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"Greater scope of character development across two plays"

The most exciting thing about doing serial theater at Arisia 2016 is the ability to show the characters grow and change over the course of multiple stories. This development is one of the most engaging things to present for an audience. When we develop an interest in and an affection for characters, we love to track the progress of their personal journeys. Narrative demands growth and change, which of course we’re familiar with seeing over the course of a single play, but with our attempt at serial theater, we’ve got the chance to give the audience a greater scope of character growth then they’ve ever seen onstage before.

This presents an interesting, and in many cases unique, challenge for our actors. With the lion’s share of their experience being in theater, they have not had the chance to play the same character in more than one story. When they reprise Mrs. Hawking, the first play, they recreate the characters’ original journeys that they are already familiar with. However, at the same time, they must start Vivat Regina’s rehearsal process from the place their character ended in Mrs. Hawking.

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Early rehearsal for Vivat Regina, with Jeremiah O'Sullivan as Nathaniel and Isabel Dollar as Frau Gerhard.


Read the rest of the entry on Mrshawking.com!

Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 15th-18th at the Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2016.
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The last thing I played at Festival this year was Saturday Market, which despite the title was a light Sunday morning game written by [livejournal.com profile] natbudin. I was impressed by the fact that he wrote it by himself as an unofficial entry into the most recent Iron GM competition. It's a horde game about customers coming to a California farmer's market. I'll play anything Nat writes, so even though horde games tend to not be my thing, I wanted to give it a try.

Apparently I was the only person who signed up who was willing to be a character who spends the entire game high, so I did. At first I'd planned on going lower-key with it. I pulled up the hood on a ratty hoodie, wore a pair of sunglasses, and carried in a bottle of eye drops and a bag of salty snacks. But as I probably should have been able to predict, "subtle" pretty much went out the window as soon as I started talking. I actually think I gave a pretty good performance. I kept up a virtually constant barrage of stream-of-consciousness "meep and deaningful" musings on a number of topics that mostly managed to avoid cliches. I mused on life, the universe, and everything in sufficiently vague and ultimately meaningless terms, and I did not use, in any form, the term "expand your consciousness." But as I should have guessed, eventually I found myself staring into the void of existential angst and started raving, and when I yell for extended periods, it starts to give me a headache. That, combined with the need to constantly improvise more things to say, meant I burnt out hard after only an hour. I had to go lay down after that. Ah, well. It was fun while I lasted. People laughed, which was my goal. I am a performer, after all.

It's not a deep game, but I enjoyed it. Could use a little tweaking to give it a touch more substance, but I love an opportunity to just go off on the acting like that, and it definitely delivered. And that was my Festival! A varied, interesting one indeed. I hope everybody had as much fun as I did, and that we do even better next year.
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Today I finally remembered that the last episode of Cabin Pressure had been released-- over two months ago, as a matter of fact --and I hadn't listened to it. Tonight I finally did, and I am reasonably satisfied. To be honest, it didn't WOW me, as it rested on some plot stuff that I personally didn't think measured up to its usual level of construction, but was serviceable enough. And it definitely had the characters grow in the right direction for the finale, which is what really matters. So overall, I'd say a pretty worthy ending.

I wish more people I knew listened to it, for several reasons. [livejournal.com profile] polaris_xx introduced me to it a few years back. I highly recommend the series, for people who like podcasts and audio dramas particularly, but also just anyone who likes British comedy. It's very funny, the characters have enough depth and meaning of relationship to make you invest, and the writing is clever in the extreme. I have a fondness for stories where the plots are CLEVER, and some of them are so cunningly put together it's awe-inspiring. Also I need a little character and emotional depth even in my comedies, and I think they strike the right balance.

Notably, it also features Benedict Cumberbatch, having started with it before he became super-famous, and it's the reason that I still have a real fondness for him despite being sick of his oversaturation and disliking some of the roles he gets now. The character he plays is so completely unglamorous that it doesn't come off as self-flattering, he is genuinely funny, and you can see that he can really ACT when he's not being overshadowed by his own hype.

It's written in the style where even when they're delving into the characters' emotions and personal lives, they always seem a bit closed off, like they're not really telling the whole story. I think it's a British thing, as they're not as emotionally open a culture. But it establishes a LOT of depth with just a few inward glimpses, which impresses me, and I like when such things are done with a subtle hand. Plus it allows the audience's imagination to fill in the blanks, and God knows how fandom enjoys that.

My big reason for wishing more people liked it, however, is because I want more people to appreciate what a good job I did with my fan fic. I really think I not only wrote a good piece in it, I actually think I nailed the author's style. The characters sound like themselves, it's genuinely funny, and I think it fits seamlessly into the continuity. No mean feat, making a truly funny comedy in imitation of another writer! I thought it might be too long, but I read on John Finnemore's blog that he shoots for scripts of about 5,600 words, and mine's only a little over 5,700. Neat! Hell, the last episode didn't even knock it out of canon like I feared! Honestly, though the ending's a bit weak in my push to finish it, and I'll be the first to admit it's not closely edited, I actually think my script is funnier than the actual finale was. ;-)
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Saturday night I played in Spring River, the newest from Alleged Entertainment, written by [livejournal.com profile] natbudin, [livejournal.com profile] emp42ress, [livejournal.com profile] simplewordsmith, and [livejournal.com profile] v_cat. I always try to play their stuff, at least when I'm not on the writing team myself, as they do some excellent innovative stuff with the form of larp. I was actually invited to be on the team for this one, which I regretfully had to decline due to other commitments, but the upside was I got to play in it.

The premise of the game is that every player is one personality trait within a complete character, so four of you make up one complete person who must battle it out to figure out what decisions your shared person will make. While not on rails, there are few secrets in the game, and you are actively encouraged to temporarily drop out of character to plan what the most dramatic trajectory for your person. By the end your character will have lived a mostly complete life as determined by how the various personality traits determine their choices.

I was cast as Noah's Hedonism, a role that I was not immediately sure how to approach. I didn't want to go creepy or gross, and I didn't want to box myself into something repetitive that wouldn't be applicable in all situations. Like, if I chose to interpret it as fixated on, like, animal appetites, like always wanting to go off and have sex or eat or something, it would get old fast and I wouldn't have much to contribute to actual conversations. So I decided to go with the idea of "I want what I want when I want it," with no ability to suck it up and deal in situations I didn't want to be in. Being obsessed with pleasure, in this case, meant always wanting to do the comfortable, pleasant, easy thing, rather than ever work, struggle, or suffer. I found this to be a workable perspective in the context of the game.

It was clear from the beginning that I was the worst part of Noah-- the weakest, the most immature, the most wrong. I believe I existed, from a game design standpoint, as the force of conflict in Noah's brain, as the others were his Idealism, his Nuturing, and his Competitiveness. I played it like a self-centered teenager, and whiny, loud, and actually pretty funny, advocating for the easy, fun, impulsive choices. This had the effect, I think, of establishing me as both really absurd, and always wrong. I think that made sense, as I knew I was the shoulder devil of the group. All that seemed to work, and I think I did a pretty good job of it. I even think I was the only person to make in-character use of the fact that we were all tied together at the wrist. When they were having a boring conversation I didn't want to be in, I pulled as far away as I could and slumped on the floor so that they couldn't forget my deadweight pulling on them; when I wanted them to go my way, sometimes I tried to pull them over towards me by it. But I have to say, I ended up having probably the strangest moment I've ever had in a larp because of it.

There was a moment where my team seemed inclined to go down a path that I as Hedonism felt was not just a pain, but CATACLYSMIC for our character. We'd become too workaholic, our stress was huge and we weren't really enjoying our life, our family, or anything. Since this was such an extreme moment, I decided that was the point that Hedonism would throw a fit. I mostly had just whined and made demands up to then, so I thought the time had come to escalate. And that's where the strangeness started. They literally ignored me. They didn't just tell me they weren't going to do what I wanted; they started talking to each other and paid no attention to me at all. So I escalated. I actually started yelling things like, "I NEED YOU TO TAKE CARE OF ME." And they STILL ignored me, despite the fact that I had, albeit in a whiny obnoxious fashion, descended into nakedly begging to be addressed. That was the moment that Phoebe was yanked outside of the character of Hedonism for a moment and became really aware of the circumstances. And believe it or not, I experienced my first-ever moment of bleed in a larp.

I'm pretty much ninety-nine percent bleed-proof in larps; I am a technique actor, not method. But, if you know me at all, you probably know that about half of everything I do is influenced by the desire to prove to the universe that I am not lazy or needy-- basically trying to avoid anything that could ever be construed as hedonism. Not that it's exactly the same, but I never want to be the kind of person who imposes on other people for their own comfort. As Hedonism in that moment, I was doing exactly that. It was totally in character for Hedonism, but not only would Phoebe NEVER demand to be taken care of, but she's fairly convinced that it's the fastest way to give people contempt for you. So they'd never actually indulge that. So Phoebe had a weird moment where she saw people ignoring Hedonism's BEGGING for care and it confirmed for her that deep-set fear and belief of, "Wow. Even if you're desperate, you really can't expect help from anyone. They won't be there." And that caused that weird emotional bleed through where Hedonism's situation made Phoebe have a little moment of upset.

Now, it totally made sense for my scene partners to act that way. As I said, my performance taught them to regard Hedonism as both absurd and always wrong. And while it made sense to me that Hedonism wanted to be heard in that moment, I was not feeling like other players were being unfair in any way; I certainly didn't care that I wasn't getting my way. Ultimately, Hedonism pointed out that they NEVER gave in to what Hedonism wanted, and it was about damn time. It led to the other characters realizing that they'd never fed their desire to feel good and have fun and it had boiled over. I think it's notable that while many traits, such as Nuturing/Overbearing in Noah, had both a positive and negative aspect specified to them. Hedonism only had the negative, but it occurs to me that the positive side of it could be considered to be "Self-care." And that part definitely got neglected in Noah! And you know, having that be a crisis point actually gave an interesting turn to our character's story. He NEEDED to struggle through this problem, and that conflict shaped our arc. As [livejournal.com profile] natbudin pointed out, it led to a startlingly diagetic representation of a midlife crisis.

So I really liked this game. While I'm not really in larp for bleed, I prefer to just tell compelling stories, it was interesting that this happened to me. And I loved the acting challenge the strange role offered. So I highly recommend this game, which will be running at Festival this April!
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Vivat Regina, the second installment in the Mrs. Hawking series, is going to be having a staged reading with Bare Bones, the reading series hosted by Somerville, MA theater troupe Theatre@First!


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Bare Bones previously hosted a reading of the original Mrs. Hawking in April of 2013, which was performed to great success. I'm very fortunate that the excellent actors who portrayed the three leads, Elizabeth Hunter as Mrs. Hawking, Gabrielle Geller as Mary, and Ryan Kacani as Nathaniel, have all agreed to return to play their characters again in the reading of the sequel. I'm so excited to work with them again!

Auditions for the remaining roles will be held on Tuesday, September 2nd at Unity Somerville at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA. I will be looking for one man to read for Arthur Swann and two women, one for Clara Hawking and one to be double-cast as Mrs. Braun and Frau Gerhard. The ability to do a German accent would be welcome for the latter actress but is not required. Any interested parties are welcome and encouraged to try out!

If you're interested in coming out, please go to the Bare Bones website for relevant information and how to sign up for an appointment!

The reading will be held one night only, on Thursday, October 2nd at 8PM at Unity Somerville. Admission is free but there is a $5 suggested donation to support Theatre@First.

For more information about the piece, be sure to check out the Vivat Regina tag on Mrshawking.com.
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I am happy to report that at long last, GHOSTSHOW is done and to effect that we are pleased and proud to have delivered. We've been working on it for a long time, and ran into a lot of stumbling blocks, and yet it turned out tonight as something we can be proud of.

To be honest, we got probably to the point of over-rehearsing. We originally prepared to have the show ready to go for October, in order to have a Halloween performance, but our inability to find appropriate and affordable space for it pushed it back. By the time we found the Democracy Center and got a date, we'd been working on it for months. We didn't want to get out of practice, so we kept rehearsing the whole time, but I think it caused us to get kind of bored with the material. But getting through tech week and then finally putting it in front of an appreciative audience reinvigorated us, and that magical thing happened where the whole performance steps up to a new level when it's finally in front of people.

Our audience was lovely, too. The space that served as our house was not especially large but we did manage to fill it, and even better, they were beautifully responsive. They seemed to follow what we were trying to do, and laughed at all the jokes. That is just so gratifying, and as a performer gives you so much energy. And each and every one of us, Charlotte, Gigi, Eboracum, Frances, Lenny, and myself, did well.

The most difficult thing about all this was being responsible for ALL aspects of putting a show together. All producer, technical, creative, and publicity duties. It's a ton of work and not easy to accomplish with no established structures or resources behind you. But we accomplished a ton in the end and learned a lot, so I'm really proud of us for tackling those new challenges.

I also feel like I accomplished my personal artistic goal going into this. Since the format was many short pieces of different styles, that meant we each played a number of different roles. I, for example, was Barnardo from Hamlet, Rorcius from [livejournal.com profile] crearespero's Ghost of Wittenberg, Pompey in [livejournal.com profile] dendron_ges's At Phillipi, and Richard from Richard III. I endeavored to make each of my characters different from the others, and I think I succeeded, from vocal pattern to physicality. I was particularly pleased with my portrayal of Rorcius, who is supposed to be in danger of becoming like Hamlet due to his same potential for madness, who had a great trajectory of starting out arrogant and just out for a lark and really got to break loose when he realized he wouldn't get to speak to the ghost he had been chasing. I also was very happy with Richard, who I struggled to get a handle on. The levels were what was important to me with him, the shifts between rage and fear, the aggressive moments versus the vulnerable ones. But I think I did a pretty decent job in the performance.

I'm really proud of us. We did a lot of hard work, overcame a lot of challenges, and came out with a very good end product. I'm glad to have done it, and glad it's done now, as I can use one fewer obligation on my plate.

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I had a reading dinner last night for various bits and pieces I've written. A couple ten-minute plays, and some fragments I hope to incorporate into larger work. It went really well, I had a lot of very talented people show up to help me out by letting me hear how the scripts sounded when performed, which is an important part of developing a piece of theater. It also served to inspire me to write more, to want to create more for these projects and bring them further toward completeness.

It went so well that I'm having another reading dinner this Saturday. I have a major work I need to finish by this weekend, so I am using it both as a motivator to finish the first draft as well as a chance to see what it needs for the second draft. Unfortunately it has a lot of roles in it, and I prefer to double as little as possible, so I could use a few people to show up and read. So if you have a free Saturday night and would like to help me out, please let me know if you'd be interested in coming by. Basically, in return for a delicious home-cooked meal, you will accept a role to read in the script and give me feedback afterward-- what worked for you, what didn't, what you think it still needs, that sort of thing.

We're starting at 7PM, so if you can give me the pleasure of your talent and your company, I would be eternally grateful. Let me know!

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Hold Thy Peace's fall 2013 production was Hamlet, directed by the lovely and talented Sam LeVangie, went up this past weekend, and I was very proud of them. They did a great job with very challenging material, and I couldn't believe how many talented people came together in that cast. It's so amazing to see how far Hold Thy Peace has come-- when I was in undergrad, it was very much the bastard stepchild of the Brandeis theater group, but now it seems to have completely moved past the old conflicts. Even the school respects it more, as is demonstrated by the three thousand dollar budget it got to put on the show. It makes me really proud and happy, as Hold Thy Peace was such an important part of my life.

The set was really gorgeous; designed by Ryan Kacani, they made a castle backdrop with beautiful faux stained glass windows, and the lighting effects for the ghosts were subtle and beautiful. [livejournal.com profile] niobien's recent intensive technical experience really showed as she stepped into Bernie's shoes as the new technical director. I loved Sam's vision for the show. Simply put, she has Horatio be a ghost that only Hamlet could see, and as other characters died, they joined the ranks of ghosts haunting the prince, chipping at his sanity, and silently foretelling his doom. Played by Aaron Fischer, he became a solemn Cassandra figure, understated in comparison to the intensity around him. Ryan played Claudius as a charismatic politician with an air of the ends justifying the means, his confidence designed to smooth over a crumbling inner state. His scene with Claudius's confessional monologue was one of the strongest scenes in the show. And of course there was Alex Davis as Hamlet, one of the most talented undergrads I've ever seen at Brandeis, whose tremendous ability to command a stage with his presence makes him absolutely mesmerizing. It was overall a wonderful cast, and I'm amazed to see multiple strong leading men in HTP for the first time.

I took this picture of Alex and Frances, the two Hamlets of HTP. Very different portrayals in all possible ways, and both amazing for different reasons. I like this little bit of history. :-)


The show also brought up a lot of memories. As you may recall, I directed the first production of Hamlet HTP ever put up, back in November of 2007. I was very proud of that show, and I think we did a very good job overall, despite struggling to find good people to be involved and so few resources for production. Honestly I was happy enough with my idea behind that show that I'd love to recreate it now that I'm more developed as a director. But at the same time it's become something that's a bit difficult to think about. It was a project that Jared was very deeply involved with, and I can't think about that play without having to think about him.

Cut for bitching and whining. )

I'll just have to figure out some way to separate the two. For well or for ill, one thing I've always been good at is distancing myself from memories. They don't necessarily stick to me-- I tend to reframe them as narratives and hold onto them that way, rather than maintain mental snapshots or videos of the moments --and that's made me good at keeping what I want to keep and moving past what I don't. Hopefully I will be able to keep this from tainting the memory of something I should really be proud of.

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Been reading the book Very British Problems by Rob Temple, based off the most excellent Twitter feed @soverybritish. It's mostly jokes about the desperation to avoid social interaction by any means necessary, and the pressure to be completely polite even when enraged or deeply trespassed against --two things I relate to intensely. (I always knew I was British in my soul. ;-) ) I was first turned onto it by a tweet from Tom Hiddleston, whose feed I also follow, and because of this I imagine every incident described by Very British Problems to be happening to him, and he's so sweet and adorable that it just makes it that much better. I highly recommend it if you don't follow it already. This particular style of humor has always appealed to me; it's actually pretty much the same as the central joke in The Late Mrs. Chadwick. Stuffy, unfailingly polite, emotionally repressed British chaps.

Of course, Tom Hiddleston would make for a great Arthur Chadwick, now that I think of it. He'd probably put a very positive, trying-to-be-cheery spin on it. And Benedict Cumberbatch would be a great Edwin Shrewsbury across from him. I'd love to see him doing the slight nervousness and unsureness of the absolute best, most polite way to handle a dead wife throwing things at you. Or what the hell, switch them around and I'm sure they'd be just as good. And as long as we're fantasy-casting famous British actors, Matilda Chadwick would HAVE to be played by Helena Bonham-Carter. :-)

Shockingly, even this silly humor book, which paints the country as a rainy muddy dreary place full of morbid alcoholics, manages to stir the growing desire in me to run away to England. The place has always called to me, and due to being a remarkably bad, motion-sick traveler I've never been. During my bad periods in the last several years, it was the fantasy place I'd imagine disappearing to in order to escape. But even though I'm doing well again, more and more, with media I consume and the art I feel compelled to make, I find myself being pulled to it. My budget hardly is fit right now for a transatlantic voyage, but in the not too distant future I need to figure out some way to finally visit.

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They released the list of semifinalists in the Final Draft Big Break screenwriting contest, and I am sad to say my Tailor script did not end up on the list. I am much more bummed about this fact than I expected to be. I mean, it had so many entrants that I figured my chances of making any progress at all weren't good, so I tried not to get my hopes up. But I was pretty happy with the edit I submitted, and when I made it to the Quarter Finals, I was really pleased and proud, so I guess I got my hopes up anyway. Pretty disappointed, I have to say, even though I know I was being silly to expect too much. But my teachers and classmates kindly pointed out that it being a Quarter Finalist is an achievement in itself, enough that I can add it as a credential on my writing resume and include it with the script if I submit anyplace else. Which had not really occurred to me. That's definitely a nice thing, and something to be proud of. I'm still disappointed, but I'm trying to look at that upside of things.

Boeing-Boeing closes today. We have our last "matinee" (in quotes because it's so late) at 4 and then we tear down the set. I'm really happy to have been part of it and that it went so well-- it's been a fun show to do with a fun role for me, plus it's had good-sized audiences every night. It's really good to have had to have had this and Tom Sawyer: The Musical, the immediately previous show, go so well. That makes me feel good. I'm also glad that it's winding down now, as it's been a pretty exhausting week. I'll be happy to have more time again, if only to be able to get back to regular writing on this blog!

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Again, I was so damn busy this week I had no time to blog. I hate when that happens. But this was tech week for Boeing-Boeing, and between running errands and traveling downtown and actually rehearsing, plus all my other worky-type things, I've barely had an hour at a time to sit down and think.

As you can see, the three of us playing stewardesses look awfully cute! Laura Loy, the girl playing the German in yellow there, and I did the costuming. We originally thought we might rent the uniforms, so that they would look more or less like the actual sixties-era uniforms, but I wasn't really digging the cookie-cutter suits in different colors look. So instead we decided we'd go to the Garment District and dig around in their vintage stuff. We found the red and yellow minidresses and a blue pantsuit for me. I detached the waistband from the pants, opened up the legs, and combined them into the skirt you see me wearing here. I was quite proud of us, we made much more interesting, adorable ensembles for way cheaper than renting them. :-)

This was a bit of a rough tech, as our rehearsal period didn't go how we planned. We lost a lot of time early on, and I only had been called like twice before we'd hit our original off-book deadline. A big part of my process is to match the lines to the movement in the blocking, and so without that, I think I had a much harder time getting things down than I usually do. We also had very little time in our performance space, as we were renting out a space in the First Church of Boston which has other functions going on there, so we had to split build and tech time with rehearsal time. I confess we were worried at certain points. But we all worked really hard, and as it often does when you finally get down to the wire and get in front of an actual audience, things came together!

We performed to a decent-sized audience that laughed a lot, which gave us energy, and I think we did pretty well. I was even pleasantly surprised to find that everyone thought my Italian accent was pretty good! Jenn, who is fluent, said it sounded good, and I even had a native speaker who was in the audience tell me I sounded just like friends of hers who spoke English with an accent! I've never been all that good at accents and I worked really hard on it, so that was incredibly gratifying.

Finally, I was also delighted to have lovely friends-- Bernie, Carolyn, Steph, Gigi, Jenn, John, Caitlin, Plesser, Frances, and Eboracum, if I remember everyone --come out to see it. Thank you so much, lovely friends! Your honor me with your presence. Tonight I will have my brother Casey and his girlfriend Sara, which means a lot to me, so I hope we do as well.

If you might like to come out and see us, we still have three performances left! Buy tickets at www.zptheater.com with coupon code zeropoint to get $20 tickets. We're in The First Church of Boston tonight and tomorrow at 8, then on Sunday at 4!

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Gabriella, groovy stewardess for Alitalia, has a message for you!



Isn't her accent adorable? (She's been working on it for weeks now.) She's a lovely Italian, though her director thinks she doesn't look enough like one. And her outfit? That neckercheif? The puffy-sleeved blazer? She's so cute! Ignore how chipmunky she looks in the preview still. :-) And if you like her neat outfit, wait till you get a load of the neato mod dresses the other stewardesses wear!

You can buy tickets at www.zptheater.com and if you use the coupon code zeropoint they'll be reduced to $20 a piece.
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I've mused on this before, but every time I have to kiss someone onstage I'm struck by what odd things it does to my headspace. It's not that it's that hard or awkward for me, I don't have a ton of hangups about it. But it requires me to make a mental shift that, while not negative, is definitely an unusual experience for me.

The character I'm playing, Gabriella, is turning out to be a real vamp. Very attention-seeking, sexy, and physical. Plus I decided that as a humorous thing I could do the stereotypical Italian thing of touching people too much and not respecting people's personal space. So obviously I end up being all over the character of Bernard, who is Gabriella's fiancé. There's some weirdness to the fact that I'm kissing somebody that in any normal, real-life context I would not be kissing. I'm in a monogamous relationship, I believe my scene partner Nick is married, so there's this little mindset shift that has to happen. "No, in most circumstances this is not something you would do, but in this special circumstance, it's the appropriate thing."

And there's a tension between in the in-character and out-of-character communication. You want to do a good job as an actor, which means you need to be appear convincing and genuine to the audience, so you need to be appear to be comfortable and into it to the degree that your character would be. It's not going to work or look good if your personal inhibitions are holding you back. But whatever enthusiasm you're supposed to be showing in character needs to be balanced, I think, with making sure you don't seem EXCESSIVELY enthusiastic about it OUT of character. Sure, it may be human to get a little kick out of getting to kiss some cute nice person you wouldn't normally get to, but you certainly don't want to make that person think you're taking inappropriate advantage or crossing boundaries. I mean, that person's there to do a job, not be sexually harassed. Bodily autonomy is really important to me, as is not making someone feel sexualized against their will. There was a moment in rehearsal yesterday where we ran a part of a scene that had a kiss written into the stage directions, and it wasn't working quite right, so we had to run it several times in a row. I went in for the kiss each time, not realizing that its placement in the action was part of the problem, until our director Bobby had to tell me to just forget about it. I was embarrassed and apologized to Nick, as I didn't want to make him feel like I was making an excuse to mack on him. I'm slightly more accustomed to a kind of stage kissing where exactly what sort of romantic business will be happening at what point is laid out really specifically before it happens. Honestly there's too much to get through in this show to move that slow about it, but the advantage of that is that you never make the mistake of approaching the kiss wrong for the situation-- too enthusiastically, not enthusiastically enough, whatever. Nick has never been anything but nice, professional, and fun to work with, so I want to show him the courtesy of being the same.

To be perfectly honest, I think I would find it difficult to get all that "into" romantic stage activity in any case. There's so many things you have to worry about while it's happening, does it look right, am I holding my body right, what's my next line, can the audience see what they're supposed to, is the timing working out, blah blah blah, that you're just entirely too distracted and detached. I hope that is helping me keep the balance properly between a convincing performance of affection onstage and making my scene partner feel sexualized out of character.

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We're getting into putting together Boeing-Boeing in earnest! Rehearsals have been fun and funny, and the show is shaping up to be high-energy and hilarious. I play one of three stewardesses in the 60s who are all dating Bernard, a Parisian bachelor, but don't ever run into each other because they all fly out at different times. Until, of course, the planes start getting faster and faster and he must keep them from finding out about one another. I am Gabriella, the Italian, and I have been working away at my silly Italian accent. I'm lucky this is a comedy because I sound pretty absurd, but hopefully it will add to the humor. Also, it was amusing when I was practicing my lines with Bernie, who kept laughing at odd moments, until I realized I had never before picked up on the fact that in real life I was dating a "Bernardo" as well!

Today myself and the extremely talented Laura Loy, who plays Gretchen the German stewardess, went to the Garment District to see what we could find in the way of period costuming for us girls. We had considered renting the uniforms, but we were a little underwhelmed by their less-adorable-than-we'd-hoped quality, so we figured we might as well just buy stuff that was both cuter and cheaper to acquire. We turned out to be very lucky! We found two fabulous mod dresses, one in acid red and one in mustard yellow for the TWA and Luftansa flight attendants respectively, and a light blue period suit for me. It was a pant suit, unfortunately, and I needed a skirt, but I decided to see if I couldn't hack off the legs and make one out of them. It turned out VERY short, as it could only be as long as the crotch of the pants, but that's pretty much the look we wanted. I also want to take the jacket in so the fit is a little closer. I may also be temporarily darkening my hair so that I look, according to the director, "more Italian." I am half-Italian, as a matter of fact, but I will concede my WASPy side shows through more in my appearance. Regardless, I intend to be very cute.

It's shaping up to be a fun and hilarious show. If you would like to come out and see us, we're going up October 17th-20th in the Black Box at the First Church of Boston at 60 Marlborough Street, Boston, MA. Tickets can be bought at www.benttheater.com or www.zptheater.com, and if you use the code zeropoint, you can get a discount on Friday through Sunday tickets.

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For reference, my current set of projects that I have going on:

- acting in Boeing-Boeing, a Zero Point production going up in October. I'm playing Gabriella, the Italian stewardess, so I need to get off book and practice my accent.

- costuming Tom Sawyer, the Zero Point children's musical, going up at the end of September.

- acting, directing, and producing for GHOSTSHOW, the ghost-themed collection of short pieces for Watch Coty Players.

- editing the script for the new musical.

- the Mrs. Hawking website, to try a get a web presence and generate interest in the property.

Plus all the mundane things like life responsibilities, finding work, and otherwise. Christ I am busy.

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Mrs. Loring reading


I have two cool pieces of news for my career in the theater!

I've gotten a role in a professional show with Zero Point, the theater company I work for, called Boeing-Boeing. It is a silly, not totally tasteful but funny comedy show about a Parisian bachelor who juggles three flight attendant girlfriends because their flights call them away at different times, but is finding that faster jets means his schedules are starting to collapse into one another. I am playing Gabriella, the Italian girl with Alitalia. That means I have to practice my Italian accent! This is a very different sort of show than I usually do and I like this cast a lot, and I'm really excited to have gotten into a professional show. It's going up in the First Church of Boston downtown October 17th-20th. I hope you'll join me to hear my cheesy accent and see me look cute in a sixties stewardess uniform.

Also, Zero Point is giving me an opportunity to have a staged reading for my new full-length play, Mrs. Loring! It's the play I wrote for my thesis, inspired by and a prequel of sorts to The Tailor of Riddling Way. The summary:

"Young society wife Elizabeth Loring had everything she ever wanted, until her husband's death in World War I left her too emotionally shattered to live her life or care for her now-fatherless newborn daughter. At a loss, she has come to convalesce is an upscale mental hospital that provides comfort but traps troubled women in a cage of their own helplessness. But when she meets a young woman named Ginny in danger of being consumed by both her illness and the hospital itself, Elizabeth finds a new identity as a force of independence and strength in the face of an oppressive institution."

It will be going up in the Arsenal Center for the Arts black box in Watertown at 8PM on Thursday, August 29th. I'm still in the process of casting and assigning parts, but I do know that Elizabeth Loring will be read by the phenomenal Caitlin Patridge, and Ginny by the talented Samantha LeVangie, and I am extremely excited about that. I hope you will come and hear this piece presented by these talented actors. I've got rehearsals to arrange and editing to do, and I am determined to make this piece the best it can possibly be. Come out and help me develop this new piece!

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Lovely actor friends, I have been asked to find three actors, two women and one man, who are available to read a new play in development for a playwright. The date will be either 7/22 or 7/24 depending on availability. There won't be any rehearsal, just the reading for the playwright. The location will be, I believe, in Watertown.

Please let me know ASAP if you're interested!
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I'm pleased to report that Watch City Players' Shakespeare in the park piece, A Midsummer Night's Tempest, went off well. We performed it yesterday just before the concert series that Waltham sponsored on the commons, and despite the myriad annoyances inherent in performing in an outside space with few formal audience rules, we sallied forth bravely with our performance. I was so proud of everyone involved. [livejournal.com profile] crearespero and [livejournal.com profile] dendron_ges cut together a very clever edit of Shakespeare's two fairy plays, The Tempest and Midsummer, and Frances shouldered the administrative and creative burdens of directing. What I liked best about our piece was that it had both a humor to it and a "cool" factor, complete with broad, illustrative action so that the story could be carried even if you didn't get the words. We were told to aim our piece at kids, so that was a real success, especially when some little cuties in the audience came up to us and eagerly asked us questions. That was really gratifying. And of course, I love this cast, which also included the lovely and lovely to work with actors [livejournal.com profile] katiescarlett29, [livejournal.com profile] iagotolycus, Charlotte, and Nick. I think we impressed the Waltham Arts Council, and brought a little Shakespeare to people who might not have been otherwise familiar.

I would someday like to do full versions of the two plays that incorporate some of elements we developed here. I loved Frances's interpretation of Ariel as a spirit of chaos and even of frolic, but with a lurking danger beneath-- that it may have had something to do with the death of Sycorax, and its rapport with Prospero came from some combination of a true respectful connection and enough raw power to keep it under control. Frances and [livejournal.com profile] nennivian sang much of the poetry to original music that Frances composed herself, and the dance and movement that they did to accompany it captured that way dance has of giving an extra layer of meaning to the poetry of the speech. I aspire to choreography like that. And finally, I really dug the version of Puck I did here. We called him "Bro Puck," as he was all heart and guts and loins with no brain, a distinctly masculine presence, a kind of chaos that rolled around like a happy dumb wrecking ball without a drop of malice behind it. It made for some really funny stage business for me to do, and I would love to play this version of the character in the full play sometime. 
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The second production under the auspices of the Watch City Players is underway. The Waltham Arts Council has asked us to do a small Shakespearean presentation at the gazebo in the Waltham Common for a child-and-family audience in July. After deciding that the magical, fairy sections of Shakespeare are the most appealing to a younger crowd who may not necessarily understand the langauge, [livejournal.com profile] crearespero and [livejournal.com profile] dendron_ges cut together a really clever blending of The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream. We are designing it to be broad, funny, and whimsical.

We had our first rehearsal tonight, and it was a lot of fun and, I think, went very well. I will be reprising my role as Puck, one of my favorite roles I've played, but with a pretty different spin. Where my HTP Puck was calculating and scheming, this Puck is turning out to be a spirit of chaos, very physical, all heart and guts and not much brain. It's going to be very funny, and I felt really good just riffing on this absurd personality.

The show will be going up one night only at the gazebo on Waltham Common at 6PM on Tuesday, July 9th. If you'd care to come out and support us, we should at least be able to make you laugh. :-)
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teenshospital

Busily at work editing my full-length play Mrs. Loring, the piece I wrote for my thesis. Because I do better focusing and buckling down when I have a meaningful deadline to work towards, I have decided I'm having a reading of it, informally and over dinner at my house, this coming Thursday night. Afterward I'll want to hear impressions, suggestions, and opinions on how things are working. It's extremely helpful for figuring out how the piece sounds and if all the elements gel.

I still could use a few more actors to do the reading, though. So, actor friends, if you're not busy this coming Thursday night 6/20 around 8:30, come on over to my place. I will feed you dinner in exchange for your voice and your reactions to the script. Please let me know if you can make it, so I can plan and figure out if I have enough people. 

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