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OSLO Behind the Scenes: Staging Peace
This is the third in a series of posts taking a look behind the scenes of our winter Off-Mirvish production, Oslo, from the perspective of our RBC Emerging Director—and one of Oslo’s two Assistant Directors—Kerry Ann Doherty. Read the first post here.
Above: The production team in rehearsal for Oslo. L to R: Victoria Wang, Assistant Stage Manager; Laura Baxter, Stage Manager; Kerry Ann Doherty, Assistant Director.
Some days, I can’t go onto my Facebook page. Between the comments over Trump’s Wall, Brexit and Yellow Vests and badly behaved teens, the intolerance can feel overwhelming. In a world that seems obsessed with “the left” or “the right”, it is important to produce a play like Oslo.
It is inspiring to think about the leaders portrayed in our story who risked their careers and their lives to sit in a room, across from their enemies. And the man who believed peace was possible and worked so hard to get these enemies to even sit at the negotiating table. In today’s cynical world, this seems like a work of fiction. But it is not. Terje Rød Larsen, along with his wife, Mona Juul, and other Norwegian diplomats, risked a huge amount to create a safe space in which these adversaries could talk.
In building this play, the playwright JT Rogers talked with some of the people involved and read other’s journals. The events are factual. Of course the conversations are the playwright’s interpretation of what transpired, but most of the action is a recreation of true events, a docudrama.
There are times in the rehearsal hall when I forget that. When the director, Joel Greenberg, is working with the actors on a scene and I am watching the process. Learning from it. Watching how Joel and the acting company build a scene, a unit of scenes, an act, a play. Listening to conversations about where the actor was before the scene started, why they move on that line, who is moving the table this time: all necessary elements that create a production.
Above: Director Joel Greenberg works with actors Blair Williams, Anders Yates and Marla McLean in rehearsal.
It was today after watching the first run of the entire play that I was struck with the enormity of the events that take place onstage. The simplicity of the idea of peace and how hard it is to accomplish. But is it? Maybe if more of us were like Terje and had the audacity to hope and the willingness to reach out, our Facebook pages would be filled again with baby pictures, dog videos, and success stories.
Above: The full company of Oslo works on blocking the final scene of the play.