Saturday, November 22, 2008

There's a place for us: A Reflection on West Side

Hello there blog readers. Anais and I have some West Side post-show reflections for you. I'll go first while Anais gathers her thoughts.

All throughout the rehearsal process, and especially during the final dress rehearsals, the anticipation of how people would react to the show was always on my mind. Since we made such a bold turn away from the traditional West Side I was very curious as to what people were going to think of it. I spent a great deal of time preparing my friends and family for what they were about to see. I warned them that they were going to see violence, blood, and some sexual promiscuity. I was mostly concerend about two things: 1.) People seeing the show who normally don't like West Side because of dancing gang members and 2.) Friends and family seeing me do some not so nice things on stage. As for the first group, I found that most people's reaction was a new found respect for the show. They found our take on the show to be much more realistic and believable. They could appreciate the gangs for what they actually are: gangs. These audience members were able to understand that these guys do not have a good life at home or on the streets. So, in terms of a more realistic production that an audience can understand: goal achieved.

My second concern was a little harder for me to deal with. What I am referring to is the taunting scene in Act II that we turned into a rather violent and hateful rape scene. In the movie and in other productions, my character, Baby John, is picked up by the Jets and put on top of Anita. In ours, Baby John is pressured into raping Anita by his friend A-rab. I knew it was going to be difficult for people I know watch me do something like this and I was prepared for their reactions. Most of the girls in the cast told me that they were not able to watch this scene because they found it so disturbing. So, I thought to myself "If my friends are having a hard time with it I wonder what my mom is going to think." Overall, my mom wasn't too thrilled that she had to watch her baby boy do something so heinous, but she understood the point that we were trying to make with the scene. By that point in the show, everyone is driven to their limits and hatred takes over their thoughts and actions. As for my other friends, I was told that some of them were brought to tears at having to see something so horrible happen. In one sense, I hate that they had to see me do something like that; but on the other hand, if it makes that much of an impact on them and gets them thinking about their lives and the world they live in then we have done our jobs as artists. Yes, it's hard sometimes, but in the long run it was all worth it.

I now turn it over to Anais...

Enough about yourself Matt.

As I reflect upon my time here so far at BSC, I seem to always find myself wondering where time went as we embark upon the closing show of productions. West Side Story was no different in that aspect. However, the exprience as a whole was something more than different-it was extraordinary. I just read that out loud to Matt and realized how SOAP net it sounded but I whole-heartedly mean it. I think many of us were intimidated at first. As time flew by I watched pure passion and determination pour out of everyone involved. The determination particularly poured out in a place that was not previously explored by many in the cast AKA: the dancing.

Being the little dancer girl that I am, I really had no idea what to expect choreography wise. Abe Reybold, the choreographer, brought to life what was the realistic depiction of West Side Story with his clever use of movement. I don't know if it was Abe's many "Let's go freaks," comments or perhaps his professional push to everything he did, but he turned many of the guys into the confident movers that I'm not sure they knew they were. There is nothing more rewarding than watching the picture come to life week by week. I remember the first time I watched T"he Prologue" and "Jet Song". My exact thoughts: "We CAN do this." Perhaps the hardest part for many may have been giving the dance steps (while counting in their heads) their own style and character while throwing in some fight choreography and not to mention singing. It's a lot to take on all at once. In time, it was gracefully achieved by all- those Jets really were Jets all the way...LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE BOYS.

Both of us went into this process feeling rather intimidated by the daunting process this production was going to be. It wasn't an easy a matter of fact it became very difficult at times. It's hard to not let everything going on in your life affect you once you go into a theatre to perform. This fall semester has been a tough one to get through, but somehow we all stuck to it and pulled off one incredible show. So, if there was ever any doubt that we wouldn't be able to make it through this show then those doubts have completely shattered.

Your best friends,

Matt and Anais

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