Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Jules!

In honor of Jules Verne's birthday, today, February 8, here is a link to a previous post of mine on The Mysterious Island and the imagination of Jules Verne.

Coincidentally, I am directing my Drama Club in a production of Mark Brown's adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days. On Broadway, Mark Brown's production presented six performers playing all of the 32 different parts. I, however, have a cast of 28 playing those parts. I really like the script, the cast members have enjoyed the story's action and comedy, and we have added a number of crowd scenes to establish some of the settings: a London street scene; Suez, with characters speaking real Arabic; and Bombay, with a spilled basket of cobras causing panic amidst a Hindu procession; as well as an attack on the train by a whole passle of Lakota.

Our performances start on Thursday. Yesterday we had a great rehearsal. (Photos above: backdrop all ready, but no time to put on costumes.) Today, things fell apart; key performers were absent. Our production has been plagued by conflicts for stage time, days of rehearsal lost to snow days and early dismissals due to bad weather, and the very busy, over-scheduled, last-minute nature of the American teenager. One more rehearsal tomorrow, and then we go around the world in 80 days whether we are ready or not. I will keep you posted.


Mark said...

Please send my best to the cast and crew. I hope the show is a success.
~Mark Brown

Richard Bellamy said...

Thank you very much, Mark! We have had two successful performances, and we have had a lot of fun!

I love the script. I love Jules Verne, but I love your direct, fluid dialogue that really keeps things going! And the kids - grades 7 through 12 - love the script too - and they are a hard sell. They really enjoy the humor and they are doing a skillful job of bringing out the comedy.

As I said, we have street scenes in London, Suez, and Bombay to establish the settings. We have a two-person cardboard elephant costume. We have a huge Indian-attack-on-the-train scene with lots of Indians. We have lots of fun with the storm scene. This is the kind of theater I love.

I find that a lot of stage adaptations of classics are silly and dumbed down, or, they are just not well written. Your script is very well written and I was glad I found it, last spring, when it was getting down to the wire and I had no idea what to produce!

Thanks for all the fun you have provided!

Sam Juliano said...

"I am directing my Drama Club in a production of Mark Brown's adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days."

That's wonderful Hokahey! I'm sure this will be a great success for you and all the students! I share your love for Verne, and since childhood (he and Agatha Christie were my earliest crushes) have maintained a fondness for The Mysterious Island, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth and From the Earth to the Moon.

My first experiences were with those marvelous Classics Illustrated comics, which I have collected and still own.

Happy Birthday Jules!

Richard Bellamy said...

Sam, we have so much in common. The first serious novels I ever read as a young teenager were the novels of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne - BECAUSE of the Classics Illustrated comic versions I had read and collected. Those Classics got me to read so much great literature that my high school was not assigning during the 60s as English classes got away from the literary canon. But I read them on my own!

Alas, I can't articulate what happened to my Classics collection, but I later found smaller facsimiles published by Acclaim Books - and the first ones I bought were by Wells and Verne. My favorite Classics comic was always The War of the Worlds

As for the play, the performances went very well, and last night's performance was as near to a perfect performance, from the leads to the bit players, as I have had in 27 years of directing.