Friday, September 30, 2011

My Corner of the Sky: An Extraordinary Definition

I've never seen Pippin.  My only exposure to this show was in high school (so very long ago).  I saw a musical review where "Corner of the Sky" was performed.  The song had quite an effect on me, especially at that time in my life.  "The world is my oyster, and my young life is filled with optimistic possibilities!  I think I'm meant to search for 'extraordinary', and goddamn it, I'm gonna find it!" I am now - older, cynical and downtrodden.  No, I kid...but I know what it feels like to wake up with doubt and lay my head down at night feeling beaten.  When cast as Catherine, I was filled with immediate anxiety, remembering the hope I felt when the play first made its impact on me, and now getting the chance to take a stab at it as the woman I've become.  Do I still feel like there's something special out there waiting for me?  How do I approach this adventure with the scars I've gained?  

I think what's so beautiful about this play is that every single character has a different definition of "extraordinary".  This isn't just of story of a boy finding his purpose.  Anyone could do that with a little determination.  But in this world of ours, and Pippin's, we come in contact with different folks everyday that shape, change and define who we are.  Even if our dreams remain intact, we never know who is going to turn the corner and possibly alter our outlook.  And what I love about our director's approach to this Pippin is that we aren't presenting one-dimensional musical theatre caricatures that dance some Fosse and sing some Schwartz.  Peter urges us to fill this world with complicated, confused, multi-faceted and imperfect human beings each searching for their own definition of "extraordinary", all the while effecting one another and navigating/educating/seducing/accompanying Pippin along his way.   The more complex our characters are, the more marvelous, passionate, and entertaining the journey will hopefully be to our corners of the sky.  That's our ambition, anyway...  

So far, my road as Catherine has been paved with a combination of frustration and surprising realizations.  I'm trying to embrace her/my flaws and always be aware of her/my wounds while I continue the search.  And I'm thrilled this is my first full experience with this play.  I wouldn't want to have created Catherine as the hopeful, young, optimist I used to be.  Where the heck is the fun in that?

-- Dana Tretta has been an actress in Chicago for the past 8 years.  She loves to pet and hug as many dogs as possible and attempt cooking with her friend, Bethany Thomas.

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