Tuesday, May 12, 2009

So much music, so little time!

I need to choose a song to walk to for the Theatre Senior Ceremony on Friday night, and it's NOT easy.

There are so many good songs to describe my five years in college, and the two and a half I spent as a theatre major. Not to mention my music tastes are so incredibly eclectic. I like almost everything.

I would offer up some "La Vie Boheme" from RENT, but I think it'd be a little too cliche for anyone's tastes right now.

I'm thinking "Swim" by Jack's Mannequin. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 11, 2009

The theatre major: switching it on and off?

Some days, I feel like being a theatre major. I feel like singing at the top of my lungs and not caring what anyone thinks of me and dressing weird and being crazy and doing random things and talking in accents.

And some days, I really, really don't.

Maybe it's a switch inside of me that I've learned to turn on and off because I have so many other interests outside of theatre (another major and a minor, even), but there are times when I don't feel like being the outrageous person that theatre majors typically are.

Yesterday when we were striking the lights for The Time of Your Life on the Mainstage, everyone was singing songs from the recent workshop production of Songs for A New World and I just wasn't into it. I don't know why, I just didn't feel like it.

It makes me feel like I have some sort of personality disorder. And it also makes me feel like a crappy theatre person. But I guess it's better than I'm honest with myself, eh?


Friday, May 8, 2009

The powers of theatre, Part 2

Warning: I'm about to get all existential, and it's the inner Crossing Cultures student in me talking.

Theatre is more than rehearsals and performance. It extends outside of the script and off the stage.

Before you can attempt to cross into another culture, you have to understand your own. That's the underlying message I've taken away from Theatre of Crossing Cultures class.

We do a lot of exercises to help each other do this. The thing that makes the class unique and these exercises worthwhile is that it's a non-permit class, which means that non-majors can take it, as well. About half the class are theatre majors, so a lot of them aren't used to the open environment and activities that demand us to reach into the depths of our souls and share some of our innermost secrets with one another.

Sometimes it takes a lot to participate in these activities, especially ones that stir up unwanted or unrealized emotion from within us. But the class atmosphere grows so much from learning from each other that one never feels judged, everyone knows everyone else's name, and no one is opposed to sharing his or her opinion.

Who are all those people you've brought with you?

Have you even considered it before?


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tony noms are announced!

I must digress from crossing cultures right now to address the recent Tony Award nominations.

The first and most important element of this entry is to extend a congratulations to Towson University's own John Glover, alum and visiting acting instructor, on his nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play for Waiting for Godot. Those who aren't familiar with Glover may know him from television as Lex Luthor's father, Lionel, on Smallville, or most recently, as Sylar's father on the supernatural drama Heroes.

I've had the privilege of working with Glover in my Acting I and Directing I classes, and he frequently returns to Towson when he's not busy starring on Broadway or in top-rated TV shows. He prides himself on offering real-world advice to students.

As for the rest of the noms, the Dolly Parton musical 9 to 5 is up there, as well as Shrek: The Musical and Next to Normal, which opened at Arena Stage in DC before finding fame on the Great White Way. Hollywood actresses Jane Fonda, Marcia Gay Harden and Angela Lansbury are also in the running for an award.

Godot is also up for Best Revival of a Play and Best Costume Design.

For a full list of the nominations, check out the Tony Awards official site. Tune in to the Tonys on Sunday, June 7th at 8/7c on CBS.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

The powers of theatre, Part I

Theatre of Crossing Cultures is one of my two theatre classes this semester. It's a bit different than your typical classroom structure. No exams, no lectures, no note-taking. Instead, we play a ball game every day, sit in a circle, and laugh and cry over each other's innermost secrets.

Sounds more like a camp pow-wow than a 300-level college course, right? Well, Barry, our teacher, is respected within the Theatre Department, even if he is a little unconventional. He drives his motorcycle to work and pushes around a shopping cart from Linens 'N Things full of shiny objects, noisemakers, bells, whistles, and decorations. He reminds us of his credo every day: "I have nothing to give you," rejecting the structure of the American education system and instead encouraging us to learn from each other.

I have to say that I've never had a class quite like it before. Although theatre classes are generally a bit more movement- or action-oriented than typical lecture or lab classes, I've never initiated class every day with tossing a globe-sized ball at my classmates to learn their names, or had the chance to share some of my most life-altering moments with people I hardly know.

There's a lot I want to say about this class; I'm breaking it up into a series of posts so it doesn't get monotonous. But if you want to get into the crossing-cultures mindset, ponder the following and all of its possible meanings:
"Who are all those people you have brought with you?"
The disciple whirled around to look.
Nobody there. Panic!
Lao Tzu said: "Do you not understand?"
Welcome to Theatre of Crossing Cultures. It's a wild ride.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Lighting jitters, again

I once again caught myself in that difficult situation of being uncomfortable doing lighting work because of the height factor involved. Only this time, it was in the catwalks of the Mainstage
Theatre, and there was no steel grid to save me.

Focus for TU's production of The Time of Your Life, which opens this weekend, took place last week, and I thought it wouldn't be a big deal because I got through the last lighting-way-above-the-stage adventure with flying colors. But this time, all of us were assigned to specific lights to focus as the lighting designer called up commands from the stage, and we were expected to know how to adjust a light properly.

Not to mention we were dealing with heavy, complicated units that cost thousands of dollars apiece and could kill an actor should one of them fall.

It was nervewracking. Leaning half of my body out over a flimsy metal rail to insert color into the end of a light is not my idea of a tea party. It was dark, dusty and hot, and further reaffirmed by suspicions that I am not meant to be a lighting designer, or even part of a lighting crew.

I'll keep my theatre career grounded, thank you very much, either on stage or behind it, and let the people who can't get enough of climbing around the rafters like monkeys do their jobs.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Free theatre from Twitter!

Something cool happened to me today.

Last night, @EverymanTheatre ran a mini-contest on Twitter, giving away two tickets to their performance of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard to the first person to identify three characters from the show. I was with some friends in the library working on a presentation and just happened to glance at it. I responded for the heck of it, not thinking I'd be the first person, because the tweet had been posted about three hours before I'd seen it.

Wouldn't you know it that this morning, I'd received a reply from Everyman congratulating me and asking for information so they could send me the tickets. Pretty cool, right? Along with that, they asked me to help spread the word about their company through Twitter and other social media sites.

So it looks like I'll be seeing the show on Saturday night. Thanks, Everyman! Don't underestimate the power of Twitter; it has its advantages!

Oh, and Happy Birthday (and possibly Death-day) to the Bard himself, Mr. William Shakespeare.