Today we have a guest blog post from Lantie Tom, the actress playing the part of The Heroine in The Sandman’s Coming. Here’s what she had to say about the process of creating this intriguing and haunting character. Have you bought your tickets yet?
It’s a marvel when diverse artists identify a truth, and with love, honor the beauty with their labor. Soon after agreeing to collaborate on The Sandman’s Coming the first time, I became impressed with director, Molly Ballerstein’s refreshing take on addiction. It has been a gratifying process as she and choreographer Dana Boll have encouraged and assimilated the actors’ ideas into the greater narrative. The result allows us actors (Jill Rittinger and Luke Wise and myself) to show more range than the traditional play, and our improvisations have led us to find movements that are authentic to us and specific to our characters.
I felt that The Heroine required a compelling, dramatic, origin story (as any supernatural character does). I hoped to dissuade audiences from dismissing my character’s title as a convenient pun, so I dug through my research for information that would inspire heroic attributes. My notions, in conjunction with Molly’s version of The Heroine’s background have resulted in a character that I think illustrates some overlooked aspects of addiction.
I had the advantage of playing The Heroine in the play’s first incarnation, and the wealth of additional information available this time around left me wading through possibilities for reconstructing this character. Strategically incorporating choices from the first staging felt like reorganizing the garage – deciding which tools are needed, if and why they’re really indispensable, then where to put them, and lastly, where to put those shiny new tools! The result has been an invigorating discovery of how I understand and translate ancient, larger-than-life correlations between purity and corruption, the natural and the supernatural, saviours and lunatics, the sacred and the profane and love and abuse.
I suspect my relatively literal apporach to the symbolism in my lines in unusual. I am of the opinion that symbolism is affected through precision, so dissecting The Heroine’s lines felt like an exercise in cryptography. To her credit, our director has remained patient and curious while witnessing my process, and intervening when I lose my bearings.
The interplay between the text, and the universal languages of music and movement seem to have spurred this play’s dynamic evolution over a very short rehearsal period, and I’m as eager as anyone to see all the beautiful work that Jill Rittinger and Luke Wise – both of them skilled, truthful, generous actors – have put into this project. Returning audiences and new audiences alike will find The Sandman’s return to be an intriguing experience.