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Lucy’s Forbidden Fruit Salad

December 15th, 2011 No comments

Loneliness is the key ingredient of the fruit salad I am about to prepare for you.

Wrapped up the Writing from Character workshop this evening at CPT and it was a blast.

The evening started out much as the evening started Monday with a lot of intense movement work. This time we were in Parish Hall, so we had quite a bit more space and a nice wood floor to move around on. We started in a circle and did a quick refresher on names and then moved on to Sun Salutations. Again, I was happy that my P90X work came in handy–as I felt like I was working straight out of CardioX. We started with some pretty intense yoga salutations that increased in speed. There was a little bit of plyo in the jumping–you know, we mixed it up; because variety is the spice of life. Sorry, channeling Tony Horton. Next we imagined that the large expanse of floor was gridded up at 90 degree angles. We all moved along in lines, redirecting when we encountered others. We played with tempo (speeding up our movement and slowing down); we played with spatial arrangements; we kept each other in our soft vision areas–periphery–and mimicked each other; we changed our core body positions in height: slinking down, rising up, crawling, tumbling, jumping. The sweat was pouring off all of us when we were finished, and I know that my legs will be sore tomorrow.

We took a break and then came back in costume: dressed as our personas from Monday. We walked about as before, getting a sense of ourselves in our characters. Then Jeffrey divided us into groups. We were charged with creating a 5 minute ensemble piece in :50 minutes which we then performed for the other groups. For those of you who’ve seen Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, you have a sense already of what the pieces were like, as they revolved around the creation of one course of a meal. For those of you who haven’t seen Conni’s, your time is running out. Very like Conni’s, the segments that we created had to have several components: 1) we were working with food, so we had to create a dish (the food was very basic: carrots, boiled eggs, apples, lemons, nuts, etc.); 2) the dish that we created had to fulfill a need of one of at least one of the characters in our group; 3) there had to be a song; 4) audience participation was greatly encouraged; 5) something in the piece needed to reveal more about each of our characters (deepen them); 6) there should be movement involved (i.e. no static tableaux); 7) we had to work together to create the piece, accepting as much as possible all ideas, suggestions. It was a challenge.

Fortunately, I worked with a great team. A great team! I was in a group with Lynna Metrisin, who was fantastic in my thesis play Patterns and who directed Cat Kenney’s play that ran on the same bill as mine in Springboard; Katie Nabors, who recently starred in The Underpants at the Beck Center; and the always fabulous Lauren B. Smith of concon fame. Our short piece centered on getting love for Lucy (Smith). This was accomplished by the other characters: Luna (Katie) my “hay rollin” cousin from the farm days; Bernie (Metrisin) who played a dispirited Browns fan turned coach for our team; and myself, Schnitzel Fritz: ponderer extraordinaire, who happens to be skilled at animal husbandry. Our piece started with a quick dance routine that was energetically and spontaneously created by Luna. The dance involved using paper plate bowls in either hand, choreographed movements, clapping of plates, and a quick spin around our protagonist, Lucy, as she sang about her need for love. Bernie, Luna, and I then gave Lucy a quick going over as we circled around and concluded that she needed a “stud,” whom we obtained from the audience (Randy Muchowski–who is an Actor Teacher at Great Lakes Theater Festival and who is also fantastic). Luna blew up a latex glove and Fritz gave Randy a quick instructional session on handling large breasts and how to clench a nipple firmly while pulling: Luna was quite inspired. We then guided Randy to a nearby dinner table where Lucy awaited his company. Luna dolled out some dishes to the audience while the two love birds at their appetizer course. Luna and Fritz then served up the “Intercourse” segment of the meal, but not before presenting it to the audience for inspection. Luna carried a thick, long carrot with two appropriately placed hardboiled eggs at the base; while Fritz carried a plate with the nippily ends of two lemons upward and a succulently halved and spread red pepper resembling another portion of the human anatomy. The meal was the generative portion of the supper which, after being presented to the dining pair was eaten with great enthusiasm, culminating in the orgasmically spontaneous noshing of an apple by Lucy. Then she was sleepy and laid down upon Randy. Later Lucy was heard to say that while it was not love, it was satisfying.

Such was our stint into the dynamic world of character creation and character in action, a la Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant!

Standardized Child TM

October 15th, 2011 No comments

Springboard a staged reading festival


Standardized Child in Springboard

Went and saw Claire Robinson May’s new play on Thursday night at Springboard. It is worth taking a look at.


Springboard is CPT’s new festival of staged readings so you need to be aware that these productions are staged readings and not full productions. That being said, CPT is taking an new approach to staged readings and not allowing the boring old “music stand” approach to be the dominant factor. In fact, the directors and actors are encouraged to attempt to get as much into the “full boll” of a real production as possible.

That being said, all should remain aware that staged readings are a public presentation of unfinished work and that there is a lot of fat still on the meat. Claire’s play is no exception. There is a lot going on in this: a lot of good stuff that needs to be focused.

The story in short is about a couple that cannot conceive. So they go to a newly created company that offers robot children and adopt. The “standardized children” are pre-programmed to be successful in standardized ways–good at standardized tests, rote learning, core and fundamental sports and painting techniques, etc. However, they lack the capacity for “creative” thought: they can do as they are programmed, but cannot be spontaneous or operate outside of the bounds of their installed software set.

That being the premise of the play, the play itself is really about some tough themes, themes that were discussed quite passionately. One group of thoughts was that the play is about control. That raising children is about controlling children–after all, children are projections of ourselves into the world and parents attempt to shape their children to be what they want them to be. Society attempts to control children (and parents) and to have them raised according to precepts that are important to society. In discussion, Raymond Bobgan raised the point that public education in the US was never about educating children so much as it was about creating a workforce for industry–and the approaches to education reflect that attitude: standardized, rote, uniform, etc. Another theme that I picked up on is that of connection–or attempts to connect. Throughout the parents who have adopted the robot child attempt to connect with the child in ways that the child is not capable of. In many ways the parents end up projecting their emotional desires onto the child. Additionally, the parents themselves have some work to do in how they relate to each other, a fact that becomes painfully obvious as the play moves forward.

Claire does a wonderful job of keeping the pace of the play moving forward and she has a wicked sense of humor that makes the play as funny as it is serious.

Go tonight

If you’re looking for something to do tonight, get over to CPT and check out Standardized Child, it starts at 7:00 in the James Levin Theatre.

I also have to give a shout out to Debbie Keppler who does a great job as the confused and emotionally distraught mother. Debbie was my lead, Asa, in Patterns at CPT in March.

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