Curtain Call for "Butterfly Wings"
An excellent showing of the dramatic Santa Monica College production, "Butterfly Wings" was performed last weekend, with an exclusive open dialog between the audience and the playwright, G. Bruce Smith along with the director and choreographer Perviz Sawoski.
Chorus members melodically shout events to come and feelings felt throughout the play while dancing and moving in unison to Indian folk music. Sawoski added that these emotional movements were independently created by her and were not an interpretation of the text. Sawoski went on to state that she listened to music on her computer for hours with particular scenes in mind before developing the entire score.
SMC Acting teacher also who plays the role of Rajiv, Aric Martin thinks "the chorus provided support to the actors" to help them remain in sync with their characters along with the music to ultimately "take them to a higher emotional plateau." Sawoski then explained that for her, "the music became another actor. It had a very strong position in helping shape and creates what we were trying to do."
An interesting question was posed concerning the inclusion of the chorus, a common fixture in Greek drama. Such an inclusion is significant because there is nothing Greek about this drama if one overlooks the fact that much of the play takes place on a college campus. Traditionally, the chorus possesses a variety of functions such as giving background information and expressing thoughts and feelings often in song form that characters refuse to say themselves. It has the same function here; however in this play, set in the present times, the chorus lends the added flavor of fantasy.
Another interesting aspect of the play, worthy of explanation is the infamous Lorenz attractor; which was colored onto the stage floor. Its inclusion and scientific discovery was illustrated by Sawoski. Lorenz, a renowned mathematician and meteorologist, became annoyed with strings of decimals appearing in his calculations and deleted them. He soon "realized that ignoring the decimals greatly affected the resulting answer." He dubbed this, the butterfly effect, "if a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil it can cause a tornado in Texas." (From "Butterfly Wings") This theory is played out on stage when Rajiv punches his best friend and sends him into an emotional turmoil that leads to his enlistment in the military and subsequent death.
Actors Joseph Stevenson and Aric Martin discussed the difficulties they had making the scene where they tell on another their dreams and proclaim their love; Martin asserted that "it felt kind of hokey at first." It took a while for them to become comfortable with the lines. Then they agreed to simply just say them. The audience was very pleased.
Smith volunteered how this project came about, he was given the opportunity to "write a play that is highly theatrical, has a global theme and incorporates elements of movement and fantasy." Smith admits that this was a bit of stretch for him. His work is often "grounded in realism," and "writing a play with movement and fantasy would force me to move out of my comfort zone and challenge my creativity." Smith, who hasn't been a student for many years, said it was also a challenge to write from the collegian perspective in an attempt to relate to the student body.
The questions and answers were interesting and informative; it made the already powerful production even more satisfying because it imbued the audience with a deeper understanding of the art and the artistic process that created it.