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Posts Tagged: The Bourgeois Pig

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Last night, Nov. 28, was the opening night for The Bourgeois Pig. And, after a somewhat stressful final dress rehearsal that left me feeling drained, worried, and stressed, somehow all the fun and energy – and even some new things – made it onto the stage last night. I’m pleased with the outcome of last night’s show, and from what I’m hearing, so was the audience!

Now, let me backtrack: I shouldn’t say “somehow” all of those things came together, because I know how all of it came to fruition. For 200-plus hours over the last three months, the cast, crew, and playwright put in amazing work! For the last twelve weeks, we’ve been striving to see this show, under the wonderful direction of Beth Schachter, and the pen of Brighde Mullins, come alive in the best way possible. That’s better than saying “somehow,” right? I DO know how the extreme work we put out tonight came to life – through the collaborative efforts of students, staff, newcomers, veterans, and overall, people who love what they do!

I love what I do, too – and I can only describe my feelings about tonight by telling you what happened to me during the opening scene of the play. I was on stage, acting, speaking, saying my lines, and suddenly I got carried away with the lines like I never had before, and I realized that I was excited. I was excited by the audience, the lights, the actors onstage with me, the writer in the audience, the director watching her vision, and I was excited to be making my debut on stage, my first semester of my first year here at Muhlenberg College!

I am truly fortunate for this opportunity, and I anticipate the five-day run of The Bourgeois Pig to be a gorgeous one! To all the people involved: You ROCK! To all the people who came tonight: You ROCK! To all the people who intend to come: You ROCK! And to everyone striving to be greater each day, which is what I strive for not only as an actor, but as an individual person as well: “We need to go out there and get what’s ours!” (Shout-out to my floor-mate and friend, Jon, for the awesome words.)

So, on a final note I just want to say thank you. It’s not said enough – not nearly enough. So, I’m saying this now to the Muhlenberg community, my teachers, my mentors, my friends, my loved ones: thank you for allowing me to grow, become, and be who I am in your presence! So, if you see the show, let me know what you think, ok? Cheers to a fantastic run! 

Here’s a shot of me (left) and two other members of the chorus portraying paparazzi in The Bourgeois Pig:

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When have you worked with the director, Beth Schachter, in the past? 

Beth directed a fantastic production of my play Monkey in the Middle at Muhlenberg a few years ago. I first knew of Beth’s work from BACA downtown, this groovy Brooklyn theatre, where she had done one of Suzan Lori Parks’ plays. Then she had also worked with my friend and colleague the British Director Mark Wing Davey on a production of Mad Forest by the brilliant playwright Caryl Churchill.  Beth was doing the kind of theatre that I admired, and she was working with theatre artists who had political and aesthetic chops—this interested me!  So when she wanted to direct Monkey I was very happy about it—and then when I saw her production of Monkey at Muhlenberg and was really blown away.  

How long has this play been in the works? 

The amount of time that it takes to write something is a mystery. Especially as a playwright—the process needs both structured and unstructured time. The structured time involves developmental workshops and readings.   I think I first told Beth of my idea for the play four years ago and we’ve been talking ever since. Theatre is so collaborative and a large part of making plays is finding simpatico souls.  Beth has served as the dramaturg and director on all of the developmental workshops.  We did a reading at Minneapolis PlayLabs, then a residence at Bard College, a workshop at Muhlenberg, then a workshop at the Blank Theatre in Los Angeles. We’ve also had readings over the years involving Muhlenberg Alumni as well – the cast in LA at the Blank involved several alumni.  

How has it evolved?

It has morphed radically—it went through a very attenuated phase, then it got a bit bloated. I tend to underwrite then to overwrite. I write from Character and Idea, not from traditional narrative ideas. Yet, I am interested in the depiction of character that is based on verisimilitude, so the writing of this play in particular involved many layers.   

What was the genesis of the play?  

The play was inspired by my move to Hollywood from Cambridge, MA. I moved from a place where people walk around reading books—they are actually often READING while WALKING—to a place where there was no evidence of that kind of immersion in words, in language. Indeed, it was all about the surface, the image, and in my new neighborhood there were lots of guys hanging around.  I thought they were dealers, but it turned out that they were paparazzi. I started talking with them, and I started to have sympathy for these people who are an underclass in Los Angeles—they are considered bottom-feeders.   

What is the significance, for you, of the protagonist being a photographer? How does that relate to his difficulties in communicating? 

There is a tension between the Written and the Seen that this play addresses especially through the character of Jack Riley.   

What is significant for you about the late ’70s, as a setting for the play? 

Jack Riley is a photojournalist who had worked in Vietnam, and so the timing was crucial. I also wanted to place it in a time and place where photography was less sophisticated as a medium. In our time, the time of the “citizen-journalist,” many of the issues are more pointed.  There is probably another play to be written that will follow the daughter into her career and life as a photographer. 

What has the production process been like for this show? How has it been to work with the cast? Have their insights informed the development of the play in any way? 

There’s this question that writers often get asked—“Who do you write for?” Gertrude Stein famously said she wrote for herself and strangers. I write for actors. I love working with actors. I have so much respect for their capacity to posit themselves into another character—the generosity and the magnitude of that act is astonishing to me. The ability to visit Muhlenberg and to sit in on rehearsals was truly helpful. The epilogue of the play was re-written due to specific ideas from watching the rehearsal process. I also love working with designers, and seeing the permutations and ideas that the designers bring to the table is fascinating.


The Bourgeois Pig runs Nov. 28 - Dec. 2 in the Studio Theatre. Tickets are $15 general admission, and $8 for youth and Muhlenberg or LVAIC students. Order Online at http://bit.ly/TbHsL9 or by phone at 484.664.3333. 

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This is my first blog post, so I’ll introduce my experience thus far as it relates to Theatre at Muhlenberg College. Here goes nothing:

From what I can remember, the first week of classes consisted primarily of tremendously long lines to sign up for mainstage play auditions, immediately followed by three crazy nights of the auditions themselves. I sang, danced, and read sides. It was great to be back in the theatre world after taking a few months off in the summer.

Three days after the madness of auditioning and the callback period, I found myself cast in the third mainstage show of the semester: a new play, The Bourgeois Pig.

It’s been a three-month-long process. I’ve witnessed my cast-mates — some very talented folks, by the way — transform themselves as they develop with the show, all while the show itself grows. I’ve seen words, sets, and props come alive as a result of all of our hard work. It’s all so amazing! The show opens in two weeks, and all of us are scrambling as we put the pieces together, run by run. 

The Bourgeois Pig opens Wednesday, Nov. 28, and I make my Muhlenberg acting debut alongside acting veterans and other newcomers. All I can say is this: the show is going to rock. Shout-out to the director, Beth Schachter, and playwright Brighde Mullins. We’re all pigged up and ready to go! 

Now, for those of you coming to see the show I have a question: Would you rather have one arm, or a face full of boils?

Click here for more information about the show and to get tickets! (For mature audiences)