Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Christmas Carol - Blog 4 - David Barker (Christmas Present)

We now enter our final week of performances and I can genuinely say, as I always do at this time, I am very sad to see the production approach closing night. This is my 3rd season playing the Ghost of Christmas Presnt along with ensemble roles and this project is unlike any other I have ever done. When I enter the dressing room area each day I have the feeling that I am among family. I like to turn the corner after passing through secuity, face thee long hallway of dressing rooms and beegin singing aloud "You will get a sentimental feeling when you hear, voices singing lets be jolly...," and someone somewhere in one of the rooms finishes the lyric. Its hard to believe but with a cast and a crew of this size, there is not one person I don't know on a first name basis, nor is there one person I don't feel comfortable being around! (I'm not sure they all can say the same for me, because I tend to be loud and goofy.) There is a true sense of warmth and friendship. But beyond that, this is a production that literally spreads cheer to hundreds of people every time we take the stage. And yet, with all its color, song, dance and special effects, the show transcends mere entertainment. I know each night when we gather behind the grand curtain for the opening tableau (which provides an opportunity to repeat a beautiful, bonding series of traditions as each cast member settles into the tableau often with the same sequence of behaviors which range from waves to hugs to high fives), that we begin bringing a classic story to life; an epic tale of redemption, forgiveness and hope.

God bless us everyone!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Christmas Carol - Blog 3 - Gene Ganssle (Fred)

What a fun, exhausting, rewarding week!

There's always a joy opening "Carol". I should know; it's my 10th season as Fred. Even rehearsing in 90 degrees, you can't help but get into the Spirit of the Season.

We decorate our dressing rooms, do a Secret Santa adventure and adopt a St. Vincent de Paul family. There always seems to be baked goods and games brought to the actor lounge to share, and everyone - despite being extremely busy - saves a smile for each other throughout the run.
If you have a chance to come see us, I think you'll see the joy we feel in doing this show.
Have a Blessed Christmas,
Gene Ganssle

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Christmas Carol - Blog 2 - Mike Lawler (Marley)

The cast of A Christmas Carol at Actors Theatre is a family.
Kim Bennett (our Scrooge) said it and I believe it. And while we are in rehearsal we are spending more time with each other than our families. But what a great time!

My name is Mike Lawler and this is my third year of playing Jacob Marley (Scrooge's deeased partner). What a cast! We get David Barker entertaining us during rehearsal breaks with some of the wackiest jokes ever heard. We're in our second week of rehearsal and he is still trying to get us to do a group improv to 'break the ice'.

5 year old Casey Likes is playing Tiny Tim this year. He is a 5 year old renaissance man. Not only doing a great job playing Tiny Tim but he has another project in the works. Casey is directing and starring in "PowerMan" which he will be shooting during the Christmas Carol run. He's holding auditions for the cast (though some parts have been pre-cast). There is lots of excitement about this movie. Rumor has that Matthew Wiener is either going to have a cameo as a Starbucks latte man or play Casey's sidekick. No decision yet.

Lillie Richardson just makes me laugh. She's fantastic.

I get to work with actors and actresses who are first-rate. I'm thrilled when I get to work with them in scene or song and I love watching them when I'm offstage. It's a thrill to work with Kim Bennett as Scrooge who makes me laugh and then rips my heart out.

I love working with Matthew and one of my favorite parts in rehearsal (and you never know when this will happen) is when he jumps out of his seat, comes around his table and illustrates his direction to me: Kim and I are working the end of the Marley/Scrooge scene. The scene reads like this-
Marley: "Expect the second (spirit) on the next night at the same hour, the third, upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has cease to vibrate".
Marley begins to levitate
"Look to see me no more. And see that, for your own good, you remember what has passed between us!"
Marley rises out of sight
...and Matthew acts out for me what he's after. He kind of gets in Kim's face: "Scrooge three spirits are coming, here's when they're coming. Matthew then pulls away like he's being lifted up: "O.K. I'm outta here". He is so helpful and funny. And effective. Matthew set the bar last night- we are to achieve 150% in rehearsal of what we will deliver in performance. I'm sure we will get there. Matthew makes me believe.

Arthur Marks is a terrific music director and so supportive. He has blown us all away with his 6 octave vocal range and his talent as a dancer and actor. Actually, it's kind of depressing.

Robbie Harper, our Co-choreographer as well as our Bob Cratchit, is amazing.

It's a gift to be able to tell this story of spirit and reconciliation with great actors and an excellent theatre company. I have every confidence you will love A Christmas Carol as much as I do!

Mike Lawler

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Christmas Carol - Blog 1 - Matthew Wiener

Better late than never. Time to kick off the Xmas Carol 07 Blog-O-Rama. Today is actually the last day we will be working in the rehearsal hall. Tomorrow is the day off and then we hit the stage on Wednesday afternoon. A mere 72 hours later we perform for our first audience.

Doing A Christmas Carol every year is unlike any other project I have ever been part of in the theatre. This is the 13th year I have directed this show – the 10th year for this adaptation. If we rehearse for approximately 2.5 weeks every year - that is about 32 weeks of rehearsal. Yikes – a normal show has 4 weeks. You would think we should finally be getting this right.

But every year the journey is slightly different. Although many cast members return year after year there are always some new people that have to be worked into the show. And these new people bring new energy and ideas – which to a certain extent we cherish but on the other hand the show is pretty much locked down in terms of blocking and lighting. We call this a “remount”. Which is supposed to be easy. But hardly ever is.

A Christmas Carol is a huge undertaking for Actors Theatre. Most of our shows are performed in Stage West (300 seats) and have an average of 3-5 actors. And the set usually just sits for the most part. This show is different: Center Stage, 750 seats, 22 actors, 2 stage managers, 2 followspot operators, 3 wardrobe people, 5 stagehands, a sound mixer, a sound runner, a light board operator, and of course – a musical director. In three days getting all these people to work together as a finely tuned machine is always challenging. But we do it. Year after year. After all - it’s just a remount.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 15 - by...just guess.

Tuesday October 6, 2007 11:04 am

So here we are, ready to begin the last week of the show. I'm an emotional rollercoaster. This show has been an absolute dream to work on, which is a lot more than I can say for some other shows I've done in the past, let me tell you.

As we approach this last weekend, I start to become reminded of why it is that I do theatre. I originally started acting because I eventually wanted to be in broadcasting and TV, always thinking about what it would be like to have my own late night talk show or sitcom on the Disney channel. But as you begin to involve yourself into this wonderful world of community and art, you begin to see how acting is so much more than just trying to get noticed. When you talk to people after a show or in a post-show discussion and they tell you how profoundly moving the production was to them, or when some people actually cry at what they have seen on stage and they get caught up in the moment of the scene, it makes you feel lucky to do what it is you do. Being an actor is truly the greatest job in the world and I thank God every day that I get the chance to do it on at least a semi-regular basis.

I probably won't be writing too much more after this blog since I have a ton of homework to do this weekfor school, and also because I'll undoubtedly get caught up in the constant partying that always ends up happening during the last weekend of the show. As usual, this run was too short, but then again they always are. I've never really looked forward to seeing a show end, but this one is a hard one to let go inparticular because of the incredible cast I got to work with and because of the fun that I have in just doing the show. This is one of the few shows I've done that I can honestly say I could do over and over again for years and never get tired of it. There have onlybeen two other shows in my career that I can honestly say that about, so this one certainly has a special place in my heart.

Trivia question:

Who keeps a picture of LillieRichardson (the Angel from Actors Theatre's Angels in America)on their dressing room mirror?
a. Joe Kremer
b. Katie McFadzen
c. Kyle Sorrell
Take a wild guess.
You got it....................(b)

Another Trivia Question: Which actor in The Pursuit of Happiness decided that Katie's name should now be Katie McFabulous?
a. Gene Ganssle
b. Lindsey Marlin
c. Joe Kremer
okay, okay, you got me. ..................................(c)

One more: Which stage manager for The Pursuit of Happiness gives us a "places" call in the style of a Gregorian Chant?
a. April Smith
b. April Smith
c. April Smith
d. all of the above
that's right..............(d)

Okay, last one: Which actor from The Pursuit of Happiness will probably never work for Actors Theatre again because he (or she) writes blogs discussing drunkeness and lewd behaviour?
a. Joe Kremer
b. Kyle Sorrell
c. Gene Ganssle
d. Katie McFadzen
e. Lindsey Marlin
f. all of the above except for (a.)
If you chose (f.) you are CORRECT!

Okay, okay, I'm just kidding.

It's (a.)

Talk to you all very soon. Much Love!

Pursuit of Happiness - mini-Blog 14 - by Joe Kremer (Imagine that :)

Wednesday October 31, 2007 1:50pm

I'm procrastinating again. I should be doing homework but instead of that I am writing this blog.

So, have you read the reviews? Well, they're beautiful. It's a really good show and I think that everyone that has come to see it has really enjoyed it.

Thank you everyone that came to the show this past weekend. Thank you Alan for the candy. Thank you everyone else who hung out and partied with me afterwards. (And you know who you are.)

If you are a fan of this blog, let me know. We arehaving a talk-back at our show on thursday nite so let me know then. otherwise I'll just stop writing these damn things! hahaha! nah, i can't do that...this is much better and cheaper than going to my therapist.

much love. hope to c u this wkend.

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 13 - by Joe Kremer (Spud)

Monday, Oct. 29, 2007 3:28pm

I thought I'd write this blog real quick before I leave to go pick up my daugter from school. I want to tell you about my exciting opening night and all th epartying afterwards (which, let's face it, that's what you really want to hear).

So I was nervous as hell but I got through the opening night show. The crowd was so freaking amazing! Everyone did an absolutely fantastic job and I just LOVE this cast! They are soF-ing talented!

Okay, so after the show we all went to a cast party at My Florist Cafe. It was so awesome. I wore this big red shirt so I completely stood out, although I had brought a jacket to wear over it but it was too f-ing hot to wear. I hobnobbed with audience members, and I drank beer, and I ate cheese, and I drank beer, and I talked to people. It was so great...I felt soHollywood.

So then we left My Florist Cafe around 12:30pm and headed over to Kobalt, which is a bar over on Central and Osborn. It was so great to hang out with my friends and drink a lot, and hang out with my friends, and drink some more. I was in hog heaven! There was even a really nice lady that happened to be drinking there and came up to me and said I did a really good job with the show. Wasn't that sweet?! I should've got her number so I can call her if I ever feel like my performance wasn't that good.

There was a whole bunch of stuff happening at Kobalt that I'm afraid I can't talk about. Lets just say SOMEBODY had a camera and SOMEBODY was taking some pretty crazy pictures with that camera and there was a lot of booze involved. A lot more stuff happened but I really can't tell you what all happened. I'll just tell you that it was a great time and I am NOT looking forward to this show ending at all. I love everyone involved in this freaking show and the crowds have been great. Much love. Talk to you later.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 12 - by Kyle Sorrell (Tucker)

Alright folks, WE ARE OPEN !!!

This is the most fun i've had onstage in a while!
Compared to most tech rehearsals, the proccess of the
last week was smoooooth sailing - thanks to the great
April Smith heading up a team of the most capable and
delightful group of designers, technicians and actors
in the valley. And I'm not just saying that because I
want to work here again and again, I mean it! As an
actor, there are times you look around at the project
you're in and go, "Why did I get into this line of
audiences have been warm and giving and it just makes
us want to give more back. It reminds us that the
theatre is the most unique and interactive form of art
you can indulge in.

Ok.. bla bla bla, praise praise praise, the point of
this BLOG is THIS ...If you are reading this and
thinking, "Hmm...I dunno if I'll have a chance to see
this show or not." or you are on the fence at all, GET

Whatever you're excuse is - we got the answer:

Mother-in law's in town?? Bring her. She'll love it!

Too much homework?? You gotta take a break some time
so laugh it up & you'll feel refreshed and be more
productive later.

Gotta wash your hair? Leave it dirty. The theatre's
dark anyway and no one's looking.

You're cat's sick? Give her a pat and some catnip and
get your butt to the theatre.

I promise you will feel as lucky as I do to be there
that night. You will laugh a LOT and choke up a
little, just like I do. You will feel the raw and
active direction of Ron May, the the poignant wit of
Richard Dresser, the sweet nostalgia of Ben Monrad's
sound design, the contagious energy of a superb cast,
and the joy of Actors Theatre.

(I know, kinda nice to write your own reviews, huh?
Well, come and see it and you can post your own!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 11 - by Joseph Kremer (Spud)

Friday October 26, 2007 9:39am

I am freaking out. This is probably the most stressed out I have ever been in my life. I'm sitting here in my philosophy class at ASU and I am not concentrating at all, whatsoever. How can I when this is PREVIEW NIGHT BABY! We are SO gonna rock the stage tonight and we will all live forever in ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN! What makes me so damn sure? Come see the show and findout baby. A little Uber-confident? I don't think so. I've seen the show. I like it. You will too.

I absolutely love my job. This is the kind of job that people dream about doing and believe me, I am taking full advantage of it. The other day I walked by a row of cubicles and told all the losers in them that they need to QUIT THEIR DAY JOBS and WORK ON THEIR CRAFT! QUIT YOUR DAY JOB! hahaha! What a bunch of dopes!hahahaha! LOOK AT ME! I'M WEARING FLIP FLOPS! JEALOUS? HELL YEAH YOU ARE! WELP, GOTTA GO TO WORK! HAHAHA! Okay, I'm just kidding, I didn't do that. Not everyone has sufficient mental illness to become an actor, but lucky for me I fit the bill. My therapist told me so. I love you all, I'm so glad you're here reading this. I have an absolute whirlwind of emotion going oninside of me right now and I cannot WAIT to get on that stage. The initial personal crisis I had when I walked into stage west and saw that set (which looks like it should be on the cover of AMERICAN THEATRE magazine) and into my dressing room that I share with GENE and KYLE (which is a dream of many girls I know) is now gone. I am feeling so GOOD about this show because it is so professionally done and constructed. My lines are learned. My costume is magnificent. My friends are here. I love my job.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 10 - by Chris Wood - Actors Theatre's fearless and brilliant Technical Director

The Stage is quiet. The set complete. No more construction. No notes to finish. The time in the process has come when I let go of this show and concentrate on the next. I received the preliminary plans this morning and its construction is to start soon. But as I am locking up the tools for the night I am overcome by a strange feeling. A sort of emptiness. There is no next Actors Theatre show for me. There are no more time lines and deadlines, no meetings and planning, no ordering of materials or watching budgets. For the first time in eight years there is no next show. I only received the plans this morning because my name has not been removed from the scene shop email macro button. Another person will be dealing with all the things that has filled my professional life all these years. Actors Theatre will go on, just not with me.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with me I have had the pleasure of being Actors Theatre's Technical Director for many a moon now. What do I do you ask? The short answer is that when you watch our shows, anything that does not move (actors) or is electrical (lights) is my responsibility either in planing or construction. Much like a Director takes the Playwright's words and gives them life, I take the Set Designer's vision and make it a reality. I have joked before that the Audience only sees Matthew's labors three or four shows a season, but they see mine every show making me, as they say, “the hardest working man in show business”.

In my Tenure at Actors Theatre we have tried to bring you a wide variety of things scenically. Some have been successful (I still remember the audible gasp from the woman seated in front of me when the curtain rose on the set from The Archbishop's Ceiling), some have been a challenge (just how do you build a $30,000 revolving door for Lobby Hero with only $200), and some just flat out did not work (you never saw the giant spaceship and levitating grass in Border Town, they were cut the day before opening). No matter what the outcome was however I always enjoyed answering the question “Can I do it?”. I like to think that in the end the answer was always yes.

So why am I leaving you ask? Well after much consideration, I have decided to return to the land of my youth in Oregon to reconnect with my family. But as I prepare to go, I realize more and more that I am leaving behind another family. My Actors Theatre Family. Little did I realize the opportunities I would have and people I would meet, as I drove that old moving truck through the painted desert and into town in 1999. I have had the pleasure to work with so many talented and gifted people in this organization, from directors to office managers and everyone in between. To be honest, someplace deep inside me is a dark desire that when I leave all hell will break loose and the company will come to a grinding halt. That will not be the case however, as you would be hard pressed to find a finer group of caring and passionate individuals anywhere else. The shows will go on without me.

Along with the staff of Actors Theatre there is another important member of this wonderful family. You. The patrons who support Actors Theatre. Just like a family, sometimes we disagree on things (not every show can be a musical or comedy) but you have always been there when we have been in need. I thank you. I am confident that with your support Actors Theatre will continue on for a good long while.

I wish I did not have to leave this wonderful extended family. I wish I could some how bend the laws of time and space so I could live in Oregon but commute to Phoenix. But I am just a guy who is good with a hammer and saw, I think a sci-fi teleporter is a bit out of my league. Maybe I could do it in about 20 years if I took some quantum physics night classes. Who knows. Well it is getting late and these boxes are not packing themselves. As Shakespeare said “all the world is a stage”, so I had better get back to preparing for my venue change.

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 10 - by Lindsey Marlin (Jodi)


All right, people...the blog war is ON. How many can we collectively post, huh? HUH?
Kudos to Joe's MADLIBS blog. That took me back...

To like, last week.

God, I'm pathetic.

Go '80's!

Anyway, we start tech tonight and I really can't wait. This is my Actors Theatre debut, so this is my first official night in Stage West.

It's a beautiful space, with its three tiers and intimate setting, and it will be a lot of fun to finally see the completed set within it. I'm looking forward to a possible tangible version of the "Slam, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle" as well (see my previous post)!

So, that's all for now. Updates post-tech.


The "Slam, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle" be damned! Sorry, Gene. It's looking really sturdy, that door frame. Furthermore, the entire set looks lovely and our upwardly mobile little family even has "granite" countertops! And sconces! Very nice sconces, I might add (Go Kim!). We nearly completed the initial tech of Act I tonight, so in 4.5 hours, I think we made pretty good time. It's so fascinating, this theatre thing. All these people contributing to the "whole" of mounting a production. I mean, the teamwork, the unity, the's just so humbling, in my opinion. In a world where so much crap is occurring on a regular basis, where so much crap is occurring in the macrocosm, it's really nice to see the OPPOSITE occurring in this microcosm. God, I love theatre.

Anyway, this is way too deep and I've got to head to bed.

Until later,
Lindsey Marlin
Actor/Voiceover Artist

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 9 - by Katie McFadzen (Annie)

Oh, the pressure! To blog or not to blog...I'm the only one in the cast who hasn't yet so here I clever...quick...say something smart, interesting and funny...uh...drawing a blank...and...I've... got...nothing. Except a whole lot of ellipses. I can say I'm thoroughly enjoying this experience. It's thrilling to finally work with Ron May and fabulous to get to work with April again after so many years. A talented team, indeed. As an actor who often works with the same group of actors over and over (an amazing group of actors, I might add), it's good to get out of my comfort zone and work in the rehearsal hall with new-to-me actors. Observation is the best way for an actor to learn and I'm learning things every day. It's been fun to watch Kyle, who often plays the hottie hunk type, dive head first into his awkward and socially inept character. The process of watching Joe dig deep and find his inner sleaze has been truly valuable. In addition to being a very funny, kind, and supportive performer, Gene has proven to be a master of "propography" (the ability to navigate the movement of many props while still speaking) and the "frosted mini-beat" (just taking a tiny little moment for a look or a breath before moving on to the next idea). I can't imagine Lindsay was ever the rebellious teen she has turned into in this show...she reminds me a bit of myself at that age. I can still hear my dad saying "you have a rotten disposition, Kathrine." I'm better now. My favorite thing, I think, is Richard Dresser's ability to put words together. Things like "existential paralysis" and "soul-crushingly dull" come to mind. Wanna hear more cool word pairings? Come to the show! And bring your friends! The only reason you're reading this is because you already support Actors Theatre or you're in the cast (or because my mom sent you the link). So turn some other people on to this great company...if you tell two people then they'll tell two people and so on and so on...(remember that commercial, crap, just dated myself).

Love, Katie

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 8 - by Kyle Sorrell (Tucker)


It’s 12:52pm and It’s all "gooooooooood." (ed note: that joke will make sense after you see the show :) )

I have now completely immersed myself in this "actor" culture and I think they have accepted me as one of their own. All except the bearded one they call "Joe." There is something not quite right about this one. He’s looking at me a bit funny today, and is no doubt hung over as usual.

After the scene’s goals are met, we break into a conversation contemplating the shapes and sizes of various types of potatoes.

Observers of The Pursuit of Happiness are asked the question, "How did we all get here?" So I pose these difficult questions to the Magic 8 Ball:

How did Katie get to be so funny? (I think she’s coming down with Tourrette’s)

How did Gene get so "goooood." (He really come’s alive with a tazer in his hand.)

How did Lindsey get to be so perfect? (I think she actually got a line note yesterday)

…and just how did Joe get to be so……...tall?

The world may never know. But l am eagerly awaiting my final initiation into the group on opening night. It’s called "cast bonding" and I can only hope it’s not too painful, and that I will finally feel the pleasures of the elusive "coolio" I am promised (see yesterday's blog about "coolio".)

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 7 - by Gene Ganssle (Neil)

Happiness 10/22

We're about to go into tech and I am having a blast.
This is has turned out to be one of the funnier productions I've worked on.
Now, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow was funny, but on this show I'm actually dealing with a challenge that hasn't arisen for me for over 10 years:
breaking up during a scene.
I've worked with both Kyle (Tucker) and Joe (Spud) before, and they are doing such great work that it still makes me laugh. I have been gradually winning the fight -- most decent actors do, but I really think Kyle is now having fun seeing if he can still "get me".
I know he'll get to audiences.


Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 6 - by Joseph Kremer (Spud) Blog-o-rama part deux)

Saturday October 20, 2007 12:03pm

Well hello. Here i am in rehearsal and i'm not going to lie to you people. I'm a little hungover. I think i can totally 'act' like i'm not hungover, but it's not going to be easy.

Our Artistic Director Matthew is coming to see our little run thru today and i really think it's important to at least look like i know what i'm doing. See? This job isn't that different from most other jobs, except of course construction :)

We're "working" some scenes right now. "Working" is the technical theatre term for "working on the scenes to make them a little crisper". Right now the one i'm watching is looking pretty crispy. fabulicious. I woke up this morning at 10:17am and had a bowl ofCorn Pops. i wanted something that wasn't too rich orfast foodish, so that seemed to fit the bill. Oh yespeople, I can tell you're jealous of the glamour. Just picture me sitting on the couch with a bowl of Corn Pops, hung-over hair sticking up on the top of my head with my dog Kramer starting at me with a look of disappointment. kind of like everybody looks at my character spud in the show. you'll see. my scene is coming up. gotta go.

Saturday October 20, 2007 12:40pm

Ok, I'm back. Well that went pretty well. i think ihave them all fooled about me being hungover. I don't think they suspect a thing, thank God. (ed. note from ron - the director: he fooled no one.) Ah...the glamour of this business that we call "show."Kyle's giving me strange looks today. i think he's getting into character. Oh God, wait till you see this guy on stage. he is so damn funny. Ok, back to work.

Saturday October 20, 2007 7:16pm rehearsal is now over and i am at my house getting ready to start some homework for school. I'm sitting here at my computer desk wearing a t-shirt and jeans writing this blog mainly because it provides me with a wonderful and fully justified implement of procrastination. So here's what happened at the rest of rehearsal:

We had two more people come and see our little run-thru today. One of them was our "prop master" which is a technical theatre term for "the person in charge of things that we use on stage during the performance." The other one was a girl that works at the Herberger and helps us backstage during the run. I'm not sure with what but I'm very eager to find out. It did go quite well though. There were some things that i was sure Ron was going to give me some notes on, but he didn't. i hope it wasn't because he was sleeping while i was doing my scenes. (ed. note from ron - the director - i wasn't.) nah! Anywho, everyone did really really good. I really wish could tell you about the story a little bit so icould talk about which scenes i like the best, but everyone at Actors Theatre is afraid that i'll giveaway too much information about the plot and ruin the story. I guess i can understand that, it just makes ithard to discuss the show if i have to describe things like, "we were working the scene where Gene _____ me in the ______ and so i had to _____ on the stage, but i keep _____ on my _____ so I had to ask April for a_______."

You see what I mean? it's very difficult. I feel like i work for the CIA and can't tell my spouse how my day was at work.

wife: "How was your day honey?"

CIA agent: "Well, I was _____ the hell out of this______ when finally he started telling us where_____Bin _____ was. Then Agent ______ came in and told me about how when we get ready to _______ Iran we have to make sure that _______ is out of the country before the poisonous ___ starts to kill everyone."

wife: "Well that's nice dear."

CIA agent: "Damn it's hard to talk to you about my day. Well, i'm off to Cambodia."

wife: "Goodbye dear. Have a nice trip. Bring me backsome hash."

You see what I mean?

Okay, this has gone on long enough.

I have to dohomework.

much love!

I'll write more tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 5 - by Kyle Sorrell (Tucker)


(To be read in the voice of Will Shatner...)

Tuckers log, star date 10.18.07, 6pm. It’s been two and a half weeks now since we landed on planet "Pursuit of Happiness" and everyone seems to be adjusting nicely to the strange environment we call "the rehearsal hall." The inhabitants of this creative atmosphere call themselves "actors" and seem to live off of mainly skittles and coffee. They have peculiar rituals like speaking to themselves in the hallway, or pretending to be in love, and tirelessly repeating bits off dialog they call "scenes."

The fearless leader of this entertaining clan is called "Ron" and he offers insight on how to extract the most interesting and humorous ways to perform their rituals. When pleased with their work, he rewards them with the promise of something called "coolio!" but I have not yet seen him produce such a thing. I must probe further to find out exactly what this "coolio" is. I suspect it’s some kind of sweet carbonated beverage.

I admit the strange energy of planet "Happiness" is contagious and I often find myself erupting into laughter while watching these specimens at play.

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 4 - by Lindsey Marlin (Jodi)

Hello! This is Lindsey Marlin, and I play Jodi in The Pursuit of Happiness. Ron asked us to blog, so here's my first installment.

Enjoy, ruminate, go and get some snack food.

We are officially one week away from opening and three days away from the start of tech. Are we ready? Sure we are! Granted, we are still working out some of the minutiae (I love this word), but that is to be expected. One thing I love about all of this pre-tech stuff is the notes. Lots o' notes. Notes occur during tech, too, but pre-tech notes seem to be a little more juicy. So, we just keep playing with new things and seeing where that gets us. It's a funny show. It'll be great to have an audience.
As for the rehearsal process, the entire thing has been nothing short of wonderful. First off, behind the rehearsal table, you have the dynamic duo of April and Ron. April is our fearless stage manager or stage LEADER, as Katie likes to say, and Ron is our brilliant director.

The amount of insight pouring forth from this table is seriously palpable. I mean, it's scary. In a good way, of course, but it's so nice to know that you're being both challenged and taken good care of.

Now, I'm not sure if I should be ending sentences with "of," something about that is striking me as B- work, but I'm going to let it slide for the sake of blog-dom. But I digress. As I was saying, Ron is so insightful, it's scary, April is so on-the-ball, it's scary, and Joe is just scary. HAHAHA. Kidding. Only when he's teaching us things that we never wanted to learn (man-toe?). Or did we :)? Kyle and Gene share with us the highs and lows of real estate, and Katie brings us laughs, stories of Childsplay, and Skittles. Rehearsal is a little like home! We've created an amazingly talented little 6-week family!

So...let's talk happiness. It's a good word: Happiness. It's not as good a word as sphygmomanometer (bonus points if you actually know what this is), but it’s close. Contrary to Jodi, perhaps, I think that happiness is something we actually have to pursue everyday, and I think this is because it is ultimately so elusive. If you don't choose it, if you don't go searching for it, you're not going to find it, I think, with any regularity. You may find it on occasion, "happy accidents" as it were, but it's going to be difficult. Very difficult. Especially if you're negative a lot! Like me :)! Well, I’m Italian. Not that all Italians are negative. But I'm working on it, the happiness part, and thus the daily pursuance!

So...the things that make me happy?

Well, there's the usual fare: my family, friends, and dogs. But as far as other, more esoteric things that make me happy, let's break out the bullet list...
-The fact that my February birthday is no longer freezing since I now live in the Southwest
-Heroes, on NBC, Mondays at 8PM
-The "clicky" thing that locks and unlocks my car doors
-OSU Football (Go Buckeyes!)
-Gene Ganssle's patented, "Slam, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle," hand gesture as he slams the imaginary front door and imitates the most likely still moving door frame of our set...
And I'll stop there. :)

Come and see the show. It'll make you happy.


Lindsey Marlin

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 3 - by Gene Ganssle (Neil)

"Happiness" rehearsal 10/19/07

If you wanted to peek inside my head right now, you would find I have a lot in common with "Tuck". (Tucker - the character in the show)

There's always a lot of strangely mixed feelings as I move into tech. rehearsal with a show.
Don't get me wrong: this show is very funny and very wonderful, thanks to great scripting, casting and direction.
But it's the challenge of making everything come together.
Last night I was trying to balance all of the specific work with all of the notes and changes, along with three pages of line notes (April hears ALL) and incorporate it all into the run.
All I can say is I'll need to run it some more. But we are very close to having another unique and wonderful Actor's Theatre show. That's the reason, despite all I've just said, I love working here!
Come and see why for yourself.
Gene Ganssle

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 2 - "Gauntlet o' Blogs" by Joseph Kremer (Spud)

October 19, 2007 2:05pm

Well here we are, exactly one week before opening. My name is Joe Kremer and I am an actor in The Pursuit ofHappiness. We are just now beginning a "stumble thru"which is a technical theatre term to describe a"stumbling through the whole show". Ha. It's really neat to see the whole show come to fruition. It never ceases to amaze me how these "shows" which is a technical theatre term to describe "the show", come together. I am getting ready to begin my first scene. Am I nervous? Nah...I know my lines. I got my costume. I got my props. We made tremendous strides in the rehearsal last night and I made a breakthough in a scene that was certainly my weakest one. That's a feeling that is very hard to explain, this feeling of "making a breakthrough". But now I'm going to try and tell you how it feels: Try not going to the bathroom for like three days. And then finally the next morning, go. That's about it.

Ok, my scene is getting close. talk to ya in a bit!

October 19, 2007 2:47pm

Okay, all done. My Act I scenes are now done and I'm feeling pretty good about them. I'm watching the rest of Act I now and it is very entertaining. This is the stuff that's entertaining to me, watching the whole Act I and seeing all the things that we've changed and added since the first day. If you've never done a play before this process is very intriguing. It's one of the reasons that stage acting is so addicting, why actors quit their day jobs, why actors leave their spouses and try to do this full time. Ummm...but I digress. When you see a play on stage it is certainly not the same play that was being rehearsed in the first week. Really incredible to watch. Right now Kyle (Sorrell - playing Tucker) is cracking me up in his scene. I usually don't laugh out loud during rehearsals, but I can't help myself with this one. I love this rehearsa ltoday, it's going very well so far. For those of you that don't know how our schedule is, let me break it down for you:

- We arrive at the Herberger at about 2pm and start rehearsing until about 6pm or so.

- Then we break for dinner for an hour and come back at 7 and rehearse some more.

The other day Ron asked me how it was on our side (as an actor) working for eight hours.

I thought about it for a second and said it wasn't hard at all...rehearsing for eight hours is not like working across the street at a consruction job for eight hours. Believe me, I know, I've worked those jobs. When you do what you enjoy doing the time you spend doing it doesn't feel like work. For me rehearsal is always over too soon. That's what I really meant tosay.

More later.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blogette: the set.

ha. rhyming things make me happy, too. ron again. posting a color rendering of Kimb Williamson's gorgeous set. (click on the image and you can see it full size!)

and this is just a drawing.

wait 'til you see what it REALLY looks like :)

you'll be happy. very happy. so get your tickets already!

Pursuit of Happiness - Blog 1 - Ron May

i suppose leading by example is never a bad thing. and if i really want the cast and design team to blog...guess i better start. and seeing as i don't have rehearsal this afternoon, i really don't have any excuse.
for those of you unfamiliar with our blog, my name is ron may - i'm the director of The Pursuit of Happiness - the 2nd play in Richard Dresser's comedic trilogy riffing on "Happiness in America".

rehearsals thus far have been nothing short of a blast. i can honestly say i don't think i have laughed this hard in rehearsals in like...ever. seriously feels like putting the 'play' back into the idea of doing a 'play'. i'm sure a lot of that has to do with how close to home a lot of this play hits. lord knows going into 'theatre' my family tried to be supportive - but always wanted to know why i wasn't going to law school. (insert retching noises here...not that there's anything wrong with going to law school, but...for me, the idea resonated as soundly as tin foil on a filling.)

i remember everybody seemed to know better than i did what i should be doing. and i can't say i didn't often wonder if they were right. i certainly don't NOW, but theatre is as big a gamble to try and get into as i guess i can see where they were coming from.

ah, hindsight.

there's been a lot of very cerebral ruminating in the process about 'what does happiness mean?'...'what IS happiness'...

it's sad that my responses tend to come off a bit more flip than most.

while there's truth that my friendships, my relationship and my cat make me happy...few things rival the unbridled schoolgirl GLEE i get from stupid things...

- like the fact that project runway is coming back to tv in a month.

- amercia's funniest home videos. which is beyond weird. i used to hate this show more than i hated paying bills. now...i can't get enough it. show me a grandmother losing her dentures in a bagel or someone (especially a kid) walking headfirst into a glass door? i'm putty.

- the giddy anticipation i have for the film version of sweeney todd. christmas can't come soon enough.

- saturdays. because saturday nights are the nights i don't 'watch what i eat.' and i should own stock in del taco as a result.

- cake!!! we fat kids love our cake. don't judge.

- people farting in public at wildly inappropriate moments. (not that there are sanctioned 'appropriate' moments to rip one, but...)

- overheard in new york. one of the hands down funniest websites ever ever.

- the comic i put in this blog. name a few. (and keeping the NC-17 answers out of the work blog.)

the question also comes up of "if you're UNhappy...what would make you happy?"


come see the show.

you'll see me smile so hard you'll think i had work done.

and by the time the show's'll be smiling so hard everyone will think YOU've had work done.

or took a lot of prozac. give or take.

hope to see you at the theatre!

You will never be happier than you expect. To change your happiness, change your expectation.
– Bette Davis

Friday, September 28, 2007

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 9 - Beau Heckman (playing Christy - middle of photo below)

I'm so sorry that I have not posted a blog before now.

The process for this show has been like none other for me. From having a life cast taken of my face, a process not for the claustrophobic, to gun classes and a trip to a gun range. Oliver turned out to be an amazing shot, while I on the other hand, should just stick to acting! Any show as laden with special effects, as is ours, is bound to have its challenges, and we had our share. Luckily, our special effects man was up to the challenge.

The time in the rehearsal hall was full of laughter and challenge. I very much enjoyed watching everyone discovering the wonderful collection of characters that make up this play. One particular challenge that occurred to me early on was how to be a "villain" to an "antihero" while still managing to be occasionally funny.

The run of the show has also been full of surprises. Knowing from the start that this material was not going to be for everyone, it has been interesting and sometimes challenging, listening to the wide ranging reactions of our audiences.

All of these experiences have been an amazing ride for me. I owe many thanks to our special effects man Cory R. Starr and an amazing crew(costumes and laundry included) led by stage manager April S. Smith. Really, this crew has stepped up to every challenge and performed above and beyond with the clean up that is required after this show!

We have only three performances left at this point and I must say that this has truly been an honor to work with old friends Cale Epps, Kerry McCue, Tim Shawver, and David Vining as well as new ones: David McCormick, Colin McFadden, and Oliver Wadsworth.

I look forward to working with you all again.
Also Much Thanks to Matthew, April, and are all amazing!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 8 - Tim Shawver (playing Davey)

Well, it is just a few hours until opening night of The Lieutenant of Inishmore and I am contributing my first blog. I would've blogged sooner but I every time I tried I felt overwhelming remorse that the time would be better spent working on my lines. My thinking being that Matthew (the director) or April (the stage mamnger) would read it and think, "Oh, Tim has time to blog, but not enough time to get off book." ("off book" being an high-falutin theater term for knowing all your lines.) But opening night has arrived and I can blog guilt-free.

What an experience this rehearsal process has been! There is nothing quite like hearing things from your director like, "We'll have a dowel rod in that fake arm so when you cut it off we hear a snap." or "Which of these tools do you think you would use to decapitate this dead body?"

I shouldn't focus so much on the gore. As much as the blood is a big part of the show, it is not the MAIN thing. And gory as it is, the comedic (even farcical) tone of the piece keeps it from becoming morbid.

So what is the MAIN thing, if not the gore? FUN! I don't think I have ever had such a good time on stage. I love being funny. The sound of laughter that I helped create makes me want to explode inside. And this play is so very clever, so very surprising, so very everything that a good comedy should be that it takes me hours to wind down after rehearsal to get some sleep.

I'm sure that if you reading these blogs you already have some interest in the production. But in case you aren't quite sold yet let me just say that if you do come to see it, that you may not see anything else like it in your theater-going life. Even Martin McDonagh's other plays (great as they are) are not as unique as this particular work.

Well, I'm heading down to the Herberger now. Sorry if this blog was too much of a commercial. Maybe once were open I'll post another one about craft and process and all that crap.

Thanks for indulging me,

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 7 - Oliver Wadsworth (playing Padraic)

Hey hey hey! I’m Oliver and I play Padraic in Lieutenant of Inishmore.

Before this play I had never shot a gun before. Padraic is an Irish Terrorist whose specialty is knocking off his enemies at point blank range.
Sooo, as an actor, I thought it would be a good idea to reconcile our differences. David McCormack, an ex marine who plays James, suggested we go to Caswells Shooting Range and I jumped at the opportunity. He told me that his own personal firearm was very similar to the stage gun I would be using in the show and that I was welcome to borrow it. And then he said that just the thought of going to the shooting range gave him a hard on.

Hm. Interesting.

What the heck was he talking about?! I was excited but more excited/scared than excited/hard on. Clearly I was entering into new terrain. The land of manly men and their firearms! The night before we went I had a dream that I was at Caswells aiming at the target when I got a fit of giggles that I couldn’t control. The owner decided that I had become a danger to the other patrons so he approached me with a smile on his face and a semi automatic behind his back. I never knew what hit me. As my spirit left my body it floated over to the Shooting Range Rules posted on the wall. In bold lettering, right below "No alcoholic beverages" was written, "No giggling like a prepubescent girl!".

That morning, I got to the shooting range early and nervously pawed over the notes from our crash course in gun use given by Cory Starr, a former policeman and the Special Effects man on the show.

The range opened and our group of four, filed in and split the cost of ammo, eye and ear protection and extra gun. It all cost about $20 an hr. per person. I let everyone take a turn at the target before I did – all under the guise of gentlemanly courtesy. Beau Heckman, who plays Christy, was a first time gun user like me. I watched him approach the target with a swagger and confidently fire off four rounds. After him came David and Cory, who took turns pulverizing the target. Jokes were made about how the silhouetted figure didn’t have any more brains!
Then it was my turn. I held the gun with my thumb pointed up the way I had been practicing at home with my imaginary gun. Cory told me that if I fired the gun like that I would probably break my thumb when the magazine snapped back. I thanked him and then put my thumb down.

I fired some rounds and I felt a rush of adrenaline as the loud noise of the gun put me into high alert. When I finished, I turned back to the boys and couldn’t help grinning ear to ear. This was really fun! More than a little scary! And yes, I thought I had a wee bit of a hard on, if not physically, at least metaphorically.

Then we decided to compete. A round bullseye target was sent out to 60 feet, twice the distance of the previous spot. Each of us had two shots.

David shot slightly down and to the left and blamed his breathing. Beau looked like a pro again but didn’t seem to be hitting the target at all. Cory managed to get one shot right to the edge of the bulls eye.

As for me, I got one shot four inches off center and my second shot was a near perfect bulls eye!!
I was sure that the guys would lift me on their shoulders and parade me all around the Valley of the Sun like a victorious gladiator but instead we went out for burgers and French fries.
I used to pride myself on being modest and soft spoken. Those days are over. Some of my friends have noticed the change. They seem to be giving me a wider berth these days. I have pinned the target with my bulls eye to the rehearsal hall wall and to any newcomer that walks through the door. I bark orders, directing their attention toward it, and gloating over my natural abilities with a gun.

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 7 - David Vining (playing Donny)

Hello......David (V) here, finally adding my thoughts to the Inishmore Blog. I've enjoyed reading everyone else's thoughts during the last week, but somehow couldn't find the time and energy to add my own! Yesterday's run-through was an excellent end to a very good week, I thought. As I watched and listened while I was off stage, I was so impressed with how solid
and confident everyone looks. In my own scenes I was especially pleased with how strong my relationship with Davey (Tim Shawver) had become this week. All the scenes between us took a big step forward, but the "blaming" sequence in Scene 8 ("and pegged stones, Padraic!") in particular really caught fire Sunday afternoon, which made the tricky timing seem effortless.
As we were walking to our cars after rehearsal, Tim and I were agreeing that it is such a pleasure to work with such an extraordinary cast--everyone is so committed to the work and keyed in to the play and each other. That's made it possible for all of us to tweak and fine tune so many hilarious moments
during the past few days.

I'm very eager to start adding the costumes and technical elements to the mix starting Tuesday night. All sorts of lovely surprises, horrendous problems, and glorious solutions will occur, I'm sure! I plan on getting lots of rest so I have the stamina to stay focused, energized, and cheerful. I'm especially eager to start working with the electric saw on the "real" Brendan corpse and to work out the decapitation moment, coordinating all the physical moves with the blood spurts.

On a sad note, I awoke this morning to discover that my own beloved old cat, Ian, had died during the night. Although certainly not "wee" (he was twice as big as our mini dachshund, Heidi!), he had a very "Wee Thomas-y" look about him, black and white and sweet as can be. By all evidence, he "died peaceful, in his sleep, like." I was glad to have the day free, to give him a good send off and to have at least a 24 hour buffer from all the dead cat humor in the play. To paraphrase Donny, "It's incidents like this does put actors off comedy."

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 6 - Cory R. Starr - Special Effects master

Hello everyone –

This is Cory R. Starr, the weapons and special effects coordinator for The Lieutenant of Inishmore. We often read many interesting blogs from the actors, but not so much from the crew - well I thought I would share some of my viewpoints whilst working on this fantastic play.

It has been such a pleasure and privilege to work with Actors Theatre in this production, this is only my second theatrical project – and what a fun and eclectic challenge it is. The most amazing thing about working with Actors Theatre is that they love so much to push the limits of entertainment. It is so invigorating to see the caliber of entertainment offered to our community through Actors Theatre, everyone should take the time to come see this, or other plays of theirs.

I have been working as a special effects and weapons coordinator in the motion-picture industry for nearly twenty years, and the differences between on-stage and on-set are vast. For example: on the set, we can conceal cumbersome mechanical devices (blood cannons, for example) by moving them out of the camera’s POV, but on stage, the arrangement of the audience makes this impractical. On the set, we can load a particular effect just moments before the scene is shot, and still be able to cut just before something might become visible in the next camera angle. But on stage, this luxury is mostly absent – sometimes a pyrotechnic effect must lay in waiting for up to 90 minutes or more before it will have it’s glory. The problems presented are mostly issues of safety, and how to absolutely guarantee nothing will go off before intended. Perhaps equally important, to make certain they will go off when we intended. Sure, there may be goofs, but only in the latter. From a safety standpoint, it is far better to have something not function when intended, than to function without intention.

The most technical challenge on Inishmore was to conceal what I am calling “blood cannons” to project un-humanly copious amounts of blood. There was no way of attaching such an apparatus to the actors without it being visible from all but one angle, and to have the actors wear such a contraption throughout the play was out of the question. What I came up with is a neat device that…well; you will just have to see the play to see the results. If you want to learn more, attend the play during one of several Post Show Discussion nights.

Another challenge for this play was to coordinate all of the weapons and gunplay scenes. There are a total of five firing weapons and one non-firing weapon, totaling about 80 blank shots per show. This will be quite a rush for everyone – audience, cast, and crew included. The main characters even have their weapons tailored to their persona. It is important to note that just because a character is keen with their weapons, does not automatically mean the actor portraying that character is. Talk about dedication, many of the cast met at a local shooting range to understand how handguns fire, and to properly handle them. These actors are looking great in rehearsal, and the gunplay is just amazing. Speaking of actors, you could not ask for a nicer team. Kudos to everyone!

This week I get to install all of those gadgets, and perfect the timing of everything. I hope you all enjoy this show, because every one of us is putting in tons of effort to make this an astonishing show for you. Back to the workshop.

Take care - Cory

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 5 - Cale Epps (playing Brendan)

Hey. I'm Cale. I play Brendan in this wacky show. Matthew says I'm the only one allowed to write a sensitive blog. I'm not sure why he's picked me for that honor, but here you go. I'll try to have some sensitive romance dripping from each and every letter that I type.... yeah... not really, though.
So rehearsals are going well. Everyone is falling into their roles. We've learned our lines. We all are moving well in our blocking. We've really come together as a cast... Are you still awake?
What I think is cool about the process of rehearsing a play is this thing of how there are these words on some pieces of paper and then this guy or this girl says them and then if that person is telling the truth and speaks loud enough for a group of people to hear them, for the most part, something really compelling happens. The telling the truth part is a bit peculiar and can be incredibly elusive. It's like an actor El Dorado. But tapping into just a little bit of that really gives life to what ultimately is just words on paper. I'm struggling a bit with that right now. Every process is new and different. Every play has a voice that is prismed and shaped by a captain. Part of my job is to find my own voice in that shape. To tell my truth through the captain's mouth. So sometimes that can be challenging. But challenge is cool. You get to learn more about all this and how you do it and deal with it. If the process eats you or if you embrace the process. I want to be an embracer!
Another thing also is the difference of having a large line load and having a small one. With many lines are many clues as to who the person you're portraying is. The opposite is so with a short line load. It almost becomes more difficult to know what you should be doing here in this moment or there in that one. I think this playwright is very specific with the people he has created. Because of that, I believe who my person is, is written into the lines and why can't I just say them and get it right?????!!!!!!! Well........ I guess like Larry Mullen Jr., who is the drummer for U2, said in Rattle and Hum, "It's a musical journey." I have no idea what that means, but he said it in an Irish accent, so...? Alright, enough for now. Please enjoy the show. Great things are going into it. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 4 - David McCormick (playing James)

Anything for my Masters Degree!

I knew I was entering an entirely new league of theatre when the first sound I heard as I entered the rehearsal space was April grinding coffee beans! Our amazing stage manager insists on only the best (well, better than mediocre) for her actors. I simply thought to myself, "Whew! At least I'm not going to have to make coffee and go on bagel runs!" I assumed that being an intern would mean that I would be the virtual slave of the theatre.

Arizona State and Actors Theatre have fostered a new relationship in which the MFA actors with the Herberger College of Theatre and Film have an opportunity to work with ATP if there is a role in the season that suits them and the director's vision. I remember auditioning for the 07-08 season and feeling quite comfortable from the start. Now I'm the fourth member of the ASU MFA program to be given an opportunity to work with ATP. Cathan Bordyn was in The Inteligent Design of Jenny Chow, Kane Anderson and Kerry Weider were in The Pillowman, and now here I am as James, the tortured upside down guy. Talk about a crazy debut on the professional stage!

Another great aspect of my internship is that I was awarded the opportunity to assist Cory Starr, our effects supervisor and weapons master. I'm learning about how he is constructing the "blood cannons" and our "catapulp" (see the show and you'll know what that term means...enjoy!!). Also, I will help him with the firearms before, during, and after each performance. Realistically, I'm expecting to do alot of gun stripping and cleaning, paired with cleaning up ridiculous amounts of blood! Luckily, we're not using nearly as much blood as they used in the Broadway production! I'm quite comfortable with the weapons as I've used a vast array of them; real one's while serving in the military and theatrical ones as well.

All in all, it's refreshing to say the least that everyone here operates on an entirely professional level and to me that shows a respect for each other and to art. I believe that we are artists first and foremost. Everything else is just paying the bills! I'm excited that my family is flying out to see me (in my one scene) and I know they are going to be laughing so hard they'll practically be rolling in the aisles! My folks love the kind of raw humor that is in this play.

Well, that's all for now. I have to ice my sore ankles...



Friday, August 31, 2007

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 3 - Kerry McCue (playing Mairead)

McCue here. Hope you’re ready… here it comes.

Week 2: Guns Are Dangerous

No, really. That may seem obvious but I’d just like to put it out there. My personal experience with weaponry extends only as far as my ace marksmanship with a .22 rifle during glorious summer days at Camp Kitaki. Those were sweet times and many targets on haystacks were conquered. Then we sang songs around the campfire. Really, we did, it was cool.

My knowledge regarding armament has just increased exponentially. Luckily the whole subject is fascinating and the outcome will be a fabulous production.

So, we’re learning to safely use “prop” guns. Our Weapons Master, Click (a.k.a. Cory Starr) gives us great guidance and really knows his stuff. All but one of the cast hold a gun in the show, and most of us will be firing live blank rounds, or “blanks.”

There is ZERO possibility of serious injury to cast or audience, it is literally not possible with the prop guns we use. Minor injury to an actor is a different story. If held wrong when firing one could slice a finger, break a thumb or even break a wrist. That is why the safety we’ve learned is so important. Once the show goes live in front of an audience it can be very hectic, and we will have the tools we need to perform safely and make it look really, really good.

I heard the cast might even field-trip to the shooting range for target practice. We are doin’ our research people. It is really exciting to have such challenging technical elements in this show.

Learnin’ somethin’ new every day.

Make sure you check out the photos for Lieutenant of Inishmore. They turned out SUPERCUTE!

And make sure you come see the show! Matthew calls it “Quentin Tarantino meets Monty Python.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 2 - Matthew Wiener (Director/Producing Artistic Director)

We are just about to start the second week of rehearsals for The Lieutenant of Inishmore and it has been a wild ride so far. The cast is glorious and we are having a wonderful time in the rehearsal hall discovering all the hidden treasures in Martin McDonagh's script.

We are truly blessed with eight tremendous actors in this show – and that is a pretty big cast for Actors Theatre. Some of them have long term connections with our company: Oliver Wadsworth (Angels in America, Stones in His Pockets, The Pillowman), David Vining (A Christmas Carol – for many years), Beau Heckman (A Christmas Carol, again for many many years); some are just in their second show with us: Cale Epps (The Pillowman), and Kerry McCue (Augusta); and some are fresh meat: Colin McFadden, Tim Shawver, and David McCormick. We are all of the opinion that this is one of the funniest plays we have worked on in quite a while. The only problem is that as we rehearse – and say the same punch line over and over and over again – it starts to lose it’s humor. Ah . . as they say “dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

The design and production team have actually been working on this show for months and everything is starting to come together. We have all been enjoying the production meetings for this show – for how often do you get to sit around and discuss what color the blood should be and how to make it? Do we want it to be gooey? Do we want it to be bright red (is this arterial blood?). And how much we do we need? On Broadway they used 6 gallons per performance but we have a much smaller stage so we are estimating only 3 gallons.

And then of course there is the question of cats – live cats – dead cats – black cats – tabby cats. (PLEASE NOTE: NO ANIMAL WILL BE HARMED IN THIS PRODUCTION) (REALLY). Have you ever tried to buy a realistic looking stuffed cat? Try it. They don’t really look like REAL cats – the look like some kind of “cute” version of a “SMURF CAT” – their heads are WAY out of proportion with their bodies and their legs are too short and fat. Really – go to a toystore and check it out.

We have many more adventures ahead of us before opening night. So stay tuned.

Lieutenant of Inishmore - Blog 1 - Kerry McCue (playing Mairead)

Hello, Friends!

McCue here:

Thrilled to be back @ Actors Theatre!!!!! Second show here, first show with Mathew directing. Super, super exciting! The script and assembled team are sensational and we‘re practicing like we‘re trying to make the play-offs.

Week 1: Trial by Fire in Dialect Boot Camp

You can prepare as much as you like. Read the script, study the lines, listen to Irish accent films, television, audio books, and accent tapes. Do your homework, you’re going to need it.

But you can’t prepare too much. You must wait to “lock things in” until you are actually in rehearsal, with the most fabulous coach ever (D. Vining). Flexibility is key, adapt what you’ve been practicing to what is appropriate for the specific region you are attempting to portray.

As if it wasn’t tricky enough, different characters are from different regions. So we have dueling dialects. This is an exciting challenge, to maintain an accent that is new to you while listening to a scene partner with a similar but distinctly different accent.

My other struggle with my brogue is a little show I did @ Stray Cat Theatre called Trainspotting. I had a strong dialect in that show that was completely different from Irish, but close in some ways. I can’t tell you what country. I don’t even want to say it, write it, think it for fear the old accent will pop up.

But don’t get me wrong. None of this is complaining. Just thought I would share with you a little slice of my rehearsal joy. We have an hour of work per day dedicated solely to each of the accents, and I spend my down time pouring over my notes and loving every minute of it. I get home late and still can’t put the script down.

Did I mention that I’m gonna cut all my hair off for the role?


And there’s lots of blood in the show.

And guns.

It rocks.

Thanks for your interest in our blogging, all readers are cool in my book. You would be silly to miss our production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Still cool... but silly.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


2007 - 2008 Season General Auditions

Audition Date: Friday June 15th and Saturday June 16th
Audition Time: Fri: 2-5 and 6-9; Sat: 10-1 and 2-6
Audition Location: Herberger Theater Center - Rehearsal Hall 222 E Monroe Phoenix, AZ 85004
Casting Protocol: By Appointment Only, 602-253-6701 x100
Headshot and Resume: Required
Callback Time/Location: Throughout the season - based upon generals
Character Breakdown:
The Lieutenant of Inishmore - 7M / 1W
The Pursuit of Happiness - 3M / 2W
A Christmas Carol - Multiple Roles
The Busy World is Hushed - 2M / 1W
Speak Spanish To Me - 2M / 2W
Prepare: 2 contrasting monologues of no more than 4 minutes in length. A song may be substituted for one monologue but be advised that a piano, accompianist or playback device will not be provided. Please bring headshot/resume stapled together.
Rehearsals Begin: August 21, 2007 - May 11, 2008
Run Dates: See Website for Show Specific Information
Payment: AEA - Equity Contract
Crew Needed: Always looking for over hire and run crew.
Additional Info: Actors Theatre is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to non-traditional casting. Artists of all color are encouraged to audition.
Primary Contact: Louise Howaniec
Contact Title: Office Manager
Contact Phone: 602-253-6701 x100
Contact Email:

Anyone interested in auditioning must provide a recent headshot and resume at the time of the audition and prepare two contrasting monologues totaling no more than four minutes combined. Musical theatre artists may substitute 16 bars of music for one monologue. All auditions are by appointment only on the dates announced.

Children are used in the production of A Christmas Carol only unless otherwise announced, and auditions are held separately. Parents or guardians with children under the age of 16 interested in auditioning, should first send a headshot and resume to Actors Theatre no later than October 1, attention: A Christmas Carol/Casting.

Call the Actors' Equity Association Hotline at 888.266.1731 x108 or visit

Please send a current headshot and resume to:
Actors Theatre
PO Box 1924
Phoenix, AZ
Attention: Casting

Monday, May 14, 2007

Saying Goodbye to The Pillowman

by Kane Anderson

It's always weird at the end of the show. Sometimes as an actor I feel like I have reached all I wish to explore with a role. Sometimes I feel like I've reached all I can stand of other actors. Sometimes it's just been many many weeks and I want a break and to catch up on what's happened on Heroes! But this production has been a pleasure throughout. I could keep doing it (y'know, were I not leaving for Moscow). It is with a heavy heart I say goodbye to The Pillowman.

Some might say "But, Kane-you had a lot of downtime for the show, right?" (Uh...there are no small roles, only small paychecks. Thank you.) This show just sticks with me. Not just because of the fascinating arguments for and against the responsibilities of the artist. And not just because I see brilliant performances from some amazing actors who challenge me to be better each night. But because it is a good play with great people. And, to be honest, it's going to be hard to go back to doing theatre where I don't get to crucify little girls. It's like a drug-once it is in your system...

But seriously, Matthew, April, Christian, Cale, Jon, Oliver, Kerry & Hannah have been great to work with. I will miss Christian's funk music playing before the show. I will miss Cale's somewhat obsessive compulsive dental hygiene (flossing flotsam landed on me nightly). I will miss Cory (our FX guy) showing me how to make creative wounds between scenes. I will miss our little stylist Hannah giving a very imperturbable Kerry advice on how to do her hair for the show (the green highlights didn't make the cut). I will miss Jon vividly enacting out the "Little Jesus" story...a lot. I will miss Oliver giving me great career advice and sharing some truly "fierce" personas. I will miss our great costume mistress Emily doing my laundry. Gods, will I miss Emily doing my laundry!

Anyway, all the best to everyone at Actors Theatre who made The Pillowman a great experience. Hope to see you all again soon! (Really, Matthew, I can work anytime...please call me. Please. I work cheap.)

Be well, my Pillow-peeps!


PS I won't miss paying Hannah every time I swear. I'm in grad school at ASU. So I swear a lot. That's why I finally just paid up front. It was cheaper at the bulk rate. =)

Monday, May 7, 2007

On Finals & Controversy

by Kane Anderson
May 4th, 2007

So today I took my last two finals. If you haven't had to combine two graduate school finals together in one day, I suggest avoiding it. They burn.

Anyway, I was asked why my blogs are so complementary of my castmates. Well, the first answer is that it would be grossly unprofessional to post blogs that are mean and heartless and sardonic on the Actors Theatre blog (but ask about my personal blog if you like that sort of thing). The second and perhaps more genuine answer is that I do truly like and respect everyone in this cast and crew. As intern guy, I have that unspoken inferiority complex that any minute my colleagues may snap their fingers and ask me to fetch them coffee (just try it Cale...) but that's just my own madness. Everyone here has been great. So there.

What has been weird-for me at least-is the reaction some people have to The Pillowman. Yes, it's got a mature audiences label and some controversial issues arise. And sometimes this has led to discussion about the responsibilities of the artist. Should we be hyper-conscious about the social implications of our chosen productions? Should we worry about the reactions stemming from what we present (or represent!) onstage?

I don't think so.

I'll spare you the arguments from Plato and Aristotle but I think we can make art for art's sake. In the play, writer Katurian suggests that the only duty of a storyteller is to tell a story. And it's true. With The Pillowman, we are bringing a story to an audience. And it's not a story like you have heard before. That's a rare contribution to make as an artist. What is exciting about Actors Theatre is that they tackle some wild topics without hesitation. This company hungers to tell stories that are sometimes confrontational, sometimes unpopular and sometimes bizarre but all of the plays are good stories that are worth sharing. Next season features more daring work-and some of may make The Pillowman seem tame. I believe that what an audience takes from my work is hopefully some entertainment and some new thoughts about the world around them. Any story that can do both is worth sharing.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Sleep is for wimps!

...from Kane Anderson.

Our first matinee just started a few minutes ago (wow, I should really get ready soon...) and I felt like adding some bloggy love to our readers.

Last night's opening went fairly well, I thought. My whole system is somewhat fried after a day of moving almost everything I own and opening a new, wild show but I have found from my time as a starving graduate student that exhaustion is a fruitful place from which to write (as will soon be demonstrated during this week's finals). This blog, like my papers, are based on the brilliance from others so I'm going to steal from a great Augusta blog and offer up some notes to my fellow Pillow-people:

Matthew: It takes a very disturbed mind to orchestrate a play like this. I dig that about you. I would totally follow you in madness again. Really. In fact, you could hire me now if you like. No, really-like, right now. Really.

Christian: Dude, you are an athlete of emotions. I'm starting a collection to send you away somewhere to rest after all this. (April, you can go, too!)

Jon: How do you go from the Wolf in Peter and the Wolf at Childsplay to this? Your versatility is stunning (but you probably hear that a lot). Hey-how about a touring version of The Pillowman for kids next season? I think children need more plays that are dark, mature-themed and scary.

Cale: Please never interrogate me. Please. You frighten me, man. It's awesome. It's amazing. But, well, I bought a taser for space between us in the dressing room. Just sayin'...

Oliver: I wish you were a jerk. Then I could hate you for being so talented. But you're not a jerk. In fact, you're professional, quite down to earth and exciting to be around. So I have to deal. But I'm still curious about how you dealt with that itch problem?

Kerry: We're both in finals time and you never seem tired! How do you do it? It would help my self-image if you could yawn once in a while.

Hannah: I'm probably twice your age (sigh) and yet I am sure the audience can't take their eyes off of you. And truth be told, I can't help but focus on you in our scene together, either. It's a rare thing to demand that kind of attention from others. You go, girl.

My crew peeps: How do you keep all this up in the air? You make things fly by and because of your hard work and precision, we all feel taken care of and can lean into the magic of this play.

I encourage everyone to come join the haunting times at The Pillowman. It's the kind of daring theatre that I don't get to do often enough-and don't get to see enough, either!

And that sound of awkward laughter is my cue... Break a leg, people!


PS I have it on good authority (well, mostly good) that some other people besides me are going to offer some blogs soon. Really.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


...a new entry from Kane Anderson...

April 26th, 2007

Hey, True Believers--

The Pillowman has moved onstage and it is a whole new adventure. Everything is coming together but those 10 of 12 days (i.e., one 12 hour day with a two hour break) are killers! As a student at ASU, we don't get the luxury of techs like this often and it's amazing to see all the tech and costumes and the whole deal come together. It can be chaotic, though. There is a lot of "hurry up and wait" but it's looking beautiful.

In my first scene there is a great effect that highlights-whoops, I can't reveal that. It is chilling, though. It looks great and we are having a great time. Special shout-out to Hannah for going to places demanding for an adult actor. You're doing great, girl!

My second scene We have spent a lot of time on-umm, can't mention that. But I love the sequence with the big-snap! I can't tell you about that, either... (Seriously, Matthew would lock me away in the Herberger dungeon for giving too much away.) But after working as an actor for nearly a decade, I can say that I'm doing some entirely new things onstage in The Pillowman. Scary, marvelous, inventive things that will likely haunt many of us for years to come.

And I have to add a big thank you to our tech staff. They have been working like mad to pull this whole big production together and they are doing great. It's stressful and they put in more hours than our cast but their focus and professionalism are gifts. And our unsung hero is Stage Manager April. She has to keep a lot of balls in the air and handle requests from everyone. Bless her for doing it. She is the Pillowoman.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pillowman First Run Through Journal

by Kane Anderson (Father in Actors Theatre's The Pillowman)


Sometimes a first run-through of a play is called a "stumble through" or "drag through" or a "wow...this show is waaay longer than we thought" through. In any case, it's an exciting time because actors get to see scenes and sequences that we aren't in and everyone gets an idea of how the pieces fit together into a whole.

The Pillowman's first run went very well.

Cale & Jon banter like they have been doing it for years. The timing is snappy and there is a subtle one-upmanship in their relationship onstage (and off!) that infuses their scenes. Their interaction mesmerizes.

Christian's Katurian is nuanced and conflicted. The guy works like a dog on this play and it shows.

And Oliver...well, Oliver is just a rock star. I want to be him when I grow up. (You'll see what I mean.)

All of these great actors share the trait that Matthew prizes in his performers: a sense of joy onstage. Even in the most horrific moments of this script (and there are many, many...), these guys have an undercurrent of passion and enthusiasm. It's infectious. And they keep raising the bar-which is awesome. This show is already something special and I can't wait to see all the pieces come together.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pillowman Journal

from Kane Anderson -playing Father in Actors Theatre's The Pillowman

Working with Actors Theatre is such a thrill. First off, I'm in The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh! This amazing Irish playwright created several great plays that are fascinating in their complex and daring content Oh, and they are perhaps the most disturbingly hilarious pieces I have read in some time. Forget what you think you know-The Pillowman will surprise you. But beyond the script, I am enjoying working with a top professional company like Actors Theatre. Every artist I have met is amazing. Each night at rehearsal, director Matthew Wiener says something profound. (He'll probably laugh that off but it's true nonetheless.) I am not necessarily in many scenes but I enjoy sitting in on rehearsals when I can and my notebook overfloweth with ideas and insights into this process. And the actors in this production are fantastic. If I may geek-out for a moment, the specificity of their work is amazing and the passion they bring to the stage inspires me. I love the interplay that is emerging between Tupolski, Ariel and Katurian. These characters may live hard and rough but actors Jon, Cale and Christian make it seem so easy. That's a skill I look at with awe and in working with these guys, I hope to develop it myself. Ultimately, everyone in Team Pillowman is a superstar in my book. Sometimes I step back and look at where I am at so I can remind myself how lucky I am to be working with Actors Theatre. Keep the thrills coming, everyone!

Costume fitting! For those who don't know, this is an exciting time for me. Often costumes are the first part of the design that an actor gets to play with and I dig on seeing design elements come together. Some actors can get nervous-my neurotic friend Monique owns up to an irrational fear of wearing green onstage-but I can't wait to dive in and see what is store with costumes. Now I can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. And getting my feet into a pair of shoes that I'll wear onstage informs my character development. Big, clunky work boots conjure one image and help me move quite differently than soft, lovingly-worn loafers might. When Connie and Lois (our costume duo) handed me a pair of slippers today, something clicked in my body today that literally put one of my characters in motion. If this seems at all foreign, just think about how wearing a pair of new shoes can change your whole day. I have to give a shout-out to all the marvelous designers working on The Pillowman. Connie Furr-Solomon's costumes are just one example of the many great facets of this show. Jeff Thompson, our scenic designer, has some wild surprises coming. It's a true creative mind that can conceive and manufacture a reality that includes the effects and demands of this script. I can't wait to see how Paul Black and David Temby bring lighting and sound into the mix. The Pillowman is going to be beautiful all around.

At 2:04 am this morning, I became godfather to a new baby girl, Johanna. Already like her parents, she arrived late and on her own terms. Now I hope mommy, daddy and baby are resting up because the next eighteen years will be a show in themselves. Why does this matter to The Pillowman blog audience? Well, it sparked in my mind that I could do with a little bit on working with young actors. Hannah Trujillo plays our Girl in this production and she is doing very well. Could I at her young age have sat around with a bunch of older actors and feel comfortable enough to hold my own? Not likely. Hannah, however, comes at this work with a sense of play that can be exhilerating. But there is a lot of work, too. I share my big scene with the Girl and it's a doozy. Thanks to help from our Tupolski, actor Jon Gentry of Childsplay fame, we are making some great headway at getting everyone comfortable working together and focused on the demands of this piece. I can't give away too much but the precision that we are creating for this sequence is vital and we are taking it slow to make it all click. Today we did some fun mirror exercises to get us all keyed into focus and I have to confess that Hannah almost made me crack up a few times. But when it came time to work, we came together well and this scene, humorous and disturbing, is going to stick with us for some time. Seriously, this is a show that you will not soon forget...

So what does it mean to be an intern? Well, it's not all glitz and glamour like one may imagine but it is always an adventure. Kerry Wieder and I are graduate students from Arizona State University's Herberger College of Arts in the School of Theatre and Film's Theatre Performance Cohort, earning our Master of Fine Arts degrees. (Whew!) That long title means is that we are actors getting our MFAs and a component of that training is serving as interns with a professional company. That Actors Theatre works with our maddening schedules is truly an impressive gift. Kerry and I both work in the mornings. She teaches introductory acting courses and I work for the Graduate and Professional Student Association as well as the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. On top of those commitments, we take several daunting classes for our own development and rehearse our other projects during the spaces that exist between scenes. It's always a full day! This intern experience with The Pillowman has already been fantastic. I have interned with a few great companies during my early training as an actor and while each of these offered a different style of acting training and all certainly contributed to my artistic growth, they also involved a fair amount of stage mopping and the unofficial and unfortunate title of "wannabe actor". Things are quite different now. From the first read around the table here at Actors Theatre, I have felt like a welcome part of the professional ensemble. For that I am rather grateful. Nothing helps an actor grow like being challenged to work at a whole new level of performance. I have been working in Phoenix and Philadelphia for years and so going back to school can sometimes feel like being back to square one. But to step into an exciting and dynamic project like The Pillowman and feel like a valued part of the team heightens the training opportunities here. I may be an intern but this company has always included me as an artist.