I’d like to personally welcome Amy Claussen to Variations Theatre Group.  She has been hired to be our grant writer/self-proclaimed Devil’s Advocate.  She gave a very inspiring speech at our meeting on Sunday about how we can sell ourselves and really keeping in mind what makes our group special.  I think that holds for myself (as well as anyone) as an individual artist.  I know that I have something unique to give and I should proclaim that with pride.  We talked about our diversity, and how we know that most of us are “white kids” that 30 years ago even that would have been considered very diverse.  That was an excellent point that I never would have considered.  That, and a very relaxing weekend otherwise has gotten me out of the bit of a rut that I’ve been in recently.  I’ve been doing so much at work (at my survival job) that I haven’t been tending to my personal career quite as proactively as I may have wanted. It was a nice reminder.  I've gotten back to work on my mailing, followed up on some e-mails, and got some more work done on my personal database.  Pretty productive for a Sunday evening.  So thanks again Amy, and welcome.
I’ve gotten a few rejections lately.  Normally that would really bother me.  I’d spend hours, perhaps days asking myself what I did wrong, what didn’t I have enough of, what did I do too much of?  They never give you feedback on your interview, so I have no idea.  I can’t tell you how many times I have wished that I could just audition for a directing job.  Here are two actors, here’s the scene, you have a half hour, GO!  But something has changed I feel recently.  I’ve become far more ok with slowing down, far more ok with myself as an artist and the idea that I don’t have to always be in motion and that this really takes persistence and time and positivity.  To tell you the truth, so few of the shows that I interview for do I actually say to myself “YES!!!  I WANT THIS!!!”  I am at the point where I am saying “yes. I want this.”  But of course you can see the difference in my enthusiasm in the all caps and the generous use of exclamation marks.  Now all the shows have definite pros – they are premieres, they are good musicals, they might get good exposure, etc.  But none of them have grabbed me intuitively and said “Greg, you need to direct this piece.”  So I’ve been able to release it.  That’s actually a small yet major milestone for me.  I’m glad I’ve gotten to that place.  It also helps that I don’t think that any of the rejections came from a place of “well he’s terribly underqualified,” there are all kinds of politics, and maybe they were looking for something very specific.  Perhaps I even gave off the vibe that I wasn’t as interested once I heard what the job really was?  I’ve been told I’m not as good at hiding it as I think I am…

I’ve gotten really excited about beginning development, telling stories that I can really get behind artistically.  I am going to work with Zac as a dramaturg (who knew I’d EVER do that?  Truthfully I think going to Cry Havoc has awakened that interest within me a bit.) for his fringe show Together this Time, and we are definitely going to work on something new.  I’m also getting ready for a mailing, which is LONG overdue.  I think I need to take a little time in the near future to take stock so I can continue moving forward.  
So ok, yes that is a Lord of the Rings reference for those of you who don’t get it (which is probably most of you – it’s a title of one of the chapters in the book. And on a side note, LOVED the Jon Stewart calling Barack Frodo Baggins - and even better - Sarah Palin, Gollum!)  But its also the truth!  I’ve been having a lot of meetings recently, well a few.

Variations is beginning their planning for their remount of Shape of Things at the Access Theater.  We’re doing a lot of planning in order to make it a huge success in spite of it being put up during the precarious summer season.  We’ve hired a grant writer to help us out so that we’ll have loads of money for our future productions!  I consider that a huge success, I’ve never been involved with a company who had one.  I’ve realized then that I need to ramp up what we are doing for the education component.  I’m looking forward to working with Kirsten Anderson on putting a great project together.

I also attended my second workshop for Cry Havoc.  Again I am amazed by the enormously talented group of people that assemble in that room.  We watched Melisa’s reel (which was awesome btw, go to her website to check it out
http://www.melisabs.com)  We also read two cuts of plays and watched two sets of monologues – which were a great blend of Shakespeare and contemporary.  Not only is this group talented, but diverse.  I look forward to going again, and seeing their work in other venues!

I am planning to meet with Zac again tomorrow to do some dramaturg work with his fringe show, as well as some beginning development for something new.  I’m pretty excited. 
Its been quite some time since my last post – at first because I simply had nothing to say, and then because I was too busy to actually say it.  But I have had a few people mention my cybernetic absence, so its nice to know that people are actually reading it!  Thank you!  I’m trying to track hits to my website, but its hard to know if people are actually reading, or if I’m just getting a cursory glance.

To briefly catch up, I’ve seen two shows recently.  The first one was the most recent incarnation of The Dare Project.  As always, it was all in all a fantastic group of plays.  What I liked about this group was that a few of them were very dark.  They ended on the kind of note that dropped your jaw a little bit.  I also appreciate that most of them are far more than skits.  They are full (albeit short) stories with conflict and a real arc.  The characters have a journey.  Of course some were stronger than others, and some appealed to my aesthetic a bit more.  I was particularly impressed with my friend Steve Wargo’s show.  It starred the immensely talented Robert Ian MacKenzie.  What was especially amazing was the use of  magic in the show, and how it was used to tell the story rather than be a special effect that the show had to work around.  By the way, happy late birthday Steve.

The other was a production of Henry V, which had my friend and Rosalind from As You Like It.  It was a small cast, and she played a number or roles, namely the Princess.  She was fantastic.  The play on a whole was not so fantastic.  It was directed by an actor who is heavily associated with Shakespeare & Co.  That was absolutely the strength of the piece.  Their training was very evident.  However, it was clear that this was directed by an actor.  It was just a conglomeration of all of the exercises that they know.  There was no cohesion to the storytelling at all.  They began with warming-up on stage – which with a few exceptions is just an amateur way to start a piece.  I suppose it is connected to the “oh for a muse of fire – we are actors, blah blah”, but it never came back.  So why do it?  Then they were doing movement for some, naturalistic acting for others.  The blocking in no way helped tell the story.    There was just nothing to keep the story together.  There were also a few weak links in the cast.  Unfortunately the epitomes character was one of them.  There was nothing stately about him.  I probably wouldn’t have followed him into a Wal-Mart.  However, the thing that was most frustrating was the fact that they broke up the most powerful speeches of the piece.  “Once more…” became some weak chorus exercise.  And another speech became a dropping in exercise.  So to recap: as an audience member I have no interest in watching your process.  

On the work front, I had a great developmental meeting with Zac recently.  We will be meeting in a few weeks to talk a little more about a piece, but we’ve decided to start working on a play at the moment.  Since we both have such eclectic taste, we talked for a while about what we wanted to work on, because I have no interest in working on something “just because.”  It was very nice because it forced me to actually answer the question.  And I came up with: “I want tell the story of the guy who was there when…”  In other words, I want it to be very rooted in an event (WWII, Katrina, etc.)  But I don’t want to tell the story of the event.  I want to tell the story of the man on the periphery (or woman of course) who’s life is being changed by this event – the microcosm of it all.  The hero of the small story on the side.  You know I love epic, but that’s the story everyone knows.  I want to tell a new one.

I also just had a great interview for a show yesterday.  I don’t want to give any details yet, but maybe I’ll have some good news soon.

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