Elly Jessop Nattinger, Experience Engineer

people + space (+ technology)

Children of Eden

All rehearsal photos by Jax Kirtley

In the fall of 2011, I directed the MIT Musical Theater Guild's production of Children of Eden. The stories of this show are classic tales from Genesis, reimagined by Stephen Schwartz and John Caird as stories about parent-child relationships. God is the Father of Adam and Eve, badly hurt by his children's disobedience. Adam and Eve then have to cope with the behavior of their own children, as Noah does a millennium later with his children. They all have to learn that an essential part of loving their children is letting them grow up...giving them the freedom to make their own mistakes.

I wanted to highlight the Storytellers as the key figures in my interpretation, as they narrate the several stories, shift in and out of portraying characters, and create elements of the world as they are needed to tell the story. They control the animals, floods, and environment. As a director, I also incorporate stylized movement and choreographic sequences throughout my work, so it was an exciting challenge to develop a movement vocabulary to help bring this particular story to life. The scenic and costume designs create the outlines of a world that the Storytellers then flexibly shape from moment to moment, through techniques such as puppeteering a dove, slipping on a vest or robe to shift from Storyteller to character, or dancing a fabric flood across the stage.

It was also especially important for me to make it clear that the stories in Eden are not old tales, separate from our own lives, but very human, resonant examples. We all repeat ourselves. We repeat cycles of behavior, from parent to child to grandchild. The "sins of our fathers" play out in our own lives. And yet, we are free at any moment to break the patterns - to choose a new path for the future, for a better future.

Return to main page.