Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Twelfth Night's Come and Gone


Whew! What an adventure! 

Wow, well our production of Twelfth Night was a huge success. It far exceeded my expectations. I loved this show, I loved this cast, I loved this crew, and I loved our audiences. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart to everyone who supported this production in any of the many, many ways folks did.

I literally can't thank everyone enough, but I'm going to try down below, but there are a few things I want to say before I do. 

Why we did the show:

There are two main reasons that South Stream decided to do this show. The first is our collaboration with The Ridge. Trey Davis as the head of Ridge Road Baptist Church has really looked to energize the space and his community by partnering with and promoting arts organizations. That's a big part of The Ridge, an effort to expand the use their campus to include performing art. As anyone knows SPACE is the big challenge of performing artists. Rehearsal space, performance space, space, space space at an affordable price. The Ridge's accommodation in providing us rehearsal and performance space in a budget we could afford was a big part in making the show possible at all.

The second reason is our director Hayley Philippart. I had an idea for a 7 person Twelfth Night for years. Almost a decade probably. I plotted out the doubles and how it could be done. I knew I wanted that silly manic energy that doubling would bring, and the idea of not hiding things - playing into the limitations rather than trying to hide them. But I also wanted to be in it, and I'm not crazy enough to think I could direct it too, so the idea sat on the shelf. Until I met Hayley. Hayley directed the production of Emma for STS, and she was great. She was whip smart, a joy to work with, and definitely, definitely someone who embraced the silly. I knew she would be someone that just "got it" for this project, and when the space became available, I went right to Hayley. I don't want to give people the impression that this was all my idea. The general outline, the doubling, yes, but Hayley took it and ran with it as only she could. The show in it's final form was as much or more her vision, and I'm super happy about that. I just mean to say that I would not have done the show at all if I didn't know her. She's just SO good and smart and if you can you should work with her.

Why I'm proud of the show:

Look, a million reasons, honestly. But there's two things I really wanted to mention because they stand out for me. First - I'm really proud because we did a Shakespeare comedy that was actually funny. Look, I LOVE Shakespeare. I will go to see most productions of it in the area. And I get the jokes. I've read the footnotes. I know what people are saying (or supposed to be saying) for the most part. And it's been my experience that productions of Shakespeare comedies are rarely funny. Entertaining, amusing, clever, yes. But rarely laugh-out-loud ridiculously funny. It was mine and Hayley's (and the production's) goal right from the outset - make it funny. And damn if I don't think we succeeded. It wasn't "SHAKESPEARE" up on a pedestal - it was slapstick and irreverent and goofy and fun! And I'm really proud of that. 

The other thing I'm really proud of - honestly the thing I'm most proud of I think - was the pay-what-you-want ticketing. A lot of theatres have talked about accessibility. And that's nice, but I really feel we put our money where our mouth was by making all our tickets pay what you want. Theatre is getting increasingly expensive. Broadway tickets have passed $200 and climbing, and even local theatre is rarely less than $25. Sure you can go on a special price night (some theatres have single pay-what-you-want performances even) or you can usher, but the fact that we were able to open our doors and just say: "Come." That's really special, and I am incredibly proud of that. We had several groups of students (highschool? college? I don't know, I saw them from the stage) come - paying maybe $5 each, maybe nothing, and they were GREAT! They had a blast, and they loved the show. And they made the show better for everyone with their energy and laughter. We also had some unhoused people attend. Awesome! I honestly believe that theatre should be for everyone. I don't want to do theatre just for those that can afford a $50 ticket, or even a $20 ticket. It was an experiment for sure. One that I was trepidatious about at first, but I am so SO glad we did it. 

Ok - on to the thank you's - and I'm going to forget someone or more than one someone so I'm definitely sorry but also I reserve the right to edit this later and add people:

Our cast - Barrett, Miranda, Akili, Olivia, Julie and Natalie - wow. I am continually humbled by the quality of artists who are willing to take a chance on working with me. I know and they know that I will do everything I can to honor their work and produce a good quality show, but it's still a huge amount of time and effort for an uncertain financial result. It's a lot of trust. Thank you for your trust and artistry and love. 

Emma Droste - our dresser and swing - holy cow you saved the show. Emma came on board during Tech week, watched all the runs, and was content to sew buttons and fix costume issues until the last weekend, when she was called on to fill in for Barrett as Olivia/Sea Captain/First Officer - and did it with aplomb. Literally saved our last weekend of shows. 

Jennifer and John for front of house. Wow, thank you. We had hot cocoa! We had snacks! You had the pleasant difficulty of handling a lot of large crowds! 

Our creative team - our costumer Sally, our props master Devra, our graphic designer Jennifer (again!), our lighting designer and Stage Manager Alyssa, and our ASM Emma Ives - you all worked so hard and produced such amazing work. 

And of course, all this was lead, shaped, and brought to fruition by our director and fearless leader Hayley. I can't say how fun it is to work with you. Thank you for everything you brought to this work. I hope you are as incredibly proud of the show as I am.

Finally - thank you to every person who helped with load in, and load out, and ushering and just the folks who came and laughed and had a good time with us. I'm so, so grateful to each of you. 

Now for some rest. 

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

400 Years of Folio


Happy 400th Birthday to the First Folio!

The first printing of Shakespeare's collected works was published 400 years ago today, November 8, 1623. 

This also marks the first date of printing of our next play - Twelfth Night. Unlike some of his other works, no prior versions of the play exist, so without the Folio, it's likely the text of this play would have been lost to history (along with Julius Caesar, Comedy of Errors, and 15 others).

Learn more about the first folio here. 

And make plans to join us Jan 5-21 at Ridge Road Baptist Church, for Twelfth Night! 

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Announcing - Twelfth Night

Citizens of Earth:
South Stream Productions is proud to announce its next production - William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night!

Our last production was in January 2019. We took a planned break in January 2020, as I (Brook) attended a six week intensive with Shakespeare & Company in Lennox, MA. We then took a very unplanned break in 2021-2023 due to a little pandemic you may have heard about. And now we're back, with our first "classic" stage piece. Is it because my Shakespeare training inspired me to produce something by the bard? Is it because we found a great director with an exiting idea? Is it because Shakespeare is royalty free? The answer is YES. 

Twelfth Night will be opening on January fifth, which actually IS twelfth night!* The show will run Fri-Sun Jan 5-21, 2024. All performances will be at Ridge Road Baptist Church, 2011 Ridge Road, Raleigh. 

It's going to be a high energy, small cast show, with a small cast (in number, not in reputation) that promises to bring the funny. 

Director: Hayley Philippart

Zoe Barham                As         Maria/Antonio
Katie Barrett               As         Olivia/Sea Captain
Miranda Curtis            As         Viola
Olivia Griego              As          Sebastian/Malvolio
Brook North                As           Orsino/Sir Toby Belch
Julie Oliver                As          Feste/Priest
Natalie Turgeon        As          Sir Andrew/Valentine

Our team also includes Alyssa Petron as Stage manager, Sally Beale on costumes, and Devra Thomas as Props Master. Marketing and design (including that image at the top of the post and website) by Jennifer Sanderson (jennsandy.com).

We had our first readthrough this weekend and I am so excited. Watch this space for more details!

* The date of "twelfth night" is either January 5 or 6, depending on if you start counting from Christmas Day or December 26

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Don't Call It A Comeback.


(LL Cool J, Photo Credit Saquan Stimpson, Creative Commons license)

Friends! We are back! As you may or may not know, our little group took a hiatus. Thanks to scheduling, and of course COVID, other than producing a short film SHELTER, we have not produced any work since January of 2019. Thanks to the amazing work of scientists and public health officials producing and distributing a vaccine in record time, COVID is no longer a major public health threat (it is still out there, but between vaccinations and anti-viral treatment, it is much less dangerous).

We will be opening our next show on January 5, 2024. Exact show dates are still being determined. Exact show has been determined, and will be announced soon (but the date might be a clue...). 

See you soon!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated


Mark Twain, 1907 - By A.F. Bradley, New York - (public domain)

So... haven't heard much from me lately. South Stream didn't have a show last year due to my trip to Shakespeare & Company. And then ... well we're in the middle of the COVID epidemic. So we're probably not going to have live theatre any time soon. 

COVID has been a huge national and international problem. For those directly affected it has been tragic. For the many more whose lives have been disrupted, it has been difficult. Some are struggling to make ends meet after losing work as the economy shrinks. As I write this, expanded unemployment and eviction protections have expired in most places. People are hurting. 

I wanted to start by recognizing that first. Because I can recognize that other people are hurting more. I can see that they are facing larger problems and know that I always need to do what we can to help others. But I also know that I should still honor my own loss and sadness, even if it might feel small in comparison to the burden of others. And I miss theatre.

I miss performing. I miss being an audience member. I miss collaboration. I miss being in a room with a group of other great people making something new together out of nothing. 

I was supposed to be in a play this summer. That was one of the first to get cancelled, but it was only the beginning. Not one but TWO of my short plays were accepted for production this Summer/Fall. Both were cancelled. Being without this part of myself has been hard. And I won't be participating any time soon as an audience member or as a cast member. My parents are over 65, and my father has a history of health problems that make him very high risk if he were to get this disease. I don't want to participate in any activity that might jeopardize his health. That means for me to participate in a rehearsal process, I would have to not see my parents in person for the entire rehearsal, run, plus two weeks after. That's just not going to happen for me. And I miss it.

But I and South Stream have not been completely dormant. Because I can't sit around and do nothing. Well, I CAN. I HAVE. Trust me. But just, you know, not ALL the time. ;-)

I've been working on a film, shot entirely in quarantine. It's in the can, and it's being sent out to film festivals. I won't be able to share the whole film with you unless you come to a festival (depending... some festivals are online... I'll keep you posted!), but I'll be posting more information about the film and where to see it as it happens. 

Stay tuned. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Learning, Growing, (not showing).

Hello friends,

I have been remiss in blogging here of late, but as my interview with Artist Soapbox was recently featured on their blog in an end-of-the-year post, I thought I ought to put an update here in case we had a few new visitors.

As you may or may not have noticed, the first weekend in January is rapidly approaching and ... we're not promoting our show. Yes, South Stream will not be producing a January show this year. And the reason is mostly me.

This story goes back to February of 2019. We had just finished This Doesn't End Well. It was artistically successful, but to be honest, I was feeling a bit drained. Writing, producing, and directing takes a lot out of you. It puts a lot on the line too. And while I am absolutely proud of the show and pleased we put it on, it wasn't perhaps quite as successful as I imagined it might be.

While in that state of mind, I saw that my friend Lucinda had helped arrange a workshop for the the last weekend of March presented by Shakespeare & Company. I was a bit skeptical. The price point was not out of my reach, but high for an acting community with very little in the way of paid work. I was also was unsure if the instruction would be at an appropriate level. I have taken many classes. Some have been well worth it, but some have perhaps not been quite at the right level to provide a quality experience. But Shakespeare & Company had a good reputation, and I was creatively in a place where I needed to participate and learn rather than lead. So I said "what the heck" and signed up.

And I am very, VERY glad I did. I thought the workshop was frankly excellent. The instructor was an inspirational artist and really a gifted teacher. He was an example of how to be open and honest and caring in the process of making art. And the work that we did, I mean, I was really pleased with what we learned, and how the monologue I had grew and changed, but zing-pow at least half the pleasure was getting to witness with others as you saw them really experience growth in their art and life. Just ... well I thought it was great.

Afterwards, I did some things that tried to carry forward the work we did there and reinforce it. Lucinda was kind enough to work with me and another participant to facilitate some exploration of Linklater. But Shakespeare & Co also offers a month long winter intensive. And I decided that if I could make the money work, I would take the time and do it. I love leading this little company. I love the challenge of taking a script and just saying, hey, we can do this, and then doing it. As an artist it's incredibly fulfilling. It really forces you to grow in important ways as an artist. But it also prevents another kind of growth. It keeps you from really questioning your process, of doing an examination of your technique, and it keeps you too busy to really do structured learning of any kind.

SO, this coming January, from December 29-January 24th, I will be doing exclusively that at Shakespeare & Company's main campus in Lenox Massachusetts. They are promising to keep me very VERY busy - the schedule promises 10-12 hours of instruction six days a week. I'm excited and nervous. I'll try to keep folks updated, but given the schedule, once per week is likely the best I'll be able to manage.

Until then have a Merry Christmas (or winter holiday of your choice) and a happy New Year.


Twelfth Night's Come and Gone

  Whew! What an adventure!  Wow, well our production of Twelfth Night was a huge success. It far exceeded my expectations. I loved this sho...