Hartford Stage Education Programs are supported by: Aetna The Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, as recommended by Linda & David Glickstein The Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, as recommended by Harry Solomon Barnes Foundation Ensworth Charitable Foundation Fisher Foundation Mr. & Mrs. William Foulds Family Foundation Greater Hartford Arts Council The Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust Hartford Foundation for Public Giving Aaron and Simon Hollander Funds Lincoln Financial Group National Corporate Theatre Fund The Charles Nelson Robinson Fund SBM Charitable Foundation TD Charitable Foundation Travelers Wells Fargo
SOMEWHERE by matthew lopez directed by Giovanna Sardelli choreographed by greg graham Original Music by Bill Sherman • Orchestrations by Joe FIEDLER Scenic Design by Donyale Werle • Costume Design by Amy Clark Lighting Design by Philip Rosenberg • Sound Design by Jason Crystal PRESENTING AND LEGACY SPONSOR:
ADDITIONAL SUPPORT PROVIDED BY:
ALL PROGRAMS SUPPORTED BY:
Jill Adams & Bill Knight The Seedlings Foundation Somewhere is supported by the 50th Anniversary NCTF/Ford Foundation Fund for New Work Somewhere is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks program. Photo: Michael Rosen in Somewhere at TheatreWorks Palo Alto. Photo by Tracy Martin Photography.
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Study Guide Objectives This study guide serves as a classroom tool for teachers and students, and addresses the following Common Core standards in English Language Arts and the Connecticut state standards for Theatre and Dance in grades 9-12. Additional standards addressed can be found in the Curriculum Guide on the Hartford Stage website: http://www.hartfordstage.org/education/schools/main-stage-programs/ Reading Literature: Key Ideas and Details. • Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme (Grades 9-10). • Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text (Grades 11-12). Reading Literature: Craft and Structure. • Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise (Grades 9-10). Reading Literature: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. • Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare) (Grades 9-10). • Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.) (Grades 11-12). Connecticut Curriculum Theatre Standards: 9-12 • 1: Creating. Students will create theatre through improvising, writing and refining scripts. • 6: Connections. Students will make connections between theatre, other disciplines and daily life. • 8: History and Cultures. Students will demonstrate an understanding of context by analyzing and comparing theatre in various cultures and historical periods. Connecticut Curriculum Dance Standards: 9-12 • 3: Meaning. Students will understand how dance creates and communicates meaning.
Guidelines for Attending the Theatre
Attending live theatre is a unique experience with many valuable educational and social benefits. To ensure that all audience members are able to enjoy the performance, please take a few minutes to discuss the following audience etiquette topics with your students before you come to Hartford Stage.
• How is attending the theatre similar to and different from going to the movies? What behaviors are and are not appropriate when seeing a play? Why? o Remind students that because the performance is live, the audience can affect what kind of performance the actors give. No two audiences are exactly the same and no two performances are exactly the same—this is part of what makes theatre so special! Students’ behavior should reflect the level of performance they wish to see. • Theatre should be an enjoyable experience for the audience. It is absolutely all right to applaud when appropriate and laugh at the funny moments. Talking and calling out during the performance, however, are not allowed. Why might this be? o Be sure to mention that not only would the people seated around them be able to hear their conversation, but the actors on stage could hear them, too. Theatres are constructed to carry sound efficiently! • Any noise or light can be a distraction, so please remind students to make sure their cell phones are turned off (or better yet, left at home or at school!). Texting, photography, and video recording are prohibited. Food and gum should not be taken into the theatre. • Students should sit with their group as seated by the Front of House staff and should not leave their seats once the performance has begun. If possible, restrooms should be used only during intermission.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PLAYWRIGHT AND DIRECTOR Education Associate Aurelia Clunie sat down with playwright Matthew Lopez and director Giovanna Sardelli to discuss Somewhere with students at Capital Community College in Hartford, CT. Here is an excerpt of the discussion. Aurelia Clunie: Matthew, Somewhere is, among other things, a reflection on family and pursuing one’s dreams. It is also linked closely to your own family’s history. What drew you to writing this story? Matthew Lopez: Well, so, it started—My family grew up in New York. There were four kids on my dad’s side. Two of them were born in Puerto Rico and then they came to New York and that’s where the rest were born, in the Bronx, and then they eventually settled in the Fort Greene housing projects in Fort Greene. And the big –the family lore-- is that when my dad was fourteen and [my aunt] Priscilla was twelve, my grandmother, who was this total like stage mom, she woke them up early some random summer morning and she’s like “We’re going into the city. They’re making a movie. You’re gonna be in it.” And no explanation other than that and it turned out that it was the movie version of West Side Story. And they were there throughout the filming of most of the prologue, but the part that sort of dealt with my family was all the stuff on the playground in West Side Story. And my father actually can be seen. If you know the film well enough to know – it’s the scene where they’re near the end of the prologue when they’re just kicking the crap out of Baby John and Schrank, and Krupke sort of breaks up the fight and they’re pulling the Jets and the Sharks apart, and if you look in the background -- which no one ever bothers to do cause all the interesting stuff is in the foreground -- but if you do look in the background, you’ll see the fence opens to a little gate and it’s just a little doorway in the fence and this fourteen year-old Puerto Rican kid in a blue shirt comes running onto the screen and stands there and watches. And that’s my dad. When we were kids it was a big event in the house when we were deemed old enough to have seen the film. My brother – he kind of grew up faster than I did so he’s younger than me so he got all these things younger than I would’ve – rented the VHS of West Side Story and they paused the movie and my father gathered us together and he was like “You see that? That’s me.” And that was cool. And then of course that happens in the first ten minutes of the movie and then the rest of the movie unspooled and it changed my life. As a kid, I grew up in an area of the country where we were the only Puerto Rican family. I grew up in the panhandle of Florida. My parents just decided that was the greatest place on Earth to raise children. It would have been better in the Fort Greene housing projects, I think. So it was the first time I had any – it was the first time I knew what it meant to be Puerto Rican. It was the first time that I knew Puerto Rican was a thing to be. I didn’t at the time put any attachment to my last name being exotic, but you know in a world of Smiths and Joneses, it was, of course. Especially where I grew up. You know the racial breakdown where I grew up, it was if you weren’t African-American, then you were White. And there was no Latino. So I thought I was White, like, for the longest time, I did. I thought I was a white kid. And slowly, you know, visits to New York, visits to Puerto Rico, it slowly dawned on me that “oh, I’m not White, I’m this...other color, and this other thing, and this other identity.” And West Side Story was really the first thing that ever really made me see that, and depicted it, and did it in a way that at like seven years old, the chemicals mixed in my brain perfectly and I was like “Yeah, I like that – the dancing and they’re singing and it’s great! And there’s all these wonderful colors.” And I think there was that perfect storm of identity, both in terms of the beginning of understanding Puerto Rican, and then identity in terms of musical theatre, identity in terms of theatrical storytelling. It was a pretty profound experience for me. So, fast-forward thirty years: it had always just been this mythical thing in my family and it had always just captured my imagination. I wanted to sort of recreate the feeling that I felt knowing that my family was in some way special, at least to me. And creating a family that believed itself to be very special. And then of course the drama comes in when you know when the rest of the world just looks at the family and
says “You’re just Puerto Ricans...and you’re not special.” And of course the primary conflict of the play comes in when the mother says “You’re very special” and the oldest son is like, “No we’re not. I bag groceries, you, know I’m a bellboy...we scrape together pennies in order to pay the rent. How on earth are we special, mom?” AC: Giovanna, what drew you to directing the play? What brought you into this process that is telling this story, telling Somewhere? Giovanna Sardelli: I was reading this amazing story, having the same experience of West Side Story – [it] was the musical of my childhood that made me go, “There are other families like ours! There are other families that are loud and that sing and that dance!..We’re this family!” So, I read the play and went “Oh my God, I have to meet him.” And my family is deliciously complicated in that way that I think families are and I loved a play that told the truth of that--about love and dreams and how all of that can sometimes be contorted and can seem like smothering or desperation, but at the heart of it, is love. And I just, I was blown away by the play. And so I thought, well, I have to meet this man, and I have to tell this story. I can’t write it. That’s not my gift. So, I get to be – I’m lucky – I’m invited into the room to tell this story. So that’s really what happened to me. AC: Matthew, obviously West Side Story is the primary influence of Somewhere, and it lives in that space and in that universe. Are there other influences that play into the writing of Somewhere? ML: Yeah, I mean, in some ways it’s me taking my favorite things and smushing them into a thing. Remember that line that used to be in the play: “a magical sandwich of dreams?” It’s kind of like that. I think for me the work of Jerome Robbins in general-- the first Broadway show I ever saw was Peter Pan with Sandy Duncan on Broadway. It was not just the first Broadway show I saw, it was the first theater I ever saw. So, my first ever experience of theater was Jerome Robbins. And I think that influenced a lot for me. So on the musical theater side, you know, Jerome Robbins, West Side Story, Gypsy. For those of you know Gypsy, there’re a lot of the themes of Gypsy there in the play -- the mother pushing the kids into show business, the resistance of that, the children who sometimes get ignored for the other children. And then, in terms of playwriting influences, my favorite play ever, is [The] Glass Menagerie. And Glass Menagerie figures very, very heavily in the play. I like to think of this as Glass Menagerie with a little more sanity, but not without the same amount of, hopefully, that push and pull. The fundamental dynamic in the play is one of a mother who can’t face reality and a son who can’t dream. And those two things being in conflict. And then of course there’s the city of New York itself as inspiration and character, and Robert Moses, and sort of the idea of revitalization of neighborhoods – which is always billed as something really great. You know, the idea of Lincoln Center which was constructed in the early sixties – Lincoln Center is thought of as this really great, undeniable thing of good in the world, but you know, the truth is that before Lincoln Center was there, people lived there. People went grocery shopping, and people had homes there, and buildings were there, and lives were lived there. And so part of the story of the play, that idea of New York building itself on top of itself, and this thing we call progress—and I don’t think anybody would dispute the good of Lincoln Center in the world—but, the truth, too, that there was a neighborhood there that was completely destroyed in order to build this thing. So those are all the things that went into the “magical sandwich of dreams.” AC: You two have talked about connecting your families to West Side Story. The Candelarias also really connect to West Side Story. What is it about the Candelaria family that makes them so special? ML: In our story, the seeds of all of this come from the father in Puerto Rico. We tell the story in the second act
of the night that the mother met the father in 1936, and he had dreams of being a great band leader and a great singer, like a Desi Arnez kind of guy. And you see she has no dreams of her own. She’s a mountains of Puerto Rico farm girl and she meets this dashing young man who sweeps her off her feet and brings her to New York. The American Dream being this thing that is hard to really put your mind around, but when you just narrow it down to musical theater – a life on Broadway, being a dancer, the choice to actually be an actor, that insane decision to go to New York and become an actor. That is a form of the American Dream that is playable and dramatic and you can understand it in those small terms. And then also, just the idea of “West Side Story!” There are Puerto Ricans on stage. And yeah, most of them are Jewish and Italian playing those roles, but they’re Puerto Rican characters. And I think for that family in particular – this family who loved The King and I, who loved South Pacific, who loved all those shows – then, all of a sudden, to show up and watch Puerto Ricans be depicted, I think that is for that family – for that mother – the fulfillment of everything that they knew New York and America could bring -- Jerome Robbins and Leonard Bernstein have written a musical about Puerto Ricans. And then it’s like, “my kids are Puerto Rican and my kids are dancers, and so then my kids are gonna be in West Side Story.” Right? The logical, non-crazy leap in assumption of “my kids can be in West Side Story,” and then of course you’re shown all the reasons why they can’t. And that’s where the conflict in the play arises: dreams and inspiration are sometimes not enough, and what you need are also the tools to implement them. And what we see throughout the play: the world, New York, saying no, no, no, no, and this family saying yes, yes, yes, yes. AC: So, the dream is to dance in West Side Story on Broadway. And Somewhere itself is very much told in acting and also in dance. Can both of you talk a little bit about dance as narrative? Dance in Somewhere? How this is not a musical, but is a play with dance and how that comes together? GS: I think that’s one of the things that drew me to it....When I read the play and the dancing – storytelling through dance was to me, really amazing. And we’re not used to it. It’s a harder transition, I think. Also, what we’ve discovered, to go from talking—we’re used to people talking and then suddenly go “No, I must sing!” and it’s kind of natural. And it’s very interesting to find somebody who’s talking and then says, “No, I have to move, I have to tell it this way.” And that was really—that’s an incredible journey of storytelling. Bringing our
The cast of Somewhere. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
choreographer, Greg Graham, into the [rehearsal] room was really to learn how to work together. We’re lucky because we’ve had three tries and we’ve gotten better and better at it, because I would act and he would dance and we’d watch the scene and there would be this cliff, where suddenly nobody was acting and then they were dancing. [And] we’ve learned the steps for how desire, how impulse, loss of language then creates the need for something else. And that’s been really interesting to explore. And with no words, I think we fill in the blanks in a way that engages our imagination, makes us dream. It’s not all done for us, and I love that. It’s a different kind of dialogue between audience and performer in that moment. ML: Because it’s a play about a family of dancers and a family of dreamers – one of the things when I was writing it was, without writing a musical because I was not interested in writing a musical, “How do we really communicate to the audience just how deeply these dreams are felt? How do we communicate the importance of what music can do?” Music is such an important part of our lives – whether we are just rocking out in the car, or whether we are like mourning, music is hugely impactful in every life and every culture. How do we show that it does that to this family? How do we show that they respond physically to this music? And I was like, “Well, let’s just have them dance.” And then the thing was to find these moments, and it grew. There’s one thing to dance in the living room, you know, my family we used to dance in the living room, and then my parents would merengue and my brother and I would do numbers from Man of La Mancha. And we’d do all this great stuff and we’d perform for each other. And then it’s like, okay, but now we’re doing a piece of theater and in theater you can really just go a little crazy. So, these things just became these big dance numbers. It’s my intent to show the audience just how big and wonderful these people’s imaginations are. And so often in the play, the desire to show someone else how they feel or the desire to connect to their own feelings becomes movement based. GS: And the desire to escape the reality of their situation, which is [that] they are poor. And so that’s important. Their imagination provides their escape. It’s really important that you see a family that not only wants a piece of that pie and deserves a piece of the pie, but cannot, in this moment in history, get a seat at the table. They are being denied access to that, and what that does to you. How that...it makes you more hungry, or it makes you dejected, and how do you relate to that? AC: So, Inez Candelaria, the matriarch, the mother, who is actually played by Priscilla Lopez, who is Matthew’s aunt, and has been on Broadway many many many many times, she describes the Candelaria family as this family of dreamers, and I ask each of you, when did you know your dream? When did you know that you wanted to be an artist? When did you know that you wanted to do this? And, when and how, and have you ever really had to fight for that? GS: Well, my father is a singer. So I grew up [thinking] that every adult worked a few hours a night and then was adored, and at the end everyone applauded. And so my whole life, I watched this man bridge cultural gaps, bridge language barriers by performing. And I thought there was no better job in the world than doing that. And so as a little kid, in Vegas, I just thought I’m going to do that. And since I couldn’t sing, I started acting. Just all the time. Very dramatic. And my biggest dream was “Get out of Las Vegas.” I had to get out of Las Vegas and go to New York. So, I always knew that I would do that. And so the rude reality of going to New York, having a masters degree in acting from NYU, and walking out and saying, “Hello world! I am ready!” and having the world go, “So?” And having pretty much what the Candelarias experienced. And then even getting my first job as an actress at one of the finest off-Broadway theaters in New York. I couldn’t even pay my rent. And I remember calling my mom crying and saying “I have the best job you can get right now and I have to be a secretary.” And figuring that out. Having a year where my resume looked great, but I was eating more ramen than an adult should have to eat. So finding the reality of what success looks like. Redefining success, choosing how you’re gonna move forward. ML: That’s a constant, daily battle that still goes on. That trip when I was a kid to New York, when my parents took me to see Sandy Duncan in Peter Pan A Day and then I saw my aunt play Harpo Marx in a show called A
Day in Hollywood, A Night in Ukraine, for which she won a Tony. And my mother just sent a couple of pictures of that trip, and I’m four-and-a-half years old...and there’s a picture of me sitting on her dressing table watching her get ready for her performance, and that just set the course of my life right there. And I wanted to be an actor and I studied acting and I moved to New York to be an actor, and I got work, but I think it’s exactly what Giovanna said. I had this crazy notion that I would be on Broadway in six months! I think that there is a particular pain and an anguish to having this feeling that I know that I can do this thing, I know the story I’m telling will work on stage, I know that my idea will resonate with audiences, I know I’m good enough. And so much of life in the arts, but any life, is really fighting for the chance to prove it. AC: What advice would you give to young artists, or any young people seeking to pursue their dreams? You talk about the tools you have to have besides dreams. What are those tools that helped you get to where you are? ML: I think the tools that are essential whether you have support or you don’t have support are education and access. Access is a little harder sometimes. I think there just comes a point in anyone’s life, when you’re an artist, or any [dream], eventually I think there just comes a point where you have the responsibility for yourself to decide, “Am I going to live my life for myself, or am I going to live my life for my family?” And that’s sort of the thing that gets posed in the play.
WEST SIDE STORY
By Ashleigh Hill, TheatreWorks Used with permission Somewhere is set in New York City, beginning in 1959 as the Broadway production of West Side Story was in full swing. West Side Story was not only a critical and commercial success, it changed the face of American musical theatre. But the road to Broadway wasn’t an easy one. The development of the musical started almost ten years before, when infamous choreographer and director Jerome Robbins approached composer Leonard Bernstein and playwright Arthur Laurents about collaborating on a musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Originally, the musical was set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and called East Side Story. Instead of warring gangs, the story was about starcrossed lovers from different religious backgrounds— a Jewish boy and an Irish Catholic girl. However, during the development process, more and more stories of teenage gang violence were being reported in the news, a relatively new appearance in the media. To bring the story up to date, Bernstein and Laurents decided to move the story uptown to Manhattan’s Upper West Side and the conflict between Jewish and Catholic families became the conflict between Puerto Rican and Polish-American gangs. As Bernstein and Robbins worked on developing the musical it became clear that Bernstein would not be able to write both the music and the lyrics—he was simultaneously working on Candide, an extremely complicated operetta, and the music for West Side Story, as Bernstein said,
TIMELINE OF HISTORICAL EVENTS • March 2, 1917 – President Woodrow Wilson signs the JonesShafroth Act, making Puerto Rico a U.S. Territory and giving U.S. Citizenship to Puerto Ricans. • 1937 – Nation’s first public housing program introduced under the United States Housing Act of 1937. • April 1944 – Fancy Free, a new ballet about three sailors premiers at the Ballet Theatre in New York. The breakout project launches the Broadway careers of composer Leonard Bernstein and a 25-year old dancer/ choreographer, Jerome Robbins. Fancy Free would be developed further and become the musical On the Town. • December 1944 - On the Town, composed by Leonard Bernstein and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, opens on Broadway. • 1945 - Billion Dollar Baby, Jerome Robbins’ second musical, opens on Broadway. • 1949 – Title I of the Housing Act of 1949 allows developers to participate in “slum
clearance” and “urban redevelopment” in urban areas. New construction is encouraged 1951 – The King and I debuts on Broadway. Jerome Robbins choreographs this Rodgers and Harmmerstein musical about an English governess who cares for the King of Siam’s many children. June 1952 – Puerto Rico becomes a US Commonwealth with its own constitution. 1954 – Housing Act of 1954 marks shift from “demolition” and “new construction” to “rehabilitation” and “conservation of deteriorating areas.” December 20, 1954 - Peter Pan, directed by Jerome Robbins, premiers on Broadway. It closes in February of 1955 so NBC can record a television version of the musical for its Producers Showcase series. September 26, 1957 – Original Broadway production of West Side Story opens at the Winter Garden Theatre. The production closes June 27, 1959, but will return in
“turned out to be extraordinarily balletic and there was tremendously more music—symphonic and balletic music—than anything I had anticipated. I realized that I couldn’t do all the lyrics and do them well.” It was then that a relatively unknown twenty-something composer and lyricist named Stephen Sondheim joined the writing team, which would later be termed “the big four.” When rehearsals finally began for West Side Story in 1957, Jerome Robbins was in complete control. Robbins was both the choreographer and director and the musical gained a greater dance focus as a result. As a result, large parts of the story were told exclusively through dance and movement, such as the wordless prologue, something unheard of at the time. Reviewers had a difficult time classifying what they’d just seen. Walter Kerr of the New York Herald Tribune wrote: The radioactive fallout from West Side Story must still be descending on Broadway this morning. Director, choreographer, and idea-man Jerome Robbins has put together, and then blasted apart, the most savage, restless, electrifying dance patterns we’ve been exposed to in a dozen seasons.... the show rides with a catastrophic roar over the spider-web fire-escapes, the shadowed trestles, and the plain dirt battlegrounds of a big city feud...there is fresh excitement in the next debacle, and the next. When a gang leader advises his cohorts to play it “Cool,” the intolerable tension between an effort at control and the instinctive drives of these potential killers is stingingly graphic. When the knives come out, and bodies begin to fly wildly through space under buttermilk clouds, the sheer visual excitement is breathtaking....Mr. Bernstein has permitted himself a few moments of graceful, lingering melody: in a yearning “Maria,” in the hushed falling line of “Tonight,” in the wistful declaration of “I Have a Love.” But for the most part he has served the needs of the onstage threshing machine ... When hero Larry Kert is stomping out the visionary insistence of “Something’s Coming” both music and tumultuous story are given their due. Otherwise it’s the danced narrative that takes urgent precedence... TIME magazine’s review of the production reveals more of the cultural impact of the story, evident just weeks after the production opened: While critics speculated about the comic-tragic darkness of the musical, audiences were captivated. The story appealed to society’s undercurrent of rebellion from authority that surfaced in 1950s films like Rebel Without a Cause. West Side Story took this one step further by combining the classic and the hip. Robbins’ energetic choreography and Bernstein’s grand score accentuated the satiric, hard-edged lyrics of Sondheim, and Laurents’ capture of the angry voice of urban youth. The play was criticized for glamorizing
gangs, and its portrayal of Puerto Ricans and lack of authentic Latin casting were weaknesses. Yet, the song “America” shows the triumph of the spirit over the obstacles often faced by immigrants. The musical also made points in its description of troubled youth and the devastating effects of poverty and racism. Juvenile delinquency is seen as an ailment of society: “No one wants a fella with a social disease!” One writer summed up the reasons for the show’s popularity in these terms: “On the cusp of the 1960s, American society, still recovering from the enormous upheaval of World War II, was seeking stability and control.” Robbins. CONNECTION: As a class or in pair-shares, discuss what stories (plays, movies, television shows, books, etc.) accurately reflect the time and place you live in now or have lived in previously. What elements were authentic? What parts of the story rang the truest? What parts of the story were inauthentic? ACTIVITY: Somewhere opens with a two-page description of the setting for the play. Individually or in pairs, write the opening stage directions to a play that is set in your neighborhood or city. Include sights, smells, sounds, and anything else that you feel is necessary to accurately describe the environment you currently live in—this can be a house, a school, or anywhere else that captures the microcosm of your world.
NEW YORK CITY: THEN AND NOW
West Side Story being filmed on the streets of San Juan Hill just after the residents were evicted and just before the buildings were demolished, 1961.
1960, be revived on Broadway four times, tour nationally and internationally, and have countless productions in regional, community, and school theatres. December 19, 1957 – The Music Man opens at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. The show runs through April 15, 1961. 1957 – Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse are nominated for a Tony Award for Best Choreographer for the show Bells Are Ringing. 1958 – West Side Story wins Tony Awards for Best Choreographer (Jerome Robbins) and Scenic Designer (Oliver Smith). The musical is also nominated for Best Musical, Featured Actress in a Musical (Carol Lawrence), Conductor and Musical Director (Max Goberman), and Costume Designer (Irene Sharaff). March 11, 1959 – A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry opens on Broadway. The play depicts an AfricanAmerican family living in Chicago as they try to realize their dreams and weigh whether to move into an all-white neighborhood. It runs at
the Ethel Barrymore, then the Belasco Theatre, and closes on June 25, 1960. • May 21, 1959 – Gypsy opens at the Broadway Theatre. It runs through March 25, 1961, and closes at the Imperial Theatre. • November 16, 1959 – The Sound of Music opens at the LuntFontanne Theatre on Broadway. It closes at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on June 15, 1963.
NEW YORK CITY: THEN AND NOW
By Ashleigh Hill, TheatreWorks Used with permission byracy Martin West Side Story represented a change in American musical theatre, a blending of classic musical and ballet, a modern concept at the time. However, beyond the artistic importance, the musical also represented a shift in musical storytelling, putting stories ripped from the headlines on the stage. In fact, just a month before West Side Story opened, New York City was shocked by the brutal murder of a white teenager from Washington Heights by rival black and Puerto Rican gang members. There were eleven gang related murders in New York City in the summer of 1957, as West Side Story rehearsed in downtown studios, and these stories became fuel for Jerome Robbins’ storytelling. In fact, he would post articles about New York City gang violence in the rehearsal room to give the actors more reallife background for their characters. The late 1950s were a time of change for New York City. After World War II, urban developer Robert Moses had situated himself in the New York state government to allow him to develop New York City as a city. He built thousands of apartments in high rise buildings (28,000 units by 1959), bridges (including the Henry Hudson and Varrazano Narrows bridges), and cultural centers like Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Shea Stadium. However, as the Candelaria family discovers in Somewhere, this development often meant the destruction of buildings that were home to thousands of New Yorkers. The West Side Urban Renewal Project demolished dozens of buildings in the west 80s and 90s, displacing thousands of families, most of them African American and Puerto Rican. Through urban renewal projects, neighborhoods like the Upper West Side that were once home to ethnically and socioeconomically diverse communities became too expensive for their original residents, and many of these families were forced into housing projects in the outer boroughs of New York City.
Lincoln Center in 1969, shortly after its completion. The Koch Ballet Theater is at left, Avery Fischer Hall to its right, the Opera House in the rear, Juilliard to the far right, and Fordham University to the far left. Tucked away in the background are the NYCHA towers built to house San Juan Hill’s displaced residents.
ACTIVITY: Now, some 50 years later, the socioeconomic divide of the Upper West Side still seems to exist. Do some research on the setting of Somewhere as well as the modern day Upper West Side. What has changed in the last 50 years? What hasn’t? Write your findings in a Venn diagram. Once you’ve researched, in small groups or pairs, talk about the things that are most striking to you about the similarities or differences between the two time periods. As a class, make a Venn diagram of the two time periods. Here are a few articles to start your research: NPR on the 1957 murder of Michael Farmer: http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=12350113 History of NYC’s Upper West Side: http://www.ny.com/articles/upperwest.html The Upper West Side Book: http://www.thecityreview.com/uwsintro.html History on Harlem: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/iraas/harlem/
Sections of San Juan Hill being destroyed to make way for Lincoln Center in 1959 (Eddie Hausner, NY Times)
THEMES FOR DISCUSSION Dreams by Aurelia Clunie Inez Candelaria firmly believes in the power of dreams. She rests her faith in ushering those dreams into reality. She steadfastly believes nothing short of dreaming big will deliver the Candelarias to success. She encourages her children to dream big, too. Her identity and her family’s identity are closely linked to holding on to dreams. From the night she met her husband, Pepe, to the present, dreams have guided her. “We are a family of dreamers. We force the world to look like our dreams. We do not force our dreams to look like the world” (Act 1, scene 2). Now, the Candelarias see the world reflecting their dreams. Priscilla Lopez and Michael Rosen in Somewhere. Photo by T. Charles Erickson. Jerome Robbins has directed a musical that features Puerto Rican characters, Chita Rivera, and strong dancing as storytelling. Inez has raised all of her children to follow their dreams. Rebecca and Jamie do so with abandon. Jamie has become the successful assistant to Jerome Robbins by putting in long hours at rehearsal and seizing opportunities. Rebecca is eager to seize opportunities as they come, even though she is young. By following Inez’ lead, each experiences a degree of success. However, Alejandro is concerned he cannot afford to pursue the dream of dancing. He feels he must work to support the family. While he truly loves dance, for Alejandro, the dream seems unattainable. QUESTIONS: 1) In his poem “Dreams,” Langston Hughes writes: Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow. Examine Alejandro’s personality. How has Alejandro changed since giving up his dream of dancing for more “realistic” needs? Use examples from the text. How does putting off his dream affect Alejandro? Have you ever chosen to walk away dream or goal? How did it make you feel? Did you ever regain your hope of achieving that dream again? 2) Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin In The Sun was on Broadway in 1959, the same year Somewhere takes place. Hansberry uses Hughes’ poem “Harlem” as her epithet for the play. The poem asks “What happens to a dream deferred?” Read A Raisin in the Sun and compare to Somewhere. What dream is deferred in each? How does each affect the Younger and Candelaria families respectively?
Duty by Samantha Martinson Somewhere centers on a struggling Puerto Rican family living in New York City through the vibrant and ever-changing 1950s and 60s, during the height Robert Moses’ visions for reconstruction of the city’s landscape. The Candelaria family lives on West 65th Street, a neighborhood predominantly populated with African American and Hispanic residents. As major redevelopment projects occur around the city, cultures strive to maintain a sense of community and tradition. In the play, the residents of the apartment building where the Candelarias live are given a 30-day eviction notice, which causes a deep divide between Alejandro, the eldest son, and Inez, his mother. Much of the tension stems from the duties each individual feels towards the family. In the play, Latino culture plays an important part in family decisions, and these cultural norms shape each individual’s sense of duty within the family. In the first scene, the sense of community within the family is set. While small, the compact, less-thanperfect apartment where the four family members live feels like home. As the stage directions denote, “These people are poor but they protect what they own.” The Candelarias are not wealthy, but they take pride in their family and display “an enormous array of family photos on the wall….” Part of the Latino culture is a deep root in family. Because of Pepe’s absence as father figure, the family roles clearly shift. Being the eldest son of the family, Alejandro feels a sense of responsibilityfor providing for his family. Within many Latino families, the cultural constructs of duty and responsibility often fall on the eldest man and woman of the family. Often, when a father figure is absent, even simply when at work, the eldest male assumes the role of the “man of the house.” Alejandro takes on the role of the father figure in his family. While Inez Candelaria fulfills a motherly role of supporting her children in their endeavors, Alejandro replaces his father’s duties of responsibility, often times placing his family before himself. Speaking to his mother about the family’s finances, Alejandro divides the family’s earnings while stating, “There’s rent for next month. And the power bill. Cisco’s acting The cast of Somewhere. Photo by T. Charles Erickson. class. And the money for the collection basket at St. Paul’s…Mr. Mendelson told me I could work an overnight shift on Tuesday stocking the shelves at the store.” Alejandro makes sure his brother, Francisco, and sister, Rebecca, both accomplish their own desires, while refusing to set aside money for his own dreams of being a dancer. The deep-rooted “man of the house” mentality adds to the depth of Alejandro’s character and helps us understand his justifications and actions. This feeling of duty for Alejandro drastically affects the way he approaches his siblings and his mother. He often provides support and parental advice to his siblings from a father’s point of view. When responding to Rebecca’s excitement over a potential audition, he says, “You can dream all you want, but don’t forget to plan.” Alejandro’s actions directly counter his mother’s, since Inez frequently pushes for her children to pursue their dreams. As a mother, Inez wants all the best for her children—success, happiness, support, love, and most importantly, accomplishing their dreams. After Alejandro realizes they are going to be short on money this month Inez responds: “We’ll worry about next month when it gets here. Dream today so you can enjoy tomorrow.” Much of the conflict in the play centers on Inez’s desires for Alejandro and his feeling of duty for his family. Inez is always calling Alejandro her “reluctant dreamer,” telling him to “stretch [his] muscles and dust the cobwebs off [his] dreams.” The tension between Inez and Alejandro intensifies when the family receives their eviction notice for the apartment. While Alejandro tries to be practical about the situation and confront the problem head on, Inez refuses to discuss the matters with her son. When Alejandro begs his mother to listen to his concerns, she responds: “Say something that sounds like my son talking and I will.” Alejandro seems to carry the weight of the issue at hand, but Inez feels it is not her son’s responsibility.
Alejandro struggles internally throughout the play as he tries to fill the void of his father and live up to a sense of responsibility and duty for his family. QUESTIONS: 1) What responsibilities do you have to your family? What role or roles do you play as a member of your family? 2) Who encourages you to dream? Denial by Aurelia Clunie While Inez Candelaria is guided by her dreams for her family, her son, Alejandro fights to keep the family’s heads out of the clouds and their feet on the ground. Inez refuses to discuss the looming relocation ordered by the City of New York. Alejandro pressures her to take action. Conversely, Inez encourages her oldest son to pursue a career in dance. Alejandro refuses to admit he is a dancer capable of making it on Broadway. Each tries to show the other the light. “Ma, I’ve got more important things to worry about than getting into West Side Story. You really need me to tell you the reasons?” asks Alejandro. “You were BORN to be in West Side Story. You were BORN to be a Jerome Robbins dancer,” replies his mother (Act 2, Scene 3). Inez cannot face reality and Alejandro cannot dream. While Alejandro fears his mother’s refusal to vacate will leave the family homeless, Inez celebrates the homecoming of Jamie with singing and dancing in the apartment after dinner. The stage directions highlight the dichotomy between the two characters. “There is a stark contrast between the reality of Alejandro’s world on the fire escape and the warm, colorful bubble of the fantasy inside. The dance builds and grows and reaches an ecstatic crescendo when: THE POWER GOES OUT” (Act 1, Scene 3). Eventually Jamie drags the truth out of Alejandro. “Sometimes when I pick up Becky after her class,” Alejandro says in Act 2, Scene 4, “I feel this pain. In my chest, in my throat. In my fingers, even. I never thought that missing something could actually hurt this much.” However, even when Alejandro recognizes his love and skill for dance, he denies himself the opportunity to pursue it—the risk is too great. QUESTIONS: 1) Imagine you are Alejandro. What techniques would you use to get Inez Candelaria to move out of the apartment? 2) Imagine you are Inez Candelaria. What techniques would you use to convince Alejandro to go to the West Side Story audition?
Photo: Priscilla Lopez, Zachary Infante and Michael Rosen in Somewhere. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW: PRISCILLA LOPEZ by Samantha Martinson
Priscilla Lopez’s involvement in Somewhere reaches back to nearly the beginning of its development; she has played the role of Inez Candelaria at both the Old Globe and Theatreworks’ productions as well as the BrandNEW reading and the mainstage production at Hartford Stage. An interview with Priscilla reveals her gratitude for this journey, as well as her insights on the character Inez. Drawing from her personal connections to the story, as playwright Matthew Lopez’s aunt, Priscilla opens up about her cultural experiences growing up in New York City and her family’s history as Puerto Ricans in the United States. When asked if she has noticed any stark changes in the character Inez from the productions both at TheatreWorks and Old Globe through the staged reading with BrandNew to rehearsal now, Priscilla comments, “Her traits are the same and how she views the world and responds. But what determines how she behaves is what is written—and those actions and words have changed.” In the first production, Inez flipped between the extremes more quickly because of the circumstances and the dialogue. Since then, Inez developed into a more positive role—pushing her children from a purer place. As Lopez gracefully stated, “Inez is like any mother: why have children and want them to be miserable? You want them to be the best they can be. She has strict rules, but her intentions are truly from a more pure place for her children. All I’ve [as Inez] ever wanted for my children in world is to be successes.” Being involved in multiple productions of a new work, Priscilla reflects on how she has approached character changes in her process as an actress. “The hard part is that the words change, and one thing is already in your brain and DNA. It’s harder to let go of information—sometimes I forget that we never talk about Robert Moses anymore.” With a new work, the script is continually adapting throughout each production, but when commenting on the challenges of being in a work like this, Priscilla says the “beauty of the process is that it provides true freedom to play” as an actress. Speaking personally, Priscilla connects the story of Somewhere directly to her own childhood. Priscilla mentions, “this play started from a little grain of information [from me to Matthew] and grew from there for Matthew…all of it [the storyline] comes from a reality. Matthew is like a sponge—he soaks up everything. I used to always say to my children, ‘I am on your side. I am not the enemy.’” Reflecting on her childhood, Priscilla opened up about her family. When she was younger, she admits to not knowing much about Puerto Rican culture: “I was brought up in a city project, pretty well integrated with ethnicities. I was always so embarrassed by the music—you always want to be like everybody else when I felt so different.” But when she was fifteen, she traveled to Puerto Rico with her family to meet her father’s side of the family: “My little house grew into a family that grew into an island that grew into this identity of Puerto Rican. I had no idea, but I discovered who I was.” Priscilla explains the correlation to West Side Story found throughout the play Somewhere: “When I was twelve, I was an extra on film for West Side Story.” But it is not only this connection that pulls Priscilla close to the piece. As a youth, Priscilla discovered her love for theatre, and her mother whole-heartedly supported her dreams. “All of the characters in Somewhere are family names,” she says. “I know I am playing my mother. All my mannerisms come from my mother—I see her, I hear the rhythms of my mother. I am my mother’s daughter, so I am ‘me’ in a sense. This [performance] is for her. It is definitely her.” As Priscilla draws from her mother for the character of Inez, the audience can also see glimpses of Priscilla as they watch Inez’s daughter Rebecca grow throughout the show. It is not only the personal connection to the piece that thrills Priscilla about being involved in the production, but also its deep understanding of human nature. “[The play] just shows a realistic but positive look at a culture, a certain demographic of people,” she says. We’re just real people, and we all want the same things in life.”
BEHIND THE SCENES: A LOOK INSIDE THE REHEARSAL STUDIO WITH CHOREOGRAPHER GREG GRAHAM by Samantha Martinson
Behind the rehearsal studio doors, collaboration and creative energy flows during the beginning rehearsals of Somewhere at Hartford Stage. Each production of Somewhere goes through extensive changes from the last. Since Somewhere is a new work, the script is constantly adapting based on rehearsals and new development ideas from playwright Matthew Lopez. Within the rehearsal room today, there are many collaborators at work: the actors, stage manager, assistant stage manager, production assistant, director and assistant director, choreographer and assistant choreographer, sound designer, and playwright. Each individual plays a significant role in the production’s development. An interview with choreographer Greg Graham explores the rehearsal process and development of the production over the years. How did you become a part of this process and the production of Somewhere? I met Matthew at the Broadway Theatre Project Summer Intensive Program in Florida when we were both in college. Nine years later, in 2008, I saw him out of the blue, and he’s become an established writer. He called me to help do the first reading of Somewhere at the Summer Play Festival at the Public. When Gio directed at Old Globe, it was a new process—we had to grow and learn to collaborate together. I was in that transition, and it was lovely to see the development. But it was from the production at the Public Theatre onward that I kept telling Matthew, ‘you need a composer.’ We’re using dances to further a story. That’s what a musical is to me. Somewhere is essentially a musical without words—it uses dancing in order to propel the story—to show and say something more about the story.
The cast of Somewhere. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
How is that process made or decided for each production? It starts with an idea or inspiration and what is happening narratively. Then Matthew often writes a new piece of text and we have these sub-committees: there is a connection between Matthew and Gio, Gio and myself, Matthew and myself and also Bill [Sherman, original music] in there, too. It’s a collaborative initiative to make sure each person connects with the ideas.
Have you had a strong influence on the musical selection with Bill Sherman, since he has made an original soundtrack for this production? With the momentum we’ve already had from the rehearsals, having the original music feels amazing. It feels right and the music connects to the dancing for the first time—it’s as if they are working in conjunction with one another. But the process is much like a tennis match—it is very back and forth between all of the collaborators. What type of research have you done for the choreography in the show? I start by building the tone of what it could be: I create collages and put together images—I have a wall at home with a sticky board that is filled with images of jazz and soft shoe to visualize the dance moves.
Cary Tedder and Michael Rosen in Somewhere. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
The process of not having lyrics has been an interesting and difficult thing. There’s always dance in a “danceical” musical, but this is different. There is something in this obscure art form that I wish more people did. We would find out more about the people and the story.
How much is each dance number affected by the set designs or the production elements for each theatre? Have there been any new obstacles or elements you loved about certain productions? Everything always starts off as an initial idea, and then there is the trimming away of the “unnecessaries,” as I call it. I welcome changes to the script, though—if I create a dance number, then I have to show the director, and if it doesn’t work and the vision doesn’t connect, I have to adapt. I welcome change as long as there is some point where the actor can take the idea and run with it. How is it to work on a piece that is constantly adapting? Do you find any particular experiences exciting? Exhausting? Trying—and in what way? The first two weeks are studio to record—we have to make sure that the choreography matches the actors and their capabilities. I start with steps created in my studio, creating a structure based on a pre-devised set, then I adapt based on the music, and then I take it to the rehearsal studio again. It can be difficult, but definitely great.
With the script being edited and changed along the way with the rehearsal process, are there any elements of the dance numbers that you had to change completely? Rebecca’s number has transformed over the productions—it’s a great introduction to the dance sequences and the number is very fantasy driven by the character. It almost appears to look like it’s improvised and musically driven from her mindset, which is a great piece for her character and the feel of the play. What dance performance do you feel most connected to and why? As a dancer and tap dancer, the soft shoe dance is the simplest form of tap. How that dance number in the play was developed was very difficult because there was dialogue in the scene. It has always been one of the most rewarding numbers for me because the characters need to release something inside of them to take the story to the next level.
Michael Rosen in Somewhere. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES Movement: Tiny Dances (From Nikki Zaleski and Sojourn Theatre Company) In Somewhere, the Candelaria family express how they feel not only through dialogue, but through dance, as well. Dance sequences in the play share the inner feelings and wildest dreams of members of the family. Expression through dance is not limited to Broadway professionals. In this exercise, students will develop their own mini dance sequence using 5 specific gestures. Define gesture as a short movement with a beginning, middle, and end. Have students find their own spaces in the room. Ask them to create each of the following gestures using movement. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Gesture of Celebration Gesture of Disappointment Five counts of frustration Your Dream (gesture or freeze) Climbing a ladder
Then ask students to put the gestures together into a sequence they can repeat over and over. They have now created a “Tiny Dance” with the theme of Dreams. Create an audience. Have five students at a time line up facing the audience and perform their Tiny Dances simultaneously for the class. Notice how each is unique, but when juxtaposed, they all explore the same theme. You can add music. You can also try using the gestures above to create sequences specific to the characters of Somewhere. Acting: The Chair Divide class into partners. One student sits in a chair while their partner stands. The standing students have two minutes to convince their partners to get out of the chair. Switch. Define objectives and tactics. Objective: what you want. Tactic: how to get what you want, ie verbs. (to charm, demand, mock, inspire, threaten, beg, etc). How does Alejandro convince Inez to leave? Try with other scenarios from the play: How does Jaime convince Rebecca to take more ballet? How does Francisco convince Alejandro to let him skip work so he can go to West Side Story filming? Reflect. What worked? What didn’t? Would you lie to convince the person? Writing: Re-writing Pepe’s Letters: Dream Capsule This journaling exercise asks students to imagine their wildest dreams and reminds them to hold those dreams close to their hearts. Ask students to identify a dream they can accomplish in one year. It may be to graduate with honors, to be admitted to their choice school, to be hired in their field of study, or to make a new work of art, for example. Have each student write a letter to him or herself one year from now, as if they have achieved the dream. Include details about how they achieved it. Emphasize the importance of looking back on oneself when they dreamed about this achievement. What steps were taken to achieve it? What sacrifices were made? What opportunities were offered and taken? Is it everything that was hoped for? These may be read aloud as monologues. Then have students write a journal entry as themselves today and create a plan for achieving that goal. What can they accomplish in one month to take steps toward their goals? Have students create a plan and detail it in their journal entry. Then have students put the letter in the journal and schedule a time to re-read their letter and first journal entry. Ask students to reflect on their goal and their progress. Did they achieve their short term goal in the month? Did they do what they needed to achieve their short term goal in the month? Has their dream changed? Have them write a journal entry each month reflecting on their progress.
REFERENCES http://www.broadwayworld.com/browseshows. cfm?showtype=BR&open_yr=1957 http://www.broadwayworld.com/browseshows. cfm?showtype=BR&open_yr=1959 http://www.broadwayworld.com/tonyawardsshowinfo. php?showname=West%2520Side%2520Story http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/puertoricans-become-us-citizens-are-recruited-for-war-effort http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/about/admguide/ history.cfm http://www.theatreworks.org/media/upload/misc/ somewhere-study-guide_final.pdf http://www.westsidestory.com/archives_herald2.php http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Pan_(1954_ musical) Kerr, Walter (September 27, 1957). “’West Side Story’”. New York Herald Tribune.
For more information about education programs at Hartford Stage, please call (860) 520-7206 or email email@example.com
Theater: New Musical in Manhattan (‘West Side Story’)”. Time Magazine, October 7, 1957.
Editor Jennifer Roberts Director of Education Contributing Editor Aurelia Clunie Education Associate for Student Audiences With Contributions by Ashleigh Hill Theatre Works, Silicon Valley Samantha Martinson Education Apprentice
Published on May 1, 2014