Richard Winker listens to a student's question.
Director of Theatre William Church reacts to one of Winkler's stories.
Theatre students respond to Winkler's lecture.
Theatre students talk with Winkler after the lecture.
On Dec. 8, Broadway lighting designer and producer Richard Winkler (IAC/NMC 58-63, 65) visited Arts Academy theatre students for a lecture and master class.
Winkler spent the afternoon in Harvey Theatre for a question-and-answer session with the entire theatre student body. “It’s wonderful to be back,” said Winkler. “This is the first place where I was accepted as a human being.”
Before beginning the question-and-answer session, Director of Theatre Bill Church discussed Winkler’s background, including his time at Interlochen, college days and early work. Winkler first entered theatre as a performer, switching to lighting design midway through his studies at the University of Michigan. Upon his graduation, Winkler moved to New York and began working in the theatre, making his Broadway debut as the assistant to famed lighting designer Tharon Musser in A Little Night Music. Winkler worked alongside Musser in shows including Candide and A Chorus Line before earning his own design credit in Shirley MacLaine. He continued as a lighting designer for 30 years before making the transition to producer in the 2000s. Winkler’s production credits include Memphis, Catch Me If You Can, and more recently, Come From Away. Winkler also continues to design, serving as the primary lighting designer for the touring production of Evita since 1995.
After sharing his journey, Winkler gave the students a few introductory words of encouragement.
“Follow your dream,” he said. “Do what you want to do. If you are talented and you are tenacious, you will get what you want.”
Church and Winkler then opened the floor for student questions. “How do you raise money for a show?” one student asked, referencing the producer’s job of finding investors for a production. “I’m not sure!” Winkler responded with a laugh, going on to explain that his strategy is simply to talk to everyone and share his love of theatre.
Another student asked about Winkler’s work as a lighting designer. “I like to think of lighting design as painting with emotion,” Winkler said. “The lighting designer creates the air the actors breathe. The key to it is understanding the piece of theatre, what the actors are going through, and the emotion of the scene.”
Other questions ranged from choosing a production to work on, being tenacious and Winkler’s future projects.
After the question-and-answer session, Winkler joined the Design and Production majors for an hourlong masterclass about lighting design and producing.
Winkler’s latest production, Ain’t Too Proud, will open in mid-June.
Silber talks through a scene with a student.
Silber offers advice on a student's performance.
Silber explains an exercise to two students.
Theatre students react during Silber's master class.
Interlochen alumna, author and Broadway actress Alexandra Silber teaches a master class in characterization and emotional expression.
On Dec. 4, Broadway actress Alexandra “Al” Silber (IAC 95-99, IAA 99-01, IAC St 01-02) presented a master class for Arts Academy theatre students.
“I have oft said with great pride that everything I am is from you two,” Silber said, gesturing at instructors David Montee and Robin Ellis. “I love Interlochen. I bleed blue.”
Before beginning the master class, Silber shared her own journey with the students, but she also emphasized the importance of seeing the bigger picture. “We live in a me-centric culture,” she said. “It’s important to know your story, but your story is part of the bigger human story. Acting is a service industry: we are here to give others the experiences they’ve been robbed of.”
With her introduction complete, Silber invited the first master class participant to the floor, taking a moment to remind him that a master class is a safe space. “You are not being judged,” she told the student and the class at large. “This is work, this is class, this is rehearsal.”
Silber worked with six different students and a mixture of musical and monologue selections.
As each student finished their initial performance, Silber asked the performer to to articulate what the piece was about: first in general terms, second at a deeper level and third at a personal level. Silber then helped the performer tie the emotions of the piece to their own personal experience.
“The most important question is: why are we seeing you perform this piece?” Silber asked. “If you don’t put your heart and soul into your performance, you might as well play the movie.”
After helping each student make an emotional connection to the piece, Silber led each student through an exercise to help connect the emotion with its physical response. One student, for example, ran around the room several times before singing his piece to simulate struggling to speak through intense emotions.
“Every line that comes out of your mouth is not a line; it’s the character’s thought,” Silber said. “Every costume you put on is not a costume, it’s the character’s clothes. Don’t aim for the audience to say ‘bravo.’ Aim for the audience to say ‘me too.’”
After the six students performed, Silber closed the session with a brief question-and-answer time and a short discussion on selecting a college. But most of all, she encouraged them to make the most of their Interlochen experience.
“Interlochen is a place of extraordinary possibility,” she said. “It’s not just training your artform, it’s training your human person.”
Christopher Miller poses with the cast of Tuck Everlasting after rehearsal.
Miller gives notes to students after their run-through of Tuck Everlasting.
On Nov. 7, Christopher Miller, the composer of the score for Tuck Everlasting, visited Interlochen Arts Academy’s cast of the hit Broadway musical.
During Miller’s visit, the students presented a full run-through of the show. At the conclusion of the musical, Miller met with the students to give them feedback on their performance.
“That really warmed my heart,” he told the students. “You made me cry a little bit.”
Miller also offered small tips for performing the musical’s score.
“You’re so ready,” he told the actors. “You could perform this today.”
The cast of The Wolves in rehearsal.
The cast of The Wolves act out a scene.
Director of Theatre Bill Church gives instructions to the cast of Tuck Everlasting.
Theatre students rehearse a dance sequence from Tuck Everlasting.
Alumnus Sydney James Harcourt (third from left) reacts during a rehearsal of Tuck Everlasting.
Theatre students are having a busy autumn with three productions and a variety of guest artists.
The three productions, Tuck Everlasting, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Wolves, were cast in the first few weeks of school and immediately began rehearsal. Performances of all three productions will take place in November.
From Sept. 11 through Sept. 15, theatre students had the opportunity to help workshop a new musical, The Journey that Saved Curious George. The students worked with the musical’s creators, Nicky Phillips and Arts Camp alumna Jen Shuber, during the week and presented a public runthrough on Sept. 15.
Theatre students helped workshop three more plays during Interlochen Arts Academy’s collaboration with The MITTEN Lab. The one-week, Michigan-based residency program gives three young theatre artists the opportunity and resources to create new theatrical works. On Oct. 14, The MITTEN Lab and its three 2017 residents — Morgan Breon, Jacqueline Goldfinger and Zack Zadek — joined the Arts Academy theatre students for a day of rehearsals culminating in a public showcase of new works.
The theatre students also participated in a variety of master classes. On Oct. 9, Ramone Valdez and Anita Dashiell Sparks of the University of Southern California worked with the students. The following week, alumna Elizabeth Bartley (IAC 93, IAA 93-96) and Todd D’Amour worked with the cast of A Streetcar Named Desire. Lisa D’Amour accompanied them, and split her time between the divisions of theater and creative writing. Another alumnus, Sydney James Harcourt (AS 94, 97, IAA 94-97) of Hamilton fame, also visited during that weekend, and attended a rehearsal of Tuck Everlasting. During his tenure with Hamilton, Harcourt offered five pieces of advice to students.
The two Colonel Pickerings--Arturo Steely, left, and Ben Rodenmeyer--pose for a photo before a performance of My Fair Lady.
Theatre students wrapped up the 2017 academic year with an action-packed end of April and early May.
In addition to performances of all three shows--Cardenio, A Wrinkle in Time and My Fair Lady--theatre students participated in a busy and diverse schedule of master classes with a number of prestigious guest artists.
Alumnus Michael McMillian was the first to arrive, teaching classes on auditioning for film and television roles and improvisation. Later, Guy Sanville and Michelle Mountain of Purple Rose Theatre led a two-day workshop on playwriting. On May 10 and 11, another alumnus, Patrick Mulvey, arrived on campus to teach master classes.
The theatre students ended the month with the annual agent showcase, during which professional agents Joel Carlton and Gerry Koch and casting director Nora Brennan watched and critiqued auditions by senior and postgraduate students.
Lastly, Interlochen Arts Academy’s 1965 Colonel Pickering, Arturo Steely, flew in from Minnesota to watch the Friday, May 13 production of My Fair Lady. After the show, he went backstage and met our 2017 Colonel Pickering, Ben Rodenmeyer.
Jeremy Gill as the eponymous Cardenio.
The My Fair Lady cast rehearses in Corson Auditorium.
A Wrinkle in Time rehearsal in Phoenix Theatre.
Theatre students performed two of their three year-end performances in late April.
On April 21, Interlochen Arts Academy’s theatre students opened Interlochen’s first-ever production of Shakspeare’s lost play, Cardenio. As a part of the show weekend, the Interlochen College of Creative Arts offered a symposium about the authorship controversy surrounding the play, which the cast was invited to attend. The weekend’s festivities also included behind-the-scenes sessions with the set and costume designers.
Another play, A Wrinkle in Time, will open on April 28. The play is a stage adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle’s beloved children’s novel of the same name and features several of Interlochen Arts Academy’s younger theatre students in starring roles.
In addition, a group of senior theatre majors led by Maddie Allen, Ben Rodenmeyer and Patrick Rutkowski was selected to present the Senior Performance at Commencement on May 27. The understudies for the performers are dancers Noah Klark and Michaella Barron.
Theatre students teach an acting class at Winterlochen.
Even with productions of My Fair Lady, Cardenio, and A Wrinkle in Time well under way, several theatre students still found ways to give back to the Grand Traverse community.
The Theatre Department’s Community Service Team led several instructional clinics for young and old during late February and early March. Students Moses Bossenbroek, Leah Cohen, Kyle Elliot and Ben Rodenmeyer taught an acting class for youth participants during the annual Winterlochen festival on Feb. 18.
Several other members of the Community Service Team visited Cordia, a local retirement center. While at the center, the students led the members in a Shakespeare workshop. The students plan to return several times throughout the semester to workshop scenes with the Cordia members.
Theatre students wrapped up January with two bills of one-act plays. The plays, which were workshopped during Inter*mester, incorporated every student in the theatre department in acting, designing or managing roles. The performances were directed by students from the fall semester’s directing class.
Before rehearsals began for the spring productions, senior theatre majors focused on their college auditions. Senior students joined their classmates from other departments for an audition tour in Chicago. When not on the road, the seniors received coaching on audition techniques and workshopped their audition pieces.
Lastly, senior Jeremy Gill was nominated as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. Gill is one of four Interlochen Arts Academy students nominated by the program, and the only student from the theatre department nominated. Presidential Scholars will be announced later this semester. Congratulations, Jeremy!
In December, students began auditioning and rehearsing for January’s annual one-act festival. The department also hosted a number of guest artists, including theatre educator Craig Slaight from the American Conservatory Theatre, faculty from the Contemporary Performance Practice Program at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and the annual alumni panel. This year’s alumni panel featured John Tufts (IAC 96, IAA 97-99) and Natalie Knepp (IAA 00-02), who taught master classes on classical acting and on-camera audition techniques respectively. Later in December, two more guests, alumnus Nick Westrate (IAC 00, IAA 00-02) and actor Billy Carter also taught master classes.
While most of the activity in December took place off stage, many theatre students lent their talents to the performances and productions of other departments. Several students acted in thesis films produced by Motion Picture Arts seniors. Others, including faculty member Gulshirin Dubash, appeared in the Dance department’s production of The Sleeping Beauty. Theatre students also assisted Comparative Arts students with the staging their April performance, Neruda’s Suitcase.
November has been a busy month for theatre students. In the midst of preparing for the November openings of A Flea in Her Ear, The Light in the Piazza, and She Kills Monsters, theatre students hosted several guest artists.
Many of the workshops and master classes were focused around the college audition process. Guy Sanville the Artistic Director of the Purple Rose Theatre Company, worked with directing students and ran mock auditions for seniors. Another guest, professor Bob Davis from the Hartt School, worked with students in the Voice & Diction class and gave a master class on monologues for college auditions. Austin Murray of the National Theatre Institute was also on hand to teach a workshop on movement.
On November 14-15, theatre hosted their annual alumni panel. This year’s panel featured John Tufts (IAC 96, IAA 97-99), a well-known Shakespeare performer; Michael McMillian (IAA 95-98) of HBO’s True Blood; and Natalie Knepp (IAA 00-02), who has been featured as a guest star and voice actress for many television programs and commercials.
Visit SmugMug for images from A Flea in Her Ear, She Kills Monsters and rehearsal photos from The Light in the Piazza.
Students rehearse She Kills Monsters.
Two students rehearse a scene from She Kills Monsters.
The theatre department began their semester the way any production begins: with auditions and casting. Cast lists for The Light in the Piazza and She Kills Monsters are now complete, and rehearsals are well underway. The Light in the Piazza opens Nov. 17 in Harvey Theatre; She Kills Monsters premieres on Nov. 11 in Phoenix Theatre.
Professional set designer Steve Bass was theatre’s first guest artist of the semester. Based out of Los Angeles, Bass has designed sets for the Tony, Grammy, Emmy and Academy Awards. Steve Bass gave a guest lecture to the students in the Fundamentals of Design class and also gave a presentation to the entire theatre department.
Instructor of Theatre David Montee was honored with an Oscar Wilde Award from Encore Michigan for his portrayal of Jacques in As You Like It at the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival. Montee is the first performer to win a Wilde Award, which are given to the best performers and performances in professional theatre in the state of Michigan.
Students at the Parallel 45 Theatre post-show talkback.
As the curtain closed on the Saturday-night production of RENT, it marked the end of another successful academic year of Theatre Department performances. A huge thank you to our students, staff, faculty members and countless others that helped make these shows possible.
In addition to RENT, our spring performances included fantastic student actor production of Eccentricities of a Nightingale and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later. You can find production stills from all three shows on SmugMug.
Eccentricities of a Nightingale wasn’t the only Tennessee Williams play to take the stage in Northern Michigan this year. Many of our students went to see a production of A Streetcar Named Desire by the theatre company Parallel 45 in Traverse City. After the show, our students were treated to a talkback with the cast and the Interlochen Arts Academy alumni that run the company. Congratulations and thank you to Parallel 45!
Our acting for film class were treated to a visit from film and TV actor Jarvis George. George provided our student actors with invaluable tips and tools to navigate the nuance needed for film acting.
Springtime in the Theatre department means that rehearsals and performances are in full gear.
Last weekend, Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams opened in Harvey Theatre. Just down the road, Parallel 45 Theatre performed their own Williams play—A Streetcar Named Desire.
Julliard graduate and Interlochen alumna Beth Bartley (IAA 93-96, IAC 93) brought her extensive knowledge of Tennessee Williams productions to assist our student cast late last week.
RENT rehearsals continue before our May 13-14 performances. Staging is nearly complete and students have sung through all of the material with the band. The on-stage band will be comprised of music students under the direction of Dr. Kedrik Merwin. Tickets are still available for all three performances of RENT.
Later this week, The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later will perform for free in Phoenix Theatre on April 22 and 23.
Lastly, several of our theatre majors have volunteered their time at a local retirement home in the Grand Traverse Commons. These students have worked with Cordia residents to teach them songs from beloved classic musicals. Students plan to continue their visits throughout the spring.
Thank you to all of our students, staff and faculty members for making this such a wonderful month so far.
Brief video from Brendan Naylor's workshop.
Members of the workshop with Brendan Naylor.
Students Jules Slocum and Anna Armstrong with alumnus Brendan Naylor.
Russian theatre director and movement coach Andrei Droznin maybe best known for perfecting the mobility techniques taught in acting programs throughout the world. Interlochen alumnus Brendan Naylor (IAC 04) studied Droznin's techniques during three months spent at the Moscow Art Theatre School in Russia. After finishing his degree from Syracuse University, Naylor spent time assisting in on and off-Broadway productions before joining the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center and National Theatre Institute.
Recently, Naylor returned to Interlochen to demonstrate and lead theatre students through the principles of alignment and balance as developed by Andrei Droznin.
Naylor's workshop focused on the importance of building strength, flexibility and the courage to trust yourself and your fellow actors through complex physical routines.
Perhaps one of the more unique experiences offered to our Arts Academy theatre students is the opportunity to participate in the One Act Festival. During the festival, students become the leaders of the theatre department, and work together to produce and stage productions for a live audience.
Students from the department caucus and bestow the distinct honor and title of director on their fellow classmates. The remaining students collaborate and divide work among performers, stage managers, costumers and so on.
Pyramid Effect by Marica Dixy
Directed by Ella May Hunsader
F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S. by Jonathan Rand
Directed by Monica Schmocker
The Most Massive Woman Wins by Madeline George
Directed by Cameron Iggins
Interpreting A Dream by Judy Klaas
Directed by Hadar Busia-Singleton
Dead Fish by Riley Warmoth (IAA 12-15)
Directed by Mark Mazzarella
Post-It by Paul Dooley and Winne Holzman
Directed by Darcy Furlong
Controlling Interest by Wayne S. Rawley
Directed by Yonatan Weiss
The Intervention by Anne Washburn
Directed by Aria Middleman
Barefoot In Nightgown By Candlelight by Don Nigro
Directed by Juliana Slocum
The Cowboy by Patrick Holland
Directed by Julia Steenstra
The Statue of Bolivar by Eric Lane
Directed by Gabe Halstead Alvarez
Why Do We Laugh? by Steven Gregg
Directed by Madeline Boveri
Michael Arden (left, seated in chair) and Dane Laffrey join Theatre Division Director William Church (right chair) during a talk with theatre students.
Nov. 9-13 was alumni week! We had a series of master classes with alumni Torsten Johnson, Shelby Lewis and Whitney Winfield. They held special sessions on voiceover acting and working with classical text. They also worked with students on their audition monologues during the evenings. We also had a visit from alumni Michael Arden and Dane Laffrey. These two Academy graduates came to us straight from Broadway, where Michael made his Broadway directing debut and Dane his Broadway design debut (both sets and costumes) for Spring Awakening. (See more photos from this and other master classes in the link below.)
November, or Show-vember, as we like to call it, was full of performances. Caucasian Chalk Circle performed in the Phoenix Theatre and was soon followed by Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Right before Thanksgiving Break, Urinetown opened in the Harvey Theatre. And Theatre majors continue to be featured in MPA films.
Finally, Maya Lagerstam received a Merit award from YoungArts.
Theatre Arts students rehearse for Urinetown.
Academy performers during the dress rehearsal for The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
Dress rehearsal for The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht.
The cast at the dress rehearsal for The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
The dress rehearsal for The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
Rehearsals, special guests and collaborations this fall in Theatre.
Camp alumna and veteran of Saturday Night Live Ana Gasteyer gave a master class to all theatre arts performance majors on Oct. 17. An experienced musical theatre performer, she gave a concert on Oct. 16 and then followed it up with a great discussion the next morning of her career.
Brent Wagner, Chair of Musical Theatre at the University of Michigan, came to campus on Oct. 30. He worked with students in the Song Analysis & Performance class and gave a masterclass to all performance majors later in the afternoon. His focus was on the college audition process.
Alumnus Michael Norton, who is in Traverse City to play the lead role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, gave a three day workshop on performance to members of Theatre Company.
Productions of Urinetown, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle are all entering the final weeks of rehearsals. We are looking forward to our first opening night of the year—Nov. 6—for Caucasian Chalk Circle.
Theatre students have also been cast in thesis films through the Motion Picture Arts department. The first shoot has already taken place and we have two more before Thanksgiving Break.
Junior Abigail Arends performed at the band concert on Oct. 23.
Theatre students rehearse for The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht at Phoenix Theatre on Interlochen's campus.
The first month in Theatre Arts, in addition to intensive class sessions, we've been getting ready for some great productions.
Classes are still laying down fundamentals and focused on foundational work, but we have had a few notable events so far this year.
Alumnus Mark Nadler stopped by the Song Analysis & Performance class to share his experiences as a Cabaret singer in New York. And more guest artists will be visiting throughout the year, so please stay tuned!
All fall productions are currently in rehearsal. This includes The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, and Urinetown. Our costume and set shops are also working hard to support these productions.
Acting Tech circle warm ups
Many of our acting technique classes will end the semester with a final scene. Speaking specifically about the acting tech class I teach, we are approaching the final weeks where the actors who came to Interlochen as new freshman and new sophomores are about to leave having spent a year together. Looking over their shoulder at September in the distant past, many of them have reached a transformation as young actors that is indicative of a strengthening of purpose, a fueling of their passion and in some cases an upheaval of their old habits and preconceptions about being a theatre artist. Their final scenes include hours of rehearsal, many moments of frustration, scruitinizing lines, moments, beats and objectives, obessing about the details, slamming doors, tug-of-war, inspiration, and play. This group will participate in freshman/sophomore juries next week, were they will present a monologue to the entire faculty intended to incorporate what they have learned this year. This is a tall order, but one where tremendous growth will be detected. I am proud of the progress they have made, and trust that as returning sophomores and juniors next September, they will be ready for the new challenges and opportunities of leadership the 2015-16 year will bestow on them.
It is hard to believe but we are finishing up another Academy year. Thought I would give you a review of the past year, where we are now and what next year holds for us.
PAST: We had 3 very successful mainstage productions of PLATONOV, THE SECRET IN THE WINGS, and AMADEUS. Our studio performances of TROILUS AND CRESSIDA and LET ME DOWN EASY showcased a number of our actors and of course there were the Student Directed One Acts. Personally I thought they were the best set of One Acts that we have done. They were especially great in bonding our students and helping them to appreciate each other as actors and individuals. A number of our students also went to see an interesting local performance of CYRANO with only 3 actors and showcased our Laura Mittelstaedt as Cyrano. Then there was the annual Chicago Theatre Audition trip in February. As usual the seniors/post grads went feeling anxious but admitted to really enjoying themselves while there.
PRESENT: This weekend will see the final production, THE KING AND I. (I hope you all have tickets.) After the Friday performance we will have our final cast party. It is always special since it is the last one and the members of the performance orchestra join us in celebrating. Next week are juries for all the underclass students and the Agent Showcase for the seniors and post graduates. We will once again have 3 agents here to critique the senior/post graduate monologues and give them feed back. The agents will be our final guest artists for the 2014-15 year. I hope that many of you parents of graduating students will be here for Festival during graduation week. I know that for many of you it will be the first opportunity you will have to see your student perform.
FUTURE: The production LIST for next year is an exciting one but very SECRET. The students will be the first to find out at our last Division meeting for the year.
THANK YOU - to all the families of the graduating seniors and post graduates for honoring us by lending us your students. They have greatly enhanced our lives and we will miss them. Our hearts and minds will be with them as they move on in life. Thanks also to the parents of students returning for the 2015-16 year. They too have enriched our lives and we promise to continue caring for them next year and helping them learn and grow. To all of you, have a GREAT SUMMER!.
The Easter Bunny has come and gone but theatre just keeps going. This past weekend our students participated in "I Perform For," which included students from every arts division. They put on a performance (live stream) to raise money for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund. Last year, this event brought in over $4,000. We'll let you know the figure for this year when it comes in.
The Amadeus cast/crew is working hard this week to put the finishing touches on their production which opens next Friday, April 17. If you don't have tickets yet you need to get them as they are few and far between. The set designed by Luke D'Allessandro and the costumes designed by Candy Hughes are breathtaking.
Many of our students are going to see an abridged version of Cyrano on Wednesday, April 8. It is being produced by Parallel 45, a local theatre company that includes many of our alumni. Our own Laura Mittelstaedt will be playing Cyrano. (That's right Cyrano). We are all looking forward to seeing it.
Yet to come in April is the studio produciton of Let Me Down Easy and we also have three guest artists coming. Add in the continuing rehearsals for The King and I, and there is no moss growing under our feet.
Keep your student in your mind and keep the calls and goodies coming.
Torsten Johnson, a 2008 graduate of the theatre program, was recently featured in an article in the Wisconsin State Journal. The 25-year-old actor is making a name for himself in the The Acting Company, a classical touring theater founded in 1972 by John Houseman, in association with the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Torsten has also previously performed in Interlochen's own Shakespeare Festival.
Theatre student Preston Bradsher supports Claire Mercier in a movement workshop led by Brendan Naylor from the National Theatre Institute. This pose was part of a series of partner-based activities focused on body awareness.
The Academy's large productions are truly a community effort. In this image, Matthew Lindstom, a dance instructor at Interlochen, works with the cast, which includes several student performers from the region. These extra performers play the parts of the King's youngest children.
Acting for Camera
Due to its popularity, there are two sections of Acting for Camera this semester. In each section there are Motion Picture Arts majors along with Theatre Majors, who find themselves navigating the often unfamiliar territory on the other side of the camera. Likewise, the actors in the class are learning to use the camera, sound recording equipment and set up a three-point lighting scheme. We've just finished a segment on acting for commercials, a deceptively simple task, where they are challenged to apply thier craft to selling credit cards, insurance, acne treatments, etc. Today they received thier scene assignments from produced screenplays, none of the latest Oscar winners, but some from the recent past. My hope is that they end up seizing the freedom granted by acting for the camera, instead of struggling with the restrictions.
Reading through the scripts.
A scene from "Amadeus."
We are in full swing now with afternoon rehearsals for Amadeus, The King and I, and the studio presentation of Let Me Down Easy. Of course there are also scenes for Acting Tech and other classes that need to be worked on in the evenings. Add tramping through the snow and below zero temperatures and we all have our hands full.
This week, we have several other special things happening as well. On Thursday, February 26, there will be a livestream of Shakespearean Sonnets by the students in the Acting for Shakespeare class. Saturday will see a visit by Brendon Naylor from the National Theatre Institute. He will talk to students about NTI and their programs. It is also our final week with guest artist, Helga Rosenfeldt-Olsen. She has been working with Gulsh in Mask Class. Her speciality is in clown performance and she has been working with them on that.
Well, at least a new semester has begun. Students are getting into the swing of their new class schedule and into really warm clothes. The temperature Monday (Feb. 2) was -5 and we were all bundled up. The seniors went to Chicago Auditions by bus on Sunday. They arrived safe and sound but an hour late due to the weather. Fortunately, the weather forecast for their return on Wednesday is a good one.
Last week, we had three writer/composer/lyricists here - Hunter Bell, Adam Gwon and Jeffrey Bowen. They were here both to work on new material and to meet and work with our students. You should Google them to learn all about them. The students were really excited to have them here.
Meanwhile, the rest of us have been busy going to class, catching up on homework, and clearing up after the One Acts. For those of you who were unable to see the One Acts - they were great! The directors picked really good material, did a very nice job of directing and the actors gave us their best. The most wonderful thing about the One Acts this year was the way each of the casts bonded. I think they all made new lasting friendships and got a new appreciation for their fellow theatre students.
Amadeus has started rehearsals and The King and I will start in a few weeks so everyone will be kept very busy. (Nothing new there.) It is a semester when encouragement and goodies from home will probably be greatly appreciated.
In the "Stage Combat" Inter*mester course, our actors have become an enthusiastic group of tumblers, raising the stakes ever higher. In this short clip, actor Preston Bradsher launches herself over a human obstacle before doing a forward roll to grab her sword and impale her enemy!
Any given Monday
It is 3:08 p.m. on a Monday in the Harvey complex. At least a half a dozen events are happening simultaneously. There is a production meeting for Amadeus happening in the conference room next door. I can hear Luke D'Alessandro, student set designer, consulting with Brent Wroble, the technical director. Across the hall, Clyde Sheets, a member of the design and production faculty, is discussing the master schedule of the One Act Festival with the student Production Stage Manager and student Production Coordinator. In the costume shop, Candy Hughes is doing a costume fitting for a piano concert this weekend; the pianists will be playing Mozart while wearing 18th century attire. As I type, four student-directed one-act plays are in rehearsal, filling our upstairs spaces, and students spill out into the halls, sitting by the heating vents, memorizing lines and getting homework done before they rehearse. I pass two recent Interlochen graduates in the hallway; they are now students at University of Minnesota, Gutherie Theater program, and have come to visit campus before their winter break ends, giving support to thier fellow actors and sharing news of thier new life. And it's snowing.
3:09 p.m. in the Harvey and all is well.
Luke D'Alessandro at work.
Design and Production
My office is in the basement of The Harvey complex, across from the Design and Production studio. The light is always on there, and you can find Luke D'Alessandro, Design and Production senior, at his drafting table in between classes, surrounded by research and sketches. When I peek my head into the studio, he is at work on a freelance gig that will come to fruition over break as he designs and builds costumes for a Winter Guard team back home in New England. He tells me about his current D&P assignment for Pygmalian, shows me the stack of books he's reading for upcoming Amadeus, and tells me about his design plans for Intermester. Luke is happiest when industrous, but promises to take time over break to relax.
Gulshirin Dubash invited Sreyashi Dey, an Indian classical dancer to instruct the World Theatre students in an ancient classical dance from India. The dance, called ODISSI, is a classical Indian art form dating back to the second century BCE. The students learned how to represent various animals and emotions with their hands. These hand movements were used in the dance to enact a story. I sat in on the last day of the class and the students not only did an excellent job but seemed to really enjoy themselves. They were also very appreciative of the knowledge that Sreyashi Dey shared with them and hoped she would be able to return again.
Returning theatre alumni represent an incredibly valuable resource for current students.
The fall alumni panel featured actress Lora Lee Gayer, producer Kevin Emrick, and director Adam Immerwahr. They spent a full three days on campus seeing "Platonov," leading workshops and master classes, and offering important insights into the profession during question and answer sessions. They are seen here with Theatre Arts instructors Robin Ellis, David Montee, and Director of Theatre William Church.
Troilus and Cressida at Interlochen November 14 & 15
I've had the pleasure of working on this studio project with a group of 24 students during Company. Each semester we do a studio project, a production without set or costume design, which gives the actors another venue to apply the craft they are learning. The rehearsal schedule is shorter, requiring the material to be shorter, and in this case, Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida has been cut from a thick 4 hour play to a brief and furious 1 hour 15 minutes. For some students, this is their first experience doing Shakespeare. We spent the first three weeks sitting with a pile of lexicons going word by word in the script. The most challenging feat is trusting all of the work we have done for the clarity of language and stepping into the moment to play the play. Luckily, this is a playful group!
The Theatre Division will be earning their Thanksgiving break over the next two weeks.
Our production of PLATONOV by Anton Chekhov performs this weekend. Not only was this Chekhov's first play but for most of students it is their introduction to Chekhov. Coincidentally Chekhov was the dissertation subject of director, David Montee. The author said of his plays "All I wanted was to say truthfully to people: 'Have a look at yourselves and see how bad and dreary your lives are!' - The important point is that people should realize that , since when they do, they will almost certainly create another, a better, life for themselves." While the characters lives are dreary, Chekhov presents them in a humorous manner.
Adding to the excitement of the production will be the attendance of 3 or our Theatre alumni who will also be here working with the students Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. They are Adam Immerwahr, Assistant Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre in Princeton; Kevin Emrick, Director of Creative Development at Stuart Thompson Productions in NY; and Lora Lee Gayer who appeared on Broadway in FOLLIES, NewYork Center in PIPE DREAMS, and just closed in BULL DURHAM, the musical, in Atlanta.
Just to make next week more exciting Gulshirin Dubash will have a guest artist in her World Theatre Class. Sreyashi Day will be teaching the students an Indian National Dance. I will try to get some pictures and post them here for you.
And of course next weekend is the Theatre Company Ensemble production of TROILUS AND CRESSIDA adapted and directed by Laura Mittelstaedt. This is followed Nov. 20-21 by THE SECRECT IN THE WINGS.
It is no secret...
...the actors and the production team are busy creating a unique piece of theatre. These photos are from rehearsal for Secret in the Wings by Mary Zimmerman, directed by Gulshirin Dubash. Actors are rehearsing in the Harvey Theater on a set design by Chris Dills. The ensemble nature of this piece and the adventurous staging utilizes the gifts of the entire cast and the possibilities of every nook and cranny. Curious about the swings? Ladders? Trunks? The secrets about this production will be revealed November 20 & 21, and December 5 & 6.
Rehearsals for three productions are currently underway. Students in the cast of Platonov have gone through a complete staging of the play and are currently working in details moment by moment. The "Secret in the Wings" cast continues to stage the musical numbers as they work through the text in an ensemble-based process. The cast of "Troilus & Cressida" spent several rehearsals analyzing the text and learning about approaches to Shakespeare’s language. Our shop teams are hard at work bringing the sets and costumes to life for these upcoming productions.
Our first guest artist of the year will be coming to campus on October 2nd and 3rd. Jack Ferver is an Interlochen alumnus and has a professional career that has spanned from on-camera work in national commercials and feature films to creating movement-based performance work. More information about Jack can be found at his website: http://jackferver.org/
The cast of Sonnets for an Old Century performing on the Royal Mile at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.
We had an amazing experience in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival where we performed "Sonnets for an Old Century” by Jose Rivera at the Church Hill Theatre. Now time to get ready for a new Academy year!