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.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Introduction: The Two Minds of Mr. Coffan

Hello all!

I'm Sedona Garcia and I would like to use this post as a way to introduce myself as well as my play. I am a senior here at Oregon State majoring in Theatre and a minor in History. Now, I know what you're thinking, "Oh, what do you want to do with that?" or "What are you plans after graduation?" In the short term, I'm looking into internships to further my studies in theatre and prepare myself for auditioning for grad school. In the long term, I am looking forward to having a career teaching my love of the liberal arts to future generations in either high school or college.
 If you have attended any OSU shows in the last few years, then you have probably seen my work in some capacity. You may have seen me as Benvolia in Romeo and Juliet or Gertrude in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Additionally, I have been a stage manaeger for both James and the Giant Peach as well as our student show Boom!. When I have spare time, I enjoy playing or writing music, working on diy projects, listening to books and belting in my car. I consider myself blessed by having the opportunity to direct in the One Act Festival once more.

 The show that I will be directing is titled The Two Minds of Mr. Coffan written by our very own Hannah Fretz (I highly recommend checking out her blog to get more insight into our show!) the plot is that George is writing a story, and a bad one at that, when his heroine, Adair, comes to life. Through their witty and playful exchanges George is able discover that he doesn't need to write like his heroes, but instead, like himself.
The concept that I have envisioned  for this play is that it should make the audience feel like they are trapped in a bad...and I mean BAD romance novel. I envision the kind that is attempting to be a styled in the regency era, but is researched strictly from costume dramas. My goal for the play is for everything to be big from over the top British accents to ridiculously flowing costumes and large gestures.

I am looking forward to seeing what auditions will bring this Sunday and Monday and can't wait to start the process.

Until next time,


And so it begins...

I don't see myself as very good with words, so naturally playwriting came as a difficult challenge for me. Before writing Love Games a lot of my work came from a deep side of me that is normally very hard for me to talk about. I learned with my playwriting that is it was a creative escape from reality.
While some elements of Love Games were real, being my characters are named after friends and I had them in mind while writing their personalities and their story are all made up. I really enjoyed writing this play, it was fun and easy. The dramatic flare came naturally, and I ran with it. I'm very glad I have the opportunity to work with PJ Harris to bring Love Games to the stage.

Love Games: Character Concepts


These are some initial inspirational images I've compiled for our 4 characters.

The kind of guy you bring to brunch with Grandma
When in doubt- go boring
Greys, soft blues- nothing too bright
Either dress pants, or nice, subtle jeans
Shoes can be boring-dress or clean-casual
Maybe a light sweater or crisp jacket
Inspiration: an early spring, Oregon sky

The boyfriend a father thinks he’s supposed to “protect” his daughter from
Sagging pants
Cleanest thing he owns are his shoes
Had a muscle tee phase- may still be in that phase
Boots or high top sneakers
Inspiration: Googling Justin Bieber

Shops exclusively at Old Navy
Maybe a light neutral or brown jacket
Fun and trendy ankle hems
The best friend who was the one all along in all rom-coms
Inspiration: Where Heaven meets Earth


Top of the fashion food chain
Tight fitting clothes
All about the silhouette
Always in heals
Inspiration: An expensive cocktail

There is also the "risque nighty" that more than one character wears. 

Love Games: Why Representation Matters

I am excited to begin production of Love Games and I am honestly eager to see what everyone will bring to the table. Love Games, written by Heaven Carreon, is the story of two men, who are dating the same women without their consent- aka, she's cheating on them. Together, with the help of a sweet but spiteful best friend, they must find a way to "get revenge" and tie loose ends in this melo-dramatic tale of love, loss, and lingerie.  

Love Games is especially precious to me because it deals with Queer characters. The representation of LGBTQ+ people in media and television is slim, white, and virtually non-existant. The little representation that does exist usually exploits the character's non-heterosexual identity, usually making them a sob story to gain pitty points, and completely erases bisexuality(+) entirely. Transgender people never even show up unless they're a prostitute. Sex work is not something to be ashamed of, but it's also not an accurate catch-all for trans people of every identity. Therefore, I have made it a constant practice to "queer up spaces" as we call it. I am especially vocal and intentional about it in theatre- since theatre is the art of presenting humanity. Queer and trans people are human, so why don't we see them on stage.   

Don't even get me started on Queer-baiting! (When an author/director/etc. gives hints, and clever twists to paint a character as possibly being queer, to satisfy queer audiences, but never outright says they are so they can keep their heterosexual audience.) This is especially frustrating to actual LGBTQ+ people, and even harmful to us when delivered to heterosexual and/or cisgender audiences. That is why Heaven decided to go all the way with her characters. Their sexuality is explicit, it is natural, and it isn't a roadblock in their story. We're not tip-toeing around it but we're also not getting hung up on it.  

Yes, queer and trans people struggle against cisheteronormative society in their lives and, yes, are also very often put in danger- murdered even. Especially trans femme/women of color are more likely to be murdered simply for existing. Yes, that is true and deserves attention and fixing. But we also have lives around that. We have struggls that do not pertain to our identities in the slightest. And by cornering us exclusively to this sob-story, martyr archetype, it removes us from reality which then leads to perpetuated violence and laws that remove our human rights. That is why these stories are important to me. That is why, as an aspiring director, I want to push aside a portion of the hetero-normative theatre content to make room for intersectional stories. That is why Love Games is important to me; like a precious child.   

This is normally where people say "rant over" to signal they are done bothering you with their frustrations but I'm not going to say that. Because my work is far from over. I hope you too can enjoy this journey with me.

Dissecting Skinner

Bambi: "Was this your idea?"
     "Skinner," a one-act play written by Mike Stephens, was selected for the Oregon State University Theatre One-Act Festival (truth be told, I selected it). This clever play caught my attention for its clever take on 1990's horror movies. Four anthropomorphic animals venture into the woods, even though stories and myths have circulated about a vile human that slays the precious woodland critters. What could possibly be more indicative of a particular genre of film? Okay, so most 90's horror films did not feature animals as the primary characters. Yet, what Mike has written does not require the binds of the animal world. His characters fit into that genre flawlessly: the jock, the cheerleader, the nerd, and the girl that sleeps around. The words on the page align with that genre. If it were not for the fact that these were animal characters, one reading the script may even feel it is a horror story. And that is what Mike has done so well. While we have yet to cast the shows (auditions are this Sunday and Monday), his writing will make it easy for actors to fully commit and believe in the story being told. They can have that conviction that there is some menace in the shadows, because that is what Mike has so artfully done.
Honey: "We're alone in the middle of a forest, Hopper!"
     The characters of this story include Honey (a badger), Buck (a deer), Bambi (take a wild guess), and Hopper (again). The four characters are out for a night camping. Hopper reminds them of the legends of a terrifying human that slaughtered the mightiest of woodland animals, Mr. Grizzly. Buck and Bambi, the jock and head cheerleader, have come to the forest to cement their relationship, a standard for high school couples. Honey has come along because she has feelings for Hopper. Or is she simply there to distract him while his best friend scores some points? Hopper has agreed to come along under the ruse that they are searching for the Skinner. Of course, Hopper is the president of the high school club dedicated to finding proof of this Loch Ness Man. As the night wears on, that proof arrives. Like a magic trick, Honey disappears. Unlike a magic trick, she does not reappear. Well, not all of her at least. Her tail on the ground ushers in a frantic search to find her before it's too late. Will she be found in time, or will you be wearing her fur in next season's fashion line? Come to the Spring One-Act Festival to find out. The performances will take place in Withycombe Hall's Lab Theatre, June 1-3 at 7:30 pm, and June 4 at 2:00 pm.



I've been writing for a few years now; a story there, a poem here, a song every blue moon, but it wasn't until this year that I started to write plays. I've experimented with a couple concepts here and there, but I've found over the course of 2 terms, 6 plays, and a lot of edits that there's one area that I've found I excel at.

Genre is fun to play with. There's certain expectations to be met, there are characters that must be there, and the more seriously the genre takes itself, the more fun it is to write a parody of. In the fall, I wrote Baked Goods, a take on the classic Little Red Riding Hood, where the lens shifts to focus on the Wolf, who had become a grizzled veteran detective. There was the supporting cast as well; the Woodsman, Wolf's drunk, debauched partner, Little Red, a lady of the night who makes extra on the side running drugs for Granny, who is the grand mastermind of the woes that plagued Forest City, her wonderful police department, and in turn, the tired bones of Detective Wolf. In this, I discovered a knack for writing puns that sounded entirely in world. 

I put Baked Goods on ice, but when winter quarter rolled around, I was tasked again to write, this time, drawing inspiration from a strange, but weird, news story. Mine happened to be about a deer that somehow managed to get itself stuck inside a warehouse full of hides, pelts, and furs waiting to be processed into luxury goods. Luckily for me, I had been hanging out with some friends the previous night, where they, after drinking a little, staged a rather memorable dramatic reading of Baked Goods. It was still fresh in my mind when handed the news story. Having characters that were mostly human, but also animals on my mind made me think of what would happen if a person stumbled upon a warehouse full of human skins. It sounds like a horror movie, right? Thus, SKINNER was born, and here I am, taking the first steps into a being a produced playwright at the ripe age of 21.

It seems so surreal to me, still. Having something completely born of my mind taken beyond a reading and discussion, and into being put on, in a physical space, with actors, lights, costume, and makeup. I created this little world that the characters play in, and it's out of my hands now, and in Director Brian Greer's hands to shape into something that is fit for the stage, and hopefully, earns a chuckle or two out of the audience.

If you are reading this before auditions (which are Sunday, April 16th and Monday, April 17th at 6 PM in the Withycombe Lab Theatre), then come audition! It's a blast, and I'd love to see you there! If you are reading this afterwards, then I hope to see you at the shows, and I hope that, just for a moment, SKINNER can make you laugh, and forget about a few of the crappy things in your life for just a little bit.

-Mike Stephens

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How It Came To Be

I suppose introducing myself would be polite, even though my name is listed below. So, hello, my name is Hannah Fretz and I am the author of The Two Minds of Mr. Coffan. This play is very "me," and for those of you who don't know "me" that probably doesn't mean anything. I'll explain. The Two Minds of Mr. Coffan was born out of my own process when I write novels (my forte). While my protagonist, George Coffan, with his daddy issues and poor hygiene habits, has little in common with me, he does combat the character (Adair) he created, and battles her for control over his novel. That is very me. At first, I always fight my character, try to force my will on them as author and god of my novel; but, ultimately it's working with and not against my character that makes the manuscript most successful.

This was the basic idea I wanted to explore. What happens when a character disagrees with their writer and wants to take the story in a different direction? But, over Winter Term, The Two Minds of Mr. Coffan developed beyond that idea into a story about George accepting who is father is and learning who he is. I'm proud of the final product, if not a bit nervous (I don't usually write comedies, I'm afraid no one will laugh).

Finally, I'm thrilled my "baby" has been entrusted into the hands of the brilliant and talented Sedona. I know she will do a wonderful job and I'm excited to see how she, as the director, further evolves and polishes the show.