Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Where's Pop?

More reviews are coming in. This time Catherine Andrews has chimed in with a review at The Washingtonian (Click here for Review).

Here is the good bit in case you don't want to read it all:

It's the characters of Melanie and Chet and their current-day interactions that dazzle in "Rough Magic," written by DC-native Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Olivera has a deadpan wit and a likeablity that makes her curious abilities and quirks sympathetic. The interactions between her, Chet, and the Fury-turned-drag queen (it's a long story) snap and crackle with liveliness and laughter.

We are still looking for the rest of the world to add their two cents, but remember that we have shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday this weekend at 8pm.

And have I mentioned our Valentine's Day Show? What better way to show someone you love them than an evening of theater? So if you have a special someone or someones and you want to show that you care, bring them out to see Rough Magic at Rorschach.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Staples and Lusciousness

There is a lot of talk about how luscious our sweet Gwen Gastorf is in her Suicide Girl chic at the top of the play as Linda Summers, our grad student and Prospero groupie. I have decided to let the picture speak for itself. I have hotter shots of Gwen but this is a family blog and I like to hold something back for February Sweeps.

The best thing about the existance of blogs for the world of small arts organizations is that you get press you don't even have to
ask for. We at Rorschach have always thought that the internet and blogs in particular are the best way for smaller theater companies to get their name out there in front of our audiences. The fact that we blog should tell you all how seriously we take the power of electronic opinion. That is why I draw your attention to internet reviews just as much as those in print publications. Here is one such opinion we received from a site called Drago Life.

Here is the
link to the review, which gives a nice summary of the play and hands out some superlatives to the cast and their various body art. I do however take issue with one of Drago's comments regarding the lack of staples in the Rorschach Theatre programs. Drago if we started spending money on staples, there would be even less money for things that really matter. I challenge the rest of you to leave me a comment to tell Drago what the money we would spend on staples is currently being spent on. Let's see staples probably cost like $1 for a hundred. Let me use the internet to find out. Wait right here.

Ok, Staples sells 25,000 staples for $4.38. Wow! who knew staples were that cheap? But you got to figure in labor and the man/woman power needed to staple the programs at about 4 hours, even at minimum wage that is like $25. So what would Rorschach have to give up to put a staple in every program?

Leave your comments.

Monday, January 29, 2007

You. You. I know you!

Click on the picture to see the image larger or follow this link to read the review.

Post Haste

"When a vengeful fictional character steps out of the pages of Shakespeare and into modern Manhattan threatening death and destruction, who in the world can save the day? A dramaturg." - Nelson Pressley in The Washington Post

Sort of has a "who you gonna call?" vibe to it. We haven't had this quick a turn around on a review in the Post like ever. And what a good review. Here is the link to read all of the goodness about Rough Magic. But please pick up the print edition so you can see Grady's head in all of its four color glory in the Style Section.

The show opened wonderfully on Saturday night. Lots of people kept coming up to me at the after party and saying what a blast they had. And I think that without a doubt this show is a blast. Balls out battles between good and evil, a sexy, sexy cast, and amazing design all add up to an evening of Rorschach. I think most of you know what I mean when I say Rorschach, the rest of you will just have to come out and find out for yourselves.

More of these reviews will be coming in, but it is nice to get the one that everyone reads under our belts and know that we got some love out there for us already.

The show is back this Thursday night at 8pm. And just a reminder to you love birds out there, who are in need of a date for your sweetie, we have a Valentine's Day show. What could be more romantic on a V-Day than a night out with your honey at the theater? And with what you save on the tickets, you can spend it on dinner or dessert toppings.

Just as a note of warning, we have already had to turn folks away at the door for this show. Our last PWYC Preview, was sold out and we had to turn away about 20 people. As many of you know from Master and Margarita and The Beard of Avon, when a Rorschach show sells out in previews, you won't be able to stroll-up and see if we have any seats left, so book your tickets now.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Express and More

The last Pay-What-You-Can Preview is tonight and then this thing opens wide like a kid in a dentists chair.

For your reading pleasure a reproduction of yesterdays article in the Express.

And for your viewing pleasure a shot from the finale of our Rough Magic. More will be coming at you sooner than you think.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A J.G. Weatherford Joint

From the creative genius behind last year's Monster Trailer, comes Rough Magic the trailer.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Run Through

Watched a run though of Rough Magic last night and I have to tell you it was good. There are some things that will need to be ironed out before opening. The set still needs to be finished and there are props that are still be perfected. Costumes are still be sown and lights and sound are still finding out exactly where they need to live to maximize their dramatic and comedic effect. Some of the actors are still finding where their light is and who their characters have the potential to be.

All that being said, I had a BLAST! There were some moments where I literally was laughing so hard I could not breath. The cast has discovered nooks and crannies of Roberto's script that will have all of you speechless. There have been many attempts to bring a comic book world to life on screen, but the attempts to do it on stage have been few and far between. This is something special and I want you all to come and see the work that all of the designers, directors and actors have done to bring Rough Magic to life.

Pay-What-You-Can Previews start tonight and continue until Friday night. You don't need a reservation, just show up at the door. I have amassed a bunch of stuff to share with you as we near opening and I encourage you all to pick-up the Express on your way to work tomorrow because there will be an article on Rough Magic and a fantastic color photo.

See you all real soon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Thoughts On ‘Dramaturgy’ from the Dramaturgy Corner...

Rachel Miller who recently worked with Rorschach on Arabian Night returns to Dramaturg the hell out of Rough Magic. I wish I had a better picture of her than the one at your left but times is hard here in the hood. Besides Cesar's expression makes hers seem normal. Any way, Rachel has taken some time to write us a love note of sort on dramaturgy, a term I am sure many of you non-theatre types have often heard but ignored completely. This is timely, because our story features a Dramaturg with wonderful powers, but I will let Rachel explain all of that. Enjoy!

This is Rachel reporting from the Dramaturgy Corner of the Rorschach Theatre’s production of Rough Magic. Yes, I am the dramaturg of the play! Not to be mistaken with Melanie (played by Tracy Lynn Olivera), the dramaturg in the play who has the magical ability to set characters free from dramatic texts. Now I do not profess to harbor any powers like hers– and if I did I would probably feel compelled to cast all dramaturgical aspirations aside and spend my days being fed Chilean grapes by Duke Orsino as Viola skulked in the background playing Mozart Concertos on the harpsichord. (But that’s just me.) Fortunately my commitment to dramaturgical practice remains in tact as I exist (in the literal sense at least) sans magic.

In the context of this production, my job is to perform research and text analysis for the director (Jenny McConnell Frederick) as well as the cast and design team. Part of my job is also to help set the scene for the audience by assembling a stellar lobby display out of construction paper and scotch tape and posting self-indulgent – yet informative– essays/musings on the Rorschach Theatre Blog. Let’s dive in, shall we?

The subject today is Dramaturgy! (Who would have guessed it eh?) After littering the paragraphs above five million times with that word, indeed, I am here to shed some light on the subject. It is, after all, the true profession of our protagonist and quite possibly (as this humble student of the play would argue) the source of her powers.

So, most people who have any familiarity with the word “dramaturg” (and seriously, there are many out there who hear the word and are like– “Isn’t that a dirty word or something?”), but most people recognize it as the person in a theatre production whose job it is to look up all of the references within a text and provide background information to the director and cast. That’s part of it. The role of the dramaturg within any given theatre production can actually vary quite drastically depending upon the type of play being put on and the type of theatre producing it.

According to Celise Kalke’s description of
The Dramaturg’s Role in a Production, a Dramaturg’s responsibilities include but are not limited to:

“ 1. A thorough text/story analysis.
2. Research into the prior productions of the text as needed.
3. Historical research of various sorts.
4. Attendance at at least one quarter of the rehearsals, the first read-through, and as many run-throughs as possible.
5. Oral or written notes for the director.
6. Attendance at some pre-production meetings.
7. A loyalty to the basic mission and ideas of the production and the text. Maintaining that loyalty in the midst of technical difficulties.
8. Program contributions.
9. Flexibility.”

Kalke goes on to list several other additional responsibilities that are usually contingent upon the play itself or the venue. For example, if the play were an Ibsen or a Chekov, or based upon a work of prose, a Dramaturg would be highly instrumental in adapting the text for the stage or at least working with the “translator/writer” throughout the adaptation process. Productions of Shakespearean plays depend especially upon a lot of dramaturgical attention throughout the process of cutting the script to best realize the director’s artistic vision while still staying true to the text. Many large theatres will employ a full time Dramaturg to fulfill more institutional functions such as organizing play-readings, selecting the season or providing input for marketing purposes.

Though Dramaturgy has a strong and well established history in England and Europe, it is still considered very much a burgeoning field in the United States. The introduction of one of the quintessential text books on the subject,
Dramaturgy in American Theatre , talks about how the need for Dramaturgs began to emerge some thirty plus years ago as the Regional Theatre Movement began to take hold throughout the country. Over the years, Dramaturgs came to be relied on heavily by theatres to provide support and constructive criticism to directors and to help foster artistic development in up-and-coming playwrights. Also, many dramaturgs have come to play key roles in upholding and reinforcing their theatre’s mission, which is important especially for not-for-profit theatres.

You’ll find in Rough Magic that very little of this background detail about the field of dramaturgy really gets explored. And that’s okay. And it isn’t because the fact that Melanie is a dramaturg isn’t relevant. Quite the opposite actually.

Very early on, after reading the script for the first time, I found myself asking the question “why a dramaturg?...Couldn’t an actor, a theatre director, a librarian, a Shakespearean Scholar with a PhD just as easily assume this power?” Perhaps. But the unique thing about the role of the dramaturg is that it is her (or his) job to know the text, to understand it and support it so that the playwright’s vision can literally be brought to life on stage. Seen from this light, magic and reality blur together as we begin to recognize how Melanie’s power to set characters free from dramatic texts is deeply akin to her work in the theatre. The only difference is, with her magic, all of New York is a stage.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tech Week

Another dispatch from all around stupendous Gwen, with accompanying pictures. I was in the space this weekend for the first time in a very long time and I got to tell you the space looks amazing. Eric's set design and the grpahic paintings of New York and Prospero's island are not to be believed. It feels like something right out of the pages of the Fantastic 4 or Superman. I keep telling you all that this show is going to be something special and I think you all will be pleasantly amazed by the work that everyone is putting into this one. Now the message from Gwen.

Assorted pics from tech week: some board shots, and frank showing off the holographic pink fabric for Tisiphone's club outfit.

We had our cue-to-cue on Thursday, and everything went smoothly. The designers are still painting the set, hanging lighting instruments and editing sound cues, but already the show is starting to take a solid shape.

Over the weekend we'll be smoothing out transitions, entrancesand exits, and the 'magical' moments in the show that are heightened by sound and lighting effects. Also, the actors will be getting used to new costume pieces, wigs, glasses, props, and the changing shape of the backstage area.

Friday, January 19, 2007

More from the Drawing Board

More of Frank Lobovitz fantatsic work for Rough Magic. Remember only 5 days until Pay-What-You-Can Previews start. And if you are like me you are always looking for a bargain. PWYCs start on January 24th.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Frank Labovitz our brilliant costume designer has supplied us with a look at some of his early renderings for the fantastic wardrobe he has begged, borrowed and built for Rough Magic.

Frank has been a huge part in bringing other Rorschach shows to life and he just seems to get better every time we ask him to come play in our sand box.

As with any work in progress many of the concepts have changed and evolved but as you can plainly see in these drawings Frank is busting his brain to deck our collection of drag queens, Shakespeare refugees and everyday heroes in to the 9s, 10s and 11s for that matter. I will share some more of these drawings tomorrow and hopefully have some shots of the set this weekend.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Action Heroes

And this is the final product. Thanks to Marigan O'Malley-Posada for some fantastic photo work and Carrie Oglesby for some great design work, we have ourselves our own superhero team to show the world. (Click on the links to see more of their incredible work.) Rough Magic opens in 10 days, previews begin in just 7 so get your tickets now folks this show will literally kick some ass.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Heels of Destiny

Let me first say that I have greatly appreciate all the advice that the women of the theatre community have given me as I prepared and develop the role of Drag Queen Fury Tisiphone. But one thing has become clear to me in the process. Women do not agree on the proper way to walk in heels. Moreover; no one can tell you how to walk in heels. They may be able to show you if they are:

1) wearing the same pair of heels, and
2) a physical therapist.

The best advice I found was a British article sent to my cast mate Gwen, which gave the very good advice to walk heel to toe. This too, was disputed as to whether or not it was good advice, but since getting my shoes I have also found it impossible to walk any other way. The swinging of arms and hips is also a necessity, but fortunately this two is unavoidable in order to move in the shoes.

If you are lost as to what the shoes look like, there is a photo of them a few posts down. Three of
us wear the shoes, two of us male and one female. Lee might have different insights. But what I can say is: for someone who is only 5’9”, the experience of being 6’2” has been fantastic. In theatre men tend to be either very tall or very short (with the exception of Catalyst Theater’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, in which most of the cast was in the 5’8” to 5’10” range.) But there is an inherent power in being able to either look everyone on stage either straight in the eye or down to the eye. I have spent much of my development as an actor cultivating the technique of projecting a larger size or power on stage, but with these shoes I can let that go and just focus on the very difficult task of being a women (not that I will pull this off, but I am trying to be as honest with it as I can.)

So far Rough Magic has turned out to be one of the more interesting acting challenges I have had in my time in DC, both physically and mentally. But there is much fun to be had in this show, from every actor and in every role – it’s definitely not to be missed.

-Dispatch from Grady Weatherford

Monday, January 08, 2007

Rough Magic Photo Shoot

No time to write much today. We did a photo shoot this weekend and here is a glimpse of what the Rough Magic post card will look like. Enjoy and more on all of this tomorrow!

Also real quick, check out this article in the Post about an event I was fortunate enough to be a part of on Saturday Night. It was kick-off event for The Shakespeare in Washington Festival that is going on from January until June of this year. Rough Magic is Rorschach Theatre's contribution to the festival and they asked me to represent Rorschach in a staged reading of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. If anyone is really interested in what it was like they can email me, but I was just proud to be representing Rorschach at a truly huge event.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Game: Guess Whose Feet

Following up on yesterday's entry regarding our Furies. Director Jenny McConnell Frederick offers us a new game to play here at Ye Olde Blog, Guess Whose Feet. All you need to do is correctly identify whose stunning legs are sporting three pairs of rather deadly looking footwear, send in one box top from any of the Monster Themed Breakfast Cereals (Count Chockula, Frankenberry, Boo-Berry or Fruity Mummy), and caps from 2 Mr. Pibb bottles. Then you can have the distinction of being called the Feet King (or Queen which ever applies). So get cracking!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What a ...?

The heroine of our story Melanie (Tracy Lynn Olivera) has a unique magical ability. She can bring the characters of literature into our world. Over the next several weeks I will be introducing you all to the characters that people the world of Rough Magic and the actors who will bring them to life. Since this is a play with a dramaturg at its heart it is only right and fitting that you all get to experience the kind of digging that the actors have to perform in order to understand just who in the heck they are bringing to life on stage. Today we look at The Furies.

As the tag line says for Rough Magic says, "creating a modern tale of thrills, chills and drag queen furies." What do we mean by drag queen furies?

Wikipedia as always provides the bare bones of what we are talking about when we mention these creatures of myth.

In Greek mythology the Erinyes (Ερινύες) or Eumenides (the Romans called them the Furies) were female personifications of vengeance. When a formulaic oath in the Iliad (iii.278ff; xix.260ff) invokes "those who beneath the earth punish whoever has sworn a false oath. The Erinyes are simply an embodiment of the act of self-cursing contained in the oath" (Burkert 1985 p 198). They were usually said to have been born from the blood of Ouranos when Cronus castrated him. According to a variant account, they issued from an even more primordial level—from Nyx, "Night". Their number is usually left indeterminate, though Virgil, probably working from an Alexandrian source, recognized three: Alecto ("unceasing," who appeared in Virgil's Aeneid), Megaera ("grudging"), and Tisiphone ("avenging murder"). The heads of the Erinyes were wreathed with serpents (compare Gorgon), their eyes dripped with blood, and their whole appearance was horrific and appalling. Sometimes they had the wings of a bat or bird, or the body of a dog.

We too have three furies, but as you may have come to expect from a Rorschach production ours are not Virgil's furies. Melanie has brought the Furies into our world and now they are drag queens working as singers at a club in Manhattan. For the purposes of our story though the one you need to keep your eyes on is Tisiphone, as played by Rorschach Theatre's own Grady Weatherford. Melanie comes to Tisiphone for the kind of help only a fury can supply.

Did I mention that our furies are performers? Here are some of the first shots of our furies as they strut their stuff in what I believe to be Rorschach's first non-severed-pig's- head dance number ever. Grady is backed up by Rorschach vet Gwen Grastorf and new comer Lee Liebeskind. I hope this taste of what is to come whets your appetite for the bizarre as much as it does mine.

Costume designer Frank Labowitz has promised to deck our furies in all the glitz and glamour befitting the spirits of vengeance, as they sing and dance their way into your heart. Or at least make an attempt to grab it still beating from your chest.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tales from the Front

Happy New Year everyone. Gwen check in with some pictures and a report from rehearsal last week. Remember folks Rough Magic opens in just 25 days, so start thinking about when you want to see the show. Tomorrow I will post some pics of dance rehearsal. And in the coming weeks I have three words for you to keep at the back of your head, Grady in Drag.

Now here is what Gwen has to say.

We're back in rehearsals after almost a week off for the holidays. Friday night we worked our way through the last scene in the first act. Our assistant-director Ryan has a day job at a very snazzy law firm, and they generously donated a leftover capuccino cheesecake. The yummy goodness kept everyone (Megan, Cesar, and our dramaturg Rachel) in good spirits.

Afterwards, a few of us went to Haydees for margaritas!