Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NOTES FROM JUSTINE- Just A Reading opens tomorrow night, April 28!

Notes from Justine

All about the Acting and Writing
Notes from the Just a Reading rehearsals Thursday 4/14 and 4/21.

Just A Reading is a play ABOUT acting and playwriting. More precisely, it’s about a writer writing about real people who are also actors who then play themselves. They must “act” like the real people they actually are. As such, rehearsal for Just a Reading is a rehearsal process about acting and writing. Together these two elements have to combine perfectly, to intertwine to make us believe, at least for a moment here or there, now and then, that what we’re watching is really happening.

Acting-wise, this is the ultimate job. These are roles any actor would salivate over. To begin with, the play has ultra-realistic, naturalistic behavior at its most extreme. You think Brando got away with mumbling? This show has potential for mumbling, shuffling, under-played acting at its best. But then the “actors” (played by the very talented ensemble of Jenn Boehm, Michael Sean Cirelli, Brandon Ferraro, Cas Marino, Alexandra Mingione and Stephen Reich) get to... wait for it...act! They show us their professional abilities to inhabit a character while pretending to do a cold reading. Tricky. Then, as the stakes get higher and higher tempers flare, emotions rise and the melodramatic passion lets fly! Whew. Fun, fun, fun if you’re crazy enough to love acting.

The writing, of course, has to support all this realism/transition/belief in two worlds with deftly smooth transitions and language that seems to say little while really telling us everything we need to know in order to care about, laugh at and worry for these flawed, needy actors.

What about directing? I’m afraid Chanda Calentine has a thankless job in this one. She is working incredibly hard juggling a million balls in the air, all for the sake of a disappearing act; her own. The direction of this piece (at least for much of the play) will be at its most brilliant when invisible: she makes the actors and writer look good. She makes them look real. They are lucky to have her and I am lucky to be privy to her process, but you the audience may never believe she exists. That is, if she does her job!

Just A Reading, written by Ryan Glass & Directed by Chanda Calentine, opens this Thursday, April 28th at 8pm at Looking Glass Theatre, 422 W.57th Street, NY NY 10019.

Justine Lambert
Founding Artistic Director

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Notes from Justine- All About Readings... but not really

Notes From Justine:

All About Readings….but not really.

Just a Reading/Submerged

Last week was such a fun week at super-busy Looking Glass Theatre. We just closed the beautifully theatrical and much adored (by audiences small and large) Three By the Sea. Read audience quotes and view photos here;

On Thursday (4/7/11) I got my first peek into rehearsals of Just a Reading (Written by Ryan Glass, Directed by Chanda Calentine).

We theatre people love a good play-within -a -play and this is quite a special one. It’s a full production masquerading as “just a reading.” A handful of actors (played by the very talented ensemble of Jenn Boehm, Michael Sean Cirelli, Brandon Ferraro, Cas Marino, Alexandra Mingione and Stephen Reich) casually enter the theatre, greeting each other, adjusting the folding chairs and picking up their scripts. We are introduced to the players and then hear the beginning of a witty little play about a new hit band about to embark on their first tour. So far this could indeed be a simple reading but some weird behavior begins to interrupt the action of the “play.” Actors break character and the playwright isn’t willing to discuss any of the problems that begin to arise. What’s happening becomes clear to us, the audience. This play is about these actors’ real lives and it’s freaking them out. As you can probably tell from the photo, at some point things go terribly wrong…. But Alan the playwright (now a big shot in Hollywood) has some clout (and manic energy) on his side and is going to see this through to the bitter (or will it be sweet?) end! I can’t wait to see how the play continues to evolve at rehearsal this week!

Friday night pre-show I attended a mysterious and exciting meeting with two Looking Glass artists Jacqueline Honeybourne and Mark Gordon. Have I piqued your interest? Good. There’s an unusual project on the horizon here, more on that in the future. Then I attended the first incarnation of a new play reading series. The brainchild of Producer/Director Aliza Shane, the concept is to solicit new short (10-15 minute) work from our artists based on the set of each mainstage production. This evening was based on the watery world of Three By the Sea so our theme was water and our title was Submerged. Billed as “5 shorts for $5 bucks” there isn’t a better deal in town! Also billed as “Staged Readings”, these five plays were almost mini productions. Most actors were off book and fully blocked. Scripts were in hand and referred to however which served as a good reminder that this was indeed work in progress. The evening went off without a hitch and was truly a blast. Actors, playwrights and directors all seemed charged up about the work and the new series. It was so exciting to see artists involved from our past, some who haven’t been with us for years. Just a couple of the shows represented were Adventures of the Puppet Princess (’08), Anna's Perfect Party & The Amazing Magician's Marvelous Mistake (’09), Ask Someone Else, God (’09), Are You There, Zeus? It's Me, Electra (’09), and many many more! I now find myself wondering what the theme might be for Just a Reading’s set? After all, it is basically an empty, stripped theatre.

Our very own bare black box.

The creative possibilities, as always with a blank page, are truly endless.

Justine Lambert

Founding Artistic Director