Friday, April 28, 2006
One More for My Baby
Friday and Saturday's shows are almost sold out. I can't say I didn't warn you that this show is going to sell. Reservations for next weekend would be a good idea ladies and gentlemen.
One more review before I close up shop for the week from our friend Missy Frederick at the DCist. Missy says:
. . . it is a play of thoughtful character studies and intriguing moral conflicts, and above all an impressive bit of staging and performance on Rorschach's part. -Missy Frederick- DCist.
Same Ellipsis Rules apply to this review, so visit A Bright Troupe Called Rorschach for more.
Just finished listening to Sarah Vowell's book on tape of her book Assassination Vacation. Great read by the way. She had several guests helping with the voices of various historical figures, including Mr. Tony Kushner as the John Humphrey Noyes founder of the Oneida religious community where presidental assassin Charles J. Guiteau kind of went a little bit crazy. Noyes founded one of America's free love religions and for some reason Guiteau still couldn't get lucky. Just a happy coincidence of Tony showing up in places where you don't expect him. It's also cool to hear Jon Stewart as James Garfield and Conan O'Brien as Jason Todd Lincoln.
Don't miss this show people.
RorShock and Awe
. . . under Rahaleh Nassri’s deft direction, Allen, a recent Helen Hayes nominee for Journeymen Theater Ensemble’s An Experiment With an Air Pump, ably and sympathetically carries the play, and Alexander Strain’s foppish Baz, who tells a tale of rescue from suicidal despair via sex in the shrubbery, epitomizes the hunger for happiness and pleasure that both informs the struggle against fascism and leads to Agnes’ surrender to it. -Pamela Murray Winters - City Paper
For those of you who understand how press quotes work you know that the Ellipsis (Greek God of Pregnant Pauses) denotes that I left something out. Well if you want to know what it is you will have to go to Curtain Call.
Great house the last two nights. The cast had some interesting stories about the group of 8th graders from Beaver Country Day School. The kids seemed to ride the waves of the show the way few audiences can. With audible reactions of shock and awe. I was told they really enjoyed the devil. When informed of this I mentioned to Randy when haven't 14 year olds been fasinated with the devil.
Other than some small confusion about who actually gave the Curtain Speech last night the show went very well. By the way Karl Miller you gave the best Curtain Speech ever last night.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
GETTING DIMMER: A bunch of lefties - artists, activists annd oddballs - cope with changing political times in Tony Kushner's "A Bright Room Called Day." It's set in Germany before the rise of the Third Reich, but you wouldn't know it for all the parallels to the current state of the States. Rorschach Theatre stages the early work at Casa del Pueblo.
Don't get me wrong because I love my left leaning local news paper, but this editorial choice is much more blatant than anything in Mr. Pressley's review. For the record I couldn't agree more and for shame.
More Reviews coming in today from our friends in the Gay and Lesbian Press. The Washington Blade like the intimate scenes between characters, check out their review entitled Day in the Sun.
Lots more love from Jolene Munch at Metroweekly, her review is entitled Parallel Lives. Here is my favorite bit:
There aren't enough plays that deliver world history with a startling realization that catches in your throat, but Rahaleh Nassri's refined production captures the essence of Kushner's despair with a canny melding of romantic realism and an uncommonly clear vision of German politics. Kushner's eloquence is relayed by an intrepid cast that imbues his story with the kind of rare intelligence and focused energy one would expect from the Broadway stage. Here, on a tiny set with only a few feet dividing actors from audience, theirs are acutely-drawn performances that singe on such a small playing space. - Jolene Munch- Metroweekly
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Welcome to the Culture War
Ronald Reagan may now be remembered as one of America's greatest presidents, but the Washington Post is still willing to consider him comparable to mass-murdering dictators.
I encourage everyone to read Mr. Graham's article and especially the resulting comments that follow his article inspired.
Meanwhile Tony Krepel over at ConWebBlog the blog of the ConWebWatch a liberal blog monitoring group shows the spurious nature of Mr. Graham's posting in his post NewsBusters: Positive Review of Play = Endorsement of Views Contained Therein. Mr. Krepel goes on to say:
To recall a counterexample:
NewsBusters writers and posters have dehumanized journalists and whitewashed terrorist acts. By Graham's example, should we therefore assume that the Media Research Center as a whole endorses those views as well?
Welcome to the world where you can't sneeze without pissing someone off, ladies and gentlemen. I will keep you all up to date if Bright Room stirs up anymore trouble.
I leave you with a final conservative response to the review, this one on something called Curmdgeonly & Skeptical. This blogger has taken the time to create some pretty interesting art work concerning the review. Enjoy his posting Here's your hyperbole.
- The Hairy Ape - In an attempt to gain experience for the role of a soot covered stoker, Grady Weatherford signed aboard a tramp steamer for six weeks. He ate, slept and breathed in the belly of the ship, without seeing the light of day for a month and half. Strangely enough the ship never left dock.
-The Rhinoceros - Many people know that this show was done in the abandoned Hechinger's Greenhouse. What they might not know is that that Hechinger's was built on an ancient Native American Burial Ground and that the cast was haunted by angry spirits. Craig T. Nelson actually was called to the theater based on some unfounded rumors that he was an exorcist and not the star of the ABC sitcom, Coach.
- God of Vengeance - The first show done about Jewish pimps and lesbians done in the lobby of the JCC. This would not be repeated until the show Jewish Pimps and Lesbians in the Lobby of the JCC was mounted three months later.
-The Illusion - The only Rorschach show where someone actually lost a limb. Fortunately it was only a fake hand I brought in to show the cast but I really miss that hand.
- JB - An unfortunate printing error reversed the letters of the title on the post cards and led to rather lengthy conversations with confused and disappointed audience members.
- Lord of the Flies - Karl Miller was first cast in this show and then replaced and the was recast in this show 17 times. Which reminds me someone may be packing his bags for New York again if the little birds are telling the truth. That's right rumor has it that Mr. Miller may in fact be playing a disaffected teen again very soon in a city so nice they had to name it twice.
- A Clearing in the Woods - The only show in Rorschach history where nearly every seat was a front row seat. Strangely enough people still found a way to sit in the back row.
- Ubu Roi - The only show Rorschach ever did that made less sense than George Bush's gas plan. Zing! May be that will get us quoted in the Express Blog Section. Seriously who do you have to plagiarize to get excerpted over there.
- Family Stories - Opening Night Party for the show featured the drinking of a plum brandy which may have caused several members of the cast and crew to go temporarily blind. The bottle of brandy was said to have been found on the top shelf with a layer of dust so thick that you needed a chisel to get the bottle free. That apparently is how you know it is good.
- Master and Margarita - Was seen by more people than the moon landing, yet strangely enough I have never met any of them. Everyone who I talk to about the show tells me how sorry they were they missed it.
- After the Flood - No human actors actually appeared in the show. Even the people on stage were highly sophisticated puppets manipulated from above the stage. I still have the Jason Lott puppet and I take him out at parties.
- A Tale of a Tiger - Actually won the Helen Hayes Award that year for Non-Resident Production, but because it was being presented at the Kennedy Center they switched envelopes and the award was given to Marisa Tomei.
- Accidental Death of an Anarchist - May have indirectly contributed to John Kerry's only winning 90% of the vote in Washington, DC during the 2004 Presidential Election.
- The Scarlet Letter - It is Chillingworth not Chillingsworth. See before we did the show I could have sworn it had an "S", but there is no "S." Funny how you pretend to read a book in high school and you some how convince yourself you know something about transcendentalism.
- Behold! - All the charges of cannibalism that were leveled against the cast were later dropped. When asked for comment, all they could say was, "Funny tastes just like soccer player."
- The Beard of Avon - 95% of this show was improvised. The only lines actually scripted were the dramatic pauses.
- Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards - At no time did Morotaka ever sit. This is the one true thing on this list. Due to a tragic stage fall I took 8 years ago, I am unable to bend my left knee back far enough to sit in the traditional Japanese fashion. Also at no point during the show does the Empress ever pull a knife and say "I am going to cut you!"
- A Bright Room Called Day - Rahaleh directed the entire show suspended 12 feet off the floor in a whicker chair. She said she needed the space.
Thanks and here is to the next 200 entries.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Today we have a special young woman. I put the emphasis on both the young and the special in this case. Special because she is like one of those cool kids you always wanted to be when you were growing up, but just slightly dorky enough that you can talk to her at not feel the rage inherent in the fact that you didn't grow-up to be that cool kid. Young, because for a bright young theater company, way too many of us are creeping into our mid-30s these days for comfort. We need someone like Liz around to make the rest of us feel like we are still those up and comers we keep telling our parents and non-theater friends we are.
Elizabeth Chomko, has now been in three Rorschach shows and has the unique distinction of being the first cast member to see her own performance on opening night. She is quite lovely and I for one am a big fan. She has had roles in The Scarlet Letter, Behold! and now A Bright Room Called Day. So please welcome Liz Chomko.
1. Place of birth?
I was born at a women’s hospital in Chicago, IL.
2. First experience in theater?
The first theatre experience that I recall in detail was seventh grade’s The Sound of Music. I really wanted to play Leisel, and do that romantic duet about being sixteen going on seventeen with that cute guy, but seventh grade was a very plump and awkward year for me, so I was cast as Sister Sophia. I had one solo line in How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?; some nonsense about willow wisps and clowns. I keenly remember that as an encore, after Climb Every Mountain, all of the nuns performed a little montage of songs from Sister Act, which was very cool at the time.
3. Where you went to school?
I attended American University. I received a degree in theatre and also philosophy.
4. What do you do?
I am an actor.
5. What was your first experience with Rorschach?
My first extended experience with Rorschach, where I was actually involved and not just an idle audience member, was The Scarlet Letter. I played Pearl, the “extremely tall” seven year old.
6. Company member you would most like to be if you were not yourself?
If I were not myself, I would be . . . You know, this is a tricky one, because a. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and b. there’s a lot of pretty unique people affiliated with Rorschach. Top two are: Jason Linkins, aka J-Pantz, because he is just about the funniest person I know, and Rahaleh Nassri, because, well, does anyone NOT want to be Rahaleh for ten minutes?
7. Some story about working on a Rorschach play that either made you laugh or touched you deeply?
Well, I quite like that when we first started talking about Behold!, there was this concept that I would be the universal roller-skating waitress. Yvette found some roller-skates in my size, and I spent time skating around the church, crashing into drinking fountains and Felix. But then, due to the kitty-litter road-texture problem, skating became impossible, so the skates were cut. But everything comes full-circle, because now, in A Bright Room Called Day, those same roller skates are set dressing in my little bedroom-museum.
8. Where do you think Rorschach will be in the next ten years?
In the next ten years, I can see Rorschach buying that big building across the street that they are currently turning into condos, ferociously tearing out Sub-Zeros and walls and things and turning it into a theatre space to rival The Studio-plex on 14th St. Or that purple Brewmaster's Castle in Dupont Circle on New Hampshire? I heard that’s up for sale.
9. What is your favorite Rorschach show that you were not in?
My favorite Rorschach show that I was not in must, hands down, be Family Stories. Seeing that show was my actual first experience with Rorschach, and it haunted me in that really good way.
10. Scott McCormick harmless adolescent or world conquering super villain?
Scottie? Neither. Dark, brooding, cigarette-smoking, quadruple-espresso-drinking mystery man. Who knows what will happen when he emerges from the dark, smoky corner of the coffee shop?
Opening Night and The Post Lovin' Us
Nelson Pressley from The Washington Post loved our little show. To steal the quote Randy will be sending out in a mass email to our faithful later:
“Kushner being Kushner -- that is, burning with ideological fire, thoroughly grounded in history and theory, and preposterously gifted with literary agility -- that wild swing of a thesis gains surprising traction onstage. Rorschach Theatre is the right company to embrace the overstatement, and director Rahaleh Nassri's production at the Casa del Pueblo Methodist Church's modest Sanctuary Theatre is tough-minded and, in its way, beautiful."- Nelson Pressley The Washington Post (Click here for the entire review)
More of a mixed review from our friends over at DC Theatre Review:
"Sometime during the 1980s, Tony Kushner decided to write a play about times when the radical right is taking over society, and the tiny windows of opportunity during which the left has a chance to stop it. It was relevant when he wrote it and it is relevant now; it’s no wonder Rorschach chose to revive A Bright Room Called Day this season." - Fiona Zublin, DC Theatre Review (Click here for the entire review)
So sorry about yesterday. Blogspot refused to let me publish the pictures I promised. Hell it refused to let me publish my apology for not printing the pictures I promised. So let's try this again.
Mood at opening festive. Reaction of audience highly moved and angered. Not at the show mind you but at the world that makes a show like Bright Room necessary. Please note the delightful spread of desserts that greeted out audience after the show on Saturday.
There was a love fest for the cast, designers, director and crew. Hanging out in the lobby you could hear the laughs when there were supposed to be laughs, the painful silences when they were needed and the applause when they were moved to do so. Despite the rain that frightened some away, we played to a full house and everyone I talked to told me that we shoul be proud and I for one am proud of everyone involved in this here process.
Without further eliquence I will let you know that we ate the food and drank the soda before we made our way over to Mount Pleasant where we made our way to the upstairs area of Haydees and there was some drinking and some friend making. Please note the photo of the group with their arms raised and their new friend "Amor" (yes that is right his name was LOVE).
Make your way over to Rorschach and see A Bright Room Called Day soon, I promise you, you will not regret it. Now enjoy the sights and the drinking of Opening Night:
Monday, April 24, 2006
How did Opening go one might ask? Well to tell you the truth stellar would be an easy word to throw around. It is rare to see a show that has the kind of an emotional impact on people. Rahaleh tells me the story of some college age guys leaving the Preview on Friday. She heard the one guy say to the other, "What do you do after something like that?" and the other replies "I don't know, but you have to do something." See this is what we mean we talk about theater that touches people. Shows are meant to entertain and I think that A Bright Room Called Day does its share of that, but it also is meant to change the world. I am not necessiarily talking about change the world in the big sense of moving nations and opening the eyes of world leaders. I mean the kind of world changing that goes on between one person in the audience and the show unfolding on stage.
Taking an audience through a world different yet the same as their own and seeing the impact as they walk out of the theater. A little bit sadder pehaps but some of them leave revitalized and willing to fight the hard fights in their lives. To scale huge injustices and wiping the smaller ones off the board. This is what not just great theater does but all theater does in its way. Simply by producing a play we are making a statement, simply by attending theater we are making a statement and it is this synthisis of perfomer and active audience member that creates a conspiracy which in its own way changes the world.
Thank you to everyone who joined us on Saturday night and I will have the after show pics tomorrow.
Friday, April 21, 2006
PWYC While You Can
Other than three college girls who feined illness after showing up 15 minutes late to the performance last night and left about 15 minutes into act I after asking me how long act I was, I heard nothing but praise. I have a feeling these girls were meeting some sort of class requirement and all they needed was the program from the show to prove that they had come. On the off chance that their professor reads this blog, they did not see the whole show, they showed up late, and one of them was talking way too loud on her cell phone before the show and was making plans to meet a friend around 9 o'clock. I don't really care because the people who stayed all loved the show and we got their $13. But if I could somehow deny them class credit, it would really make my day. So if you are out there and want me to give you a description of the girls involved in this scam, email me.
One more PWYC tonight and then we open tomorrow. I will take plenty of pictures of the people and the crowds. We are sold out and there is already a waiting list so if you need to see the show this weekend please stop by tonight.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
The first Pay-What-You-Can Preview of A Bright Room Called Day was a success from everything I heard. A nice little crowd for a preview on a Wednesday, Randy said. 30 or so people on a Wednesday night for a show to me is very good news. We have two more of these previews, tonight and tomorrow and then we open wide to the press on Saturday.
The excitement of an opening is sometimes lost on a company when they are going through it. You have usually been around the cast a crew for a solid week with very little time to yourself. Your laundry is piling up and you haven't eaten a dinner that doesn't come out of a box in two weeks. People at your day job keep asking you how the show is going and for some reason you are reduced to answering in a series of grunts and some form of dolphin clicks. Your family has begun to resent you and every time you talk to your mom she tells you how tired you sound. You have begun to convince yourself that most people function on 3 hours of sleep a night and have constructed a complex conspiracy theory that someone has replaced your pillows with someone else's pillows because you can no longer find that sweet soft spot that used to have you drifting right off to sleep.
It's is a mixed blessing being in a show you believe in. You may in fact care too much. The idea of an audience let alone critics invading the theater that has been your little kingdom for the past 6 weeks seems ludicrous. You want the world to see the work you have done but your soul wants to be protected from the awful things that can happen when it stands exposed in front of friends and strangers alike. We all want just one more chance to get it perfect before someone comes and terrorizes us and the people we have gotten so close to while the show was safe from the world in rehearsal. Yet they come. For good of for bad there has to be an audience as surely as there has to be actors on stage.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Pictures of Bright Room
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
There are lots of places that will tell you who won what last night and for the most part there was nothing that surprised me. That being said the irony of Jenny, Randy and Scott Fortier of Catalyst Theater presenting three design awards last night, which all went to the theater with perhaps the highest production budget in town, was not lost on this audience member. I have said it before _____peare Theat__ spends more on pleather pants in a year than we do on building a set. Listen I know I am impressed when I see a beautiful set. I enjoy seeing a lush tapestry of very expensive fabrics on tall beautiful people as well. But there needs to be some reward for ingenuity. Stretching a penny to make something magical deserves as much credit as stretching 10,000 pennies to make something magical. There needs to be recognition for people, and I am not just talking about Rorschach, who scrape the couple thousand dollars together to put on a show.
That being said I get to watch a run of Bright Room tonight and I have heard that there is some magic going on. I have already told you how impressed I have been by the way the space has been transformed. Tonight I get to watch the lights light it and hear the sound fill it.
Special shout out to everyone who sat in the Rorschach section last night. I was glad to share what I brought with all of you and hope none of you suffered any long term damage. Please remember just because I get up and go out six times during a two hour long awards ceremony doesn't mean I don't enjoy sitting in a dark crowded theater with no leg room with all of you.
Monday, April 17, 2006
First a note from Hannah.
Feel free to use what you would like. Some quick suggested captions:
1. Paulinka and Herr Swetts discover new blocking.
2. Agnes on film - Rahaleh captures Agnes on Film
3. Birthday - We take a break to celebrate Katie's birthday
4. Devil - Matt waits for his entrance
5. Devil2 - Don't get Herr Swetts angry
6. I've Seen Him - Paulinka tells of her encounter with evil
7. Oranges - Baz attempts to comfort Agnes in my hallway
8. TheInternationale - We are having serious thoughts about turning A Bright Room Called Day into a musical.
9. TramandMalek - Matt and Katie explore their subtext.
See you at Helen Hayes
Friday, April 14, 2006
Actual Rorschach News
Helen Hayes on Monday and despite Rorschach's lack of nominations, which I thank everyone who comes up to me and tells me that they can't believe The Beard of Avon got shut out this year, we have three company members up for awards for work they did at other theaters:
Lindsay Allen, Outstanding Supporting Actress, An Experiment with an Air Pump
Karl Miller, Outstanding Lead Actor, columbinus
Michael John Casey (Kathleen Akerley & Ensemble), for Outstanding Choreography for shkspr prjct
We wish all of them the best of luck. In related news Jenny McConnell Frederick and Randy Baker will be representing Rorschach and small theaters all over town as presenters on Monday night. My understanding is that Jenny and Randy will be presenting the award for Outstanding Costume Design. From all of us here at the blog we wish them good luck and please for the love of God be funny. For a full run down of all the Rorschach related Helen Hayes nominations this year follow this link for Jenny's rather thorough summary of Rorschach Alum and the shows they were in that were nominated.
This is also the time of year when the Offies are given. What are Offies you may ask? Well they are the League of Washington Theaters Off-Stage Honors. Last years recipient for Rorschach is currently typing and this year's recipient is currently rehearsing and editing his sweet ass off for Bright Room. Mr. Grady Weatherford is Rorschach's recipient of this year's Offie. I will have more details about where and when the honor will be given, but this is a great honor and recognizes the work that Grady does off stage which is just as impressive as what he does on it. To be honest it would be hard to run this company without him and I personally wouldn't even want to try. There will be fruit and cookies.
Finally a message from Randy Baker regarding something the whole company has been honored with a Mary Goldwater Award:
So some great news. Rorschach Theatre will be receiving a Mary Goldwater award this year!
Many of you know about these awards, in fact many of you have received Mary Goldwater Awards for you work on, among other things, your work on Rorschach shows. But for those of you who don't, here's a little blurb on the awards (taken from Potomac Stages):
"In May of each year The Theatre Lobby, an organization that at one time was the only producing theater in DC, recognizes the contribution of both organizations and individuals to the overall level of excellence in the theater community despite limited resources. The award is named for local actor Mary Goldwater who died in 1985."
The ceremony is on Monday, May 22 and we would love for any and all of you to attend since this award belongs to you guys as much as it does to Jenny and I. The event is free.
We will send out more info about the location and time when we get closer to the night.
According to the Theater Lobby we are being honored for:
Rorschach Theatre Company: for excellence and vision in producing works representing a variety of cultures and styles, including premieres of new plays.
It is sweet recognition indeed. For the full run down of who won the other Mary AuH2O's visit Theaterboy.
Well all I can say is have a great tech weekend Bright Room folks and I will see many of you at the Helen Hayes. I am wearing my drinking shoes, so please stand clear.
Here is the picture I submitted:
And here were my matches and the percentages:
Send me your results.