Tuesday, June 23, 2009

N.A.S.A Grant Awardee Margot Lasher on "The Stranger"

Newton Baker, David Klein & Naomi Flanders

Newton Baker, Naomi Flanders & David Klein

Monday, June 22 - "In Act III, a Stranger enters the play. In the first photo you can see the Human looking at the Stranger anxiously. In the next, Dog cowers at the Stranger’s feet. We had an interesting discussion—is the dog, who is brave and wise until now, suddenly neurotic in his fear of the stranger? Or is the stranger a real danger? Is that rhyme symbolic? The interpretation is up to you.

"Those of us who live with dogs know that sometimes they have humorous fears. We have a dairy farm near us, and for the first time in years the farmer has brought the cows to the pasture right next to the house. In the middle of the night Shiro, forgetting that they are cows, wakes up and barks at them. On summer evenings, before he gets used to them, he barks at the fireflies who look suspiciously like blinking animal eyes.

"However, dogs often sense real danger way ahead of us and save us from disaster. They smell and otherwise sense the menacing presence of a predator, human and non-human. They do not hide from their fear. In this situation, they are brave and wise."

Friday, June 12, 2009

N.A.S.A. Grant Awardee Margot Lasher on "Timing"

Friday, June 12 - "Today we worked on the scene with the dog trainer and a second dog. This is a weird scene and not easy. Two humans acting like dogs (pulling on their leashes), two humans acting like humans (one yelling at the other)—the scene toward the end is serious, yet just seeing the two ‘dogs’ glaring at each other has to be funny. After several times when the timing was off, Naomi and Irene suggested that the dogs spend time sniffing each other the way real dogs do, and it worked. It slowed the scene down, allowing the humorous part to develop, so that when the serious part comes the audience is ready for it. It was the first time that we were working with more than just Dog and Human but oddly, the addition of Newton (dog trainer) and Soren (dog) happened quite naturally. I wonder if they shouldn’t have been in more scenes."

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Margot Lasher on "Moving from Within"

Above: Shiro & Brigit dancing
Wednesday, June 3 - "Naomi, who is a musician, says that when she is doing a play, at some point she absorbs her lines as she would music and they become part of her body, part of her whole self.

"I had this same thought about dance while I was watching the development of the young dancers at a performance of Contemporary Dance in Montpelier. There were differences of course in technical skills, but the striking difference for me was that some of the dancers moved from an internal place—from their whole body/self. For whatever reason, some had reached the point where the movement came from within.

"As ridiculous as this might sound, you can even see this with dogs. Along with my friends Peggy and Alan, and their dogs Amy (who died last winter) and Danny, I studied freestyle (dog-human dancing) with Shiro. But in spite of all my efforts, Shiro never really moved from within. In the woods, when he senses a prey, Shiro trots toward the scent with his head high, his neck stretched, his legs prancing. He never once had that beautiful look when he trotted beside me in the dance. Peggy with Amy and Alan with Danny went on to wonderful performances without us. I decided to let Shiro focus on his passion, hunting. However, when Shiro dances with another dog, especially with Brigit, he does move from within."