Tag Archives: theater

Why TYA Should Join the Dark Side (of Fairy Tales)

Let’s delve into a pretty common denominator in the world of theater for young audiences (TYA): fairy tales. There is no end to internet lists “revealing” or “discovering” the dark origins of fairy tales, yet it is so surprising that, once upon a time, we actually told children scary stories? Shocking!

Many of the original versions of fairy tales were told to help children and adults confront the very real dangers of their times. Hansel and Gretel is an excellent example and very likely the most well known: it’s famine and hunger that motivate the mother or stepmother (depending on the version) to convince her husband to abandon his children in the woods. Most stage productions hide that part of the tale. It is fear of the darkness inherent in the stories that can cause playwrights to move too far in the other, more saccharine direction, leading to meaningless takes on fairy tales that now feel like the norm. When we remove fear from a fairy tale — or any story — we remove its connection to our lives, and that dumbing down affects theater audiences for a lifetime. Without true connections to our own feelings, fears and joys, why bother attending?

Read more at The Clyde Fitch Report

Read Part 1: Why do Theaters Dumb Down TYA (Theater for Young Audiences)?

Caleb Foote and Angela Giarratana in “Hansel & Gretel Bluegrass” (Photo: Cooper Bates)

Two Articles I Wrote on Art as a Parent

I guess being a parent really does affect how I view art. Yesterday two articles I wrote dropped on different publications, Better Lemons and Dwarf+Giant, a blog of The Last Bookstore LA. I didn’t realize until I shared them to Facebook that both show how I view art differently since becoming a parent.

One is how The Cat in the Hat reads like a manual for child molesters. I thought I’d get more pushback on this story, but so far all comments except one appreciate my argument for removing that book from your collection. Thanks to Dwarf+Giant for publishing this one!

The other is the first in a series, What Theaters Need to Know: Courting Families on Better Lemons, a relaunched Los Angeles arts website. Here I detail how small changes and larger ones can go a long way towards making families feel welcome at your programming. Until you’ve had to change your child’s diaper on a nasty restroom floor while other audience members bang on the door during intermission, you really haven’t lived as a parent.

Stay tuned for some more interesting articles from me……

Marketing Fails & Immersive Ethics

A few weeks ago, I received an ominous text in the middle of the night:

catharsis-text

Needless to say, I was freaked out. Read the full story on No Proscenium to hear how an immersive marketing scheme backfired big time.

Then head on over to Story Forward, a fantastic podcast I just discovered. Noah J. Nelson of No Pro is on a panel discussing the ethics of immersive experiences. Whether you approach it as an audience member or creator, this is a great listen.

If you’re interested in knowing about immersive productions, escape rooms, etc in your area, here’s where to find NoPro. There’s an expansion to other cities in the works:

Email: no_proscenium@outlook.com (send announcements & tips)
Twitter: @noproscenium (look for between issue updates) 
Facebook: No Proscenium Page (Issue Archives for All Regions)
Medium: The No Proscenium Collection (Reviews and Essays)
Podcast: iTunes and RSS 
Patreon: Support the Newsletter and Podcast
New subscriber sign-up: noproscenium.com

Directors Lab West applications due March 6

I used to be on their Steering Committee and it’s a great opportunity for Stage Directors and Choreographers:
dlw
Presenting The 16th Annual

Directors Lab West
in association with the Pasadena Playhouse,
and the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society

Directors Lab West brings together dedicated emerging and mid-career theatre directors and choreographers with master artists for an eight-day long intensive Saturday, May 23 through Saturday, May 30, 2015, enabling them to inspire each other to dream and create the future of American Theatre.
 
The deadline to submit the application is Friday, March 6, 2015 at 5 pm PST.

Apply online now at directorslabwest.com.

+ + +

What is Directors Lab West?
The Lab is a week-long summer intensive for stage directors and choreographers. Part conference, part workshop, part focused discussion, all theatre, all directing and all fun! The wellspring of the Lab is to provide a place for directors to meet and exchange ideas.

When is Directors Lab West
May 23 to May 30, 2015 with events scheduled from 10 am until 10 pm that you won’t want to miss.

Where is Directors Lab West?  
For the majority of the years of Directors Lab West, The Pasadena Playhouse in the historic California State Theatre has been and continues to be our dedicated and supportive partner, but we also hold sessions at a variety of theaters in and around Los Angeles.

Who can attend Directors Lab West?  
By application only, the Lab is open to directors and choreographers committed to the art and creation of theatre. (Note: The Lab is not open to students or those planning to return to school. It is designed for emerging directors who are working professionals, who have finished their studies. And studies are not required—many Lab directors are working directors who have never gone to college.)

Who has presented at Directors Lab West?  
The list is long, but here is a sampling… Sheldon Epps (Pasadena Playhouse), Des MacAnuff (La Jolla Playhouse), Michael Ritchie (Center Theatre Group), Anne Cattaneo (Lincoln Center Theater), Jack O’Brien (The Old  Globe), Martin Benson (South Coast Rep), Tim Dang (East West Players), David Ira Goldstein (Arizona Theatre Company), Andrew Barnicle (Laguna Playhouse), Erik Ehn (CalArts), Stephen Wadsworth (Director), John Bowab (Director), Kay Cole (Choreographer), David Lee (Director), Mark Medoff (Playwright), Randy Newman (Composer), Jose Rivera (Playwright), George Furth (Playwright), Richard Thomas (Actor), Eddie Levi Lee (Actor/Playwright), Charlayne Woodard (Actor/Playwright), Tonya Pinkins (Actor), Henry Winkler (Actor), Ming Cho Lee (Scenic Designer), plus many more.

How much does Directors Lab West cost?  
Participation in the Lab is FREE thanks to the generous support of the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, partners like the Pasadena Playhouse and all the artists, who donate their time and share their talents each year’s Lab participants.

How do I apply for Directors Lab West?  
Apply online at directorslabwest.com.

When Do I Apply for Directors Lab West
Now! Applications must be received by March 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm.

Have additional questions about Directors Lab West?  
Email us at info@directorslabwest.com

Indie Art: Not Your Undergrad Production of “The Maids”

A friend of mine’s been working on her own adaptation of The Papin Sisters story, better known as the sisters in Jean Genet’s The Maids who [spoiler alert] end up killing their mistress.

But this looks to be an entirely different production…….I’ve seen Naomi’s past work, and admire her imagination, story-telling and ensemble work. As an added bonus, all the ticket sales go directly to her actors and team, some of whom have been workingon this show since January.

Here’s a taste:

Our New (Acro)Door from Diavolo: Architecture in Motion

As you may have notice in our pictures and videos over the last couple days, we have a new door!  But not just any door, this one comes to us courtesy ofDiavolo: Architecture in Motion and is fully equipped to handle the acrobatics and high-flying skills of our ensemble!

though some people still tend to doze off on from time to time…

But in the end, we just end up hanging out.

All in all, our ensemble and production team have been working tirelessly to get ready for our opening night.  So, if you are in the L.A. area, and haven’t got your tickets yet – seating is very limited!

Tickets are available here: http://holdmetight.bpt.me

And if you have a moment to help spread the word, shares, tweets, and emails are greatly appreciated as we push through the last couple days of our fundraiser.Cheers!

Hold Me Tight ensemble

Visit the ‘‘Hold Me Tight’ an MFA Thesis Project’ campaign.

Indie Art: Save Me, a Hedda Gabler adaptation

I am a Hedda Gabler addict. As a teenager, Henrick Ibsen’s Hedda expressed to me how incredibly stifling life can feel when you have no control over your future, when you’re expected to be and act a certain way. I had incredibly supportive parents but still felt that tug to become what they wanted instead of go into a direction I knew was right but was not sure where it would lead.So the theater company Lucid by Proxy’s new adaptation (their first production in three years) intrigued me from the start. Save Me is a modern re-telling of Ibsen’s formidable heroine/antagonist with movement and song interludes.

Shannon Nelson as Hedda Gabler

Shannon Nelson as Hedda Gabler

Valerie Rachelle & Rick Robinson’s adaptation combined with Shannon Nelson’s portrayal create a Hedda who could match even the most devious of the Mean Girls from school: her power lies in a honey which coats villainy with empathy. This particular Hedda has lived her whole life as a Senator’s daughter, until some scandal caused his downfall. The scandal remains somewhat nebulous, though likely connected to his wife’s departure. In the first moments of the play, the audience witnesses Hedda in a private sexual dance with her dead father’s handguns, which we learn later were a gift from the N.R.A. That single detail clarified just how deeply conservative the Gabler family and their surrounding associates are, and much about the original play also came into focus.

Her new husband George Tesman is played by Ed Robinson as a very nerdy, devoted lover only slightly verging on pushover. That’s a hard balance, and one of the few times I could believe in Tesman as more than what Hedda sees in him: someone to serve a supporting role in her survival within a world she finds tedious. Tesman, too, only has one path before him: publish and gain a professorship or perish into poverty.

saveme_5_nelson_sochet

Shannon Nelson & Jack Sochet

Jack Sochet as Thomas Brack is delightfully sinister, creating an unholy alliance with Hedda to break up her boredom and satisfy an increasing need to keep hold of various people’s puppet strings, until he needs them. The contemporary context of conservative school chums finding their way into adulthood made me uncomfortable at first. Empathizing with people with whom I rarely converse in today’s bi-partisan world was off-putting, in the way that only good art can do.

I don’t see a lot of theatre specifically focused on the difficulties of growing up conservative, unless they are tales of a liberal mind ‘breaking free’ from their upbringing in some way. To its credit, Save Me hardly delves into the politics as we see them in headlines today (subtly revealing key details through character, mostly successfully), and so my own opinions didn’t build a wall between myself and the characters. This group of young adult’s choices feel incredibly limited, much as the original Hedda must have felt to Ibsen’s audiences.

It’s easy for people to accept and dismiss a Hedda Gabler in the original time period. Women just didn’t have freedoms back then, fathers and then husbands were almighty in a female’s life, a woman leaving her husband would be a socially threatening scandal; so Save Me, placed into this world that could and probably does exist today, creates frightening implications.

Even more importantly, Valerie Rachelle & co-writer Rick Robinson’s piece provoked my own thought about the original material as well as people with whom I don’t have much if anything in common. Empathy tends to be overused among theatre artists, yet is the most accurate word to describe my experience. It’s easy and safe for audiences to feel empathy towards people with a slightly different upbringing or cultural heritage, if well presented. Much harder nowadays is to let an audience member into a world where they’re vehemently inclined to disagree with the political motivations, the implied societal ideas about a woman’s place, and make us care deeply about what happens to all the characters involved.

For the first time in a long line of Hedda Gabler productions, the end seemed inevitable yet still surprising. The new couple huddled over manuscripts felt a little hopeful for a future interested in a legacy of truth, leaving a befuddled Brack to utter Ibsen’s last words in a state that matched the befuddled confusion of Romney’s supporters on election night last year.

Many in the ensemble deserve mention for their work, including Annalisa Erickson as Aunt Julia, Natasha Harris as Thea Elvstead and Justin Lujan as Evan Lessing. Based on the description, I expected a few more movement interludes than we saw, but also felt the Hedda solos worked much better than when Thea and Evan or Hedda and Evan expressed their feelings through some harsh choreography. I understood why we saw those three characters’ inner lives at those moments; I just felt that Hedda’s solos integrated into the whole production better.

Lucid by Proxy has one more weekend of Save Me performances, Tonight, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 5pm. Tickets and more info below.

—–

the story

Save MeLucid by Proxy returns after three years with this stunning original re-imagination of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, conceived, written and directed by LbP Founding Producer Valerie Rachelle.

In Save Me, Hedda, the daughter of a prominent, recently deceased politician, fights for her own sanity as she navigates a secret love triangle of her mild, professorial husband, a passionate and obsessive writer, and a smooth, cynical political operator. It is Lucid by Proxy’s 19th production, and our return to Los Angeles theater after three long years.

This contemporary retelling uses a soulful soundtrack and actor-driven movement pieces to help tell the story, layering them in with traditional theatrical storytelling to create an experience that connects the audience viscerally to Hedda’s journey.

Note: Save Me contains harsh language, sexual situations and loud noises, and so may not be appropriate for all audiences.

dates, times & tickets

November 8 – December 7, 2013
Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 5PM

The Complex Theater
6476 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

General Admission: $20

Click here to buy tickets online through Brown Paper Tickets
or call 1-800-838-3006

cast & crew

Hedda: Shannon Nelson
George: Ed Robinson
Brack: Jack Sochet
Evan: Justin Lujan
Thea: Natasha Harris
Julia: AnnaLisa Erickson

director: Valerie Rachelle
asst. director: Tyler Scheef
movement asst.: Siobhan Doherty
costumes: Ellen King
set: David Nett
lighting: Gabriel Rodriguez
sound: Rick Robinson

Marketing Homer Simpson

Boy, that could be a great sequel to Being John Malkovich.

Workshop at The Indy Convergence

Workshop at The Indy Convergence

Last week I had a great time coaching some individuals on Self-Promoting Without Annoying Your Friends. We discussed a writing career, re-branding your acting image, a nonprofit to Save the Arts & brainstormed another attendee’s germ of a creative idea using Homer Simpson as an example (that was a tough one!).

I’m always excited to talk through the muddy waters of social marketing with people, and everyone present said they found takeaways they could put into practice right away. That is always the goal and I’m happy to report mission accomplished!

See also: 5 Inspirational Stories for Self-Producers

WHAT I LEARNED:

Every workshop gives me valuable information. I learned that teaching in a chair doesn’t work for me. I learned that outlines are my friend and flexibility my bestie.

I’m psyched to do final prep for this Saturday.

The sooner you register, the more detailed research I can do for your project!

FEB 23– Pay for Workshop
Build Your Marketing Strategy

10am-1pm

What is your show’s story? We’ll peel away all the layers of people who would be interested in the story you want to tell.
Who is your audience? How can those layers be organized in a way that you and your team can target?
Who are your audience’s influencers? Who has your audience’s ears & how can you begin a relationship?
How can you target them? Just what it says, tailored to the platforms you’re already using or are most efficient.
Basics of a pitch to media & bloggers  With fun examples.
Includes basic media list The sooner you register, the more research for your specific needs I can do. It’s all about relationships; lists mean nothing without engagement.

See you there! 

——

Saturday, Feb 23rd (10am-1pm) at Theatre Asylum

$40 / individual workshop

Bring another from your company or show for $60 total

 Pay for Workshop

All 5 for $175. – Pay for all 5 Workshops

Can’t make this one? Watch & interact via live-stream* (email after registering) or pay for the archived video w/ visuals.

*Live-stream requires at least 24 hours notice.

Comment below or email smb@combinedartform.com for more info.

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