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Posts Tagged: Red Door Play Festival

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Hey guys! I’m back to tell you more about the Red Door Play Festival, and am full of leftover turkey and mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving break! The festival took place the weekend before break, on Nov. 23 and 24, and it went very well. I was able to see all ten one-act shows, and it was great to see all of the work of my fellow students.

Each show got two tech rehearsals in the space, so we had to use our time efficiently in order to get everything done. There are only a set number of lights in the Red Door, but we were able to use the white and yellow ones in order to create a sunny environment, for Connections takes place outdoors in a park. We fit in four full runs during our tech time, and had additional rehearsals in other spaces throughout the week leading up to the performances.

During the performance weekend, the shows go on one after another with a 10-15 minute break between each one. I called my actors half an hour before showtime in order to fit in a quick physical and vocal warm-up, and once the show before us was finished, Megan and I set the stage and tested the lights. Students, family, friends, and professors are always in and out throughout the day, so the coordinator of the festival, my friend Alyssa, welcomed the audience and announced what was coming up next before each play starts. After all of the performances were over, the cast and crew of all ten shows helped strike the set and returned their props and costumes to the shop. Everything went very smoothly, and I could not be more proud of my cast and crew for all of the hard work they put into making Connections happen. It was a fun and rewarding way to make my directorial debut at Muhlenberg, and I learned a lot of valuable things through the process.

Below: Phil and Lydia show their Muhlenberg spirit with our mascot, the mule; the full cast and crew of Connections (me, Phil, Lydia, Megan) after one of our performances.

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Hey guys! I’m back with some updates about Connections, the play I’m directing for the Red Door Play Festival. We have been refining our show by going in and fixing certain moments and doing fun exercises to help Lydia and Phil explore their characters more. Some of the main ways we have been doing this are by really focusing on their objectives, motivations, and tactics at different points in the play. Because we are all sophomores and have had the same acting teacher for Acting I, it has been really great to use what we have learned in class throughout the rehearsal process and to have the same vocabulary and experiences to work with. I am very pleased with the amount of commitment and dedication everyone has been showing while working on Connections!

Tech week is about to start, and I know that the cast and crew are ready to take on the challenge. This past week, I had Lydia and Phil bring in costume options so that we could pick what they would wear in the show, and Megan went to Muhlenberg’s prop shop to pick up any items that we could not just provide from our dorm rooms (in this case, the only thing we needed was a knife). Soon, we will move into the space so that we can add the final aspects to the show – lighting and sound. While I have training in technical theatre from high school and classes at Muhlenberg, I am very glad that Megan is more familiar with the light board in the Red Door and will be able to figure out most of that. I cannot wait to incorporate these last pieces and to present the show to the campus!

Here are some photos of one of our rehearsals in a classroom: Lydia and Phil mid-scene, and Megan being great at her job as a stage manager.

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Hello everyone! My name is Jillian, and I am a sophomore at Muhlenberg. I’ll be blogging about the Red Door Play Festival this semester; the Red Door Play Festival happens every semester, and is made up of about ten shows that are under an hour long and are completely run by students. So, the students direct, perform in, and stage manage all of the shows. All of these shows take place in the Red Door Cafe, which is small, intimate, and resembles a coffeehouse or dinner theatre type of space. Last year, I performed in three Red Door Plays, including a student written musical. This semester, I’m trying something new – directing! I’ve never directed anything other than children’s musicals before, so this is definitely going to be an adventure.

The first step of the process was picking my show, and I chose a show that I was very familiar with. It is called Connections, and was written by Jane Martin. I chose this show because it has a minimal set and not many lighting cues, which will work well in the space provided, and because it has a small cast, which will provide a close-knit rehearsal environment.

After choosing the show and having it approved by the festival coordinator, we held auditions. All of the shows audition together, and after the auditioners finish their prepared monologues, they can be asked to read sides or do other things related to the shows. So many talented performers came out, so casting was really hard! My cast is made up of two other sophomores named Lydia and Phil, and my stage manager is my friend Megan.

We are now in the beginning of the rehearsal process for Connections, and it is going very well! The show is about fifteen minutes long, and deals with very dark subject matter. Our small cast and crew have been working efficiently, and we just finished roughly blocking the show. Going forward, we will be able to explore new character choices and ideas, now that the groundwork has been completed. I cannot wait to keep working, and to post some pictures from rehearsal!

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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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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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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!

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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!

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This just in… The Why Cupid Came to Earl’s Court cast has just finished their first character work session!

 Only two rehearsals into the rehearsal process, Cupid is settling nicely into place. At tonight’s 90-minute meeting we took the opportunity to do full-cast character building, where I led several exercises that I’ve been exposed to by directors I’ve had in the past…mostly.

 After we cleared the space, the first activity I gave the cast was team-building camp favorite, the human knot. This is where the group gets in a circle, each person grabs the hands of two random people, and they must then untangle themselves. Pictured below is the group working to solve the puzzle!

 When we discussed it afterwards, the cast unanimously agreed that the exercise had made them much more physically and emotionally comfortable with each other (which is crucial when working with small casts). Success!

We then moved on to legitimate character work, where I had everyone walk around the space in soft focus (where you are not making any contact with others; you are solitary within a group). I posed questions to them as they designed their characters’ physical traits from the ground up. How does your character take their steps? Are you confident? What pace seems natural? Why do you hold yourself the way you do? Once again the exercise had positive results, which was very encouraging!

 The remainder of the rehearsal was spent doing a stop-and-go run through, primarily used to apply the character work they’d just done to the play. Overall, I think it was a very rewarding rehearsal. For a little homework assignment, we emailed the cast a list of personal questions, and asked them to consider what their characters’ answers might be.

 On the tech side of things, this afternoon my co-director, stage manager and I will be delving into the prop shop. Hello 1911! Next up: Blocking the show and working to get off book. Stay tuned!