Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thank Heaven for Creepy Dolls (An Ode to Jeannie)

As those of you who know my aesthetic were probably already aware, I love me some creepy dolls and puppets onstage. My guidance to props designers I work with is usually to find something as off-putting as possible when we use them. For instance, when I directed Caucasian Chalk Circle  for Promethean Theatre Ensemble a few years back, this is the puppet we used to represent Michael, the young child that is the cause of the plot's major dispute:

And, when Sara Gorsky (who played our lead Grusha, but was also working on the show's PR and Marketing a bit) sent me a series of stock photos we might choose as the show's marketing/poster image, I fell in love with THIS one at first sight:

Looking back at my last few shows, this is definitely turning into an aesthetic mini-trend for me- when I did Coraline back in 2014, when I was considering the best way to represent the dead ghost children, we wound up decapitating some dolls and putting LED lights in the to make them glow:

....which brings us to Goblin Market. When I was planning my way through the blocking and stage pictures for the show, one idea I had involved the staging of the song "Do You Not Remember Jeannie," sung by the character Lizzie to her sister Laura. In it, Lizzie castigates Laura for having stayed out late with the goblins and eaten their fruit, reminding her of the horrible fatal demise of a girl they knew named Jeannie who had fallen into the same trap years ago:

"She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died..." 
The number is a fun little confection that mixes foreboding with a bit of saltiness and humor at the same time. And to embody that, I decided that we would have Lizzie use on of the dolls from their toy shelf to represent "Jeannie," both for the sillier parts at the start of the song, and also to give it a doll funeral of sorts in the toy chest when the song becomes darker and more melancholy near the end. My props designer, Rocky Kolecke, really outdid herself with the doll that she found to be Jeannie:


She's a beaut, ain't she?  Unfortunately, I don't think we'll be able to work with her again- she was a total diva in rehearsal. Here she is right after our stage manager told her that break time was over:

No comments: