A great project I’m starting this fall is a stage adaptation of John Cassavetes 1959 film “Shadows”. I’ve been corresponding for about a year with the talented Alec Duffy, actor, writer, director of the New York based collaborative theater company Hoi Polloi – responsible for last years irreverent, intelligent, and unexpectedly hilarious “Three Pianos”, which ran at New York Theater Workshop and won an Obie Award.
Alec presented the idea of adapting “Shadows” and I was immediately interested in the subject matter, though I hadn’t seen the film. Imdb.com briefly sums up the plot as:
“Cassavetes’ jazz-scored improvisational film explores interracial friendships and relationships in Beat-Era (1950s) New York City.”
Without blowing any important plot details that is basically what the film is about. However, it is Cassevetes’ first film and was “inspired” by improvisation — that is, there was no formal script to follow and most of the performers in the original film were acting students under the direction of Cassavetes.
This poses a very interesting performative task — What is the utility of recreating, from a transcribed script, an improvised performance? How can we, as a company, add too, or comment on the source material? I also have the opportunity to take on the role of “Rupert”, played in the source film by Rupert Crosse – the first black man to be nominated for a supporting actor Oscar (not for this film, but that distinction invites some comment). There are so many levels available in this performance for me, as an artist, to explore and build upon — . I’m VERY excited to get started and see what interesting light I can shed on this adaptation.