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Episode 5: Rehearsal Days, Exploring Tashkent, & the Festival of American Culture

May 17, 2014

Rehearsal Days


In rehearsal

As part of the Festival of American Culture at the Ilkhom, my script Dance On Bones was presented as an improvisation (fully staged, script-in-hand readings).  Gavin, one of the Dance On Bones directors and member of The Seagull Project, does a nice job of talking about this process in his post about Dance On Bones on The Seagull Project site:

A big part of this festival is something that the Ilkhom Theatre calls “improvisations.” Mostly they just call them readings, but it would be hugely misleading to an American theatre-goer to give it the title of such.  It is only a reading in the sense that people have scripts in their hands.  Other than that, there is mostly full tech, blocking, and heavy acting.  Everything is not at full production quality, but it’s enough to give form to not just the words, but the ideas.

As for my work, I arrive at the gallery for the first day of rehearsal about 45 minutes early and one of the actors is already in the space working on one of the more challenging passages in Dance On Bones.


CT and John in rehearsal (L to R)

I quickly realized that having the playwright watching you make discoveries might be offering a bit of pressure, so I went downstairs at the Ilkhom and perused the graffiti from artists from around the world (Peter Brook is in there somewhere).

Downstairs @ The Ilkhom

Downstairs @ The Ilkhom

When I return to the gallery, the other actors had arrived and, indeed, Alex, CT, Dave, and John are all working, digging, and exploring the textures of Dance On Bones.

CT, Alex, John, and Gavin (L to R) in rehearsal.

CT, Alex, John, and Gavin (L to R) in rehearsal.

For the next several days, I was learning, seeing what other people saw . Seeing how my work spoke to people with an array of tools at their disposal.  Tyler, the other Dance On Bones director who is an alum of the Ilkhom training program, works as the liaison between the American artists and the Uzbek artists; fluidly translating hours of rehearsal and artistic choices between actors, directors, designers, and musicians.

Sanjar and Tyler (L and R)begin layering in the music for Dance On Bones.

Sanjar and Tyler (L and R)begin layering in the music for Dance On Bones.

When Sanjar, the pianist, was added to the mix the work began to take a definitive shape and I could see all of our wheels begin to turn.

Uzbek Jazz Quartet accompanying Dance on Bones

Uzbek Jazz Quartet accompanying Dance on Bones

The rest of the Uzbek musicians were added during our technical rehearsals, the piece began to pop and crackle, pieces began t fall into place.  The musicians riffed on Ennio Morricone’s theme for The Good the Bad and The Ugly filling out the “Showdown at the End of the World” with a distinct American flair.

Rehearsal for "Showdown at the End of the World"

Rehearsal for “Showdown at the End of the World”

Rehearsing "Man of Steel Dreams"

Rehearsing “Man of Steel Dreams”

The days went by fast and I was amazed at how quickly these artists (actors, directors, designers) were making bold choices and bringing this work to life.

Rehearsing "Packs of Dogs Part 2"

Rehearsing “Packs of Dogs Part 2”

And while I am in rehearsal, Rebecca is out exploring Tashkent, wandering the bazaars in the Old City, where  women beckoned her into their shops with invitations of “Beautiful Sister, come see, come see.”  She would return in the evening with stories and photos, a few of which are below:


Entrance in the Old City, Tashkent.


Courtyard of historic school in the Old City, Tashkent.


Entrance to a Mosque in the Old City, Tashkent.


Dome roof in Tashkent.


As the days quickly disappeared until May 1st was upon us and it is time to present a playwriting workshop as well as Dance On Bones as part of the Festival of American Culture.

27 April - 9 May Festival American Culture

27 April – 9 May Festival American Culture

What is the Festival of American Culture?

The Ilkhom Theater of Mark Weil presents Days of American Culture in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from April 27 – May 9, 2014.  Featuring readings of Caridad Svich’s “Archipelago” (in Russian) Mark Chrisler’s “Worse than Tigers” (in Russian/English) and Dave White’s “Dance on Bones” (in English) the festival also included workshops by visiting guest artists from the United States; a presentation of The Seagull by Seattle’s The Seagull Project; and a concert of American classic rock music performed by Uzbek and American musicians.  In 2013, the first Days of American Culture was curated by John Freedman, critic of the Moscow Times and featured improvisations of works by Nilo Cruz, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Deborah Zoe Laufer.

Concert of American Rock Music Poster

Concert of American Rock Music Poster



One Comment leave one →
  1. May 18, 2014 3:15 am

    Okay, so now we know what a playwright does in that loaded situation when he comes upon an actor who is really putting out for the text, going over and above, and the writer realizes that he absolutely MUST do something to respond adequately and creatively – either that or make himself scarce. He makes himself scarce and diddles his fingers by perusing graffiti on walls. Don’t forget to teach that one in Playwrighting A, Dave!

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