What This Blog is About

A long time mentor and friend, Cicely Berry, often says: "all we do comes from our need to survive".

Cis is the Voice Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her profound work and deep appreciation of the human spirit has affected diverse communities all over the world.

Will take you to my current work.

This blog is dedicated to the belief that the overall health of a community or organization is a clear reflection of their ability to communicate.

"Cada cabeza es un mundo" - Cuban proverb

"Every head is a world"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Great Memory of a Gifted Person

Kirk Browning

We remember Kirk Browning at work: "...and dissolve..." The shot would be climactic, or full of tension. It would set up an expectation that flowed from the music. Then would come the payoff: the next shot that seemed to arise organically, naturally; and the path from one shot to the next was illuminated by that gentle, soothing voice, caressing the transition: "...and dissolve..."; and sometimes we would all join in, six or eight people in the TV truck, all crooning along with our Maestro: "...and dissolve..." NY Times February 13, 2008 from several of Kirk Browning's friends and colleagues.

I was fortunate to have once worked with Mr. Browning. We filmed The Gospel at Colonus for a PBS Television special that Mr. Browning directed. The stage production was an extraordinary version of the original Greek Oedipus text, set in a modern day Gospel service. The work was conceived and directed by Lee Breuer and the music composed by Bob Telson. I spent several years working on this project before PBS became interested. The ensemble included Morgan Freeman and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497914/fullcredits#cast Will give you more information on the wonderful cast.

On the day we were to film at a university theater, the fire department arrived to pronounce the stage unworthy for the performance unless we were able to make a number of safety changes.

When the fire department asked me if we had a small cast, I had to tell them that we had an ensemble of more than sixty people. Several woman were pregnant and four of the performers were blind. It was a morning of impossibilities to prepare for the scheduled filming.

I was the production stage manager and assistant director to Lee Breuer and responsible for the live staging logistics. Mr. Browning spoke to me with a sense of collaboration and equality that was overwhelming with his spirit of going forward. He loved the work and intended to transpose the original stage performance onto television with integrity and vision. Not an easy achievement with the Lee Breuer present, recognized as one of America's greatest theater artists. Somehow, we made the needed changes to be able to perform. We also faced a collaboration of two large teams from two different worlds. Stage and television.

When we began filming, with a full audience ready, something went wrong on the headsets we were assigned for communication. In my headset, I could here all the channels. This made it almost impossible for me to call the lighting, audio and special effects stage cues. I could here everything that was going on in the mobile truck where the television cues were being directed by Mr. Browning. It was a potential constant collision of numbers and visual results. My cues also affected the safety of the performers as there were moving parts to the stage.

Somehow, and I believe, because of his state of being and how he viewed complicated situations where people needed to collaborate, I got through it. His team helped me, as I helped them move through the performance. The show was nominated for an Emmy as Best Public television Special of the year.

My time working with him was brief and I do not mean to exploit his name. I simply want to remember his style and how collaboration is really connected to the respect one has for people and their work.

That, I can honestly say about the experience of working with Mr. Browning -- as brief as it was.


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