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I dig jazz and single-malt scotch.  I write plays; I direct them too. I love STAR WARS more than is healthy. I walk my dogs every day, unless it's raining or terribly cold.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Kate Crackernuts at A.R.T.


Last weekend I took a study break to drive up to Boston with my playwright friend Enrique and his director friend Ken to see KATE CRACKERNUTS at A.R.T. The production was performed by the student company.

First off, what a trippy, fantastic playworld! Sheila Callaghan has done a masterful job of creating a tossed-salad underbelly of a playworld. Riffing on the fairy-tale of a pair of mismatched step-sisters (one fancy, one plain), and a pair of mis-matched princes (one serious, one exhasted), she weaves a labyrinth that brings us to its dark, sticky center, and then wheels us out into the universe bypassing traditional fairytale convention.

The company gave a well conceived and energy laden performance, with only a couple of missteps. Kat's fist monologue was played as an upbeat ball o' wonder, when the text pointed to something more along the lines of the burden of responsibilty once one recoginizes the enormity of wonderous things. It took the company bout twenty minutes to relax into the text. Before that it seemed thety were ernestly "selling" the language, rather than living in the language, letting its flux drive the work. The dance at the begginning was interesting, but sexless. All energy and sweat, but no seduction. I wondered if that was the prupose, until later in the play the text decribes the world of the fairy-rave as full of sex. Hmmm.

A key moment with the deceased baby and the rattle was glossed over, and on the way home my companions and I discussed at length what the playwright's actual intent with the moment had been. It seemed like it should have been more thourough, or examined more, but instead there was a hole of non-moment. Hmmmm.

This are a few minor quibbles with a fun, dark exploration of a crazy, sweaty, green fairy tale. We left the theater skipping and trading our favorite lines of dialogue, a whole litany of "I loved the part when..."

I'm really glad I went.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Kick-ass playwriting meeting


Today I ha a kick-ass playwriting meeting with my playwriting teacher at Brown. Bonnie Metzgar, pictured in the Thelma seat on the TCG Magazine cover.

Wowo.

I have some good hunks to chew on. She is an excellent dramaturg.

Once I've got the two papers I've got for other classes out of the way (by Dec. 4) I'll be able to hunker down and work on the ideas. Till then......... ahhhhhHhhHhHhh! Focus on the school work -- but -- it's -- so --hard -- with -- good -- ideas -- for --play-- soooOOooOOOooOOooooOOoo -- close.

AhhHHhHHGgHhGhGhHppHt!

Hmmph.

Wowo.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ariadne 1st draft for class


Finished the first draft of Ariadne on the Island a week or so ago for my Advanced Playwriting class @ Brown. Today it was on the line-up for class discussion.

Things wnt pretty well. There were only two confusions. One of them is an easy fix. The other one, I'm not sure how to solve. I'll need to hear the play first.

The big thing is, it looks like the play held the interest of the readers, and that's cool. That was my biggest worry.

I have a meeting with my professor tomorrow. I'll know more then.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Act I is now complete.


Do I hear a "Woo!"? Cuz I completed Act I of my long-ass play, ARIADNE ON THE ISLAND (as it is called right now), that I'm writing for Advanced Playwriting today. 72 freakin' pages in an economic font. 20 of the pages came out of my head today...

Gadz!

Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!

Now -- three weeks to figure out how to make Act II a reality.

For the rest of the week I'll be busy making notes about the Act II action. I do have an ending, so at least I know wht direction I'm going in.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

bobrauchenbergamerica


The graduate students at Brown were going to see bobrauchenbergamerica by the SITI Company at ART last week, and they had an extra ticket, so I tooled along.

I had seen bobrauchenbergamerica a few years ago at BAM, and was eager to see it again. My first experience of the play had been one of twenty minutes of resistance, followed by a surrendering of need for narrative and just going along for the ride. It was bliss. After those first twenty minutes.

This time I would already know how to surrender, Id be ready for it, I'd get those twenty minutes back.

Cool.

And I got 'em.

I had a whole lotta "oh yeah" moments. It was interesting to note how much of the spectacle, even whole characters, had been wiped from my mind. What I remembered about the show wasn't so much the show itself -- although there were moments that stuck. Who could forget the martini being mixed by bodies on plastic... the pizza delivery boy... the American flag wall with lights for stars...?

But overall, what I remember about that first experience of the work was surrendering. That was the gift. That was the action of the play, or rather, its action on me. Surrender, and being so enthralled by the payoff of surrender that I practically clapped my hands off at the end.

The other difference at BAM was that I was in a free seat very, very far away from the stage. I was perched on a steep rake of a wacky old theater, so far over the house right that I could gaze into the wings. My eyeline was above the top of the proscenium arch. At BAM, bobrauchenbergamerica was a show that played out in a large shoebox. At ART I was much closer, row M, in the center, the stage was clear top to ceiling, no proscenium arch, just lights up there, and the play moved in front of me, at eye level, and I could see their faces. These were people speaking the parts, not animated toys in a diorama.

So at ART I walked in ready to surrender, I walked in remembering my favorite bits, I walked in and sat down.

As it turns out, the peek-a-boo nature of the piece wasn't as much fun the second time. I discovered something else. This time I had time to be with each moment and think about it as it was happening. I could get inside the deeper emotional resonances. Most of all, I was able to see not just the razzle-dazzle zany, I was able to recognize what had been forgotten, what had been wiped away. "Oh yeah."

Not every moment worked as well. Most notably, the Pizza Delivery Boy fell way flat. The first time I saw it this guy, this completely new guy walks into the world of the play. We've been watching this play for an hour, watching a company of actors, and from outta no where this pizza guy delivers a pizza and a soul punching monologue. He delivered it like a dead guy -- like a guy whose soul was dead. And here he was stuck delivering pizza to a world with plastic deer and a red white and blue house and people larger than life. He walked in from outside of the play world and delivered a pizza and a worldclass monologue.

At ART it was a different pizza guy. This was a funny, doughy, jocular pizza guy. This was a pizza guy who would have fit perfectly well living down the road from the other folks in this play. He fit so darn well into the play world that the magnificent, terrifying monologue he was set to deliver seemed trite, seemed forced, but mostly seemed false.

Too bad. So I struggled to remember how it was at BAM, and chose to ignore the goose egg pizza guy at ART.

But then there was my favorite moment. It came. The changing of the lightbulb by the nuclear science guy.


This moment proved even richer than the first time.

Then there were things that surprised me that I had wiped them out of mind. The several versions of chickens, including the guy in the chicken suit. "Oh yeah."

The woman eating cake. "Oh yeah."

The bagpiper. "There was a bagpiper?"

Everyone eating chicken and corn. The fact that they really eat chicken and corn. And when they were really eating chicken and corn at BAM, how David Jaffe forgot himself and said out loud, "They're really eating." "Oh yeah."

This was a good play for me to revisit. It has had an effect on my work since seeing it the first time, and this time I got to take a look at how profound the influence has been.

Oh yeah.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Finishes one long-ass scene 2


This is me -- happy to have finally finished Act I Scene 2 in my new play. Woo. I knew it was gonna be a long scene, I just didn't think it was gonna be thirty pages and 3 weeks o' classwork long.

Due to the length of my play (it's--uh--gonna be looooooooooong), I am stepping page production from 8-10 pages per week to 15-20 in order to have a complete draft ready by the due date.

Guess what I'm gonna be working on this weekend...?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Advanced Playwriting


I got into Advanced Playwriting @ Brown, being taughts by Bonnie Metzgar. She is a sorta rock-star-vibe kinda presence. When I found out that she was teaching the course I really wanted to be sure I didn't miss out on the chance to study with her. She's got us reading and talking about some interesting and diverse work.

We started off with The Pillowman. What a trippy play-world that is. What a start to our work. Last week we read THE ADDING MACHINE, and this week we're reading DANUBE by Maria Irene Fornes.

We're also writing each week -- each day -- on one play. We will be turning in a full-length play in November. Each class we bring in ten or so new pages in addition to whatever previous weeks has produced.

I'm working on my ARIADNE AND THE ISLAND play idea. I'm taking a chance, because it could easily be dull. There's no fun stuff, no manic energy, nothing falls out of the sky... it's just four characters that have to hunker down and have compelling reasons to talk rather than kill each other.

It's the hunker-down-edness of the venture that scares me. But becuase it scares me, I thought this might be the right place to try it.

Time. Will tell. Eh?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Amazon plays @ Brown


So.

2 weekends ago.

I saw some incredible readings of new plays. Not ordinary plays, mind you. These were Bake-off plays.

They were modeled on Hippolyta/Hercules/Wonder Woman myth/legend/comic.

They were awesome.

Especially amazing (get it -- "amazing") was my buddy Greg's play. Not just cuz he's my buddy, but because his play took the perameters of the exercise and delivered a story that spoke to my soul. It was wierd, and a little perverse, and it made me fall in love with it. He called it THE AMAZON. It wa a story within a story structure. It made me view man vs woman dynamics in a whole new way.

Bake-offs are amazing (get it -- amazing). All of the plays had interesting, engaging styles and huge energy.

All of them wound up funny -- and yet -- all of them found a way to get into my heart and squeeze.

Bake-offs rule! The Brown MFA playwriting program rules! Woo-hoo!

You gotta check out these pays some day.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Cherry Orchard @ Trinity Rep


Emily Young as Anya, and Phyllis Kay as Lovey

This past Saturday I took in THE CHERRY ORCHARD @ The Trinity Repertory Company in Providence. I had a very good time.

This production has a lotta punch and wit about it. The new translation by TRC's Arististic Director Curt Columbus is lean and bright, and lets the pathos move through it like a deep vien of ore that is mined by the observer rather than plodded through.

This one hundred-year-old-plus play sparkled with relevance as Lovey, played by Phyllis Kay, and her family struggle against future change, choosing instead to pretend that all will be well in the end. Of course, in this Russian landscape, we know that all will not be right. Through history's lense we know truths that the playwright did not, and yet, the play is full of prescience. This production made me feel like I ws sitting in the mind of Chekhov, a witness to Russia slipping away, like seeing through his eyes and saying, "Look! Look!".

I also saw a mirror, revealing us, America, pretending that there will always be enough oil to run our SUVs and the environment will right itself and and and... the list goes on.

The cast is a great ensemble, a mix of company actors and Brown/Trinity students. It works.

Also, the design of the show hums. It is fluid space, with just enough concrete textures, like door frames and benches to keep us grounded, but enough air to remind us of the expansiveness of the house, of the landscape, of Russia herself.

I highly recommend seeing this Cherry Orchard. It's a good night of theater that will stick with you. It's worth the trip.
_______________________________

Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard opens the Trinity Rep’s 43rd season. The brand new translation is by Artistic Director Curt Columbus, who also directs. The show is playing now through October 22nd in the intimate Dowling Theater.

“Privilege, politics and family collide in the Russian master's final work. The household is simmering with anticipation with Lovey's return to her Russian country home after five years away in Paris. She must face what the others know all too well: The money's spent. All that remains is the cherry orchard.”

Tickets are on sale now at the Trinity Rep Box Office at 201 Washington Street, by phone at (401) 351-4242, and online at TrinityRep.com.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Coming in October to The Planning Stage

In October The Planning Stage will be presenting Sometimes I Feel Like I Missed the Train by Michael R. McGuire @ The Golden Street Gallery in New London, Connecticut.

Here's a little about the play:
Fred, a socially awkward engineer, becomes obsessed with Susan, the married bartender at the local watering hole, setting into motion the destruction of her fragile marriage and family. Sometimes I Feel Like I Missed the Train explores sexual obsession, jealousy and the consequences of parents who cling to their youthful identities and ignore the responsibilities of parenthood.

Here's a little about Michael:
Michael R. McGuire is a 2005 recipient of the CT Artist Fellowship Grant for his play THE NEW GIRL from the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism. His plays PERSEPHONE RULES! (ADVENTURES OF A TEENAGE GODDESS) and THE MISJUDGMENT OF OENONE were published in 2004 by Brooklyn Publishers. His play SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE I MISSED THE TRAIN was read in NYC as part of the Lark Play Development Center's 2004 Playwrights' Week. His plays KITCHEN ROMANTICS, PERSEPHONE RULES!, AND IT'S ALL ABOUT MITCH were produced at New London's Secret Theatre. His play WHAT'S GONNA SET YOU FREE? was part of the 1995 Local Playwrights Festival at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and was later produced at the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut. McGuire has written numerous other plays, two novels and four screenplays.

We're still nailing down the dates, but we've got a promising cast and an interesting downtown venue. We'll keep you posted about the production.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Well-crafted plays...? Ho. Hum.

This was my response to an essay challenge. I thought I'd post it here too.
_________________________________________________________

I think a well-crafted play requires…RETHINKING!

Well-crafted—well-made—well-what?

We’re not making tiny ships to fit in glass bottles, we’re not making fine wine (again, made to fit in glass bottles), we’re not creating anything that can be weighed or measured or quantified. Not really.

We are making stories that look, at first glance, like writing. But that’s an illusion. The play is not the ink laid out on dead leaves. The play needs to be taken from the page, played on the tongue, worked through the body, and made alive on the air. The play is alive, moment to moment, whether in the rehearsal room or in the theater. The play goes on living in the imagination. The imagination of the director, the actor, the patron, even the playwright. The work of the play is to keep the mind occupied long enough to steal the heart of the viewer.

Well-crafted? Perhaps. But not always, and to my taste, rarely.

Look at the work of Sara Kane. Raw talent that squishes your lungs out in broad, clumsy scratches and strokes. reading her work changed the way I write, and it also changed the way I look at the world.

What about early Tony Kushner? The man grabbed on to big themes and big problems and organized them around the notion of angels, going as far as having one break through a ceiling. Who doesn’t recognize that moment now? At the time it was crazy. What guts to actually lay it on the page so that we could someday be in the room with it.

Plays are flawed creations. They have problems. It’s not the work of the playwright to smooth out things and make them tidy, palatable. The work of the playwright is to make the world of the play so compelling, to make the problems so interesting, that some director picks up the play and says, “I want to solve this problem.” It’s the problems, the grit, the contradictions, the impossibility contained within the play that makes it exciting, immediate, and interesting.

Craft? I heard Romulus Linney say that, “The craft of writing plays is applying the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair.” That’s craft.

A great play? It comes out of craft, but goes beyond that into something truer. And we know truth when it’s in the room with us because it will allow itself to be messy and flawed while in our presence. Good manners are for Sundays. Theater is a Saturday night occupation.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Rewrites. Rewrites. Roly-poly rewrites.


Working on rewrites.

Last week it was rewrites of A YANKEE TRADER, inspired in part by being asked by the LA director to work out the need for one of the technical elements that was causing some major headace and heartache. I reworked a scene where Patrick is playing the piano. i gave them two options. One that still began with the piano, but only had one sound q at the top of the scene. You see, the actor does not play piano, nor is there space enough for the instrument on the small stage, so they've been miming it with computer generated sound Qs. The coordination never came together on the lements. Plus, when the sound gets turned off, there is no resonance. The sound just stops. It was always a poor illussion.

I also wrote the scene without a piano at all, but a fine book of poetry instead. I'm not sure which version they decided to go with. My vote was for the poetry.

While i was inside the play, I decided to make some cuts and revisions. Some of the monologues needed curbing. I have a few more spots I think I'll trim this weekend. It was a little overwritten in spots. Too bad the company didn't have me come out several days earlier. I could have made these changes in advance of the opening.

Oh well.

This week I've been getting into MINOTAURS. TOREROS. Making some headway. I have a lot more work to do on that one.

And I'm making headway on a new script -- in note form. ARIADNE ON THE ISLAND might be popping out of my fingers soon.

We'll see.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Minotaurs. Toreros. DIARY: Notes notes notes


Noodling this play like crazy this week. Gads!

Okay.

So.

Umm.

What next? What next.

I dreamed about this play all last night. I've woken up thinking about it every morning this week. What to do? What to do.

I've been taking notes in order to make sense of the whole thing. What shoul replace the shadow puppet sequences (which were performed as place-holders rather than actual sequences. The portions that i had written to be inside the labyrinth were, for the most part, unstageable).

Meeting with people who had seen it and talking to them about their understanding of the play has been very helpful.

The play is swimming around in my head. I am thinking about it all the time, so I've got to write something about soon our I'll drown in it.

i feel like i'm on the cusp of some greater understanding. It's just that it's all a jumble right now. I'll have to put it into words to begin to make sense of it, I guess.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Minotaurs. Toreros. DIARY: Somo' Images

Dylan Wardwell as Manolete casts a spell to conjure his mother when she was a young matador.
Marke Desouza as Romero and Kathryn Downie as Miura.
Mary Tuomanen as Eleanora solves the problem of tying Miura's tie.

Minotaurs. Toreros. DIARY: Yeah!


Last weekend we presented Minotaurs. Toreros. for six performances. We had a blast. More on that later... until then... here's a picture of Kate and Dylan as Miura the matador and Manolete pretending to be Islero the bull.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Minotaurs. Toreros. DIARY: taking Saturday off -- kinda

Tomorrow, Saturday, we were going to hold a rehearsal during the day. But, taking a look at the weather (hot hot hot and humid) and the list of things still needed to be completed for the load-in to the gallery on Sunday, I decided to scratch rehearsal and work on my "things to do" list instead.

Tomorrow Kate and I will be working in my basement to put together the freakin (what were thinking) matador "suit of lights". Last night I got the sleeves lengthened (they were 3/4 sleeve), and i sewed the pockets shut. The coat I found (on clearence -- thank goodness) had to be modified. Now it needs trim and paint (I'm painting the intricate gold details because emroidering would take a month). No wonder the real deal Suit of Lights costs about $5,000 bucks a pop.

I should also receive the matador hat that I purchased over a week ago cheap on e-bay. It's supposed to be a real one (well, more real than the stupid cartoon types offered from the costume shops online.)

And i still ahve to make a minotaur head! Sheeesh.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Teaching acting in Stonington

Today i spent several hours in Stonington teaching a fast and furious acting workshop for kids ages 5 to 12.

The younger kids were the most fun. They did some great work and were really open to using their imaginations.

The second half I had the older bunch -- 10 thru 12. They were actually harder to engage and had trouble with some of the concepts that the younger kids really took hold of.

There was also a reporter and a photographer there from a local paper. Maybe my mug will show up in the press next week, eh?

I think I'm going to sleep well tonight. I did a lot of running around, especially with the young bunch.

zzzzzzzzzzz...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Minotaurs. Toreros. July 20-23 in New London


NEW LONDON: The Planning Stage presents Minotaurs. Toreros. a new play by Kato McNickle, July 20 - 23 at the Golden Street Gallery, 95 Golden St., New London, CT. Performances Thursday, July 20 at 8:00 PM, Friday and Saturday July 21 & 22 at 7:00 and 8:30 PM, and Sunday July 23 at 6:00 PM. Seating is limited, a sliding scale donation of $3 to $10 at the door. For information go to http://members.aol.com/theplanningstage.

Minotaurs. Toreros. is written and directed by Kato McNickle, featuring Kathryn Downie as MIURA, Dylan Wardwell as MANOLETE, Mary Tuomanen as ELEANORA, and Mark DeSouza as ROMERA.

Minotaurs. Toreros. is a fantastic fusion of myth, flamenco, and the poetry of Lorca.

A woman matador prepares for a fight while a boy finds a magic ring, a beautiful young woman in blue finds a yellow bead, and a gypsy casts a spell. Through magic and the lifting of capes a boy makes a wish to know his mother in her younger days, before he was born. In those days she was a famous and beautiful matador. He discovers the woman who would become his mother, he sees her life, and begins to understand her nature, a labyrinth that winds and twists, obscuring and unraveling the true nature of things. Minotaurs. Toreros. is a pattern, where the play itself becomes the puzzle to be solved.
The Planning Stage is a new play development project focusing on works by playwrights living in Southeastern Connecticut presenting plays in multiple formats, including concert readings, staged readings, and workshop productions. Minotaurs. Toreros. marks the first workshop production presented by the project. It also marks the ninth teaming of McNickle and Downie as playwright and actor either locally or in New York, and their first venture as co-producers.

Last September playwright Kato McNickle was in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts studying for three weeks with Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel. Each of the three weekends the seven resident playwrights would embark on a 48-hour challenge to write a play, called a bake-off. The myth of the Minotaur was the subject chosen by the playwrights the first week of the residency, an experiment to see what happens when a group of playwrights write “the same play.” Of course, every play was extremely different from every other. One of the results of this challenge was Minotaurs. Toreros.

Minotaurs. Toreros. DIARY: Rehearsing a week in



Eight days ago we bagan rehearsals for Minotaurs. Toreros. -- pool-side! We've been holding the rehearsals at the home of coproducer and actor Kate Downie. When the weather permits we rehearsa on the deck.

So far, it has been permitting.

We have had to make a fast cast change. Our original actor to play Romero hadd to bow out due to scheduling conflicts, so this past Friday Mark DeSouza stepped into the role. Mark had been enlisted to play flamenco guitar for the production, but when we turned up an actor short six days ago, Mark agreed to make his stage debut with us.

We've had our share of mix-ups and false starts with this workshop production, but the work at the rehearsals (now that we're finally getting them roling) is phenominal.

This week I have to make a reasonable "Suit of Lights" for our female matador. Yikes. More on that as the week progresses.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Minotaurs. Toreros. DIARY: site launched!

I've just finished launching the web site for Minotaurs. Toreros. a play of mine that is receiving a workshop production later this month.

http://members.aol.com/theplanningstage

My friend kate is an actor living in NYC, but is home this summer and wanted to do one of my new plays, so we agreed to coproduce this one. It's one of the "bake-off" plays that i wrote while in residence at The Atlantic Center for the Arts with Paula Vogal last fall. We found an art gallery in downtown New London that is loaning us their space and we're putting together the rest of the production.

We've just completed the first week of rehearsals and so far we've been having a great time.

Let me know if there are any glitches with the site (the aol.members space is free, but sometimes you have to reload the page if it gets stuck -- alas).


the Planning Stage presents
Minotaurs. Toreros.
a new play by Kato McNickle

a woman matador prepares for a fight
a boy finds a magic ring
a girl dressed in blue finds a yellow bead
a handsome gypsy casts a spell

Minotaurs. Toreros. is a fusion of
myth, flamenco, and the poetry of Lorca.


July 20 thru 23, 2006
Thursday at 8:00 PM
Friday & Saturday 7:00 PM & 8:30 PM
Sunday at 6:00 PM
in the Golden Street Gallery
New London, Connecticut
$3 to $10 sliding scale
donation at the door.
860.445.2909
theplanningstage@aol.com

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Lloyd Richards Dies at age 87



O'Neill Center Director Of 32 Years Dies At 87
Lloyd Richards, Who Headed Playwrights Conference, Is Remembered For His Inspiration


By Ben Johnson, Day Writer

Lloyd Richards, the artistic director of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference for 32 years and a Tony Award-winning director who revolutionized the way new plays and playwrights made their way to the stage, died of heart failure late Thursday at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
He died on his 87th birthday, his wife, Barbara Richards, said.

Richards also was a major influence on playwrights as dean of the Yale School of Drama and artistic director of the Yale Repertory Theatre.

“He had an incredible warm and corroborative association with actors, and a very amazing ability to inspire and get the best out of his playwrights and actors,” said George White, who founded the O'Neill center in Waterford and appointed Richards artistic director of the Playwrights Conference in 1969.

When the late August Wilson came to the conference in 1982, Richards decided to mentor him. Over the years he worked closely with Wilson on Wilson's cycle of 10 plays about the African-American experience, including such well-known works as “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,” “The Piano Lesson” and “Fences.” Both “The Piano Lesson” and “Fences” won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Actor Charles S. Dutton was one of the people who found inspiration in Richards' commitment to the theater.

“Lloyd is the man more responsible for my career than anyone,” said Dutton, who had learned from Barbara Richards that her husband was ill. “He gave me my first professional job as an actor in August Wilson's 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' in New York. I was a guy from the streets and the projects, and through Lloyd I learned sophistication and how to be an artist. I owe my life in some degree to that gentleman.”

Richards is often credited with expanding the kinds of roles African-American actors played on the American stage in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was perhaps most famous for his work with young playwrights and actors, including Wilson, John Guare, Lorraine Hansberry, James Earl Jones, Lee Blessing and Sidney Poitier.

“Lloyd was one of the most important people in American theater in the last 50 years,” said Blessing, an award-winning playwright who worked closely with Richards on several plays. “The best memory I have of Lloyd is the first memory, of hearing him give the great O'Neill speech to everyone who'd come up there for the conference. He talked about the importance of playwriting, and how important it was for playwrights to go on that journey. I heard that speech many times. It was always very long, but it was always fresh.”

Blessing, whose play “Cobb,” about baseball player Ty Cobb, won the Drama Desk Award for Ensemble Acting, said Richards was an honest critic and a shrewd adviser for all of the playwrights who visited the O'Neill.

“He sat down with me one day and said, 'You're very good at this, and it's important that you choose good themes for your plays,' ” Blessing said. “And after that, I wrote my first political play, 'A Walk in the Woods.' The impetus to write that play was really inspired by Lloyd.”

Born in Toronto in 1919, Richards moved with his family to Detroit soon after and attended Wayne State University, where he studied theater and radio production. Richards' father died when he was 9, and his mother went blind, forcing him to go to work to support his family at age 13. It wasn't until much later, after his graduation from Wayne State and a year-long stint in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, that Richards followed his interest in theater to New York City.

Richards found that even in New York, work was hard to find for African-American actors in the 1950s. But he managed to appear on Broadway in productions of “Freight” and “The Egghead,” while simultaneously working in radio and teaching acting.

His big break came as director of Hansberry's “A Raisin in the Sun,” which premiered in New Haven and opened in New York in 1958. The play, which told a realistic story about a contemporary black working-class family in Chicago, galvanized Broadway and forever changed the representation of African-Americans in American theater.

“Lloyd had a passion and reverence for new playwrights and new work, and a commitment to them,” White said. “Whether he was or wasn't optimistic about the future of American theater, he sure as hell worked hard for it and believed in many of the people who were trying to make it in theater.”

White, who spent many days fishing for bluefish, stripers and bass with Richards off the Connecticut coastline, described his friend as a man who had an appreciation for music and was a connoisseur of red wine.

When the two men had lunch less than a month ago, White said that despite his recent history of heart disease, Richards was going strong.

“It was kind of a social lunch,” White said. “I was bringing him up to date on the O'Neill and the Playwrights Conference, and what was going on there. We gossiped about the theater and people. He was teaching, right up to the very end, because that's what he loved doing. He was always a great teacher of acting and directing. He will be sorely missed.”

In addition to his wife, Richards is survived by two sons, Scott and Thomas.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Doug Williams Movie Guy


This is Doug Williams at the premier of his new collection of short films THINGS PEOPLE DON'T TALK ABOUT. Isn't he a cutie? Anyway...

The premier was held in Stonington at a wonderful 50 seat viewing studio last week. The invited audience was comprised of friends, family, and cast members.

Doug's movie really made the grade. Doug is 17 years old, but he carries himself like someone of far greater age. he is committed and focussed on becoming a better filmaker, and this was clear from the outset in the content and style of his film.

This collection was alternately funny, touching, serious, and moving.

Doug has gotten support from the community, both for acting talent and technical prowess. Sonalyst Studios leant a hand in this film's creation, as did many residents of the Stonington Boro, and Doug's high school program.

Kudo's to Doug and to all of the people who made the film possible. Mr. Williams is a talent to watch.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Orpheus Project: a bit of bliss thru the underworld


Kate Downie and Jermey Shelton at the moment of Eurydice's death by the snake bite on her wedding day.

Wow-a-kazowa.

The Orpheus Project was AWESOME.

I mean it.

A W E S O M E .

We got together a little afternoon last Saturday and rehearsed the whole piece together. Just that one time. A collection of artists. Some from New York, some from Providence, so from Ledyard, Mystic, and New London, all coming together at The Dragon's Egg and presenting a take on love and loss organized around the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.



This is one take on the myth -- Persephone and Eurydice in a movement/discussion over the rules regarding Eurydice's walk to out of the underworld. (This piece was mind-blowing)



Mary Tuomanen and a couple of sock puppets brought an upbeat shift on the walk out of the underworld.

Next year there will be another project pulled together from various sources and artists. I can't wait.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: Tonys tonight @ 8 on CBS



The Tony Awards will be broadcast tonight starting at 8:00 PM on CBS. Are you gonna watch?

Go to the American Theatre Wing web site and check out everything from this year's nominees to a poster archive of past winners. www.tonyawards.com

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Connecticut Open House Day: Saturday June 10

Connecticut Open House Day
Saturday, June 10, 2006


Connect with Connecticut’s Cultural Treasures! Join the party as art galleries, museums, theaters, historic properties, and tourism attractions across the state open their doors to Connecticut residents on Saturday, June 10, 2006.

Connecticut Open House Day is a one-day statewide celebration of Connecticut’s exceptional world of art, history, film and tourism. All types of venues throughout Connecticut open their doors to residents to encourage them to discover—and rediscover—all of the unique cultural and tourism assets and attractions.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Orpheus and Eurydice: DON'T LOOK BACK! Rehearsal




Last night I was busy with a rehearsal with my friend Kate who is putting together a 5-minute contribution to the ORPEUS AND EURYDICE PROJECT: Don't Look Back that will be held at The Dragon's Egg later this month.

Kate is doing a five-minute slice of the Zimmerman Orpheus/Eurydice bit from her Metamotphoses.



Our version features Jeremy Shelton as Orpheus, Kate Downie as Eurydice, and Jake Kaiser as Hades.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Plays @ The O'Neill Theater Center this summer

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford has announced the eight plays that will developed as part of this summer's conference. They are:
• “Bird in the Hand” by Jorge Ignacio CortiƱas, 8 p.m. July 5 and 7. A comedy about a young Cuban man tied in knots by romantic complications, the specter of SATs and the fading flamingos in Miami.

• “Air Conditioning” by Tommy Smith, 8 p.m. July 6 and 5 p.m. July 8. A darkly comic look at the dangers of meeting up with old friends when the rich are rich and the poor are desperate.

•“1001” by Jason Grote, 8 p.m. July 12 and 14. “Arabian Nights” meets “Manhattan” as a love story unfolds inside a troubling political fantasy.

•“The Little Flower of East Orange” by Stephen Adly Guirgis, 8 p.m. July 13 and 5 p.m. July 15.In a New York City hospital a woman, identity unknown, goes in and out of consciousness. In prison, her son tries to figure out how she got there.

•“The K of D” by Laura Schellhardt, 8 p.m. July 19 and 21. The truth is, Charlotte's brother kissed her on the lips before he died. The legend is, now everything she kisses also dies.

•“False Creeds” by Darren Canady, 8 p.m. July 20 and 5 p.m. July 22. While uncovering the source of his supernatural visions, a tormented young African-American man discovers his own family's connection to one of American history's most horrific events.

•“The Exchange” by Ursula Rani Sarma, 8 p.m. July 28 and 3 p.m. July 30. In a small post office in the west of Ireland, one man struggles to let go of the past and, with the help of his daughters, to move into the future. “The Exchange” Comes to the O'Neill as part of an exchange with the Abbey Theatre in Ireland.

There will also be a Theater for Youth Project, “The Tale” by Tommy Smith, 7 p.m. July 16. A musical comedy that's a zany look at the lives of the gods on Mount Olympus. Written for grades 5-9.

Tickets will be on sale beginning June 15. Call 443-1238.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Theatre Linina's Summer Shorts Fest (my buddy Greg is one of the playwrights)


SUMMER 2006
LiminaLab: Summer Shorts III: Double Vision

Original Scripts. Staged Readings.
By Various Playwrights

How does the director's interpretation affect what you see on stage? Find out this June! Back at the Bryant Lake Bowl for the third year, Summer Shorts features original 10-minute scripts directed by emerging local directors. This year's Festival will feature a new twist: each script will receive two separate, autonomous productions involving a different director and cast; these “paired” productions will be performed back-to-back. As in past years, audience members provide written feedback for each production and vote for their choice each week to receive a second performance as part of the “encore night” at the end of the month.


Where: Bryant Lake Bowl Theater 810 W Lake Street, Mpls
When: June 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th, 30th (ENCORE NIGHT), 2006
Time: Mondays 7:00PM - Encore Night Friday 7:00PM
Tickets: $12 (Call for group rates)

Order Tickets by Phone
Call the BLB at 612-827-8949

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Your ballot for the Tonys...


Make your Tony Award predictions at NYTimes.com.

Hartford Stage's Frankie and Johnny - the designers shine brightest



Last night I went with friends up to Hartford Stage to take in their season finale Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrance McNally. We had a fun night out, but it was the company i was with as much as the show itself.

This Frankie and Johnny played by Robert Clohessy and the single-named Portia were a good pair, especially Clohessy, who seemed most comfortable in the role and in the large space at Hartford Stage. It took longer to warm to Portia's Frankie, partly because she was prone to shouting for the first fifteen minutes or so, and the other part due to passive stage dynamic.

This show is built and designed for heavy-wieghts to tackle, and anything less is a little like yesterday's fish.

Which may be why whenever this show is written about the first paragraph or two is always devoted to the previous pairings -- Kathy Bates and Kenneth Welsh; Edie Falco and Stanley Tucci; Rosie Perez and Joe Pantoliano; or the film with Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino.

This show was good. I enjoyed it, but I wasn't rocked by it, it didn't hit me in the gut, and I believe the play has the potential to pack a wallop. This production tickled me.

There were times that I found myself more involved with the details of the realistic set than with the action of the play. "Hey, the refridgerator light works, but the refridgerator doesn't run. Probably means the food isn't actually cold." "Hey, that's real water running in the sink. Wonder how they rigged that? Do they turn off the valve at night after the show?" "Lookit the pepper -- it looks ike they started using that one on Thursday, they'll have to use a new one tomorrow, and what happens if they run out of bread?" And so on.

It turns out that all of my friends had similar thoughts turning thru their heads too.

Why doesn't Frankie eat more of her sandwich? Why is Johnny's bread toasted too (we concluded that something was going wrong with the toaster)? Is that a real stove? With all of this reality, couldn't they have taken an hour or so of rehearsal to instruct Mr. Clohessy in the proper way to slice vegetables (since it is remarked upon about how skillful he is with a knife)? Hmmm.

At the top of the show there was the coolest effect of a car passing below the warehouse loft, it's lights shining past the giant glass windows in a stream. It was used twice at the top of the show, and once at the end. A nice trio following the rule of three, and a nice deign choice. Also, the sunrise and the ever brightning and defining NYC skyline was beautiful. But I found myself watching that rather than the actors.

So, we had a nice time. If you go you'll probably have a nice time too, but my feeling upon leaving the theater is that the stakes were not dire at the Hartford Stage last night for its mismatched lovers, it was n't all or nothing, it was medium-rare, pleasant, but nothing special.

Tickets to Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune at Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street in downtown Hartford, CT will be available by calling (860) 527-5151. For more information, visit www.hartfordstage.org.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cyrano De Almost Worth It...


Cyrano De Bergerac is the final show of the season at Trinity Rep -- and it was almost good. I was impressed with the production and found my self surprised at how fun the production was -- until it ground to a halt with the final scene.

Oh my freakin' god...couldn't that lame duck--wrap up the plot points--die Cyrano DIE ALREADY-- scene be adapted -- or better -- cut from the play?

Up until then -- the production works. After that point it dies dies DIES! Gack! Blech! An otherwise fine production was pretty much ruined by the meandering stale end.

Oh well. Nice try.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Podcasting from the American Theater Wing

An Earful for Theater Lovers
Podcasting the Great White Way
By June Thomas
Posted Friday, May 12, 2006, at 3:27 PM ET

...........
The hosts of Downstage Center, XM Radio's John von Soosten and the American Theatre Wing's Howard Sherman, are both knowledgeable, poised interviewers who bring years of theater expertise to the conversation. Their guests are the cream of Broadway and beyond. Recent visitors include actors Patti LuPone, Jill Clayburgh, Cherry Jones, and Jonathan Pryce; directors Doug Hughes and Susan Stroman; composer/lyricist Jerry Herman; authors John Patrick Shanley and Paula Vogel; and the Public Theatre's artistic director, Oskar Eustis.

Because the interviewers seem to have seen every show and memorized every cast album from the last few decades, the guests always appear completely at ease as they chat for 35 to 50 minutes about their careers and their latest gigs. It's a master class in interview technique as much as anything else.

...................

http://www.slate.com/id/2141726/

Charles Wright quote -- good for poets or playwrights

"--Time is the great destroyer. Time is what feeds us and takes it away at the same time. Time is what starts us and time is what ends us. We live in time. We would like to live outside of time. But we can't, of course. And so the clock is what we all write about. Our lives are all about the clock. It starts at 12, and it ends at 12."

-----------American poet Charles Wright during an interview from 1998



read the entire interview from the PBS News Hour online archive.

SITO @ Looking Glass Diary

Swimming in the Ocean is agoing to be staged at the Looking Glass Theater in NYC as part of their summer director's forum in June.

So far so good. The director has had some really great ideas and I am impressed with her understanding of the play. i might travel into the city to see this one.

This particular play has been performed many times -- this is about its 15th production. it is a short play, so i never make any money from it, but it does get done.

With this production I just got word that the director would like to include a live violin to create the sound effects. i said "Go for it." It's an exciting idea -- and will either be brilliant or potentially annoying as hell -- but that's the chance you take. I think it's a great idea, and its one of many things that is fueling my interest in seeing this production.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Postcard Plays

Check out these POSTCARD PLAYS at the EMPTY SPACE.

My friend Greg is one of the playwrights -- based on some work we did in Florida at ACA -- the "Unstageable Play" exercise.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Original Cast of RENT reassembles in NYC for anniversary



Another Season of Love: The Original Cast Reassembles for a 'Rent' Anniversary

By ANTHONY TOMMASINI

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of "Rent," the original cast members performed the show in a semistaged version at the Nederlander on Monday.


From left, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Anthony Rapp, Jesse L. Martin and Byron Utley in a 10th-anniversary performance at the Nederlander, another milestone for a show that is much loved around the world.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Brown New Play Fest April 26-30

Brown University Literary Arts Program and Brown University/Trinity Repertory Consortium present:

NEW PLAYS FESTIVAL
April 26-30, 2006
McCormack Family Theater, Brown University



Providence, RI — The work of three extraordinary playwrights once again finds voice in New Plays Festival 24.2, which opens at the McCormack Family Theatre at 8pm on Wednesday, April 26th. The plays are performed in repertory throughout the week. Each play is as unique as its writer. Sam Marks’ dark humor peoples a 1960’s Catskills comedy club with a dysfunctional duo (The Joke). An apparently innocent dinner party in middle-class suburbia gets dirty when unexpected visitors arrive in Andy Bragen’s Food Porn and teenage sex games grow up in Don’t Stop by Molly Rice. Working under the inimitable guidance of Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel the playwrights find truly original ways to envision the rules by which we construct our lives. Having served as a forum for the early work of playwrights like Nilo Cruz (2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), Sarah Ruhl (Pulitzer Finalist), and Shay Youngblood (Kennedy Center Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award 1993), the New Plays Festival in its 24th year continues to be instrumental in bringing the work of today’s most exceptional playwrights to the world stage starting right here in Providence!

Featured Works:

Food Porn by Andy Bragen, directed by Geordie Broadwater
On a snowy night in Columbus, Ohio, aspiring gourmet Maggie Redd prepares the meal of her life, and everything goes wrong. Food Porn is a brutal comedy about war, doughnuts, and haute cuisine.

Don’t Stop by Molly Rice, directed by Brigitta Victorson
The spirit of Don Juan is ignited in the body of an adolescent girl. A robot programmed to seduce unleashes his powers on the audience. Men surrender, women dance for each other, and bodies crack wide open. Watch their shapes change as they pick their way through a twisted forest of desires.

The Joke by Sam Marks, directed by Annie Piper
Struggling to find fame in a Catskills comedy club in 1965, two comedians find that they are able to talk to each other solely through their jokes. As the jokes become darker and more personal, Doug and Ed must decide whether to stay together as a duo or learn to talk to each other in another way.

Performance schedule:

Wednesday, April 26th
8:00pm:Food Porn

Thursday, April 27th
8:00pm: Don’t Stop

Friday, April 28th
8:00pm:The Joke

Saturday, April 29th
2:00pm:The Joke

Saturday, April 29th
8:00pm:Food Porn

Sunday, April 30th
3:00pm:Don’t Stop


New Plays Summit, a colloquium of writers, directors, and producers of new works currently working in the industry, will follow the Saturday afternoon performance, starting at 3:30pm.
All performances are free and seating is first-come, first-served.

New Plays Festival 24 is organized and presented by the Brown University Literary Arts Program in conjunction with the Brown University / Trinity Repertory Consortium. The playwrights are second year MFA candidate students in playwriting at Brown University and develop their work under the direction of Pulitzer Prize winner and Seaver Professor of Playwriting Paula Vogel. Working with them are the students of acting and directing in the Brown/Trinity Consortium MFA program who study under the talented direction of Curt Columbus (Artistic Director, Trinity Rep), Amanda Dehnert (Acting Artistic Director 05-06 Season, Trinity Rep), Erin Cressida Wilson, and Stephen Berenson (Chair of the Consortium) among many others.

Boots on the Ground @ Trinity Rep looks at the War in Iraq



Last night I went to see BOOTS ON THE GROUND @ Trinity Repertory.

Whoa.



It's a piece of documentary theater culled from interviews gathered last fall from Rhode Island residents. It brings a unique personal perspective to the impact of the war in Iraq. By illuminating the details of the lives of Americans close to home and at war I have gained a level of intimacy with the soldiers and their families that had not entered my strata before seeing this play.

Early in the performance I found myself wondering, "Why isn't this a film documentary? How is this theater?" Soon after that thought I found myself abandoning the notion of "play" and "theater" and became involved with the stories, with the woven storylines, and tapestry storytelling being played before me.

There was humor mixed with the horror, with the hardship, with the unknown. One woman told the story of a beer can that she treasured, keeping it on its place on her night table until the return of her husband. A pastor told the story of a fallen soldier from his parrish, and in the soldiers wallet was a picture the pastor had given as a gift at the soldier as a boy, and how he had presided at the soldiers funeral.

The tales of camel spiders -- who ever heard of such a thing -- and they dared us to look them up online -- and you can -- CAMEL SPIDERS They are CREEPY...!

After the performance of the play (ACT I) -- the audience is invited to have a public discussion of the work, of the war, of ourselves (ACT II). The first woman who spoke last Staurday was the mother of a soldier in Iraq. She and her husband had come to the performance and had worn their United States Marine Corps shirts -- embroidered in gold on black heavy-wieght cotton sweatshirts. She said that only one person had asked her about her shirt all evening, and that was revealing to her. She was afraid that this play would not change people's attitiudes about the war -- actually, not so much attitudes, I think, as awareness. We walk around not seeing the war. We only feel it at the gas pump.

It was also noted that had the interviews been done in the past several months and not last year, that the tone of the piece would have been very different regarding the people's feelings about the Bush Administration. That a nation contemplating the impact of the war in Iraq post Hurrican Katrina and with gasoline prices over $3 in Rhode Island would demand a greater examination and response in the dialogues and monologues presented.

These are all interesting and valid points. To the mother of a soldier who sat with us last Saturday night, I can say that this play has made me aware of the war, of the soldiers fighting the war, and of my own consideration of those facts and those people.

It woke me up.

BOOTS ON THE GROUND plays thru May 21 at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Final Planning Stage for Spring series @ Westerly

Last night was the final installment for Spring 2006 @ the Westerly Library for the Planning Stage. We had a record 48 people in the audience.

It looks like we may have to move future readings at the library to a larger room, because between the people and the sculpture it was a bit cramped in the art gallery.

Still, the actors were great and the two featured playwrights got a lot out of the public airing of the plays.

All in all -- a good event and strong finish for our second series held at the Westerly Library.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Planning Stage: CUT reading


Here's a slightly blurry pic of Heidi Harger and Michael McGuire at the reading of CUT by Anna Maria Trusky last Wednesday evening at the Westerly Library. It was a packed house in the art gallery.

The reading series continues on 4/19 at 7:00 PM with WAR AND PIZZA and DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS. Got to The Planning Stage for more info.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Call for Artists for June 17 Event @ The Egg

Call to Artists!!

Dancers, Actors, Musicians, Poets, Mimes, Puppeteers, or any combination thereof, and open to suggestion - for the Third Annual Narrative Assemblage Event on June 17, 2006 @ The Dragon's Egg in Ledyard, Connecticut.

The text/ story this year will be, (in keeping with our past two explorations of hell and not hell, via the Inferno and Faust):

Orpheus and Eurydice - Don’t Look Back

Contact me for more info or go to Arts Caravan to read the press release.

FYI: This is a vounteer, arts collective event. Artists create/perform/rehearse/organize their individual contributions and the whole production is assembles on the day of the performance. Plays/poems/songs/performance art projects are up to 5 minutes in length each.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Von Trapps: The Next Generation


A New Bunch of von Trapps, as Alpine as Sushi and Apple Pie
By STEVEN McELROY

In "The Sound of Music," when the young von Trapps weren't playing practical jokes on their governess, they were bicycling around Salzburg singing "Do Re Mi" and entertaining at fancy parties. Now a new generation— the great-grandchildren of Baron and Maria von Trapp — is running up and down scales for an audience. Sofia, 17; Melanie, 15; Amanda, 14; and Justin, 11; perform professionally together, sometimes going so far as to don lederhosen onstage.

Indeed, it seems as if the von Trapp Children, as they are known, are leading 21st-century versions of their predecessors' careers. They may have their own Web site, (vontrappchildren.com), but just like their forebears, including their grandfather Werner (called Kurt in the musical), they travel extensively giving concerts and have recorded albums of folk melodies, Christmas classics and songs from the musical. They'll even play themselves in a movie next year. From a hotel in Arizona, one stop on a tour that includes their New York debut this month at the Lamb's Theater, the children spoke by phone about the von Trapp life.

Read excerpts from the conversation at:
www.nytimes.com/2006/04/09/theater/09mcel.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bullying piece peace

Last tuesday we worked out what we'll be doing with the Bullying Issue Piece. Thre are 5 kids willing to perform, so that's who I am rehearsing with. The performance has been downgraded to a short performance at the theater that will be video taped. And there will be a pizza party for the kids.

We'll use the video to show the work at an inter-school sharing day in May. Also, the kid will video tape some of the monologs seperately -- ina video studio -- and they will be shown at the sharing day too.

See? A solution. Whew.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Trouble wit bullying piece

I've been working with a group of middle school kids for about 6 weeks from a group called Bully Busters. I was asked to help them create some material for a performance piece addressing bullying issues in their school in order to raise awareness.

Up until last week I thought we were doing some pretty cool work. The kids have been writing some interesting material, and at last we had enough to begin rehearsing!

But then -- hardly any of the students want to actually perform the work.

Heartbreak!

Now I'm getting word that they are "annoyed" with the writing exercise we do for 10 minutes at the beginning of each session.

I was brought in because the kids had asked to do theater. They wanted to write it and perform it. They've written it! I've assembled it! And now it's like dragging a hippo out of the mud trying to get the performance.

I was stunned.

On top of that, they started laughing at each other while we trying to rehearse. I got a bit cranky about that. I always insist on a supportive ensemble, but maybe I got too cranky.

I don't know. I'm at a loss. This might just be something we have to toss the towel in on.

Perhaps at the next session we'll just perform the materials for each other, and that will be that.

That way they can see and hear the stuff they've created.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Trouble with blogging

The template has vanished -- I'm hoping the content doesn't get obliterated...

another test

Blogger is having some major problems.

A YANKEE TRADER in LA-more info

Here's what I know so far about th A YANKEE TRADER production in LA:

The 2005 Pen is a Mighty Sword winner, “A Yankee Trader”, by Kato McNickle, is scheduled to open at El Portal’s Forum Theatre in Los Angeles.

Opening weekend is August 4th, 5th and 6th. The show will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm and Sundays at 3:00pm through September 10.

Ian Vogt is directing, Shawn Ross and Kim Terrell are producing and Jonathan Christman is designing the set and lights. Open auditions will be announced in Backstage West sometime in May.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Test test test

Testing to see if this post goes thru...

Giveaway DIARY: Wrote it down

My buddy Bill recruited me to work with him in making a 3-5 minute short film for some 3-minute short film contest. Turns out Bill has been wanting to make one of these for a while now.

They give you the topic and then you have a week or so to make the film and get it to them. This time around they are giving an extra two weeks to complete the film, so they added a twist.

The topic or theme is "Reflection" and the twist is they want to see your local landscape or cityscape featured. Thius means that you've got to get outdoors.

i immediately thought of all of those murals painted on the sides of buildings in downtown NewLondon -- especially the whale mural that is deteriorating. We're gonna feature those.

The other day I wrote the screenplay. My first screenplay ever. I had to pull out a guidebook and review proper format. It's very different form plays. Also, I made it a bit direction heavy, because I'm going to be directing the piece and I wanted to be able to map out what I was thinking visually.

Wednesday Bill and I met and worked out the production plan. We'll be shooting next weekend -- some in my house and the rest around NewLondon and maybe a shot in groton. Now -- we just need the LEAD ACTOR!!

I've sent e-mails, and we're waiting to hear back about the locations we need.

That's the movie news for now.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Yankee in LA this summer


A YANKEE TRADER will premier in LA in August with a 6 week run by The Virtual Theatre Project. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Two VERY different shows @ Trinity Rep

The past two weekends in a row I have traveled to Providence to see two very different shows. Both kept my attention throughout, but for very different reasons.

The first was HAMLET. Yeah, HAMLET. It was fantastic. I have enjoyed the work of the Trinity Company whenever they have undertaken Shakespeare, and this was one of the best. Maybe it takes a repertory company to really dig in to a classic Shakespearean text and offer-up someting fresh? Whatever the reason, Trinity makes it work.

This HAMLET is performed in the dress of the Edwardian era, and effect that was, at first glance, disturbing, but soon grew to enhance some of the ordinaryness that otherwise gets lost in the men-in-tights approach. The most notable aspect of this setting was the choice to make Polonius the head of the servant household and a woman, and a rather earth-muffin woman at that. The two children of Polonius, Laertes and Ophelia, are therefore household servants as well. The play begins in a parlor and the first moments have young Hamlet stealing a passionate kiss from Ophelia in a darkened corner under the stairs just moments before the members of the court arrive.

This production manages to find the humor in the play alongside the tragedy. And they manage the humor without effort. It just rises from the text. We find humor because we are introduced to a world that seems very much like our own. We understand the world, find moments of comfort within it, and with that rcognition and ease, the humor is unstopped, and so we laugh. At least until the tragic elements unfold, and having laughed with these characters, we now grieve more fully at their loss.

The run of the HAMLET has been extended through March 5, so see it if you can.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Last weekend I was at Trinity taking in INDOOR/OUTDOOR -- a terminally cute play about an indoor cat who grows to yearn for the freedom of "Outside".

I could see this play easily becoming deadly if it were not handled by such an exquisite cast and supported by slick technical visuals and fast fast fast transitions. I'm happy to report that all of these elements were in place for the Trinity production of this play.

Fast moving and funny, this silly little furball of a play kept me rollicking along side it. Full of laughs and visual surprises, the non-stop enthusiasm of the cast kept the magic balloon of daffy theater aloft. I was even surprised by the emotional tug the final moments of the play had on me.

The set really helped give the play a boost. The entire theatrical procenium, floor, furniture, and landscape were carpeted with a yellow fuzzy covering. The set-pieces were suspened from bright yellow ropes, that when not in service dangled like giant cat toys over the action. A warm, fuzzy lanscape for a warm, fuzzy play.

Not that I'd want to see a lot of this kind of froth coming from Trinity -- but once every couple of years it's good just to have some warm fuzzy fun.

INDOOR/OUTDOOR just opened last weekend and will play March.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Paula Vogel podcast

Copy and paste this web address and listen to The American Theater Wing Downstage Center podcast with Paula Vogel recorded during her residence at The Signature Theatre last season.

http://www.podcast.net/play/76007/62

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Monday, January 30, 2006

The puppets from Seussical

this is Tyler Menard singing and operating one of the puppets he created for Seussical the Musical @ The Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich -- the show runs until February 12th -- so there's still time to see Tyler in action. www.spiritofbroadway.org


Here's more of the hand puppets -- they are part of the Who community -- on the small planet of Who that has been found floating on a dust speck by Horton the Elephant.

Tyler, the guy in the first photo, designed and constructed the puppets. he is studying puppetry at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and has been performing with the SoBT for many years -- I remember him as a duckling a few years back in a production of HONK! Now he's a puppet-master. Kudos, Tyler!

I heard from Tyler today, and sent him copies of the pix with the puppets...so I thought I'd post them here to share with lots o' folks.

Seussical the Musical January 5 thru February 12, 2006
Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Music by Stephen Flaherty
Co-Conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty & Eric Idle
Based on the works of Dr. Seuss
Co-Directed by Brett A. Bernardini & Lisa Foss
at The Spirit of Broadway Theater 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich
860.886.2378
on the web at www.spiritofbroadway.org