ceebeegee: (Default)
So, yeah. It has been an eventful week, month, spring. An incredible amount has happened but the last week especially has been absolutely wonderful.

The most important news, of course, has been about my beloved school, Sweet Briar College. As I mentioned in my last entry, the interim president decided along with the board to close the school, even though there was no real need to do so. (That is, we were in decent financial shape, we still had a very large endowment, etc. ) Nobody could understand how the interim president and the board had come to this decision, especially since they decided not to share any of their documentation with us. So the Alumnae Association has been waging a very fierce battle to overturn the decision. This has been a very bitter battle indeed and there are certain alums who quite frankly I no longer welcome on campus. The interim president has a very checkered past in academia, since he was actually fired from his last job as a college president, from Trinity College in Connecticut. And the fact is he only got the job as interim president of Sweet Briar because his wife was an alum--we think in fact that he was actually brought in solely to close the school, even though of course none of that was disclosed to us last fall.  One of the most infuriating aspects of this whole mess is that they were calling us to donate to the annual fund right up until the day before the announcement to close. This notwithstanding they had decided at least a month ago to close. Which means that all of the money that they had been soliciting for the month of February would be going to close the school, not to continue Sweet Briar. Of course they didn't bother to tell us that. This ended up being a key point in one of the many lawsuits that were pursued to halt the closure.

Anyway, so the interim president was married to an alum who was actually kind of disturbingly supportive of her husband throughout this whole mess. At some point in March she addressed the Atlanta alumnae association and went on this rant about how Sweet Briar was "different" than it used to be in her day, how the students weren't the same and it was better that Sweet Briar should close, and, well, she graduated in 1969 and I personally heard a lot of coded racial language in her rant. I had a difficult few weeks, because anytime someone senses something like this, as soon as you bring it up somebody shushes you, saying oh no, no, don't bring up race, you know that they didn't mean it like that. I ran my thoughts past Ryan and Tracy and after maybe six weeks or so other people were starting to say it as well.

ANYWAY. My main point is that the interim president and his wife are both absolute wretches, worthless worthless people. (At one point we were comparing Team Kill Sweet Briar people to Harry Potter characters--I said that Alum Wife was Wormtail. I still cannot get past how eager she was to close. To close SWEET BRIAR. What the fuck is WRONG with you?!) But in the end it didn't matter because after three effing lawsuits they finally agreed to mediation (after a lot of delaying) and settlement. And we, the alumni, or getting the keys to the college. We are basically getting everything we want, except of course we have to pay for the interim president's golden parachute, as well as the cowardly board who voted with him. Not happy about that but frankly it's a small price to get rid of these despicable people. 

So now we are, according to the terms of the settlement, have to convert the pledges that we made to support our efforts, to cash. Which honestly isn't that difficult--Sweet Briar alums love our college so much that we are willing to give it all the money that it needs. But we are also looking ahead to the future – – we will be open this fall, and we want to retain our faculty, we want to retain our students, we went to try to keep everything as it was as much as possible. So tonight we had a fundraiser and it was pretty cool. I met some awesome people, including the husband of an alum who has been a big big part of this effort. He too is crazy about Shakespeare, and I was talking to him about how I wanted to do a reading of a Midsummer Night's Dream as a fundraiser. I said that it is been a long term dream of mine to do an actual production of Midsummer on the campus of Sweet Briar, which would honestly be an amazing amazing realization of that text. It is an absolutely stunning campus--the idea of performing Oberon's I know a bank where the wild thyme blows or Puck's And we fairies that do run/by the triple Hecate's team/from the presence of the sun/following darkness like a dream... (at twilight no less) is breathtaking.

Anyway, so alum husband was very, very impressed by our conversation and suggested starting a Shakespeare Festival on campus during the summers. And really seems to want to pursue this and gave me his business card and his wife is one of the most important people re: Sweet Briar right now so who knows, maybe this could actually happen. I think this is a fantastic idea and would love, love, love to make this happen.

There's a lot more to talk about but this is it for right now.
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: (Helen of Troy)
So I'm doing this concert of Shakespearean songs for Donna and there's a ton of music, some of which I already know. No problem, Donna's stuff is easy enough to read. There are two other singers on the bill--one is a guy named R** who's pretty good, and the other is a girl named N**** who has a beautiful voice but has a hard time with the music. For the last two weeks Donna has been making the girl's tracks easier and easier (or giving them to me) because she just isn't getting it. She turned one duet into a solo so at this point I have FIVE soli! Wednesday night we had our "dress rehearsal" and N**** did pretty badly--worse, actually, than she's been doing in rehearsal. She was obviously very nervous. One of the biggest hurdles is this section in the "Lullaby" song (from Midsummer)--for the most part the song is in 3/4 time but in the middle part it goes crazy. 3/4 to cut time to common time to 3/4, all within one staff. It's tricky even for me--this poor girl is just at sea. Donna thinks she just needs to run it but we've done that and she's still messing up. So I asked her if I could help her, she said YES. I sat her down and talked to her about time signatures and how to read them, what cut and common times mean and then I went through the music and marked how to count, with 1, 2 etc, above the notes. I said don't be embarrassed to do this, I do it myself if the rhythms are tricky. And then I told her tonight you need to go home and sing this and clap/count. Get this passage into your mouth--let your muscle memory help you. do this 20 times tonight, and then ten times tomorrow morning. Tomorrow night, another 20 times. We made plans to get together tonight to go over the stuff and she was thrilled. I'd taped a lot of the group numbers with my iPhone so I said I'll convert these to audio files and send them to you.

Well, last night I'm trying to convert these iPhone videos to sound-only files and trying to use iMovie. It's not easy at all--iMovie is a great moviemaker but it's almost too complicated. There's actually a really easy way to do this (save the video to your desktop and then open it with Audacity, my sound editing file--Audacity only captures the sound portion of the video so then you just save it as an .mp3)--but I didn't figure out this easy way until after midnight. I'd literally been working at this for several hours, trying to convert these videos so N**** could listen to them and get the whole sound of the number into her head. Finally I'm done and ready to email the files to N****. I don't have her email address but Donna sends out SO MANY emails, I can easily get it from them, right? In fact Donna had just sent out another one at 11:30 (where she gave me MORE music that should've been N****'s so that's a last-minute change I have to incorporate--good thing I'm so reliable, right?!). The thing with Donna's emails is that she gets really weird about whether or not people have received them and always asks for confirmation. So there's this constant round of emails, followups to emails, replies to emails, confirmations and replies and it's just a LOT of emailing. It clutters up my mailbox and I get annoyed at having to reply "yes, I received your email" after EVERYTHING she sends. Anyway so she sent one at 11:30, I open it up, dutifully reply "got it," hit send and then I look at the "To" line, expecting to see Ray's and Nadya's emails.

There's nothing, only Donna's email. She emailed it to herself and bcc:ed us. I don't have Nadya's email.

I go through all of Donna's MANY emails. All of them were bcc:ed.

WTF WHYYYYYYYYY? Why does she have to make it so complicated? Why, for God's sake? Why would she hide our emails from each other? What possible reason could she have for that? I emailed her IMMEDIATELY asking for Nadya's address--remember, she'd emailed me just 30 minutes before and she (of course) asked for confirmation. I didn't hear from her so I texted her at 12:30--nothing. Finally at 2:00 am I emailed DONNA the fucking sound files and asked her to forward them to Nadya. I was super-annoyed at the whole thing. Donna, I am doing YOUR cleanup because you didn't realize this girl can't read music. I am doing this not because I need to--hey, I know my stuff--but because I want us all to sound good. It kills the vibe when someone's up there sounding terrified, and I want my friends who are coming to see a good show. Furthermore I really don't have time to do go over this with N****--my aunt is coming to visit tomorrow and staying with me and I'd really like to clean the place and just relax. Donna has talent blinders on sometimes--she just doesn't realize how BAD some of these singers are. Oh my God, some of the talentless guys she's had in her concerts--I was insulted to share the stage with them, frankly. This girl is not really bad--she does have a lovely voice--but she can't really read music at all, which means you need to work with her a lot more. And Donna should've realized this and made sound files, drilled her, whatever. It shouldn't be my job.

Having said this, since I am doing this, the least you could do is not hide our effing contact information for no reason! I just don't even get why she would do that. She sent me this rather defensive reply this morning--Donna, go ahead and get defensive because you need me a lot more than I need you! I am far and away the best musician *and* singer in this little concert (Ray isn't bad but I am better) and well she knows it or she wouldn't be throwing me MORE stuff (as a direct result of this girl's inability to learn the music) at the last minute.
ceebeegee: (Spring!)

Lots going on right now!  A little too much actually--


  • A project for Tim's friend who is a playwright

  • Taxes (MUST force myself to get up early tomorrow to go to the tax prep's office, they've been ready to go for weeks)

  • Must take NYC tour guide test so I can become a tour guide for Amada

  • Have to get registered as a federal vendor (a huge pain in the ass--I first registered in OCTOBER and I'm still not showing up in the system)

  • I HAVE to write something in Cliopolitan but whennnn?

  • And a big, BIG thing which I'm not quite ready to announce at large just yet but which is very exciting (!).

So yeah, lots going on!  Now that spring is approaching I am looking forward to visiting DC to see the cherry blossoms--I'm going to stay with my brother and spend some time with the monsters.  I told Stuart I wanted to take the kids to some shows--specifically I'd like to start getting little William interested in Shakespeare, since we had such a lovely chat about it last Thanksgiving.  I looked around what would be playing in DC the weekend I'm planning to visit--so far I found a Voodoo Macbeth, a non-spoken-word, watery production of The Tempest and a puppet version of Peter Pan.  As I think a 7 year old is a *little* young for the violent nihilism of Macbeth (maybe when he's 10 ;) I am very tempted to take him to Tempest--its spectacle might be right up his alley, and they have a "Splash Zone" where we'll get wet :)  But the tickets aren't cheap :/ Luckily my SIL snagged a couple of tickets for my niece and me for Prokofiev's Cinderella at the Washington Ballet, which should be a blast!  Annika is a little tomboy but so was I at that age and I still loved ballet.  I can't wait. Things to look forward to:


  • St. Patrick's Day is in 2 weeks

  • I'm going to visit my brother's family in 3 weeks

  • Easter is in a month (and Game of Thrones!)

  • And in April beginneth The Tales of Caunterbury oops, I mean warm sunny weather and my big, BIG thing which I'm not quite ready to announce just yet.  (Oh, and Mickey's wedding!)

ceebeegee: (Snow on the river)
It'th thnowing!!!

Thanksgiving was lovely--stayed with my youngest brother Stuart who's living on Capitol Hill right now with his wife and two adorbs kids.  I took the bus Wednesday evening to Philly and stayed with my middle brother, Erik and he, his family and I left for DC early Thursday morning.  At some point while the bird was cooking I went for a walk around Stuart's neighborhood with my nephew William--I used to know that section a bit, as my voice teacher's studio was near there.  I LOVE DC's street layout--for all of DC's faults (and they are legion), it is truly a beautiful city in which to stroll.  Wide avenues, lots of right angles, low-slung buildings, plenty of sun.  William and I were walking along East Capital toward the Capitol and we passed a white, official-looking building on the left--I asked him what it is.  He thought it was the Library of Congress but then my eyes gleamed as I saw it was actually the Folger.  My temple, o my soul!  How many shows have I seen there???  I literally grew up seeing plays there, love that place!!  William and I walked around the grounds of the Capitol for a bit--he liked tracking our progress on the Google maps app on my phone--and then we took another way home, that took us in front of the Folger.  All along 2nd Street they had these placards attached to the lamposts, with quotations from various plays, so I started asking William to read them for me and then I would explain them.  We worked through "Parting is such sweet sorrow" (I talked about the term bittersweet) and "Nothing will come of nothing" (I decided to skip the introduction to nihilism until he gets a little older ;)  Then we came across a statue:




He read the text at the base (on the front) and I asked him if he knew what a mortal was--he didn't, so I defined it for him, and then tried to explain the character of Puck, quoting some of Puck's initial monologue for him.

Thou speak'st aright
I am that merrie wanderer of the night
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile..


I slowed it down so he could get the feel of the language, even if he couldn't grasp every word.  I consider Midsummer the best kind of introduction to Shakespeare for kids (it was mine, after all! And I saw Midsummer when I wasn't too much older than William who is 7).  All in all, I was most proud of my little nephew's prowess--I will hook him on my vocation yet! ;)

WilliamandMe
ceebeegee: (Family)
Jason Kendall, Donna's husband, had a "Take Back the Park" event (in conjunction with his twice-weekly astronomy viewings) this past Wednesday, in response to a rape that happened in Inwood Hill Park over the weekend. (The PTB, I guess the PEP, were trying to squash afterdark activity in the aftermath.) A bunch of people came out, more than Jason typically gets for the astronomy viewings--we had hula hoopers there and everything. Jason set up the telescope and we got to see Saturn which was VERY cool--you could even see saturn moving, because the Earth is moving. So cool! I chatted with a newbie who's a fairly recent transplant to the neighborhood and it turns out she's from Baltimore and is a professor at Yeshiva University. I blathered on about history and Shakespeare and she invited me to see Inwood Shakespeare Festival's Othello with some of her students the next night.

So I was planning to go and then yesterday I got a call from my cousin Larson, who was in town for an interview and wanted to get together. I hated to bail on my new friend but Larson lives in Massachusetts and I haven't seen him since his wedding two years ago. I got to the outdoor space where ISF performs, at the edge of the park, and told her I couldn't stay until the end, explaining why, and she understood. I saw most of it but got Larson's text that he'd arrived during the last scene, so I missed the very end. NO GREAT LOSS. *Not* a great production--most of the leads were not impressive. The worst was the guy who runs the organization who cast himself as Othello. Judging from his picture it's difficult to tell if he is in fact black or part-black but he did put on a rather obvious wig with kinky curls. I don't even want to speculate why. The larger problem was that he just wasn't any good as Othello--not invested, no rage or despair, no focus or specificity. (And, really, way too old--Othello is not supposed to be THAT much older than Desdemona. It looked gross in the bedroom, frankly.) The "trance" bit was especially painful, although that's not the easiest bit to pull off. The scene in the bedroom was just so FLAT--like dude, you're about to KILL her, you look like you're disappointed the buffet ran out of sausage! Let's see some intensity! He totally metaphor-boated "Put out the light and then put out the light" by first gesturing with the light he had in his hand and then--yep--pointing to Desdemona. Thanks for breaking that down for us! *Headdesk* It might have been better if the Iago had been more murderously intense but he wasn't that great either--not as bad as Othello but you didn't feel his insane bitterness and rage. Desdemona was similarly disappointing, pretty flat. I will say, that's NOT an easy role to play--Des is such an angelic character--but I think she was sacrificing charm in order to make her seem more victim-like. The supporting roles were much better, including Cassio, Emilia, the Clown and Bianca. Emilia tore it up, although she didn't seem that experienced--but she was passionate. I was disappointed overall--I know they can get great talent out there, I saw Comedy of Errors with Elizabeth and Andy there last year and that was good, and CoE seems *much* harder than Othello.

So, I wasn't too disappointed to duck out early. Larson met me and we walked over the Indian Road Cafe for a quick bite and yacked about The Family. He had an interview here but sadly if he gets it, will not be moving to NYC--darn! SO great to see him! I love my cousins.
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: (Macbeth)
So we've had our first few rehearsals for Macbeth, which I'm dramaturging/AD-ing for Andrew. (I frankly attach more importance to the former title than the latter--he told me I could do anything I wanted, I chose dramaturg, and later he added the AD function.) Rehearsal for this week has been all readthroughs and table work and hence at Christine's apartment down in Chelsea. I got there after 7 each time, since I get out of work after rehearsal starts so I didn't really get a chance to meet the cast per se but just sort of jumped in. Most of them are terrific--I especially like our Macbeth, Ross, Malcolm, Banquo and Porter. The first night I introduced myself after the readthrough had ended, and tallked about the various themes in the play and said "this is my favorite Shakespeare tragedy, not least because I'm related to the actual Macbeth." I looked at the guy playing him. "So don't fuck it up." (I said this humorously.)

I told them about Shakespeare's Advice to the Players and talked a little bit about the techniques discussed therein, and handed out some pages also discussing caesurae, scansion, etc. Andrew talked a little bit about my schedule--basically, very busy--mentioning that I was "going for her master's in history" and the guy playing Macbeth was asking me about that. I had to clarify--"yes, I'm going for it but I'm not actually in grad school right now, I'm in a program, at Columbia called the Post-Baccalaureate Studies Program. I'm trying to build a third major."

Last night (I can't do rehearsal on Sunday or Tuesday nights because of class) we had our second night of table work and I was on fiyuh. I really am Hermione in these situations--I have to force myself not to dominate the conversation too much. I talked about themes some more--time telescoping into itself as the plays approaches its climax (with the corollary that the witches are outside of time) was one. But I guess it was well-received--the two guys playing Malcolm and Ross were literally following me around during the breaks, and the Ross said to me "I love you--I want to squeeze every bit of knowledge out of your head!" I think I won him over when he asked me about a line in the beginning of the Lady Macduff scene--he wanted to elide two syllables to make it scan and wanted to know if that was okay. I whipped out my copy of the First Folio and said "that's the way it is First Folio so ask yourself this--why did Shakespeare add the extra syllable? Can you find an emotional reason for that? Maybe Ross is more nervous than he's letting on to Lady Macduff--he's stumbling over his words." He gave me this amazed look.

During Macbeth's Act V scene when he's struggling to put on his armor, I also talked a bit about clothing metaphors and how important clothing was as social/class signifier to the medieval/Renaissance mindset, how you could only wear certain materials/colors. There are a lot of clothing images throughout the play--I also talked about the body politic: the state of the nation is reflected in the body of the king--and this plays into the idea of Man is a micro-universe (the microcosm), which then leads to the blood imagery which saturates the play. (As I put it, "the blood in this play is like the elevator sequence in The Shining.") The complete disarray of the macrocosm, the body politic, is symbolized by the life's blood of the microcosm--the king whom Macbeth murders.

When we discussed the Act V battle, I brought up the fact that we see little of it--mostly we see Macbeth fighting one person after another. The Porter said something about a typically medieval mounted pitched battle and I said "that is actually less typically medieval than you'd think--it depends on the time period of course, and already for this production we're talking about three time periods--the mid-11th century, when the actual Macbeth lived; the early 17th century, when the play was written; and the 1930s, when this production is set. But there were a lot more sieges and raiding in certain periods than dramatically pitched battles." After rehearsal Banquo was asking me about medieval battle tactics and I launched into a discourse about the The Battle of the Golden Spurs, the ascent of the infantry in the 14th century, and how military tactics never really change or evolve, name-checking the Battle of Hoth at the end.
ceebeegee: (coach)
Last night Christine, our producer for Macbeth, had a fundraiser/benefit for the show at the Irish Rogue. I had such a great time--to start off, Duncan gave me an AMAZING (late) birthday present...a bottle of pumpkin-infused VODKA!!! That he'd made himself! I was absolutely thrilled--can't wait to try to make Pumpkin Alexanders or something else equally amazing with that! Seriously, one of the best presents I've ever gotten. I'm always so impressed with good gift-givers--Rachel is another good gift-giver, she has exquisite taste for one thing. Intimidatingly good taste. My friend Ashley is another.

Anyway, so that made me very happy. The entertainment was a series of acts, mostly musical except the first was a VERY strange conceptual comedy act that did not go over at all. I felt kind of bad for the girl--I think something like that plays better in a dedicated environment (like a comedy club or a nightclub), rather than a long room in a bar with people crossing back and forth, talking, playing pool, etc. Anyway, Duncan also performed, and I read a poem ("Death of a Naturalist," by Seamus Heaney). I actually wasn't too thrilled with my reading of it--I'm not sure what didn't quite work, just that I felt like I was yelling or something--but I got several compliments so as long as someone liked it, it's all good. One performing duo was also a little off--our sound designer and his wife performed a couple of songs in...some kind of costume. He was dressed as a pimp but I'm not sure what she was, and they sang some kind of song about being a "criminal." Hmm. But there was another duo who sang Lionel Richie's "Hello" as a tribute to Glee and their harmony was great!

But best of all--they had a raffle, and guess who's the proud owner of a NEW COACH SCARF? ME, that's who! I'd bought several tickets and had missed the 3-day membership at Chelsea Sports by just one digit. Then when they started to read off the winning number for the Coach scarf I crossed my fingers and everything else, and Duncan pointed to me and said "if I win this, you're getting it." AND THEN THEY READ MY NUMBER!!!!!! I literally squealed aloud and danced up to Christine--it was like winning Miss America!

Who's the proud owner of a brand new cashmere Coach scarf?

ME, that's who!

Then to top it off, one of the performers had been involved with the Planet Connections Festival and pulled me aside and said some very nice things indeed about my performance as Puck. Terribly sweet--she said she'd "voted for [me] and everything." I love delayed compliments.

I have to say, I'm really liking Christine. She's the producer and she's also playing Lady M. So far I've been very happy with her leadership and she's such a non-diva--we taped the voiceovers for the apparition and she voiced Apparition #3 (the one about "til Birnam Wood come to Dunsinane"). Andrew asked if I had any feedback, and I talked to her about the stuff in Shakespeare's Advice to the Players. She LOVED it, really welcomed the feedback and then later on texted me for the name of the book. It's such a great book, so helpful.

Really, the only disappointing thing about the evening was that I never got to play any pool!
ceebeegee: (Puck)
So Dave and I met at Court Street last Tuesday to talk about Pirates. I want to, as I said, streamline the show--some *very* judicious cuts (either Paradox or O False One, plus some of the lamer jokes, like the endlessly jokeboated "orphan/often" nonsense).  And I want some sexitude.  I want Dread Pirates showing a little chest, I want demurely sexy maidens, I want some eye candy, some FUN with my gorgeous voices.  It's such a fun show, so hilarious and witty.  I have this hilarious recording of "When the foeman bares his steel" when the policemen come in again after Mabel, Edith and the girls sing "Go to death, go to slaughter!/Die, and every Cornish daughter/With her tears your grave shall water/Go ye heroes, go and DIE!"  The policemen come in again only they're going really, really flat at the end of each of the "Tarantara" phrases, as though they're literally running out of air. It's HILARIOUS, I truly cannot do justice to how funny it is.  I don't think that's in the score because I've done the show several times now and I don't remember that.  Brilliant choice.

He talked about future projects as well, which got me very excited as there are a couple of shows I've been pushing for some time and now we may get to produce them.  The space where we're doing Pirates isn't quite ready yet but it should be in a few days--and then I get to go see it.  Dave told me it's a small, environmental sort of space which is right up my alley--Pirates is always staged in a proscenium, I get to do something different.  That's pretty much the flavor right there--not your mama's Pirates.  A little leaner, a little sexier, a lot less stodgily Victorian.  In the second act I'm bring the girls on in bloomers.  Rowr!  And we'll have lots of shirtlessness with the pirates.

We had our first rehearsal for the Midsummer reading--I had a blast, a really strong cast.  Shakespeare Saturdays is like that--I had to call in the troops in order to insure good people for Antony and Cleopatra, but everyone wants to be in Midsummer so talent came out of the woodwork.  I like my Oberon a lot--he's, shall we say, less than convincing as an icon of hetersexuality but at least he's there unlike some other Oberons I've known.  (Ryan was terrific--he's the best Oberon I've ever worked with.)  The mechanicals were pretty good, especially Flute who was making us all laugh with his falsetto.  Donna's also setting Oberon's wedding song to music--all the fairies are singing it and it's going to be gorgeous.  I was so busy Saturday, every moment I wasn't reading a scene--literally every moment--I was reading material for class.  We had something like 100 pages assigned this week--Abelard's Historia Calamitatum (40 pp.), plus the intro (35 pp.), PLUS 25 pp. of historical background on that era--the intellectual awakening of the 11th century.  And this is dense stuff too--that intro kicked my ass.  My favorite sentence from all of the readings is when it says "Philosophy and theology, on the other hand, developed slowly but steadily from onwards, reaching their fullest expansion only between 1220 and 1350, after which a rapid decline began."  Hmm, can't imagine why!  There's some juicy shit on Eloise and Abelard's relationship as well, but I'll write about that later.  But let me tell you, shit got real
ceebeegee: (Macbeth)
A couple of exciting projects coming up. First off, a few weeks ago Andrew Rothkin asked me to be a part of a production of Macbeth that he's directing. It goes up in March at the Wings Theater. He didn't specify a function, just wanted me to be involved somehow, so I said I'd love to be the dramaturg. Then as it turned out he kind of did have a function--he also wants me to be the assistant-director, which is fine as long as I don't have to come to a whole ton of rehearsals. Also, since it looks as though we're teching during spring midterms, I said that's got to be my priority and he was fine with that. The producer is a woman named Christine Seisler, and she's also playing Lady M. She seems very cool. We've had a couple of meetings so far and I like how things are going.

The other project--as most of you know, this past season has been a transitional one for TTC. Dave et al. have been trying to find a permanent space for awhile now and like a week ago I remember thinking "at this time last year they had the benefit, I wonder what's happening?" Well, last Thursday I got two emails from Dave. One was sent to about 10-15 of us, telling how TTC had signed a lease for the new space. It's located at the Monroe Center, where they did Rent last winter. So yay! Very happy that's been settled. The second email was addressed just to me, telling me the season lineup--and asking if I would be interested in directing the inaugural production, The Pirates of Penzance. I wrote back "I would love to! I love that show, it's my favorite G&S and I've done it twice already. I even have the DVD of The Pirate Movie [thank you, Chris] !!!" Am completely thrilled and can't wait to start conferencing about this. God, I love that show. My dream version would be an all-female version set in a boarding school--like, these girls in the school put on their own subversive version (and of course I'd play the Pirate King!)--but this will be more conventional :) Oooh, such a busy fall!
ceebeegee: (Puck)

And Thyme is over.  As Duncan said, there was a good amount of stress with its going up, but once it settled in, it was a fantastic experience.  I absolutely love playing my merrie trickster, my id, my easily amused little child Puck.  Not an easy role, though--I worked my ass off on its physicality.  I was going for a couple of things--a kind of animalistic movement, because Puck is so much less restrained by societal norms than a human would be, there's a closer connection to the id, the purely physical.  So I was going for the immediacy you see in animals, especially predators--that springy, immediate action paired with that absolute stillness when hunting animals "point"--that is, when they sight their quarry (you see it in dogs and cats).  The other thing I was incorporating was a kind of cartoonish, exaggerated expression, where every emotion is fully committed to and physically expressed, a la Roger Rabbit.  I felt pretty good about how it came out--it felt organic, I don't know how well it read.  But I did get some nice feedback from audience members so something I was doing was working.  I really would love to do Midsummer again--doing Thyme made a lot of those lines come back.  My mistress with a monster is in love!...The king doth keep his revels here tonight/Take heed the queen come not within his sight/For Oberon is passing fell and wrath/because that she as her attendant hath/a lovely boy, stol'n from an Indian king/She never had so sweet a changeling...Captain of our fairy band/Helena is here at hand!...I remember absolutely flying in from stage left for that entrance, so much fun.  I do have specific ideas about how Puck should look, because of all that energy.  He should be small/thin and very fast--there are numerous textual references about how fast he is.  He shouldn't be this huge lumbering dude like Stanley Tucci, ugh!  So miscast...

At any rate it was so completely awesome to get to work with so many old friends again, like Michelle and Kelly, and then to meet new ones like Matthew.  He is such a talented actor, although I REALLY WISH he nailed the lines better.  I think once he'd gottten to the point where he basically knew them and wouldn't go up on them during a performance, he was so relieved (he had to learn that part quickly) that he never looked back over the script again.  Regardless he is terrific, he always made me laugh during the "Demetrius is in love with Lysander" scene.  (My favorite line: "Blah blah blah, your tears do make me yawn."  I just love his unabashed selfishness.)  I told him he made that scene great for me--I didn't get bored with having to stay still for 7 pages or whatever it is, because I genuinely found him hilarious.  He told me "you give the nicest compliments!"  I also loved Rebecca's performance in that scene.  "Does no one want my ladylove?"  So cute!

The one kind of annoying thing was the whole festival thing--argh, I just hate that 15 minutes in/out restriction.  It is SO frustrating when you have very specific hair and makeup *and* you're the first one on stage (I had this problem for Prince Trevor as well).  I loathe getting ready in the hallways or the lobby of the theater, it seems so amateurish.  I get that they want to maximize the theater rental by cramming in as many shows as possible but still *grumble.*
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
The Public is doing The Merchant of Venice and The Winter's Tale in rep this summer! I don't think I've ever seen Merchant on stage--yay! So excited to see me some free quality Shakespeare! I love summer in the city! As a follow up to the Lovestreet/Julie drammer--apparently Lori had also heard from Catherine a while ago that Julie wanted to fire me. She, like me, wasn't sure if Catherine had mixed me up with someone else but if that someone else wasn't Lori (who also had long blonde hair--she's the only person with whom Catherine might've confused me, there weren't that many women in the cast), I don't know who it could've been. Lori said she didn't tell me because she thought it was ludicrous but after I'd emailed her she began thinking of it again, saying "I think Julie was completely and utterly intimidated by you...While she was mucking up the role of Lady M, she was likely aware that you were aware of how badly she was mucking it up in rehearsals." Hmmm. The whole thing is literally inexplicable barring a conversation with Julie and frankly, I don't care that much. I certainly do feel as though I've dodged a bullet though! I can safely say that a good part of the cast would've walked if she'd tried to fire me for no reason. I mean--no reason! I still can't figure it out, I'd saved her ass so many times. Really, she's that insecure? What a weirdo!
ceebeegee: (Riding)
As Duncan mentioned, my alma mater Sweet Briar asked us to host a chat with current arts students. The students are all on Spring Break this week, and the woman in charge of this, Christian Carr, organized an arts-oriented trip to NYC for the week, for credit. They visited museums, saw shows, etc. Originally they were going to come to a Timon rehearsal but we had to change those plans when Timon was pushed back to the fall.

They're staying at the Gershwin Hotel--I've seen pictures of this place before but never visited there. It's gorgeous, very visually striking. We sat in the lobby and were served cheesecake and champagne, and talked to them about what producing actually entailed, the difference between producing outdoors and indoors, what difficulties came with the job, how my experience as a director/producer informed my acting, various playwriting questions for Duncan, all sorts of things. Most of the questions were more interesting and thoughtful than I expected--for example, I usually get asked how being an actor informs my experience as director, not the other way around. And Theatrical Girl asked me "if you had an unlimited budget, which two Shakespeare plays would you most like to do?" I thought about it and said "probably either The Tempest or the Scottish Play. You need something magical for Tempest, some kind of lovely special effects--you don't have to have them, but that's how I'd like it, it's a very spectacular show." And with the Scottish play--I said there are a lot of bad productions out there because 1) its nihilist message is difficult really to comprehend, it's an extremely dark play, and 2) everyone loves it so it gets done a lot. Hence, badly. But anyway, you need atmosphere to help with that nihilism. You need to do it in an enclosed space and take the audience on that journey.

I was talking to them about how Shakespeare straddled the medieval and Renaissance worlds like a Colossus--some of his themes emphasize the importance of social structure and how things go wrong when you challenge that (an essentially medieval value). But he was also the first humanist, the first writer to capture so much of humanity, of personality, in his writing. Every one of us knows someone like Mercutio, the too-smart-for-his-own-good mouthy teenager, or Othello, driven mad by jealousy. Everyone of us can identify to some extent with Macbeth, who starts the play as a good man and who is corrupted by his own ambition. Duncan and I also talked about The Thyme of the Season. Here's a thought, Duncan--maybe we could take that production down to SBC and perform it there. They do book-ins all the time at Babcock.

It was really a lot of fun. They were seated all around us, and at first they were a little shy--one girl, who had the most theatrical experience (albeit mostly technical), asked a lot of questions and then eventually the others started raising their hands as well. We talked for quite a while. Somebody said something about visiting campus and giving a talk there and I said that I'd thought about suggesting one, but wasn't sure if they'd want that. Theatrical Girl assured me, oh yes! They'd love it. The head of the department, Bill Kershner, had just started there when I was a junior--in fact he cast me as the Emcee in Cabaret. It'd be wild to go back with him still there! After the talk Christian was talking to us--Duncan and me--about both going down. Hey, as long as they're willing to pick up the tab for travel expenses (and of course they'd have to put us up but that's no biggie, they have an inn right on campus), I would LOVE to go back. I was talking it up to Duncan, saying what we could do, and I said "and we could hack! You ride, right? Bring your boots and your hardhat and we could go out for a hack!"

On another note--this is a tiny annoyance, but it is one nonetheless. When I sent out the Mardi Gras invitation, one person emailed me that she couldn't go but could she send me a check for Tipitina's? I said sure, thank you, gave her my address. After the party, I sent out a "thank you, we raised $X" message and she replied with another request for my address and a promise to contribute. Again, I gave her my address. Two weeks go by, still haven't heard. I email her again, asking if she'd gotten the emails since she hadn't responded either time (i.e., with a quick "got it, will send it out soon"). She said she was sorry, "life got in the way," but she'd send me a check. Two weeks later--still nothing. I give up. I'm sending the money in to Tipitina's.
ceebeegee: (Macbeth)
Anya and I went over to Tesse's last night to watch the People's Court. Oh. Mah. Lord. Julie does NOT come off particularly well in this and actually a part of me (a small part) felt kind of bad for her, she seemed...vulnerable. She walked in, smiled (!) at the court spectators as though it were an audition or something and then as Rachel said seemed very confused about where to stand. Catherine and Michael, our stage manager, came in and Catherine just seemed more believable and authoritative from the start. Julie blamed the lack of cohesiveness in the show on Catherine, laid it all at her feet, was saying the show wasn't ready to go up, and she didn't want to be associated with a bad show. (Julie has always been very concerned about that sort of thing--you'd think someone who is so self-conscious would avoid casting themselves in roles for which they're way too old, like Hermione and Andromache.) Here's the deal--right before the plug was pulled, the show was very underblocked, and I was a little worried, I couldn't understand why we were still going so slowly. Catherine seemed to like readthroughs a lot--that's all fine and good, but when we're two weeks from opening, we need some blocking. And readthroughs are just a first step, we had done no text analysis, VERY important with the witches. (Especially since they'd cut the crap out of it--I started calling it Macb--. Why do people always want to cut Macbeth? It's the shortest of the tragedies as it is, guys! Why would you want to cut any of that spooky shit? The only thing you should cut is that stupid Hecate scene which Will didn't even write, and which adds nothing.)

However, the things that were good, were really good. David, our Macbeth, was terrific--God, was he good. During the readthroughs I would just watch him, and when he killed young Siward and sneered "Thou wast of woman born"....brrr! So good. He was so good, he made her better, and as I've said, Lady Macbeth is a character who is fundamentally, in every way, Julie's complete opposite, and she's not a good enough actress to play someone so different. But still David was pulling her along. The fights were good. Most of the rest of the cast was good (there was one weird dude who played the Porter who I couldn't stand, kept making these weird familiar remarks to me and Lori and Michelle. Naturally he's the one person who sided with Julie). As underblocked as the show was, we still had TEN DAYS left, plenty of time for a well-cast show to fall into place. So maybe Catherine wasn't quite as on top of things as she could've been--but ultimately that is Julie's responsibility as Producer. She should've kept a firm hand at the reins, especially after she'd fired the first director, her weird friend Lew. Listening to her blame Catherine for everything was frustrating--Julie, I've produced. I know what it's like. The buck stops with you. The director is there to direct, but ultimately you're what holds the show together.

So the judge ruled for Catherine--the amount was a little odd, I guess at first Catherine had filed for a smaller amount (like $150 or so), then the judge let her adjust it to a larger amount (the full amount of her negotiated director's fee, $450 or something). Catherine also sought reimbursement for the money she'd paid out for rehearsal space--you could tell the judge wanted to give her that but she didn't have any paperwork or emails to back it up, so she just got the $450.

What the hell was Julie thinking? I mean, it was tacky enough to yank the production but to stiff everyone? She claimed that everyone else had been paid, including the actors--uh, no we didn't! I just don't get why she went through all of this. Just pay the money. What you did was really, really poor form--you're just compounding it by being so cheap. Just pay the money. Afterward when they interviewed her, she said she thought it "wasn't right" that Michael, who is suing her separately, should be allowed to testify. What? Just stop it, Julie. The interviewer tried to get her to declaim some Lady Macbeth but she wouldn't. (GOD, would that have been comedy gold!) When Michael and Catherine came out, Michael made a point of saying the production had been remounted a few months later with "a lot of the same cast" (the production at the Workshop Theatre) and it was very good.
ceebeegee: (Macbeth)
Catherine Lamm, the director of the aborted 2006 production of Macbeth, sued Julie and THE CASE ENDED UP ON THE PEOPLE'S COURT.

Click here for preview.

If any of you love me, YOU WILL TAPE THIS SHIT! I beg of you, for the love of all that is theatrical. This must be recorded for posterity!

Who knew 2010 would bring such court-related drama!

Class

Jan. 21st, 2010 06:29 pm
ceebeegee: (rome)
So, class. Class started last Tuesday and it has been a bu-sssssy week for me. Normally I work Mondays, Thursdays and Friday--this week Monday was a holiday, so I worked Tuesday instead--which meant my first two days of class were a little hectic, running from and to work. I have to get to work early to make up the hours. Luckily the woman for whom I work is amazing and is cool with this, very supportive.

I get to class early on Tuesday and we're in a little lecture hall. I take a seat in the third row and the room really starts filling up. The class is limited to 100 but there looked like more than that--and quite a few of them, at least 20, didn't get seats and had to sit against the wall or on the window sill. Our professor really seems to know his stuff but he has a strong Italian accent and tends to speak softly, so you have to listen intently to make sure you understand what he's saying. This wouldn't be so bad, except that of course you're also taking notes, and when you're writing, you might misunderstand a word in his accent. It can be a little grueling, you really cannot phase out during the lecture. I mean, I find the course material fascinating, I'm certainly not bored, but every now and then your mind might want to wander and you just can't.

The class was so stuffed that they ended up moving it to another building, and today's class was in a good old-fashioned huge-ass lecture hall with a balcony and an aisle down the middle, just like in Mona Lisa Smile. Although it was nice to be able to spread out--again I took a seat closeup in the fourth row--the volume was even worse, because of the slight echo and again, the accent. At one point he started a new topic and said a word like mayedeeTERRuneyan. We all sat there frozen, as he said several things about this mayedeeTERRuneyan, desperately listening to the rest of it to try to decipher the context and finally it all hit us at the same time: Mediterranean. As one, 90+ students bent over and frantically scribbled the salient points of the last five sentences he's just uttered. He was able to pump up the volume a bit for the lecture but I may try to sit in the first row, and the TA has promised to get a mike. For the most part the professor lectures but he does throw out questions to us, and of course I'm all raising my hand. Professor: "What distinctive features does the mayedeeTERRuneyan have that helped shape the cultures around it?" My hand shoots up immediately: "It's small and easily navigible, which encourages the growth of trading and the spread of technology." I might've also added: "Plus when you're doing a cruise ship contract on it, Spain has topless beaches where you can buy beers, which encourages social contact and better tans, which I think we can all agree is good for everyone!"

During the first class, they sent around a questionnaire for us to fill out, asking what our classics background was, what we wanted to get out of the class, which particular areas we wanted most to study. I put down as particular areas of interest: Roman lit, especially the plays and epic poems, and the late Empire. What I really want to explore are all the insane-ass emperors. Nero and Caligula? Yes, please. The drama, like Antony and Octavius, sparring across the seas, Titus Andronicus and Tamora, baking people into pies. Shakespeare didn't write about nice tame safe Romans--he wrote about the exciting ones who did cool shit.

Columbia has an online feature called Courseworks--it's accessible through their website, and this is where you can download all the delicious graphics in the PowerPoint lecture you just attended (during his lecture today he kept scrolling through the slides to get to the one he wanted, and they all looked SO tempting). This is awesome enough but it gets better--it also features links to online libraries, including Oxford and Cambridge, and access to approximately a bajillian scholarly journals, stuff you just can't get on your own unless you go in person to a library. Oh man, am I drooling. PLUS you can borrow books from all the other Ivy League school (except for Harvard, *sniff*). There's just SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE out there, and now *I* get to roll around in it!
ceebeegee: (Viola pity)
The 10th Annual Midtown International Theatre Festival presents,
as part of its first annual Short Subjects Division...

Shakespeare Saturdays Songs in Concert
Music and Direction by Donna Stearns

Come hear the songs from Shakespeare's plays!

Performance Dates & Times:
Wednesday, July 29 at 8:00PM
Saturday, August 01 at 1:00PM
Sunday, August 02 at 4:00PM


Location:
Where Eagles Dare Studio Blackbird
347 W. 36th Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10018
(between 8th & 9th Avenues)
By Subway: A, C, or E Trains to 34th Street in Manhattan

Tickets:
Available for sale through OvationTix: https://www.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/664885
Full price tickets are $15, Student/Senior tickets are $12. There is a $2.50 convenience fee charged to every ticket

Come hear this beautiful one-hour concert! 9 wonderful singers perform 18 songs from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Cymbeline, Othello, King Henry VIII and Stearns's musical All The World's A Stage (based on As You Like It).

The Singers are: Ashley Rebecca King, Brady Amoon, Clara Barton Green, Megan Cooper, Raven Peters, Tony Imgrund, Brendan Rothman-Hicks, Eric Vetter and Toshi Nakayama.

Stage Managers and Run Crew: Arabelis Liriano and Mayelin Nolasco

More information at:
www.ShakespeareSaturdays.com
www.midtownfestival.org

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