A travel around Dog in a Manger with We Happy Few collaborators

Hey Theatre Fam!

Jon Jon back, after seeking out some of a gifted and accessible association members of We Happy Few. These visit collaborators are presenting their latest offering, The Dog in a Manger, opening subsequent week.

I’ve been to a few We Happy Few productions, and have always been struck by a alliance of a casts, prolongation teams, and what feels like a whirlwind of partnership that radiates out from any of their productions. Having crossed paths with several of their members before, both in amicable and veteran capacities, we managed to get a few thoughts on their arriving work.

Kerry McGee, directors Hannah Todd and Bridget Grace Sheaff, and actors Raven Bonniwell and Kiernan McGowan took some time out of their bustling prolongation report and lives to assistance me empty a small of what’s going on over during We Happy Few for this arriving show.

I notice a tagline from your website is: “If we lifted my voice, would any of this change?”, and that sparks, immediately, in my head, a review surrounding #metoo. While I’m not certain that a timing for The Dog in a Manger is inherently intentional, did partial of a hint come from a thought that people are starting to pronounce adult about abuse, harassment, and injustice? 

Hannah Todd

Hannah Todd: Although a timing of this was positively not conscious – we had no thought when we scheduled this uncover behind in a commencement of 2017 that this would all be function now! –it positively connects to some of a themes we are exploring in a show.

Raven Bonniwell: We unequivocally wanted to try a purpose or payoff that a play deals with.  When we comparison a play, we knew that it felt like a timely discussion, yet didn’t comprehend how timely it would unequivocally be.

Hannah: It deals with privilege: how those in positions of payoff have a energy to figure a universe to their desires, while those yet payoff don’t have that same power.

Raven Bonniwell

Raven: The play doesn’t concentration on nuisance or abuse, as #metoo does, yet it does doubt governmental structures that seem to keep those patterns in place. 

Hannah: It doesn’t yield any easy answers. It ends with a question, with an injunction, with a hope. And hopefully, with #metoo being a primary example, we are entering an epoch when a lifted voice indeed can outcome a change in how payoff shapes a world… Or maybe I’m usually being optimistic.

What about this play speaks to you? 

Hannah: Well, initial of all, in further to all a critical issues and questions, this play is freaking hilarious. My stomach has been spiteful from shouting so tough in rehearsals. And a practice of adore won and lost, that are being acted so beautifully by a cast, cut right to a quick. But a underlying conversations about a governmental structures that foreordain who can do what, who can adore whom – that are so deeply inbred that it’s tough to know how to even start doubt them – also strike a low chord.

Raven: This play is waggish while also touching on some unequivocally genuine issues.  It’s unequivocally a opposite proceed to demeanour during these issues.

Hannah: As someone who has a lot of privilege, it is so easy for me to usually lay behind and accept things, to not lift my voice, to usually go about my life not profitable courtesy to how a structures that advantage me harm other people. This play hurdles me to compensate attention, to lift my voice too. 

We Happy Few has a unequivocally graphic impression of opening and creation. The shows I’ve seen upsurge in and out, with entrances and exits in all directions, and have always done unblemished use out of Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW): Do those stylistic choices continue here? 

Hannah: Oh yes, absolutely! CHAW is a super fun space, and once again we’re regulating it in a flattering non-traditional way, that has been unequivocally sparkling to figure out.

Raven: We unequivocally suffer unequivocally stretching a boundary of a space and regulating it differently any time.

Hannah: This play in sold is FULL of people entrance and going in fast succession.

Raven: There are a ton of moments in this play where characters overhear things they weren’t meant to.

Hannah: … interrupting conversations and monologues, people change their minds and emotions any minute, news travels during a speed of light, time passes unequivocally strangely…

Raven: …also changing characters between one entertainment and a next.

Hannah: So there is many unequivocally a unequivocally strong upsurge in and out in all directions! 

I notice a expel is a brew of We Happy Few Regulars, and a few new faces. How do we go about assigning roles and casting? 

Bridget Grace Sheaff

Bridget Grace Sheaff: As a collaborative company, a staff is done adult of what we call “Artistic Administrators.” Our roles double both as business positions and artistic positions. Our casts will roughly always embody a association member, yet their purpose is not indispensably predetermined.

We reason auditions for everyone, even association members, and it is a alchemy of a sold prolongation that dictates who we finish adult casting. We are looking for casts that wish to try new things, for people who are generative and artistic in their process, and for people who wish to tell a story.

Kerry McGee: It’s unequivocally sparkling to take a expel of people that know any other and work together good and chuck a integrate new faces into a brew and see what happens.  It is a proceed to find that ideal brew between actors that share a comfort turn and can trust any other on stage, and gripping all uninformed and new.

Bridget: As many of a productions need actor marks that play mixed roles, a casting has a fluidity and a impetuosity to it, many like a actors we demeanour to work with.

Kerry: We’ve been unequivocally meddlesome in creation certain that a casts simulate not usually a story we are perplexing to tell yet a incomparable DC village as well.  It’s tough to demeanour during exemplary texts by a new lens, when we don’t have people with opposite perspectives operative on them.  It’s treasonable to assume that we could do that.

Bridget:  We essay for opposite voices in a processes to assistance prominence a singular perspectives of a texts.

Kerry McGee

Kerry: So we try to expel a far-reaching net with a casting calls, and afterwards we have a oppulance of removing to select between many gifted people who can pronounce exemplary text, move, and do impression work, given everybody in a We Happy Few play has to play mixed characters in a singular show.

So, actors: Who do we play, and what’s something we adore about this/these character(s)? 

Raven: I play a Countess Diana in a play.  we adore how ripped she is between a manners multitude has combined and love.  It’s a flattering ideal instance of how we emanate manners for ourselves that afterwards we have to insurgent against.  She unequivocally has to get creative.

Kiernan McGowan: I play Teodoro, a menial who is ripped between following aspiration or love, or infrequently both. we consider a thing we adore many about all a characters in a play is that they are unequivocally disorderly people. They contend things that are guileless and petulant, they don’t always make a best decisions for themselves, and they oscillate behind and onward between what they want. They’re like genuine people, mistakes are done and no one knows how anything is going to work out.

We Happy Few productions mostly need we to wear mixed hats over a march of a show. What are ways we aim to compute a characters, so as to make certain that a assembly doesn’t conflate we with another one of your roles? 

Raven: My doubling in this sold uncover is sincerely small – my primary lane is Diana, yet we double with a teenager impression named Furio in dual scenes.  We unequivocally played with doubling high standing characters with low standing characters and Furio is one of a lowest.  It’s a lot of fun given they are so opposite and we get to play with vast outspoken and earthy distinctions.

Kiernan McGowan

Kiernan: I usually have one line as a delegate impression in this one so I’m not a best for this. we will contend that from a association viewpoint we always essay for transparent storytelling and vouchsafing a actors widen themselves is a unequivocally fun of a code of storytelling. Big earthy and outspoken choices are always a best, a universe is full of characters and bizarre people. Our plays should be as well.

What’s a impulse in this prolongation that you’re vehement to share with a audience? 

Hannah: Oh man, so many yet we don’t wish to spoil anything!! There are some truly distressing moments, and some super voluptuous moments… Also, as my co-director Bridget, and a whole cast, and anybody who’s worked with me will tell you, we adore bits. So there are unequivocally some pieces in there that we wish pleasure a assembly as many as they pleasure me.

Raven: I have proceed too many favorite moments right now.  Rehearsal has been such a pleasure for this process.  we don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so tough so consistently.

Kiernan: My favorite moments are unequivocally a small pieces that we’ve combined with any other. In a credentials of any entertainment there are always small jokes and rivalries. It’s a unequivocally funl universe to be a partial of.

Raven: We all keep observant “Oh! That’s my favorite line” or “That’s my favorite part!” and it changes daily.

Kiernan: This uncover feels like a sum whirlwind.

Bridget: And we will contend this – if we keep an eye out, we might commend some characters from We Happy Few shows past….

Raven:  I’m also looking brazen to a review this play creates.  we am vehement to share a pleasure and pleasure that is this play, yet I’m also vehement about a conversations that come next.  What actions we take.


I have a healthy and flourishing seductiveness in a processes of designers, and am always happy to share what commentary we can. The workings and machinations of designers are mostly some of a unsung heroes of productions, and we adore how entertainment artists, time and time again, implement lights and sound to full move a universe to life. To this end, we privately sought out dual designers on this show; people I’d worked with before, in sequence to get a glance into their work as partial of a process. While we never (well, super rarely) see a lighting or sound engineer on entertainment in a performance, it’s mostly easy to forget their roles in building a world. Jason Aufdem-Brinke built a lights, and Robert Pike built a sound for The Dog in a Manger. 

Jason, we consider you’ve got one of a some-more considerable resumes, generally for comparatively radical and maybe formidable spaces like CHAW and a Anacostia Arts Center. How do we proceed your work meaningful that you’ve got a rather perplexing space to light? 

Lighting Designer Jason Aufdem-Brinke

Jason Aufdem-Brinke:  In small spaces inches matter, so, frequently there is minimal, if any scenery.  This army some technical conversations progressing into a operation process, than you’d have in incomparable / some-more versed spaces.  With knowledge has come some certainty in meaningful what I’m going to be means to light early adequate to speak with directors and give them some time to know what collection of a room they can use or if there are going to be stipulations in those collection of a room.  That is a box in venues I’m informed with, like a dual we mention.

There is never adequate tech time to get all we want, and, if you’re doing things right, you’ll make discoveries during tech – so we have to be open to scrapping an idea, or building off of someone else’s idea.  In WHF those ideas can come from directors, other designers or performers.  WHF has a collaborative sourroundings from 1st rehearsal, by opening – that said, there is also a enlightenment of honour – if an thought is presented that’s good for a singular beat, yet not a altogether show, a engineer or executive (depending on a idea) has final contend over either it happens.

A plea with small spaces is that they tend to have unequivocally singular register (side note: regardless of how vast your venue is, or how many apparatus we have, a lighting engineer is going to consider your apparatus is limited.  This is a concept truth.)

With that in mind, how do we go about creation your lighting choices? 

Jason: Process depends on form of uncover and company.  One consistent is that it starts with a review – either it’s a early complicated prolongation in a black box, or a dance prolongation in a bearing set up, or an uncover in a proscenium, or even a bar mitzvah, there needs to be a review about what a uncover is, and what story we’re telling.  After that a routine depends on other factors… In a box of We Happy Few, there are operation reports to keep adult with what is function in that process, this means building a tract can be fluid.  Other shows there is reduction communication, so a tract needs to expect changes that will fundamentally happen.

Paper tech is a illusory time – some designers find them to be a waste, yet soppy tech is such a altered commodity – so, if we can get a prolongation group together to speak by a uncover before to walking into tech, many of your “does this occur first, or does that” “Do lights and sound go together?” (Side note: “Lights and sound always go together, differently a terrorists win.”  we trust Andrew Griffith coined that.)

What purpose do lights play in revelation a story? 

Jason: Oh man. Everything, and nothing. Lighting is a final pattern component into a process. So, in an ideal world, lighting is usually ancillary what is already function onstage.  My credentials is, “If we notice a lighting, I’ve unsuccessful as a designer.” A integrate things have altered given propagandize for me.

I’ve worked on several productions where lighting is a impression in a uncover (Literally, there was a prolongation where we combined a impression out of light).

Working in small spaces, we can’t censor a equipment, so, we can see everything… so, you’re going to notice a lights. And a assembly expects that.

So, yeah, lighting, along with all a other elements contingency support, and not overcome a story.  But yet specific scenic elements (life in small spaces means all on entertainment becomes multi purpose). It’s my pursuit to assistance a assembly know where we are even before a actors start a scene.

Robert, I’m still comparatively new to your work as a Sound Designer, yet we seem to suffer a good brew of soundtrack, scoring, and foley. What are your inspirations when it comes to formulating a sonic landscape of a show? 

Actor and Sound Designer Robert F. Pike

Robert Pike: When it comes to any new project, we always find impulse from what’s in front of me: a text, a actors, and a pattern elements. In building with a collection and influences already available, I’ve found extraordinary opportunities for canned sound to interplay with live sources (both low-pitched and foley). We’ve detected that this sold prolongation of Dog in a Manger lives in a canned sound world, yet we didn’t know that until we got in a room with a actors. 

What, do we think, is sound and soundtrack’s purpose in formulating a universe of a show?

Robert: Sound is a many stretchable middle in a lot of ways, and we use it as a caulk and grout for a finished square of a uncover – stuffing in a gaps, bridging a spaces, and bolstering a firmness of a production’s frame. My favorite sound designs lift a other elements above it and amplify a inlet of a determined universe a whole group has created.

What is your routine like: I’ve collaborated with we as an actor, and I’m extraordinary if there’s any overlie in your artistic routine as an actor vs your artistic routine as a sound designer. 

Robert: The overlie between behaving and sound pattern is all encompassing and we privately feel small disproportion between a two. we am proudest of (and many vehement about) my work when we can step behind and see my work tie in with other pattern elements for a advantage of a story, and for palliate of assembly bargain and delight to that story.

I’ve been operative on carrying no contrition in my art and permitting for open review and healthy attrition to promote a product. The artists who work from that substructure are a ones we honour most.

We’ll have a initial possibility to see a work come together when The Dog in a Manger opens Nov 8th at a Capitol Hill Arts Workshop.

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