Friday, September 1, 2017

Marian, Or The True Tale of Robin Hood

Written by Adam Symkowicz
Directed by Kelly O'Donnell
Produced by Flux Theatre Ensemble

Nominations: Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role: Jack Horton Gilbert; Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role: Matthew Trumbull; Outstanding Choreography: Rocio Mendez

About the Production
MARIAN, OR THE TRUE TALE OF ROBIN HOOD is a gender-bending, patriarchy-smashing, hilarious new take on the classic tale. Robin Hood is (and has always been) Maid Marian in disguise and leads a motley group of Merry Men (few of whom are actually men) against the greedy Prince John. As the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, who will stand for the vulnerable if not Robin?

Enacting Rocio Mendez's fight choreography: (l to r) Marnie Schulenberg, Becky Byers, Matthew Trumbull

Producer Heather Cohn and 2017 It Award nominees Jack Horton Gilbert, Matthew Trumbull, and Rocio Mendez talk to us about the fun, camaraderie and meaning they found working on this re-telling of the Robin Hood legend.

What attracted you to this project?
Heather: Flux commissioned the piece. It's the third play of Adam's we've produced
Jack: The character breakdown. It was something like "Tall, large, gentle, dumb" and I thought to myself, "yeah, that's pretty much me." Also the chance to work with Adam and Flux Ensemble, I'd been following both for awhile and jumped at the opportunity to work with them.

Matthew: I felt an immediate but peculiar bond with #Guard 1, even though he didn't have a name and didn't even factor into the main plot much except to be killed about dozen times. He was a miniscule cog in an evil machine, and he just wanted love and The Simple Life, two things he wasn't allowed to have on account of technically being a Bad Guy. He had a lot of quick, funny bits; that's why he was in the play. But I saw this tiny glimmer of a beautiful, conflicted inner life in those fifteen lines, and it was very rewarding to bring that out as an actor.

Rocio: The Flux Theater Ensemble has never let me down with the innovation and inclusivity. Marian is a great story with a female hero and leader, which is something I think needs to be shown more in the world.

(l to r) Jessica Angleskhan, Jack Horton Gilbert (background), Becky Byers (foreground)

What was your favorite part of working on this production?
Heather: The creative team was amazing

Jack: The cast and team. They were all so much fun and so talented. There was a really lovely, warm energy that permeated the whole process. Everyone just had such a good time putting this all together.

Matthew: This cast was large for an indie theatre play, and it was a great, joyous supportive family making comedy and art in the winter of 2016/2017, even though our hearts were breaking due to the election results and inauguration. We were feeling a lot of sadness, anger and fear, and it was a relief to work on a play about love, following your heart, and taking care of each other. Plus — as a nameless Guard, I got killed in the show's fights many times, and that is always a hoot.

Rocio: The fun within the stage violence, the cast and always working with Kelly O'Donnell — who has the best imagination and storytelling skills. It's the people who make it worth it all!

(foreground) Matthew Trumbull; (l to r) Aaron Parker Foohey, Kevin R. Free, Alexandra Curran (background)

What was the most challenging part of working on this production?

Heather: A huge cast is always tough in terms of scheduling rehearsals

Jack: Nothing really stands out as being overly challenging with this production. Tech week is always stressful and there were moments of frustration and tedium, same as any show. But overall, everything went incredibly smoothly. That's a testament to how flexible and professional everyone involved was.

Matthew: Finding a balance between comedic bits, and the actual heart of the story.

Rocio: Twelve people fighting on stage at the same time! Haha!

What was the audiences' reaction to the work?

Heather: The sense of hope and joy despite our troubled times

What was the quirkiest part of the production?

Matthew: My character delivered the curtain speech about cell phones, etc., and it was actually damned amusing. Also, considering the political mood of those months, laughing and being funny came to us with surprising ease; it was emotional part of the story that provided the larger challenge. I think everyone was feeling very vulnerable, and playing the funny bits made us feel more secure.

What was it like working with this group of artists?

Jack: I've never felt as supported as an actor than I have working on MARIAN. Flux was incredible, checking in and making sure we had tools available to us to communicate and providing this incredible base that we built everything else on top of. They're a very well-oiled machine and just a great group of people across the board.

Matthew: They have shown great love and respect for all artists and technical staff involved, and it has resulted in a vast, extended family that reaches into many corners of indie theatre. One of the key components of that respect is a dedication to high-caliber productions, and that is very special.

Rocio: The dedication and talent is sky high!

What will you take away from your experience working on?

Matthew: I got to work with several new faces, which is the joy of a larger cast with a familiar company.

Anything else?

Rocio: Fighting for what is right seems tedious and never-ending, but it is what we have to do.

Please follow Flux Theatre Ensemble on:
Twitter: @fluxtheatre

Instagram: @fluxtheatre

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