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Operating as usual
The State of the Drama Nation Break a Leg 2020
I went online to write a thank you on Facebook for being fed yesterday, and I came across a meme that basically said, “The unsuccessful gather in small pods placing blame on things, while the success gather in small groups and find solutions.” I thought that was rather interesting, and somewhat, strangely, accurate. It’s time to rise to the occasion or sink to it. That would be the kind way of saying the same thing.
Foremost, thank you to all the committees who posted the current status of their committee in the GroupMe app. That will really save a large amount of typing. Before applying all of my energy to the acting portion of this evaluation, here’s my quick synopsis of each committee:
ART: There is definitely some painting to do, but alas, with this show, I am OK with that. The French Window section and doors would be the priority from this point forward.
CONSTRUCTION: The permanent installation of French doors and 12 foot walls would be your priorities.
COSTUMES and MAKEUP: We are close, except for the footwear issue, and WHERE IS MY MUMMY?
LIGHTS: My large concern is actually related to who is running lights, when, and silly things like fog machines.
PROPS and STAGE CREW: Well, we need all props, obviously, but those are small things. The acquisition and dedication of a stage crew is paramount.
PUBLICITY: My obvious concern is getting posters in the public. Otherwise, ticket sales and ushers become the biggest concerns.
SOUND: There are some things that need edited and updated, and then, it’s just rehearsal time.
Now, as for acting, here’s what I think at this point in time.
POLLY: The play is based on the ability of an audience to feel the pain and total frustration of Polly. That means that Polly must be a lovable and not easily frazzled. Her anger should not really exist until the end of Act I. She can get perplexed, confused, disoriented, and even disillusioned. She just cannot get angry. It’s that simple. She is the tone setter. She is the person whom every adult can relate to. We are going nowhere if we don’t get this right.
GERTRUDE: There are moments where Gertrude is perfect, and then, there are moments where Gertrude is whichever actress is playing her. We need a steady character, and we need her the entire play. That includes the body language of the character, which both of you use too infrequently and not effectively enough.
LARRY and HARRY: I have to link them together because they have to be the same person. They are literally twins. They have to have the same vocal pattern, the same sense of humor, the same timing, the same body language, and at the end of the day, the same Yuk, Yuk, Yuk. Where are you different? Tanner? The vocal pattern. Hayden? The body language. Colin and Delyn, the laugh and the body language. You guys have the lines and the ability to steal the show. Right now, you are too chaotic and inconsistent for that to occur. We need your energy and consistency.
JUDY: I like Judy. She is the kid who is trying to do the right thing. She is trying to keep order within the disorder. The problem for Judy is that she does not realize that she is seeking order in a disorderly situation. That’s her cluelessness. She’s an optimist, but yes, she’s clueless here. There’s nothing that warrants that optimism. Her body language needs to scream order, optimism, and functionality. That’s hard to catch in lines that are spoken too quickly or too quietly.
ANNIE: She fluctuates greatly between being a character and being Bethany. As I told Bethany yesterday, there are lines that scream, “This is who you are”, and you say them correctly. Then, there are lines that sound just like Bethany would say them. You need to get outside the old comfort zone. You know that, and we had this conversation. I just had to put that in writing.
LES: Gosh, I love Les. He’s a male Judy with a sense of humor. He wants order too, but he only wants it to feel good about himself, for himself. He’s just oblivious to the fact that doing things to make yourself feel good does not necessarily guarantee that the bigger picture is being addressed. That’s OK. He’s the guy that wants to help too much. His help can turn into a detriment pretty quickly, but you gotta love him. Make sure I love him.
MAGGIE: It might seem funny that I would list you here, but the reality is that you do not think you’re very important here. I believe that all characters are of the greatest relevance, and that your character is important. Here’s what I need from you. Foremost, I need a character, not just an extension of you. I need that character to be the character the entire play. I need a more operatic note, louder, and I need that FIRE line to be much louder, and much more intense.
MOLLY: Both of you have the same problem. There is a pace to that section that must be addressed. We need to keep it moving, and we need to see a consistent character. That character must be the least likable kid in this process. She’s the kid that does not come to rehearsals, does not know her lines or blocking, insists on trying to do things her way, and then, wants special recognition for her “contribution” to the piece. She’s a caricature, and she is THE LAST STRAW. That’s right. The more dislikable you are, the better you are. That becomes the last straw for Polly.
SUSAN and JENNIFER: That’s right…they are twins too. It’s the same character. These two are just clueless bad actresses. Sometimes Jennifer seems to be a bit attitude-filled, and I’m not a fan of that. If you think of the line that goes, “You are an actress.” “Thank you!” That explains it all. She ain’t so smart. In a pack of 24 light bulbs, these two are the two that are burnt out before you ever try to illuminate them. I have to like them though. Gosh…just have fun playing clueless teenagers. Enjoy it. Don’t look so serious.
THE VILLAIN AND THESE TWO SHOULD WATCH THIS SKIT. I BELIEVE YOU WILL SEE THE CORRELATION. IT’S THE TIMING THAT I NEED YOU TO CONSIDER. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_NS2H55dxI
THE VILLAIN: Snidely Whiplash. You have to have the coverts of that classic silent movie character villain. You just have to be overly dramatic. His coverts are everything. That slide at the end is awful too. We need to practice that. Instead of diving, perhaps, you need to trip, stumble. Larry and Harry are too far behind you as well. As for Angela DeGeorge. It’s all about the look.
THE DREAM SEQUENCERS: I get it. It’s hard to believe to wait that long for such a small section. I totally get that. HOWEVER, I need all of you to stop looking at yourself as separate entities, and start viewing yourself as one character. You all have the same job, the same purpose, and the same essence. You are Shakespearean characters. You are over the top actors, with over the top actions. You all have the essential problems. You cannot say the correct words, and you all forget your lines. You are Polly’s worst nightmare. Be that! Be her nightmare.
THE DANCER: The thing that I need is the understanding that you are a woman in her 40’s who is a belly dancer. I know that that might not be the easiest thing in the world for you to think about, but you are a bit too young as this character right now. However, you still have time to figure that out! I have faith in you.
The Director: Generally, Liam, you are doing a nice job with this. What I am missing is that authoritative, loud and obnoxious director quality in your body language. Yeah, be me…you have my permission. Do your best impression of me.
MY BOTTOM LINE:
OK…admit it. When we started this piece, all of you thought this was the easiest thing, almost beneath some of you. Now you understand why I did not underestimate the complexity of it. This is a VERY LARGE undertaking, and to be quite honest, it is THE big show of the year. We will not be doing something this large, if anything at all, at the end of this. This show is not easy, it is not beneath you, and it’s going to be a challenge to fix what is currently broken or incomplete.
If you read through all of these descriptors, you will see some common themes. Foremost, we are inconsistent. We have moments of unity and uniformity, but we are drowning in a sea of inconsistencies. Secondly, we have not fully invested in the characters or completely understood that they are characters. That’ right; you are not portraying “you.” You are caricatures, stereotypes, examples of every teenager from every time period. In fact, I kind of went out of my way to make sure you were not playing yourself. You have to act.
ERGO, the problem exists in a way that anyone can solve it. We have to start acting. We have to invest in the characters, invest in the process, and ultimately, hope to reap the benefits of that investment. I always thought that if I had any money to begin with, I would be great at investment. I get it. You have to invest heavily in order to reap largely. There’s risk, or there is no reward. Step outside your comfort zones.
Now, don’t let a bad Saturday dress rehearsal get you down. If I ever based the success or failure on the Saturday dress rehearsal, then, I am certain that I would have stopped directing long ago. Saturday Dress Rehearsals show us how far we are from success and how hard we need to work this week. In case you are missing the point, we have to work hard this week. Or…we could stand around in pods and complain about everyone else. That’s your choice.
Please join me in prayer.
PRAYER WARRIORS WE NEED YOU MORE NOW!
Andrew is currently in the OR to be sedated.
PLEASE PRAY! Send a little extra for his momma too.
UPDATE: sedation and intubation went smoothly. Andrew is back to his room. Now everyone can rest and heal. Keep praying...it will be a long road ahead for everyone.
Much love 💜💜💜💜💜
whatsnxt.com Each year, thousands of spectators line Potomac Street in Hagerstown to watch bands, dancers, floats, costumed mummers and other entertaining features at the Alsatia Mummers Parade.
Maryland Entertainment Group
~Actor Spotlight Q & A~
Meet Jacob Reese!
Q. What is your favorite Edgar Allan Poe piece?
A. The Bells! It has always held a special place in my heart, especially when it is read aloud well.
Q. What is your experience with MEG?
A. I've acted with MEG in about three of their shows so far! I'm happy to say that they are some of the most talented folks I've had the privilege of working with. Its been as excellent a learning environment as it has been one for performing.
Q. What makes "An Evening with Poe" unique to other standard theater experiences?
A. It tackles so many different aspects of live performance. It really has it all: singing, dancing, acting - no pyrotechnics, but at a certain point enough has gotta be enough! Right?
Q. How do you feel about "An Evening with Poe" being the first show in the Maryland Theatre's newly renovated Performing Art's Center?
A. I think it's excellent. Poe's work is not only famous, but has a special place in Maryland's history as well! Couple that with the perfect timing of the season, and you just can't lose.
Q. Favorite line from the show!
A. "These Vaults are extensive. . . "
gofundme.com Tera Melby Michael’s lymphoma support My brother in law has been diagnosed with non Hodgkin lymphoma. He is the sole financial provider for my sister and thei
heraldmailmedia.com Michael Bair has been teaching drama for almost three decades.
Join us as we run through our first technical rehearsal in Scotland!
Day one and two of our trip to participate in the Festival Fringe this summer!
Day one and two of our trip to participate in the Festival Fringe this summer!
Robert Scott - Playwright
Great photographs of Some People by Boonsboro High School Drama Boosters, Maryland USA. Thank you for your kind words and I hope the production was a success.
Dear Boosters, on behalf of all the kids and the adults in the program, thank you for your overwhelming support throughout the "Some People" experience, and for that matter, the entire year. We know, believe me we know, that this year has been an anomaly for everything related to the program. We are grateful, and we want to make sure you are fully aware of that. Bless you!
whatsnxt.com A group of young actors are only a few performances away from a trip to Scotland.
The State of the Drama Nation “Some People” 2019
Foremost, I am typing this while Becky is driving us back to Maryland. It’s not easy, and it’s Pennsylvania, so the roads are not the smoothest thing by any means. Thus, this might be a bit shorter than I intend it to be.
I chose this title because I wanted to direct something I enjoyed, and I wanted the auditorium to go out in a fit of laughter. I have enjoyed directing the play, for the most part. For me, production frustrations start and end with work ethic and determination of actors. I believe we are all working towards making our characters better, so that’s not a question. It’s just that we are not quite there yet.
Secondly, I’m struck by the fact that this set has taken on a life of its own, and that like usual, the peripherals of this production, lights, sound, stage crew, publicity, etc, can really exhaust us. Now, not surprisingly, I believe that there is a definitive correlation between the two. To simplify the thought, I’ll just say, “When you work this hard on the technical elements of a play, it’s hard to find the energy to act in it.
I think that’s what I saw on Thursday. I did not see the passion necessary to make a great play. I saw the effort of a bunch of folks determined to get to the end of their play. I get it. I’m tired too. However, I’m really hoping these past three days have allotted you the opportunity to rest and recharge your batteries because THE END IS NEAR! I will work as hard as necessary to guarantee that success of this show, but at some point, we need the energy, enthusiasm, and enjoyment of the product to shine through.
For clarity sake, I would like to list each character below, and I would like to point out what it is that is still missing from this character. I could equally list the great things that each of you are doing, but for now, due to typing in a moving vehicle, I will focus on what is still missing.
CARL: This is so easy for me. You both lack a consistency for this character. There are times when you have him down perfectly, and then, there are times when I say, “Who is this guy?” Is he more like the playful teasing character that often appears with Vivienne, or is he more like the guy yelling at his staff while they are offstage? He must be more consistent.
JANE: I could type very similar notes for Jane, and believe me, they would really fit as well. I think the difference for Jane is that she is more stable, more reliable, and I believe she has something Carl does not have; she has a passion for this hotel and for the folks who work here. What is passion? Why, it is simply emotional intensity and determination to do something well. What is frustration? It is the inability to apply those feelings to a situation. However, you can be passionately angry, yes? There’s a hint in here….
DAVID: Vance had a very good rehearsal the other night, and it was clear to me that David is a character who can absolutely steal this show. Like the two above, the inconsistencies come out in strange places. For instance, when he enters and reveals that he is “Ginger”, he’s quite an emotional and sensitive mess. However, moments later, he is calmly signing Dr. Watson and Holmes into their rooms. There is no residue of the previous David, even though it is only about five minutes later that he is reappearing. They even call him “The Ginger Kid”, and he has no reaction to that. He should be a fund character, not someone I have to try to figure out.
VIVIENNE: Ah…I love Vivienne. If I were a female, I would want to be Vivienne. Why? She should be the most outlandish and exaggerated character in the world. You should be able to play her with wild abandonment. She should be so “out there” and “so proper” that I have no choice but to love her to death. She’s kind of like what Sandra would be in 30 years. Kirk had made some headway on Thursday, and I know Lydia struggled on Thursday. It happens. Both of you will make or break that character with volume and COVERTS.
STEPHANIE: Ironically, I think she is being played a little unevenly as well. She’s between Jane and Clare in age, and that means that she has different priorities, mentalities, and motivations. I specifically think she struggles in the scene where she tells David he has a strange imagination because seconds later she is indirectly accused by Sandra of goofing off and not doing her job. So…which was it? Was she goofing off, or was she trying to mentor David, and if so, how does that change her otherwise monotone “I got it” to Sandra’s request?
CLARE: We have her tones, concepts, and general demeanor down pat. I’m not worried about that. I am worried about body language from both girls. Neither or you has that frazzled at all times demeanor yet. You have it in certain times and certain places, but the rest of the time, she seems very “together” for a girl that has absolutely nothing together. Then….there’s this thing….she is arguing with Sandra about fighting when she gets out of the lift, but when she does, that’s it. She’s as calm as can be again. Hmmm…that one might be on me.
Jack: We were closer on Thursday than we had been. What do we do with Jack? He’s such a lovable loser. You gotta love that guy. That’s the problem. I don’t always love him. There are many times I do and feel sorry for him. Those times though are not consistent and sustained. I keep thinking of this guy as being Walter Mitty. The more he is like that; the more I will like him.
Sandra: OK…so here are some thoughts? Is she old? Is she paranoid? Is she selfish to the most extreme degree? Does she love this guy? Why did she marry him? Is there a difference between jealous and angry? Is she justifiably angry at Jack and Clare? That’s a lot to think about. I’d love to know what you think! I think she is often angry where being more snobby, rude, or insulting would work. There’s still another layer to this lady we need to discover….
YVONNE: It all begins and ends with coverts. The more she coverts, the better she will be. However, her coverts cannot be chaotic. They need to be consistently in the old lady world. What’s funnier? Is it more humorous to watch an older lady chase a man in super slow motion or at high speed? The scene where she is playing cards is kind of important because it is the place where you really see the way he intended her to be, her level of intelligence, her level of interesting, amusing, annoying. Consider this….she had Susie, but she has no husband now. There might be a giant suggestion in that thought process for both Yvonne and Susie.
SUSIE: I think that it’s easy to see Susie as a throwaway character. I obviously don’t think so, and obviously the playwright does not think so, or else why even write her into the piece? No, Susie holds the key to two important aspects of this play. For one, she sets the stage for how ludicrous his mother is, and then later, with Napoleon, she shows how ludicrous she is. You know…it’s the whole, the apple falls close to the tree mentality. In that scene, I suspect Susie is not being played like a miniature Yvonne, but if she were, how much better would that scene be?
LISA: Lisa’s actually the toughest character to play in this play because it’s very hard to get a consistent shot of who she is. There’s the “amused Lisa” who gets a kick out of seeing Napoleon chase ducks with a baking tray, and then, there’s the almost “aggressive Lisa” who tries poking Napoleon back to life. Then, there’s the “That’s not very nice Lisa” of the last scene. No, this character can be all over the place unless we come back to the heart of why she is here in the first place. That is where all the meaning is, and it explains all three Lisa’s mentioned above.
BERNICE: OK…here’s the thing…I think Bernice and Lisa are VERY MUCH alike, and I think it explains their sudden friendship. I really think Lisa is amused by Bernice, and I think Bernice finally feels like she has someone normal to talk to in her life. Then, there’s this little factor….Bernice is Napoleon’s daughter. Now, how would we know that by behavior? We know it by lines, but do we really know it by behavior? Bernice does have a sense of humor. I would like to see it more.
DEIRDRE: OK….the character is right. The voices are not always right. There are also spots where I feel like we might be dragging out the gag too much, like the “Farewell” section. If that were ACT I. I would hesitate to change that. Being Act II, I think you need to gauge that on how your audience is responding. If they are still with your character and not tired of that, I think you are fine to keep as is. If not, then, yeah, we should expedite that section. Abi’s version does not need a voice change because her behaviors seems very different after the DCI Martin section. Anya’s character needs to be more authoritative at that section, and I think we should chat about that tomorrow.
NAPOLEON: Well, as I have been saying, he must be lovable. He must be a character in whom everyone, especially kids, really like. We are still too aggressive with him at times, and he loses that lovable quality. I do not think that it is possible to be too lovable by just being more over the top with your coverts and your accent. Why should he ever be angry? He’s eccentric, out there, a little crazy perhaps, but he is NOT dangerous. Just have fun with him!
RICHARD: I just spent the weekend with two Richards, and both have this quality of always being right, never admitting they are wrong, and stubbornly sticking to their ideas no matter how much you can prove them wrong. I really noticed that this weekend, and of course, that made me think of this character. All jokes aside, that is the character. His ideas are not completely logical, he will not listen to anyone else, and he has to be right. That’s how you play him. OH…why is he friends with Skye?
SKYE: What makes this guy so likable? It’s his matter of fact, no thought process before he opens his mouth quality, right? Ironically, that’s also a good description for David. However, the difference here is that Skye is far more childlike than David. David is a dense teenager oblivious to the world around him, and Skye is not oblivious. He’s more childlike, naïve, and really, no threat to anyone at any time. That section where calls Napoleon “Nappy” proves it. OK…that and his pink backpack prove it. Have fun with the guy, would you? Be consistent with him though.
AND NOW TO EVERYTHING NOT ACTING....
CONSTRUCTION: The short version…this was a much larger job than you thought. It’s about 95% finished, and I cannot complain about the final product. There’s some quirks here and there that should have been corrected, but you have generally and specifically done your job. No complaints here!
ART: Well, signs were fast and well done. The basic concept was finished fairly fast and efficiently, even though I thought we could have used more help to get to that point. The wallpaper was finished in time, even though I thought we needed more help. Up to that point, I have no complaints. My complaint now is that you really are not finished yet, and that was my mandate. I needed you to completely finish the job before today, and we are not completely finished. Granted, it can be finished, but yeah, that’s my only complaint, beyond the usual messes.
PROPS and STAGE CREW: Well, there have been a large number of factors that have led to odd and weird permutations of incompleteness. Yes, we have dealt with illness and absences. Yes, we have a plan. Yes, it looks like we know exactly what we are doing. Do we need to practice more? Yes? Do we need to organize the plan and actors’ locations, yes, we do. My only real complaint right now is that the overall decorating of the set seems to have been lost in the shuffle. I will withhold the rest of my judgment until I see how this goes today.
PUBLICITY: It’s a big job. I get it. Generally, minus the program, we were on time and focused on the deadlines and timelines. However, I still feel like we are scrambling a little bit towards the end here. To an extent, I believe we are fine in terms of publicity, and as I always say, Publicity should never be judged until we see how many individuals actually attend this production. That’s exactly what we are going to do then. NOTE: when are you printing your cast photos?
LIGHTS: Hmmm…I think we are ready. I am continually shocked by how we are never sure who is going to run lights for these shows. It seems crazy to me that I have nearly 40 kids in period five, and possibly half of them are capable of running lights but have not been asked. I think the general plan is good, minus one cue Cody and I discussed. I have faith here though because there is competency here, but going forward, next year, I have major concerns here.
SOUND: I have no concerns here beyond preference of levels, track locations, and an odd lift noise every now and again. Kirk, Shannon, and I will be having a chat today or tomorrow to appease my concerns, but there are no large concerns here. You are right where you should be.
COSTUMES: This is the great unknown at this time. The plan here is seemingly in place and implemented. Despite that, I feel like I am unsure of certain aspects of it, specifically when, where, and how characters are changing clothes during the show. I’m still not sure I have seen the final products for every character either. I spent the weekend in a location where I knew I could find any outfit you could ever want for a low price, and I received no communication of need. Thus, I am withholding judgment here until today’s run. If you have it all, we’re good.
MAKEUP: I know that Amanda was working on a makeup plan, but alas, I have not seen it. Katie C. needs to be part of that discussion, and that discussion needs to occur today. We will be conferencing tomorrow morning (TUES) about your plan.
At this point, I feel like production has taken over the show, and while that’s not unusual, the reality is that it is time to put all of our energies into acting. This play will serve as an “end of an era” type experience for me. Looking forward, there are so many unknowns, with a sprinkling of well-knowns. I’m not sure where the next generation sits with all of this, but I do know that the current one will take this information and deal with it.
To me, this shows has the potential to be the greatest piece we have done in years, and of course, it stands the chance of being an epic failure. As you learned in Drama I, hard work guarantees nothing; it merely reduces the risk of failure. For some of you, your hard work should be rewarded. For some others here, you still have some serious work to do here. It’s your legacy, and it will be written whether or not you choose to give it all that you have. Some people will determine the overall success of “Some People.” Yeah…you see what I did there?
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