by Janine Sobeck
A few weeks back I was talking to former Arena Stage Senior Dramaturg Mark Bly about the experience he was having with rehearsals for the Broadway run of 33 Variations. During the conversation he mentioned that he had written an article about the process for the March issues of American Theatre Magazine.
Today, when I went to my mailbox, I found that it had arrived.
On the cover, next to the impressive picture of Graeme Malcolm as Beethoven from the Arena production, was the teaser "Solving the Mystery of 33 VARIATIONS." Walking through the life of the play - from Moises's original idea, through all the workshops, the Arena production, La Jolla, and now Broadway - Mark gives his own special insight into the journey of the show. I also found that the article was a prime example of the relationship between him as the dramaturg and Moises as the playwright/director. While there is a lot to discover, I just wanted to share with you one particular quote that Moises said at the first rehearsal in New York:
"The only reason we're here is because 200 years ago a composer turned his gaze onto 16 bars of music - he became obsessed with these 16 bars and spent the next three to four years of his life working on them. We're in this room to focus on this moment in his life. Is there a way in which the artistic act of turning one's gaze intently upon something creates ripples - unperceivable even to artists at times - that touch people for generations to come? The result of Beethoven's fascination was perhaps the greatest set of variations in the history of piano music. But in addition to the effect hat piece of music had, the act of looking itself is what we're exploring."