Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Notes From Justine- Spring 2011 Writer/Director Forum, Week 2

Notes from Justine
Forum Rehearsal 5/23/11 -
Challenges as Playthings

Dance and Shakespeare; these are the challenges the directors of Week 2 have taken on. These challenges also prove to be lovely toys to play with, adding multiple dimensions to a week of light uplifting fun.

Written by Yasmine Beverly Rana, directed by Christina Neubrand
Featuring Mike Holt, Tess Howsam , Anthony Perrelli & Jeffrey Walker

Close embraces, open embraces, and embellishments follow three couples through the complicated circle of dance and love.

This is practically a dance piece and yet it tells its story through dialogue seamlessly interwoven with the movement. The characters almost never sit still. It’s a simple story of a girl at a dance waiting to be asked. Why do women still feel we have to wait to be asked? I guess that’s a discussion for another time… This woman clearly feels she must wait for a man to request her company. She’s here to dance and so are the men who do indeed ask her. But are they looking for something else? Are they looking for more? She herself seems to be looking for more but it’s not necessarily the same more. She’s seeking depth, human connection, someone like herself, interested in more. We are rooting for her. I want her to find that something…or maybe even someone more.

Written by William Shakespeare, adapted and directed by Dana Dobreva.
Featuring Kevin Bunge, Michael DeSantis , Charlie Gorrilla, Robert Klein, Amie Lytle, Greg McGoon, Jacob Mondry, Rebecca Nerz, Elliot Wadsworth & Jillian Walker

The Hollywood Remix…

Twelfth Night is a favorite of the gender-bending comedies penned by the Bard, and it’s clear why; this play has all the tricks! A woman in love with a woman she thinks is a man, a man in love with a woman he thinks is a man, mistaken identity, drunkenness, debauchery and Beyonce. What? Yup Beyonce is making an appearance. It’s a modern setting and pop music abounds. You know the story right? Viola is shipwrecked and thinks her twin brother is dead (he’s not). She dresses as a guy and goes to work for Orsino (Why? Dunno, I’ve only seen it twelve times so c’mon.) Orsino sends Viola to court Olivia for him. Olivia falls for Viola (dressed as a boy, remember). Sebastian the missing brother shows up, gets mistaken for Viola, gets in a fight then marries (!?!) Olivia who thinks he is Viola. Immediately upon discovery that his male servant is a female Orsino proposes to Viola who has been pining for him the whole time. Meanwhile Olivia’s relatives are cavorting with and playing pranks on the help. And then there’s the fool. Forget Lucy, I love Will!

As I was leaving the theatre I had the opportunity to chat briefly with Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Karyn DeYoung about her experience working on these two very different productions. She observed (forgive me if the quote is imprecise) “I’ve realized they’re the same play.” In discussion it became clear that she has come to see both shows as “relationship plays.” It’s certainly true that the human connections or lack thereof are the focus in each. The universality of that need is expressed uniquely in both plays. Thanks so much Karyn for sharing a part of your experience with me and for all your hard work!

Week Two of the Spring 2011 Writer/Director Forum opens on June 9. I can’t wait to see these plays in performance. This should prove to be a joyful romp through relationship confusions. Can’t wait!

Justine Lambert
Founding Artistic Director

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Notes From Justine- Spring 2011 Writer/Director Forum, Week 1

Notes from Justine
Forum Rehearsal 5/16/11

And they’re off! My first observation for the Spring 2011 Writer/Director Forum last night was an exciting start to the process that will culminate in the Forum Awards on Monday June 27th. Three very different plays; (although two have a suicide theme…) these are extremely strong offerings with experienced Forum artists represented in each and every project.

First I observed IN THE CHANGELING,written by Maiya Pendleton, directed by Melody Erfani, featuring Heather Burgher, Lash Dooley, Andrew Dunn, Andrew Gelles, Sarah Miles, Kathleen O'Neal, Alzie Rejouis, Marianne Riera & Adam Tyrer. The tagline for this show is “In high school it is all about the drama...a reimagining of the classic by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley.”

Another classic translated to a High School setting. So different from Forum Producer Aliza Shane’s Misanthrope (Forum Winter ’06) yet similar. Why do artists want to set universal stories in High School? Because it’s a universal experience here in the US and one that brought out the worst in many of our lives. High School was miserable…so it’s the perfect place for drama! This compelling script follows the “It girl” and her machinations to get what she wants. She doesn’t mean to hurt anyone but then she doesn’t really mind when she does either. Will she get what’s coming to her? What is coming to her anyway? We sympathize, even while feeling appalled at the effects of her plotting. After all, who doesn’t “want it all”… but at what cost?

Next up was RISK,written by Yasmine Rana, directed by Ashley Scoles, featuring Brooke Hills & Jonny Schroeder. This plays description is (like the play) poetic and intriguing “Two lovers must decide whether to take the risk to love or become engulfed in the flames of hate.”

Spoiler alert; below I will give away a major surprise that comes out in the first 3rd of the play. Yasmine’s intense drama is about something none of us can imagine. What if you were about to go blow yourself up, with others…? How would you or anyone handle it? We understand that the emotional questions usually left unasked would not sit quiet at such a moment. But would you get the answer desired? Can the questioned party possibly know how to answer under such circumstances? Beautiful language examines an ugly situation in this challenging and powerful drama.

Finally I observed DOUBLE CROSS written by Annie Berke, directed by Katherine Sommer, featuring Benjamin K. Glaser, George Hutchinson, Stacy Ann Strang & Hannah Tamminen. The witty description of this play is: “Charles and Samantha are a happily married couple until the daily crossword drives a 5-letter word for "triangular tool" between them.”
Here we have a comedy of character. This married couple fights. They’re not even nice to each other. They seem to be trying to improve their behavior but they end up hurting each other. Even their innocent bystander friends get hit by the emotional shrapnel flying around. Clearly they shouldn’t be married to each other. Or should they? The surprises lie in the people and what they truly need from one another. The result? Comedy!

The charming and ever helpful Assistant Directors/Stage Managers, Anais Koivisto and Mary Trotter were both engaged and engaging in our discussions. I thank them for their work and insight all night long!

Week One of the Spring 2011 Writer/Director Forum opens on June 2. I can’t wait to see these plays in performance. It’s going to be a thought provoking and highly entertaining night!

Justine Lambert
Founding Artistic Director