Category: Director’s Notes

The Comedy of Errors – Antipholus of Syracuse

egpromo-1Kasey Kenyon has a repertoire of goggle-eyed masks of surprise the way Eskimos have a vocabulary for different kinds of snow. This, it turns out, is fortunate. This is a farce with lots of characters, each one a precisely placed cog in the plot’s machinery. How does the actor keep who’s who and what’s what as straight as possible? “Reading through the play,” he says. “Reading through the play…numerous times.” Which makes sense. In Shakespeare, almost all of an actor’s questions can be answered by the text. “Who am I?”, “What do I?”, “Which one is that one and who do I think she is, again?” He’s playing a character searching for a family lost, and there are some that’ve lept through all sorts of hoops to achieve that. It’s just this time it’s funny. His character, Antipholus of Syracuse, spends most of the play hurtling from one surprising encounter to another, either pampered by strangers for no discernible reason, or chased by people he takes for witches and sorcerers. The island of Ephesus, it appears, has been infested by magical madmen, and he simply wants to find his long-lost family, then leave. Happily for us, his journey is anything but simple.

– Nate Beynon

The Comedy of Errors – The Abbess

IMG_0530Debora Bercier is tall for her height and she takes the stage the way the way Columbus must have taken the New World: “With all due respect to those that were here already, ” she seems to say, “All this is mine, now.”
What she actually says, is, “The venom clamors of a jealous woman poisons more deadly than mad dog’s tooth.  It seems his sleeps were hindered by thy railing, and there-of comes it that his head is light.”  She says more.  The other woman, the wife of a man who seems to have been made mad, shrinks under the heat of the Abbess’s feverish scorn.  I ask Debbie why the Abbess is so feisty.  She tells me, her character “…never had the desire to be a nun, but was forced into it, and so she feels resentful.  She wanted to be a wife and mother.  And she’s bored with her vocation as an Abbess.  There are very few nuns or children to take care of.  Certainly no men!  But… now, for the first time, a man has come into her domain.  An opportunity to truly protect and minister to this man, and no-one will prevent her from experiencing this.”  The woman who the Abbess is yelling at isn’t that different from her, she tells me, “She just has the life I wanted!”
Farce, of course, is the great equalizer-it throws people of every class into one monumentally ridiculous tangle of surprises , punishes the wicked, rewards the good, and marries off the young people.  Who knows-the Abbess may get her husband and child before the day is through…
– Nate Beynon

Elephant’s Graveyard – Three Ring Circus

steamshovellerThere are many trinities involved in Elephant’s Graveyard. The first lines of the play let you know it’s a story about a Town, a Circus, and an Elephant.
Ever since we started rehearsal, Elephant’s Graveyard has been a three ring circus. However, the featured acts are constantly shifting. When we first began the project, it was a script, it was a couple of directors, and it was a room full of actors. As we labored to bring this show to life, our world became the words, the blocking, and the sounds. As we progressed through teamwork and focus, the three rings were soon occupied by vivid characters, story, and setting.
It’s still a three ring performance. We have our town and we have our circus. But on opening night, our third ring will be occupied by an audience. An audience that will be challenged to think about what they’ve seen, what they’ve heard, and above all else, what they’ve felt along the way. It’s a lot to take in, but believe me, once the lights dim, we are all in this show together, and together we’ll see it through to the end.
– Stephen Henel (Steam Shovel Operator)

Elephant’s Graveyard – Choosing a Character

Beard_Jefferson_Deputy_Snohomish-CtyNormally, when you audition for a play, if you are chosen the director tells you what part you are playing first thing. Linda [the director] didn’t do it that way. Although she obviously had some ideas about who would play what role, she had us read the play without giving us parts. That way we would focus on the play as a whole and the cast as an ensemble without highlighting our own lines (and counting how many we had). After we had read the play, she asked us which characters we felt drawn to. I was at the end of the circle and noticed that no one had said the Marshal, so I chose that character. And indeed, I ended up playing the Marshal. He is a character I would not have normally auditioned for, but he is a challenging and interesting role. I feel this production will be theatrical magic.
– John A. Nickles, Town Marshal

Elephant’s Graveyard – Lady Muse

The Muses of Comedy and Tragedy
The Muses of Comedy and Tragedy

Last night, I was visited by Lady Muse.  “What the H-E-double-L are you doing?!”  Lady Muse loves to point out my directorial flaws whenever she gets the opportunity. Every show I have ever directed, she appears at some point and tells me how I am messing things up.  This time, she pointed out how I am not LISTENING to the heartbeat of the play.  She knows that I haven’t felt right about setting the first moment of the show, which for me sets the whole play in motion. Lady Muse went on.  She reminded me to quiet my anxiety and read the play again. Then, she said, put my butt in the audience and watch the play unfold.  “Listen…watch…and then go do your job.” As Lady Muse was about to leave, she did say good job on gathering a super production team and a mighty fine cast! Then poof, she was gone!  Go do my job! Yep! Now if I could only get her to visit me during daytime hours, my anxiety might quiet itself down!

Anyway… onward we go…
– Linda Shirey

Elephant’s Graveyard – First Rehearsal

IMG_3443Once again, I am reminded that one brain does not make a show! Elephant’s Graveyard has opened the great circus tent of wonderful, imaginative, creative, opinionated, performers,writers and designers. When I begin a show, I feel childlike. I am never quite sure where the show will take me. I always have a knuckle of an idea, but that idea is transformed into magical wonderment after hearing the voices of the actors who will play the parts, and listening to the designers that will make the vision come to life. Elephant’s Graveyard is a very difficult piece to work on because of its subject matter. But I am blessed having so many talented folks supporting this show. Just like a trapeze artist, I am ready to fly. Onward we go!

– Linda Shirey

Agnes of God – Martha Livingstone

AoG-20I was tasked with attempting to write something regarding  my experiences with Martha Louise Livingstone.  For the past four weeks I have been working hard to be to be true to her. As an actor I want to be true to the text and make use of all the wonderful things the playwright has given me. It’s daunting.  There is so much.  She lives with me every waking minute of every day. My goal has been to be honest and authentic.

Martha is penitent and engages the audience as confessor. This role is thrust upon the audience. The play demands it.  Mea culpa…

This process of creating Martha Livingstone, for me, has been many things…challenging, enriching, terrifying, joyful, frustrating, gratifying, exhausting, and supremely humbling. I am grateful for the opportunity to be humbled.  Let’s begin…

– Kathleen Reilly

Agnes of God – Window Dressing

m3dezsIQLU1rrutr7o1_500What does the Catholic Church have to do with you?”  Yes, and while we’re at it, what does this play have to do with the Catholic Church, for that matter.  Because, alright fine, let’s just take a minute and acknowledge it: Agnes of God is a play with a reputation, in some circles, at least, for being “anti-Catholic”.  On the wall of our event page for auditions, somebody took it upon themselves to comment “Just what we need, another anti-Catholic play.”  Honestly, I was too wrapped up in making sure everything went well during auditions to give it much mind.   But the question hangs there- is the show anti-Catholic?  Agnes experiences severe trauma in the convent, and it’s covered up.  Mother Miriam lies to the doctor.  The doctor tells several unpleasant stories about her childhood involving nuns.  Does that make the show, as a whole, anti-Catholic?  I truly believe the playwright was much more concerned with deeper, more existential questions than, “Is the governing body of the Catholic Church a backward parliament of ravens?”  Lord knows I am.  I care about these three women and how they strive to find connection, and if they succeed or fail.  The Church stuff?  That’s all just window dressing.
– Nate Beynon

Agnes of God – Becoming Agnes

aog-2When you are used to being the comedic relief it is difficult to just be real.  It has taken several nights of rehearsal to get that through my head.  One night Nate called me out, “lower your voice, you are using it as a mask.  Like a character to protect yourself from being uncomfortable.”  It was one of the hardest things to hear because it was true.  But that is what Nate is pushing us to find, what is true to the story, not some character that we’ve made up.  Chipping away at the “idea” has been a difficult journey.  As the “funny man” it is extremely vulnerable, and I’m trying to lean into all of that and let Agnes come alive.
– Hollie Miller (Sister Agnes)

Agnes of God – Tick Tock

IMG_0389Tick tock…..The second act of Agnes of God centers around two sessions of hypnotism that the doctor orchestrates.  These scene are wonderful bits of theater.  Past traumatic events in Agnes’s life are acted out, heartbreaking revelations shatter illusions- Imagine a the prison scenes in Silence of the Lambs combined with the last scene of Carrie.  This is high melodrama brought right to edge of credibility.  There’s a reason these scenes are favorites of acting classes.  Hence, the metronome.  I don’t think we’ll be using it during the actual dialog, as it’s more than a little distracting.  But, oh, that sound- I can’t resist live organic sound.  Something that says, “This is happening, right now, and all of us, both on stage and off are experiencing it as it happens”.  It’s a way of putting your audience in the same room as your actors.  Whether they want to be there, or not….

– Nate Beynon