“To Bed To Bed” & Vasalisa The Blessed” written by Rachel Wiese
“Malka and the Behema” written by Jesse Garlick
Directed by Jason Slavick
Costume design by Kendra Bell
Puppet design by Faye Dupras
Shadow puppet design by Rebecca Lehrhoff
Mask design by Becca Jewett
Video editing by Sam Powell
Original music by Carlos Odria
Featuring: Rachel Wiese, Rebecca Lehrhoff, Glen Moore, Jesse Garlick, Cynthia Hu, Carlos Odria, Singer Mali
More information about their upcoming performances in January will be available via the LAB website: https://www.liarsandbelievers.com/show/beyondawintersday/
Interview by Kitty Drexel
EMAIL — The good, creative folks at Liars & Believers held two preview workshops of their upcoming production Beyond a Winter’s Day on December 17 and 20. They generously answered some questions over email about their work, the pandemic, and their hopes for the New Year. Please keep reading for responses.
Thank you Jason, Jesse, Glen, Cynthia, Rebecca, and Rachel! We look forward to Beyond A Winter’s Day in January. We hope all of your New Year wishes are liberated into being with bright joy, cheer and grace.
Queen Geek: Please talk about your role in the show.
Jason – I’m Jason Slavick, the Artistic Director of Liars & Believers, and the director of the show. I provide the guiding vision for the whole project and I shape each individual element. I’m much like a conductor in an orchestra. The individual artists play their parts, but I shape the tempo, the tone, and the overall feel. I try to create opportunities for the other artists to express themselves. And I try to help them do their best work. My biggest job is to make sure you in the audience feel engaged and understand what’s going on.
Jesse- I’m Jesse Garlick, an artistic associate with Liars & Believers as well as being the company’s director of education. I wrote Malka and the Behema as well as performing with the puppets in the piece. I also perform in the final piece, To Bed To Bed, as Rabbit. And lastly I play Stanislov in the interstitial pieces.
Glen- I’m Glen Moore an artistic associate with Liars & Believers. I helped to devise and build content for the original production of “A Story Beyond” which was the inspiration for this online version. In this zoom production I play the storyteller Fargus, perform puppetry in the story Malka and the Beheyma, and lastly I don the mask of Bear in the story To Bed To Bed.
Cynthia – I’m Cynthia I am the zoom master of the show. I control all the tech behind what you see and make sure “the magic” happens on time. Outside of the show I’m an actor and I’m pursuing my MFA in acting at The Actors Studio Drama School.
Rebecca- I’m Rebecca Lehrhoff, an Artistic Associate with Liars & Believers. I’ve worked with the company since 2014. I helped devise the content for both “Beyond A Winter’s Day” as well as the original 2018 production the show is inspired by, “A Story beyond.” In addition to playing Mishka and the mole, I designed, created and performed (along with Rachel Wiese) the shadow puppetry for Vassilisa the Blessed.
Rachel- And I’m Rachel Wiese, an Artistic Associate with LAB. I worked on writing and devising the original “A Story Beyond” and performed as Isabel in that production. For Beyond a Winter’s Day, I again portrayed Isabel as well as Condor and puppeteered (along with Becca) Vasalisa the Blessed. I wrote Vasalisa the Blessed and To Bed, To Bed. I had lots of fun scouting the location for To Bed, To Bed which we shot on Worcester Trust Land near my home in Worcester, MA.
Queen Geek: What has been your favorite part of working on this show? Any drawbacks?
Jason – I love the challenge of creating something new – finding original ways (or at least, exciting ways) to tell a story. In general, I like to keep an audience on their toes. I like to be surprised and not know what will happen next. So I try to create that experience for you. That’s a fun challenge. I’ve appreciated having to be creative in this socially distant/pandemic era. I’ve learned a whole new set of video and audio skills.
HOWEVER – I hate being separated. I hate not being physically in the room with each other and with the audience. That immediacy – something actually happening in the moment before your eyes – is the real power of theatre. I miss it terribly.
Jesse- The challenge of creating something that felt like live theatre even though it contained elements that are most certainly not live was really exciting territory to play in, and something that I cherished every time we stepped into rehearsal. I love these collaborators. We have spent a great deal of time creating together over the last 6 years, and the opportunity to work together even in these dark times always lightened my spirit.
With that said, the drawbacks of trying to figure out whole new mediums (Zoom/Film) was very difficult and certainly can’t match the love I have for theatre. I think this experience has just solidified for me how much I love theatre and how there truly is nothing that can, for me, replace the surge of joy I feel when I am creating a story for an audience in the same space as them.
Glen- I would be the first to say that I haven’t taken to the online format as smoothly as other performers out there. However, building this show for new audiences and getting to collaborate with artists that I love and admire has helped to make the experience something that I look forward to at the end of each day. The knowledge that we are sharing this experience together as a company and trying to make the best of it has pushed me to continue to show up and engage in the medium.
There are probably more drawbacks than I can list, but what stands out the most to me is the lack of flow between me and my fellow performers when online. The magic of being in the room together and improvising for hours on end just can’t be replaced.
Cynthia- I love discovering things through this process. This is my very first zoom managing experience so every step is pretty challenging, in a very good way. And I got to learn a lot of zoom tech skills.
The drawback is that nothing can replace live theater.
Rebecca- Working on Beyond A Winter’s Day allowed me to stay sane: to have an outlet to be creative within a group of people you trust and appreciate, who trust and appreciate you in return. Creating the shadow puppets was my favorite part, though. I’ve worked on several other shadow puppet pieces over the pandemic. The knowledge I gained working on those projects helped in making Vasilisa.
The research element is particularly fun for me. Melding visual styles until I find exactly the right silhouette for each character.
There are drawbacks working over zoom. I took for granted the tactile element of devised theater. The feel of the puppets, the props as well as your fellow actors helps create a piece. I really miss actually looking into eyes that are right in front of me, taking in what they are feeling and reacting in real time, not with a half second delay.
Rachel- The Company’s willingness to continue making art through new mediums was a relief to me and very creatively stimulating. I especially loved all of the filmed work we did because we could utilize real environments such as the woods and fire in To Bed To Bed. And I really appreciate the work that our video and sound editors have so skillfully done. Performing on Zoom allows for zero commuting to rehearsal, which is nice for me as I live somewhat far from the other company members.
Queek Geek: In all honesty, is there anything you actually cherish about 2020?
Jason – I’ve learned a new set of skills. And I got a puppy. And my street has become a lovely village, where the neighbors gather on the street in the center of the block every day. The pandemic created that.
Jesse- I have spent an incredible amount of time with my partner over the course of this past year as we have traveled and lived in 5 different locations across 4 different states. I cherish her immensely and don’t know how I would have managed this amount of madness without her.
I have also realized over the course of this year just how much I love being an artist because it is a profession where I get to truly connect with people. That was, for the most part, stripped from me this year, but 2020 has also given me the present of perspective where I am looking forward to cherishing every moment I get to spend with my fellow artists when I can get back in the studio together. I know I am never going to take that for granted again.
Glen- I’ve had the opportunity this year to spend a good deal of time being in nature and soaking up all that New England has to offer in outdoor recreation. The ski season just before the lockdown was simply delightful. A good friend was able to get married at a small outdoor wedding and I was his best man. I’ve also had the good fortune of growing some new relationships this year.
Cynthia- I learned how to live a slow life. I started to pay more attention to little things that made me happy. I got to paint a lot, read a lot, cook a lot, nap a lot, listen to others more. I also participated in a butoh workshop and I danced with nature which was pretty cool.
In Chinese zodiac 2020 is the year of Rat, which is my zodiac year. I feel like there’s a lot of growth in me in 2020.
Rebecca- I feel guilty even typing this but 2020 has had many silver lining for me and my family. Back in mid April, my husband, my now two year old and myself moved back to my childhood home in Natick, Massachusetts. It allowed us all to have company during quarantine. My parents have been able to see their grandchild grow from a baby into a toddler and witness all his developmental mile stones. We got the help we needed with our son, allowing us to work and once and a while have some breathing room. Our son received the attention from his adoring grandparents. Even our cat got something out of it, more sun-lit windows than our small condo had.
Rachel- As an educator (I teach acting at Worcester State) I’ve really regretted the time that students have lost in the classroom. And I see how much they suffer from the lack of in-person learning (which I was able to provide in small groups most of the time). But personally, I have really appreciated the extra time that I’ve had with my husband and daughter who has just turned four. We spent most of the summer camping and being isolated in some of America’s most beautiful National Parks. And our time together and in nature is irreplaceable and wouldn’t have happened if not for the pandemic.
Queen Geek: What is your holiday wish for the New Year?
Jason – I wish for everyone some peace of mind, normalcy, and a bit of security. Times are hard for many people, so I wish it can be at least a little easier.
Jesse- I wish for a moment where I can breathe the same air as my friends, family and neighbors, and we can do it together without masks on our faces and without worry in our hearts.
Glen- I wish for hope to fill the hearts of everyone in the world. The hope that we will embrace our loved ones once again. The Hope that will guide us to a place of love and not fear. Hope that will stay with all of us for the rest of our days.
Cynthia – I wish we can all breathe freely and dance freely soon.
Rebecca- I just wish for everyone I care about to come out of 2020 in one piece.
Rachel- That we see one another as humans worthy of love and compassion. That we spread joy through our gifts, and care for one another in the difficult times ahead.
Queen Geek: Thank you, everyone. We look forward to seeing the show in January!