Monday, May 25, 2015


Sam's thoughts:

Hello internet, my name is Sam Zinsli and I am directing Answer Me, written by Amanda Kelner. The play is about a "psychic" named Matilda. Her powers are not like Matilda Wormword's powers from the critically acclaimed movie Matilda but she can see into the future-ish! Matilda, the hermit, thinks she has it all figured out until Tegan, a young rover traipsing across the United States in search of a better life, comes to the South in search of a new job. What will happen next?! Will Matilda ever leave the house? Will Tegan find her dream job? Will somebody Answer Me? Come see the 2015 Spring One Act Festival to find out!

I'm excited to share this play and over the course of the nest two weeks I will put up biographies of the cast and costume crew of Answer Me. I hope you'll enjoy them! Here are some preliminary pictures from rehearsals:
This is Amanda. She wrote Answer Me.

Table Werk with Air Dools and Emily!
This is Emily sitting at her desk!

Run-throughs start tomorrow!!

Ack! So this three day weekend sure has been nice, but guess what? That means tomorrow we start run-throughs! I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. It's time to do our best and iron out all the details in this last week before we perform. The costumes look good (check), the actors have most of their props (almost check), and they are all memorized and ready to rock (check and check). I'm really excited to get this show on the road and show the creativity that each actors brings to it.

Last rehearsal was a bunch of fun, and I think we're really going to do this...we really are going to perform!

Here's our cast doing their thing!

The whole stage is looking pretty good! 

This is what will happen to you too, if you get addicted to coffee!

Signs Teri and I made for the protestors! 

We hate corporate greed! 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Caffeine Injection

We're heading into company run through week and we are coming together. I was a little worried going into last week. I was worried about being off book but they did it and they are memorized and I couldn't be happier. This show is going to Dina do entertaining. We even got our music all planed and been working with it. Here's our playlist:
Our love playwright always willing to step in:

Having fun with props:
The notepad!!

One of my favorite moments:

Evil look!!

Bry and I got together and made the protestor signs:

Until next time!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Play Time!

We're back on track and ready to work. With all work comes good play, not the screwing around kind of play, but playing with characters, emotion, and decisions on stage. This is where we are now. It was fun seeing Isaac and other actors work on voice changes and little character developments. These minute details make all the difference and it's good to see some progress. My favorite thing about being a stage manager is when actors are off-book. Last rehearsal went well off-book and they continue to make progress. Those who were a little shaky with their lines soon figured out that playtime is over if you aren't memorized. Teri can attest to yesterday's rehearsal where the actors met the the costume designers and hammered out some final details. It's exciting to see this show come together! Even the coffee tables and coffee counter look great! As we rehearse the rest of the week I can't wait to see the progress we'll make and how it will shape out show. Enjoy these photos from our last rehearsals!

Here's Isaac strutting his stuff as "Dealer"

Oooh creepy!

"Who do we hate? The Man!"

Cheep Cheep Blog 2 - Joseph Workman

Uhhh, been pretty crazy lately, am behind on things, something-something, excuses, DOLLY WEST opening?! yada-yada - !

It is nice, though, to take a moment and reflect on how the process has been going.  The time between my sickness and running sound for "Dolly West's Kitchen" allowed for a brief interlude of gracing rehearsals with my presence, and to my pleasure and surprise I took on a much more active role than I had initially envisioned. Instead of simply staying on script for lines and lobbing the occasional feeble comment from the sidelines, Ries has had me taking the actors out to the green room to do one-on-one work.

This makes me nervous, as it puts me in an assistant director's position without supervision. Is this a good idea?  Why give me permission to screw this up?  What if we work at cross purposes?  

Alex and I direct differently.  He is direct; blunt and brief, but in an admirably efficient sort of way.  I am hesitant, at times to a fault.  I don't like to stop people until they've run the thing we've worked on all the way through at least once.  Most of what I do begins with getting the actor comfortable.  Getting them to feel open and trusting of me and our work environment is important to me.  I'd like the process to be collaborative instead of imposing my own dominating vision; I'm not one to pretend to have all the answers.  So building trust (perhaps even rapport) with the actors is a priority.

Teaching (or trying to teach :( ) someone how to act makes me think about why and and how and what I do what I do, and what makes that successful.  I try to understand how the actor feels, and then think about the times I've felt that way and how I overcame it.  Too often, though, I feel like a wild hermit who was deposited in the forest and raised by wolves, and those I'm trying to teach are perfectly normal upstanding citizens who have had the misfortune of winding up disoriented in my neck of the woods. Their survival is now dependent on my half-baked ravings and broken English.  Perhaps the occasional flung feces.  
I rack my brain for ways to help the poor actors in front of me - standing there, smiling and trusting - and tread carefully, paranoid that I'll lead them down the wrong path.

I've directed before.  Last year I chose a play called "The Sign" by Stephen Bittrich, and worked with Tom Nath and Brian Smith.  Tom was a novice actor, and luckily he was patient with me and good at listening.  I think the material was more easily accessible to sensitive, introverted types; it was sentimental and quiet.  It required very little blocking as both characters spend the duration of the play about 40 feet up in the air on a tree limb, which meant we could focus more on inner aspects of character rather than broad, physical movement.  All these things made our task in telling the story easier.

"Cheep, Cheep!" on the other hand, requires a bombastic kind of energy, the kind that took my nervous, restricted pubescent body most of high school to even begin to comprehend.  And that's the challenge we're facing with our novice actors in this piece.  We want to get people comfortable in their bodies and voices, willing to look ridiculous, willing to play, and bring a sort of hyper energy so that the piece is shot at the audience like confetti from one of those birthday popper things.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

...And We're Back!

Wow! Well, it's certainly been a while since I posted last. Whoops! Between midterms, Those Scary Reds, and rehearsals, things have been pretty crazy. However, I just finished my last midterm, Reds is (sadly) closed, and it's time for me to dedicate my time fully to this wonky little one-act!

So, what's going on currently in the world of The Mark?

Props have been pulled...

Lines have been memorized...

And slowly, but very, very steadily, our little play is coming to life...

Is it just me or is there an uncanny resemblance between the above (very blurry, sorry) photo and Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam"?

Yeah, probably just me.

Regardless, things have been going well. Rehearsals started out a bit slow as a result of one of our very, very talented actors being very, very busy with Dolly West's Kitchen. He did fabulously, and is now able to dedicate more time to The Mark following Dolly West's closing. So rehearsals are now on a more stable, regular schedule and everyone's newfound dedication is already paying off. Like, crazy paying off. 

Maybe it's because up until now my experience with theatre has been almost exclusively on stage, but I've never had the pleasure of truly witnessing an entire ensemble just "click". I mean, I've definitely felt it, but being able to witness the visual transformation of a bunch of bodies moving through their blocking to a bunch of characters actually interacting with each other and their environments is really, really incredible. It just seemed to happen overnight. One day we all got together for rehearsals and the entire cast just had it down. They came up with silly mannerisms. They developed spontaneous physical humor bits that added life to the play as a whole. They made this silly little world which, up until now, has pretty much just floated around in our heads, a seemingly real, tangible reality. And it's so much better than I could have anticipated. 

The crazy thing, however, is that I know this didn't all happen overnight. I've been in my actors' shoes and know what sort of dedication and hard work goes into their character choices and performances. They're working their butts off for us, and it has got to be one of the most humbling experiences I've ever had. Never in my life did I think for a second I'd be fortunate enough to see a play I wrote be staged (then again, I never thought I'd write a play in the first place, so...). I'm so overwhelming glad I've gotten the opportunity to embark on this crazy adventure with these incredible people and that they've been kind enough to enthusiastically take on this story. Their willingness and excitement to take the words from a script and transform them into an engaging little one-act is incredible. I feel beyond fortunate. 

So... What comes next? Well, we've done a lot of good work, but we're no where close to being finished. More run-throughs await, followed by company run-throughs, followed by tech, and not-too-far-off performances (is it just me, or has this term flown by?). It's time to really buckle-down and focus for the next few weeks. Through continual hard work and dedication I know'll we'll be ready though. I'm stoked! As always, thanks for sharing this journey with me. 

Stay Tuned!

Caffeine into Gear

Well, Dolly West is now over and time to put all my focus on this show. Sunday was a long frustrating day. We really had get tough on the actors and tell them that this is the last week we have to work on our show before we do run throughs with everybody. But I'm happy that they are all getting more and more off book. 

Tonight's rehearsal went well, we got to run through it twice and it's a little too long. But I know that once the actors get all their lines down, then they can pick up speed and it will cut the time down.

Here are some picks from Sunday and Monday:
Rachel stepping in to help Isaac

The whole cast!!!

Until next time!