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