Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy One Year Anniversary, Angels!

To my dearest Angels,

Do you remember this night 365 days ago? Well, I do.

I remember the crisp fall evening. I remember the dark sky. I remember parking (for the first time) away from the theatre to make room for our guests. I remember the platter of cookies as we walked in. I remember warming up in the theatre, in our home. I remember warming up in the basement where the ghosts of our past lives and adolescent friendships lingered. I remember listening to the audience filter in, feeling their energy. I remember our group hugs. I remember opening a show with the best friends I have ever had. I remember knowing my life would never be the same again. 

It has been an honor to get to know all of you and create with you. Thank you for  sharing your lives with me. Words cannot express how deeply grateful I am for each and every one of you. I would not be where I am now nor half the artist I am without you.  MAN did we start of a revolution! We lit a fire that WILL NOT be is because our team of Angels has growing! 
There is so much Great Work to be done. AND IT IS HAPPENING.  The Universe sure knew what it was doing by putting us together, huh?

Every time I think about you and GWB, it brings a tear (ok, maybe several tears) to my eye. I miss you all so very so SO very much. I cannot wait to see you all again and create with you all again. Please keep the revolution alive until I get back. 

I love you! 

"Nothing's lost forever. 
In this world, there is a kind of painful progress
Longing for what we've left behind, and dreaming ahead. 
At least, I think that's so"


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Peoria, Illinois: HEART

Peoria, Illinois. Coordinates:  40.6936° N, 89.5889° W.  Population: 115,234. 
A city with a big heart and big dreams; filled with potential energy ready to be turned into kinetic energy.

For those who are unfamiliar, HERE is where Peoria is located: 

I am here to tell you why I love Peoria so much, why I am proud to have called it my home for the past 5.5 years 

The people.

Now, you may think that is very cliche of me to say, but it is true. In the short amount of time I have lived in the town and broke out of the "Bradley Bubble", I was embraced with open arms, instantly...and found a wonderful community of free thinkers. For a small to mid sized city, Peoria is filled with the arts and artists who want to MAKE A DIFFERENCE with their talents. Peoria is great for that. It is small enough where you feel like you can make a difference in the community with your art, but big enough where it can provide opportunities for you to do it. And you know what can create opportunities for yourself too! There are many twenty somethings who are starting their own businesses, starting their own theatre companies, working together to make music, create...and start revolutions. And this town embraces just have to find the community in which to surround yourself. They will support you and help you along the way....And in no way do I think this is unique to Peoria. There are many cities like this, many communities like this. I was fortunate enough to find it here. And am eternally grateful.

For those who go to Bradley, my advice to you is to EXPLORE, go down the hill, participate in local will be so pleasantly surprised.  There is so much to Peoria. Really. I promise you. I loved my time at Bradley. I met some really amazing people, connected with my life change was set into motion because of Bradley. But there is SO MUCH MORE TO THE COLLEGE EXPERIENCE. If you are going to be living somewhere for four, maybe five might as well make the very MOST out of it and maybe even leave it a better place because You were here. Experience new things, meet new friends, make new and unique memories. There are some really amazing things happening RIGHT HERE! 

No community is perfect. The grass will always seem greener, but we are right here right now. And really, the grass is green exactly where you water it. We are with the people around us for such a short amount of time...we HAVE to make the most out of it. This is a lesson I  had to learn...And I am so glad I did. Bradley and the Peoria community have given me the closest friends and fondest memories a girl could ever ask for. Thank you to everyone EVERYONE. I love you all very much!

"Better to be good and courageous and bold and make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and work hard at something. Change lives through art. Cherish your friends. Stay true to your principles. Live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved if you ever get the chance.
~One Day

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Taming of the Shrew: WILLPOWER

artwork by the amazing Andrew Rhodenbaugh

If the catch word for Midsummer was Blessed, Taming of the Shrew's has to be:  WILLPOWER. Literally the day after we closed Midsummer, Andrew and I started abridging the script for Taming. We knew we wanted to do it in a bar and we knew we wanted it to be quick. That was about it. We spent the week working on the script and finding people to do the show. What you have to understand about Midsummer, is that we knew we wanted to do it for about 7 months before we we opened. For Taming, it was four weeks, three by the time we had a cast and script. It was a race to the finish.

We chose Taming because we wanted to do something more adult and bawdy and we wanted to do it in a bar. All it took was one phone call and one meeting with Kelleher's and we were all set up. They very graciously opened up for us on Sunday and agreed to serve drinks and appetizers. We had another bar in mind and THANK GOODNESS it didn't work out. (Remember the 100+ degree weather?) Everything happens for a reason. Plus Kelleher's was PERFECT for what we wanted to do AND we were able to get in their twice to rehearse.

Waiting for our playing space to clear out
dang customers enjoying their dinner in our theatre space! 

One of Midsummer's biggest adventures was finding rehearsal space, Taming's was how we asked people to be in the show. All three of us firmly stand behind the idea that EVERYONE can act. We cast people we want to simply hang out with for a few hours every day for a month. Their ability to act is second on our minds. And you know what, it hasn't failed us yet! The perfect person for each role has surfaced (even if it is the WEEK OF the show..eeep!) and each person was spot on and AMAZING. This is the kind of theatre magic I LIVE for. Being surrounded by a group of people who are playful, passionate, and dedicated to telling a great story in a way that will appeal to an audience...seriously, WHAT could be better?

We started asking people to be in the show through calls, text, emails, facebook, etc. Andrew and I would sometimes accompany a couple photos with our texts. Here is an example of what we would send:

please be in Taming....

You know what....IT WORKED. We were even able to do some gender reversals within our cast. Our Baptista (Victoria), Grumio (Liz) and Tranio (Sarah) were women!

Doing two Shakespeare shows is not easy. We had to get a bit extreme in the way we asked our friends to join. For example, Andrew, Jess and I literally cornered John (Petruchio) in the parking lot of Walgreens to ask, nay...BEG him to be in the show. We also asked our Pedant (Alex) to be in the show....the week of the show. He got the script on a friday and was memorized and blocked and amazing on monday. BLESSED. We were also able to get an AMAZING local band, The Dirty Gentlemen to play for us. Seriously, look them up, they are incredible. The Dirty Gentlemen
As you can see from the picture above, they came to one of our rehearsals and then churned out some amazing sounds that fit the bawdy/ruckus-y feel we were going for.

One thing we found that worked really well to help with memorization (since we had three weeks to memorize) was that we would start our rehearsal off with a line through. Since the play was only an hour long, this served as a great way to warm up too!

I love it when two people work well and jive well as artistic collaborative partners. John and I worked on the Kate/Petruchio fight with the help of Andrew, Jess and Sarah. Our inspiration was:

It was amazing how well we were able to self direct and direct one another. When we needed to hold to fix a moment or when something didn't work or feel right, we worked on it. There was only respect for each other. We tried everything we suggested or wanted to try, justified moment and choices without any ego. All positive. Maybe the reason it worked so well, was that we had the story at the heart of everything we did. (That and John is an amazing acting partner [I am sorry for punching you in the face])

Positive Artistic Collaboration is BY FAR my FAVORITE THING. 

I am sad we were only able to do one show of Taming. It was worth every stressful minute. It was worth the late night painting session where we made all the posters, worrying about whether or not the bar will be open they days we wanted to rehearse, rehearsing in 100+ buggy weather, rehearsing at Schnuks, rehearsing in Hannah's basement, dealing with unconventional seating and having to improvise with the seating the day of the show, were all completely worth it. We took a hard (can be seen as outdated) story and attempted to tell it in a way that was more modern and relatable. MORE IMPORTATNLY, it was fun.

A big big thank you to everyone who worked on the show and everyone who came out to see it!
our first read through, John was sick so we skyped him in!

Rehearsal on the Porch. Feels like home now!

Rehearsal at Schnuks, our second home!

Outside of Kelleher's!

some last minute adjustments

John setting up our seating. Our 70 seat house filled up in about 15 minutes. We had to add chairs along the side and people stood up around the bar to watch. 



Tranio and Lucentio

Our faithful servants, Hannah and Rachel!

The ladies

The men

Petruchio, Katherina, Bianca and Lucentio

Petruchio, Katherina, Widow, Hortensio, Bianca and Lucentio

The Minola family, Katherina, Baptista and Bianca
Lucentio, Vincentio and.....Lucentio? Whaaaa?

Grumio and Petruchio

Hortensio and Petruchio

Hortensio and Lucentio

Hortensio, Bianca and Lucentio...who is going to win Bianca's hand?

Vincentio and Baptista. Get it. 

"Ten marks my Kate does put her down"


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Midsummer Night's Dream: BLESSED

swimming in a sea of costumes
It is absolutely crazy to think that this was our last week of rehearsal before tech week! We kicked off the week by pulling costumes. Bradley University very graciously let us go into their warehouse and pull ANYTHING we wanted. There was SO MUCH to choose from, at times it was hard to find each other in the maze of racks. We are so lucky to have Bradley as a resource. SO if anyone from the Bradley Theatre Department is reading this: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Our actors look amazing!

We were able to pretty much costume all of our actors! We filled up both Andrew and Sarah's trunks.

We then filled up a good portion of the porch with all the costumes and did our costume fittings on the porch! Hooray for grassroots theatre! 

The week leading up to the opening of the show was filled with work, work for the show, rehearsal, work for the show. Andrew and I tag teamed flyering, making poster boards and tying up loose ends while Sarah dealt with pretty much all things costumes. All the while, it felt like we were in pretty good shape. We were able to put together the tedious little things because the big things were all taken care of. It was great! Taylor was a huge help, too! He put up our posters, wrote line notes, helped set up and clean up. It was a blessing to have him!

 Andrew painting our Wall and Taylor working on line notes. 


tech week!

First Dress! playing games to warm up!

SPEAKING OF BLESSINGS. Our catch phrase for the show was "Blessed". No doubt, the production was being led by a higher power whether it be God, the Universe, Positive Energy...SOMETHING wanted the show to happen and it wanted certain people to work on it.
Too many things seemed to just fall into place for it to not be true. Whenever we would feel this power or WHATEVER we would just look at each other and say, "Blessed". There was such peace and love and JOY throughout the process, we were SUPPOSED to do this.

Now, this isn't to say there weren't any hard times. There were actor egos,  frustration over the music, and scheduling conflicts, but at the end of the day...we did it!

We were able to bring 21 people from all walks of life, with various amounts of theatre experience and even more varied SHAKESPEARE experience together. We were blessed with Cree, our musician who jumped in at the last minute. We had people from the community WANTING to help us and promote the show, we had beautiful Camp Wokanda to play in and the people who worked there helping us all along the way. And then all those who came to see the show. This included family member, co-workers, professors, friends, and people from the community...everyone brought together to be swept away in a story. A countless number of people believed in us and trusted us with a couple hours of their lives... and in regards to the cast MANY MANY hours of their lives. We were all brought together for this one purpose: to be swept away by a story. The culmination of each and every one of our lives brought us to that moment and we all shared it. Isn't that what theatre is all about? Isn't that what ART is all about? That moment, we can never get back. Even if we remounted the show...NOTHING will compare to THAT exact moment, THAT show, THAT experience.

I am still amazed that we were able to pull it off. With no one to lean on but each other. But we didn't need anymore than that. The show was blessed.