Thursday, June 13, 2013

La Vie en post

This might get a little sappy and sentimental but it is necessary...........

After class yesterday and reflecting over the whole experience with all the members of the class I realized how bad ass these last two terms have been. I really would like to thank everyone that was involved. This started during winter term and that class was just a great start with Chris, Davey, Megan, Mike and Emily thank you for all the help on the script along the way and the criticism that was able to make it as well as it turned out to be.

Then the new additions this term Mike, Alex, Abbey and Tucker made the second have of the process just as cool. All the plays turned out to be great. Chris and Tucker put out a hilarious story of Mr. Billner and his cross dressing-fake bird chirping-squeeking boob day, Alex and Mike's Future Future Dear God turned out to be something completely different than I think anyone imagined when we read Mikes script last term which was really funny and then Alex added in his sense of Americana humor that was perfect. Abbey and Megan Crossroads might have had some confusing moments but I still really enjoyed watching it and reading through it last term. Botis is still one of my favorite characters and the whole little world the play was operating in was fun to play around with. (Abbey thank you for showing us how to properly stab people while on stage and the constant encouragement to stay involved in theater, I'm sorry I made you cry!)

Mr. Beaton, you did one hell of a job figuring out how to make the little conversation that was my script and make it action oriented an entertaining. The contrast between the death and the song at the end of the play was extremely beautiful and I am very thankful for the interpretation you put up on stage. ALL OF THE ACTORS FUCKING KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK! Joseph, Brian, Anna, Erin and Caleb thank you so much for bringing the characters to life it would not have been the same without your effort and energy!

And last but not least.....Thank you very much Liz for the opportunity to do this. You gave us the perfect amount of freedom and direction and the last two terms have been very cool and extremely helpful for the future. It's always awesome to have someone who can give you complements for your work and then tell you everything that is shit about it because you want us to grow as writers or actors or directors instead of blowing smoke up our ass. It's hard to call this a "class" but it was one of the best experiences since I've been in college....thank you (and thank you for making me spend the summer as a kitchen wench, I can't wait!).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reflections on the Proccess

After watching the plays run for about eight days in a row it was a lot of fun to see the change throughout each performance. The actors kept building on the performances from the night before and cool new things were brought out each night. The audience definitely plays into this. Some nights they don't like to laugh and some nights they do. Some nights they were really into La Vie and some nights it felt like people were just saying to themselves, "stab this gal already!"

By Sunday though everything was completely different than Wednesday. It was more polished, the actors changed things around and found what was working which really contributed to the pace of the play while being watched. Its funny to look back on and think of it starting with six people sitting in a circle and reading their lines. I had never done anything like this before so every step of the way was new and I had no idea what to expect out of it which was great because I had a lot of fun going through the process.

Looking at the Festival in its totality really blew me away. There are about twenty people (maybe more) all working for the 5 performances we had and it all went together great. There were a couple of hiccups along the way in the form of broken ankles and directors needing to act in the lead roles on opening night but it all turned out to be very good.

I'll never forget the night that "fuck the children!" was screamed out and the audience was completely silent...that was just way too good.

Final Post

 Directing Rose was a fun but stressful experience made even more stressful by the fact that it was not only a production but also a class, and as a class there was much more work that I had to accomplish.  These blog posts are part of the work I had to do for the class, as well as keeping a journal and typing a final reflection paper on the experience.  I am going to write a reflection paper, but keeping a record of the rehearsals and posting a blog weekly like I was supposed to was something that I didn't succeeded at.  I was busy with all the other work for the play, and also because it was a play I had trouble remembering that there was classwork that I had to complete.  Theatre has been my form of escapism and I thinking of it as being a class made the experience less exciting and pleasurable.  Having to also work nights and be in The Misanthrope, and my time and energy for getting things done other than the technical necessities of the play was too much to handle.  So I admit that I didn't complete all the work that I was assigned, and I deserve the grade according to that, but as for directing the show, I am happy with the way it turned out and thankful to have worked with the people that I did.  I want to make one final thank you to my actors for their hard work and patience and for putting on a terrific show.  I also want to thank Ricky Zipp for writing a great play and being great to work with in making it come to life.  I'm thankful that my first directing experience was a positive and enjoyable one and I hope to have more in the future.  Thank you all for seeing the shows, and putting up with me. Thank you.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Big Pink Door

La Vie en Rose translates to "life in pink" and is a reference to the phrase "looking through rose colored glasses".  This is great juxtaposition as the title is very lovely and romantic, opposite of course to the content of the play which is quite tragic.  This gave me some really creative ideas for the play.

As everyone could see the hotel door that we had in Rose was pink.  It wasn't quite the shade that I wanted, but the techies are in control of that sort of thing and it all worked out anyway.  I was hoping for a light red or a faint pink for the door and when I first saw that it had been painted with the very prominent hot pink I was very surprised.  I did love the door though, hot pink and all.  It gave the play a kind of surreal, symbolic quality while everything else, with the exception of the Bellhop's orange OSU marching band uniform, was set in the drab colors of the depression.

Speaking of depression, I was worried for my choice of the final moments of the play.  Again working with juxtaposition, I wondered how my choice of playing Lois Armstrong's version of La Vie en Rose while the Bellhop covers the dead Anne with a blanket.  I thought that the trumpet music, which in the right setting is happy and lively, in this case would be sad and melancholic with the final image of the play.  Ricky Zipp was very happy with the choice, having mentioned that he listened to the song as he wrote the play it seemed like the right choice.

 It's hard to see if your play has the affect you want it to when you direct a drama.  In a comedy you get laughs, but in a drama how can I know if they liked it?  Well, Ricky and me liked it and got some good comments from the audience, so that's good enough.  It was fun making the play happen and getting to work with Ricky.  Hope I get the chance again.       

Notes and Shared Energy

  The easiest and the most difficult part of directing in the One Acts was watching all five of the productions.   It was easy because I was finally in a position where I didn't have to do anything.  The rehearsals where over and I had placed a lot of time and effort into creating the production and now all the responsibility of the show was now in the hands of the actors and I could relax.  This was also the hardest part because now I simply had to observe with no control over the show, and watch the fruits of the labors of the cast, writer, and myself be received by an audience for five times in a row.

 I had made the decision early on during the rehearsals of La Vie en Rose that I wouldn't give any notes after any of the productions, which is a decision influenced by my athletic background.  Rehearsal is the time for preparation and the show nights are game days, and you don't coach on game days.  All that is done before hand and it is up to the players to decide the outcome.

Now I'm going on record saying that I was very happy with the productions of Rose, and that my actors all did great.  I'm happy that all the actors worked hard and put in all the practice and effort that made a wonderful show that didn't require me to make any changes or remind them to do anything.  It was my philosophy that with enough rehearsal time the cast would be confident enough in running the show that any problems or subtle changes, good or bad, that happened to the show during the productions would be noticed and addressed by the actors.  I saw this as a learning experience for the actors with less performing experience than others, and for veterans to not hear any more notes and take care of things by themselves.

Though they were great performances I did notice a few things that I would have liked to change, and though I didn't give any notes on the production there were a few things that I could have said.  I'm happy I didn't though, and I believe that proper prep and planning and no notes during the show is best way to go in the future.  There are some things that can't be changed however.  No matter how many notes I can give, I can't change the all important energy of the show. 

I noticed that the One Acts have a shared energy and that the tempo and dynamics of one show had an effect on the other shows.  This is all part of the collaboration of theatre.  In a single show, the energy level of one person can have an effect on everyone else.  If you're in a show or have seen it multiple times you can notice the differences that a change in energy can have.  Sometimes lines are dropped, sometimes the pacing is slower, sometimes lines are delivered drastically differently, and dozens of other little things that make the show what it is can be changed from a previous night.

I saw that these things happened in my show, and also in the other shows in the One Acts.  I wasn't thrown off or displeased by this however, since I knew going in that each night would be different and that shared energy would be a cause of that.  The show's were still great, and it was a good learning experience for me to see all the performances and see the differences from the other side of the stage.  I'll take this new knowledge into my future performances as an actor, and hopefully as a director as well.    

Future, Future, So Long...

This has been a very emotional week for me, which is funny because I am not usually that emotional of a person. But with graduation just around the corner and after having attended the cast party this last Saturday day it really hit me that I will be moving on and saying goodbye to so many of my old friends here at OSU as well as having to say goodbye to my new friends (so many whom I met in the making of this production). I am excited for the future but graduating will be bittersweet to say the least.

I have learned so much from all of you. Alex you are a great leader, and your talents are seemingly boundless my friend. We got to collaborate again one of these days! Zipp you are an awesome writer and you always call me out on my bull-crap, which is greatly appreciated. Mike you are an awesome guy with crazy powerful intensity man and that really translated into Ricky's play. Seriously man you are a great director and though I have never seen you act I am guessing that you are awesome. Abbey you are a pro that knows what to do in like every situation. I wish I had your know-how! Megan you are a great writer, who has a really unique style!. Chrispy, I am not saying bye to you because I am going to see you in Vegas my friend. But in case I don't you are awesome man! You always make me laugh and you are extremely talented. Tucker, you are like the nicest person ever! And I have heard that you are a tremendous actor from other Seus kids so it must be true.  Liz, you kick ass and everybody knows it.

Thank you guys so much! I am going to miss all of you and wish you all the very best! But I think I will miss you most of all scarecrow! (Sorry had to do it).
See you in the Future, Future.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Great advice.

The last show was yesterday.
It is over.
The sets are put back.
The props are up.
The crossroads taken apart and spilt forever between Megan and me.
The Crossroads
'Styx River' went to Megan and 'Damascus Road' came to me.
The cloths are washed, on their way to the dry cleaner, or in the case of the red skirt worn by the character Shax in the actress Alycia's closet.
And 'The Box' was destroyed by the very man who it tortured.
    The Red skirt and 'The Box'
It was wonderful.
The last show was so alive.
How I will miss these wonderful people.

The Bench and Bare feet.
The 'sweet sorrow' of it being over has not yet sunk in.
And the what could I have done better have yet to be banished in to the darkness of yesterday.
It was over before I could get tired of it.
That is just what I love about theatre.
That is just what makes theatre so hard.
However there is always another show around the corner.
But I will alway remember this show.
It is time to move on down the road.

The One Act Cast Party and Beyond

One of the pleasures of being involved with a theatre production is attending the much anticipated cast party that is held at the end, or near the end, of the production.  Not just an excuse to drink, a cast party is a celebration of all the hard work and effort that all the individuals involved have done to make a play possible and share congratulations for a successful run.  Cast parties are well earned and joyous occasions and the party for the 2013 One Acts was no exception.

  One act parties are usually the best for the same reasons that the One Acts themselves are so enjoyable.  A large group of people, many new or slightly involved with the theatre program with different interests, backgrounds, and talents, all coming together to collaborate on a common goal or in this case a common good time.  It's great to relax as a director with your cast over drinks and thank them for all their hard work and tell them how well they've grown and performed during the term.  The whole party is directors sharing their thoughts on other directors decisions, writers being acknowledged for their creations and input, and everyone from all the shows mingling and sharing laughs about their shows.  It's great. 

  But the party is also a time for reflection and also a look ahead for the theatre program.  Being one of the last events of the year, people reminiscence with friends about the shows that they have been a part of in the past year or years before and recall what made those shows so memorable.  Seniors who are graduating think about who will be left to be in the future productions and speculate what they'll be like.   Remaining veteran thespians ask new comers if they'll still be involved in the program and encourage them to participate. 

  In a way, the One Acts cast party is not just a celebration of the production itself, but of what the One Acts mean for the theatre program.  It's about students that have never been involved with theatre before discovering that they have the same passion for the art as students that have done it for years and how that collaboration and commitment makes the program better.  As one group of students leave to pursue their dreams, another group of students become involved and contribute their talents, personality and passion into the program.

 It's exciting to see this happen, and I'm happy that I get to be here for another year and work with that new group of students create the productions in the future.  Of course, what I'm really looking forward to is after the productions, where I will share a few shots of Jack Daniels with everyone at the cast parties.  It will be great.   
Future Future Dear God Entry 8 (The Dear God It's Over Edition)
"Don't worry Juno, Alex won't look up another picture for a long time."

While striking the set I had a little revelation. I had been having a lot of fun.
I don't want to say that I hadn't realized this earlier, working with funny people on a funny show, but it hit me with some greater significance as I wrapped up the donated props in time machine tarp.
I tend to sweat the little things. I like to think of this as productive stress, but it may not be the best way of handling the many little obstacles that appear when directing a production.

In the case of FFDG there were always little details that my brain screamed for to be fixed in order to best embody my vision of the play. I saw this discomfort manifest when I had a notepad with me during runs. At least two pages of nit-picking emerged every time I was vigilant. While there was decent feedback included, the amount of unnecessary notes soon became apparent as I tried to get through my feedback within a short time frame, and nearing opening night my feedback became too much too late in the game.

What I realized is that sometimes it is perfectly appropriate to relax, to kick back a little, to trust your actors (being talented as they are) to make appropriate choices for their characters. I need to realize that since I've seen  the show a hundred times I know exactly what is supposed to happen and need to keep from being irked when an important detail changes, is left out, or replaced.

Going back to my revelation, I was able to really have fun when I let go. When after the first few nights I stopped giving notes entirely, still being there for support and to talk some about the performance, but not forcing my direction on the actors in between performances. Then all of a sudden I found myself laughing with the audience each night as little differences emerged from the creativity of the cast, or in instances where a clutch ad-lib would replace a missed cue.

Remember, if you really love something enough you will let it go free.

But enough sappiness, I bid thee adieu friends. Alex Ries, signing off.

Wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more...

Leaving the Crossroads

the Crossroads
In winter term I wrote this one act and I didn't really have much hope for it before anyone, but me had seen it. I thought it was going to be boring and that no one would like it, but I was wrong. Once it was work shopped in class I realized that I actually wrote something with potential. And so after a few rewrites and some head banging against the wall, Those Who Really go to the Crossroads came to life.

At the end of winter term the directors had been chosen and it wasn't long after that that I knew my play would be put on stage for the One-Act festival. I can't say that I was completely at ease with Abbey Pasquini as my director, even though I knew that she had experience and lots of talent, but this is because my play at that time was still, for lack of better words, my baby.

Spring term hit and so did the rehearsals... I was unable to go to most of the beginning rehearsals because I was already involved in the Misanthrope rehearsals... So once I got to my play, it had already turned into something more alive, than just words on the page.

For me it didn't take long for my writers brain to stop fussing about line changes (not that there were a lot mind you) and my attention focused upon helping Abbey, like a good assistant director should do... Ok well there wasn't a lot for me to do, but still I was there.

Then it happened... Opening night... And that play of mine was not only mine, but the directors, and the actors, and I was able to sit back and love every moment of it.

From Jayden's struggles to Botis's wanderings, Cerberus's hatred of women to Shax's boredom with her work, it was all such a pleasure to write and to see and so with closing night being yesterday, I can only say thank you to everyone who had a hand in the one-acts. Truly, I had a great time.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Final Product FFDG

After re-writing the script a few times and rehearsing for weeks I must say that I am extremely pleased with the final product of the play. I am very proud to have been a part of the One-Act Festival and feel that it is something I will remember for the rest of my life. Everyone I got the chance to work with was amazing and this really was a team effort. The cast, the directors, the stage crew, Liz our fearless leader, and of course all the other writers. Together we formed a team and I have made a lot of new friends and learned so much. Thank you to everyone who came out to see the One-Act Festival, we truly appreciate your support and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity. I am going to miss you all, and hope for you each one of you the very best! It is sad to say goodbye but as they say "Sa La Vie", perhaps we all will all cross roads again some day in the future, future, and if we don't that would be an unfortunate case. I "heart" you guys!

Happy and Sad

There is only one show left before strike (for those of you who don't know, strike means to take away the set and take it apart if necessary.)

And as this day dawns the feeling that of both relief and terrible sadness weighs heavily on me.
It is a odd mixture that I have only found in the theatre. 
As I am deeply involved in theatre I have felt this odd combination at different levels throughout the years. 
You have to give up large amount of time to be involved in a play.
Dinner with friends.
Even the ability to see other plays.

It is exhausting, exhilarating and (sadly and wonderfully) evanescent.
I have never thought about the drama masks as anything but a representation of tragedy and comedy.
But today I did.
To a thespian they are so much more.
It is the emotions we put into this world we make.
The emotions that happen at the same time.

Chosen because this year was heavily of a comic nature.
I can't wait for the one acts to be over.
I really don't want them to be over.

Those emotions are waring with each other. 
I feel both at the same time.
It sounds crazy.
Doesn't it?

It has been so much fun and a great experience.
I have had a wonderful cast.
I adore my writer.
My fellow class mates have been fun getting to know.
And my teacher is great.
I will miss all that.

The Cast! And the signs.
It is a weird feeling like I have said.
Today is going to be the last show.
And I am happy and sad about it.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dramaturgy! ... Hmm ... Maybe not.

So after listening to two women if front of me last night discuss elements of the play I'd thought I do a post about the meanings behind everything.

I was going to go into the meaning behind then names and the signs. 
It was going to be fun. 


I was only ankle deep into the research of the names of my characters when I realized that the only places where you could get information on the name Megan (the writer) choose for them was websights that were telling you how to summon demons. 

As I read I got a little bit freaked out. 
I knock on wood.
I cross my fingers.
I wish on stars.
I make wishes at 11:11.
I do not play with ouija boards.
I do not step in fairy circles.
A fairy circle is a circle of mushrooms that in myth is made by fairies and if you step into one and the fairies want, they can take you away with them.
I do NOT summon demons.
no No NO!
I do not even like to be on a page that talks about summoning demons.
I do mess with that kind of stuff.

I am impressed that Megan could be on the sight long enough to read through multiple devil, demons and demi demons to pick the ones she uses.
I could not have. 
I would have stopped writing about them.
And I am glad she didn't because I really enjoyed working on this play. 
But my plans to regale you with information has fallen flat.

Because first of all...
If you want to know how to summon demons that is up to you!
It's not hard to look it up.

And second of all...
Megan wrote all about the signs (you should go read her blog if you haven't already).
Why we choose them and everything.
And I feel that is unnecessary to rewrite what she has already stated..

Since I was going to be a dramaturg and then really really couldn't.
I decided to dramaturg the meaning behind the word dramaturg.
To make up for the absents of devils.
  • A definition of Dramaturgy is a distinct practice separate from play writing and directing, although a single individual may perform any combination of the three. A dramaturge works on the historical and cultural research into the play or its setting. Etc.
This is the first joke meme I found. I am still confused as to what they do. Are you?
This is the second. Makes much more sense. 

Billner 8

Well it's finally opening weekend for the plays. We have 3 more shows left, and it's already off to a great start.

The experience of being a playwright has been really fun. I do miss acting in a play this term, especially since there were a few characters I wouldn't have minded being from the other playwrights. The break from the memorizing and rehearsing and the stress of dealing with performing consistently was nice. The cast has done a great job. It's damn near close to being what I had pictured in my head. Plus there were a few things that the actors and director brought to it that I really enjoy and never thought of. My personal favorite is Squeaky boobs. They should really be a standard device in comedy, I've seen it a few times now and they still crack me up. I've only been able to sit in on one of the nights, from what I've heard it's been killing every night. I'd like to thank everyone who not only watched the show, but decided to reach out to me and compliment me on the play. It means a lot! I think after a few edits I might send it to a festival or something. Anyway my part in the process has been done for awhile, and I've been observing the creation that Tucker, the cast, and crew have been making. It's their baby now, and they should be proud. I'll continue to be the deadbeat dad that shows up to take credit for it's success.

It's time to approach the next step of being a successful writer, getting paid, and alcoholism. Hopefully in that order.

Break legs for the final shows cast!

Thanks everyone for the experience!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Future Future Dear God Entry 7 (The let out a long and relieving sigh edition)
We dropped an A-bomb down his trousers
Opening night happened. Battle lines had been drawn. The gauntlet thrown down. A lot of people had paid four to eight dollars for their tickets, and they'd be damned if they weren't properly entertained. After the curtain call of the first show, the crowd sat quietly, tensing slowly as the transition music played, staring at the silvery tarp-covered object in front of them that was obtrusively labeled: "TIME MACHINE."Something was about to happen. The lights came up shockingly, exposing the minimalistic 1950s time travel laboratory. A gasp, perhaps from the man in the cutoff T-shirt and nighttime sunglasses sitting house right. Dr. Vonfeldsteinburgerberg began with his first line, but then, the unthinkable happened.

They laughed. Seriously? It wasn't a joke, okay, I get that he's obviously a bald, crazed, ex-German scientist, but come on everyone we've got a lot funnier stuff than this, well we hope. I mean, this isn't supposed to be a sitcom, where you laugh, cheer, and clap when some popular reoccurring character merely enters. As Jim Carrey's interpretation of Andy Kaufman put it, sitcoms are the basest, lowest forms of entertainment.

However, the understudy for Lt. Ronny Colderman was only partially flustered, but stuck to his guns and played off the first scene as if he did not give one single fuck about the shit that the doctor was saying. The laughter continued unabated and fantastically. By the end, doves flew through the air, people with disabilities were miraculously cured of the ailments, and the Lord was pleased.

Leaving this unrealistic interpretation of events aside. The audience was great (I had paid off about a third of them) and really gave the cast enough energy to carry it onward to the effect of egregious hilarity. That was last night, tonight we had a much smaller crowd but the show still made everyone laugh and the actors (now a consistent cast with the parting of their dear ego-inflated director actor) pulled through admirably. Can't wait until the big crowds this weekend.

Until next time, may your dreams always have more dreams in them.

Opening night and Characters!

The cast
Opening night has come and gone, I know I'm a little late in saying this, but all of the actors were awesome and were just as wonderful tonight for the second show in the run.

Now that the show has opened, I've had many a person ask me how I feel about seeing my play on stage. While the first few rehearsals had me a bit on edge, it didn't take me long to relax and enjoy watching my characters come to life.

And speaking of which, here they are:


Played by Jonathan Thompson, Jayden is the man who is at the crossroads to make a deal with the devil. As the play goes n Jayden tells of his wife's death and it is because of that , that he wants a deal to bring her back.

 Played by Brittany Potter, Botis is a barefooted wanderer. She ran from her past life and tells Jayden that she's forgotten where her home was. She is the first to find out anything about Jayden, she is also one of the reasons that Jayden does not immediately leave.


Played by Alex Johnsten, Cerberus is a man who seems to have been wealthy at one point or another, but is now hanging around the crossroads. Cerberus makes Jayden truly think about what's so important to him and is pushed to defend his reasons.

Played by Alycia Olivar, Shax is the last one the characters to make an appearance and Abbey like to refer to her as "a flame". She works for a certain someone... While it's never actually said who, it's clear that Shax has more power than most. She is the last push in makeing Jayden tell his story, so that by then end everyone understands why he felt that he had to come to the crossroads.

Everyone in this play has or has had, to lose or gain something they want. I've loved watching this whole process and I really have liked watching my play become something real.
Future Future Dear God Blog Entry 6 (The Stop Stressing Out Edition)
Look at that death-dodging bastard.
So we just had final dress, and I only suffered a minor cardiac arrest (from missing an interruption cue and watching poor Bryan stutter at me for a 1 and a half seconds). This fearful first "performance" as the understudy didn't crash and burn in the fashion that my dreams have been ominously predicting lately.  Visions of crashing planes, sinking ships (the Titanic in particular), landslides engulfing orphanages, you know the deal.

However, it worked. Miraculously. I was really paranoid about being stranded after I missed a queue, but while I was slow on a few pickups they were only minor bumps in the road. I really have to give a lot of credit to Bryan and Alexa for pulling me through this. They've really shown themselves to be consistent in their performance even when the lead actor changes. Half of the things they're doing aren't scripted (the majority of the stoner sidebar conversations) but they've developed such a good rhythm that it comes out strong every time.

We only had a small audience of directors and other production roles, but it was relieving to hear fresh laughter at jokes we had long since forgotten the effect of. I found it amazing what I could discover in playing a character. I shared some notes with J afterward regarding things I had noticed in from my own experience (blocking, moments of dramatic delivery, etc), which I think will strengthen the production overall.

In the end, the ship didn't sink. Hooray. See you opening night.

(Disclaimer: This draft totally existed before opening night)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

La Vie en Rose: script to stage

La Vie en Rose has changed dramatically from what was put down onto paper. The words are obviously all still there but the additions from Mike and the cast has brought it to life in a way that I never exactly pictured. The biggest lesson I learned was how writing can exist as Genius in your head when existing on paper and then when moved towards action it is absolute shit. I had never been involved with a theater performance so seeing the process go along has definitely helped in how I would tackle another script.

Being able to let go of the writing has also been a great experience. The collaboration that has happened is amazing and without that the final product would have never been able to be as good as it is now. All the actors have slowly become the characters that they were merely reading when we began and the scene of the play has begun to take shape around that. And this does not need to be done from elaborate ideas about the execution of the material but very simple and subtle contributions have that reality out and allowed the imaginative aspect to dominate instead of the straight forward "city street" scene that I had in my head while writing it.

Ricky Zipp

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Almost there.....

The last few rehearsals have been a lot of fun.

The process has gone from being very individual and focusing on the one play that we were doing with our group of 6 and now it has come together with three other plays and around 30 other people and costumes and makeup and sets and sound and lights. It was a lot of fun to watch it all get put together over the weekend and see how the other plays have come since the term started. For the most part I had only seen the scripts of the other three plays and watching them rehearse with all of their components and little nuances made me really excited for the whole one act festival after being so focused on La Vie.

The order that was chosen is going to be perfect and I think the show will amazing with all the different aspects that each play is adding to it. After seeing them done three or four times and knowing the jokes that are coming or the dramatic parts that are meant to get ya I am excited to watch this with a fresh audience who have no idea what is going to be coming next and see how the react to everything that has been built into these plays over the term.

Ricky Zipp

Dress Rehearsal

Today we had our dress rehearsal with all of the "tech" cues as well. I feel really good about everything at this point and I am very proud of our team. The work has been put in as well as the time, now it is all about execution and enjoying the performance. This has been a totally unique experience: writing a play, and then watching it slowly come to life over months of work and preparation. All and all it has turned out far better then I originally thought it would and I am very proud of the work we have done.
It has also been a lot of fun to watch the other plays slowly evolve and come to life as well. Especially since I was there last term when the other writers were still working on their rough drafts. We were all writing at the same time and now all of the performances are happening back to back, which is really cool.
Thank you to everyone who has helped out, tried out, and is performing! This is going to be a very fun event and I am proud to be a part of it. Cheers!
Above from left to right: (J. Garret) Lt. Ronny H. Colderman, (Bryan Smith) Dr. Vonfeldsteinburgerburg, (Alexa Johnson) Sam

Monday, June 3, 2013

Reading Signs

The street signs
And now it comes time for a little information about two signs that Abbey and I got, because we couldn't help ourselves...

Clearly one is a name of a river from the Greek mythology, but how many would really know what it means? Then, of course the second sign is from the Christian faith and t be honest I didn't know anything about the road to Damascus until one night when Abbey and I were talking and she mentioned it. Of course when I asked her about it's story even she said that it was the only road from the Christian faith that she could think of... but we'll start with the river Styx.

In Greek mythology:

The river Styx is one of the five main rivers of the underworld and is the river of hatred, but all souls cross this river as long as they can pay their way. The custom is to place a coin, called an obol, in the deceased's mouth, so that when the ferryman, Charon, comes down the river for them, they can pay. Once passed the river Styx they had to pass Cerberus's judgment before they were able to go to their place in the underworld.

In the Christian faith:
The road to Damascus is a story that may not be as well known and as I said before, I didn't really know and honestly I now only know the bare minimum, but it's enough to justify putting the name on a street sign for my play. Any way...
As I have found out, the road to Damascus is where Saul of Tarsus, later Paul one of the apostles, and his companions are struck down by a blinding light. Saul heard the voice of Jesus, who told him that he must change his ways and after being lead to Damascus (lead, because of temporary blindness) he is convinced be a few events that he should become a speaker for God. So Saul changes his name and becomes Paul, one of Jesus's twelve apostles.

Saul being struck down

So the reason that Abbey and I agreed that Damascus was appropriate on the stage was because it is a story of  major change in a persons life, which is exactly what all of the characters in Those Who Really go to the Crossroads  are going or have already gone through.

Here's hoping I explained things just enough for everyone to like what Abbey and I have done.

Tech Weekend.........

For those of you who don't know tech weekend is both fabulous and completely awful.

It is when the technical crew join the scene.
So imagine people who have never seen a play coming in early on a Saturday morning to work with the directors and designers.
Going cue to cue ironing out the problems over and over until we are happy.
Then a break...
Then we come back and the actors join us!!!
We then again we go cue to cue.

That is how it is normally.
And it went like that mostly.
Except the lighting designer wasn't there.
Remember in an earlier blog how I talked about lighting design ad nauseum?
And how I missed it?
Well guess what???
I got to help add and subtracted cues.
I got to play.
The SM (stage manager) thanked me for my help when really it should have been me thanking her.
I loved it.

The cue to cues with the actors went fast.
It was done when it was done.
But it wasn't painful.
Another difference is one of the plays had a full run through.
But is was a very funny play and it had the most inner cues so no one really minded.

That was Saturday.

On Sunday we were back to do dress.
Dress is the first time the actors get wear their costumes.
So problems come from that.
But not very many.
My actors were almost completely dressed.
We were missing a skirt for one and a shirt for another.
(That is now fixed!)
They look really good.
The costumer designers (a class) did a great job.

There were a few problems with the cue and somehow the old light board got stuck (I got to fix it!) but Sunday was smooth.

It was ever so much fun.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tech weekend...

The crossroads
This last couple of days were, what is known, tech weekend and are a marker for the one-act festival that most of us kind of dread because it shows that opening night is coming closer. Saturday went by rather smoothly, as my and Abbey's one-act only has a couple lighting changes and no need for any kind of sound effects.

The picture above is the set for Those Who Really go to the Crossroads, it's very simple and open, which is more of a challenge for Abbey (the director) to work with, but she has told me that she actually likes working with sets like this. In my original script, I had written that there was a bench, a lamp post, and a trash can, so really the number of object hasn't changed, just what they are and where they go on the stage.

Tech weekend sounds exactly like what it sounds, it's where the directors, tech crew, and in this case, the writers have to wake up early, go to the theatre and attempt to figure out what lights will make the actors look good... Some shows go really smoothly, some not so much... but with this show everything went well and I'm looking forward to opening night.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Billner 7

6 Blogs down, 2 to go!

The first run-through was the point where it really hit me that this play is going to happen. Now I can officially cross that notch off my belt.
The run-through itself was really interesting, I finally got to see the hard work of my cast and director, as well as the work that went in to everyone else's production. Everyone was a little nervous about performing for the  first time, and even after a few line calls, and some breaking down and laughter, it went well.
I'm really impressed with the cast as a whole. They've really brought these simple characters alive and created some really funny moments. I still laugh at a few of my favorite parts, where Mr. Billner gently strokes the hair of Mrs. Billner and asks. "Aren't you a convict playing my wife?" I never imagined that way of reading it and whether it was Alex and Derek, Tuckers idea, or both, they did a great job! There is not much else to say at this point. Tech is going on right now, and thinking that I may have been a genius in scheduling 20 hours of work into 2-3 days. I'm not able to attend tech and assist with the cue to cue. Which is fine, I think I would just be in the way of a very stressful process. Maybe I can talk them into getting a live feed into my work computer so I can Skype? Regardless the shows are shaping up and I'm proud to put my name on this show with the excellent cast and crew.

I'll close with some kind words that someone left me after viewing my show for the first time.

"You're really fucked up aren't you?"

George Caldwell

A little bit George, a little bit.

Here's to opening night on Wednesday!