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Posts Tagged: Muhlenberg Theatre Association

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The academic year is coming to a close and so are rehearsals for The Library. It has been a very crazy time with finals approaching, but getting to work on such an important project with such an amazing cast has been such a pleasure. As we have progressed over the weeks, we have really begun to find our characters and feed off the energy of the cast as a whole. We are not only actors, but also storytellers conveying a very important message. As a part of the Youth and Prejudice Conference, The Library tells the story of bullying set against the backdrop of the Holocaust.

We will try to teach the audience that it is okay to be different, even if people persecute you for those differences. We will teach bystanders how to stand up for victims and hopefully teach persecutors to see their wrongdoings. We will be performing this story for over three hundred middle school students. They will be looking up to us as an authority on the topics that they will be discussing later in the day with conference facilitators.

Recently as a cast we have been rehearsing for the talkback at the end of the show by doing a practice panel. Our director asks us questions about the show, the time period, our characters, and themes within the show to get us ready for the live talkback with the students. It has been a really awesome experience, and I’m sure that when we actually do the real talkback we will be prepared. But then again, you never know what curve balls the middle school students might throw!

No matter how the talkback goes, I hope that that we are able to convey a message. Just as Hitler used mob-mentality to scapegoat the Jews and other minority groups for an unsuccessful Germany, young students sometimes treat each other badly by ganging up on those they view as different. If the children in the audience can see how hurtful words and actions can be maybe they can learn and reflect on who they are and how they treat other human beings.

Learning about the Holocaust and growing as a character over the last few weeks with the other cast members is really helping us flourish as an ensemble and convey the emotions. I know personally, I have become very emotionally attached to the text. The persecution of the Jewish people hits home and makes me realize that hurtful acts happen around the world each day.

I hope that this play continues to be part of the conference for years to come and that children for generations can continue to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust and the cruelty of bullying. Through reflection, I can only hope that the children will see the consequence of action and learn from history.

Here’s a picture of the cast in costume:

 

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Last Friday, my play, This Property Is Condemned,by Tennessee Williams, had the honor of opening the Spring 2013 Red Door Play Festival. At 4 p.m. we held a final fifteen-minute rehearsal in the Red Door. At 4:50 there was literally a one-person audience, and moderate panic ensued. Not to fear; by 4:58 a voluminous surge of enthusiastic students and parents arrived — so many that there were four layers of people standing behind the back row of chairs, and even several people sitting on the counters. The lights dimmed, a hush fell, and “You’re the Only Star in My Blue Heaven” began to play over the audience.

Our second and final performance was late Sunday night. It was definitely the best performance I’d seen from my cast — absolutely stellar. They had to bow twice. After the crowd had finished cheering for them and they’d exited through the curtain, I ran over and gave both of them the biggest hug I could muster. What a trip — what an absolutely incredible thing to have been a part of.

Several days later I was having a conversation with a friend from another school about theatre opportunities in college. It made me realize just how incredibly lucky I’d been to have any theatre leadership role whatsoever as a freshman. I keep hearing about universities where students don’t even have the option to direct until they’re seniors. This moment made me really appreciate Muhlenberg for its vast spectrum of opportunities that students of any year are privy to. Seriously, Muhlenberg: Thanks!

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Hey everyone! I’m here to let you know a little about Black Boxes, the set of student directed plays that happen in the Studio Theatre every semester. As Master Carpenter for the Muhlenberg Theatre Association, I’m in charge of helping designers build their shows and helping Alex (Studio Productions Coordinator) and Matt (Master Electrician) figure out performances, tech, and other logistics. If you thought keeping track of one show was difficult, try keeping track of four! It’s a hectic process but it’s a lot of fun and super rewarding.

As soon as the New Visions strike was over I headed into the Studio Theatre with the designers of The Intruder, Emily, Collin, and Evan, and we started working on their set. We were very lucky in that we were able to re-use a lot of the pieces from New Visions for Black Boxes; the panels from Iphigenia look much different now!

This semester we’re very lucky to have four very different but very compelling shows: The Problem, The Intruder, The Goodbye, and Offending the Audience. The directors are all really enthusiastic about their respective shows, and I think we’re going to have a really good season. The interesting thing about Black Boxes is that four different shows have to share one space. That means that directors and designers have to agree about where seats go, how the stage looks, etc. Obviously everyone gets their own set pieces, but they all have to be mobile and fit backstage.

Load-in for the shows is going to be Wednesday, so I will be making sure everything goes where it needs to and that it all fits backstage while still having room for actors to move around. (I call it “backstage Tetris.”) That’s also when we’re going to set up curtains and chairs so that we’re ready for tech when we get back from Easter Break.  Then, the shows are Saturday, April 6, and Sunday, April 7. Entrance to the shows is free, but since space is limited, keep an eye out for binders in Seegers starting on March 28 to sign up for a seat to see the shows!

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The Red Door Play Festival has finally arrived. The hard work has finally paid off! Of Voices, Of Choices premiered Sunday night, March 24, and closes tonight, March 25 at 7:45 p.m. The cast is very excited to be sharing this original piece of work with Muhlenberg College students and family!

The events leading up to this moment have been great! The journey of really discovering our characters with the other actors and our director, Jenna, has helped the play to come alive. Our last dress rehearsal was among the most sentimental and real experiences of the process. We all really became our characters and connected to the messages in the piece. We all choose how we tell our story, but how will you tell it? This is the key idea that drives the piece forward. It really helped us to learn about ourselves and human nature in general. We all have our own stories and continue on our own life path, and sometimes we overlap and become connected, and sometimes we never meet again. I think the show will help the audience to arrive at a certain truth: we all have the ability to make a choice and raise our voice, but who will actually do it, and where will it lead?

The script really got the cast thinking in a new way. It brought us all very close together. We may never have met at Muhlenberg, but this play about people coming together and crossing paths allowed this cast to come together and make a bond over this beautiful piece of art.

Working in the actual space in the Red Door this past week was also a new and challenging experience. We finally got to feel what the show is going to actually be like with costumes, lights, and props. We learned to project into the space and were able to start to get a feel for the room. It was a very interesting experience finally seeing all the rehearsals come together in to a cohesive show. We began to get very excited to perform this for an audience. We are so excited to get this chance to perform this original play for people and get our director’s vision out there so that her voice can be heard. As actors, we have been given a great opportunity.

This is the great thing about Muhlenberg. There are constant opportunities to perform, create, and meet new people in fun, creative learning environments. You just have to make the choice to get involved.  What will you choose? Of course! The choice to come to the festival this weekend and support this creative environment at Muhlenberg is the only choice! Come to the Red Door down the stairs in Seegers Union tonight to be a part of something very special and unique to the Muhlenberg community: The Red Door Play Festival! Make the choice! You will not regret it!

Here’s a sneak peek!

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The first few weeks of rehearsal are over and done, and boy has it been an amazing experience. Working on an original piece where the writer, Jenna ‘14, is also the director, is opening up a world of exploration. The play “Of Voices, Of Choices” is a nonlinear, abstract, and poetic piece based around the theme that we are all connected. The play teaches us that the choices we make through the words we choose, and actions we perform can create or destroy us and those around us. I am playing the character Harper, a bank worker by day, writing teacher by night. But what would the story be without a plot twist and a few big secrets? Oooh juicy, right? Well, I can’t give too much away, so I guess you will have to choose to come to the Red Door Play Festival on March 23 and 24!

But…let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves! The process of working on this play has been amazing but there are still two weeks and many rehearsals before opening night! A lot has happened in the last few weeks and I want to give you a little insight into our first few weeks of rehearsal:

At our first rehearsal we read through the script and got familiar with our characters. We used chairs and walking patterns to add purpose to the words. If we felt it, we could interact with other characters and direct lines towards them. The purpose of adding the movement and words separately was to get the words into our physicality and into our bodies. Another choice by the director was to divulge the script slowly and only to certain characters so that we would discover our characters as we rehearsed instead of having a pre-determined destination. Jenna made three actors go out into the hallway and she told the other two actors pieces of the plot that would motivate them to act a certain way. This choice created mystery among the actors.

Within the past couple of weeks, Jenna has tried many other helpful directing techniques. She has emphasized using a range of emotions, saying, “I believe that in dramatic scenes there is range to be explored in upset. Don’t make quick huge decisions, don’t go from 3 to 9, instead use your range.” This taught us all to take a look at certain moments and, instead of playing sad or angry, play the range. Try not to show the emotion and eventually this will allow the raw emotion to shine through. There is a certain depth in the calmness we gain from this method that allows the words to speak and communicate the core theme of the play.

Our cast and wonderful director:  Danielle ‘16, Emma ‘15, Sarah E. ‘16, Emily ‘16, Jenna ‘14, Elissa ‘16. Just missing our stage manager Sarah K. ‘16

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Before moving on to discussing rehearsals, I want to take a moment to fondly reflect on audition weekend for the Red Door Play Festival. Though the dramatic readings of “Rocket Man” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” brought us much appreciated comic relief, I don’t think anything can top the mock audition of “The Confrontation” from Les Mis (yes, that’s a bag of flour)…

Moving on:

The rehearsal process for This Property is Condemned has been moving at an enjoyable trot. We’ve had one meeting and three rehearsals thus far, and I’m consistently impressed with the adaptability, buoyancy, and sheer talent of my actors.

Our first rehearsal was pretty character work intensive. We discussed the characters’ family histories, dispositions, and prior circumstances, and also did a lot of movement work. Some other exercises included Seeing/Being Seen, where you can’t break eye contact for several minutes; Value, where each character builds a mental shelf and selects the items of most significance to them for display; and snapping from their physical selves into their characters’ physicality and back. These basic exercises helped to lay the groundwork for their motivations and interactions within the play.

The following two rehearsals boasted many read-throughs and runs, trying out different beats and blocking while gaining character depth. We also took a “field trip” to Red Door —the space where the play will be performed. Below are a few snaps from our most recent rehearsal. 20 days until opening, and the show is looking very promising!

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MBC-TV spotlight on Bartholomew Fair, opening tonight. Props to Lauren Zipkin ‘14 for the excellent coverage. Check it out and get your tickets!

484-664-3333 or Online

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Hey there, blogosphere! Emma Adams here. I’m stoked to be back blogging for Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance this semester.

After co-directing Why Cupid Came to Earl’s Court for the Red Door Play Festival (RDPF) in the fall, I’m flying solo, directing Tennessee Williams’ This Property is Condemned for the RDPF this spring. I’m also stoked to be directing senior Jeremy Russial’s play Restroom Rehearsal for the New Play Reading Series (NPRS).

This past weekend was filled with many hours of watching many extremely talented people audition for NPRS, and the weekend before was spent doing the same for RDPF. Though you might not think it, I’m finding that auditions are by far the most stressful part of a production process for directors. There were five of us who’ll be directing for both, and we bonded over lack of sleep, five-minute meals, and difficult decisions… But I wouldn’t have changed a minute of it. Finally, eight days later, all the shows are cast, schedules are coming together, and rehearsals are commencing.

My first cast meeting/mini-rehearsal took place this evening, with my two-person Condemned cast and stage manager. After introducing relevant music from the time period (1940s) and giving each of the actors a pile of printed resources on character development, we had a discussion and quick read-through of the play. Honestly, it was one of the best first readings I’ve ever heard and I think the show is bursting with potential. I’m greatly anticipating our first real rehearsal on Wednesday!

For me, other artistic endeavors this semester include acting as Mary McDonald in Joe Caracappa’s James Potter and the Prequel Parody film series, participating as a Phantom in this semester’s Rocky Horror Picture Show live screening, developing pieces for my performance ensemble in my First-Year Seminar: Finding Your Muse, and editing film for the course On-Camera Acting. I’m looking forward to a semester jam-packed with creative exploration!

Thanks for reading my blog! Stay tuned!

We’re sure most of the students here would agree.

We’re sure most of the students here would agree.

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Greetings, everyone! The 2012 Red Door Play Festival* came and went this past weekend, and after a much-needed Thanksgiving break, everyone is back on campus and the end of the semester is underway.

The last few weeks before the performances were spent making runs to prop storage, wardrobe diving in the costume shop, coordinating tech rehearsal and performance scheduling with Allison ’15 (this year’s wonderful RDPF coordinator), and running through the show, making so many adjustments that all of our heads were spinning.

The final week before the show — tech week — was especially taxing. In addition to the typical revisions that are made before a play’s opening, the actors were asked to adapt to a completely new performance space. Instead of the rectangular classrooms in which we’d been rehearsing for 6 weeks, where I sat directing from front row center, the Red Door audience surrounded much of the stage, and the “front row center” position I had formerly taken was occupied by a rather large pillar, where no audience members would sit. Thankfully, the cast adapted smashingly.

The final official tech rehearsal last Thursday served as “that one awful rehearsal everyone has to have,” which was quite jarring to me as a first-time director. However, the quick run-through we had in Brown Basement on Saturday morning reassured me that the show was in fine form.

We had two good shows, no discernible missteps… and the definite highlight was Charles Richter, the director of the theatre department, coming to see our second performance. In the show, there’s a point when the main character is listing all of the suitors whose marriage proposals she’ll have to turn down. The script being public domain, we changed the final name on her list from “Charlie Hackett” to “Charlie Richter.” After sitting quietly and analytically through the show up until this point, Charlie’s eruption of laughter was a sight to behold.

Overall, my experience of directing a Red Door play was fantastic and I would do it all over again. I’m greatly anticipating what the coming semesters will bring.

*The Red Door Play Festival, in case you don’t know, is entirely directed and produced by students. There are two Red Door Festivals each year, one in fall and one in spring.

Here’s a picture of the cast following the final performance!