Playwright

Taphouse

The Closing of Taphouse & Our Copious Heartfelt Thanks


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Closing a show is always emotional. We never want to say goodbye, rather, a brief and hopefully tear-less “see you soon!” We have a tendency, at Copious Love, to get attached quickly. To a show, to a group of people. To many, many things. It’s what we do. We get comfy, we find a groove and we create a better production that way.

Taphouse-28This show was no different. Jen, Cady and Chelsea (our directorial team of badasses) molded a (true to the script), perfect “Bar Family.” Saying goodbye, or “see you soon!” to this cast, crew, script, show…was truly difficult. We learned so much, grew so much, we have much ruminate on. Therefore, we have an IMMENSE amount to be thankful for!

Taphouse-91Thank you to the Production Crew, who have been meeting and scheming on this show since November 2014. You gave this show life and boy did it live. You are rockstars each and every one of you.Thank you to the cast, who embodied, lived its life and made it your home for two months. You exceeded all expectation. Thank you to Kiki, for trusting us to take your script into full on production. It was a leap of faith and we hope seeing Taphouse take it’s first breath on stage was everything you hoped it would be! We know this will not be its last production. We are honored that we got to it first!

Taphouse-30Thank you to the Ballard Underground for providing a perfect space for this show. The fact that we were able to build off of the existing bar was an insane dream and we could only make it come true in that space. It was brilliant. Thank you to our sponsor, Mac & Jacks Brewing, for supplying the beer for our audience to enjoy through the entire run of the show. That was something we knew we needed to have, obviously, and we truly thank you for all of your support!

Finally, thank you to YOU, our audience, without which, we would just be a bunch of people drinking beer in a theatre…which we are a lot of the time…but I digress! THANK YOU for coming to see live theatre in Seattle. Thank you for supporting new works. Thank you for supporting Copious Love and thank you for following along on this journey with us! Now we are going to cap off another successful run of shows with a nice, cold brew. We hope to see you again in October for CODENAME: KANSAS, Witch Hunter!

Taphouse-34Cheers!

~Chelsea

**For the full cast and crew list, see the Taphouse Cast and Crew announcement!

 

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

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

Shows, Taphouse

Kiki Who? Kiki Penoyer! – A(n Introductory) word from our Playwright


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Though she’s been writing since she had enough object permanence to hold a pen, Kiki Penoyer got her real start in playwriting through the Seattle Repertory Theatre’s Artists In Residence Program, a partnership with Western Washington University to pair a select group of students interested in a career in theatre with a professional working artist in their field; this summer intensive program afforded Kiki an opportunity to work with local legend Bryan Willis and the late great Jerry Manning on workshopping Bryan’s script in the day, with the students joining in to workshop a play of Kiki’s during the evening. Over the course of the next three years at Western, Kiki would go on to be honored by the Kennedy Center three times for her writing, twice as a national semi-finalist for the John Cauble Short Play Award and once as the regional winner/national finalist for the National Critics Institute’s Theatre Journalism and Advocacy program.

During her final year, she finished the first draft of Taphouse, which received a public staged reading in January of 2012. Also during her time at Western, Kiki met Roland Carette-Meyers, who turned out to be literally the best person ever, and would become instrumental in making Taphouse good—he would go on to become the dramaturg for the Seattle premiere of the play, as well as the love of Kiki’s life.

Taphouse itself was written in response to the sleepy-small-town world of Bellingham, where WWU is located, and the hold this vibe seemed to have on so many people: there are people in every small town in America (and possibly the world, though Kiki’s never been cool enough to explore that in depth) who talk day in and day out of going somewhere else—but there never seems to be any explanation as to why they don’t. It reminded Kiki very much of the ending of Three Sisters, wherein one of the sisters begins crying and shrieking very suddenly about how she is never going to Moscow even after all she has said about it…but fails to offer a reason why she couldn’t just get up and go. Some several hundred pages of prewriting and rough drafting later, Taphouse was born.

Since that first draft, Taphouse has received a total of three fully-sponsored public staged readings in 3 different locations along the I5 corridor, and has undergone at least a dozen full revisions; where once there were over 140 pages of Chekhovian Bellinghammery, there are now less than 110; during the initial stages of writing, American forces were still on the ground in Iraq hunting for Osama Bin Laden—now they say the war is over, but not everyone has had a chance to come home; entire scenes have been clipped and rearranged—or removed entirely.

What stands now in the hands of Copious Love is what Kiki feels is what the play should have been about all along: not necessarily a specific town, not necessarily a specific time, but a look at the cyclical nature of the situation and the cyclical lives of the characters, and the way fear has always had a way of making people do the wrong thing—and the traps we set for ourselves while swearing we’re avoiding bigger, badder traps that could be further on down the line.

Fig. Lemon.6 - The playwright and a cat (Ezio)
Fig. Lemon.6 – The playwright and a cat (Ezio)

When Kiki is not writing or appreciating Chekhov, she can usually be found in West Seattle (Best Seattle), hanging out with her super awesome husband and their two very needy but lovable kitties, usually playing Mass Effect or marathon-watching Hulu.

– Kiki Penoyer