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THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 2012

"Nothing is impossible"

by Karen Grim

“Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”
~The Proverbs of John Heywood (1546)

Oh John Heywood, you are so wise…

2012 07 one act festival logoWell the show is over, the fat lady has sung, and I am done!!! It was a long journey, and at times (most of the time) it was super stressful. I’ve never experienced that level of stress really. When you’re in a show as an actor, you’re really only responsible for yourself; you make sure you do your part and hope that everyone else does theirs. When you’re a director, you’re in charge of everything!!! And honestly, I just wasn’t really as prepared as I would have liked to be. I think I did a good job as far as rehearsals went and helping my actors really get into character, but as far as the technical aspects go, I was just really overwhelmed. I had a lot of ideas, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish them. Unfortunately, sometimes when you’re in a volunteer organization, some of the volunteers just aren’t as dedicated as you’d like them to be. But, when all was said and done, the production team came through and helped me accomplish my vision. It’s like John Heywood said: you just need a willing heart, and at Colonial Players that is something we have a lot of ☺.

I think the show was a success, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to direct my first show at the Colonial Players One-Act Festival. But this wasn’t just a first for me; it was also an acting debut for a lot of people! I find it so amazing that so many people got to experience and be a part of this process that I love so much, and I’m happy to say that one of those new actors was in my show ☺. Seth Clute played Kevin, the drunken “Best Man,” in my show 12:21pm.

Seth is a graduate of Severna Park HS and the University of Maryland, College Park where he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in Maryland's Army National Guard. He recently returned from the Army Aviation School of Excellence in Fort Rucker, AL where he was the Distinguished Honor Graduate of his UH-60A/L Blackhawk class. When not flying helicopters for the MD National Guard, the 26 year-old works as a civilian Certified Flight Instructor teaching others to fly. This year's One Act Festival is his first time onstage since high school, and he said he was thrilled to work with the Colonial Players. As this was his acting debut at Colonial Players, I wanted to know what he thought of the whole process – not just for me to be able to learn things and grow as a director, but also for you readers who may be interested in volunteering or auditioning and are still a little apprehensive. Read on to see what he has to say!

 

Karen Grim: So, why did you audition for the One-Act Festival?

Seth Clute: A friend of mine from high school, Robin Schwartz (Director of Bismarck Comes Back), posted about the festival on Facebook, and I thought it would be fun to audition. I had gotten back into town after being gone for about five years and figured it would be a great way to connect with people and make some new friends.

KG: Do you have a role model or actor you look up to for inspiration?

SC: I haven’t really thought about it. I’ve always loved Sean Connery. There’s something about a Scottish man who could play a Russian submarine commander, James Bond, and the father of Indiana Jones! Plus he has a knighthood and was voted Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine at 60 years old and then Sexiest Man of the Century at 70. That’s pretty badass. My goal is Sexiest Man Alive by 40. We’ll see how I do.

KG: What was the hardest part about being in a show?

SC: The hardest part was actually going home at the end of the day. I really enjoyed being able to escape some of the more stressful parts of my job and relax with a group of people without having to be “the LT.” It’s kind of sad, but I have to constantly think about how I am perceived by others while working. My effectiveness as an officer depends on it. You hope being good at your job is enough, but it really is the little things that count.

KG: Have you "caught the acting bug," and will you continue auditioning and hopefully being in productions?

SC: I certainly hope so. I’ve loved every minute of meeting and working with such a great group of people. I’m at a slight disadvantage in that my work for the National Guard means overseas deployments or having to be ready and available at a moment’s notice to respond to the latest natural disaster or terrorist attack. We don’t run from the end of the world, we charge! But extremes aside, I am going to stay involved as best I can.

KG: Would like you like to try any behind-the-scene's work – set, costumes, stage managing, etc.?

SC: Having absolutely no skills in sewing or carpentry, I’m not sure how useful I can be in costumes or stage work. I might be willing to try my hand at directing or stage-managing. I guess we’ll see.

KG: What has been your favorite part about this process?

SC: Definitely working with such a great group of people. I got a chance to reconnect with some friends I haven't seen in years while meeting some awesome individuals.

KG: What has been your least favorite part?

SC: The waiting to go onstage. All the fears, concerns, worries can build up right in that moment before stepping past the curtain. Once [the show] started, I’m too busy to think about anything except the next line, the next reaction, running to the dressing room to change real fast in between plays. It’s hard to be anxious when you’re doing what you practiced.

KG: Including as a child, have you ever been in a play or have any stage experience?

SC: My first play was actually a middle school production of “The Nutcracker” where I played the brother Fritz. I remember the role because on the day of the show I was handed the Nutcracker I was supposed to drop during the first act. In all the rehearsals I had mimed dropping the Nutcracker out of spite to the sister. Instead, the director instructed me to not actually break it, only pretend to break it. She had just handed a prop to an 11 year-old boy that was too valuable to be dropped and broken and just said “don’t break it.” Who does that!? It took all my infinite powers of concentration to come to a solution of just falling down as if I slipped and saying it was broken. I thought it was out of character for me to be clumsy enough to fall down but what did I know? The next play wasn’t until another one-act in my senior year of high school, where I played a magical villain with an Egyptian accent. I didn’t think I did that great, but we ended up going to the regional competition where I was given the award for Best Villain. That was actually the last time I was onstage before this one-act.

KG: You were in two different one-act shows. Can you compare and contrast them in terms of directing styles and character work (how you developed you character – if it was a different process)?

SC: In terms of directing styles, the biggest difference was in flexibility of vision. Kaeti had a specific vision of what she wanted, and we didn’t really ad-lib or add anything new to the play. Karen was open to experimentation, and we developed our own take on the characters and played around a bit more with the lines.

Character development was completely different [in each play]. In “Here to Serve You,” most of the characters were mere caricatures. Since they were one-dimensional, it was easy to develop their attitude towards life. The hardest part was actually putting their attitude into such short lines. Every gesture or inflection had to reinforce the character. With Kevin in “12:21 P.M.,” I had a lot more room to develop the motivations and character. I used the behavior of one of my friends as the base for the drunken nature of Kevin and then added in the selfish nature. Essentially, I treated him as a frat boy who never went to college.

KG: As an actor in my show, what was the hardest part of having me as a director? (Don't worry you won't hurt my feelings; I'm just looking at this as a learning experience and would love the feedback!)

SC: Working with you was actually fairly straightforward. The feedback you provided was useful, and generally was something I could actually accomplish (or thought I could). You did a good job of motivating me, mostly because I didn't want to let you down. I think the most confusing part actually had to do with our schedule and changes to location, but I seemed to be the only one who actually messed that up.

KG: If there were anything you could change about your performance what would it be?

SC: If I could change anything, I would like to be more consistent in my performances. During some of my rehearsals, I could come up with off-the-cuff gestures or comments that fit my character, but I would have trouble making them feel natural when trying to integrate them in again. It is frustrating to be able to be the character during one rehearsal, but losing a part of him during another. In the end Kevin is a Frankenstein of all my practices, read-throughs, and rehearsals, and yet he became completely original during the show.

KG: Was it difficult for you to work in a theatre-in-the-round?

SC: It actually really was. I didn’t know when we started that it was in the round, and I kept making eye contact with people outside the stage area during rehearsals. Apparently this is a “no no” in theater land and I had to really focus on staying “inside” the room or area of my character.

KG: Funniest mishap behind-the-scenes or onstage?

SC: During one of the early rehearsals at the theater, the ceiling spotlights were still being set up and the plugs were all hanging down somewhere between shoulder level to just above head level. Anyway, Patrick (who played Joel in 12:21 P.M. for those not in the know) was leading me from the table to the bench when I stepped on his flip-flop clad feet while wearing combat boots. Not breaking character, he managed to shrug off the pain and continued to lead me to the bench right before a swinging plug caught him right on the temple above his left eye. I should point out these were heavy-duty plugs, each one of them an industrial powerhouse that could carry the electricity needed to power the light of a thousand suns. At that point he did break character for just a moment, which I think was completely understandable (if it had been me, there would have been a string of swear words strong enough to cause those plugs to question their manhood and parentage). Patrick just brushed it off after a moment and drove on like nothing had happened. There has never been a truer devotee to his craft.

KG: Do you prefer comedic, dramatic, classical, or contemporary material?

SC: I have always preferred comedies, mostly because I get great satisfaction from making an audience (or any group really) laugh. Most of the time it is at my self-depreciating comments, but it is always nice to have better material.

KG: Tell me about an area in which you would like to improve as an actor?

SC: I would like to work on my comedic delivery. I've found one of the best ways to connect with people quickly is to make them laugh, and I'd really like to develop that skill.

KG: Do you identify with your character (Kevin) in any way?

SC: HAHA! You mean do I identify with a drunken, immature douche who can only think of himself when his best friend is getting married? Sometimes? I always thought of Kevin as the misunderstood one who had trouble expressing his feelings. He really does love Joel, but is too emotionally immature to cope with the idea of sharing him. I would like to think Kevin would do anything for his best friend, but sadly, he proves he can’t accept responsibility for his misbehavior and actually show up to the wedding.

KG: If you could rewrite the show “12:21 P.M.,” how would you change it and why?

SC: I’d have Kevin have his redemption moment and actually go to the wedding – that and get the girl. Not sure who the girl is, but we can add one. Tell you what, I'll go hold some auditions for a leading lady and get back to you.

KG: Do you have any advice for anyone else who may be new to theatre and is interested in auditioning or getting involved at CP?

SC: The most difficult part of getting involved was actually showing up and auditioning. You can’t get a part in a play if you never try out. Personally, I was actually terrified during the initial part of the audition. But I kept getting asked to read parts in several of the plays. It was encouraging. Community theater is open to new people getting involved, and I would encourage anyone who is interested to come check it out.

 

I’m so glad Seth came out to auditions. I think he has a lot of raw talent to be developed, and I personally hope we see more of him at CP. I’d love to work with him again – onstage though. Like Seth said, it was a great experience, and I feel like I learned a lot, and I know if I were to continue there are definitely things I can improve upon as a director, but as it is…I just know that I don’t love it the same way. It feels great to be able to say, “I did it!” I directed a show, and I’m so very proud of it. But it’s also not something that I think I want to do again (never say never, though!) Who knows, maybe I’ll need another break from being onstage and will want to try it again. Now…onto the next project!!!” What is it?” you may ask. Well, honestly I don’t know…but when I figure it out, I’ll let you know. Until next month, friends!

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

PS: Don't hesitate to send a comment, question, or suggestion to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I am impatiently awaiting your reply.

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SUNDAY, JULY 1, 2012

"Beam Me Up, Scotty"

by Karen Grim

Captain's Log, Stardate 45047.2: My ship has crash-landed on a strange new planet called Darmok. There are two tribes: the Meisner's and the Strasberg's. They don’t really see eye to eye, but they seem friendly enough. I’m out of place in this alien world, the Universal Translator isn’t working, and I’m afraid I’ll never learn the language.

For the nerds of you out there who read my blog – you’re welcome; for those of you who aren’t nerds and therefore do NOT get what I just did there…well, I’m sorry (losers ;-)).

That’s how I feel right now. Directing is another world to me. I’m having a hard time expressing myself, and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to get my vision for the show across because of it (which if you know me, and I assume that most of you do, you’d know that expressing myself is not usually a problem).

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Luckily my actors are talented, and they’re working really hard.

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I’ve been searching the web, looking at some old college notebooks, and reading up on “how to be a good director.” I’ve found a few questionnaires for my actors to help them in their character building processes, and I’ve got a great assistant director to bounce some ideas off of, provide some ideas of her own, and help my actors decipher my meanings.

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I promised that you’d get to “follow me” during my process so I’m going to give you a brief break down of what’s happened so far.

So after my interview with the playwright, I cast my show. We had two rounds of auditions and a callback. Auditions were great. Everyone who came out was really talented, and I had such a hard time figuring out what combination of actors would be best to help carry out my vision, but in the end I know I got a really great cast, and I can’t wait for you guys to come see them in action.

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As you can see, we started out with a read-through (which if you’ve read my blog before then you know what it is), then moved into blocking. I plotted out my stage and the set and read through my script to figure out visually what I thought would work best for each character and how best to have the audience view the show. We ran it a couple of times after that and the actors have it pretty much memorized.

Now (being the second week of June) at rehearsal we’re starting to break it down into “scenes,” though in this One-Act there’s really only one scene. But I want to work each section and really find the pivotal moments so that you as an audience can really understand the message that both the playwright and I want you to discover.

By the time you read this we’ll be moving into tech week. Long nights coordinating lights, sound, costumes, the whole shebang; it all has to come together. I expect at that point to not have any hair and to have lost about 5 lbs from stress (woohoo!), but I’m hopeful.

Like Captain Picard, I’ve come to a strange planet, my universal translator is broken, and it’s scary, but I’m brave. I’ll make it work. I’m going to use what I know as an actor, keep researching good techniques, and pick the brains of the people I trust to make sure that what I have in my head gets translated properly so you guys as an audience don’t have to search the audience for a universal translator when you come see my show ;) BuyTickets

Man I was super nerdy this blog...

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

PS: Don't hesitate to send a comment, question, or suggestion to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I am impatiently awaiting your reply.

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FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2012

"Directing!"

by Karen Grim

Hey guys! I hope you’ve had an enjoyable month. I know I did. It was nice to have a bit of a break from the theatre, though I did go see Going to St. Ives. It was amazing. I hope you didn’t miss it!

Anywho, on to this month’s blog. If you’re a regular reader of the blog then you’ll remember that last month I said I was going to branch out at Colonial Players and try my hand at directing. I’m thrilled to be making my debut during the One-Act Festival where I got my start as an actor at Colonial Players. It was a great experience for me, and I highly suggest auditioning for the shows. There are so many different parts to choose from; it’s like an acting smorgasbord!

The show I’m directing is called 12:21pm by F.J. Hartland. This is actually not my first time directing this show. I directed it as a student at Jefferson High School, West Virginia in 2002 for our One-Act Festival. Unfortunately, at the time there were not enough men to go around so I did the show as a role-reversal and cast only women. It was still an amazing show! Not only did I win the Best Director award at the Festival, but all 3 of my actors won awards as well! *Toot toot* (That’s me tooting my own horn.☺)

I’m sure you’re probably wondering why I would want to do it again. Well, there are a couple of reasons. One: I would actually like to do the show with men. The ladies I cast did an amazing job but the story is about men coming to terms with the changes in their lives and how they deal with it. I think this play is so much more powerful with a cast of men because it’s about a man dealing with his thoughts and feelings, etc. Two: I’d like to see how I have grown and changed as a director. High School Karen and 27 year-old Karen are two very different people. I’ve learned a lot in the past 10 years, and I’d like to see how that affects my directing style.

I feel like I have a lot to offer as a director because I know CP, and I know what I like in a director so I hope to be able to use that to my advantage. That being said, I am new to this. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and taking on more responsibility. I really want to do a great job for my cast, the audience, and for myself. Part of doing a good job, though, is doing your homework. Directors have a responsibility to the show as a whole; it’s not like acting where you’re just one part. If the play were a body, actors would be limbs and directors the brain. I need to be able to use my knowledge to help my limbs work perfectly in sync☺. The first thing I wanted to do, homework-wise, is really dig into my script. I wanted to discover what the meaning of the show was. I obviously had an idea already since I’ve directed it before, but I wanted to really know what the playwright was trying to say when he wrote this. So, I asked him ☺.

F. J. Hartland has a reputation as a published playwright, professional actor, award-winning director, and respected theatre reviewer. He holds a BA in English from Westminster College and an MFA in Playwriting from Carnegie-Mellon University. He made his NYC debut as a playwright at the age of 23 when the Ensemble Studio Theatre presented a workshop of his award-winning play A Piano Player with Sad Brown Eyes. Other NYC credits include the Emerging Artists Theatre, GayFest NYC, Lovecreek Productions, Quaigh Theatre, 13th Street Theatre, Don’t Tell Mama and Lincoln Center Library Theatre. Five times he was a finalist in the Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival—winning in 1983 and 1985. In 2008 he was the recipient of a Playwriting Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In Pittsburgh his plays have been performed at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Bricolage, Rage of the Stage, Cup-A-Joe, South Park Theatre, Upstairs Theatre and a record-setting eleven times in the Pittsburgh New Works Festival where he has taken home the “Donna Award” for Best Play in 2005, 2010, and 2011.

A member of Actors’ Equity since 1991, F. J. has performed at Off The Wall Theatre, the Pittsburgh Playhouse REP and at the Mountain Playhouse. He has directed more than fifty production at Mount Aloysius College while serving as their Director of Theatre. Locally, he has directed at Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre and McKeesport Little Theatre, where he was named “Best Director of 2009-2010” for his production of The Wizard of Oz.

For three years he served as the theatre reviewer for outonline.*

Honestly, I’ve been kind of a nerd about this. I Google-stalked him, and then I found him on Facebook. I sent him a message and asked if he would be willing to do an interview, and he said yes!! I was so excited! I’ve been so giddy about this whole thing, and it’s so great to have been able to talk to him and learn about the show from his perspective. Below is our interview:

Karen Grim: Why did you write 12:21pm?

F.J. Hartland: I originally wrote it as part of a trilogy of one-acts. I was a senior in college and was applying for graduate programs in playwriting. I directed the three plays so that I could do re-writes on each before using them as my portfolio for graduate schools.

K.G.: Is there symbolism in the title? Why that specific time?

F.J.H.: Each of the one-acts I wrote for the trilogy had a time as a title. The evening was then called "Time of Departure" because each play was about a relationship ending.

K.G.: Are your characters based on anyone you know?

F.J.H.: I can honestly say all three characters are works of fiction.

K.G.: Kevin and Joel are best friends. Did you model their relationship off of a friendship you've had?

F.J.H.: No. Although I was getting ready to graduate from college, I was thinking about how all of my friends would be going in different directions. Like Kevin and Joel, our lives would be changing and none of our relationships would ever be the same.

K.G.: How did you begin writing the play, and what was your inspiration?

F.J.H.: My creative writing teacher who was also my college advisor) always talked about the unique relationship of a groom and a best man. He said it was so ripe with emotions. So I decided to try writing about it.

K.G.: Colonial Players of Annapolis is a theatre-in-the-round. Do you think that this will help or hinder your script?

F.J.H.: When I originally directed it (back in 1980...yikes!), it was done in-the-round. Other than the door, the in-the-round style shouldn't be a problem.

K.G.: Have you seen a production of 12:21pm?

F.J.H.: I saw it when I directed it. Later a friend of mine directed it at the Quaigh Theatre in NYC. The Quaigh nominated it for the Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Short Play Festival--it was one of the winners, so that's how it got published. I have also seen the occasional production--but it's been quite a few years since I've seen it.

K.G.: Were you impressed by the directing and the performances?

F.J.H.: I love seeing what actors do with the roles.

K.G.: What were the pros and cons of directing it?

F.J.H.: The play I see in my head when I am writing it, isn't always the best interpretation of my words.

K.G.: What would you have done differently?

F.J.H.: I think I should have allowed someone else to direct the original production. Since I had written it, I didn't have anything new to bring to it. A fresh set of eyes is always best.

K.G.: What would you look for in the actors?

F.J.H.: Honesty. I want to see real emotions, real relationships.

K.G.: Do you wish you could change anything or rewrite it?

F.J.H.: I'd probably like to update some of the jokes.

K.G.: How do you feel about Directors who take a script and completely change it? (i.e. setting it in a different time period, doing a role reversal. etc.)?

F.J.H.: If it brings something new and fresh to the story, it's great. If it's just a director saying, "Look how clever I am," then it's not such a good idea.

K.G.: Of the three characters in the show (Joel, Janet or Kevin), who is your "favorite" and why?

F.J.H.: I really feel for Kevin. Something is happening in his life, and he isn't equipped to deal with it. His friendship with Joel is the only positive thing he has going in his life...and it's being taken away.

K.G.: What do you want the audience to take away from the show?

F.J.H.: Change is inevitable. We are powerless against it; we can't change it. Enjoy what you have while you have it because it could be gone in a flash.

“The only constant is change.” I’m not sure who said that, but it fits. Not just because that’s what my show is about, but also because I’m changing. I’m branching out and trying something new. It’s scary, but it’s also thrilling, and I think that’s something we can all identify with.

I really enjoyed being able to talk to my playwright. I got a lot of really great insight from him and I hope he comes to see the show. I want to make him proud. You should come see it too. BuyTickets  I want to know what you think. You’re coming with me on this journey, and your opinions matter to me. So please, don’t hesitate to send a comment, question, or suggestion even to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I am impatiently awaiting your reply.

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

*Bio taken in its entirety from F.J. Hartlands blog, Pittsburgh theatre Today, http://pittsburghtheatertoday.blogspot.com/

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TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2012

"Passion"

by Karen Grim

“Passion: A powerful force that cannot be stopped.” -Moliere

You know what ,though? I’m tired. I’m going to be 100% honest right now and let you all know that I’m a little (ok, maybe a lot) tired…of acting. Gasp! I know…who would have thought that was even possible? It’s my biggest passion in life, it’s what I love to do, and it’s when I am working on a show that I’m happiest. But to tell you the truth, after this show, I’m ready for a break. And I’m ready to do something else. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and I’ve decided to branch out. I’m going to…wait for it…direct!

Now, maybe for some of you that isn’t a huge shock. If you know anything about actors (or me personally), then you probably already know we’re extremely fickle and it’s very hard to satisfy us. We’re always trying to go further, push our creative limits, and really test ourselves. I should mention that I have directed before, not professionally or anything, but while I was in high school and college, I did try it out for a bit. I like it. And I think I’m pretty good at it. I think that directors who have acted before have unique insight into being able to help their actors really understand their characters and the overall vision of the play.

You’re probably reading this and thinking, “Great Karen, but where are you going to be having your professional directorial debut?” And the answer is the Colonial Players One-Act Festival. It’s a chance for new directors to get their feet wet without committing to a large production, and it allows them to learn the ins and outs of the process of putting on a show the CP way. My acting debut at Colonial Players was at the One-Act Festival two years ago, so it seems only fitting that that be where I make my directorial debut as well. I’m super pumped about it, but I’m also a little nervous too. This is uncharted territory for me. I’ve never done a professional show before, and there’s a chance I’ll be in way over my head -- but that’s the exciting part.

Acting and directing are very different, and I don’t want to make light of the hard work that goes into it. I know I have to do my homework. So here’s what I’m going to do: I want to take you guys with me, every step of the way. This is blog is acting as my declaration or my mission statement. I declare that I will do everything in my power to make sure that my show is a success. I’m going to run head first into this new pursuit of mine, and I want you to learn along with me!

So this blog really is the beginning of a series of blogs that will be about my becoming a director. I’m going to learn everything I can, and then I’m going to teach you everything I know about being a director at CP; that way if you decide you’d like to direct, you’ve got a leg up on the competition. Next month, if you can wait that long, I’m going to interview a playwright. I feel like being a good director starts with understanding the show you have, your vision for the show, and your knowledge of the script. What better way to try to decipher the script than with a playwright giving you insight into the writer’s psyche?

So there you have it. I’m a little burned-out right now on acting, and I feel like this is a natural progression for me. I will still be able to continue working in theatre, but now I’ll get to work behind the scenes for a change. Don’t worry, I’ll be back onstage, I’ll never give that up, but who knows? Maybe this could be my new passion. What about you? Anything you’ve been dying to try?

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

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SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2012

"I can't, I have rehearsal..."

by Karen Grim

I can’t tell you how many times I have uttered that phrase. Inevitably, whenever I would start a show is when all my friends or family would want to get together for drinks or dinner; there would be tons of parties; someone would get married; someone would have a baby; the list of events I’ve missed is endless. As much fun as it seems I’m missing, the cast, crew, and production team have a really good time together and, generally, it’s worth it to miss those things because you love what you’re doing. Not to mention we do have multiple cast parties, opening and closing night parties, and the occasional “Hey, it’s Thursday let’s get a beer” parties.

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So, I get to satisfy my creative passions and make new friends, and I still get to have fun. But most importantly, I get to be there as the show is being built from the ground up, and that is an amazing thing to witness and be a part of.

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In this month’s blog, I’d like to take you behind the scenes and show you the process of putting up a show, via a photo blog. I’d like for you to get an idea of everything that goes into it from start to finish. Now since I am an actor by trade, I don’t have knowledge of the inner workings of the show. I was not there for the pre-production or design meetings, but I can at least give you a little visual insight into the process from my perspective.

After I was cast, I immediately got to work. I read the script a few hundred times to get a feel for the flow of it. As you can see below, it fell apart; I literally had to tape it together!!

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Then the cast met for a table reading, which basically is self-explanatory – it means we sat at a table and read it aloud. Then rehearsals began. We started with music rehearsals with our Music Director, Anita O’Conner.

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She helped us plod through as we learned the basic rhythms and notes for each song. Then we started the more traditional rehearsals with our director, Joan Townshend (below, right).

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We went over blocking, and as a cast, we started to get to know each other as we began to bring our characters to life. Throw in a dance rehearsal here and there and basically the show was sketched out.

Once you get the basics finished, then you can get down to the “meat” of the script and really build your character. Joan had us do some character-building exercises where we compared ourselves to our characters to find similarities and to start to build connections not only with our characters but with one another as well. She also asked us to write biographies for our characters. My character, Percy, is originally from West Virginia and so am I. And though I lived there for about 18 years, I don’t actually have an Appalachian accent, but Percy does. You’d be surprised how hard it is to try to develop an accent you’ve spent your entire life trying not to have!! So I spent a lot of time listening to family members (who all have accents), watching movies like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (though Loretta Lynn is actually from Kentucky, I figured, hey it’s the same region so that’s ok, right?), and listening to videos on youtube. I really wanted it to be authentic and not just a generic, stereotypical “southern” accent. I hope I get it right! Every little bit of history you add to your character helps you have insight into how your character reacts to different people and different situations, which in turn helps you add depth and “believe-ability” to your character.

On March 11, we moved into the theatre.

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The designer and construction crew have been hard at work creating an amazing set for us to perform on. It really helps us visualize the world our characters live in, and allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the lives they lead.

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On March 14, we met and sang with the entire band for the first time.

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It was rough at times, but at the end of the night, I felt really great about all we had accomplished.

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The show is really starting to come together, and even though we open in a little over one week, we still have a long way to go.

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By the time you read this blog, the show will have opened and hopefully you will have been smart enough to get your tickets early. If not, try not to panic, I’m sure there is still a chance for you to see it. And trust me, this is not a show you’ll want to miss. BuyTickets Also if the show does sell out, there’s usually a stand-by ticket or two available.

Yes, I’m biased a little since I’m in it, but this isn’t about me. A lot of people have put their blood, sweat, and tears into making this show a success, and you owe it to them to come out and see it. Because it’s good! This is a talented group: designers, actors, and techies included.

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Each actor has developed a character that I know you’ll be able to watch and say “hey, that’s how I feel!” or “she reminds me so much of this person I know.” Of course, I know every person is unique; that’s what makes life interesting, but it’s our connections to one another that make life worthwhile. The Spitfire Grill is a show that allows you to reflect on yourself and the things you’re searching for in your life, and who doesn’t understand that?

I hope this month’s blog has provided you with more insight and knowledge about the process of creating a show. Sometimes it may seem like a lot to give up to be a part of a play, because yes, it is time consuming and sometimes all you want is a nap, but “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”

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So, if you’d like to be a part of our next show either by volunteering to build sets, hang lights, help with costumes, be in the band for a musical, or even audition, click here!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you after the show!!

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

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