"The Dazzle" ends the 23-year run of South Coast Repertory's 161-seat Second Stage, which opened in 1979 and will be replaced next season by a bigger theater. The space will be remodeled and used primarily for rehearsals and in-house play development rather than public performances.
But before it goes, the tight passages from backstage to the playing area and the intimate horseshoe seating pose one last headache for a director. Mark Rucker, a staff director who figures he has shepherded at least nine plays onto the Second Stage, has to find a way to clutter the space with the two pianos and the mountains of junk called for in Richard Greenberg's script--and still make sure everybody in the audience can see the three actors.
Working on the Second Stage, Rucker said, has always been "a race to keep the least amount of people unhappy for the least amount of time." That means making sure actors turn often while they perform so one side of the house won't be condemned to seeing only their backs. For "The Dazzle," set designer Darcy Scanlin had to craft sculpture-like modules of junk and stacks of newspapers that will hold together and remain stable when carted quickly from backstage during breaks between acts and scenes.
"It started as kind of a bear of a project to conceive in there," Rucker said. "Now that the problems are being solved, I think the intimacy of the space is going to be a real pleasure with this play because it's so intricate and the language is so beautiful."
Still, he said, "you have to keep in mind that somebody is going to have to be looking at this play over a piano."