Fuse Theatre: Ignition Interviews
These interviews aim to highlight brilliant members of our community and spread their knowledge to ignite some Fuses.
Each interview will consist the same three, initial questions, and the fourth, final question will specifically pertain to a project they are currently working on.
Friends of Fuse: Shannon deMelo
Shannon is a managing consultant with Fuse. She is currently working with Silicon Valley Shakespeare as the director of Labor’s Lost Love.
- What was the best piece of practical stagecraft advice you have received or given?
“Strangely enough, the best piece of advice I have ever gotten has almost nothing to do with theatre. It’s just ‘be on time.’ Be on time and show up when you don’t have to. It’s the best thing you can do to keep getting hired.”
- If you could use any place in the world as a location for a theatre creation of any kind, where would it be?
“Well, I really like outdoor spaces. Pretty much any park I think is really good place for theatre. To be able to set on the grass, do a show, and leave.
This was the inspiration when I kind of vaguely started my own company, which really was just me saying ‘I want to do a show; let’s all do a show, guys!’. My goal was to eventually be able to place a stake in the ground in any kind of public park that says ‘Show Coming in 24 Hours,’ and then the next day do a show, and then leave as if we were never there. So I love just open spaces that really have nothing to do with theatre.”
What draws you to specifically parks and open spaces?
“The variety of audience members you will get in a space like that. It’s going to be a ton of people who aren’t necessarily seeking out theatre. Wouldn’t necessarily seek out theatre. But if you put it out there, they will stay and they will watch. It doesn’t matter what it is. Anything from Shakespeare all the way through contemporary. If you are doing it right in front of them, they will sit and go, ‘Oh hey, here is a thing, we should watch this.’ As if they were flipping TV channels. Because it is there.”
- What voice or voices have recently inspired you to speak or think or create?
“The brand new artistic director for Pacifica Spindriff Players Mauricio Suarez. His theatre is changing the way they format seasons. They are allowing people to pitch whatever they want, pitch their dream projects, and then they put a season together from all of those pitches. And being able to think so outside the box like that is really inspirational to me. Because it allows artists to do what they do best. Which is create! Go mad! Go absolutely wild with ideas and then they (the artistic board) can cherry pick the best ones. So they are only taking people who are already inspired by the work they are showing them, which is just a phenomenal idea. I wish more companies did it.”
That is incredible, so a bottom up instead of a top down approach?
“Yes and it is brilliant. It is a brilliant way of thinking. I am pitching to them next month because of it. Because they are allowing people to do that and just pitch weird and off the wall things. It is a lot of fun.”
- What lights your Fuse? How do gender dynamics play into ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ this show as an aspect of Shakespearean times and how do they reflect upon today?
“One of the things my dramaturg on Love’s Labour’s Lost brought to our first cast meeting was that this play highlights the differences between men and women [in Shakespearean] times and then flips them around. So generally, women were seen as being in high towers. They were removed, you didn’t approach them, you didn’t see them. There were all of these formalities around how a man would get access to a woman and start courting her.
In this show, it’s completely the opposite. The guys completely lock themselves away from everyone. And then the women have to be the suitors. They have to be the ones going up, knocking on the door, and saying, ‘Hey, we would like access to you.’ And the guys are being like, ‘No, no, no! You can’t come in.’ Which is totally opposite of what it would have been. And so it plays with this interesting idea about how love and courtship works.
Of course, at the end, the guys are totally head over heels in love. They practically shout, ‘Marry me, marry me!’ But the girls say, ‘Hmmmm, maybe not…’ They are put in the position to be able to say no, which is very unusual. Almost never would have happened. The guys are begging, ‘Please, please!’ But the girls respond, ‘Maybe you have some growing up to do. Perhaps in a year we will reconsider.’ Which is strange. It is unheard of for anyone to do that. It makes the ending of this play something of an oddity, in how the resolution goes, because we are used to, ‘It’s a Shakespeare comedy! It’s going to end in wedding! Oh how cute! Yay!’ But at the end of this show, the ladies simply say, ‘We don’t think so. We are going to go now.’
I like the end of this show because I like to think how Shakespeare’s audience would have watched it and have been surprised. ‘Woah! They are not getting married? How is that possible?’ It’s cool that it plays with the gender roles in that way.”
Do you think many of those sentiments would carry today? That today’s audiences would still think, ‘What? They are not getting married?’
“I think they do. They think, ‘Oh it’s comedy; it’s going to end in a wedding, or in kids, or a bunch of couples getting together at the very least.’ And then it doesn’t. I think it surprises people.
Since we have already mounted this project once for a few weeks in June, with people we either get, ‘Oh really we like this play, but with that ending, ooo, rough ending!’ or we get, ‘Oh that ending was so interesting.”
Because the ending makes people uncomfortable?
“Yes, because it is not an ending they expect. In a way, it’s like not having an ending at all. It’s almost as if someone runs in halfway through the last scene and says, ‘Okay, bye folks, that’s it!,’ which is very disorienting.”
Come see Love Labour’s Lost this weekend at Central Park, San Mateo!
Friday and Saturday at 7 pm, Sunday at 2:30 pm.
Shakespeare meets ‘90s pop rock!
Ferdinand, the king (of pop music), and his loyal boy band have sworn off women. But what happens when a Princess arrives, with her spicy friends? Romance, comedy, misdelivered letters, and overheard confessions fill this early Shakespeare comedy, newly reimagined through a modern pop star lens!
More information here: http://www.svshakespeare.org/our-season/loves-labours-lost/