Archive for the 'off topic' Category

Lovers and Executioners

November 9, 2007

My next show opens soon.

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new job, new blog

March 15, 2007

I’ve moved from Marin Shakespeare to Marin Theatre Company, where I am now the Artistic Director of Expanded Programs (which means I’m running Education, Outreach, and Theatre for Young Audiences, for starters). I’ll be directing there this Fall.

Here’s the link for the MTC Blog. I’ll be posting probably twice a week; other contributers include MTC’s Artistic Director and one representative from each production as they happen. This link is an archive of just my posts. Here’s the feed for subscribing.

update

December 5, 2006

Quick update on what’s been happening with me lately:

  • I’ve been editing the Hamlet video in my spare time.  I have a rough cut of the whole play, with four cameras on two different nights.  Now I’m trying to cut a short montage to post on my website — it’s going well but it will be a while because of all the other stuff going on in my life.  Such as:
  • I’ve just been hired to be the stage director on The Crucible‘s Fire Ballet version of the Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet.  I’m collaborating with an amazing group of people, including a choreographer from the San Francisco Ballet, a bboy troupe as the Montagues (the top breakdancer on the west coast is playing Mercutio), a wushu martial arts troupe as the Capulets, fire dancers, a troupe of aerialists, a whirling dervish with a flaming kilt as the Prince, a metalsmith pouring molten bronze wedding rings as Friar Lawrence, swordsmiths making propane-powered flaming swords for the Mercutio/Tybalt fight, and on and on and on.  Tonight the bboys met the wushu troupe for the first time; they had an impromptu dance-off and taught each other how to headspin and wield swords.
  • My job as the Education Director at the Marin Shakespeare Company is going well.
  • I’m going to be a father sometime in the next few days.

So things are exciting and wonderful and crazy.

Poor Yorick

September 24, 2006

I loved this show.

The Animaniacs doing the Yorick scene. Dot does a pretty damn good job translating, too.

Big News

September 20, 2006

I’ve just been hired as the Education Director for the Marin Shakespeare Company. More about this soon.

off-topic

August 22, 2006

My brother-in-law, Reuben Margolin, designed and built this:

It’s a little hard to tell from the photos what exactly is going on here. It’s a giant mechanical wave that undulates hypnotically. It will soon be on display at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It is art.

Going away party

July 15, 2006

I saw the show again last night for the first time since opening. It’s looking good. Afterwards, the actors threw me a going-away party at the local dive bar. It was very sweet — several actors from previous shows I directed in LA and Anaheim over the last couple of years showed up, along with a couple of friends from out of town. Lots of drinking and talking and reminiscing.

I moved to LA three years ago with my wife, who was starting grad school (for Epidemiology) at UCLA. I had just finished my MFA in Directing in Seattle, and had no theatre connections in LA. The first year here was almost completely dry for me career-wise, which was incredibly dispiriting after just having completed an intense three years of training. I was trying to find directing work the hard way: sending out resumes to theaters where I didn’t know anyone. Eventually, I did get a couple of gigs that way, and both those gigs led to more gigs, and then people I met doing those first gigs set me up with other gigs, and I ended up working nonstop for the last two years.

Now my wife is done with school, and we’re moving back up to Berkeley (where we’re both from). I have more connections there, but I’m still expecting a delay before the directing gigs start coming.

Ultimately, I’ve been very lucky in southern California. I’ve worked with amazing, kind, generous, talented, intelligent people, and I’m proud of the theatre that we’ve made. Seeing so many of these people all together last night was humbling and inspiring and wonderful. Here’s hoping my luck continues up north.

Open Letter to the Essay-Needing Google-Searchers Who Have Found My Blog

May 3, 2006

So I have noticed a recent spike in the readership of this blog — closing in on 100 hits a day. Pretty small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but for weeks it was holding steady at about 30. I'm pretty sure, however, that this has very little to do with increased interest in Shakespeare direction in 21st-century Los Angeles and a whole lot to do with Google's special sauce moving me up half a notch in its page rankings for whatever reason.

WordPress gives me access to the search terms that led people to my blog. My first guess was that the actors who auditioned googled my name. And I do get a few hits from people who searched for "Josh Costello," plus a few hits from people who followed the link from joshcostello.com. But the overwhelming majority of my hits come from people searching for things like "plot summary of Hamlet," "why does Hamlet delay," "hamlet loyalty," "what impact did shakespeare have on english," and so on and so forth. (Though one person searched for — I kid you not — "wife fucking Great Dane" and ended up at this blog. …I have no idea what to say about that.)

I teach acting and theatre history, and I don't assign my students a lot of essays. But I do assign research presentations. It's always very obvious to me when my students plagiarize from the web — the information is bad, it's written in a style clearly not their own, and it's exactly the same as a different student's presentation from the previous year's class.

So here's what I have to say to the essay-needing google-searchers who have found my blog:

A) Your teacher knows you are cheating. You are going to get caught. Unless your teacher is completely senile or drunk, your only hope is that she doesn't care any more than you do about your education.

B) The internet is a really bad place to find quality information. I stand by what I've written on this blog, but it's intended for the very specific purpose of directing this particular production and I doubt it could fit whatever question you've been assigned. The web is great, it's incredibly useful — but you can't just trust whatever you read.

C) Here's the real point: Shakespeare is worth learning about. I know Shakespeare seems really boring at first, especially if you have a bad teacher. But there's a reason you've been given this assignment. There's a reason that Shakespeare is still taught in schools 400 years later. There's a reason we keep putting Shakespeare's plays on stage. I'm sure you're busy with school and work and friends and partying and sports and MySpace and everything else, and taking the time to actually wrap your head around a play like Hamlet seems insurmountable. All I can think to tell you is this: it's worth it. Shakespeare is worth the effort. The more time you spend reading Shakespeare and watching and listening to actors performing Shakespeare — if not rehearsing and performing those words yourself — the easier it gets. And eventually you'll have a moment where the words and the sounds of the words and the meaning of those words all come together to form some completely obvious but nevertheless mind-blowing truth, and the whole world will seem different and more meaningful, and you'll realize that Shakespeare did something truly special and you'll feel lucky that Shakespeare did what he did and that you got the chance to witness it.

Or maybe not. That's what happened for me. And that's why I'm spending my life looking for opportunities to work with those amazing words, despite the almost complete lack of financial compensation, job security, and health insurance. I wouldn't recommend following in my footsteps — but the least you can do for yourself is take advantage of being in school and get to know Shakespeare a little bit.

And it wouldn't hurt to buy a ticket and go see some Shakespeare performed live every now and then. If you live in LA, I know a pretty exciting production of Hamlet you can see this summer in a park near you for free.

web design

April 7, 2006

This often happens to me when I don’t have rehearsals every night. I get caught up in ridiculously time-consuming projects, usually having to do with my web site. I realize on some level that it would be a much better use of my time and energy to tidy up the Hamlet script and do some hardcore analysis and preparation, but then someone makes an offhand comment about not being able to find my resume in one click on my website and suddenly my whole week is shot.

So here is the new joshcostello.com. I just posted it, so you may still see the old one if you navigate there right away, especially if you’ve been there recently and haven’t emptied your cache. I think it’s much cleaner, slicker, and easier to navigate. And it only took about 8,000 hours that could have been spent doing something productive.

But maybe this says something about the nature of the director’s brain. Prepping a play is fun, but it’s nothing like being in rehearsal. I have a hard time multitasking — prepping for one project while I’m in rehearsals for another has always been hard for me, because I get so deeply enmeshed in the immediate challenges. When I’m not in rehearsal, I crave that sense of engagement.

…Okay, now this is strange. As I was writing this post, I noticed that there’s an image from my R&G Are Dead production that’s replacing the link to joshcostello.com over on the left part of this site. I have no idea how that happened, or how to fix it. Uh… any actual web designers out there? I just use Dreamweaver and don’t actually know what I’m doing. As the kids are saying on the internets these days: WTF?

off-topic: Caesar photos

March 24, 2006

Just got some great shots from my recent production of Julius Caesar at UC Riverside. They are up for viewing on my flickr page.