Welcome to The Dome!

December 23, 2008

Hey, friends of Prospect! It’s been awhile since there’s been any action on the Prospect blog. But I, Rachel, your trusty assistant director for Prospect’s upcoming show The Dome, am here to remedy that.

But what exactly is The Dome? Unlike Illyria, a more easily explainable show, The Dome requires a little more effort to elucidate. It’s a collaboratively produced piece that’s being developed (as we speak!) by a group of amazingly talented up-and-coming young theater artists—the actors, writers, directors, and designers have all been playing a part in what the show will become. The Dome consists of three different “story-worlds” held together by the universal thematic elements of how people grapple with the big questions in life—e.g. Who Are We? Why Are We Here? and What Do We Believe In? The stories are inspired by the architecture of the West End Theatre (which is a church, and therefore has a literal dome and not just a metaphorical one!), where the show will be performed. One story-world revolves around Voltaire and his longtime intellectual partner and lover Emilie du Chatelet, who was a brilliant scientist and mathematician in her own right; that section is being written by Laura Marks and directed by Stefanie Sertich. Another revolves around a group of meta-theatrical, existential clowns as they explore the theater space, and that section is written and directed by David A. Miller. The third is a musical theater story about a contemporary urban couple trying to decide what they believe in so they can teach it to the baby they are about to have, and will be written by Marisa Michelson and Rinne Groff and directed by May Adrales. There is also material that makes up the frame of the work and brings it all together, contributed by Norman Lasca, Deborah Abramson, Jason Grote, and others.

So, as you can see, it’s quite a group Prospect has accumulated to make The Dome as exciting and collaborative as possible. The artists working together to create the show are a diverse group, and the multitude of perspectives is part of what makes The Dome so amazing. Even more amazingly, you can add your own perspective and help create the show! Prospect has created a survey, and the text of the responses will be used in the show itself (though of course it will be anonymous). You can take the survey yourself by clicking  here, and send it to all your friends in far-flung places—we want as wide a variety of answers as we can get! It’s a short survey—only twenty questions—but it packs a punch. Some example questions include “How do you think the universe began?”, “What do you hope happens when you die?” and “What’s one thing you are certain of, but cannot prove?” So get thinking and get responding, and you too can be a part of the creation of The Dome.

Over the last couple of months, the cast and creative team have been having weekly meetings to help develop the show, which sometimes involved improvised group exercises, other times reading through texts in different ways, and still other times glass harmonicas. My favorite exercise so far was one in which each member of the creative team present was asked by Marisa (one of the writers of the piece about the baby) to come up with a sound and gesture related to their concept of a dome and what it means. Once everyone had one and had performed it, Marisa asked each person to come up with a musical pitch and rhythm for their sound and gesture. Everyone performed his or hers individually, and the whole group miraculously ended up in the same key, and when all of the gestures and rhythms were performed together, they took on a whole new life: all the disparate sounds and gestures became a gorgeous piece of improvised music. This is a really apt metaphor for the way that The Dome has come into being: a whole group of very different people, each of them contributing in his or her own way, came to the project because of the unique ways in which they express themselves. And as The Dome develops, we’ll see it go through that same process: of disparate elements coming together and making something completely new and completely fascinating and beautiful.

Anyway, this has been an epic first post. But keep checking back for more—rehearsals start on January 2nd, and expect to see photos, videos, and posts from the actors, writers, and designers!  And don’t forget to take the survey!