Monday, July 04, 2011

re:union | sean devine's washington dc research road trip 2

The second in a series of blog posts on the research and background for RE:UNION.  The first in the series can be found here.  Posts are written by Sean Devine, playwright and co-artistic producer of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre.

As Horseshoes & Hand Grenades and Pacific Theatre continue our development and pre-production work on our upcoming Fall 2011 project, Re:Union, we’re going to be blogging throughout our creation and development process.

For our second entry, HHG co-artistic director Sean Devine talks about recent trips to Washington, DC and Ottawa.

From one nation’s capital to another...

Who knew the life of a playwright-producer could be so jet-setting. Fresh from an amazing research and promotion trip to Washington, DC, I’ve just parked the car with a satchel bag full of promo materials as I prepare to amble my way through the 2011 Magnetic North Theatre Festival.

Washington DC was a great trip on so many levels. The amount of otherwise unobtainable materials that we collected at the National Archives and the Library of Congress was worth the trip alone, although it felt like a race against time downloading it all to our multiple hard drives, simply because there was so much of it. You know the scene in the caper / thriller movie where the hero tries to hack into the enemy’s top-secret computer files to copy the top-secret document that will expose the Crime of the Century? And as the “File Transfer in Progress” bar slowly makes its way across the screen while the Bad Guy or Bad Guy’s Head of Security is hot on the trail? Well, that was us, except without the Bad Guy. I was the Bald Guy.

Video projection designer Jason Thompson and I captured so many files, photos, movie clips, sound recordings, all of it offering wonderful conceptual possibilities for the Fall production, although who knows where the material will lead us. As the researcher / writer of the piece, it’s exciting to see tangible examples of historical events that I’ve only yet imagined, as well as actual films and photographs described in the original source texts the play was generated from. Maybe it’s not exciting and I’m just a research nerd.

Washington DC also turned out to be a great opportunity to meet with Woolly Mammoth Theatre and Literary Manager John M. Baker. Woolly Mammoth ( is a charter member of the US National New Play Network, the US alliance of new play development theatres. In other words, we were glad to get the meeting and are excited for their support.

Other highlights from DC:

• Venturing illegally onto the Pentagon parking lot to shoot film footage, only to be asked by an off-duty guard “Should I call for an armed escort?”
• Capturing other illegal footage at the Pentagon the next day and not getting detected; then deleting the footage cause I got scared from the previous experience
• Eating my first Krispy Kreme doughnut ever and not having to pay for it because it was National Doughnut Day
• Hearing more cheers than boos in a DC sports bar as Raffi Torres scored the winning goal in Game 1

Here’s a few pictures highlighting our experience in DC as well as a sampling of the types of materials we were collecting. Understandably, we’re holding onto the best stuff for the show itself.

Photo 1: The only pictures you’re allowed taking inside the Pentagon while on the Pentagon tour is of the tour guide itself. The podium and official seal make it look very real. It’s not. There’s a bubble gum machine immediately to my left.

Photo 2: Our high-tech setup at National Archives. Hours and hours and hours of sitting and watching old footage.

Photo 3: Still image captured from a US Air Force bomber of target post-strike.

Photo 4: The USAF-supplied description of said bombing.

Photo 5: View of Pentagon immediately post-9/11

Next blog: An account of our amazing Full Company development workshop that took place June 21 – 22, from guest blogger and production dramaturg Heidi Taylor of Playwrights Theatre Centre.

1 comment:

alyzee said...

The picture of the write-up of the bombing that shows up right after the picture of the impact of the bombing is mind-blowing. Thanks for posting these.