Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rogelia's House of Magic as a Play

Last semester, Gail Brower-Nedler, the drama teacher at Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach, CA, asked me if her class could workshop Rogelia's House of Magic into a play. I've always wanted to watch my characters come to life, to see them interact and witness the enfoldment of the story I created. I was excited for what would be the World Premier of Rogelia's House of Magic. The first thing we did was establish a common language with the students and a sense of familiarity with the world of magic that is second nature to me. Ms. Brower-Nedler invited the vice-principal to watch me do the ritual in case the prejudice and fear people have about magic rose its ugly head.

By the way, it can be easy for me to get frustrated or even offended by close-minded, unconscious people who think I could be “sucking the souls out of kids.” Particularly when my goal is to empower them. But then again, I’ve noticed that I haven’t stepped down or walked away in the eight years as a public Wiccan author. And I’ve realized that I like being on the cutting edge, educating and watching people wake up to the beauty and potentiality of the magic within.

On the day of the ritual, I signed in the office as usual, but this time I carried a large basket of items that symbolized the four directions and elements, like a candle, a shell, a crystal, and a feather. With these sacred items, I created an altar. Many of the kids were fascinated by the altar and came to touch and feel all the goodies. A few kids volunteered to stand with me and welcome each of the Four Directions. I knew I was in good company, when TK dropped to his knees like a true knight when we reached the north direction. I avoided trigger words like God or Goddess and still raised the energy and vibration in that classroom. The air buzzed with magic and I knew I had shown quite a few people about what magic can really be.
We decided to make this a "black box" production, meaning very little props. Hilary stepped up to be the student director. She cast the other kids and wrote a prologue of sorts that included the four directions that would introduce themselves, their corresponding element (air, fire, water, earth) and colors, and what qualities they share with humankind.

Over the next several weeks, I would visit the class and watch their progress with the play. The adaptation from book into script took longer than I thought and still we all stuck in there. The actors and Hilary did a great job reworking the language from the page to the stage. It was interesting to see where the dialog dragged when acted out and were it really popped and appeared so very real. Emily, the actress, who performed Fern’s role did an exceptional job of getting into character. It was really fun to watch her play out my hippie wild child self. I think once I almost cried. But that’s just me.

We also realized that we didn’t have enough time to rehearse the entire story and create costumes and set designs. June was upon us, as was the desire for summer and lazy days. So Hilary and I decided to create what would be Act One, approximately eight chapters, ending after the first meeting with Rogelia.

In the actual play, one of my favorite parts was the four students who dressed in the colors that coincided with each direction. One girl, who at first didn’t really seem to be into the play at all, insisted she was standing in the wrong direction. She was right and so we made sure everyone moved into their proper positions. That let me know that they really intended on drawing up the energy of those directions. Yeah! First Jeffrey stood up, draped in a yellow sheet holding flowers and spoke of the powers of the east that represent beginnings, the season of Spring, and new ideas. Then Samantha stood and called in the fire and the south, wearing a beautiful red velvet cloak with red feathers in her hair. Rebecca in the West wore a blue broom skirt like a shawl and with her blue hat and scarf called in Winter aspects of this direction. Anna in the North knew how to call on the ancestors and I felt the earth elements respond to her welcoming chant.

Other actors included Carla (Marina), TJ (Xochitl), Jessica (Rogelia) Sean (Tristan,) Allyson (Mrs. Peralta), Milena (Graciela), TK (Pedro, who was Pilar in the book), Matt and Danny played random boys created to add more boys characters, and Otto (Mr. Garcia). Becky was our Spanish language consultant. Filming was done by Sergio and TK with some assistance from John and Alex. During the filming, there were some starts and stops to get the scenes just right. Some confusion, some frustration, a lot of amazing talent and wonderful acting. Overall, I’m excited to see how the video comes out when it’s been edited. Look for it on YouTube coming soon! I’m looking forward to workshopping Act Two and Three and someday seeing the entire play from start to finish. I couldn’t have got a better start by working with Gail, Hilary, Emily, TK and the rest!!

No comments: