Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dystopian Workshop with the Mammals

For anyone who might be interested ... I most certainly am.

From www.devilvet.blogspot.com

Dystopian Workshop

Starting in the Month of June...The Mammals will be conducting a series of workshops to develop material for a performance based on the notions of dystopia.

We are looking for the following sort of individuals. Writers, Directors, Performance Artists, Self styled DIY innovators, Musicians, Puppeteers...

The goal is to get a group or approximately a dozen artists together to discuss and then create a series of short pieces on the theme of dystopia. Once we accumulated an evenings worth of material, the Mammals will then set out to produce the work as a full event.

Dates of the workshops will be determined once we have a roster of collaborators.

If you are interested in participating please contact Artistic Director Bob Fisher at devilvet@gmail.com

Also, please share this post with any artists you feel would have interest in the project!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Another Good Man Goes Down

Frank Rutledge (1935 - 2008) was one of the most, if not THE most, influential teachers I ever had. He passed away from a heart attack on Tuesday night. I've been remembering him the last couple of days ... my dear friend, Dave Goss, wrote a blog about Frank that took the words right out of my mouth.

Take a second to read it.

Are you back? Cool. You know his The Frog Prince story? The same thing happened to me when I directed Hansel and Gretel. Frank liked that scene so much, that the rest of the semester and the rest of my time at Michigan State University proved tricky for me. He kept on putting me against myself and told me that I had set my own grading pattern. He was the type of man that could have you laughing one minute with one of his myriad of quotes and then have you wanting to slam a door and leave in frustration. Which you wouldn't do. Not to Frank. I can't tell you how many times I felt humiliation in one of his classes, but that feeling started making callouses on my artistic soul that have served me well as I try to navigate this business called theatre. He told me to be my own CEO and that no one would do things for me. There are a lot of people out there waiting to have the world handed to them. Here's a secret: I always think of Frank when I hear those people talking and I'm secretly giggling at you behind my brain hand because I know the real score. Frank was good at teaching that. He called it as he saw it and, several years later, I certainly can't argue with him.

The State News, MSU's newspaper, called me Wednesday afternoon to talk to me about my memories of Frank, which was completely out of the blue, because I never really knew what Frank thought of me. I always sent him our GreyZelda press releases and always invited him to our shows, but I never heard anything back from him. Well, that's not quite true. When I sent the press release for Desire Under the Elms, the original email bounced back, so I forwarded it to Melissa Kuhlmann to send to him because she had always had a close connection to Frank. He wrote this in reply:

"Becky Zellar-who woulda thunk it.
Thank her for me and say hi-also include Tom (Gordon).

I analyzed those few lines to death and wondered why he would be surprised to hear from me as he was one of my favorite teachers ... and then I started overanalyzing it and thought that maybe he thought "What the heck is Zellar doing directing?" Frank was like that ... you craved his admiration but it was really damn hard to get on a consistent basis if at all. And when you did, it meant so much.

I guess Andrea, his daughter, who I never knew, gave the State News my number, so ... he must have kept the info I sent him. It felt like a little nod from under the brim of his Indiana Jones-like hat posthumously.

Rest in Peace, Frank. And give 'em hell.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Skriker Poster and Cast

Designed by Sarah Stec


The Skriker - Lisa Wilson
Josie - Kathryn Daniels
Lily - Erin Ordway

Passerby - Jana Liles
Kelpie/Yallery Brown - Kelly Yacono
Dark Fairy/Black Dog - Annie Passinisi
Fair Fairy - Taylor Mauch
Green Lady - Kate Froehlich
Jennie Greenteeth/Rawheadandbloodybones - Dani Bryant
Girl with Telescope/Lost Girl - Morgan Christiansen
Hag - Jamie DesRocher
Bogle - Amanda Eaton
Brownie - Karen Gollrad
Man with Bucket - Brian Bell
Spriggan/Granddaughter - Jill Thiel
Black Annis/Dead Child/Great-Great-Granddaughter - Rebecca Mauldin

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blue Blood Blad Blood Blah Blah Blah

Rehearsals for The Skriker are going well .... we have an excellent, enthusiastic, smart cast. Our movement guru, Joseph Ravens, is a pleasure to work with. The members of the Underworld ensemble have a handful of lines, if any, but they get to work closely with Joseph, so ... they're very lucky. Robert is down in Hotlanta working on the music ... he's going to send me a few MP3s one of these days so I can hear what he's come up with. I'm pretty sure I'll like it. I'm going to be speaking with Jeff Semmerling on Thursday about original masks for the cast. Heath is working on the set design and I'm very excited to see what he comes up with. I'll also be meeting with Erin Lapham, our lighting designer, soon as well.

I'm sitting here wondering what else I'd like to share ... this directing process has proven to be a little bit different than normal ... and I like it. How is it different? Small ways ... when rehearsal's done, I speak with Chris about it, but after a half hour or so, I put it away and don't bring it out again until about a half hour before we start the next day. Because I've directed the show before, I'm allowing room for the actors to play, but I'm able to reign the composition in a little more quickly. Shaping the scene up is coming easily and I don't think that we need to have tons of discussion on the given circumstances because Caryl Churchill has written everything in very clearly. The actors I'm working with are interested in the production and motivated to do their own research, so they're coming in to rehearsal with a lot and I don't have to pull any teeth to get a performance out of anyone. Everyone gets here on time, lines are already being learned and questions are being asked, so .... the show has been stress free so far and I'm going to continue to keep it that way. You would think that the descriptions stated above would be in every show because most of those things are the "actor's job", but .... every production and cast are different. I'm thankful to work with this group of people on the show because it might be a while before we put another show up.

I'll write more later .... I haven't too much to say right now. I've been reading the bloggy blogs about About Face and dicks or lack of dicks and non-equity awards vs. citations and the eternal outcry of how hard theatre is and why, whaa whaa whaa ... but I'm focusing on the work of the thing right now. Chris gets to hear my rants on these subjects, but I haven't shared them here. Again, it might be the instinct to keep a calm environment these days.

Hope you're all well. Catch you later.


Monday, February 04, 2008

On to the Next Show


Our final two performances of A View from the Bridge were sold out. But we didn't get to put it on because our Beatrice was hospitalized with the Whooping Cough. She was released yesterday, thank goodness, and hopefully is doing better.

Not the most uplifting way to close a show to be sure. If we had known that Thursday night would be our last show, we certainly would have gone out with a bang. There was a brief talk about me going in for Nicolle with script in hand and reducing the audience's ticket price but we chose not to go that route because of the sickness I've been fighting and the fact that I'm pregnant and can't overdo it. I know myself and I probably would have overdone it because I would have lost myself in the excellent acting going on and ... that's not the best thing for me right now and I have to start thinking selfishly for the little creature that's developing. Creature trumps theatre. Theatre's been number one for many, many years ... but this new life wins.

Thank you to the cast and crew that came to help out Saturday night and Sunday morning. We really appreciated it and Strike flew by at record speeds. Thank you to Bob Fisher for coming by on Saturday night as well. We enjoyed seeing and talking with ye.

We have our first Ensemble rehearsal tonight for The Skriker and I'm looking forward to it. We had a brief moment of despair on Friday night, as you read, but fortunately perspective came knocking and I'm feeling ever so positive and excited to work with our collaborators on this show, which might be our last show for a while now that we've got another personal production on its way.

Have a great Monday.


Friday, February 01, 2008

A View from the Bridge - Important Update

Whooping cough is in our midst ... the show tonight will be canceled because one of the cast members was hospitalized with the Whooping cough. She wants to do the show tomorrow but we want her to doublecheck with her doc because, well ... it's the Whooping Cough.

It's been a wild and crappy day all around.

I'm sick with similar symptoms and have been for two weeks. For those of you who don't know ... I'm also 11 weeks pregnant. It's been tough going so far so I'm hoping I don't have the disease. I see the doctor tomorrow.

To my fellow theatre companies ... do you ever feel the world crashing around you, production wise, and you wonder how to find the motivation to keep going? We're closing tomorrow with View, but the today has been a doozy on all fronts in regards to the company - I'm not going to get into it here, but I seriously just want to curl up and hide away forever. I'm really feeling that today ... I'm supposed to dive into Skriker rehearsals on Monday and my creativity is nowhere to be seen. I know people are sympathetic towards the pregnancy and want to help with what they can, but there's only so much that can be done and only so much patience they can give ... has anybody out there been in a similar situation? Directing while pregnant? Directing while really sick? How do you do it? How do you strap it on and keep going like normal?

Sorry about such a whiny blog. (Note added at 9:30pm - I'm feeling much better after being able to eat a good supper, take care of patrons, touch base with some of our closest friends and talk with my dearest husband and coartistic director. All is currently well in my world and I can see clear our path of production. Thanks again for reading. RZ)

Girl power. By the power of GreySkull ...er GreyZelda. She-ra.