ceebeegee: (Default)
 I directed a play for Elizabeth (a lil' 10-minute thing) and it went up today.  The venue was quite nice, in a library not too far from my place.  Vaulted ceilings and decent acoustics (for singing).

I've been thinking for a while now--I really want to get back into performing, especially voice.  I did two concerts for Donna last year and I'm wondering how I can expand on that.  Maybe do a concert at this venue (I chatted up the guy who was running things).  And I'd like--maybe, if I have the time--to start up Holla Holla again this summer, in a limited way, a reading of some kind (Shakespeare, of course) of the neighborhood.  My place is big enough, we could have rehearsals here.

I really love to be on stage.  I love to sing and I love to act.  And I need to get back to that.  It's part of what makes me me.
ceebeegee: (Game of Thrones)
So, yeah. Game of Thrones. WOW. Still processing that episode. I just HATE violence on screen, I cannot bear seeing people just get slaughtered, not to mention cruelty to animals. But it WAS great storytelling, and the acting and directing was also terrific. I'm not saying HBO or GRRM should have done anything differently, I'm just not sure if I'm the audience for it. I was talking about it with Tesse who was BURSTING with spoilers but was able to contain herself. I have to say, I'm very impressed that so many readers were able to sit on this and not spoil it for the rest of us. I was STUNNED, I had no idea that was going to happen. I have to be careful when I find articles about G of T online, because so many commenters include spoilers. I love Hitfix's reviews, but man, the commentariat--even though the reviewer explicitly forbids spoilers, people just do it anyway. So any article, any YouTube video, I watch or I read then but I do not scroll down. (Mad Men content online is much easier on the nerves, because Weiner NEVER allows a hint of what's going to happen to escape.)

I have to admit, this made me laugh:

Poor Arya. Poor Sansa. Bran at least is becoming a boss.

I did think of Glencoe, which is probably the most notorious breach of hospitality in history. I believe the Glen is referred to as the Valley of Weeping. Sadly, Scottish history is chockful of horrible incidents like that--read about what they did to David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary Queen of Scots when she was pregnant (this parallel also occurred to me as I watched the Red Wedding). Shameful, the Scots didn't even need the English to wipe them out--we were doing just fine killing each other.

I can't imagine anyone will have anything to do with Walder Frey now--not only did he commit the worst kind of treachery, but it's obvious he doesn't give a crap about his wives. Who would willingly marry their daughter to that? The only thing that will redeem G of T for me is seeing either Joffrey or Walder Frey (IDEALLY BOTH) suffer painful, humiliating demises.

Going to Belmont Stakes this Saturday with Tim. I directed a reading of a new play, written by his friend, a writer for the NY Times. John has ambitions--he wants to take the play to Off-Broadway or even further (as I told the cast "it means--we may be goin' to Broad. Way"). We had some possible investors there. We'll see. The cast killed it--I had 3 actors with Broadway credits, and the other 2 were terrific as well. I was a little nervous about the whole thing because John had to be pushed to do ANYTHING--I was constantly having to explain to him yes, you need to pay for this, no, we can't do that. And frankly if an actual producer with $$ does take over and decides they should get a director with more of a name, I would understand that--that's a business decision. (Although I would push for being dramaturg!) That said, in my head I've already made some aesthetic decisions about what I'd like to do if the play goes further.

It was a lot of fun working with an all-guy cast--of course I adore Ryan (and oddly, this is the first time we've worked together since Virginia!) and it was great to work with Tony again. And Carlos just makes me laugh--he has such a genuine good nature, kind of a reformed rascal, and rascals always make me laugh. Matt knocked Stearns OUT OF THE PARK, did a fantastic job with some tricky dialogue, and Eric was terrific as well.


Nov. 19th, 2012 07:03 pm
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
So I saw the revival of Annie last week with Michael--I thought it was pretty good, although it wasn't quite a home-run.  Annie and the other girls were good, although I had a hard time understanding some of the orphans.  Daddy Warbucks was terrific, as was Rooster. Grace seemed a little grim, frankly!  And Kate Finneran...really didn't do such a good job as Miss Hannigan, sadly--I'm not sure what she was going for but it was kind of a mess.  The show in general was smaller, more scaled-down--one area where that did not quite work was "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."  The choreography for that number was much more naturalistic than in the original--the girls were playing dress-up with various Miss Hannigan items of clothing (basically an extended joke about being "dressed").  Okay, not a bad idea in theory, and I sympathize with the struggle against such iconic staging--it can be frustrating when you're up against that kind of legacy.  But Smile isn't about naturalism, or character growth/exploration--it just isn't that kind of number.  It's just not.  It's a showstopper--it is designed to showcase the kids and bring a smile to YOUR face as you watch them.  Watch the original number (you can YouTube it, they performed it for the 1977 Tonys)--the audience breaks into applause at LEAST 3 times during the number.  Molly alone gets at least two applause breaks!  They are complete bosses, absolute professionals and the number is just....they're amazing, I literally get chills down my spine watching it because they're SO GOOD, every one of them.  You can't really scale down those kinds of expectations with some kind of naturalistic character piece when we hardly get any time with the orphans as it is, and they don't really stand out to us.  Dude, why fight it?  Don't think too much, just serve up some moppet shtick and and let 'em have their moment ;)

I don't really dislike the movie but I was VERY disappointed that they cut all my favorite songs!  Herbert Hoover, New Deal for Christmas?  Waaaaah!!!!  I love the sarcasm of HH, and New Deal is just so darn cute.  "The snowflakes are frightened of falling/And oh, what a fix! No peppermint sticks!"  SO CUTE.  And my absolute favorite, NYC--what the hell were they thinking, to cut that?  Come on, guys--any director should WANT to stage that number.  It's a crackerjack, with that lilting, bouncy beat and the key changes.  And those lyrics!  My favorite:  "You make 'em all postcards!"  Such a great song!  The other night I was walking uptown to visit Lori and I was playing that on my phone--I started staging it in my head.  So I'm already one up on John Huston ;)  Also--why on EARTH did they cut TOMORROW??  What were they thinking?  You swapped out Tomorrow for such gems as We Got Annie and Dumb Dog? *shaking my head*

I will say about the movie--I think it's disgusting that a bunch of loser fanboys decided to crap on a little kid by "awarding" her a Razzie for that movie.  Does it make you feel better about your pathetic lives that you picked on a 10-year-old girl?
ceebeegee: (Rocky Horror)
So, for the second Friday show, we had some unusual audience members--KIDS.  As in 12, 11, 10 years older and possibly even younger (one of them was genuinely tiny--she looked about 8, for realz).  They were in two groups in different sections of the house--during pre-show I approached one of the groups, consisting of girls about 12 years old, and tactfully asked them "have you ever seen the show before?"  (I certainly wasn't going to ask them if they were virgins!).  None of them had, so I briefed them on the basic shoutouts--Asshole/Slut, etc.  I said you can use these words ONLY during the show, they're not appropriate outside the show (don't want to give girls the message it's okay to call each other names like that).  I can't imagine taking such young kids to see a show like that (especialy the LATE show!), but whatever, I'm not their parents!  At places, Tactless Emailer asked me in front of the cast "there are kids out there, do we change anything?"  I said "Hell, no!  We will not pull our punches for anyone--this is not a kid-friendly show and the and the adults in charge of them must know that.  Nope, doing the show as directed."  During the silhouette scene, the kids were DYING, simultaneously horrified and screaming with laughter.  I doubt their parents heard any complaints :)

After the second show Paul and I, and some other cast members, went over to the apartment of Dylan (he was in Pirates and teched for Christmas Carol), who lives in Hoboken.  Dylan saw the show that night and was raving about it, saying he didn't think it was his kind of show but he loved it and now wanted to audition next year.  Then he was going on about how much fun he'd had during Pirates and how much he loved working with me.  He was a little tipsy but hey, I certainly wasn't complaining!  Then he started on Christmas Carol (which he worked on twice--once as a techie in 2008, and then as a performer in the staged reading version in '09)--and I am not exaggerating when I say he went on for about 45 minutes raving about my version of Christmas Carol, how much fun he'd had, how much he loved the language, the music, the feeling of the whole experience, thanking me for all of it.  I mean, he really went off about it!  I said well I can't take much credit for the language since my whole thing was to restore the original Dickens--I just shaped the structure a little bit, elaborated on some paraphrased scenes, dramatized it with the Readers, and then got out of the way.  But I *can* take credit for the music, which I chose very carefully.  He LOVED the music, most of which he'd never heard before.  He was going on about how haunting and mysterious it sounded--I started singing The Angel Gabriel and he was all "yeah!  What a great piece that was, I loved it!"  I said I chose it because 1) Angels are messengers and Gabriel visits Mary to tell her about her destiny, much as Jacob is about to visit Scrooge to tell HIM what's up, 2) it's a beautiful, haunting piece that sets the mood for Marley's visit, and 3) it's not as well-known and therefore not played out.  I told Dylan that I grew up hearing and singing all those pieces, that it's all English music and thus part of the Anglican tradition.  I also told him that Sting had actually covered The Angel Gabriel--he was astonished and I said well, he is English, after all!

Paul also made me very happy--he told me that both he and Jen weren't sure if they wanted to do Rocky again...until they found out I was directing.  Steven said the same thing--"if Clara's directing, I'm in."  This is especially touching because I didn't cast him as the Narrator--but he didn't care.  He said he knew it would be a great show if I'm directing.  Wow.  Honestly, that makes me feel incredible.  This was a great cast, altogether--so much love, so much fun, inventiveness.  Even Tactless Emailer wasn't bad at all--she just loves Rocky and wants the best show possible.

For our final two performances Saturday night, we had great crowds--and a standing ovation!!!!  Very, very proud of that--those are *rare* with TTC audiences.  I think the only other one I've gotten was for The Vagina Monologues.  And in one of the show I heard an audience member gasp when Janet walked away at the end.  LOVE IT.

After the last show the cast had put together care packages for me and some of the staff members--bottles of champagne and goody bags.  I got some very nice cards--one signed by everyone and a couple of individual cards.  We had a pajama party at Julia's (cast member) apartment in Jersey City--tons of food and drink and a huge living room.  At one point we were all gathered around the kitchen table and they wanted me to make a speech, and then Susan and Charlotte both made speeches about the show and working with me.  Susan got very verklempt :)  At one point Steven pulled me into the bathroom and we had a good ol' fashioned bitch session :)  And then at another point we were all rocking out in the living room to "Call Me Maybe."  Also Charlotte got VERY drunk and started making the moves on a cast member, in front of her BF who was there!  Then a few minutes later she ran into the bathroom and was sick for 20 minutes.  Good times :)  She is a bit of a mess but adorably so (in other words, she's not drama-queeny or annoying, she's just super-talented and makes age-appropriately bad choices.  We all love her and I would cast her again in a heartbeat).

The next day we all gathered in the East Village for a final gettogether--brunch at the Sunburned Cow.  My parents were calling me about Sandy which honestly had not registered much on my radar at that point.  Paul drove a bunch of us (crammed into the back) into the City from JC and we waited endlessly as the other cast members straggled up.  Had a great time of course and I ended up getting home around 4, well ahead of the subway shutting down.

Man.  WHAT fun.  I won't deny I am VERY very glad I have some free time now--after directing two straight shows in Hoboken, I'm exhausted--but this was a really special show.  The cast was great and I got to DO something with Rocky, I got to make it a little bit more than your typical replica-of-the-movie.  And the cast was behind me every step of the way.  I will admit, I was a little nervous about this show at first, wasn't sure how I was going to make it my own, especially since I'd been in it, in the same space, last year.  I feel great about it.
ceebeegee: (Rocky Horror)
Rocky's second weekend (and third performance) was at the Strand Theater in Lakewood NJ where we performed last year.  I had to be there much earlier than the cast so I got a ride with our sound and lighting designers.  Smartly I brought along a pillow and just craaaashed in the back seat--slept all the way to Hoboken and woke up marvelously refreshed, especially once Dave brought me a huge thing of coffee!  We teched and had our dress rehearsal and then enjoyed dinner (sandwiches and soda).  At one point we started talking about sex tips and I ended up reading to my cast from a Jezebel article on terrible sex tips from Cosmo.  We were fucking DYING, the whole cast was completely cracking up.

Last year at the Strand was a rather quiet show for several reasons, the main being that it was the day of that freak snowstorm in late October.  This depressed turnout and small houses tend to be quieter.  NOT THIS TIME.  OH MY GOD.  They came prepared to PAR-TaY.  There was a group, about 2-3 rows, who had pre-gamed, gamed during the show, and continued to game during intermission!  And they were LOUD.  Mad, mad props to Jen and Tim who suffered constant callouts and managed to stay very focused and in their moment.  I'd worked with them, saying you will get tons of shit during those last scenes, don't let it throw you. (And there are some truly hilarious shoutouts during Super Heroes.  My favorite one is during Brad's emo verse:

I've done a lot (of anal sex)
God knows I've tried (anal sex)
To tell the truth (about anal sex)
I've even lied (about having anal sex)
But all I know (about anal sex)
Is deep inside I'm blee-ee-ding (.......from anal sex)

But I told them--don't let it throw you.  Stay in your moment, stay in your beat--you will have earned it, and there will be those in the audience who appreciate it.

Because I didn't want to do your standard let's-just-throw-this-onto-the-stage Rocky.  Super Heroes was always my favorite song--I found it so haunting and melancholy--and I decided between that and the music box quality of the reprise of Science Fiction, Double Feature, that the show underwent a major tonal change in those last two numbers.  And I didn't want to waste that, or the other interesting stuff in the text.  And this was my "vision," if you will, of Rocky:  first, as I discussed before, I noticed a theme of observation and voyeurism.  They're always watching each other on monitors, and the Narrator watches them, and the opening number is about watching movies.  So I decided to expand this and add what I called Voyeur (or Observer) Phantoms, and assigned them specific shoutouts, and the opening number was staged according to this theme--binoculars, 3-D glasses, remotes, etc. and I had various slides on the slide screen of eyes watching at various times.  Now what is the flip side of voyeurism?  Exhibitionism, of which Frank is the quintessence.  I talked to the cast about the observer effect, and how we all act differently when we know we're being watched--which led me to Janet and Touch-a Me.  It took me FOREVER to figure out what I wanted to do with that number--it was the last one I staged, I kept telling the girls just give me a few days, it's percolating.  Finally I figured it out--Jen KNOWS she's being watched, she figures it out when she watches Brad on the monitor.  And that's why she decides to hell with it, I'm going to jump off the pedestal (yes, I literally had her on a pedestal) and embrace this journey--and so Magenta and Columbia are cheering her on, not mocking her.

This led me to the floor show which is where Janet really blossoms--she sings:

I feel released
Bad times deceased
My confidence has increased

What does Brad sing?

It's beyond me
Help me, Mommy
I'll be good, you'll see
Take this dream away

So with that in mind, I couldn't stage Super Heroes any other way than how I did--after Janet's verse, during the long ah-ah section, I had her turn and look wonderingly at the castle as Brad reaches a tentative hand out to her.  He just wants to go back to the way things were.  He wants to forget it ever happened.  But as Thelma says "something's, like, crossed over in me and I can't go back."  Janet can't go back; she's not that Janet anymore.  So I staged it that she walks away from him--this is what made some of the cast gasp.  I didn't think it was that big a deal--as I said, it's all right there in the text, I can't be the only one who's staged it that way--but I heard an audience member gasp as well and Eric (our Riff Raff) said it was "brilliant."  And Tesse made me so happy--she said who ever saw a RHS where Janet actually experiences character growth?  Feminine empowerment through sexuality--which was a huge thing in the '70s, the birth of the feminist movement, and of course RHS is very much a product of the '70s!  I love my sexually empowered, strong-ass Janet!  Jen approved as well--she specifically told me she liked the feminist Janet :)  And she played that moment beautifully, with this look of regret and resolve and love and goodbye all at once.  Jen's such a great actor.

With all that, and tying into the theme of observation and voyeurism, I decided to take a side trip into exploring the fine line between art appreciation and objectification--a dynamic that usually targets women, but in RHS, our eponymous character himself is the objet d'art who is objectified (and yes, I had him up on the pedestal as well).  I underscored this mainly with slides of Greek and Renaissance male sculptures, plus I had Rocky executing classical art poses on the pedestal during Charles Atlas.  (Also at the beginning of The Sword of Damocles, when Frank first touches him, I posed them as God and Adam on the Sistine Chapel ceiling--appropriate since Frank is the creator of life.  I also found out that the real Charles Atlas himself used to pose for sculptors!) At first the Phantoms are in awe of his beauty but rapidly they start pawing him, and taking pictures with their cell phone, and slipping bills into his trunks.    It's a fine, fine line...

The Show

Oct. 4th, 2012 01:19 pm
ceebeegee: (Rocky Horror)
OMG.  The.  Show.  Is.  Going.  So.  Well.

We finished blocking it last night--when the cast saw some of the choices I made toward the end, a couple of people actually gasped.  LOVE IT.  When you can surprise even your own jaded cast, that is very gratifying!  And aside from that, it just looks so clean and pretty.  Nice framed actions, the important stuff is highlighted properly, no messy groups or straight lines.  (Sean quoted me in his rehearsal report last night (he has a Line of The Night) when I told Frank N. Furter "straight lines make the baby Jesus cry."  At the end of the night the cast cheered when I said, after praising them for their work, "and the baby Jesus has stopped crying.")

This is all especially great because we had drammer this week!  Sunday night, as I told, our Brad left the show and Dave sent out an emergency email Monday asking for suggestions of people who might be able to audition.  One of our actors, a talented singer but who is driving me a little crazy for reasons I'll explain, sent us a reply saying "I'll be the first and hopefully not the last to say this but why not Steven?  He knows the role, he's funny..." etc.  Okay, this would've been bad enough--I do NOT want to discuss casting with you, we just need names of OUTSIDE people, kthxby--but she hit reply all.  So the entire cast and crew, including Steven, read this fucking email.  I emailed Dave "OMG.  I'm going to kill her"--I was so angry on the way to rehearsal, I was shaking.  Luckily for her, halfway through rehearsal the door opened and a handsome man with a sweet smile said "uh, Dave sent me here to audition?"  The grin on my face could've lit up Moscow!  So that is our new Brad, and as I told Sean, "we've upgraded!"  After rehearsal I pulled Tactless Emailer aside and had a stern word with her.  I said I don't care what you say in private--I realize that casts talk about this stuff all the time--but it's not appropriate for a public discussion.  She was horrified--she didn't realize she'd hit reply all--but kept blaming it on her phone.  Then learn how your goddamn phone works!  When I got home that night I saw that another cast member had replied before rehearsal, saying "I agree, Steven would be great..."  *HEADDESK*  So Tuesday I sent out an exquisitely tactful response along the lines of "Guys?  Not appropriate" and got a few responses saying THANKS.  Carl emailed me "It's not a democracy!" and I replied "Indeed not--It's a Clar-ocracy (aka a benevolent dictatorship)."  He replied "Right on.  It's the only reasonable form of governance" which made me giggle.  Seriously people, do you really want to open up that discussion?  Let's start with why YOU didn't get Magenta before you want me to talk about why we're not using Steven as Brad.

Anyway Tactless Emailer has been driving me up the wall with constant suggestions, comments, etc. because she knows the movie so well.  I caught her writing down callbacks on another cast member's script after I'd specifically said the Voyeur Phantoms can ONLY say what I want them to say.  Because if the Voyeur Phantoms keep up an endless stream of comments, 1) it'll seem as though they're competing with the audience, and 2) it'll sound sloppy.  So after this, she's still writing down stuff in someone else's script--I caught her hand and said "No.  I said only the callbacks I've approved."  I also made an announcement (because of her) that we are NOT doing the movie, we are not recreating the movie bit for bit and no one is to say anything to anyone else like "that's not how they do it in the movie."  I said we are aligning ourselves with the movie at certain key points but we are doing our own thing.   And when I was blocking Charles Atlas (I have the Phantoms touching Rocky) she said "doesn't that make Frank jealous?"  WORRY ABOUT YOUR OWN GODDAMN CHARACTER.  Stop thinking about the show as a whole and trying to compete--take care of your own shit (like the dance--she's not a great dancer).  She literally exhausts me in rehearsal because I constantly have to bat off her suggestions and comments, although I will say I think she's getting better.  She is a sweet girl when she's not annoying me.

On a better note, one of our cast members is the daughter of a Tony nominee!  Our Magenta, the lovely Charlotte, is the daughter of this guy.

ceebeegee: (Rocky Horror)
I have no idea why I'm in such a good mood right now!  But I did have fun this weekend.

Rocky Horror rehearsals are going well.  Music sounds good, and my cast really seems to be enjoying themselves--very aware, love the show, know all the callbacks.  After auditions we didn't have any viable Brads (Paul could've played Brad but he's not the strongest singer and Rocky is harder to cast than Brad so he's Rocky again).  Dave found someone who came in and auditioned--lovely voice although he's all over the place pitch-wise!  We figured it might be just nerves. (Dave said he smelled of alcohol--hmmm.  Well, I've been known to take a swig of vodka before an audition--but then I use vodka because it doesn't smell.  So, not sure what to make of that.)  Anyway.  When he came in for his first rehearsal, he tripped over a chair as Sean was introducing him and the entire cast chorused "ASSHOLE."  Brad (whose real name is, coincidentally, Brad) responded "well played, Rocky Horror cast, well played."

Dave's and Robert's schedules are sort of weird so we had to squeeze in blocking rehearsal around their needs.  Our first was yesterday--I blocked "Dammit, Janet" and "There's a Light" as well as the little half-scene when Riff Raff answers the door and the Narrator's first two monologues.  I have a concept for the show and I talked about it with the cast.  While analyzing the text I picked up on a theme of voyeurism and observation (the Narrator, the monitors, the opening number which is all about the movies).  So I expanded this a bit--my concept is that the Phantoms are all Rocky Horror groupies and do this every week.  During pre-show they'll be working the crowd as Rocky horror groupies--some will be hard core, some will be virgins, we'll see them putting on makeup and greeting each other.  Columbia is also a groupie (in fact she is listed in the film as "a groupie").  But she gets sucked into the story--she becomes her character.  As we all know--hell, the title of my journal tells you this!--I am crazy about the Romantics, and this is a very Romantic idea, this kind of transformation and identification with art.  See: basically everything Keats wrote, plus Philomel:

What is this humming?
I am becoming
my own song.

Magenta and Riff Riff are NOT groupies--they are actually their characters, as are Frank, Janet, Brad, etc.  So there are two worlds: the "real' world and the one in-universe.  Gradually everyone gets sucked into the second world--Columbia is of course destroyed, but the Phantoms and Brad and Janet are expelled at the end.  The party is OVER and none of them will ever be the same again (my favorite song in the show is "Super Heroes"--I just love the haunting lyrics.

And Super Heroes come to feast
To taste the flesh not yet deceased
And all I know is still the beast is feeding

So to come back to the theme of voyeurism, there will be 2-3 "Observer" Phantoms, who sit with the audience and do shoutouts.  This will also help the audience relax and warm up.  The first group includes Paul, who is the best ad libber ever and was riffing with all sorts of great shoutouts.  When Brad and Janet sang "there's one thing left to dooo" he yelled out "FUCK."  We all died.

Susan annoyed the hell out of me on Friday.  I got this chirpy text from her telling me that she would be taking Sunday off for dinner with her family for Rosh Hashana (she had not listed this as a conflict on her audition sheet) and "I apologize for this but I really need to be with my family" and she'd "get the blocking from Sean."  Okay, first of all--do not text me shit like this, you need to email me.  Second, do not TELL me as a friend that suddenly you won't be in rehearsal in two days.  You need to ask me, the director of your show and your boss, if you may have it off.  I absolutely detest when friends who are in my shows act unprofessionally and don't respect the boundaries.  (I must say, in general Susan DOES have a problem with boundaries--she's said some inappropriate things in Pirates rehearsals that just made me cringe.  I'm a little worried that the Rocky Horror environment is only going to encourage it.)  Of course I understand this is an important holiday but if you'd thought you might miss it, PUT IT ON THE AUDITION SHEET.  And don't act as though the blocking is all that easy to get from Sean either.  For one thing, he already has to give the blocking to the others who were already cleared to miss that rehearsal.  And my blocking--as you know, since you "choreographed" Pirates (I put it in quotation marks because really, nearly all of that choreography was mine)--is not that easy to just "get."  It's usually very detailed and precise and demands a lot of spacing and awareness of the others around you so the group pictures look good.  I was thisclose to just cutting her from the scenes altogether but I decided it would make those scenes look lopsided.  However I did make her one of the Observer Phantoms for the "Light" scene and number.  THAT blocking is easy enough--just sit there and yell shit.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
Oh sweet Jesus, Pirates is over HALLELUJAH.

Not that I didn't love the experience but it took up an enormous amount of time, even after it opened.  I can play softball and soccer on the weekends again!  I have free time!  YAAAAAAYYY!  This weekend was especially time-suckalicious--we moved the show to the cemetery.  (The first two weekends were at the amphitheater in Frank Sinatra Park, the last was at Hartsimus Cemetery in Jersey City.  They do shows and events like this as a fundraiser for their cemetery--we're doing a couple of performances of Rocky Horror there as well, in October.)  The move sucked up time because I had to have a rehearsal on Wednesday adapting the blocking to the new space, which only about half the cast could attend.  Which meant that I had to get there very early on Saturday, to show the remaining cast members the space.  Then it rained--we held, then started again.  It immediately started raining again, so we held again.  Poor Taylor had to sing "O Is There Not One Maiden Breast" THREE TIMES (we had a hard time finding the place where he'd stopped on the track).  We finally finished the show and the audience loved it--they were really rooting for us by the end!

Sunday I played in my organized soccer league--we had been undefeated but we played one of the best teams in the league and lost.  Not by much (2-0) but still.  Kind of frustrating because we played pretty well, we just didn't convert our chances.  HOWEVER I played probably my best game so far--I was trapping very well, handling the ball, getting around defenders and wow!  I was thrilled, especially when not just once but several times the goalie warned the defenders about me.  Ooooh, I'm dangerous!  Very flattering.

After the game I went into Jersey City to the cemetery for our closing performance.  The show started off very hot and sunny (my hair is crazy-blonde today from all the sun) and then AGAIN during "Oh Is There Not One Maiden Breast" it started pouring.  We huddled under the tents for quite awhile--at least a half-hour, possibly closer to 45 minutes.  Finally it started to clear up and Paul (one of the ensemble pirates) and I were sweeping the bigger puddles off the "stage" and laying down carpet.  But now we had a new problem--Duncan and Michael (our Pirate King) both had to be gone by around 6, and we were well past 5:00 already.  I ended up having to cut two songs from the second act on the fly--thankfully the actors were all good sports about it, and Lauren (our sound designer) could figure out where to pick up.  We still went past 6:00 but Duncan had a ride to the PATH station and I told him to take a cab once he got into the city. It really was a perfect storm of inconvenience--when we started again it was still raining just a bit and Dave told me if it rains any harder than this, I should call the show (he had to leave so I was the House Manager).  But no, it stopped raining completely--which is a good thing, but I was also super-stressed about getting Michael and Duncan out of there in time.  Anyway it all worked out.

After we packed up everything, we all walked over to Dave's apartment for a cast party and I screened The Pirate Movie for the cast.  Melissa and Kristy LOVED it--they were glued to the screen the whole way through.  Dave's friend Christian loves the movie as well and he and I were singing the blow job song ("Pumping and Blowing").  If you're treadin' water and romance is on the slide/Don'tcha ya know you have to swallow/Something more than water/....It's your pride...  Ah, good times.  Such a guilty pleasure that movie is.  Afterward Dave and I were talking about Rocky Horror--we need to set the dates for auditions, they will probably be sometime in late August.  And I ended up being schmoozed by Tawni (who played one of the daughters in Pirates)--she REALLY wants to audition for Magenta.  Um--I'm actually not that crazy about Tawni.  She gave off major attitude during the Pirates rehearsal process (at one point she tried to correct me on my own choreography)--lots of attitude with nothing really to back it up.  (She's going for her MM, really?  From which school?  Because she really does not sound well-trained.)  She has her moments onstage but she's a very sloppy, fidget-y performer and DOES NOT take notes.  And frankly she's kind of lazy onstage--she's more interested in having fun than actually playing a character and being invested in what's going on.  She's complacent, which I detest in performers.  Several weeks ago I put her on my mental "will not cast again" list.  But she was all sweetness and light last night and we actually had a fun conversation about 19th century art music, specifically lieder.  She would be a good fit for Magenta, but I'd have to talk with her first and say "dude.  You'd better clean up your performances and DON'T cop an attitude.  Do not ever try to school me on my own staging."  Also if Kelly Anne comes back (last year's Magenta), she will have the first shot.  Dave and I are going back and forth about whether or not to flat-out offer everyone in the last cast their roles again.  I would be fine with doing so, but for one exception--Stephen who played the Criminologist.  He really misfired, IMO--I love Stephen but did NOT like what he did with that role.  Susan wants to audition and I can't come right out and say "you're in" but of course I'm probably going to cast her.  She's a fierce dancer and looks great in skimpy clothes, and I love working with her, it's a no brainer.  She was interested in choreographing but I really want Robert to do it again, I loved those dances!  So much fun.

I have to say, as much as I loved working with Susan this time, I wish she had been a little bit more on the ball.  I told her "I need you to choreograph this and this and this"--about 4-5 things (not even full numbers) all in all.  And we would get to rehearsal and she would sort of figure it out during rehearsal--girl, I need it AHEAD of time, you need to come with it already blocked for the most part.  In fact you need to show it to me beforehand so I can decide if it'll work.  And she kept saying "my" choreography--uh, no, *I* choreographed nearly all of the show!  This is why I added "musical staging by Clara Barton Green" to the program.  I'm very proud of my dances, I worked my ass off on them!

Anyway it was fun to look forward to Rocky--I NEED some time off (I am exhausted today) but am definitely antici....pating the fall!  And I must say, the extremely positive response we have gotten for Pirates makes me very happy.  It wasn't an ideal show (Michael never really worked as the PK--not sure what his deal is but he was a sinkhole of charisma, really bland.  I tried so hard but he flickered to life only a few times.  Also, Mara is a sweetie but has some major liabilities as a performer--for one thing she needs to look people in the eye!)  but it was a pretty good one, a very light, sweet, delightful show, if I may say so myself.  The cast did a great job and I loved the costumes (Roe did exactly what I wanted with the daughters) and the laughter from the audience was extremely gratifying.  And I know Dave was thrilled.
ceebeegee: (that is not what I meant at all)
Weekends are killing me!

Saturday's schedule:

*10-11:15a Soccer clinic
*Race back on train, pick up 1) library book on reserve, 2) medicine and special diet for Tatia
*2-3:34p Softball game
*Carrying softball equipment, go to Jersey City on various trains to visit the cemetery where we're staging Pirates next weekend
*Spend about 45 minutes at cemetery, going over staging
*Take PATH to Hoboken to attend penultimate Pirates
*Go out with everyone who attended Saturday Pirates (Jason, Paua, Ken, my friend Dave et al.)

Sunday's schedule:

*12:15p Soccer game
*Race back on train, switch out soccer equipment for softball equipment
*3-4:30 Softball game
*Race back on train, drop off softball stuff, get changed for show
*Meet Anya at PATH station
*Final show!

FYI--Awesome news--I hit VERY well on Sunday, .666! And my two hits were SOLID hits, well over the third baseman's head. VERY happy.

Last night was our final performance of Pirates in Hoboken--we had to cancel Friday's performance because of the rain but we had a runthrough anyway since we'd canceled our brushup rehearsal on Wednesday (again, because of the storm). I couldn't get there until 7:30 but I'd emailed my notes to Susan and our SM, and got there about halfway through. What I saw of the runthrough looked fairly tight--energy was high, etc.

Last night after the final show the girl who plays Ruth wanted to talk to me. It took her awhile to get it out but basically after the Friday rehearsal she felt....as though she was horrible and a terrible performer, because of the notes I'd given her (which I presume Susan had read to the cast). She said she tended to internalize criticism and take it very much to heart which then makes her spacy, fearful, etc. I was wondering where she was going with this, and finally I said "well....you do realize I won't stop giving you notes, right? That is my job, and I said from the start how perfectionist I am as a director." She immediately said "oh no! I don't want you to coddle me or anything like that just...." After having this halting conversation with her for a good half-hour, I'm still not sure why she told me! And these are the notes I gave her:

*Ruth--Paradox steps are sloppy, she needs to go over that.

*Ruth--when you react to the news of Frederic's betrayal you MUST commit to that scream, it's the only way you're going to get a laugh. SCREAM, like you did in rehearsal--it's hilarious that way. You've started pulling back and it doesn't get a reaction. If you're worried about your voice, pitch it high (I did Something's Afoot for 3 months, 6 shows a week and I had to scream in that--you just put it at the top of your range and you're fine) but you MUST commit. It's the instant overreaction that makes it funny.

*Ruth--I KNOW she knows the choreography for "With Cat-like Tread," we have certainly run it enough. But she's always a little behind and she doesn't look as though she knows it--she must be on top of it, and know where she's going. Please go over that.

That's it! I'm not even going to ask "was that so bad?" because I know it's not. And I'm certainly not going to hold back. She did try to say over and over that she wasn't asking me to be easier on her but I still have no idea why she wanted me to hear this, unless it was to explain her flakiness on stage (whch, YES, she is incredibly unreliable onstage). I did tell her that if we've gone over something a lot in rehearsal and I have to give the note again, I'm going to be harder on the actor. I HAAAAAAATE giving notes more than once. And I explained to her (which, yes, I'd already talked about in rehearsal) that we don't have the time to run and run and run numbers, especially not numbers which involve only a couple of people (as Paradox does). We teach them to you, run them a few times and then it's on you to go home and drill them a million times. We're not your babysitter, you have to take responsibility to get these steps into your bones--that's what makes a professional. And I said this very gently--this mindset of yours, this internalization of criticism, such to the point that it affects your performance--is definitely a handicap as a performer. You're going to have to find a way to process criticism effectively. I am not a mean director, I do not insult my actors or belittle them. But I do have high expectations, and I do everything possible to help my actors meet them, because I care so much about how my shows look.

Oy gevalt. She has a lovely voice and can be funny on stage but this ain't worth it. I HAAAAAATE high-maintenance actors. It's annoying enough to deal with a headcase who's really, really GOOD--she is not, she's good in some aspects but her stagecraft is...well, lacking. I doubt it would've helped our conversation if she knew that running through my mind was a note from last night's performance--"Ruth, stop following Frederic all over the stage! Stop MOVING. I didn't block you to do that."
ceebeegee: (soccer)
So I've been taking these adult soccer clinics on Saturday mornings, to help improve my ball skills--and it is working out very well, I am thrilled. My game has gotten better slowly but surely--I can really feel it during the pickup games. In addition to the clinic, I also played two hours of soccer Saturday evening with the full-field guys, and another hour Sunday morning. You definitely feel the heat but as I've been telling my fellow players, I grew up in Virginia. We had practice in heat and humidity worse than this every day in August. And what you always did was you froze a quart or so of water, brought it to practice and left it in your car, and when you had a water break you pulled it out. Voila! Lovely cool just-melted water. Anyway so although I'm sweating quite a bit, I am perfectly able to continue playing throughout the entire two hours or whatever.

Which is great because now that Pirates is winding down, I WILL HAVE FREE TIME IN MY LIFE AGAIN O YEA. Very, very happy about that, July 4 was the one day off I've had in weeks. And the show! Oh, the show is going so well--we had a runthrough yesterday, our first runthrough, and not just once but *several* times I was literally laughing so hard I was crying. They are AWESOME! There's still a ton of cleaning up to do but they're all so funny and they've worked so hard. The dances look great--my favorite is "When the Foeman Bares His Steel" which is SO MUCH FUN. But my new favorite is "Stay Frederic Stay" which Jen and Taylor are KILLING. We've restored the middle section and Mabel's disingenuous attempted seduction of Frederic is effing hilarious. And it's not just me laughing--the cast was in the wings dying as well, and several cast members were cracking up ON stage. Taylor is our Frederic--what a find! He has a gorgeous voice and takes direction so well--and he comes up with funny stuff as well! We all just love him. And I love his silly run offstage when he exits after "Stay Frederic Stay"--I have a couple of Silly Walks in the blocking and he came up with that one. He just looks so goofy.

I have several actors from The Vagina Monologues and they're all 3 killing it as well. Jessica is The Bookworm/Ethel (I gave all the daughters personalities)--the climax of "Climbing Over Rocky Mountain" is just such glorious, exuberant music (the run on the piano right after the Edith & Kate soli and before the final "Let us gaily tread the measure...") that I wanted them all to dance around in different joyous dances. So Kate is doing ballet, Edith and the Baby/Molly are dancing in a ring, etc. I decided The Bookworm would be dancing dorkily--so Jessica is just out there dancing dorkily full-out and selling it for all she's worth. So, so funny! She is just hilarious--so committed, so focused. I keep telling the cast--you MUST commit in comedy. If you pull your punches or if it's too naturalistic, it's not funny. I sometimes feel with the less experienced cast members, I'm serving as much of a coach and teacher as a director, but so many people don't understand how to do comedy. It IS hard; it DOES require certain elements for the alchemy, and discipline and timing. And different kinds of comedy are handled differently--slapstick vs. character-based comedy vs. conceptual comedy. So I will set up a bit or gag, and then when I'm giving them notes I'll say things like "you have to commit--that's what makes it funny." Or "you can't run it all together here, have to break it down a little more here--that's what makes it funny." Some people think you're either funny or you're not--mmm, I disagree, but maybe that's just my work ethic kicking in there (i.e., I want to believe that anyone, if they work hard enough, can be funny). But upbringing and culture have something to do with it. I was lucky enough to be born into a family that LOVES humor, and then I've worked with some really talented actors.

Another thing I love about comedy is how contextual it is in every way. It is structurally--on a single joke basis, you establish and expectation and then violate it. But then within the show itself, it's contextual---once you get the audience on your side, they'll start laughing more quickly as the show goes on. And then finally it's culturally contextual, in a couple of different ways. First, because tastes in comedy can change--this is why we find Jerry Lewis painfully unfunny now, but back in the '50s he really was a genius. But in another way, I LOVE that comedy is all about stealing gags--in Pirates I have cheerfully lifted from Monty Python, Star Trek, The Princess Bride, Airplane! and yes, I had an idea yesterday for a gag I'm stealing from The Empress of Sex! (Hope you don't mind, Duncan! :) I love the idea that I'm connecting with all of those clowns from generations past by recycling their bits, and if I'm lucky someone will use ME as an inspiration!
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
This week has been literally exhausting. I've had rehearsal every day or night since Saturday, staging the musical numbers, and the weeknight commute in and out of Hoboken is terrible. It's not just the time, it's also carrying the scooter on the train so it doesn't whack people in the shins, and standing on the bus as it jerks around. Also we're rehearsing at the Howe Center which is at the top of a STEEP hill. So, so tired--when I get home all I want to do is collapse. My general routine when I get home is to put on a movie and go over the blocking, cleaning it up in my script. This can take a while as I am a little OCD about notating my blocking neatly. Very glad tonight I get a break--most of the numbers are staged by now, we just have a few left and then the book scenes. Much (though not all) of the heavy lifting is done. Exhausted as I am, I am really enjoying working with this cast--they all seem very positive and friendly. Yay, happy casts! Part of that is Susan, I think--she is one of the friendlist people I've ever known, as she sets a good tone. But also we have Dave and not our horrible incompetent music director we had last time.

We staged Poor Wand'ring One and How Beautifully Blue the Sky last night--one thing I love about Jen as Mabel is how dead-on her comic instincts are. We have so much more rehearsal time this go-around than last time, that I have more leisure in which to add more comic bits. So I ended PWO with Frederic passing out (he's so overcome with joy at Mabel's voice)--she helps him up, and then I had the two of them go upstage and make out really obnoxiously. It is HILARIOUS. They look like the cover of The Postman Always Rings Twice.

I would have loved some tongue action--not actual tongue action but tongues hanging out, a la Jeff Mancuso in Cellular Biology. But they're a little too far upstage for it to read, I think.

Of course this weekend will be just as busy--I have rehearsal tomorrow and Sunday, and then a production meeting Sunday afternoon. And tomorrow morning I am doing an adult soccer clinic to improve my ball-handling skills and then I go from there to rehearsal. SO excited about the soccer clinic! I really want to dribble better.

Tonight going to see The Empress of Sex. Looking forward to not thinking about Pirates for a change!
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
As I mentioned last month, TTC is remounting The Pirates of Penzance--we're doing it waterside at Frank Sinatra Park. We had auditions right after Memorial Day and are now in the full swing of rehearsals. Interestingly, even though we had fewer people come out this time, the cast is stronger. Our Frederic is TERRIFIC--although not *quite* as strong an actor as Marvin (though still great), he has an amazing voice, absolutely lovely. I cast the same Mabel as before, Jen Connor, who is terrific as always--gorgeous voice and marvelous comic instincts. Dave and I had decided we would open up all the roles (i.e., not automatically offer people their old role)--there were a couple of reasons for this. Mainly because when Dave first wanted to remount it last summer, he got a brushoff vibe--and then when he did a little research, apparently there was annoying backstage drama with some cast members. So whatever, we had open auditions and Jen was 1 of 4 potential Mabels--we had a lot of strong Mabels come out, more than last time. Jen probably had a slight edge since she knew what kind of Mabel I wanted, but still I gave a detailed breakdown of the kind of comedy I was doing, and what I was looking for, and she was definitely the strongest actress. So good for her, she rewon her role! But even better, we have FIVE, count 'em, FIVE pirates, including Paul (who was Rocky in The Rocky Horror Show last fall, total sweetie) and Dylan, (who did tech in Christmas Carol).

Dave is the music director and he ran the early rehearsals; the cast sounds pretty good so far, and of course Dave is so much better than that terrible MD we had last time (he taught them almost nothing--half the cast hardly knew the score after a week). Now we are blocking and teaching dance. Rehearsals are going VERY WELL--we staged "Pour O Pour" and "O Better Far" and they are going to look GREAT. I'm using a lot of the same staging as last time but improving it since I now have much more space and more performers. It is a lot of fun "building" a show with actors--you pre-stage as much of it as you can, but then you have to be open to new possibilites and suggestions. One of our pirates, a guy named Mike Wolff, wants to do a random Russian accent--I immediately said YES and you must also sing in the accent. I said the one person in the audience who will be close enough to pick you out will find that hilarious.

I've been leading the cast in the Pirates mantra--We are not proud. We will throw anything against the wall to see what sticks. As before, I talked to the cast about the two tone-inspirations for my version--Airplane! and The Pirate Movie. About the latter, I said yeah, it's definitely a guilty pleasures--I mean come on, the movie has a song about BLOW JOBS. But still, they will throw anything out there to make you laugh. Crotch jokes? Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark references? A food fight? Whatever works, man. I have to admire that kind of sunny willingness to debase oneself in the service of comedy!

Working with the daughters tonight--they're learning "Climbing Over Rocky Mountain" and "O Is There Not One Maiden Breast?" I just love this score so much. I really have to do my all-female version so I can sing the Pirate King!
ceebeegee: (Red Heather)

I am a member of TRU (Theater Resources United), a group for theater producers and other professionals.  I haven't taken much advantage of the classes and workshops they offer, but I have sat in on their annual combined auditions several times, once or twice with Duncan and once for Julie.  That's the main draw for me, those auditions, and why I renew every year.

TRU sends out quite a few weekly emails, advertising their classes, etc. and many (if not all) are from one of the bigwigs, a guy named Bob Ost.  His emails can sometimes have a weird tone, a little too pleading and whatnot.  I wish I could cite examples, but just know that's a trend I've sensed--they sound slightly unprofessional and frankly kind of desperate sometimes.

Last week he sent out an email asking people to respond because they were "cleaning out their email list" or something like that.  This sort of pinged me--if you're getting bounce-backs, just delete them.  I forgot about it and didn't respond, so yesterday I get this email:

I recently sent an email to my entire directors list and asked everyone to email back to confirm receipt, and interest in the list. I never heard back from you, or perhaps I missed your email (I do this all manually - no techno-software to help right now). So if you want to remain on the list, email back to me. If you DON'T want occasional director emails, email back as well. And if you want to be removed entirely from all things TRU, let me know that as well (a merciful explanation of why would be appreciated).

I may also be doing a test through my Mailermailer email service to make sure I have everyone on this list also signed up as a director on THAT list. Eventually I would like to get rid of this one, and just depend on the Mailermailer list, but over a thousand people were subscribed before we started capturing their areas of interest (director, actor, etc.) I may be sending a director survey through that list, to gauge your interest in TRU programs.

Well, here's a test question: Did you get the recent TRU Update Valentine's Day issue? Are you actually signed up for the Mailermailer email service we use to mail to you?

Please be patient with me as I try to improve these lists, and do let me know whether to keep you on or remove you. There is no problem with keeping you on the list, even if you simply have idle curiosity as to what's happening now and then; but I'd like the list to be realistic.

I sent back a one-sentence reply:
Yes, please keep me on the mailing list.

And got THIS in reply:

Thanks Clara, but you haven't opened an email from TRU in seven months. Are we landing in spam? Check your spam folder for an email from Friday headed "Open up for a great big bouquet of TRU opportunities" - let's see if we can figure this out so I can get my mailings through to you in the future. Thanks!

We know each other through Maitely Weisman, don't we?

What. The. FUCK?  Are we dating or something?  Why the hell is he monitoring how often I open my emails--and why should that MATTER?  My dues are paid up, that's what matters.  Good God.  What a passive aggressive pathetic, unprofessional little missive.  "Thanks, but..."  Ugh!  Just ugh.  I don't particularly want to quit but I am very creeped out being challenged about my level of involvement.  Dude, I WORK as a director and an actor.  That's why I don't have time to read your constant emails, or take part in your constant workshops, the salient info of which is in the TITLE of the email so I know right away whether I can or want to do it.   Aren't we supposed to try to GET work?    Isn't that one of the goals of this organization?

And I have no idea who Maitely Weisman is.
ceebeegee: (soccer)
I logged quite a bit of rehearsal time for Vagina Monologues this weekend and we're almost caught up.  I've worked with nearly everyone except for two whom I'll see tomorrow, and I think it's going really well.  We had an AMAZING rehearsal yesterday for the two-actor piece "My Vagina Was My Village" (about what Bosnian women experienced during the Yugoslav conflict).  This was the second time I'd worked with these two women--the first time, last weekend, we talked about the language (there's a lot of poetry in this piece), the structure, the sensuality.  All technical stuff.  Yesterday we revisited it.  The piece has two "sides," two voices--the first is a woman remembering all these beautiful good memories, "green forest," her boyfriend lying next to her in a meadow, that sort of thing.  I worked with her on loosening up her body--I said this stuff is so sensual, you can express that physically, you don't have to just stand there.  If you want to reach out or run your fingers up your arm, something like that, you can and should.  And at one point she talks about singing and songs--the previous week I'd said you can sing this, if you like.  So when she came back she sang through that stanza and then we decided to have her sing parts of it, rather than throughout the stanza.  It sounded really, really cool, very organic.

The other piece is MUCH darker--very strong, difficult language about the terrible things she experienced.  I had a hard time getting this actor to connect with what she was saying--she had a kind of monotonous reading (a lot of American actors sound like this, because our way of speaking is much less modulated than the Brits) and it was a little too "this bad thing happened and then THAT bad thing happened."  Too pat.  So I said I'm going to try an exercise with you--if you find it too cheesy, we'll do something else.  She started again and I jumped very close to her and bellowed. I kept dancing around and yelling at her, random phrases and gestures that she wouldn't be expecting.  And it WORKED--she was startled into actually connecting with the language and what she was saying.  She was actually trembling afterwards but she loved it and wanted me to do it again.  She also was connecting to what the other actress was saying when she did the singing bit--she found herself getting angry that this lovely innocence had been destroyed.  So we did it again and about halfway through I stopped jumping at her because I was riveted to the floor.  FANTASTIC reading.  Just terrific.

I also had a soccer game and was injured AGAIN.  I'm getting very tired of this.  Maybe it's a winter thing?  It is hard for me to warm up.   Anyway I turned on my knee and hyperextended it and now it feels like it'll buckle at any time.  Grrr!  Not like!  I honestly don't know if I'll be able to play this weekend--if I can't, I will make pan cookies or something like that.  I'm pretty sure I'm old enough to be the mother of most of the rest of my team--I might as well act like a team mother!  But we spanked the other team, 4-1--and their one goal was scored by US!  (One of our defenders accidentally kicked it in.)  BUT they were still a pretty good team--I think they were outshooting us.  And one of our goals was a complete fluke--our goalie had the ball and kicked a big, long pass down the field.  It bounced once in the end zone of the other team and the goalie misjudged it and it went over her head.  I felt bad for her, that certainly sucks.  Still, I'll take the goal ;)

My Weekend

Jan. 23rd, 2012 01:27 pm
ceebeegee: (Pink!)
Saturday evening:
  • Shift Driving for RightRides, a non-profit organization that gives free rides home on Friday/Saturday evenings to women and LGBTQ individuals.

Sunday morning:

  • Soccer game.

Sunday afternoon:

  • Auditions for The Vagina Monologues for TTC.

Sunday evening:

  • Apprising myself of the Giants game by popping into every bar I passed in Hoboken and the Village while on my way home.


My yin and yang are well-balanced :)


Sep. 13th, 2011 06:10 pm
ceebeegee: (Default)
Saturday night I went to the TTC Season Announcement Cabaret. Dave had spoken to me earlier about directing The Vagina Monologues and remounting Pirates again next summer in Frank Sinatra Park. At the cabaret I found out that they were also bringing back Rocky Horror, which they'd done last winter and which was awesome and hilariously fun. And I found out that the actress who played Columbia isn't coming back (I guess she's on tour)--I would loooove to audition. I talked to Dave about it who seemed interested--I will pull my tap shoes out tonight and see about picking up a class at BDC (and of course rent the movie). I can tap a little, though I need time to get the choreography down. No wings though! Rocky Horror is such a damn fun show, I hope I give a decent audition.

Earlier on Saturday we had a rehearsal for Patrick and Lisa's Wedding, which I am remounting for Duncan (we did it first back in '08, for TTC when it was still DeBaun). At this point we are MORE than ready to go up, it's just tweaking and finetuning and shirring the edges to make it more real, less stage-y. All three of my actresses are great. Ashley is reprising her role as Heidi, but I recast the other two roles. Originally I'd asked back Courtney as the flakey bride Lisa but she bailed at the last minute for no really good reason which, frankly, really pissed me off and I will probably not use her again. But her replacement is actually better--Danielle is a naturally comic actor whereas Courtney, while talented, is more likeable on stage than actually funny. As for the third actor, I'd always intended to replace Francesca who has a certain amount of raw talent but whom I just could not get much out of. She never grew in the role, and really lacked energy. So I asked Anya to play Maggie, and she's doing a pretty good job so far, I'm very pleased. She has a harder time with the whininess at the top of the play (but who wouldn't, whininess is difficult to pull off) but does great with the interactions with Heidi and at the end. So, very proud of all my actors.
ceebeegee: (Beyond Poetry)
Also, last week for class we read Henry V and watched bits of it in class, both the Olivier and the Branagh. Haven't seen the Branagh since it first came out in '89--it's quite good! I definitely prefer it to my Olivier--I have very mixed feelings about the quality of Olivier's films (perhaps I should say their success--as I emailed to my professor:

Olivier's Shakespeare adaptations have always tried to bestride both theater and film--NOT always successfully! ("To be or not to be" CANNOT be a voiceover, what was he thinking? Shakespeare's lines are too theatrical to be believable as thought, they *must* be spoken aloud. Declaimed, as it were!)

And the 1944 H5 is sooo cheesy, with its forced humor during the Salic law scene, and that Globe framework. Just doesn't work for me, although I do like Olivier's Richard III--hottt! I like how he split up the wooing scene, makes it *infinitely* more believable that Anne finally succumbs. Only Olivier could make Humpback Dick hot!

Anyway we looked at it specifically WRT Laws of War--since the 1944 was meant as British propaganda, they left out the Harfleur speech and the speech where Henry has the French prisoners executed. Branagh's version, which of course is much darker (they called it "the post-Falklands Henry V"), has both scenes (I believe--I know he has the Harfleur scene, he chews up the scenery, masticates it within an inch of its life, and spits it out again). We compared the Agincourt speech, even though it doesn't address Laws of War, just because it's so good. (Hilariously, Olivier's Agincourt is all sunny--uh, the rain and the mud is WHY the English won, guys! The French cavalry got stuck in the mud and the English archers finished 'em off.) The professor compared the long shots in the Olivier to the closeups in the Branagh, saying this is why Olivier is the better actor. I emailed him:

Do you really see the tight camera closeup on Henry in the St. Crispin Day speech as bad acting? That speaks to more Branagh's directing than his acting--and really, that's just a different style....Branagh's Henry V shots and editing are more cinematic. I also think his take on the text is more a look at Henry the man--his development from Prince Hal the carouser to a King in every sense of the word, whereas Olivier's movie had a wider focus.

He replied:

I make that point about Olivier simply for the sake of an audience that has probably never seen him and is likely to be wowed by Branagh's eyes (a student last year practically swooned) and stirring
music and the reaction shots of Brian Blessed.

As I said, I hadn't seen it since it first came out, but I really liked what I saw (again) so I watched some more last night on YouTube. OH MY GOD. The wooing scene. The wooing scene. Kenneth, marry me now. NOW. When he walks around the table saying "Oh Kate, nice customs curtsy to great kings..." I...I cooed out loud. So, so cute. O anonymous student from last year, I am RIGHT there with you!

And on a fairly random note, I *love* how little English names have changed in 600 years. We STILL are naming our princes and princesses Catherine and Henry. And Edward and Margaret and Elizabeth and William...
ceebeegee: (Virginia)
We have tech tonight (no actors called) and then rehearsal from 1-6 tomorrow. And then rehearsal for Michael's reading. It will be my eighth day in a row of Pirates rehearsing. AM EXHAUSTED. All this week I've been getting home and just collapsing. The runthroughs are going very well but I really have very little extra to give, and all I can say is everybody had better be on their game. I'm getting a little annoyed at actors who miss rehearsal, get the blocking and then stop dead in the middle of the scene "I haven't run this yet." Yes, well, you have the blocking, now go and execute it. If you have a question, you need to bring it up beforehand. Don't stop the runthrough for me to explain it to you.

And there is one person to whom I explained the extremely simple choreography for a scene...and then during the runthrough, it all went out the window. SIGH. This choreography is not difficult at ALL, guys, but if you have difficulty with it, PRACTICE IT AT HOME. Over and over, if necessary. Between people being out and people being lazy about the choreography/blocking I've explained some of these things so many times, it's really starting to stress me out.

I love my cast a lot--they're all great and there's a really good feeling with them. I'm just so tired. I can't wait until Sunday--NO rehearsal. I can just lie in bed and read and play with the cats.
ceebeegee: (Ireland)
I'm so busy I barely have time to write about how busy I am. Non-stop rehearsing this past weekend and next weekend is even worse. It's actually quite stressful--I'd really love to just have one day off, with nothing to do, but that won't happen for at least two and a half weeks. But the show is on its feet--it is entirely blocked and we have been working and polishing ever since. I'm especially proud of the Foeman number which I choreographed entirely myself--it is a tricky little number about military formation, playing on the humor of the daughters turning into this bloodthirsty militaristic marchers and dragging the cops on to a gory death.

Though your foes are fierce and ruthless
False, unmerciful and truthless
Young and tender, old and toothless
All in vain, their mercy crave!

I've been drilling the heck out of this--you would not believe how easy it is to get off the beat! I keep telling them, military cadence is always on the left foot. Ah-left, ah-left, ah-left, right, left...But I love it, it's my favorite number. The blank faces of the girls, marching implacably on, contrasted with the mounting panic of the two cops (Caley lets out this yelp as she's pushed on, it's hilarious) cracks me up.

And we have new pirates! We have two new first-act pirates, our two cops Don and Caley, and two full-timers, Steven, who was in Rent last winter, and of course Duncan. I will be covering for Duncan for the first weekend--it may be confusing switching pirates in and out, but at least the two of us know the score VERY well (although I keep having to stop myself from singing daughter lines--it's especially challenging during the leadup to "Here's a first-rate opportunity," I keep singing "Too late!" instead of "Ha ha! Ho ho!"). Anyway with this plethora of brigands, we have a nice full stage for the first sequence.

Immersed in reading right now--medieval science. It's not as easy as you'd think. This course is actually more of a philosophy course, not history--last week the professor said something about "remember the historical context of these writings" and I thought "WHAT context? The only way I know anything that's happening is by doing my own outside research--we almost never talk about actual events in this class."

Additional busy-ness--I'm assistant-directing Andrew Rothkin's Macbeth and he is crazy with the emails. I mean, multiple emails every day, and we're not even having auditions until January. I told him I'm not worth much until Pirates goes up and then I'll be more accessible.

And more--I'm doing a reading with Micahel Clay, my first Marley and our Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet--it's next week, next Wednesday at noon.

And more--I HAVE to stay on top of the trip to Dublin! Gotta start thinking about getting cash, and reserving tickets to the Abbey and whatnot, if that's not too late. Can't wait!
ceebeegee: (Candy pumpkins!)
Yesterday Anya and I made pumpkin pie ice cream--we have TONS left over, if anyone wants some please feel free to stop by and take some home. I made it with the old-fashioned recipe which uses eggs so it's really, really rich--we both could barely finish our bowls. As much as I love summer, I love autumn, and after the heat this summer, I am very much looking forward to a productive season. And on that note--

Today I start classes--yay!, can't wait to buckle down and get all academic and immerse myself in times and cultures past. I love school so much. All of you can expect to be treated to breathless updates of Eloise and Abelard's scandalous forbidden romance.

Tonight Dave and I have a meeting about Pirates. And hey! No one commented on that last week, by the way--

Attention! I'm directing The Pirates of Penzance for TTC's inaugural season at Monroe in Hoboken!

Maybe that'll get your attention ;) Anyway, am thrilled and going over the libretto now trying to figure out what I want to do with it. I have some ideas--I'm going to try to give it a slightly more updated, streamlined sensibility without it devolving into the mess that was The Pirate Movie. (I will restrain myself mightily and NOT include "Pumpin' and Blowin'." Although it IS tempting.) Fewer ruffles, more simple hotness, a more knowing quality without its being too campy or winky. More musical theater, less operetta. I just better have some decent actors coming out--you always get amazing vocal talent coming out for Pirates but as someone who's seen and done the show numerous times, I can attest you don't always get decent actors.

I'll post about the US Open later but it was fantastic as always.


ceebeegee: (Default)

February 2017



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