Friday, December 19, 2008

CINDERELLA'S Dame Crashes the NBC 10! Show

Click here to see the Dame from Cinderella crash the NBC 10! show!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Notes from the first Sunday Series event, by Julia Loving.

The Persians and History

Over 80 people gathered in the Main Stage theatre on Sunday afternoon, October 5th to hear a discussion on the background of current production of The Persians—how the play frames history and how history frames the play. Rosaria Munson, Chair of the Department of Classics and Lee Devin, dramaturg, resident company member, and author led an informative and engaging discussion. Dr. Munson, who has written two books and several articles on Herodotus first gave a presentation on the historical context of the play. She said that McLaughlin’s adaptation was very much in the spirit of what the Greek tragedians were doing when they adapted myths to the stage. However, what is unusual about The Persians is that it is based on an actual event—The Battle of Salamis—that happened only eight years prior to the presentation of Aeschylus’ play in 472 BC. Only two other ancient Greek plays that we know of deal with historic subjects. In all three cases, the plays have to do with the confrontation of a Greek city state with foreign invaders.

In 490 BC, the Persian king Darius and his army suffered a terrible defeat at Marathon at the hands of the Athenians. Ten years later, his son Xerxes again sent an army to defeat Athens with the goal of conquering all of Greece and making it part of the Persian Empire. This expedition lasted two years, from 481-479 BC. The Greeks’ astounding victory at the Battle of Salamis was the turning point of the war and the beginning of the ascendancy of Athenian democracy and Western civilization.

Aeschylus and his brother had fought in the Battle of Marathon where his brother died. What is so unusual about the play The Persians is that it is told from the perspective of the defeated Persians, not the victorious Athenians. What would the reaction of the Athenian audience have been to this. Most scholars believe that Aeschylus’ Persians allowed the Athenians to empathize with the defeated Persians. Dr. Munson pointed out that this was very much the tact that Ellen McLaughlin had taken in her adaptation. Her version is not triumphalist but full of compassion.

Dr. Munson said that there is also a much more cynical and less charitable view of how to understand The Persians. It is Edward Said (died 2003), Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, who called The Persians the first “orientalist” document produced by the West. The Greeks, once they had overcome their surprise at their victory over the Persians, reflected on this achievement and came up with several explanations. They theorized that the Persians were punished by the Gods for their hubris.

But, from this viewpoint, there was also another reason for the Persians’ defeat—the Greeks were superior because they were free men, constitutionally governed, relatively poor and therefore hardy, unlike the rich, soft, pampered Persians. Aeschylus’ Persians thus portrayed a polarity between East and West, which would have obliterated any sympathy the Greeks might have felt for the Persians. This is embodied in the play by the example of the two horses in Queen Atossa’s dream—in Aeschylus’ original, they are two women—representing this polarity. Asia is submissive while Europe struggles against the constraints of the bridle. There are also many references to the luxury of the Persians’ lifestyle and to their subservience to their rulers.

Dr. Munson believes that the play speaks to a combination of these aspects. She does not find it jingoistic and instead very nuanced. She said that its subtlety and portrayal of East/West polarity makes modern rewritings of the play particularly interesting.

McLaughlin’s adaptation was commissioned in 2003 just after the U.S. invasion of Iraq by Tony Randall, National Actors Theatre artistic director. Says Munson, “It completely confuses the polarity between East and West.” American viewers who would more readily identify themselves with the Greek ideals of democracy and freedom, instead “find themselves identified in no uncertain terms with an oppressive and Orientalist East.” She added that she found it extremely disturbing that we are “almost denied permission” to identify with the Athenians.

But for Aeschylus’ play to work at all with his Athenian audience, the Athenians had to feel that they were on the right side, that even while they empathized with the suffering of the Persians, the Gods and Justice were on their side.

Lee Devin pointed out that it was a testament to McLaughlin’s fine writing. Instead of offering a “simplistic, moralistic, and contemporarily fashionable” viewpoint, she “simply opens the door” to this really interesting and complex set of ideas. We can’t clearly differentiate between “us” and “them.” The play is about choices made and consequences suffered expressed in language. In other words, “it is going to be the use of language to do stuff.” Having the play situated in Susa where the Persians who were left behind await word of their army—their husbands, fathers, and sons—waging war in distant Greece. Aeschylus and McLaughlin in her adaptation let us experience the Persians’ personal suffering and psychic anguish.

One audience member said that he found it hard to accept that one goal of the play was to make the Greeks empathize with the Persians. Instead, he felt that the play would make the Athenian audience feel great pride in the suffering that their victory had caused to their enemy. He pointed out that war was part of life and not seen as a terrible thing. It was a way to acquire wealth, expand empire, and ensure security. The Athenians went on to create their own empire and were in their own way “casually brutal to those they conquered.”

Another audience member said that he was very moved by the fact that the Persians admitted their part in the tragedy, that it was their hubris that had brought them down. This could serve as a warning to the Athenians that they should not feel too much pride because they too could suffer defeat.

Dr. Munson emphasized that the play is a representation of the Greek imagination of how the Persians responded to their defeat in the Battle of Salamis. This is Greek discourse placed in the mouth of actors. Like the other great Greek tragedies, Aeschylus’ play speaks to us across 2,500 years with startling immediacy. Greek literature has sustained its power. The Greeks were articulate, aware, and analytical. “Everything is expressed,” said Munson. These qualities are not lost in McLaughlin’s remarkable adaptation.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A successful College Night!

This past Thursday was "College Night" at the theatre. We invited college students and professors to see The Persians, and held a talk-back after the show, followed by a small reception for everyone who stayed. For those of you who don't know, a talk-back is where the audience is invited to stay after the performance, and the actors come back out onto the stage to answer questions. It's entertaining and informative, and we get a lot of great questions. The student audience was no different, and below you'll find a summary of some of the questions that were asked.
  • Elizabeth Pool (Resident Dramaturg and host of the talk-back): Tell us what you will talk about on the ride home tonight. What moments, images, costumes stuck with you?

    Audience member: The way the play resonated with our times. The hubris can be compared to the United States, both now and in Vietnam.

  • Audience member: Were there really women counselors?

    Actor 1: Yes! No. I’ve been waiting for someone to ask that question! There was one woman warrior that Heroditus mentions. She disguised herself as a Greek and took down one of their ships. He said “My women act like men and my men act like women”

    Actor 2: Persian women ran businesses, owned land, and had money that was separate from their husbands. They were pretty liberated.

  • Audience member: This play portrays Darius as very sympathetic.

    Actor 1: Darius was pretty enlightened. He didn’t try to take away the belief systems of the countries he conquered.

    Actor 2: It started with Cyrus. He was conquering other lands, but he would let them stay multi-ethnic, multi cultural. Different nations under Persia. It was like that until Xerxes.

  • Audience Member: Is the play more about the Persian Tragedy or the Athenian triumph?

    Actors: Aeschylus fought in two major battles and his brother died in the first. What’s amazing to me is that just a few years later he turned around and wrote this play. And he wrote it just when Athens was thinking about becoming more like Persia. It was a cautionary tale.

  • Audience member: Can you talk about the deconstruction and interaction of the chorus? And you were all so descriptive with your bodies.

    Actor 1: Part of the acting challenge was the heightened language. Our director didn’t want us to talk out to the audience in classical Greek style automatically. Maybe ten days into the rehearsal, she turned down the lights to get us to just talk to each other. So it’s not GREEK TRAGEDY. So we would communicate as much as possible.

    Actor 2: Aeschylus wrote this as a chorus, and so did Ellen MacLaughlin. The first director divided it into chambers of the cabinet.

After the talk-back, we invited everyone into the lower lobby for refreshments, and the actors came out to mingle with the crowd.

In this picture, you can see (from left to right): Miriam Hyman (The Herald), Nancy Shaw (Director of Education at PLTC), Mark Hairston (Xerxes), and the back of Kevin Bergen (The Chairman). The entire cast made an appearance, and it was interesting to watch them continue the talk-back in the form of one-on-one conversations with the audience members.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fun Cinderella Facts, by Sara Waxman

Design sketch of a Flapper costume for our production of Cinderella: A Musical Panto,
by costume designer Rosemarie McKelvey.

About the Production
This year’s Panto, Cinderella, is set in the Roaring Twenties, which is remembered for its vibrant social scene. Party-goers had their own language and Vaudeville (a broadly comic style of theatre divided into sketches and dance acts) was a popular form of entertainment. Flappers were party girls who wore fringed dresses and spoke their own language, calling “Hey-ho, Daddy-o” to each other and dancing the Charleston at every opportunity. In our production of Cinderella, Ella’s stepsisters are wannabe Flappers. To learn more about the 1920s party scene, Flappers, and the Charleston, visit and search for “Dancin’ the Charleston” (make sure to put your search topic in quotes). Check out “The Charleston” with music by the Green Hill Instrumental.

Flapper/1920s Lingo
“Speak easy” – an illegal bar, usually in the basement of an establishment or private residence, during the time of Prohibition (The speak easy in our Panto happens to be in the basement of the Mayor’s mansion).
“Applesauce” –in our production is used to refer to alcohol
“Dusting the Mug” – Putting on powdered make-up
“Greaser” – eye brow pencil
“Painting the kisser” – Putting on lipstick
“The Bees Knees” – refers to a person, place, or thing that is extraordinary or cool

Variations on the story of Cinderella
Cinderella has come down to us in many versions. Some tellings include mice, a pumpkin, a glass slipper, while others include Pharaohs, slaves, an eagle, and meddling gods. Although the elements of the stories differ, they all follow the same path—a downtrodden heroine magically escapes her situation (usually shoes play a role in the action) and ends up with a prince. Here are some of the very first versions of the story. (When you see the play, look for elements from these versions that resurface in Kathryn Petersen’s Cinderella.)

In Aesop’s fable “The Girl with the Rose Red Slippers,” a young Greek girl, Rhodopis, is stolen by pirates and sold into slavery. She is bought by a merchant who showers her with gifts and a pair of Rose Red Slippers. One day while she is bathing in the river, an eagle swoops down and steals one of her slippers. The eagle flies to Egypt and drops the slipper at the Pharaoh’s feet, who believes the slipper is a sign from the Gods. He sends his men to find Rhodopis and, when she is found, makes her his queen. (Source:

Brothers Grimm
In the Grimm tale version, Cinderella is befriended by the birds that live in the hazel tree at the foot of her mother’s grave. On the night of the Prince’s ball Cinderella goes to the hazel tree and says: “Shiver and quiver, little tree, silver and gold throw down over me." The tree supplies her finery. At the ball, Cinderella loses a shoe in her haste to get home before her Stepmother and Stepsisters. When the Prince arrives at Cinderella’s house in search of the shoe’s owner, the stepsisters try to trick him into believing the shoe fits them by cutting off parts of their feet. But the birds sing to the Prince, alerting him to the Stepsisters’ trick. He tries the shoe on Cinderella, it fits, and he takes her for his bride.

Charles Perrault
Charles Perrault’s is perhaps the most well-known version of Cinderella. A French government official, Perrault was the first to include the elements familiar to us: the Fairy Godmother, the glass slipper, a pumpkin turned a coach, and the transformation of Cinderella’s animal friends into footmen, horses, and coachmen. Perrault’s innovative contribution to literature was to transform folktales into the first fairy tales by including enchantments, magical creatures, and intricate turns of events. (Source:

Recent Adaptations
In 1804, the Drury Lane and Adelphi Theatres in London produced Cinderella in the pantomime form. The traditional English pantomime, which the People’s Light production is inspired by, contains specific elements such as mistaken identity, comedy, political satire, and a Dame (a man dressed as a woman). Other panto traditions are audience participation, a messy fight (past years at People’s Light have included fights in jello and ice cream), singing, dancing, and candy!

Contemporary versions of the tale include Disney’s animated movie and TV versions of the book and lyrics by Rodgers and Hammerstein (starring Lesley Ann Warren in 1965 and Brandy in 1997). Cinderella has also found her way into pop culture via songs like Fairy Tale by Sara Bareilles, Cinderella Stay Awhile by Michael Jackson, Cinderfells by Snoop Dogg, Cinderella by Britney Spears, and I Can Love You Like That by John Michael Montgomery and All-4-One.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Slapstick in the Panto, by Nancy Shaw.

The English Pantomime tradition (very different from the French mime tradition) is a popular form of theatre, performed especially around the holidays in England. It includes singing, dancing, comedy, and references to the events of the day - all gathered up in the outlines of a familiar folk tale or traditional story. The form of the Pantomime grew out of the Italian Commedia Dell-Arte. Like its Italian ancestor, the British Panto incorporates lots of physical humor, sight gags, and slapstick.

The word slapstick comes from a literal stick or paddle. In Commedia, an actor would carry with him a paddle made of wood that had a hinged flap. When the actor wanted to pretend to slap someone, he flicked the paddle and the wooden flap hit against the rest of the paddle to create a loud slapping sound. This sound effect increased the comic moment of the slap. A common "slapstick" routine most of us are familiar with is the pie in the face. As soon as we see a large meringue pie on stage or film, we can guess what’s going to happen.

In Pantos, it's traditional to include an extended messy slapstick fight or catastrophe. At the end of the scene, everyone is covered with whatever the messy substance is. At People's Light, our messy slapstick scenes in previous Pantos have used flour, soapy water with dishes spitting out of a deranged dishwasher, and ice cream (represented by shaving cream). Keep your eye out for what we use to make a mess in Cinderella!

Nancy Shaw
Director of Education

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chris Triebel on "The Elements of a Play", a class by Lou Lippa

Playwright in Residence, Lou Lippa, has been teaching a class here at People’s Light this summer called The Elements of a Play. Below is a response from one of the students, Chris Triebel:

This class has been a monumental help to me not just as a writer or an actor, but as an artist in general. The way he is able to dissect a play down to its basic format and illustrate it is incredible. I took this class originally to help me with some problems I was having as a writer. After the first class, I knew I was going to get a lot more than I thought. Some of the things we discussed were things I knew but were put in a way I had never thought before, some were brand new ideas, but all of it was useful. I definitely feel stronger as a writer and an actor after having taken this class.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Young Lady from Rwanda - Now Extended!

Good news, everyone! Young Lady from Rwanda has just been extended until June 29th. The additional dates and times are listed below.

Wednesday, June 25th at 7:30pm
Thursday, June 26th at 7:30pm
Friday, June 27th at 8:00pm
Saturday, June 28th at 2:00 & 8:00pm
Sunday, June 29th at 2:00pm

I'm also sticking in some quotes from the reviews we've received--and of course we couldn't be happier about all of the wonderful comments we've heard from people who've already seen the show!

"...a play you simply cannot miss."
Main Line Times
"an open, intimate and beautiful play."
City Paper

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Young Lady from Rwanda Journal - Week 4, by Miriam Hyman

Week 4
Well, we are finally open and running until the 29th of June. It has been a tough but very rewarding experience thus far. After we open there aren't any more rehearsals, so with the support of our stage manager we are able to keep the show at a good pace and keep it alive. Our audiences have received the play well as far as I can tell. We, David and I, speak to the audience a lot so it is imperative that we build a genuine relationship with each participant from the beginning or at least with those who are willing, which have been most. It can be odd sometimes when you try to speak to an individual and they look down or away. Some are nervous, some are intrigued, some want to deal with the material, some don't. Nonetheless, my job is to tell Juliette's story and I'm going to do it. Her story, the genocide against the Tutsi Rwandan people, is worth an hour and a half of diligent listening. So I hope you attend and be open to the experience. Till next time.....

Friday, May 16, 2008

Young Lady from Rwanda Journal - Week 3, by Miriam Hyman

Week 3

To start this week off, Elizabeth Pool, our dramaturg for this show, set up a meeting for me to meet with a woman from The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, an organization that assists foreigners from many different countries to become permanent PA residents. I was fortunate to have met with a woman from Sierra Leone. I won't share her story but I will say that she gave me much more insight as to what my character was feeling during her troubling times. I incorporated this insight and applied it to my character development. I'm off to learn lines and study blocking.

Young Lady from Rwanda Journal - Week 2, by Miriam Hyman

Week 2

We are up on our feet. This week the director David Bradley will begin to block myself and David Ingram, the other actor in the show. We will begin to understand the space and there is an example of the set sitting on the director's table. We start to form the beginning of the play and slowly work through all the scenes, figuring which blocking is interesting and/or a problem for sight lines. Again, another difficult part of the process because we are performing this piece in a three-quarter stage, meaning that the audience will be on three sides of the stage. So we have to engage all sides at all times.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Young Lady from Rwanda Journal - Week 1, by Miriam Hyman

Week 1

We begin the week of rehearsals by doing table work, reading through the play, discussing characters, and the play’s overall journey and purpose. It's difficult material because of a few reasons: it's based on true events, a horrible one at that, and inspired by real people. My goal for this week is to do a bunch of research about Rwanda itself, the people, their cultures, lifestyles and so on. At rehearsal, the dramaturg and director are kind enough to share several reading materials, such as What Is the What, Life Laid Bare, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, and Left to Tell, just to name a few. During this week I will also watch many films to give me precise images of the horrific disaster of genocide in Rwanda, such as Sometimes in April, Hotel Rwanda, Last King of Scotland and Ghosts of Rwanda. For me it is necessary to see what my character would have seen. I also observe these films to listen for dialect references and natural rhythms of speech. This is a busy week for me because, in addition to all this research, I must constantly learn lines, more lines, and more lines. Luckily, I began learning lines and doing research before I came to People’s Light to begin the rehearsal process for I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda. It is a tough process, but there is no place I would rather be and no other show that I would rather do than what’s in front of me. My mission is to do Juliette's (my character) story justice.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Young Lady from Rwanda Journal - An Introduction by Elizabeth Pool

From our Resident Dramaturg Elizabeth Pool:

This spring we are thrilled to be working on Sonja Linden’s play I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda. The piece explores the horrors of the Rwandan genocide and tells the story of Juliette, a young survivor struggling to find her story and her voice. Miriam Hyman plays Juliette and agreed to give us a glimpse at her process for creating this character and this play. Over the rehearsal period she will check in with us on a weekly basis to blog about her experience. We hope you will enjoy this peek into an actor’s world and will join us for I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Getting Near to Baby Journal - 4/18/08

Opening Night with the cast of GETTING NEAR TO BABY

We were backstage with the young cast members of Getting Near to Baby on opening night. Here they share how they managed the nerves, jitters, and excitement:

Katie Johantgen (Liz Fingers): Opening night was glorious! My mom, dad, little sister, and her friend were there. The house was packed and really friendly so it made it a really fun and exciting show.

Claire Inie-Richards (Willa Jo): I didn’t want my family to be there on opening night because I knew I would be nervous and didn’t think I could handle the pressure. It was really fun though and I felt great about the show - that took a whole lot of the nerves away!

Maggie Fitzgerald (Little Sister): Opening night was thrilling. I had my mom and grandfather there to support me. Opening night always gives me goose bumps and makes me nervous, but I turn all my nervousness into energy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Getting Near to Baby Podcast, with Willa Jo!

Click here to listen to a podcast interview with Claire Inie-Richards, who is playing Willa Jo in Getting Near to Baby. What would you have asked Claire if you had done the interview? Write us a comment and let us know!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Getting Near to Baby Journal - 3/10/08

Making It Work

The talented young actors in Getting Near to Baby balance quite a bit between school, rehearsals, and other activities. Here they let us in on how they make it all work.

Meg Rose (Cynthia Wainwright): Management of school, rehearsal, and the rest of my life has been surprisingly easy on some days and impossibly difficult others. One of the many things I have learned is to manage my time. Doing everything ahead of when it is due is the key to my easy nights. By everything, I mean memorizing lines and homework. I am in the 8th grade at Westtown School and everyone’s support is what helps me get through the two plus hours of homework after a five hour rehearsal.

Claire Inie-Richards (Willa Jo): I am home schooled, actually it is called cyber school. I do my schoolwork on a computer at home so it doesn’t really get in the way….thankfully!

Katie Johantgen (Liz Fingers): It’s tough! The most important thing is making sure I’m communicating with all of my teachers so they know my schedule and can work with me to keep me up to date with my homework. I also have to do my best to go to bed early so I get enough sleep, but that’s hard too. I would say it stinks being so busy, but I’m doing what I love to do so it’s fun.

Nathaniel Brastow (Isaac Fingers): I have to be very organized and I need to do things when I have time to do them. I have to think ahead.

Maggie Fitzgerald (Little Sister): It is certainly a challenge to balance school and rehearsal. I usually get all of my homework on Monday (our day off) and do it on Monday nights and on breaks during rehearsal. All of my teachers are very supportive of my career and help me keep up.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Getting Near to Baby Journal - 2/29/08

"Finding My Inner Meanie", by cast member Meg Rose, who plays Cynthia Wainwright in the production.

In Getting Near to Baby, the character of Cynthia is a cookie snatching, goodie-two shoes, know-it-all bully who no one likes. Everyone has a Cynthia in their life. In fact, let's admit, everyone has a Cynthia lurking inside. The initial joy I felt when I was cast soon turned to panic when I realized that audiences might hate me. But then I started to think about why she behaves the way she does and I started to feel sorry for her. I started to understand her meanness and hoped the audience would understand her too, so I didn't come off mean. Then I was told that onstage if you play your character as mean as you can you're doing a great job and if people tell you that you were really mean it's a compliment. I realized that Cynthia needs to be in the play, without her, there wouldn't be the "villain." But I hope I wouldn't be mean like Cynthia in real life. That would be rude and "without charm." Besides, my mother would kill me. Onstage it's different. You get to be bad without getting in trouble. But it's not as easy as you may think-- it's a challenge to let my inner meanie be seen in front of people. I don't want to be interpreted as mean, but it took a little while for the thought to sink in, the thought that the audience doesn't see me as mean, but they see Cynthia as mean. Honestly before it feels fun it feels hard. I have to focus on what Cynthia wants and not let any thoughts about what people think get in my way. Then it's pure pleasure.

As an added bonus for you guys, here are some pictures from the rehearsal:

Cast members Nathaniel Brastow, Katie Johantgen, Susan McKey and Meg Rose.

Maggie Fitzgerald and Nathaniel Brastow.

The very crowded rehearsal room!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Getting Near to Baby Rehearsal Blog – Welcome!

Getting Near to Baby continues our initiative to bring award winning novels for young people to the stage. It tells the story of 12 year-old Willa Jo and Little Sister who, after the death of their baby sister, are whisked away from their mom to live temporarily with Aunt Patty, who has a million rules about everything. For this production we felt it was imperative to cast children in the roles and as a result we are excited to welcome five actors under the age of 16. We knew they would have a unique perspective on the process of bringing this story to life so we asked them to participate in this on-line blog. Twice a week we will receive an entry, written in their own words, of what is happening in the rehearsal room. We hope you will check back on the work of the young cast and join us in March and April for Getting Near to Baby.

Friday, February 1, 2008

What is Dramaturgy? By Elizabeth Pool

Elizabeth Pool, our Resident Dramaturg, clears it up for us.

At a recent talk back one of our inquisitive audience members asked the question I get asked quite often – what is a Resident Dramaturg? It’s a question I am used to answering from friends, family members, and perceptive audience members! I like to think of my job as making a play accessible to whoever comes in contact with it, everyone from actor to audience member. In rehearsal, I provide information to actors and directors that underscore the understanding of context – historical context, geographical context, and social context. For example, with a play like The Glass Menagerie, it might help the cast understand their characters place in the world by understanding a bit about life in St. Louis in the 1930s. I also hope to make the play accessible to the audience through tools like program notes and lobby displays. I try to ask the question: What information can be shared about the playwright or play that will make this piece more accessible to YOU, the audience member? I look forward to generating more conversation with you as the season unfolds.

Thoughts on a Quick Trip to Tucson, by Elizabeth Pool.

By Elizabeth Pool, Resident Dramaturg

In mid-January I had the opportunity to visit the University of Arizona and meet with their undergraduate and graduate candidates in dramaturgy. The idea was to talk for an hour with the students about the process of dramaturging adaptations as well as general discussions about launching a career as a dramaturg. The students were professional, enthusiastic, and creative. I was extremely impressed with the exuberance they brought to their work and the commitment they had to dramaturgy. Their portfolios were bursting with snapshots of lobby displays (so imaginative they bordered almost on installation art), extensive writing samples, and thorough research. Dramaturgy can be a fairly solitary pursuit and it was inspiring to be around such an engaged group of people. As I was flying home from Tucson, on a clear day and above some pretty spectacular mountains, my thoughts wandered to these students and their abundance of “Big Ideas.” They reminded me that theatre and the creation of art can be exuberant, intelligent, and graceful all at the same time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Medieval times, juggling, and an orphan named Crispin.

This past Tuesday, People's Light held an invited dress rehearsal for our upcoming production for Crispin: The Cross of Lead (the second production of three in our Family Series program). The show officially opens tomorrow night. Crispin was adapted by Russell Davis, and is based on the novel by Avi.

Christopher Patrick Mullen as Bear, the traveling entertainer, Erin Brueggemann as Crispin, and the rest of the cast of CRISPIN: THE CROSS OF LEAD
Now, invited dresses are one of my favorite things. An invited dress is held the Tuesday before the opening performance of every production PLTC does. It's a necessary and educational event that is as much for the actors and stage crew as it is for the people who come to see it. And just who gets to be present at this special event, you ask? Well, it's usually reserved for PLTC staff and their family members, actors' families, and maybe a sponsor or two. However, this last one was different. We held a subscriber reception for those patrons who are new subscribers this season, so that we might meet them and give them the chance to ask us questions. We had a great turnout, and the house was filled to the brim with people eager to see what happens to our hero Crispin.

We've updated our picture section with some shots from the show. If you're intrigued by any of those photos of juggling, laughter and mishap, come join us for Crispin: The Cross of Lead, running from January 17th - February 24th!


Thursday, January 3, 2008

An update from Ahren Potratz, Resident Teaching Artist

I’ll be heading up our New Voices Youth Ensemble in 2008 and I’m looking forward to moving ahead full steam in January. We will be working on some exciting things this year around the topic of “In Search Of…” Students will explore the topic through improv, discussion, and writing, culminating in an original work to be presented in May.

One of the theatrical methods I want to expose my students to over the course of the next few months is the use of puppetry. Puppets will range from very small and practical to obscure and larger than life. I’m interested to see what kind of material arises when human and puppet interact to create theater.

The other week, two of my colleagues in education, Sara and Mark, helped me create a few puppets of various sizes and then we spent the evening testing them out. We made small vignettes and movement pieces with music and organic sound and it was a wonderful way to spend a Friday night.

Ahren Potratz