Thursday, April 22, 2010

Timon of Athens begins rehearsal

We began our rehearsals for our production of Timon of Athens this week with The Actors Shakespeare Project. Very excited about this play: I love working on obscure Shakespeare plays and I have NEVER seen this one, or even read it until now. Allyn Burrows, our Timon and Artistic Director, even mentioned last night that it's one of the ONLY Shakespeare plays not tackled by the venerable Shakespeare & Company in their long existence (the others were, I believe, The Rape of Lucrece and The Two Noble Kinsmen).

Bill Barclay, who is a long-time collaborator and new company member and very talented actor and musician, is our intrepid director and has wonderful, exciting ideas. Our first rehearsal was a bit unusual in that Bill was stuck in London due to the recent air traffic chaos caused by the eruption of that Icelandic volcano whose name I won't even try to spell...

So our first rehearsal was pretty chill, no directors, no official design presentations (although our costume designer, the wonderful Anna-Alisa Belous showed us some beautiful sketches of the costume design). It was just the actors and the stage managers reading the play and chatting. None of the usual hoopla that accompanies a first rehearsal, and I have to say, I sort of found it wonderful and relaxing!

Bill was back last night, thru some miracle in plane cancellations, luck and tenacity. Right from the airport to our rehearsal. I hope he's sleeping right now!

Timon of Athens is a tricky play. No one is particularly likable in this world, and there is a very interesting shift from the first part of the play (which, to me, reads like a satire - and a very fresh, modern one at that!) and the second part (Timon becomes a hub that is visited by all other characters, the tone changing to a darker color that seems to suit Timon change of fortune and philosophy. It is wildly funny at points, and some truly great curses are thrown around.
Bill has configured it with a cast of 8: four actors playing "immutable" roles (Timon, Apemantus, Alcibiades and Flavius) and a "Chorus" of four actors playing everyone else. I'm one of the chorus, so I get to play a menagerie of flatterers, bandits, servants and jerks, which is always fun!

Now that my teaching schedule is lightening up, I have a bit more time, so I'll try to blog about Timon as we go along, it should be pretty interesting to work on this play, I'm really looking forward to it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Paramount Theatre

I and a bunch of Boston area playwrights were invited to the Paramount Theatre the other night by my Alma mater, Emerson College, to discuss plans for an evening of commissioned short plays to celebrate the re-opening of the historic theatre.

We were given a quick tour of the space, and all I can say is: Wow.
The lobby and main stage are stunning. There's also a huge black box and a small screening room that could double as a performance space. 10, yes, 10 rehearsal rooms. It was just mouth-watering and totally exciting.

Afterwards, Rob Orchard described what he intends to program into those spaces: a veritable dream list of every important theatre company in the country (and in some cases, the world).

This is a real, total, exciting event for the Boston Theatre Scene. It will really change everything, I think.
So proud of my school. I graduated in 1990, and still remember Brimmer St., and the leaking ceiling and the sort of funky, fun atmosphere of the theatre department. and now Emerson is a true leader in the theatre. I don't think there's another school or University that even has half the performance spaces that Emerson has acquired and renovated in the last 20 years.
It's a very exciting time to be in Boston.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Animals

Tommy and I went to see the amazing Adam Stone in his concert/dance/theatre piece/video installation called The Animals the other night. Actually, the show is described on a promo postcard as "electro-bloody-death-pop", with a picture of a puppy munching out of a bloody dog bowl next to a severed human arm. Which pretty much says it all. I met Adam via my friend David Gammons, and he designed all the excellent video images for The Salt Girl. He is such a talented guy in so many ways: a singer, composer, musician, visual artist, and performer (and some other titles as well that I'm sure I'm missing...)

It was really quite an arresting event. Video projections on two large screens at either end of the space flowed with disparate, disturbing images that echoed the song lyrics. This was all edited and executed with Adam's painstaking attention to detail, of course.

The music itself is from Adam's album (can I still call it an "album"?) The Animals, which, btw, you can get on iTunes. It follows the unlucky adventures of the singer as he is devoured by a specific animal (a shark, a wolf, bees, a snake), only to re-emerge in the next song to be devoured again. Such is life! Adam never stopped moving during the show, he was just really a ball of energy: hanging from stair railings and balconies, jumping off high platforms that would have crippled me, all while singing his guts out. Now I understand why he has no body fat. He should author a work-out program next.

Adam was accompanied by three tireless female dancers, but I have to admit that my attention was riveted to either the expert video and/or Adam's own visceral performance. So, to me, they served more as a framing device (and a way to get the crowd dancing, which, of course, they did!)

Really great quiet moment at the end, with a bloody performer, and a live piano and a slow song (though it's really hard to achieve a subtle moment in Oberon, when someone at the bar is blending a mudslide and some other guy is fighting with one of the bouncers...)

One show only, unfortunately, but I'm sure more to follow...

you can find out more about Adam at