The process of "Crave"

by Guest Blogger

The process from script to stage is always marked by intensity and exploration. This weekend, the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club opens Crave. In recent weeks, producer Danielle Drees chronicled the path of Sarah Kane's tortured story of four fragmented voices on the verge of collapse. The show runs Sept. 30-Oct. 8 at the Loeb Ex. The following is Drees' visual account of preparing the show for its thematic mood.

Our production of Crave began as an idea about writing: needing to write, struggling to write and not being able to write. The play is about the limits of articulation, how the stories you tell and the apologies you make never quite accomplish what you want. From pictures of graffiti - desperate writing on abandoned buildings - we moved to testing out writing in the rehearsal room (look for an extra Sarah Kane quote on the chalkboard in the image above) to adding writing to the set every night of the performance.

We wanted to build a sense of the overwhelming need to write through mountains of paper that threatened to subsume the playing space. Our load-in began with us finding written-on paper in recycling bins all over campus, and then stapling, tying, and hot gluing these papers to wood and chicken wire frames. From a distance, the set looks pretty similar to our inspiration photo, but if you look closely, it's made up of discarded take out menus, newspapers, sheet music and Expos essays.

To make the space feel even more claustrophobic, we chose to close it in vertically using a fragmented, suspended ceiling. After experimenting with a variety of materials (everything from Plexiglass to steel), we chose mirror-finish aluminum and attached it to a four by sixteen foot frame. This frame was then rigged with aircraft cable and chains and hoisted sixteen feet into the air by the staff and cast.

To communicate the ideas of the show to potential audience members, we went back to the idea of writing. We covered a poster board with nearly every line in the show - along with its performance information - and then Photoshopped a tiny image of Mariel Pettee, who plays the character C, into the corner, as if C were writing all these lines herself. With a few days left until opening, we were still in the middle of dozens of experiments with the set, lighting, sound and performances. The show will be a testament to how it turned out.

Photos: Phil Gillen, Eleanor Regan, Bryce Gilfillian and Brenda LinPoster: Nasir Husain and Mariel Pettee.

[Caption: "I don't have music, Christ I wish I had music, but all I have is words."]

[Caption: "An American woman translated a novel from Spanish into English. She asked her Spanish classmate his opinion of her work. The translation was very bad. He said he would help her and she offered to pay him for his time. He refused. She offered to take him out to dinner. This was acceptable to him so he agreed. But she forgot. The Spaniard is still waiting for his dinner. "]

[Caption: "We pass these messages. … We pass these messages faster than we think and in ways we don’t think possible."]