playwright Thomas Heywood into one single play while retaining the "Parts I & II" in the title to reflect the old Hollywood film serials which inspire the production's design as well as the adaptation. I must acknowledge that we can't take credit for the idea of combining these two plays. Trevor Nunn at the Royal Shakespeare Company did it first in the 80s, and there was a successful 90s production as well. Still, the show has been performed few times in the last 400 years and our adaptation is (we hope) very different from its predecessors. Aside from the challenges of creating the adaptation, the production features a cast of 13, five distinct dialects, over 40 costumes, and numerous set locations including pirate ships, English taverns, and a mysterious pirate island of our own invention. There are fog effects, light projections, an original score and 11 complex swordfights featuring up to 11 armed actors trained by a team of six choreographers. We had these swords built specifically for this production and designed for each character. All this, plus the thing is written largely in iambic pentameter. The cast has undergone training together in textual analysis, voice, speech, dialect, and swordplay.
It's a huge production for a small theatre with limited resources. It's been extremely rewarding to work with this phenomenal cast and production team, many of whom I've worked with for years. Hopefully, audiences will come and have as much fun seeing it as we've had over the past few months putting it all together.