Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ahem, Ahem, A Meme, A Meme

Paul Rekk tagged me for a meme about my area of expertise ... in answer to the questions of "What's a meme anyway?" I would have to say that maybe it stands for Me Me for these things allow to elucidate on myself for a while. Me, myself and I have always enjoyed myself.

Moving on.

The purpose of this meme is to get people talking about their passion in life. It’s called the 5/5 meme. Five questions, then pass it to five people. “Expertise” could be your profession, hobby, or area of intense interest.

Name your area of expertise/interest:

DIY Theatre. Directing.

How did you become interested in it?

My mother sensed I had a bit of a bug when I went nuts for her record of "The Phantom of the Opera". I always liked to act and sing along to most things and was known to pretend to be a Solid Gold dancer when I was around 5. I would jump up on the stairs, pretending they were my stage ... I always loved the Muppet Show, as well, giving me a taste of vaudeville done with pigs, frogs, weirdos and chickens. Kinda like the peeps I hang out with now.

When I first went to college, I was convinced I would become a Tony/Oscar award winning actress until I took my first directing class and the paradigm shifted. My teacher, Frank Rutledge of Michigan State University, really argued points home to me. One of his key phrases was "Either that's the biggest piece of shit I've ever seen .... or you're a genious."

How did you learn to do it?

By doing and observing those who do it. I learned to read when I was three and loved reading outloud, varying the characters, messing with my voice. I adapted plays from Archie comic books. I wrote plays for my siblings to perform for the family. I sang along to musicals. Saw the musicals and acted them out in my bedroom. I was in my first "official" community theatre production when I was in sixth grade where I played Gladys Herdman in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and continued being in 2-3 plays a year until I graduated high school. Went to Stephens College for acting, went to Hillsdale College for theatre, went to MSU for theatre where I acted in lots of things and started directing. Went to West Virginia University for a little over a year for graduate acting. Dropped out, thank god, learning that you can only learn so much on the university circuit. Moved to New Orleans, joined a little theatre company down there, decided I could do something better. Learned that living the real life is the best teacher out there. Moved to Chicago, acted a little, decided to start my own theatre company with my husband and have been doing it ever since. Just do it. Only way to get your feet wet.

Who has been your biggest influence?

My husband, Chris Riter. He and I met at West Virginia University and he's taught me how to live. If it were up to my folks, I'd still be in school learning which made me incredibly unhappy after a while. Chris has always understood my way of thinking, encourages me to try whatever I might like to try, challenges me, argues with me, inspires me ... he writes, acts, directs, knows how to put up lights and build sets and is incredibly handsome while doing everything. He's truly a renaissance man and an artistic soul mate.

And anybody who ever told me "No."

What would you teach people about it?

You can only learn so much from me ... go do it. Live the life. Get a business degree along side your theatre degree while you're still in school. Try to avoid grad school, if you can help it. Get as much experience as you can and don't stop believing. Go to museums. Go to rock and roll shows. Go to the cirkus. Meet artists outside your circle. Work a day job or twelve. You make your own way and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Always be happy. If theatre and the artform don't give you pleasure, it's ok to stop. It'll find you again and you it, if that's in the cards.

I'm now going to pick five people to join in the Do-Re-Meme: Lisa Wilson, The Olde Gentleman, Strezo, Jay Raskolnikov and Dave Lykins.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Skriker Reading

Good day, dear people.

Our reading of A View from the Bridge went beautifully (read about it here) and we're excited to announce our second reading of The Skriker by Caryl Churchill.

The reading, which, again, will be ultra casual, will be taking place this Saturday, June 30, 2007 at 5pm at the Casa GreyZelda. We'll be supplying drink, food and good company.

Our readers:

The Skriker: Lisa Wilson
Josie: Tiffany Ross
Lily: Patrycja Rynduch

If you'd like to attend, please give us a call at 773-427-1935 and we'll be able to discuss locale and any questions you might have.

Take care,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A View from the Bridge Reading

Heigh ho, friends -

We're going to be having a super casual reading of Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge at the Casa GreyZelda this Saturday, June 23rd primarily to hear the play outloud and also to touch base with some of our GreyZelda peeps. We'll be serving some Italian tapas, wine, and Scotch in honor of the Carbone family in Brooklyn, NY.

The reading's going to start around 5pm. If you'd like to attend, we'd love to see you. Please give us a call at 773-427-1935 for location or send a message if we can expect you.

Auditions will happen during the early fall, so please stay tuned for announcements. The role of Eddie has already been cast with one of our favorite actors, Aris.

Our Readers:
Aris Tompoulis - Eddie
Nicolle Van Dyke - Beatrice
Morgan Manasa - Catherine
Gene Van Dyke - Alfieri
Ben Veatch - Marco
Tom Gordon - Rudolpho
Aaron Preusse - Louis, cop

We've got a lovely patio to hang out on, weather permitting. We look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We Belong to Something Greater than Ourselves

Did you see the space shuttle and space station flying by in tandem above the Chicago sky last night between 9:31 and 9:36pm? Chris and I stepped out to the patio, faced Northwest and saw the two lights approaching and continue moving East Southeast. It was really cool.

It reminded us of how absolutely small we are here on Earth. We waved to the astronauts but I have a distinct feeling we weren't seen. We waved anyway and talked about the view those chaps up there were seeing ... clear night ... they could probably see our landmass and say, "Hey, Cap'n, we're over Chicago right now ... there's the Great Lakes!"

There's a lot of fatalistic conversation in the theatrical blogosphere as of late and, I admit, I take part of it on a daily basis and ask myself the eternal questions of Why and How. The discussions help firm up my own philosophies about our chosen artform.

.... and then I see a celestial occurance ... reminding me that the stars whose light we're seeing out there may well have died thousands or millions of years ago .... and I ask myself the questions all over again ... thinking about the galaxy always sends my brain a-whirlin' on an unanswerable, unfathomable trip ... and I remind myself of our own little microcosms, our own bubbles and it's these little things that keep us all moving.

Tony Adams over at http://www.jayraskolnikov.blogspot.com/ posed the "Why do you do it and how does that shape your work?" question ... Here was my reply:

"My motivations have changed from year to year. I'm going to try to be point blank.

I create theatre because I feel I don't have another artistic medium to use that I'm able to do well and this is the one that makes the most sense to me, that I consistently get personal satisfaction out of at the end of the day. My grandfather is an artist and architect and uses his hands to create a picture. I like to paint pictures on stage using people, words and collaboration. I'm happy just sitting home with a glass of wine reading a play out loud. I've been doing that since I could read. (Not drinking wine, of course ...)

My father didn't want me to go to school for theatre and always discouraged my growing fascination with it, so that was a motivation to continue with theatre to prove him wrong because theatre was always a part of what I've wanted to do. I haven't spoken to my father since I graduated high school and he's never seen my work. My mother pointed out that a lot of the plays GreyZelda has chosen to do involves a character that is looking for acceptance against many odds and will do the worst or have the worst done to them just to see if others will abandon them or stay true.

A friend said that she thinks I'm motivated by "obstacles" and "anger". If someone tells me "NO", I get up in arms and, instead of doing nothing, I create theatre.

I like the fire.

I want to communicate. I want to prove my point. I love that spark of inspiration. I'm addicted to it. I love seeing an artistic plan come together. I love the synergy of an amazing cast and collaboration. I love people and I love it when people leave the theatre and the process feeling different then when they came in ... preferably feeling good, but I like reaction either way.

And, I think, like a lot of theatre folks, I love the sense of family that comes with creating theatre."

Now, to leave you all with a quote from a movie that always gives me a little charge ...

Ellie Arroway: I... had an experience... I can't prove it, I can't even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real! I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever... A vision of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how... rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater then ourselves, that we are *not*, that none of us are alone! I wish... I... could share that... I wish, that everybody, if only for one... moment, could feel... that awe, and humility, and hope. But... That continues to be my wish.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I think Elvis said it best

This is why he's King after all ...

"A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
Satisfy me baby

Baby close your eyes and listen to the music
Drifting through a summer breeze
It's a groovy night and I can show you how to use it
Come along with me and put your mind at ease

A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
Satisfy me baby

Come on baby I'm tired of talking
Grab your coat and let's start walking
Come on, come on Come on, come on Come on, come on
Don't procrastinate, don't articulate
Girl it's getting late, gettin' upset waitin' around

A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me
Satisfy me baby"

I love the proactive and dissonent conversations on the web about the state of theatre on comment boxes and blogs. I love participating in them, as well, but what I really want to do is take some action the only way I know how especially when I'm sensing too much conversation going down and not enough proactive resolution .... All I can do is to make good theatre and make it great, to quote Rob Kozlowski, a local playwright in town. I can't care about anybody else and what they'll say about my efforts. I can't compare myself to anybody else and I can't listen to those who choose to put GreyZelda in the all-consuming box. All I can do is what I love to do, what I'm trained to do and what I must do.

If people want to come to our theatricals, I will welcome them with open arms and a smile. If they don't, that's fine, too. I know the rest of our company feels that way. We will march to our individual drum, we will dance to our type of music and if others want to be there to witness our cadence, to witness our whirling dervish, then we will open the circle to say "Thank you and welcome." We want the people to be there, but you have to be ok when they're not. The artist must love the process enough to trust that the people will be there for the final stage if the passion is there. The audience will always sense that and feel that spark of magick for that's what the audience craves. That's what I crave, anyway, and I'm an audience member.

Word of mouth is powerful once that magick is witnessed. The bloggers are starting to dialogue beautifully on Chicago's theatre scene and it inspires me. The people I've linked to the right of these words are, indeed, doing it.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

True Colors

Rebecca's going to the True Colors Tour show tonight at the Auditorium Theatre and writes:

"Freedom. Liberty. Music. Voices lifted in song. Color. Truth. Illumination. Dignity.


GreyZelda agrees.

To read more, please visit www.myspace.com/greyzelda

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Nostalgia in Eight

Originally posted by Rebecca on Lady Crow's myspace.

Don Hall tagged me on the "Name Eight Things About Yourself that No One Knows" blogger meme, so here I am a-playin'. I've done this before but the narcissist in me insists I play again and name eight more things. Mirror, mirror on the wall ... you can go back through some of my older blogs to find the original where I discuss Blow Pops and farms. I think this one's going to be about creativity and my childhood ...

The rules are as follows:

(I ended up breaking the rules because I posted 10 random facts about myself. My self-absorption knows no bounds, Billy!!!!!)

Bloggers must post these rules and provide eight random facts about themselves. In the post, the tagged blogger tags eight other bloggers and notify them that they have been tagged.

1. Sometimes, when I secretly think about GreyZelda, I imagine myself as a warrior who has carried a flag through the deserts, streams and prairies, all in the name of my queen, GreyZelda. Which is maybe why Chris and I picked the names "Lady Crow" and "Sir Mulch". I feel I've carried this flag - call it "creativity" if you will - for years and I refuse to set it down. If I set it down, all will be lost. I like imagining I'm an epic heroine on a quest as I travel through the mundane trials of day to day existence. I'm Roland, Atreyu and Alice rolled into one with a splash of Valkyrie in my own mind. Or certifiable ... take your pick.

2. My stepdad's a farmer, as well as a retired educator. When I was little, he used to find creatures to bring home to me while he was plowing and combining ... I had pet salamanders, luna moths, field mice and a shot woodchuck to keep me company every so often. If we could, we would let them go, but sometimes they would die ... like those moths and shot woodchucks. My grandpa would also bring home cut-off squirrel tails which I liked to stick in my pants and pretend that they were my tails. (I didn't really roam around with that shot woodchuck but I looked at it a lot and felt really bad that it had been killed.)

3. I really love bugs. I collected them when as a kid ... I would roam around, collecting butterflies, stink bugs and praying mantises and stick them in left over baby food jars ... again, they all died because I had no idea how to sustain them being that I was six (I poked holes in the lid, but that was about it. Bugs are super cool. Roaches really freak me out, though.

4. I used to create plays to put on in our backyard after the family would get together for summer holidays and birthdays ... the most popular one and most requested by the family (aka my parents and grandparents) was entitled "Cowboy Joe" which starred my 7 year old brother, Andrew, as the title character. I was the narrator - around 12 - a beautiful Western belle with a parasol and bonnet. My sister, who was around two, would be the villain with a ridiculously long black cape. She often started crying during the performances, but Andrew and I continued on. Very monologue based, "Cowboy Joe" was. Good stuff. Quality theatre. We used our swingset as the primary backdrop, so when Alex, the two year old villain, would make her entrance, I had her come down the slide. We were also known for our rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" where I played Christine and Andrew was the Phantom. Alex didn't really enjoy acting in our rendition and as soon as she heard the opening theme she would run - crying, as per usual -away in terror. This one was done in the living room because we used pillows as our primary stage accessories.

5. I once made my Barbies have a Boob size competition where Ken had to pick the Barbie with the best breasts. Thank you, media, for warping my young mind. My Strawberry Shortcake dolls were often considered slaves of Barbie because they were short with bulbous heads and colored legs. I also always hated it when other girls weren't nice to their Barbie dolls and never brushed their hair or colored on them with markers and who often just played with them naked without their clothes on. I tried not to let them play with my Barbies if I could help it. My Barbies often would get naked based on the situation and the soaps I watched that day with my mom but I didn't make them naked all the time. Yes, I also made them "hump". Heh heh.

6. I briefly was able to listen to Poison's "Look What the Cat Dragged In" when I was in fourth grade, but my real dad made the tape disappear because he thought it was offensive. I kind of think that maybe he thought Poison was a girl band, initially, based on the tape cover and when he actually heard the songs, he was most offended. We also almost walked out of "Back to the Future" when it was first in movie theatres because he thought there was too much swearing. Thank God, they went back in time to the fifties. Sheesh.

7. I was nuts about Archie comicbooks and often came up with puppet shows based upon the story lines. It truly is a Betty vs. Veronica world.

8. I'll always take the villains over the good guys any day. Unless you're an anti-hero, like Roland. I often stalked around my backyard imagining I was a Disney villainess. They always had great makeup and outfits. Melificent from Sleeping Beauty? Kick ass.

9. I liked it when my dads (I had two) would hit flyballs to me. I loved playing catch. I had a great arm. Maybe I still do, but I don't really play baseball or softball any more. There's nothing like the smell of a leather baseball glove. I liked kicking up dirt on a diamond on a summer day and sitting in dugouts with the team.

10. If I could go back in time to any one day and place, I would always pick my farmhouse in Hudson, around 10 years old maybe, on a summer day, playing catch with Andrew, writing a play to perform after dinner of barbecue chicken with pink lemonade and biscuits with my family and grandparents (who are no longer alive), playing with my black cat, Amos, feeding the bunnies, and helping in the garden. No question.

I'm now going to choose eight folks to play this fun game ... if you've done it before, go on and do it again.

Ladyflash *M*, The Olde Gentleman, Von, Crow's Feet, Red Dragon, Ed French, Lizarinny and Pryce.