Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Here is what I think. Auditions are demeaning both to the actor and to the auditor. It might be kinder to institute some sort of battle to the death in determining who gets what role. Granted it would mean some really tough looking Juliets but it would save a great deal of stress and avoid the inevitable arguments among directors and producers over who can act and who can't.
Here is my idea. Two actors enter a room, the director comes in on a moving platform like Tina Turner in Beyond Thunderdome, an invocation is made to the Gods of theater (also known as Jack and Jim) and the battle is engaged. Twenty something women take swings at one another with hunting knives and barb wire wrapped knuckles as bored Artistic Directors place bets on the newcomers. Meantime over on the men's side, bareknuckle beatings are delivered by steroid enraged character actors fighting over who will get to play Uncle Vanya this season.
Instead we sit in our chairs and watch talented people read to play roles they are either born to play or could play or will never be able to play in a hundred years. I am of the opinion that if you have the guts to come in and audition for anything you are half way to being an actor. Very few people actually come into an audition and collapse on stage from nerves or fright. Most people do a pretty decent job of coming in and doing something interesting if not extraordinary. That is what makes it so painful sometimes to have to say no.
I have heard about high schools and camps where they are so unwilling to say no that they actually have two casts and present the play in rep with two casts. If it wasn't for the time involved and cost this might be a great idea for professional theaters and there would be an "A" cast and a "B" cast and you wouldn't tell them which was which until the end of the run and then points could be awarded. And one cast could be crowned "The Best" after they pounded one another to a bloody pulp back stage.
So until the day comes when we can settle our theatrical casting needs the way the God Ares intended we will continue to parade ourselves in front of directors and see whether we are right. Or at least right enough for the role.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Have you ever been working on a project, a show, or a term paper and been pushing yourself very hard for weeks on end. Then you get to the end of the project and your body just shuts down for a couple of days.
Happens to me all the time. Happened Sunday as a matter of fact. And that explains why I was in my bed watching British sitcoms all day yesterday instead of at a computer filling your lives with Rorschachian cheer.
So, I will be taking a slow run up on posting today with this small contribution from costume designer Yvette Ryan (who seems to be convinced that I don't like her, even though I do and that is just how I treat everyone after the first 3 months of knowing them). Yvette sends me a link to a site and reminds us all that his name has become a brand.
Also I will have a special report from the auditions going on for this spring's production of A Bright Room Called Day by Tony Kushner being directed by Rahaleh Nassri tomorrow. On Thursday a report from the brush up rehearsal for The Beard of Avon taking place at Trick Bussink's house. Also couple of reminders, two more weekends to see Beard and rehearsals for Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards start this weekend.
We are now hip deep in the season people, I hope you know how to swim.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Just imagine if you will readers, the visitors to the Jungle Cruise being greeted not by a crazed hippo but the haunting gobble-gobble as they round the bend in the river in Darkest Orlando. Or perhaps the tiny villagers of It's a Small World being terrorized by a scale sized Rodan like turkey pecking away at the small blond Scandinavians. Operation Enduring Turkey Freedom always brings a small tear to my eye.
I invite any of you kind readers to share either what you are thankful for this year or who in the Rorschach Family you would like to offer a pardon to for past crimes or misdemeanors.
Here is my list of what I am thankful for this year regarding Rorschach Theatre:
1. The warm feeling of success each night as I leave the stage at curtain call, for not having accidentally cut any members of the audience.
2. The secret clause in the Rorschach Company member contract that says company members must marry company members. Remember you said yes Chomko! I have witnesses!
3. Getting to wear a dress every night which is made of synthetic yak hair and instead of absorbing sweat has it bead across its surface like the hood of a just polished Ford Mustang.
4. Getting to work with a group of actors who do not know the meaning of the word fear. Unfortunately they also don't understand the meaning of the words personal space either. Stop stepping on my feet for God's sake!
5. Finally I am most thankful for the fact that Stage Management Team still laughs at the show after having seen it nearly 20 times. I don't even think I am that funny.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Eric Singdahlsen sent this to the blog. Please read and enjoy it as much as I did:
I’m delighted that the show has been extended. I am delighted also that we’re taking Thanksgiving off. I’m a bit tired. This became increasingly apparent to me in the form of line errors as the weekend wore on, starting with saying “Jilly fond young person” instead of “Silly fond young person.” In the immediate aftermath, I cursed myself for butchering the line, but I ultimately comforted myself with the thought: “Who will notice?” That fantasy was shattered as soon as I reached the dressing room and was atuned to the error by my warm-hearted colleagues. It went downhill from there, and I’ll admit, I was tempted just to say “Frilly jocund person” just to be done with trying to get the line right. I butchered several of my lines. A few examples:
“Well, Good Will, thou hast thy work cut out,” became . . .
“Well Good Will, thy work hast thou cut out for thy.”
“Sick-thoughted Venus,” became . . .
“Thee, me, we, whoever,” became . . .
“Thee, me, we, me, thee we, whatever.”
I switched and dropped lines. I missed an entrance (which gave Val a chance to show her cool professionalism in adding “Lord Oxford! I’m ready!”). Several times I found myself onstage thinking things like, “It’s well after Labor day, why is she wearing white slacks?” or “I keep losing at Chess, and Austin keeps mentioning new rules. Is there a connection?” And suddenly I’m late on a cue.
I lose my focus, or worse, I focus on the fact that I’m out on stage in front of dozens of people who are happily following the story, and who are watching Wendy wait for me to answer a very important question. I liken the experience to Wile E. Coyote running off a cliff after the Road Runner. It’s only when he realizes that he’s in mid-air that he falls.
The fresh audiences are a dream to perform for. It is they who make the show new for me each night. I must point out, though, it’s the camaraderie of the cast that makes it such a blast to come back night after night. I know full well that I am not alone in making line errors and I know that if the rest of the cast with me right now, they’d pat me on the back and say, “Yes you are.”
Monday, November 21, 2005
I hate competition. Specifically any competition I can not participate in, but it seems there is a gauntlet in the ring and somebody had better damn sight pick it up.
Friday I mentioned that Karl Miller (Lord of the Flies and Accidental Death of an Anarchist) gave a fantastic curtain speech on Thursday night and believe me it was good. Jason Linkins (Master and Margarita, The Scarlet Letter and Behold!) stepped up to the plate on Friday night. He swung and hit a hard drive down the base line. There has been some debate whether it was appropriate to threaten the audience that he would cut them if they did not turn off their cell phones and pagers, but his energetic style won the hearts and minds of some pretty jaded folks back stage.
Sunday he followed it up with an even stronger curtain speech where he told the patrons to "lock-it-down" with regards to personal items and their limbs so they would not be hurt during the performance.
Jason also put an impassioned pitch together for our next show Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards.
Is it fair to compare these curtain speeches the way one does with a prize bull. This blogger thinks so and I ask every company member to come and experience the thrill of the Curtain Speech.
I have long held the belief that theater is actually a way for very shy people to live out the fantasies that they are too afraid to enact in real life. This isn't just the actors, but directors, designers and especially audiences. By nature I am a hermit. For me to go out takes an act of will. And I know that people who come to the theater on a regular basis also have to exert a will. Sometimes taking the risk on a small company in a neighborhood that is just now starting to come alive with culture and retail can be a scary and daunting prospect.
But you suck it all up and will yourself onto the metro or into your car and you make the trek down to Columbia Heights and walk up to a building you have never seen much less been in because a review, poster, post card or friend tell you about an incredible show you must see. Where men wear dresses and women wear beards. Where people speak in funny sounding accents and there are actors flying by in mock displays of combat. You have decided that for just a little while you would rather be living in the world of Shakespeare or Samurai or Weimar Germany for the night instead of sitting at home watching whatever movie of the week the networks have decided to march out for the sweeps.
Live theater more than any other experience in the world allows the viewer to become a participant in the world in which the artist is performing. You watch a movie or the television and you are passive participant, isolated from the people experiencing the same thing by distances metaphoric and literal. But when you see live performance you have elected to become part of the fuel that fire the engines of invention. Your laughter or silence can lift a mundane play to extraordinary heights and can help a great show transcend the confines of a theater or a church or a smoke filled back room of a bar.
Just thought I would let you all know that.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Just to remind you all of our schedule:
Friday at 8pm
Saturday at 5pm and 8pm
Sunday at 5pm
For tickets either call 1-800-494-TIXS or follow the link.
See you this weekend I hope.
Company member and hot young actor Mr. Karl "Throw Away Your Antiquated Theater Paradigm" Miller was front of house manager last night. He also got to lose his Rorschach Theater Curtain Speech Virginity last night, with a very thought provoking and impassioned statement about the plight of the pygmy elephants of Borneo. Not particularly what anyone was expecting but it beats the pants off the time I did the curtain speech for Behold! and kept repeating the words polar bear 108 times. Or in 2003 when company member Lindsay Allen actually performed a song entitled "Where have all the Wombats Gone?" before a 5 o'clock performance of After the Flood.
Curtain speeches are a bit of a necessary evil in the world of theater these days. Here is your basic curtain speech components with commentary:
Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
(Though when I look in your eyes I can tell you are not having a very good evening at all. Sorry you had to wait like five extra minutes because that yahoo booked ten tickets and his last friends didn't show up until 8:10.)
We would like to welcome you to Rorschach Theater.
(Damn it I pronounced theatre "er" instead of "re." I hope nobody noticed)
And to tonights performance of The Beard of Avon.
(And there go the three people who always show up thinking its a support group meeting, well that's what you get for performing in a church these days.)
We ask at this time that you please turn off all cell phones, pagers and anything that makes a noise.
(What do you think people said before there were cell phones? Isn't it strange how the emergence of a new technology which is supposed to make life simpler, instead has made it necessary to waste these people's time and mine to make an announcement about turning off their damn phones.)
Rorschach Theatre (Got it right this time.) is known for its passionate performance style and the action will be happening quite near to you. Please keep your hands, legs and personal belongings out of the rows so you don't become part of the show.
(They will cut you if you get too close. I have seen it happen. You could lose an ear or a handbag and nobody would even blink, so keep inside your tiny box and nobody gets hurt.)
Thank you and enjoy the show.
(We already have your money so you might as well laugh, because the cast can sense when you aren't with them and once again they might cut you.)
Thursday, November 17, 2005
There are still tickets available for this Friday and Saturday 8pm performaces, so if you are planning on seeing The Beard of Avon before we take our much deserved Thanksgiving Break, you need to make reservations now. Follow the link to find out the schedule of the remaining shows and the show details.
Regarding the extension, I have been getting nothing but congratulations from every news outlet I have contacted to announce our good luck and huge audiences. Turns out the press is not looking for us to fail and actually are supportive of good theater. Go figure!
In the news of the what the hell category, former reviewers for the Washington Post, William Tripplet and Lloyd Rose are both coming to see the show this weekend. Both Lloyd and Bill gave Rorschach some its earliest reviews and they are so interested in what we are doing that they want to come and see the show. Don't know what it means in terms of press, but it does mean this show has got buzz baby!
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Apparently it is just outside the city of Lordsburg, New Mexico. Interstate 10 passes through this small southwestern city. It's located in the "Bootheel" of New Mexico.
You can visit such historical sites as the Stratford Hotel where a man was killed over an egg and Billy the Kid is reported to have washed dishes. Regarding the egg incident they say they feature a re-enactment of the 1879 shooting of Ross Wood by Bean Belly Smith. Other re-enactments include the hanging of Sandy King and Russian Bill and beautiful Can Can girls greeting rowdy cowboys and miners. Be sure not to miss Death of a Government Contractor, where Bill Brocius and a Mexican Outlaw argue with a government contractor over a cattle deal. And be sure to visit Shakespeare Cemetary, you'll see the cemetary on the left side of the road as you enter Shakespeare.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I hear that you have an incredibly attractive stage management team. Is there any chance of getting pictures of them posted, possibly in short skirts?
the s&m asm said...
The Stage Management Team would like to thank 'Mr. Amazing' for his flattering comment. However, the Stage Management Team would also like to point out while they are uncommonly easy on the eyes, that they are also extremely efficient, helpful, reliable, and hardcore about sweeping.
Mr. Amazing, I have to wonder how accurate your name is that you have to resort to anonymous requests to see women in mini-skirts on the internet but apparently you got your wish, so who am I to judge.
Monday, November 14, 2005
After another sold out weekend Rorschach Theatre will be extending The Beard of Avon for two weeks. We will be taking off Thanksgiving weekend to let people you know have a life and then we will be back for shows the following two weekends, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. This is the first time Rorschach has extended past the end of a run, but this is not the most exciting news of the weekend.
Peter Marks has written a huge article in The Post, The Little Theater Companies That Can, about Rorschach and our allies in the world of small to mid sized theatre in the district, Theater Alliance and Catalyst Theater. Front page of the Arts Section and Huge Color Pictures. Both Randy Baker and Jenny McConnell Frederick are featured talking about all things Rorschach and the day to day struggles of being a small theater in DC. And that also is not the biggest news out of this weekend.
Where to begin? and just to repeat where to begin? There are things that happen in a theatre sometimes that have nothing to do with the show but have a lot to do with the lives of the people who put the shows on. Friday night provided just one of those events, as Co-Artistic Director Randy Baker asked his long time girlfriend Costume Designer and Rorschach Company Member Deb Sivigny to marry him. The part that makes it even more special is that the question was popped during the curtain call of that night's performance.
After we had taken our bows and were all standing on stage the crowd was hushed and Randy took to the stage for a special announcement. He then called Deb up to the stage and took the ring which one of the cast had cleverly hidden on his person and then Randy dropped to his knee, popped one of the hardest questions in the English Language for a man to ask. And you know what Deb said? She said yes! Otherwise it would be kind of cruel for me to be posting this on the blog wouldn't it?
Congratulations Deb and Randy!
Friday, November 11, 2005
Now we go onward to casting news. Well here it is the next cast of loveable losers who will grace the boards at Casa del Pueblo this January are ready to be announced. Later to today I will run a character description entry but here are some names new and some names familiar that will be battling with swords in Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards.
Takiguchi: Patrick Bussink
Yokobue: Nelina Giridhar
Yoshitsugu: Cesar Guadamuz
Karumo: Jai Khalsa
LADIES IN WAITING:
Lady Tonase: Yasmin Tuazon
Kojiju: Gwen Grastorf
Kohagi: Ghillian Porter
The Empress: Rahaleh Nassri
Morotaka: Scott McComick
Katsuyori: Paul McLane
Moritsugu: John Michael McDonald
Lord Shigimori: Al Twanmo
Thursday, November 10, 2005
What is it about Eric that makes him so darn funny?
Where to start? I have often considered this question in the time that I should be warming up for a performance and I have boiled it down to two simple principals of funny.
1. Eric is funny because of his dead pan delivery and almost blatant disregard for what normal people consider comedic. No funny voices for Eric, just straight delivery with absolutely no apology. Many of us will put on hats and red noses but Eric simply relies on his inate sense of what makes him laugh to bring joy to others.
2. Or it's the way he says the letter Q.
Thanks for asking
I have some questions about the play:
Why does most of the cast speak with an English accent when none of the cast members are English?
Have the various characters you play (so well) ever met each other? If they have, do they like each other? If not, why not? Do they know all the lines of your other characters, so that if one of your characters gets sick the other one can play the part?
I wonder about these things and would appreciate your response. Now.
Where to begin. First off I am glad to see the medication has finally kicked in. It is great to see you are no longer writing in all caps and doubling your puncuation marks..
With regards to your question about the accents in the play. In college there was a theatre major who used to ponce around doing a fake British accent. It was his claim that at the age of 21 he had done so much Shakespeare that he only spoke with an accent now because he forgot what his own voice sounded like. I have only ever punched two men in my adult life and you can now guess who one of them was. The most honest answer I can give is that British accents are funny, Americans are funny, therefore hearing Americans using British accents is doubly funny.
Have you ever seen that episode of Dr. Who where the Doctor travels into the future and he accidentally has a stow away who leaves the ship and meets his future self. Because of the speed at which some of the costume changes occur during The Beard of Avon, I have actually seen some of the actors meet themselves as they were coming off stage getting ready to do their next scene. Lord Burleigh and John Heminge have never met but here is what a meeting might sound like:
Burleigh: Excuse me you handsome fellow have you seen my PEZ dispenser?
Heminge: Sorry I haven't. I would give you some of mine but I just ate the last of it in the last scene change. By the way great hair!!
So as you can see they would very much get along. And while I am sure Heminge could in a pinch take over for Burleigh, Burleigh hasn't bothered to learn Heminge's lines and it would be quite the cock-up.
I have thought of other ways to fill this page every day and the laziest thing I could come up with is an advice column. Actually the laziest thing I could think of was posting pictures of me asleep (I have dozens). So here is what I am thinking, I know there are people out there reading this Blog and I want some participation people. Write to me with questions you may have about the show, Rorschach or anything your heart desires and I will use my years of experience to answer them.
I can't promise helpful answers, but I do promise answers. You can either leave your questions in the comment area or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Not only will The Beard of Avon be performing its usual Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm this week and next, but there are two more shows. How do we squeeze those shows in you may ask? Go on ask.
There are two 5pm shows on both Saturday and Sunday this week and next. I know what you are thinking that means two shows back to back on Saturday, that is insane, mad, and crazy even. With a megre 30 minute break between shows how will they ever pull it off. The answer is quite simple, PEZ. That's right this entire production is powered by the miracle food known as PEZ. That childhood treat adored by millions is the battery that keeps all of our little engines puffing along going "I think I can!"
When I start to feel a little drag coming into my performance I crack open the head of my Yoda PEZ dispenser and just start downing them like a hyper active third grader. Now I know there are some actors who prefer the pixie sticks, but they are messy and dry you out like nobodies business. When you want that extra boost to get you through a scene for the umpteenth time, nothing keeps you going like cracking open a Loony Toon character's neck and extracting the sweet sweet candy that looks like a tiny brick.
Tickets are still available for this weekend. Saturday night at 8pm is almost sold out but tickets are still available for the rest of the weekend.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
As we head into the second to last weekend of the run, we have been playing to Standing Room Only Crowds. We couldn't be more pleased. However we know there are still people out there who are planning on waiting until the last possible minute to come and see the show. Well I can tell you right now that will not be as easy as you think. I was just told we have exactly one seat left for our Saturday 8pm performance. That means that this show is selling out way in advance, so I encourage you to get your tickets booked early. We have shows this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm and Saturday and Sunday at 5pm. Hope to see you sooner rather than never.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Most of the trip will involve me staring out the window going, hey who is that guy, is that ZZTop driving that truck or singing "China Grove" as we drive past the China Grove exit. I also have a whole routine I like to do as I drive past the Giant Peach water tower. I know you can almost taste the excitement dripping off of me as I plan my great two day Southern Excursion into the Great Red Expanse where my sister has taken up residence.
Just so this entry isn't completly about me I wanted to give you all a quick snap shot of one of the other conspiracies that exist regarding the Authorship Debate. Our play while taking more of an Oxfordian Slant also mentions the possibility that Sir Francis Bacon may have written some of the plays. This web site attempts to explain what I think is a very complex and convoluted means of proving Bacon is the author. Like a modern day Cabalist it uses ciphers and cryptograms to prove there are secret messages peppering the works of Shakespeare, proving that Mathematician and Scientist Sir Francis Bacon was the true author.
I also share with you the description of Sir Francis's odd death from Wikipedia.
Francis Bacon's death had a considerable element of irony. In March, 1626, he came to London, and shortly after, when driving on a snowy day, he was inspired by the possibility of using snow to preserve meat. Bacon purchased a chicken (fowl) to investigate this possibility, but, during the endeavor of stuffing it with snow, contracted a fatal case of pneumonia. He died at Highgate on April 9, 1626, leaving assets of about 7000 pounds and debts to the amount of 22,000 pounds.
1. Which city in Ohio do you hate least?
2. If you could only watch one Bruce Willis movie for 24 hours straight which one would it be?
B: What's the one where he gets naked?
B: Maybe not that one.
3. What is you favorite kind of moss?
B: I'll say O because you don't need Oprah angry at you.
5. If you could get away with kidnapping any member of the cast for the weekend who would it be?
B: I would kidnap Val and torture her by keeping my love from her.
6. Which member of the Bush Administration would you like to see indicted next?
B: Donald Rumsfeld needs to go! And you can spell go, GGOOOOO!!!
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Since this subject has generated the most comments so far of any on this blog, please feel free to be as creeped out as I am. By the way the fox's name is Reginald.
A reminder, there are only three more weekends of The Beard of Avon, including this one. Shows this weekend are Tonight, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are selling well so if you expect to sneak in the last weekend you may be disappointed.
One more review came out today in the Downtowner/Georgetowner and if you can ignore the fact that Rorschach is spelled Rohrschach five or so times it is a pretty good write up.
. . .you'll laugh your arse off. This "Beard of Avon" is bawdy, funny, wordy and playful, and, as an experience, it has the authenticity of fooling around in a haystack.
Gary Tischler - The Downtowner
Also check out the link to the Around Town segment that Trey Graham recorded and is running on WETA this week.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
In previous semesters Mr. Marks has been able to swing the likes of James Earl Jones and Mary Zimmerman to come in and speak to the class, so four non-equity actors doing a show about Shakespeare in a church in Columbia Heights was the next logical step. Since three of us are fighting colds right now, it was the kind of discussion that only people hopped on cold meds can truly appreciate.
All of the students had seen Beard the previous week and had written assignments they were turning in critiquing the show, and there were some very insightful questions regarding audiences and performance styles. Mostly though it was an opportunity for the three boys and Val to hold forth before a captive audience and share the ups and downs that have brought us to where we are today.
Peter Marks for those of you who have wondered is actually a very personable gentleman who seems to have a great love for the theater. As he walked us out he told us a little secret. He loves coming to smaller theaters because that is where he got his start as well. He also had a great sense of humor as I reminded him of what he said regarding this actors performance in a show at Woolly Mammoth Theater earlier this year.
To the left is the very honest yet recreated reaction of one of the students when she walked into the room to see us sitting at the front of the class. I wasn't quick enough with the camera, so if it looks staged, that's because it is.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
For the past two nights and tonight also, Rorschach has been auditioning for our next show, Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards. I know the title is a mouth full but it is exciting as Rorschach gears up for the next big thing. Co-Artistic Director Randy Baker will be directing this tale of Samuri, Empresses and forbidden love. Here is what the press release has to say.
FAIR LADIES AT A GAME OF POEM CARDS
Freely adapted by Peter Oswald from Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Directed by Randy Baker
January 21 – February 18, 2006
Previews begin January 18
Special Valentine’s Day show on Tuesday, February 14!
Threatened with death by a jealous and cunning lord, two pairs of young lovers embark on a harrowing adventure through a world of dueling samurai, courtly intrigue and spiritual redemption, a world where love can transform an entire society. In breaking with the formal themes and performance style of 18th century Kabuki culture and writing intensely human plays, Chikamatsu is sometimes seen as the Shakespeare of Japan. Oswald describes his verse retelling of Chikamatsu’s dark comedy as “a fairy tale with a moral shape and grand emotions.”
"An elaborate, philosophically nuanced and often funny
tale of love." - THE INDEPENDENT (London)