Occidental College professors Susan Gratch and Bruno Louchouarn designed the fairy tale-like set and composed the haunting score for"Breadcrumbs," a bold new drama that will make its West Coast premiere July 9-24 at Theater 150 in Ojai.
Written by up-and-coming playwright Jennifer Haley, "Breadcrumbs" explores themes such as aging, identity, and connection. The plot focuses on how Alida, an aging, reclusive writer afflicted with Alzheimer's, must depend on Beth, a troubled young woman, to complete her autobiography. Along the way, Alida revisits her past and uncovers an unspoken tragedy.
Gratch, a professor of theater and an award-winning set and lighting designer, said the play's scenery will be evocative of Alida's story as fairy tale. It will feature imagery such as shadows of tree branches to suggest dark woods, and a collage of words, highlighting the importance of language to Alida. "Pictures came into my head when I read the script," she said. "I'm not interested in creating a realistic environment, but in suggesting the bare bones of a living space."
Louchouarn, assistant professor of the theory and practice of multimedia and director of the College's Keck Language and Culture Studio, said the unifying elements of the score and sound design of "Breadcrumbs" will be the cello and recordings of whispered words, what he called "efflorescences" of speech.
|Bruno Louchouarn - "Breadcrumbs, Main Theme":|
"I'm interested in music as narrative, as a gateway to the human experience," he said. "This play is about a rich mind that gets deconstructed and lost. But it remains very noble and beautiful."
The award-winning stage actress Anne Gee Byrd will fill the role of Alida. Well known for her work with Los Angeles' Antaeus Co., she has also acted in productions at the Pasadena Playhouse, La Jolla Playhouse, and San Diego's Old Globe Theatre. Brook Masters will play the role of Beth. Known for her work as a choreographer in the Ojai area, she has worked with the Ojai Art Center Theater and the Boston Center for the Arts.
Director Jessica Kubzansky, who is also the co-artistic director of Pasadena's Theatre @ Boston Court, said the script for "Breadcrumbs" calls for theatrical treatment. "I love to do plays that you could not do as a film. In theater, you harness the collective imagination. It requires brilliant design collaboration."