Of Farms and Fables combines the efforts of professional and non-professional artists by engaging artists in farm work and farm workers in storytelling and acting. The result will be an original performance in October of 2011 which will engage performers and audience in dialogue about local agriculture, farming, and the future of small family farms in Maine.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sound/Sight/Thought Bytes from Cue-to-Cue (Cory)

CLACK. Door opens.
CLACK. And closes.

"We're at five." "Thank you, five."

"Going dark onstage."

Stacy plops a bag of Broadturn-spiced popcorn down on the tech table, next to the dregs of a bag of chocolate-covered gummi bears and a box of day-old Dunkin Donuts coffee; Jennie gasps a happy greeting for "the best popcorn in the world."

"Are these pink?" asks Flora, fingering the set's four fabric rows. "No, they're white, that's the lights," says Emily.


"Heather, what kind of gobo is that?"
"It's called 'sponge.' It's slightly out of focus, too."
"I like that."

Tali in a red hoodie and blue baseball cap. Emma's paint-stained pants and crocs. Claire with a floppy-brimmed hat, whispering with checkered-dressed Flora in the center vom. Penny in her "Karen" digs, plain waitress's clothing - and divested of her usual Penny costume: her khakis, her boots, and her iPhone, which she leaves with me.

"Are we good in here for places?"
"We are. I just need to use the bathroom. Oh, and I need to pile that stuff in the barn real quick."

Penny paces a moment. Stacy, sitting in the audience, encourages, "Just look out here and find my face." "Oh, I'm planning to," Penny replies. "Every time."


All actors onstage. Where's Jennie? Milling, murmuring, nerves. Emily instructs everybody to "just stand still one moment while I get my head on."


"It's a totally different vibe tonight," Stacy says to me.
"Yeah. Completely different feel."

Emily: "These are our rehearsal fence posts. The real ones are on the way. Please note that the REAL fence has five posts, not four."
Chris: "I can't work this way!"

"Can we tape that thing?" Seth storms to the offending door with a roll of gaff tape. "Oh, no. It's that kind of door."

Emily's head is now on.
"All right, let's get set for the top of the show."

Sound, preshow: go.
Who's your farmer? sings Dog Wants Out. Who's your farmer?
The preshow sequence ends.

A lot of things have changed about this play from Draft 1 to Draft 2 to Draft 3.
But the opening moment is something that hasn't changed.

Just past dawn. A field of weeds and two workers – OMAR and RAMÓN.

They stretch.
They spritz themselves with bug repellant.
They pull on plastic gloves – snap!
OMAR puts in iPod earbuds.
The workers begin weeding.

In our very first script conversations, Claire, Jennie and I dreamed up a pair of "weeders" who would weed throughout the play. The image was important to me and my understanding of the structure of a farm, as something with two different trajectories: one forward-moving and innovative, the other cyclical, conservative, sustaining. I wrote that moment in January - the very first chunk of script to make it from my head to the page, and one of the very few to remain essentially untouched, as-is, through the performance draft. And we just got to see it pop off the page, in vibrant sound and color, for the first time.

Tech's the day where the creative juices flowing from all the artists hard at work on a play come together for the first time to marinate the play in a giant vat of courage, risk, color, and heart. Words meet actors meet music meet lights meet puppets meet costumes meet scenery meet movement and, as a whole, become more than their sum.

One ingredient's still missing: people to watch it happen. On Thursday, we toss that into the pot, ready or not.