Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Show - What You Need To Know




Common Ground Theatre

4815B Hillsborough St.

(If you're using a GPS - we recommend  using 110 Brenrose Circle in your GPS)

Jan 2 & 3 at 7:30
Jan 4 at 2:00

Jan 8, 9, 10 at 7:30 
Jan 11 at 2:00

Jan 15, 16, 17 at 7:30
Jan 18 at 2:00

(PLEASE plan on being early. Late seating may not be possible and it is VERY EASY to get lost)

You can also get tickets by email or phone. See below for details.


(919) 417-2477


Raleigh News & Observer calls it "mesmerizing"!

Classical Voice of North Carolina's Jeffery Rossman says "All I could say is that I was transfixed for 90 minutes."

Katie Dobbs Ariail at FivePointStar... well she just pretty much liked the whole thing. 

Read up.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Promo pictures!

Our director spent some time making promo pictures for the show.  Some of them came out pretty great.

This one of John is pretty great. I think it captures Davies quite well.

Here's one of me as Aston:

This is one of Ryan as Mick. It's kind of "Shepard Fairey-ized"

And one of all three of us together:

As you can see, we're going for a 70's look for the show. Why? Resonance. A story with a setting of hard times in post war Britain was something that really resonated with British audiences in the early 60's, but here in the US, the 50s are seen as a time of prosperity. People don't have an intuitive connection between 50's clothing and difficult circumstances. Rather than copying the specific costume descriptions, the idea was to invoke ideas in the mind of our audience that are closest to those intended by the script.

Plus, it's fun. :-D

Saturday, December 6, 2014

You Did It!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our Kickstarter!  We made our goal again this year.

We're truly honored and humbled that you believe in our project enough to make it happen. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And we're really lucky to live in a community with such a thriving local theatre scene. We have so many groups doing a great and diverse array of work. Being part of this community, and having the support of so many people really means a lot.

Thank you for your support. Now we can get down to creating a real first rate production. We went costume hunting today, and let's just say that the results look pretty great. Can't wait to see you there!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Don't Know What To Say

So, we have just more than 24 hours left in our Kickstarter campaign. I've been a relentless promotion machine on that front, partly because I have been nervous about hitting our goal of $1,100, but also because I genuinely want to share this project with you. I'm excited about the cast and crew and the work we're developing.  We've blocked the show, and we're all really excited about it.

All this is great. But. Yeah. Some shit has gone down in the US while I was in London and now, again, just after I have gotten back. And I'm ... well I'm at a loss for words.

I am excited about my show and I am eager to share it with you and I do need to promote it but all that shit seems so selfish, so artificial in light of what has been going on in this country in the last couple months. How can I not talk about this? And at the same time, what can I say? What can I contribute to this conversation. No, screw conversation, to this cry of outrage? Sharing memes on facebook? I mean, sure but... that's not political activism. Or rather, it is, but it doesn't feel like enough. It feels insignificant.

We had a long conversation among some of my fellow Iron Curtain cast members in the UK when news of the Ferguson verdict broke over here in the US. It was similar to a lot of posts I've seen about the responsibility of the artist. What do we do? Both what CAN we do and what SHOULD we do? Is any of that effective?

I think back to the slave narratives presented by Bare Theatre for the past few years. They're powerful. They were gathered in the 1930s. It's great that they were preserved, but did anyone LISTEN to them at the time? Or the slave narratives of a few generations before. Those that came out prior to the civil war (12 Years A Slave was  based on one of these, but there were many of them published by abolitionist societies in the period). Did it make a difference? Solomon Northrup was quite well known after it's publication, but where did those lessons go? And what about Uncle Tom's Cabin. I remember from American history learning about the impact of Harriet Beecher-Stowe's book (and not Northrup, though obviously we did hear about Fredrick Douglas and his work). It makes me wonder. Was Uncle Tom's Cabin actually more influential, or did the history books over emphasize Beecher-Stowe's book because it was the product of a white woman rather than a black man? Or was Uncle Tom's Cabin actually more influential, but it was so in part because it was written by a white woman rather than a black man? White identity politics is so entangled with our national narrative, it's not a question that, I think has a real answer.

Society's role (and the power of white-male-christian etc... identity) is so big, it's a bit silly to say "setting that aside." But on the idea of art and the responsibility of the artist... well what can we do? I am a strong believer that we, as human beings, are creatures of story. We experience our lives as story with ourselves as protagonist. Understand events, history, even science as a story. Cause and effect. Input-output. What stories we tell and from whose perspective shape our very understanding of our world. That's why media is so powerful. People who watch Fox News have a very different understanding of the world than people who listen to NPR. Marshall Mcluhan isn't terribly fashionable or well known anymore, but his thoughts rattle around in my brain. As the global village advances, it's increasingly oral, increasingly tribal, and increasingly driven by fear.

Part of what we can do, I think, is simply present more stories from people who need to be heard, who haven't been heard. Having these stories listened to and validated, having them raised up as part of the conversation is important because people need to feel like they are being heard and respected (and, you know, obviously actually BE heard and respected). That is critical. But I worry that these stories will only be heard by people who already believe them. When I look at the attendance of plays (and movies etc... I discuss theatre because that's what I do) it seems like the audience is there for a self-affirming function. It's preaching to the converted. Which is good! It's important. But to change... I wonder. How do I reach the person watching Fox News. I mean, to some extent, mostly I never will. I accept that. But how do I tell a story that someone who might be convinced, or at least who disagrees with me, will actually listen to, sit through, but still GET THE POINT. Even if they don't walk out agreeing with me, that they will understand the disagreement.

The Caretaker does deal in racism and xenophobia. Fear of foreigners and "blacks." I think it's pretty clear it's not presented in a positive light. That the views expressed are rejected rather than endorsed. That said, it's hardly advocacy. It's peripheral to the plot. Am I doing what I ought to be doing? Am I responding to society? I feel like I don't know anything.

I feel rage and impotence and frustration and horror. And I don't know what to do. I'm going to keep making art. Maybe something will come out of this. I have to think each step, each play, each story, it's an opportunity to see other people as human beings. And that's what I think seems to be missing. Seeing danger, seeing "the other" instead of seeing a person. A child. A father. A son. I don't know. Maybe just saying, just telling any story of another with truth and conviction, maybe any new perspective is enough. Or maybe I'm just kidding myself. I don't know. I just don't know what else to do, and I just don't know what else to say.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

And We're Off!

Picked this up at the Samuel French Bookstore in London.
We've been working hard on our lines, and we've had a few rehearsals, but December 1 was the start of a short, intense rehearsal period. We have about three weeks (plus tech) to make this happen. So I hope we've done our homework!  We have the play mostly blocked at this point. To take a sculpture metaphor, we have the shapes roughed out. Now it's time to repeat, repeat, repeat. Getting it ingrained in our bodies and minds, and slowly taking out a finer and finer tools to shape and round the performances.

I picked up this book and read some of it on my trip (through the part where they talk about The Caretaker) but I wonder how helpful it is. Even when he was directing his own work, Pinter was insistent that the work stand for itself. David Jones (an actor and director who played McCann in the first revival of The Birthday Party) asked Pinter for insight on his character, Pinter replied "I have no fucking idea. I know everything about McCann after he walks through that door. I know nothing about him on the other side."

So in a sense, learning more about Pinter and the circumstances of the writing of the play (it was, in fact, inspired by people he knew when he lived in a flat in Chiswick), doesn't really help. In fact, it may actually work against the purpose that Pinter brought to the play itself. I think I'll file it away as "interesting to know."

Luckily we have a great director and cast. At this point we're just remembering the words. But I know as we progress the shapes will emerge in finer detail from the stone.  They'll be his shapes, and hopefully ours too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


The Globe Theatre

So you may have noticed (or not) that there haven't been many updates here. This time last year I was posting regularly about our production in the rehearsal process. This year, not much. Why? Well, we haven't been rehearsing. We did have several rehearsals in October where we started working on the script together. We went through the entire play once and broke down the "beats" (actor talk for the sections, each "beat" is usually a new topic, goal, or idea). We even started blocking a little. But for November, I have been in London acting in another production. This has meant that John has had to step in and do a lot of the production.

Big thanks to John, and I know we are all working hard on getting off book so we can make the most of our rehearsal process. Being overseas makes me nervous. I worry about the short rehearsal period. I worry about not being able to help make sure things get done on time. But it comes with benefits too.

One of the things that is very special about being here is inspiration. I've seen 5 plays (so far) and visited Shakespeare's home town and the Globe Theatre (both the modern recreation and the original site, part of which lies under some Edwardian row houses and Southwark bridge). And it's been splendid. Not just as a tourist, though it's been that certainly, but as an artist. It's so inspiring to see work by other committed, talented performers. It's invigorating to visit the home of theatre in the English language. It's simultaneously humbling and energizing.

How can you not feel a sense of wonder, of purpose, of energy standing in the room where Shakespeare was born. Because he's not just a legend, he was a man. Gifted to be sure, but a human being who lived and died just like you and I. Knowing that, seeing that, just a man with a gift for language has given so much joy, knowledge, laughter, tears. How can one not be inspired?

Getting to perform a play in one of the centers of theatre in the English speaking world is an honor in its own right, and not something I'll soon forget. And the opportuntiy to see a host of other plays has triggered so many ideas of my own. I'm excited to come back to the triangle and produce another show. I don't know if my experiences here will make my performance any richer. I hope it will, but I don't know. But it certainly has inspired me to want to create more, to share more, and to find more in myself.

See you all soon!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Caretaker Kickstarter is here!

Guess what? It's that time again! Time to help fund local theatre by participating in this year's kickstarter.

>>CLICK HERE to be taken to our Kickstarter page!<<

We have a great cast and crew for this show. The Kickstarter campaign is a great way to get a ticket. It saves you a little money, but the important thing is that you get to be a part of the project's success. By buying a ticket through kickstarter you are showing your support for the play. You're saying "yes, I'm going to be part of this. This year we're also asking people to consider sponsoring one of our Buddha statues. The script calls for a statue of Buddha to be smashed each night (to be clear: we love Buddha, it's just what the play requires). That's 11 statues we need to smash, plus extras for rehearsals and spares. So consider donating another $15. We'll even give it to you after the show if you want. Well, maybe a few pieces. Even if you can't make the show, consider sponsoring a Buddha.

One more point: Seating for this show will be limited. We will have less than 50 seats each night. By getting your ticket through kickstarter, you will be able to ensure seats to the performance of your choice.

So help us get this show up. Be part of the team. I hope to see you in January!