Wednesday, December 28, 2016


It's nice to be recognized. We put a lot of work into what we do on stage. We care about making a show that is real, a show that is filled with the truth that comes from us. In my opinion, we do a damn good job of it. I think we put on stage some of the best shows in the triangle.

So it's nice that Byron Woods in the INDY named Time Stands Still one of the ten best shows of 2016. It's especially gratifying because our show comes so early in the year. It's a testament that the show was not only the best show of the year in January, but that it stuck with at least some people, to be remembered as one of the best at the end of the year too.

It is nice to be recognized by critics (and all of our shows have). But the real recognition we want is from you, our audience. We want to bring you stories that you remember. That speak to you. That you speak to your friends about for days, weeks, even a year later.

We think Blackbird is going to be one of those plays too. So come out and see what our next play has to offer you. Share our food for thought. It will be the best play you've seen in 2017. And who knows, maybe that will be true in December too. :-)


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Meet the Cast - John Honeycutt

John Honeycutt - Ray

John Honeycutt is the managing director of South Stream Productions and a prolific local actor. We had him answer a few questions about his work and participation in this play.

What drew you to Blackbird?

I bought the script based on the blurb on the Dramatists web site because I was looking for a two-hander with characters of about these ages. The first thing I noticed when I started reading was the incredible quality of the writing. The style of writing is chopped up, with one thought running rapidly into another, fully expressing the turmoil in the characters’ minds.

The stakes are incredibly high for both characters, right from the first. They have to fight hard for what they want from line to line. My character, Ray (or maybe Peter), is totally unprepared for meeting Una, and he is frantic to figure out what to do or say to ward off the threat that Una could ruin his life in every way imaginable. What can he say to justify himself? Does he lie, deceive, threaten, bully?

I love the way the story emerges. The events leading up to the present encounter happened years before, and Ray and Una haven’t seen each other since. Both think they know what happened, but both only know part of the story. Ray desperately needs to find out why Una is there and what she plans to do. Deception and concealment make the way this meeting unfolds very, very interesting to me.

The appeal of the play can’t be separated from the shocking subject matter, but Harrower rises above that to tell a very human story about the ways very human people can do horrible things without realizing it or meaning to, and how they struggle with the consequences of their actions.

What kind of theatre do you like? What speaks to you?

I’m mostly engaged by small, contemporary plays that deal with relatively ordinary people in stressful situations that might occur in real life. Most of us have some connection with the problems people face, such as grief, loneliness, illness, addiction, cruelty, poverty, racism, and sexism. There are many clever, amusing, and moving ways playwrights have found to tell these stories.

A favorite play, that I’ve seen three times, is Rabbit Hole in which a family navigates their grief at the death of a child. But this doesn’t mean that I only like realism on stage. Another favorite show is a musical adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. It is a fanciful story in which five very different men band together to buy an elegant suit for a night on the town to find excitement and love. It was full of color, dance, pathos, and a happy ending.

In live theatre, well done, I can see the story unfold in front of me with an intimacy I just don’t get in movies or TV.

Can you share a favorite theatre memory or story?

This is hard—I’ve done theatre for nearly 50 years and have lots of memories of people and events over the years. In Hamlet, a page missed her entrance, leaving me on stage with nothing to say but to improvise in iambic pentameter, first while waiting for her to remember her entrance and again when she ran off to get the prop letter I was supposed to read. Improvising in iambic pentameter isn’t as hard as I always thought it was!

Another stage horror was when I jumped from the middle of Act I to the middle of Act II of Cold Storage on opening night, and how we struggled to get back where we were supposed to be.

One of my fondest recent memories is how close the cast of Time Stands Still (South Stream's production from January 2016) became, so much so that we arranged a weekly meeting that we’ve mostly stuck to for the past year. It’s like an ongoing cast party. Most of us are involved with the current production of Blackbird.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

John and Katie - they're not always serious

It's time to be thankful.

We've begun rehearsals on Blackbird. We've done some table work (that's actor for "sitting around talking about it) and a bit of actually getting on it's feet. The rehearsals have gone very well so far, and we're excited  -- we're happy.

And today is a time to be happy. Not to wish for what we do not have but to reflect on what we do. And that's a great reminder for us. Blackbird is a serious and dark drama. It's a story we are a part of. We try and connect to it as fully as possible - in the rehearsal room. But we also must always remind ourselves that the play is not US.  Part of caring for each other is what you do in the room, making sure people feel safe physically and emotionally is very important with this kind of material. But another part is making sure we end each of our rehearsals with smiles and hugs, and a reminder to leave the characters in the rehearsal room. We must do this with joy.

I have so much to be thankful for. Thankful for John and Katie. Thankful for Andy, our stage manager, who helps guide us. Thankful to Jennifer for images like the one up there (nice pics right?). Thankful for rehearsal space. Thankful for collaborators like Todd Houseknecht who is our technical director. Thankful for Sonorous Road and Michelle and Josh. Thankful for a theatre community that supports companies like mine by letting us borrow flats and props and helping hands (I'm going to be asking for more help on this soon...). And thankful for you. our audience. Our supporters. Our friends.

This show doesn't come together without you. This is YOUR show as much as it is ours. If you want to get involved, you can help produce the play through the Kickstarter.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Poster Photoshoot

Taking pictures of Katie for the poster. (L to R Jenn, Katie, John, Brook). Photo by Kimber Graham.

Theatre is about art! Theatre is about character and empathy and humanity!

... Which is great and all, but part of putting on a production is getting people to actually show up and see the thing. Because theatre doesn't happen without you. "Interactive" has taken on a different meaning in the digital age, so when you say theatre is "interactive" people look at you funny. With the exception of some divised theatre productions (like Beertown recently at RLT) most people don't think of theatre as "interactive." But it is. There's a magic, an alcemey, an energy that an audience brings that breathes life into a performance. It's not just the audience reaction, the laughs and gasps and claps, but the sharing of space and time and story. After all, there's a word for a theatrical performance without an audience - rehearsal.

So, we have to get YOU to show up. To that end, we shot the poster for Blackbird today. Jennifer is our graphic designer. She designed the image you see at the top of this page, the show logo, and soon the poster. Having a great graphic designer is so key. We are indebted to Daniel McCord for our first few shows, and now Jennifer Sanderson (Hughie and now Blackbird).

I think, for theatre artists, the business side can often feel cheap and tawdry. I think there is an impulse to feel like "we're artists, we do this for the sake of art, not for money." And trust me, to some extent that's true (I'd be surprised if this play broke even). There's an element of self-promotion to marketing that feels alien to actors. It feels some how improperly self-aggrandizing. But marketing IS important. And truthfully, it is incredibly creative as well. Seeing Jennifer work has been a real pleasure. There is a real skill in understanding the play, the mood and the characters, and turning that into an image and a font. It sounds weird, but that's literally her job. You want the images and the feel of the marketing to match the show. You don't want your audience to come in expecting a comedy and then hit them with something totally different:

And you want it to be compelling. You want the people who respond to the image to understand what they are getting in a general sense, and to be the right audience. I think that is what we will get.

But I suppose that's ultimately for you to judge.

Want to get involved and support this show? Join the Kickstarter here!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Why Blackbird? Why Now?

Is this story what we need right now? And will anyone come and see it?

Let me be honest: the first question is one that we, as a cast, and particularly I, as a director, have struggled with over the last two weeks.

The election of Donald Trump came as a shock to me, to many of us. Partly, of course, due to the fact that he was consistently behind in polling. It was unexpected. But also because of what it said about our country. Donald Trump's message relied a great deal on fear, on division, and on prejudice. He mocked the disabled, he demeaned women, and he promised to register Muslims. And since his election, we've seen a great increase in incidents of racist aggression (which it seems the media has decided are not racist, but "racially charged"). And this is my point: these feelings - this positive response to Trump's bullying behavior when it's targeted against the weak and the other, this is a symptom of pain. As Yoda said, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to the dark side. This election is the result of so much fear and anger. Fear of the future, fear of change, fear of immigrants and gays and people of color, and a deep frustration about feeling left behind, and left out. It is behavior that evidences an underlying pain in our society.

And that left me, left US, wondering why this play? And why now? Because this play does have a beauty to it, but it is a dark and terrible beauty. It is not going to lift people up and celebrate the spirit of America like Hamilton or provide a message of civic virtue like 12 Angry Men. It is not, I will be honest, an uplifting play. It is a play where, as Jeff Daniels said in an interview, "We hold hands and run together into the wall."

In the week after the election, we had a meeting to discuss this. We met to share our fears, to discuss our plans, and to consider our alternatives. We needed to know that if this was the journey we wanted to take, if we wanted you to take it with us, it had to be important - now. Because it is a great story, it's very much an "actor's play." Great characters, excellent dialogue, high stakes - an absolute gut punch of a show. But what does it mean more than that?

This is my answer. First, it certainly is relevant. It is a story where you want the woman, you want SO MUCH, for her to win, and (I hope this isn't giving away too much) she does not. And it's devastating. And as Katie pointed out to me, sometimes ... sometimes he gets away with it. It's a story that echos, perhaps even mirrors some of the emotional journey we (well, the majority of the audience for this play anyway) have been on. It's not a pretty journey, but there may be some catharsis there. Second, in our meeting Katie passionately pointed out that this is the sort of story, and Una is the sort of character, that simply does not get heard from. Granted the script is written by a man, but Katie felt strongly that Una's voice, and Una's journey, fraught as it is, deserved to be heard. And finally, we all felt that this would be a great show. That art is and can be uplifting even if it's about the darkest parts of people's lives. And that, hell, if we cancel our show because of Trump's election we're letting them win. Donald Trump is demanding an apology from the cast of Hamilton today, artists are being told to sit down and shut up and just be entertainment. That's not what we do.

Will anyone come and see it? That I don't know. Our Kickstarter (donate here!) is off to the slowesst start we've ever had. The show will be good. GOOD. We have a great cast and crew. I have a very high level of confidence that our preparation will pay off in an astounding way in terms of performance. But will people see it? In this terrible new world, will people be willing to watch art about the dark places, or will we only seek comfort? Will we seek out distraction and entertainment? I certainly wouldn't fault anyone for doing so. But I hope they are out there. And I hope they come. I hope people see value and purpose in what we are doing. I do.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Kickstarter for Blackbird Lauches!

Exciting news everyone!

The Kickstarter for our latest production, Blackbird by David Harrower, is now live!  Check it out here:

Direct link here:

Your contributions are incredibly important to us. Every donation through kickstarter goes to the costs of production and to the actors themselves.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Work Before the Work

The play has been selected and cast. The venue contract signed. The team is being assembled. We don't begin rehearsals until mid-November, but there is still a lot of work to be done. I still have to write a press release. We need to finalize our rehearsal schedule. We need to set up a promo photo shoot. 

And as the director, I need to work, work, work. In some sense, once rehearsals start a director has less work to do than the actors. I don't have to go home and drill lines sometime between the end of the last rehearsal and the beginning of the next. Once rehearsal ends, my work (at least my creative work) on the play is done for the day. But that's deceptive. Because as a director you have to do a very great deal of work before hand. One of the things I try very hard to do as director is to think of as many possibilities as I can. I know I will never think of everything, so I don't worry about trying. If ones actors are good (and the people I cast are quite good), they will do more work on their character specifically than I ever could. They will surprise me and think of things I never would have.   But as a director, I will do the same. One MUST. 

I think that my primary job as a director is asking questions. Lots of questions. And to do that requires preparation. I want to open up possibilities. Occasionally, yes, directing is telling actors where to stand (don't stand in front of your scene partner), but since I do small cast plays, I have the luxury of doing that very little.  I don't want to tell you where to go or where to look, but I DO want you to think about WHY you are standing there, or looking there. And I want to play with the words, the intentions, the conflict, the love and hate, the relationships and events. So I'm reading, and reading. I hope I can do it justice. We've got less than a month until we start rehearsals. There's a lot to do between now and then. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

January Show Announcement!

People of Earth:

South Stream Productions is proud to announce it's fifth annual January show. 

We will be producing Blackbird by David Harrower. 

The production will feature John Honeycutt and Katie Barrett.
It will be directed by Brook North.

January 6-8, 12-15, 19-22, 2017.

Sonorous Road Theatre, 209 Oberlin Road, Raleigh.

Blackbird is a gripping confrontation between a young woman and the man who abducted her when she was 12. David Harrower's script is both poetic and raw, beautiful and terrible. Inspired in part by real events, this story asks us to confront whether it is possible to confront our past traumas, and dares us to see our own humanity in victims and even perpetrators of unthinkable crimes.

This production is not recommended for younger audience members. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hughie - Goodbye Old Pal

That's it. It's over. The flats are back in the warehouse, the costumes are back in storage, and I have a trunk full of sand (anyone want play sand?).

Hughie was a great adventure, a great challenge, and a production I am very proud of. But of course, I did not do it. We did it. A lot of people helped out to make this happen, and I want to say thank you to all of them.

First - Thanks, as always to Kevin Ferguson and Cardinal Gibbons High School. We were able to rehearse in their space, and, as always, it was probably the single biggest contribution to the production we received. Two weeks of free rehearsal space is such a blessing.

Second, a huge thank you to Cary Players. Again they let us borrow flats and use their warehouse to paint them. Such a big help!

Theatre in the Park also deserves a thank you. They let us borrow several lamps, plus that big mailbox. And Jeff snagged that desk for us (which we got from Mortal Coile's production of Master Harold). He stored it for us (and painted it black).

Big thanks also to NCSU theatre department for loaning us the costumes. They looked great, and there's no way we would have been able to source anything nearly as good without your help.

Ok. Take a minute and look at this list of thank-yous so far. Four theatres in the area gave us major assistance to put this show up. That's cooperation. That's a theatre community.

Thanks also to the people that helped us out with load in and out. Chris Hayworth and Matt Spitler were a huge help, and veteran theatre volunteer Jamie Marlowe also pitched in for our load in, helping us rig the lights. We also got help from Ami Kirk-Jones with painting the set, and Kieth Bugner was a fill-in stage manager for a day. Olivia Griego coordinated our front-of-house volunteers. Big thanks to all of you.

And then, of course, there's the production team.

TODD HOUSEKNECHT - our technical designer, and who I forgot(!!) the first time I drafted this. Wow. Todd has been a key part of the team for every single production of South Stream. He was our technical director. Making sure we had the flats, and jacks, making sure the walls were properly supported. and supervising load in. I would not have been able to do any South Stream show without him. Thanks so much Todd!

Mia Carson our Lighting Designer (who is in Boone for the summer running their show) helped set the mood for the show. So did Will Mikes, our Sound Designer. Sound and lights create the atmosphere for a show. Often under appreciated, sometimes not even consciously noticed, but there. Thanks to both of you.

Laura Parker designed the costumes. She selected our outfits and made sure they fit the character, the period, and the actors of course. She even made the vests specifically for the show. Costumes are a huge part of creating the character in a piece. I often feel like the character can't be fully there until you have the clothes. Until you're literally walking in that characters shoes (and pants) you don't know who they are. Thank you Laura for everything you did for the show.

Huge thanks to Jennifer Sanderson, who designed the set AND was responsible for the awesome graphics. That cool neon sign? Her. Those cool pics of me and David? Her. The look of the set, the paint on the flats, the damn brass fixtures on the mailbox and the green tassels on the keys? Her. I meant to get a post up about the set, and how it tied into the story. Maybe soon. But thank you Jenn!

Thanks to my producing partner John Honeycutt. John didn't have a huge hand in the show, but he secured the rights, and he was there providing support when he could. It's always great to have someone else who believes in the show and helps on the production end. The reason John wasn't a bigger part of the show? He's in Ragtime with Justice Theatre Project. Go get a ticket to their show!

Huge thank you to our amazing stage manager Elaine Petrone. I always say, SM'ing is the hardest job in theatre. You have to be at every rehearsal just like the director, but you ALSO have to be at every performance, and you don't get any creative control. Well, put an asterisk on that one, because I think a good SM knows when and how to offer creative suggestions. They shouldn't try to direct the show, but the absolutely should be part of the creative team, not just the principle organizer. Elaine did all that and more. We were so, so lucky to get her and it was a pleasure to work with someone so skilled and accomplished.

Thanks, of course, to Andy, our director. Andy has directed three of the five South Stream shows. He's not only fun to work with, he has a great eye and a strong and confident voice in the process. I love working with him and spending time with him, and for a two person show, both are important. He is next directing Tuesdays with Morrie at Temple. (Also with John)

Finally, huge thank you to David Klionsky. It's absolutely true that when I first brought the idea of switching roles to Andy, you were one of the first names we thought of, and we both instantly agreed you'd be great in both parts. And we weren't wrong. I was so lucky to have you in the rehearsal process. It was such a pleasure to work with you on both Erie and Night Clerk. Thank you for agreeing to take this adventure with me. It was incredibly rewarding and educational as an actor, and damn fun. Thanks for being the other half of this crazy experiment.

Well, that's it for now. Erie and Charlie and Hughie are gone but not forgotten. Thanks to everyone who made the show possible, and thank you to everyone who came to the share the show with us. We hope you enjoyed it.

Until next time,

Monday, June 6, 2016

HUGHIE by Eugene O'Neill is open!

Our last show is today, June 5, at 3PM. Hillsborough Road will be closed until 5PM. Roads to the north of the theatre (Wade Ave/Cameron Village) should be fine. Please plan accordingly!  Here's a partial map of the road closures:

Please plan accordingly and drive safely.

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, June 1, 2016

Who Is Better? (Nobody)

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
-Oscar Wilde

Actor cage match?

The reviews are in, and they are... decidedly mixed. CVNC... didn't like me. Byron at the Indy liked David, ..  and also didn't like me.  I have it on good authority that at least some of the folks at Triangle A&E did like me (Kurt posted a review on my facebook page, though as of noon Wednesday they have not managed to publish a linkable review [EDIT - it's up! Read it here.]).

So why link to "bad" reviews? Why even acknowledge them? Well, a few reasons, but first I should note I've written about reviews before here. As an actor you can't let them in (good or bad). But as a producer, I don't have the luxury of not reading them. Normally, I'd be linking to good reviews (previously we have had exactly one negative review of a South Stream Production) but I'm ok with linking to bad reviews too, in context. Let me explain.

First of all, I would rather have people say bad things about me than say nothing at all. Partly it's the "any publicity is good publicity" but more importantly, I feel what I do is worth artistic consideration. I would rather spark an argument or discussion, even personal criticism, than not have any reaction at all.

And part of this process was about creating something interesting to talk about. David and I made a very conscious effort to develop our own truth with each character. We didn't try to avoid taking ideas from each other, but we also did not try to create a unified interpretation. Even as we agree about most points of the character, we found different expressions of that journey. That's what's been so exciting about this process. I feel that we achieved something really special. Two very different interpretations of the same character, each effective and honest, but each different. Is there a "better" performance? I honestly don't think so.

Of course, people being what they are, tastes vary, and comparison is, I suppose, inevitable. And I'm fine with that. They are very different shows, and of course, people will like or dislike them as they wish. Am I disappointed that people (and despite what some actors will tell you, reviewers are people) came to the show and did not enjoy my performance? Sure. But would I change that performance? Hell no. I absolutely gave the performance I intended.

So is my show any good? I think so. I can only present what I feel is the truth of the character. And David will be out there doing the same. This weekend we run five shows:

Thursday 7:30 (me)
Friday 7:30 (David)
Saturday 7:30 (me) and 9:30 (David)
Sunday 3:00 (me)

Come see the shows, and decide for yourself.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Don't Come Support My Show

Yeah, I'm talkin' ta you.

"Come out and support the show." You see that all the time. And let me tell you, I need your support. And so do other theatre companies.

We need your support in our fundraisers and kickstarters. We need your support in your donations of time and effort and occasionally your furniture (we'll get it back to you in one piece I promise). We need your support at the ballot box to elect legislators who value the arts and are willing to fund them. We need your support in so many ways, because art does not pay for itself. Because this is not a profit making endeavor, it's a community making one.

But don't come to my show because you want to "support" it. Come out because you want to enjoy it. Come see my show because you want to be entertained and challenged. Come because you want to see some damn good theatre and you think what I've done in the past fits that definition.

"Support"implies a sacrifice. It's a donation of time or money. When you come see my show, I hope you don't feel that way. I hope you're feel like you got your money's worth. Truth be told, if we talk about what the actual costs are to produce theatre, you are getting more than your money's worth.

So please, by all means DO support theatre. Bare Theatre is performing Two Gentlemen of Verona for free! If you want to support theatre, go to their kickstarter page and donate to support the production:

But come to my show because you like theatre. Because you value the experience of having a live connection with the performers. Because you want to see something worth your time and money.

Because you will.


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):

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


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


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)

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:

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

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!