"There is admirable, astonishing audacity in Hammer. Its multitude of aesthetics calls all sorts of odd things from the soul. The visuals are enthralling and eerie. The mere fact that it is intelligible as a story speaks to the absolute precision the production uses to move among modes, ideas and forms."
The Right Brain Project ended its 2013 season with Hammer, a perverted mythology spun of apocryphal biblical texts and feverous nightmares from the mind of Stephen Gawrit. From fallen angels to the rebirth of Christ to ritualistic magic, audiences embarked on a phantasmagorical voyage with a cast of 10 actors into the mind of a tortured soul seeking redemption.
"Over five years ago, Hammer began to take shape from the smallest of nightmares; with a lot of ideas, namely religion," says Stephen Gawrit, director of Hammer. "Many of us find a point where we begin questioning everything we may have been taught, or subscribed to regarding our faith or religion. Like pulling that string hanging from a sweater, the pull of questions may turn said sweater into a large messy ball, only a memory of its former self. For me, Hammer was the string on the sweater. The more I pull, the more questions myself and my creative peers have. Throughout this ensemble- driven process we continued to pull, and refine this play to create a framework for audiences to start asking questions the moment they sit in their seats. This play challenges a lot of common religious themes, specific to the Judeo-Christian sects such as the function of God, afterlife, and sin. In form and execution of this production, we were inspired by Brecht, Artaud, and Robert Wilson, among others. And while we were excited to explore some extreme methods of storytelling, the story at the heart is what was most captivating. This play could be seen as a piece of theatre-of-cruelty. It may surely have some of those foundations, but that is not what the play is about. It is about a man’s journey toward atonement in a self-created hell. While the play is not a linear narrative in the traditional sense, it does have a structure amidst the prolific visual imagery. Audiences saw beautiful visual moments aided/enforced by a great ensemble, videography work by local filmmaker Nick Edelberg, and fierce music arranged by Jeff Award winner Trevor Watkin.
The Right Brain Project's 2013 production of Hammer opened at the RBP Rorschach on October 10, and ran through November 9 with the following creative team:
Director: Stephen Gawrit
Stage Manager: Krista Reeves
Production Manager: Nathan Robbel
Music Direction/Music Arrangements: Trevor Watkin
Movement Direction: Carole McCurdy
Video Design: Nick Edelberg
Light Design: Michael C. Smith
Costume Design: Tina Godziszewski
Sound Design: Stephen Gawrit
Dramaturg: Zev Valancy
Publicity Card Design: Joseph Ramski
Featuring: Nicholas Caesar, Liz Goodson, Joshua Harris, Todd Herman, Colin Jackson, Tyler Pistorius, Alex Potanos, Joseph Ramski, Andrew Taylor, and Sarah Thompson
Publicity Photos by Joseph Ramski.
Production photography by Tom McGrath.