Well, it’s been nearly a year since we presented the Staged Reading of The Departure Train, and we’d like to update you on our progress.
Over the last year, we (Michelle and Nicole) have been meeting every month to continue to develop the play. We’ve been reflecting on the feedback we received from our supporters at the Gladstone, and meeting the creative challenges of telling Audrey’s story and staging her afterlife world.
It’s our goal to give the audience an immersive experience of this otherworld, and so we’ve been playing with different approaches to staging and scripting. We want to keep the audience with us on this train, especially when it starts to move “off-track” in a non-linear way through time.
After we staged the play at the Gladstone, Nicole really noticed the difficulty of staging the fast-moving scenes and moving chairs around etc. She felt it was really clunky and she wanted the story to “float”. “Why can’t the actors just float?” she joked at one point.
We found a solution when we came up with the idea of carrying the audience through the story with a bed of sound and music and staging the play with the actors moving around the audience, enveloping them in sound. Michelle is re-working the script to provide a “sonic immersion” that will keep the audience oriented as we move through the play. There are many amazing non-human voices in the story, the most distinctive one being the train itself!
Michelle has also been immersing herself in Audrey’s character and retelling the story from her perspective to get clarity on the events and the ‘rules’ of Audrey’s afterlife. She’s been richly informed by recent books on the near-death and afterlife experience, including Words at the Threshold by Lisa Smartt, and Dreaming Beyond Death by Patricia and Kelly Bulkeley.
As we move into 2020, we’re going to workshop scenes from the play that produce the biggest staging and sound challenges. These workshops will help to solidify the direction we take in terms of where we stage the play, how we develop the soundtrack and incorporate narration.
It’s a big project and it’s taking time but we are more enthusiastic about it than ever and we heartily appreciate your warm support as we continue the journey from page to stage. Stay tuned!
Nicole Arends (Director)
Michelle Tocher (Playwright)