Tag Archives: Rehearsals

2016 – a Year in Review – what a year!?!

Last year, I was inspired by my friend, Kerry Hishon to do a year in review… and this year I waited with baited breath for her post. It didn’t disappoint. So now, I am going to attempt another of my own to reflect on the highlights from year that was… and what a year it was.

January

Like so many years in the past, my January began slowly. I was in recovery mode after a very eventful December. Isn’t everyone’s?
But in all seriousness, I directed, (and choreographed) and epically funny production of The Trials of Robin Hood by Will Averill. It had a tremendous cast and crew who adored the process, the product and each other. They, and I shed many tears upon the closing of that gem.

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But, I didn’t have much time to recover, as I was already busy choreographing a delightful production of She Loves Me. It was a bit of a bucket list show for myself and my friend, Kristina, as she and I had been talking about our love for this gem of a show for many, many years. It was also one of the first productions I ever saw on Broadway. My work on that also partially inspired a past blog I wrote on the Copywrite of Choreography…

And if that wasn’t enough… I began work on another Original Kids production of Once Upon a Mattress – GTKY, an edited version of the full musical that was made for young performers. No rest for the wicked, right?

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Once Upon a Mattress – Gorgeous Set Design!

 

February

February saw many more rehearsals, the start of a new semester and the beginning of my work to support a production of The Little Mermaid at the high school where I teach. I had been tasked with choreographing a few of the numbers, (the biggest ones, yes…) and creating a number of puppets to add dimension and magic to the whole production. This took ages… and ages… and though many people offered their assistance, it became quite apparent, that because I cannot open up my brain and show others the workings of my thought process, that trying to explain what I think, I might want to do and translating that into discussion for how a person might help me realize that… is a futile effort.

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Mini-octupi…. Mr. and Mrs. They were adorable.

 

March

March was pretty restful – in the sense that I didn’t travel anywhere and March Break and Easter were all in that month… but there were rehearsals and rehearsals and, oh yes, more rehearsals!

I also managed to sell some items that I wasn’t needing or using anymore. This allowed us enough savings to put money together to replace our aging refrigerator. That was a joyous experience. You don’t know how important that one device can be to the overall happiness of your kitchen – until you change it.

April

By April, I had a number of projects in very good shape, lots of teaching on the go and my husband had a pile of combat related projects that he had been supporting. It came to the point that we had to choose how and where we’d support the different productions we’d been helping. He got to see Heathers and I didn’t, I got to see Mary Poppins and he didn’t… that sort of thing. But it was an active time of year that kept us hopping, leading up to …

May

In May, we took students on an amazing trip to Walt Disney World! I’d been trying to make this happen for my students for years and we finally had approval and everything worked! It was a tremendous trip. The kids were great, the parks were great, the weather was – hot! But we had a superb time visiting and learning and pointing out to our performing arts students all the skills that they had, or were learning, that were being used by cast members all over Disney World. It was truly incredible. I look forward to doing that again.

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June

June is the winding down time of the year for teaching, but it is also like a break neck race to the finish to get as many things crammed in as possible before the exams and the clean up and commencement.

This year, my seniors planned a Drama Nite, to showcase their talents and perform for family and friends in our school’s courtyard. It was a great evening. It was a HOT evening with a lot of sunshine and the threat of thunderstorms, but I was immensely proud of the final product and the work my kids did to make it happen. They really pulled together on that project.

Aside from all that, I began rehearsals and planning for a dream show, that I will tell you more about later.

July

July had us travelling. My husband and I went to Great Britain for three weeks. We were primarily in Wales, Cornwall and a few days in London. It was a wonderful trip. A gift from my parents that meant a great deal to the two of us. The portion of the trip to Cornwall was planned by my husband as he has done the research into the history of his family and discovered that his lineage is entirely from Cornwall. He enjoys research, planning and lists. He’s exceptionally good at them. What we discovered he doesn’t enjoy, is driving on the left-hand side of the road. I, on the other hand, don’t mind it. I really enjoyed driving in Great Britain. I found it quite sensible and easy. The navigation, I left to him. He was exceptional at that.

By the way, I love Cardiff. I really do – and if you do, (or if you haven’t been there, go!), you can show the world how you love Cardiff, buy purchasing items from http://ilovesthediff.com

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Mevagissey… where my husband’s ancestors are from…

 

August

August saw us visiting family, friends and attending special events. We had four weddings through August and September. It was wonderful to celebrate with special people.

Not everything in our year was happy, of course. Many sad things happened, but the only one I’m going to mention is the passing of our beautiful and loving cat, Willow. He left us in August. That kept us busy for a good while. And we still think of him, daily.

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Mr. Pooperhead. The best cat ever.

 

September

By all accounts, September was pretty normal. There were rehearsals, for that project that was alluded to earlier. There was the return to school and all materials that are associated with that. There were two large purchases – a vehicle for each of us. Original Kids rehearsal starting up and general life. It all seems like a blur. Good thing there’s Google Calendar to help to remind us of what we have done!

October

October is where life started to ramp up! The Performing Arts kids at my school planned and performed our best Haunted Hallway to date – sold out! Our theme was a graveyard and their characters were the best so far, and so was our transformation of the simple drama room, into a spooky environment. They built a tree, used shadow puppetry and had tombstones, dead leaves and corn husks to help mark the path of our visitors to the event.

We also hosted The Young Americans at our school in October. It was a pretty amazing event. I have seen their work and been a part of the experience in the past, but no one else at my school had. My colleague deserves an immense shout out for her organization of the whole event. She hadn’t been involved in any visit by them to another school before and yet she took the task on and planned the whole thing with style and grace. It was an incredible experience for our school and our kids. I look forward to when we can host them again.

Also in October, my production of Silverwing took to the stage at Original Kids. It was a wonderfully weird little play that the kids completely embraced. They performed beautifully and expertly this adaptation of a Canadian novel, that really was a film adaptation. More playwrites need to learn that taking a novel and just putting into play format does not really make it a play. Usually, it just makes it an awkward film script that needs an editor. Sheesh.

November

In November I started to get memory posts from Facebook about doing puppet workshops with TAG at Original Kids with Kerry Hishon… so, I just showed up and did more workshops! No, not really. But clearly there’s a theme to how my year goes because right when I was scheduled to do workshops for Kerry this year, my memory feed reminded me that I’d done these sorts of workshops for her in the past. Isn’t that interesting the way life has patterns? Speaking of patterns, in September of 2016, Brock, (that’s my husband) and I, went to see an Opening Night performance of Ken Ludwig’s The Three Musketeers SIX YEARS TO THE DAY from the Preview performance of our life changing production. That is life repeating itself. Ripples and spirals…

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Their 3M…. Not ours…Ours was better.

 

December

December saw me moving stuff – literally – in a moving truck, into The Arts Project to set up for my bucket list production, (that I alluded to earlier) of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer. I saw this show in New York City in 2008 on a trip with Original Kids and I was amazed by it. It has stuck with me and sat in my brain ever since. I have been waiting for the perfect situation to come along so I could direct this play. In July, Brock and I extended our stopover in Dublin, so that I could visit some of the areas where the play is set. We were in a pub that is mentioned in the script and met the owner. She said she used to be friends with the playwright. The first part of December was about set up, final rehearsals and the Opening Gala. The second week was about savouring the whole thing before it disappeared into thin air, and the final weeks of the month were filling time between remembering the sweetness of the process and production and real life. Sure, there was a holiday assembly and a pretty sweet Coffee House in there, plus some Christmassy celebrations and a wedding anniversary, but since the show is set on Christmas Eve… it permeated almost every waking moment of December. It is a production of which I am immensely proud. I am pleased that I had wonderful friends to help me make it a reality.

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The Seafarer Boys… at their best. I love them.

 

 

Even more things that will happen in rehearsal….

So… You are into rehearsal and things seem to be going well – or are they?

Sometimes this happens… you think everyone’s happy, but they aren’t. And they aren’t telling you. There can be lots of reasons for this, and there’s actually no point going into all those reasons, cause you’ll never list them all, but the point is – you need to have your Spidey-Sense tingling so that you are aware if there are disgruntled members of your cast/crew. You might not be able to do anything about it – but awareness is the key.

Illness can do it. If they feel sick, or tired or worn out or under-appreciated, (or any other version of illness that you can imagine), that can affect their mood and contribution to the project. Remember, any show should be uplifting, not a drag, no matter whether it is professional or amateur/volunteer. If someone is coming to the process and for whatever reason, they’d rather not be there, that will affect the positive atmosphere. Be ready to question it, and then, be ready to do something to affect change. That can be hard part. But, believe me, it’s worth it!

Lots of things can contribute to the atmosphere, and while it may seem like a big deal, you do need to pay attention to, and manage, the atmosphere. Plan an outing, arrange a potluck, ask people out for drinks or bring in some snacks. Even the smallest thing can make a really big difference, so do the little stuff, cause it can help you in the long run.

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Things that will happen during the rehearsal process…

When you start a show, you have happy thoughts about the final product… how the show will be a HUGE hit, the tickets will be selling like hotcakes, (why do hotcakes sell so fast anyway?), and the cast and crew will be ready to go on tour for the rest of their lives.

But here’s the thing… stuff happens. It always does.

Some of it you can deal with, but much of it you cannot. You just have to be ready for it because “it” will happen. So, what do you do?

Well, first off… you need to know what might happen, so here’s a few ideas of what you can expect.

First of all… the cast you begin with is likely not going to be the cast who will finish. Someone will get sick, get married, be transferred, get a new job, get another show, move out of town, or just be disgruntled with the production and leave. It will happen. There is probably no way to be prepared for it, but you need to know that it will happen and often with the actor that you don’t expect to lose. Audition, choose the best, treat them well and cross your fingers that nothing happens in their life to mess up the process. But be ready – cause it will.

Secondly… people will get sick. They will have conflicts with the schedule – sometimes many more than you ever thought possible – or they’ll have something big happen in their life and it will mess up your schedule. Just be ready – that’s all you can do. It isn’t their fault. They didn’t make this happen. They’d probably rather be at rehearsal than dealing with pneumonia or going to a funeral or visiting emergency. Stay calm and trust the theatre gods that they are on your side.

Third… you are going to get tired. No matter your plan, no matter how well you manage the other parts of your life – YOU – the stage manager, the director – whatever you are, are completely human and susceptible to fatigue. It will happen. Be good to yourself and take the time you need to recover because you are useless to the show if you get sick or can’t function.

That’s the big deal, right? Staying on top of things. So be ready. Get yourself psyched so that you are ready for the challenges of the process – cause it is totally worth it.

I promise.

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How to recover from the audition… Cause you have to bounce back.

When you’ve made it through the auditions, the callbacks, perhaps another round of callbacks and maybe a surprise where they ask you to read something you weren’t expecting… you then have to reflect on the process – and you will, because you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. (You’re thinking about it now, aren’t you?)

First of all, you need to feel proud of what you accomplished, no matter the outcome. Maybe you’ve been successful and got the “part of your dreams”, or maybe you got offered a different role, or perhaps you are still waiting to hear, (that’s the worst), or the final option… we know what that one is, of course. Regardless, you’ve got to congratulate yourself. I mean it. Do it now. Give yourself a pat on the back, the audition process is one of the most difficult things you can do and you need to recognize that you did something many people never do. So, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Good. Do that for yourself regularly – because when you audition, you get a show, (or not) and then, eventually, the show is over, so you know what? You audition again. So you have to put yourself through that again. You will get better at it, each time – it all takes practice. Keep it up, keep working on the audition process and remember to congratulate yourself every time you manage to make it through another audition. Find something good in the process or you won’t keep going. And that’s the most important thing, to keep going.

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Podcast #17 with Special Guests Ceris Thomas & Kerry Hishon!

Well here we are again….

Life gets busy and takes us away from things we’d like to share with you, our listeners. But today, Kerry Hishon and I are here to talk about things that inspire us, things that we love and the struggle to keep those things going when life gets busy.

Since you last heard from us the team has done a variety of exciting things… We’ve directed and performed in a bunch of shows, made puppets, created art, some of us moved house, just a whole bunch of creative things that kept us from this creative thing.

But we love doing the podcast so much, so we are back again and we have a plan in place to keep us coming back… so we are hoping that you will continue to tune in and tell us what you think.

We’ve missed you. See you soon.

Play

Journey to Neverland: Second to the Right and straight on til…. March Break

Disney’s Peter Pan Jr.

This is going to be an adventure – hopefully a fun and interesting one, for the actors involved as well as the artistic team. This is, after all, a youth production of a full scale show created on 8 hours of rehearsal per week in a mere 9 weeks.

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Working with Original Kids is always an adventure. It’s is always an excercize in flexibility and creativity and Disney’s Peter Pan Jr. will be no exception.

For this project I am the choreographer for approx. 30 wonderful kids between the ages of 7 and 14. This week they came into that first rehearsal with excitement and energy and enthusiasm. They performed their audition pieces with all the professionalism they could muster and they’ve been cast – as fairies, indians, lost boys and pirates and we are off together on our adventure to create this show.

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They are going to learn so much from this experience, but it always amazes me just how much I learn from them while going through this process. I suppose that’s part of the draw of theatre, each show and each team of people have something to offer and it is always different. Even if the team is the same, or the show is one you’ve explored before – it is ever changing.

What a great life lesson.

So, here we go… Off to Neverland!

The Joy of Accomplishment – yours AND others.

So, the final show in my long list of shows has opened. Avenue Q had it’s first preview on Thursday and Opening on Friday.  It was great. Really, truly great. The performers have worked so hard and paid so much attention to the details of puppet manipulation. They developed such strong characters and worked diligently to find ways to let the puppet be the star. It isn’t an easy thing for a performer to do – have you ever thought of that? A piece of felt on your hand needs to get all the attention and applause and adoration that you would normally get. The thing is, once they got the hang of giving the puppet the focus, the overal performances improved exponentially. There has to be a lesson in there, somewhere. Something about relinquishing control, or giving over to a higher power, or letting the show be more important than you are… I’m sure there are several lessons in there. I’m just glad they learned them.

I’m not too proud to admit that at certain points in the show, I well up. Not because the story is so moving, but because the puppetry is so moving. These performers picked up felt and fur only a few weeks ago and we spent time working on manipulation, eye focus, lip sync, character, breath, gravity and all of that sort of stuff that makes a piece of fur on your hand suddenly seem to come alive. Also, we had the great privilege of having a guest come to one of their final rehearsals to offer some pearls of wisdom – did you ever watch Fraggle Rock? Zoboomafoo? Well then, you know that the guest we had was someone of influence with these young actors. They took his words to heart. As I always do – and I hope he gets the chance to see what they’ve accomplished. It’s pretty miraculous.

If you get a chance…. go see it. Be prepared to well up… if you know how hard it is to learn to puppeteer. Or not, just well up cause it’s good. And worth it. Go.
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The end of one… the overlap of the other!

This winter/spring has been intense. Intense with work and commitments all over the place. It’s funny how that can happen – the fall was empty and almost dull and the next season was incredibly packed. So packed in fact that was never any moment when only one project was on my plate.

January began with Sullivan & Gilbert, auditions, first rehearsals and all of those trials and tribulations. If you’ve been following this blog, then you will have read some of those stories. At the same time was Little Mermaid with OKTC, auditions, rehearsals and the show – all between January and March Break – INTENSE. And, if that were not enough, at the same time was Under Milk Wood. My commitment there was a little less intense, but it was another commitment that resolved at the beginning of March – my report to the board and the finishing up of all the finances took a little longer, but that was due to other commitments and my prioritization of them.

So in March, you’d think that life became easier, but no….. Auditions for Avenue Q, rehearsals, and such for that have been ongoing and I’ve been attending as often as possible, which is less than I’d like. With the end of Little Mermaid came the preparations for our Fringe Production: [They Fight!]. That just ended last weekend and we’ve already got a revival planned for July 3rd. Very busy and very challenging, but also very, very fun! If you missed it during the Fringe, I invite you to join us.

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All this while teaching and trying to maintain any of my own personal projects that I’d like to continue. For example, I’ve not drawn a thing, in months. I’m looking forward to getting out the sketch book again this summer and seeing what I can create, even if it is just for me. Maybe I’ll share a few with you folks.

Balance is off somewhere in this plan. It wasn’t really my plan, but I did go along with it. It’s been a great ride, let me tell you, but I’m definitely looking forward to the opening of Avenue Q and the summer where I can be a spectator, if only for a few months.

Poster Avenue Q

First Preview Night

So… we’ve made it through tech weekend – pretty near flawlessly.

We survived our black out in the middle of dress rehearsal last night and now we are at First Audience. My theatre does something we call Community Preview where at our Final Dress Rehearsal we invite, for free, members of our community who would not otherwise attend the theatre. They come in groups, because they are all members of groups – special homes, they have care-givers or case workers, etc. They mostly know one another – and yet they all sit spread through the theatre. It’s fascinating. Our house seats over 350 and tonight I see about 100 folks spread throughout the house, but they are all talking to one another – some across the rows and some from the back to the front of the theatre. It should be a lively night.

Two years ago, at our Community Preview for The Three Musketeers (the first in my Ken Ludwig Trilogy), near the end Milady was about to poison Constance with a beverage she said would calm her nerves. Someone in the audience yelled out, “Don’t Drink It!” They are a fun crowd and anything can happen.

Tomorrow night is Preview and then Friday is Opening Night! Months and Months and Months of rehearsal and it will all be over in the blink of an eye…. But that’s part of why it’s so addictive. The payoff is, generally huge enough to balance the effort.

I know I’m going to enjoy the payoff of this piece.

Here’s to a successful run!

Break your legs!

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What happens on headset, stays on headset…

Lots of things happen during a tech. Lots of jokes, lots of surprises, lots of mistakes, many funny, some not…. in our tech there’s also lots of food! Thanks to a tradition started by a cast member from Three Musketeers…. but one of the really fun things is the use of head set. These are put in place so that the crew can communicate to one another from vast distances and make certain that everything runs smoothly during the show… but often… other things might get discussed on headset.

That one actor who likes to be the last to their place… they’ll get discussed.

That funny line that never gets said correctly during the show… that’ll get discussed.

Costumes, Hair, Backstage stories… all of that will get discussed on headset – that and much, much more. It’s sort of in line with the idea of “be there or be talked about!”

It is one of my favourite “secret” aspects of the show. If you ever get the chance to be on a headset for show – take it. You won’t regret it.

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