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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.

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.