Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Simple Actor's Trick

There are a lot of words in the English language. As an actor you are expected to pronounce them. Now most actors are quite good at speaking, but even those of us with voices like the Late Great Barry White and diction like a Later Day Henry Higgins, sometimes come across words for which we need to look up a pronunciation. The problem faced when pronouncing names and locations in a language like Japanese can be even more daunting. Most of the cast, being native English speakers, find it difficult to pronounce many of these words. Fortunately the proper nouns have been transposed into English in the script so we just need to actually pronounce the vowels the way they are pronounced in Japanese. I have attached a copy of a set of simple syllables provided to the cast by our lighting designer JT who happens to have studied Japanese for several years.

If you ever have a problem pronouncing a word in English I recommend the following resource, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. They have thoughtfully recorded nearly every word in the their print edition and have the accepted pronunications for nearly all of them online.

Say you didn't know how to pronounce zealot. Just type in the word and it will take you to the definition and click on the tiny red speaker and up pops a window and it will say the word as many times as you need so you aren't saying zee-a-lot.

Have fun. You can even make it say the dirty words we all love. It's just like looking up the dirty words in 3rd grade and then you can giggle.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Wednesday! Already?

Well we tonight we are back at Casa for rehearsals. What challenges will we face tonight as Al, Scott, Paul, Cesar and John Michael all face off in the dreaded putting Yoshitsugu to death scene? Dramatic tension will amp up as the play takes its dark turn towards execution. See the battle for samurai supremacy as Paul and John Michael battle over who gets to sit where! View the dramatic tension build as Scott attempts to recap the show after intermission! Witness the power of Al Twanmo sitting in judgement on some form of stool! And behold the wonder that is Cesar facing his own beheading with his head held high, just long enough so that Al can get a good whack at it with his sword!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Girl and Her Sword

Think of this as a first look at an image which will probably never be used again. But its kind of hot right? I dig chicks with swords and Yasmin has got it going on in this here out take from the post card photo shoot. Posted by Picasa

Christmas Theme Contest

Not much to report here from the trenches of small theater land this Tuesday morning. I got a sweater. We will hopefully have a look at the post card image in the next couple of days. And from the news of Fair Ladies rehearsals will recommence on Wednesday Night.

After watching A Christmas Story this weekend I remembered the joys of not just B-B Guns but also the joys of writing holiday related essays and being graded for them. Therefore I open the floor to any of our readers. If you had a particularly good Christmas this weekend or the Holiday which will make you give up on your family all together we want to read about it. Please send one or two paragraphs to the Blogger and we'll publish it here. If you have any photos I will post those as well. Participate damn it!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Naughty and Nice List-Serve

We had our first run-through of the show on Wednesday night. I may have mentioned during The Beard of Avon that the design run is the first chance for the director and designers to see the show from beginning to end. Each scene has been blocked to one degree or another and now the actors begin to string scene to scene like a string of round pale white precious beads that will give the character those magic words of arc and journey. And for the most part the show held together well enough for a first run-through. That being said there is always a lot of work to do and there is never enough time to do it all during rehearsal. Lines have to be learned and blocking rehearsed in order for the show to come to life. I have said that there is a there there before and I think that we are very near the neighborhood of there right now. We have the cast we have the design and we have the direction to create a Japanese samurai play of not just poetic beauty but also to be damn funny.

And after that piece of company propaganda I here present the first annual Naughty and Nice List for Rorschach Theatre. Please remember I love nearly all people and only dislike based on conspiracy theories I have created for myself to explain why the world works in a (excuse my French) such a cruddy way. This list does not judge as much as entertain. Well entertain me at least.

Naughty and Nice 2005

Naughty: Any theater that puts up a blog that continues to post day after day about the blocking and how many pages of the script they got through. Come on give me the good stuff, like how they had to quietly fire someone. And for God sake if you are going to be on the internet try and make me laugh for God's sake, Not just put up the head shots of three blond actresses or using the college intern to write the entry when you are too busy.

Nice: Val Fenton. Her warmth and grace serve as a model to anyone in the future who should happen to play Grady's wife.

Naughty: As always anyone who thinks that theater around Christmas should involve elves, spirits of Christmas Past, Present or Future or dancing sugar plums or fruit of any sort. Go out there and see something dark around Christmas it will make you feel better about your own life.

Nice: My bosses for giving me the Red Skin's tickets this weekend. Go Skins!

Naughty: Tim Getman. Just look at him!

Nice: Arthur Miller and August Wilson. I for one will miss both of your righteous outrage on stage. God Bless the pinkos and the rabble rousers other wise what is the point of doing theater. Besides Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe, talk about the nerd getting the girl.

Naughty: The guy who decided it was alright to listen in on my phone conversations without a warrant. I know you guys want to keep me safe but come on all I use my phone for is to call out for pizza.

Nice: Finally the casts of both The Beard of Avon and Fair Ladies. For some reason you guys just make me feel jolly. And that is not a word a stockily built man uses easily this time of year.

See you all Tuesday and cast and crew send me an essay on what you did on Christmas Break and we will post them.

Happy Holidays Folks.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

100th Post Holiday Edition

Dear Friends, Family, and Yet To Be Determined,

I hope this posting finds you well during this ____________(Insert Appropriate Holiday Here) Season. This year it's my turn to do the family newsletter and I have embraced it with all of the joy and hope a single man in his early 30s can muster for a holiday newsletter (If we were to be putting it on some sort of scale it would be somewhere between Cleaning my Shower and ordering Chinese Delivery, again.) It has been quite a year at the Rorschach Family Ranch.

After Uncle Scott and Aunt Rahaleh split-up at the beginning of the year, things were pretty rocky. See Aunt Rahaleh moved to Boston and started sleeping with this Minister, nine months later little Liz came into the world, all red hair and attitude. The town was scandalized and threatened some sort of long term imprisonment, you know how Puritanical those New Englanders can be. Uncle Scott started stalking Aunt Rahaleh and her new boyfriend and eventually he drove the poor guy crazy. The boyfriend died of some sort of chest infection.

Cousin Timmy moved back from Chicago last spring just in time to hit the road again for beautiful Baja California. Seems he, brother Grady, and that neighbor boy Jason (you know the one with all of the hipster internet friends) all got involved with some kind of religious pilgrimage (a little too much of the funny kool aid if you ask me) and started the road trip from hell. The good news is that everything turned out well and Timmy asked Liz out on an ice cream date.

Brother Grady has started writing plays. He teamed up with some kid he met down at the theater, Eric something or another, and they have been putting on these whacked out shows about wars, cannibalism and incest. I know, pretty crazy stuff. I don't think people go to the theater to be scarred and scared, I think they want to be entertained. They like musicals about baseball teams and nannies who marry their bosses, not rapes and murder. They want good old fashioned stories about people falling in love and settling down, not stories of bi-polar princes living in castles in lower Scandinavia worrying about whether they should or shouldn't kill their Uncle. But boys will be boys I suppose. I hear they are working on a comedy next. Hopefully it will be better than their last comedy, the one with all of the spousal abuse.

And that brings us to today. We are now hip deep in another family crisis. Uncle Scott is stalking another woman, who has absolutely no interest in him at all. So apparently he has staged some sort of frame up to get her, her boyfriend and their two best friends into some legal trouble so they will be put to death. Apparently pre-marital sex is grounds for the death penalty in some places. I can only assume that it is Texas or Florida. He won't give me all of the details but he says everything should be falling into place in mid-January, stay tuned we will have updates.

So other than the whole Uncle Scott creepiness its been a great year. And so from all of the Rorschachs we wish you the holiday greeting most appropriate to your ethnic, religious and socio-economic persuasion.

Happy Holidays,
The Mad Blogger what Blogs at Midnight

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fight Night Part II

Well my cozy little gnomes and gnomesses. Everyone was at rehearsal last night except Herr Director, who was off accepting delivery of his parents. Welcome to America Mr. and Mrs. Baker.

As I mentioned last night was the night where boys and girls alike picked up swords, learned to sit, stand, bow and walk. Casey Kaleba our fight and movement instructor took us through our paces explaining why we American's move so poorly. Or at least inefficently. We learned to stack our bodies and walk without stomping our feets on the ground. Then the cool stuff went down and the swords came out. There were only two injuries I can report, both of them splinter related as some of the practice swords were in fact made of wood. I will only mention that Cesar was one of the victims and leave it at that (There you go anonymous, I mentioned you.).

There were swords drawn, slashing and hacking. And all of it reminded me how my body just doesn't learn this stuff easily. I will be honest with you all this is going to take a lot of work to master before we open. My plan this weekend is to watch some more samurai films and try and figure this whole thing out and find a wooden stick and practice, practice, practice.

By the end of rehearsal I will say that my walking did feel more natural and less forced. Breathing as always seems to be an important element of this whole thing and sometimes I know I for one just forget to do it. This leads to me passing out a lot more often than I like, but it does in fact serve as a wonderful means of kicking off a conversation. "What? Where am I? Who are you? Why do you have your hands in my pants pockets? I didn't say stop, I just asked why." Ah college!

Tonight will be the first designer run and boy are we excited! You can tell because I used an exclimation mark at the end of that last sentence.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Night of Progress

Last nights rehearsal was one of those no holds-barred events that makes me proud to be an actor. We made it to the final scene of the play which by coincidence was the final scene that needed to be blocked. There was screaming and laughing, murder and seduction, and people being rolled up in tatami mats. True love finds its way and jealousy and evil are punished. Patrick and I found out that we are going to be having a kick ass fight at the end of the show. I am thinking some heavy duty Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker kind of action on with samurai swords instead of lightsabers. But of course I think that because there is only a tiny layer of coolness which prevents me from being the geek I long to be.

Ghill and Nelina, both agree King Kong made them cry. Paul and Al had a button down shirt fight with pieces of wood battle. Yasmin, Jai and I all got rolled up in a floor mat and one of got dragged around by her feet. Patrick figured out he could get to the 7-11 faster if he rode his bike there and back and he was right. Yasmin brought in these Godiva Chocolates that when you set them in your mouth went off like pop-rocks. Which of course led to a conversation about Mikey, pop-rocks and a can of coke. Gwen went into full ninja mode and scared
Jai, which made me happy because I now know that I can form an alliance with Gwen and be safe from any of Jai's killing attacks, which apparently now number 37, she claims to have learned 3 more over the weekend.

Randy Baker our ever fearless director, continues to come up with inventive and creative uses for the space. He is also giving himself the night off tonight, as the cast will be meeting with the fight choregrapher. We will be practicing bowing, sitting and hopefully kicking some ass samurai style.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Tanka You

Yasmin Tuazon, actress, post card model, yoga instructor and Rorschach Company Member started the ball rolling with this one. Please note the beautiful Yasmin posing for the post card image on your left.

The challenge involves the poetry form called Tanka which is featured on the Poem Cards from which the play Fair Ladies takes its name. The rules are simple syllable pattern of 5-7-5 7-7. Many of the cast have contributed their own Tanka since the gauntlet was thrown down so here is the collection thus far and Yasmin’s original challenge.


Last night, while learning how to play poem cards, it became apparent that further study of the Tanka form was required. It was proposed that rehearsal reports be recorded as tanka. I hope this will be the first of many, as the cast swims deep in the warm discipline of syllabic verse.

We slide on our knees
across the new floor without
hesitation. No splinters!

Except for the one Gwen got
slapping the tatami mat.

In the name of poetry, I will not restrict anyone from writing Tanka about subjects other than rehearsal. Leaves, birds, the seasons, rice, certain flowers, Randy, and lovers rent asunder are still acceptable. But I strongly encourage people to work within the spirit of the play. Tanka about cheese are right out. Such verses may be reserved for the closing night party.


December air numbs
my fingertips, though I am
surrounded by walls.

Why doesn't the heat filter
into the rehearsal space?


Weekend plans evolve,
In sanctuary we meet
To rehearse our play.

The director wants to know
Are all actors off book yet?

John Michael:

Yasmin forbids poets
to praise the glories of cheese,
that most luscious food.

Tonase poops the party.
Do we call this typecasting?


Scott and Ghillian
sent home early, joyous glee!
Sawdust and cold air.

Does the Moon have alzheimers?

Peasants slow down Yoko's search.


Scott could go home but
Beer she calls to him and Ghillian
So in cold they walk

Up Mount Pleasant Street and then
Into warmth of Haydee's they go drink.


Craziness abounds
Inside my e-mail inbox
Tanka being shared

Does not anyone else have
Occupational duties?


Rehearsal madness
Leads to Haydee's and Guinness.
Feels like a snow day!

No longer mysterious
Drinking with Morotaka.

(Not Tanka but instructive)

Grab a fence post, hold it tight,
Womp your partner with all your might.
Hit him in the shin, hit him in the head,

Hit him again, the critter ain't dead.
Wop him low and wop him high,
Stick your finger in his eye.
Pretty little rhythm, pretty little sound,
Bang your heads against the ground.

(courtesy of Bugs Bunny)

Lots of Sets

Welcome back to the production blog for Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards everybody. I seemed to have gone a little bit off topic on Friday but today is a return to the true topic at hand.

To your left you will note the completed set for the show. Notice the screens, the painted backdrop and the majestic bridge that fills the space and create varied and intereting levels on which to play. I know this constuction represented a lot of hard work on the part of our set designer Nathaniel John Sebastian Sinnott.

Unfortunately this is only the scale model of the set. The constructed set will have to be much
bigger for the show to be staged but I thought the model was so cool I just had to show you.

The designer and our technical director for this production, Amy Kleist, were hard at work Saturday and Sunday sawing and measuring the pieces that will assemble to build what I think is one of our most beautiful and ambitious sets to date.

For those of you familiar with the space it will sit at the choir loft end of the theater with the audience seated on the "stage" end of the space where The Beard of Avon was performed. The set will stretch from floor to ceiling and incorporate the white fabric which fills the arch that seperates the choir loft from the sanctuary. The playing space will stretch out across the floor of the theater, which has been recently decked with a new paintable and durable floor by Rorchach Artistic Partner Tim Getman.

Here are some more pictures to give you some scale on the scale model. Please note how Lex Luthor is holding a captured Lois Lane as Superman stands by to rescue her. The part of the giant hand is played by Rahaleh Nassri.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Our Forefathers and Foremothers for that Matter

I am going to kind of wing it here today. Mostly because I am pretty sure I have some sort of frost bite and and everytime I try and hit the shift key, my left pinky starts to ache a little. It was cold last night. With a cold hard rain falling on my head and the sound of wolves and badgers chasing me up 16th Street on my way home, one can see how early colonial actors had to struggle in adverse conditions to make it to rehearsal every night.

I don't think that we the performers of the early 21st century truly appreciate the hardships endured by our forefathers struggling to bring quality cutting edge theater to the original 13 Colonies of these Americas. Character actors with names like Scotty "Two Teeth" MacCormick and Grady "Whoopsie" Witherspoon, who traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard from Nova Scotia to St. Augustine performing high quality topical productions of American Classics like My Sister Has a Spinning Wheel and All the Boys Do Love Her and TEA PARTY! The Musical. Working what used to be known as the Hogshead Circut and filling houses nightly, these brave pioneers of the American stage and their spirit of determination as they faced cold, scurvy and rightly justified attacks by the native peoples of this continent, should serve as a reminder to those of us who whine and complain today.

There is the story of a town in the hills of what was then Western Virginia and is now West Virginia, circa 1756, who were watching a performance of a new work by that giant of American Colonial Theater, Edward Baker. A young actress comes out on stage and begins a fifteen minute monologue on butter churning. The audience rises up and immediately attacks her due to her ears being exposed in a suggestive manner. This of course being a time when a woman's ears were the most sexually attractive of her extremeties.

Without missing a beat Witherspoon and MacCormick break into a chorus of Jimmy Crack Corn and the crowd falls into a hushed silence (actually I supposed a hushed silenece is the only kind of silence you can have). Reaching the final chorus, they have backed their way to the barn doors, grabed the young actress and started to run for it. They don't stop running until they reach the shores of Lake Champlain, where they opened a little pottery shack by the side of the road and would sell medicinal herbs and clay pipes. And that is how the first head shop was born.

Where was I? Any way those were people who knew about suffering.

As I sit here in front of my magic counting and typing machine I can not help but think of the famous last words of that great comedic actor and signer of the Constitution, Timothy "It's only a Rash" Getman, "Hey I am still alive give me back my boots!" Give me back my boots Mr. Getman, give me back my boots indeed.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Chikamatsu Monzaemon

Despite some complaints that there has been way too much talk about Rahaleh on this page I would like to point out that for every entry on the kidnapping there have been two about the other two shows. So for those of you who have become bored with the kidnapping story line here are some valuable links regarding the playwright Chikamatsu.

Often refered to as the Japanese Shakespeare, Chikamatsu is the originator of the tale we tell in Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards. He lived in Japan (obviously being the Shakespeare of Japan and all) from 1653 until 1725, when his death apparently interfered with his living and then he was just in Japan. He wrote 130 plays which beats Shakespeare by about 90 plays and wrote for both Kabuki theater and bunraku (puppet) theater (Fair Ladies is based on a bunraku work). He was known for his writing for the Japanese middle-classes and also for writing some quite bloody historical and romantic dramas, some of them ripped from real life(sort of an early version of Law and Order). Tales of merchants falling in love with geishas being ruined and committing suicide to be reunited in the after life on a lotus leaf occur in two of his works, The Love Suicides at Sonezaki (1703), and the late The Love Suicides at Amijima (1721). He also wrote a number of historical plays much the same as Shakespeare, featuring bloody battles, regicide (the killing of kings not the killing of Philbins) and samurai, samurai and more samurai.

Chikamatsu's father and brother were both doctors, so we can all imagine what a disappointment it was to his mother that he went into the theater.

Amagasaki, Japan calls itself the City of Chikamatsu and there is an annual festival celebrating his life and work.

Bio information can be found here.

And there is some more here.

Be It Ever So Humble There Is No Place Like Stockholm

This is a statement prepared by Rahaleh upon her return from captivity. Her claims to the contrary I think she has really been impacted by this near brush with vacation. Read on gentle readers, read on:

Statement from RAHALEH NASSRI
(released December 15, 2005)

I am back in Washington, DC in rehearsals for Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards. Save minor back pain resulting from a boogie board incident, I am in good health. I want to thank all those who expressed concern. To all those who secretly prayed I would not return or return disfigured, maimed or in a body bag, I can only say this: someday your life will turn around, you’ll be happy, and you won’t have to spend so much time wishing misfortune on others.

I always try to see the brightest side of every experience. I do not harbor any anger toward my abductors. They are good people and this whole incident may have been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Sure, it was scary at times and a few tears were shed, but I grew very fond of my kidnappers and, judging from their actions, they were very fond of me. They say, “If you love something, set it free?” I’m free now and must admit I have pangs of nostalgia when I think of the duo and my time in captivity. They gave me stickers and kissed my tears away. They bought me ice cream and tamales and drugged me only once. Don’t get me wrong, their sh*t DOES stink. And I imagine yours does too (although, mine doesn’t).

I want to end by stating emphatically that no action, legal or otherwise, should be taken against my abductors.

-Rahaleh Nassri

NB: This is not a case of Stockholm Syndrome (See also Patty Hearst and blink 182. The Editor). I was never in Sweden. I know this because it was warm and the people were happy. I hear Swedes are depressed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Back of Al

For a couple of rehearsal we were forced out of Casa by a super secret construction project being carried out by Artistic Partner, Tim Getman. Mean while rehearsals carried on over at what I like to call the "Woolly Mammoth." Thanks to the folks at Woolly for lending the space. To the left is the Back of Al Twanmo getting ready to behead Ceaser standing over to his right. Or is he? Bwahahahhahahahahahhahaha!

We Don't Even Use Ushers!

Praise for The Beard of Avon is still pouring in day by day. Apparently the show was awarded the Usher's Favorite Show Award for the month of November. The details can be found at Potomac Stages Daily News Page. I should clarify and say that we tied with a certain other Shakepeare production in town for the honor. I won't tell you who but their show in Pig Latin would be Omedeycay ofay Orerrays at the Akespeareshay Eaterthay staring my good friend Arnimay Enningpay . Potomac Stages had already made us a pick with a fantastic review in October and now this is really too much!

It reminds of what all of us at Rorschach continue to tell ourselves on a fairly regular basis, the work no matter how much money you have or don't have to throw at it will shine through.

This is all the more gratifying when you consider that we don't even use ushers at our performances. Relying on the odd actor, designer or board member who happens to wander by to point people towards the restrooms.

Congratulations everyone and thank you Ushers!


This is Rahaleh. Rahaleh was abducted and taken to Mexico.

I for one am relieved that the prayers of a small theater company in Washington, DC could bring our little girl home.

I am reminded of
Mel Gibson before he went crazy in the film Ransom. His character Tom Mullen said these words and they are as true now as they were in 1996:

The whole world now knows... my son, Sean Mullen, was kidnapped, for ransom, three days ago. This is a recent photograph of him. Sean, if you're watching, we love you. And this... well, this is what waits for the man that took him. This is your ransom. Two million dollars in unmarked bills, just like you wanted. But this is as close as you'll ever get to it. You'll never see one dollar of this money, because no ransom will ever be paid for my son. Not one dime, not one penny. Instead, I'm offering this money as a reward on your head. Dead or alive, it doesn't matter. So congratulations, you've just become a two million dollar lottery ticket... except the odds are much, much better. Do you know anyone that wouldn't turn you in for two million dollars? I don't think you do. I doubt it. So wherever you go and whatever you do, this money will be tracking you down for all time. And to ensure that it does, to keep interest alive, I'm running a full-page ad in every major newspaper every Sunday... for as long as it takes. But... and this is your last chance... you return my son, alive, uninjured, I'll withdraw the bounty. With any luck you can simply disappear. Understand... you will never see this money. Not one dollar. So you still have a chance to do the right thing. If you don't, well, then, God be with you, because nobody else on this Earth will be.

I think we can all agree with those sentiments. Rahaleh, I for one am glad you are back. But if you had any fun on your little vacation, I will hunt you down. Cheers!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Catching-Up Issue

On an almost daily basis I am sent items by members of the cast and Rorschach staff regarding the posts and ideas that people have for the blog. Today I will catch-up on some of these items, but first a couple of my own thoughts.

1. There seems to be some concern for Rahaleh's safety and my apprent disregard for her safety. To be clear we received no ransom demands and if we did I am sure we would all chip in a couple of bucks to get her back. I was going to save this for later but I saw Rahaleh last night and other than some traumatic story about the way room service treated her, she seems to be fine. Although we all know how these boughts of post-kidnapping stress can sneak-up on you, so if you see her sitting in a corner quietly humming Feliz Navidad to herself it is probably better to leave her alone for a couple of minutes. She promised me she had more photos from her kidnapping to share later.

2. I have been informed by Jai that there are in fact 34 ways a woman can kill a man and she knows 27 of them. Both Rahaleh and I asked "What happen did you miss the last class?" She seemed very sincere when she said it and made a very threatening gesture with her right hand when I asked about number 26. So if I wind up dead it might be someone who is very . . .

Hi Jai good to see you how did you get in here? Me nothing I am just typing. About you? No, just something funny about wigs. You know how I love to write about wigs. Please don't! Oh sweet merciful crap don't!!!! Oh the pain!!! I am feeling very sleepy now. Grandma is that you? Why are you standing next to that brilliant white light? You want me to come to you grandma? You look glorious. No wait for me grandma. Wait for me!

3. I had all of my hair cut off on Sunday and I bought a new hat at Urban Outfitters. I know how cool am I right? Well not very cool at all but what can you do a month shy of 33?

4. John Micheal McDonald one of the talented actors from Fair Ladies did some research:

Halloo, all.

For anyone who hasn't found it already, the narrative version of Fair Ladies, translated by one Asataro Miyamori is at Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards.

It isn't a terrific read, but can be a helpful reference.

As ferrinstance, where Oswald is somewhat unclear with
"Though Master Morihisa's Beautiful flute entranced me for a moment,
Because he told me he is a woman, I had to let him go."

Miyamori is a little more straightforward with:
"Master Morihisa certainly played a very pretty tune on the lute at last year's
mushroom picnic on Mount Kita, but what an effeminate fellow he is!"

It also has footnotes which are handy for explaining some of the Japanese references: Football was one of the stock court amusements. Needless to say it had little in common with that organized form of refined savagery which we find in the west to- day. It was a stately game, played in a costume of which the voluminous trousers formed not the least important item.

Hentsugi is a game in which Chinese characters have a prominent place.

Kaiawasa is a game played with a number of clam shells. Roughly speaking, what constitutes this game is the picking up and fitting together of the two respective sides of the shells from those which have been scattered about. The insides of the shells are painted with coloured illustrations of the fifty-four scenes of The Story of Genji, the greatest work of classical fiction.

John Mike

5. Yasim Tuazon actress and Rorschach Company member contributes this link regarding the Empress to be portrayed in our play Rahaleh. Empress Kenrei-Monin. It is actually quite touching.

Well that is all for right now. But I will try and get some more stuff together real soon.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Empress Missing - Monday

Look closely at this picture and all the clues are there. This picture was sent to me from someone's cell phone cam around 1pm today EST. The subject line was "Looking for a Safe House." From the clues we have been given previously, the Spanish words Buena Vista on the sign above them, what appears to be an access road to a beach and the fact that these people are not wearing coats in December, you should be able to at least take a stab at where they took Rahaleh. Please note neither one of them is wearing a vest.

Also kudos to the slooths who pointed out that nowhere in Rahaleh's packing instructions did it mention the need for a jacket.

Please feel free to post some guesses as to where Rahaleh went.

Last Show

Let us join together in a moment of appreciation for the all of the men and women that made The Beard of Avon the success that it was. Last two performances were terrific. A thanks to everyone who made this show a success and especially a great cast and crew that should always be priased and this was ours:

By Amy Freed

Directed by Jessica Burgess
Produced by Randy Baker
and Jenny McConnell Frederick

Scenic and Lighting Design

David C. Ghatan*

Props Design and Set Dressing
Elizabeth Baldwin

Costume Design

Jenn Miller

Sound Design
Matthew Frederick*

Original Musical Compositions
Jesse Terrill

Stage Manager
Ellen Houseknecht

Featuring: Austin Bragg, Patrick Bussink, Valerie Fenton, Andrew Jessop, Scott McCormick*, Eric Singdahlsen, Brent Stansell, Grady Weatherford*, Wendy Wilmer

Dramaturgy: Cam Magee
Assistant Lighting Design: Andrew F. Griffin
Fight Choreography: Chris Niebling
Technical Director: Michael Dove
Assistant Stage Manager: Gwen Grastorf
Wigs and Makeup: Gabrielle Vincent

*Rorschach Theatre Resident Company Member

Friday, December 09, 2005

Third of Three: Reaction to a Kidnapping

Reaction has been pouring in from around the world to the apparent abduction of Rorschach Artitic Partner, Rahaleh Nassri.

Jenny McConnell Frederick had this to say:
"I tried to warn her, running with a crowd like that would get her into trouble..."

Randy Baker had this to say:
“She’s gone?”

Such sentiments have been coming in from nearly everyone who knows Rahaleh. The guy who sells her her Jamba Juice said sales have plummeted.

Once again if you have any information regarding this horrible impediment to production on Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards going forward please email the blog. It might also be nice if somebody said something nice about Rahaleh, before she comes back on Monday.

Please note the additional photos of the apparent suspects. Sorry folks even I will admit this is a lame entry but I am getting so very tired. And by the way Saturday night is now officially sold out for The Beard of Avon. You might try coming tonight but I make no guarantees.

Second of Three: And the Rest

Here is the remainder of the cast and how they relate to yours truly. Remember I don't know these actors as well as the others so the lies I make up about them are not as thoroughly researched.

Nelina Giridhar- Yokobue - I vaguely worked with Nelina when we were both understudies for Privates in Parade at Studio Theatre. As with all of the women in this show a man could fall in love with her dark hair and dark eyes. Her dad is from India and her mom is from the UP in Michigan, which in my opinion is almost like being Canadian, and we all know how I feel about Canada, so I'll be watching her! That's just a warning Nelina, I am not watching in a creepy way just in a distrustful of all things Maple Leafed sort of way.

Cesar Guadamuz- Yoshitsugu - Some of you may have seen Little Cesar in the recent production of Take Me Out at Studio earlier this year. Cesar laughs easily so that makes him a prime candidate for my friendship. He will be carrying a woman on his back in Act I, but she is a light woman so I don’t think he will have any trouble, given his strapping nature.

Jai Khalsa - Karumo - I sat next to Jai the other night during table work and I have the bruises to prove it. Well I was sitting between Jai and Gwen so not all of the bruises came from Jai, since we have already discussed Gwen's issues with hitting. I believe Jai could kill me if she wanted to. Apparently trained in some form of sword-yoga-Indian Dance Martial Art, when she looks at me I have the feeling she is running through a list of 20 ways she knows to kill a man. And I like the way her nose crinkles up when she laughs.

John Michael McDonald - Moritsugu- John Michael seems to be one of them people who reads. If I was the leader of the free world I might not trust that in a man, but since I am only an actor who thinks he is leader of the free world, I can let it slide. Gwen picked him up for rehearsal the other night and as a reward was treated to a completely home cooked meal of something called quiche. Reads and cooks, well we can't all be perfect, I mean I can't be perfect, John Michael sounds dreamy.

Ghillian Porter - Kohagi - Hi Ghillian! I know she reads the blog because she said I was saucy. I have always thought of myself as more smarmy, but I don't argue with people who are complimenting me (Unless they say I remind them of a young Dom DeLuise). Ghillian is a mystery to me; to be honest most women are a mystery to me. Of course I still have trouble understanding how the Electoral College works, so maybe I am just not that smart. I will probably only see Ghillian after we open since we have not scenes together, but I am really looking forward to stuff.

Well that is the cast and how they relate to me the blogger. Later today I will have more on the kidnapping of an Empress Day 2.

First of Three

I have three posts I want to do today so check back here at regular intervals for updates on my relationship with the rest of the cast and some reactions to Rahaleh's kidnapping.

First though I want to talk about the audience last night for The Beard of Avon. It was like surfing a big wave of laughter. You swim out on your board and ride a big one in and then an even bigger one would come in right behind it and give you a even knarlier ride. It was a sell out and I think the best audience since we opened. No insult to the other audiences that have filled the hall at Casa but this audience was something special.

It was actually a collection of friends, actors and well wishers. I don't like to drop names and I will obviously leave some people out, but special thanks to Danny Ladmirault( God of Vengeance and Acciental Death of an Anarchist), Annie Huston, Cam McGee, Chris Henley, Chris Neibling and Jen Mendenhall. There is something special about doing this show for theater folks. It isn't simply a matter of the fact that they get the jokes because of all the theater history shoved down their throats either. It is because they understand the dream of creating and can appreciate the same things about the show that actors on stage performing do.

There are two performances left and there are still a very few tickets left. If you really want to see the show, get there early and there is a chance to get in to one of our Leaning-Room-Slightly Obscured-Sitting-Under-the-Stairs-or-in-the-Vom seats.

Talk to you in a couple hours about the cast and Rahaleh's disappearance.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Love Letter to Beard Cast

Hey, guys from The Beard of Avon. Don't think I have forgotten any of you. As a matter of fact I am looking foward to seeing all again tonight for the first of our last three shows (Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, some tickets still available but they are going fast). Here is a love letter written by former Washington Post Head Critic Lloyd Rose. It's yet more affirmation of the fantastic show we have put together and should make your hearts swell a little bit.

It may be a little hard to read here but you can click on the image to get a better view. Please note the work of Mr. Grady Witherspoon.

BREAKING NEWS: Empress Kidnapped!!!

All of this started with a telegram delivered to Rahaleh earlier this week:

Then there were the email instructions that followed:

From: mister bird
To: Rahaleh
Subject: Abduction Instructions for Dec 8th 4:15AM from ASHBY ST.
Sent: Tuesday, December 6, 2005 1:31 PM

Your abduction is scheduled for the morning of
December 8th (Thursday) at 4:15AM. A vehicle will
pick you up and deposit you at the appropriate
Be well-rested and ready.
You will need to bring all of these items with you:
4 pairs underwear
2 pairs shorts
1 pair sneakers
2-3 pairs pants
1 skirt
1 wind breaker
1 bikini
1 sweatshirt
1 vest
1 PASSPORT*******
Your internet access will be limited for 120 hours.
Plan accordingly. Also bring any paperwork you might
need until Monday.
Respond to this email as confirmation.

As of right now Rahaleh is missing and pressumed enroute to somewhere where they apparently torture you by making you wear bikinis and vests. Wait a minute I understand almost everything else she is supposed to bring, but why a vest? These are some whacked out kidnappers. Before Rahaleh was abducted she sent me these photos of the people she suspects of being involved.

If you see either of these people and they are carrying a Rahaleh sized duffel bag, DO NOT APPAROACH THEM! They are dangerous people, as is anyone who would voluntarily take Rahaleh anywhere for a weekend. We will let you know if any demands are made.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Cast Part I

This week I have mentioned a little about the cast of Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards. Little tidbits about Rahaleh turning the cast against me and Patrick and I spending way to much time together for two men not in a relationship. (That was for you Jordan.)

I thought it might be fun to run down my current relationship with some of the cast. Tomorrow I will run down those people I have never worked with before and create some kind of warped reality that will entertain and instruct.

Rahaleh Nassri - The Empress - Rahaleh and I are working on our third show together. Previously we appeared in The Illusion and The Scarlet Letter together for Rorschach and I have to say, she is one of my favorite people. Granted she can tell a lie like nobody's business, but is it really a lie if everyone knows you are telling it. If anyone in the cast threatens my supremacy it will be Rahaleh. She has also been receiving threatening telegrams lately, but more about that soon.

Yasmin Tuazon - Lady Tonase - Yasmin drove me home last night and we were screaming along with They Might Be Giants. It was Flood so it was the stuff most non-fans know, Bird House in Your Soul and Istanbul. Yasmin and I have done three shows previous to this one. Two for Rorschach, The Illusion and God of Vengeance and one for the now vanished Project Y, In the Boom Boom Room. This time around Yasmin is playing my sister, I hate it when I am attracted to a sibling.

Paul McLane - Katsuyori - Paul is the rock in the play as far as I am concerned. He Rahaleh and I did The Scarlet Letter together earlier this year and I am looking forward to working with him again. I just hope he feels the same way. I tend to steal his crossword puzzles and randomly fill in letters. Is that wrong?

Al Twanmo - Lord Shigimori - Al or Big Al as he was carefully explaining to a captivated audience two nights ago is a hoot and three quarters as far as I am concerned. He returns to Rorschach where he last appeared in After the Flood, he actually got to be seen on stage unlike some of us. He also had to learn to speak passable
Bahasa for his role and I just spoke with a bad french accent.

Patrick Bussink - Takiguchi - Bussink, Trick, Tricky, Patty, Patty Patty Foo Foo, the man the myth the legend. Patrick and I are just now wrapping up The Beard of Avon together this weekend (tickets still available by the way) and have been friends since we toured together in Cyrano and Twelfth Night with The National Players out of Olney. Patrick is a good egg and he and I look great together on stage. He has been called a versatile chameleon by the Washington Post but I think of him more as a gecko.

Gwen Grastorf - Kojiju - Gwen is leaving the world of sound board op for The Beard of Avon to trod the boards as a 14 year old girl. She tends to hit but I have never seen her bite. Apparently she has seen every Rorschach show since her friend Kurt Chang did Accidental Death of an Anarchist last year. Tall and blond some times she makes me think I am at the Shakespeare Theater.

Tomorrow the newbies.

Links of Gwen

Oft times comment contributer and tech ninja Gwen has contributed some useful links for the cast and items which may just wet the rest of the world's appetite for all things Japanese and Samurai related. Also check out one of director Randy Baker's favorite sites on How-to-Bow.

Hi all,

Here are some things:

1. I'm sure some of you have found this already, definition of 'dono'.

2. Is this the same Mt. Kita?

3. Evidently there are Privy Seal Keepers in Britain as well.

4. Buddhism and reincarnation... god i love wikipedia.

5. This is the official homepage for the Japanese Imperial Household.

6. Just in case you want to see bizzaro modern japanese things...some of these need a high-speed internet connection with flash.

I Love Egg
Strange Japanese Advertising in English
Tokyo Plastic
How to Fold a Shirt

Have Fun,

Gwen 'i love to google' Grastorf

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Samurai Homework

Last night's rehearsal was dedicated to what we in the business call table work. This usually involves the director or dramaturge (fancy work for person who researches a play) will throw lots of sheets of paper at you. Then the actors will scramble home with said papers and read them over so they can invest the character with at least a passing knowledge of what all those words they are saying really mean. The fact of the matter is you have to do your research but sometimes you can get so caught up in the details that you forget that there is a human being living inside of those lines.

Here is what I do to avoid the pitfalls of too much information. I learn everything I can about the character I am playing and how they fit into the world around them and then I leave all the rest to the directors and designers. It has always been my opinion that most characters only know the facts and events that impact their lives directly. Just because I am playing a samurai in Heian Japan, doesn't mean that I have to know the inner workings of the agricultural system of Japan at that time. I need to know how to be a samurai and what my role in society would have been, not how high my kimono would have been cut.

Here are some web sites I have found about Samurai History and Culture:

Samurai Archive - Has a lot of information on history and tradition, as well as an extensive listing of names and poetry. - Has a simple timeline of the history of Samurai in Japan.

Wikipedia - As always supplies an easy to read and illustrated overview of Samurai tradition and as with all things Wikipedia some of the weird stuff too.

Nobuji's Unofficial Akira Kurosawa Fan Page - Just for the pop culture that we all need this site looks at all of the films of Kurosawa, including the Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood and Ran.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Man and Another Man's Wig

Another First Read

And so it begins again. We haven't even closed The Beard of Avon and here we are with a whole new cast of characters. Well not completely new Patrick Bussink and I are hanging around because we have not fully exhausted our nostalgia for one another quite yet. Also Gwen Grastorf is stepping onto the stage and from behind the tech booth for this one.

It is because of Rorschach Theatre's new policy of getting me out of bed for rehearsals way to early on Sunday mornings, that we began the first read for Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem cards at 9 a.m yesterday. As is my custom at a first read I began the morning with a small prayer that I have composed for such occasions. It goes like this:

Dear God,
Please allow me to get through this process and not have to resort to any performance enhancing drugs. Please make the cast like me and keep Rahaleh from turning them against me. Please let me remember all those lines, because let's face it I am not as young as I used to be. And forgive me for anything I may do or say that might get the cops involved.

It was with this prayer on my lips that I entered the space.

This is a very attractive cast. Maybe that is something that seems superficial but I have to say it for marketing purposes. I mean this is the story of star-crossed lovers and people don't want their lovers to be anything less than gorgeous.

How did the read go? Well they aren't only pretty they can act as well. I know I wasn't expecting
to laugh as much as I did. The play is well written, with soaring bits of poetry and comic moments to match. There are speeches of innate beauty and the kind of clever word play that make one go "aren't I clever for having picked up on that clever peice of word play."

Once again check here for rehearsal updates and interesting facts about the play and Japanese culture. Also I will try and get the ball rolling on cast interviews as soon as I can.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Lost Boys + Tinkerbell = ?

A Word From An Artistic Director

Co-Artistic Director Jenny McConnell Frederick (I swear she added the extra name just to take up more space) sent me this fun little entry for everyone to mull over. I have already spoken to some of the cast regarding this chart and someone claims he hasn't used any of the special friends rates during the run. I am merely the poster not the computator so let the fun begin.

As Eric pointed out in a previous post, this cast and crew is kind, caring and totally cut-throat. All too often in the mamby-pamby artsy-fartsy world of theatre things are left up to subjectivity, but with a cast & crew as competitive as this one, I think it's time to cut to the chase here and get down to cold hard numbers. None of this"beauty is in the eye of the beholder" we have definitive numbers and an indisputable ranking system.

A little bit of insider knowledge here at Rorschach: if you know a cast or crew member personally, they can get you a discount ticket. Some cast members use this privilege on a nightly basis to get a small army of their friends & family into the show at a discount. Several cast members have asked me if they are "abusing the privilege", (there's no such thing--the more the merrier). But of course the next question invariably asked by these driven young artists was: "Who's reserved the MOST?!"

So here you have it: A graph representing the number of discount & comps tickets reserved by each member of the cast and crew.

(I've only provided initials here to preserve an illusion of anonymity.) As you can see there are some clear leaders of which is Mr."Chess?-I-thought-this-was-checkers!" Singdalsen who'll be pleased to note that he's way ahead of his chess nemesis.

On the other hand...maybe it just means that Austin's friends are the kind of cool people who pay full price for their tickets....and we love that.

Cool Pic of Val

Continuing our theme of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, here is a photo of Ms. Val Fenton applying her make-up. The photo was taken by Patrick Bussink.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I will admit that when actors get together to do anything but rehearse or perform it is usually a series of carefully played games of one-ups-manship. Constantly trying bits on one another, speaking in funny voices, people in refrigerator boxes using toy plastic swords to beat the tar out of one another, all in an attempt to gain some sort of advantage over one's friends.

When we got together last night for the line through two men met on the field of black and white battle. Austin and Eric have been playing chess throughout the run of the show. As soon as they saw one another last night, Austin whips out his little travel chess set and begins to school Eric. I believe Austin has made up rules. I have no proof of this but there was one point where I swear I saw Eric take off his shoe and hold it next to his ear and mouth the name "Bobby Fischer" and spit.

Anyway all chess aside, I think that we are all set for the first show back tonight. I know I was champing at the bit to put my fuzzy dress back on and the rest of the cast and crew all seemed to have that lean and hungry look about them.

Just to remind you, we run now until December 10th with shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. If you have come already, please come again, its funnier the fourth time. If you know someone who hasn't come, send them on down and tell them that if they come to the theater show night and say "Bloggity, Blog, Blog, Blog" they get $3 off their regular admission price. Other wise for tickets visit Box Office Tickets or call 1-800-494-TIXS.