Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sea Change

It all started a few days ago with my noticing that the stage directions mention a creel. When I looked it up, it turned out to either be a "large wicker basket for carrying fish." And it began to slowly dawn on me that these people are not only potato farmers, they are coastal people. They farm AND they fish.

Then two nights ago o I realized that I should look back at the photos I took during my 1999 tour of Ireland. We had spent some time up in County Donegal, exploring some of the islands there and checking out the Donegal Castle. And I began to realize how many of the photos show both ocean and farmland.

And I realized that I'd always visualized this barn as a farmers' barn, with scythes around and other farming implements. But now I realize there's another aspect: creels, fishing nets, etc.

Which led to a meeting today with set designer Melissa Elmore in which we reconceived a previous idea for a backdrop. It had been going to be burlap, but now will be both burlap and fishnet. The brown rusty tones of the burlap, and the bluish aquamarine color of the fishing nets.

Which made me realize that my Hawai'i connection is now richer. The ancient Hawaiians sustained themselves within their ahupua'a, their strip of land which included both farm land and ocean for fishing. From "Each moku was divided into ahupua`a, narrower wedge-shaped land sections that again ran from the mountains to the sea. The size of the ahupua`a depended on the resources of the area with poorer agricultural regions split into larger ahupua`a to compensate for the relative lack of natural abundance. Each ahupua`a was ruled by an ali`i or local chief and administered by a konohiki."

I remember a similar late-to-dawn realization in Streetcar that the lampshade that Stanley rips off the lamp should be globe-shaped and light-colored, to be the paper moon Blanche sings about. How many times have my eyes passed over that word "creel" without really seeing it? I love the process of SEEING every aspect of this play.

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