Monday, August 31, 2009

Call for Actors: Staged Reading of "Total War": October 11

N.B.: As of September 1st, Trudi Goodman will be playing the Officer.

N.B.: As of September 20th, Kendall Stewart will be playing the role of Erica Weiss. The roles of Jonah and Duane are still open.

N.B.: As of September 22nd, Dan Schneider will be playing the role of Jonah Gringer. The role of Duane is still open.

N.B.: As of September 30th, Matthew Zahnzinger will be playing the role of Duane McCormack.

Having found the previous staged reading a rewarding experience both in terms of working with the actors, and degree to which it gave direction to the rewriting process, I will present a reading of the latest draft of Total War. Once again, the reading will be on Sunday, October 11, at 8pm at Outpost 186 in Cambridge.

Most of the cast has elected to reprise their roles but I will be be recasting the some of the roles. As this is simply a reading of a work in progress in front of a small audience, there will be no blocking. My concern is not so much the look or age of of the actors but their interest in the story and enthusiasm and insights into the characters. I will be available to answer any questions actors have about the characters prior to the reading. I will schedule read-throughs with any actors not comfortable with a cold reading.

To quote the press release:

Total War is a five-act play set at a Catholic university where the student newspaper has published a Holocaust denial advertisement. While faculty and staff attempt to show solidarity with the small Jewish community on campus, an anarchist-cell using the nom de guerre of “Total War” begins a campaign of guerrilla art attacks before a predictable dialogue on free speech and religious pluralism can begin.

If you are an actor and this sounds interesting, continue reading:

Dramatis Personae:

Jonah Gringer: Male, mid-to-late 20s. Jewish. Graduate student in philosophy at a Catholic university. His views and actions tend towards absurdism and non-violent anarchism

Erica Weiss: Female, early 20s. President of Jewish Student Association, at a Catholic university. Senior in political science. Were it not for the anarchists showing up in Act II, she would be the protagonist of this play.

Duane McCormack: Male, early 20s. Editor-in-Chief of The Dustbowl Pulpit, the student newspaper. He attempts to be a responsible student journalist but is perhaps the only person on his staff to realize how ill-equipped they are to cover the situation his paper has helped create.

Campus Police Officer: Appears in only one scene; would be doubled in an actual production. Professional, but with a sardonic sense of humor.

I'm sorry that my budget does not allow for a stipend for the actors, but snacks and beverages will be provided. There will be a talk back session after the reading for the actors and audience to share their observations.

Interested? Drop me a note about the role that interests you. Resumes are helpful but not necessary.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Look Ma! I'm Part of the Curriculum! Part II

Once again, Matthew Isaac Cohen, of the Department of Drama and Theatre at Royal Halloway, University of London, is offering his class on Bread and Puppet Theater. I note this in part because my Breaking with Bread and Puppet is on the reading list. The class focusses on using the techniques Peter Schumann developed in the students' own theatre making, something that, despite my own political disagreements with Schumann, I fully endorse. I as I wrote back in October of 2007:

Despite my misgivings with what I view as Peter Schumann's forays into antisemitism and trivialization of the Holocaust, I have always thought there was great artistic value to his better works, both in techniques and content-- and I certainly see a legitimate need for theatre artists in training to become familiar with this sort of work. Had I not, I would not have worked with the troupe for as long as I did.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Open Air Circus in the Boston Globe

The Boston Globe sent photographer Erik Jacobs to cover this past weekend's performances of the Open Air Circus, the Somerville, MA based youth circus where I have been teaching mime and commedia dell'arte for the last four-and-a-half years. Somehow, the The Globe chose to feature two photographs of me in the gallery:

Photo by Erik Jacobs for The Boston Globe click here for full size.

Jacobs caught me back in clown alley before the show, warming up while also making sure my commedia players were in costume and mask. As this year's theme at the circus was "Broadway musicals," we seized upon the standard plot of "let's put on a show" for the scenario. Circumstances allowed me to try my hand at playing Il Capitano for the first time which amounted to barging in about halfway through the skit, bullying my way into being the star of the show. My guitar chops were rusty, but by the final show of the weekend, I had developed a lazzo of singing the bloody Captain's lines from Macbeth to the tune of "La Bamba" as well as swinging the Capitano's sword around erratically and warning audience and fellow troupe members to be "careful of Capitano's sword, it is very dangerous." The kids did a good job of making up their own lazzi or creating their own variants based on my suggestions. I shall be experimenting more with this character in the future.

Photo by Erik Jacobs for The Boston Globe click here for full size.

Jacobs later caught another one of my personae during the intermission, palm spinning out in Nunziato field. This year's mime piece was based on "Seventy-Six Trombones" from Meredith Wilson's The Music Man so again the theme was "let's put on a show." The choreography mostly involved teaching the kids how to mime the musical instruments from the song along with whatever I could remember about marching from when I was in Safety Patrol in elementary school. I am not sure if the choreography we performed on stage was what I taught in rehearsals though!