This year Good Counsel Theatre Company has explored non-traditional theatre spaces in both of our Main Stage productions. This past fall we produced The Taming of the Shrew in a thrust style black box. Our students learned first-hand how to adapt to such an intimate space with audience on three sides. Now we are translating those lessons into this very conceptual production of Into the Woods.
In collaboration with our mentors, production staff, and student design team, we have developed a minimalistic set design to help maximize our storytelling through the characters. We have incorporated physical theatre style of acting through “The Woods” ensemble. “The Woods” are a metaphysical, highly theatrical concept. At times these actors play trees, birds, statues, thorns, and many other elements of the story. I personally like to think of them as Greek gods and goddesses, observing the human characters in the play and assisting them, or not, as they take an interest in their stories. Into the Woods has been an amazing text with which to explore this idea of physical storytelling. The magical elements of the play have opened the door to some amazing possibilities in staging. “The Woods” ensemble have also allowed us to explore the morals of each character with intrigue and complexity.
At its core, Into the Woods explores family relationships between parent and child, husband and wife, and sibling to sibling. Through the archetypes of the Wolf, the Giant and the Witch we see threats to the family and how these intricate familial relationships respond to such challenges. Some rise to the challenge, some run, some evade, but eventually every character learns a valuable lesson. Act One may seem fairly familiar as it takes our characters up to their ‘Happy Ever After’ moment from each of their original fairy tales. However, Act Two takes a more in depth look at how the harsh realities of life can affect our ‘happy endings’ and teaches us that life is a process. Every moment is a moment-some good, some bad, some joyous, some excruciating. But each is a moment and moments are fleeting. Our actions within those moments are what ultimately what matters.
This production marks many new beginnings. We welcome a new artist to our production team, Randy Snight, who joins us as a choreographer and co-conceiver of “The Woods” concept. For the first time in our history we have utilized a purely physical theatre practice into a Main Stage production. We also employed a new method of casting: workshopping this show for three weeks before selecting the final cast. Over the course of rehearsals and development for Into the Woods we have focused on exploring our process of creating great theatre. However, while this show marks many beginnings it also marks one significant ending. This will be the last time that GCTC will produce a show in a space that is not our own home. We are very excited to step ‘out of the woods’ and into our own Performing Arts Center in the coming months, but we are also very grateful to all those at Good Counsel who made it possible for us to perform in The Litton Gym so that we may “end as we began,” as my lovely partner in crime and producer, Rosemary Slocum so often says, “performing our production in a gymnasium.”