In typical TTT style, the story is told in a small square performance space surrounded by two rows of chairs, with All the Lights On. Eight women play Emilia and all of the other characters in her story, male and female. They're among the best actors in #TCTheater, and in this performance style they're up close and personal, real and raw, with nowhere to hide. It's truly the purist form of acting, of theater, I've ever experienced, and these women do not disappoint.
|the three Emilias (Marisa Tejeda, Sun Mee Chomet,
and Greta Oglesby, photo by Alvan Washington)
TTT Artistic Director Marcela Lorca directs the play in way that makes it feel like this play was written to be performed in this style, rather than in a traditional theater setting. So dynamic and playful and thoroughly engaging. The cast truly works together as an ensemble, creating this story and coloring its world. Resident Music Director Peter Vitale once again creates a perfect soundscape for the story, and also composed some songs that are sung by the cast. It's not a musical, but the occasional use of music adds another layer to the storytelling. Ensemble member Kimberly Richardson also provided the movement and choreography, a fun mix of modern and traditional court dances. I can only imagine that this play comes into the often dark places where TTT performs out in the community and brings a bright ray of light and hope.
TTT typically performs with minimal sets and costumes, but this is one of the most elaborate costume designs I've seen them use - three full racks of clothing sit on the sides of the room. Each cast member has a base of black pants and shirt, with gorgeous but relatively minimalist Elizabethan gowns, tunics, and jackets put on over them. The skirts are often open in front, allowing for easy changing, while taking nothing away from the look. The Emilias are dressed in slightly different but coordinating dresses of blue with brocade, and each of the ladies or houses has a different color scheme. The most elaborate part of the set is a clothesline stretched across the stage in a couple different scenes. A stately wooden chair and desk, a set of shelves with interesting props, and various sized crates, buckets, and barrels complete the set. (Costume design by Sarah Bahr, set and prop design by Sarah Brandner.
Emilia continues through June 11 at Open Book in downtown Minneapolis as well as other locations around the Twin Cities (click here for the full schedule). Ten Thousand Things shows are always must-sees, but this one feels particularly special.