Center Stage Theater
Santa Barbara, California
E. Bonnie Lewis, Ken Gilbert, George Coe, Mindy Turano, Hylla Sue Fischer, Jennifer Marco, Mack Urbanowicz and Josh Jenkins
Tales of Woo and Woe began 10 years ago as a thought: what if DramaDogs were to take Shakespeare’s texts out of context, and play with the richness of the words and human emotions of joy and sorrow, love and torment? “Woo” and “woe” are words for emotions and states of being that our culture and society no longer use in conversation. What if we featured moments of Shakespeare’s plays – monologues and scenes – that brought us to the movement and voicing of these moments in characters’ lives?
Playwright Jinny Webber as the right choice. She crafted the scholarly foundation in choosing text and distilling poignant moments that, when connected, created a “journey.” Drafting and editing was a five-year collaborative process between the directors and the playwright and, ultimately, the cast of this show.
DramaDogs’ physical / emotional approach requires the actors to connect mind and emotion from the body first. The human brain is wired to engage body language and tone of voice before words are spoken; it’s working from the inside out. Prior to physical rehearsal, we spent houses listening to the texts and being coached by Jinny in order to bring their context and relevancy into the actors’ understanding of their meaning. Working with the actors’ spines, physical centers and gestures then revealed each character’s posture, walk and emotional truths; this is what we are performing.
How dare I collaborate with the bard, dead for 399 years? I’m grateful to DramaDogs for offering me this challenge.
Shakespeare has much to say about how “the course of true love never did run smooth.” The five part structure of Tales of Woo and Woe draws on his plays, poems and songs to create a new arc: the journey of the heart. There’s the thrill of love at first sight then follies committed in the name of love, and then the exchange of vows. Alas, promises can fail, tormenting the heart with grief, loss, and jealousy. National Poetry Month has a happy ending; the enduring power of love.
Tales of Woo and Woe: A Journey of the Heart, requires little knowledge of Shakespeare’s works; it focuses on the universal challenges and delights of love that we experience in our own lives. As Romeo says, Love ‘is too rough, too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like a thorn,’ and yet, it offers transcendent joy.