Stylistically unconventional, The Hat interweaves dance, text, movement, and music into story about a musician and the women who love him. Rose, the chorus girl who married him, and their daughter Ruth, a dancer in the Broadway show, A Chorus Line, love, laugh, and languish over The Musician, played jazz trombonist, David Gibson. (www.jazzbone.org)
The Hat is personal story with universal themes,. In a nonlinear fashion, it examines a mother and daughter's relationship with The Musician, a man whose music and alcoholism dominates their household. In their own way, Rose and Ruth navigate inequity and sacrifice, ultimately transforming love without reciprocity into personal triumph. Benign neglect, abuse, and abandonment are expressed via instruments of beauty in The Hat. as long red scarves appear out of nowhere, connecting the women to the Musician. The women’s physical world is small compared to the man’s, but each woman finds magic in her tiny props and set pieces. The Hat ultimately conveys beauty through its story: when we love truly, reciprocity is irrelevant.
PRODUCTION STILLS: The Hat
New York International Fringe Festival 2013
Production photography by Jonah Jonathan
THE MAKING OF . . .The Hat
The Hat is the original two character version of subsequent solo productions: The Women of the Hat (Solo Creation Festival - Son of Semele Ensemble and Alva's Showroom), The Women of the Hat. . . a Duet for One (Theatre of NOTE - Hollywood Fringe Festival) and The Hat (London Rag Factory and Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival)
The seminal production of The Hat was developed through generous and painstaking experimentation with jazz trombone player, David Gibson, and director, Sergio Castillo. The greatest challenge we faced was distance - I live in Los Angeles while they are based in New York. For two years, whenever possible, I flew to the east coast and we met in rented studios in NYC. In the heat of summer and the icy cold of winter, we read drafts, explored movement, improvised, rehearsed, and staged readings. After returning to Los Angeles, I'd write. And rewrite. And edit. And delete. Then I'd write more.
When The Hat was invited to be a part of the New York International Fringe Festival 2013, long distance collaboration reached a fevered pitch. My production team was scattered across the United States: David John Attyah, Art Director and Set Designer, and Brandon Baruch, Lighting Designer, both live in Los Angeles; Costume Designer, Fred Lloyd, lives in Gainesville, Georgia; Publicity Director, Ashley Regan, lives in Southern California. What will forever amaze and overwhelm me is that everyone involved in the making of the original version of The Hat was willing to get in a room - in many cases, a cyber room - and take leap after leap - in the dark.
Regarding the content of The Hat. The Hat is not about A Chorus Line. It was inspired by an event that occurred while I was touring in the Bus and Truck Company of A Chorus Line. Probably the most stunning event in anyone's life is their first great loss. My father, a jazz musician, died unexpectedly while we were performing in New Orleans. This news was revealed to me in the middle of Louis Armstrong Park, on my way back to the hotel after a show. The juxtaposition of Broadway glamour and grief was profound -- and oddly theatrical -- in my memory. This event became the inspiration and frame for the original two character version of The Hat; to deny the influence A Chorus Line had on The Hat would be misleading. Bits of the choreography performed in The Hat belong to Michael Bennett, Some of the musical vamps belong to Marvin Hamlisch, But the sequined hat is mine - because Michael was generous and when a dancer left his show, he gave them their hat. Without these iconic pieces of costume, music, and choreography from A Chorus Line, The Hat would be a different story. Without the juxtaposition of Broadway glamour and human frailty, there is no story.
...stills from the Bus and Truck touring company of A Chorus Line...
Personal photos and professional photography by Martha Swope
© Leap In the Dark Productions