"Here's What I Think"

by Carole Schweid, Artistic Director

Adaptations and Celebrations                                                              June 15, 2014

 

We’ve had some fun doing adaptations at Play With Your Food; Sometimes adapted by other people; Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, adapted by Russel Vandenbrouche; Sometimes adapted by me; William Lederer’s A Christmas Ballad for the Captain. I would like to do more. I’ve had the film script of The Yellow Rolls-Royce on my desk for a year now, and am convinced that the first of the film’s three vignettes would make a charming stage piece, especially if I can interest actor Daniel Gerroll in playing the Rex Harrison part. The problem, as I see it, is in finding the way to make the adapted version as good as the original. (The play Act One, for instance, is good, but it doesn’t come close to the book.) 

 

For anyone lucky enough to have been at the Westport Library on April 23rd, you’ll remember that 5 actors from Play With Your Food entertained the crowd by reading excerpts from ten or so books in honor of World Book Night. It was also Shakespeare’s birthday, so we read, round robin style, an adapted version of, “Shakespeare in the Park: The Delacorte Theatre,” a chapter from the book, Free for All: Joe Papp, The Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told. Written at the time it all took place yet published in 2009, it tells the story from Papp’s original dealings with Robert Moses through an all night Shakespeare marathon in the park, ending with the cast of Hair, (the Public produced Hair) coming up from behind the stage, singing "Let the Sun Shine In," as the sun came up over Central Park. 

 

This Monday, June 23rd, I will be in Central Park at the Gala event at the Delacorte Theatre. The evening is called ONE THRILLING COMBINATION, Marvin Hamlisch, The Public Theater & The Creation of A CHORUS LINE. As an original Broadway cast member, I get to be on stage and to be part of this star-studded camp reunion. From the title, the evening promises to be an adaptation of the CHORUS LINE chapter from the same book. 

 

I’m interested and excited to see how it’s gonna turn out..  and will report back with pictures, videos and opinions. 

 

Happy Days, 

Carole

 

 

Lithgow as Lear                                                                                   August 7, 2014

 

I have enjoyed following the ups and downs of John Lithgow rehearsing and opening King Lear at the Delacorte in Shakespeare in the Park. Reading excerpts from his blog this past Sunday in the NY Times, Lithgow seemed to be feeling all things one might expect a conscientious actor tackling Lear would feel; humbled, excited, proud, exhausted, and alternately, terrified and relieved.

 

It’s been fun to share his experience, which is, I guess, what a blog is all about.

 

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/author/john-lithgow/

 

The opening night of the show was also closing night for his blog – so I have only a handful of entries to recommend.

 

Which I do.  

 

Happy Summer,

Carole

 

 

Let's Talk About The Tonys                                                                May 31, 2014

 

Act One

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of seeing Act One at Lincoln Center and was swept away by the specific, warm, moment to moment acting of Santino Fontana as Moss Hart and Andrea Martin as Hart’s theatre loving Aunt, his agent, and George S. Kaufman’s wife. Tough to define in words what good acting is, but you sure know it when you see it. Those two made every moment count and every joke land. Believable and unpredictable at the same time, they came the closest to recreating my experience of reading the book, “Act One,” arguably the best ‘show business biography’ ever written, up there with Harold Clurman’s “The Fervent Years” (about the Group Theatre) and Anthony’s Sher’s “The Year of the King.” (on Richard the III). Tony Shalhoub (TV’s Monk) snagged the Tony nomination – he was very effective as the famous writer and wit, George S. Kaufman – but I think he’s gonna lose out to Bryan Cranston for All The Way (as LBJ). 

 

Casa Valentina

You gotta love Harvey Fierstein. He writes in bold typeface, puts his male characters out there in silks and heals and jewlery, and makes his points with clarity and great humor. The cast is delicious, a well made up example of ensemble acting at it’s best. Actor Patrick Page, as Valentina, for anyone with a long theatrical memory, was reminiscent to me of another character in long ago play, played by Kenneth Nelson, as the host of another party. The play, written in 1968, was The Boys in the Band. Written at a time when ‘coming out of the closet’ could get you beaten up in the parking lot for being a ‘fairy,’ it deals with much the same issues in much the same way. “The more things change… “

 

The Tonys – a few hopeful predictions

No, I am not Ben Brantley nor was meant to be. I am a simple educated professional with not much of an ax to grind. However, I would like my old friend Steven Lutvak to win for best Musical Score for Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder, not because of the hours I spent at his piano being coached on audition songs, but because he and the show deserve it big time.


Jefferson Mays - Best Actor in a Musical, Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder
Best Revival of a play: They all should win.

Best Featured Actor in a Play: Again, they should all win. I sure did love that production of Twelfth Night. Stephen Fry, Samuel Barnett, Paul Chahidi, the entire cast and the unstoppable Mark Rylance were not to be missed. In fact, anything Mark Rylance is in, with the possible exception of Boeing Boeing, should be seen by any theatre lover.. the man is a genius.

Best Actress in a Musical I imagine will go to Jessie Mueller for Beautiful. Haven’t seen it yet. (Waiting to see it in the fall with some chums from Maplewood, NJ en route to our next Columbia H S reunion. We will all sway together).  

 

And a quick note from Nancy, Inge, and me... it’s not a Tony Speech, but imagine for a minute that it is:


It’s been a remarkable year and we’ve had a blast putting it all together.

We would like to thank our Actors,

our Playwrights,

our Restaurants,

our Volunteers,

and most of all, our Audience,

for a most satisfying season of tasty theatrical treats.

We look forward to next season and we hope you do too!

 

Tony Awards will air Sunday night, June 8th. Discussion will continue at the beach.

 

UPDATE on the TONY AWARDS                                                         June 9, 2014

 

Well, I got a lot of them right.

 

Most important, my friend Steven Lutvak’s show, GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER took home 4 Tony Awards, including BEST MUSICAL. Is that exciting or what!! The show is a blast and a class act at that. I heard that when the show's Tony Award WINNING Director DARKO TRESNJAK walked into Hartford Stage where he is Artistic Director, everyone toasted him with mimosas. (The show was developed at Hartford Stage and they are over the moon with excitement.) 

 

Tough call for the amazing and adorable Jefferson Mays, who gets the ax over and over throughout the show. He just couldn't beat out the over the top performance of the also amazing and adorable Neil Patrick Harris for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I called it on Mark Rylance and Jessie Mueller.. loved her duet with the real Carole King.. a highlight I thought.

 

As far as the rest, I am knocked out by the talent that's right down the road. How lucky for all of us that there is Broadway. 

 

Thoughts On New York Theater                                    August 10, 2013

 

Although both short-lived, two plays I saw this summer in New York had great impact. The most interesting play I found was Nikolai and The Others, written by Richard Nelson. It’s a play about art. Creating art. Making art in all its many forms was as integral to the lives of the characters in this play as food, air, and conversation. Seeing Michael Cerveris as Balanchine was like watching the real man in action. (Plus, parts took place in Westport, which was really cool!) Here’s a link to the play and the playwright’s thoughts, from the Lincoln Center Theatre web site. 

 

As for Breakfast at Tiffany’s:  Even an excellent playwright like Richard Greenberg couldn’t come close to matching our collective memory of the movie. To make matters worse, I noticed that much of the pre-opening promotion seemed to center around the cat. (YES, there was a cat on stage). I did not think this was a good sign. It was interesting for me, as an occasional adapter of stories for theatre, to see what Greenberg chose to dramatize and what he left out.  It was not a Broadway success but I got a lot out of seeing it.

 

As for Westport…I enjoyed the opening night of Loot at the Westport Playhouse, but had many questions on my mind about the play and playwright Joe Orton. Turns out, the Sunday Symposium was the next day, so after a visit to the beach, I breezed by the Art Show on my way to the Library Book Sale (always filled with possibilities) and then spent a delightfully informative hour and a half at the Playhouse, listening to a discussion of Joe Orton, led by Francesca Coppa. Boy, was she good. A professor at Muhlenberg, knowledge just poured out of her. My admiration for the play continues to grow as I learn more and put it all into context.

 

Then I strolled home, watered my garden, and thought about what a privilege and a pleasure it is to be part of this community.

 

And don’t forget, tickets go on sale September 24th.

I Feel Bad About Rocky, 'Cause I Want It                          March 15, 2014

To Be a Big Fat Hit!                                                                                

 

Rocky, the Musical. Can't get it out of my head. Saw it a week ago. So glad I saw it.

 

And yet,  there are so many things are wrong with the new musical Rocky; it’s hard to know where to start. It’s over produced, under lit, somewhat boring, has bad choreography and you walk out humming the soundtrack to the movie.. And yet, I wanted it to be a hit.

 

You could not ask for a better cast. Andy Karl as Rocky is adorable and sweet and funny. As soon as he walks into his room and says, “Yo, Turtles,” you really like the guy. Same for Margo Seibert as Adrian, Terence Archie as Apollo Creed and Dakin Matthews as Micky, who becomes Rocky’s manager. Composer and lyricist Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty are a good fit as well. Having written the scores to Ragtime and Once on the Island, they know how to write a love story. And right from the beginning, you are pulling for Rocky and Adrian, which is no small thing.

 

In my humble opinion, this may be the first time in Broadway history where the set has actually killed the show.

 

Imagine an actor on stage talking to the audience. Now imagine there’s a pretty girl standing behind him, and she’s taking off her clothes. It would be very hard to concentrate on the actor.

 

The set for Rocky is massive. Always moving. Up and down and sideways, with sportscasters and boxing rings flying in from the rafters. It’s reminiscent of the original Sweeney Todd; heavy, dark, encroaching. But Sweeney Todd takes place during Industrial Revolution; the heavy industrialized set was part of the story! In Rocky, the set is relentless, distracting, and it upstages the story.

 

Examples: We know that Adrian’s brother Paulie works in a meatpacking plant, but do we really need to be so literal and fly in a dozen sides of beef for two scenes barely essential to the plot? Do we really need the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum to spin around.. yes, spin around.. when Rocky gets to the top?

 

And yet - if they spun around with a purpose, that would be whole different story. That, I would admire. Like, for instance, the light bridge in Movin’ Out; carrying the band and coming towards the audience to the tune of “bottle of red, bottle of white;” Dream Girl’s ‘Step on Over;’ “Cellblock Tango” from Chicago. Twyla Tharp, Michael Bennett and Bob Fosse always used simple stagecraft to illuminate the story in a theatrical way. In their shows, the scenery danced with as much style and purpose as the hoofers on the stage.

 

In Rocky, it’s almost impossible focus in on the intimate scenes between the main characters, which should make up the heart and soul of the musical. They are simply dwarfed by the surrounding machinery impersonating as a set. The important ‘stuff,’ and by that I mean the story, is buried under the weight of all the equipment and cannot quite find it’s way to reach me.

 

Getting a musical right is never easy. In fact, it can be torture. (Read about Wicked’s journey to Broadway). There was a curse back in the old days when shows tried out in Boston and New Haven, and musicals were rewritten under enormous pressure. It went something like, “If Hitler is alive, I hope he’s out of town with a musical.”

 

I imagine director Alex Timbers was under a lot of pressure to ‘use’ the expensive set whenever possible, which he does; but it’s the director’s job to make the show work, and Rocky does not. With the exception of the ending, which is worth the price of admission, the show often feels like homage to the film, rather than a rethinking of the story in musical terms. It’s too bad, because all the elements, including a great cast, are there. Could have, should have made a good musical. I’m so disappointed. I wanted it to be a knock out.

'ATTA GIRL INGE!                                                                         August 1, 2013

 

On Inge Maki’s one year anniversary since joining us as Managing Director, I decided to interview her. Working closely with Nancy this past season, Inge learned the “front of house” ropes and has been great at juggling many tasks at once with great style and good humor. After having her as an audience member since Play With Your Food began, it’s a blast to be working together now. 

 

CS: Inge, you have brought so much skill and enthusiasm to JIB Productions and Play With Your Food. Can you say a few words about what this year has been like for you?

 

IM: Well, somehow I feel like I landed in just the right spot. The transition of working with you and Nancy went so smoothly that JIB Productions felt like a home that was already familiar and comfortable. And it certainly helped that Play With Your Food has been part of my life for so many years.

 

CS: What is the scariest part of your new job?

 

IM: Making sure that everything, absolutely everything, runs perfectly, and making it look effortless in the process. Smile, always smile, whether the computer programs decide to have a mind of their own, the weather is not cooperating, there is horrendous construction noise right outside the theater window during the performance - whatever it might be - and believe me, there is always something!   

 

CS: Looking back at the year, off the top of your head, what would you say was the best moment and the worst moment? (remember, your answers will be posted on our web site)

 

INGE: Best moment: when Nancy decided in March that I was ready to tackle things on my own and she sat in the audience and let me run the show. Anyone who knows Nancy will appreciate that was big.

Worst moment: one performance where only half the food order showed up - no one noticed though because I smiled my way through it...

 

CS: Well, it’s a pleasure having you aboard. Anything else you want to say to wrap up the interview?

 

IM: Nope, I am too busy getting things ready for next year!!  Tickets to our 2013/14 Season will be going on sale at 10AM on Tuesday, September 24th! 

 

 

Ode to Playwrights                                      January 1, 2013



To celebrate completing the first round of casting for Play With Your Food, I took myself to the movies for a short break and some inspiration. Not only did I find it where I expected to, in the delicious performances of two of my favorite actors, Bill Murray and Samuel West, , I loved the movie, Hyde Park on Hudson. It was clever and funny and written so well, that when the credits rolled, I was not at all surprised to find it had been written (originally as a Radio Play for the BBC) by Richard Nelson.. an accomplished Tony and Olivier Award winning playwright and head of Playwriting at Yale Drama School for three years.

 
Maybe because I spend so much time thinking about plays and how to best put them on..  I felt a huge sense of pride at being part of this world wide Theatre community.

 
When I stopped at the Westport Playhouse to talk to an actor, (working there as her ‘day job’), I saw my friend, Managing Director Michael Ross, looking relaxed and unstressed, compared to me, who was on three phone calls at once and already pressed for time. I found I was not a bit jealous of his free time. I’m so excited about the plays we’ve picked and the actors we’re working with that I can hardly to wait to spend more and more time in rehearsal – learning about the plays and figuring out the best ways to do them. I’m practically delirious when an actor emails me back right away, saying he’d love to come up, would like very much to be in one of our plays, and is thrilled to be a part of what we do..

 
As rehearsals are underway and we finish casting for February, I’m going to take myself back to the movies. I just found out that Anna Karenina was written by Tom Stoppard.  And did you know that Lincoln was written by Tony Kirshner!  What a treat for the ears, eyes and soul.

 
See you soon at Play With Your Food!

 

Remembering Marvin Hamlisch              September 15, 2012



“The Gift Was Ours To Borrow.“

Temple Emanu-El, on 66th and Fifth, was packed to the rafters. But then, Marvin pretty much always played to a full house. The synagogue was overflowing with the likes of Richard Gere, Robert Klein, Liza, Joe Torre, musicians and dancers, singers and statesmen.

A chorus of 200 Broadway voices, including mine, joined Idina Menzel in singing The Way We Were, At The Ballet and, of course, What I Did For Love.

Bill Clinton was the first to speak. He talked about how rare it was to have a friend who was not only a genius, but who was absolutely hilarious. A friend who was equally brilliant conducting for Barbra in front of thousands or behind closed doors making up parodies of musicals for twenty, and how much help he had been to him and to his foundation.

I knew Marvin before A Chorus Line. He was the rehearsal pianist on Minnie’s Boys, my first Broadway show. It was a show about the Marx Brothers and starred Shelly Winters as their mother. I was in the chorus. Marvin was the rehearsal pianist.. the guy who came up with great ideas that nobody would listen to.. the guy I’d share a cab with back to the upper West side after rehearsal. I remember laughing a lot in the cab.

At the service, the reading of the letter from Michelle and President Obama was the most telling of all. Marvin lent himself and his gifts to people who care enough to make a difference in the world. He did hundreds and hundreds of benefit shows. He always said, “Yes.” He was everywhere. An absolute ‘mensch.’ A sweet man with boundless energy, an open heart and a wonderful outlook on life. He always talked about the ‘success’ of a show as the icing on the cake. The real fun was in creating it.

My claim to fame, aside from having been in the original Broadway cast of the Pulitzer Prize winning A Chorus Line, is that opening night on Broadway, my parents and I drove Marvin Hamlisch’s parents from the Shubert Theatre (uptown) to the opening night party (downtown) at the Public Theatre. They were warm and lovely and very proud of their son. I remember laughing a lot in the car.

 

 

I Have a Great Job                                                        August 4, 2012

 

I have a great job.
My job is to find the best plays available and then cast the perfect actors to bring them to life. I do whatever I can think of to hunt down the best work that’s out there. This involves spending time in libraries, bookstores, talking to writers, agents and actors, going to one act festivals, and reading reading reading.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a hard time sitting still. (Probably because I’ve been a dancer all my life). My solution is this:
I move around a lot. I go from place to place, make myself at home, and read. When I get antsy, I pick up my books, move to a new spot, unpack my beach chair or stick my feet out the car window and read some more. And I’m reading great stuff. From the beach to the dog park... from Garelick & Herbs to the porch of the Playhouse... the river by the library to the front lawn of the Historical Society (which has great outside furniture always shady on a hot day), Pocket parks by the river, the Adirondack chairs at A J’s and Patio.com, the backyards of friends and co-workers, and the occasional hammock. The porch of Adams House is nice and quiet, as is Sherwood Island, and the grassy fields at Longshore.
So, if you see me cutting through your backyard with a bunch of books under my arm, I hope you’ll smile, and think of the plays you’ve seen and about the good ones yet to come, and agree that I have a great job.

 

 

 

 

 










My Kind of People                                                           March 9, 2012

I am so excited about March at Play With Your Food I can hardly stand it. I think about casting all the time. Once we pick the plays, all we talk about is who will play what part and who can we get that’ll be fabulous. It’s fun and it’s challenging and not a little anxiety provoking. When it comes together, it’s pretty exciting.


Yesterday was a very good day:

Josh Sienkiewicz is coming back. Great guy. First rate actor. The kind of guy you want around.. who sort of shrugs his shoulders and dives in. We rehearsed in the city with a terrific young actor named Dustin Sullivan, who’s worked with us in Greenwich but hasn’t been to Westport yet. Nancy discovered some really helpful ‘playwright’ notes on the play, so we’re feeling like Rich Orloff’s I Didn’t Know You Could Cook will be up to speed and ready for our first audience on Tuesday, March 6th.

I walked out of Ripley Greer Rehearsal studios with a huge smile on my face, only to run into our original dance captain from A Chorus Line on Broadway, Baayork Lee. Aside from directing all over the world, she is the ‘keeper of the flame’ so to speak, when it comes to A Chorus Line, and spreads the news as to who’d doing what. This month, she will feature Play With Your Food and our Gala on her Wong Notes (Connie Wong was the character she played in the original cast.. all those years ago) on the Chorus Line web site. Who knows.. maybe we’ll gather some of that original cast for a future Play With Your Food event!

Next rehearsal:

It just knocks me out that I get to sit around and read a play and then talk about it with E. Katheine Kerr and Tom Zingarelli – such good actors who are such good friends. Katherine is a brilliant Obie Award winning actress who ‘killed’ last summer in Fred Stroppel’s Pillow at the Weston Library. Tom has been a PWYF favorite since the beginning. I’m convinced he can do anything.

The characters in the play are actors who have spent their lives working in the theater. Maybe that’s why we’ve all been having strong emotional reactions to I Know, the play they’ll be doing together in Westport and Fairfield in March. I’m not exaggerating when I say we spent the evening laughing out loud and crying real tears. How often do you get to do that! One more play to rehearse and we’re ready to rock and roll.

I’ve been asking myself what it is about this particular group of plays I like so much. After hearing them out loud, it occurred to me that, even though in two of the plays the situation is somewhat serious, every one of the characters has a finely tuned unique sense of humor. The writing is real and warm and has that ring of truth that you look for, and in addition, the characters deal with life by going for the joke. My kind of people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casting                                                                                                 December 19, 2011

 

People are always asking me “How do you find such great actors?”  I thought the answer with regard to Seasons Readings was kind of interesting.

Fact is, I am amazed at the people who cross my path…

Here’s how Seasons Readings was cast:

 

Bob McDonald

About four week ago, just as I was beginning to panic,  a new teacher at Greens Farms Academy named Jean McDonald was helping out big time backstage during Pajama Game, which I was choreographing.  She told me she was married to an actor. I asked her to tell me about him. She said he was really good and very cute. I asked her if he was funny. She said they met when she directed him in a play and he was hilarious. Bob and I had coffee the next day and I signed him up. Jean was right. Aside from being very good and really cute, he was hilarious (as the reluctant Elf in the David Sedaris SantaLand Diaries).

 

Susan Vanech

A few years ago, I saw a photo in the Westport News. It was a very intriguing photo from a play called Ice Glen by Joan Ackermann at the community theatre. We had just done a one act by Ackermann at Play With Your Food, so I was already interested in the author... but that photo was what compelled me to go.  Susan was terrific in the play and has been working with us ever since.

 

Norman Allen

6 degrees of separation. Norman’s wife was Nancy’s son’s teacher at school. When I met him and heard about the shows he’d done on Broadway and in London, some of which I’d seen, I got so excited I could hardly stand it, so when I read Ring Out, Wild Bells I could hear it in Norman’s voice and laughed out loud the whole time I was reading it.   Then, when he read thru the ‘recipe’ at rehearsal and he went from sober to soused in two minutes, we knew we had a pretty funny ending to our pretty funny program.

 

Susan Terry

Oh, Susan Terry. She can do anything. Aside from being a wonderful actress and amazing singer, (she came of age on Broadway starting with Evita, A Little Night Music: Live from Lincoln Center, and A Sondheim Celebration at Carnegie Hall, etc) she is the best storyteller I know.  When she first moved up here, a mutual friend called and said, “I’m sending you a great gal named Susan Terry. Maybe you’ll work together.”

I have been very grateful to that friend... even if I can’t really remember who it was.

 

Florence Phillips and Fred Stroppel

Anyone who’s ever seen, or heard about Florence in Fred’s play would simply have to be an idiot not to put it on the stage, if they could. We are all members of the Theatre Artists Workshop in Norwalk (along with Susan Terry and Norman Allen), a kind of ‘gymnasium’ for actors, writers, and directors. I believe Fred wrote The Land of the Sweets for a holiday evening of his plays last year. Of course it was a sensation. We booked it for Seasons Readings.

So: To anyone lucky enough to have been at the Westport Woman’s Club Thursday night, or the Greenwich Arts Council the week before, hope you enjoy knowing how everyone came to be on those stages.

 

Bravo to the cast for earning a standing ovation!

 

Bravo to Nancy and me for being smart enough to hire them!

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Priscilla                                                                                                   October 17, 2011

 

Here’s a story. My friend Barbara came to town from Tucson so of course we went to the city to see a Show. We were feeling kind of blue, so we decided that Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was the perfect show for us. It’s a musical about three drag queens traveling thru the Australian Outback... on a bus... to put on a show. Priscilla is the name of the bus.

The show is loud and raunchy, with sequins, pop music and crazy wigs and costumes. Yet we found ourselves completely taken in by the story, and both in tears by the end of the second act. As each of the main characters found his ‘place’ in the world, and connected with something that had real meaning – a friend, a surprising romance, a son – we were completely swept away by the humanity, and the depth of feelings that were the underpinnings of this noisy, glitzy musical.

My old friend Phoebe Brand, a member of the Group Theatre way back in the ‘30’s, used to say that every good play was a political play. I think she was right. I also think that if you’re gonna write a good play, ‘you gotta have heart.’ That underneath all the jokes and the glitz, whether it be comedy, drama, farce or fantasy, a good play is about human nature: about all of our struggles to connect with each other in some meaningful way. Last year at Play With Your Food, Lynette at 3 am and Mark Twain’s Adam and Eve and South Pacific fell into this category. This season, we’re looking at the words of John and Abigail Adams, Agatha Christie, David Sedaris and George Bernard Shaw, which we hope will do the same.

As we pick the plays for the 2012, I remind myself of what we’re looking for, and what we’ve always been looking for – plays with heart, humanity, and fabulous gowns that glow in the dark!

See y’all soon

Carole

PS

On Thursday, November 3rd, JIB Productions will be one of the not-for-profits of the week at the Farmer’s Market in Westport.  Since we are in the final phase of choosing plays for our 2012 season, we will be reading Jack Rushen’s All The King’s Men at 11:00 am, 12:00 noon and 1:00 pm. Take a break from shopping and join us for this 5 minute play. Feedback is always welcome.

 

Westcoast Experiences                                                        August 3, 2011

 

Just got back from a three-month trek to the West Coast, which included several weeks in Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Ashland is like ‘Brigadoon,’ a small town just north of California in the Rogue Valley, surrounded by rolling mountains. It’s a beautiful place. The Festival has three theatres operating full time with 9 plays in revolving rep. This means there are 9 plays running, a company of 85 actors; every day at noon there’s a talk in the park or backstage at one of the theatres on some aspect of Shakespeare, or lighting design, or adapting a French farce. There are ‘show folk’ from all over the country there to absorb the atmosphere and share ideas. For a theatre professional, it’s Mecca.

I saw Henry IV part 2 one night and Pirates of Penzance the next; 1200 people in blankets and sweatshirts watching theatre in under the clearest sky I’ve ever seen… I saw a remarkable Julius Caesar, a ’60′s version of Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid, and a delightful Loves Labors Lost. There was lots of inspiration in the air.

Oddly enough, a small crisis took place when I was there... a cracked support beam in one of the theatres made the festival relocate some performances. Since they could not move sets, lights and costumes, To Kill A Mockingbird and August, Osage County had to be performed essentially as readings. They were brilliant. Everyone involved was relieved that these bare bones performances went over so well. As for me, knowing as I do that theatre is really about the writing and the acting, I wasn’t a bit surprised!

Went to three one-act festivals; met a bunch of West Coast playwrights’; did a ton of reading. The goal was to find new material and fresh ideas for Play With Your Food, which I did.

 

 

 

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Sunday, October 20 at 4 pm
featuring pre-event cabaret performance
featuring
Tony, Oscar & Grammy-winning composer
STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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