Friday, December 29, 2006

The End of 2006 (Man What a Year!)

As with any good blog, we at Rorschach know that you all expect some sort of year end report. I am a very busy man these days and therefore I don't have time to come up with another series of lies and half truths. Instead I will just throw a lot of press quotes and honors at you and see if anything sticks. If it does stick, I recommend club soda and a rag. Do not rub the stain but instead brush against the grain of the fabric. This also work for cocktail sauce and gravy. If you happen to bleed on something, use your own spit to get the stain out. Other people's spit will not get your blood out, so be sure to only use your own spit. Now on to the accolades:

The Trey Graham and Bob Mondello do a yearly review of everything theater in the last issue of the City Paper. With the exception of Rorschach's second season we have avoided their ire on a fairly consistent basis. I don't think they have ever lavished the kind of love they have this year.

. . .maybe we should just be glad we’ve got the increasingly rangy and invariably stylish Rorschach Theatre staging shoestring productions of everything from hallucinatory modern-day fairytales to Tony Kushner satires to 17th-century Japanese classics—in a converted sanctuary, no less.

Thank you gentlemen and if you want to read the whole year end review from the City Paper go

I feel like we made a new friend in the DCist this year and a critic who seems to on the whole get what we are trying to do in Missy Frederick. As part of Missy's December Theater Preview she listed some of her Christmas wishes and at part of them went out to Rorschach:

1. . . . for small but innovative companies like Rorschach to get Helen Hayes nods this year.

Thank you Missy and I hope we live up to your expectations in the New Year.

Over at Potomac Stages, where Brad Hathaway sees more theater than just about anyone, a group of theater goers gave us our second Usher's Favorite show pick. You may all remember that The Beard of Avon was picked as one of two favorite shows back in November of 2005 along with The Shakespeare Theatre's Comedy of Errors. Well we were honored once again this year to share the Usher's Favorite show with Olney's The Elephant Man for A Bright Room Called Day back in May.

Thank you too everyone who voted for our shows and for the future it would nice not to have to share the honor with little theaters like Olney and The Shakespeare Theatre.

And finally you may all remember back in the fall WUSA Channel 9 was running a popularity contest for the Best Theater in Washington. (A contest that only proves its pointlessness because if you look at the Editor's Pick for Best Theater in DC, they picked The Uptown.) Well as you may also remember we did not win. But we ran a damn good race and I expect you all to be in fighting form when the Post runs the same dog and pony show this summer. What it did do however was give people a chance leave some wonderful comments about Rorschach on WUSA's web site. I have picked a few to share:

"Originality in productions. You never see the same set or sit in the same way from production to production. One doesn't always understand all of their plays, but they are thoughtful and provocative." by Pam Lipscomb

"A willingness to take risks. A collaborative environment. People whose main goal is to tell a story, not just to "make money"-- and they don't take for granted a single penny spent or earned in the process. Creativity and inventiveness that humbles the larger, bigger-budget theatre companies in the area. They genuinely care about the art they are making and the people they are making it with." by Valerie Fenton

"Unique! A great night of entertainment! Rorshach productions leave you thinking and considering the art that you just saw. We attend Rorschach productions as a group of 3 - 6 people and we always leave the theatre with a lively discussion of the show that lasts until we pull into our suburban driveways!" by Tammy Flanagan

"Their choice of radical material from a wide range of periods, styles and geographical areas (e.g., a play adapted from an ancient Chinese puppet show); their choice of plays that often have relevance for the current geo-political situation, without being didactic; and--most important--the visceral acting style and physically expressive staging that they consistently promote in their productions." by Ben Cross

Thank you for coming through everyone in 2006. And remember we are just weeks away from the Opening of our first show of 2007, Rough Magic. Here is to more New Years with Rorschach! Have a safe and happy weekend.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Playwright

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s recent productions include the Off-Broadway run of BASED ON A TOTALLY TRUE STORY at the Manhattan Theatre Club, THE VELVET SKY at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington and DARK MATTERS at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre in New York. Other plays include THE MUCKLE MAN (which received its premiere in Washington at Source Theatre), SAY YOU LOVE SATAN and THE GOLDEN AGE. THE MUCKLE MAN received two Helen Hayes nominations including The Charles MacArthur Award for Best New Play.

Aguirre-Sacasa is the recipient of fellowships from the
Organization of American States, the Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, the Eugene O’Neill Scholarship, and the ASCAP Cole Porter Award. His work THE MYSTERY PLAYS received the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays and was presented in England as part of the Old Vic/New Voices series. The world premiere of THE MYSTERY PLAYS, a co-production between Second Stage Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre, won the Connecticut Critics’ Award for Outstanding Play/Production. THE GOLDEN AGE and SAY YOU LOVE SATAN were both nominated for GLAAD Media Awards.

Upcoming projects include GOOD BOYS AND TRUE, a drama set at a prep school; KING OF THE SHADOWS, an urban thriller; commissions for Arena Stage and Second Stage; and THE NIGHT PEOPLE, a horror screenplay for Warner Brothers. For Marvel Comics, he is the Harvey Award-winning writer for THE SENSATIONAL SPIDERMAN and has previously written for THE FANTASTIC FOUR and NIGHTCAWLER.

-From Co-Artistic Director, Randy Baker

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Requisite Rorschach Family Holiday News Letter

Dear Friends, Family and those on our Enemies List:

Happy Winter Solstice everyone! Time for Demeter to say goodbye to Persephone and for all good pagans everywhere to bang pots to make sure the sun comes up in the morning. If that Reference is too literary for you dear friends, you should check out the new web site everyone is talking about Google. It has stuff about everything.

This has been a busy year for our family here at Rorschach. The year started out like it did the year before with Uncle Scott stalking another woman. He had just gotten over his break-up with Aunt Rahaleh last February and seemed to be having a good time working on his model boats, when all of a sudden he started wearing a Japanese Samurai outfit, waving a sword around and saying he was the dread Lord Morataka. He got himself a job watching over some sorority house and started writing some pretty awful poetry. All of this would have been fine if he hadn’t gone on a rampage in downtown Tokyo for 3 nights and destroyed at least thirty blocks of the city. He promises that this year will be different and he is thinking about working on his novel.

Spring came and Brother Grady and Cousin Lindsay had some problems with an apartment they
had rented. It was a sweet place, fireplace, high ceilings and a hard wood floor. The only problem was the neighborhood. There were a lot of street gangs running around with thick guttural accents wearing brown shirts. They beat the crap out of Grady and he decided to hightail it out of there. He asked Lindsay to come with him but she just couldn’t bring herself to leave, the view of the Reichstag was just too good and the rent was cheap. She figures once the expensive condos go up next store the rougher elements of the neighborhood will go up. Gentrification is taking over everywhere I guess.

Summer came and Mom (Jenny) and Cousin Tim decided to build themselves a two story addition to the house. It was so cool, with ramps instead of stairs, a cage for dancing and just being alone and lots of black and orange surfaces. The only problem is these squatters moved in right away and started screwing with the place. One of the women started living in the second floor bed room with a friend and for some reason refused to wear clothes. There were a few complaints but Mom kept insisting it was artfully done. They broke the water pipes and elevator. Put a desert in one of the hallways and in a weird twist of whatchacallit, one of the girls murdered her boyfriend. The strangest thing was the whole building disappeared in about a month and the only thing left was a key chain.

Dad (Randy) married Deb this summer, which I suppose makes her Step-Mom. The ceremony
was fantastic and everyone had a great time. The only bit of strangeness that marred an otherwise fantastic wedding was when Deb constructed a garter belt out of cellophane and made Dad put it on her. I am a traditionalist and think garters should be made out of wax paper and in extreme cases aluminum foil, I don’t hold with these new fangled cellophane garter belts the kids are using. These kids today with their M&Ms, IMing and blogs, make me long for the days when kids would stretch a piece of string between two tin cans and try and here one another from six feet away. Those things always worked, you could always here who ever it was yelling really loud into the tin can. As long as you had your tetanus shots up to date and didn’t mind a couple of cuts when you put your ear up to the can you were fine.

The year ended with Dad leading a weird cult of death worshipers in a bizarre ritual to reanimate the dead. These Goth kids running around in their eye make-up, their black coats, flying their kites and reanimating the dead, really took things to the extreme edge of sanity. It was almost like watching some kind of late night horror show hosted by Count Gore Dival. I think it reached its most ridiculous level of absurdity when Uncle Jason began wandering around looking for somewhere to bury the family cat.

Well with 2006 behind us and all the fun of 2007 yet to come, all I wanted to say is Merry Holidays to one and all and be prepared for your stocking beatings because they are a comin’

Warmest Regards,

The Mad Blogger What Blogs at Midnight

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Naughty and Nice Part Duce

Naughty and Nice! Two words that scare the hell out of most children under the age of 10 in this country. Who is this all seeing tyrant who lives at the North Pole and sets about determining through his network of spy cameras and informants who is Naughty and who is Nice? How can a man who obviously has weight issues make the detrmination on whether you or I have made the correct choices and are therefore worthy of gifts each Christmas? And if he can create this arbitrary list what is to stop us mere mortals from making similar determinations and broadcasting the list to the world? The answer to that question is simple, nothing.

Therefore in the closest thing that we have on this blog to a tradition I offer my picks for Naughty and Nice. Last year some of you took this personally and I would rather you didn't read this. So stop now and move onto the YouTube Video Link I have placed to distract you.

Now for those of you who were not side tracked by the video, I have a brief statement to make about the Naughty portion of this list. Other than several politicians I won't bother to name this year and some evil stuff going on in the Middle East and the Darfur, I am giving you all a pass this year. Yes there has been a lot of stuff going on that really sucks and a certain unwillingness to do the right thing all the time, but this year has been a pretty good one all told. Rorschach has been doing great work and no one has really been added to our enemies list in the last 6 months, so for now all of the private Naughtiness you have been doing has not drawn our attention.

But you are all on notice, if I notice any back sliding from the progress we made in November, America, I am coming after you with a stocking full of coal. And I promise you I will not be leaving it next to your fire place. Think the soap in a sock scene from Full Metal Jacket if you need me to paint you a picture in words.

As for the Nice, well I have to say the kindness shown to Rorschach this year has outweighed the bad by a goodly amount. Some of you are responsible for this and I thank you. For those of you who just left me and Rorschach alone, I thank you for that as well. Take a moment to hug someone and we will call it even.

Enough of the back patting though. Remember if I don't see improvements between now and February, there is possibly a stocking beating in some of your futures.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Make Your Own Rorschach Ornaments

If anyone would like a PDF of this file, just email me and I will send it to you. Click on the picture to see a larger image. Enjoy!

The Road to Marrakesh


Ok, so not related to Rough Magic at all, but a hoot for the blog anyway. For my birthday, Randy, Deb, Lauren and Steve Carpenter, Patrick, Yasmin, and my sister Lindsey and I went to Marrakesh for some belly-dancing. Six courses later, we're lolling around on the couches and the owner comes up, asks who the birthday girl, exclaims that I'm beautiful "all over!" and gathers everyone at the table for a picture.

He asked how we all knew each other and I said we worked for the theatre community in DC - the main one represented was Rorschach Theatre. I guess he went to the website to get the logo and posted the pic on the Marrakesh website. (The picture moves so you need to move through the gallery to find the picture. -- Editor)

Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 18, 2006

Brave New World

Some early construction photos for those of you who want to see the set as it takes flight. Set designer Eric Grims is working hard to build the set that will transport the audience from the shores of Prospero's Island to the streets of Manhattan. Doesn't look like much now, but soon the work of Eric and the company will bring life to the world of Rough Magic. Already we can see that the set will involove numerous levels for Jenny and the cast to explore.

As always Rorschach uses space in a way that very few theater companies in town would dare to try. Not be limited by a stage we fill our space to the rafters with new and exciting design elements and daring feats of creativity. We'll have more as this brave new world is born.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rough Magic First Read

The blog has always welcomed the contributions of all the members of the Rorschach Family. Company members, designers and even long time patrons have contributed to this page from time to time, but let's be honest most of this stuff comes from the head of your's truly.

Well in order to avoid you getting sick of me and vice versa, I put out a call for contributions to the blog this morning to the men and women who will all be bringing life to Rough Magic. The out pouring of support was staggering to say the least. What does this mean to you the reader? Well for starters it means no more animals in Santa hats. But the real thing you can all look forward to is the opportunity to see how other people in the Rorschach world view the process and how they all work to bring our Wonderful Monsters to life.

What you are about to read comes from my friend Gwen Grastorf. Gwen will be acting in this show following her memorable turn as both lady in waiting and deadly weilder of sharp death in Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards. The photos are by set designer Eric Grims. Enjoy Gwen and her take on First Read, Table Work and Early Rehearsal. I especially like the last paragraph.

The First Read-through:

The cast and crew of Rough Magic met en masse for the first time on Sunday night. The Sanctuary at Casa Del Pueblo was a little chilly when we first arrived, but the bounteous display of cookies, crackers, and fruit on the edge of the stage kept everyone in a good mood. We gathered around two long tables with our snacks and got started.

Jenny had everyone introduce themselves, and then we all settled in as she shared her ideas about the play with us. She told us why Rorschach picked this particular show, and how the play would fit into the Shakespeare in Washington Festival. Jenny talked about meeting Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and discussing with him his other works, as well as the previous production of Rough Magic.

Megan (our stage manager) and Randy (the producer) passed around a lot of the necessary paperwork; contracts, schedules, practical information, emergency contact forms, and all other manner of Word documents. We were told about the policies and safety rules of the building, and briefly discussed some scheduling and ticketing specifics.

Then, the fun stuff started. Design presentations are the first chance for everyone to see what the designers have been working on. It's exciting to finally get a clear visual idea for the show, instead of just the words on the page. Eric (the set designer) passed around a sketch of the set, lots of research images, and several color prints from comic books to show us the style and palette that he'd be working with. Deb (our props mistress) talked about finding objects with a stylized, outlined comic look to them. Matt (the sound designer) discussed the types of music he was thinking about using, and how sound effects would heighten the magical moments in the play. Jenny read a statement from our lighting designer, who was absent. Frank (the costume designer) gave us all a lovely presentation. The colorful costume sketches elicited the most riotous response from the cast, mostly due to the exciting pictures of the drag-queen Furies.

Our dramaturg, Rachel, also handed out a very helpful packet of research. The information in a dramaturg packet can include anything from background on the characters and their locations to definitions of words, notes on historical context, or pop-culture references. This play contains characters from Shakespeare, Shaw, Greek tragedy, and Little Shop of Horrors - so it's important that we all understand where they come from.

We finally read through the play with Megan reading the stage directions and Ryan (our assistant director) filling in for a missing cast member. It was great to hear everything out loud, and there was plenty of laughter and helpful commentary from around the table. At the end of rehearsal, we talked schedules some more, and a few lucky participants went home with the leftover Oreos and soft-baked Chips Ahoy!

Table Work:

Jenny, Ryan, Cecilia (our assistant stage-manager) and most of the cast all got together for a little table work on Monday night. Table work is a good opportunity for people to ask questions about the text of the play; plot twists, character relationships, or anything that doesn't seem to make sense. We discussed the style of the play. The question was raised as to whether or not having a comic book aesthetic means that you have to lose the real human interaction between characters. Aguirre-Sacasa's writing is very cinematic and fun, and the characters often veer towards archetypes: the villain, the damsel in distress, the young innocent, the sassy drag queen. It is important to all the actors that we work on two levels, both maintaining the play's adventurous tone and doing justice to the real emotions and motivations of the characters. We tossed around some ideas about how to make things more clear onstage, and Jenny and Ryan wrote down a few questions to ask the playwright.

Early Rehearsals:

Last night, we had a first rehearsal for a couple of scenes at the Casa. We started at the end of the play, with one of the last scenes. Jason, Vas and I read through the scene a few times, and Jenny and Ryan asked us some questions to make it more specific. We got the scene on its feet and tried out a few things. At this stage in rehearsals, it's more important to experiment than to set anything in stone. Vas did a valiant job of silent acting (he has no lines in this particular scene) while Jason and I juggled our scripts and some loose blocking. We ran the scene a few times to cement it in everyone's minds, then switched to working on the opening monologue.

Jenny noted that one of the most delightful/crazy things about working in the Casa del Pueblo is that it's filled with evidence of all the previous shows. From the smeared chalk on the back wall (Zillah's apartment in Bright Room), to the electric fans suspended on the right wall (to cool the audience during Arabian Night), to the scrap of black fabric Jenny was using as an improvised bookmark (from The Scarlet Letter ), the theater is like a living scrapbook. If Rorschach eventually has their own performance venue, I have no doubt the lobby will be upholstered in old curtains and costumes, with the audience waiting on old setpieces hither and thither.

The Sprogs

Rorschach's own Timmy Getman has a band and they are playing their first DC gig next Thursday. Here are the details.

Greetings Rock Fans,

To usher in the holiday season, The Sprogs are coming to your town.The legendary band makes its Washington DC debut next Thursday, December 21, at Solly's U Street Tavern on the corner of 11th and U Streets, NW.

The show begins at 9 p.m. The $3 cover nicely compliments the bar's $3 Pabst Blue Ribbons.

See ya there,
The Sprogs (Paul Mackie, Tim Getman, Gordie Shaw, and Paula Wertheim)

What the critics are saying:

"Post-Velvet Underground college-underground rock"- New Wave Hot Dogs Weekly

"Thesbian rock with a kick"- Obscure Musicians Quarterly

"A winning group of kids! Two thumbs up"-Roger Ebert

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And Finally . . .

Alright this is the end! I promise, no more pictures of animals in Santa Hats. After these:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Give Me Some Content People!

Apprently some of our readers have been disturbed by my recent use of Santa clad members of the animal kindom. To those of you who are having a hard time with these Kringle Clad Creatures, all I can say is bah, humbug!

It is in fact a joy to search the web looking for these adorable bundles of horribly adorable beasties. Dcepticon's girlfriend has even joined the hunt and has provided the examples you see here. So, until someone who was at the first read for Rough Magic can cough-up some pictures of rehearsal, you will continue to see animals of all sorts wearing their holiday best.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Get Ready!

I hope the picture to your left doesn't bring up any bad memories for our readers.

First off I want to direct everyone to the DCeiver for one of my favorite songs of all time and in particular my favorite Christmas Song of all time, Fairytale of New York.

Remember first read for Rough Magic this Sunday. I will try and get us some pics.

Please as the year draws to a close and you are looking for a quick bit of charity work to do, consider a gift to Rorschach Theatre. Make your way to our Support Page and make a gift in any amount and we will love you for a long time into 2007.

And if you want to give the gift of theater remember that three show subscriptions are still available. $44 for a regular subscription and $32 for Students and Seniors, visit our Subcription Page for more details.

Have a safe and happy weekend and I will see you all on Monday!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Nutcracker? I Don't Even Know Her!

Let us consider the holidays and how they relate to theater. Many of you may be aware that Ford's Theater presents annually Charles Dicken's Classic A Christmas Carol and various ballet companies around the country present the Nutcracker each year. What many people may not be aware of is that for many companies that produce these classics of Yuletide cheer this may be how they keep themselves in business.

Think about your own childhood. I know many people in the theater had supportive parents who took them to see shows, but for many kids seeing a Christmas play may be their first and only experience in a theater. The magic and the wonder of dancing sugar plums and ghostly apparitions trying to awake the spirit of Christmas in old Scrooge's heart may be theater and ballets one shot at making a future theater goer.

I know it is easy to scoff at our friends and collegues who are even now faking British accents and growing odd facial hair, which always seems associated with these holiday endeavors, but for some child who has never set foot in the theater this could be the one memory that makes them take a chance on plays like Rough Magic, Family Stories and Beard of Avon.

So to all of you dancing rats and proud residents of Victorian England, to every ASM shaking snow out on actors who are sweating under five layers of winter wear in a theater kept at a audience friendly 73 degrees, and to everyone who has chosen to appear in or work on a Christmas play that won't close until well into January, I say God Bless us Everyone!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

And Drag Queen Furies!

Here is the cast and crew for our next bit of wonder and brilliance Rough Magic:

DIRECTOR: Jenny McConnell Frederick

FEATURING: Company Members Tracy Olivera (God of Vengeance and JB), Grady Weaterford (The Hairy Ape, Rhinoceros, The Illusion, and many more) and Jason Linkins (joining the five timers club with this production after appearing in Master and Margarita, Scarlett Letter, Behold! and Monster) and also featuring Diana Cherkas, Danny Gavigan, Gwen Grastorf (Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards), Cesar Guadamuz (Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards), Lee Liebskind, Dustin Loomis, Ghillian Porter (Fair Ladies at a Game of Poem Cards) and Vaz Santosham

DESIGNED BY: Eric Grims (Set), Andrew Cissna (Lights), Frank Labovitz (Costumes), Matthew Frederick (Sound), Debra Kim Sivigny (Props), Andrew F. Griffin (Asst. Lighting Design)


DRAMATURGY: Rachel Miller

STAGE MANAGED BY: Megan Reichelt, Cecelia Cackily(Asst SM)

Caliban has escaped from Prospero's island after being imprisoned for 500 years. On the run from his sadistic and powerful master, he finds himself in modern-day New York where he joins forces with a dramaturg with magical powers and a love-struck lifeguard who might be the child warrior fated to save the world. Taking his cues from many of today’s most popular comic and graphic novel writers like Neil Gaiman (SANDMAN), Bill Willingham (FABLE) and Warren Ellis (PLANETARY), Aguirre-Sacasa, a writer for Marvel Comics and one of America's hottest young playwrights, melds a very real New York with Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST, creating a modern tale of thrills, chills and drag queen furies.

And the first read is this Sunday evening.

So once again the wheels will be turning on another Rorschach Theatre production of a show you will see nowhere else.

Until then I will be running pictures of various animals dressed as Santa. Today a Moose.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Don't Ask! Please!

Like the myth about sharks needing to be in constant motion, Theater Artists need to be doing something or they feel like their best years are slipping away from them. The greatest sin among many artists and designers is not to be working on a show. It has even reached the level of cliche, that the first thing one actors says to another actor is, "What are you working on?"

Theater folk as a species are defined by our work. I don't know that much about accounting but I will make the assumption that the level of interest about what another accountant is working on is not as high as that expressed as one performer grilling another.

I have an idea, why don't we all try asking something different for a couple of weeks. With the holidays coming up, why not ask about peoples plans for the holidays, or how their families are doing. If we all just agree not to make the first question after hello, "What are you working on?, maybe we can all relax and not feel the pressure to work so much. Maybe we could actually enjoy one anothers company for a change and not stare at the room thinking they are judging us.

This message is brought to you as a service of Rorschach Theatre.