Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Popular Stories Written Like Postcards for Plays (Spoiler Alert: they’re boring as hell)

I started to rewrite popular movie/TV log-lines as if they’re on the back of a theater postcard (or described on a website) to hear how boring they sound. It was meant to be a joke on Facebook, but got so much attention that it might become a regular series.

I can’t tell you how often a theatrical production attracts my attention, then my eyes glaze over when I read the description. I have no solution to this chronic marketing problem except for testing different versions with samples of your target audience(s).

I wrote the first three, then friends joined into the fun:

Selfish spoiled playboy Tony Stark has done nothing with his life since inheriting his father’s fortune. After his life changing experience in Afghanistan where he is confronted by both the true consequence of his empire and his own mortality, Stark finally realized how the power of his own intelligence can be used to help the world. His old friends and investors, however, don’t always have the humanity’s best interests in mind, and Stark must make the choice between those he’s trusted his whole life and his own conscience.

*

Dreamer Dorothy Gale has no love for her farm life in Kansas, with its pig pens and farmhands who

IMG_20150818_144347.jpg

If you haven’t seen Thug Notes videos, every artist can learn from how he describes classic literature.

always seem to watch her a little too closely for her comfort as she grows up. When a tornado knocks her out, she finally travels to the world in her head over the rainbow, where she encounters talking beasts, vertically challenged villages and pagan wannabes who challenge her ideas of right and wrong. Will she stay with them and finally meet the mysterious Wizard of Oz, or will she find her way home to seek out happiness among the family she loves?

*

The well off Hobbit Frodo has settled into his calm life of leisure, brews and nature. The biggest challenge is keeping his estate-hungry cousins away from BagEnd. But then his Uncle Bilbo disappears at his own birthday party, and the trusted if suspicious family friend, a Wizard, throws him out the door in a quest to hide a magical (possibly evil) ring in the land of the elves. Constantly caught between his new adventures, true friends, inevitable betrayals and his humble Hobbit nature, Frodo must decide: stay within a group of warriors sworn to protect him or take a small boat towards a destiny that almost surely will prove to be fatal?

Friends joined into the fun, too. From Sound Designer Vincent Olivieri:

Twentysomething hacker Neo has a boring job and no family to speak of. One day, a mysterious cell phone arrives on his desk, and Neo has a series of interactions with fascinating strangers, eventually leading to his immersion in a topsy-turvy turbulent alternate universe. The previously apathetic Neo is forced to confront his own humanity and role in the human race as he enters an evil computer program and hacks it from the inside out! Contains drug use and adult situations.

From Director Kate Motzenbacker:

After encountering a rebellious group of women in a post-apocalyptic landscape, guilt-ridden drifter Max is forced to confront his own humanity. Exploring themes of environmentalism, reproductive rights, and the human condition, this piece asks the question: what is the responsibility of an individual in the absence of civilization?

From David Jette, Artistic Director of Brimmer Street Theater Co.

What does it mean to be a father? What does it mean to be a son?

These are the questions tackled by this compelling and transformative new work about a young orphan living with his uncle and aunt on a farm far from ‘civilization.’ He spends his days repairing equipment and pining to join his friends on their adventures. Until one day, one of his machines is lost in the desert and is found by an old man, who, long ago, knew the boy’s late father and how he died. The two set off to return the machine to its original owner, and after encountering some truly zany characters, find themselves at odds with the society in which they live, and in search of the force that binds them together.

*

Lot and his family live in a great little part of town, but something about this town is… unique. Unique? More like crazy! His neighbors are total hellions! Until one day, a gorgeous man in white arrives at Job’s door and asks to stay the night. When his neighbors knock on the door and make an ‘indecent proposal,’ and after a strange weather pattern settles in, laying waste to everything he loves dear, Lot and his wife decide it’s time to get out of Dodge. This dramedy about loss and faith is for the whole family, and surely worth its salt!

*

Ever have one of those days? What about one of those YEARS?

Job is a pious man, with one problem – the God he worships is kiiiiind of a dick. After making a bet with the devil (played by One Life to Live’s Kevin Conway!) Job’s deity decides to really mess with his life, in the most unexpected ways! Join us for a night of laughs, and tears, brought forth by this timeless story of the saddest man that God forsook.

Do you have ideas on this? Add your own versions or ideas in the comments.

#ChanceItLA – our Picks for Hollywood Fringe Festival 2015

#SeeItorSkipItLA
Coverage of 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival
Hosted by Cindy Marie Jenkins ( @cindymariej ) as part of @SeeItorSkipItLA

More info at http://www.seeitorskiptitla.com &
http://cindymariejenkins.com/see-it-or-skip-it-la/

Correspondent Guests:
Sara Fenton (@Fentonova)
Lemuel H. Thornton III (@Lemwerks)
Madeline Rosenstein (@mfrosens)

Shows to #ChanceItLA (click on title for websites):

ALL AGREE:

Four Clowns Presents The Halfwits’ Last Hurrah

LEM

*Jason and Medea

*Getting to Know You

*Hamlet Mobile

 

SARA

*Tiananmen Annie

*The Three Musketeerers: Clowns with Swords

*Skanky Me from Kankakee

MADELINE

*The Blacks a Clown Show (Cindy note: in their Fringe profile page, they claim to be “remounting America’s longest running off-Broadway play”. I think they mean “revive,” not “remount,” as the original off-Broadway production opened in 1961 and this company didn’t produce it. This may have no bearing on their ability to produce a fine piece of art, but a mistake like that does make me hesitate and I personally won’t be prioritizing it. I saw this on their page after we recorded the podcast.)

*5 Sirens Beware of Rocks

*The Devil You Say

*HollywoodFringe.org/free

 

Cindy

*The Voyage of Odysseus

*The Snail

*Romeo & Juliet: An ASL Love Story

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Why Water Falls

50 Shades of Shrew

Marry me a Little (Cindy note – Probably only interesting for Sondheim lovers)

It’s the Prom 

Two Girls, One Bard 

8:03 

Wombat Man

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea

Timeheart by Robot Teammate & Accidental Party

Alien vs Musical

Catherine: Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey in Today’s LA 


Other Correspondents:
Kat Michels (@fictionoftruth)
Courtney Ann Buchan (@CourtneyABuchan)

Sponsored by Theatre Asylum (@TheatreAsylum)

Shakespeare Adaptations – a Pirate Podcast

I noticed quite a few new Shakespeare adaptations that went far beyond the typical change of setting. After

Their pose is way more refined than their conversation.

Their pose is way more refined than their conversation.

seeing even more pop up in this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival, I invited some artists to discuss the hows, whys and challenges of adapting The Bard.

 

Shakespeare Adaptations on Stage & Screen

Hosted by Cindy Marie Jenkins

A Pirate Podcast (down and dirty) as part of @SeeItorSkipItLA

 

Guests:

“The Hamlet Project’ by Loose Canon Collective LA

Randolph Thompson & Paul Culuo

 

“Titus and Dronicus” by Better Than Shakespeare

Megan Kelly & Madhuri Shekar

 

“Two Girls, One Bard” by The Illyrian Players

Carly Weckstein

 

Sponsored by Theatre Asylum

Produced by Lemuel H. Thornton III

 

Relevance & Empathy: Ligature Marks at Theatre Unleashed

I always consider my experience with art in terms of Relevance & Empathy, two words that are thrown around culture but rarely examined in detail.

“I feel like you had to be there.”

That is how my husband describes his non-emotional reaction to Andy Warhol. He understands Warhol’s place in art history and why he was revolutionary at the time, but he doesn’t feel anything when faced with Campbell’s Soup paintings.

That’s my reaction to a lot of classical plays, and even recent writers like Stoppard and Sam Shepard. I appreciate and enjoy them; often my brain is stimulated. I just rarely feel much that applies to my life at that very moment, or my future. (There are a handful of exceptions, as always, but I can only think of one, and it’s a film.)

New plays, especially ones that are set in an apartment, often miss the mark with me as well.

I want to be rattled by a play. I want to leave thinking about my life, my neighbor’s life, my cousin in Boston’s life, my son’s life, my boss’s life…..in a new play or adaptation, I want to leave with a perspective I did not have before entering the theater. I want to think more deeply about people and the world and how we all affect each other. I want to spend an evening in a way that directly affects my decision making in the future. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good old escapist comedy or anything; I like those too. I personally don’t see them as often.

With the very recent exception of E.M. Lewis’s The Gun Show, I haven’t felt simultaneously thrilled, revolted, and moved in…..years?

Mac Rogers did that to me. Twice already in 2015.

First with Viral at the Bootleg Theater/Moving Arts and then Ligature Marks, his 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival piece now playing (with new cast and director) at Theatre Unleashed.

It’s hard to discuss it without giving away the very parts of his storytelling which made me go “Oh holy shit, this is NOT what I expected.”Ligature Marks

It left me as fucked up and oddly resolved as the characters in the play felt (otherwise known as empathy).

It gave me insight into a trope I typically despise: dependent relationships, especially when the female looks to be the more dependent one.

Since VIRAL last month, it made me want a different local theater to produce a different Mac Rogers play every single month so I can get my relevance and empathy fix. I would even buy a subscription to it.

I’d say that’s a win.

http://www.theatreunleashed.org for tickets and more information.

 

The Geek Supremacy Project

I had a blast talking with Gregory Hall about everything geeky – from He-Man to Shakespeare, history, mythology, 24th ST Theatre and griffithmarketing for self-producers. 

Have a listen. Would love your thoughts!

Listen to internet radio with The Geek Supremacy Project on Blog Talk Radio

Indie Holiday Gifts Day 3

With so many independent artists, there’s a variety of unique gifts you can give. I’ll highlight one a day through the New Year!

Day 1 – Holiday Gifts by Adam Emperor Southard Photography

Day 2 – HUCK FINN: The Robotic Edition & The Selling, a supernatural comedy

DAY 3: Fund Romeo & Juliet Puppet Music Video

for free distribution to schools.

Do it in a friend’s name!

Click here for their Kickstarter Page

randjAlso watch Dan’s interview on Funding Fridays

Shakespeare Puppets & Geek Crash Course [Funding Fridays]

FRI 11/30 – 11am-12pm PT

Funding Friday

11-11:30am

Dan Ring from ROMEO & JULIET: A PUPPET MUSICAL

This song and music video aims to introduce kids to Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” through the world of live-action puppetry.

 

 

11:30am-12pm

Michael from Geek Crash Course Kickstarter

A weekly educational webseries covering topics in geek culture needs funding for a second year of content.

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See the full schedule

Subscribe to YouTube
http://bit.ly/theCMJstoriesBLOG

Facebook.com/theCMJstories

Don’t miss a segment @CindyMarieJ

Spooky Shakespeare Brings me Joy

Follow him @ShimermanArmin too!

The Antaeus Company hosts Salons every Monday to really dig into some aspect of the classics and theatre in general. They all sound really interesting, but the evening I signed up to attend immediately was Ghosts, Demonology & Fairies in Shakespeare, moderated by Armin Shimerman!

I’m a huge text analysis nerd, but even more so because Armin always puts the play in context of the society and culture (audience) for whom it was originally written. This means long-standing psychological and dramaturgical fights vanish (pun intended) when confronted with simple realities like who was in Shakespeare’s audience.

A few days beforehand, attendees were told to be familiar with Hamlet  and Macbeth. Two of my favorites, so no problem. Then instructions came to familiarize ourselves with King James’ Daemonology Treatise. Fascinating stuff.

However, I don’t recommend anyone make the mistake I did, and in order to understand slightly archaic language, read it out loud while on a public bus. I wondered why people moved away from me.

So a lovely casual conversation ensued. Armin clarified at the top that we were looking at the Ghost in Hamlet and Witches/Lady Macbeth if we had time. Although not necessarily Halloween-themed, he said : “Religion for me is always spooky.”

I personally always like to remind myself before these things start about why I wanted to attend, and spend money on an evening like this. Besides the fact that Armin holds so much knowledge that I’d pay to listen to him discuss the finer attributes of taxes, I also realized that I don’t get excited about Shakespeare as much as in the past. One recent exception was two weeks ago when I watched 3 separate performances of 24th ST’s special engagement Nearly Lear, and found joy and discovery within every single viewing.*

I’ve also heard about Macbeth from Armin a few years ago when he was guest at a workshop rehearsal I directed, so I was glad we started with Hamlet.

Okay. There is no way I can properly relate to you everything we said, learned or discovered, except for this main theme that keeps running through my head:

Hamlet is a mystery. 

For those of us who grew up knowing Hamlet‘s plot before ever seeing it onstage, that is hard to fathom, never mind remember. How often is a story ruined by creators forgetting that their audience doesn’t know the plot? Sad, really.

Here are some other tidbits, in no particular order:

  • The Senecan Ghost: If I weren’t a Halloween curmudgeon, I might have found a way to go as one. In almost every Senecan Drama, a ghost appears in something like a white sheet (sound familiar?) and tells everyone how horrible things are and how badly we need revenge.
  • There are distinct differences between how a Catholic and how a Protestant would consider/approach Hamlet’s Father’s Ghost. It actually forms the crux of the whole play, since whether the Ghost was telling the truth dictated what would happen to Hamlet if he believed him and murdered his Uncle in revenge.
  • Armin: “The actor must pick one meaning [for a line] and the audience can have two. That’s poetry.” This was a throw-away line, mind you. He’s just that amazing.
  • Somehow, amidst all of his religious currents, Shakespeare never got arrested. His plays linger and live in the contradiction between Catholics & Protestants at the time, but he was never thrown in jail.
  • Protestants literally believe there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other (“My shoulder angel!” for all you Emperor’s New Groove fans).
  • There is actually more to heaven and earth than can be dreampt of, or scholarized, and it is just so easy to take Shakespeare down the wrong path by remembering what you were taught vs the facts and words directly in front of you.
  • Taking Joy in Shakespeare really helps fuel a creative mind.

Antaeus only has 3 more Monday Salons left. Take any opportunity to hear Armin Shimerman talk Shakespeare.

*FULL DISCLOSURE: I am Outreach and Marketing Director for 24th ST. but am not required to include them in my blog, nor see the shows more than once. This one was really just that good.

Some great Shakespeare happens all the time in Los Angeles, and my client 24th ST Theatre has a very special engagement mentioned.

Shakespeare in LA

Looking for a way to get your Shakespeare fix now that summer is over? Check out what’s happening around Southern California below.

Advent Theatre has several more performances of Twelfth Night to benefit The North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry happening at First Christian Church of North Hollywood. Directed by Brett Elliott and Jason Rennie, performances run through October 14th (Friday, Saturday evenings, Sunday matinee). Ticket prices: General Admission $20, Students & Seniors $15, and Groups of 8 or more.

Griot Theatre of the West Valley previews Julius Caesar tonight and will continue its run through November 11, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm. Post-show discussions will be held with the actors and director following the performances on October 14 and 28. Bethel Encino 17500 Burbank Blvd. Encino, CA 91316. If you’re in Hollywood you can catch New American Theatre’sJulius Caesar at the McCadden Place Theatre through October…

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