Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snow Delay

As some of you may already know, our second day of Alice in Wonderland auditions were cancelled due to the snow storm. We'd like to announce that they have been rescheduled for Tuesday, January 5th from 4-8 pm in room B-72 in the Performing Arts Center on VCU's campus.
Please e-mail us at to set up a time. All are welcome to audition.

Please see our previous post for information about the show.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole

Auditions for night light collective's Spring production of Alice in Wonderland will be BOTH December 12 from 6-10 and December 19 from 12-4pm. You can come to one or the other.

The show will be performed in the spring (location to be announced). The ensemble will be devising around situations in the novel by Lewis Carroll to create a walk through environmental experience for the audience.

Auditions will consist of one minute of a monologue, song, dance or movement piece (pick one), and ensemble movement exercises. Please wear clothes that allow you to move.

To set up a time slot email

Rehearsals will run from April 5-May 6 and performances will run May 6-8 and 13-15

Directed by Carolyn Boucher and Bonnie Gabel

Friday, November 20, 2009


Night Light Collective would like to announce a new addition to their creative team. Alison Haracznak, who has worked with us from the beginning has agreed to join our board. She's contributed so much already to our process, that it will be a great pleasure to have her input in every other aspect of our company. Welcome aboard, Alison!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sneak Peaks

Night Lighters are all busy bees this fall! As the seasons change Suzanne is at grad school in Tennessee, Kerry is at grad school at VCU, Andrew is designing lights all around town, and I am in my last year of college at VCU. All of this busyness has not stopped us from having projects in the works. We are currently securing a space for a devised piece exploring the virgin/whore dichotomy. It should be an exciting performance entirely written and performed by Night Lighters. Look for it this spring. We are also in contact with a guest director for an early summer piece, and are in the process of choosing a script for our late summer piece. Check back soon for a complete season announcement.

Light up!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Aloha, Aftermath

Well, Aloha is over, and us Night Lighters have been doing our own things in the meantime. However, it's never to late for a recap of the show! We had wonderful attendence all three nights (plus the preview, of course), and the audience seemed very receptive of it all, so: Success! Of course, success is due in large parts to both Henley St. and Gallery 5, who's help was absolutely invaluable. In addition, the numerous individuals that gave lots and lots of their time to the production: Thank you! And to tide you over until the next post, here are a couple production photos.

- Kerry

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Video Preview was kind enough to put together this video for our show. Check it out:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Mincks, Please!

Adam Mincks steps out of his comfort zone to give us a little insight into rehearsals:

I should preface this blog post for Night Light Collective's production of ALOHA SAY THE PRETTY GIRLS by saying I've never set-up a blog or written up a blog post before. For some people, being able to meticulously type up a few epic length paragraphs about whatever, later to be seen by millions upon thousands upon hundreds of people on the internet, ain't no big thing. I am not one of those people. But I am going to "give it the old college try," as the cliche goes.Even as far as unique rehearsal processes go, I can safely say that I have never been a part of a more unique rehearsal process than the rehearsal process for ALOHA SAY THE PRETTY GIRLS. Foremost amongst the many unique qualities of this rehearsal process is the intense, often hour and a half to even an hour long viewpointing sessions at the beginning of rehearsal. It's very difficult to explain in words to someone if they were to ask me flat-out, "What is viewpointing?" I would have to give up after explaining fruitlessly for a minute or so and just say, "You just have to DO it and take part in it to fully understand it." Which is sort of what viewpointing is, I suppose: you don't think about it or try to explain it while it's going on; you just have to do it, and THEN have your realizations and epiphanies come to you AFTER all is said and done. But I will do my best to explain viewpointing, in my own words, anyway.Viewpointing is spontaneous, wordless improvisation, based solely on movement and physical activity, with your fellow actors, with the rehearsal space, with objects in the rehearsal space, and with yourself. Just because it is wordless does not necessarily mean it has to be completely silent. You can create natural organic sounds from the use of objects in the space, from using your own hands and/or feet, even from using the sound of your breathing. It helps you to explore the environment in which you are performing, the actors with whom you are performing with, and explore, within yourself, your own natural ability to just give in, not to think, and just play. Often times, when we enter into the viewpointing exercises, we will become the characters we are playing in the show, and the relationships we have with other characters in the show will show up in the viewpointing sessions. Whether we are close or distant, in a love or hate co-existence, or are completely unfamiliar, we will interact in these viewpointing sessions as our characters in the show. Often, this means we end up having joyous group celebrations, or tense group rivalries, or, as seems to be the case most of the time in these sessions, we end up in a mass mock orgy. I don't know how properly I've explained the viewpointing sessions in my own words. Hell, I may have even confused the hell out of anyone who might be reading this all the more. But at least I've tried.

The viewpointing is a great exercise. Not just in the fact that it really is a great warm up before the rehearsal of the show itself begins; but also that it can be a really helpful key in helping you to unlock whatever doors were closed, in terms of discovering a character. It's also a great way of helping you to get closer to your fellow actors. One could say it's the most intense trust exercise there is. And this is one hell of a cast to put your trust in and just let yourself go with. I have had the pleasure of working with a few members of this cast (Kerry McGee, Rebecca Anne Muhlemann), and being familiar with the other members of the cast, but have never worked with before. I certainly would like to think that being involved in a very intense, intimate process such as this one has brought all of us, familiar and previously unfamiliar, a LOT closer together. And it certainly shines through in the work we put in in the show itself. We work REALLY WELL together, and are able to trust one another should we want to try something that might be a little weird and off-the-wall.

Kudos, most of all, goes to Bonnie, for being a sort of ringmaster to the weird, often animalistic circus that goes on around her in this rehearsal process (These viewpointing sessions tend to bring out our animalistic side quite a bit): giving us the freedom to roam about in the wild, but having the ability to see when we get a little out of control with our freedom to do what we want, and reining us in. I can say that I am very happy with the work I am doing so far in this show, and ECSTATIC about the work everyone else in the cast is doing in this show.

And I guess, on that last note, that's pretty much all I've got to say. I'm not really a master of my blogging domain. It's my first time, and I'll promise to do better next time, should I decide there should BE a next time for me to blog. I guess I'll just finish up by saying: please come out and see ALOHA SAY THE PRETTY GIRLS at Gallery 5 on 200 W. Marshall St., Richmond, VA 23220. It is running from Thursday July 23 through Sunday July 26 at 8 PM. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Come on out and support unique, interesting, new theatre in the Richmond community. You aren't going to see ANYTHING like ALOHA SAY THE PRETTY GIRLS elsewhere in the Richmond theatre scene.

-Adam Mincks.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Jason Unleashed

Gabrielle Cauchon (or rather, the body of Gabrielle Cauchon) has been channeling her character Jason. He's taken some time out of his day to provide an unedited stream of consciousness view of the show and rehearsal process:

Hey what’s up this is Jason doin my little spillage on the proc-ess-ies if you will, hmm, let’s see where to begin. Ever had stuff going on that’s been like good whack? Yeah this shit is good whack. Bonnie is like the director and is leading us on this crazy collaborative adventure. Man, she’s been starting out almost every day with this stuff she learned from Russians that HURTS if you don’t stretch properly. Totally changed my life for the better cause now I have to stretch like really stretch like three times a day. Anyway, yeah, I’ve never been able to jump as high as I can now and like land without making a sound. And my dexterity has gotten kick ass. I’m a freaking ninja and totally scared the hell out of my borrowed bodies’ mom last weekend. Speaking this borrowed CHICK BODY, I’m totally stoked because my hair is growing back in. I felt really girly with the smooth pits and legs and shit. I miss my stach and post. Everyday I have to wrap my chest down and the other night I wasn’t feeling so well and I think I had wrapped it too tight. Bonnie won’t let me cut out holes for my nipples…which sucks cause like if I had my original author imagined boy body then I could have my nipples out but nooooooo. Got some killer pecks though I’ll tell you what. I’m juuust messin I’m glad I got a body at all.
Man, we also have these viewpoint sessions which are awesome cause I get to just like kinesthetically interact with all the other people in my life and even some who I have never even met before! It’s totally rad. Oh man, and the best part is sometimes after we get done playing with each other, Bonnie like asks us to repeat parts of it and then she like infuses them into what we’re doing and totally CHANGES HISTORY.
It’s really magical when people can create life out of nothing but themselves. Dude I’ve witnessed it myself. I really feel a closer connection to the people in my life (psh…probably because I’m living the same parts over and over again, j/k I know it’s because we all love each other!
Man, I really do love them. I love everyone and everything and I mostly really love my dog. I really miss Otis but like I think it was meant to be, I mean, I wish I didn’t have to keep re-living the tragic parts in my life, but I know that I learned a huge lesson when I moved from to New York to Hawaii. Like, how similar catching a wave and catching the A train really are. HAHA I also get to reconnect with my sister over and over again and I like reliving holding Lee, which has got to be like one of the most euphoric moments of my life. Akin to when I free fell from that cliff that one time. A rush man, a straight up rush. Yeah it’s cool. Everyday I learn something more about myself and the place of importance each one of us has in each others lives. Like getting to see your affect on someone is shits ass bats crazy BAHAHAHA Sorry, how profound though right? We still have another monthish before we show our lives to perfect strangers, but I’m totally stoked to freak em out and make them laugh? I’m excited to see what art is shown when we open and what the musicians are going to do. Music is going to be awesome and there are going to be SO MANY PLANTS.
I’m really hoping I get to play the harmonica ‘cause I love it and I really hope that Bonnie puts in another dance number so my sis and I can reminisce about our parents and our carnie days. Love you Viv!
I am currently trying to master the handless front roll. It hurts harder than taking the shore straight to the chin cause like I’m still not quite doing it right. Bah, thinking happy thoughts to get that feeling out of my head lalalalalala. Practice makes perfecto.
Night Light Collective rocks. Man what time is it?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Actor's Perspective

Carolyn Boucher was kind enough to comment on the rehearsal process for Aloha, Say The Pretty Girls:

Finding myself in the midst of the rehearsal process for Aloha. It's a lot of fun, especially doing View Points with the ensemble every time we meet. I feel like its really bringing us closer together as a group, and I am learning a lot about my character(s) that I simply couldn't do any other way. there is a certain intimacy involved in that kind of work. Now I'm concentrating on applying that same openness and impulsiveness to my scene work. The discussions we have after the sessions as a group are helpful too. I love watching everyone express their discoveries as we all get deeper into this play. Bonnie has a great way of facilitating all of this and creating a warm, alive, anything goes atmosphere. Even when we've had outside people enter a rehearsal, I feel comfortable doing the work without feeling the pressure to 'perform' or behave any differently. I'm loving going to Aloha every night because I never know what awaits me there. We are definitely creating this show together as a passionate ensemble, and I feel very lucky to be a part of that.

Friday, June 12, 2009

**photo courtesy of Matt Cowan**

by Naomi Iizuka

directed by Bonnie Gabel

July 24-26 8:00 pm
*with a preview July 23
200 W. Marshall St.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On With The Show!

Thanks to everyone who auditioned for Aloha, Say The Pretty Girls! We had a great turn out, and are happy to announce that we have cast the show, and are ready to move onto the next step: rehearsals! It seems like we've been talking about and planning for this show for so long, and now FINALLY we can get to work on the fun part: actually doing it. And knowing that we have a really good cast to work with just makes me all the more excited to finally get started. So, I would like to exuberantly welcome to the Night Light Collective family:

Alison Haracznak
Brad Tuggle
Adam Mincks
Gabrielle Cauchon
Carolyn Boucher
Rebecca Anne Muhleman

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Night Light Collective and Henley Street Theatre Company are now auditioning for Aloha, Say The Pretty Girls by Naomi Iizuka and directed by Bonnie Gabel.

A man moves to write the great American novel. A woman moves to Alaska to start a new life. Babies, wild dogs, komodo dragons, and hula dancers abound in this play about finding your tribe in a world gone haywire.

We are looking for 7 men/women in their twenties. Auditions will be held at Pine Camp Arts and Community Center on Saturday May 23rd. You can sign up for either 10am-11:30am, or 11:30pm-1pm. Additional audition spots are available Sunday the 24th upon request.vvPlease prepare a one minute monologue, and come dressed to move. Also, please bring a headshot and resume to the audition.

To schedule an audition, please either e-mail us at or call 804.347.0051. Please leave your name, phone number, e-mail and time preference in your message, and we will contact you to confirm your audition and provide additional information.

Rehearsals will start at the beginning of June, and the show will run July 24,25, and 26th, with an Invited Dress Rehearsal July 23rd at Gallery 5.

We hope to see many of you there!!

- Kerry

Sunday, May 3, 2009

All work and no play

Sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And sometimes you're trying so hard to see that light, that when you do, you're not sure if it isn't just a mirage. I know I've just mixed tunnel and desert metaphores here, but bear with me . . .
That light I'm deserately seeking is our next show. And unfortunately, I won't be able to see it shining until after we've settled all the details of time, place, rights, etc. You know, the work part of it. The stuff that everyone tells you to look out for when you're running your own company. Bleh. I hate to think they might be right.
Even with working on some part of this process everyday, it still feels like we're light years away from this show, instead of the 2-3 months away I'd like to be. And as some of you know, I'm one of those people that likes to get things settled quickly. You know, like yesterday.
Keeping me going is the constant thought that when I finally get to the end of the tunnel, and when I see that light (assuming it's not a mirage), it'll all be worth it. It certainly was for House Of Yes. I'm more proud of that show than practically anything else I've been a part of.
I try to think about that show a lot. How everything kinda fell into place at the last minute. The house. The pink suit. The rainstorm. Maybe it'll work out that way again. Maybe if I can just trust to the process.
Or maybe it's just the slow step by step progress the four of us are making. Maybe like the turtle in the proverbial race, we'll get there eventually. To the light. To the end of the tunnel.

Assuming, of course, it's not just all a mirage.

- Kerry

Monday, April 13, 2009

Freak shows and Vaudville

I've been busy lately, and I think it's possible that I've become possessed (or just obsessed) with the show that I am currently working on (Bernard Pomerance's The Elephant Man), so I haven't been able to think much about anything except turn of the century hospitals, freak shows, and vaudeville. That being said, I'll let you all in on some of the other random and (slightly) incoherent thoughts that are buzzing around my head.
1. everyone should read pedagogy of the oppressed by Paulo Freire. I just finished reading it for my class in staging political theater and I had more light bulb moments than I can count. It seems like it's a book just for teachers, but by participating in the performing arts we all teach in some sense, we tell stories to people to communicate messages or provoke questions. Regardless, just read it. I would tell you what's in it but that would be defeating the purpose, and I don't think Freire would be down with that.
2. The accordion is a highly underrated instrument. It should be featured in more music, and in more stage plays outside of Russia.
okay, so that was just two thoughts, but the only other things I can come up with are related to the show, which, by the way, you all should come and see. It's FREE and at the Shafer St Playhouse at Virginia Commonwealth University on May 8, 9, and 10.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ah The Work, The Beautiful Work!

We Night Lighters have been busy lately. Suzanne moved to Knoxville (where she was recently accepted to their graduate program - whoo!) Bonnie has school, a new job, and a production of Elephant Man she's working on, and I believe Andrew is busy putting together another brilliant lighting design for True West. As for myself, I'm wrapping up R and G, and hard at work on Midsummer's Night Dream at Richmond Shakes. Needless to say, free time is a luxury that we are unable to indulge in right now. Which is a little nerve racking, because if we can barely find time to eat dinner, how are we going to keep this company afloat? How are we going to keep ourselves sane?

Yet, somehow, the work itself is what keeps us on our feet. I'm fortunate enough to be rehearsing with a very talented cast right now, and every day at rehearsal I want to push myself further and further just to keep pace with those around me. And then, I get home from rehearsal, and all I want to do is work on my script! I actually feel bad that I'm only pushing myself to mild exasperation. I could be giving more, doing more, getting further along in my process faster! What sort of super drug is this work? Why are the three cups of coffee I drink before going into work every morning not providing anywhere near the energy that this is?

The answer is simple, of course. Because I'm invested in this work with my whole body and soul. And because of that, I realize that any fears that I have for this company are unfounded. This is the work that drives us through the day, that energizes us past the normal levels of fatigue. Night Light Collective is not only interesting theatre work to us, it's super theatre, because of how much we have invested in this. And with any investment, we can only hope that we will be able to get more out of it than we put in. And that might just make all the exhaustion worth it.

- Kerry

Friday, March 20, 2009

Viewpoint Designing

As you may know from Kerry’s last post, I designed lights for Henley Street’s production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I just wanted to explain the process on designing a show around the viewpoint based directing technique used by Michael Sater (or Mike Slater to his friends). Viewpoints is a guiding strategy, originally used in dance, to help actors/dancers be aware of spatial relations, shape, time, movement, etc. It is used as a way to allow the action to be more organic and natural than a director’s given set of blocking. To be fair, the director gives places and positions for different pieces of the script, but getting there is up to the actors.

However, it also allows for flexibility. In fact, you may not ever see the same show twice, over the course of the run. The other bad thing for a lighting designer is that you cannot plan ahead. You have to take the show as it happens and since the onus is on the actors and what they create, it is hard to figure out what the director is looking for until about halfway through the rehearsal process. After watching a few rehearsals it became very clear with R&G that the actors knew where center stage was and really played there. In this case, Mike and I decided to try to hide some of the “offstage” actions by darkening the edges of the stage and giving the actors one more thing to play with, light and dark.

I have to say that viewpointing is an interesting technique, but to work with it as a designer, you have to be flexible. You need to have a vision, but you also need to realize that your vision will change. Working with this process is all about adaptability. It would be better to have a live lighting design every night. Pine Camp may not be the best place for this technique. That space does not have the capabilities to cover any predictable course the actors may take. Every show I design drives me more to the conclusion that designing lights would be so much easier without those pesky actors…


Friday, March 13, 2009

R and G featuring A and K

If you're having trouble filling the void until the next Night Light show, make sure to check out Henley St.'s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead featuring a superb lighting design by Andrew Bonniwell, and showcasing my amazing ability to memorize lines (Thank goodness half of them are "Heads"). For more detailed information, please visit Henley St.'s web page:

- Kerry

Friday, March 6, 2009

The E Word

The word of the day is ensemble. The Encarta Dictionary defines it as “something created from a number of individual parts put together deliberately”. I know in theater it can be more than that, it can be a safety net, a close group of people who can take artistic risks because of their report with each other. That being said how can we go about creating them? Can they be created, or do they just happen? It’s been on my mind recently because I’m interested in theatrical process and product that utilizes them. I have been a part of many successful ensembles and it has been amazing. The safety net that they created enabled me to take risks and do things that I never had thought I could do. I have also been apart of some fairly unsuccessful ensembles, shows where the cast never quite bonded, classes where infighting and outside social codes got in the way of creating an environment where everyone can flourish. I’m not sure exactly what makes a good ensemble happen, but I know when it does, it’s like nothing else in the world.
This past semester in Russia was all about ensemble. It’s the way that they teach acting at the Moscow Art Theater (MAXT). If one person is late to class, they ask the whole class where they are. We had to create etudes (short improvised scenes) together every night for 3 months, in order to show them in class the next morning. With 14 people in my core acting block, 14 very different people from all over the country who had never meet before, it was difficult. It sometimes took us 2 hours to come up with a 30 second scene to show in class the next day. There was fighting and bickering. Our ensemble did not simply fall together, even though we all lived and worked together 24 hours a day and were experiencing a whole new culture together. Something wasn’t connecting. And we all wanted it, we all wanted support so badly from each other, and still, we were not able to look out for each other. I’m not sure what it was but in the 2nd month something finally clicked. We all began to feel comfortable with each other, to care about each other, and to catch each other when we fell. I think for us it was the discovery that we all wanted the same things from the theater, that our aesthetic, despite small differences was actually very similar and that we all brought something unique to the process. It happened almost imperceptibly, and now I miss every one of my ensemble members dearly. I miss people who, at one point in the semester, I thought I might strangle. I’m meditating on it, I’d like to know exactly what it was so that I could make it happen again, but I’m not sure that there is any right answer. I think every group may be different. Some ensembles are formed overnight, some take 2 months. If I every find the key, I’ll be sure to let you know, until then, we’ll keep striving for it.

Ensemble- the relationships that breed fearless art

Lighter, Freeer, More Joyful.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Aloha again. and again.

After a period of quiet, Aloha Say the Pretty Girls has once again surfaced as a topic of conversation. During an entertaining wine and cheese soiree at Dean and Becca's abode, Dean and I got into a delightful discussion about Naomi Iizuka's text.
Now, if memory serves me correctly (feel free to correct me in the comments section, Dean) Dean Knight has an English literature background, which leads to a very specific interest in nice wordy textually-rich plays (ie. Shakespeare). So, naturally he had noted an interesting thing about her script.
While at first the whole no-uppercase -letters thing that she frequently utilizes annoyed him, Dean said that he was surprised at how quickly one became accustomed to it. Within only a few pages, her imposed style melted right into the background. Personally, I think this speaks highly of her work as a whole. I've read numerous plays where the "style" has been so distracting that I've actually given up reading in disgust.
We also discussed her use of punctuation. Whole speeches and conversations in the play would take place with nary a period in sight; instead, commas littered the page. Her sparing use of periods really brought emphasis to when sentences and thoughts actually ended. In fact, the only example I can think of right now of more effective punctuation use is by Shakespeare (heard of him?). Like the great one, Iizuka seems to use her commas to suggest stage direction (pause, breath, continue). One of the characters who is prone to rambling discourse, has page-long speeches peppered with commas, but without a single period. What an old trick she's borrowed with that one! Using the punctuation in the text to suggest characteristics. Neat!
So, I know: Aloha is amazing. All hail Naomi Iizuka. You've heard it all before from us and you're getting bored. Well, too bad. I guess I can't really help you there.

- Kerry

P.S. and if you haven't heard it all before, here's the link to our original discussion of Aloha Say The Pretty Girls:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Guide to Acting; from a Techie

I just decided to put together a list of things that I have noticed and think must be the key to amazing performances. Please use this to help guide your own performances in the future:

  1. Hold for all laughs---real, expected, or imagined! If you don't get one, face front and repeat the line louder. Failing this, laugh at it yourself.
  2. A good performance, like concrete, should be molded quickly and then forever set.
  3. Your first responsibility as an actor is to find your light.
  4. Do not listen to your fellow actors on stage. It will only throw you.
  5. Do not look at them either---you may not like what you see.
  6. Always be specific---point to what you're talking about.
  7. If a line isn't working for you, change it.
  8. Stage Managers are NOT actors---ignore them. Keep them alert by never arriving on time or signing in.
  9. Never be afraid to ad-lib to get attention, especially if you feel the leads aren't very entertaining.
  10. Mistakes are never your fault.
  11. Always find something to bitch about, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Your fellow actors will respect your professional attention to detail.
  12. Do help your fellow actors by giving them notes whenever you feel necessary.
    And give the notes immediately before they go on---it will be fresher that way.
  13. Play the reality---always be aware of the audience and whether you think they like the show, then gauge your performance accordingly. Why knock yourself out for ungrateful snobs?
  14. Need a character? Get a costume.
  15. Never change anything that is working, no matter how wrong or phony it may seem.
I hope this guide helps everyone out there to be the best actors they can be! But hey I am a techie, I could be wrong on some of these...


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Building A Company

The four of us in charge of NLC can't have a short meeting. Every time we meet, the time flies by and before we know it the early morning hours are staring us in the face and we realize we'll have to continue the discussion at a later meeting. I think each of us would admit that the time flies by so quickly because we are all excited about the projects we're planning (fingers crossed on our summer 2009 production and fundraiser goals). That said we cannot always expect to have the time for a five hour meeting nor can we expect to always be in agreement about everything.

For that last reason we have decided to operate using Consensus Decision-Making. Bonnie has experienced this process, but it will be my first foray into this method.

At my non-profit we rely upon Robert's Rules of Order - which is time effective but usually results in fractures on really difficult decisions. This leads to dissension among the community and can mean that we are defeated by our division. Of course, consensus decision-making is most likely not practical for an organization as strapped for time as my nonprofit is during the General Assembly. That said, I'm very excited to give it a try in Night Light Collective. It may take some time - but it appears we're all willing to give that.


ps - I'll admit that wiki may not be the best place to use as a resource, but I'm counting on Bonnie to post the official site:)

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

Okay, so maybe it is Christmas, but the 2nd most wonderful time of the year is easily Turner Classic Movie Channel's 31 days of Oscars.
For one month straight they only play movies that have won and Acadamy Award in anything from sound design to best picture. It's phenominal, because finally, 24 hrs. a day, there is always something good on TV. My poor DVR is working overtime to record them all for me. I'm in movie heaven.
I know this is a really tenuous connection to theatre, but seriously, you've got to take advantage of any great performance you can find, and sometimes, it's at the cinema. Plus, sometime this week they're running a marathon of Sir Lawrence Olivier's Shakespeare films, so I mean, that kind of relates, doesn't it? Especially when one of them is Henry V. And another is Richard III. How very timely, eh?

I'm ready for my endorsement check now, TCM.

- kerry

Thursday, January 29, 2009

some (winter) reading

I trend toward addictions.

Luckily, they tend to be addictions of the healthy variety. Earlier this year the addiction was Stoppard, and now the obsession seems to focus on Naomi Iizuka. It often takes me some time to discover the real reasons for any particular obsession that strikes my fancy. In preparation for a grad audition last weekend (more on that later) I’ve been doing a lot of rumination on the value of theater to prepare for that inevitable question “why do you want to go to school?” That very grad school question may have encouraged me along with Iizuka. Her work examines myths from classical to contemporary and seeks to intertwine the mythologies separated by time and place. The plays, at least to me, often illustrate the commonality of human existence whether placed in antiquity or in present day Hawaii.

To me, theatre’s nobility stems from its attempts to demonstrate our myths back to us. To hold a mirror up and show that we are part of a larger experience that spans generations and centuries. That nobility only works if you successfully impact your audience – if you don’t obscure the mirror or refuse to share its contents, and if you’re willing to accept whatever that image might be. It can still work when the hallmarks of theatre are absent. Conversely, it can be obscured by the technicalities of what equal a good theatrical performance by traditional standards.

Although she might not be your cup of tea - I’d encourage everyone to give a few of her plays a read. So far I’ve taken a look at the following although I know she’s written many more:

Polaroid Stories,
Aloha Say the Pretty Girls,
Language of Angels

Until the next obsession takes over,


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


In a moment of shameless self promotion - this is the last weekend for Henley St.'s One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Come out and admire Andrew Bonniwell's brilliant lighting design, and my endearing cameo as a drunk hooker (a role I've been practicing for my whole adult life . . .).

- Kerry

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Script's The Thing . . .

I know that this is a topic that's probably been gone over time and again, but I've just finished work and my mind isn't as agile as it could be right now, so instead of breaking new ground, I'm going to content myself with rehashing some good old arguments from way back.
And speaking of good old things from way back, I just went and saw the opening of Arther Miller's All My Sons over at CAT last night. I don't want to comment about the performance itself (I'll leave that to the reviewers), but I did want to mention the play (the script, the text, etc.).
It doesn't take a brainiac to say "Hey, that Arthur Miller guy - he's not half bad." That's one of the facts written in stone. (I believe it's actually written right next to: "Whoo-ee, Brecht sure had some neato ideas . . . ") So, I'm not going to point out his particular genius - just that I am constantly amazed at how well really good play writing stands the test of time.
All My Sons is, technically, a very dated piece of work. It's all post-WWII shifting ideals, and family values, and standing up for your fellow man. And it all takes place in a neighborhood where everyone plays cards together and makes their own grape juice. What?! I can't even name any of my neighbors, much less would I ever serve them juice, homemade or otherwise.
Yet, despite this handicap, I was absolutey riveted by the characters and their problems. The situations might be different, but the way they responded to them was just as true as any modern character you'd see in Hollywood, TV land, or the stage today. Better than most of those, in fact. Arthur Miller was able to touch upon the truth of human beings and their actions, regardless of what era they were set in.
I can't even count the number of plays written in the past five, ten or twenty years that are completely dated already, and frankly it's a pain to have to suffer through those performances because, really who gives a damn? But then I can watch a Chekhov play and empathize with the heartache and hardships, even if I don't understand why what the big deal about Moscow is. And has anyone written anything that so completely encompasses the blinding passion of young love since that one guy wrote Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare . . .?)?
I become so involved in a well-written story, that I'll forgive many other sins in the production value or performances. And that's the really great beauty about it, it doesn't take amazing actors or realistic scenery to bring good plays to life ( I suppose that's my add-in to the recent Richmond "what makes a good show" buzz).
So, I guess this post is really a raise of the glass to good play writing. And to companies in town (occasionally) not being blindsided by new 'edgy' works that just really aren't as good.
Kudos, CAT. You made me want to sit down and drink up some Arthur Miller. And maybe I'll just have an O'Neill chaser too.

- Kerry

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

asking the right questions

My most recent theatrical revelation came from a combination of a conversation with a professor and the Bread and Puppet production “Dirt Cheap Opera” that I saw on Sunday night at gallery five.

I think I’ve been asking the wrong questions. I like to question things. I pride myself in asking not what theater is, but what it can be, what I would like it to be. I think nightlight has done a good job of confronting those questions, and I’m excited for it to continue to do so, but I think there may be harder, more important questions to tackle. I sat down to have a conversation with a professor at VCU and asked what I’ve begun to call the question with no answer “how do I become a director?” He proceeded to give me the answer that I’ve been getting from most people, “that’s a tough one” and then went on to talk about art in general. He said that the way that you begin to become a director is by creating your own projects, but it’s then that you have to answer the really hard questions. I expected the normal “what is theater, what kind of theater do you want to create, what is your process” but he started somewhere much more basic. “What do you want to say and how can you say it in a way that effects people?” before you start addressing the medium, address the central question, because theater, at its heart is about communication. It’s not about “making art” it’s about sharing a message, a story with the audience.
I saw Bread and Puppet Theater’s “Dirt cheap Opera” when it was at Gallery Five this Sunday. The puppets were made of cardboard, the actors laughed at each other onstage, and the pictures were crowded and muddled. But what they did right, what filled the seats and will make people come back for more is that they had a message, their message translated into a story, and they were passionate about telling that story. Their passion gave their performances lightness, a joy, a kinetic energy that the audience couldn’t help but get wrapped up in. I talked to theater folks after the show and it was frustrating how quickly the conversation turned to critique of style and methods. They were upset about the staging, about the puppets falling apart. I talked to nontheater folks; maybe theatergoers but not performers or directors or designers and they loved it. They paid no attention to the craftsmanship of the puppet or the use of plane, all that they knew is that they had fun, the work spoke to them, and they wanted more. So in that way, Bread and Puppet did something with no budget that a lot of theaters can’t do with millions of dollars, they spoke to people. And that is what theater is about (at least I hope). It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in asking questions about art, when the real question is not about art at all; it’s about creative communication. It’s about talking to people in a way that makes them want to listen.

Lighter, Freer, More Joyful.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ode to Blue Gel

So we decided to take turns posting thoughts. It seems unfair to Kerry to post constantly, but I, unfortunately, never know what to say. There is a whole universe of theatre stuff to talk about. So I stupidly asked the question "What should I write, an Ode to Blue Gel?" and of course I got stuck (and by stuck I mean secretly excited to be) doing exactly that.

Here goes...

An Ode to Blue Gel

In Theatre:

When you see lovely lights
Of winter, cold and nights
You know its blue gel

Oh Blue Gel, you really are the best
You give designers flexibility
To create the look at which we rest
Directors and actors have an inability
To appreciate your blend-ability

When waiting for your cue
Take a look at the hue
Light is not allowed
If it’s not blue

You make my life better
You make the cold colder
And the water wetter
Lots of colors are bolder
But blue is the go getter

Red creates passion or rage
Green can be sickness or old age
Yellow denotes the sun
A symbol for everyone

But blue conveys so much
Time, place, mood and such
To the look upon the stage
Created by an old sage
Translating ideas from the written page

To some blue is boring
But its blue that I am adoring
An ode to blue gel

Hopefully, I will get an inspiration for my next post. Otherwise, you get stuck reading something like this!