In the spirit of Bonnie and Clyde with two teenage runaways involved in murder, theft and deceit, Yellow Moon: The Ballad of Leila and Lee is an encounter with memory, story-making and storytelling. Yellow Moon director Susanna Wolk ’14 spoke with me about her vision for the show. Performances run Oct. 10-12 at the Loeb Ex.
How does the use of the black box help shape a story in your show?
A black box like the Ex is so exciting to me because it creates a real intimacy with the audience that would be impossible to achieve in a proscenium space. That type of visceral connection is so important to Yellow Moon, since so much of the show is directly speaking to the audience with no set and almost no props. They can really imagine the physical world along with the actors. But more than that, having the spectators there, in such close proximity really adds urgency to the characters’ quest to turn memory into a story. The show is in the round, and we have three rows of seats including one row on the ground with blankets and pillows. There will be hot chocolate. I want it to be like sitting around a campfire and watching a story unfold.
The script presents the story in an atypical way. Can you discuss your process in experimenting with the script and your actors?
While some of the script is dialogue just like a normal play, Yellow Moon has posed a unique challenge in that much of the script is written as passages of narrative storytelling or direct address to the audience. These passages are not divided up between the four characters, so it has been a group effort to figure out what is the most interesting way to apportion these texts and get the audience invested in the people, objects, settings and events that they may not be physically seeing on stage. A lot of the script is focused on what could have happened so we’ve been working really hard to find those distinctions. The actors have been so amazing and inventive in terms of creating a whole world with the little that we have on stage–blocks, ropes, cloths.
What made you choose Yellow Moon?
I saw Yellow Moon at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in high school and was immediately taken with how the story’s immediacy was derived from its minimalism. I’ve been thinking a lot about how some of the most interesting theatrical events are ones that can be an act of creation not just for the actors and directors and designers, but also for the audience, and in my opinion, this is exactly what Yellow Moon is. It tells a really exciting story about the adventures of two very wounded teenagers running away together after a violent crime, like a modern Bonnie and Clyde. It tells this story in pretty much the simplest way, which is very exciting to me. This is a show where the audience will be immersed right in the action, of which there is a quite a bit packed into 80 minutes. They’ll get the chance to think about how we construct stories from memories. There’s some separation between the facts of an event and how it felt, which can oftentimes be more real. Yellow Moon is all about how it felt and how we convey that to other people, even if it means embellishing the truth.