December 13, 2011
Today was the first day of rehearsal for Invisible Man, and what a day it was!
John Callahan, Ralph Ellison’s literary executor (and personal friend) summed it up perfectly in his speech to the cast of Invisible Man before they began the first read-through of the script today. He said of his friend:
“Ralph had both fear and joy in chaos”
Fear and joy in chaos. What better way to describe the feeling you have when you’re putting on a world premiere? And not just any world premiere. A world premiere of one of the most seminal, game-changing novels in the history of American literature.
And truly, Invisible Man isn’t just a novel—it’s part of America’s cultural subconscious. Even if you haven’t read the book—it’s all very, very familiar: the ever-unnamed Invisible Man, Monopolated Light and Power, 1,369 lights hanging from the ceiling of a basement on the outskirts of Harlem, Dr. Bledsoe and Mr. Norton, Trueblood and the Golden Day, the Battle Royale, Liberty Paints, the Brotherhood…..“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectopplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to posess a mind”.... We KNOW this work. It’s part of who we are as Americans. And now, for the first time, we are going to get to SEE this work.
Personally, I can’t wait. And not only that, I can’t wait to blog about it. I am going to share everything I can with you about the process of developing this piece for the stage. There are going to be projections and masks and deconstructed jazz standards and the rhythm of the blues and shafts of light and moments of darkness and most of all, the words of Ralph Ellison brought to life.
Let the chaos begin!