Imagine you are lost and alone in the forest. You have never been here before and you cannot see to find your way out. You don’t know if anyone knows you are missing or if they will be able to find you. It has been hours since you last ate or drank water; your resources are limited. You don’t know if it is night or day, and it is beginning to freeze. What do you do? Do you stay where you are and wait for help to come, or do you risk moving through the unknown without sight?
These are the choices the characters of The Blind are forced to contemplate.
In an extraordinarily dark forest, eight sightless individuals sit in wait for their caretaker’s return. Near them lies a body. Abandoned in the wilderness, they are forced to reckon with the unknown. Written by Symbolist playwright Maurice Maeterlinck in 1890, The Blind remains a timely contemplation on hope and despair, and where we turn when our intuition and reason are engulfed by darkness.
As a part of the 2017 Capital Fringe Festival, The Wheel Theatre Company presents a new, ensemble-driven adaptation of this suspenseful classic, adapted and directed by Jack Read.
Maurice Maeterlinck was one of the most prominent figures in the early Symbolist movement. His plays favored abstract representations of humanity, rather than clearly-drawn characters. The characters in The Blind are nameless, with only simplest qualities defined (“the one who prays,” for example). We have chosen to portray these characters utilizing neutral masks built for the performers. The neutral mask denotes a state of presence, of existing in and of the moment, and create a sense of unity. This is our core approach to the world of The Blind, and the mission of The Wheel – a united ensemble, where every element is as crucial as the rest.
Sound is key to The Blind. Without sight, Maeterlinck’s characters must determine their way by describing what they hear: the sound of the forest at night, waves crashing onto rocky cliffs, a clock chiming twelve, footsteps in the distance. For The Blind, The Wheel has built an immersive soundscape to transport audiences into the forest along with the cast.
This production features music from Two Gospel Keys. Many thanks to Document Records for allowing us to feature these phenomenal artists. The Blind also features an original composition by Seattle based musician, Jackson Floyd. On our website, thewheeltheatre.org, you can get a sneak peek at the music that inspired The Blind on our Spotify playlist.
You can catch The Blind:
Thursday, July 6 at 10:00 PM
Friday, July 14 at 5:15 PM
Sunday, July 16 at 12:00 PM
Thursday, July 20 at 5:45 PM
Friday, July 21 at 6:15 PM
Saturday, July 22 at 9:30 PM
Eastman Studio Theatre - Gallaudet University
800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC, 20002
For tickets and information visit: https://www.capitalfringe.org/events/1067-the-blind
This production is presented as a part of the 2017 Capital Fringe Festival, a program of the Washington, DC non-profit Capital Fringe.
With just under 3 weeks until we open, we are thrilled with Maurice’s progress from just a cardboard cutout to almost full fledge dog! Here’s what we’ve been up to.
After the papier-mâché step, I let Maurice’s head dry for 48 hours. Because the puppet is going to be an active member of our ensemble, I wanted to make sure the head stayed as strong as possible. To reinforce it, and to begin to add our furry texture, I began the painstaking process of tightly wrapping Maurice with a dark twine. Each strip was cut to perfectly fit along one side of the head, so that there would be an equal seam. All in all, this process took days and caused one or two (or 5) hot glue burns on my leg. It was worth it though, as I am thrilled with how scruffy he is beginning to look.
When he was covered, I wanted to make sure he retained his dog shape. I built up the brow line to allow his eyes to have a more sunken effect. I then struggled artistically for a few days about Maurice’s nose. I made 3 or 4 mockup noses in various materials, but nothing was feel right, so for now, I am allowing the twine that is wound up in his snout area to represent a nose. Maurice then got a coat of paint to cover up any holes or glue strands
From face, we then moved to body!
I did the same technic of balling up newspaper and wrapping it in masking tape to form the shape of he body. Because it is going to be covered by fabric though, I did not papier-mâché, though I realized my fabric is quite sheer, so I painted him brown. To be honest, the body alone reminds me of a prop Thanksgiving turkey- which is rather endearing.
After measuring the fabric, I attached one side to the head and tada! This is where I am leaving you today- an unpainted, but rather dog-like puppet has arrived.
In tonight’s rehearsal, Maurice is going to make his debut. I am going to be working with Brooke, our puppet op, on the mechanics of puppetry. I have been preparing all sorts of dog videos that we will watch to study the head and body movements. Because of Maurice’s role, one of the most important lessons is how dogs smell- they truly lead with their nose- so we will be looking at that! More updates soon…
Managing Director, Co-Founder, Wannabe Props Wonder Woman