Directed by Bree Bridger
by Elizabeth A.M. Keel
September 5-29, 2019
INTERVIEW WITH BREE BRIDGER ON DIRECTING OVERRIDE
Landing Literary Associate Brendan Bourque-Sheil, reached out to OVERRIDE Director Bree Bridger to get her thoughts on the play, and how she approaches micro theatre.
1. Since this is your second time directing a micro-play with us, let’s start by talking a bit about micro theatre in general, and then get into the specifics of this project. As a director, what do you see as the challenges, and advantages, of doing micro theatre in this way?
Every style of theatre has its unique challenges. After my first experience with micro theatre I had a better understanding of what we want to achieve in this environment: honesty, vulnerability, and immediacy between the action and the audience. We're not forcing a play into these intimate home spaces -- we're building them to suit the space and to use it to our benefit. There's not much we can control with the space itself, as we are guests in spaces that belong to generous Landing supporters, and so we can't say "We'll move that wall six inches back" to fix a sightline. I learned that leaning into the obstacles is a strength -- if it doesn't make sense to put the characters in places where we can see both of their faces, well, maybe we don't get to see someone's face for this moment. How do we make that significant? That's how it would be if these two characters were really in this space, in a living room, having a conversation -- they wouldn't be cheating to the empty wall. There's a balancing act in knowing when to sacrifice 'cheating to the audience' to ground the play in its setting, and when we need to see a moment play out in expression.
2. This is your first time directing one of Elizabeth’s plays, but far from your first time working with her. What are some things you like about Elizabeth’s work as a playwright in general, and about Override specifically?
I am a huge fan of speculative fiction, and Elizabeth charts courses in stylized worlds with an attention to detail and character beyond many of her contemporaries in writing for the stage. Override is no exception, as we're grounded in a world just slightly different to ours, with stakes just slightly extravagant to the usual ones. It allows us to creatively make that world even more believable for ourselves and the audience -- it's a much more fun way of playing pretend than we sometimes get on stage! On top of that, Elizabeth embraces joy in her storytelling in a way that is refreshing and honest, and that's infectious. I am rooting for Louise and for Grav so hard -- and I think the audience will too!
3. What’s been the most interesting part of watching this play develop through multiple drafts and during the rehearsal process?
Elizabeth has within her the encyclopedia of this entire alternate reality and its history, how it is like and how it diverges from ours, and any question that I have for her she has an answer for. It has been wonderful to see how she has brought these details into the text in organic ways -- with each draft, we're seeing more tiles in the mosaic of this story. Elizabeth has also been clear when something in the play should not be changed, and that's led me to make discoveries about the text in line with her vision.
4. A lot of the comedy and intimacy in Override is conveyed through physicality. Can you talk a little bit about your approach to directing the physical side of this play?
The play investigates what makes touch so meaningful to us -- how the intention behind it affects how we receive it, on an emotional and even chemical level. So we've looked at it scientifically, much as Louise would -- what are the parts of touch that matter, and how does variation impact the results? We've broken down the physical (and at times, mental!) experiences with touch that the characters go through and that has empowered the actors to make the slight adjustments in their touch that carry a lot of impact.
5. Is there any thing in your everyday life that the process of directing Override has made you think about differently?
It's led me to think about how and why I seek physical touch with other people -- for comfort, for joy, for reassurance, for relief, for pleasure. It's led me to think about the how, especially, and how other people seek it from me. I've also thought a lot about how technology has become a part of the way we socialize with people -- and the ways that can be misused, but also the ways it has enhanced human connection for so many individuals and communities! Technology has been a critical part of keeping me connected with old friends and for learning more about the world and for keeping myself and family members alive. It just has to be used ethically -- something this play dives into really well.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to say about the show?
At the time of this interview, we're halfway through rehearsals and we are having so much fun every day. Just think about how much fun it will be when it's showtime! Don't miss it!
Brendan Bourque-Sheil is a resident playwright of the Landing Theatre Company, and the Literary Associate for Landing Local New Works Initiatives, which was created to help develop more creative opportunities for local playwrights.