Archive for the 'progress reports' Category

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.

another video clip

October 22, 2006

Here’s another video clip from the show — Hamlet with Yorick’s skull.

Read the rest of this entry »

new photos

October 17, 2006

The photo call photos finally arrived today. I’ve posted a bunch of them to my flickr page. Here’s a sample:

marcellus

ophelia3

funeral

mad scene

Yorick

Poor Yorick

September 24, 2006

I loved this show.

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

video

September 10, 2006

Once again, Final Cut Pro is destroying my life. I finally got my camera and computer set up in my new apartment, and I’ve started editing the Hamlet footage. As usual, the video quality leaves a lot to be desired. But I’ve found that cutting between multiple cameras makes theatre on video much more watchable. And editing is incredibly addictive for some reason I can’t really understand.

I’m going to edit together the whole play, then go back and cut together a short montage for my web site. I’ll try to post a little something from it soon.

Closing Night

August 12, 2006

It’s officially over.

We apparently had an audience of over 700 last night, back in the park in San Pedro where we opened. Of the performances I saw — less than half — this was definitely the strongest. A beautiful windless night allowed the actors to listen to each other a little more closely, and to hit each moment with the energy it needed without striving against the weather. I sat in the front and just enjoyed the show.

My wife and I leave for Berkeley on Monday.

This has been said a million times in a million ways, but there is a kind of magic that happens with a group of people working on a show. Depending on each other, placing trust in each other, taking risks together, and just rolling up your sleeves and working your asses off together for a few weeks in a row… I don’t know anything else like it. A group of strangers come into a room — or a parking lot — with a common goal. Everyone has something to contribute; the success of the group depends on each individual member working hard, sacrificing time and energy, and taking risks. Sometimes there are people who don’t pull their weight, who keep to the sides and hold back and the group never really comes together. Sometimes it feels like everyone is holding back. Other times, though, it’s a group of adults who have chosen this life because they love the work, and they’re all willing to give what it takes and let down their walls and take the risks and support each other through it.

And at the end, everyone goes their separate ways. On to the next project, or the next city. It’s sad. But it’s the good sad, the healthy sad. It means we came together, we gave it our all, we did a show we can take pride in, and we’re leaving on a high note, wanting more. I hope so much that I’ll be able to work with these people again.

Newport Beach, Photo Call

August 6, 2006

I saw the performance in Newport Beach last night, my first time back at the show in a few weeks. It’s looking good — the actors seem even more comfortable in the text, and they’re attacking their roles with confidence and enthusiasm. It’s been a long summer for them, especially the ones that are also cast in Comedy of Errors. They’re holding up well.

We did a photo call after the show for archive shots; we had two professional photographers. Photo calls on a big show like this always take at least half an hour and can be much longer. It’s frustrating for the actors, especially knowing that after we finish they still have to get out of costume and break down the set. Generally you start from the end of the show and work backwards, because that minimizes the set and costume changes that have to happen. For each set up, the actors get into their positions for a certain moment and then freeze for the cameras. I sometimes have them go slowly through their staging for a key part of a scene. The photographers move around, getting close shots and wide shots.

I had made up a list of all the setups I wanted to get — Hamlet with the skull, the play-within-the-play, Hamlet and Gertrude with the lockets, etc etc etc. I tried to get my list in an order that would allow for all the costume changes that needed to happen. It ended up being a few big moments with large numbers of actors (the ending, Ophelia’s mad scene, the opening tableau, etc), interspersed with moments with just two actors (Hamlet and Polonius with the book, for example) while we were waiting for other actors to finish their costume changes. I think we got some good shots, though afterwards of course I thought of a few more I wish we had done (Horatio about to drink the poison).

It’s all winding down.  Just one more performance.  If you haven’t seen the show yet, please come on down to San Pedro this Friday night!

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.

missing shows

July 5, 2006

It’s a strange feeling to be somewhere else while a performance you’ve directed is going on.  After opening night, I went out of town for a few days and missed the next two performances.  Apparently Saturday night was a great show, with an audience of over 500 and a performance that really clicked.  I wish I had been there.

Now I’m leaving town again, and will miss this weekend’s performances as well.  I won’t see the show again until next week.  I talked to my Hamlet today on the phone; after six weeks of constant contact in rehearsal, suddenly the show opens and we don’t see each other for two weeks.  I’ve also been in email contact with other cast members.

This is how it goes, but it still feels strange.

up and running

June 30, 2006

We’re off!  Opening night was a blast.  The actors did great (a couple of first-time-in-front-of-an-audience hiccups, but nothing anyone would notice).  The set and costumes are gorgeous.  We’re telling the story.  The audience (almost 300 people on a Thursday night) seemed engaged — they were laughing in all the right spots, and there were definitely some tears at the end.  Lots of hugs and kind words and flowers and cards; this is a great group of people.  Much as I’m excited to move home to Berkeley next month, I’m also sad to say goodbye to this crew.

This is not the end of Blogging the Dane.  Lots of catching up to do on posts I never got around to, and who knows what else.  Sometime I’ll probably do a big summary of the whole experience.

This was a good one.