Review, Gracie and Godot

Gracie,written by Joan MacLoed and directed by Vanessa Porteous is a  Canadian coming of age story with a twist. Gracie takes place in a polygamist community, and is told from the point of view of a young girl, Gracie. Gracie has a very unique feel, derived from the juxtaposition of Gracie’s idyllic worldview and the worldview of the audience. The juxtaposition between the way the play is presented and the unease the audience feels is a unique feature of Gracie. The multiple time jumps that the play has confuses the audience and conceals facts creating unease. For instance, Gracie’s marriage is first brought up after a time skip concealing her age, while later dialogue reveals that she is 15. The combination of an uncanny script, stage design, props, and careful use lighting enhance Gracie.

The stage in Gracie was particularly interesting, it was bare of any setting or props. The stage consisted of a series of platforms clustered together to form one large stage with a series of different levels, and a large flat and open stage in the front all painted a uniform gray. The lack of other visual elements on the stage forces the audience to focus on the skillful acting of Lili Beaudoin who played Gracie. Different levels signify different areas or locations, and add visual depth to the stage. The plain stage and lack of props facilitate the confused time sequence of the play and allow the play to take place in a series of different locations. The lack of props in the play made the importance of the single prop that was present, a doll, more visually important. Especially when comparing the colorful clothing it wore to the grey stage.

The lack of props and stage design necessitates careful use of lighting. The lighting in Gracie was used to set the mood, and scenes of the play. The plain grey stage allowed the lighting to be noticed, but muted the colors enough so they remained subtle. Throughout the play there was a use of color gradients to infer that different areas or times were shown, particularly in the backdrop.  It also set the mood, becoming yellower and brighter in happier moments and dimmer and bluer toned during somber ones. Total black out was only used to indicated large shifts in Gracie’s world.

  The staging of Gracie by Alberta Theaters will influence my direction of Waiting for Godot, written by Samuel Beckett. Both plays have similar themes and both use a plain set with few props to effectively tell the story.  Waiting for Godot, and Gracie both work to instill a feeling of unease in the audience.  In these plays faith was a main theme, not faith in God, but instead faith in a person, an event, or a life style. Waiting for Godot is a play about the faith that Vladimir and Estragon have that Godot will come. They have faith that if they wait long enough, and continue doing what they are doing, one day their life will get better for it, Like Gracie. The evolution of this faith is a key theme in both plays.

From Gracie I want to adapt the use of lighting in relation to faith, I want to mimic a correlation between the faith that the characters feel and the lighting. In the beginning of the play the lights will be bright, with yellow tones, signifying strong faith. However as the play continues the lighting will dim a little, starting to taking on more blue tones, as faith is questioned. In between acts the lights will not cut out completely, instead they will be very dim, enough to see Estragon and Vladimir exit the stage slowly, while looking back at the stage. In the second act the tones will be primarily blue but bright, and as they further lose faith in Godot they will dim. Finally, at the end the lights will dim again, barely illuminating the stage, just enough for the audience to see that Estragon and Vladimir stay on stage, before the curtain drops.

My production of Waiting for Godot will take place in a small theater with primarily ground seating, the stage should bulge out into the audience. Hopefully similar the Martha Cohen Theatre. The actors in front and center stage should be close to the audience, blurring the line between them. Particularly when Vladimir and Estragon pretend they are in a theater. The stage will be similar to the one used in Gracie, it will be stark, primarily grey and dark grey with a black tree in the center. The leave of the tree, when added will be dark brown and fading greens, symbolizing the strains put on Vladimir’s and Estragon’s faith. The back drop will be a light grey so that lighting can be reflected off of it. This will reinforce the idea of Gracie, and force the audience to focus on the actors, instead of the set. The overall visual of the play will be shabby, most characters will wear plain dull and worn clothing, mimicking the plain stage design. Helping them fade into the bleak stage, to further cause the audience to question why the characters are there, and why they continue to live in a bleak world instead of leaving it. Except Pozzo, who’s different circumstance and free movement from the stage will be highlighted with bright well-kept clothing, like the doll in Gracie.

Estragon will be played by Brent Spiner, and Vladimir will be played by Kevin McNally, who I think suit the roles due to their past acting and visual appearance.  Throughout the performance I want the faith and conversation between Estragon and Vladimir to become strained, and for the actors to act more dejected as the play continues, showing the degradation of faith. However at the end, I also want the actors, to recover a little with the line, “We’ll be saved.” Nearing the end of the play, displays the enduring faith that the characters have. I do not plan to make any edits to the script.