Author: rolandc253

Shows, Taphouse

Chekhov and Corrine are NOT friends


Taphouse rehearsals are going amazingly well, thank you for asking! …or so I am told. As your fearless Dramablogger, I asked cast member Corrine Roberts to talk a little bit about the process. Thus providing us with the insider scoop, and me with an easy out. Two birds…?

Corrine has been with Taphouse for several years now as an actor, collaborator, and friend of the playwright. She performed in two separate public readings at Theatre Battery and the Pocket Theatre since 2013 and has been an instrumental figure in the development of the text, lending her voice and insight to… well, let Corrine (Corey?) tell you about it:

Corinne Marie“First of all, Chekhov and I are not friends. I don’t find the playwright to be funny at all. Personally, I just can’t understand his humor. I earned a C for my performance as Nina from The Seagull in drama class at Western…right…”I am a Seagull! No, I am an actress!” I laugh at that line alone from sheer embarrassment…oh wait…maybe I understand Chekhov’s humor after all! F^!k Chekhov…no offense!

A little bit about myself as a functioning human being and an actress…I graduated from Western in 2012…since then I have travelled the world, I have performed in a hand full of shows, but for the majority of my time… I have been establishing myself as a struggling young adult. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t trade my life experiences or relationships for anything. For the first time in my life, I’m allowing myself to just…live. Naturally, there will always be that little voice inside saying, “You are lost.” …Am I, though? My mantra: I can never escape my heart, so I better listen to what it has to say (Thanks, Paulo Coehlo.) Taphouse will be the first show since my decision to take a year hiatus from theatre. Why the hiatus? So I could hone my energy towards bartending and save money with the hopes of moving to California…one day.

“Aspiring actress for one, please.”

I had the pleasure of participating in a stage reading of Taphouse last July as it was still in development. Reading through it for the first time was not only delightful, but full of surprises as well. I wasn’t prepared for what was coming next. Emmaline, the youngest of the Collins, has a monologue where she is picking away at memories. This builds into a much larger arc of how she ultimately views herself. Reading Emmaline’s words OUT LOUD TO MYSELF AND EVERYONE PRESENT FOR THE FIRST TIME was overwhelming. I felt anger and sadness. Simultaneously, I felt all the relief and happiness in the world! At this point, I was drowning in my own tears. Dear Playwright, how the hell did you know at that exact moment what I had been struggling through my entire life? How I am fighting change? How I feel alone? How I am trying to love myself? How I am trying to find out who I am?

“Are you reading my mind? No. Somehow…you just get it.”

During the stage reading process, the ensemble formed relationships within a very limited physical space. We only had our energy, intentions, verbal and facial expressions, and our postures to create moments behind those music stands. Talk about giving words a new sense of life. Now that the play is being realized through the tremendous efforts of Copious Love Productions, it’s thrilling to see the script being played within a larger container. Take all the theatrical elements I listed before and now add physical and special awareness to the pot. What’s the best part of this new process I’m involved in? There will be more time for the actors to live in the text…and then Taphouse will finally become a living-breathing organism (MUAH AH AH!!). Much to my own happiness, I’ll be reprising the role of Emmaline with CLP. My challenge (or reward) will be to evolve the first intimate and vulnerable moment I had with her words from the stage reading…cause let’s face it, I am Emmaline, and so acting ‘me’ on stage will be interesting. HA!

“Take a deep breath. Are you still alive? That’s all that matters.”

Drink on this…Live in the moment, and make sure to play with people who have your back (Thanks, Amy Poehler). Our playwright, Kiki Penoyer, adapted her play from Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters” and has spent years developing the script into what it is today. Her story is truly an ensemble piece, and not one character is more important than the other. This, I love. All walks of life are vital to one another within this small grey community of grey people…on the contrary; they’re all quite colorful humans. It’s not everyday that a young playwright introduces a script to a company containing many gifts. No other play has rung more true to me than Taphouse. I have said just about every line in the show sometime in my life, and I have only lived a mere twenty-five years. That being said, think about how this show will affect others who have lived longer!

“Every age. Every stage. Every day…”- Cetaphil (hahahahahahahahaha!)

Lastly, Kiki and I are friends. I find her to be highly intelligent, extremely caring, and her no-bull shit attitude is very meaningful to me. Personally, I believe Kiki is a hundred years old trapped in a young woman’s body. One of my favorite scenes in my theatrical career was to play the Nurse to her Juliet at Western, after much-heated persuasion to our professor. Our choice to switch roles totally contradicts our ‘cast-types’ to begin with…but we decided to risk it all…and we earned an A. I admire Kiki…all the offense!”

Isn’t Corrine great?

Za vas!
-R

Shows, Taphouse

“I like beer and long walks on the beach…”


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Who is Taphouse? …two Chelseas, one (former) whore cat, eighteen square yards of tattoos, four married couples…

We begin again, in the clutches of TPS on the sunniest day of 2015 (but I hate talking about the weather). Something is different here, different about today though. I’ve grown accustomed to the maybe ten of us huddled in bar basements talking lights and sets and conceptual rigmarole.

taphousefirstread1This time there are actors. Mostly the whole cast met for the first time today to read through the latest draft of Kiki Penoyer’s Taphouse. I’m writing while they read. They don’t think I’m rude. I hope.

After a round of introductions and general celebration, we set to the latest draft of Taphouse, pasted together and sharpened just five days ago.

Who is Taphouse? …a puritanical old Babushka, the King’s Hand, new friends, foot sweat, the undoable doer….

The first read of anything is rarely fun. This is an important ritual in any production, you gather, you meet, you awkwardly try to impress each other with the names of your friends, you drag yourself through the script. The first read of Taphouse is actually fun.

And here is why: implicit in the mission, vision, values of Copious Love Productions is just that… love and camaraderie and laughing around the table about our favorite cocktails. Chelsea, Lacy, and Tony (among so many others) have worked to cultivate a safe, collaborative space wherein a love of text and of the craft take precedence over any amount of ego.

taphousefirstread2It has been such a joy to be invited in to the CLP world and up until now I thought I knew what that really meant. It means laughing fullbodied around the table, it means writing love letters to the text with each line reading, it means eye contact and gentle smirks and openness.

That doesn’t happen a lot at the first read of anything, reading is hard. Really. Pulling words off a page you’ve barely seen and giving them any amount of life? Oof… that being said, I applaud the efforts of FEARLESS DIRECTING TEAM JENN AND CADY in assembling such a bunch of smart, talented humans.

Who is Taphouse? …maybe two football fans, a sea of side smiles, a teacher, a bartender (full of BS), a vulgar raging queen…

taphousefirstread3The first read of Taphouse was imbued with pledges to perfectly invite our audience (you) into this world. If you have been following this blog, you know how hard the entire production and creative teams have been working on this project since CLP chose the script for its season (…August, I think).

If this evening was any indication of the level of work, openness, and laughter these actors will commit to the rehearsal process over the next few weeks, than this show is everything you have been looking for.

Who is Taphouse? …a bunch of sweaty (new) best friends pitched against the hellacious death-wind of existence.

I resist the idea that this is schmaltzy, overly-sentimental. This is about love though, so I suppose it’s inevitable. CLP is about love.

In the words of our playwright, “Enough with the mushy stuff, let’s drink!”

READ AS: Dedicate ourselves to a calculated and expert presentation of Taphouse.

And then, in the words of our intrepid and indefatigable Stage Manager, “Girl, we’ll glow together!”

Za vas!
-R

Shows, Taphouse

Deep Dive


What’s in a dive bar? The soul of the Seattle theatre scene? Maybe.

Hyperbole intended.

Sharon Ott, one time Artistic Director of the Seattle Repertory Theatre, tells stories of August Wilson writing-out-loud at Queen Anne’s Mecca Café and anyone else in the fringe theatre world can tell you at least one spectacular story of  a show they saw at the Jewel Box, in Belltown. After any show at any of the Uptown theatres, Solo Bar is likely to be filled to bursting with the smell of makeup wipes and actor sweat; and, since this winter, the crew responsible for Taphouse has gathered at various dive’s around town to connect and build a vision unique to the environment and bigger than any one of us could conceive of.

First it was Poggie Tavern in West Seattle, then Dexter & Hayes on the western edge of Lake Union. Finally, just last week the clan gathered at the Old Pequliar in Ballard.

Now, I do need to mention that when I say “dive bar” I do not mean to suggest that any of the above mentioned hideaways is anything less than well-cared for, safe, clean, blah blah blah (we’ve got to keep the yuppies comfortable, too).

divebarphotoforblogWhat I mean is that there are certain places in our lives, certain holes in the city into which a soul can dive and find peace away from the chaos of everything else. This is the “Third Place” away from home, away from work. This can be a coffee shop, a book store, any where really whereat you feel whole. A place whereat you can let slip the whole weight of your day and gather with your ilk and regrow whatever it was that the winds outside stripped bare.

Each of the characters of Kiki Penoyer’s Taphouse is drawn to the titular dive bar for this very reason, to fight like hell against the outside world. This is a safe space where everyone listens to everyone else and where unkindness and selfishness must be banished. At least that’s the dream.

In order to wholly understand this feeling (and to knock back a few sharp pints), we toured and fell in love with three such holy places away from time.

These are the places where we tell our stories and the places about which we are telling the story of Taphouse.

I love it.

Za vas!

-R

Shows, Taphouse

Let’s (re)Write!


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In every production of every show directors, cast, and creative crew interact with one another and with the playwright. Though many productions do not have the privilege of collaborating with a living playwright, all creative teams interact with the words and ideas of another human (or set of idea-happy humans). Rarely do productions have the privilege to work with a living playwright, and fewer still are able to work with a living playwright and a living document.

We’re still a couple weeks out from auditions and in the thick of finalizing design elements so that we can hunt for lumber, flats, paint, and blood packs. In order to facilitate efficient design, procurement, and construction, our fearless playwright turned in a (near to) final draft just last week. To end the story here would be ridiculous.

Rewrites must continue. Scripts are never finished, they are constantly sharpening themselves and clarifying both the playwright and the director’s vision. Playwrights, therefore, ought to be encouraged to participate in production meetings and rehearsals and the creative team should be empowered to talk about the text and grow the text through facilitated feedback.

The conversation has to continue.

“You are a collaborator. If we wanted silence, we have a library of thousands of dead writers…” – Jeremy Wechsler, Theatre Wit (Artistic Director)

How do we frame the conversation for the mutual benefit of all parties involved? Emotions are sure to run high as all parties present their artistic babies and defend their particular concepts and visions for success. Conversations have to be focused and grounded in the infallible truth that all any of us wants is the best version of the production as possible.

I thought I might defer to several other dramaturgical-types for inspiration. How do we encourage equity? How do we facilitate collaboration? How do we welcome a living script into a space? How do we grow with the script? How do we allow the playwright to do their work? How do we hear all voices in the room?

Take a look:

From Theatre Wit (Chicago)

From The Goodman Theatre (Chicago): “[The playwright] was instrumental in guiding us through some of the more sinewy bits of the text…”

From Stephen Metcalfe (San Diego): “[Playwriting is] very interesting… one of the joys, is that the theater is a collaborative experience”

From The Guardian (London): “…theatres are being called upon to be more collaborative in order to ensure their survival…”

From Company One (Boston):  “Playwrights are artists and rightly protective of their creations.”

Drafts will continue to bubble up as our fearless playwright learns more about her world and the visions of all the persons invited to build it. What is writing, after all, except rewriting (read as: careful and respectful feedback coalesced into constant rewriting and retooled articulation)?

Za vas!

-R

Taphouse

“…we must work, just work!”


taphouseimage1About half the way through Act IV, Irina, one of Chekhov’s Three Sisters, lays her head on Olya’s chest, and tells everyone how sad she is that she knows nothing about the universe. She laments her place in the frightening and all-consuming Nothing and, then, she proclaims that to work will be to live. And so she must work and create… even if all she makes is but a shadow of Something.

This week, the team at Copious Love Productions announced auditions for Kiki Penoyer’s Taphouse, simultaneously an adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters and a modern prose-poem lamenting the modern existential crisis. How very grandiose… and maybe I’ve missed the point.

The play is an adaptation, sure. It is a beautiful and elegiac contemplation of itself and of what it means to truly fear your future. At its core, however, it is something so much more pure, so less… apart from its audience. Much more a part of the simple lives of the artists around the production table, and those we are soon inviting into our fold.

This last Monday night, we had a production meeting.

Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Here is our fearless playwright: taphouseplaywright

On the recommendation of our Assistant Director, Cady, #TeamTaphouse gathered in the cold concrete basement of the Dexter and Hayes Public House. Clustered between red columns, reaching at pint after pint and digging at piles of cheesy potatoes, we talked.

There’s been a lot of this, hasn’t there? I mean, on this blog. Since before Thanksgiving we have been meeting and drinking and talking about the world of Taphouse. Who are these people? What story are we telling? What story matters most? How do we tell our story? …Chekhov’s story? …Kiki’s story? …Jenn’s story?

A lot of theoretical-this and ethereal-that has passed between the members of the production team and this has done wonders in setting the tone for our work. Around the rickety tables, watching winter yield unto springtime sunsets, we began translating questions of “What?” and “Why?” to “How?

The team (a playwright, properties designer, costume designer, fight choreographer, beer-wizard (be excited), business manager, executive director, artistic director, assistant director, regular director, ad infinitum [oh! and me, one dramaturg]) gathered to bear witness to a laundry list of calendars and deadlines, processes and tactics. What do we need to do? Secure sets, stage elements, props, outfits, and actors.

Hypotheticals and the great unknown Nothing have given way to work.

This is a vital transition all productions have to engage with, making dreams and ideas into something people can walk on. Auditions, as mentioned, are posted and we would be remiss to not build a world for the rest of our team (our cast) to inhabit, to tell the collective’s story. What makes this process unique is that Taphouse has never been fully-produced before. No one has ever built anything.

Implicit in the act of building, of working on a show, is knowing what that show is. So this week, for the first time in over three years, the script became “locked.” On the 11th Kiki turned in a final draft of Taphouse to allow designers and technicians to make their lists and plans. Kiki’s work is done, and will be passed along to the rest of the team… this of course doesn’t mean we’re done writing, but that is a story for another day blog post.

How very complicated. How very fun! How very fitting for the world the playwright has conceived.

There are ideas, and there is fear of the future. There is Nothing and there is Ambition and Abstraction. And, so, we must work so that this play can live.

Audition. Work with us.

Za vas!

-R

copious love suggests

Copious Love Suggests: “The Three Sisters”


ThreeSistersPoster2The Three Sisters
presented by The Seagull Project
at ACT Theatre
TICKETS through February 8th

If you have been keeping up with the Copious blog, this will not come as a surprise to you: I love Chekhov. I loveloveloveloveLOVE Chekhov. If you, too, are a lover of Chekhov—or if you are not, but are interested in learning why someone could be—you should immediately go get some tickets to see The Seagull Project’s production of The Three Sisters, playing through February 8th at ACT. One-sentence summary: Everyone involved in this production is a Chekhov pro, and they have made some really awesome art, and everybody should see it. Director John Langs and the ensemble have embraced this text fully without ever giving into the temptation to comment on any of it, creating a world where these characters are alternatively screaming and wailing and railing against the world, shaking and sobbing and vomiting their hearts out onto the stage with full unironic commitment—and the audience is both laughing uproariously and internally going, “Yeah, me too, boo. Me too.” CHEKHOV!

Three Sisters opens with the warm but over-worked Olga, restless and sarcastic Masha, and blithely optimistic Irina, conversing in their parlor on the one-year anniversary of their father’s death. As it also happens to be Irina’s name day, the local battalion of friendly soldiers are filtering in for a party, gossiping about their new commander, Vershinin, and the blossoming romance between Andrey—the girls’ brother, who is such a disappointment he isn’t even in the title—and Natasha, universally agreed upon to be just the worst. Various family friends filter in and out bringing gifts to the perpetually cheerful Irina, who insists that now that she is 20, she must get a job, as the only real joy in life comes from the satisfaction of a job well done. Olga, who seems to teach about seventy hours a day at the local high school, tries very hard not to dampen her sister’s enthusiasm with tales of the never-ending headaches her own job gives her—while Masha, who doesn’t seem to do anything but read and scoff at other people, insists that all this talk depresses her and she must go home and lie down at once. The arrival of the aforementioned Vershinin, however, puts these plans on hold; he proves to be a witty and interesting man—particularly in comparison to the scattered bumbler that is her husband—and she decides she’d rather stay at the party and flirt than go home and mourn for herself in solitude. Baron Nikolai Lvovich attempts some flirting himself, sweetly nudging Irina with his affections, but is perpetually interrupted by the strange and inappropriate nonsequiters of his weird and brutal friend Solyony, who is without doubt the worst wingman in the world.

The play follows this group over the next four years, as they learn a few valuable lessons: 9-to-5ing isn’t actually that much fun, you should listen to your friends when they tell you your girlfriend is horrible, dating a boy just because he likes you isn’t all that fulfilling, wanting what you know you can’t have is a one-way ticket to heartbreak town… Also everybody gets at least one chance to sob and scream, and everyone is also so unfairly funny. Three great examples: Noah Duffy as Rode, taking what is usually a tiny part and turning him into a delightfully scene-stealing diva (in a good way. The best way.) Brandon J. Simmons as Masha’s fool husband, Kulyigin: mustache, manic energy, hilarious hilarious hilarious. Hannah Victoria Franklin as Natasha: seven feet tall, Amazon warrior, so committed to why Natasha is just the worst, please put this woman in all the things.

If you like stellar tech work, they’ve got that in spades here as well. Scenic Designer Jennifer Zeyl (genius), Lighting Designer Robert J. Aguilar (genius), Sound Designer Robertson Witmer (genius) and Costume Designer Doris Black (genius) have created the beautiful and immersive world of the Sisters’ home and garden rooms with very simple elements. The set itself is comprised entirely of two gigantic white tables that serve as various structural pieces, a handful of white chairs, two rolling screens, some bleach-white props, and a handful of angular birch trees jutting up out of the stage at various corners. The bright and cheery colors of the soldiers’ uniforms are in stark contrast to the sisters themselves—Olga is always in very respectful and conservative blazers and skirts in colors like navy blue, Irina wears a lot of summer dresses and cozy sweaters in untarnished white and gentle beige tones, and Masha is constantly in dramatic floor-length black mourning dresses; you know who these people are and what they are like the moment you first see them, and that is some damn fine costume designing. The lights are beautiful and cold, effortlessly sweeping us all through days and nights in a series of chilly Russian springs and autumns (and at least one terrifying disaster.) The scene transitions are accompanied by live music performed by the cast—sometimes on guitars and mandolins, sometimes with glasses and silverware, and once, horrifyingly, with various types of paper. Each character has been given a method of scene transitioning specific to their story and personality, elevating the transitions out of the easy world of “we couldn’t afford a run crew so here are some actors slamming chairs around and grunting and look it’s art” and making them a truly compelling element of the storytelling.

There is no reason not to see this play. Please do it at once. Then come talk to me about it and we can geek out together.

– – – Want a discount on tickets to The Three Sisters!? Use the discount code MASHA for 20% off your order! – – –

By Kiki Penoyer (playwright, Taphouse)

Shows, Taphouse

Three Sisters, Two Companies : …more from The Seagull Project!


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Part Two: The Seagull Project tells us more…
A couple of days ago, you met Brandon J. Simmons and The Seagull Project– and it was great!

Today, however– I’d like to zoom in on the insight Brandon (et al.) offered me on The Three Sisters, Anton Chekhov’s masterful play being presented by The Seagull Project at ACT, which was rewritten and elaborated into Taphouse by (Chekhovian fiend), Kiki Penoyer.

The following was pulled from an interview with Brandon. Enjoy!

R: What about this show resonates most clearly with a modern audience?
B: “I think there is a palpable sense of anxiety in our culture right now. The economy is wobbly, we don’t know how to address issues of racism, or these huge gaps in income across our culture, we struggle to connect, and we don’t quite know what to do. There’s no major cause to rally behind. …there’s this weird sense of impending danger and doom, but, for the most part, we’re all (Americans at least) pretty safe. And then something like Ferguson happens, and it seems very unsafe again, but for the most part we go about our lives, but inside there’s a very unsettling feeling. What do we do?

I think Three Sisters addresses that feeling more palpably than any play I’ve read.  It places that question of “what do we do with the time we have” squarely on stage. If that question is presented with honesty and integrity, then we might see ourselves truly in the shoes of people who came before us, and those will come after us. This does a number of things, not the least of which is to offer very real solace, a sense that “it’s okay, it’s going to be okay.” But it also forces an audience to look at their actual life, and how it’s being spent. It offers no answers, but that’s it’s strength.”

What elements present the greatest difficulty in translating the piece for a modern audience?
“Chekhov was a master. He is speaking directly to us. He only requires a competent company of artists to present the work. What we bump into as actors is our bad habits and our egos, or our ideas. …the greatest potential we possess as a company is the possibility of creating a way of training as an ensemble, to unlearn bad habits, and master good ones, like direct action, ease of movement and speech. Simple stuff. But as American actors, trained (or not) in a certain way, we tend to complicate or overlook things which is, of course, so Chekhovian. …one thing we’re starting to learn really well in this company is to simplify our actions, to know what we want, and to play for it clearly. So in that sense, the greatest difficulty is ourselves. The material is entirely lucid.”

What does Chekhov do that other writers don’t?
“…the thing that strikes me over and over again about Chekhov, aside from the deep humanity of his plays, and his extraordinary generosity as a dramatist, is his faith and trust in actors. ..he trusted that we’d read them carefully enough to gather the information we need, without spelling everything out. He has a character say “I’m so tired,” and he trusts that we understand that that character isn’t really like “Oh, I just need a nap, and then everything will be all better,” but that we might look at ourselves and realize that when we say “I’m tired,” it’s usually because we’re avoiding something. I, for instance, get really tired whenever the conversation turns away from me to someone else. I’ll be talking about myself, I’m all lit up, and then suddenly the conversation turns to someone else and, voila! Suddenly I’m tired!  …It’s because I’m a narcissist. Or my fiancee will bring up a money conversation, and suddenly I’m yawning when a minute ago I was laughing! Why? Because money stresses me out, not because I’m actually tired! It’s being human. Chekhov trusted that we’d understand that. That trust comes from the same source from which he writes these rich, deeply sympathetic characters.”

< < < The Three Sisters, presented by The Seagull Project, opens Tuesday January 20th, tickets can be found here. Don’t delay! > > >

Shows, Taphouse

We’ll Serve You Anything You Want, so long as it’s Chekhov


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Part One: Meet The Seagull Project!

I’d like to do two very special things today, and I’m really excited you’re here to… watch me do them…? We’ll work on the phrasing- suffice it to say that I want to introduce you to Copious Love Productions’ new friends The Seagull Project!

First thing is first, remember Kiki Penoyer , the ever brilliant and unyieldingly fun-to-be-around playwright of Taphouse? Well, ask her enough of the right questions and she’ll be quick to tell you that her play is a direct response to or revision (or faithful adaptation) of Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters.

What makes Chekhov such an appealing author? Such a compelling storyteller whose works are still vibrantly produced and elaborated on?

headshot.brandon.1“Our favorite little mantra about Chekhov is that he offered his characters total compassion and zero mercy. He gives them real life, but spares them none of the trouble of living.” says Brandon J. Simmons, the half-smiling co-founder of The Seagull Project, pictured here.

The Seagull Project is a company based in Seattle whose main focus over the last two years has been a brilliant presentation of Chekhov’s The Seagull in 2013 and trip to Uzbekistan to tell more stories and now, again embedded in ACT, they’re endeavoring to tell the story of The Three Sisters.

So- in celebration of our new found friendship steeped in Chekhovian such-and-such, I looked to Mr. Simmons and asked… who are The Seagull Project?

“The heart and soul of the company is the ensemble… we’re more of a process than a product… The Project started, initially, as a one-off production of Chekhov’s Seagull. Julie Briskman, Alexandra Tavares, Gavin Reub and myself were involved with this very successful production of The Threepenny Opera at Seattle Shakespeare Company, and were drinking whiskey at a cast party and suddenly realized that we were each kind of obsessed with the play, and in the heat of the moment we chose to produce the play. It was a total leap of faith.”

And then they kept us waiting nearly two years to produce The Three Sisters, which opens on January 20th! [Tickets and details below]

The Seagull was a big success. Lots of people saw it, the press was great, and we were all lit up and inspired by what we’d accomplished. So naturally we looked at doing another production, and it was a no-brainer that we’d just do all four of Chekhov’s major plays with this ensemble… sometimes we lead by our gut, or by blind ambition, or the work… we initially wanted to go in chronological order, so Uncle Vanya would have been next, but there are also fewer roles in Vanya, and we didn’t want to exclude anyone so quickly after Seagull so we chose his biggest cast, The Three Sisters, to keep the full ensemble together.”

We’re going to see The Three Sisters, at ACT, (this is where details and tickets are hiding) this coming and the following week and highly recommend you do so as well- and that you visit back here very soon because there is still so much to talk about.

Za vas!
-R

<<< PART TWO will feature an in-depth look at the value of The Three Sisters to storytellers today and the process by which Taphouse seeks to tell this story in a brand new way. .>>>

Shows, Taphouse

Things that Cady Loves : an[other] introduction!


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Dramablogger Roland here- I’ve asked Ms. Cady S. to introduce herself to you all for a number of reasons which are :

  • She is nice
  • You are nice
  • She is working with FEARLESS DIRECTOR (Jennifer K.) as assistant director/production assistant/assistant/helper/alternative eyes/hardworking a$$ kicking storyteller on TAPHOUSE! …this is great
  • I hope you had a nice New Year
    …and now, to Cady!

Cady Headshot

I love the Pacific Northwest. I love beer. I love Chekhov.
Taphouse is simply an amalgam of the finer things in life, in my opinion.

Upon my return to Seattle after graduating with my BFA in Performance at University of Idaho, I was eager to explore projects that really highlighted the personality and mood of the area I grew up in and adore. For the past two years I’ve branched out into directing and acting for short films and but have maintained my hunger for new theatre projects, keeping in touch with friends that have remained in the area with similar goals – thus my eagerness to throw my hat in the ring for the chance to work with people I know and whose work I am constantly thrilled and impressed by.

The Pacific Northwest is important and beautiful to me and is underrepresented in entertainment in general, given the rich history and diverse cultural and geographical landscape it offers. What struck me instantly about Taphouse, was not only the seamless and smart modern adaptation of Three Sisters – one of my favorite Chekhov pieces – but the sincerity of the environment and the characters who reside there. The portrait painted is immediately recognizable as the familiar friends and acquaintances I was surrounded by in my college community… and often at the local bars; the obstacles they internally and externally struggle with, the promises they make and break to themselves and the desperation each one demonstrates to accomplish ones goals.

The aftermath of college hesitancy to ‘begin life’ is very Chekhovian and resonates deeply in today’s post-recession graduates. The hurry up and wait mentality and the fear that resides in all of us to leave the security of friends who believe in you to essentially become a small fish in a big pond despite knowing that challenging oneself in the uncertain world is the only way to grow. There is a period of denial where we invent big dreams and are comforted in thinking that having them and promising them to ourselves means you’re doing something to accomplish them but all the while pretending that big life decisions are still years away. We all know Masha’s war and the dread of taking that leap and I am excited to explore this with our brave actors as assistant director and have them dive in!

I was captivated by Taphouse after the turn of the first page and am so excited to introduce our audience an immersive experience from the moment they sit down at our ‘bar’. It is my hope for those who have never been to a live production before to feel a part of a shared experience in a heightened reality we that encounter or feel every day. As for those who know and have studied Chekhov extensively, please sit back here in Seattle and appreciate this adaptation because one thing is certain – We are not going to Moscow.

-Cady

Taphouse

Three Weeks Later, Musings on Having Mused


Hi, again from the whole of Taphouse- it has been far too long, hasn’t it?

Do not fear! Our apparent blog-based apathy has not trickled into other elements of the production- our artists are working as frantically as ever! Posters, walkthroughs, talkthroughs, dreams, schemes, and designs abound- your dramablogaturg just had his finals week for his first quarter at grad school and has now been reduced to a blubbering mess who only speaks in the third person.

He thinks he’ll be fine.

So what have we been up to? Posters, scrawlings, measurings, conceptualizings, and dreaming. Mostly enough reading and planning to sink a ship. Jennifer (read as: Fearless Director) is preblocking and working closely with designers on creating the world in which our actors (read as: TBD) will bring Kiki’s amazing words to life.

So why post now?

Last week we I sat around a table with two directors, two producers, and one playwrights and we spent the night talking through the text. What did we learn? We love this play. Never apologize. Tugboats.

I asked Fearless Director to meet with me and Kiki and so, clustered around a table within blocks of the theatre we plan on invading this Spring, we simply talked text. This, as Fearless Director was ready to point out, is my favorite part of the process.

Any sound and engaging telling of any text needs to be well considered. All choices must be deliberate and motivated by the text. This is not to say that I suggest all decisions related to design and performance need to be immediately echoed in the script’s ink- simply that when we make a decision that will impact the storytelling, it needs to be made with the purpose of furthering the story. Red curtains make look great but do they move the story along? Even if there is no evidence in a careful reading of the text to support one curtain color over another, you- an artists armed with available evidence- there is evidence to suggest what one color or cut will do to other colors on stage. The dramaturg poses questions and insists that they all have answers and that all answers come back to the text (even if that is to suggest a glaring gap or confusion in the text).

How do ideas interact? How do they do battle on the page? Which idea do you want to win? How will that image come about its victory? Whose story is this? What is “villainy” in this world and who, therefore, is our “villain?” Is there justice in the play? Where does fear live? What is certain and what is unknown? What are we missing? What is overly abundant? How do we elaborate on the text? How do we deliberately contradict the text? Who is your favorite Z (and why)? What is your favorite X (and why)? What confuses you? What brings you joy?

As with democracy in the grandest sense, if we create a culture of constant questioning, then we create one of constant attention.

Alone, late- pouring over the script for the ten thousandth time as an actor or sharpening the seventeenth HB pencil you have sacrificed to the Costume Rendering Gods… what keeps you sharp? What keeps it new and alive and motivates every decision you make? Even just the mere act of questioning a text awakens something of the artist in all of us.

The greatest art that ever was is simply one artist asking another something unanswerable and then attempting an answer.

Kiki asked a question of Anton Chekhov. What that question is may be wholly irrelevant to us. Simply that she asked created a germ which we now seek to nurture into a fully realized production.

So we played question and answer and these answers begot more questions and at the end of it we, technically, knew nothing more- but, instead, we had an idea of what to ask next of our actors, designers, marketers, producers, our writer, and even of me.

Cool, right?

Za vas,

-R

taphousemusings