Well, here we are, about to launch into rehearsals for the Chicago (and Midwest) premiere of Coraline in a little over a month! As we get closer and closer to opening, I’m getting increasingly excited about embarking on this journey with all of you. But you might be wondering, why Coraline?
As a kid I was a bookish, withdrawn child. I would frequently retreat into fantasy stories, including stories like Alice in Wonderland, books by Piers Anthony and David Eddings, as well as work by one of my favorite authors: Peter S. Beagle, of The Last Unicorn fame. I also was an eager student of mythology and folklore of various cultures. As I got a bit older I was introduced to an author named Neil Gaiman, first through his seminal graphic novel series The Sandman and then via his other works, including Coraline. What excites me most about Gaiman’s work is the way he is able to rearrange the myths and fairy tales of past generations in new ways, in a contemporary setting. Coraline is no different: it tells a story that is a spiritual successor to Alice; we have a young girl traveling through a magic portal to a land where the rules are completely different, but this story also has darker overtones, weaving in some of the grimmer (or Grimm-er) parts of faerie folklore. More than telling a compelling story, Coraline is also thematically interesting, exploring the nature of true courage.
I was especially drawn to Stephin Merritt and David Greenspan’s adaptation of the novel because it is a version that seems very much at home on a Chicago storefront stage, despite originating in NY. The script incorporates heavy elements of narrated story theater, which originated in Chicago and has been pioneered by such Chicago greats as Frank Galati and Mary Zimmerman. It relies on a junk theater aesthetic, using the simple or symbolic to represent profound and fantastical occurrences. And finally, it’s just straight-up quirky and weird in a way that really gets under my skin and makes me eager to dig into the script and score in rehearsal.
Thanks for stopping by. I and others involved in the production will be posting more content here and on social media as we progress towards opening. I look forward to sharing this story!
-Ed Rutherford, Director