In the Woods: Fiasco Theater & McCarter Theatre Center

By Tran, Diep | American Theatre, November 2014 | Go to article overview

In the Woods: Fiasco Theater & McCarter Theatre Center


Tran, Diep, American Theatre


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For its 11-actor production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical Into the Woods, Fiasco Theater took an actor-driven, ensemble Approach to the material. In this production, everyone did everything--acted, played instruments and moved props.

Ben Steinfeld, CO-DIRECTION, ACTOR: As we talked about Into the Woods, we realized that the piece deals a lot with inheritance, and what we do with the things that we inherit--family and expectations and emotions and objects. And so we came up with the attic of memory, a space full of objects you could find in an attic, maybe from 100 years ago--it contained a grandfather clock, a ladder, sheet music, packing crates, pieces of furniture and a piano that we based the whole show around. Personally, I've inherited my grandfather's piano from my parents--it's an object made up of wood and strings, but when a piano becomes part of your family history, it takes on a magical power. And that's true of all the objects in the story.

We take our roles as storytellers seriously, and that means contributing to the scenes we are not in, in terms of providing musical support, sound support and physical support. As far as music goes, we always just base it on what the actors can play. I play the guitar quite a bit in the show--so we created a guitar/banjo sound for Jack and Jack's mother, to really make them feel like they're on the farm. The lifeblood and the heartbeat of the production have to do with the way the whole ensemble shares in the storytelling.

Derek McLane, SET DESIGN: When Fiasco approached me, they said they didn't want a forest, but they needed a container to put the show into. …

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