Monday, April 05, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Today's "google alert" brought the following (certain high school) student's paper to my attention:
I thought the performance was rather boring at times, but it certainly had enough value for what it was trying to accomplish ...
... The beginning parts seemed to drag on too long, and since the playwright/”Man #1” actor admitted in the post-performance questioning that it was the first play he had written in which there are multiple actors, this is quite forgivable, when one also considers the venue at which the play was being performed and the student ticket price ...
... seeing this performance was a lot better than attending class.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Picture's worth a thousand words.
We closed today, our final performance was at Firestone High School. Always a favorite of mine, Mr. Z. has a vast number of dedicated performing arts students. Only "VPA" students (visual performing arts) are invited to the outreach tour performances, but at a school like this one that still means we have at least 150 people in the audience. And they always get the real obscure stuff, too - there's a Winter's Tale reference in Dark Lady of the Sonnets and theirs was the only venue that got it.
A letter from Porlock's guardian.
Sure, it was early - 7:30 arrival for a 9:15 performance, but really, we had this down to a science. Until we discovered that their set for Sweeney Todd (opening next weekend!) was already built ... with a raked stage made of planks with half- to three-quarter inch gaps between them.
Dr. & Mrs. Jonathan Hartwell.
Now ... our set was a little wobbly on the best days. Slamming that door made the whole set shake. Gave it a real "Ed Wood" feel. But placing it on an incline seemed downright disastrous. So we took every bungee cord we had, and strapped the thing to the floor - the spaces between boards was actually a benefit. We also got a number of extra stage weights from the school, and don't you know, the set was more secure than it had ever been, seriously solid.
Many students assisted getting everything together and tearing it apart. In between, it was a rolicking performance, the three of us were really pushing it for our final go-round. I think we even made some very wise discoveries. Hate doing that on closing night. Morning. Whatever.
The post-show discussion was very interesting, and went on for a while ... what has been most interesting about these talkbacks was the opportunity for people to quiz the playwright, about writing, about rehearsing with the playwright there, editing, the future of the production, and so on. A number of the students picked up on some of the minutiae of the play - about the conceit of using "found documents" (see: Dracula) the setting for the Interview (see: Interview) even the origin of Lucy's name in the final arc (see: Dracula.)
After the show, Dusten, Emily and I had burgers at the WInking Lizard, and then it was off to dump the set and props, store all the education department materials, and return the van. And today was a beautiful, seventy degree day - the end of the tour always means the beginning of spring.
Is it you, Xanthe?
I am really going to miss this one, a lot.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Allow me to begin by saying YEEELLLAAAGGGHH!!! I went running tonight!
(I have not gone for a run in almost two and a half weeks. You can read all about that on this blog.)
Final public performance today at the Akron Public Library Northwest Branch. Always a great mix there - it is usually a 1 PM performance and there are traditionally a number of seniors, members of reading groups, and maybe fifty or so high school students from Firestone who can't attend the performance we do at their school. That performance is tomorrow, that is our last performance of On the Dark Side of Twilight, period.
Today was good. There were odd things happening, my voice cracked at one point, Emily fell down backstage, and Dusten's Eddie just keeps getting dumber.
A woman came up to me after the performance and told me she doesn't like vampires, she doesn't know anything about vampires, by she like the Chekhov plays last year so much that when she heard I was in this she just had to come. That made my afternoon ... and my afternoon needed making because I had a sinus headache sending a spike into my left eye.
One more performance, tomorrow. It's been an incredible run.
So it's early in the rehearsal process, and I make some comment about this boyish cap Emily has her hair pushed under, I say something about her looking like a turn-of-the-century paperboy. Then she starts busting lyrics like
Try bottle alley or the harbor ...And I'm like, what the hell is that, and she asks, "Ain't you never seen Newsies?" and I'm like, "I am 40 and under what circumstances would I have seen Newsies?" So she starts singing selections from a number of songs from the movie and I am reminded of a night when I was eleven, sleeping over at a friend's house when I shared the entire production of Annie with him in my pajamas (which I realize is a sincerely gay thing to do) and I invite Emily to bring the soundtrack in sometime and we are listening to it while putting together the set at Our Lady of the Elms and she's all defensive about certain songs and I keep telling her to take it easy, I am liking what I am hearing and ask if she has a copy of the movie.
Try Central Park it's guaranteed ...
She says yes, unfortunately it's on VHS and I say, I am over 40, I own a VCR!
Last weekend, my kids and I settle in to watch the entire thing. I can understand two things. 1) Why it became popular enough when broadcast on cable for Disney to stop distancing themselves from it and release it on DVD and 2) why it was one of the bigger flops in Disney history. Em mused why they haven't turned this into one of their Broadway extravaganzas. After all, Tarzan wasn't a huge movie and they went ahead with that. The answers are simple enough to me:
A) It is about boys singing and dancing. Billy Elliott is an exception to this rule because it is about how weird it is that a boy wants to dance.I did find it refreshing in that in spite of its few scenes of violence, there are absolutely no guns at all (this, as early as 1992) and then there is the joy of seeing Christian Bale sing and dance, and not particularly well. Apparently he signed on before they decided to make it a musical (wtf?) and has long derided the film. Ah well. It may not be Sound of Music, but then he is no Christopher Plummer.
B) There are absolutely no strong female characters at all, and you can't make any money on a new musical without them.
C) As the tale of paperboys organizing against unfair wages, it has a strong anti-corporate, pro-labor message.
We were listening to it again today, setting up for the performance at the Northwest Branch of the Akron Public Library. We close tomorrow with a show at Fiorestone High School. I never would have guessed Newsies would become one of my stronger memories from this tour. But you never really get to choose those, do you?