Monday, February 28, 2011

Highlight video from Wicked Faire!

Here's of video of highlights from the "sneak premiere" at Wicked Faire!

Full report coming soon!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cast for Hit the Mat

Here's the cast for "The Drama Club Grappling Tag Team Match"...

Referee – Captain Zorikh
Hamlet – Sasha Strenger
Guildenstern – Luis-Miguel Torres
Rozencrantz – Mike Zartman
Wallace – Armond Cecere
Man in Black – Michael McCann
Buttercup – Ginger Baker
Questions 1 – Eric Sobel
Questions 2 – Melvin Glover
Mortician – Ginger Baker
Cart – Michael McCann
Customer – Jacqueline Hart
Dead Person – Jenna Hellmuth
Inigo – Michael McCann
Man in Black – Melvin Glover
Vizzini – Everyone
Lichas – Joy Kelly Smith
Hercules – Armond Cecere
Shirt – Jenna Hellmuth
King Arthur – Melvin Glover
Black Knight – Luis-Miguel Torres
Darth Vader – Mike Zartman
Luke Skywalker – John Loobie
Charlie – Sasha Strenger
Terry – Eric Sobel
Costello – John Loobie
Abbot – Joy Kelly Smith
Tybalt – Michael McCann
Mercutio – Luis-Miguel Torres
Romeo – Simon Munoz

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wicked Faire this weekend!

I'm too busy to say much, just that we will be performing this show at 7:30 PM on Saturday and at 2:30 PM on Sunday in Ares' Playground, the Warriors of Doom Wrestling Room at the Wicked Faire!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hercules and the Shirt

Here was a little something we came up with in rehearsal...

This is part of a story about Hercules. I think we can tweak it a little more, but I am very pleased with how the cast dove into the concept.

Hercules is played by Armond Cecere, Lichas (the narrator) by Joy Kelly, and the shirt is Jenna Hellmuth.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Introductory remarks

Here's the little introduction I gave at the opening of the first casting call ofr "Hit the Mat"...

Wow. My traps look bigger than I imagined them to be...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Overdue Production Report part 2

That Saturday, then, we had a surprisingly light turnout, and so I simply paired up the six people who were there and set them to work on specific scenes in the script. One pair did “Questions” from “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” another did a scene between Buttercup and the Man in Black from “The Princess Bride,” and the third pair did a segment of Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine.

The “R&G” pair was between a pro wrestler and a middle-aged amateur grappler, both of whom have limited theatrical experience and familiarity with Shakespeare…and none with Stoppard. I set them in the grid and instructed them to find occasions to engage and confront each other. After a few turns of that, I let them incorporate grappling moves into the scene. They came up with a funny and exciting bit of theater, and the more they read through the lines, the more they started to understand the scene. The moves, in fact, started to express the ebb and flow of the scene. Then on a break, I discussed Hamlet, Shakespeare, and “R&G” with the pro wrestler, who had never studied Shakespeare before. They then went back to working on the scene, and came up with a whole new physical interpretation of it. This new version gave new dimension and insight to the scene. It was not all about the grappling, there was use of levels and seemingly random movements that expressed the absurdity of it.

The “Princess Bride” scene became an almost dancelike grappling scene between the two characters. You could feel the emotion, the anger and romance, in the scene in every move.

“Who’s on First” was interesting. I am used to, and expect, and hope for that scene to be done in the rapid-fire, machine gun manner of the original broadcast (which I have on tape and listened to often when growing up). I originally envisioned it as a series of chain wrestling moves punctuated by pro-style throws and slams. Instead, it started with an almost Beckett-like sense of existentialism, and then evolved into a physical expression of confusion and exasperation.

You know, I thought, is there anything truly wrong with re-interpreting Abbot and Costello, like the way we so frequently re-interpret classic theater and opera? Who says that there is only one way to do “Who’s on First” that is entertaining? I have wanted to do that routine as a fight scene for years, and though someone else is acting in it, I am thrilled that they are doing it in a way that I never imagined…and I am even more entertained.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Overdue Production Report

OK, I have been remiss and not filed a production report in a while. So I will review.

Sifu Alex Richter at City Wing Tsun has been awesome enough to give us a good deal on using their studio for rehearsals on Saturday. A BJJ specialist I was hoping would work with us was supposed to come on the past two weeks, but unavoidable situations has kept him away. This has forced me to change the plan for those rehearsals on the fly. However on both occasions, this gave us the opportunity to find some new things I had not imagined.

On the first of these days, certain cast members who had missed a couple of rehearsals were given the opportunity to catch up on the techniques that we had learned, and we were able to add a few more steps. I was then able to see if the whole cast could do the moves in unison. A video of this will be up soon.

We then played a game of “freeze-tag-team-match,” in which the actors were to improvise scenes and combine grappling moves with the dialog. This proved to be a valuable and fun exercise. Thinking of the move and the line at once proved to be a challenge, but a fun challenge.

The following Wednesday we had a read-through. Many of the cast members had submitted scenes from various plays and movies. I assembled them into a sort of script that has come to be known as the “Drama Club Tag Team.” It will be the lead-off scene in the show.

The cast jumped into the lines with encouraging enthusiasm. Some of them seemed unfamiliar with some of the dialog, due to their limited theatrical experience, but none of it seems to be an insurmountable obstacle. It was a good jumping-off spot for the consideration of who will play which role.

We also learned a couple of submission moves from standing and applied them to the grid exercise.

Explanation of that video...

After instructing the cast in certain basic moves of submission grappling and doing grid exercises, I wanted them to get used to the concept of using these moves in some sort of scene. I set them up into pairs and had them come up with short scenes in which they would use the moves to express the intention of what they said. They came up with some pretty entertaining stuff. I especially liked the "jelly donut" scene.