I was asked by my friend Melisa to attend a meeting of the Cry Havoc Theatre Company.  They seem like an absolutely FANTASTIC organization.  They do readings, workshops, and development.  What a talented group of people!  We read through three scripts, or sections or at least sections of them that three of the members had been working on.  All three were very different, but all very engaging, and led to long, lively discussions.  It was actually very exciting to be in a room with so many new pieces, none of which made me cringe, as is pretty much always the case with new work en masse.  Thanks for inviting me Melisa, and I look forward to going again.

On another note, I had been in discussions with Florida Studio Theatre for a long-term teaching job with their continuing education program.  After several rounds of interviews, I think we both got very excited by the idea of me working there.  But after much thought, I realize that it really would not be fiscally responsible for me to leave for an extended period of time as of now.  I plan to maintain a permanent home in New York, so leaving for a year (or several) would mean that I would need quite a bit of money in order to stay afloat.  Understandably, they could not agree to what I asked for, so we had to part ways for the moment.  I did very much enjoy interviewing with them, as they seem like a wonderful theater with a great reputation, and I admire their plan to expand and grow.  I do hope that I will be able to work with them again in another capacity one day.  And I do enjoy the thought that they just couldn’t afford me J
 
Before the Flood was such a rewarding experience.  Everyone in the room was so excited to collaborate, and we found some absolutely beautiful moments out of even a reading.  It was so nice to find specificity in the music!  I haven’t worked on a musical in so long and it was quite gratifying.  I feel that it satisfies me in the same way that Shakespeare does.  Both use the power of the sounds themselves to invoke visceral emotion and propel the story.  But musicals require the merging of several different art forms.  I find working on them so satisfying.  I feel that at times it takes me to the height of my creativity.  I’m happy that Zac and hopefully Sebastian wish to continue collaborating, I really feel that this is the direction my career should be heading.  Its nice to do something and really feel like you were meant to do it.  I always feel that way when I work, but sometimes it’s a little covered over with drama (and I’m not talking theater), but other times its crystal clear.  

There was a talkback after the event.  I think our show invoked one of the biggest responses in the audience – i.e. they talked the most about it.  People seemed to be very satisfied with the story – albeit was only 20 minutes long.  Two of the others were more serious.  The first one was actually quite funny as well, though it dealt with death, and the other was a song cycle about the stages of grief.  There was some very nice songwriting there as well, though I didn’t feel the music was quite as sophisticated.  The other two were those “You have to be in New York to really get it” plays that for me really read more as skits.  One was about a 5 minute romance on the subway platform (which I admit do really happen) and the other was about personified cars and alternate side parking.  They were both very clever, but I felt they were easy.  You rhyme, and you laugh about things that everyone already laughs about.  They were enjoyable, but low-hanging fruit.  A few people in the talkback said they wanted to see them extended.  But I don’t know how you could support that for much longer.  How long can the jokes about being a full-size SUV go on before you’ve had enough.   Again, this is not to say that they weren’t enjoyable and well-written.  Sebastian actually wrote the “Car musical” as well.  It was really nice to hear his range as a writer, and hear that though the pieces were very different, there was a definite stamp to his sound, which I think is a nice thing for an artist.  He can write drama, and silly comedy, and still retain his personal artistry.  

All in all, it was a great evening, and I hope to collaborate with them again very soon.

On another note, we closed Shape of Things this weekend.  Congratulations to the cast for a successful run, and a surprisingly enjoyable strike!  Now we turn our sights to Joe Egg…
 
I saw Sing Smart, Act Smart’s showcase, Zoo Parking yesterday evening.  I guess I was a little unprepared for what it was going to be, it definitely caught me a little off-guard.  The first few minutes were a viewpoints exercise.  As an audience member, I have to ask, why are you showing me this?  Sure it was interesting, and there were a few beautiful moments that were lifted out of it, but for the most part, I don’t know what to make of watching a showcase of a process.  What do you want me to get from it?  “Oh that’s neat…”  Is it supposed to be part of the show?   I was also unclear then when the rest of the show went on how much came from this work.  Some of it was far too in sync to come from this improvised flow.  Either that or they learned quite a bit very quickly.  The “theme” was 70s.  It began with the ensemble on a “subway” singing At the Zoo.  The ensemble then broke into smaller groups, and each soloist would come out of this group as the others made some spacial choices?  I guess? With some choreography?   

The performances themselves were somewhat of a mixed bag as well.  On the whole the group was very young, with students having varying amounts of training before this class.  But some of them could really sing!  I found that a lot of them weren’t entirely comfortable bringing a lot of truth to the song, or if they did, they were fighting against their own instrument, meaning a lack of vocal technique. Also, they might have been a bit intimidated by the material.  It's not what most of them were probably used to wailing on.  It sure as hell ain't Wicked. 

In the future, I think as far as showcases are concerned, they straddled the middle a bit too much.  They should have either made it an open class (which might even end up better in the end – actors watching and wanting to get involved…) or a slightly more standard showcase. Not even to say that they can’t do the smaller groups and the choral work, but again, I just wasn’t sure what I was watching, or what I was supposed to get out of it.

This in no way meant to be a reflection on the class as a whole.  From what I heard it was actually very helpful experience.  And it wasn’t like it was a four year program, it was a four week program, little more than a master class.  But every little bit can help and everyone I spoke with said that it really helped improve their technique.  I also know the faculty to be incredibly talented.  If you’re looking for an intensive tune-up (as a supplement to working with ME of course) I suggest you check them out!   
http://www.singsmartactsmart.com.  
 
We had the first of three rehearsals fore Before the Flood.  Of course it is always a collaborative pleasure to work with Ms. Katie Zaffrann, but the other two actors are immensely talented as well.  In a little over an hour we got through half the show.  (Granted its only 30 pages, and a reading - but hey.)  I still think that some very specific and wonderful choices are being made, and it will be a very strong reading.  Come see it!
 
Variations opened Shape of Things last week.  Though the houses have been modest (that means you need to go see it!) it has been a wonderful, positive experience.  The audience on opening night was incredibly supportive.  (Especially of the reception that I planned!)  Many said they planned to return with friends!  There is no higher compliment than that.  I myself saw the piece on Saturday.  I thought it was very well conceived, well designed (specifically the use of the central platform for the placement of the statue as well as a prominent acting area and the empty picture frames.  The pacing was so crisp, and I loved the sound design – all the music was all off one of my favorite cds.  Though I thought the entire piece was well acted, I have to say specifically that Alice (Evelyn) found some incredible nuance in an extremely difficult role.  I say again – go see it!  It runs for one more weekend.  See my home page for details,.