Wednesday, February 25, 2015

An Interview with Elbert Joseph (Tuc)

As a Deaf, Caribbean-American pre-teen passionately devoted to theatre and intent on making it his career, Elbert Joseph found his way to Wheelock Family Theatre.  He appeared with the cast of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp when he was twelve years old.  He also became the Theatre’s first Deaf ASL interpreter.  He trained as a member of WFT’s PAH! Deaf Youth Theatre and went on to appear on the Wheelock main stage in numerous productions, including in the lead role in E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan, for which he earned an IRNE nomination (a Boston-based theatre award).

 
While a professor at Regis College, WFT Producer Wendy Lement cast Elbert in the lead role of Tuc in her production of Mother Hicks.  Coincidentally, just at this time Suzan Zeder’s prequel to Mother Hicks—The Taste of Sunrise—was released.  Zeder had written it in response to the flood of requests she received from people around the world who wanted to know more about the background of the three main characters.  Elbert approached WFT in hopes that the Theatre would produce it.  However, given the number of Deaf characters, and the associated cost of providing interpreter support for them, WFT was unable to produce the show at that time.  In the summer of 2013, Zeder’s long-awaited sequel to Mother Hicks, The Edge of Peace, was published, creating a trilogy of plays revolving around the character of Tuc.

 

Elbert is finally realizing his dream to revisit the character of Tuc, not only in WFT’s production of The Taste of Sunrise, but also—almost simultaneously—in the productions of Mother Hicks (at Emerson Stage) and The Edge of Peace (at Central Square Theater).

And, because of the 14 years that have passed since he first took on the role of Tuc, he is now closer to the actual age of the character.

When did you get interested in acting?

I started acting when I was twelve years old. My school always took trips to see Wheelock productions, even when I was younger. When I saw Peter Pan I knew something inside of me said “You’re an actor, you want to be on stage, to make changes in the future of theatre worlds -- diversity and inclusion! “

The teacher asked us to pick an actor from the play and be a pen pal. I didn't know who I wanted, but I thought the actor who played Smee was excellent.  I picked him, but it turned out to be “she”:  it was Jane Staab, founder, casting director, and actress at Wheelock Family Theatre.  She and I would write letters every week, until one day I told her I wanted to be on stage. She said the current production was already cast, but if I was planning to see any production soon to let her know.  I told her that the school and I were planning to see Tuck Everlasting.  I met her after show. She was in her costume.  She told me, “Why don't you come and audition for The Wizard of Oz?” I did, and got cast. At the audition, I had no idea about acting or how to audition. You know what is funny? Jane and I have same birthday!  After that, there is a magic........


What is your history with Suzan Zeder’s work?

I had no clue of who she was until I did the play Mother Hicks at Regis with Wendy (Lement), who directed that show.  It was a great experience because I fell in love with the play itself, involving a Deaf character that leads and tell a story.  I remember I wrote an email to Suzan Zeder, and told her how much I loved this play and hoped to meet her in person. I never thought it would be happening, that I would be meeting her....  It’s almost like she is this person I have been waiting to meet ever since I was young.  I am curious what she will think of our production and of me as Tuc.

What is it like playing the same character in three different plays over the course of a month?

All three plays are remarkably moving. They are such beautiful plays!  Every time I read all three plays, I cry and cry again. I see Tuc’s journey as transformative. I see myself like Tuc on certain levels – in terms of which community he really fit in, and how he fits in as a man differently than when he was a young man.  I really hope the audience will see through Tuc’s eyes and mind, feel his pain, his love, and his humanity.

What is your advice to a Deaf person who wants to become an actor?

Work hard.  Don't give up. Work with many Deaf and hearing actors and directors.  Learn their craft. Take some training. I encourage Deaf artists to write more plays about Deaf experience in the hearing world, families, and community; more Deaf artists to become directors, designers, and acting teachers in hearing theatres; to create more awareness and more opportunities for themselves in theatre.

Interview with Kristin Johnson, co-director The Taste of Sunrise


KRISTIN JOHNSON TALKS ABOUT INCLUSION AND CO-DIRECTING THE TASTE OF SUNRISE WITH WFT PRODUCER WENDY LEMENT

 
Having been born Deaf to hearing parents, WFT Inclusion Coordinator Kristin Johnson has a special perspective on accommodating people with disabilities or additional needs.  As co-director of The Taste of Sunrise she also has a unique take on aspects of the drama that focus on the hearing child of Deaf adults (CODA)—her daughter, Ingrid, is a CODA. (See Ingrid’s reflections later in this study guide.)

 
What do you do as Inclusion Coordinator?

Are you familiar with AD -  Audio Description? People who have any kind of visual limitations or are blind are able to come and listen to what is happening on stage, which is narrated to them by an AD team - this may include a description of the set, what the characters are wearing, what they look like, what they are doing. They can hear that through a headset so it does not interfere with the spoken dialogue. AD typically describes what is happening during some kind of down time on stage, filling in all of the gaps; it doesn't, of course, include the dialogue itself.  So the AD team typically will have a script ready and they will just read live to the people who are wearing the headsets. AD and the ASL team are very similar in what they have to do. They have to prepare their work well in advance to provide the accessibility.

The open caption system is very similar. Open captioning has to be preprogrammed in a computer.  The script that the actors are using is put into the system. They have a laptop set up that this program runs on. And the open caption operator (typically a Wheelock College student) will listen to the characters for their lines, and they will hit a button that lines up the captioning that shows up on the sides of the stage. And so they will time it up nicely.  It is not a live captioning system. The operator who is there sure is live, but they have input all the information beforehand.

Now with the ASL interpretation that is a live sign language performance, something they have practiced long in advance. The AD system as well is a live person reading their script, something they have prepared beforehand. Those three things are what I’m involved in coordinating.

 
Is this unique to Wheelock Family Theatre?

Yes. The services that WFT provide have been ongoing for 34 years.  They are very loyal and very committed to providing accessible theatre. All of the services that are included are very visible to everyone who comes. They aren’t hidden at the back of the house or the side, so everyone can see the accessibility we are providing. For The Taste of Sunrise we actually have our captioning system right there in the center of the stage, not off to the side.  The interpreters will be on stage with the actors. It’s wonderful. And Wendy has been so supportive of our services. She’s very involved in the inclusivity we provide. It’s just what we have been talking about – this one world of inclusion, of deafness, blindness, everything. Some other directors, other theatres really like to keep things separate. Not Wheelock.

 
Have you directed or co-directed a play before?

I direct my own ASL team. I have been the director of our ASL performers. But I have never been a director for the whole cast. But it’s truly an honor to be able to work with Wendy.  She is someone who has been mentoring me. And she is my ears in this, and I am her eyes. So it’s such a perfect combination of the two of us.

 
What sort of things will you do as a co-director of this production?

The set we are using is a raked stage. And we have both been really involved in trying to figure out what we are doing for specific trap doors. We are adding real dirt, gravel. We are using real water. We are trying to do something with a little bit of fire. As well as lighting design -- whether we need certain moments to be warm, cool. I’m also involved in designing what the actual rake will look like. Right now we’ve decided on wooden planks. There is a Deaf artist named James Castle. He was an artist during the Depression. We’ve taken a lot of his moods, his textures that he used back then, and we’ve really incorporated them into the show. It fits very nicely.

Also, we have been influenced by how Deaf people used to react during audiological exams. You know there is an old instrument called a tuning fork. A Deaf person would sit there and an audiologist would ring it and put it all over their head. And if it is your first time experiencing something like that it’s very traumatic.  Of course it’s something these people had to go through over and over again, with always the same result. They’re still Deaf at the end of the appointment. But these kinds of things are something that I, as a co-director, bring to the table, this bit of perspective that someone who is not Deaf would not have.

 
Were your parents Deaf or hearing?

Both of my parents were hearing. Ninety percent of Deaf people have hearing parents. Within that group of Deaf people, 10 percent will have Deaf children, but 90 percent will have hearing children. My own daughter is one of the 90 percent of the CODAs that you will see. It’s a misunderstanding that a Deaf person will always have a Deaf child. And really it’s such a small amount. Ten percent.

How does this play speak to you?

I’ve been working with Amanda Collins, who plays Maizie.  I love and hate this character Maizie.  I love her because she does so much for Tuc. And Tuc, he comes from a very clueless home with very limited communication and very little social background, whereas Maizie has access. She has access to movie palaces, she has access to the hearing world – everything that’s spoken – and she also has access to her parents through sign language, whereas Tuc has nothing, except communicating with the birds, the wind, and the water.  And having those two characters together, where Maizie introduces Tuc to the world—I’m so grateful for that in her character. Tuc does try to prove to Maizie that two worlds are OK. But it’s a pretty big conflict. So yes, Maizie is a young girl, she’s sixteen, and she has the mind of a child. I do understand her desire to experience the world before she is tied down with a baby.

And you have Tuc’s father, who winds up passing in the show. And that is something I’ve also experienced, that grief of losing a parent. And Tuc is put into the Deaf School, a whole new experience for him, which is something I experienced as well. When I was four years old I was put into a residential program where I slept overnight. So I have a lot of ties to all of these characters. I can relate to almost all of them.

Friday, February 20, 2015

PINOCCHIO reviews!

International Students of Wheelock College, saw and reviewed PINOCCHIO. I am posting 3 of them here... and they are a good read and an interesting perspective!

Christabelle Peter
The acting skills of everyone on stage are fantastic. They played their characters really good that you can tell each of their characteristics from the audience point of view. The caught my attention was the words they used like yen, beef stew, pachinko, and more. These words blends in Japanese setting till I feel like ordering a ramen from the stall. Addition to that, the dancing also caught my eye as the movement of the dancers remind me of a Japanese painting called “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” because they movement looks like a wave. Other than that, I also realized that the person who dances behind the Blue Fairy resembles her shadow.

From all the characters, my favourite is the snail that passes by at a certain time of the scene. It was confusing at first about its appearance but then I notice it represents the time that passed by. The snail also have its part when he told Pinocchio of Blue Fairy’s condition. My favourite scene is when the snail picks up its body like a dress and ran off immediately. It is not realistic like a real snail but the actor gave a humorous and playful scene to us as he was doing so.

Alaye Princewill
Compared to the Pinocchio I have read and watched when I was a child, the play was very similar and slightly different. It starts off with a man named Geppetto. When the gentle woodcarver Geppetto builds a puppet to be his son, a fairy brings the toy to life, the boy could move and talk its name was Pinocchio hopes to become a real boy someday. The fairy appointed a cricket to look over Pinocchio. But even with the help of his cricket friend who the fairy assigned to be his guide Pinocchio seemed to struggle and have problems. Instead of going to school he gets tricked by two puppeteers who lied that they could make him rich. He found and made a friend and they both were deceived and taken to toy land. Toy land is a place for lazy kids, they played all day and both won, after winning the next morning they started changing into donkeys gradually and eventually were sold. Pinocchio was swallowed by a whale, the same whale that swallowed his father eventually they got out. The blue fairy rewarded him by transforming him into a real boy.

I enjoyed watching the real play because it was very creative, it made me laugh that’s why I kept watching and it caught the eyes of the audience. The Pinocchio story tells you to go after your goals. The plot was perfect, the purpose of the play was delivered or transferred to the audience. I think the acting was played well, the way the characters displayed their behavior, dancing and following the rhythm of the music which was played at the right time.

Michael Ly
“Pinocchio” is a play about the love in family, between parents and children, the strong relationship in family. Pinocchio, the wooden boy, care about his father, he leave home to find gold. He meet and overcome many challenge, also, his father go very long way to find him. At last, they meet each other and together to overcome the last challenge. Finally, Pinocchio is became the real boy.

The light is suitable to the background or the main topic is going on in the state. The connecting between light and music caught customer’s attention. The changing of the background had the appearance of many people. But it did not make the viewer feel uncomfortable, they can feel more natural. The costumes were suitable with the character and the Japanese scene in the play.

In all characters, I like the snail. He is the symbols as the time go through, also, I think it is the symbol of trying. From the beginning, he went slow and moved the rock. To the end, the number of rock was more, this was the result for his trying. In addition to, the snail was also very fun, when someone caught his rock and Pinocchio told him to send mail, he ran very fast. That point made audience very fun.

Gareth
When I watching the comedy which called Pinocchio, I really pleasantly surprised about it because I had never seen a Western comedy has a lot of Eastern culture elements like Pinocchio.

As an oriental people, I am very glad to see that oriental and occidental cultures combined in this comedy: Kabuki and Peking opera are combined with a western fairy comedy and audiences do not feel strange. Several Japanese words spoken by the actors: Sushi, Yen…etc.

The props design and lighting are also very attractive. Pinocchio is a fairy comedy, so actors prepared lots of props which consist with the subject like scooter and fountain, these props can make audiences feel warm and attract their attention. Besides, the lighting also very fits with the plot of comedy.

Then, the most important thing is the story. Pinocchio is a very old story of European fairy, but we saw many Asian actors and African American actors perform in this comedy, I think it is prove the inclusiveness of American culture and convey love to all the audience. In this comedy, people can experience love, brave and friendly from this story and I believe it is the real meaning of this comedy.
 
Meng-wei Chen
Pinocchio just like us he did something wrong many times and finally he knows what is the right. He’s a regular adolescent trying to figure out how the world works and, more importantly, how he can navigate it. He is always shown the error of his ways and promises to change but he most often repeats the same mistakes. Experience is the best teacher. The best way to learn is to experience mistakes.
At some stage while growing up, children “challenge” the authority of their parents. In the story, Pinocchio always cries out for his father but he don’t know his father was do a lot for him. His father is really poor that he cannot grow up in the rich environment but he’d like to sale he only coat to get book for Pinocchio. He loves his father but maybe he don’t know how to use right way to expression in this stage.

Don’t be gullible. Pinocchio runs into the Cat and Fox. He thought they are his best friends, but the true is they just want his money. In this reality world, we can have many friends but not all friends are all true for you. However, we still need to trust if we are to develop meaning and lasting relationships with other people. In other words, don’t be too trusting.
Tell the truth. I thought that this was all about telling lies and regretting it because every time Pinocchio tells a lie, his nose grows longer.

Don’t give in to peer-pressure. We all want to fit in especially when we are ne to a certain environment. Pinocchio has resolved to himself to be a good boy and he goes back to school and studies diligently. But he saw the other kids were not going to school so he followed. Wrong move.
Pinocchio not just a story, I think the author want to expression some experience and through this story to tell reader which meaning inside.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A ‘Pinocchio’ that owes more to Kabuki than Disney

By Joel Brown; Globe Correspondent, January 29, 2015
A Kabuki-influenced version of “Pinocchio” may strike some as the sort of theatrical experiment best suited to an avant-garde troupe performing in a dimly lit basement. But Wendy Lement and Steven Bogart are putting it on the big stage at Wheelock Family Theatre beginning Saturday. They promise all the laughs and tugged heartstrings traditional to the tale of the wooden puppet who wants to become a real boy, along with some new shading.

“When we went back to the original story, I was startled at how funny it is,” says Lement, Wheelock’s producer and co-artistic director. “It’s both hysterically funny and very dark in places, and both of those are combined in Kabuki.”

Kabuki is a highly stylized form of traditional Japanese drama involving singing, dancing, and elaborate costumes and makeup. With performances through Feb. 22 at Wheelock, this “Pinocchio” is a world premiere version of the story of the mischievous creation of the poor puppeteer Geppetto.

Lement joined Wheelock in 2012, and this is only the second season that she has programmed herself. She had known Bogart since they were both students at Emerson in the 1980s and thought of him as she looked to bring new creative voices to Wheelock.

Bogart is known both for working with young people and for his restless creativity. After 22 years as a Lexington High School drama teacher, he’s been building his name as a playwright and director around the city. He helmed a memorable “Cabaret” for the American Repertory Theater, with his former student Amanda Palmer as the Emcee. Next up, he’ll direct the New England premiere of “Shockheaded Peter” for Company One, featuring the “steamcrunk” band Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys.

“I floated the idea of doing a ‘Pinocchio’ that he would direct,” Lement says, “and also the idea of setting it in a non-Western culture. That has to do very much with the mission of the theater — of nontraditional casting, but also exposing the audience to theater of different cultures.”

But if it was not set in Pinocchio’s native Italy, then where? Soon she and Bogart discovered their mutual experience with Japanese theater. Lement had directed a couple of Kabuki-influenced shows. Bogart lived in Japan for six months in his 20s, had a Japanese painting teacher here for many years, and even spoke the language, although he says he’s no longer fluent.

They saw how masks and transformations were common to Japanese theater and “Pinocchio,” the 1880s novel by Carlo Collodi that spawned countless adaptations, including Disney’s classic animated film.

“We’re not Kabuki experts, we’re not doing pure, traditional Kabuki,” Bogart says. “We’re Kabuki influenced, Noh influenced, even Butoh theater-influenced, pulling all of these elements in to create the story.”

So audiences will face a stage backed by sliding screens, not unlike those in a traditional Japanese-style home, that here can be moved to change the scene. Movement and dance and masks will echo Japanese styles. The band on an upper deck of the set will include a skilled player of the shamisen, a traditional three-stringed Japanese instrument. And as for the marine creature in whose belly Pinocchio ends up . . .

“In the novel, the whale is not a whale, it’s a dogfish. I don’t know how big a dogfish is, but the Disney version turned it into a whale,” Bogart says. “We did some research and found a character, Namazu, in Japanese mythology, which is a giant catfish. It’s so big, it’s controlled by a god, and when the god is not paying attention, Namazu creates earthquakes and tsunamis.”

Big enough, then, to swallow a puppet and puppetmaster. But this “Pinocchio” isn’t just about tradition. “We looked at Pinocchio and all of the temptations that pull him away from family, from Geppetto, that get him into trouble — and we looked at them as modern-day Tokyo,” Lement says.

Consider their Playland — known as The Land of Toys in the novel, Pleasure Island in the Disney film — where kids turn into donkeys because they’re playing all day. “We looked at what they would be playing all day long in Japan, so that years could go by in a sense, and Steve came up with the idea of pachinko” — a kind of vertical pinball game that originated in Japan.

“Japan is this amazing place of the old and new living together,” Bogart says. “Modern Japan is all this crazy, city, neon, fast-paced life, but then there are these gorgeous pagodas and temples that crop up everywhere,” and that mix is what they’re trying to capture.

The cast includes 17-year-old Sirena Abalian as Pinocchio and veteran Boston actor Steven Barkhimer as Geppetto, with music composed and conducted by Mary Bichner and sets by Cristina Todesco.

Abalian starred in Wheelock’s 2013 production of “Pippi Longstocking,” and Lement says she brings high energy and comic timing to the role of Pinocchio. Many actors, including boys, auditioned for the part, but Bogart and Lement kept coming back to Abalian. (The actress is a Lexington student, but she and Bogart never overlapped there.)

Bogart and Lement collaborated on the script. “Steve would come to me occasionally and say, ‘Is this too weird?’ And I’d say, ‘No, I love it.’ And then I’d go to him and say, ‘Is this too out there?’ And he’d say, ‘No!’ We’re sort of on the same page.”

They moved away from Disney moods to get at the underlying ideas of Collodi’s novel, which also fit well with the Japanese motif, such as the Blue Fairy that crops up in various guises throughout the show and serves as Pinocchio’s conscience. That doesn’t mean their version isn’t animated in its own way.

Lement: “The Blue Fairy is Geppetto’s wife who has died at the beginning. He is mourning her loss in front of a tree at her grave — the tree is there, and she is the tree. He’s feeling sorry for himself, and she takes a part of herself, a branch, and it goes flying into him, and she says, ‘Do something with your life!’ ”

Bogart: “He ignores that and the log starts jumping up and hitting him. ‘Do something!’ And it becomes Pinocchio’s voice, and he makes Pinocchio out of that log.”

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Puppet Showplace Theater Celebrates 40 years - with a show at Wheelock!

Puppet Showplace Theater: The 40th Anniversary Exhibit

January 28 - February 21, 2015

Towne Art Gallery at the Wheelock Family Theatre

180 The Riverway, Boston 02215

Gallery Talk: February 11, 2015, noon - 1 p.m.
Reception: January 31, 2015, noon - 2 p.m.
Gallery Closed: February 14, 2015




This exhibition celebrates Puppet Showplace Theater's 40th anniversary by showcasing decades of work by the theater's resident and affiliated artists. Historic puppet characters made by founder Mary Churchill and master puppeteer Paul Vincent-Davis will be presented alongside the work of New England-based puppet companies who have made Puppet Showplace their home. The exhibit will also showcase innovative work by young and emerging artists. Visit www.puppetshowplace.org to learn more.


The exhibition will coincide with
Wheelock Family Theatre's production of Pinocchio, featuring puppetry created in collaboration with Puppet Showplace Theater.
 

Girl Scouts and Cookies coming to Pinocchio!




Troop 76269, Brownie & Junior Girl Scouts, will host a cookie sale in the lobby of the Wheelock Family Theatre on Sunday, February 8th at 5pm; after the 3pm show of Pinocchio!

Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, Caramel deLites, Lemonades, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Trefoil Shortbreads, Thanks-A-Lots, and Cranberry Citrus Crisps, all cookies are $4.00 a box.

There is also a new trial cookie; a gluten-free, chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal cookie for $5.00 a bag, "Trios".

Both troops are using the proceeds from the cookie sale to fund badge work, trips and service projects.

Additionally, you can support the Girl Scouts and donate purchased cookies to Rosie's Place. The Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts are involved with Cookies for a Cause and donating to the Greater Boston Food Bank and troops overseas.




Join the Girl Scouts on Sunday February 8!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

PINOCCHIO study guide excerpt...

Carlo Collodi, the author of Pinocchio, was born Carlo Lorenzini in 1826 in Florence, Italy. When he began to write for publication, he adopted the name Collodi, after the town in which his mother was born.

As a young man Collodi worked as a bookseller. He later became a journalist, motivated by an interest in Italy’s political situation. At that time Italy was not a unified nation as it is today, but rather a patchwork of governments, many of which were controlled by other countries. Collodi supported a movement to make Italy an independent nation. To that end, at the age of 22 he founded a newspaper called Il Lampione (The Lamp Post), which combined satiric humor and news. The movement was successful and Italy became one nation around 1871, with Rome as its capital.

Collodi continued working as a magazine editor. He also began translating French fairy tales. Writing his own children’s tales was a logical next step. In 1881, Pinocchio appeared as a serial in Giornale dei Bambini (Journal for Children), a magazine responding to the increasing interest in children’s literature. The story of the puppet/boy Pinocchio, whose independent spirit and gullibility land him in increasingly dramatic situations, was immediately popular. Church leaders, however, disapproved, fearing it would encourage a rebellious spirit in the nation’s youth.

Initially Collodi ended the story with Pinocchio hanged in a tree, presumed dead. The author had no intention of reviving him, but the public clamored for Pinocchio’s return. So, Collodi brought the puppet back to life and sent him on even more sensational adventures.






Create Your Own Children’s Newspaper

Like Carlo Collodi, create your own newspaper and fill it with humorous articles.

What is the name of your newspaper?

Write a funny story, or an article poking fun at something.

Illustrate your newspaper, either with your own drawings, or with images from magazines. Remember, the newspaper is supposed to be amusing.

As a reporter, write a humorous article about an episode in a book or a play as if it actually happened.

Create your own new adventure for Pinocchio before he becomes a boy.

Now imagine you are going to write a book called Pinocchio’s Life as a Real Boy. Create an episode of his life as a boy, and share your story with the class.  How do the adventures compare? Which stories do you prefer?



 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Take A Bow: 10 Ways Being A Theatre Kid Made You A Successful Adult- by De Elzabeth

As a former theatre kid, it’s likely that you were reputed to be loud, over-dramatic and known to do “odd” things, like burst into song at any given moment.
However, as you and all theatre kids know, many of your valuable life lessons have derived from days spent in rehearsals or at performances.
You can credit a wide range of skills used in your daily adult life to what you learned as a teenager, when you were known as the “weird theatre kid.”
As a young adult, you can look back on your days in high school drama club with both nostalgia and gratitude.
Not only were those long evening rehearsals an absolute blast because you were with your friends, laughing at inside jokes and having sing-alongs to the “Wicked” original recording, but because being part of a production helped you grow immensely.
So, let’s take a moment to pause in our busy adult lives to remember what it felt like to be 16 and putting on our first pair of character shoes.
Here are 10 ways theatre class creates some pretty awesome adults:

1. You learned the harsh taste of rejection early… and how to cope.

Every theatre kid knows that one-two punch of waiting… and waiting… and waiting for the cast list, only to be met with sheer disappointment.
It feels like being pushed off a cliff; your heart races as you scan the names, wondering why you don’t see your own. You look twice, and even a third time and then, it finally settles in. You didn’t make it.
The first time this happened to you, it was devastating. You wondered what you did wrong; you felt worthless. You may have cried for an hour or more.
You kept auditioning though, and you kept trying. Truth be told, rejection sucked every time, but it somehow got easier. You learned that it wasn’t personal, that maybe you just weren’t the right fit.
You learned to ask your director questions instead of bottling up your feelings. You focused on what you could do better next time.
This way of thinking stuck with you as you grew up. Sometimes, it’s just not the right role, job or boyfriend, but it doesn’t mean you suck as a person. You’ve developed a thicker skin and you’re tougher than many of your peers.

2. You know that success doesn’t come without hard work.

Any time you landed a juicy role in a show, you had to work your butt off for it. You never rolled into an audition without adequate preparation; you made sure you knew your song or monologue cold.
Additionally, you know how much time goes into creating a successful production. It takes hours of rehearsals and dress rehearsals, countless weekend set builds, tech days to program the lighting, costume fittings, and the list goes on and on.
You didn’t get to collect your bouquet of flowers until you contributed the necessary blood, sweat and tears.
This philosophy doesn’t end with the theatre — it extends into all areas of your life. Accomplishments do not exist without great effort.

3. “Getting into character” taught you empathy.

If there’s any person who understands the meaning behind the phrase “put yourself in her shoes,” it’s you. This is literally what you had to do every time you approach a new role.
Your acting exercises include instructions to connect moments in your own life to that of your character. You had to look for similar emotions within your own heart.
This wasn’t always easy, especially if you were playing a character unlike whom you actually are. Sometimes you felt disconnected from a role, and you had to look inward in order to grasp it.
This skill has been essential to you; it’s helped you understand the world around you. You can relate to others, and you’re able to interpret their behaviors, even if you don’t agree with them.

4. Spontaneity is in your blood.

Before “YOLO” was a thing, there was the Broadway show “Rent,” which taught all former theatre kids this important lesson: “No day but today.”
To say you embraced this to the fullest is an understatement. You’re fun to be around because you adore spontaneity. You’re the type of person who will shout “road trip!” and you get excited about making adventure of everyday activities.
You have an appreciation for living in the moment because you know how much each moment counts. A moment can make or break your audition, and a moment can make an audience member laugh or cry.
You strive to make the most out of every second of every day, and you look for ways to create excitement.

5. You are a kickass problem-solver.

In live theatre, things are bound to go wrong at some point. Maybe you had to step in and take the place of a fellow actress who was sick, or perhaps, you lost a prop mid-show and had to figure out how to deal.
If you worked backstage, your problem-solving skills might even be sharper. You had to prepare to help yourself and the actors if need be.
When something goes wrong during a performance, there is zero time for panic. All you can do is launch into damage-control mode and focus on the solution at hand.
You know how to keep your cool during a crisis, and you know that the goal is to solve the problem. The best thing you can do is work toward that goal, without melting down.

6. Thinking on your feet is your specialty.

You’re probably cringing as you remember a time when your scene partner forgot all of his lines and you had to improvise your way through it.
You were sweating underneath your costume and trying to summon every ounce of possible psychic willpower to telepathically send him his lines. When you exited the stage, your friends surrounded you and praised your improvisational skills.
Or perhaps, your scene partner forgot an entrance, leaving you alone onstage with an entire audience staring at you.
Sometimes, things go wrong and there’s absolutely no time to plan a solution. When that happens, you have to have cat-like reflexes and be fast on your toes.
Luckily, you learned this (perhaps the hard way) during those terrifying theatrical moments and you now have the strengths to handle unexpected obstacles.

7. You’re well-spoken.

“The lips, the teeth, the tip-of-the-tongue!”
All of those drills you did as vocal warm-ups probably haven’t left your brain, even after a decade.
You know how to project your voice, how to use correct diction and enunciation, and how to craft the sound of your voice in order to be understood.
Thanks to all the speech exercises — not to mention that time you did Shakespeare —, you are quite skilled at speaking eloquently.
This comes in handy when you go on job interviews or when you have to give presentations at work. You’ll find yourself channeling those tools from class, and you’ll feel grateful when you’re respected by those you’re speaking to.

8. You’re a go-getter.

In theatre, you don’t get what you want without putting yourself out there first. In order to be cast in a show, you have to audition. In order to be on the production team, you have to interview. End of story.
Building confidence is key; you had to give yourself many pep talks before you ventured out to your first audition and to many auditions after that.
It takes a lot of effort and self-esteem to push apprehension aside and go for it anyway.
You know that life demands similar qualities out of you and that no reward comes without some element of risk.

9. Fear doesn’t get the best of you.

You remember your first few auditions in high school and the feeling of getting onstage in front of your teachers (and sometimes peers). Your palms were probably sweaty, and maybe, your knees shook a little.
It’s possible this happened every time you auditioned; many professional performers confirm that stage fright never entirely disappears.
Despite the fact that you were scared, you learned how to control your nerves. You learned how to seize that nervous energy and trap the butterflies that ran rampant in your stomach.
That sense of control allowed you to channel that energy into whatever you wanted it to be, and you put it toward a successful performance.
As you navigate your 20s, you know that you’ll find yourself in many situations that create anxiety and nerves. However, you won’t run from those scenarios; instead, you’ll face them head on with deep breaths and confidence.

10. Your friendships run deep

Perhaps most importantly, being in theatre gave you several dozen families over the years. Every show became its own chapter in this larger story of your theatrical endeavors.
With each cast, you bonded in a different way, some more closely than others.
You’ve been lucky to have shared the stage with some of these people and even luckier to have them in your life now.
You care a lot about your friends, and the bonds that you’ve created will forever remain unbroken, even after your final curtain call.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Throwback to OZ, 2012

The Wizard of Oz at Wheelock Family Theatre, 2012. Photos by Kippy Goldfarb and Tony Paradiso. Pictured: Timothy John Smith, Shelley Bolman, Ricardo Engermann, Jane Staab, Katherine Doherty, Patrick Barron, Becky Mason, Betsy Ogrinc, Gamalia Pharms, Elbert Joseph, and John Davin.