by Megan Harris
The room seemed alive, it buzzed with conversation; the sound of excited chatter rose to the top of the Paramount Atrium. As we took our seats for the Café Variations design presentations and meet and greet, Rob J. Orchard, Executive Director of ArtsEmerson, stood to introduce the production and its director Anne Bogart.
Café Variations, written by Charles L. Mee, uses original music by George and Ira Gershwin with arrangements by Rachel Grimes, to create a wonderfully witty and charming show that is broken up into “movements” creating a world that revolves around a waiter in love with the patron of a café. It explores the relationships we form, whether public or private, and how we interact with people in a public setting.
Anne spoke to the creation of the piece in the first days in rehearsal and about the concept of fractals: how each character, noted by an archetype, is played by three actors. The actors are not identical, but rather parts of each other.
After speaking broadly about the piece and presentations by designers, Anne asked the Emerson students in the acting company to share something that “stuck” with them over the course of the first few days of rehearsal.
Junior Abby Goldfarb spoke of the idea of ”having private moments or public moments, or having a private movement in a public moment, they all kind of vary on top of each other and you get variations of moments.”
They spoke about having the courage to approach a person and start a conversation, and what you risk by creating moments with people you don’t know and creating personal moments that the audience can grasp onto and become involved in.
Junior Melody Madarasz said, “What stuck with me most was the idea of opening yourself up to allow these lives to hit you and effect you. The idea of opening yourself up and being affected.”
The conversation continued as Stowe Nelson spoke about how making small moments large and then bringing them back to small and intimate is inspiring the music and the way the show is being structured.
The costumes, designed by Caitlin Ward along with Emerson’s Resident Costume Designer, Rafael Jaen, are colorful creations with stunning lines that will only add to the atmosphere onstage. Caitlin spoke about the idea of the fractals and how we as humans have so many compartments of emotion and characteristics. These fractals influence the patterns and the colors she choose when designing each character.
The day was a success. People left excited and inspired by the creativity that was brought to the room; creativity that seems endless with this bunch of people.
Megan Harris is a junior BFA Stage/Production Management major at Emerson College and the Assistant Production Manager on Café Variations.