Interview with Ian Gallanar

Excerpted from Quick 5 with Ian Gallanar, by Susan Brall for Maryland Theatre Guide. Click here to read the complete article.

How does directing a movable play differ from a more traditional locale?  Benefits and pitfalls?  Do you have specific blocking or is it a little more improvisational in the actors’ movements, specifically, does the intimacy of the audience change the blocking?

Yes, it’s very different. Since the actors and the action of the play have to adapt to each night’s audience, you give the actors a set of “marks” that they have to meet, but give them the freedom to move in reaction to where an individual audience member may choose to stand. It challenges a director’s whole notion of stage pictures, angles, relationships between characters on stage because the stage is everywhere. I like it. It’s as if you’ve been painting your whole career and suddenly, you’re sculpting. I love the challenge.

  • Why is Macbeth a play that is enhanced by being movable?

Macbeth is a play where there are many secrets being told and secrets being kept.  This format can make the audience feel like a fly on the wall, and therefore they’re in on all of the secrets.

  • What Shakespearean play did you most enjoy directing and why (other than the current production)?

Tough question to answer, as the project I’m working on at present is usually my favorite. The Shakespeare plays I like to direct are slightly different from which ones are my favorites. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my favorite plays to direct. It’s got all of my favorite things: slapstick comedy, magic, and redemption. I enjoy directing the comedies because I feel I’m able to read some of the comedy “code” that Shakespeare has left for us that some people may find difficult to decipher.

  • Why do you think Shakespeare remains relevant in today’s world, unlike some of the plays written after his death until the advent of what we call “modern drama” (Ibsen, O’Neill, Chekhov being the start of modern drama)?

Shakespeare knew what it is to be uniquely human. His emotional palette was enormous, insightful, and never bettered.

  • What themes in Macbeth did you think most important to bring out to the audience and how did you decide to do that?  For example, you used costumes, lighting or special effects, or something else?

I find the notion that ambition can destroy a person particularly poignant. People pay a price every time they run over someone else in order to achieve something for themselves. In Macbeth’s case, he’s actually murdering people to achieve something for himself.  I think Shakespeare placed this play of ambition in a particularly primitive, brutal setting so that it didn’t seem like palace intrigue, that it was animalistic. It is a horror play after all that plays off of an audience’s fear and dread. That’s why we’ve created — with costumes, properties, and of course using a primitive setting — something fearful, primitive in the way it looks and feels. 

June 4, 2019 Maryland Theatre Guide: Read more.