Monday, November 8, 2010

November Blues...uh, Greys

Today is the 8th day of November, and Mother Nature is letting us have it. It has been freezing rain and sleeting all day! It is definitely the kind of day to curl up inside with the heat on and not go out!

Luckily, this past weekend was a little kinder. We had several exciting events going on in the Saint Michael's College Theater world, the first and foremost of which was a workshop with next semester's guest director Chris Edwards.

Although I will not be here to work on Romeo and Juliet, I went to the workshop out of curiosity, and am really interested to see how things turn out! Chris had us do several group improvisation exercises, including lying on the floor with our heads in a close circle and forming stories by saying one word at a time around the circle. He encouraged us to speak on impulse, still keeping in mind what words had come before. We then worked with a short 4-line, 2-person scene, trying different approaches. Chris emphasized the importance of taking what your partner gives and working with that instead of closing them out. He forced us to confront the conflict instead of walking away, as in real life people do tend to walk away from conflict. We each brought a short monologue to work with, and he had us try saying the lines as if in real life instead of acting. With Shakespeare especially, this is a huge challenge, and we were all exhausted by the end. We learned a little about the production that will happen here next semester: Romeo and Juliet will be presented with the idea of the 70's and 80's punk (combined with today's themes as well) with a DJ onstage and a colorful, graffitied set that may extend into the audience, one structurally sound enough for actors to hang off of and climb on (metal structures). It sounds very cool and edgy, and the theater students here are abuzz with excitement! To read more about the workshop, find the SMC Theater blog here.

This weekend also THE ART OF DINING, Saint Michael's fall mainstage, closed triumphantly. I saw the dress rehearsal last Tuesday and was impressed; the set was a beautiful, multilayered restaurant, and the actors covered every inch of it to tell their stories and work through their relationships revealed as the play went on. It was short and sweet and fascinating. Again, check out the SMC Theater blog here to read more about the rehearsal process and performances.

My play with Champlain College, THE SHAPE OF THINGS, closed this weekend as well. Despite working with an ever-shifting stage crew, a missing sound board operator the last night, and none of our lighting people showing up for strike, we made it! The shows were packed every night with very responsive, invested audiences, which more than made up for the missing faces that some of us hoped would be able to make it. We had a delightful cast dinner party last night and resolved to keep in touch; although it was a stressful situation, contacts and friends were made all around, and once again I have had an experience to grow from and relax out of.

For Saint Michael's, there are several theater opportunities coming up. The Directing Scenes will be presented December 13th; the Directing I class, of which I am a member, is working on scenes from various plays that will represent our final exam on that day. Also in December will be a devised piece of theater produced by the Drama Club that I am directing; more details to come on that at our full club meeting this Tuesday at 5 in McCarthy.

Thanks for reading, as always! Until next time!
Part of the SHAPE OF THINGS set, designed and built by Jim Lantz

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Shape of Things

Last Thursday, Champlain College's production of The Shape of Things by Neil Labute opened at 8pm at the Flynnspace in Burlington. Labute's play draws the audience in seductively with a slow-building plot that slams home in the end, in a way no one would have expected. Local performer Kim Jordan plays the sultry Evelyn, the artist that holds a young man's world in the palm of her hand. Adam, played by Saint Michael's College grad Jayden Choquette, transforms his world and gives up everything for one woman. Ben Cavallari (a Champlain College professor) and Emily Benway (another SMC grad) bring Phillip and Jenny to life as Adam's friends, onlookers, and instigators as only Labute's characters are meant to be.

Directed by Joanne Farrell, this production includes much contribution from students. The lighting and sound design, sound board operator, and stage crew are all made up of Champlain College students. I stage managed the play and run the light board as well as call the show during performances. It has been a brand-new experience for me to work with Champlain, where there is no theater program, and Joanne drives productions into existence through sheer force of will and out of love for the performing arts, along with the help of students who, like Megan Lambros (my ASM) and other dedicated crew members, love the arts as well. 

The Shape of Things runs this week Wednesday-Saturday at the Flynnspace in downtown Burlington. The house and box office open at 7:30 for an 8pm performance; the play runs for about 2 hours, including a 10-minute intermission. Tickets are on sale at the Flynn Box Office.  I hope to see you there!