Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Announcing the cast of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown


Directors Melanie R. Buchanan and Laurie Russell have announced the cast for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the second production of the 2009-2010 Civic Youth Theatre season at Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette.

The cast includes:

  • Charlie Brown - Jordan Friend
  • Snoopy - Elena Escudero
  • Sally - Annie Ellis
  • Linus - Marcos Cisneros
  • Lucy - Amanda Walker
  • Schroeder - Aaron Brehm

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown opens Friday, November 6 and runs through Sunday, November 8. Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 7 p.m.; the Sunday afternoon performance begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette’s Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org/.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Announcing auditions: The Exonerated

Audition dates have been announced for The Exonerated by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, the second script in Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2009-2010 staged reading series. The first audition will take place Sunday, October 4 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. in the Civic Theatre office at 313 N. 5th Street in downtown Lafayette. The second audition will take place Tuesday, October 6 from 5:30-9 p.m. in the Carole and Gordon Mallett Theatre in the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performng Arts, 552 W. Wood Street on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette.

Director Rachel Lambert is looking to cast the following:

  • 3 African-American males between age 20 and 60
  • 4 white males between age 20 and 50
  • 2 white females between age 30 and 50

All auditioning will be asked to read from the script; copies are available in the Civic Theatre office.

Culled from interviews, letters, transcripts, case files and the public record, The Exonerated tells the true stories of six wrongfully convicted survivors of death row in their own words.

Moving between first-person monologues and scenes set in courtrooms and prisons, the six interwoven stories paint a picture of an American criminal justice system gone horribly wrong - and of six brave souls who persevered to survive it.

The readings will take place Tuesday, December 8 at 7 p.m. in the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette and also on the Purdue University campus on a date and location yet to be announced. Both are Pay What You Can Events.

Announcing auditions: A Christmas Story


Audition dates have been announced for A Christmas Story, the second production in Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2009-2010 MainStage Season. They will take place from 6-9 p.m. on Sunday, October 4 and Monday, October 5 in the Shook Room of the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette located at 101 S. 9th Street.

Director John David Collier is looking to cast the following:

  • 5 boys between age 7 and 10
  • 2 girls between age 7 and 10
  • 2 women between age 30 and 50
  • 2 men between age 30 and 50

All auditioning will be asked to read from the script; copies are available in Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's office at 313 N. 5th Street. No appointment is necessary, but the director asks that everyone - especially youth - arrive at the museum no later than 6 p.m. on either day. People who are unable to attend either scheduled audition date should contact the Civic Theatre office at 765-423-7529.

Humorist Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in Indiana in the 1940s follows nine-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas. Ralphie pleads his case before his mother, his teacher and even Santa Claus himself, at Goldblatt's Department Store. The consistent response: "You'll shoot your eye out."

All the elements from the beloved motion picture are here, including the family's temperamental exploding furnace; Scut Farkas, the school bully; the boys' experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost; the Little Orphan Annie decoder pin; Ralphie's father winning a lamp shaped like a woman's leg in a net stocking; Ralphie's fantasy scenarios and more. A Christmas Story is destined to become a theatrical holiday perennial.

A Christmas Story will open Friday, December 4 and run three consecutive weekends through Sunday, December 20. An additional performance also has been scheduled for Thursday, December 17.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Volunteers needed for 2009 Tour of Terror


The 7th Annual Tour of Terror is fast approaching, and Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette needs help to create this very popular event.

Civic Theatre is looking for volunteers to serve as Tour followers and box office personnel, as well as to donate cookies for refreshment tables in the historic Monon Depot Theatre. If you would like to volunteer, please call the Civic Theatre office at 765-423-7529 or e-mail Managing Director Steve Koehler at steve@lafayettecivic.org.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

In the Wings: Our Town. Meet Margaret Duvall.


Margaret Duvall plays the Stage Manager in Our Town, the first production of the 2009-2010 Civic Youth Theatre season of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The Pulitzer Prize-winning script is by Thornton Wilder.

Margaret has acted in Our Town before: she played Rebecca Gibbs when Purdue University Theatre mounted a production years ago.

"I love its simplicity," she said. "The show is all about the characters and the acting. There's nothing to distract the audience from experiencing what's really going on in the show."

The role of the Stage Manager typically is played by older men, but Margaret explained how she is developing her version of the character.

"The Stage Manager is straightforward, a bit fast-paced and businesslike. The Stage Manager also is rather emotionless," she said. "But at points in the play, she becomes thoughtful. Because of the contrast, those moments are more potent."

Margaret concluded by describing the emotional impact of the scene in which Emily Webb, played by Sydney Cason, travels to the world of the living and then returns to the cemetery.

"The scene is beautifully written by Thornton Wilder and the way it's directed ... it'll be difficult for me as an actor not to get involved in it emotionally because of how moving it is," she said.

Our Town runs from Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4 at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Shows on Friday and Saturday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m.; the show on Sunday afternoon begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org/.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In the Wings: Our Town. Meet Sydney Cason.


Sydney Cason plays Emily Webb in Our Town, the first production of the 2009-2010 Civic Youth Theatre season of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The Pulitzer Prize-winning script is by Thornton Wilder.

Sydney has acted in several Civic Youth Theatre shows, and wanted to be involved with Our Town because it is a classic script.

"During rehearsals I've learned to work with period language and movement, as well as create a complex character," she said. "It's always interesting learn more about characters like Emily."

Sydney said Emily is an intelligent 16-year-old girl living in a small New Hampshire town with her mother, her father and her younger brother. Emily also has a crush on her next-door neighbor George Gibbs - played by Nathan Keiller in this production - a crush that she barely admits to herself.

Sydney concluded by focusing on the themes of Our Town.

"As the audience listens to and watches all three acts of the play, they'll realize that each one has a deep message," she said. "Our Town examines issues about life that people sometimes are afraid to look into."

Our Town runs from Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4 at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Shows on Friday and Saturday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m.; the show on Sunday afternoon begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org/.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In the Wings: Our Town. Meet Cody Walker.


Cody Walker plays Editor Webb in Our Town, the first production of the 2009-2010 Civic Youth Theatre season of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The Pulitzer Prize-winning script is by Thornton Wilder.

Cody was already familiar with the works of Thornton Wilder before he auditioned for this production.

"I was in Wilder's one-act play The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden," he said. "I love his plays. If I wasn't in the show, I would have loved to work on the crew."

Cody described Editor Webb and his relationship to his family.

"He is editor of the Grover's Corners Sentinel, Mrs. Webb's husband, and Emily and Wally's father," Cody said. "He is a fun-loving father, he doesn't yell or punish his kids. Although the entire family is close, the relationship he has with his kids seems closer than what his kids have with Mrs. Webb."

Cody said audiences will remember the play's theme after the show ends.

"The play stresses that people should never take anything for granted and pay attention to everything around them," he said.

Our Town runs from Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4 at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Shows on Friday and Saturday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m.; the show on Sunday afternoon begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org/.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

In the Wings: Our Town. Meet Isaiah Hale.


Isaiah Hale plays Doctor Gibbs in Our Town, the first production of the 2009-2010 Civic Youth Theatre season of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The Pulitzer Prize-winning script is by Thornton Wilder.

Before auditions for Our Town, Isaiah checked out the script from the library.

"I wanted to be prepared to audition and take on a role that had more emotion and a larger purpose to the action of the play," he said.

Isaiah said Doctor Gibbs "is an average man who likes to study the Civil War in his free time. He takes pride in himself on being an expert on the subject. He also wants his family - Mrs. Gibbs, George and Rebecca - to function normally. He's a bit hard on George, but perhaps he had been less attentive as a younger boy and wants George to do better."

Isaiah concluded by describing what an audience will remember most about Our Town.

"They'll remember the change between the first two acts and the third," he said. "The first two acts show a simpler kind of life and happy times. The third act is sadder and more profound because it makes people think about how they live their lives and what they cherish and consider important."

Our Town runs from Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4 at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Shows on Friday and Saturday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m.; the show on Sunday afternoon begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org/.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In the Wings: Our Town. Meet Sarah Buckser.


Sarah Buckser plays Professor Willard in Our Town, the first production of the 2009-2010 Civic Youth Theatre season of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The Pulitzer Prize-winning script is by Thornton Wilder.

When she auditioned for the show, Sarah had a plan that didn't quite work out as she expected.

"I didn't want to act in the play, but I really wanted to be on the technical crew. I decided to audition, thinking that I wouldn't get a role and then I could be on the crew. But I got a role anyway," Sarah said. "Being on stage is very different from being in the booth. You get to know the actors a lot better than when you're on the crew. Both acting and working on the crew are different, but both are fun."

Sarah described Professor Willard and her contributions to the play.

"Professor Willard is a bit of an oddball who works at a nearby university," Sarah said. "During the play, she provides background information about Grover's Corners, New Hampshire - anthropological, meteorogical, things like that."

Sarah said the audience will remember Act III of the play.

"Emily has a monologue about how the concept of living sort of wears off after a person has died," she said. "Even though there's something eternal, it isn't necessarily a good thing."

Our Town runs from Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4 at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Shows on Friday and Saturday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m.; the show on Sunday afternoon begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org/.


Monday, September 21, 2009

In the Wings: Our Town. Meet Max Curtis.


Max Curtis plays Constable Warren in Our Town, the first production of the 2009-2010 Civic Youth Theatre season of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The Pulitzer Prize-winning script is by Thornton Wilder.

Max made his Civic Youth Theatre debut in the 2008-2009 season production of Rudyard Kipling's The Just So Stories. One of his friends said being involved with Civic Theatre is a lot of fun, and he wanted to become involved.

Before auditioning, Max knew nothing about Our Town.

"But the script sounded fun," he said, "and I wanted to try it. I'm having a lot of fun so far."

Max said Constable Warren checks on security in Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, where the play is set.

"In the morning, he walks around to check the doors on people's houses," he said. "He's also a friendly person, so he'll chat with people while he makes his rounds."

Max said the audience will remember the performances in this production.

"There are a lot of younger kids playing older people in the show," he said.

Our Town runs from Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4 at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Shows on Friday and Saturday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m.; the show on Sunday afternoon begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for youth age 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org/.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

In the Wings: Our Town. Meet Larry Sommers, the director.


Larry Sommers directs Our Town, the first production of the 2009-2010 Civic Youth Theatre season of Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette. The Pulitzer Prize-winning script is by Thornton Wilder.

Larry said people's understanding of Our Town may evolve over time.

"A person can appreciate Our Town in one way as a kid and another way as an adult," he said. "Once you've had children or lost a family member, the show has an entirely new meaning to it.

"People fly through life but don't stop to notice details. We tend to take for granted the moments we have with each other. When Emily Webb - played by Sydney Cason in this production - relives one day in her past in the third act, she begs her mother to stop doing everyday chores for a moment and take time just to look at her."

Larry concluded by praising all 21 actors in the cast, who range in age from 9 to 18.

"Audiences will remember the performances in this production," he said. "They will be struck by the level of understanding this cast has about the show and the characters."

Our Town runs from Friday, October 2 to Sunday, October 4 at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette. Shows on Friday and Saturday evenings begin at 7:00 p.m.; the show on Sunday afternoon begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults; $5 for youth age 18 and under.

For more information about the show or to order tickets, call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org/.

Share Your Thoughts: The Mousetrap


Now that The Mousetrap has closed, share your thoughts about the production.

What will you most remember about the show? What were your thoughts about the performances? The design? The story and theme? What were the standout moments?

Announcing auditions: You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown


An audition date has been announced for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the second production in Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2009-2010 Civic Youth Theatre season. Auditions will take place Sunday, September 27 from 6-9 p.m. at the Civic Theatre office at 313 N. 5th Street in downtown Lafayette.

Directors Melanie R. Buchanan and Laurie Russell welcome youth ages 10-18 to audition; no previous acting experience is required. All auditioners are asked to prepare a memorized monologue no longer than one-and-a-half minutes as well as a verse and chorus from a Broadway song. Actors who would like to audition but cannot attend the September 27 date should contact Melanie at 765-423-7529 or cyt@lafayettecivic.org.

This musical based on Charles M. Schulz's beloved Peanuts comic strip offers "a typical day in the life of Charlie Brown." The well-known characters come to life singing toe-tapping songs, including "My Blanket and Me," "Suppertime," "My New Philosophy" and "Happiness."

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown will open Friday, November 6 and run through Sunday, November 8.

Friday, September 18, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

For no really big reason, I wanted to throw out another list, but one of a slightly different vein. As the few list posts were somewhat subjective, this one is completely objective. List your 10 favorite plays (plays only musicals will come later). They can be for any reason, a script you loved reading the first time you read it, a great show that you have seen, or a wonderful theatrical experience, on-stage or off.

There are absolutely no other rules, you can list ten plays that changed the world, or ten plays that no one has ever heard of, except for you. Just keep it personal, okay one rule.

enjoy!

1. Gross Indecency, the Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, by Moises Kaufman. The play is wonderful, deep, meaningful and very Brechtian. I think that Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theatre Project are one of the more exciting forces to hit American Theatre in the past few decades, but that has nothing to do with the placement on this list. I was lighting designer on a production of this show almost ten years ago, it was still one of the best theatre experiences of my life. The cast was filled with friends, old and new. It was directed by Rick St. Peter, the writer of the PhD Project blog that has been such an inspiration to these list posts. Rick is an old friend, we have worked on more than a dozen shows together, most of them excellent shows, and he hired me in my first Director level position. It was also I think one of my most successful lighting designs.(Jill Bari Steinberg in the 2006 production of The Syringa Tree. At Barksdale Theatre in Richmond Virginia, Bruce Miller Artistic Director, Phil Whiteway Managing Director. Directed by Keri Wormald.)

2. The Syringa Tree by Pamela Gein. A one woman show about growing up in South Africa. The actress plays 27 distinct roles. Elizabeth, the main character roughly based on Pamela, Salamina, her nanny and predominant mother figure, and several more. The actor in the role has to learn several dialects, and how to pronounce a few different languages. It is a powerful and moving piece that I have been lucky enough to design twice and will be doing so again in October, this time in Idaho for The Company of Fools Theatre Company.

3. Hamlet by William Shakespeare. I just love the intrigue and violence. It is I think one of the closest to perfect plays ever written.

4. Out of Order by Ray Cooney. A British Sex Farce from the master of British Sex Farces. You really could pick any one of his plays, they are all very similar, but Out of Order was the first I worked on. It was the summer after college I worked for Brown County Playhouse, and just had a blast. It was my last experience with IU theatre, and will always have a special place in my heart because of that.

5. Raised in Captivity by Nicki Silver. Mr. Silver is kind of like Sam Shepard, except he hates his mom. A lot of his plays seem to have the one note drone of that theme. However, Raised in Captivity was my first "professional" lighting design, and my first lighting design award.

6. Raisin in the Sun by Loraine Hansberry. I am not just listing this because I am directing it in January, although that certainly helps. Raisin in the Sun is the first play I remember reading (some time in high school I think) that made me really like theatre. I loved the play, I understood the play (unlike that Shakespeare stuff) and it moved me. If not for this show I doubt that I would have made it to a career in theatre.

7. Stage Door by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufmann. Not a great show, but my first (an probably last) show that I was on stage. I had promised a girlfriend, actually an ex by that point) that I would audition. I have no idea why, I just did. I hate backing out of promises, so I did. I was cast in one of the larger roles, and I suppose I did not suck. I never really enjoyed being on stage, but I was very glad that I had the experience.

8. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, Pure genius and a great play, period.

9. Raised in Captivity, remembering the world of Anne Frank - a wonderfully written play about the Holocaust, aimed at a younger audience. It primarily focuses on two people who knew Anne Frank. It is a multi-media piece, including interviews with the two people and video footage of the time. Very powerful experience, and I think one of the most successful designs I have ever done.

10. How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel. Another great experience all the way around. Wonderful director, great design team and stupendous cast. I would work with the director, Keri Wormald or any of the actors in that show at the drop of a hat.

So many more. With the exception of Salesman these are all shows that I worked on, or am working on, usually as a lighting designer. I could easily list another 10, or even 100, but that would be cheating.

Like I said, musicals will come later. Please take a minute and jot down your thoughts, some one in addition to Steve Martin. We would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Top Ten GLOBAL


Well the top ten theatre practitioners list did not seem to spark much conversation, so I am going to try a different take.
Building on the theme of Fantasy Playwrights draft, I want to expand the list to become global. The idea is still the same, list your top ten playwrights. The criteria is somewhat up to you, but basically we are looking at scope of work, importance and impact of work and just plain quality.
I will take Shakespeare off of the table. He may not be every one's favorite, but there is no denying that he is one of the most important figures to not just the theatre, but the entire English language. We owe much to the Bard and I hereby name him, all around number on pick, period. you can argue the point if you wish, but I will stick to my guns on this one.
So without further Ado, here is my list:

1. Henrik Ibsen -- Without Ibsen, there is no Miller, or really any other 20th century western playwright. I am not always his personal champion, not really a fan of a lot of his plays, but there is no denying his impact and importance.

2. Aeschylus -- Many will know that I am not a huge fan of the Greeks. In honesty that probably ha a lot to do with not having seen it done well. Like bad Shakespeare, bad Greek tragedy is worse than a root canal. Aeschylus is the father of tragedy. Probably more influential than pretty much anyone in theatre, with the possible exceptions of Shakespeare and Ibsen. I drop him to second due to lack of the majority of his work.
Aeschylus brought forth extra actors from the chorus, thus adding conflict to the stage. He also penned the only remaining complete trilogy, The Orestia, we have in total. In Greek times, plays were presented as part of a large religious festival. Three plays would be presented followed by a Satyr (basses of satire) which basically makes fun of the shows, and stories. The stories being told on stage were pretty well known, it was the method of storytelling that made each play unique.

3. Arthur Miller -- The only American on this list, and my first entry that I actually really like. Miller had a gift of taking the simple to explain the complex. His writing was strong, and political, but was also personal and touching. O'Neill may have brought attention to American Playwrights, but Miller is the best we as a nation have had.

4. Anton Chekhov -- Apparently no relation to the young Russian ensign Pavel Chekhov (which is a shame to this geek), but hugely influential all the same. Although Anton Chekhov is better known for his short stories, and in truth did not write a lot of full length plays, what he did write, and more importantly what happened with the plays has left a huge mark on Theatre as we know it. The original opening of The Seagull was a disaster, the play was booed, and Chekhov was ready to give up. But a director was impressed with play and convinced his friend Constantin Stanislavski to remount the show. the use of the Stanislavski technique enabled the actors to find the depth of meaning in the pauses, in what was not written.
The combined force of Chekhov's writing and Stanislavski's directing/acting technique has reshaped forever the way we look at the art of acting.

5. Vaclav Havel -- Czech playwright, activist, political dissident and president, Vaclav Havel used theatre to literally change the world. His work is not widely know in the US, but his 20 some plays are a wonderful study of how political art can, and should be. A leader of the bloodless revolution that toppled Communism in Czechoslovakia, he was also the nations first president, and later the first president of the Czech Republic after the split with Slovakia.

6. Moliere - Actor and playwright, and master of comedy. Moliere was also one to suffer for his art. Although a darling of French and Parisian society, Moliere's satire of moralists, the church and other established institutions earned much scorn. Moliere is also on an esteemed list as an actor who dies while acting.
Molière suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, possibly contracted when he was imprisoned for debt as a young man. One of the most famous moments in Molière's life was his last, which became legend: he collapsed on stage in a fit of coughing and hemorrhaging while performing in the last play he'd written, which had lavish ballets performed to the music of Marc-Antoine Charpentier and which ironically was entitled Le Malade imaginaire (The Hypochondriac). Molière insisted on completing his performance. Afterwards he collapsed again with another, larger hemorrhage before being taken home, where he died a few hours later, without receiving the last rites because two priests refused to visit him while a third arrived too late.

7. Oscar Wilde -- After Shakespeare Wilde is the most performed English language playwright. Not only a successful playwright, also a novelist, writer of short stories, children's literature and all around witty guy. On visiting the United States when asked if he had anything to claim by the customs agent, his response was "Only my genius." His wit and ability to spear the British society made him hugely popular as a speaker, and writer. Sadly Oscar Wilde was undone and ruined at a relatively young age for the crime of having homosexual relationships, a crime under Victorian laws. He spent a great deal of time imprisoned and never fully recovered.

8. Bertolt Brecht -- His plays alone may not be enough for this list (although the work is certainly important) but like many others his overall influence is huge. His theories on theatre (epic theatre) have had an immeasurable impact on western theatre.

9. Samuel Beckett -- Another one of the playwrights on this list that I personally do not care for, although again, a lack of decent productions may be as much a part of that as anything. Beckett is one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He was a key writer in the theatre of the Absurd, but is better considered a modernist. He influenced many writers, Vaclav Havel and Harold Pinter (a very close runner up on this list), and has had a huge impact on much of the writing of the 2nd half of the 20th century and beyond. Waiting for Godot is one of the most important plays written in recent centuries.

10 Athol Fugard -- a personal favorite Athol Fugard is a South African writer that for years was a voice against apartheid. His plays, such as Master Harold and the Boys, took a frank look at the horrible state of life in South Africa for blacks. His plays are filled with great stories and lush writing. He has also written about his love of theatre, and its place in the world. Fugard is also an actor, having appeared in many of his plays, and in film.

Runners up: Harold Pinter, Christopher Marlowe, George Bernard Shaw, Tom Stoppard, Tennessee Williams, and many many more.

I admit that although I call it a "Global List" I have little knowledge of playwrights outside of western theatre. There is no doubt writers from a less-European background that deserve placement on this list, sadly I am woefully ignorant of their place. There are also ones on this list that, like the last list, are on the list partially because they are among my favorites. Like all Top 10 lists, this is completely subjective. I welcome your comments, and even more, your lists.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 19: Writing a Play - Part 1


On Saturday, September 19, Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette will offer a class titled "Writing a Play – Part 1." It will be held 12 noon to 2 p.m. in the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette.

This will be the jumping off point in which participants will develop their own plays over the course of the theatrical season. The class features a supportive and creative process that will result in a final script suitable for submission to Civic Theatre's 2010-2011 Staged Reading Series. The instructors are Civic veterans Steve Gooch, Arliss Jeffries and Steve Martin. The two-hour class costs $20.

To register for the class, call Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's office at 765-423-7529. Space is limited.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More lists

My friend Rick has done it again, actually this one was posted awhile ago but I have been behind on my reading and posting.

The post in this link is a list of the most influential theatre practitioners of the 20th century.

Ricks entire blog is fascinating. For those who are not aware, Rick is entering a PhD program in the spring and has been given a reading list of well over 100 plays. Many of his friends asked for a copy of the list and we had much to say about some of the choices. Theatre types tend to be a little opinionated. Mostly though we were fascinated by the list, which included plays we had never heard of, lesser known plays by the Masters, and all kinds of wonderful stuff. Rick took that brief discussion a step further by starting this blog. As he reads each play he will post a little about the play, the plot and importance of the piece, his personal reaction to the play and usually (at least so far) some discussion inducing section. The first one I referenced on this blog led to the top 10 American Playwrights Fantasy draft. I will probably steal (er honor) Rick's blog many times in the future. I owe much of my career to Rick, his ambition and his loyalty. I wish him the best as he travels down this new road, and am thrilled that he is taking us along with him.

This is a tough one, I am woefully ignorant of a lot of this sadly. I have heard of them all sure, and even know more than a bit about a few of their theories and practices, but not as much as I wish I did.

So with first admitting my basic ignorance, here is my list, not particular order though, well maybe a little order.

1. Konstantine Stanislavski -- No arguing this one, his influence on theatre and how actors approach their work is huge. Not sure I would put him right after Shakespeare like Rick did, but way up there.

2. Bertolt Brecht -- Theorist, writer, director. A huge personal influence on the way I have always approached lighting design. And for the record (well mostly for Rick) I know that Brechtian does not mean white light (although it kinda does).

3. Peter Brook --The Empty Space might be the most influential book of the century. Rick had much more about Mr. Brook. I have read Empty Space, that is enough to put him up here.

4. Joseph Papp --Shakespeare in the Park, the Public theatre, art for the masses. Making Shakespeare not only fun, but accessible (as all art is once we stop thinking it isn't).

5. Margo Jones, Nina Vance, Zelda Fichandler -- Founders and Artistic Directors of Dallas Theatre Center, the Alley Theatre and Arena Stage respectively. The Founding Mothers of the American Regional Theatre movement. They helped bring to life the notion that high quality professional theatre and culture in general need not be confined to a few blocks in midtown Manhattan. (All Rick's words, there is nothing to change.)

6. Cameron Mackintosh -- Changed the face of commercial theatre forever. Les Miz, Cats, Phantom, the mega musicals that have dominated The West End and Broadway for the past few decades. Without his style of promotion and production would we have seen Hairspray, Wicked, Disney, etc? Note, not all on this list had a totally positive lasting effect on theatre.

7. Adolphe Appia -- Changed the way we approach design and visual composition on stage forever. First person to use light to do more than just visualization. No more dependence on the centuries old drops and wings, Appia introduced more 3-d scenery and lit it. Also his approach to everything contributing to the visual picture led to Edward Gordan Craig and desire to use marionettes in place of actors to better create a visual picture. I do not necessarily agree with Mr. Craig, but as a college design student I loved the ideas.

8. Stanley McCandless -- First lighting professor (Yale School of Drama of course) developed the first method of lighting a person on stage. His basic method (two front lights 90 degrees apart, 45 degrees up, and one back light at a 60 degree angle) is the basis for the majority of lighting today. Introduced plasticity to the stage, giving lighting designer the vocabulary to sound as pretentious as the older more established design professions.

9. Abe Feder -- Virtually created the individual lighting designer. Before him the design of light, while important (Thanks to Adolphe Appia) was done by the scenic designer, or stage manager, sometimes just an extra crew person backstage. Abe Feder made it an art form in and of itself. He was also a force in the architectural world of light. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Feder at a USITT conference just a few years before his death. I have never been in a crowd that was so in awe of a single person as I was that afternoon with a bunch of lighting students and professionals and the man who made our field possible.

10. Arthur Miller -- Although he trailed a little behind Tennessee Williams in his Broadway premiere (at least as far as his important ones) he reshaped the way American theatre was understood and appreciated. Ibsen may be the father of modern drama, and O'Neill the father of American drama, but Arthur Miller spoke with a voice that has not been matched in 1/2 a century, AND his plays still get done at all levels, from the smallest community theatre, high schools, university and at all levels of the professional theatre world. He had the ability to take a simple scene, a back yard, a small struggling middle class family, Salem Witch trials, and make a powerful statement about War profiteering and duty (All My Sons), the struggles of capitalism and struggles of middle class America (Death of a Salesman) and the entire community witch hunt of the House Sub Committee on Un-American Activities, not to mention the betrayal of a personal friend, Elia Kazan, (The Crucible).
All that and his personal life was quite a roller coaster. Born into a middle class family devastated by the Depression, failed at his first Broadway play, married Marylin Monroe, called before the House Sub...nearly black listed. His life was as thrilling as his plays. Well more thrilling than a bad production of his plays. He was, and possibly will be for some time, the greatest American playwright.

Okay, all are subjective, all are my opinion only, and all can be argued against. I also have an obvious bias toward the design fields, especially lighting, but that is to be expected.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Review Is In: The Mousetrap


The review of The Mousetrap was published in the Journal & Courier, Lafayette and West Lafayette's daily newspaper. It was written by Dick Jaeger. You can read the full review here.

The Mousetrap begins the second weekend of its three-weekend run this Friday at 8:00 p.m. and continues with shows at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday evening and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The show closes Sunday, September 20. All performances take place at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette.

To inquire about tickets, please call the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette office at 765-423-7529 or visit the Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Share Your Thoughts: Dead Man's Cell Phone

The staged reading of Dead Man's Cell Phone took place tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette with more than 60 people in attendance. As with other staged readings in the series, it was followed by a question-and-answer session between the audience, the cast and the director, Tracie Ewing.

Did you attend the staged reading? What did you think about the characters, the plot and other elements of the script? What were some of the high points? What will you remember most about this staged reading?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

September 12: Visual Composition Workshop


On Saturday, September 12, Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette will offer a class titled "Visual Composition Workshop." It will be held 12 noon to 2 p.m. in the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette.

In this class, participants will help experienced and new directors and designers develop a vocabulary and methodology for visual composition. The instructors are Civic Managing Director Steve Koehler and Civic veterans John David Collier and Larry Sommers. The two-hour class costs $20.

To register for the class, call Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's office at 765-423-7529. Space is limited.

Friday, September 4, 2009

September 5: Auditon Workshop


On Saturday, September 5, Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette will offer a class titled "Audition Workshop." It will be held 10 a.m.-12 noon in the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette.

The class will cover basic and advanced audition topics, from what an actor should wear to choosing appropriate monologues and songs. The instructors are Civic Youth Theatre director Melanie R. Buchanan and Civic veterans Laurie Russell and Kate Walker. The two-hour class costs $20.

To register for the class, call Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's office at 765-423-7529. Space is limited.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Preview of The Mousetrap on www.jconline.com


A preview of The Mousetrap appears online at http://www.jconline.com/, the Web site for the Journal & Courier, Lafayette and West Lafayette's daily newspaper.

You can read the preview here.

My Playwrights Draft


Like all such lists there is a lot of subjectivity to this. I have read hundreds of plays over my career, many of them amazing, and many that are painful to read, let alone watch, or worse yet, work on. I firmly believe that the playwright is an active an vital collaborator in the creative process of the show. So I do think about playwrights a lot, those I love (Arthur Miller, Moises Kaufman, William Shakespeare) and those that I could...uh live without (Sam Shepard, my dislike of his work is well documented). But this list is something different to me, it is more about the importance of their work, their skill and talent (both are vitally important) and their impact on the pantheon of American Theatre.
So that being said, without further ado:

1. Arthur Miller -hands down my favorite American playwright, and in my opinion the best
2. Tennessee Williams -his lyrical writing and powerful characters still move me
3. Eugene O'Neil -one of the ones that I do not like, but cannot deny the importance or place on this list
4. August Wilson - The fact that he completed his life's work (ten plays depicting the story of African Americans in the USA each in a different decade of the 20th century) alone makes him vital. Add to the that the beautiful, poetic and powerful plays (Fences, The Piano Lesson, etc.) and he has secured his position as one of the most importnat playwrights ever.
5. Lorraine Hanseberry - not a large collection fo work, but Raisin in the Sun changed everything
6. Neil Simon - another one that I am not fond of, but recognize his place
7. Wendy Wasserstein - one of the top voices for Boomers and women for two decades
8. Edward Albee - Wrote quite a few, less than stellar scripts, but when he got it right his work is still powerful.
9. Thornton Wilder - Come see Our Town in October, that will explain everything
10. William Inge - captured Americana and the voice of the heartland better than anyone else.

Several runners up - Mamet, Shepard (still hate his plays, you hate your dad fine we get it, move on) Letts, Nottage, etc. But if I have to pick 10 these are them.

Share yours, debate mine, anything.

also, become the next great American Playwright, Playwright workshops start this month, see the website for more information.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Playwrights Draft


A friend of mine will be starting a PhD program in the spring. His reading list include 127 plays, many of which I have not had the chance to read, and more than a few that I have never even heard of. As part of his preparation he is posting a blog entry on each play as he reads them. Included in each post will be a description of the play, background on the playwright and his feelings and thoughts on the play itself. The most recent post dealt with David Mamet, and in addition to much discussion of the play (Oleana) and the playwright himself led Rick to pose the question of a fantasy playwrights draft.

In line with the many fantasy sports, the idea is basically list you top ten playwrights, or in this case specifically your top 10 American Playwrights. Think of influence, depth of work, and impact on both you the audience and on American Theatre in general.

Rick's list is:

1. Arthur Miller
2. Tennessee Williams
3. August Wilson
4. Eugene O'Neill (whom I loathe)

That's the pantheon...those guys are the best of the best in terms of influence, work created, legacy etc.

5. David Mamet
6. Tony Kushner
7. Sam Shepard (whom I loathe too, sorry Sam, I"ll leave you alone if I run into you in a bar again)
8. William Inge
9. Thorton Wilder
10. Wendy Wasserstein

Comments are Rick's not mine. I will post my list in a later post but in the mean time would love to hear your thoughts. Who are the top ten American Playwrights?

"A Code of Ethics for Theatre Workers"

In early August, Janet Thielke wrote a post titled "A 1945 Code of Ethics for Theatre Workers Surfaces" for http://www.lastageblog.com. In the post, she writes that a document called "A Code of Ethics for Theatre Workers" was discovered among the papers of the late actress Kathleen Freeman.

The Code, which includes a Foreword and 17 rules, was written in 1945 when then-24-year-old Freeman was creating a theatrical group called the Circle Players. The rules establish a code of conduct and etiquette for all people involved with a theatre. One of the rules is, "I shall never lose my enthusiasm for theatre because of disappointments." Others include respecting the theatre space and never missing a performance.

To read the full article by Janet Thielke, which includes all 17 rules plus the Foreword, click here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Staged Reading Series: Dead Man's Cell Phone on September 8









Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's 2009-2010 Staged Reading Series opens with Dead Man's Cell Phone by Sarah Ruhl.

Tracie Ewing directs the cast, which includes Melanie R. Buchanan, Jane Hampton, Dustin Hillman, Shelby Mayfield, Heather Owen and Timothy Shrimplin.

It will be performed at the historic Monon Depot Theatre in downtown Lafayette on Tuesday, September 8 at 7 p.m. There will be a question-and-answer session between the audience, cast and director immediately following the reading. Audience members are encouraged to pay what they can for admission.

To learn more about Dead Man's Cell Phone, call 765-423-7529 or visit Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Web site, http://www.lafayettecivic.org/.