Friday, May 27, 2016

HUGHIE by Eugene O'Neill is open!

It's that time! Opening Night!

Don't look so excited David.
Hughie opens tonight, May 27! The actors have done their work, the show looks great, it sounds great, and our invited audience last night had a great time. Here's all the information you need to join us for a great time of your own.

How do I get tickets?
Tickets are available through the Sonorous Road Box Office. CLICK HERE TO GET TICKETS.

Will tickets be available at the door?
Yes. Almost certainly. If we are close to selling out I will post it on our facebook account.

Where is the theatre?
Sonorous Road Productions
209 Oberlin Street, Raleigh
(Very close to the NCSU bell tower and Cameron Village).

What time is the show?
Most evening shows are 7:30, Sunday Matinee at 3:00. Saturdays we have an extra show at 9:30, and Sunday, May 29 we have an evening show at 7:00 PM (since the following day is Memorial Day).

Here's the complete breakdown:
Friday, May 27 - 7:30 PM (Brook as Erie)
Saturday, May 28 - 7:30 PM (David as Erie)
                                9:30 PM (Brook as Erie)
Sunday, May 29 - 3:00 PM (David as Erie)
                             7:00 PM (Brook as Erie)
Thursday, June 2 - 7:30 PM (Brook As Erie)
Friday, June 3 - 7:30 PM (David as Erie)
Saturday, June 4 - 7:30 PM (Brook as Erie)
                              9:30 PM (David as Erie)
Sunday, June 5 - 3:00 PM (Brook as Erie)

How long is it?
The show runs a bit less than an hour, depending on how fast we talk. ;-)

What's all that "as Erie" stuff?
You missed that? The show has two characters, Erie Smith, a small time gangster and "teller of tales" and Night Clerk. Brook North and David Klionsky will be alternating roles during the production.



Is there a discount if I want to see it twice?
YES! After the show, keep your program. When you come back, simply present the program at the desk and we'll sell you admission for only $5 more!  It's only $20 to see it "both ways." See it twice, and compare the performance. Discuss the different interpretations of the characters. Vote for who is best! (no not really)

What is the show about?
It's 3:00 in the morning, and Erie Smith is looking for someone to talk to. He needs an audience. The only one he can find is someone who can't get away: the night clerk at his residential hotel.

In a larger sense, the play is about loneliness and the need for human connection in a disconnected world. Seems pretty relevant today, no?

Is the show appropriate for children?
I don't know. The language is mild by today's standards. There's some comments about sex and tramps, but it's all talk about "makin dolls" and that sort of thing.  But it probably isn't something most kids would enjoy.

That's about it. GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Trading Places


Tickets to this show available HERE.

We needed every minute of rehearsal today. But it was great.

You know, I tell people that I always try to work with people who are better than I am. I want to work with people who challenge me and push me to be my best. And that's definitely who David is, and tonight's rehearsal was a great example.

Because Hughie runs a bit under an hour, we actually ran it three times in rehearsal tonight. In the spirit of the play, we rolled dice to see who got to do Erie twice, and I won. And let me tell you, the first time we ran it I was rough. Keith Bugner (who was filling in for our stage manager Elaine tonight) did an admirable job of keeping up with my line calls, especially because it was the first time he had seen the script. I was holding on and basically was just making it through.

Then we ran it with David as Erie. And he did a damn fine job. Really great. I wanted to hug him when he finished it was that good. That made me feel great. Partly because I figured - "well, if I can't hack it at least David can cover." But mostly because I respected his work and his craft. Erie really came alive for him in a way he didn't for me.

It also inspired me to do better. I saw the work David had put in, it was evident, and I didn't want to let him down. And sure, I was helped by the repetition, but I also think it was that feeling of being pushed - because when we ran it the third time tonight (with me as Erie again) it was pretty damn good. Not perfect to be sure, but pretty good.

I felt good about it. David felt good about it. I'm sure Andy felt good about it. And that's why you should always work with people who are better than you, who you respect, and who push you to do your best. Because that's when you will.

PS: Here's a schedule of who plays who when

Friday May 27, 7:30 PM (Brook as Erie)
Saturday May 28, 7:30 PM (David as Erie); 9:30 PM (Brook as Erie)
Sunday, May 29,  3:00 PM (David as Erie); 7:00 PM (Brook as Erie)
Thursday, June 2, 7:30 PM (Brook as Erie)
Friday, June 3, 7:30 PM (David as Erie)
Saturday, June 4, 7:30 PM (Brook as Erie); 9:30 PM (David as Erie)
Sunday, June 5, 3:00 PM (Brook as Erie)

Buy tickets now!
(PS, if you see the show once, you can buy a ticket to see the show again for only $5 with a stamped program! See it "both ways" for only $20! Offer in person only, not available online)


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rehearsal Can Be A Lonely Process

Brook in an action packed rehearsal.

We open in 12 days! Yipes! BUY TICKETS HERE!

We're about to start our second week of rehearsal. But that statement is pretty deceptive. David and I have had our scripts for at least a month before that. Since then we've been drilling our lines and drilling our lines, so that we came into rehearsal more or less off book (David more, me less). And that means repetition, repetition, repetition. It's not just getting the order of the words. It's connecting it to the idea. It's getting to the point where, when you want to express the idea, the words you've practiced have become the words you WANT to use to express that idea. I've talked before about the process of learning your lines. And it really is true, it's nothing magic. It's just hard work.

I know some people actors don't want to be memorized before they start rehearsal, and I can understand why. There is a risk that in the process of learning them, you will become stuck in one "reading" of them (reading here is an actor term of art that means the way of delivering the line, the intention and the emphasis). The worry is that if you practice it one way, you won't reliably be able to adjust to the moment, and you won't be able to listen and let the other actor in. You can be stuck acting instead of reacting. Which is basically the definition of bad acting.

So I get it. That definitely is a pitfall that we always want to avoid as actors, and especially when we've worked so much ahead of time and so much apart. That said, there are advantages to this process too. First of all, it allows us to have a much shorter "formal" rehearsal process. We started rehearsing this show on May 9, and we open on May 27th. That means we'll have two weeks in the rehearsal room, and 4 days on the set before we open. That is a very tight timeline. Typically we would have two-three times as much time in rehearsal (4-6 weeks) in addition to tech week. So coming in memorized (or mostly memorized in my case) allowed us to save time. I'd argue, however, that there's another advantage too. Yes there's a risk that you will be stuck in one line reading, but it's not a given. And being more comfortable with your lines can allow you to listen MORE to your partner, and be MORE open to the moment, because you're not worrying about saying the right thing. When you stop thinking about the words your saying, because you know them, it's easier to let everything else in. Finally, it was a bit less of a worry with this play because, well, a good part of the play is about not listening and why we do or do not let another person in. So if we don't listen do each other sometimes in this play, well, that's intentional.

The thrills of rehearsal never stop

Our rehearsal is about shaping the play. Not just the physical movement in the environment but the shape of the characters themselves. It's been exciting (really), and having much of the line work done really has freed us to focus on the characters and their world. Switching off with David has been a real thrill too. I've never worked with another actor playing the same character (or in this case, characters) in the same production. It's an amazing resource to have another perspective on the characters. I've found that we agree on quite a lot, but our performances of Erie are still very different. I find it incredibly fascinating that we have such different embodiements while sharing so much of the underlying ideas. It's a fantastic lesson in making a character your own. I think for me part of the lesson (so far) is that you can't NOT make it your own if you're acting honestly. My Erie is different from David's Erie because it has to be. The actor must draw on him or herself to find the sympathy, the empathy, the thing he or she has in common with that character. And what that is will be different for all of us.

This is why acting is not a competition. It's not a race, and it's not a fight. It's different because we are different. Each actor, if they're doing it right, brings their self fully to the character, and that is what is beautiful.

Andy finding the beauty within us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Should Independent Theatre Be Illegal?

This post has been on my mind for a while. Lots of things have been circulating on social media related to this topic, but I think this article is what made me really want to say something. It was circulated by a number of folks, and generated some discussion, but it kind of drove me crazy. The actual headline of the article is "Should the Minimum Wage Apply to the Arts" but to me it really should have had the title of this blog post. Because that's what it would mean for my art form.

Look, I want to pay people. I would LOVE to pay people. I've already addressed this topic on this blog here. Maybe I should leave well enough alone, but I wanted to give people an idea of what I'm talking about.

Our more recent production was a huge critical success. The audiences loved it, and every review was glowing. It was a good show. And we lost money. Even borrowing everything we could for the set, including flats, platforms, and a lot of furniture out of my home, cutting as many costs as we could, there is a certain minimum cost associated with a show, especially if you want to put on a quality production.

Here's what that looks like (I'm rounding off a bit to make the math easier to follow):

Venue: $3,250
Royalties and Scripts: $1,160
Props: $260
Costumes: $230
Set: $290
Posters/Programs/Handbills: $170
Food for volunteers (load in/strike/set painting): $175
Total: $5,535

Our total revenue (including $544 of extra contributions from Kickstarter over/above ticket price):
$4,520

So we lost about $1,015 WITHOUT paying our actors anything. We decided to give everyone a small check to say thank you for their work because we felt it was the right thing to do. If we had to pay people minimum wage it would be impossible. I would never have done a show.

Now you might say: well, you need to raise money. If you can't raise money to pay people from donations, you don't have the resources to put the show on in the first place. I see that point. But think about what you are also saying:

Only people who know enough people with disposable income are allowed to make this art.

Is that really what we want to say?

I admit I've struggled with these ideas personally. I really want to respect people's time, and I value the work that people put in to make my shows happen. I would love to pay people more. And frankly, I could spend more time trying to fund raise. I could formally organize South Stream as a 501(c)(3). I could hold fundraisers and ask for donations and corporate sponsors. But honestly, I haven't because what I want to be is an artist, not a fundraiser. I work a regular job. I have a limited amount of time after work. I could spending it trying to raise money, or I could spend it in rehearsal. And frankly, if I HAD to raise the money. If it was ILLEGAL for people to come together and volunteer their time on a collaborative art project, well, I wouldn't do it.

And it's not just people like me, who are disinclined. It's also people who are disenfranchised, displaced, and disadvantaged.  Are they not allowed to make theatre? Am I?

The truth is, there is simply no money in independent theatre. Independent theatre is made with donations. Usually it's those of the actors and directors, the set designers and the props finders, the people who donate countless hours to make a show come together. Sometimes, it's the donations of wealthy people and corporations (and the hard work of people who write the grants and make the phone calls to make that happen). But there simply isn't enough money in the actual product to make pay anyone. So when people complain that they aren't paid for the theatrical work that they do, or they make analogies to bakers giving away bread, I mean, I'm right there with you! I agree, with your point! But also... I just can't pay you. It's not like I'm sitting on a pile of money and keeping it back from you. The money I paid to my performers (who were worth every penny and more) came from reviewing documents, not from the audience.

Should independent theatre be illegal? Yeah, I hope not. Even if it was people would still do it. Because even though you can't make money doing it, you also can't stop people from doing it. All you need is a script, a cast, and an audience. That can happen in a church basement or a public park or an abandoned lot. It can happen on a soccer field or a slum. As long as there are stories to be told, people will tell them. Not for money, or for fame, or for power, but because it's one of the most human things we can do.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Grateful

Every night, as we were waiting for the places call back stage, I turned to Olivia and said one word:

Grateful

And I meant it. Grateful for the space, for the audience, for such a wonderful scene partner and cast, for health, for just being there about to share this story with people. Grateful. So grateful in so many ways to so many people who made it possible. This list is incomplete. It must be of necessity. I am sure I will forget some things. But I wanted to express my gratitude to some folks publicly here.

First, I have to give a huge thank you to all our supporters on Kickstarter. Without your help, and especially those of you who gave a bit extra. Our Stringers, Editors, and Publishers, without you we would have been in a pretty big hole on this one. I love theatre, and I don't mind the fact that I'm probably going to contribute as much financially to this show as most. But your help really makes this possible. And I'm very grateful to you.

Now, on to the personal thanks. I have thanked some of these folks already in a separate post, but it bears repeating.

Michelle and Josh at Sonorous Road. Thank you so much for being amazing hosts to our little show. Incredibly supportive and helpful at every turn, I hope the space continues. Raleigh needs it and it couldn't have better stewards. They even shot and edited our kickstarter video!

Kevin Ferguson and Cardinal Gibbons High School. Wow. For three years you have made the single biggest contribution to our bottom line. Rehearsal space. if we had to pay even $10 an hour (a fairly nominal sum) for rehearsal... our budget would have had a huge hole in it. Your unwaivering support for our little productions have really made them come to life.

Thanks to the other companies in the theatre community that helped make this show happen. To Cary Players for letting us use their flats and warehouse space, to Theatre in the Park for letting us borrow props and furniture. And thanks to NCSU for letting us borrow the baby bump!

Thanks to some special people. Jeff Nugent for painting the platforms so I could sleep and doing so much behind the scenes. Thank you. Thank you to Elaine for your amazing help with load in. We would have been in very bad shape without you.  Ami Kirk Jones for helping us get the great "distressed concrete" look for the walls, we would have been on a very grey set without you. Jason Bailey, thank you for helping with the photography and graphic design. We needed you a couple of times on short notice and you came through. Thanks. Mario Griego, thank you for your work on makeup. It can't have been easy disfiguring your daughter like that every night.

Thanks to our designers. Nora Kelly on props. WOW. You put in so much work to get the props just right. I really appreciate it. We were so lucky to have you help us. Will Mikes, thanks again my friend for helping with sound. It's always great to work with you. And Todd... well what can I say. The hardest working man in local theatre. Todd has helped us put together every show we've ever done, and we'd be lost without him.

Thanks to two amazing people who were our running crew. Alyssa our ASM - this show could not have happened without you. Someone who knew what she was doing each night because she made a check list and rehearsed each scene change. And not just the scene changes, but the work that happens before and after the show. Especially the making of coffee. Always making coffee. And Betsy - thank you so much for taking this on. For being there night after night. For putting up with our craziness. I'm so glad I met you on Deathtrap, and I'm so glad you agreed to work with us on this show.

Thanks to our director Andy. You have been a good friend for a long time, and I'm so glad to be working with you as a director again. You got a lot of praise for this show in the reviews, and let me tell you, it was well deserved. Your eye and your ear and your passion for this story and this journey made it ring true. I'm so grateful for all the work you put into this.

Katie - thank you for being a wonderful actor. Always present, always willing to throw yourself into the moment. And thank you for being such a strong supporter of this show from the start. I knew I wanted you for this part because you... well you were perfect for it, you're a great performer, AND you are a great person and fun to be around. And when you're building the cast of a 4 person show that's important.

Olivia, thank you for ... well for everything. For being a good friend, an incredible scene partner, and sometimes a reality check. For reminding me what I can and cannot control, and for when it's time to "turn off the producer brain" and just be present. Thank you for insisting on that presence. And for your trust, and for building a bond of trust with me that allowed me to give a more honest performance.

And John ... we did it again! Not as financially successful, but I am so, so, SO proud of this show. I loved it every night. Thank you for working with me. Who knows, maybe next January it will be show #5.

Until next time. I am. Grateful.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Show Information!

(this post will remain at the top of the blog until the show closes, for more recent content scroll down)

Tickets:
Available through Sonorous Road box office. GO HERE!!!

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT - Thursday, Jan. 14, Student Special
Tickets only $8 with a valid student ID (AT DOOR ONLY, NO PRESALES)

Where (click address for Google Map):
Sonorous Road Theatre
209 Oberlin Road, Raleigh

That's on Oberlin Road between Cameron Village and the NC State Bell Tower. Here's a map:



When:
The first three weekends in January! Yes, that means we open January 1st!

Show dates and times:
January 1 & 2, 7:30 PM
January 3, 2:00 PM
January 7-9, 7:30 PM
January 10, 2:00 PM
January 14-16, 7:30 PM
January 17, 2:00 PM

Parking:
There is a small lot at the theatre. There is also additional parking on nearby streets and in the lot at 2270 Hillsborough Street. Here's a map:


More about the play:
Wikipedia page for the play.
New York Times review of the 2010 Broadway Production.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Reviews Are In!

We don't do theatre for reviews. We do theatre to connect with an audience, to have a real immediate and honest moment of art with our fellow people. That said, good reviews are good because they can convince more folks to come out and be part of that experience.

And boy howdy did we get some good reviews!

Roy Dicks gave us a great write up in the News and Observer and had plaudits for the entire cast.

Byron Woods in the Indy gave our production 4 stars

Triangle Arts and Entertainment gave us not one, but two great reviews. 


Followed by this one which I believe was posted by Robert McDowell but I believe was written by Kurt Benrud:

Finally, Allan Hall weighed in with more praise at CVNC.

I may at some point go through and try to pull some choice promotional bits, but suffice to say: 5 out of 5 critics agree, it's a good show. But don't take their word for it. Come see it yourself!