Tuesday, March 29, 2011

VIDEO: Bil Gaines is Terrible at Interviews (The Grisly/Glorious Adventure)

Bil Gaines is the worst interviewer ever. See him try to interview various creatures of the Hundred Acre Woods and just make a fool of himself.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Anna - Grisly Glorious Gala

Friday, March 25th for $25 you can see The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon. Plus after the show you can meet the cast, view some inspired art, meet the artists and have some refreshments.

Now is your chance to ask questions of the writer, hang out with the awesome cast and get the opportunity to share with Dream Theatre Company.  The company wants to share with you! You might even get to have a surprise conversation with your favorite character.

The lobby gallery will feature the work of local artists including Chad Allen, Inha Choe, Evaline Huang, Ariel VandeVoorde and Jean Damen.

See you at Dream Theatre at 8:00pm.  556 West 18th St.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bil - Feedback (Loud and Clear)

On Thursday night I saw the opening performance of "The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and Billy Moon" down in Pilsen, and I can't stop talking about how much I loved it.  Being that I wasn't part of the rehearsal process on this show, and not having seen the completed set, I really didn't know what to expect.  I'd read the script, and I knew the cast and crew are incredibly talented, but still I was surprised.  I can't say enough how proud I am of Dream Theatre Company for making one of the most magical nights of theatre I have seen in a long, long time.  I haven't cried in about ten years, but I came damn close to crying during this play.

I'm still kind of starry-eyed about it, even on a Saturday after not enough sleep all week long.  And of course, I'm thinking to myself: how can I convince people that haven't seen the show that it really is as good as I'm saying it is?

And so, while causally loitering in a Starbucks at a mall in the suburbs like some jerk, I see a note posted on good ol' Facebook blasting theatres in this town for being a bunch of jerks.  I'll repost it here, because I kind of want everybody to read it, but because of the controversy it will inevitably spark, I'll keep it anonymous:

Dear Theatre
Okay I'm not much of one for Facebook notes and publicly stating any sort of real opinion on social media, but I've got something to say. THEATER SUCKS!!! You heard me!  THEATER. SUCKS. I moved to Chicago looking for good theater. Inspiration. Excitement. Passion.... Please. I'd rather go to the dentist. Offended yet? Good. I'm offended by theater. We've forgotten our audience. We've forgotten why we are doing this... or maybe I've just decided that our reason for doing it, isn't good enough anymore.

I look at theaters desperately trying to fill seats as more and more theaters file for bankruptcy. Theaters constantly having talks about how to get the younger generation excited about theater as their subscribers just get older and older. Well honestly... have you tried?

What I see is a group of people so desperate to create a place for their voice to be heard, that they've created an art that only they can appreciate. Its boring. Its heady. Its... uggghhh.

We are living in a time when our lives are bombarded with intensity and tragedy. There is a reason why our generation doesn't seem to want to grow up. We are desperately looking for a release. An escape. Wars, tsunamis, foreclosures. We don't want to think anymore. We have to think every day just to survive.

If you want to up your sales and get the younger generation into your theaters, give them a way to escape. Why do you think Glee is dominating television? I don't know about you, but I just want to be able to find a place where for 5 minutes a day, I can forget that I can barely pay my bills, or that any day now, some country might nuke us. Give people a reason to feel happy again. With divorce rates as high as they are, why would I want to watch another play about an unhappy couple. Show me a love story. Give me reason to believe in relationships.

I will say that the thought provoking plays have a place in this world. Art should be used to make people think. But know who is going to be doing the thinking on the receiving end and remember that this isn't about your crusade. Its about your story. And yes, even in the theater, stories can end in hope. Actors DO know how to smile.

Now can you please try wearing some colors?
You can imagine how offended I was until I read the sentence asking if I was offended yet.  Then it occurred to me that this is feedback from a theatre-goer.

As a theatre artist, especially one in Chicago, it's easy to get defensive and shrug this message off with a how-dare-you-insult-this-great-city and a you-expect-too-much or a you-just-don't-get-it-do-you attitude.

But I refuse to do that.  This message was written in earnest, and posted on Facebook for all theatre and non-theatre personnel to see.


Theatres are businesses, too, and audience members are our customers, and what should a business do if they want to attract more customers?  Listen to customer feedback.

So, yeah, theatre community – looking for ways to attract younger audiences?  Rule number one ought to be: listen to young audience members.

Feedback from younger audiences is rare.  More often than not a young audience will give up on an art form that fails to please rather than make any effort to try & improve it.  What we get with the above Facebook post is almost invaluable.

True, the post is not specific feedback, not geared at any one specific theatre company, but I've always thought of the theatre community as one big family, and so really, this message is for all of us.  We all need to bring the magic.  All the time.  We need to make it worth someone's time and worth their money to come out & see the products of our hard work.  Our time is valuable, but so is theirs.  We need to be accessible.  We need to be open.  We need to be honest.  We need to ditch the egos and create some wonder.  We need to be – in the parlance of our times – awesome.

And I will state once again how proud I am to be part of Dream Theatre Company.  These artists work hard, they make it easy to go see a play, they give the audience a show they'll be thinking about for weeks or even months afterward, and for all the "edginess" and the "fringe persona" of this company, they truly show the goodness of human beings.  It's fun to see plays here.  And after each play, the cast is available to talk to in the lobby, devoid of snootiness and pretensions, and eager to hear whether you liked it or not.
You can talk to them.

But because no theatre company should pretend to be perfect, we remain open to criticism.  If you want something from us that you didn't get or don't think you will get, or anything you think we could do better, please talk to us.  We're here.  We have ears and brains.  We'll use them, I promise.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jeremy - The Strange Relationship of Billy Moon and Christopher Robin

While working on the program I decided not to do a writer's note. I had some things that I wanted to talk about, but I thought it better not to bother you. Sometimes it may be better to just leave you alone and let you sit back and hopefully enjoy yourselves. My work is called dark so damn often that perhaps asking you to "enjoy yourselves" seems like a bad joke coming from me, but I always want you to enjoy yourself. I don't look for the next dark place to lead us into. I just try and tell the kind of stories that are important to me. And for those of you who keep coming back, that are important to you too.

Since we have this blog, I figured that I could say just a few things to any of our wonderful Audience that may be interested. I will try not to spoil anything for you.

The show you will see is not the truth.
Sure there are pieces of the truth. Billy Moon did have a tumultuous relationship with The Great Man Himself. He spoke about it many times in his memoirs and in the press.

"It seemed to me almost that my father had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and left me nothing but empty fame".
-Christopher Robin Milne

That fact as well as other facts are presented in this production, but they are not the truth. I made a lot of assumptions and speculations with Billy Moon's actual psychlogy. I'm sure that I ignored several facts that I could have discovered but decided not to research. I was not interested in telling the biography of Billy Moon. I was not interested in telling the story of Winnie-the-Pooh for that matter. In fact, there isn't one sentence from any Winnie-the-Pooh story past "Oh Bother", "Silly Old Bear" and mentions of certain imaginary places that we know so well. There isn't one sentence from Billy Moon's autobiography or newspaper quotes.

What I was most interested in writing about- was us.

The feelings that we have as children don't go away. They don't simply vanish with time and experience. Who we were at age 7 is who we still are at age 37. (I wanted to say 6, but I just turned 37 dammit and it annoys me.) Our innocent or broken child hangs around. He lives somewhere just behind our eyes. Sometimes his joy comes through, and whoever is lucky enough to be looking at us will see this spark of excitement and wonder. Sometimes his pain comes through and we turn away and hide him from others. Sometimes he simply comes forward and asks us "Why?" Why are you ignoring me? Why are you doing things that you know are wrong? Why aren't you having any fun? Why are you lonely? Why are you ignoring me?

Why do you wish I was destroyed?

Billy Moon's child did not live behind his eyes... He lived happily in a book and was loved by millions... This child, who did not live behind his eyes, was not only living with the kind of innocence and wonder that Billy Moon was not ever allowed to feel, but it seemed that he also took Billy Moon's only friends away with him.

Imagine peering out a window and seeing the child you were and the friends you loved living happily and content, children forever, without you... Never needing you... Never knowing that you were watching... Never even truly knowing that you exist...

Now imagine trying to turn away from that window only to face a crowd of millions wanting their turn to watch the happy child and his silly old bear... And when you push and shove and try and get them to leave you alone, they push back harder telling you that they won't leave you alone. That your child isn't your child anymore. Your bear isn't your bear anymore. Your childhood isn't yours anymore. It's theirs! Theirs! Theirs!

So even though this story is not the truth, I do believe that it was Billy Moon who was always asking his inner child "why?"

For tickets and more information.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rachel - Divine Chaos

This weekend, the cast and crew of The Grisly/Glorious Adventure of Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, and Billy Moon toiled and created and finalized the set and world of the show. I was amazed by the dedication and creativity of all involved. There is something so inspiring in seeing a group of people moving independently and yet all serving the creation of a single goal.

While I worked on upholstering the chair for "the Great Man Himself," Mishelle diligently created her toy rifle for Christopher Robin. I saw Annelise painting branches and making "grass" for the Hundred Acre Woods. While Kristi painstakingly strung beads for the "rain" in the lobby, Chad and Alicia jumped in and tackled the unfinished/unpainted walls and transformed the whole room in the process. Giau and Jeremy fought with, and ultimately conquered the new projector while Anna busily hung and wired lights on the stage.

It was as if I was watching a strange and intricate dance in which each person gave or took space (or tools) as needed.

How wonderful it is that we can all truly own our space, our world, because we took the effort and gave of ourselves in the making of it. We hope you all will come enjoy the fruits of our labors and enter into the wonderful magical place we created together, for you.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ismene Artwork

Just passing along a link to some promo artwork for the different productions of Ismene this May:


Check it out. This project is going to be a hell of a thing.

Need more info on The Ismene Project? Click here.

- Bil

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jeremy - Ismene Chicago

Te Vegas: Illustration by Spent Pencils Toronto

The Chicago Production of ISMENE will be something very special. This will be our fourth time bringing ISMENE to Chicago, and each time we explore new interpretations and dive deeper into this mythos of this fascinating play. ISMENE is the show that started all of my Greek re-imaginings and has always been at the center of their universe. Every play that further expanded on the new rules of our Greek Theatre had to answer one simple question, "Does this stay in the context of ISMENE?" And yet, after producing the new ANTIGONE, MEDEA, THE AGON TRILOGY (AGAMEMNON, ELECTRA and ORESTES) and MEDEA (there is a new MEDEA also on the horizon, but we'll talk about that later) Ismene's world has been completely fleshed out. The rules of this universe are now set in stone.

We (and our Audience who has taken this long journey with us) have walked along so many of these characters. We've stood on the black beach with Medea, we've walked on water and into the ship of death of Agamemnon and Cassandra, we've stood covered in blood, hair and dust in the ruins of Thebes with Antigone, we've crawled into the chorus filled swamp with Electra, and we have even gone to the dead center of Hell and witnessed the very end of everyone and everything...

Although ISMENE was the first play written, to me it has always been the true ending to this long story. And for the first time, we are going to bring our Audience the full realization of that ending. From the earthquake till the final confrontation with fate, we hope that you will leave the theatre truly satisfied with the story's conclusion. I am so happy to bring this show to you.

This time - we are going for our most raw production yet. The Dream Theatre style has changed so much from ISMENE'S now archaic beginning back in 2004. As such a young company it was very clear from the start that we truly didn't know just what the Hell we were doing and what we had discovered. It would take several years before the ISMENE would be realized, and that discovery would open the door to the Dream Theatre style. And so, dear audience, with fresh eyes and years of laboratory style training, we are going to explore the school of Arktoi in all of its shadows and deepest secrets like never before. And you will be right there with us. What should you expect? (Wicked smile.) Trust us. How exactly are we accomplishing this? It's much better if I don't divulge any more. Just know that this is the perfect play to throw open the doors of the New Dream Theatre. From its shaky start to its short lived triumph as part of the ANTIGONE PROJECT (almost 3 years ago now), I promise that this will be our definitive production of ISMENE.

And I for one, can't wait.


About The Ismene Project...

7 cities -- Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, Dublin (Ireland), St. John's (Newfoundland, Canada), Toronto (Ontario, Canada).

8 women directors -- Liz Bragg, Heather Chamberlain, Amy Flood, Sharon King-Campbell, Megan Murphy, Aislinn Ní Uallacháin, Ruth Pe Palileo and Anna Weiler.

1 play -- "Ismene" by Jeremy Menekseouglu of Dream Theatre Company.

1 goal -- Raise awareness and funds to support the heroines who battle breast cancer every day.

The play "Ismene" will open in May 2011 in cities all over the world.