Friday, May 29, 2009

N.A.S.A. Grant Awardee Margot Lasher on "The Mind of the Dog"

Friday, May 29 - "When Other Minds was done in Key West as a staged reading, the director Earl Halbe used two actors, a silent Dog (Tom Robinson) and a Voice of Dog (Elizabeth Halbe). It worked well and my first plan was to follow this structure. But Earl didn’t have time to work much on movement, which is my focus: I want to develop the motions of the dog and the non-verbal closeness between dog and human. So thinking of movement, I decided to get a dancer as the silent dog. But when I thought about that, I realized that any good dancer would have his or her own style, and it would not necessarily fit this play or my concept of the dog. So then I thought I would get an actor as the silent Dog, but if the actor was good, why would I want to take his lines away? So after a lot of back and forth, I decided to have one actor who would both speak and move as the dog.

"Now it occurs to me that when there are two distinct dogs (verbal and non-verbal), and the voice of the dog is coming from offstage or above, there is more ambiguity about whether the human is hallucinating the talking or the dog is really talking. And that ambiguity is fine; plays have different levels and potentially different interpretations. But for me, the dog is really talking. For some unknown reason, the dog starts talking and I am listening to the mind of the dog. So I am happy that there is a single actor as Dog."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

N.A.S.A. Grant Awardee Margot Lasher on Endings

In her second blog entry, Margot Lasher—the recipient of the Flynn’s Winter/Spring N.A.S.A. Grant Award—discusses the difficulty of bringing a theater work to a satisfactory close.

Tuesday, May 26 - "Have you ever been to a new play, and it ends, and you don’t realize it was the end? There is no curtain, and after an uncomfortable silence someone in the audience gets it and starts applauding.

"Endings are difficult. In classical theater, tragedies ended in death and comedies in marriage, and the end wasn’t so unexpected.

"I was listening to the actors reading Act III—Newton had finished his part and David and Naomi went into a rhythmic passage that had a sense of togetherness, of being settled, and I knew that those lines should be 'The End.' But the script dragged on for two more scenes. I was cursing the playwright when I realized that it was me.

"I would never have seen this ending without hearing it read by experienced actors, tuned into the rhythm of the piece. I rewrote."

The next N.A.S.A. application deadline will be Monday, August 24. Visit the Flynn website at for more information and an application.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Margot Lasher is the Flynn Center Winter/Spring N.A.S.A. Grant Awardee

Margot Lasher, writer and licensed psychologist specializing in the human-dog relationship, is the recipient of the Flynn’s Winter/Spring N.A.S.A. Grant Award. Lasher draws on her background as an experimental theater writer, actor, and dog lover to create and develop Other Minds—a play exploring the close connection shared between humans and canines. Her work-in-progress will be presented on Sunday, August 9 at 7 pm in FlynnSpace.

As part of her work, Margot will contribute weekly blog entries discussing the process of creating Other Minds. Here is the first in her series of posts about her ongoing creative process.

Cast of Other Minds:
From left to right: Shiro, dog; Irene Facciolo, Director; David Klein, Dog; Naomi Flanders, Human; Newton Baker, Stranger and dog trainer. Not pictured: Charlie, David’s dog; Soren Pfeffer, a second dog

Wednesday, May 13 - "The presence of the dogs is crucial. If you think about dogs and cats in the theater, they are almost always cute and stupid. I want to show them as they are for us in our lives—wise, noble, perceptive, and maybe sometimes cute and stupid. In our private lives, which is what modern theater is about, dogs are deeply important. We are exploring the human-dog relationship."

The next N.A.S.A. application deadline will be Monday, August 24. Visit the Flynn website at for more information and an application.