Friday, April 28, 2017

Hopping Along

     This past week has been hectic, without a doubt. Not only in regards to this production, but in general. However, in regards to this production, I have been relatively successful. While other casts have had multiple rehearsals all ready, I have not. Yet, I am not worried. This is the way I prefer to operate:
     To me, it is necessary and important to have blocking completely finished by the first rehearsal. It is important to have a complete set picture as well. I dislike working in a space in which I must constantly remind actors, "Hey, there's set piece B over there. You can't walk there." That was always unsettling to me as an actor, so I strive to not put actors in that position as a director.
     With this particular show, I also asked Mike to write an additional monologue. I felt it would be unfair to add the change after rehearsals had started as it would change the picture/shape of the show. Mike has been understanding and accommodating in this plan. I want to be fully prepared by the first rehearsal, so I do not want actors to have to alter their perception mid-rehearsal.

     Overall, I feel confident in where the entire production is at. I met with costume/make-up designers to discuss the full attire. I've sent out information about what I expect for productions, and I've had a chance to re-digest the story that I am tasked with telling. Yes, we are starting later than the other groups, but challenge accepted.

Love Games: the meeting of our lovers

While I haven't posted in a couple week I must say that a lot has been happening. I'm so excited to finally have our cast and have gone through a few rehearsals.

The audition process:
While the auditions progress had begun I was not all too excited, well actually I was, but not as excited as I thought I was going to be. It didn't quite click that a play I actually wrote was going to be be produced and even though seeing the many people who showed up to audition wasn't surreal to me. It wasn't until we sat down and discussed who was being casted did I start feeling nervous excitement.

Casting Love Games was challenging to the extent our directors knew who they wanted to cast, and yet we had to all really work together to get who we saw best fit the roles there conflicts between parts and the people we were considering casting. All in all we got the cast we wanted and we're very excited to actually sit down with the actors.

Read Through and First Rehearsals:
Having everyone read the play together was a lot of fun. I saw our cast members individual personalities come out during the first few meetings. Our cast has already shown some of their own flare they can bring to their characters. Most importantly they already started to flowed together, which to me is really impressive.

I am so excited to really take off with my play! I love working with my cast and especially my director.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Beginning: The Two Minds of Mr. Coffan

This week entailed one of my favorite parts of the rehearsal - the first glance at the script. Often times, the designers, stage manager or actor has a chance to look through their script prior to the first meeting but there is something special about when we all come together for the very first read-through. 
Personally, I am a lover of food and what it does to bring people together and so when I experienced my first read-through with Liz, our professor for the course, I understood how you can begin the process with a sense of friendship and community before the "hard" part begins. After tasting (figuratively in this sense but also literally, Liz is a wonderful cook) what this does for a cast, I decided to copy the practice. We met in the green room snacks in one hand and scripts in the other to get the first encounter with the script as a whole. Naturally, the process started with a few introductions, brief presentations of the concepts, and an overview of expectations. Then, after filling our plates with more snacks, we got into the script. It is so refreshing after reading the script countless times to hear firmly the voices of the people portraying the characters that have been in your head for so long. I feel as though I finally have a foundation to build upon and I love the sense of possibility that comes from this first rehearsal because it's true, anything can happen from this point on. 
In this instance in particular, I loved the reactions to the script. Although some had read it, it's always different hearing it out loud. Once, we condluded the reading it was all praise for dear Hannah (which she completely deserved). It's refreshing to be able to thank your playwright for giving you a world to play in and this normally doesn't happen. After this experience, I hope to be apart of more moments like this. 

Now, for blocking! 


Killing Your Children

The process of editing has begun, and with it, the killing of my children. Not my actual children, but, my words and lines that I poured my soul into creating and putting down onto the page. They're part of me, products of me, and share many aspects with me; any writer worth their salt feels the same way. And one of the hardest aspects of being a writer is killing them. Anything extraneous needs to go. As one of my esteemed professors has told me many times: "Tell the fucking story."

Now that I've gotten the pretentious writer-ly part out of the way, I've begun edits for the script in earnest, subtracting here and adding there, most notably adding a monologue for Honey. Brian and I haven't decided where it'll go, or even if it'll end up in the final version of the play, but that's the beauty of it; it's my play and I can do what I want with it. The most I've taken advantage of this boon has been in just adding puns here and there. I'm excited to see where the script ends up by the time we actually perform it. Probably a lot funnier and streamlined from where it is now. Who knows? Only time will tell.

Until next time,

Friday, April 21, 2017

From Page to People

As an actor, auditions are always stressful and usually involve a few mini-mental breakdowns before and after I audition. Auditions, as a writer who has little to no say in who gets cast: so relaxing. Admittedly, I was a little anxious about what the turn out would be like; but, after a plethora of talented actors flocked to auditions, I had a jolly good time sitting next to Sedona and watching the bold, funny, new takes on my characters. I should note, I was relieved when people laughed at my jokes—yay!—and seemed to respond positively toward the sides selected for auditions. I will say it was a thrilling experience to watch my characters become embodied, no longer just hear them as voices (in my head and when my peers read my script aloud in playwriting class), but to see them as well…actual people. It already added this depth to the story that ink and page could not.

We are now cast, and the reason I was so relaxed about the auditions was because I knew my characters were in the hands of Sedona and her casting expertize. As predicted, Sedona chose an amazing cast to enrich The Two Minds of Mr. Coffan and I am oh so excited to have the first read through with Nate Pereira as the ineloquent George Coffan, Amy Stein as the sassy Adair, and Joe Cullen as the ridiculous Mr. Baldwin.
Until next time,


Auditions and Casting: The Two Minds of Mr. Coffan

Hello again! 

What a ride we have been on since I last posted. Last Sunday and Monday we had auditions for our One Act festival and I must say, we had a great turn out. Being an actor myself, I have always found it interesting seeing things from the other side of the table. I love being able to see the big and wild choices that people are able to make from only getting a run or two tops from the script. I mean, when you think about it, they are taking a big risk putting themselves out there in front of a crowd of being without any knowledge or instruction for the most part. Personally, I think that's part of the magic. 

When going into auditions I knew what I was looking for in the actors. For my main character, George Coffan, I was looking for someone who could play the frazzled writer type. I wanted him to have quirks, be introverted as well as overall a bit awkward, after all, he is cooped up writing a romance novel that is going nowhere. My characters from the novel I needed to be versatile because they are both essentially playing two characters in the show. On one hand, I have Reginald Baldwin which I want to be an over the top Mr. Darcey type. I wanted to see someone make big choices in both accent and movement so that they can portray the "courtship" in the silliest fashion possible. However, for his other character, George's father, I needed to see someone who can also play someone who is not present mentally and who has a very small capacity for relationships. On the other hand, we have Adair Augustina. Similarly to Mr. Baldwin, I needed to see someone big, flowery and over the top as the characters "fall in love," but I also needed someone who can make the switch to a sassy, knowledgable and strong woman in a split second when Adair plays her real self. 

I know that actors hear this all the time, but being on the other side, I can say that it's true! It was difficult to cast this show when there were so many great auditions. I saw so many new sides of people and it was a pleasure being part of the experience. That being said, my show is now officailly cast. Emails have been sent and the work is about to start. I couldn't be more thrilled. 

Here's to first read-thru, 


The Die Has Been Cast

Extra! Extra! The show has been cast! The show has been cast! Thank you to everyone that came out to audition, but now we have our lovely group of actors. I've worked with or seen most of the actors work before, so I'm excited to see what they bring to the table. As for those I haven't seen before, this is an opportunity to see something new, another face and hopefully another friend in our little family here at Oregon State University Theatre.

First we have Isaac Meisenheimer as Buck. I first met Isaac in last year's One Act Festival. He's a swell dude and I'm really looking forward to seeing how he tweaks his innate bro-ness away from surfer bro into jock bro. He brings a lot of enthusiasm and energy to the table. It's going to be fun watching him interact with the actors in the cast as the meathead jock that you see in every 90s horror flick.

Next up is Pam Mealy as Bambi. I first met Pam in the Oregon State University Marching Band, as I had worked closely with her father, Darren, who was in my section for several years. I've seen Pam act in several shows, including Kiss Me, Kate, Dolly West's Kitchen, and last year's One Act Festival. She is a talented actress, and she brings the no-nonsense and skeptical tones that I imagined when I wrote the role of Bambi.

After Bambi, there's Hopper played by Lindsey Esch. This is my first time working with Lindsey, but I've seen her work in this winter's production of For The Love of Lies, a Commedia dell'Arte scenario, as Arlecchino. The broad strokes of commedia I feel will lend itself nicely to the character of Hopper, whose twitchy and energetic explanations of the world around him align nicely with Lindsey's previous training.

To round out the 4 campers, there's Alessandra Ferriso as Honey. I've never worked with Alessandra on a show, but I'm expecting good things after seeing her in For The Love of Lies as Pedrolino. She seems open to direction, but what I'm really looking forward to is how she's going to ham up the sultry temptress character that I've written for Honey.

Last, but not least, we have Robert Czokajlo as The Skinner. Auditions was my first time meeting Robert, but he when he auditioned I saw the potential for The Skinner in him. He's a big dude, and the comedy is going to come from how he can use the difference in size between him and the rest of the actors to show how "scary" The Skinner really is. All in all, I'm excited to have the chance to work with someone completely new.

There you have it, folks. I talked last week about how surreal it felt having this being put on; that feeling has been replaced with excitement and a drive to turn SKINNER into something more than a stupid idea I turned into a play over the course of a couple nights and a couple beers. The rehearsals are starting soon, and words can't describe how interested I am in seeing how the show progresses from just a collection of animal puns on the page. Come see our show when it opens June 1st, right here in the Withycombe Lab Theatre.