Friday, October 31, 2014

Centre College has a cast - post by Mariele Fluegeman class of '15


Lindsay and I are preparing to watch the first performance of In the Event of My Death at Ashland University in Ohio. I am excited to see the play fully realized in production and to meet the students who have worked so hard and shared themselves with us through the process. Prior to seeing the first show I receive an email report with Centre College's casting information. Seeing the names of the cast is a thrilling reminder that the 'opening' night of the production in Ashland is a major milestone, however, it is one step in the development process of this play.  Lindsay has a second ensemble of highly thoughtful artists ready to invest in her work.

Here is a report on the audition process from Mariele Fluegeman, class of '15, who will be the dramaturge for the production at Centre. We had the pleasure of working with Mariele during the workshop and I am grateful to have her voice continue to be part of the process.

Here is Mariele's report about the audition process:

It’s been months since that August weekend in New York when I first got to know all of the beautifully flawed characters of In the Event of My Death, but reading the latest draft was an open-armed return to their messy lives. To me, the magic of the play lies in the hopelessly disconnected people who become intimately and powerfully connected to the lives of those who read for and about them. They are in many ways the millennials—a nebulous term often used by previous generations to analyze and distance themselves from us in a seemingly inaccessible mix of Snapchat and hook ups—and yet a term that describes the immediacy of life my friends and peers experience everyday. This potential connection is what Patrick Kagan-Moore was searching for when we sat down in the audition room. We didn’t look for actors, per se—we looked for people whose own lives somehow plugged into these characters’ lives and lit up the room. It was a daunting task for those auditioning, I think,  for this reason. Patrick went after them, trying to strip through the layers of audition nerves and preconceptions of how acting should be—and we saw sparks. Many of them found something in that room that was deeply personal and echoed in the lives of the characters in surprising and new ways. We have a cast now—a cast I think is uniquely prepared to bare themselves and challenge themselves, each other, and their characters to grow and change in this next stage of the play’s development. 

I love her description of 'milennials' - and her understanding of the world of the play. Her voice, and director Patrick Kagan-Moore, will be wonderful for Lindsay as she steps into the next serious phase of development.

Here is the cast for Centre College's production:

As we prepare to see the opening at Ashland, who working with has been an incredibly experience, seeing the faces of the new cast is a great reminder that this project's purpose is the development of many artists and that it is an opportunity to build community through the development of a play. We welcome the new cast to the community. Excited to hear about your thoughts on the play and to have you join us on the journey.

Thank you Mariele for sharing the audition process with us.

Talk with you soon.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Live streaming - sharing our work


The college collaboration play "In the Event of My Death" is having its first performance Thursday, October 30th, at 7:30PM E.S.T. at Ashland University. The school's journalism department will be live streaming the production. 

I don't know if the other two schools will be able to do this...or if we will find another way to share the experience of presenting the plays but I am excited to share the play as well as the progress of development through the three productions.

The link for the live stream is: Ashland Production of 'In the Event of My Death"

The live streaming of theatrical events is becoming more popular. I know HowlRound.Com has been live streaming readings, discussions, and conferences of late. I am a firm believer that theater is about being in the room for the event. It is a shared experience by those in the room. However, the idea of sharing the process is important. Especially in this case where we can create an opportunity to allow people to bare witness the development process but also participate through sharing their thoughts on what they saw.

The idea of creating an opportunity for the development process to be extended through three productions seemed monumental in what it would offer the playwright. I knew it would be valuable to the students. I did not recognize how valuable it would be. They have a voice in shaping new work. Something that is rare in an educational environment. Also, the characters are close to their age and the play deals directly with issues they confront every day. It is personal to them. It is important. And it is their world. The witness the student's commitment to the play and growth through the work has been an incredibly rewarding experience.

This weekend the production headed into tech for the show. A few days before that they invited the student crew members into rehearsal to watch the show. The audience of their peers were exhilarated. They can't wait to share this with their community. One member shared on the cast Facebook page about how honest and familiar the play felt. She shared about how her sister had died suddenly and the play had moments that were very familiar and important for her to witness. She wrote, "There is a moment near the end of the play where the characters gather around Trevor and Kate and just support one another in the quiet. I distinctly remember a similar moment on the day I went home and sat on the floor with my head in my mother's lap just holding each other. Those are the moments that lead to healing.

Ashland's Department Chair is also working with the County Mental Health & recovery Board to put together a list of resources for those concerned about suicide. I am grateful for the impact the play is having with the community, the dialogue it is creating, and the identifiable value that art. These moments are very valuable. The process is clearly offering may than an opportunity for the playwright to develop as an artist. It is creating a conversation with a wider community about the topic of the play as well as the art itself. 

I'm currently directing at SUNY Brockport, in Upstate New York, and one of the students in the cast told me recently he wished there was more access to seeing specific productions of plays. He can't get to the Lincoln Center Library, and he wished he could see the original production of new plays. It would be a better way of understanding the excitement about certain plays people are talking about, besides waiting for the one or two that might be produced at a Regional Theater that is a half an hour away from campus. I understand the monetary reasons for not making plays available on video. I also understand that theater is a live event experienced by those in the room. I am grateful that Ashland journalism department will at a minimum link up one other campus to the experience of this play. 

I hope you'll tune in and share your thoughts.

Talk with you soon.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Post by Eryn Tramel (Becky) - discoveries in and out of the rehearsal room.


Ashland University's cast has created a FB page to share about their process. I was struck by the honest and enthusiastic observations of Eryn Tramel who plays Becky. Great to hear from the artists in process directly.

Eryn Tramel (Becky)
Let me start off by saying that the cast and management for this production have been a dream to work with. I have never worked on a show where everyone worked together as a team so well. For that I feel truly blessed. I consistently leave rehearsal feeling better about not only my work but my confidence as a person as well. This is only possible with a kick as support system like this cast has provided.
Secondly It has been thrilling to collaborate with Lindsay Joy and Padraic Lillis. I hope that I can maybe get in contact with the actress who played Becky at the workshop in NYC as well as the Beckys at the other schools. Becky is arguably one of the most complicated characters I have ever experienced but for that she will forever hold a special place in my heart. 
Okay Im done with the mushy gushy for now heres some real talk...
As we detail in rehearsal I have been able to relate a lot of what Becky is feeling to recent experiences in my personal life. Becky is me in many ways. We both follow the GSD method of life (we Get Shit Done). We don't play games, ever. When want to do something WE WILL DO IT. I like to describe it as "Alpha Female". The cast likes to describe it as me being "Becky Mutha Fuckin' Farrell". We also want nothing more than to just be loved. Sometimes this comes off as clingy but it comes from love. We want you to know we are always here for you, and we want you to return the favor. My biggest fear is abandonment, and in this scenario, so is Becky's. 
We also are both making an effort to become more selfless. I have always struggled with being self centered and making everything about me. Even the little things. This profession does not help me out any either, it is a very vain thing we actors do. We go to auditions and interviews bragging about ourselves and making ourselves look better so that casting directors will like us. But this is not and excuse to how we should approach every day relationships. This struggle keeps me active throughout the piece.
After the initial shock of going from a long haired brunette to a short haired blonde wore off I started to evaluate how people treated me based on the look alone. I have noticed that people do not take me as seriously in my everyday life. The fact that people truly do judge people based on how they look is something that I have really taken notice of these past few weeks. I did not realize how truly judgmental I actually am in my everyday life. But now that I realize this about me I can see the humanity in why Becky was the way she was in High School, because the majority of the people in this world are like that, but are unwilling to own up to it.
Scott has a very interesting way of getting me to tap into the emotional life of Becky's circumstance. Its almost as if he has the instruction booklet on what buttons to push to get me to react in certain ways. I'm not really sure how he knows so well what sets me off but it works, so I'm not complaining. It becomes very natural for me to become emotionally attached to this character. 
The biggest struggle I have right now is not playing the problem but sticking to the action. Lets face it Becky has 99 problems and the bitch is one. This is especially hard in the scene where Trevor and Amber are on the porch and Peter and I are arguing in the living room. I give in to the fear that I will never be able to mend things and the abandonment will kick it so much that I forget not to get defensive about it. My action is to bow out, but as an Alpha Female that is easier said than done.
I keep a journal solely for this play and Becky. After every rehearsal I throw my spotify playlist on and just write about what happened in rehearsal that day. My last entry described how I was able to tap into my jealous side as we worked to detail my blow up scene. Jealousy is one of my biggest flaws which makes it fun to portray on stage, almost like its okay to feel that way for a few minutes. Its especially fun because Kate is Ariel McCleary, My roommate and one of my closest friends. We get to hate each other for 3 hours a day its exhilarating because we know its not real. After the prior rehearsal Alyssa Angie who plays Meg came up to me after rehearsing the scene where we get into a fight and apologized profusely for yelling at me. Its almost as if all the fighting brings everyone closer together. 
So I guess if you made it this far thank you for reading and hearing me out. It may be a little premature just yet but I truly am not looking forward to this ending. This cast and show mean the world to me. And I wouldn't change any part of it for the world. I fear for closing night. I don't know how I am going to keep my shit together.

Thank you Eryn for writing. Thank you cast and crew of Ashland for letting us be part of your process. Thank you all for reading.

Talk with you soon.