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.