Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bil - It's Harder Than We Realized

Every now and again, I have to defend live theatre as a valid form of entertainment to friends and/or family, especially in the face of a night at the movies.  It's usually pretty easy to convince them of the validity, since I can rattle off a litany of awesome aspects right off the top of my head.  However, getting people to actually go and watch a play is a different task altogether, and it's very, very hard.  When I ask people later on if they had been to see any live theatre since the last time we spoke, the answer every time is no.

Why is that? I always ask myself.  Are movies really that strong a competitor to live theatre?

But it struck me recently that movies probably aren't the only competition we have.  It's completely silly of me to assume that people choose to stay away from live theatre because they are instead headed to the movies.  There are not only movies, but television (which requires no money and lets you stay inside, where it's warm), live music concerts (which attract a somewhat similar, yet different enough crowd), there are sporting events (which, let's face it, are awesome), and a myriad of other options people have to do at night that don't necessarily even qualify as "entertainment."  There are church group meetings.  There are bars to spend all night drinking in.  There are There are zillions of ways for my friends and family (and everyone else that I don't know) to spend time and money.

Chicken pot pie graphs...
So what makes people prefer one thing over another?  I guess it's ultimately about what matters to them.  We can't control what people like or don't like; the best a theatre company can do is hope to match what people like with the shows we produce, and hope those people are in the mood to be entertained.

Help your theatre companies out, Chicagoans: what's relevant to you? Let us know!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

From a Dreamer to Dream Theatre: Mishelle (the little one)

This next year, DTC will open it's season with a brand new show, Downward Facing, written this fall This particular play actually started as the ten minute piece I wrote in 5 hours for this year's Theatre Of Women 5. After it's two performances on September 11th, I received such an overwhelming amount of adoration and interest for the piece and it's characters that I decided I should push myself and try to continue the story. 

Downward Facing opened a new chapter for me as a playwright. After writing plays since 2004 in college and beyond. I figured I had my style, my language, my story interests down pat.  And if you saw my play Shiny Boxes last February, you'd be able to surmise the types of stories and language I was used to writing and thought I was only capable of writing. Turns out I was wrong. I have come to realize that this piece was actually a labor of love not for myself but for the many beautiful and talented artists I am lucky enough to have as a part of my life and so of course it is not at all like the slightly absurd extremely abstract relationship pieces I have such a penchant for creating. Every single person in this play is written from my own interest and adoration of the people close to me and the world around me. Throw in a dash of sociopolitical commentary, some very personal personality traits and my most current demons and you have Downward Facing.

Although I am not a company member, I have been working with Dream Theatre since 2008 writing for their Theatre of Women 24 hour festivals, having a short play of mine produced (Shiny Boxes) in 2010 and acting in Devilish Children which just recently ended to an amazing and eventful run. What I have learned throughout these years of involvement is that no matter your role, no matter how long or how often you play, you become a part of a collective consciousness. How is this possible? My only thought is, we all want it to be so. It's not necissarily about being like minded, it's about bringing our minds all to the same place. 

As the year comes to an end, I am inclined to give thanks. But there are so many things I can be thankful for I'd ruin the flow of this already jerky blog post. Instead I will say one thing. Jeremy, Anna, & Giau,  you have changed my life by taking my adolescent dreams and turning them into Dream Theatre.

Excuse me now while I retreat to another room to cry. (Good tears! Good tears!)


Monday, December 6, 2010

Bil - A Handy Guide to Dream Theatre Company's Auditions for "Downward Facing"

Despite cold weather outside and a construction site inside, Dream Theatre is sallying forth this week.  On Wednesday is a reading of our 2011 Season opener, Mishelle Apalategui's "Downward Facing" (which "Theatre of Women" fans should recognize).  Thursday and Friday are actual auditions.

I know there's a lot of audition advice out there for actors, and I'm sure some of it's good, but because we're about to audition a specific show at this specific company, let me throw out some specific advice that really will help...
  • Bring a headshot and resume.  I know it seems like a no brainer, but there are a surprising amount of actors out there who actually have no brain.
  • Reach out to Dream Theatre Company in advance.  Facebook is a great place to start.
  • If there are sides available ahead of time, read them.  If you are able to read the whole script ahead of time, do so.
  • If you have a monologue, be prepared to show all your intensity AND all your subtlety in one go.  You will only have one chance.
  • If you have a monologue, be emotionally prepared to not get a chance at all.  Again, read those sides in advance.
  • Connect with the director.  If the director gives you direction, use it.
  • Impress the director.  If the director gives you direction, go above and beyond.  If the director does NOT give you direction, do something different anyway.  Show some range.
  • Leave your ego at home.
  • Leave your dog at home.
  • Do not talk about Fight Club.
  • Understand the English language.  The dialogue in "Downward Facing" is both transcendentally poetic and absurdly hip.  It's not like a Shakespeare play, where language is heightened upwards, or a Mamet play, where language is smashed downward.  It's more like "Juno," where language is shifted to the side a bit.  It's different from everyday language, but the emotions behind the words are all very human.  If you have questions about what something means, ask someone.
  • Talk about how handsome Jeremy Menekseoglu is.
  • Bring enough chewing gum to share with everyone.
Don't be this guy.
Break a leg, everyone.  We're all very excited to meet the cast, whoever they may be!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Anna - creation of the world

The creation of the world is so important to all our production processes. For me personally my creation has a tendency toward the extreme tangible and the extreme abstract. There are so many of us that cannot wait until we start the creation of The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Billy Moon. I am starting with tangible.

I am creating the Essence (character/doll/puppets) for this show and I began with Eeyore because I thought he would be easy. (it isn't easy at all, and I'm afraid none will be, but this is going to be magical creation fun!)  I have only made a prototype and he will be the basis for the pattern, but I have found that this isn't just sewing and pattern making. There is a certain amount of sculpture and emotion that goes into this creation. This is why it is called the Essence, because they aren't going to be merely dolls, but our acting partners that are imbued with life and animation.

Here are 4 photos of the prototype of Eeyore for our spring show (March 2011) at Dream Theatre.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Jeremy - Ismene

With the new Season about to start rehearsals, and The Ismene Project on the horizon, I sat down with the Ismene script and reread the forward that I wrote so many years ago.

Ismene was a very special play for me to write. It was the very first show that I had ever written where everything just felt right. I would wake up at 5am just to get to a computer and keep writing. The Dream Theatre style suddenly became so clear to me that I began creating the exercises and rehearsal process that we still use to this day. Everything just lined up... It was also the first of my Greek plays. And to tell you the truth- I only wrote it as a Greek play because I thought it was funny... I hated Greek theatre! Oh my God did I hate it. the teachers that had introduced it to me made me believe that it was the driest, most awful thing imaginable. All I even remembered about what I had learned were the weird rules of Greek theatre. Messengers always show up late, violence happens off stage, blah blah blah. I thought it would be funny if the rules of Greek Theatre were also the rules of life. That a Chorus would not be another character, but almost a disease that took control of people's minds. It was all so odd and funny to me. I also felt that my play SISTER 121, which I thought would be the greatest play I would ever write, had failed me so much because I hadn't made the villain something that the Audience could get behind. The villain in that piece was socialism. I had just returned from Russia and had learned so much about the socialist effect on the arts and the people, plus I had studied the effects of Mao's cultural revolution, that I was drawn to write about it. I was twenty five... I failed... But with Ismene, I would learn from my mistakes. I won't go into the villain in Ismene because it would be wrong of me to do so. So many people have found their own villain in the piece that I don't ever want to replace their villain with mine. For Ismene conquers all villains. She overcomes whatever it is that you need for her to. She was my perfect heroine and savior from one of my greatest failures. (I'd have a much worse failure a year later, but I'm not ready to talk about that yet. Maybe in another 9 years.)

Now I am 36. I'll be 37 when Ismene simultaneously opens in so many different cities and countries. It is part of The Ismene Project. A project that is so close to the hearts of the wonderful directors, producers and actors that I am humbled by the magnitude of it. I even had a conversation with one of the directors where she said that I most likely don't even understand just what that show does for women. I didn't know what to say. My first thought was, how in the Hell can you say that? Of course I know what that show does to people, I wrote it! But that was just stupid... I have a new answer now. You're absolutely right. I don't know what Ismene does for you. But I do know what she did for me. And I do know that all villains, who or whatever they are, must be destroyed.

Ismene Forward September 2003:

Originally this play was to be a retelling of Antigone. I had high hopes of transforming the classic myth into a new story. In this version, Antigone triumphs over Creon’s decree, not by disobeying it or through self-sacrifice, but by following it to the letter. By not only letting Polynices rot outside the gates of Thebes, but by bringing all to see his corpse and tell them his story. By doing this, the people of Thebes would, almost unconsciously, transform the land around his body into a great shrine, far greater than any state burial could provide. I had thoughts of the roses that are left each morning at the door of a murdered director’s Apartment in Moscow. The Teddy Bears and candles alongside the highway. All the places where we come to mourn, hold vigils, and how often they never take place in the cemetery. But, as always happens with any idea that you fall in love with, things got weird. First of all, Antigone was not the heroine for that kind of story. Anouilh describes her in his play as a girl who does not think, only feels. Does not reason, but acts. This girl had no place in my play. Since Sophocles wrote her tragedy 2,500 years ago, Antigone has always been treated as a symbolic champion for The Laws of God over the Laws of the State. It is a story about morals that cannot be questioned. Arguments that cannot be won. Reason that relies on mystical beliefs whether you speak of the will of the gods or the will of the state. They are the same thing. They both rely on human sacrifice whether for good of god or the good of the people. Sacrifice, death, and tragedy, for a god who claims to need blood in order to grow and the life of its children in order to exist? No, Antigone was not the right heroine. But who in the story spoke of reason? Who in the story spoke of life? Who in the story spoke of love and joy? Who spoke of the past as a tragedy and the future as a place of hope? Ismene. So when Antigone dies, HaemonIsmene was written. It is a story of a young girl who has seen too much death and has been forced to take part in a world of misery for far too long. It is a story that deals with the good of man above everything else. A story where we fight for our right to live out our own lives as we choose and not as a plaything of mysticism and prophecy.

-Jeremy Menekseoglu

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bil - Return to the Audience State

It's not too late. Go see this one.
Now that "The Devilish Children" is over and construction workers have replaced theatrical types inside the Dream Theatre, my state of being shifts.  My technical status has gone from "Is Too Busy For Anything At All" to "Has Time To See Theatre."  I will once again don my audience hat, which by a lucky coincidence is also a woolly winter hat.

I'm taking a break from my apartment's endless cleaning session to go see "Halfshut" at the Rorschach (the official home of The Right Brain Project).  This will be the second play I've watched in about three months.  The other one was "Seven Snakes" from the Mammals, which has sadly (for you) closed already.

I'm well aware that acting in a show, while certainly a strong enough excuse not to see any other shows, is not exactly a reason not to.  There's been quite a slate this year and I've missed a lot.  One can always make time to see shows, I just dropped the ball.  So, believe me, I am going to step up my efforts to make that time.  Starting tonight.  Sorry (again) to everyone whose show I missed this year.  I'll try not to let it happen again.


Yeah. So. I strongly encourage you to go see "Halfshut" while you still can. The way they bring an audience in...very different from what we do at Dream Theatre, and yet very much the same. Very cool. Super-engaging show for twenty-somethings.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bil - Postmortem & Preseason

There's a certain sense of relief when a show comes down and the striking of the set is finally complete.  When it's done, you feel like a piece of you gets left behind, but in fact the opposite is true – you've got memories you never had before, you've skills developed that could only have been forged during that particular show that you can then take with you to your next projects, and the nostalgia really only lasts until you're working on the next one.  Right now, we're all mostly in that whistful place between the end of strike and the start of the next rehearsal process.

"The Devilish Children & the Civilizing Process" had possibly the biggest set Dream Theatre Company has ever created, in terms of square acreage and quantity of wood, so striking the set was no particularly easy task.  Couple that with our melancholy the fact that we'd rather have not seen that show go because it was so fun, and then add the tasks of tearing down all the stuff we'd done in the lobby and removing all the equipment and tools that were stashed underneath the stairs and in the secret ticket booth, and that gives us one massive job for a ragtag bunch of not-even-close-to-professional contractors who know plenty about acting but very little about construction.

Technically, the strike isn't even done yet.  We still have yet to remove the audience seats from their risers.  The reason we needed to get everything – literally, EVERYTHING – out of the way is so the real (actual-professional) contractors can come in and gut the place for some very serious construction inside our theatre.  It's going to be quite the job, and they need space to work.  But oh, wait till you see our place early next year...

Wait till you see us.

Oh yes – season tickets are available.  Great way to save money on some kick-ass theatre for next year, and they make great gifts...I assume.  See the website for details.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Annelise (as understudy) - auf wiedersehen

Well, kinder, we've come to the end.  Tonight - after Santa saved our devilish children one last time - we cleaned our faces, packed our makeup, and took apart the set board by board.  By 11:30 our ghostly children's theater (not to mention our home for the past two months) was no more.  It may have just been me, but our German accents on the ride home (the typical after-effect of each performance and rehearsal) had a nostalgic timbre.

Earlier this week, Bil asked me to write a post about the experience of working on understudying Conrad.  Now, it doesn't seem fitting to write about the process of creating Conrad because at this point he's lived a life; he started as an idea, became real, did a lot of growing up (with a few awkward spells), bounced onto the stage, and (tonight) away from me. 

I do, however, want to talk about one aspect of working on Conrad: the ensemble.  Most of the work that went into the role was learning how to read, communicate with, and trust the other Devilish Children, even though I hadn't been with them in a while. The true delight about working on Conrad - the reason why I'm lucky to have done so - was how readily the other actors drew me into their clan.  When I stepped into the opening tableaux every night, it was with the certainty that Cruel Paul would back me up and Polly would hold my hand.

The ensemble is why, though I miss the show already, I can't be sad that it's over. This wonderful, intelligent, talented group of people made the show great.  And it's this ensemble that will continue to make shows great into next season and beyond.  In clearing away our set, we made a our space plastic - distinguished it as a room once again ready to be filled with our collective dreams.

Jeremy, Anna, Mishelle, Chad, Judith, Bil, Rachel, John, and Kristi: auf wiedersehen. Until we see again.

Bil - Away We Go

Tonight is the final performance of The Devilish Children & the Civilizing Process.  There are some definite plans for next year, but of course everything is still in question-mark status, so nothing's been officially announced, but if you come to the show tonight, you can see the preliminary photos for the 2011 season!

Show promotion aside, I really would like to share this one last performance with as many people as I can.  Not for monetary purposes, mind you, and not for fame's sake, but because I believe with all my soul that this show is a rare delight, and when I think of all the people in Chicago and the surrounding areas who would love this show but either don't know about it or had their own schedule conflicts or just couldn't make it for whatever reason, I get a little sad.  Live theatre is such a wonderful art form, and you can only get it while it's playing.  You can't experience a live performance by reading about it later.  You can't just wait a couple months and then put it on your Netflix queue.  It's not on Hulu the next day.  You have to catch it while it lasts, and when it's gone, it's gone forever.  Photos may remain, and people may talk about it, but it's only present and real if you're there in the audience.

The Devilish Children and the Civilizing Process is also a rarity in that the cast has bonded so well.  Seriously, for a ten-person production to be so drama-free is almost unheard of, especially given there was a wedding in the middle of the rehearsal process.  You can see the connectedness and the chemistry of the actors onstage (and in the lobby), and it's actually not a false front.  Appearing to be best of friends is not always an indication that two actors like each other; in some famous cases, it's a clever mask for a bitter, bitter rivalry.  But not here.

I'm gonna miss this one.  I really am.  One last time, then life moves on.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bil - Three To Go

And then there were three...

Seriously, we only have three shows.  Tickets are still available.  We are right up at the end of the run of this show, and still things are new and different each night.  Nothing routine about it.

I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me during the actual rehearsal process, but there is quite a lot of inspirational material in the music video for Lena's "99 Luftballons" - including (but not limited to) attractive 80's hair, massive explosions, and, of course, red balloons. Our show has none of these things, but we do have German accents, a gramophone, and a healthy dose of dismemberment - fuse these elements we have with our child-like desire for that which we do not, and I can assure you our show tonight will be nothing short of miraculous.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bil - Final Weekend Blues

The final weekend blues ain't so bad. It's been one fantastic run, with one fantastic cast. Our show is top-notch, and audience reactions have been as rewarding as they've ever been for any show I've ever done. (If you've already seen the show, by the way, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!)  I'm really gonna miss this one after it's gone.

But instead of thinking about that, I'll think about our four remaining performances. There's still time to create unnecessary drama and break apart the amazing cast unity this run has enjoyed.  No more hippy-dippy being respectful of other people's feelings, I'm gonna stir up some trouble for no good reason at all.

Actually, there are better ways of having fun, and one of them is karaoke.  Come see the show this weekend and invite us out to sing with you.  We have no scruples and no self-esteem; we will play with anyone who shows interest.  Also, we'll tell you about our amazing 2011 season!  Perhaps we'll even show you some pre-publicity photos...

See you at the theatre!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bil - Don't Worry

Everyone can agree that seeing live theatre is different from seeing a movie. The first and most important difference is that in live theatre, you aren't forced to watch commercials for a beverage you've already purchased.

The second difference, which is even more important, is that a live show differs from night to night. A lot of theatre companies try desperately to keep each performance exactly the same, but that's not our goal at Dream Theatre.  Our goal is to continually adjust to each and every audience, so that every performance is not only completely unique, but specifically crafted for a given crowd of people.

Obviously, there are advantages to seeing a show at the beginning or at the end of the run.  The run of a show is a living, breathing, evolving, thing – kind of like The Blob.  At the beginning of the run, for example, there is a rawness and a roughness that kind of forces the cast to look more to the audience to tell us what you want.  This gives you, the audience, the opportunity to help shape what you're seeing as you're seeing it.  That's pretty freakin' cool.

Of course, now we're approaching the end of the run of "The Devilish Children and the Civilizing Process," and the feel is somewhat different.  It's the same show, but there is a polished sophistication to the madness.  The cast has figured out how to take our energy and meld it with the audience's energy to create a very intense sort of super-energy.  We've gotten really good at aiming the blood when we use it.  (That's right, there's blood in this show.)  And we're all a little more trusting, not just of each other but of an audience full of strangers and judges.  The energy of the earlier shows was urgency, and now it's more like demonic mania.

There are six performances left.  Each one will be different.  Which one will you see?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chad - The Number 14

Much like Judith, this will be my inaugural blog post and not only for Dream Theatre, but in life in general.  And oddly enough, also 2am.
Let me start by saying that nothing cements a family like a near death experience.  My first show with Dream Theatre was in February of this year, a little double feature known as Aelita and Shiny Boxes written by Bil Gaines and Mishelle Apalategui respectively.  I will admit, here and now, for the first time, that while rehearsing, I just didn’t get it; I didn’t understand the Dream Theatre way.  I thought it was an incredibly interesting approach to theatre and I had a lot of fun during rehearsals, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the hell Gesture meant, or why my precious Fourth Wall had to be gone.  It was frustrating and under other circumstances I probably would have finished the run and gone on my merry little way, not knowing what I was missing out on.  But then something magical happened.  On opening night one of the actresses injured herself onstage and couldn’t continue the show, so the remaining three actors had to finish the second act minus a crucial character.  The ending, which should have been a duet between myself and my then concussed wife, had to be morphed into a monologue which I delivered straight to the audience.  And that’s how it happened.  I understood.  The audience had become my other actor and I looked to them for the strength to finish, and not only did they give it to me, but they came with me down the aisle, out the door and all the way over to Italy for some romance and olives.  It was a truly horrifying experience and I absolutely loved every second of it.  It’s hard to think that without that experience, I would just be another lowly actor drifting through the eternal doldrums of Chicago theatre without ever experiencing what true theatre can be and without knowing what truly amazing art everyone in this company is capable of. 
I love this Theatre Company so damn much, and am so grateful to Anna and Jeremy for letting me grow and play with these amazing artists.  And I would also like to thank Megan, your glass jaw is the reason I’m a better actor today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

John Wanders In

I'm John Enright, and I entered the Dream by what seems an odd route, starting in 2003 as an audience member of their shocking Sister 121. I went on to write a multitude of enthusiastic blog posts about the company's productions. Over time I got to know some of the company's talented members.

In 2009 I asked Jeremy Menekseoglu for advice when I wanted to produce my first full length play. He was extremely generous with his time, directing the piece and performing in it too! I found him and other company members a joy to work with.

Now I find myself making an appearance on stage in the company's production of Devilish Children. This is the oddest turn of all, since my acting resume is fairly small, compared to the rest of the cast. But I'm having a blast.

Anna - The Managing Director

AnnaLou Weiler Menekseoglu (Managing Director, Production Design Manager)

Here are things I do for Dream Theatre Company (pretend they are all verbs): act, direct, light, set, paint, costume, prop, make-up, hair, sew, craft, taxes, pay bills, box office manage, press relate, market (really poorly, I’m really, really bad at marketing), liaise with contractors and grantors, ask for money, set up meetings, clean, relieve disasters (floods, etc), comply with laws, meet the neighbors, etc…
Things Dream Theatre Company does for me: art, love, soul, strength, practice meeting people (boost confidence and social skills), make me a leader, make me part of a community, etc…
Before I joined Dream Theatre Company (sometime around 2003 with a short gap and then return) most of my personal and professional energy was spent spinning in circles. I had no focus with plenty of drive and creativity, but if you take a crayon and run around in circles with it, you won’t get much coloring done. Out of necessity I have learned about the Government, the world of Not-For-Profit, and the Chicago Theater Community. Out of desire I have learned how to act in an entirely new and effective style, create theatre and art in many levels. I have grown up, focused my energy and as a direct result have created the most compelling and profound art of my life. Not to mention that the other members of Dream Theatre Company have become my self-chosen family.
My favorite art (some specifics, though I believe that all parts of the art are related, these things changed me):
1.       The Box – Though there were 2 different versions, Joanna’s torture box from SlowAnna in both versions changed my view of torture, education and safety.
2.       The World of Baby Killers, The – The black and white scale of the environment (lights, sets, props, costumes, etc.) of Baby Killers, The gave me new perspective and enlightenment on the cohesiveness that is necessary for a theatrical production to succeed as an art form. Our crew was very small and so was our budget, but with a few well made decisions the aesthetic we created put audience in a world where they themselves felt ‘Dickensian’. Every element of every show I have worked on since then, I think of the cohesiveness of that show.
3.       Ismene – Playing the character Ismene in Ismene transformed me as an actress to a new level of understanding relationship between actor and audience. I will never not be present and aware of audience again since that show. I am unable to turn that awareness off, and though it can sometimes be scary, it is the core of the Dream Theatre style.
4.       Madame Purdie’s corset – That was a discovery in sewing and construction that I reached while making this piece for Black Duckling where I had a moment of great revelation. I CAN MAKE A COSTUME OUT OF ANYTHING!
There is more, but that is all I will share for now.

Jeremy - Who in the Hell do I think I am?

A little about me:

I am the Artistic Director and one of the original founders of Dream Theatre Company. I am a playwright, director, actor and designer.

My experience with Dream Theatre:

The company was founded in Moscow in 1998 and then went on a string of insane adventures where the four founding fools of this company realized that even though we had all come together with this idea, we had completely different desires. One wanted to do Shakespeare. One wanted to act in other productions. One wanted to do all original work. One didn't really care which we did. It wasn't until 2003, when Dream Theatre came to Chicago, that, in my mind, it truly began. Or, more appropriately, truly went through a trial by fire to see if it could actually continue. I'm happy to say that the company is still here. That, even though the 3 other founders have gone to follow their own dreams, I'm still here.

Over the years, I discovered a group of artists who feel the way that I do about theatre. And together we've recreated Dream Theatre. Back in Moscow, the 4 founding members came together and had an idea about a new way to bring the joy of  theatre into our lives and then to the audience's, but this new group of company members that we have today are the true founders of this company. They are the reason that Dream Theatre is no longer just an idea.

And we continue to develop our style. We continue to develop ourselves as artists.


Go and see The Devilish Children and The Civilizing Process if you haven't already. Go and see what we do. And when the next show comes out, come see us again. We are constantly changing and constantly growing and constantly finding our voices. In the years to come, dear audience, we hope that you will have been a part of that too.

Jeremy - Unfinished and The Pink Notebook

This season we are bringing a new festival to Dream Theatre. It is called THE PINK NOTEBOOK and will focus on a playwright's unfinished work. The festival will consist of 5, fully directed, pieces of plays that have been "given up on" by a Playwright... The goal is for the Playwright to see "once and for all" if the script is still alive inside them.

I've been looking at some of my Dead Shows wondering what I want to choose. I was depressed to see how many there were...

But what to pick?

Braces Down: (once called The Racist) about a Skinhead and his Black Neighbor who through some terrifying events come to respect, and almost love, one another. (I finished Act One and then it died.)

Lysistrata: About a new take on the play where there are no men and the women are artificially inseminated by this psychotic woman who, since she has all the semen and a huge revolver, that she is the alpha male and do whatever she likes. (It died because I strayed so far away from my original idea of writing a new version of Lysistrata, that I backed myself into a corner.)

The Afterlife of Captain Hook: I use to dream about finishing this one, but one night I just couldn't have the dream anymore...

Army of the Sun: about chimpanzees living in a preserve that decide to reject the human's food and revert back to hunting tribes and cannibalism. It died because one person said "I don't get it." That's a stupid reason to not finish, but at the time, it was enough.

Audience Annihilated: about a theatre where a massacre had taken place during the only performance of a play written by a girl who immediately killed herself, and a group of actors, years later, who decide it would be an amazing idea to put the play up again. They're wrong. (Died because... I don't even remember...)

And so many more... Almost 60...

Is it right to try and resurrect a dead script?

I've always believed that the best way for me to write was to be able to know when to let a script die and not flog it for months and years. If it dies, then it wasn't meant to be. Your ideas aren't dead though- they'll just be incorporated into a better idea.

But! I can remember the joy of falling trough the paper with a lot of these, and I just want to make sure that I did the right thing. Hell- at worst- it'll just be nice to see 10 pages of whatever I choose up on stage for a few final performances before returning to the grave forever.

I believe that this festival will be a pretty profound experience for all of my fellow playwrights. So get ready to submit that dead work in a few months!

And then we'll just have to see what happens...

Judith- I'm only three. But I think I understand...

Where to begin...   first of all I must admit that this is my first blog post...ever.  In the history of blogging.  So keep that in mind as you read.    Second of all.  It is 2am.  So there's that.  But I will continue...

It is true...that Dream Theatre has changed my life.    It is also true that no where else in Chicago do you get to be a part of such amazing, innovative, inspiring, creative, imaginative, insert other  incredible adjective here, work.     I first worked with Dream Theater in 2006 on their production of ANTIGONE and I cannot express how much that production and the process behind Dream Theatre productions affected my perception  of acting.    I have had the opportunity, with Dream Theatre, to play roles and explore characters that I know an actress of 27 would not have had the chance to play otherwise in Chicago.    

The current production of THE DEVILISH CHILDREN is no exception.   The raw energy and emotion that I feel coming from the Devilish Children as Little Karl Age 3 is not something that cannot be explained.  It is something that needs to be experienced.   And you know how you can experience it?   Come and see the show.  Experience the Devilish Kinder and the lessons they have for you.   No two audience members have the same experience.     What will yours be?    Will you deserve your Christmas box?

And really what I want to say most of all is thank you Jeremy.  Thank you Anna.   Thank you Dream Theatre.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bil - An Introduction to Gaines the Actor

"…a glimpse of what Gaines the actor can do." 

"Gaines the actor" is a running joke at Dream Theatre.  It comes from a critic's review of Medea, my first show at Dream Theatre, and the first show in the Pilsen space way back in 2008.  It was a pretentious remark then, and it would still be a pretentious remark today if the review was still online...but alas, it's disappeared into the abyss of online theatre reviews, never to be seen again.

Somehow, the pretentiousness of it has been transferred directly onto me, and the more it gets said, the more it feels like I was the one that said it first.  Soon I will have to start acting pretentiously around them just to maintain my dignity.

Something you may not have known: you can pick up a button with my mug on it for your hoodie or your European-style carry-all if you come see the show that's playing right now!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bil - No Need To Need

Yep, even cooler than this one.
There's a photo shoot today for the Dream Theatre Company 2011 season.  Remember how cool the 2010 season photo shoot turned out? ☞
Well, this one promises to be even cooler.

And, of course, we have another performance tonight.  We had one of our biggest audiences of the run so far last night, but on Thursday we had one of our smallest audiences of the run.  Aw.  Don't despair, accountants and art lovers, this turned out to be a very good thing.  The show was incredible, and for perhaps the first time the entire cast found the exact balance of being tuned in to ourselves and being attentive to the audience.  We never overpowered them with intensity, and we never underwhelmed them by being too distant.  It's hard to describe, so I'll just say the audience members spoke to us after the show, and I think we have some new permanent fans.

The relationship between audience and actor is one of the most important things in this company's acting style, and Jeremy's scripts tend to present the necessary opportunities to play without the proverbial 4th wall.  It's not about breaking the fourth wall with cheeky winks and outward-turned interruptions of the scene.  It's about letting the audience exist where they are the entire time, and acknowledging their presence when it makes sense.  It's about treating them like gods without praying to them or begging them for favors.  So when we've got a small audience, it actually turns out to be easier when it comes to giving them attention – but it's a tricky balance, because we mustn't make them uncomfortable.

Talk to the doll...if you dare.
We've all got those needy friends who demand our attention, and once they've got it they use it to ask for attention.  You know those people.  I think we've all seen plays, too, where the actors try so hard to act and impress us that we feel obligated to clap at the end and compliment their hard work after the show, when all we really feel is like they've got their hands around our throats and they won't let go.  That's what we try to avoid.  We don't want to be needy actors.  We just want you to enjoy your experience.  It can be as personal as you need it to be.  You can also talk to us for hours and hours after the show if you want.  Mostly, we want you to feel like a human being.

If we fail at that, won't you please let us know?  We should know.  There's no point in letting us carry on like a bunch of idiots.  Leave a comment or e-mail us directly (annainthedarkness at gmail).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bil - Talkin' 'Bout Conrad

Annelise Lawson has gone above and beyond in her understudy duties with this show. Not only has she memorized all the lines for Conrad, she's memorized ALL THE LINES.  She can reenact the entire show all by herself, Dario Fo style.  It's kind of amazing.

I've never had an understudy before, and I really didn't like the idea of telling someone okay, this is how I do it, try and mimic me the best you can.  So Annelise and I did a little bit more of sharing the character creation.  And since she's going on for me while I sit on my couch with tissues up my nose and a ton of vitamin C sources at arm's length, I thought I'd take this time to post a video made from a rehearsal we had, with audio clips of a conversation Annelise and I had recorded on an old-school cassette tape, talking about our experiences learning to act like a child.  Check it out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bil - Soon, babies, soon...

Well! What a tornado of activity...this poor, poor company blog has been put aside while we work on actual activities in the real world. Since the wedding of Jeremy & Anna, the cast of "The Devilish Children" (and assorted Dream Theatre technicians...meaning, of course, Giau Truong) have created quite possibly the most beautiful and haunting lobby for the theatre, as well as the biggest and most literal set Dream Theatre has ever seen. It's strikingly beautiful as a run-down children's theatre stage, complete with wings and a backdrop that look like they've been rotting there for centuries. It all started off so pretty, but these artsy types have really just utterly destroyed it. It's really something.

Personally, I've been meaning to post a recorded conversation between myself and Annelise, since we've sort of been developing the character of Conrad together. It's a really cool recording (on a real cassette tape, just like the previous century) but I wanted to get some footage of a rehearsal placed over the audio, and sadly I haven't been able to make the time yet. But I fully intend to have it this week, before we open--

That's right, Thursday is our glorious opening. "The Devilish Children and the Civilizing Process" opens this Thursday. Our children have gone from roguish clowns to sweet innocent children and back again throughout the last week or so of rehearsals, which would ordinarily make one pause and worry that maybe we're not ready. But Thursday is a long way off, and our cast is so in tune with each other lately that I can't help but feel excited.

Straight up excited. Not at all worried.

I simply cannot wait to start showing this play to our audiences. It's hilarious and horrifying and achingly endearing all at once.

Major props, by the way, to our newest company member, Annelise Lawson, who is responsible for a huge portion of the pretty paint jobs inside the theatre. She is not only an incredibly talented artist and performer, but she's the type of person who's always learning. She currently has a marketing internship with a very well-reputed opera company and she takes classes at night. She's all over this damn town. Keep your eyes on this one, critics and audiences, she'll steal your fucking heart.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

John - The Wedding

A wedding is a solemn ceremony, but it is also a theatrical event, and today Dream Theatre boasted a packed house as Anna Weiler and Jeremy Menekseoglu were married on stage.

I was surprised to learn, upon arrival, that Dream Theatre company members were being asked to stand on stage during the ceremony. I've never "stood up" for someone's wedding before, but I was honored to do so.

Anna had written her vows in truly charming rhyme. Jeremy's vows were a short story about how he fell in love with her.

After the ceremony, came the toasts, and the toasts just kept coming, most of them stunningly heartfelt.

Their hands were united, and the crowd was delighted.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Annelise - gettin' devilish

So, for the past couple of weeks, we've been building our set and cleaning the space.  It's been an involved process.  Tonight, I found myself getting a little, well, loopy.

At one point later in the evening, Jeremy pretended to come at me with a rusty screwdriver.  Now, generally, I'm afraid of being stabbed, so I backed off (in an over-excited way, I'll admit).  The reaction was odd enough that I was come at again and again, and again and again I over-reacted. As my reaction got more and more exaggerated, I found the whole situation funnier and funnier, to the point where the screwdriver only had to be picked up for me to collapse (literally) in a fit of laughter and shrieks. 

My point? Looking back on the event, it seems a lot like something from the world of the Devilish Children.  After spending enough time with a small group of people, my fear of stabbing became a game.  I realized that the kinder's enjoyment of Little Karl's misery is not always sadistic; they've spent so long in their own little world that everything new has the potential to become a joke. Even fear is funny.

Friday, October 1, 2010

John - Playing in the Dark

We started tonight with the dialog fragments exercise - which I'm bad at. Actors just start speaking lines from the play to each other - not necessarily their own lines - not necessarily addressed to the usual recipient. I heard all the basic relationships played out, and all the key moments in the play visited at least once. But not in sequence.

I think I'd like to sit in on a fragments exercise for a play I don't know. Then I would amuse myself trying to reconstruct the plot. It would be like taking a shredded letter and piecing it together.

From the fragments the cast spontaneously morphed into a full rehearsal of the play - in the dark. Well, not completely. We all had little flashlights. And there was a candle. So there was light a-plenty, in fact. It was the fastest, most fluid version of the play I've seen so far.

You sometimes hear, from theater people, that the real fun is in rehearsal. Perhaps it's because so much of the original creativity takes place there. Yes, there's often moment-to-moment creativity during a play's performance. But during rehearsal you see the big leaps take place before your eyes, which is always a pleasing surprise.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

John - Sounds on the Set

Our director has been rehearsing his own role onstage with a music remote in his hand. So even though Devilish Children is still 4 weeks from opening, most of the scenes are already being played with musical accompaniment, which is quite a charming effect. I have the impression most of the actors find it helpful. I certainly do, for my little turn on the stage.

I almost wrote "Herr Director" for "our director," so accustomed am I becoming to the German accents and words which the cast is working with. In the first weeks of rehearsal, the cast sometimes reverted to some sort of Cockney accent, or French, or Swedish. But no more. They've locked the right country into place in their brains.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bil - We Are Master Builders

Read it in the Reader!
In case you haven't already heard, "Devilish Children and the Civilizing Process" has been named a Best Bet from the Fall Arts Guide in the Chicago Reader. Thanks, Reader!

In hopes of living up to the Reader's prediction, we've been working furiously not only to memorize our lines, but also to build the set.  We've also been working really, really, really, really hard to find our characters.  Since our characters are all children, we've been trying to find innocence, immediacy, and the ability to switch emotions in the blink of an eye.
You'll never guess which colors we chose.

Unfortunately, we've been working both projects at the same time, and now it looks like our set was constructed by a bunch of toddlers.

That's okay, though.  We'll milk that charm and run with it.

This is possibly the first proscenium stage that most of us have worked on in a long, long, time.  It's certainly Dream Theatre's first proscenium stage, even though it's just a mock proscenium set inside our big black box.  It's more of a beast to work with than we all remembered; all those basic acting things like "cheat out to the audience" and "speak loudly and clearly" are now heightened, and our the wings of the set present a unique-to-us (but actually quite normal) logistics problem.  So, in another Dream Theatre first, we actually spent today writing down our entrances and exits, and placing chalk outlines where our props are supposed to be set.  IT'S LIKE WE'RE PROFESSIONAL OR SOMETHING.

But if you're thinking Dream Theatre is trying to turn itself into the next big Broadway house, you're wrong.  This set is no ordinary set, and our story is no Eugene O'Neill rip-off.  We're not aiming for "professional" in the stuffy sense of the word, we're aiming for "prepared."  Being prepared is the only way we're going to blow the audience's unprepared minds.  This is one tricky play, and we're gonna burn through it like a comet through the stratosphere.  We need to be precise in our execution.  We need to be all grace and manners.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bil - Ass

I was thinking about assumptions recently in a rehearsal, and it dawned on me all of a sudden that our little social clique of Devilish Children makes an assumption in the beginning, when we first encounter Little Karl and his Vati (father). It can't be helped, everybody makes assumptions when we first meet new people.

So, in the course of the rehearsals, I had decided subconsciously that we all (or at least I) hated Vati right away and would sympathize with Little Karl, him being a poor young boy being scolded by his mean father.

But it occurred to me the other day that it makes more sense if the Devilish Children immediately assume that Vati is correct, and consequently we'd immediately assume that Little Karl is an asshole. This is why we take it upon ourselves to torment him with education.

It's okay for the audience to decide that Vati is an asshole, but we children must think of him as the proper way to be. Vati's cold demeanor and strict adherence to proper society's rules is what we believe we ought to strive for, and the bad things happen when we break the rules.

"Devilish kinder are not tolerated in civilized society."
It takes the show's "prison" element to a whole new level. We see so often, especially in American literature and cinema, the prisoners' tendency to band together against "the man."  It would have been easy and boring for us to fall into that mentality, so to make things more watchable, we're now taking this question with us: "What happens if the prisoners agree that they ought to be imprisoned, and try to emulate their wardens?" We use our unique story talents to convince the new prisoner that he's wrong about his situation.

What we get when we do this is a society of prisoners teaching each other, and the wardens – adults, in this case – become absent and irrelevant.  Can't say at this point whether the absence begets the irrelevance, or vice-versa; for now, though, it doesn't matter.  The important part is that we children teach another child how to behave the way we believe is correct.  (Think "Lord of the Flies" here.)  We don't try to escape, and we don't cry up about our own innocence.  Because when you assume your own make an ass out of you and me. (Right? Right.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bil - Photos Shot

After a rambunctious, caffeine-filled Saturday preparing for Theatre of Women 5, capping the night with sold-out performances and massive artistic satisfaction, the cast and crew of The Devilish Children & the Civilizing Process quietly got together and created some "tasteful" photographs for our "humble" marketing campaign. We had a chance to calm down and reflect on the festivities of the night before.

This is what we look like when we're calm and reflective:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Annelise - photo shoot

Today we took photos for posters, etc. The coolest thing about the experience was seeing everyone build the physical exteriors of their characters. I realized that we've already created a visually rich mental world for the action of our play. It was a real treat to see it realized today!

More impressive? During the portions of the shoot that I was able to see, each and every cast member projected their characters through the minutest details of their respective facial arrangements, even though most of us have been living with these children for a comparatively short amount of time. I was reminded of what an incredibly talented group of actors I'm getting to work with.

Finally, I personally enjoyed playing Sigi's look today. It was like being a child myself: playing dress-up with the heirloom clothes up in the attic and letting my imagination take over. More importantly, experiencing that sense of play again made me appreciate the seriousness of the world of "Devilish Children." Nothing is too horrible or too wonderful to exist in the Devilish Children's theater, because the scope its reality is as wide as a kind's imagination (very wide indeed).

The crux of these impressions? I think "Devilish Children" is going to pack quite the physical, visual, and emotional punch. I can't wait for our next rehearsal!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Annelise - say what you mean to say!

Hey all, Annelise here! I’m playing Sigi Sleeplessness/Awakedness and understudying Conrad. I’m still a little new to the Dream Theatre (I started working with them this past March), so I’m excited for this process!

Tonight’s rehearsal really brought home a few things about technique that I’ve learned from Dream Theatre in the past six months. It was the first time I got to take a crack at Conrad (with admittedly mixed results). In a way this jumps off Michelle’s lovely post about how to act like a child.

Most adults, myself included, have these lovely layers we drape over what we think or feel. For example: adults who observe the rules of propriety don’t cry in public (as the Devilish Children tell us). If someone whom Person A loves puts her down, she will process the insult, feel the hurt, cover it with a fa├žade of composure, and change the subject to something quotidian, like the weather. Nevertheless, it’s likely that an undertone of A’s hurt will carry through and she’ll still sound a little upset. As an actor playing that situation, I’d normally identify those hurt feelings, get comfortable with them, and cover them back up with the civility. Children, on the other hand, don’t do that. Most children haven’t fully internalized all the rules of normal social conduct. They wear their hearts right on their sleeves. So it seems as though playing a child should be easier, right? Just leave out that last step, don’t cover up the emotions!

Sadly, it wasn’t that simple tonight, mein Lieblings, primarily because as an adult, I’ve already internalized the rules of socially appropriate behavior as part of my acting technique! I’m used to adult characters who rarely say what they really mean (at least in contemporary texts), and so have a knee-jerk reaction hide my character’s full emotional world: I think what my character really means, then cover it up a little bit. So tonight, I read Conrad looking for both the emotion and a way to cover it up at the same time! Yikes!

It’s my thought that to play a child, you have to speak on the thought. Young children don’t have an internal monologue – they say what they mean when they mean it. You can’t really play a child honestly by placing yourself in the child’s situation and bringing the character down to you. If you try to do that, your adult brain will run amok with the clarity of your character’s thought process. You truly do have to lift yourself up to the character and alter the way you mind works (check out Jeremy’s post on the 4 rules of acting).

One last fragment of a thought: the children in this school, though they know the lessons of the civilizing process through and through, have not fully internalized them. They do have some adult qualities, for example the ability to deceive, but they also have moments when they revert back to their child-like straightforwardness and play. They seem more like they’re in limbo between the children that they were before they came to the school and the little ladies and gentlemen they’ve learned to be.

Anna - Theatre of Women 5

This is our 5th year for Theatre of Women and our 3rd 24 hour festival at Dream Theatre.
I am excited to announce our Writers, Directors, Actresses and Artists for this year's festival!

Writers arrive only 24 hours prior to the performance and write all night. Actresses and Directors work all day to prepare and the show is performed that evening.

Giau Truong and Chad Sheveland will be designing the show and running Tech.
Rachel Martindale and Annelise Lawson will be designing the lobby and running the House.

the show runs only twice: 9/11/10 at 8pm and 10pm

This year we asked actresses: "What is your dream role, what do you never get to play and wish you could, what turns you on?"
The writers' challenge is to write those characters into their stories.
The actresses will be asked to push themselves to what they always wanted to be.

play 1 - by Randall Colburn directed by Kaitlen Osburn
starring: Amanda Batterson, Samantha Affram & Emily Harpe

play 2 - by Anna Weiler directed by Eileen Tull
starring: Caitlin Chuckta, Laura Kruegel, Alexandria Frenkel, Katelin Stack & Megan Captaine

play 3 - by Mishelle Apalategui directed by William Bullion
starring: Megan Merrill, Joanna Bess, Meredith Rae Lyons & Dayna Shrader

play 4 - by Lani Montreal directed by Britnee Ruscitti
starring: Sarah Bockel, Sarah Welborn, Stephanie Limesand & Molly Todd

play 5 - by Bil Gaines directed by Nathan Robbel
starring: Candice Johnson, Kristen Noel Glogowski & Denise Smolarek

play 6 - by John Enright directed by Lance Brett Hall
starring: Jelisa Morgan, Judy Steele & Heather Joireman

play 7 - by Jeremy Menekseoglu directed by Jason Miller
starring: Judith Lesser, Courtney Arnett, Alicia Reese & Audrey Bertaux-Skeirik

I cant wait to see what imaginative work shows up in this performance!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Jeremy - The History of Theatre of Women

Theatre of Women began as a call to action for actresses. Theatre has always been a male dominated art form where many plays feature male leads while actresses become a sort of accessory. Dream Theatre has always produced shows with a predominately women cast and so decided to produce a play that celebrate the actress. Theatre of Women 1 was a collection of pieces written by Jeremy Menekseoglu where seven actresses took you on a journey into nightmares where the actress played the kind of roles that have historically been reserved for men. The play opened with a large table covered in weapons and each actress would step forward choose a weapon and her scene would begin.

With Theatre of Women 2: the format changed dramatically. Instead of one writer, we brought in 5 and instead of 7 actresses, we brought in 20.

With each Theatre of Women the themes have changed, the roles have become more and more exciting and this now annual event has become a highlight of Dream Theatre’s Season.

The celebration of the Actress. The Power of the Actress. The beauty and virtue of the Actress.

Buckle up my dear Audience, these actresses are about to blow your damn minds!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bil - A Night at the Opera (and Other Places)

The Civic Opera House.
Our rehearsal at the Civic Opera House was a smash success - we went through the first meditation exercise of the rehearsal process for "Devilish Children" and we even got our first scene up on its feet.

We also got a preview of what Sigi Sleeplessness and Sigi Awakedness will look and sound like.

Annelise amuses the crowd.
The meditation exercise is a Dream Theatre process tradition, where the lights go low and the sound comes up, we close our eyes, and typically Jeremy walks us through various points of interest inside the world of the play.  This time around, however, he simply provided sound and let us travel around on our own separate journeys, using only the sounds we hear as the one link between us.  We spent a good deal of time listening to various German songs, or else children making some kind of communal noise (either all crying or all laughing), or in between the highlights, a brooding, deep hum that both moved and didn't move, like the ocean.

This was the first time we'd gone without guidance, and it was also the longest meditation exercise we'd ever done.  Each of us had our own respective idea of who we were and where we went during this time, and the songs and sounds had different effects on all of us.  Some of us started out as our own characters, some of us did not.  Some of us spent a lot of time inside the theatre where these children reside, some of us did not.  Some of us flew, some of us walked.

All of us had some kind of particular revelation about the play.

 Personally, I realized most strongly that the scene where our play takes place – a run-down, dilapidated old puppet theatre in the middle of a nineteenth-century German city – was the most colorful, warm, and safe place we could possibly be.  I started out as a sort of steady-cam-style omniscient presence, not myself or the character Conrad.  The sky was gray and overcast, but the day itself was bright and clear.  I moved slowly from the outskirts of town, where the rich people live, inward, watching the city get dirtier and meaner as I wandered closer to the center.  Buildings got denser and darker as I moved in.

In my mind, I could see the entrance to the theatre as I reached the center, but for some reason I always hesitated to go inside.  With each new song or noise, I'd instead sneak into some place of work, either where back-breaking factory work is carried out, or else a business office filled with unsatisfied middle-class clerks or lawyers or accountants maintaining a brain-numbing bureaucracy; or, if not a place of work, it would be a home, with an over-crowded family inside, all screaming and miserable.

Eventually I did go into the old puppet theatre, and I found our characters (including Conrad) antagonizing Little Karl as they do in this play.

What occurred to me by the end of it was that these children in here have no good cause to escape their theatre-school-prison.  The harshness and misery of the outside world are worse than being locked in a school of manners for children.  And the way we, the children, take it upon ourselves to teach Little Karl to behave properly in society is not for the purpose of preparing him to go back out into that world, but for...some other purpose.  I'm not sure we've decided exactly what.  But part of it involves staying in the school, not escaping.

I don't want to give away the end of the play, so I'll stop here, but I do want to say that this revelation will definitely inform the intentions we have as actors, and ultimately, it'll make us move toward the more interesting choice.

And when that happens, the audience always wins.
A view from the stage at the Civic Opera Studio Theatre.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bil - Dancing in the Street

I know rehearsals are working because I actually remember some of it two days later.  Mainly, the more basic acting points that are so easy to forget, like "don't lose momentum in the middle of a sentence" and "don't forget what's happening in this scene."  I could slap myself in the forehead every time I have to be reminded.  Luckily, these (and other) points have carried over since our last rehearsal.

It's Friday now, and our first two rehearsal were on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The first rehearsal of any Dream Theatre show involves the cast creating the universe of the play so that we're all on the same page.  We've collectively decided that our play takes place in a creepy old medieval puppet theatre in the center of a dingy, dirty, polka-laden, industrial city somewhere in Germany in the mid 1880's.  High society has no tolerance for the whims of naughty children.

Our second rehearsal centered around Romping Polly, whose tragic tale involves carelessness on the same level as this romping gangsta:

Since it's early in the rehearsal process, there's still lots of figuring-out going on.  In this scene, I play Conrad playing Romping Polly's older, more distinguished brother.  Something occurred to me after I left the rehearsal that stuck with me: these children are putting on a show.

Herr Director has been telling us over and over (and I hope he continues to tell us) that this is not children's theatre.  It's not grown-ups acting like children for the sake of relating to children in order to teach them lessons.  Neither are we satirizing this particular pillar of society.  Our world is very real, and the things that happen are quite real, but at the same time, they comprise several layers of theatrical performance.  It's a little bit absurd, a little bit realism.  There needs to be this balance of delightful humor and appalling horror – like having fun dancing in the street, only to get hit by a passing ice cream truck.  I guess we'll have a clearer idea of what this means as we figure out even more along the way.

Tonight we rehearse in the Lyric Opera of Chicago building.  I've never even been in there, let alone seen a show there, let alone rehearsed a show that had nothing to do with the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  This should be fun...or scary.