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.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Pillowman Blog Set Up

by Janice Sweeter Director of Marketing

Ok - so we were excited to start a fun blog when we brought you Augusta but the blog kind of stalled once the show opened. Did you like what you read so far? We love to get your comments - please feel free to offer your two cents or even three. We are still learning this cool but demanding new communications model where the phrase "what have you done for me lately?" has new meaning - so please be gentle and stick with us as we navigate our way and fit blogging into an overstuffed schedule that includes getting The Pillowman ready to start April 27. We found a cool quote in the NY Times that called it "a blindingly bright black comedy" so we added it to our ad that will run in the Arizona Republic, New Times, Jewish News, JAVA and Phoenix Downtown. Do you read the Republic or any of these other publications? Do you visit Let me know where you like to go for entertainment news and I'll meet you there with some information about our shows. Visit for the review. We are pulling other fun stuff for the show and will have it up soon.

Augusta is over - "art history" as Matthew is fond of saying. We are sad to see it go because it was a lot of fun but we don't have the luxury of much time to reflect as we jump right into the next production, The Pillowman starting April 27. Matthew has a hot light in his eyes as he sketches out different sequences for very bad dreams in a special fantasy world being built on stage - and now the production team starts to hum as these sketches become reality. Let's see if we can talk these wizards into sharing just a few of their secrets and stories. The Meet and Greet is next Tuesday where we . . . . ummmmm ..... meet and greet for the first time and start rehearsal. The director (Matthew), the actors (Christian Miller, Jon Gentry, Cale Epps, Oliver Wadworth, Kerry Wieder , Kane Anderson, Hannah Trujillo and a TBA special appearance by an actor to be named ), and the production team including: April S. Smith, stage manager; Jeff Thomson, scenic design; Connie Furr-Soloman, costume design; Paul A. Black, lighting design; and David Temby, sound design. That sounds like a lot of talented people to me - and a lot of great people to tap for our bloggage. And we'll start with our leader Matthew - if we can get his nose out of the set drawings for just a few minutes. Let the cajoling begin. Once you've tried it, you'll be hooked. Just ask Master Blogger Ron May. Stay tuned . . . . .. .