Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Looking back

It has been a few days since the show has closed and it is a great time to look back and reflect on the process. I never thought I would be a director. I know directing a one-act in the bigger picture of life is not a big deal, but for me it was unexpected. Last year I decided to take the directing series at OSU and have the opportunity to direct my first one-act. My experience was not my favorite, because I was so busy with another show, but I still liked directing. Since then, and in combination with this experience, I have developed the beginnings of my directing style.

I have found that I am not the kind of director that gets very nervous. I don't get nervous watching my show or having others watch it. I also don't get nervous when something goes wrong on stage in front of an audience. When something goes wrong it can actually be quite entertaining because I can sit back and watch the actors' lives flash before their eyes. I really hope I have given them the preparation for this to not happen, but sometimes it does. After seeing a show more than 10 times the mistakes are sometimes the best part, for me, not the actors or audience. It is the beauty of live entertainment! The most entertaining mistake to watch on stage was the Saturday night performance of Cheep! Cheep!. When the lights came up on the "Ball-in-Cup" scene, it was an instant disaster as the ball in the cup fell off the counter. On to the floor it rolled with the actor's face saying "oh my god, what am I going to do". Now for those of you who have not scene the show, there are three cups with a ball in it. A person has to guess which cup has the ball in it to win. The cups usually stay on the counter but this time it fell! Without being able to describe how perfect the cover was by an actor on stage, the whole situation was so great the audience gave an applause just for the brilliance. The audience loved it! It kept me laughing in my seat for the rest of the show.

Besides the mistakes, there were some wonderful moments. I saw something different in every show every night. I saw actors grow in their performances and interact with their audience. The process from beginning to end was well worth it. I did not think directing would be the direction I would go, but I am sure glad I took this path and was given the opportunity.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I may have neglected a few days...

True, there were a number of performances in which I did not respond afterwards the way I had intended, but miraculously, there were no negative reasons to set one performance apart from another. Each night went as smoothly as the next and each night I was just as entertained as the previous show. It was a pleasure working with the cast and crew of this year's One Act Festival and everyone should be really proud of what we all managed to put together.

But more than that, I give props to the other writers and directors, especially Sam Zinsli, for making this experience all the more special. Sure there were times when we all wanted to kill each other and it wasn't always smooth sailing, but I formed some really valuable friendships over these last few months and on top of that I was able do the thing I love most. This opportunity to put my playwriting skills to work has been invaluable and I'll certainly never forget it.



Monday, June 8, 2015

And Then There Were None.

Well, we're done.

This crazy little ride that has been The Mark  is officially over. Complete. It's pretty weird.

Yesterday, my parents finally came and saw the show. I was especially excited to see how my father-- an English major-- responded. Well, as fate would have it, we sold out (again again), so my seat and another director's were given-up for them. Instead of sitting among the audience we sat in the catwalk and watched all the action below. It's almost surreal sitting above everyone and watching from a birds-eye view. You feel removed, completely separated. About half way through The Mark's closing performance (one of their very best, I might add) it hit me this was the last time I was ever going to witness this one-act's performance (at least in this setting). I took a moment to really be present and soak-up the happenings below. Looking at all we accomplished, the full house below, and my parents laughing together gave me a sort of closure on this project. We'd accomplished our jobs. And it was time to let go.

Strike was quick and, before I knew it, we were done. After a lovely meeting with my parents I was home alone, left to really contemplate the last few months. So what did I learn? The answer to that is a lengthy one-- one that I'm honestly still trying to figure out as of yet. So, far, what I do know is:

I learned how to create not one, but an entire cast of characters, and bring them into existence onto a tangible piece of paper completely by myself.

I learned how to let go of each character and give each one individually to an actor.

I learned to hold my tongue when my director was making a choice I just didn't agree with.

I learned the value of a fresh set of eyes and how many wonderful discoveries are made when a director interprets your text in new, creative ways.

I learned how much work goes into a play before a script even reaches an actor's hands.

I learned just how incredible it is to sit back every night and watch the actors work their butts off in a performance while you do nothing.

I hated this process sometimes, but I usually loved it.

Ultimately, I don't know what comes next. I loved serving a dramatist, but still prefer acting in the end, I think. But I don't want to stop writing altogether either. I can't, really. I have a 10 minute play I'm pretty proud of that I'm considering sending to a few festivals after some edits and I'm currently preparing to begin writing a full-length play on my former neighbor, Dr. Ambrose Shields, for my Honors College thesis (more on that later). I'd love to see another one of my productions staged someday. But The Mark will always be special. It'll always be my first. Anna, Reilly, Burke, Max, and Mason will always hold a special place in my heart for bringing this wacky little play to life, and for that I couldn't be more thankful.

Thanks for sharing in this journey,

Opening Night and Beyond

Well here we are the day after strike. All the actors have said their goodbyes and are now finishing up finals and making summer plans. The dressing room and make-up rooms are inexplicably clean and all the furniture is back downstairs, and the shows are a not-so-distant memory. Reflecting on opening  night to closing there are so many things that go though my head. The fist night I was nervous, but happy because I was around friends, waiting how everyone would receive  this goofy play. My first thought was that they'd all hate it and not get any of the jokes, but when I heard that first chuckle when Isaac slammed the floor I knew we'd be okay and I eased up and just watched the show. That has been the hardest part for me, just letting it go. I'm so proud of the wonderful actors and Teri who made it as funny and cute as it was, I just have issues I guess. Having something you wrote up there, with your name attached to every line is scary! Night after night I found myself blending more with the audience than with a self-critic though. I enjoyed cheering on everyone else's play, why not my own? It was good and I'm proud of how it turned out. So I left my inhibitions on the ladder to the catwalk and just started to have fun. I even remember Thursday night when all the prop issues went on, cups wen missing or lids gone, the mustache never worked, but it was all sort of funny because I got to see how the actors dealt with it.

Sold out last show (this is our set!)

 Every night had something different to bring, and wether I watched from the catwalk or the audience I felt very privileged to be a part of this process. I thank Teri and the cast for dealing with my neuroticism. 

Cheep Cheep Blog 8 - Joseph Workman

Our Sunday matinee performance was solid, though both actors and audience had energy typical of a summer weekend afternoon. I was mindful that this was the last time Cheep, Cheep! would be running, admiring the work Ken Richardson and shop students had done on our fair booth, our smart & silly costumes designed by Sheri Long and Cory Warren, and all the work and time from Alex Ries and the actors in and outside rehearsals.  It's been great to be a part of this process. Not only did I appreciate the free mushroom bacon swiss cheeseburgers, courtesy of our freshmen actors' surplus dining hall money, but I enjoyed the company of my cast at our pre-show cafeteria feasts.  I had a blast playing tag, ninja, and some odd foot game.  Feet on feet.  Our cast was also kind enough to buy Alex and I chicken biscuits and sign cards, and Casey even brought in a live a chicken for us to... I don't know. I don't know what the expectation/intention was there.  There was a lot of secrecy about it.  I was taken to a room and shown a box.  I looked inside, at it - the chicken.  It was chill.

A. Ries and I had a couple of brief, knowing, and congratulatory handshakes at the end of the run.  I spent so much time with him on this project, working and discussing each step of the way, and he's already off to California as I write this - I probably won't see him for a long time.  He's been great to work with and I've been told appreciative things from the cast.  I was happy with how things turned out; most of the changes for the final draft were thanks to his input and our cooperative effort.  I was approached by several people who told me that the slow motion egging scene was their favorite part of the whole show.  I got to tell them that it wasn't in the script; rather, the whole effect was Ries's idea - I wasn't even present for the rehearsal when that idea came into fruition.  Anyway, he'll be missed and good luck to him.

Things end, and change quickly.  I am sad but also glad this production is over.  It's time to finish up the term and look forward to Midsummer Night's Dream as this summer's Bard in the Quad production.

Cheep Cheep Blog 7

Saturday night was our best performance.  It was our second night of being sold out, though this time there were actual bodies to filling seats to support the fact.  I felt grateful that my parents had bothered to come down to see it, and fortunate that they happened to come that night. Starved from Friday night, every show fed off this audience's energy.  Not only was the house full, but some of our actors (at least/especially Casey) had some friends or a fan club in the audience, which certainly helped give Cheep, Cheep! extra support.  I noticed it in the pacing and the volume, and the way they seemed to relish in what they were doing.  I could tell the actors were focused on giving back to the audience; they waited for laughs, tried new things, and were receptive to reactions to material they had never heard before.  We also had a great things-going-wrong-live moment when Jackson accidentally knocked over the cup with the ball in it from the booth.  There was an awkward pause. Rather than lose his composure, Alex Tauss, one of our novice actors, stayed focused in the moment and took advantage of the incident by simply pointing to the obvious answer and giving his line a whole new degree of bluntness, saying, "That one."  He then had the mindfulness to go pick up the fallen props for his fellow actors.  Another one of my favorite moments was a collective gasp when the audience realized Chester was going to give the bike to Margery instead of Maxwell, showing that the story was being told, stakes were raised, and people were invested in what was happening.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Closing Performance!

Well all things come to an end. When good things come to an end it's even harder. Today was the last performance of the 2015 Spring One-Act Festival. It was a great show that completely sold out! While thinking about the show during the closing performance, my brain was blooded with memories and emotion.

Sometimes in a process of putting on a show everyone is faced with stress or things they wish they did better. People say, "oh I can't wait for this show to be over". This is because it takes a lot of work to put on a show. It is time, work, work, time, time, and more time. It becomes the life. However, watching the last performance with my fellow students next to me and nervous actors on stage, I realized how much I love the life of the show with all the stress, drama, mistakes, and nerves. These elements make up the fun as we all learn right along side each other to become better. We support each other. My experiences with the playwrights, directors, designers, actors, and crew have allowed me to grow as a director, create new friendships, and form stronger relationships.

Watching the last show was a moment to relive all the memories and see opportunities for the future. The One-Act Festival is my last show as an undergraduate at OSU. There is something special about the connection with people and a play. When it all ends if feels like a small part of the life I was living just ended. But meeting all the new actors who were involved, I can see a lot of hope and potential for great shows in the future. It is time to move on and get focused on finals and graduation. Besides, there will always be another show! Thanks to everyone for the unforgettable experience!

Cheep Cheep Final

Hey everyone!

We just wrapped up the final performance of the One Act Festival and I'm proud to say that everything went great. It's nice at this time to reflect back on all of the awesome things this cast brought to the table. My favorite moment had to be Saturday night, where Alex Tauss had a miraculous save on the ball as it rolled onto the floor, elegantly calling "That One" without missing a beat, which got a big laugh from the audience. Moments like these make me proud as hell and sorry that I'm not going to work with these people after the show is over.

These One Acts have finished my career here at OSU, and though I'm excited to graduate it's definitely hard to know that I won't be coming back for fall term. However, I think the department is strong and will stay strong with all of the new people getting involved through One Acts and onward, and when I plan my visits I'll make sure to come see a show here.

With that, once again thanks to my cast, Liz, Joseph, all of the directors/writers, and everyone else that I've met through the department! You're all the bees knees and I'll miss you dearly. Until next time, good cluck out there!

Meet Brad Stone
Brad is on the left. What a cutie.

His name is Brad Stone. Born and raised in West Linn, Brad went to West Linn High School, obviously. Brad likes to slap some bass and lay down some beats. He also paves street on his long board. When he isn't treading the boards, he is slinging some 'Za with Tall Sam Thompson at Dominoes on Monroe. Currently, Dominoes has a great carryout deal, a large 3-topping pizza for $7.99. Brad's acting credits after high school include, Dave in Strange Snow and Reid/Oliver in Answer Me. You can catch him in this year's Bard in the Quad production of A Midsummer Night's Dream as Demetrius.

And Then There Was One...

I'm sitting on my bed fifteen minutes before I have to head out to the theatre for our closing matinee. Closing. As in, no more. We'll be done with this wild little ride and everyone will jump off and form a line to the exit and all part their respective ways. I hate this part. And I sort of love it, too.

Closing always has a unique energy. Oftentimes, the 2:00 matinee time caters to a different crowd and the responses actors receive are different than the previous nights. I've heard actors say they hate matinees. They say the energy is always too low and the audiences too unresponsive. Secretly, I love them. The house is a bit quieter sometimes. So what? Actors are tired, but, hey, isn't that where the whole "acting" thing comes in? I like mats because they are a new challenge, a whole different beast. One final new experience for a cast to bond over before they're done. If it doesn't go so well, everyone gets to lament together one last time, and let's face it, casts are great at complaining together. When they exceed expectations, the joy and happiness is tangible. After months of nights spent together the cast gets to part one final time (after strike), this time in the blinding sun-- that's a bit more hopeful, right? They get to carry around that post-show buzz for the rest of the day like a little secret.

But it's so hard, too. Evenings and days don't revolve around performances afterwards. That first night home is always so awkward. What do you even do with "free time"? Casts who felt extraordinarily bonded don't have so much in common with each other anymore and start to slowly drift apart. That's life. Time to move on.

But a bit of the show always remains. You pass fellow cast and crew members on campus and wave and it makes your day just a bit brighter. You hang a poster on your wall. A conversation with another friend reminds you of a cast joke and you laugh in spite of yourself. You carry those memories with you to your next projects and shows and adventures and it's awesome.

The Mark has been a multi-term endeavor for me, full of highs and lows. I'm proud of what our little cast has accomplished and will undoubtedly grieve what will end in mere hours. But it's not time to focus on that right now. For the next few hours, The Mark still vibrant and alive. For the next few hours, I'll treasure what we've created, and then, like every other show, it'll be time to just let it go...      

Meet Emily PETErs

This is a big picture, I apologize. It would not let me re-format it.

Emily Peters is a red haired and hazel eyed 21 years old who has an abiding love for Star Wars. She loves long walks on the beach and carnations are her favorite flowers. She hails from Lebanon, Oregon and she went to Lebanon High School. She has loved theatre ever since she played God/Father Abraham in her middle school play. One of her favorite roles she has played on stage was the man eating plant, Audrey II, in Little Shop of Horrors. Maybe you have seen her onstage, she was most recently in Mother Courage and Her Children as Yvette. She was also in Julius Caesar as Calpurnia. Finally she would like to add that she has five siblings that she loves her Mom and Dad, who she says are great. I am going to have to take her word for it though, I have never met her parents. Also, her dog Sammy is cool. Now that I can believe, dogs are awesome.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Cheep Cheep Blog 6 - Joseph Workman

Last night we were supposed to have a sold-out house but a whole bus-full of people failed to show up : /
There was some frantic energy about having the theater packed; Teri and I were looking forward to seeing how it would affect the show - the actors knowing so many people had come to see them, making them nervous or excited, and how the fullness of the place might make an audience more... receptive? open? eager?  I don't know.  For some reason, I feel that the more people there are, the more hustle and bustle, the more chance for a communal feeling and chain reactions of reactions of reactions.

But as a I said, the bus didn't show up.  It was carrying a bunch of alumni, apparently.  Who knows what happened.  I guess plans fell through or something and they missed out.  Hopefully they're okay.

The thing is... the directors and writers' seats were sold, and we moved black chairs up in the cat walks anticipating their arrival. They had the first two rows of seats reserved, though, and so when the show finally started there was this huge gap that sort of gave this weird feeling of emptiness and uncertainty.  The audience was very quiet, and it noticeably affected the actors' energy.  I wish I had been able to slip backstage and readjust my actors' expectations and to tell them to just have fun and punch up the energy and volume as much as they could.  That's what should happen every night, but I guess last night threw them off.  They expected to come out to a full, engaged room, and instead found the opposite of that.  I was told they lost focus and felt anxious, especially considering they had such a good show and audience interaction the previous night.  It's been a long run for them with only one day of no rehearsal or a show for almost two weeks now, but we're coming to a close now and we want to go out with a bang.  Looking forward to see what happens tonight!

Cheep Cheep Blog 5 - Joseph Workman

Here are some notes I got on paper during tech and run-throughs that I haven't been able to transfer here until now.

It's been a pleasure seeing everything working together with new layers being added night by night. I'm surprised (and rather relieved) I didn't have to change the script much more over this process since the first major draft changes at the beginning of rehearsals.  It can definitely be improved, I think, and I had some desire to break/rework some things, but at a certain point you have to stick with what you have and push it through to the end.  Last minute changes are a risk; you can throw so many other elements off.

Our professor, Liz, has given the actors a note about getting the playwrights' words out exactly as they're written instead of paraphrasing.  Of course this is important, and it's the kind of discipline I feel I must approach a work as an actor, even if it's amateur writing (La Vie en Rose by Ricky Zipp). However, since we're beginning writers, sometimes the words/phrases just sound clunky or superfluous.  Also, I've noticed in rehearsals that sometimes my actor's paraphrase works better than the actual script, and so I've given them permission to change it.  I realized that this isn't always due to the fact that I'm a clumsy writer. Sometimes the rewrites the actors do in their heads helps them find the intention or access the emotion Alex and I are looking for in the scene.  While my original line still makes sense and could be delivered as it is with that same energy, it works/sounds better for the particular actor and how they're playing the character and where the emotion of the scene is.  Or it's just better.  So long as it doesn't affect the story or break context of character or scene, I've been fine with it.  However, it makes me want to get to a point where I can write something refined where each word is deliberate and tested thoroughly.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Coffee Away!!!

Well, dress rehearsals went well. Had a couple of mishaps with costume changes in Sunday. Isaac had some trouble changing. It was the first time we had costumes and there were bound to have some issues. But on Monday, the changes went so much better and the cast is doing an amazing job. I still had this feeling that one of Kelsea's costume changes was too long but after our final dress I told Sedona and Isaac to run around a little more. If you are wondering why they are running around, I guess you'll have to see the shows. 

Also had some changes with the sound for Brian. He's doing a great job with stage managing and he's really great at understanding when we have something to change.

Here are some pictures from dress:
She looks so cute!

How we all feel during dead week!!

The CEOs!!

Opening night went great!! I'm really proud of this cast and all their hard work. They did a great job and I feel. Wet fortunate to having Kelsea, Sedona, Isaac, Kyle, Ben and Rachel a part of this journey with Bry and I. I know that every show from now on will make me laugh every time. Thank you.

Some back stage photos of the cast of Caffeinated Crisis!!

The Wednesday

Opening night has ended and the festival is off to a successful start! The lights were on point, the sound was smooth, the performance was crisp, I laughed, I cried, it moved me. And now the first night jitters are over. I admit I had a few, so it was nice when I just got to hide in the back, hoping people would laugh when it was necessary (BTW shout out to the plane that flew overhead during Tegan's monologue). What turned into an extra thing to do during dead week has really become a wonderful experience that still manages to shape me and challenge me every single night. And I can't wait to see what comes next!

Emily "pass the" Gassaway. 

This is Emily Gassaway. She plays Tegan in Answer Me. Almost done with her freshwoman year of college she has decided to become a double major in Music and Psychology. She says she has been involved in theatre her whole life, all 19 years of it. She recently played Miep Gies in The Diary of Anne Frank. Ricky Zipp was in that play too. She also says she is glad to be a part of the 2015 One Act Festival but she could also be acting like she is enjoying it. One of the aspects she likes about the one act festival is meeting new people. Fun fact, she also loves to play the guitar and piano. 

Come see Emily onstage this week in Answer Me! We open tonight!

Emily Uptonogood. Costume designer extraordinary.

Emily is a full-time student at Oregon State University, who transferred there as a junior.  She is working towards a major in Apparel Design and a minor in Theatre Arts.  She was homeschooled her entire life all the way up until college.  She completed her high school education and received her diploma from the University of Missouri’s Center for Distance and Independent Study, from which she took her classes online from her home in Portland, Oregon.
She has worked in costuming three years, first Clackamas Community College's costume designer Alva Bradford in 2012 and now under OSU’s Costume designer Barbara Mason since Fall 2015.  She is an avid pursuer of her hobby of cosplay, where she creates her own costumes and props and attends conventions around the Northwest, showcasing her work and hosting panels.
Aside from costuming, she has over 12 years dance training in ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern, lyrical, and tap, and has danced at recitals, competitions, and conventions, as well as taught dance instruction at her last studio.  She also enjoys writing fiction and drawing cartoonist illustration in her spare time.
Emily has had a love for theatre ever since enrolling at Clackamas Community College in 2012, where she had her first experience stage managing for their production of Arms and the Man, where she also was the light board operator for it, Brighton Beach Memoirs, and their Student Showcase.  She made her acting debut in CCC’s Almost, Maine as Sandrine and Hope, and then reappeared in Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom as Madison and ZOMBIEKILLR14.  She combined her acting and dancing experience by performing in Clackamas Repertory Theater’s Carousel, her first real role in a musical.  Before, she was the assistant stage manager for CRT’s musical Kiss Me, Kate and running crew for both it and Harvey.
Emily will appear in her first OSU production in Fall 2016 as Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, as well as continue to make costumes.