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By ASHLEY VAN BUREN
To close out their 20th anniversary season, Target Margin Theater has gone back to its Shakespearean roots. The company's new production of The Tempest, running at HERE through May 27, highlights its reputation as a bold and experimental company that's nevertheless rooted in theatrical tradition.
Elements of the show recall the Globe Theatre, with a wooden-floorboard stage, flickering candle footlights, and a set that appears rustic and handmade. "We're putting on a play, and you see a play," says Steven Rattazzi, a 20-year veteran of the company. "It's a wonderfully open space and allows for the work to resonate even more."
But in a modern twist on this classical staging, the production's crew is on stage in their clothes, assisting with everything from costume changes to holding up wings on an actor's back. That's a longstanding Target Margin tradition, and Rattazzi, who's playing Prospero, appreciates this style of breaking with convention. "Having the crew on stage isn't an interruption because it makes you think about the play on a whole new level," he says. "That kind of style is gloriously and unabashedly conscious of the artifice."
Similarly, David Herskovits, Target Margin's Founding Artistic Director, wants the actors to inject "conscious artifice" into their performances. "David is creating the frame to allow everything from our stylized arm movements to our speech to resonate in many different ways." Rattazzi says.
But it's not just Herskovitz who's guiding the cast. "We had a workshop through Target Margin with the consultants at the Shakespeare Society," Rattazzi explains. "Kristin Linklater, the Shakespearean vocal coach, and Michael Kahn [Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.], had such rich things to say about the text, it was mind-boggling."
For instance, Rattazzi says Linklater observed his "tendency to hit pronouns that are against the usual rhythm that you should explore in verse. She made me
more conscientious in going with the rhythm and hopefully, this makes me a better verse speaker."
That sense of discovery underlines why Rattazzi has stayed with Target Margin for two decades. "Target Margin is this special little pocket of incredible artistic beauty, originality, and vision that's hard to find in other places," he says. "It's a lovely, small nook."
Ashley Van Buren is a writer and film production freelancer. She has contributed writing to The Huffington Post, Women & Hollywood, Supernanny, The Rachael Ray Show and several other outfits. If you read quickly, you can catch her name in the credits of seven feature films. She blogs (sporadically) at thebrow.org