Ghostbears!

Posted in Playwrighting on May 15th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

At Western Michigan University today for a workshop of Ghostbears! as part of their Activate Midwest series. I arrived last night and had a chance to see the evening reading of yesterday’s playwright. This morning, we started with a cold reading, discussion with the student actors, and lunch and discussion with the grown-ups. Then back to the hotel room to write while the iron was hot.

Then I emailed the revised script in, and we had an evening reading of the new version in front of the rest of the acting and playwrighting students taking part in the program. It was generally agreed the work I’d done in the afternoon really pushed the play forward, and I feel pretty good about the next series of revisions.

Here’s a photo of the the students in the York theatre as we got going for the evening’s read:

Three Excellent Cows

Posted in Playwrighting on May 6th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

The Write Now! conference has been pretty amazing. Suzan Zader, TYA legend was there, and I got to have some one on one time with her to talk about “Three Excellent Cows.” What an amazing woman, and I really wish I’d known about her and her work years ago. Oh, and Liz Lerman was here for a session. Wow. Wow. Here’s a pic of fellow workshop participants Reina Hardy, Mark Costello and Bill D’Agostino with Suzan.

Here we all are, filing into the IRT’s Upper Theatre for the evenings process discussion with all four teams.

Afterwards, it was photo time — here are all the teams. The woman in the yellow sweater is Dorothy Webb, the founder of the workshop that eventually became WriteNow! I am now officially a Dorothy Webb Award winning playwright.

Oh yeah, there’s David Saar and James Still and Emily Tarquin and Katie Rasor and Dwayne Hartford and Talleri McRae and Kristen Boers and Mark Costello and Reina Hardy and Wendy Bable and Robert Richards and Henry Godinez and Jenny Millinger and Janet Allen and did I leave anyone out?

And what makes Dorothy even more fabulous — I got a chance to chat with her at the reception following, where I learned that she too was a designer, and had trained at SIU (Carbondale) in the days of Mordecai Gorelik and Darwin Reid Payne. She told me how Darwin Reid Payne had a scumbling technique that involved students using their bare feet to swirl and blend the paint. I cannot tell you how wonderful that brief chat was.

Three Excellent Cows

Posted in Playwrighting on April 28th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

More adventures here at Write Now! I spent yesterday afternoon and evening revising, and today we read through the revised script. I actually caused the office to run out of peach paper because of the new pages.

Here we are, breaking up after today’s rehearsal. A lovely group of actors who dived right in, asked a lot of interesting questions, and just generally attacked the whole thing with great gusto.

Afterwards, we had a meet and greet with the staff of the Indiana Rep, and then Talleri (our team’s dramaturg) and Dwayne (our team’s director — who was just named artistic director of Childsplay in the coming year!) and I got some food and went over notes.

Now I’m back at the hotel, and am about to crank out a fresh draft for tomorrow!

Three Excellent Cows

Posted in Playwrighting on April 27th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

My department chair was kind enough to let me go to Indianapolis to attend the Write Now! workshop and conference, so here I am. We’ve had readings of all four plays now, and my director and dramaturg have sat down with me and I now have a long list of things to consider as I move forward with revisions to “Three Excellent Cows.”

Meanwhile, between readings and lunch today (tacos!) we were given a tour of the Indiana Rep’s space. It’s a converted 1920’s movie palace that was built in Spanish Moor style. Here we are, all gawking at the wonderfully over-the-top lobby:

And then continuing backstage where the original proscenium decoration has been preserved:

Yes, those are daschunds holding up that urn. And that’s one of the most exciting fly rails I’ve yet run across:

The Furies

Posted in General Production, Production Photo on April 24th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

Last night was the first tech rehearsal for the UW-Whitewater production of “The Furies.” It went pretty well; things were discovered, things were addressed, lists were made. Here are a few photos:

A preliminary preset (lighting design by student Logan Bydalek):

The Furies take the stage:

Athena begins the trial of Orestes:

The Furies object to the results of the trial:

The Furies

Posted in General Production, Scenic Design, Scenic Painting on April 23rd, 2015 by Eric Appleton

As we head into first tech for “The Furies” tonight, here’s a look back at some of what happened yesterday in shop!

First, Here’s TA Joe putting wheels on Athena. . .

. . . who looked like this at the start of shop:

. . . and this at the end of shop:

I also started laying out the mortar work on the stage floor. The snake-like route is the path Clytemenstra follows.

And a picture of the stage as a whole, with TD Steve Chene working with some students on the cover for the stairway to the underworld.

The Furies

Posted in General Production, Scenic Design, Scenic Painting on April 22nd, 2015 by Eric Appleton

We’re days away from the first tech of “The Furies” here at the UW-Whitewater. Actually, we have dry tech this afternoon, and first tech Thursday evening. We’re in pretty decent shape, I think.

Yesterday afternoon the shard curtains, now complete, were moved into position. . .

. . . and here’s Intro student Kim way upstage there working on the short traveller track for the curtains that close off the upstage space. . .

. . . and then an action shot of TA Thad and Intro student Mason tying blacks onto the traveller.

The Navelstone platform proved a bit on the large side, we we ended up trimming it down and adding some extra platforming way upstage to allow for better movement and storage. Here’s Kim again, with TA Bruce and Braden working on that:

Meanwhile, I was in the shop working on the 15 foot tall Athena:

The Furies and Arrangement for Murder, No. 2

Posted in General Production, Scenic Design, Scenic Painting on April 17th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

We have a production meeting for this summer’s “Arrangement for Murder, No. 2″ so here’s an image of the set as it currently stands. The director likes it, though I haven’t yet passed it by our technical director (though I don’t see any issues from his end), and I do still need to put in the overhead lighting fixture.

Here are pictures from yesterday’s work on “The Furies.” First, the hanging of the shards continues. getting started:

And moving along:

Here’s TA Thad working on the rolling stairs which will enable to jurors to get up to their platforms:

And Intro to Tech students Teresa and Josiah painting some scrim scraps black to help mask the lighting instruments (audience blinders) tucked underneath the platforming:

Athena’s been cut out, and waits to be framed. There will be a doorway through her lower half, covered with fabric (her skirts), through which the actor playing Athena will emerge.

I finally got the danged snake onto the Navelstone:

And got it painted. Done.

The Furies

Posted in General Production on April 16th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

Getting closer to tech week for the UW-Whitewater production of “The Furies.” Our TD, Steve, was out this afternoon, but he left plenty of assignments for the students to work on. With the lights hung (student lighting designer Logan Bydalek), circuiting is in full swing. Here’s TA Bruce working with Intro student Jenna on one of the electrics.

At the same time, shard stringing was happening, with a group on either side of the stage measuring, sliding, and gluing. Here’s Allison (another Intro student) and one of the Bunbury twins (sorry once again) on stage left. . .

. . . and Intro students Liliana and Joe working with TA Allison on stage right.

While I’m ducking into the Barnett every so often to check on things, I busied myself in the shop cleaning up the image of Athena:

— and filling the new snake. My old version was just not flexible enough, so I asked Tracey Lyons, our costume shop supervisor, if she could make me a long tube. She even made it out of a more stretchy material. Here it is, filled, with the head attached and glue drying.

The Furies

Posted in General Production, Scenic Design, Scenic Painting on April 15th, 2015 by Eric Appleton

Updates on the UW-Whitewater’s upcoming production of “The Furies.” Here’s the stage in the Barnett. The platforming is all in place, though there is facing and stone paintwork to be done. The lights are hung and waiting to be circuited, and all the shard curtains strings have been tied to eyehooks on battens and will start getting their shards today.

Speaking of shard curtains, here’s Braden tying those pieces of twine to the eyehooks. . .

. . . and Mason and Bruce doing a little untangling. We decided that each string will be loaded with the proper number of shards, tied off at the bottom, and the placement for each shard measured from the top, raising the batten as we progress. The tedium continues. . .

This is a picture of the path that Clytemnestra takes around the stage, pushed on her wagon. I will be somehow incorporating this path into the stone work.

The navelstone is, well, sort of done. The leaves have been attached and painted.

Here’s the rolling base for the navelstone, with steps for Hermes.

I say sort of because the snake has to be completed and attached. I discovered that my approach of wrapping ethafoam in muslin will not work — it’s just not flexible enough. I have asked our costume shop supervisor if she’ll sew me a very long tube, which I will then fill with. . . something cheap and available.

Here’s props manager Allson working on arrow ends for Apollo’s quiver:

Finally, work has begun on our giant Athena. Makenzie, Jennifer, and Bruce projected and traced the image, and are here seen to begin cleaning up their tracing, straightening and smoothing lines before it gets cut out.