BWW Interview: Rachael Logue of ADVANCE MAN at Horse Head Theatre Co.

BWW Interview: Rachael Logue of ADVANCE MAN at Horse Head Theatre Co.

"[ADVANCE MAN] is important because it exposes so much about the way we communicate and engage with one another amidst the constant deluge of the political news cycle. It doesn't even really lean heavily to one side of the aisle or the other - but it beautifully highlights the different ways in which we engage in our society." - Rachael Logue

Rachael Logue hails from Kingsville, Texas, which she describes as a place with "probably as many cows as people." Her bio suggests that she's probably been involved with as many theatrical productions in Houston, as there are cows or people in her hometown. Her credits include varied acting and directing roles at THEATRE UNDER THE STARS, STAGES REPERTORY THEATRE, THE ENSEMBLE THEATRE, MAIN STREET THEATRE, MILLER OUTDOOR THEATRE, THE GREAT SOCIETY AT The Alley Theatre, and I could go on. And now, as director of HORSE HEAD THEATRE CO.'s dark comedy ADVANCE MAN, Logue and I discuss the impact of a staged reading, engaged citizenship in a politically divisive climate, and how to produce a moving show in less than 15 hours of rehearsal time.

BWW Interview: Rachael Logue of ADVANCE MAN at Horse Head Theatre Co.
Rachael Logue (Director) pictured during Horse Head Theatre Co.'s rehearsal for ADVANCE MAN by Abe Koogler / Photo courtesy of Tasha Gorel

What drew you to ADVANCE MAN?

The opening notes from the playwright hooked me in immediately. Abe Koogler writes, "It might as well be called a song with movement. Or a dance piece with words. Or a symphony with narrative elements. In other words, it might be something other than a play." To read something like that was instantly exciting at all the possible ways to make a show.

I was lucky to have seen you perform as an actor in HORSE HEAD'S staged reading of EVOCATION TO VISIBLE APPEARANCE earlier this season, so I have a general idea of what to expect. For that reason, I am certain it won't be a monotone evening featuring stationary actors in director's chairs! For audiences who aren't sure what to make of a staged reading, how would you describe this kind of theatrical experience?

I would call this a Super Staged Reading. I love readings because it is a public performance that by nature isn't complete. The actors are super focused because every instinct in them is screaming for more rehearsal time. There is a crackling excitement in the air as a group of people take a collective breath together and say, "Okay, here we go."

My blood pressure jumps to think that you are producing ADVANCE MAN in just 14 hours of rehearsal time. That includes time to learn original music, and integrate movement and dancers. How do you pull that off without compromising quality? A simple answer would be magic. Or unicorns. But what say you?

I say a lot of prep work. There isn't time to try a first draft and then re-work things as we feel them out. It's fast and furious. It requires a clear vision that can be communicated to the company so we can all jump on the same train. Having a stellar cast is also vital because then you can just trust them to make the right choice for the story.

What surprised you most as a director?

One of the most surprising things as director is how willing everyone was to dive into this often absurd and ridiculous performance. I'm watching actors who I have respected for years doing the silliest things. I'm honored and overjoyed to be creating [art] in such a collaborative way.

When a restaurant has 30 entrée options, I feel overwhelmed. As a director, do you find it easier or harder to operate within narrow constraints of time, budget, etc.? How do you manage that?

Very carefully. I actually think it's easier when you have limited options. It's actually really fun to envision the show on a $250k budget, and then figure out the fast and cheap way to tell the same story. I find it incredibly satisfying. Because I got to work with [Choreographer] Lydia Hance of Frame, I was able to do double duty sometimes: she would take a group and work on movement for certain scenes, while I worked with another set of actors on a different scene.

The talent and crew supporting ADVANCE MAN is as staggering as the lack of rehearsal! What attracted such great talent - on and off the stage - to Advance Man?

There is a feel of "putting on a show with all our friends" - it's community building - it's a chance for artists to play, experiment, and kind of stretch some muscles they may not normally get to use in a standard rehearsal process.

You're an actor. You're a director. Is it hard to stay in one lane?

I guess in a way I'm always wearing both hats. I try to direct in a way I would like to be directed. And I feel like my experiences on one side of the table inform and help me improve on the other.

Horse Head Theatre Co. is known for provocative, absurdist work. What do you want audiences to think after the show? What do you want audiences to feel after the show?

I love [that ADVANCE MAN] holds a mirror up to the audience and [asks], "how are you engaging in your community and government?" and "How are you getting your information and forming your opinion?" I hope it makes people think both about the larger systems that govern us, as well as their participation in it.

Horse Head Theatre Co. presents a free staged reading of Abe Koogler's ADVANCE MAN at Comedy Sportz on Monday October 8, 2018 at 8pm, directed by Rachael Logue. The production will feature a cast of eleven actors; modern dancers from Frame Dance, choreography by Lydia Hance; live original music and foley sound by Alli Villines and live lighting by J. Mitchell Cronin. For additional information and tickets, please visit horseheadtheatre.org.

BWW Interview: Rachael Logue of ADVANCE MAN at Horse Head Theatre Co.

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