Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Got Doubts?

During our three preview performances we hold a talkback session with Artistic Director David Saint, the director of the production, and occasionally members of the company. Last night at our first preview talk back with Director Anders Cato, the audience's comments were both encouraging and insightful. I was also encouraged to see so many Rutgers students engaged and in discussion as well. Based on the performance and the discussion following, minor changes will be made to enhance the production before opening night.

During an audience poll about half agreed with Sister Aloyisious' suspicions regarding Father Flynn's alleged innappropriate behavior. The remaining half, disagreed, and believed Father Flynn was innocent.

What do you think? See Doubt now through December 23rd and then, take our poll on the right. Who's right and who's wrong? In the words of Mrs. Muller... "Some things are not black and white!"
posted by Scott Goldman, Executive Assistant

Saturday, November 24, 2007

In Tech: Doubt

So I got to sit in on technical rehearsals this weekend which began the day after Thanksgiving. Each show has two technical rehearsals which typically rehearse for 10 hours out of a 12 hour day (leaving time for a two hour meal break). Tomorrow we will have a dress rehearsal before beginning previews on Tuesday. (Buy your tickets now!)
Tech is when all the elements finally come together after weeks of design meetings and rehearsals. It's a tedious period, stopping often to adjust things like the revolve, or the bass in the sound, the timing of scene shifts and lighting cues, etc. Each scene shifts with movement of the revolve (see photos below), music elegantly composed by Scott Killian, and lighting by Daniel Kotlowitz. Scenic Designer Hugh Landwehr leaves no stone...or brick rather..unturned and his set holds many unique surprises when lit.

Here's a look at some of the process.

In the scene shop, the bench is texturized, and painted.

The deck and revolve floor is made from homosote, cut and texturized and painted as well.

A look at the finished product:

The Model
Now on Stage

When the cue is given for scenes to shift, the Assistant Stage Manager, Erin Ciallella enters a number on the counter that tells the revolve to move to a particular position.

Kudos to the production staff and crew for such hard work this weekend!

posted by Scott Goldman, Executive Assistant

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"The Sunshine Boys" say goodbye!

The Sunshine Boys closed this past Sunday after a record-breaking run becoming the highest grossing show in the history of George Street Playhouse! Here are some photos from our closing afternoon party with Touring Actors Meredith Pierce and Laura Credidio on the scene.

Michael Mastro (Ben), Laura Credidio, and Joe O'Brien (Asst. Director)

Peggy Crosby (Sketch Nurse) and Assistant Director and fellow blogger, Joe Marchese

Artistic Director David Saint and Jack Klugman

Anne Meara, Meredith Pierce, Paul Dooley and Laura Credidio

Monday, November 12, 2007

Improv Master Class with Paul Dooley

One of the best traditions in the theater is the passing on of knowledge from one generation to another. People speak often about how theater professionals need second jobs to support themselves. Among the most common second jobs is teaching, but I don’t think that actors, playwrights, and designers work as professors or lead master classes for monetary purposes alone. It’s a duty and a joy for many of the greatest craftspeople to share what they know. It’s a privilege for the rest of us, to see them work, ask them questions, learn from them, to benefit from the continuation of skilled live performance.

On Thursday, in between matinee and evening performances of The Sunshine Boys, Paul Dooley hosted an hour-long improv workshop on the mainstage for the GSP touring actors, apprentices, and anyone else interested in attending. Aided by fellow Sunshine actor Paul Stolarsky, Dooley established pretty quickly some basic rules of improvisation, through a few do/don’t demonstrations:

1) Always say ‘yes.’
2) Heighten what your partner has given you.

Saying ‘no’ may get a laugh, but it kills the scene. There’s nowhere to go when Actor A says to Actor B, “that’s no gun you’re pointing at me. That’s just your finger.” Of course it’s just a finger. But now the audience’s willingness to play along has been trampled on. And Actor B has just found out that anything he pretends will be challenged. All he has to work with are bare facts, which are that two actors are standing on a naked stage without anything to say to each other.

Then he let people start improvising. For a long stretch of time, a single exercise was kept going: two actors act out a scenario, until a third enters with a new situation; all three continue with this, one of the first two actors leaves; another actors appears with a different situation—and so on. The pace was kept up, the different situations were imaginative, and the scenes were very funny. Without any costumes or sets, anything can be imagined, and the scenes got better and better as the actors added more details—each one a surprise, because you can’t actually see it until an actor imagines it, and suddenly, it’s there in front of everyone’s eye.

One moment they’re in a restaurant, next they’re in a co-ed shower. You assume they’re naked, until one actor asks another why she’s wearing a bikini. The bikini comes off, and anything could happen next: he could see she has a rash, or is extremely big-busted; he could get aroused, or could break out in hives. Next we’re at a gay wedding, and the pastor says, “I hear you wrote your own vows! Let’s hear it.”

Dooley concluded with one of his signature performance bits, from his early days performing with the Second City comedy troupe: an improvised Shakespeare monologue. Give him any line from Hamlet, and he’ll provide his own mix of the Bard and extemporaneous irreverence. He was provided with THE line from Hamlet, and gave us a soliloquy filled with double entendres and silliness. It was great to watch his particular brand of funniness. Whereas Stolarsky is humor—like he popped out of a comic strip or a silent comedy, his very presence makes you smile—Dooley has the sort of presence that makes his doing Shakespeare (however silly the adaptation) seem not very silly a concept at all. His comedy is dry, said with such steady seriousness that sometimes a few seconds pass before your ears send the joke to your brain and it tells your mouth to emit a laugh.

It was a great hour. Dooley was applauded, and then went to prepare to give a whole audience a more substantial demonstration of comedy—namely, The Sunshine Boys, entering its final weekend of performances.

posted by Jeremy Stoller, Literary Apprentice

GSP on the Road: In Rehearsal

Now that the touring company has two shows under their belts, it is time to begin rehearsing for our third show: Peacemaker. This show is geared to our younger audiences Pre-K through 4th grades and it tells the tale of the Blues and the Reds. We begin our tale with a puppet show- with actual puppets- to illustrate how well the blues and the reds got along. Unfortunately, the bridge that separates the two lands is only wide enough for one person to cross at a time. So one day both a blue and a red want to cross at the same time but neither wants to move so they end up in a Big Fight and that started a war between both lands. End Puppet show. We then come into the present with Simp, Franny and Mr. Man all Reds and we learn that since that huge fight, no Red has ever met with a Blue and vice versa. We take the journey with Simp who wants to learn how to juggle but is unable to. Franny tries to help but just as she is about to Mr. Man enters as the guardian and protector of the Wall yelling at them to “Get away from the wall!” They soon hear a noise from the other side of the wall. Enter Bluey, a friendly Blue, who befriends Simp and Franny. In exchange of teaching Simp how to juggle Franny teaches Bluey how to dance, but they cannot see each other because of the wall. So they decide to take down the wall and be friends. But enter Mr. Man who gets freaked out to see the Wall taken down and hurriedly Simp and Franny put the wall back up to appease Mr. Man. As Simp says farewell she turns to the audience asks them how the story should go on. End Scene.

This show is a fun upbeat crazy show, and it being our shortest show it certainly is jam packed with a lot of action. Not only are the costumes huge and fun but this our most complicated set we have to construct. I would describe but it would take me a year to write it all down. Anyway’s rehearsals are going quite well. It started off slow; blocking the show scene by scene and working out moments. Gradually we added props and sounds and costumes. Now that we have finished blocking the show, we are starting to run the show with full costumes. We have been rehearsing this show for about a week and a half now and our first performance is on the 16th. I think we will be ready; the actors have done a fabulous job with the characters; and that is special thanks to Julie our Resident Teaching Artist. She has a great background in clown work and miming and that was key in understanding the characters of Peacemaker. She has worked hard with the actors having them concentrating on the mannerisms and reactions of the characters. It was a huge help, thanks Julie!!

So, that’s it for now, I have to get back to rehearsal but stay tuned for an update on our fourth and final show – Wasted.
posted by Kristen Pfiefer, Touring Stage Manager