Directed by Elana McKelahan
Produced by The Unsoft War and Highly Impractical Theatre
Nominated for: Outstanding Choreography/Movement, Ian Fields Stewart & Nikita Chaudhry
About the Production
The Unsoft War is a theater collective dedicated to “creating work that is relentless and courageous.” Untameable is an immersive diamond heist play that follows the story of two young women: one trying to repatriate an old jewel and the other, trying to keep old nemeses at bay. The audience is free to wander the space and pick which side of the story they want to follow.
Playwright Daria Miyeko Marinelli and Choreographers, Ian Fields Stewart & Nikita Chaudhry talk about creating this visceral and compelling work.
What attracted you to this production?
Ian: The highly collaborative, devised, and genderqueer nature of Untameable spoke to me both as an artist and as a person. It is very important to me to do good art that reflects the full spectrum of humanity. For me, this show's dedication to the representation of all genders and 50% diversity in its casting promised to be just that.
Nikita: I love dance theater, and the idea of playing a character that cannot use words to tell the story, in the context of others that can, really excited me. As an actor, dancer, choreographer, and singer, I am drawn to projects that allow for me to fully use all of my artistic self. When I found out at callbacks that the creative team was very interested in a female-bodied performing playing the role of "Boy Prince," and male-bodied performer playing the "Lady Queen," I was hooked. Destroying social constructs is particular hobby and passion of mine. I believe the performing arts serves an important purpose to challenge audiences in the way that they think about the world.
Daria: I wanted to create an immersive piece that both examines choice and asks the audience to choose. Likewise, I've always enjoyed diamond heists and wanted to see if we could bring a fast-paced heist vibe to the stage.
What did you want the audience to walk away with after watching Untameable?
Daria: The sense that, while we may not be able to have it all, what power we have in choosing.
What was your favorite part of working on this production?
Ian: My favorite of working on Untameable was the process of translating Daria's words into movement. Due to the enormity of the script and the many different pieces required to make it happen, the rest of the scenes that occurred outside of the vignettes between the Lady Queen and the Boy Prince were highly structured and needed to be as such to work effectively. Our moments were so flexible and fluid. It was very freeing.
Nikita: My favorite part of working on this production was interacting with the audience. Particularly as an immersive show, every evening was extremely different based on the audience's energy. I was able to feed off of their responses, as well as off of the work of my dance/devising partner, Ian Stewart every night. Often Ian and I had to work around bodies in our playing space so while we had structure, the moments of improvisation were thrilling.
Daria: The people. We assembled a smart, ambitious, passionate, talented beyond talented team. It was a dream.
What was the most challenging part of working on this production?
Ian: The most challenging part was doing the choreography in an immersive space when some nights we had 50+ people crowded into one room. You have to really trust your audience when you're leaping through the air a few inches from their faces.
Nikita: Devising this choreography while the other pieces of the play (meaning the other storylines) were simultaneously rehearsing was a challenge for me. It was hard to see how the whole play was going to come together and make sense for us as performers, and for the audience. In choreographing throughout the rehearsal process, I think we each had different ideas of what the piece could/should look like, but once we started executing and playing around, everything started to come together more and more. Working on an immersive show without the audience present made it hard to really know if we had a show; I'll never forget that feeling our first night with an audience where that spark finally lit up.
Daria: Multiple plays happening at the same time! There was always a lot happening- both in the room and on the producorial side.
What made this production unique for you?
Ian: This production was the first show and first acting audition I did since I moved to New York on June 1st, 2015.
Nikita: Every rehearsal with Daria and Ian was odd, quirky, innovative, and funny. There were so many moments when Ian and I would just break out into cackles about something stupid or silly we did during an improvisation. I think we really enjoyed working with one another. Playing with the set and the space for the first time was also quite a hilarious scene. We challenged ourselves beyond the limits of what we thought our bodies could do.
It was also so great to embody movements and experiences of another gender identity through this choreography. I am thankful for the opportunity to escape my typical habits of dance and choreography and discover a new part of myself.
Daria: It was a wonderful challenge to do an immersive, split-action diamond heist. Odd, innovative, dynamic- it was everything.
What was it like working with this company?
Ian: I really respect Daria's vision for theatre and the way she plans to manifest that vision not just within theatres producing her work but the very community of theatre itself. Elana also led this production with a warm spirit and a firm hand. I felt so welcomed and respected as a multidisciplinary artist in their hands, and I hope to continue working with both of them for a very long time.
Nikita: I really enjoyed the ability to try something different and ultimately just have fun with one another. Everyone was coming from such different places in their career, training, and lives that it allowed me to learn so much.
What was it like working with Ian and Nikita?
Daria: They are talented, passionated, patient and gave our show everything they had. They danced with their hearts and performed with every fiber of their being.
You can follow these artists on Twitter
Highly Impractical Theatre - @thtr_us
Nikita - @nikita_chaudhry