Carey Perloff


TINY THEATRICALS: Capturing the Creative Process



OVERVIEW: Tiny Theatricals is a digital theater platform created and developed by director Carey Perloff to capture the creative process, unleashing the magic of the rehearsal room via digital episodes so that both artists and the general public can experience the transformative power of making theater.


Inspired by John Barton's groundbreaking BBC series “Playing Shakespeare” (approaching the plays with a modern sensibility and informed by in-depth historical knowledge) the series will feature high-quality “behind-the-scenes” videos featuring major actors rehearsing great classical plays and wrestling with the ideas and issues contained in the work. Having led the American Conservatory Theater for 25 years and directed dozens of award-winning classical and contemporary productions across America and Canada, I will guide the rehearsal process and, in the future, invite fellow directors to lend their own expertise. Past pilots of this program have featured Uma Thurman and Lucas Hedges in Chekhov's SEAGULL, Bob Balaban and John Douglas Thompson in Sophocles' OEDIPUS AT COLONUS and David Strathairn and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in Ibsen's GHOSTS. Because the creation of these captured rehearsal videos requires a short time commitment on the part of the actors, we will be able to invite major talent to rehearse material they would never otherwise have the time or opportunity to explore. Content will be available both on video platforms and ultimately in podcast form.


GOAL: To make the rehearsal process as invigorating, immediate and accessible as possible, thereby expanding and deepening the public's knowledge of, and appetite for, live theater specifically and the creative process more broadly. Why does this matter? Because empathy and the imagination are muscles which must be exercised to remain supple, yet these are the qualities that allow us to live as citizens in a crowded and contentious world.


The digital content will provide a unique view of how actors and directors collaborate, focusing on the wide range of psychological and physical choices actors make moment-to-moment in the rehearsal room, and how those choices inform a wider understanding of dramatic literature, cultural history and the exercise of imagination.


CONTEXT: The post-pandemic American theater is confronting enormous challenges as we try to bring audiences back into our spaces and to sustain an art form that is chronically underfunded and holds little security for most of the artists involved. Yet the closure of live theater during Covid presented opportunities to test out new ideas to stimulate the field.  As soon as the lockdown went into effect, I began to create open rehearsals on a variety of platforms (including those of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Seattle Repertory Theater and the San Francisco Playhouse) during which audience members could sign up (free) to watch an hour of actors rehearsing on Zoom. The Chat room was open so that members of the public could ask questions about the process and share their discoveries. The response was overwhelming: within a short time, upwards of 300 people per episode were tuning in to enjoy the process.


It seemed clear that the idea had potential to grow. People were longing for a way to tap into their own creative imaginations, to watch major artists work, and to debate the complex issues raised in great classical plays. The more we invite audience members to engage in the creative process of “making a play”, the more connected they become to theater itself and to their own empathy and imagination. Digital rehearsals can provide a fruitful way to expand and deepen actor training at a time when a fulltime commitment to graduate school is financially impossible for many American actors.


PLAN and LAUNCH:

Tiny Theatricals will launch in fall 2022 with a series entitled “Rehearsing Greek Tragedy”, an investigation into strategies and methods for rehearsing and understanding ancient Greek tragedy for the contemporary stage.  “Rehearsing the Greeks” will be comprised of five fully-produced digital episodes focusing on intensive scene work on Sophocles' OEDIPUS cycle, followed by three episodes based on Euripides' HELEN. Episodes will include interviews with the actors and musicians, analysis of the impact of translation upon performance, exploration of the role of music in Greek tragedy, and discussions of key issues and ideas, encouraging viewers to think about ancient tragedy as a window into notions of democracy, justice, faith, war, gender and leadership. Future episodes will explore a wide range of dramatic literature beyond the Greeks.


We will partner with Seattle Repertory Theater, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Presidio Theater and the UK's premiere digital theater platform, DT+ (https://www.digitaltheatre.com), to capture live rehearsals and shape the content for public viewing. DT+ operates as a subscription model in the UK; it can be found in 98 countries and reaches up to 3 million students a year, so the impact of its offerings is broad and deep. My goal with Tiny Theatricals is to ultimately offer the content free in the US, and to share it as widely as possible so that artists and the general public can learn and grow from watching the episodes, and share their thoughts interactively. I believe this is a crucial investment in the future of the art form, and a fitting way that I can give back to the field after sustaining a decades-long career as a director, Artistic Director and educator.


TINY THEATRICALS is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of TINY THEATRICALS must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. https://fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/tiny-theatricals-a-digital-theater-platform