Tag Archives: theatre

Oh Hey What’s Up Kate Burton

This past weekend, we began previews for our production of The Seagull at the Huntington. I can say without bias that this is the funniest Chekhov play I’ve ever seen (and possibly the first time I’ve actually looked Chekhov to be humorous). But on top of that, the production also features Kate Burton (aka Vice President Sally Langston on Scandal plus like a million other things) and her real-life son, Morgan Ritchie, as the onstage mother-and-son Arkadina and Konstantin, which is pretty cool. Here are two videos I put together about the show, which runs through April 6 at the BU Theatre:

Upcoming Stuff & Events & Things (Nov. ’13)

Hello, website! Long time, no update! I swear that one of these days I am going to actually train myself to just make brief updates here as they happen, instead of these info dumps.

ANYWAY. I’ve got some stuff going on, because of course I do. It goes like this:

  • Saturday, December 7, I’ll be returning to MORTIFIED and performing some hilariously terrible songs that I wrote when I was 16. The performance will take place at Space 538 in Portland, ME; tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Do I know anyone in Maine that I can even embarrass myself in front of? I don’t know, but I can tell you that it is definitely worth it to go to Maine to laugh at my terrible, terrible songs.
  • I’ve also got 2 new short plays in the 4th Annual Boston One Minute Play Festival, January 4-6 at Boston Playwrights Theatre. They’ll be directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian and Meghan Mueller, which I’m sure makes my sister proud in some way.

Meanwhile, in addition to my normal duties at Five By Five Hundred, I have a review of Eric Smith‘s new book The Geek’s Guide To Dating on Tor.com, and some coverage of SpeakEasy Stage Company‘s world premiere production of Make Up Your Mind, a brand new play by Kurt Vonnegut even though he’s dead.

And then, ya know, the youge (like, the slang/shortened word for “usual,” but spelled phonetically? Is that right?): Workin’, writin’, so on and so forth. Tonight at the Huntington we start performances for The Cocktail Hour by A.R. Gurney, which is directed by Maria Aitken, a favorite of ours at the theatre. Here’s a little video I made for that:

I also wrote some fun stuff about ghost stories at the theatre on the Huntington’s blog which is still worth reading even though it’s after Halloween, as well as two pieces of flash fiction in this “Quantum Shorts” competition that you can go read and vote for so I can win some monies: I Kill Dead People and Not Dead Yet (which was the basis for my story in Grayhaven Comics’ Fifth Dimension anthology).

Wow that’s a whole lot of dead stuff. In that case, I should end this on a happy note, which is that Maurissa Tancharoen both listened to and enjoyed my song “I’ll Fight A Whedon For You”; unfortunately, her husband Jed was less than impressed.

So now I’ve pissed one Whedon and armwrestled another, which only leaves Zak for me still to cross. But overall I think that means that I’ve successfully become a Whedonverse villain?

Holy crap, I’ll be 28 in 2 weeks.

Huntington Updates

We’ve got one week left of The Jungle Book (now officially our highest-grossing show of all time), and previews began tonight for The Power of Duff, a new play by Stephen Belber (and featuring, among others, Jennifer Westfeldt, writer of Kissing Jessica Stein and wife of Jon Hamm). Here’s a little video I put together about it:

Here’s another brief video I made for our Annual Fund ask, which hopefully gives a glimpse of the size and scope of our productions (and makes clear that even when shows are selling well, we still need money because, well, theatre this good don’t come cheap, y’know?)

I’m also trying to up my blogging quotient for the company — because hey, I enjoy writing sometimes, believe it or not — and here’s one of my latest posts, about our new young donor program “The Hunt.”

SO MANY THINGS HAPPENING IN THE THEATRE AHHHHHHHH

Man, life was so calm and easygoing for that first month after I got back from Clarion. What the hell happened?

Oh yeah. The Jungle Bookour new world premiere musical adaptation of the Disney animated film, directed and adapted by the incredible Mary Zimmerman. We’ve just extended the show a second time, so it now closes on October 20 (but tickets are going fast, so get ’em while you can!). It’s been a pretty crazy time at work, but luckily, all in a good way, with lots of special promotional events for the show that have kept me pretty busy. But here’s a little glimpse at a few of the things I’ve been doing for it:

Our “audience testimonial” video, with some B-Roll from the production, and interviews with real audience members who cannot stop raving about the show (so you don’t just have to take my word for it).

We also took the cast of the show to Fenway Park, where they performed the National Anthem before the Red Sox totally obliterated the Stankees. Here’s their actual performance…

…and here’s a fun little overview of their entire (did I mention they had soundcheck at 10am for a 1pm game, plus a two-show day starting with a 2pm matinee performance? Yeahhhh it was kinda nutes)

On top of that, I’ve been doing some video editing work for Project: Project’s upcoming production How May I Connect You (Or, Scenes in The Key of D:/)a really cool devised theatre piece full of hilarious sketches about communication and human interaction in a digital era. That show goes up this coming weekend only, Sept. 26-29, at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, so see while you still can!

(oh, and plus, my girlfriend just directed this incredible production of Nina Raines’ Tribes at SpeakEasy Stage Company, which is getting absolute stellar reviews, so you should go see that as well. It runs through Oct. 12.)

 

 

Hey! You! Playwright! Go make theatre in Alaska! #NewPlay #2amt

This past May, I had the pleasure of workshopping my play True Believers at the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska. “Where the hell is Valdez?” you ask, and all I can really tell you is that I had to take a 45 minute flight on a little puddlejumper plane from Anchorage to Valdez, and that there was totally a US Marshall on my 18-person flight, escorting a criminal in handcuffs, which was pretty badass. Fortunately, I did not end up on LOST, and instead had a fantastic week full of theatre and wonderful people in a remarkably beautiful setting.

I bring this up now because the conference is currently accepting submissions for next summer, and if you’re a playwright, it’s an opportunity that you absolutely should not skip. I was hesitant myself at first — the conference does offer a stipend for out-of-state writers, but it doesn’t cover the full cost of your airfare, and, well, Alaska’s kinda far away. But I was talked into it by my friend and colleague Meron Langsner, who said that it was one of his favorite programs in the country, and was a more educational experience for him than grad school. I thought that was a pretty bold claim, but I listened to him, and while I can’t compare it to the graduate degree that I don’t have, I can say with confidence that it was absolutely worthwhile in the development of my specific, and my personal and professional development, and that I cannot wait to go back.

You see, when people talk about a love for “theatre,” they’re talking about a very wide range of skills and tastes. You got your children’s theatre, your community theatre groups, your scrappy college / fringe groups, local professional theatre groups, your regional theatre powerhouses, and of course, your Broadway / West End scene. Within this, you’ve also got animosity between the groups — the fringe companies who hate on the LORT theatres with money, the LORT theatres that scoff at the unprofessionalism of community theatre, the community theatre types whose egos far outweigh their budgets, your annoying aunt & uncle who think that Broadway is the only legitimate / viable form of theatre, etc. I don’t have to explain this all — and I probably shouldn’t, because it probably makes me sound like an asshole — but if you’re involved in theatre, you know what I mean. There’s an air of pretension around every level, to a certain degree (I should know, because I have excellent taste in everything).

But what makes the Last Frontier Theatre Conference so remarkable, at least to me, is that all of these groups are represented, and all of them are treated with the exact same level of respect. Playwrights get one three-hour rehearsal for their readings, and the actors are probably performing in 15 readings throughout the week, and regardless of whether it’s your first script ever, or your 30th production and you’ve recently completed a residency at the Public Theatre, everyone is treated the same. You also end up meeting people from all over the world, with varying levels of theatre experience, but they all share the same passions, and some of them might give you some ideas or insights or opinions that you’ve never even heard before.

And sure, I saw some plays that were truly amazing, and others that were less so. But by leveling the field for the week, so to speak, it really brought everyone together, and reminded us all of why we love this artform in the first place. I’ll be the first to admit that I get annoyed with some people when they use the act of creation of itself to justify shitty work, but the Last Frontier Theatre Conference reminded me how to appreciate that initial creative impulse. Everyone was treated as a professional, a celebrity, simply because they were willing to put themselves out there and express themselves in some theatrical form. In a way, it harkened back to my DIY days playing punk rock hall shows, where it didn’t matter how good or bad you were; all that matter was that you picked up a guitar and you wrote some damn songs and you got in front of a crowd and you played and played and played until your throat went raw and your fingers started bleeding on the pickguard and for those 30 minutes you were still a fucking rockstar and that was all that mattered in the world. (Except this time we didn’t have to worry about shotgunning PBRs behind the dumpster before the cops show up because everyone is a fully functioning adult)

Also? Alaska is gorgeous, even if it did take me a week to realize that staying out the bar for another hour or two after sundown meant that it was 3am. 

So if you’ve got a play you’re working on, send it in. I promise you will not regret it.

Oh, and tell Dawson that I miss him dearly.

Maria Aitken returns for The Cocktail Hour

Maria Aitken is one of our favorite directors at the Huntington, and we’re excited to welcome her back to Boston this fall to bring her expertise to AR Gurney’s American comedy of manners The Cocktail Hour. Here’s a little video I did with Artistic Director Peter DuBois about the production:

I speak more in depth about the play over on the Huntington’s blog as well.

The Power of Duff at the Huntington

One of our other new plays in the Huntington’s upcoming season is The Power of Duff, which had its world premiere last summer but is undergoing some extensive re-writes for this fall. I spoke with director Peter DuBois about the production in the video below, and I talk more extensively about the story and script over on the Huntington blog: