Friday, June 30, 2006

4th of July. Red Fireworks. Red

Hello, everyone -

It's been a while since I updated the GreyZelda blog and for that I sincerely apologize. I've written over at myspace, which is a psychotic mistress. You can see some of my goings on at .

The Scarlet Letter

Rehearsal has been going extremely well. Sometimes I feel nervous when it's moving along like this. We've gotten about half of it blocked and will carry the tourch on to the final staged scene in the next week or so. Ben of Miranda Sex Garden has given us permission to use some of their music in the show, which is awesome. I've been waiting to hear what Robert may have come up with, but, unfortunately, he's moving in the next couple of days, so . . . Miranda Sex Garden has been providing an aural backdrop of gothic splendour.

Our actors have been phenomenal. They only need a little bit of direction and just start running with it. This production is very movement oriented and with simply reading aloud out of Hawthorne's text, extracting abstract themes and images, and combining a safe, ensemble atmosphere where all is permitted to be tried at least once, we've really come up with gorgeous compositions which will only get bigger and better as rehearsal moves forward.

Our production team has been a huge treat this time around, as well. Stacie Barra and Melissa Kuhlmann have been working very closely with me during rehearsals and we've had awesome collaborations of the mind. We all seem to be speaking the same language. This has been a female-led undertaking all the way around and it's just been a joy every night. I may be tired when I get home from work, but once we start rehearsal, the energy comes right back.

Thank you, everyone, for making this process a lovely one.

Don Hall

Don has a blog at . He rants, discources, discusses, and tells it as he deems fit on it almost daily. He recently resigned as Executive Director of WNEP and we wish him the best of luck. We're not "friends", per se, for we've only talked once or twice in the last couple of years, but I admire what he stands for, what he's done with his theatre company, and how he goes about acheiving his goals while doing what he wants to do. I hope I never resign from GreyZelda, being a founding member. 'Twould make me heartsick. But, if it's in GreyZelda's best interests that I ever do such a thing, well . . . decisions have to be made. A person's heart has to be in it, though. That's the only thing that keeps most of us trucking in this town and in this art form. If that starts to fade, then it's hard going. It's fucking hard, yeah. But, that pony is always there to ride. And it's good to know that there are helping hands if you fall.


I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday weekend. Go see fireworks. Eat corn on the cob. Drink pink lemonade.



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Let the Hester games begin

The Scarlet Letter had its first rehearsal last night and, although we were missing three out of four ensemble members, the reading was much fun over all, aside from the monkeys and the Black Man. The former is a Kuzava gem. The latter is all Hawthorne.

I'm very tired today, my friends. The energy that buoys me is purely from that creative spirit that takes a hold so well. I don't know what it is, but I feel like I could delve into the soma pool for a couple of weeks and sleeeeep, sleeeeeeep with the poppies. I've a touch of the sleeping sickness. And some tummy trouble. I called off work yesterday to tend to it. It's still hanging out today along with this intense weariness I speak of.

Back to flowers: This lovely rose will be featured on the Scarlet posters, so keep your eyes open for technicolor thorniness coming to you soon, thanks to the ever fantastic Sarah Stec. Whenever she presents ideas to us, she gives us a few choices to pick from. And each choice has its distinct merit. She and the Mulchman both liked the same design, but I can't turn my eyes away from this Rose. I want to pick it and put it in my hair.

Doing a show right after the closing of our last one will be an intense challenge. We have helpers, oh yes, and they're wonderful, but a lot of the work is done by me and that Mulchman I mention now and again. So, jumping right up on that saddle again and riding away into the GreyZelda sunset will require much focus. Everything seems pretty organized. We're calling more meetings this time around and getting everyone on the same road. This one's going to be more technical than some of our other offerings, so we're having a design meeting Thursday night to discuss music, costumes, set, shadows, cloth, etc. We're also having a fundraising meeting on Sunday afternoon to get our summer fundraising plan going. So . . . busy, busy, busy. Father's Day is this Sunday. We mustn't forget.

And speaking of days not to forget: Happy Birthday, Darlene!!!! (Darlene is Chris's mommos. He sent flowers to her today and she'll be receiving her present soon.)

That's about it. I hope you all are well. If you want to offer your assistance to GreyZelda in anyway, shape, or form, please let us know. Feel free to ask what you can do to help if you're drawing a blank. We have lots of things. And we love our feeling of ensemble behind and in front of the curtain and are always looking for those people who just love doing it and being a part of it.

Beak, beak, beak,


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Metromix audience Reviews of Desire

Last night's tonight! We'll have a great show! MK's feeling better! We'll go out afterwards for anyone who wants to join us.

Thanks for your support, everyone!


Most Recent Reviews:
May 22, 2006
Lois Foster Hillsdale, MI

This is a great story that is well presented. You will have an enjoyable evening. You will also hear the message and it will give you something to think about in the following days. Go see the show!

May 22, 2006
Chicago, IL

This is an excellent production that really strips away all excesses, leaving a very strong cast of characters and raw, unfiltered emotions. With the very intimate space used by the production, you can't help but be a part of everything that is going on.

May 21, 2006
Dora Chicago, IL

Definately a fine way to end your evening with a captivating cast sharing O'Neill's dramatic tale. I've followed Gray Zelda theater company's productions for several years, follwing their hits and misses. I feel that, without a doubt, Desire Under the Elms is their best work to date. The actor who played the father's character is intimidating and real- similar to a distant relative whom you have the misfortune of bumping into at annual family gatherings. Watching his family fall apart, unaware of his own part of the crumbling, the actor of Ephrim was memorable and powerful. As an audience member, being in the dark with this character is at times frightening and exhilirating. By all means, see this theater company's version of Desire Under the Elms. I feel that you'll get chills (like I did) as the play ends.

May 21, 2006
Sarah Chicago, IL

Greyzelda does it again! Desire Under the Elms is a collaboration of genuine talent—from the minimalist stage that truly captures the environment to the amazing actors that carry you through each emotional chapter. Come see what these creative minds assemble on limited budget with limitless talent and vision!

May 21, 2006
Tiffany Chicago, IL

A wonderfully rooted ensemble, coupled with clever staging and imaginative use of a small space. It's Chicago storefront at it's best.

May 14, 2006
John Marrick, IL
Waste of three hours. Melodramatic, overplayed. I should have left after the first intermission. Not reccomended.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Desire Nears Its Closing Hours

We sold out Wednesday and are sold out tonight and tomorrow. We could have been sold out last night, but dear Melissa Kuhlmann was sick and we had to cancel the show. We have a few 100% certainties with GreyZelda and Melissa is one of them. So . . . if MK can get so sick that we have to cancel the show, then it's just a friendly remember from Dame Fortune as to how frequently that wheel of life spins. We just have to hold on and enjoy the ride the best we know how.

We've loved producing this show. There have been some elements that have made it trying. More on that later. I keep saying that, but, there's a time and a place. If you must know all now, you can shoot us an email and we'll talk about this and that.

One thing I know is this: The Chicago Reader brought in our audiences. We polled our folks as they purchased their tickets, asking where they heard about the show. 99.9% have heard about it from the Reader. So. To those who sometimes bitch about the Reader, just know . . . that's where you're getting your audiences from, if our audiences are an example of the Chicago people's choices of publications and news of what theatre to see.

I love the Reader. Good reviews, bad reviews, I'm just happy that they've been the one consistent paper that has reviewed every single one of our shows from the beginning. We only had one reviewer for One Flea Spare. Mary Shen Barnidge. And it was such a pleasure having her there during our first show. It was great speaking Kafka with Jack Helbig after Metamorphosis. Jenn Vanasco was sick the first time she saw Thimbleberry and had to leave at the intermission. I quipped, "It's that bad, huh?", but she was as sick as dear MK. She came back and gave us a lukewarm review but nice things to say nonetheless. Zac Thompson didn't speak to us at all after Insanity. He didn't like the show, to say the least. From the jist of the review, it appeared that he had a problem with feminism, thus having a problem with the show altogether. And, now, we've come full circle with Mary returning for Desire. Very cool.

What's great about the Reader is their new system with the shows, letting readers know, just through a quick glance, what shows are Critic's Choice, Recommended, Opening, Closing, etc. They also keep a synopsis of the review throughout your show's run, which is nonstop press and updates for people. I really appreciate that. I mean, think about it - unless it's online, people who are picking up the Tribune and the Suntimes only have that issue for a day and then chuck it. That's it. Good review or bad. Please inform me if I'm wrong. Timeout is awesome and a classy magazine, but you have to pay for it. The Reader's free and is hefty enough to last for a week.

I love the Reader.

Have you ever checked out That's pretty cool, too, with their review roundups. It's very comprehensive and easy to navigate through, giving you the quick scoop on what show's to see or not see.

You know who needs to see a GreyZelda show? Chris Jones and Hedy Weiss. They seem tired of the H groups. They need to see fresh blood and what they've been unhappy with in their recent reviews of select current shows is something GreyZelda can fix. Or try to. Opinion is opinion, whether you're happy with a review or not. Speaking of - I don't think I ever included Kerry Reid's review here. I'm going to go over it with my Crow fork. I'm glad she came representing the Tribune, though, because to add fuel to my Reader fire - she also writes and works for the Reader.

Here it is:

Eugene O'Neill's 1924 New England tragedy "Desire Under the Elms," based on the Hippolytus and Phaedra (people keep throwing that around. We never released that with the press release. It's a time honored tale, yes, but it's our understanding that O'Neill wrote it because he dreamed it in its entirety one night. Maybe he was inspired by Phaedra tales. I don't know. I'm not as researched as some, I admit, and Phaedra's a hell of a heroine, but . . . it seems to quickly categorize the story into a Greek rip-off. Some people just want to sound very informed. . . ) story of a lustful woman and the stepson she ensnares, is tough going (Not really. Thanks for your concern, Kerry, but our actors really don't have a problem with that. We liked the womby feel of the whole thing. And I think our actors have been awesome with their use of the space. And the C-man has been awesome with his manipulation of the blocking. So, we don't find it tough. It's meaty, but not tough. Heh heh. ) in a small room. The titular (mmm, titular) elms in GreyZelda Theatre Group's production, directed by Chris Riter, are reduced to shadowy projections (it would have really been tough going if we had two draping elms - oh my gosh!!! Then there would have been no room, no sirree, bob jr. GreyZelda never likes to be blatantly obvious anyway. And when you're in a house, you don't see the elms directly. You see shadows in the room, so . . . that's what we simulated. She's a little pickyand not accounting for the fact of innovation-on-a-dime.) The over-the-top and across-the-board accents fall under the generic heading of Rural Bumpkin 101 (Doesn't this seem, once again, like she's attacking West Virginia? She can do no better than that sentence? We kind of wonder if people have read O'Neill's script and know that he wrote the dialect directly in there - h'aint is in there, whether or not you think it's a word or not . . . I admit that some of the accents aren't exactly on the nose, but the choice was made to not have that be the biggest concern. The C-Man wanted to tell the story and that technicality wasn't as important as some other things. Not that it's not important. Just a choice, and I think that the actors really pull the show off and do an admirable job with the dialect and what O'Neill wrote in the first place.) --while the central tragic romance, between Eben and his young stepmother Abbie, doesn't ignite with the all-consuming passion it requires. (Others have disagreed on that point as well. We disagree. Did you know Tom and Melissa are together? We think they achieved greater intimacy and hot and heavy passion than most actors can get to. Whatevah.) But at intermittent points, the actors find the wounded dignity that girds O'Neill's potboiler of a story, thanks mostly to Melissa Kuhlmann's quietly mesmerizing Abbie and to Aris Tompulis' ability to imbue Ephraim--her flinty old coot of a husband--with the wounded solitary pride that is the undoing of his troubled clan. (She liked Aris, which is awesome! We told you he rocks!!!! So, he got a shout out in the Tribune. Kick ass.)

So, you see, it's one of those lukewarm ones again. So it goes. I do think that for small theatre, the Reader is the one that prevails with helping to get folks in the seats. It didn't seem to matter one way or another that the Tribune came to the show. It was cool to finally get acknowledged by them and I hope our relationship can continue, but the Reader won this particular round.

We'll see what happens with Scarlet Letter.