NOW THE DAY IS OVER, conceived and directed by Allyson McMackon, with Melinda Little, Siobhan Power, Erik Kever Ryle and Sarah Weatherwax. Presented by Theatre Rusticle at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. July 6 at 11 pm, July 7 at 5 pm, July 9 and 15 at 9:30 pm, July 12 at 6:30 pm, July 14 and 16 at 2 pm. Rating: NNNNN
Allyson McMackon was taught as an actor at the U of T and York to concentrate on text, but as a performer she instinctively thinks with her body.
That combination of word and movement inspired McMackon to found Theatre Rusticle, a company devoted to interpreting text through the physical. The group's latest piece, Now The Day Is Over, takes its inspiration from Virginia Woolf's tightly woven novel The Waves, but then streams imagery and character through the performers' bodies.
"The body as a container can hold an emotional range that actors are seldom called upon to use traditionally," notes McMackon, whose earlier work Bride's Albatross was a hit at the 1998 San Francisco Fringe. "By starting with the body -- not in a dance sense, but rather in how the body is held in space -- I find we can create a richness of emotional expression and a great sense of humanity."
For Now The Day Is Over, McMackon has distilled the difficult 1931 Woolf text -- a novel about the journey of six friends from childhood to death -- into the tale of an uptight businessman who meets three women on his homebound journey at the end of a workday. Its title comes from a children's hymn, alluded to in the novel as a song the children sing when they feel safe.
"Because the dark, tragic, charming, poetic novel is so dense, the relationship to movement is difficult. There are moments of great stillness that move into big, broad gestures. We're still seeking a balance between the two, of how the movement can evolve in quieter points and let the text have its say. Woolf is a bit like Shakespeare that way: in addition to suggesting the subtext, you have to think on the line and know where to go on the next movement."
But McMackon -- whose local work includes directing The Field and Purple Heart -- knows to collaborate with her four performers and not simply tell them where to go and how to move.
"It's challenging to take a soliloquy and figure out with an actor how to think the thoughts and express them physically. The performer can't get too intellectual, but must rely on personal imagery and go for an impulse in the moment. It's a task and a half."