Inside The Truman Show with Ms. Boucher

Drama and Video Production teacher Ms. Boucher responds to questions about Langley Fine Arts most recent dramatic creation – The Truman Show.

Who wrote the script for The Truman Show?

The genesis of The Truman Show was a spec script by Andrew Niccol. The original draft was more in tone of a science fiction thriller with the story set in New York City. Niccol rewrote the script simultaneously as the filmmakers were waiting for Carrey’s schedule to open up for filming. For The Truman Show at LFAS I merged the two drafts together – using some from both scripts – to create a script that would work better in a theatrical version.

Who proposed this idea for the play?

The Truman Show was the show I chose for drama ensemble. I proposed the idea of the show. I spent the summer thinking of the vision, rewriting the script and came into September with a clear idea of where I wanted it to go.

How long has the Truman Show been in production?

The Truman Show began its rehearsals at the end of September. Our first show was April 17th and it closed April 26th.

The original Truman Show was a Jim Carrey movie released in 1998. What were some of the challenges faced in adapting that script to a play?

A film script does not have a lot of dialogue. It is much more visual in its storytelling whereas theatre focuses on words and fewer locations. The hardest part about doing the Truman show was that there were 52 location changes in the film and on stage, changing locations immediately is incredibly difficult. As well the film script had very little dialogue and short scenes, so when I adapted the play I built in a lot of the dialogue that was taken out from the original script. We needed the dialogue to weave the same narrative effect on stage.

When directing a play, how can you tell when the actors are ready to put the show up? Or are they ever ready?

A play is always in transition. I don’t believe it is ever really “finished.” I always want to change and improve on it even after the last show goes up. I think it is about backing away from the art and letting it be what it is at that moment. There is always fear when that first show goes up, wondering if it will work, how it will be received, and the overwhelming wish for another week.

Does the script ever have to be modified or changed to adapt to the actors? Or are the actors expected to adapt to the script?

The actors are expected to “own the words.” Part of the craft of being an actor is the ability to take words that are not your own and make them your own. To do this, actors need to understand the thoughts and intentions behind the words they are saying. They need to be physically engaged in the wants of the actor, and play this visually on stage. Unless the play is written by the actors themselves who are noted as playwrites, actors are expected to always find the truth and adapt to the script.

What are the characteristics of the script that you were most excited to see put into performance?

When I first had the vision for the idea of doing The Truman Show on stage I knew how I was going to do the boat scene, the stairs at the end and the final moment in the play. I built from this idea the vision for the rest of the play. I was really excited to see if I could adapt the idea of a three dimensional film set into the play. I wanted to make it visually stunning and the idea in my mind was solid. I was scared that I couldn’t pull it off most of the year!

Can you sum up the tone of the play in a phrase?

The play uses comedy to force the audience to address controversial issues in the media regarding human rights, responsibilities of the audience, and the value of humanity verses monetary gain. The tone is comedic, but the message is one that carries a punch.

Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping the Truman Show become a reality?

I had a gynormous thank-you list. For outside help the major contributors were Richard McManus from Stage Fab who helped rig all of the screens, loaned us equipment and came to help whenever we needed him. John Sanderson of Sanderson Video who loaned us hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment without even having a direct link to the school. Mrs. Fowlis who spent countless hours in rehearsal with us. Mr Sarganis and Ms Crawford who helped to create the vision of the set. In the cast all of the students worked hard to create the production. However, Rhys Krannitz was incredible. He spent hours reading manuals and figured out how to make all the switchers work. He had a great team behind him, including Patric Coulter and Aidan West, both of whom spent hours with him. The show truly became an incredible effort from everyone involved. It was fun to see us all work together to create a vision that at many times throughout the year felt impossible to reach.

What was your favourite part to watch of the Truman Show? What was your favourite to direct/write?

My favorite parts were when the film merged with the acting on stage. I loved the funeral scene – where Ben or Aidan screamed “I’m sorry” as the film echoed a memory behind him, and the black morphs threw him to the stage. I loved that part. I enjoyed directing the “Searching for Truman Scene” as the vision for that had to be really clear prior to filming how it would work on the stage. When it all came together and the actors walked out of the screens onto the stage, I loved that part.

What were the benefits of writing a script with a story that has already been developed?

To be REALLY clear – I did not write this script. It won an academy award in 1998 for best script. I simply merged the two drafts of Andrew Niccol together. It is much better to start a production from a strong script as that aspect is already done and you can focus on bringing it alive on stage.

What were the aspects of the movie that you really wanted to see performed on stage?

I really wanted to see the ocean on stage. Everyone always asked me “how are you going to do the part where he is sailing on the water?” I would always smile and say “you’ll see”… because I knew exactly how I was going to do it – and I knew it was going to be really cool.

What were some aspects that you thought would be performed better on stage?

A director never tells….. especially as it is already done! I have placed that question into the hands of the audience!

No artistic work is above critique. Were there any parts in the original movie script that you wanted to rewrite, or thought could have been done better? If so, do you think you succeeded in doing that?

The end…. I recreated the end. I wanted to know what happened after Truman went through the door in the movie. I wanted to see him meet up with Lauren. In the theatre when I swung the set around I loved that he saw the audience seeing him. That he held them accountable and then moved on with his life. I do think I did create a ending that was powerful, and I ended up feeling very proud of it.

Interview by Elizibeth Ashton


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