Thursday, May 03, 2018

The Woodsman

When it was announced that I would be chairing OzCon 2018, I knew I wanted to reach out to one potential guest of honor in particular: James Ortiz.

James is the co-creator of the one-act play The Woodsman, a somewhat surreal experience that retells the story of how Nick Chopper came to be the Tin Woodman, based on the account in The Tin Woodman of Oz.

I had to admit, I wasn't familiar with The Woodsman, but I knew about it thanks to editing the Oz and Ends column for The Baum Bugle. A particular contributor sent me several updates about the show, so many that I had to remind him that we couldn't possibly use them all. Just that the show was opening, how long it'd be running, and a broadcast of the recording airing and appearing on BroadwayHD as an exclusive.

Well, now I have seen it. And everything positive I'd heard about the show was true. The show uses mainly music, visuals and human-produced sound effects to tell the story, the most dialogue being in an opening monologue to set the stage of this world. The characters of the Tin Woodman, the Wicked Witch and the animals of Oz are created through puppets, animated by actors onstage dressed as the Munchkins. Being a theatrical production, the audience is to use their imagination to fill in the gaps and pretend those people aren't there.

The show might be considered by some to be dark with the very creepy Wicked Witch and the original story of a man being dismembered being presented faithfully. Yet there's a spirit of whimsy present in the proceedings that feels right for Oz.

Well, luckily for OzCon, James did agree to attend, and he will be talking about some of the creation of the play in addition to screening a video recording of it. So, you can actually see it and learn more about it at OzCon this year if you register for it.

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