In the past few years, I have split my directing energies between new plays and classical verse. Jenny Lyn Bader’s IN FLIGHT, a new play written in rhyming couplets, offered an amazing opportunity to unite those two seemingly disparate sides of my work.
IN FLIGHT achieves a remarkable balance between contemporary subject matter and heightened, classical style. My challenge in approaching the production was to find a tone for both the physical production and the performances that supported that balance. My goal was to make the experience so satisfying that no one in the audience would want to ask, “But why is it written in verse?”
IN FLIGHT takes place in the present day office of the editor of an airline’s in-flight magazine. While there were certain objects we needed (desk, computer, phone), I knew it was equally crucial for the physical space to provide a stylish container for the heightened language. The naturalistic furniture sat in the middle of a giant scrolled map, evoking the romantic age of exploration which captivates the characters’ imaginations. The physical space followed the stylistic dictates of the play itself, keeping one foot in the present, and the other in a romanticized past.
Likewise in rehearsal, we looked for a balance between grounded truth and a more heightened, stylized approach. We were rigorous about the rhythms of the verse without hitting the rhymes too hard. Once everyone found their stride, the meter and the rhymes simply provided the structure that allowed the actors to play. The characters in IN FLIGHT are whip-smart, and the play itself is delightfully witty. This creates an atmosphere that easily justifies the rapid-fire rhymes and rhythms of the language. If anyone in the audience did ask “why the verse,” the answer we hoped to provide was “because it’s more fun that way.”
Cast: Rajesh Bose, Lynnette R. Freeman, Ginger Grace, Drew Ledbetter, Danielle O’Farrell, Jackson Thompson
Designers: Elli Engstrom, Iris McElroy, Chelsie McPhilimy, Nicole Slaven
“I spent a couplet of hours enjoying Jenny Lyn Bader’s take on this in her new verse play In Flight, directed by Jessica Bauman.” – NYTheatre Now.
“The new production of In Flight by Jenny Lyn Bader at first was like watching an adult version of Dr. Seuss. Then I realized the exquisite wording, which was more like a restoration comedy or Shakespeare. It was prolific and so clever going places you did not expect the rhyming couplets to go. The poetry makes the characters and their dilemma’s jump off into full throttle.” – Times Square Chronicles.