Our second FEED Twitter session was with MARIE ANTOINETTE Assistant Director Joshua Gelb. Josh was chatting to Raphael Martin, Director of New Work & FEED. Thanks to everyone who tuned-in.
@SohoRep: We are here with Josh Gelb, Assistant Director of MARIE ANTOINETTE. Hello Josh!
@Joshua_W_Gelb: Bonjour. I mean howdy. Hi
@SohoRep: What did you think when you first read MARIE ANTOINETTE?
@Joshua_W_Gelb: The play’s hilarious, of course. But haunting. Much like Mr. David Greenspan’s Rousseau-quoting Sheep.
@SohoRep: And what are some of the duties of an Assistant Director? It can mean very different things.
@Joshua_W_Gelb: Especially when the piece has already been produced at A.R.T and Yale Rep. But it is such a radical reinterpretation, and it was awesome to be around Rebecca Taichman and David Adjmi as they totally re-conceived the world of the play. But to answer your question, I took notes. I continue to work with our young Dauphins. Coffee fetching, or iced tea, actually.
@SohoRep: what was the biggest re-conception, in your opinion?
@Joshua_W_Gelb: [In the play,] Marie talks about being pressed between glass slides. That’s what this production does. Nothing ornamental. Just raw emotion.
@SohoRep: And what things are you looking for when you take notes during rehearsal?
@Joshua_W_Gelb: Technical things, mostly. And pacing! Pacing is so key in an Adjmi play. His characters act/think so fast.
@SohoRep: Less haste, more speed: right?
@Joshua_W_Gelb: Definetly. And Marin [Ireland] is truly masterful with the rhythms of the text.
@SohoRep: What’s it like working with young actors? These ones are particularly astute it seems…
@Joshua_W_Gelb: Totally. But its different asking a young actor to be scared than it is an adult actor. They have a different way of processing. It took us a while to learn how to caputure their imaginations in this way—Instead of, you know, trying to just scare them.
@SohoRep: Aimee is superb at playing distant fear the Dauphin doesn’t quite comprehend. What hand did you have?
@Joshua_W_Gelb: That’s what’s so special about Aimee. I wish I could take credit for that. But that’s her own ineffable genius. Watch out, Marin.
@EmergingPlaywright: Can you talk about the movement choices between scenes v. the contemporaneous language?
@Joshua_W_Gelb: Well, the language was a given. But transitionally we talked a lot about this fog in which Marie is trapped—And I think this disassociation between her and the rest of the world manifested in those dreamlike quadrilles. I should mention Mr. Sam Pinkleton, our fantastic choreographer.
@EmergingPlaywright: So much of the play takes place inside Marie [or] thru her; Were the other characters real or projected from her psyche?
@Joshua_W_Gelb: It varies. The Sheep. Her final vision of Fersen. Certainly these are spectres that affirm and challenge her point of view. There is something very dreamlike about the second half of the play. Particularly after the dauphin is taken away…you could argue that the whole play’s a dream, but that won’t keep her head on.
@EmergingPlaywright: How much dramaturgy did you prepare? Was it helpful for staging? Did you break the rules?
@Joshua_W_Gelb: We actually had a lot of research in the room, which really raised the stakes in some scenes: helps to know—When the heads started rolling, for instance. Also the speech about the Bastille changed a lot in rehearsal.
@SohoRep: Thanks so much Josh. This has been a great pleasure! Thanks for all your hard work and note-taking!