Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shane's Memorial

The Memorial Service for Shane will be held on Monday, December 29th at Theater J at 7:00pm. There will be a reception following at Playill.

Anyone who has photos of Shane, either from shows, work, or parties, that your would like to share, please put those on a CD so that we can have them.

Email Jaqueline Lawton, if you have any photos you would like to share of Shane.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Shane Wallis died in a motorcycle accident last Thursday night.

I just spent a half hour trying to figure out how to write that last sentence. While Shane only worked on two Rorschach shows, he made a deep impression on everyone who he came in contact with. He had an enthusiasm for life that was infectious. His smooth Southern drawl and his innate sense of himself made him compelling to be around both on and off stage.
Shane is pictured on the far right in our production of Behold! He and Hugh as the bellboy consipracy theorists had some of my favorite moments in that show. "Kelpew?" And this summer Shane was with us on the Georgetown Campus for Dream Sailors. I can still see him now strumming his guitar and singing Brown-Eyed Girl with the rest of us.

While I was never in a show with Shane, I know those of you who knew him better will feel his loss for a long time coming. This has been a year of loss in DC theatre, men and women older than Shane were snatched from us this year, Shane's loss is just the capstone to a year of what seems to be pointless loss. I ask everyone to keep Shane's family and children in their prayers this year and remember him in whatever way seems best to you. If you didn't know Shane say a prayer anyway, you would have liked him.

Shane's friends over at Theatre J have also remembered him on their blog.
There will be a memorial at some point very soon in DC for Shane but his family will be remembering him starting tonight in his home state of Mississippi. Details below:
Visitation of Shane will be from 5:00pm-8:00pm, on Monday, December 22 at Riverwood Family Funeral Home, 76 Hwy 51 S Brookhaven, MS 39191.

Service for Shane will be conducted at 11:00 am, on Tuesday at Riverwood Family Funeral Home. Graveside service will be conducted shortly there after at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, 2305 Pleasant Hill Dr SE Bogue Chito, MS 39629.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Today's entry captures the very essence of
 making theater--collaboration. Meet the Render Games Team:

Hey everybody. Danny Gavigan
 here kicking things off for my MYTHap group. When we realized it was our turn to pick up the torch and contribute to
 the Rorschach blog, all of us just kind of stared at the proverbial torch. None of us are big bloggers, so I proposed a tag team effort where each of us could pick up where the last
 one left off. The rest of the team can either add to whatever it is I'm about to say or wax poetic about their Mister T. cereal they had this morning.With only a week devoted to only one night of one acts, I think trust has become a huge part of the process. Trust not only in each other but ourselves as writers, directors,
 actors, designers, producers and those fucking dramaturgs! Because there's only so much you can ponder
 when you've gotta bang out a script in a day or you've got only 10 pages to explore your character's journey or
 whatever. So what I seem to always get from these quick, intensive festivals is that I can stand still and worry about it or
 just jump in and believe in it, no matter what it is. And there's something to be said for that. I think it's an exercise that I could definitely use for how I approach other works. Jenn? Thoughts on that or anything else you'd like to share?
Jenn here, I love this process because you don't have time to think.  You have to listen to your instincts and go with them.  Last night as we walked through the scene for the first time, I personally felt that my instincts took some time to develop.  I will sit around a table and talk a play to death because the first few moments of working on our feet terrify me as a director: what if nobody knows how to get started?  Last night, everybody jumped in together.  It was great.  It's just like Danny said, the trust in each other helped us all to navigate through the first awkward staging and trust the excitement we all had in the play from the first draft.  Tag, Rachel, you're it.
Here's Kathleen, who was otherwise off the hook, jumped in to say ST NICHOLAS WRITES BLOGS IN HELL!  Carry on.
Hullo, it's Rachel the actor.  I love this process because the plays are so short.  It's like an intensive writing/scene study/improv class all rolled into one, and meanwhile we're actually creating something.  Whoa.  And the shortness reminds me that the whole process can be endless, that there is always more of a moment to tease out.  Which is a weird conclusion to draw from an intentionally compressed bunch of theater like this, I know.  
Speaking of weird, myths.  St. Nick has a lot of good ones, and they're all really bizarre.  Ours in particular.  SPOILER ALERT:  Apparently what draws the saint's attention is the baking of persons into pies.  Myth Nick doesn't seem particularly bothered about punishing the evildoer, but he can't stand people in pies, and so actually gets there *after* the murder and *before* any cannibalism can happen, meaning the bit that really bothers him is the pies part, and that's the part he will undo.  You have to wonder how many crimes and sorrows he walked past on his way to the pie shop in Myra.  When it's Christmas-cookie baking time, I will love knowing that St. Nick really, REALLY cared about his baked goods and secret ingredients.   
Francisco here... This is my first project since I left DC in July, and it's a nice way to get the acting feet wet again. I think the trust Danny mentioned is key here, and I have to say that it helps when you're in a community that you're already familiar with. Having Kathleen Akerley as our playwright is a definite plus, as she is kind of brilliant and a lovely human being, and also someone many of us have worked with before. Blend the cast, director, and designer in with that familiarity and trust, sprinkle with a dose of professionalism all around, and you've got a recipe for a delightful little Christmas concoction - frothy AND spicy! Good spicy, not the kind that make your tongue burn in your mouth and... well, you'll see. Amanda?
Thanks Francisco!  Amanda here.  The beauty of being last on the blog train is I just get to reiterate a few keys words that my fellow Render Gamers pointed out: TRUST, instinct, cannibalism, secret ingredients, frothy, spicy.  Don't believe me?  This is my second Myth-Appropriations and there is definitely more seasoning in this one.  Because nothing says 'happy holidays' like some delicious baked goods.  And our little band's St Nick myth follows in a great tradition of Classic stories involving the baking of human flesh, ie Titus Andronicus and Thyestes.   So join us as we celebrate the Yuletide the old way, by discussing quality of life while referencing cut charts.  Happy Holidays from butchers Andy and Myra!   Don't piss us off, you'll end up "rendered."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 5

This is the portion of the blog entry where I would introduce our guest blogger for the day...but in this case, it seems our intrepid blogger has gone above and beyond--even providing the artwork--and thus needs no introduction:

Hi there!  This is Gwen, blogging for Team Awesome.  Our team members are playwright Steven Spotswood, director Akiva Fox, designer Suzen Mason, and actors David Dowell, Erin Kaufman, John Tweel, and myself.  You can't see David, Gwen, or Suzen in our TEAM AWESOME picture, but believe me we are there in spirit.  We are all awesome people, and totally full of festive holiday cheer.  

Awesome's myth is "The Night Before Christmas".  This famous poem tells the story of a family on Christmas Eve.  Just as the kids are dreaming of sugarplums and the parents are about to take a long winter's nap, Dad hears a "clatter" and opens the window to see St. Nick with his sleigh & reindeer landing on the roof.   Father Christmas comes down the chimney, fills the stockings without a word, and drives off, yelling "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"  Originally published anonymously in 1923, this poem is most commonly attributed to Clement Clark Moore, although it may have been written by some other dude.  The poem is the basis of countless songs, cartoons, and pop culture references.  You can read about it on Wikipedia here. or the full text of the poem here.

Would you like to learn more about our Awesome Team members? I bet you would. 

Writer Steven Spotswood grew up somewhere exciting, went to Catholic University, and totally got married. This is his first foray with Rorschach, although he has written plays for the past two Fringe festivals.  Steve has found a bevy of holiday-tinged inspiration in the "Night Before Christmas" poem.  It especially struck him that a man who commits serial breaking and entering via chimney, leaving special presents for little boys and girls with the tacit approval of their parents, is more than a little creepy. Steven's play explores the premise that these children would grow up to be psychologically scarred, more-than-a-little effed up adults.

Akiva Fox grew up in Boston and had a sparkling youth marked by many adventures, including Teen Jeopardy! and supporting roles in high-school musicals.  Now he lives in DC and has a job at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, where he manages a lot of words by dead guys.  Despite being vehemently Jewish, this is not his first Christmas-themed theatrical adventure, having directed a deconstructed holiday Hamlet last year in a freezing warehouse.  Akiva's parents have in recent years begun decorating their house the greatest non-Christian lighting display in the Western Hemisphere, featuring a giant glowing dreidel.  It's seriously like the biggest I've ever seen.  

David Dowell studied theatre at SMU, acts here in Washington DC, and is engaged to a lovely lady named Brittany who interns at Arena Stage. David's most vivid holiday memory is  from a family visit to "Santa's magic grotto" at 12 with his 10 year old brother and 2 year old sister.  After an eternally long wait, they sat on the lap of a nice, rotund, elderly Santa for a photo.  The sister got terrified and started wailing her head off, and David tried to calm her down as his younger brother grew more and more embarrassed.  Of course the picture was snapped at precisely this moment, capturing Santa, the only person having any fun in the picture, laughing his head off at a group of miserable children.

Erin Kaufman fled to DC from the wilds of Cincinnati, OH - under the assumption that Washington, DC was much closer to the ocean than it actually is. DC charmed her, despite it's non-oceanic vistas, and she stuck around. DC is also the place where Erin's first ever Christmas tree experience happened this last December.  She was nearly crushed to death by a rogue Christmas tree in the back seat a rather small car. Christmas tree related scratches and bruises having long since healed, Erin is quite enjoying the deep exploration of the Christmas spirit that Rorschach MythApp is providing for her.
Tweel has participated in Mythapps Past, as well as 365 Days/Plays for Rorschach.  He works at a very important and responsible yet mysterious day job, and has extremely well-maintained pectoral muscles.  He will happily grow any sort of elaborate facial hair for a theatrical production, including but not limited to goatee, soul patch, soul goatee, full beard, fumanchu, mutton chops, and 70's porn stache.  Similarly to David, John had very memorable visits to Santa in his youth that involved laughing mercilessly at the tears and terror of younger siblings.  John's grandmother is very important to him. 

And for myself, I grew up in Frederick, went to University of Maryland College Park, and live in a delightfully bohemian apartment with
Bikram yoga teacher and Rorschach company member Yasmin Tuazon.  My birthday is on Christmas Day, which makes it difficult to have any sort of birthday gathering with friends.  One year my mom threw me a surprise party in February, long after I had given up for the year.  The least exciting was when I turned 21, which I celebrated by having a small glass of Bailey's in my parents' basement and then going to sleep.  That being said, I love the holidays and am looking forward to celebrating this one Rorschach-style.  

Thanks for spending some time with Team Awesome!  Over the next few nights, we'll rehearse and polish a fabulously Christmas-y play for you to see on Saturday night.  And as a special bonus,
here is a touching and appropriate gallery of small children being traumatized by a large man in a red suit.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bold Choices

Today's blog entry is brought to you by the fabulous Matt Ripa, director of St. Nick by Adam Segaller.  Before I turn the floor over to Matt, I do have a quick bit of news for everyone.  Due to circumstances and bureaucracy far beyond her control, one of our directors has to bow out.  We're sorry to lose her, but delighted to welcome Lee Liebeskind who will co-direct The Krampus at Home with playwright Seamus Sullivan.  

And now without further ado, I bring you Matt Ripa:

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Goethe spoke these words and I cannot help but think about this idea of “being bold” during this heightened and condensed process.  The process of writing, directing and performing plays in a week is a daunting task filled with the unknown. One of the beautiful things about theatre is the journey into the unknown every time we embark on the creative process. Ultimately the artistic process it is a crazy leap of faith. To think that we are going to create 10 minute plays in a week that people are actually going to pay to see is ridiculous. But, during the first day of this process, Randy and Jenny told us to think big and to attempt fully realized productions with total design. I think that we all took these wise words and ran with them.

Our playwrights have made big, bold choices. The scripts were awesome. It was amazing to hear all of the plays tonight and to realize that they were written in a matter of 2 days is phenomenal.  The plays range from the meaningful to the ridiculous. From the darkly comic to the touching tragedy.  They include everything that is glorious about theatre.  Holding that mirror to the audience and that shattering it before their eyes.

There is also something to be said about the energy of a group of artists from all different backgrounds and styles coming together to create performance. From the first meet and greet to the read-through tonight, the energy in the room has been positive and inspiring. This positive and creative energy has been infused in the stories that are unfolding in the scripts.  My original nervousness or fear has been completely replaced with excited anticipation of the possibilities of creating live theatre. This is guerrilla theatre. Gritty, dirty, and immediate. And this is when theatre is its best, when it is immediate and vital. That is the theatre that I love to create.

Monday, December 08, 2008


The MYTHappropriation teams are busy creating the 6 plays that will become The Bloody, Strange and Wicked Origins of St Nicholas. Every day this week we will have a report from a different team, giving you our loyal readers a different perspective every day.
It'll be like Rashamon. Without Samurai fights.

First up is a report from actor Elizabeth Darby. She's with the team working on Seamus Sullivan's adaptation of the Krampus Myth. If you're scratching your head and saying "I don't remember anything about a Krampus in my Santa stories" take a walk over to wikipedia here and here.

Today (Sunday) all six teams of playmakers met to explore the first drafts of the scripts in workshops led by dramaturg Anne Macaw. After hearing a first read, she asked questions of the actors, playwright and designer about the world of the play; what the rules of this world are and what each character's story is. "Krampus at Home", the play this actor is working on, focuses on the myth of the Krampus, who is responsible for punishing the naughty children who don't deserve presents. Seamus Sullivan's play shows the Krampus family at home, dealing with the same conflicts and struggles any family would. The playwrights will now develop a second draft of the scripts in time for the full show readthrough tomorrow evening.

Check back tomorrow for a report from the team tackling the story, "St Nicholas and the Three Sisters."

And don't forget to get your tickets for Saturday night! They are selling out quickly!
Get your tickets here.

MYTHappropriation: PICTURES!

MYTHappropriation is here!

The creation process that is. For the actual show you have to wait a week.

Saturday was the first gathering of 6 playwrights, 6 directors, 6 playwrights, 6 designers, 24 playwrights, a dramaturg, a stage manager and a few producers. Lest you think exagerate... below are a smattering of pictures of the gaggle of us.

Tickets to MYTH APPROPRIATION: The Bloody, Strange and WickedOrigins of St Nicholas are available now!

This Saturday night for ONE NIGHT ONLY! Get your tickets here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's back... and this time it's out for blood...

If you're wondering what on earth this crazy picture has to do with Santa Claus, don't miss the return of Rorschach Theatre's extreme new play development event...

The Bloody, Strange and Wicked Origins of St Nicholas

Six timeless tales.
Six new plays.
All created in just six days.

Performing for ONE NIGHT ONLY!
Saturday Dec 13, 2008 at 7pm, 9pm and 11pm (3 shows)

You can get your tickets here
And find out more info about the event here

Rorschach Theatre wants to make the holiday season just a little bit wilder. Rorschach will track old Santa Claus back to his religious, pagan and supernatural roots. Looking back to the myths of the Vikings, early Christians and native peoples of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Rorschach turns its creative and artistic style on the jolly fat man in red and his larger than life cult of personality.

This is the third edition of Rorschach's extreme new play development project, MYTH-APPROPRIATION, where a group of writers, directors, designers and actors join forces for a week of writing, rehearsals and production to bring 6 fully realized new plays to life for one night only. Previous MYTH-APPROPRIATION projects focused on Grimm Fairytales and Creation Myths of World Cultures.

Seating is limited and these performances sell out quickly so GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!

Remember, you don’t have to wait until this summer to experience the intense performance style and passionate storytelling of Rorschach Theatre. Myth-Appropriation makes for an excellent stocking stuffer and we promise something to awe, offend and entertain no matter your threshold for Christmas plays.

WRITTEN BY Kathleen Akerley, Randy Baker, Shuan Raviv, Adam Segaller, Stephen Spotswood, Seamus Sullivan DIRECTED BY Kasi Campbell, Akiva Fox, Jessie Gallogly, Jenn John, Matt Ripa, Catherine Tripp DESIGNED BY Elisheba Ittoop, Suzen Mason, Amanda Mitchel, Ivania Stack, Justin Titley FEATURING Katie Atkinson, Brian Crane, Elizabeth Darby, Josh DeMinter, David Dowell, Josh Drew, Danny Gavigan, Jeremy Goren, Theo Hadjimichael, Lindsay Haynes, Gwen Grastorf, Lisa Lias, Matt MacNelly, Rachel Manteuffel, Eric Messner, Casie Platt, Francisco Reinoso, Mundy Spears, Sarah Taurchini, Amanda Thickpenny, John Tweel, Alia Faith Williams, Ellen Young PRODUCED BY Randy Baker, Jenny McConnell Frederick WITH Kyle Jean Fisher (Stage Manager), Anne MacCaw (Dramaturg) and Megan Reichelt (Associate Producer)