By Michael Gioia
17 Jan 2014
The production is a culmination of Academy Award-nominated actor, director and artist James Franco (Broadway's upcoming Of Mice and Men) and co-teacher Deborah LaVine's (co-director of CalArts' Fim Directing Program) "One Act to Cinematic Event" at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
For The Magic Tower, according to the show's website, "Franco and Lavine mentored ten student film directors along with cast and crew to develop contemporary interpretations of Williams' iconic plays."
"We built on a model of cross departmental collaboration," said Franco in a statement. "The design students contributed a set that is more than just a space on which the actors perform; it is an integral aspect of the whole piece. Others contributed audio and visual components that make the show even more immersive than last year. And we have added a host of amazing dancers to the huge group of awesome actors and directors."
The goal of the class is to create a "collaborative synthesis of live performance and media."
"So many of Williams' characters are dreamers who live in their imaginations," Franco added. "The conflicts arise when their dreams must contend with brutal reality. That's Tennessee: Blanche Dubois in one hand and Stanley Kowalski in the other. This kind of conflict is perfect for students in art school because they live in the wonderful land of infinite possibility—but just outside the walls of CalArts, after the graduation bell tolls they will be forced to face the professional world with only their delicate art to guide them. They are all Tennessee's, all Blanches, getting ready to face the big bad Stanley world."
The source for the performance is an anthology of Williams' early works titled "The Magic Tower." It includes one-acts the playwright would later expand to full-length dramas such as The Pretty Trap, a cheerful take on The Glass Menagerie, and Interior Panic, a precursor to A Streetcar Named Desire.
"One Act to Cinematic Event" was developed by LaVine at CalArts and Franco, founder of Rabbit Bandini Productions.