Thursday, September 28, 2006

Up On Our Feet

If you had stepped into the Sanctuary Theatre last night, your olfactory senses would have immediately began tingling. What was that odor? That, my friends, was the stench of professionalism.

It was the first rehearsal after completing two days of "table work"--a term given to that period of time when everyone gathers around (usually around some sort of "table"), reads the script, and talks about it. It's a really good way to give the actors a chance to get all the fluffy, unplayable dross out of their system so that they can settle in to a month long period of Randy and Megan telling them what to do, and do shut up already.

Our stated goal was to stage scenes one, two, and three. And what can one say? Swish! Count it! Paul McLane and I began the evening at seven and, using the sort of onstage chemistry that comes from being first tested in the Fields of Gogol, and, later, on Rorschach's stage, in the Fields of Rahaleh. After an hour, we had that scene done. Bam. Next scene! Next scene!

Joined moments later by Jeremy Goren, to be soon followed by Lily Balsen and Nicky Daval, we kept up our torrid pace, just cold-rockin' it. Deb's expressionistic set? Negotiated. The complicated blurry blended scene changes? HANDLED. By the time we got toward the end of the evening, we would be coming out of scene three and Paul and Jeremy would get started into scene four, a few lines deep everytime. Scene Four? NOT EVEN ON THE SCHEDULE, BABY! That's called TAKING INITIATIVE.

And so, we got the news today from Megan that we all have tonight off rehearsal! Because something needed to be done to contain the scorching effects of our white-hot expertise!

Monster rehearsals continue on Friday. Maybe we'll have this shizz all finished up by the end of the weekend! I mean, after all, what are the odds that this play gets more complicated after the now-completely-staged opening five minutes?

Dracula vs. Frankenstein

Doesn't it seem like there were more thunderstorms when you were a kid?

When I was growing up my father told me that I should only read Frankenstein or Dracula during a thunderstorm. Mood was everything and the way books like those could leave their eternal marks on your psyche it was best to read them either by candle light in an old spooky house with plenty of creaks or during a storm with all of the electricity and beating of God's big bass drum in the sky that you could muster. Dad told me to wait, so I waited.

First I read Dracula and it filled my teen dreams with images of women in frilly night gowns and Eastern Eurpean Nobility with a distate for sun light and red wine. It thrilled me with its overt sense of sexuality and its need to tell the story that there was in fact an ultimate evil in the world and it had to be hunted down and destroyed. But that evil came from without, it was not the natural but the supernatural that we must fear. As a kid who read comic books that was a message I could understand.

Then I read Frankenstein and things became a little murkier. Who was evil in this book? Victor wanted to re-animate the dead. The Monster wanted to have explination of why he was brought back to suffer. Victor's creation is the very thing that destorys all that he loves and all the Creature wants is someone to love him and to keep him company. There is no black and white in Frankenstein, just deeper and darker shades of not quite white. Who is right and who is wrong? It is Victor's experiments that bring the Monster to life not the supernatural forces at work in Dracula. It is science itself that creates the problems in this book. The same science that has cured disease and has also created disease.

I think at one point or another growing up every child imagines himself fighting vampires. Slowly opening the door to your grandparents basement or crawl space and carefully taking each creaking step down into the darkness, almost as a test of whether you were brave enough to battle all the evil that exists in the world. But how many of us I wonder ever imagines ourselves as great scientists faced with the moral question of just because we can do something does that mean we should?

So sitting somewhere on my book shelves at home are two oft read copies of the greatest horror stories ever written. Waiting for the first hint of lightening to see which of them I will take off the shelf. One tells of the strength of man to slay his demons and the other tells of man's ability to create them.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Model Behavior

So much work goes into developing a show. Even when you work on a limited budget like we do at Rorschach designers and directors still find a way to not only realize a vision but also find a way to embrace the limitations and use them to their advantage.

It hase long been a tradition among our set designers to use the architecture of the space to their advatage. Going back to our very first show at Casa, Lord of the Flies, set designers like Matt Soule and David Ghatan have used the contours of the space to create memorable and sets in which to enact our plays.

Picking up the gauntlet this time is our oft times costume designer and company member Deb Sivigny. As you will see in the model above Deb has taken inspiration from both the story of Frankenstein and his Monster as well as from the environment at Casa. Using one of the stain glass windows as a focal point of the set, she has created a plunging raked deck of a ship locked in the ice, as Victor Frankenstein tells his tale of science gone mad to the Captain of a doomed ship trapped in the Arctic.

Construction is already under way and we are all looking forward to seeing this monster of a set come to life.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Here We Go Again

Sunday at 5pm was the first read for Monster and I for one could not have been happier with what I was hearing.

I have to do a comparison of all of the pictures I have taken of first reads at some point. Every first read seems to look alike only the faces have changed. I know these photos very rarely capture the excitement of a first read, but I think these pictures serve as a reminder that while sitting around a table on the first day may look the same every time we do it, the final results are always different.

If you look closely you will see that part of the set is already under construction. Look to the upper right hand corner above Lily's shoulder and you will see the beginnings of Deb Sivingy's set. Designer presentations give the actors and company a taste of what the show will be when it is fully realized. Once again to show you what we are doing I will try and get as much out there to you as possible. I for one think that this show will definetly take advantage once again of the space in Casa, to create a unique and beautiful stage for this haunting and scary show.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Aerial Photography and First Reads

Here is a satellite picture of our home at the Casa del Pueblo Methodist Church, located at 1459 Columbia Road, NW. As you can see it is a rather old photo because it does not include any of the massive construction projects that are currently being carried out in the Columbia Heights Neighborhood. See that parking lot in the upper right hand corner of the photo, well right now it is a giant pit. Soon it will be another block of condos on 14th Street.

It used to be easy to show up on Columbia Road aroudn 6:30 and find a parking space, but these days it is becoming a "God I hope I get a spot" situation. Things in Columbia Heights are on the move and Rorschach is right in the center of it all. So as we embark on our 7th Season and they start to build the Target up the block from us, remember us when coming to Columbia Heights used to be an adventure.

Speaking of adventures, First Read for Monster is Sunday night. We are all very excited by this cast and this show and we will be making some special announcements very soon, as well as featuring photos of our cast and crew on Monday, so get ready to be afraid. Be very, very afraid!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Monster Time

Mary Shelley was 18 when she wrote Frankenstein. The story of the weekend spent with her boyfriend and then eventual husband Percy Shelley and Lord Byron and the bet they made on who could write the scariest tale is now the stuff of literary legend. Byron and Shelley while great poets could not match the rich and frought imagination of Mary.

The novel first published in 1818 tell the story of Victor Frankenstein and his attempt to reanimate the corpse of a man who had been hanged. It then goes on to tell of the horrible deaths and misery that follows from this act to bend nature to the will of man by the use of science.

I think everyone of us has seen this story told in dozens of movies and have seen that theme come down through literature. All science fiction and horror novels can trace their roots to the imagination of a 19th Century woman, who was trying to win a very special bet and her nightmare.

When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. . . . I saw--with shut eyes, but acute mental vision--I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous Creator of the world.
Mary Shelley, from her introduction to the third edition of Frankenstein
As we draw closer to the first read of Rorschach's attempt to bring this creature to life in Monster, I thought this might be a good time to check out the some of the vast amount of imformation available on the web.

If you have never read the novel, I can't think of a better time of year to do it. As the leaves begin to change and the wind grows ever colder, why not print your own copy of the Novel here.

Wikipedia, in its very factually truthy way provides a nice overview of the novel and the movies that followed this most Gothic of Gothic Novels.

The National Institure of Health shows you the time line of what happened to bring this story of Medicine and Science to life. And they also talk about the social and moral issues raised by the novel here.

And finally here is a look at a museum that has taken great pains to explore the work and life of Mary Shelley, The Bakken Exhibit has some interesting artifacts and displays of the life of Frankenstein.

Monster Opens on October 31st. It's alright to be afraid of the dark sometimes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Finished Pirate

Arghs and Crafts

Avast me maties!
Being that it is International Talk Like Pirate Day, I reckoned this would be a fine day to introduce a little thing I like to call "Things To Do With the Crap on Your Desk." Part arts and crafts and part procrastination.
Here is what you will need to complete todays project:

Sheet of Plain White Paper
Black Sharpie
A Pair of Scissors
Single Hole Punch
About a Dozen Paper Clips

1. Take the sharpie and draw a half an oval on the sheet of paper. Make it big enough to cover your eye and then color in the half oval with the sharpie. If you don't have a sharpie you could use a black colored pencil or crayon. If you want to get even more creative you could draw a pirate themed picture on the paper like a skull and cross bones or a picture of Orlando Bloom.

2. Cut out your eye patch with the scissors. Kids be sure to ask your mom or dad for help if the scissors are too sharp.

3. Now use the hole punch to place a whole in the opposite corners at the top of the eye patch. If you don't have a hole punch you can carefully use the scissors to make the holes.

4. Now using the paper clips make a chain which is long enough to go around your head. If you want you can substitute string for paper clips.

5. Take each end of the paper clip chain and place it through one of the holes in your eye patch.

6. Place it over your eye and you have a pirate costume fit for a king.

Friday, September 15, 2006

In the Year 2056

Greetings to the people of 2006. I have come from 50 years in the future to tell you of the wonders that await you and your children and your children's children and in some rare cases your children's children's clones.

That is correct I have circumvented all laws forbidding the tampering with the past, other wise knows as the "Doc Brown Laws" to use the primitive media of blogging to tell you of the wonders that await the fans of Rorschach in the future. And while I bring some tidings of great joy, I also present dire warnings.

Having arrived here in a time machine which looks nothing like the one shown above and then realizing it was 2006 and the beginning of the Legenary Season 7 at Rorschach Theater, I immediately headed to a bar to find Scott McCormick slouched over in a booth muttering to himself that it just wasn't fair and that they should never have cancelled Star Trek: Enterprise, I bought him an Orange Whip and told him of my miraculous journey from the future and all of the wonders it would hold for others. I also had to tell him that he however would not be around in 2056 due to an unfortunate accident involving a pair of lawn darts and a particularly stupid bet with one of his nephews. I did however tell him that his brain was transfered into a clone body and that he was now happily living in Boca with a clone of Uma Thurman. He perked up until I told him that the next three Star Trek movies would suck.

Our Orange Whips had arrived and I told him of the fantastic things that were awaiting Rorschach in the next 12 months. The births, the marriages and the long goodbyes. The successes of the shows and the failure of a poorly conceived idea of selling shell fish at the concession stand. Not to give too much away but it is hard to keep raw oysters fresh in a church lobby in July.

Then I told him the good news. This will be Rorschach's most successful season ever. Some might argue that it was season 20 when Scott and Rahaleh appeared in Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? and Grady finally got to direct his version of The Wall. But without a doubt the season that most people in the future kicked themselves for not having seen was Season 7.

So as I reboard my time machine and prepare to go into the past to warn the Bush Family about the dangers of lead paint, remember you have been warned!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This Date in Blog History

It was September 14, 2005 when Rorschach Theatre went live with this posting by blogging guru himself, Jason Linkins.

What have we learned after nealy 300 postings and four productions under our blogging belt?

Not a hell of a lot. But here are a few to chew on:

1. It's easier to write the blog when you are actually working on the show. I made a whole hell of a lot up about both Bright Room and Arbian Night and no one has called BS on any of it.

2. Asking someone else to fill in usually ends up with a lot more cussing than you would have expected.

3. It is very easy to write about Grady Weatherford.

4. People love irony, giant lizards and hot people in sexy poses.

5. You have to have a very cute blog name to get quoted in the Express.

6. Pictures fill a lot of column space.

7. People get weirded out when you start to write about things that may or may not have happened.

8. The lies are always more interesting than the truth.

9. There a lot of people in Sweden who visit this blog.

10. There a lot of people who love Helen Hayes out there and they aren't afraid to cut and paste her filmography into the comments section if you dare say anything even remotely funny.

Here is to another great year. And remember, I may or may not love all of you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Primary Colors

Got up a little early this morning to go vote in the primaries. The church where I vote is never packed especially for a primary so I thought I would be able to roll in around 8 a.m and roll out by 8:15 at the latest. Well the best laid plans of mice and men and all that, because nothing ever goes to plan I wasn't out of there as quickly as I thought.

Turns out the voting machines were not working, because a certain very important piece of plastic was missing. In order for the machines to work they have to place a plastic card in the machine. Guess what they forgot to deliver to the polling place? So, I and about a dozen other early morning voters had to fill out scan tron ballots this morning, otherwise known as provisional ballots. Now if this had been the general election I probably would have stood there and waited until the actual voting machines were working, because I know that no matter how good I am at filling in a circle with a number 2 pencil mistakes have been made and I will not take a chance that my ballot will be one of thousands being poured out over a table while people try and decipher my intentions.

When I started voting 15 years ago we had those old metal boxes with the curtains. You pulled a leaver when you entered the booth, clicked the little metal tab under who you wanted and then pulled the leaver to exit. You really felt like you were voting. Now its all scan tron forms and computer touch screens and has all the warmth and romance of going to an ATM or filling up at a gas station.

In two months time we will all go to the polls as a nation and hopefully the foolishness of the last few General Elections will have dissipated, but if this morning is any indictation of the improvements made since 2000, well let's just say that there are still plently of people who still can't get their act together enough to drop off a little plastic card.

Don't let them turn you away people, get in there and vote, even if it means you must experience flashbacks to the SATs to do it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Designing Our Monster

More Monster news from director Randy Baker in response to the following question from commentor Ellen who writes:

ellen said...
Yes! Who are the designers!?

The designers so far for MONSTER are

SET - Deb Sivigny
Deb is stepping outside of her costume designer role to design the set... this is Deb's first set design outside of college... and yes. There will be fabric in this set. But really COOL fabric.

COSTUMES - Erin Nugent
Totally cool new designer fresh out of NC school for the arts (NCSA is really becoming the new Middlebury for the Washington Area). She's one of those Keenan fellows that the Kennedy Center supports for a year. She's rad.

LIGHTING - David Ghatan
You may remember him.

No sound designer yet!


Friday, September 08, 2006

The Office Part II

If you were to go through my desk you would find lots non-work related things, like dozens of scripts I have accumulated over the years, a bottle of wine that was given to me last Christmas which I have placed in the bottom right hand drawer of my desk (aka: The Wine Cellar), a small figurine of Thor Norse God of Thunder, and about sixty CDs that I only have time to listen to at work (that James Taylor disk sure gets a work out. If you look closely at the bulletin board to my right you will see all of the Rorschach post cards from last season. Many of these post cards started their lives in this very office as I sat in my chair and thought to myself what part of the female body haven't we used yet.

Here is the view from my window here on Wisconsin Ave. Rodman's is one of those stores that doesn't know what it is. Sometimes liquor store, sometimes grocery store and if you take the escalator to the basement you can find the drug store right next to the rat poison and mothballs. Sometimes I wander over and find bargains, like when I found the Sopranos Season 2 on VHS for 8 bucks. Talk about a bargain.

Yesterday DC Mayorial Candidate Linda Cropp was across the street pressing the flesh with the electorate. A reminder to everyone in the District if you actually want your vote count in the District remember the Democratic Primary is this Tuesday. If you are a Republican there is some sort of ceremonial vote in November where you get to affirm the token Republicans who get to be on the County Council, so no one really needs to show up in November.

Finally I show you the photos that deck my book shelf. An odd collection of show pictures and various nephews and neice pics.

I hope you all have enjoyed this two part look into my day life. I hope I have shed a little light on what it is I do with my day time hours, until that big check comes through, fingers crossed for that prize patrol visit I have been waiting for.

If anyone else would like to share their work life in picture and essay form I would be glad to help. I make this offer to the company and to anyone who reads this blog and wants to share with the provision that you have to also talk about what Rorschach means to you.

Later everyone and peace!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Some of the favorites you have come to love at Rorschach and a lot of new folks take the stage in just under two months as Rorschach presents Neal Bell's adaptation of Mary Shelley's shocking and timeless classic of mankind treading in the realm of the gods themselves and creating life, Frankenstein. Monster will open on October 31st, will you be ready?

Join Artistic Director Randy Baker as he directs Rorschach favorites like Paul McLane (The Scarlet Letter and Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards) and Resident Company Member Jason Linkins (The Master and Margarita, The Scarlet Letter and Behold!) along with lots of new faces and talent.

I can't wait to be scared ladies and gentlemen and I hope you feel the same way. Here is the rest of the cast:

WALTON Paul McLane
VICTOR Jeremy Goren
CLERVAL Jon Reynolds
MOTHER Nicky Daval
JUSTINE Tiernan Madorno
WILLIAM Ryan Nealy
MONSTER Robert (Bobby) Rector

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Office Part I

As many of you are aware all of the people who work for Rorschach have to hold down day jobs in order to partake of this business we call show. Some as the cliche goes wait tables and yet others of us are wage slaves at various businesses around the region.

I thought you all might like a glimpse into the work place that I call home, The Wilkes Company.

The Wilkes Company is a small commercial development company here in the District. What exactly does that mean? Well we do a lot of different things; we rent warehouses, we own self-storage facilities in DC and Maryland and we also help develop new buildings including a brand spanking new condo development downtown. What do I do specifically? Well the short answer is I do a lot of making sure things get done. In any one day I will deal with the banking deposits, research zoning law for various jurisdictions, deal with utility companies, tell my boss what is wrong with his computer and create fun spread sheets. I am a wiz with a spread sheet.

Above you will see our lobby. Please not the plant on the reception desk, I have named him Arthur. To the right please note our kitchen and lunch area.

I have been working at The Wilkes Company for nearly five years now. When we started we were in a warehouse space somewhere near Takoma Park in NW. Since then we have moved to these swank new offices near the Maryland-DC border on Wisconsin. This is highly convenient for me because I can hop a bus at my apartment in Silver Spring and be at Friendship Heights in about 25 minutes. I enjoy my time on the bus it gives me a chance to stare at people driving.

Since the move I have gotten my own office with windows and a door. When you consider that previous to this I was in a room with no source of natural light you can see why I am so excited.

Tomorrow see what my office and desk look like, the view from my window and what pictures I have put up.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back to School

Happy Tuesday everyone. I know many of you spent a good portion of your weekend either performing in or watching one or a dozen of the free Page to Stage readings at the Kennedy Center, so I know you are all glad to be back to work after a very long weekend "off."

We should be announcing the cast for Monster very soon, so please visit is later this week for the exciting news about our next big show. Otherwise, I am very busy so please leave me alone.

Friday, September 01, 2006

birds. Reading at the KC

Tried to make that headline funny but I failed. Just in case like me you are going absolutely nowhere this weekend and like hearing attractive people read out of scripts on Lazy Sunday Afternoons at the Kennedy Center I remind you that we have just the show for you. Come and see some of my favorite people including Jason Linkins, Emerie Snyder and James Denville. There are some other folk too but those are the ones I could remember.

This is a chance to see birds. up close and personal. There will be dozens of others shows being read this weekend at the Page-to-Stage event, so if the weather is as craptastic as it is today come and check these new works out. Here is a link to Potomac Stages for a full run down and schedule.

A workshop presentation of
Jennifer Maisel's dark-as-night urban fairy tale
Directed by Wendy McClellan Sunday, September 3 at 2pm The Kennedy Center FAMILY THEATER Part of the Kennedy Center's PAGE TO STAGE FESTIVAL