Unique Development Process of
OUROBOROS is an unusual project in
that it had no pre-existing script when the rehearsals got underway. It
began as a fairly open-ended idea conceived of by Director Brian Zybala.
The performances of OUROBOROS that audiences will see are the result of
the evolution of Zybala's original concept throughout the collective
development of that idea with his ensemble of actors, designers, and
It is exciting to see a project take
shape through such an experimental, non-hierarchical approach. We at
Subversive Theatre are very proud to bring life to a production that is
"subversive" not just in terms of content, but style and development
We thought audiences would be interested to
know more about this unusual approach. Therefore, a detailed description
of the various stages of the rehearsal/creation process is provided below.
OUROBOROS takes from the style of 1960's
experimental theater. Tipping our hats to the notorious Hippie-Era
anti-establishment troupe, The Open Theatre, we worked from a concept outline
to create this piece. Rehearsals for this production consisted of
improvisational games, movement exercises, and extensive discussions.
A typical rehearsal would begin with a movement
exercise. The director would talk the actors through the process of
changing their bodies from prone positions on the ground to tall standing
trees, animals, airplanes, or other creations.
The exercises would run about 30 minutes and would hold
relevance to the area of the production that would be blocked that day.
Once the actors had become familiar with the type of
movement that would be asked of them on a particular day they would sit with
the director for discussion. The discussions for this production ranged
from the nature of work to biblical writings to existentialism.
Discussions would last about 30 minutes and then the actors would take a break
before crafting the next section of the piece.
Music was instrumental in the creation of OUROBOROS.
There was seldom a moment when the actors were working that music was not
being played. The music is seen by the troupe as the 9th actor in this
Once the director explained what he wanted the actors to
experiment with and the music was running, the actors would set about on
improvisational movement. The improv sessions could run up to 30
minutes. During this time, the director would choose pieces of work that
the actors were creating that fit his vision.
After an improvisational session, the director would
gather the actors together and shape the basic structure of each section.
The actors would then use that more defined outline to recreate the section.
This process would repeat until the director and the actors were pleased with
what they had created.
After the first week of rehearsals, the different
sections were joined together and adjusted to give the piece a flow that would
be create strong responses from the audience. It was at this point that
the sound designer (John Shotwell) got much more involved in the process.
John would meet with the director about three times a week working on
selecting and creating musical pieces that would compliment the movement of
the actors and the goal of the director. The actors would then make
adjustments to the new music and the designer would continue to make
adjustments to what the actors had changed.
Once the piece was blocked by the actors and director,
two new choreographers get involved with the piece, Monica Karwan (dance)
Candice Kogut (fight). Even with the presence of dance and fight
choreographers the sections were not dictated to the actors. The
choreographers came to rehearsals with a general idea that was developed with
conversations with the director and worked with the actors to make it as
organically suited to the actors' bodies and movement styles as possible.
In the last week of rehearsals, the troupe ran the
performance as it will be seen by the audience. Although OUROBOROS
was created out of improvisation, the director made the final decisions as to
what the audience would see and hear.
The director, Brian Zybala recently explained:
"Ouroboros is not a play in the conventional
sense. I like to think of it as a physical poem. A poet attempts
to create strong images with words that will cause his or her audience to feel
an experience that is trapped within the heart
and mind of the poet. With Ouroboros, I was honored to have a
cast that allowed me to use their talents to create the images that I believe
will allow our audience to experience the emotions and ideas that are trapped
within my heart and mind."