SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2012
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:
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?
Regardless 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.
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)
(still not famous :), but I’m working on it)
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2012
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
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.
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.
Now, I’m sure I’ll see you at the theatre, but until then thanks for reading!
(still not famous :), but I’m working on it)
THURSDAY, AUGUST 8, 2012
by Karen Grim
“Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.”
~The Proverbs of John Heywood (1546)
Oh John Heywood, you are so wise…
Well 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!
(still not famous :), but I’m working on it)
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