By Haley Flanders, dramaturg
Néstor Bravo Goldsmith is the guest director for The Fisherman and His Wife. He is an accomplished Chilean theater director, performer and theater professor. He earned a Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance of the Americas from Arizona State University, and received his M.A. in theatre and media arts from Brigham Young University. He also has an MFA in Directing at the Universidad de Chile. To understand more about his vision for this production, I asked him the following questions:
Haley Flanders: What are your special areas of training?
Nestor Bravo Goldsmith: As a performer I have been trained in a variety of methodologies and techniques, from Stanislavski to Barba, as well as in acrobatics, Commedia dell’ arte, mask, and corporeal mime. Also, I have formal training in directing.
HF: How did you use your skills in directing this production?
NBG: All those methodologies and techniques I name above are present in this show to some degree. Nevertheless, corporeal mime has been applied extensible on the show, even on Isabel who is the most realistic character of all. This production was staged for touring at different schools, therefore the mise-en-scene not only has to be simple and practical, but also visually attractive and entertaining for large young audiences. Thus, we have to dilate the body of the actor, stylize their movements, and corporeal mime helps us in that regard. Besides, the dramatic action of the play takes place in different locations and dwellings –at the seashore, in a hut, a cottage, and three different castles–, how can we create those places in a practically empty stage? Here, physical theatre comes again to help us, although with the complicity of the audience. Our most important resource we count on for this show is the spectator’s imagination. Through acting, beautiful costumes, simple setting and just few props we invite our audience to co-author the show imagining, and sometimes enacting the sea shore, a big storm, a humble hut, as well as a lavish castle.
HF: Talk about your director’s concept:
NBG: The director’s concept is a preliminary map of a territory that does not yet exist. A blueprint made of images, concepts, sounds, kinetic sensations, spatial relations, potential acting techniques, literary references, and other components that somehow reflect the meaning of the play, and convey the form and style envisioned by the director. In this case, I have been influenced by characters from James C. Christensen paintings, as well as a magnificent graving by Wanda Gág, (pictured to the right) which portrays an enormous and powerful Queen ruling over an army of soldiers. The fact that the BYU Young Company is an actual traveling troupe inspired us to use colorful flags, which are also used to create the different castles and interior rooms.
HF: What have been some rewarding experiences directing this production?
NBG: The level of commitment and discipline of the cast, and our stage manager. They truly are creative and talented actors. I am a very demanding director, and even though this is one of their first acting experiences at this level, they responded wonderfully to the hard training regime I imposed on them, and to my expectations as actors. Also, I am very impressed by the quality of the designers, and way they were able to make our vision come true. Another notable aspect of this show I am pleased with is the beautiful music that underscores the action, which was composed by one of the member of the company, Brandon Luke Bringhurst (the fisherman).
HF: What do you hope that the audience will learn or get out of the experience when they come to the show?
NBG: The play makes us ponder the true meaning of happiness, and conveys the Socratic notion that those who are not contented with what they have, would not be contented with what they would like to have. I think that we have to prove that we are able to be faithful over a few things, so we can be rulers over many things, as Matthew 25:23 teaches us: His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.