If you haven't heard, playwright Harold Pinter passed away on Christmas Eve at the age of 78 after a long battle with cancer. He might be one of the only playwrights in history to have spawned his own adjective—"Pinter-esque". He's best known for delving into complicated interpersonal relationships with unflinchingly sparse and meticulous language (and sometimes the absence of language, i.e. "The Pinter Pause.")
From an Associated Press article, which ran in the Seattle Times:
"Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles," the Nobel Academy said. "With a minimum of plot, drama emerges from the power struggle and hide-and-seek of interlocution."
His characters' internal fears and longings, their guilt and difficult sexual drives were set against the neat lives they constructed in order to try to survive. Usually enclosed in one room, the acts usually illustrated the characters' lives as a sort of grim game with actions that often contradicted words. Gradually, the layers were peeled back.
We'll be staging his Betrayal here in February.
Pat your head and rub your belly. Now dance on your toes and deliver a monologue. Play the xylophone, wrestle…and could you sing, too?
The members of You Can't Take It With You's Sycamore family have wacky hobbies, and the actors playing these eccentric characters spent long hours becoming proficient in a crazy array of skills. Director Warner Shook would often pat his head and rub his belly during rehearsals saying, "I know it's hard. But you gotta do it."
Brad Farwell plays Ed Carmichael, an aspiring xylophone player and amateur printer. Before rehearsals began, Brad had no experience playing the xylophone (even though he has had to learn guitar, piano, harmonica and tambourine for other shows). To prepare Brad for the role, the Rep hired a percussion consultant to teach him "Xylophone 101."
Brad learned the songs that he needed to know for the show and repeatedly played scales to get accustomed to the instrument. To get more practice time in, the Rep arranged for Brad take a glockenspiel (an instrument similar to a xylophone) home with him to practice. Even during breaks in rehearsal, the cast could hear Brad practicing the xylophone in a dressing room down the hall. When asked if he would keep up with his new talent after the show, Brad responded, "Probably not. My dog hates it. She runs under the bed and howls."
Unlike her character Essie Carmichael, who has been practicing ballet for eight years, Annette Toutonghi has never been a ballerina. Even though Essie is a terrible dancer, Annette needed to be familiar with ballet movements. In order to get the vocabulary of a dancer and some basic skills, she started taking lessons months before rehearsals even began. Working in classes and private lessons, Annette’s teacher eventually told her that she could wear toe shoes, a must for Essie's character. She even took twice a week during the rehearsal process. Despite all the practice, Annette says she's far from losing the spirit of her skill-challenged character, "I'm in no danger of being too good," she says.
Wrestling, ballroom dancing, and singing are also on the long list of activities that the cast of You Can't Take It With You has had to tackle. On the surface the Sycamores might seem simply weird and, from an actor's perspective, a huge pain. But as Brad points out, they are just "enjoying life."
Pictured: Brad Farwell and Annette Toutonghi, photo by Chris Bennion.
Lately I've been moonlighting as a Seattle Rep Lobby Manager to help supplement my rather stark financial situation. I didn't mean to buy so much at H&M, it just kind of happened. Layering is my weakness.
If you've been to see a show at the Rep recently, you've most likely seen me working. I'm the one in clogs and arm warmers. Most of the time I'm interacting directly with our patrons giving them directions, answering questions or bring sexy back to the Concierge Desk. But every now and then I also get to interact with the actors in our shows. For example I always made a point to watch the Musketeers exit the theatre after their dashing, dangle-from-a-rope-OH!-don't-land-on-a-patron entrance at the top of the show. Who didn't love that part?
For You Can't Take it With You there are always actors milling about backstage, waiting for their appearance in Act II or their staggered entrances here and there. There are 18 of them after all. Well one Sunday I was in the green room heating up my microwavable Zesty Chicken dinner inbetween our matinee and evening performance. A lot of the actors had also gathered to eat a bite of dinner and chat. One of the actors, I won't say who for fear I'll be hit with a law suit, was excited to tell everyone that they bought "Bull Durham, only the greatest baseball movie ever." I know, I was shocked too. It was all I could do to smile and nod my head as I proceeded out of the green room with my scaulding hot black tray full of soupy chicken and imitation-carrots.
Hear me out, I like the movie Bull Durham as much as the next baseball enthusiast. But as a permanent benchwarmer myself, I've seen my fair share of baseball movies, especially starring Kevin Costner, and I just don't think that Bull Durham is the grand slam. (You're not even ready for all of the baseball puns that I'll be using.) At least he picked one that is probably in the top 10. The actor could have sighted Hardball starring Keanu Reeves or Mr. Baseball with Tom Selleck and then I would have had to control my gag reflex. Just because you're a Matrix boy or because you have a gigantic mustache does not mean that you should be making bad baseball flicks. Angels in the Outfield and Sandlot are pretty standard childhood fare and will probably be around "Foooooooorrrrrrrrreeeeeeevvvvvveeeeeerrrr" but they don't really capture America's favorite pasttime. And I don't even want to talk about monkeys playing baseball. Ed is just bad.
Let's get down to the real scoreboard. What about A League of Their Own? If you honestly can tell me that you don't know what I'm talking about if I say, "There's no crying in baseball" then it's time to retire your glove. That movie is classic. Or perhaps you think baseball movies should be more schtick and less heart. Then look at Major League. Ridiculous and nominated for Best Foreign Film by the Japanese Acadamy. Now that's a double play. But overall, in my heart of hearts, I think that the actual best baseball movie ever is Field of Dreams. I know, I know but she's from Iowa, of course she'd say that. Well, get over it. This movie quintessentially depicts what baseball is: playing it for the love of the game, in a cornfield, with Mufasa. Done and done.
I suppose I could have told the actor all of my opinions on baseball movies, but those programs aren't going to restock themselves. So let's just keep this between us.
Enjoy Ed Boyd, Lead Telemarketer for the Rep, as he makes his 1936 pitch for You Can't Take It With You. Then stop in to see our production of the American classic in the Bagley Wright Theatre.
What did you think of boom? Below are some clips of what audience members had to say about the show in the Rep's brand new Talk-it-out Booth (previously the Rep Confessional).
Seattle Rep's Assistant IT Director and resident tech goddess Heather (left) is Seattle P-I's Geek of the Week! I knew she liked Buffy, but this Q&A reveals the depths of her delightful geekiness: Star Trek, muppets, something called a 'Prelate Wizard," and years of making her own Ren faire costumes.
Read her full Q&A here: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/tech/geekoftheweek/?geekID=10
More Ednotes from Ed Boyd, Lead Telemarketer for Seattle Rep. This round, boom.
Maybe my favorite press quote ever...The Seattle P-I (yeah, the P-I) wrote this about boom.
"Putting these collections of contemporary anxieties together steeps a wild brew of rampant hostility, wit, gay sensitivity and harsh feminine snark in a confined space. The end of the world, it turns out, looks like a staff meeting at The Stranger."
The rest of the review is here: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/theater/388728_boom21q.html
We bet you aren't as crazy as the families in You Can't Take It With You, but we’d love for you to prove us wrong! We’re holding a contest to find the craziest family photo. Just for entering, we’ll send you a Seattle Rep photo frame magnet (they're cool, seriously).
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your photo and a description of what makes your family so wacky (submission deadline: Dec. 7).
We’ll post photos online for judging, and the winner will receive four tickets to our special New Year’s Eve performance of You Can’t Take it With You and after-party with champagne, a midnight buffet, dancing and Space Needle fireworks (value: $250).
Festivities start at 6:15 p.m. in the Rotunda. $1 PBRs! For tickets to the show, click here.
Misha Berson interviewed boom playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb today in the Seattle Times.
For some reason this line from the article "Peter Sinn Nachtrieb loves writing plays, and he loves marine biology" got me singing that song from Napolean Dynamite:
"I love technology, but not as much as you, you see... But I still love technology... Always and forever."
I have learned a lot about the 34-year-old Nachtrieb lately (who is at the Rep this weekend!), but the Times article revealed that despite the fact that his is an award-winning playwright (he got the American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award), he "still enjoys the occasional gig performing in 'interactive murder mysteries at private parties.'"
The rest of the article is here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/thearts/2008387904_peter14.html
Peter's web site is here: http://www.peternachtrieb.com You can more fully check out this picture of him in a space suit.
There's a preview article about boom in the Seattle P-I today. Director Jerry Manning talks about the show and his role as Producing Artistic Director of the Rep, now and beyond.
"I'm the only person who can do this job right now," Manning said without hubris, and is glad to lend his history and credibility to the theater. But he recognizes that long-term survival will require new blood.
When his work is done, he said, "It's time to give the keys to the kids."
Read the full article here: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/theater/387690_theater14.html
Betrayal (by Harold Pinter, under the direction of Braden Abraham) will feature Cheyenne Casebier (Emma), Alex Podulke (Robert), David Christopher Wells (Jerry) and the lovely local actor John Farrage (Waiter). You might have seen Cheyenne wielding a sword (and other weapons) as Milady in The Three Musketeers (right). I don't have pictures of the other actors, but Braden has been telling me all along that the cast will be "young and sexy." Hot!
Betrayal, if you don't know the play, is a twist on a love triangle. Emma is sleeping with her husband's best friend, but the play is played out in reverse, from the end of the affair to the beginning.
The show opens February 19.
The Seattle Weekly just ran this preview of boom, talking with playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and director Jerry Manning about whether or not audiences want to think about the end of the world now that things are starting to look up (thank you, Obama). I think: yes. This play deals with environmental apocalypse. While we hope President Obama will turn things around on a global warming front, it's still an issue. But more than that, boom is a comedy with a surprisingly optimistic ending and a healthy dose of sex. It's not like the end of the world is a total downer.
A quote from Jerry in the article: "This script avoids what a lot of plays about 'people in the bunker' fall into," says boom's director Jerry Manning, who's a fan of end-of-the-world stories—like that great old Twilight Zone episode with Burgess Meredith in which a meek reader who survives a nuclear war finally gets time for all of his favorite books. "Usually, you can't really sustain suspense with that scenario, and Peter did. There's not a butt-numbing moment in it."
Read the rest of the article here: http://www.seattleweekly.com/2008-11-12/arts/boom-time/
I have the best seat at the house. Back of the main floor, house right. Tech day 2.
Our director is behind me discussing looks with the lighting designer. In the center section, our sound designer is adjusting cues on a computer that somehow connects him with our sound operator in the booth. Down front, our costume designer is talking about some potential changes with her assistant. It’s awesome that I get such a sneak peak as this show’s design team gets boom up on its feet.
But the best view I have is over our stage manager Elisabeth Farwell’s shoulder. I see her script, filled with notes about blocking (where actors move when). I see the funny-looking machine that connects to her headset. While I can’t hear what comes in through her headset, I know she is connected to our deck hand (a crew member who is in charge of moving scenery, props and curtains), our stage management intern (who helps keep up paperwork and round up the actors), the lighting designer, the sound designer, the light-board operator and the sound operator.
That’s a lot of voices to be talking to one ear (I mean that quite literally—her headset covers one of her ears, leaving the other free to hear what’s going on in the room).
Our stage manager is now coordinating what is going on backstage, onstage, and in the booths. By “in the booths,” I mean the cues that the light-board operator executes (i.e. any light changes) and that the sound operator executes (i.e. any pre-recorded sound). It’s amazing to hear her call a sequence of cues- she feels out when the moment is just right (usually a breath or two before we actually want to see/hear the sequence) and then she’s off! It’s a beautiful and amazing thing to listen to: If character and story are one motor of the show, our stage manager is definitely the other.
Boom director Jerry Manning just emerged from tech to check in with life outside of the Leo K.
His inside scoop: "It took four hours to blow up the world."
The play is GULF VIEW DRIVE by Arlene "Beth" Hutton, directed by Braden Abraham (who directed My Name is Rachel Corrie in 2007 and is directing Betrayal in February).
Peter Dylan O’Connor
Just come to the box office door, and someone will direct you to our rehearsal space. A list of upcoming readings is here.
Fresh off of The Three Musketeers, I’m now in rehearsal for boom. Halfway through our second week of rehearsal, I feel ready to give you a glimpse into our world.
Our world is bigger than the theatre. To get a taste of the marine biology that plays such an important role in the play, we took a trip to the Seattle Aquarium where we bonded with Roberta (our tour guide) and Emrich (a Great Pacific Octopus). Roberta even gave us a “backstage” tour of the labs in the aquarium’s basement.
Our world is a hysterically funny one. As we work our way through the show, our actors sometimes have to take a moment to laugh and enjoy each other’s performances before getting back into character and continuing.
Our world is an extremely collaborative one. I’m in daily contact with the playwright Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, who is sending us re-writes and thoughts as we share with him our questions and discoveries from rehearsal. Our fearless leader (i.e. director) Jerry Manning encourages everyone in the room to contribute—each actor, each designer, our stage managers, and even me!
From where I’m sitting right now, the view is looking good. I’ll be back with more updates soon.
Happy Election Day. Please vote.
During the afternoon, two of our lovely board members were scheduled to stop by to get a chance to meet everyone and spread some love around the Rep. Little did we know that they were also bearing gifts of liquid sunshine. Everyone that they ran into got a fluorescent yellow Smiley-Face Antenna to wear as they finished up their work at their desk (see photo to the right for a slice of the magic). These two were everywhere. Even if you weren't at your desk, they cornered you in the bathroom and made sure that everyone got their Simpsons-esque Mickey Mouse ears. Also, try having a serious conversation with those smiley faces bopping around on your head. You just can't do it.
Once work became too laborious to continue, I headed down to the scene shop for some beer:30 action. Everyone and their theatre-geek brother were there. It was amazing. We gathered in a huge circle and sang a rousing "Happy birthday" to Ben Moore and sliced up some of the most delicious cake. (There is a drool puddle on my desk just from thinking about it) Then the two board members announced that it was time for the raffle that they had planned. Here's the thing, I love raffles. Your name on a carnival ride ticket, the fantasies about beating out your fellow co-workers, getting excited when you hear the "K" sound only to have it end in the name "Karen" and then masking your disappointment. This is the real drama folks.
There were 32 envelopes to raffle off and they gave us clear instructions that they weren't to be opened until all of them were distributed. As they pulled names out of the box each person was applauded as they made their was to the middle of the circle to choose their envelope. When they called my name, I put on a great surprise face as I went to get my envelope. I decided earlier not to boast about the fact that I usually win these types of things. I'm just gifted like that. Finally they called out all 32 names, including a Molly that no one knows who the heck she is, and then we opened our prizes. I ripped open the side, and there he was. U.S. Grant staring me in the face. A crisp 50 dollar bill was in my hand and the five-year-old in me started shouting, "This is the best day of my life!" I was shocked, and happy, and overwhelmed, and grateful. I was basically a Lifetime Movie ready to explode. It was such an amazing gesture for these board members to make towards our staff, and it was certainly a day we'll never forget. Once the raffle was over and I stopped hyperventilating we all hung around to drink beer and have a few laughs. It was a great day to be a member of the Rep team and a great way to be introduced to the legacy that is beer:30.
The (huge) cast of You Can't Take it With You, plus the design team and director Warner Shook are in the building. They had their first read-through on Tuesday, and beforehand the company had a meet and greet. We learned from director Warner Shook, among other things, that Kaufman and Hart rejected a few titles before settling on YCTIWY (I don't think he was joking):
Money in the Bank
They Loved Each Other
The King is Naked
Grandpa's Other Snake
Editor's note: Montana wrote this blog for Teen Tix, an awesome program we partner with that provides teens with $5 tickets to Rep shows.
I’m sitting in my dressing room at the Seattle Rep after a student matinee performance that had, in my opinion, our best audience ever! Let me back up and tell you that I’m Montana von Fliss, and I work for Teen Tix, but I’m also a professional actor and I’m thrilled to have a part in The Three Musketeers, which is playing right now at Seattle Repertory Theatre. I play Sabine, D’Artagnan’s feisty sword fighting 17-year-old sister, who tags along for the adventure. She’s not in the original novel but has been added as a sort of 5th Musketeer. (D’Artagnan is generally considered the 4th Musketeer so Sabine is, as I prefer to call her, the 5th Beatle – or "Totally Awesome," as I also like to call her.)
The show has tons of sword fighting and swashbuckling and spectacle. It’s sort of an Indiana Jones in olden times. Pure fun. And today we found our perfect audience: people between the ages 13-18. This morning teenagers from all over this fine state packed the Rep’s huge 850-seat auditorium for our student matinee and laughed and hollered and cheered for the good guys and hissed at the bad guys. It was live theatre with a live-wire audience, and it was brilliant!
So if you’re 13-18 years old, please don’t miss this show. Please come and laugh loudly and boo and hiss and ooh and aah, just like the audiences in the good old bawdy days at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Use your Teen Tix pass and get a $5 ticket to The Three Musketeers before it closes on November 9th – don’t wait!
All for one,
Teen Tix Duchess
Ed Boyd, Lead Telemarketer for the Rep, has once again obliged to share his thoughts on one of our shows. This time it's The Three Musketeers!
Sorry for all the quiet in the Rep blogosphere. It would seem that the entire theatre has the plague—including me. Conveniently, though, I was on a cross-country road trip all last week during the height of my bronchitis (not convenient for my traveling partner, but c'est la vie. I made it up to her by buying our beer-battered cheese curds in Wisconsin).
Anyway, back on the blog train with this tidbit: Tonight Arts Zone In Studio with Nancy Guppy is doing a little feature on The Three Musketeers. Check it out at 8:00pm on Channel 21.
And then, I got more.
On Saturday Oct 4th, the Rep held their annual Gala at the Hyatt Hotel. We raised money for our internship program, honored Rep donor and all-around stud Matthew Clapp, and had a few carnies creeping around on stilts. All around a pretty fun night. But once that 80s band started firing up Don't You Forget About Me and Take on Me, all bets were off. The room exploded into a frenzy of peacock feathers and people dancing off the walls. As I whirled and twirled my black jersey baby doll dress I almost lost my footing as I spun around to find none other than Bill Irwin, with a hoard of female interns circling him, jiving up a storm. He was dipping low and jumping high. We made a dance line and he sashayed right down it without missing a beat. He had the biggest grin stretched across his baby face and was quickly turning into the life of the party. I got to dance with my very own star. Jealous much?
This is Ed Boyd. He works for the Seattle Rep as a Lead Telemarketer. He has obliged to lay down his Cliffnotes variation for our first show, The Night Watcher!
I have run up and down stairs more this last week that ever in my life. I recently started wearing a pedometer to see actually how many steps I take in a day to run various errands for various departments.
From the perspective of a production management intern, tech (i.e. technical rehearsal) is one of the most exhilarating times of the play-creation process. This is when all of the energy from my land of Production Management—arranging contracts, taking production meeting notes, facilitating the Assistant Production Manager and Production Manager's needs—comes together. We all hope the cosmic forces align and tech goes off without a hitch, but a few bumps are always expected—and necessary—for the learning process.
Before tech started, Diane (the Assistant Production Manager) and I had a conversation about what to expect, what is expected of me and how I should split my attention. She told me that if I have the choice of sitting in Night Watcher tech or Three Musketeers, to always always always pick Three Musketeers. It's just such a bigger production, and she said I would learn more.
She couldn't have been more right. Did she send me there with the intention of learning about theatre? People? People in theatre? Yes, yes, yes.
Three Musketeers has 22 fight scenes in it and a huge number of scenic elements that fly in and out and travel on tracks. Because of the number of things that have to be rehearsed, everyone in the building wants to ensure the safety of the cast and crew in this show. As a result, all the interns are learning a great deal: from how to determine if or when you should or should not offer help, to when to let your particular supervisor have some personal time on their laptop, to what outfit is more appropriate for what tech day (a 10-hour day: yoga pants and T-shirts, first day back after a break, jeans and professional looking tops).
We've also learned that we have a very good-natured, patient cast. If they were any less jovial and fun-loving, tech rehearsals could have been a chore rather than an adventure.
We're not done yet—we're in previews all this week, fine tuning and preparing for the official opening night on Friday. I am sure the learning and walking will continue at a fervent pace- I logged 10,984 steps yesterday, approximately 4 1/2 miles.
This Sunday we hosted something like 250 kids plus their parents for a sold-out matinee of The Three Musketeers. Our Family Day kicked off with a "Musketeers Training Camp" in our lobby. Picture tables of kids making hats, tunics, and wooden swords, and then getting some stage combat training before being knighted as musketeers. It was so great and ridiculously cute. Pictured here to the left is Shawn (front desk), Rob (marketing manager), Lindsay (donor relations manager) and Christian (carpenter). They dressed up as musketeers for our season brochure, and were kind enough to come back and play for Family Day.
Because this show is so popular with families, we're offering the same Family Day special for next Sunday's (Oct. 12) 3 p.m. matinee: one free 18 & under ticket for every full-price adult ticket (we're recommending the play for ages 8 and up). The offer is only available by phone, so call 206-443-2222. (The Training Camp was a one-time affair, though).
Apparently everyone has musketeer fever around here. I just happened to walk into the production department a few minutes ago to find a crowd gathered around the huge bank of windows overlooking our scene shop. Haley, our paints intern, had squared off against carpenter Patrick—in full fencing gear, wielding foils (thanks, Olympics, for teaching me that technical term for fencing sword). Apparently outside of working in the Seattle Rep shop, they're both fencers (although word on the street was Haley was kicking Patrick's ass in this fight). Wish I had had my camera. You'll have to use your imagination.
I don't usually wander down into the scene shop. To administration kids like me, it's an unknown environment that frightens me in a very meaningful way. Bare-handed soldering of huge pieces of metal; huge paintings of Noel Coward's face; super intimidating facial hair; lots of crazy things. However, recently, I happened to find myself deep within its interior (looking for cookies or something) and stumbled upon a giant door. The August Wilson Door.
Acting as a good Rep blog investigator, I looked into it. Supposedly, there is a path in Seattle Center that is being renamed "August Wilson Way" in honor of the late, great playwright August Wilson. Supposedly, there was a request for an "icon" to be designed to commemorate this path. Supposedly that "icon" looks a lot like a door. A twenty-some foot, 3000 pound invocation of 1839 Wylie Avenue, the house that bookends Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle (the characters live in it in the first and debate the demolition of it in the last). And we here at the Rep made it.
And we do tons of stuff like that. I guess our brilliant carpenters/painters/machinists help out with projects outside the Rep all the time. Well, not all the time, but, if you saw Shrek the Musical at the 5th Avenue, the coolest pieces of the set: yeah, that was them. Now, if they do that kind of work for foreigners . . .
Seattle Repertory Theatre is a non-profit entity. This means that we make no money so we can make great art and then ask other people for money so people who want to be moved, inspired, enlightened by the art but can't afford the premium price of world-class theatre, can come anyway. This also means that sometimes, we have to make novel use of scarce resources. Thrifty manuevers to keep our financial situation in order/survive to the next day. Case in point: the "Play a Role" buttons. These marvels of design and craftsmanship were first built for an event for the CREW, the group of successful young professionals who love the Rep. Now if we were a for-profit company, or the 5th Avenue, at the end of the night, those buttons would most likely have met the garbage. But, being good financial stewards, since that day I have seen them at meetings with the Board of Trustees, among countless SRT volunteers, on Managing Director Ben Moore, and, today, at the voter registration booth.
For those of you who are deaf, blind, and dead I have breaking news for you: it's election season.
You may not believe me, but there are some people out there amidst the barrage of commercials, slogans, yard signs, and lipstick tubes flying in the air that don't know who the candidates are or why November 4th is a great day to try your first Valium. Worse yet, these people may not even be registered to vote.
To help "play a part" this election season, The Rep has set up its very own makeshift voter registration booth. While the effort is small, our glittery, patriotic table toppers are quite large (see right for some such pizazz). Most of the people that have strolled by on their way to previews of The Night Watcher have saluted our efforts...right before they ask where the bathroom is. But we're excited to be mixing it up and trying to affect our patrons in a larger way. I should also note that our efforts are strictly non-partisan. And by that I mean that we will mail in every single sheet that is filled out by a Democrat.
I'm only kidding. (Again, to a point)
It might seem crazy, but a lot of us who work at a theatre go home at night and then go make more theatre. The Night Watcher opened in previews at the Rep last night, but here are some other shows that Rep family are involved in this weekend and next:
Directed by Erin Kraft, our Literary and Casting Associate
Playing at Centerstage Theatre tonight through October 12 (Happy opening!)
(Pictured: Erin in our season brochure as a character from You Can't Take it With You)
Unregistered—A 2008 Election Cabaret
Written by Andrea Allen and David Schmader. Andrea is our Director of Education
Playing at the Lee Center for the Arts (at Seattle University) for one weekend only: Oct. 2, 3, 4. All shows are pay what you can!
The June Carter Cash Project
Three short plays inspired by the songs of June Carter Cash. Starring, well, me, Joanna Horowitz, Communications Manager. Now you know why I wrote this blog. Total shameless self promotion.
Playing at Live Girls! Theater through Oct. 4 (Fridays and Saturday nights + Saturday 4 p.m. Happy Hour matinee). This Monday, Sept. 29 is pay what you can!
As I heave another mouthful of cupcake down my gullet, I can't help but feel the responsibility to let you all in on a secret: Jerry Manning, our Producing Artistic Director, is in love with Cupcake Royale. The torrid affair started years ago, and for anyone that has tasted these petit slices of heaven, you'll understand completely.
I rest my case.
Now that we’re coming on tech for The Three Musketeers, I think its time to look around the rehearsal room with fresh eyes. If I had never seen this room or these people before, would I think them odd? You bet. Here’s a list of sights and sounds that have become normal for me…but maybe shouldn’t be.
One of our actors wears a Batman mask. He wears it so he can get practice dancing in a mask. You’d think I’d be surprised to see the Dark Knight at this particular shindig. (I’m not. Like I said, I’ve gotten used to weird).
Our stage manager neighs a lot. That’s because we are waiting for tech to add sound effects, but we still need to hear the sound of the horse Buttercup. I’ll be sad when she stops her delightful whinny.
Mesh and leather is totally a new trend. The men wear leather boots and sword belts, rehearsal capes, and workout clothes. Looks great.
What’s it like to be in a rehearsal room with fabulous and fabulously armed comedians? It’s exciting, enjoyable, and professional. But comedy is comedy, and sometimes we do have too much fun.
As I suggested in my last entry, I tend to get sucked into the fights and inevitably believe the actors. So while watching the fight between the Musketeers and the Cardinal’s Guards (a 10-person fight!), you can imagine my reaction when I heard a moan and the sound of head hitting metal from upstage. Terror. I am confused and nervous as I see actors breaking out of the sequence to crowd around their fellow actor who is on his knees, quivering. “I’m fine, I’m ok” he quietly assures us, but he’s covering his mouth with his hand, and he looks anything but. Is he bleeding from the mouth? We spring into action as he opens up his hand and shows us a tooth. Oh my gosh, he lost a tooth!?!?! Stage management rushes to the first aid kit, actors get glasses of water, and I, not always at my best in medical crisis, start wildly grabbing tissues.
I hear laughter. Which cruel person thinks that losing a tooth while rehearsing fight choreography is funny? Who on earth has the stomach to laugh at our poor actor’s misfortune? The actor who got hurt apparently. He stands up smiling, showing us the hole in his teeth. Is he in shock? He puts the tooth from his hand into the empty spot and says, “Gotcha!” Turns out, our actor has a prosthetic tooth and great comedic timing.
I should have known. He’s an actor, and his craft is clearly well-honed. I won’t fall for it again, I resolve then and there but, between you and me, I know that's not true. I’ll fall for it every time. Now the only question is, How can I get him back?
A YouTube search also brings up Charlayne's acting reel: scenes from The Terminator and more. Interesting...
On a related note, did you know you can become a volunteer usher at the Rep and see shows for free? More info about that and other volunteer opportunities here.
In Rehearsal for The Three Musketeers
My third week as the casting intern at the Rep, I have began assisting the director of The Three Musketeers. It’s my first show at the Rep and my first professional show ever. During rehearsal I sit next to the director, her sounding board and devil’s advocate when she needs it, but always I am a watchful observer of this exciting and, for me, new world.
A bit about the rehearsal room. There are 20 swords, 4 pistols, and one bullwhip neatly living on the weapons table against the side wall. At the back of the room, the wall is lined with fun props like French breads, bar stools, carafes, and a beautiful chess set. Behind me is the break table, where everyone in the room (even me!) has a mug with their name on it. There’s always fresh coffee, hot water, tea, ice water, and, perhaps most importantly, altoids. We work closely together, so curiously fresh breath is a priority. The stage space is dominated by a 6 ft. metal scaffold, a smaller version of our set. Stage management has taped out the floor to show where various set pieces would be. With a bit of imagination I can see the world that will soon be in front of me onstage.
We rehearse six days a week, and our schedule is orderly. Stage management makes sure we follow the rules of the Actors Equity union. The union has rules about how long our rehearsals are, how many breaks we get during rehearsals, and how often we get them. These rules are really to make sure the actors are given the circumstances they need to do their best work in rehearsal. And our actors need those breaks—this first week they’ve been learning fight choreography.
For the first six days of rehearsal, the cast has been learning and rehearsing sword fights for hours. I see toned arms, engaged minds, and high spirits as I watch the cast punch, kick and draw their swords to fight each other. Truth be told, I am always relieved when the fights stop and the fighters become actors while they talk to each other about any difficulties or confusion there might be in the choreography. They help each other out so that when I watch I’m always convinced that they’re fighting for their lives—or at least their honor.
In this issue:
Fight Director Rick Sordelet talk about The Three Musketeers' 22 fights, 18 swords, and non-traditional weapons (a rubber chicken?!).
Actress and playwright Charlayne Woodard and director Dan Sullivan chat about how they make a play (The Night Watcher) out of a series of stories.
Charlayne tells some of those stories.
Our Literary and Casting Associate Erin Kraft takes us through the series of "creative truths" (i.e. big ol' fabrications) that made up all of the different versions of The Three Musketeers.
Plus a couple of special features about the season, wacky facts about our first two playwrights, and chance to meet the first two directors, and video of both Rick Sordelet and Charlayne Woodard.
"I think it's time that we put the 'Seattle' back into Seattle Rep," he says, then spends several minutes expounding on the wealth of acting talent that's here and constantly emerging from the UW and Cornish. This is very encouraging: When he speaks about "local talent," it's not the cant of a newbie buttering up his board, it comes from a guy who probably knows more actors, both Equity and non-Equity, than any artistic director working in town.
What the Rep also needs, he says, is younger people—not just in the audience, but onstage and maybe even running the show. "If I were to have my say, I think these institutions, not just the Rep but ACT and Intiman and the Arena and the Goodman, should be run by younger people, artists in their 20s and 30s. There's a smart way to do it and a dumb way to do it. But I think for the future of theater in this country it's going to have to be done."
Continue reading the article...
Photo by Cindy Farruggia, Communications Assistant.
During our first "Meet and Greet" of the season this morning, we got the low-down on the set (some cool projections on a really awesome wall of venetian blinds, but mostly plenty of room for Charylane to tell her amazing stories), and got to hear from Charlayne herself. "I call it The Night Watcher because I feel like in the dark times in my life I've always had someone who showed up with the light and got me from a to b to c," she said. The Night Watcher is her collection of stories about the children she's mentored and guided in her life as an aunt and godmother. The piece, she told us, is a way to pay homage to all the aunts and uncles who step in to help raise the children in their lives.
The Night Watcher opens Sept. 25.
Seattle Repertory Theatre announced today that Jerry Manning will take the helm as Acting Artistic Director at Seattle Rep. Manning has been with Seattle Rep for over eight years where he has served as Casting Director while juggling multiple assignments in producing the work on all three of the company's stages. Manning directed Thom Pain (based on nothing) leading off the Leo K. Theatre season in 2006 and will direct Boom this year. Before joining Seattle Rep in 2000, Manning served as Artistic Associate at the New York Theatre Workshop. While Manning will be assuming the position of Acting Artistic Director, Braden Abraham will assume responsibilities as Manning's principal associate in addition to those that he currently holds as Literary Manger.
The theatre is currently evaluating its organizational model to determine the appropriate artistic and business management structure for the future. That process will be completed before beginning a search for a new artistic director. Current Artistic Director, David Esbjornson, had announced earlier this spring that he would not be renewing his contract. "David has contributed significantly to the growth and strength of our artistic productions and to the caliber of the work we present to our audiences," says Board President Jane Zalutsky. "As we begin this leadership transition, we are confident that Manning will support Seattle Rep's artistic vision with his characteristic passion and diligence and his considerable experience as a theatre practitioner. With his strong ties to the community, we are assured that Jerry will lead this organization through an exciting season, which will further secure Seattle Rep's position in the forefront of Seattle's theatre community."
Jim Abele, Cardinal Richelieu
Geoffrey Alm, Father/Treville/Ensemble
Hans Altwies, Athos
Jeffrey M. Bender, Porthos/Ensemble
Cheyenne Casebier, Milady/Ensemble
Montana von Fliss, Sabine/Ensemble
David Goldstein, Ensemble
Jennifer Sue Johnson, Constance/Ensemble
Ellen Karas, Queen Anne/Ensemble
Kate Kraay, Ensemble
Shawn Law, Rochefort/Ensemble
Mike Rossmy, Ensemble
Ryan Shams, Aramis/Ensemble
Andrew William Smith, D’Artagnan
In the meantime...
Because of some scheduling conflicts, we've replaced A Winter People in the coming season with Carrie Fisher's new one-woman autobiographical show, Wishful Drinking. I just read it. It's so funny and a bit shocking, all about her crazy Hollywood childhood, drug abuse and, of course, Star Wars. Here's the description:
Let Hollywood legend Carrie Fisher take you on a hilarious, shocking and totally true ride through her own Hollywood party…and hangover. With the same unflinching wit that made her book Postcards from the Edge a bestseller, Fisher dishes on her unbelievable life: Debbie Reynolds is her mother, Paul Simon was her husband (for a while), and in between battling addiction and vacationing in various mental institutions, she happened to star in a little film called Star Wars. Fisher’s tale is a tabloid vivant the Los Angeles Times calls a “Beverly Hills yard sale of juicy anecdotes.”
Tickets go on sale August 18 at (the newly redesigned) www.seattlerep.org
I promise more to come soon with casting info—there are some awesome people lined up already.
The Night Watcher by Charlayne Woodard—A one-woman show!
The Three Musketeers by Ken Ludwig—Swords, sexy men and hot ladies!
Boom by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb—A comedy about the end of the world!
You Can't Take it With You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart—The classic comedy about love and a wacky family!
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett—Starring Bill Irwin and on its way to Broadway!
Rollick by Christopher Evan Welch, James Palmer & Ron Carnell—A wild mash-up of theatre and rock!
The Seafarer by Conor McPherson—Irish drinking and the devil!
Betrayal by Harold Pinter—The story of a woman's affair with her husband's best friend, played in reverse!
A Winter People by Chay Yew—An adaptation of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, set it China!
Season ticket packages, complete with great subscriber benefits, start as low as $85! More info here.
Anyway, you can see the brochure for yourself in a neat flash layout that will let you flip the pages here. And below is a slide show of behind-the-scenes photos and a short behind-the-scenes video I shot during the shoot for You Can't Take it With You. Enjoy!
Aurélia's Oratorio opens TONIGHT! Five Night Only!
You Should Know...
Performer Aurélia Thierrée is Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter
Her mother Victoria Thierrée Chaplin—herself a performer and co-founder of several European circus troupes—directed the piece
The show is 70 minutes of "dazzling stage illusion"
Seattle International Children's Festival is co-producing the show, but it's not for kids under 10. In fact Chaplin calls the show a fairy tale but one in which "a puppet commits suicide — but it's over in one second!"
Opens tonight and plays through May 11, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Center; $10-$35. Tickets at www.seattlerep.org or 206-443-2222.
Want more info?
Check out this preview article in The Seattle Times. Read about Aurélia's stint with British theatrical cult band the Tiger Lillies and what it's like to have your mother direct you in a solo piece.
Jon, Guy, and Ben have one very important thing in common: their first names are made of three letters, and that is an amazing feat in and of itself. But more importantly, depending on who you talk to, they also star as Chorus members in the play The Cure at Troy. The following is an interview with the three-lettered phenoms and all the magic, at Troy.
Continue reading the interview.
More info on the show, as always, at www.seattlerep.org
These seem to be universal truths, though: Boris McGiver, playing Philoctetes, gives one of the most raw, gut-wrenching performances you'll ever see; the lighting design is out of this world, from the breaking of dawn at the beginning to the rock show ending; the set is epic and rooted in the story of the play—not just huge or novel for the sake of being huge or novel; and director Tina Landau has made some big, bold choices. It's a force to be reckoned with.
So. Thus ends our season. With a bang.
More info about Troy here.
The inside scoop from the rehearsal room is that the show is an action packed hour and a half. The inside scoop from the bare chested photo shoot is that the men in the cast are sexy. I am going to see if I can get my hands on one of those photos to prove it to you.
Other news of note: The How? How? Why? Why? Why? specialty cocktail is a delicious Salty Dog and the admin offices got a new microwave. You may think that's not exciting, but I'm here to tell you it really is.
I've been scheming plans to make this blog better next season. For one, more artists (actors, directors, playwrights) writing. I know you love me, but I want to get you inside the rehearsal process. But until we get there, an update on what's new. Such as...
How? How? Why? Why? Why?
Kevin Kling's new show. It is amazing. We do audience surveys on every show, and the responses have been overwhelming. I would say 99% say they would recommend the show. We're getting comments like:
"Funny, touching, poignant and rates as one of the best plays I have ever attended."
"CALL THE BOX OFFICE IMMEDIATELY AND GET TICKETS. IMMEDIATELY."
"I have recommended this play to every single friend and close acquaintance I've spoken with in the last week. I told them how masterfully the story was interwoven with the music, and that it was easily one of the best plays I've ever seen."
Here are two videos, filmed during our hot dog roast in the scene shop to kick off the rehearsal process. In the first Simone Perrin, who plays accordion and sings in the show, does an awesome, awesome cover of Hank Williams' "Long Gone Lonesome Blues." In the second Kevin talks about what the title of the play means.
Also, the play—about a hypochondriac trying to get his daughter to marry a doctor so he won't have to pay medical bills—is packed full of both low and high brow humor (think witty double entendres and fart jokes). Keep an eye on the Rep web site for a bodily function joke contest and some wacky videos, possibly starring sock puppets.
John Aylward goes on despite a broken toe
Seattle actor John Aylward has every right to look glum. Earlier this week Aylward broke a toe on his right foot during a preview performance of "The Breach," which opened Wednesday at Seattle Rep.
The play -- really three plays in one -- centers on the lives of several people during and after Hurricane Katrina. Ironically, one of the characters Aylward portrays is a man with multiple sclerosis who doesn't have the use of his legs and must leave his wheelchair to swim to safety. Now, he says, life is at least partially imitating art. For another character who is ambulatory, Aylward now gets to use a cane.
But here we are. The Breach opens tomorrow night. If you haven't heard about it, it's a fascinating look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, pieced together by three different playwrights (Catherine Filloux, Tarrel McCraney and Joe Sutton). I saw the play last night, and was amazed at the world created on stage. There is a body of water stretching from one end to the other in which actors swim. There is a boat, there is rain.
But it's not a spectacle piece. Despite those elements, it feels simple. When there is a family stranded on a roof, your attention is on them, the horror and strangeness of the situation. David (Esbjonson, our artistic director) did a meticulous job directing. The play feels both monumental and very small and personal.
But more than that, The Breach has an even more important role. The playwrights have talked a lot about "keeping the light on" in New Orleans, and this play, no matter if you love it or hate it, does indeed keep our attention—here miles away in Seattle—focused on what's still happening in the south.
In the lobby we're selling art, music, jewelry, etc. with all of the proceeds going directly to New Orleans artists. It's pretty cool. On the cocktail front, we've got a Big Easy Collins made with an Absolut Vodka; the proceeds of that also go to rebuilding NOLA (and it's delicious).