Monday, December 30, 2013

Seascape Opens Friday - January 3!

Common Ground Theatre - 110 Brenrose Circle, Durham NC

(the mailing address is 4815B Hillsboro, but use the Brenrose address in your gps)

7:30 PM Friday/Saturday
3:00 PM Sunday
(please get there early, NO LATE SEATING)
We run Thursday-Sunday the next two weeks (Jan. 9-12, 16-18), 7:30 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM.


More Info:
Email -
Call - (919) 417-2477
... or check out the links on this website.

See you at the show!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tech Week

So it begins.  Today is load in and set construction.  This week is the week where we move in, build stuff, hang lights, and somewhere in there actually rehearse in the space.  It's going to be a long haul, it's going to be lots of work, but it will be work well worth it.  We open Friday, so get your tickets now!

Thursday, December 19, 2013


You did it!  Sometime during our rehearsal last night, we hit our funding goal.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Joyce was the person that put us over the top (thanks!) but thanks to every single donation, from $1 to $100.  Thank you for believing in us and helping us make this show come to life.

I hope you've been following us on the website, we've put up a bunch of pictures of the costumes, and they're looking great.  Thank you for helping pay for them.

Now we're funded, but the kickstarter isn't CLOSED.  We still have 4 more days of kickstarter.  The campaign runs through December 23 and you can STILL pledge for discount tickets and to get your name in the program until then.

Thank you again for your support and trust.  We'll be hard at work making sure we deliver on a show that will knock your socks off.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


No rehearsal tonight, just playing with the costumes and makeup.  Samantha's costume was mostly painted, so after playing around with the look we draped it over her (it isn't actually over her shoulders so it's poofing out kind of weird, but you can get a nice general idea with this photo.

Pretty amazing right?  We're so lucky to have Shannon and Samantha working on this show.  We also added an ASM/Lizard wrangler to our team.  Michelle Zaun will be helping our lizards with makeup and costume, and generally helping out on set once we move into the space.

I'm really looking forward to this show.  

On Awards

So tonight they're going to do a live reveal of the Indy's yearly best awards.  It looks like a lot of fun.  Stuff like this is a great way for theatre people to get together.  To reflect, to give people some recognition.  To give people that "non-monetary compensation" that is required to keep you going.

I am not here to bah-humbug this new live embodiment of a yearly tradition.  I am here, however, to add a note of caution, surrounded by a bunch of praise.

First, let us praise the Indy.  The Indy is dedicated to reviewing local theatre.  That's important.  That's huge. Why? because when you have theatre reviews along side movie reviews and music reviews it validates theatre.  It reminds people that there's lots of theatre going on in their area, and that it's an important part of the local cultural dialogue.  As important as the other forms of media we experience.  And that's worth quite a lot.  The Indy doesn't review everything, but it reviews A LOT of things.  And I'm of the opinion, as an actor, producer, and now director, that any review, even a bad review, is better than no review.  Give me a bad review and I can at least disagree.  But reviewing at least means that my effort was worth the time to take seriously and think critically about, and heck, it gets the name out there again, sometimes any publicity is good publicity.  Not getting reviewed, on the other hand, pushes theatre more and more into an obscure past time.  It makes it not a part of the cultural dialogue but a forgotten backwater, a lost art, a curiosity.

These days there are a few online-only publications, quite a few actually (CVNC, Triangle A&E, Boom!, Broadway World Raleigh) that provide pretty decent coverage of most shows, but the N&O provides only sporadic coverage, and mostly focused in Raleigh.  Having a print publication remain dedicated to theatre is really important.  While online reviews are great contributions to an ongoing conversation, from a producer's standpoint they don't drive a large amount of traffic.  Some people may log on to Triangle A&E or CVNC to see what's happening that weekend, but far, far more will turn to the pages of their local dead tree paper, or to the calendar section of their websites.  The Indy's (and Byron Wood's in particular) contribution to the existence and variety of the local theatre scene should not be understated.

Let me say also that the Indy has been publishing this best of in recognition of local work for years.  It's nice. All the local actors look it up when it comes out to see if they are on it, and to see who else is, and which shows.  Which shows we saw we didn't think deserved mention that got it, and which that deserved mention that got snubbed.  It's fun. We also use it.  I know more than a few theatre resumes include an asterisk and a note at the bottom about these awards.  And honestly that's nice too.  It's nice to have something that says "this shows someone other than my mom liked the show/my performance/my set design" etc... I should also say that as much as I may quibble with the picks, generally pretty deserving people get mentions.

All the above being said, I do want to leaven this with a little caution.  Critics write for their audience.  For the public, for their peers, for the community at large, but they do not write for the actors and directors, the set designers, the lighting designers, sound designers, etc... They are part of the conversation, and yes, we may learn from their criticism, but we don't do this for criticism and they don't offer it to please us.  And this, I think is the main point I have:

If you believe the good things someone says about you, you must also believe the bad things they say about you.

Think about it.  We like it when people say nice things about us.  Everyone does (we're human).  We feel validated and strong.  But when we accept praise, when we BELIEVE it, we are ceding power. If we value that praise, we are also giving the power to withhold their praise.  You can't say a bad review doesn't affect you if you have the good review, by the same reviewer, on your resume (well, you can say it, sure, but I don't believe you).

I would be lying if I didn't say I felt there is something a little unseemly about a critic hosting a party where basically a bunch of theatre people come and hear what he has to say about their performances over the past year, to see his judgement of them revealed live.  It seems ... well it seems a bit self aggrandizing of the critic and a bit fawning of the theatre community.  But I don't want to bah-humbug the thing.  It's fine.  It's normal. If I wasn't busy I'd probably go.  And it's not like we're not all going to read it tomorrow in the Indy anyway, so why not have a party?  I'm just saying think twice about patting yourself on the back for an award (or feeling bad if you didn't get one). Accept it graciously, put it on your resume (you've got a product to sell after all) but do it with a sense of perspective.

We create art not for the resume, not for the reviews, but because we must.  Because telling stories, sharing stories, breathing life into them and carrying them into our community has value to us and to our audience.

Now go have fun!  (oh, and tell me who won)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Last Week (sort of)

One week to go!

One week on our Kickstarter, and one week of rehearsal.

But the show doesn't open until January 3rd you say.  You have more than one week.

Well, yes and no.

This week is our final week in the rehearsal room.  Then we take a week off.  You see, there's this traditional holiday called "Christmas" you may be familiar with.  Yeah.  On Sunday Dec. 29 we load in to Common Ground.  Monday we tech the show (which really is a rehearsal for our sound/lighting elements).  The next day is December 31st.  There's another holiday that happens then, traditionally celebrated at night.  So there goes another day.  We get a day of rehearsals on January 1st, final dress on Jan. 2nd, then we open.

Theatre people know that your "tech week" is really as much or more for tech as it is for actors.  It's not about choices, or fine tuning performance.  It's about getting used to the lights, the costumes, adjusting to the space as it really exists instead of as it is taped out on a rehearsal room floor.

So in a very real sense this week is our final week.  This is the final week to tweak, to hone, to drill it into our heads so that it's ready to perform.  It's exciting.  It's nerve wracking.  It's fun.

Here we go.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Off Book!

Picture by mrmoneda via Flickr Creative Commons license

Yep.  It's that time every actor loves and fears.  Off book time.  We've run each act off book, tonight we put the whole thing together.

As any actor knows, one of the most frequent questions you are asked is "how do you learn all those lines?" The answer is simple, but not easy. It's just hard work.  All it takes to learn lines is hours and hours of study: reading your lines aloud at home, listening to the recording in your car, quizzing yourself with flash cards, and bothering your friends to run your lines with you.  You have to repeat and repeat the words until it gets to the point that you think about the idea, and the words you choose to express that idea, the words you want to use, are the lines you're given.  It's not fun.  It's not sexy.  But it's necessary.

Getting off book is it's own challenge.  Having the book in hand, even if it isn't used, gives an actor confidence.  They don't worry if they're saying the right thing because (a) they can always check, and (b) they're not expected to yet, anything they do up to off book day is being ahead of the game.  Once the books are out of their hands, even when actors know the lines they tend to get a bit more hesitant. Sometimes it's just being a bit quieter, speaking with less confidence, sometimes it's a small pause as the actor processes "is this the right line?" before speaking.  There's also less listening.  When you first go off book you are basically thinking about your next line the whole time, and just listening for your queue (well, that's how I am anyway, "what's my next line, what's my next line, what's my next line, OH, he said 'tango' here it comes!")

But getting off book is a critical stage.  I mean, yes, obviously necessary, of course.  But the physical freedom is just as important.  Being able to interact with your environment with two hands free.  To pick things up, to hug, to walk around on all fours if you're a lizard, these are critical elements of the character. And as I've become a more experienced actor, I increasingly appreciate the physical aspects of character in performance. I saw "The Best of Enemies" at Manbites this weekend, and I was really impressed by Lakeisha Coffey's walk.  Sometimes the physicality can bring a new aspect or a new understanding to the character, and that can't completely happen when you're carrying a book.  It also forces your eyes out of a book, and onto your fellow actors.  Making more eye contact, being more aware of your fellow actors and their choices, these are things that can't happen until you can pull your focus away from yourself, and place it on your scene and surroundings.  Until we're fully listening and looking, what actors call "present," real acting isn't happening. It's pantomime.

You don't get there all at once.  You get there slowly.  One step at a time. And this is just one step, a big one, but just one. And I have to say the cast is stepping out nicely.  I can't wait to share it with you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Warm Up Week

The weather is warming up this week... almost to Indian summer levels on Friday according to the weather forecast.  And we're warming up too.  Almost ready to put the books down.

We had our second run through (on book) today.  Less of a stumble through, more of a run through.  And I'm really pleased.  I can really see it coming together.  Everyone is more comfortable with their lines. They're feeling more, thinking less, starting to make eye contact, starting to listen.  It's beginning to happen: less playing, more being.  Becoming.  Just starting mind you, but it's clearly starting.

Yesterday, Shannon Clark and his seamstress friend Doris came to rehearsal, and we have pictures!

Pin the tail on the lizard.
The basic structure should be finished soon, and the lizards might be able to rehearse in costume by the middle of next week.  Having those costumes is going to help everyone so much in rehearsal.  You can't really become the character until you have his clothes, and with the lizards especially, their skin.  How they move and how the humans react will really come alive with these pieces, and I'm thrilled to have a strong team working on it.

So come to our show.  You can get a ticket through kickstarter here.  Do it now.  You won't be disappointed.
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