Break the ice
Set on a hot night in early November on the slopes of Silver Lake, Icebergs tells the story of a couple on a quest to choose whether or not to have a baby. Set against the backdrop of phenomenal atmospheric movements in human history, this work asks us how we think about a natural and passionate urge to bring new life into the world when, by all accounts, the world itself is in disrepair. In the week before practices began, I had the opportunity to speak with playwright Alena Smith about how to bring out Los Angeles sentiment, build a world debut play, and compose a satire on environmental change.
Where did the work originate from? What was the impulse that led you to compose it?
Alena Smith: One place that it certainly originated from was the need to compose a play in Los Angeles that was smart from the encounters I’ve had since I moved here about four years ago. I needed to capture a specific climate or environment that I feel is particular to life in this city, and I needed this work to meet with other fine arts that have naturally become Los Angeles and have been completed by Los Angeles artists from high level. Among those I like is Ed Ruscha. There is something about the nature of light in Los Angeles. I compose plays instead of canvases, yet I was trying to react to that all the time.
Two Icebergs characters, Abigail and Calder, try to work in Hollywood and you act as an essayist on a television show. What was it about the narrative of being in “the industry” that made you need to make it known in front of an audience?
AS: What I hope to do with much of my work is give the crowd the slant that they have recently gotten off the road and are seeing the genuine and implicit lives of people. That is the reason why I enjoy the opportunity to compose plays that, practically, work continuously. I’m trying to make characters that vibrate like people you might know. So when it comes to a play about thirty-somethings in Silver Lake, working in film and television is what many of them would do. Be that as it may, I have also got characters who are not in the business, and none of the characters are fully characterized by their occupations. That’s one of the tensions in the game: to what extent are we characterized by what we accomplish at work and to what extent are we characterized by the more individual parts of our lives like who we adore, our peers, our family? How much significant value do we provide for that private side of things, even in a city like Hollywood where it seems like everyone is concentrating on an open and competent desire?
The play is a world debut and you’ve been creating it at Geffen for quite some time. What has that procedure been similar to for you?
AS: Compared to the previous works, there was a simplicity in the composition of this one that I think really fits in with the general Los Angeles air that I was trying to capture. I accumulated the images and the feelings and the general population that I needed to express and let them sit for quite some time so that when I composed it, it came out as is and things haven’t changed that much. progress. So we had a brilliant workshop in April in Geffen, where we had a gathering of on-screen characters who got together to examine the play and have a progression of really deep discussions about the issues that it started. That allowed me to develop and clarify the various journeys of the characters, so I think the work took significantly more root from that workshop, regardless of whether the DNA was reliably there.
The characters in the play are as current as the ecological concerns, but the focal shock of whether or not having a child feels ageless. What was it about this question that forced you to rethink it?
AS: I suppose it could be an eternal question, however our era is moving towards it in a completely different way than the past. That has to do with movements in the desires of women and men and a renegotiation of parts within a relationship. It also has to do with the monetary substances that have made people put off motherhood more and more. Furthermore, there is a sense that we may have officially crossed a specific boundary after which catastrophic environmental change is inevitable. So I’m trying to take a look at it from this minute’s point of view with this statistic of individuals and their social conditions.
The connections in the work are fundamental to the point that it is not a “thematic work” but, as you specified, it is about nervousness around environmental change. I love that you are ready to incorporate the nervousness of the characters without being prescriptive. Could you talk a bit about that careful control exercise?
AS: There is an emerging theory about environmental change that has to do with recognition, and this work really tries to prepare a considerable amount of distress. That is the motivation behind why the Day of the Dead happens. It’s about misfortune. I am a writer. I don’t know how to help us stop using all fossil fuels, this work will use fossil fuels. In this sense, from the human point of view, it is about discovering how to adapt to a truly devastating circumstance. I trust, perhaps, that the group of viewers is comfortable combining as a group to take a look at these things.
That being said, there is a lot of fun in the play even though it handles more genuine themes. Did you set out to compose it as a parody?
AS: I overcame that it’s just my voice. I tend to find in my plays that the sadder things get, the more entertaining things get. Read more: