As we enter into our second weekend of rehearsals, we are taking the time to break down and dive deep into the text of individual scenes. This involves identifying and interrogating the many references that seem to be couched in every other line of dialogue. One of our actors described Tarell’s style as being Shakespearean, which in essence is a very accurate way of thinking about the layering and subtext he uses. All the characters seem to be speaking in slang, acronyms, inside jokes, clever witticisms and references to popular people and events from multiple decades. Like with any Shakespearean play, the flow and rhythm of the text will entrance audiences and even if every person doesn’t understand every reference, it’s the important that the characters (and therefore the actors) have a strong sense of understanding in order to lend the text its authenticity.
Many of these references are music related and spoken – or really sung – by the FATES 3, a cis-gendered female trio who are integral members of the HOUSE OF LIGHT and the play. They are akin to a Greek Chorus and straddle the different worlds of the play, sometimes describing plot directly to the audience, sometimes engaging with characters in scenes. Think the trio of street urchins in Little Shop of Horrors.
The FATES sing us into scene transitions, hum us through emotional moments and entertain us by breaking into song in the middle of conversations. They let us into the multi-verse that is WIG OUT! by weaving between the new and old through music. While the play is set in today’s society and we hear Drake’s Hotline Bling and Jay-Z and Beyonce’s Hollywood, the FATES remind of us that the roots of Ball culture emerge from the 80s and 90s. These throwbacks are meant to make us nostalgic, compel us to break out into song along with the trio and, most importantly, add complexity to the transitions happening within the HOUSE OF LIGHT family and the greater evolving Ball scene.
Below are some of the R&B songs from the 80s and 90s that the FATES groove to.