Sunday, May 31, 2009

'Caesar' and the Resurrection in Ullapool

So another whirlwind week has finished. ‘Caesar’ was a success. People seemed to like it. I think we all feel pretty good about the work. We are all a bit tired though.

Alas, no rest for the weary. Tomorrow we board a bus at 9:30am and take a seven hour journey north to the coastal town of Ullapool. Ullapool, I am told, is lovely. I’ll be able to report more on that next weekend and hopefully offer some photos. We are presenting the shows in Ullapool in an outreach to the people of the Highlands who don’t get to see near the amount of theatre as is available in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I am looking forward to the trip but I do wish I had a bit more time to rest. We closed Thursday, had a company meeting regarding the trip and saw an undergraduate show on Friday. Saturday we had a pick up rehearsal for ‘Lear’ and had another show to see that evening. And today we rehearsed for our project show ‘Dead in Scotland’ (I think I’m beginning to understand what that means). Ullapool’s schedule will be just as full with a tech rehearsal for each show on Tuesday, two shows of ‘Lear’ on Wednesday, two shows of ‘Caesar’ on Thursday and back on the bus homebound on Friday. Then can I rest? Well, I might be able to have a day or so but we must barrel on as that will be the home stretch for our project shows. My Mom is coming for a visit after that. Good thing too. She may have to scrape up what’s left of me.

Nobody said it was going to be easy. This term has been intense! But we will be proud in the end, I know.

Okay I know this is brief but I have to get packed for Ullapool and get some sleep! I’ll let you know all about the trip next week.
Take care!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Opening, Closing and Doing It All Again

‘Lear’ was a success! I am very pleased with our performances. I do believe everyone else is too. I hope so!

Opening night proved to be amusing. Everyone was in place for the top of the show, ready to begin, when the fire alarm went off. We all had to evacuate; audience, cast and crew. The fire brigade came and had to check everything before we were allowed to go back in. Turns out the fog machine we use in the show was the culprit. It was fine, working normally but a window was open in the tech booth and some of the fog escaped from what is normally an isolated theatre. This triggered the alarms in another part of the building. It was inconvenient, yes, but it would have been much worse if it had happened during the show!

What a wild ride this past week has been! We opened Monday night and ran for four performances. And during all that craziness we were also squeezing in ‘Caesar’ rehearsals. Tomorrow we continue to tech the ‘Caesar’ and open Tuesday night. It’s a bigger show with a larger cast and more complex technical demands. I just have to say, the design and tech teams have been absolutely amazing. A big shout out to all of them!! They really do have a tremendous task in dealing with this show and are having to turn it around very quickly. The crew is the same as worked on ‘Lear’ so they too have been putting in long hours. It is looking great and I think will come together beautifully.

Today; our only day off from the Shakespeares; my project partners and I worked on ‘Dead in Scotland’. We had a very productive rehearsal that resulted in a streamlined script and very clear objectives. Our excitement for the project multiplies with every rehearsal. Although, we usually don’t work for six hours like we did today. But hey, we were on a roll!

Next week we are off to Ullapool with our Shakespeare shows. We will present each show twice to the good people of the Highlands. Everyone is looking forward to our little tour but I don’t think many of us are focused on it at present. Too many things to tackle this week. We’ll think about next week later.
Not much else to report. It is all about pulling the plays together.
I’ll let you know how it goes!
Take care!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shakespeare in the City

Wanna come? If you are in the Glasgow area and want to come see the Shakespeare shows I keep talking about check out the info below.

'King Lear' and 'Julius Caesar' are part of the RSAMD's 'Shakespeare in the City' festival. The 'Lear' and 'Caesar' casts are made up of the grad students from the MA CCTs (that's me!) and the 'Midsummer' and 'R&J' casts are the BAs from the undergrad program.

Hope you can come!

Students from our MA Classical and Contemporary Text, BA Acting and Technical and Production Arts programmes present four new Shakespeare productions at the Brian Cox Studio, Scottish Youth Theatre, The Old Sheriff Court, Brunswick Street, Glasgow.

King Lear
Directed by Gordon Barr
18, 19, 20 May 7.00pm
20 May 2.00pm

Julius Caesar
Directed by James Robert Carson
26, 27, 28 May 7.00pm
28 May 2.00pm

Romeo and Juliet
Directed by Joyce Deans
4, 5, 6 June 7.00pm
6 June 2.00pm

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Directed by Mark Saunders
11, 12, 13 June 7.00pm
13 June 2.00pm

Tickets £7 (£5) from the Tron Box Office (0141 552 4267) or at the SYT door on the night.

To join our mailing list please contact

Shakespeare Show Time!

It’s here! Show Time!! Tonight is opening night of ‘King Lear’. We are all very excited. There are some nerves, yes, but mainly I’m thrilled. We have been working our booties off and now we get to deliver the goods. The show looks fantastic! The costumes on the set with the lighting and sound are brilliantly effective. So kudos to design and tech!! I hope my classmates are proud of themselves. ‘King Lear’ is not an easy piece. It is one of Shakespeare’s most complex and also one of his darkest works. I’m going to give a special shout out to Jeremy Crawford who is playing Lear. Lear is a major benchmark for the careers of many actors. It’s a dream role for a lot of people and that is because it is so incredibly challenging. Lear is an old man but don’t let that fool you he can be a tyrant. Not really a nice guy. But then neither are his two eldest daughters who are plotting against him. The character of Lear has a wild journey in the play. He starts as a powerful king but slowly loses his control and his mind. Lear is usually played but older actors. Having the real life experience to aid in greater understanding of Lear as he ‘crawls toward death’ is a humongous help for the actor playing the man. Jeremy does not have that benefit. At just shy of thirty, Jeremy had to find Lear using only his imagination and research. And he has done it with the finesse of actors twice his age and experience. It is a major accomplishment and I hope he knows it! (Are you reading this JC?). So ‘bravo’ to Jeremy!

Amongst the shows this week, we will also continue to rehearse ‘Julius Caesar’. The ‘Lear’ cast won’t get much of a break as we work them into ‘Caser’. They are filling out the core cast with crowd scenes and bit parts. And I, who am part of the core cast, will be getting back into it after nearly a week away doing ‘Lear’. ‘Caesar’ opens next Tuesday. And then the week after that we take the shows on the road. We are going to Ullapool up in the Highlands. That will be my first trip to the Highlands and I can't wait. I would like to meet a sheep and a Highland cow. Think I’ll have any luck? I’ll keep you posted.

Yesterday we got back into the rehearsal room for my research project show. It’s called ‘Dead In Scotland’. I’m the writer and an actor in the piece and a couple of my classmates are filling out the other acting role and the role of director. Many of us in the program are doing three shows at once. I won’t deny that juggling three shows has been a big ‘ol challenge. Many of us have our days when we get stressed and tired. But when this year is over we will look back in awe at what we were able to accomplish. ‘DIS’ and the other project shows are being presented at the Arches (that’s a local theatre space) the week of June 15th. So basically, week get back from the Highlands on the weekend and Monday we start tech/dress rehearsal week for the research shows and the following week we're on! Crazy. Absolutely crazy. But we’ll look back and… blah blah blah. No really, it is all wonderful and I can’t wait to see everybody’s project show.

Alright I have a fight call at noon so I better get shakin’. What’s a fight call? A fight call is a block of time set aside before a rehearsal or show for the actors to run through their fight choreography. The fight director and/or fight captain is on hand to make sure everything is correct and safe. We run it slow and repeat, gradually bringing it up to performance speed. It’s important to run through these things. You don’t want to go into the show cold and bumble it. Not very safe. So at noon I get to run my fight/death scenes. Good times!
I’ll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Serious Shakespeare, Scotland’s Specialties and A Star Trekking Saturday

One more week! One more week of rehearsals for ‘King Lear’ and then opening night will be upon us! Friday I spent the whole day with ‘Lear’ as the ‘Caesar’ cast had the day off. I’m in both shows so I didn’t get the day off but that is fine by me as I had never seen the show and we open a week from tomorrow! I have to say my classmates are doing a fantastic job. They should all be very proud of themselves. The show is in a great shape for the final week of tweaking. It was really good for me to get a chance to see it and get a better understanding of the shape and flavor and figure out where I fit in the scheme of things. One more week of ‘Lear’ rehearsals also translates to two more weeks of ‘Julius Caesar’! ‘Caesar’ follows on the heels of ‘Lear’, opening the very next week. It’s all coming together and these are exciting times! I will say I feel the costume supervisor, Hazel, has her work cut out for her though. Working on a skimpy budget she has over seventy costumes to pull together for ‘Caesar’! That’s a lot of duds! It’s a big show. The ‘Lear’ cast will come over to ‘Caesar’ when they are done and fill out the smaller parts and crowd scenes. Lots of people, lots of scenes, lots of clothes! Good luck Hazel!

This past weekend gave me a break from Willie’s wild world and allowed me to ‘Enjoy the Taste of Scotland’. Saturday and Sunday brought Scotland’s largest food and drink event to George Square here in Glasgow. I popped in on Saturday and sampled much of the local fare. I had some fabulous cheeses from local producers. There was a nice assortment of breads, some fruits and even a mushroom farm handing out free ‘shrooms (the cooking kind). Free samples of Haggis were available but I, being a vegetarian, skipped Scotland’s most famous cuisine. I did however, have a few samples of the local brews. I’m not really a drinker but how could I live in Scotland and not even try the whisky? Free shots! I had a triple malt that was so sweet I thought maybe it was actually pancake syrup with a kick. The single malt I tried next was much more what I expected. I also tried a few swigs of some local ales and lagers. It was interesting. Booze aren’t really my thing so I really can’t compare. But I do seem to remember mainstream American beers being a little less potent. After the alcohol tasting I sought out the free samples of bread to help prevent, how shall we say; side effects. I did have other things to do that day!

And the other things included ‘Star Trek’!! Yes, I’ll admit it; I go to the movies a lot. But hey, for me, it’s career development. ‘Star Trek’ was AWESOME!! You must go see it! I grew up with Captain Kirk and Spock and Bones and the rest coming through in syndication on our television. My Dad always enjoyed the show so we watched the re-runs fairly often. I wouldn’t consider myself a Trekkie but I too enjoy the creations of Gene Roddenberry. But whether or not you know the original series, this latest installment is made for everyone. A few of our movie going group have never seen an episode and they enjoyed the film just as much as those of us who have seen the show. But, if you are familiar with the original series the film is peppered with throw backs and tributes to the original cast and their creations. ‘Star Trek’ is just a good ‘ole summer blockbuster. So grab some popcorn, take a seat and boldly go where no man has gone before. Except the billion people who saw it with me this weekend.

Tune in next week for more on our shake up of Shakespeare and quite possibly, another movie review.
Take care!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rehearsing in Rep, Planning the Future and a Double Dose of Wolverine

We are about halfway into our rehearsal process for the Shakespeare plays. It’s pretty much what I expected to be at this point. I’m feeling a little schizo. Don’t get me wrong, I love the challenge but my days often look more like a farce than a Shakespearean tragedy. I am cast in both Lear and Caesar and between them have five parts. Actually six now that they have added a non speaking walk on in the last scene of Caesar for me. There’s a lot of running between rehearsal rooms and always asking, ‘Where are we? What scene?’ We have also been dabbling in different accents for the characters which are also amusing. I can’t wait to add the costume changes! Overall, I feel we are where we should be for this stage of the game. We are starting to rehearse ‘off book’, meaning memorized without the script in hand. And sometimes we have to struggle for a line which takes us out of the scene and then we get irritated at ourselves for losing it and not keeping the momentum going. And we are still asking things like ‘What am I saying here? How do I do this? What do I want? What’s my motivation?!’ This is very typical for us actor types at this point in the process. We can be a bit bi-polar, because just after a whine fest, we will do the scene again, nail it and be convinced the Academy will be calling us shortly regarding our Oscar nomination. Acting is not for those who want a stable career and want to be surrounded by stable people. But I personally wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. At least not right this second. I have no doubt all these labor pains will result in a successful murdering of Caesar and fabulous death of Lear.

This week I am to continue my work on my career development plan. As a requirement for our course we all have to come up with a post-graduation plan for ourselves. This is a bit of a challenge because so much of an actor’s career is dependent on other people hiring them. Or is it? I think that’s kinda of the point of this exercise. It is very easy for the actor to be passive about their career. We go to auditions and submit ourselves to agents and wait by the phone. Well, that ain’t gonna yield much fruit. Of course you have to do those things because they are legitimate avenues but we also must network and meet people in the industry. And what’s stopping us from getting together with other actors, writers and directors and creating our own work? And we should never stop working on our craft. It’s important for actors to continue to take classes or at least work on their skills at home so we can stay in shape and improve our weaknesses for when Steven Spielberg does call. So writing a business plan for Actor Inc. will help us to really focus on targets and strategize a plan of action for how to achieve them. We have got plenty to do while we are waiting for that phone to ring.

This past weekend I attempted to recover from the last weeks of crazy. After running all over Glasgow and Edinburgh with Karin last weekend and an intense week of rehearsing and summative statement writing, I was pretty dead on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I did manage to bound out of bed and make the 10:30am showing of X-men Origins: Wolverine. I am a fan of the comic book movies and of Hugh Jackman; how can you not be a fan of the incredibly versatile and talented Hugh Jackman and he’s not too hard on the eyes either. Later, all the Americans got together in my floor’s kitchen for a homemade pizza party. I’ve been counting the calories of late in preparation for some of the costumes they are aiming for in Caesar but, that all went out the window when the homemade pizza came out of the oven. The boys made the dough from scratch. How can you say 'no' to that? Then everyone wanted to go see Wolverine so I tagged along for round two. Hugh Jackman; you don’t say 'no' to that either. Sunday involved a lot of sleeping and a Lear line through with my cast mates. This morning I have some time off and then back to the Rome this afternoon.

Tune in next week to see where we are in the destruction of Rome and Lear’s mind.
Take care!