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TUESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2013

"Happy New Year"

by Karen Grim

“Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you'll buy your cup!
and surely I'll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.”

Happy New Year readers!!! I hope as you welcomed in 2013, you were surrounded by acquaintances new and old and enjoyed a “cup o’kindness” or two! I most certainly did! My holidays were a blast, and I’m optimistic and excited for the new year. Not only is it filled with hope but new adventures too! I am going to be in another show at CP! I know it’s hard, but try to contain your excitement. It doesn’t open until February! I’ll tell you more about it later but first things first:

Generally for me a new year is the time when I reflect on the year before and take stock of the things in my life that are most important. I remind myself of the things I succeeded at and take stock of the things I need to work on or get rid of! Yup, I’m one of those Makers-of-New-Year-Resolutions people. Usually I have a few common ones: less social media/more actual conversations with friends and family, less fast food and more healthy food, less tv/ couch time and more trips to the gym! This year though I think I’ll add a few:

  1. Be More Punctual – Maybe this one is pretty common but sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the world who runs late ALL THE TIME! (Not usually to rehearsal, but I’ve been known to show up a few minutes late :-))
  2. Stop Eating Meat – I used to be a vegetarian, and I am starting to feel that familiar twinge of regret while looking at my oh-so-tasty and juicy medium-rare steak…poor little tasty cow. (This has nothing to do with theatre, but it’s my resolution regardless.)
  3. Be Able to Run a Mile Without Stopping and Do 5 dead hang pull-ups before 2013 is Over – This is pretty self-explanatory. I’ve been working out by doing Crossfit, and I’m getting really close to being able to do 1 pull-up! I guess this is more of a goal than a Resolution but hey, being healthy and physically fit will give me more stamina while I’m under those twinkly lights I love so much :-)! And who knows, I may need to be able to do a pull-up for a role.
  4. Shut Up and Listen More – It’s as if I hear what you’re saying, but I’m not really listening. In acting I refer to this as “bullsh*t, bullsh*t, bullsh*t – MY LINE!” I don’t usually do this onstage, and by usually, I’m going to go so far as to say NEVER. I was taught very early on in my acting career and classes how not to do this because it proves that you’re not in character. But when I slip off the stage, the super-chipper and sometimes selfish person that I am doesn’t always do this. I oftentimes believe that what I have to say is probably more important than what you have to say. (This belief is part of my problem and is probably in need of some New-Years-Resolution type work, but I’ll work on that for next year…) So in conclusion, I recognize that I need to stop interrupting people and start filtering myself better so I can respond appropriately in conversations. (Sometimes I’m so awkward…)
  5. Stop directing my castmates – If you’ll recall, I directed a One-Act play this past summer and while I thought that I’d never want to do it again, it seems I may have just caught the Directing bug a little harder than I thought. You see I have unfortunately begun to tell other people what to do. I don’t think I mean to do it, but when I have an idea I just have to say it.

*SOAPBOX SPEECH in 3…2…1 - I NEVER used to do this. I HATE it when other actors do it to me. I am an intelligent, driven, and hard-working actor who has honed my craft, and while I appreciate constructive criticism and ideas from my director, I do not like it from fellow actors. Maybe that’s stupid or ignorant of me. I’m sure that whatever your idea may be, it might be a good one, but as you are not playing my character, your ideas are less than useful. You don’t know her as well as I do, and there’s really nothing you can say that would convince me otherwise. (That sounds so snotty…)

My director has a vision for Trying, one that I get and am wholeheartedly supportive of because she loves this show, has for years, and has relayed to me and my castmate what she envisions for the show and wants from us. And while she has encouraged us to give her our input and ideas, there’s a fine line between collaboration and overstepping my role, and I just need to make sure that my suggestions are just that: suggestions, and I think if I do more of #3, I’ll be able to accomplish this one :-).

I feel like these are achievable goals. Who knows if these will stick, but I sure hope they do…though maybe not #2 because man I love bacon…

What about you? Any New Year’s Resolutions or suggestions of how I can keep mine? I look forward to hearing from you! If not via email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) then I’ll see you at the theatre!

~Karen Grim
(still not famous :), but I’m working on it)

P.S. Stay tuned later this Month for an extra blog from yours truly on our next show:

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Shipwrecked!

The amazing adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself)

Written by Donald Margulies
Directed by Ron Giddings
Audition dates: October 14 – 15, 2012
Performance dates: January 11 - 26, 2013
Run time: 90 minutes

The adventurous Louis de Rougemont invites you to hear his amazing story of bravery, survival and celebrity that left 19c Victorian England spellbound. With the help of two “volunteers,” who make all the costume changes and sound effects and play nearly 100 roles right before your eyes, the audacious autobiographer tells his incredible tale of life on the high seas, in the land of the aborigines and later when he returns home, what happens when he is attacked by scientists and skeptics who don’t believe his story can be true. Explore the elusive lines that waver between truth and good story telling in the setting of a Victorian vaudeville house and the mind of a quintessential spellbinder.

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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2012

"Family Tradition"

by Karen Grim

“There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy, when they pass around the coffee and the pumpkin pie, it’ll nearly be like a picture print by Currier and Ives. These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives!”

Oh, tis the season :) Well readers, it’s that time of year again! It’s time for my birthday! Hahaha, although it is almost my birthday, I think more importantly for you all it’s also time for Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas!

If you’re anything like me, this time of year is less about receiving gifts and more about being with the people you love most and creating memories to last a lifetime. My family is crazy, funny, loyal and loving ,and this time every year sees us sitting around joking over whose butt is now the biggest (I may have won this contest a few years in a row) and who has the better cocktail/cookie recipe (in my house the two go hand in hand, literally :) It’s funny how as we’ve gotten older some traditions have changed, but for the most part some are so sacred that just the thought of changing them seems blasphemous!

For instance every year when we were little my brother, sister, and I would make No-bake cookies for Santa (some of you may call these Peanut Butter Delights or something strange like that). It was the one cookie we could make with little assistance from my mother or grandmother because they didn’t require the oven. They’re delicious, and Santa always ate them all! Maybe he got a cavity or two from all the cookies because he’d always leave us a toothbrush in our stockings. On Christmas Eve we’d all go out and drive around to see the Christmas lights, and then we’d come back and put our gifts for one another under the tree, and we’d each get to open one. We’d watch a movie, put milk and cookies out for Santa, and head off to bed so Santa could come. Man, being little was great! Now we’re all adults and my brother and sister have passed these traditions on to their children. I also still make No-Bake cookies because it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without them, and just because I don’t have children doesn’t mean I shouldn’t continue my traditions!

This year I’ll be celebrating Christmas with my boyfriend’s family, and they have a whole different set of traditions. Pajama Christmas Eve parties with breakfast for dinner, and they go to Christmas Mass. While it may be different, I’m looking forward to adding a few more traditions this year, and I’ll bring along some No-Bake cookies too :)

Something I also hope to add to my traditions list is a trip to the theatre to see A Christmas Carol. I’ve actually never seen it since I’ve been involved with Colonial Players, and if these photos from rehearsal show me anything, it’s that this is going to be a crazy fun show.

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I’ve always loved A Christmas Carol, and I’m excited to see this year’s show which is directed by Jill and Roger Compton.

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Colonial Players’ version, which was adapted specifically for our theatre by Richard Wade and Dick Gessner, has been an Annapolis tradition since 1981. Word on the street is the show is already sold out! Luckily I already purchased my tickets, but if you missed out on purchasing your ticket, please don’t hesitate to try coming down for a stand-by ticket*!

If “A Christmas Carol” is a tradition in your family, I hope to see you at the theatre, if it’s not, maybe it should be :) I hope you enjoy your holiday and that your traditions, whether new or old, are a joy to you this season and always. See you in the New Year!!

~Karen Grim
(still not famous :), but I’m working on it)

*Standby tickets are sold half an hour prior to performance time in person at the Box Office, on a first-come, first-served basis. If standby seats are unavailable, purchasers’ money will be returned immediately.

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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2012

"Seated Ovation"

by Jeff Sprague

I have been asked to fill in as a guest blogger for the month of November. Who am I, and why should you care what I have to say? Excellent questions…

I’m Jeff Sprague, and I’ve been acting at CP for about five years. I’ve done some directing with respect to the 2010 One-Act festival and had my show derided as “too cynical” by the local media. Well, it was a pretty cynical script about the dehumanizing experience of war, so I’ll take it as a compliment. I’m not sure why the reviewer wanted puppy dogs and ice cream in the Iraqi desert, but it takes all kinds, right? Anyway, as far as why you should care as to what I have to say, well, you shouldn’t. At any rate, I’m the guy they asked to fill in, so you get to read my thoughts for the next few paragraphs.

I was told I could pick any topic I wanted, and for a while I was a bit stumped as to what that should be. Short of advocating for all shows next season to feature me in the lead role, it was a bit perplexing to come up with a viable topic. Then, whilst watching TV the other night, it hit me: in the NBC series The Office, there is an episode where Andy Bernard, Cornell graduate extraordinaire, takes the role of Anthony in a community production of Sweeney Todd. He gets his co-workers to attend closing night. From a deleted scene, the character Stanley bemoans how tired he is of being expected to give a standing ovation for an average or subpar performance. Eureka! We have a topic.

Many of us have seen shows -- professional shows -- that are mind-blowingly awesome. I am fortunate enough to have seen many amateur productions which have been just as entertaining. These shows deserve the standing ovation for the specialness that they encompass. With the culmination of effortless special effects, engrossing characters, beautifully sung harmonies and barely noticeable scene changes, these productions deserve a removal of the butt from the seat. On the other hand, if you’ve been around enough, you’ve seen or been a part of a production that didn’t live up to expectations. You’ve seen shows that are average or good, but not great. Professional shows are not immune from this. Indeed, I saw a production of West Side Story at The National Theatre in DC that made me want to mix Ajax into my martini. So, what does it do to the value of a standing ovation if you leave your seats for these types of shows? I’ll tell you what it does: it makes it so that the ovation is expected. Two things then happen: 1.) if you’re an actor and you don’t get an ovation, you think that something is horribly wrong and 2.) the really special performances aren’t rewarded properly.

There is nothing wrong with politely clapping in your seats. I understand that Mom, Dad, co-worker Betty, and Marty, the dude from the kickball league, might be mesmerized by seeing their community theatre actor outside of normal, day-to-day interaction. If that’s the case, great! Stand if you feel the urge. However, that shouldn’t mean that everyone has to stand. This is a personal decision, as taste is subjective. If there is any point to this blog post at all, it’s that I want one thing to be heard. It is this: if, and only if, you are moved to stand, you should stand. The fact that others stand around you should have no impact. It’s ok to remain seated. For the actors out there, don’t take some people sitting as a personal insult. Like the critic of my directorial debut, you must think of them as people with the tastes of a troglodyte, who clearly don’t appreciate genius when it is presented to them (do you see what I did there?).

Be honest with yourself and your opinions. Reward a performance the best way you see fit.

~Jeff

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SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2012

"Politics"

by Karen Grim

With the current political season bearing down on us, and the world’s revolutionary actions and democratic frustrations threatening us, it’s no surprise that politics find their way into theatre. Art often mimics life, and in political times like these, specifically with the world in so much turmoil, it’s a good thing for art to push us to discuss subjects we’re sometimes too polite to begin, or on which we’re too severely divided to hear one another. Theatre offers a neutral space for the tough subjects to be scrutinized. If only we could find such a place more often, which brings me to my “once-every-four-years” pet peeves...

Oh politics…how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. I hate that you pit people against one another. Can’t we all just get along?
  2. I hate that I feel like I have to be in one party. Why can’t I be in multiple parties? (Who are we kidding? Is there even a category for someone who likes being able to own a gun and have freedom of speech as well as someone who likes helping out my fellow man even if that means I have to pay for a war I don’t believe in and for my sick unemployed neighbor to have health insurance.)
  3. I hate that the things that are important to me are not the same things that are important to other people. Shouldn’t we all be shooting for one common goal?
  4. I hate that there are people who don’t agree with me. I’m always right, right?
  5. I hate that each party tries to make you hate the other party. Why? How can we ever compromise or create logical solutions to problems if we’re constantly being forced to make emotional decisions because something the other person said was taken out of context (and then of course I became offended)?
  6. I hate that sometimes I look down on other people because of their political beliefs. When did I become all-knowing? (see #4)
  7. I hate that in a nation where when terrible things happen we’re united, but during the elections we’re divided.
  8. I hate that our politicians become horrible people during the elections. I don’t want to vote for anyone when they’re acting this way. What happened to honor?
  9. I hate that choosing the president is hard. Who knows what’s going to happen in the next 4 years? I don’t. But I hope we as a nation pick someone who’s prepared for everything (even the Zombie Apocalypse).
  10. I hate that you had to read all of these things that I hate just so I can tell you about a politically-driven play, but hey it’s almost November which means it’s almost time for elections, but more importantly The Colonial Players' next play, Sunlight.

Ah, back to theatre and neutral territory! Sharr White’s drama is about more than politics. It’s about “the conflict between an aging, idealistic college president and his son-in-law and law school dean, who has enraged his father-in-law by helping develop guidelines for enhanced interrogation of terrorist suspects. Matthew Gibbon, liberal lion and university president, may have finally gone too far in his battle against the politically conservative Dean of the law school - his son-in-law and former protégé Vincent. In a frustrated culmination of a steady program of undermining Vincent’s position at the school, Matthew has vandalized his office and records. Caught between them, Matthew’s daughter Charlotte is desperately trying to protect her father and negotiate a solution against a Board of Regents and faculty up in arms because of his actions. As the play progresses, the differences between the two men become as apparent as America before 9/11 and after. This family drama explores change and the abuse of power within a tight circle of people whom despite loving each other, are rocked by the convictions of their hearts.”

Now that I’m a member of the Play Selection Committee, I understand why this play was chosen. It’s smart, it’s good writing, and it will leave the audience with questions. How do you feel about interrogation of terrorists? Where do you draw the line? What makes you think you’re right? How do you tell someone you love that you think they’re wrong? Do you listen to someone else’s views logically before you make your decision, or are you steadfast in your belief that you’re right, and no amount of arguing will change your mind? Are you as intrigued by this show as I am?

2012 10 sunlight logoRegardless on which side of the political line we’re standing, grab a friend with whom you might not ideologically see eye-to-eye, get a bite to eat (shameless plug for dinner and show tickets - find out more on the website - cause hey who doesn’t want amazing food at a discounted rate?) and come see Sunlight. Who knows, you might just find some common ground and something to agree on even if it is only that you had a terrific night of honest debate fueled by a masterfully directed and performed show.

Sunlight

Written by Sharr White
Directed by Terry Averill
Starring: Tim Sayles, Chelsea Langley, Jeff Sprague, & Millie Ferrara

Performance dates: October 26 - November 17, 2012
Show Times: Thurs, Fri, Sat @ 8:00pm
Sun @ 2 (with an additional performance on Sunday Nov 4th at 7:30pm)

~Karen Grim
(still not famous :), but I’m working on it)

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2012

"Play Selection"

by Karen Grim

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
― Dr. Seuss

Hey Readers!

I hope you’ve all had fun and adventurous summers!! Mine has been quite crazy, and despite trying to take some “time off” from theatre stuff, I’ve somehow managed to stay involved and learn new things! Yep, you read it right; I’m still busy, haha! But I really can’t complain; my current “project” is fun, is helping me to meet new people, is permitting me to work with people I’ve grown to love, is teaching me new things, and is allowing me to indulge in my first passion: reading.

I still remember the day I got my very first library card. It was the BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!! (At least for 7 year-old me it was, haha.) When the librarian said I could take home as many books as I wanted to, I was overjoyed. That day was the beginning of my obsession with experiencing far-off places, amazing heroines and heroes, and stories filled with drama and life at its best and worst through books. I think if it weren’t for my love of reading, I never would have discovered a passion for plays and, of course, acting. At its core, a play is a story just waiting for life (a.ka. tangible visible elements) to be breathed into it. I love that so many books are being made into movies; the characters and situations are just so rich and full of dynamics.

How is my love of reading being incorporated here at Colonial Players, you may ask? Well, I’ve been invited to join the Play Selection Committee! The Colonial Players’ Artistic Team selects a Play Selection Committee Chair plus 9 other individuals to make up the committee, and I’m so excited that I’m going to be joining that group in helping to select the 65th Season.

You might be wondering how we go about selecting shows. Well, the Artistic Team, headed by Carol Youmans, gave us three key elements to shoot for. These are elements that we feel would help provide the best possible audience experience.

  • Masterpiece Theater: We are looking for writing of the highest caliber that will have directors and actors alike eager to be part of the plays. We want scripts that will leave audiences moved, amused, reflective, hopeful, or wildly entertained. These scripts will inevitably provoke discussion and get people talking, wondering, and even arguing about the topics. This encourages us to keep in mind our mission to educate both audiences and playmakers, and helps CP maintain our legacy for stellar theater in Annapolis.
  • Showcase Theater: We want to celebrate our space and our talent pool! Special consideration will be given to those scripts that allow us to “strut our stuff” and show what we are capable of, in everything from design and execution to acting, with emphasis on our creative capacity to do more with less. This does not limit us to only “chamber shows,” nor does it suggest we try to do things that are best done in much larger spaces. It does remind us to seek scripts that that can be exquisite jewels of performance and production, set in our unique, intimate setting.
  • Community Theater: We want “Best of Breed Theater” that reflects our standing in this community. We are not metropolitan DC, but we aren’t the sticks either. We are in a town that has long prided itself on offering its citizens the finest, and we have many residents and subscribers that have traveled the world. They are open to new experiences. What can CP offer that no other theater is offering in this area? We should reflect the community, even as we urge it to learn and be more. We should attempt to draw on our history even as we lead the way into the future.

As you can imagine, we’ve got quite a lot of work ahead of us, and the process is just beginning. My fellow selectors and I have been reading play after play and listening to scores from various musicals in the search for a phenomenal season, and I’m so thrilled to be able to help choose the shows that you may be coming to see! Ultimately, our job as the Play Selection Committee is to find what we feel are the best shows to present to you, but we do not make the final decisions. That is up to the Artistic Team to decide, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to make that process just a little bit easier for them. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves; the 65th season is a year away, and while I may find the process exciting, you’re probably more interested in our current season ☺.

Colonial Players 64th Season

Colonial Players 64th season begins in September with the light-hearted classic comedy, Bell, Book and Candle by John van Druten, and winds up a year from now with the wildly farcical Taking Steps by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn.

In Van Druten’s 1950’s comedy, a beautiful witch is (against her better judgment) bewitched by a journalist who, quite inconveniently, is a mortal oblivious to the other-worldly forces at play. Will love prevail, or will she choose the pleasures of witchcraft over the joy of marriage?

October brings the engrossing drama, Sharr White’s Sunlight, about the conflict between an aging, idealistic college president and his son-in-law (a law school dean), who has enraged his father-in-law by helping develop guidelines for enhanced interrogation of terrorist suspects.

After our December production of A Christmas Carol by Richard Wade and Dick Gessner (not part of the subscription season, but definitely a beloved holiday tradition in Annapolis), we will brighten the January doldrums with Shipwrecked! The amazing adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself). This wild tale about a self-proclaimed 19th Century adventurer, based on a true story, includes nearly 100 roles played by two hard-working actors. It’s fast, furious, and a lot of fun.

February’s production of Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass is a touching and, at times, funny portrayal of the relationship between Francis Biddle, a U.S. attorney general and judge at the Nuremberg Trials, and his young secretary, Sarah. Irascible hardly begins to describe the 81-year patrician diplomat, but Sarah is just as strong in her quiet way and refuses to be cowed. Trying is a fascinating portrayal of the developing relationship between these two disparate individuals.

John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and their fellow patriots who bravely declared independence from England take the stage in March and April in the splendid musical, 1776. It is a glorious retelling of the founding of our nation, and you will leave the theater with a renewed sense of patriotism and pride in America.

Taking the stage in May will be In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, which is set in 1880, a time when women were not supposed to be aware of, much less enjoy, sex. Electricity is the new rage, and Dr. Givings has developed a vibrator to treat symptoms of female hysteria in his patients. This is a bit risque, but also a surprisingly warm and funny look at views on sexuality a century ago.

The season ends with Ayckbourn’s Taking Steps. The setting is a house with three floors, but Ayckbourn specified that it is be done on one level, with the six characters running up and down imaginary staircases and in an out of multiple rooms. Confusion and laughter will reign during this fun-filled evening.

Well, there you have it! Now, before you can see the shows I’ve helped select, you should start by enjoying Colonial Players 64th Season. It’s just about to begin, and you do not want to miss out! With so many fabulous shows just around the corner, you’re definitely going to want to go ahead and get a 10-seat FlexTicket or subscription so you’re guaranteed a ticket!

Season subscriptions at discounted rates are available for all seven shows or any five shows of your choice. Information is available here on our website or by calling 410-268-7373. Or you can pick up a brochure in the lobby. Subscribe today! You will save money, be guaranteed your choice of seats, and you won’t miss any of next season’s sparkling line-up of shows.

The 10-Seat FlexTicket offers the same discount as the Subscription but allows you the flexibility of using the ten seats in whatever combination of shows and guests that works for you.

And if you happen to be an avid reader like myself (and I assume you are since you’re reading my blog), I have a challenge for you. I dare you to pick up a copy of one of our newest shows before you see it. See if the world you create in your head matches the one we create for you, and let me know how it compares/contrasts with what you had in mind by writing to me here: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Now, I’m sure I’ll see you at the theatre, but until then thanks for reading!

~Karen Grim
(still not famous :), but I’m working on it)

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