Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Episode Online!

Folks and digital followers, surf on over to the Radio Hound Productions homepage to check out the newest episode of the The Stray Dogs Project - "Redux." Click the link, then go to the Stray Dogs Project under the "Projects" tab.

Here are some pictures - Joshua Browns as Francis.

Writer Justin Muschong assists in performing a sound effect.


Josh, Justin, Director Michael Osinski, and Victoria at the table read.
The next episode will be up two weeks from now, and we have some submissions from new writers that will be coming up in July. Exciting times.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Triple!

Starting early this morning, I headed out for three different auditions in Philly. First up was for Demetrius in Midsummer Night's Dream, a role that I had played only a year ago. I had worked at this theatre last week as a reader for some of their other auditions, serving as a scene partner to read with people who were actually auditioning. But this time around, the director was looking at me. I had a lot of fun with the audition, and I was also proud that my best work was done at my audition, not all the times I was just the reading partner. It was also interesting because Josh was in the room with me, and Josh had directed me as Demetrius. I was more nervous to perform in front of him than in front of the director of the upcoming show.

Next up was another Shakespeare audition, this time for a season program that included Hamlet, As You Like It, and Henry V. The auditions were held in the theatre were we performed Chad Deity, and this was one of my first occasions to return to the scene of our triumph. I knew the wrestling ring would be long gone, but it was still a sad sight to see that it was all gone. But in terms of the Shakespeare, I did two monologues, one of which was the Duke from 12th Night, and then sang a little bit of a song to show off my voice. The director then talked to me about the callbacks for Henry V, which I'm hoping to go to on Thursday. There are some roles that just can't be turned down in good conscience, and that show has some of them.

Then I had a long lunch/comic shop break, followed by my final audition of the day, which was actually a callback. I spent the night reading different scenes with different partners, while the director was looking for good pairings of actors. I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and generally had a good time, trying to stay very casual and very relaxed. I did some solid work in the scenes, trying lots of different approaches to the material, working to understand and process the character in new and exciting ways. I will post more about the show this week, but the audition was solid. And on unrelated audition notes, I picked up two comic books I've been looking for, listened to a bunch of podcasts, saw Bradley Cooper on the street, and now I'm having a beer, talking to friends, and watching Star Trek.

All days should be like this one.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Steampunking

Even though our performance run of 12th Night ended with a wildly successful final show last night, the cast still had one more hurdle to jump as we headed out to NJ today for the First Annual Steampunk World's Fair. Our show held a very strong steampunk design element, and we were invited to perform some scenes from our play, showing off the costumes and generally providing awareness for Curio Theatre. The cast was planning to head out from Philly around 2pm in time to get to the fair for our 4:30 show, but I was really interested to get out there earlier in order to have time to wander the fair and soak up this steampunk world that we were allowed to play in for the last month. So I got all suited up as the Duke, headed out to the Radisson off I-287, and plunged head-first into a crowd where my gentleman's coat was not out of place at all. (First photo: The steampunk band, playing for the crowd.)

It was a fantastic experience. I hadn't really know this world existed two months ago, even if even would have know what "steampunk" even meant. But this courtyard of the hotel was filled with men, women, children, even families all dressed up in Victorian-Scientific outfits, visiting the vendors and watching the displays. I started getting lots of compliments on the outfit, and I was handing out postcards for both 12th Night and for my own projects with RHP. I posed for more than a few pictures, and I was also lucky enough to get one with another theatre artists named Jen. (See second picture.) I was really grooving on the whole atmosphere of the convention, and everyone was wonderfully friendly and excited about their hobby. Two women sitting behind a vendor table spoke to me in British accents, trying to sell me on their special elixirs and tonics, all while explaining the new refrigeration system they had to keep the bottles cold. Another vendor had really cool-looking leather covers for spiral notebooks; the covers were adorned with gears and such that made them look amazing.

But then it was time for our performance. With most of the cast caught in traffic (i.e.lost), I had to speak to our stage manager Annie regarding any technical needs we had. I worked out dressing rooms, mics, lights, etc, with her, trying (and managing) to have everything arranged by the time the rest of the cast arrived, in what was sure to be a last-minute frenzy. Sure enough, that frenzy arrived and we powered through an hour's worth of scenes of the show, much to the delight of the assembled crowd. We had a small moment of cast unity, and then they all got back in the minivan to head back to Philly.

After they had taken off, I went back to the convention and I met Vesper and Lora (third picture.)
It was from them that I really started learning about the roleplaying/character creation in the world of steampunk. Vesper, on the left, showed me her high-altitude breath mask and the various guns and swords she carried for her role as an air pirate. Lora just bough that grey coat at this convention, and she's in the process of creating a character who is a watchmaker, as you can see two watches on her left lapel. Vesper is also holding a big gun on her shoulder, which is a custom converted NERF gun. Pretty clever... I actually remarked that the only thing my Orsino outfit was missing was a ray gun of some kind, and she actually gave me an extra one that she had no use for. So for a few hours, Orsino was packing a gun in his boot, and I even got pretty good at the quickdraw. (The coat is used to distract the enemy before blasting the hell out of them.)

This steampunk world was so interesting and so welcoming, that I wonder if I won't go back, even independent of 12th Night. In the long-awaited feature film version of our short film "The Chrononauts," we have been interested in a steampunk backdrop for the world of the story. It's an exciting and dynamic world, and after my adventures today at the World's Fair, it's a world that I want to return to.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Using the body

In addition to using language and the words of the script, actors have another weapon in their arsenal for creating character - physical action and body language. Some companies really focus on the creation of physical theatre, ranging from commedia dell arte to dance masquerading as theatre. But I refer to the more basic notion of actors using posture, hand gestures, or body position to help tell the story. Of course, holding your body in a certain way and moving in a certain way will instantly create an element of character. Cowboys walk differently than businessmen, and they would both move differently than someone who is 90 years old. But I'm also referring to conveying story through such physical movement.

For example... there are two scenes in 12th Night where I have the exact same exit. Down the steps, across the platform, and then offstage. Both of those exits come out of different scenes with Viola in disguise as a boy. The first scene ends with Viola secretly pining over Orisino, and so I leave the scene in a full-on business manner, striding confidently away until I disappear offstage. The second scene develops the relationship between our characters, and it ends with a semi-awkward moment where maybe my character develops some inappropriate feelings toward this young boy. My exit for that scene is much less measured, much less controlled, and I even take a moment to pause and look back at her/him. It's a physical moment of storytelling that I found in the rehearsal process, showing the relationship as it develops between us. It's a subtle thing, and I don't think the audience would ever notice it consciously. But I hope that they pick up on it and realize what's going on.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Solid weekend

We had some solid, enjoyable performances of 12th Night this last weekend. I had been having a rough week when it came to the shows, and our weekend was enough to remind myself why I'm into this business in the first place. As much as friends may laugh at me for saying this, I really don't get into all the glory-hogging and fame-and-fortune that acting provides. I like doing my job, and I don't always need the accolades that go with it. In fact, I generally enjoy that I can change into ripped jeans and a baseball cap, take out my contacts and put on my glasses, and slip away into the night unnoticed, a theatrical Clark Kent changeover.

But this weekend I had friends in the audience, and I will generally always go out after the show to say hello if I know someone in the crowd. So I went to talk to people two days in a row, and they were so genuinely excited about the show that it was a wonderfully uplifting experience. It gave me just the right shot in the arm to get me through the weekend of performances, propelling me into the final week's worth. Overall, it was a nice reminder of why I do what I do.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Double-up - Plays

Over the last week, I went into Philly to see two different shows that both close this coming weekend, so it was my literal last chance to see both of them. First up was WWGUTS at InterAct Theatre, a show that focuses on the "adventures" of George W. Bush as he awaits his trial at the Hague for war crimes. It's a comedy. Only three actors in the show, and the whole production was solid and enjoyable. I felt as if I were being hit over the head with the idea of the show, and the metaphor of the ocean was layered so heavily into the script that it eventually stopped having any resonance at all. The performances were all strong, especially the actor playing Bush, and they all worked really well together. I did think that the playwright missed some opportunity to deepen the script and explore the issues and relied instead on some cheap laughs and some too-obvious moments of liberal grief. The production moves on to a run in NYC in the summer, and I wish them the best of luck!

Second on the docket was the current show with Flashpoint Theatre, closing Saturday night. In it, a mother and her daughter try to cope with the death of the father, but they do so in different ways. Other characters include the Apartment where they live, and an actor who doubles as Justin Timberlake and Harrison Ford. The show was enjoyable, even if it did feel a little bit scattered. The script called for a heightened level to the acting, but it occasionally felt like the actors were all in different plays from each other. Most problematic, however, was the "happy ending" that came about in the last fifteen minutes of the play. It felt largely tacked-on, but most of all illogical. The playwright had set up very clear characters, and the ending the play found felt out-of-step with those characters.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Double-up - Auditions

I had a busy day of auditions on Tuesday. First up was Walnut Street Theatre, trying to sing my way into the understudy company for "Fiddler on the Roof." They called me in for it based on my headshot in their files, and I generally make it policy to go in for any audition that the theatre calls me for. (That's how I got the gig in EECD, so it's a good policy.) So I hopped on the train, popped in the ipod, and was down in Philly, singing for the casting director. She asked me to sing a second song since she hadn't heard me before, and I did pretty well overall. I haven't auditions for many musicals of late, but I held my own and did a solid job. I don't know if they will call me for the gig, and I'm honestly not sure if I want the gig. Understudying is somewhat of a stressful gig, and some people are suited to it. I, with my current jobbing lifestyle, am not.

After coming home for dinner and a quick episode of Star Trek ("Tomorrow is Yesterday"), I got in the car and drove into the city for my second audition, a reading of a play called El Lion. I had been sent audition scenes, and I went into it just planning to have a whole lot of fun. When I actually got to read the scenes, I was lucky enough to be working with two actors in the scenes with me. Sometimes theatres just provide a "reader" to work with, but it is always better to have another actor playing the scene with you. We jumped right in and knocked the chemistry out of the park. It was one of those wonderful and rare auditions where I had a blast working with the other actors, and I ended up having so much fun working the scene that I lost all that "pressure to perform" for the director. Even if I don't get the role, this audition was a good time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

New Episode Online!

Folks, surf on over to www.radiohoundproductions.org and check out the newest episode of The Stray Dogs Project, "Silence," now posted online. This episode is a change of pace for the project, as it features Julia Frey reading a short story about a couple who realize they need to break up over a dinner together. Be sure to tune in next week for our special Mother's Day episode, "To Send the Very Best."

According to blogger, this is the 400th posting on my blog, and I would like to thank you readers for sticking with me this far. And don't worry, more blogs will keep coming.


Field Trip!

This past weekend, some of us from the Philly production went up to NYC to see the Chicago-based NYC run of EECD, the wrestling play I did back in Oct-Nov that was satisfying hard work. Our director had gone to see the show in Chicago, and they brought their whole production over to NYC. I was really looking forward to seeing what the show could be with New York money behind it, and I was also excited to see Michael T. Weiss, one of my favorite TV stars, as EKO. All of this excitement, plus a trip to NYC, and there was really nothing to prevent what seemed like an awesome day. And we learned there would be a talk-back after the performance, so we were all excited.

Unfortunately, the show was somewhat of a letdown. I know it's mostly unfair to compare this production to mine and to say that mine was so much better, but both productions were very different and focused on different things. Our production focused hard on the political angles of the show, trying to give the story teeth. This production seemed more interested in the larger-than-life cartoon elements of professional wrestling, playing up all the comical elements of the show. The show, as a result, was very funny, very fast, and very empty. Without those deeper themes being explored, the show felt very shallow and insignificant instead of hard-hitting.

The wrestling was even less impressive than ours; it didn't seem like it hurt, and it was over too quickly. I was looking forward to seeing the big-time stuntmen do some wrestling, but it wasn't all that cool. I liked seeing some other Joe Jabroni get hurt, and I really liked the costumes for their wrestlers. But overall, the show was a little disappointing.