Let’s delve into a pretty common denominator in the world of theater for young audiences (TYA): fairy tales. There is no end to internet lists “revealing” or “discovering” the dark origins of fairy tales, yet it is so surprising that, once upon a time, we actually told children scary stories? Shocking!
Many of the original versions of fairy tales were told to help children and adults confront the very real dangers of their times. Hansel and Gretel is an excellent example and very likely the most well known: it’s famine and hunger that motivate the mother or stepmother (depending on the version) to convince her husband to abandon his children in the woods. Most stage productions hide that part of the tale. It is fear of the darkness inherent in the stories that can cause playwrights to move too far in the other, more saccharine direction, leading to meaningless takes on fairy tales that now feel like the norm. When we remove fear from a fairy tale — or any story — we remove its connection to our lives, and that dumbing down affects theater audiences for a lifetime. Without true connections to our own feelings, fears and joys, why bother attending?
I guess being a parent really does affect how I view art. Yesterday two articles I wrote dropped on different publications, Better Lemons and Dwarf+Giant, a blog of The Last Bookstore LA. I didn’t realize until I shared them to Facebook that both show how I view art differently since becoming a parent.
The other is the first in a series, What Theaters Need to Know: Courting Families on Better Lemons, a relaunched Los Angeles arts website. Here I detail how small changes and larger ones can go a long way towards making families feel welcome at your programming. Until you’ve had to change your child’s diaper on a nasty restroom floor while other audience members bang on the door during intermission, you really haven’t lived as a parent.
Stay tuned for some more interesting articles from me……
Then head on over to Story Forward, a fantastic podcast I just discovered. Noah J. Nelson of No Pro is on a panel discussing the ethics of immersive experiences. Whether you approach it as an audience member or creator, this is a great listen.
If you’re interested in knowing about immersive productions, escape rooms, etc in your area, here’s where to find NoPro. There’s an expansion to other cities in the works:
I used to be on their Steering Committee and it’s a great opportunity for Stage Directors and Choreographers:
Presenting The 16th Annual
in association with the Pasadena Playhouse,
and the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society
DirectorsLabWest brings together dedicated emerging and mid-career theatre directors and choreographers with master artists for an eight-day long intensive Saturday, May 23 through Saturday, May 30, 2015, enabling them to inspire each other to dream and create the future of American Theatre.
The deadline to submit the application is Friday, March 6, 2015 at 5 pm PST.
What is DirectorsLabWest?
The Lab is a week-long summer intensive for stage directors and choreographers. Part conference, part workshop, part focused discussion, all theatre, all directing and all fun! The wellspring of the Lab is to provide a place for directors to meet and exchange ideas.
When is DirectorsLabWest?
May 23 to May 30, 2015 with events scheduled from 10 am until 10 pm that you won’t want to miss.
Where is DirectorsLabWest?
For the majority of the years of DirectorsLabWest, The Pasadena Playhouse in the historic California State Theatre has been and continues to be our dedicated and supportive partner, but we also hold sessions at a variety of theaters in and around Los Angeles.
Who can attend DirectorsLabWest?
By application only, the Lab is open to directors and choreographers committed to the art and creation of theatre. (Note: The Lab is not open to students or those planning to return to school. It is designed for emerging directors who are working professionals, who have finished their studies. And studies are not required—many Labdirectors are working directors who have never gone to college.)
Who has presented at DirectorsLabWest?
The list is long, but here is a sampling… Sheldon Epps (Pasadena Playhouse), Des MacAnuff (La Jolla Playhouse), Michael Ritchie (Center Theatre Group), Anne Cattaneo (Lincoln Center Theater), Jack O’Brien (The Old Globe), Martin Benson (South Coast Rep), Tim Dang (East West Players), David Ira Goldstein (Arizona Theatre Company), Andrew Barnicle (Laguna Playhouse), Erik Ehn (CalArts), Stephen Wadsworth (Director), John Bowab (Director), Kay Cole (Choreographer), David Lee (Director), Mark Medoff (Playwright), Randy Newman (Composer), Jose Rivera (Playwright), George Furth (Playwright), Richard Thomas (Actor), Eddie Levi Lee (Actor/Playwright), Charlayne Woodard (Actor/Playwright), Tonya Pinkins (Actor), Henry Winkler (Actor), Ming Cho Lee (Scenic Designer), plus many more.
How much does DirectorsLabWest cost?
Participation in the Lab is FREE thanks to the generous support of the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society, partners like the Pasadena Playhouse and all the artists, who donate their time and share their talents each year’s Lab participants.
A friend of mine’s been working on her own adaptation of The Papin Sisters story, better known as the sisters in Jean Genet’s The Maids who [spoiler alert] end up killing their mistress.
But this looks to be an entirely different production…….I’ve seen Naomi’s past work, and admire her imagination, story-telling and ensemble work. As an added bonus, all the ticket sales go directly to her actors and team, some of whom have been workingon this show since January.
Here’s a taste:
Our New (Acro)Door from Diavolo: Architecture in Motion
As you may have notice in our pictures and videos over the last couple days, we have a new door! But not just any door, this one comes to us courtesy ofDiavolo: Architecture in Motion and is fully equipped to handle the acrobatics and high-flying skills of our ensemble!
though some people still tend to doze off on from time to time…
But in the end, we just end up hanging out.
All in all, our ensemble and production team have been working tirelessly to get ready for our opening night. So, if you are in the L.A. area, and haven’t got your tickets yet – seating is very limited!
I am a Hedda Gabler addict. As a teenager, Henrick Ibsen’s Hedda expressed to me how incredibly stifling life can feel when you have no control over your future, when you’re expected to be and act a certain way. I had incredibly supportive parents but still felt that tug to become what they wanted instead of go into a direction I knew was right but was not sure where it would lead.So the theater company Lucid by Proxy’s new adaptation (their first production in three years) intrigued me from the start. Save Me is a modern re-telling of Ibsen’s formidable heroine/antagonist with movement and song interludes.
Valerie Rachelle & Rick Robinson’s adaptation combined with Shannon Nelson’s portrayal create a Hedda who could match even the most devious of the Mean Girls from school: her power lies in a honey which coats villainy with empathy. This particular Hedda has lived her whole life as a Senator’s daughter, until some scandal caused his downfall. The scandal remains somewhat nebulous, though likely connected to his wife’s departure. In the first moments of the play, the audience witnesses Hedda in a private sexual dance with her dead father’s handguns, which we learn later were a gift from the N.R.A. That single detail clarified just how deeply conservative the Gabler family and their surrounding associates are, and much about the original play also came into focus.
Her new husband George Tesman is played by Ed Robinson as a very nerdy, devoted lover only slightly verging on pushover. That’s a hard balance, and one of the few times I could believe in Tesman as more than what Hedda sees in him: someone to serve a supporting role in her survival within a world she finds tedious. Tesman, too, only has one path before him: publish and gain a professorship or perish into poverty.
Jack Sochet as Thomas Brack is delightfully sinister, creating an unholy alliance with Hedda to break up her boredom and satisfy an increasing need to keep hold of various people’s puppet strings, until he needs them. The contemporary context of conservative school chums finding their way into adulthood made me uncomfortable at first. Empathizing with people with whom I rarely converse in today’s bi-partisan world was off-putting, in the way that only good art can do.
I don’t see a lot of theatre specifically focused on the difficulties of growing up conservative, unless they are tales of a liberal mind ‘breaking free’ from their upbringing in some way. To its credit, Save Me hardly delves into the politics as we see them in headlines today (subtly revealing key details through character, mostly successfully), and so my own opinions didn’t build a wall between myself and the characters. This group of young adult’s choices feel incredibly limited, much as the original Hedda must have felt to Ibsen’s audiences.
It’s easy for people to accept and dismiss a Hedda Gabler in the original time period. Women just didn’t have freedoms back then, fathers and then husbands were almighty in a female’s life, a woman leaving her husband would be a socially threatening scandal; so Save Me, placed into this world that could and probably does exist today, creates frightening implications.
Even more importantly, Valerie Rachelle & co-writer Rick Robinson’s piece provoked my own thought about the original material as well as people with whom I don’t have much if anything in common. Empathy tends to be overused among theatre artists, yet is the most accurate word to describe my experience. It’s easy and safe for audiences to feel empathy towards people with a slightly different upbringing or cultural heritage, if well presented. Much harder nowadays is to let an audience member into a world where they’re vehemently inclined to disagree with the political motivations, the implied societal ideas about a woman’s place, and make us care deeply about what happens to all the characters involved.
For the first time in a long line of Hedda Gabler productions, the end seemed inevitable yet still surprising. The new couple huddled over manuscripts felt a little hopeful for a future interested in a legacy of truth, leaving a befuddled Brack to utter Ibsen’s last words in a state that matched the befuddled confusion of Romney’s supporters on election night last year.
Many in the ensemble deserve mention for their work, including Annalisa Erickson as Aunt Julia, Natasha Harris as Thea Elvstead and Justin Lujan as Evan Lessing. Based on the description, I expected a few more movement interludes than we saw, but also felt the Hedda solos worked much better than when Thea and Evan or Hedda and Evan expressed their feelings through some harsh choreography. I understood why we saw those three characters’ inner lives at those moments; I just felt that Hedda’s solos integrated into the whole production better.
Lucid by Proxy has one more weekend of Save Me performances, Tonight, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 5pm. Tickets and more info below.
Lucid by Proxy returns after three years with this stunning original re-imagination of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, conceived, written and directed by LbP Founding Producer Valerie Rachelle.
In Save Me, Hedda, the daughter of a prominent, recently deceased politician, fights for her own sanity as she navigates a secret love triangle of her mild, professorial husband, a passionate and obsessive writer, and a smooth, cynical political operator. It is Lucid by Proxy’s 19th production, and our return to Los Angeles theater after three long years.
This contemporary retelling uses a soulful soundtrack and actor-driven movement pieces to help tell the story, layering them in with traditional theatrical storytelling to create an experience that connects the audience viscerally to Hedda’s journey.
Note:Save Me contains harsh language, sexual situations and loud noises, and so may not be appropriate for all audiences.
dates, times & tickets
November 8 – December 7, 2013
Fridays & Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 5PM
The Complex Theater
6476 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Boy, that could be a great sequel to Being John Malkovich.
Last week I had a great time coaching some individuals on Self-Promoting Without Annoying Your Friends. We discussed a writing career, re-branding your acting image, a nonprofit to Save the Arts & brainstormed another attendee’s germ of a creative idea using Homer Simpson as an example (that was a tough one!).
I’m always excited to talk through the muddy waters of social marketing with people, and everyone present said they found takeaways they could put into practice right away. That is always the goal and I’m happy to report mission accomplished!
What is your show’s story? We’ll peel away all the layers of people who would be interested in the story you want to tell. Who is your audience? How can those layers be organized in a way that you and your team can target? Who are your audience’s influencers? Who has your audience’s ears & how can you begin a relationship? How can you target them? Just what it says, tailored to the platforms you’re already using or are most efficient. Basics of a pitch to media & bloggers With fun examples. Includes basic media lists The sooner you register, the more research for your specific needs I can do. It’s all about relationships; lists mean nothing without engagement.
If your resume must be emailed, please follow the directions below & submit by the deadline:
DIRECTIONS: Answer these questions using as much additional space as needed. Email it along with your resume and the contact information for at least two theatrical references to firstname.lastname@example.org as PDF ATTACHMENTS by 5:00pm MARCH 29, 2013 PST.
PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE ANY OTHER ADDITIONAL MATERIALS.
Return notification of acceptance status will be sent via email two weeks after the deadline. Admission to Directors Lab West does not guarantee or preclude admission to the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via email: email@example.com
Website and/or Blog Address:
YouTube or other social media platform info:
Are you currently a student? Yes No If yes, projected year of graduation:
How did you hear about Directors Lab West (please be specific):
List three directors or choreographers you admire and explain why:
If there were any piece you could direct or choreograph, what would it be, and why?
How do you approach your work as an artist?
What themes do you gravitate toward?
Describe a theatrical experience that changed you.
Describe what work you are most proud of and why.
The deadline for applications is Friday, March 29th at 5pm PST.
The 2013 Lab will take place May 18-25, 2013
in residence at The Pasadena Playhouse.
Receive notification of announcements (in the right sidebar) and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
The Lab will continue its tradition of bringing together dedicated theatre directors, choreographers and master artists for a week of intense discussions and exploration of the art form.
Attendance is by application only and no cost is charged to participate in the Lab.
Each ticket can be used for any performance of Walking the Tightrope and/or Huraclown.
Click here to claim. Only good through Dec 31: http://bit.ly/Family4Pack24thST
24th STreet Theatre introduces its new in-house company LAB24 with the West Coast premiere of British playwright Mike Kenny’s gentle, funny play.
Young Esme arrives to stay with her grandparents at the end of summer, just like she does every year. But this time, something’s different: Grandma’s not there.
This magical play, full of moments of remembered childhood, celebrates the special bond shared by grandparents and grandchildren. The play was the first recipient of Art Council England’s Award for Playwriting for Children & Young People (Rated G – ages ^+) Purchase tickets here.
With the Family 4-Pack, you can choose 4 tickets for your family, for friends, for anyone who could use a special night out!
Artists at Play is a collective of creative professionals who have come together to curate quality theatre in Los Angeles. We present theatrical productions missing from the local landscape that tells the stories of communities underrepresented in Los Angeles theatre. The audience experience is our priority, and we aim to make theatre accessible to everyone.
Their current production, Edith Can Shoot Things & Hit Them, tackles bullying from POV of kids who are already pretty much on their own. Hear Producer Julia Cho on the topic (and forgive my low energy due to illness):
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…
There are many reasons why this work excites me, not the least of which is the fact that my job is to tell the stories coming out of this amazing theatre every single day.
One highlight, though, is the 1st time campaign. We want people to feel welcome bringing their kids to 24th ST for their first experience of theatre, and so our friends & staff are telling me about their 1st times.