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."

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