Friday, June 30, 2006

Missed Connections

One last PWYC tonight at 8pm. I am not promising anything but it seems like love is in the air around this production of The Arabian Night.

I was kind of kidding earlier this week about making this into a Missed Connections Page. Turns out Craig's List may be serving that role for some of our audience members already. Here is the post:

Rorschach's Arabian Nights - m4w
Reply to:
Date: 2006-06-28, 11:32PM EDT

Enjoyed chatting about the play! You're a CU drama graduate, I'm the drama fan -- we talked about Bulgakov.

So if you crazy kids hook-up, please let us know. We at the blog have longed for the day when love would bloom everywhere in our little corner of the world. And to be honest two people who can hold a conversation about Bulgakov are:

a. Rare indeed.
b. Meant for one another.
c. Just the kind of people who come to see Rorschach plays.
d. All of the above.

Hey we don't mind if you all are using our theater as a place to meet that someone special. I can't think of a more attractive and intelligent group of people than the folks who come to be in a Rorschach audience. I encourage you all to not only start dating one another but breeding as well. Let's face it, we are going to need an audience when Rahaleh and I are old enough to convincingly play George and Martha in Who's Afriad of Virginia Wolff? in 2026.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jordan It's Your Birthday

Today is Jordan Suderman's birthday, personally I could think of no more appropriate or cheap way for me to mark the occassion than here on the pages of the Rorschach blog.

What follows is the second in Jordan's dramaturgical exploration of the world of
The Arabian Night.

I remind you all that there are two more PWYC previews tonight and tomorrow night of this highly entertaining, beautifully written and produced play. Come for the promise of cultural enlightenment and stay for a thrilling ride up and down the roller coaster of the human condition.

The Arabian Night: Arabs, Turks and Germans

In The Arabian Night, Fatima and Kalil are described as being "Arab," while Franziska dreams about Istanbul. Why Istanbul and not some place in the Arab world? Perhaps Schimmelpfennig is drawing simultaneously on the literary text 1001 Nights (The Arabian Nights) and the German experience with the large Turkish minority. Regardless of his intentions on mixing up the non-western sources, it is interesting to note that in researching the status of Turks and Arabs in Germany, one is hard pressed to come across anything specifically regarding Arabs, or any Arab nationality, as much of the research is performed only in regards to Turks. Without wanting to unnecessarily conflate the two groupings, most of the research was required to be on Turkish identity in Germany, with the understanding that it is likely that the perception of Turks and Arabs in Germany is generally similar, if not conflated.

My approach was an anthropological one, as it linked to course work and research I had been working on for one of my seminars. While this offered a highly nuanced understanding of Turkish identities in Germany, it made it hard to solidify any answers on how Turks, and presumably Arabs, adapt (or do not adapt) to German life. The fact of the matter is that there are a variety of strategies that Turks use to negotiate cultural identity in Germany, and it is not easily divided into those who assimilate and those who do not. Schimmelpfennig's text suggests that Fatima and Kalil are fairly well assimilated into German culture, but this does not mean that they are representative of all Turks and Arabs living in Germany.

For the actors, Rachel Miller (Assistant Dramaturg) and I compiled a list of films and books which relate to varying degrees to issues in or backgrounds to The Arabian Night, most of which involve German-Turk or similar relations. Among these resources are the following films, listed without qualification, though certainly dealing with the darker aspects of German-Turk or European-Arab relations:

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Caché, dir. Michael Haneke
Head-On, dir. Fatih Akin
Lola and Billy the Kid, dir. E. Kultug Ataman

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sneak Peek

Watched final dress of The Arabian Night yesterday evening and this show is ready to be shared with the world. Remember how sexy I told you the show would be, well it turns out I am not the liar that several people have claimed I am (and you know who you are and you should be ashamed of yourself). The set and costumes transport you to this apartment building and the acting is some of the best I have seen in a while.

For those of you who are wondering about the heat which has notoriouly plagued many of our summer time productions, we have fans ladies and gentlemen. Fans which blow right onto the audience and create honest to goodness zones of comfort.

Here I am providing you a peek at the show and all of its sultry hottness. Enjoy and remember PWYC previews start tonight.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

PWYC Start Tomorrow

Tonight is final dress and photo call for The Arabian Night. Which can mean only one thing, audiences will begin to pour into see what I can only describe as one of the high points of mine and your summer.

The shots I am posting today are from a visit I made to the set on Saturday morning during tech. Just to tease you all with what the show promises the figure in the background of the picture to your right, the one that features Matt, Nelina, Rachel and Jason, is our stage manager Jessie cleaning up a red sticky mess from a stage experiment.

Now I think that Rorschach provides one of the most affordable theater experiences in the City. Not only is it affordable it is a bargain at twice the price. That being said this week provides the best chance for you kids to come and see the show for next to nothing. Pay-What-You-Can Previews start tomorrow night and continue on Thursday and Friday at 8pm. There are still kinks being worked out but this is a chance to see the show for a low price and see all of the elements as they come together to create the show. No reservations for these previews and always information can be found at the Rorschach Theatre page.

We open to the press on Saturday and then we have shows throughout the month of July. Don't miss this show! Smooches!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Message from a New York Grad Student Part I

Many of you may remember Jordan Suderman from his time as Stage Manager with Rorschach Theatre on The Master and Margarita and After the Flood. He has since moved on to grad school at NYU, but his heart and soul still belongs to Rorschach.

As proof of this affection he has been providing valuable dramatury work in conjunction with his assistant dramaturg Rachel Miller. I have asked Jordan to help us with a little bit of insight into the world of The Arabian Night, so here is the first in a series of entries from Jordan regarding the world of the play. Enjoy!

The Arabian Night: Germany

I'm rather excited to be contributing to this blog, partly because it's a fun place to be, but also because the nature of the play is such that the dramaturgy isn't necessarily self-evident from the audience's perspective, so I'm glad to have this opportunity to go on just a bit.

Today, I'm going to sketch a brief picture of the general situation of immigrants in Germany since World War II. The economic boom experienced in the 50s and 60s throughout much of Western Europe led to a need to hire more workers. This need resulted in guestworker agreements with other European and Mediterranean countries, where said countries would send workers to nations like Germany to work for a couple of years and then return. The problem was that many of these people were not returning, and were bringing over or establishing families. When economic crisis hit in the mid 70s, Germany had its highest number of non-Germans since the start of the war, the largest group of which were immigrants from Turkey.

From the German perspective, there were no immigrants in Germany until 2004, when the first official immigration law was passed. Previous to 2004, there were just German citizens and non-German guestworkers, whose avenues to naturalization were heavily limited. The reforms of the past decades have been minimal, and even the law of 2004 was more concerned with bringing new highly-skilled workers into Germany and cracking down on terrorism than addressing the non-ethnic Germans living in Germany. Germany's approach to citizenship, until recently solely based on blood, stands in contrast to approaches like those of France or the United Kingdom, which also consider birthplace to varying degrees.

In my next installment, I will take a closer, yet brief look at Turks and Arabs in Germany today.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Our Matt Dunphy

With the opening of The Arabian Night just a week away. I thought I would take this opportunity to feature a very special man here on the pages of the Rorschach blog. A man who has now been in two Rorschach shows back to back and with an optimism that seem nearly boundless. His tall and rugged good looks have allowed him to play a Communist Organizer and even the devil himself in A Bright Room Called Day. Now he returns to our stage as the exotic lover type in The Arabian Night. A sex symbol to some and a very nice boy to others, I present you a special gallery of Matt Dunphy. Remember ladies he isn't just a pretty face, he can act as well, so come see Matt in The Arabian Night in all of his tallness.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rantings, PWYC Previews and Posters

It has been a while since I have written one of my pop culturally savvy diatribes about all things theatrical. To be honest I have been way the heck out in the 'burbs of DC sweating my hind-quarters off with some other theater folks lately so, blogging has slowed down a little. For our regular readers, I apologize for this seemingly sporadic effort on my part to continue to give you a glimpse into the world of The Arabian Night.

Well to be honest this blogging about a show while you are working on another show is hard work. I thank the people who have helped so far but I need more help people. I need insights about experiences that I haven't had. Tell me what has been happening in rehearsals and when the show opens tell me what you think about the performances. I try so hard to be good faithful reader.

Reminder, Pay-What-You-Can Previews start next Wednesday. This is the best chance for those of you who either by financial situation or inclination need a deal to see Quality Theater for cheap to see The Arabian Night. If you can't make it Wednesday there are PWYCs on Thursday and Friday as well. If you can't join us any of those nights don't despair because our tickets are still only $18 ($12 seniors/students). No reservations are taken for PWYC performances but to book tickets for the rest of the run follow this link or call 1-800-494-TIXS.

Meantime, here are the posters for the show. Click on the images make them bigger, save them to your desktop, then print 10 and hang them where ever it is posters need hanging. Do not hang this poster anywhere that impressionable youth might be exposed to the hot, hot sexiness.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pictures of Set in Repose

Timmy Getman has begun to shine my friends. Here are some pics of the set for The Arabian Night. Please note the two story set, the exposed I-beams and the ramps and stairs leading the cast all around this amazingly expressionistic set.

Jenny McConnell Frederick took these pics and sent them to me yesterday. Jenny had this to say this morning:

It's even cooler since last night . . .
Tim's done a pretty impressive job and is really busting his ass.

Remember everyone just a week until we start having Pay-What-You-Can Previews for this show. I promise you this will be like nothing else you see this year.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Author and Adaptor

Jenny McConnell Frederick is struck by the similarity in appearance of Rock Legend Elvis Costello and our playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig. I will let you all decide.

In the mean time here is some information about both the playwright of The Arabian Night and its American adaptor Melanie Dreyer.

The Playwright

Award-winning playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig is one of the most exciting voices in European drama. He comes from a new generation of young German playwrights that are “helping to reinvent storytelling on the German stage” (Theatre Forum) and with countless translations and productions being performed around the world, Schimmelpfennig has become one of the most produced German playwrights of his generation. His fresh storytelling techniques often use unconventional dramatic form and a sophisticated combination of comedy and drama.

Schimmelpfennig worked as a journalist in Istanbul before moving to Munich to study directing at the Otto-Falkenberg-Schule. He has worked and continues to work as a journalist, translator and dramaturg, and is currently writer in residence at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. Schimmelpfennig's widely performed plays include PUSH UP 1-3, and WOMAN FROM THE PAST, ETERNAL MARIA and LONG AGO IN MAY.

Since the premiere in Stuttgart at the Staatstheater in Feb 2001, ARABIAN NIGHT has been produced at more than fifteen venues throughout Germany and has received numerous translated productions throughout Europe, including its English-language premiere at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

American translator Melanie Dreyer graduated from Northwestern University with an MFA in Directing, where she worked with Mary Zimmerman, Frank Galati, Tina Landau and Bob Falls. She is the former Co-Artistic Director of ShatterMask Theater, a critically acclaimed Equity theatre specializing in exploring alternatives to traditional modes of production. She specializes in the translation and direction of contemporary German plays. She is currently working toward producing bilingual productions (German and English) to tour both in the US and Germany. She works as a freelance director and runs the undergraduate performance training program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

But What Is It About?

In case anyone is wondering what The Arabian Night is about, here is what we are telling the press.

The Play:

Roland Schimmelpfennig’s The Arabian Night is a sleek and sensual urban thriller, following the interweaving fantasies, crossed paths and conflicting desires of five individuals trapped in an apartment tower on the hottest night in history.

Lomeier, the building superintendent has lost the building’s water – somewhere around the 8th floor, the pipes have gone dry. His search for the missing water becomes a hallucinatory search for his dead wife who bares a striking resemblance to the primary tenant of 7-32, Ms. Franziska Dehke. Each night, when Franziska Dehke returns home from work she takes a shower and inexplicably falls into a deep sleep -awakening each morning, never having remembered the night before. Tonight she dreams of being abducted in a foreign land and of becoming the blonde concubine in the harem of an Arabian king. Nothing will awaken her, except for perhaps a kiss. Tonight Peter Karpati, an admirer from a building across the way watches Franziska shower. He journeys to her apartment to meet the object of his obsession but her kiss may become more curse than redemption. Franziska’s roommate Fatima Mansur awaits her own prince – Kalil - who visits every night. But tonight something is keeping him. He has disappeared, victim of the powers of the magical building that holds these five characters captive.

A nightmarish fairytale that is part madcap farce and part erotic thriller, The Arabian Night is fast-paced and exhilarating. The play runs about sixty minutes and has left audiences breathless in its numerous productions in America, Germany and around the world. The play was nominated Play of the Year by six German critics in 2001 and went on to be translated into many languages, receiving a high profile English-language premiere at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Rorschach Theatre will perform the new American translation by Melanie Dreyer.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Just a peek at the image that will grace the post card for The Arabian Night. I think it is as hot as the show.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Run Baby Run

Here is where the bits and pieces all fall into their lovely lovely places. I sat and watched a run of The Arabian Night yesterday evening and there is some magic happening.

As an invited guest to these little shindigs you know that things that are good will only get better and things that are wonky will find a way, one way or another, to right themselves. You watch with interest as the performers find their sea legs and start to stretch out and see what they can do. And I saw a lot of people taking risks last night. It wouldn't be a Rorschach show if they weren't taking risks.

I will be upfront with all of you; this is like nothing we have ever done before. If I had to tell you exactly what it is I would be hard pressed. So much of the story is tied to the style of the piece, which is a mad wonderful mix of dialogue, internal and external, given life by a company of five talented performers. We peek inside their heads and fantasies. Listening in as mute witnesses to their dreams and nightmares. All the time you are acting as voyeur as much as audience member, looking in the medicine cabinets of people's souls and checking under the bed for the naughty bits we all tuck under our dust ruffles.

The Arabian Night is a show that will probably make a lot of people think more than they are used to and will demand repeat viewing on the parts of some of us. The intricate fabric of the play takes us all down a new kind of rabbit hole mixing the conceits of a fairy tale with those of a modern romantic thriller and then mixes it all with the kind of psycho drama which, to be honest, is more often found on the stages of Berlin and Prague than in church spaces in Northwest D.C.

So much to love about this play and I can't wait for all of you to share in it and find your own way through the confines of an apartment building in Germany with all of the secrets and surprises that hide behind its unassuming and ordinary bricks and mortar.

Great job last night cast and crew. I can't wait to see it when it has all of its parts in place.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Music of the Night

Director, Jenny McConnell Frederick, writes us with this peek into the process of what is going on with the cast of The Arabian Night. If you click on the song titles you will get to sample the song. Now a message from Jenny:

During the first week of rehearsal, I gave the cast an assignment:

"Choose a song or two that connects you to your character. It can be a song that you think represents your character or it can be a song your character might listen to." This amazing cast took this assignment and ran with it! We've listened to a ton of incredible music in the last few weeks, so I thought it might be nice to share some excerpts of it with our good friends here at the blog. I've also asked the cast to give you a brief idea of who their character is.

Keep in mind, that this is not likely to be the music you'll actually hear in the show. It's just an inside look at one of the ways the cast finds to turn words on a page into a living breathing person.

First up is Ed Xavier:

Hans Lomeier is the divorced superintendent of a medium-sized apartment building: an average man in an average job on the most extraordinary day of his life.

The song is called "
Monk's Dream" as recorded by the Thelonius Monk Quartet. Purchase.

And Jason McCool:

Peter Karpati, the character I play in The Arabian Night, is a bit of an enigma - hyper-sensitive, impulsive, deeply attuned to beauty,wistful and melancholy about his many failed relationships, obsessed with longing and desire.

The clips I've chosen to some degree reflec this mystery and darkness, though he and I are still searching for the music that makes the walls sing like water.


1) "Morgen," by Richard Strauss, from "Vier Lieder für hohe Singstimmeund Klavier," op. 27, no. 4 (recorded by Barbara Bonney, soprano, andGeoffrey Parsons, piano)

A gorgeous, compelling song featuring lyrics that mirror Karpati's deep longing for romantic (or romanticized?) fulfillment. The CD that I found this recording on is out of print, however I did locate the same recording, under a Barbara Bonney compilation CD.

Translation of lyrics:

And tomorrow the sun will shine again, and on the path I will take, it will unite us again, we happy ones, upon this sun-breathing earth . . . And to the shore, the wide shore with blue waves, we will descend quietly and slowly; we will look mutely into each other's eyes and the silence of happiness will settle upon us.

2) Erik Satie - from Trois Gnossienes for Piano, I. Lent (AldoCiccolini, piano)

More of a mood piece, dark, haunting and insistent, in the way that Karpati's song "keeps repeating" in his head . . .

3) Henryck Gorecki - from Symphony No. 3 ('Symphony of SorrowfulSongs'), II. Tranquillissimo (Dawn Upshaw/David Zinman recording)

Another candidate for Karpati's "water-music," simultaneously so simple and other worldly.

4) Michael Cain - track Circa from the CD "Circa" (ECM, 1997) (also check out "Social Drones" on same CD)

This track I find exquisitely beautiful - composed for an unorthodox jazz trio by a former composition teacher of mine (also the pianist on the recording) at the Eastman School of Music, I had the incredible opportunity to play this piece many times over the course of a year, so it carries lots of personal meaning. For me this music represents a kind of "new Beethoven," if you will, in that it pushes listeners and performers toward a new, fresh way of listening and interaction - compositionally, the bleed-over of the musical voices changes dynamically from performance to performance, and might only be described in terms of ecstasy! A quality that Karpati knows quite intimately, to be sure.

5) J.S. Bach - Partita for solo violin No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004, I.Allemanda (Henryk Szering, violin)

Aching and timeless, and able to communicate so much drama and pathos through a single melodic line. As he paints in his apartment, Karpati enjoys listening to a violinist in his building practicing these pieces. (Another inspiring take on these is offered by NYC soprano saxophonist Peter Epstein (from CD: "Solus"), heard on Michael Cain's recording.) Any Bach will do, really, but Karpati finds Bach's Suites for Solo Cello just as groovy!

6) Madeleine Peyroux - I'll Look Around (from the CD "Careless Love")

The very beginning of this song stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it. Somehow channeling Billie Holiday, this torchy jazz singer sings of the same wistful melancholy that Karpati can't break free of.

7) Caitriona O'Leary and Dulra - "Marbhnadh Thoirdhealbhaigh Mhic Dhonnchadha (Lament For Terence MacDonough)" (from the CD "Táim Sínte Ar Do Thuama (I Am Stretched On Your Grave)

If Karpati were only Irish, he would dig this a great deal. Couldn't find this CD online for the life of me, but here's a link to another CD she's featured on.

8) Elliott Smith - Bye (from the CD "Figure 8")

Again with the other-worldliness, as conveyed through a simple, lilting 3/4 waltz tune that sticks in your head. Karpati also digs the just-released "Home to Oblivion," classical pianist Christopher O'Riley's CD of Elliott Smith covers!

9) Anouar Brahem - Raf Raf from the CD "Barzakh" Tunisian oud player

This whole CD is great, really, andcarries some of the Arabic flavor that relates more to the show as awhole, though less specifically to Karpati.

10) John Cage - Dream from CD "In A Landscape" (Stephen Drury, piano)

Somehow conveys stillness and motion at the same time. More beautiful than one might assume Cage would be!Phew!

OK, Karpati wraps up the musical perusing - he has to go learn his lines!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I may have mentioned that I would not be able to hang around with the cast and crew of The Arabian Night as much as I have with the casts of the other shows, because of a previous committment somewhere in the Maryland suburbs. I am however still hard at work trying to gather bits of tid for you all regarding the show.

Sunday Jenny McConnell Frederick, my friend and photographer to the stars Paul Schuster, Super Model Rahaleh Nassri and I gathered at Casa to work on the post card image for the show. Whenever Paul comes to take the pictures I am always awe-struck by the lights and the meters and hampers full of doodads that find their way into the space. I have known Paul since college and he is always the guy at every party with his camera ready to capture that special moment. These days he has been taking a lot of pictures of small children, but what can you do when your friends are all in the breeding phase of their lives.

Paul previously has helped craft the images for The Scarlet Letter and Behold! as well as having taken production photos for a couple of shows as well. He helps us make our crazy ideas come to life. I think you all be very shocked when you see what we have cooked up the is time and if you are all very good, I might even give you a sneak peek before the week is out.

Meantime, rehearsals continue for The Arabian Night and I for one know that this is the show to see this summer. Jenny and I were talking about whether we should give you all hints about what the show is, and we could, we really could. But that would ruin the surprise and you wouldn't want that would you. I got some photos of the rehearsal coming and we will check in with some of our field reporters as soon as possible.

Bye, Bye!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Usher's Choice

Thanks to Matt Dunphy for his help getting this piece of information to my attention. Once again this season Rorschach has received an Usher's Favorite Show Award from Potomac Stages. You may all recall that we got the Usher's choice for The Beard of Avon back in November, A Bright Room Called Day shares the honor this month with Olney Theater's production of The Elephant Man. Thank you everyone who voted for Bright Room, a show which we at Rorschach know was truly extraordinary. Congratulations to the cast and crew.

Friday, June 02, 2006


I am writing today as a service to all of you my acting brethren and sistren.

There I am at the McDonald's this morning enjoying my Sausage McMuffin and in comes this guy who looked like
Abraham Lincoln. He was a tall and lanky man with dark hair and he had "the beard". Suddenly some part of my brain kicked in with an inexplicable urge to grab a small caliber gun and shoot him. Latin phrases started flying through my head and I had the sudden urge to dash out of the McDonald's, meet up with some guy with a horse and ride into the Maryland country side.

Let us be clear here, while not a strict pacifist, I do think you don't go around shooting people, regardless of their resemblance to any current or former Chief Executive of the United States. And I have always been a big Lincoln fan. I mean how could you not be a Lincoln fan in this day and age, but seeing that man and his beard just sparked something in my in sub-conscious mind. That here was an actor's natural enemy, Abe Lincoln.

As you will all recall it was
John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who shot the President in 1865 at the Ford's Theatre in our Nations Capital. During a production of Our American Cousin, Booth snuck up behind the Great Emancipator and put a bullet in his head. Jumped out of the President's box onto the stage, broke his leg and was later cornered and killed in a barn in rural Maryland. Now tourist come to the Ford's to watch musicals, screw-ball comedies and anything staring James Whitmore.

I am, for all intents and purposes, a fairly well balanced, if a little prone to bouts of melancholy, actor. Why would the idea of shooting a guy just jump into my head? Just because I see a beard with no mustache why is my first thought President-cide?

I think there must be something about Abraham Lincoln that just sparks a violent response in an actor. Much the same as dogs howl when they hear wolves, somewhere in the deep dark recesses of the actor mind is an aversion to tall
men with weird facial hair choices. I had similar feeling towards C. Everett Koop back in the day. Could that explain my taking up the habit of smoking? As some sort of passive aggressive nose thumbing at our then Surgeon General.

I want to reiterate that I have no plans or desires to act on this urge. It was just so sudden and real this need to attack this man who as far as I could tell has not hurt anyone. This undeniable and inexplicable lust for vengeance against the man and his beard, that I do not believe any scientist or historian has ever explored, with regards to the assassination of President Lincoln.

I write this as a warning to other actors avoid Lincoln look-a-likes at all cost. Do not journey to Springfield, IL. Do not attend President's Day Sales at car dealerships or mattress warehouses. Avoid Civil War re-enactments at Gettysburg. Please for your own sanity and the safety of beard sporting lanky tall men everywhere, do not have contact with presidential look-a-likes of any kind.

We have just begun to crawl out from the long shadow cast by John Wilkes Booth, we don't need to fall under its weight again.