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Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

“Spraying and Relocating!” from Randy Wong-Westbrooke

In Assistantship, Scenic Paint on May 27, 2015 at 11:31 PM

Wong-Westbrooke_Sprayer

This last week has been full of new things. Scenic art is full of so many tricks and techniques to achieve the faux finishes and textures we create onstage. To recreate the texture and sheen of a rod iron fence, we mixed graphite with black paint and applied the gloppy mixture onto the wooden cutout. Once dry, you’d sand away and most of the graphite remains giving that sheen. A coat of sealer is needed unless you want the graphite to rub off on everyone’s hands and costumes.

Next with my final design for the Juneteenth Banner getting approved on Friday, we started to mix colors and put them into air powered paint spray guns. I only worked with a spray gun once last summer at Cal Shakes, but I will say that I hardly remember anything. There are a lot of bits and pieces to keep track of when assembling the gun and a few knobs that control the amount of air being used, the amount of paint, and the nozzle. It will definitely take practice. Next we learned out to square a drop on the paint frame – also a new tool and method. Because the banner is long, but narrow, we got a feel for how to spray on paint evenly on the excess muslin underneath the final.  However, even before we started on the final we had to learn how to drive the lifts. Having not driven a car in nine months it was hard to get back into it with no help from the joystick controls. Once we were lined up though, I will say I was more comfortable spraying than driving.

This project is on hold until I return after this week. For the main season set pieces, the paint shop has not been overwhelmed the last couple weeks and my charge, Gabriel, has set me up with Rick Anderson in the Scenic Design Studio to help him with some model boxes. I also haven’t built any model boxes in about eight-nine months so I was nervous. I was expecting him to say this is how I want you to build a ¼” model of the Bowmer, but instead he gave me the printouts and two already built, yet slightly different older boxes to compare with. I was free to go about it however I wanted and that is liberating, yet also nerve wracking. It took some getting used to being in a different space without the tools I’m familiar with. I did discover, however, that the larger shell of the theater is fairly similar to the proscenium stage we have back at Ithaca College, minus the proscenium part obviously. Today I will probably be working on making the clouds above the stage and the walls with boxes for lighting on the sides of the theater. It’s really neat to look around at Richard Hay’s immense collection of art, history, theater, and design books filling up the shelves around me while I hold some glued pieces together to dry. Let’s hope I’m keeping up a good pace!

“It’s the Little Things” from Atesede Makonnen

In Atesede Makonnen, Residency, Shakespeare Dramaturgy Residency on January 23, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Atesede Makonnen 1.15

My first blog post is about Ashland. It’s a town quiet in ways I expected but vibrant in ways I didn’t see coming. Walking down the main streets, I’m reminded of small New England villages but a quick glance around offers a glimpse of a quickness that’s purely west coast! Shakespearean puns litter the store signs and when I look up (when there’s no fog creeping around) I see a ring of mountains, lovely and near.  A strange place for a Shakespeare festival and yet a strangely perfect one, especially as it continues to bring new plays to its line up. Its isolation lends itself to intense focus on the plays in production, something I’ve noticed in rehearsal.

One thing I’ve noticed is what has been said about diversity is quite true and in unexpected ways. I’m used to being a minority (I went to school in a small town of New Hampshire) but I was surprised by how lacking in some ways Ashland is in being friendly to POC. Trying to find hair oil of all things really brought that home to me. It reminds me of something said at our diversity mixer – on stage, diversity is coming through loud and clear in a new and exciting way. But in the more mundane aspects of life here, Ashland can be a bit behind, population-wise and in the little things, like catering to POC hair needs.

Nonetheless, I’m enjoying the town, its people, and Oregon as a whole. I can’t wait to explore more!

“Why Shakespeare?” from Tom Ridgely

In Directing, Phil Killian Directing Fellowship, Tom Ridgely on January 16, 2014 at 8:24 PM

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Any theater artist, producer or spectator must at some point during their evenings spent at the theater ask the question: Why Shakespeare? Why do we come back to these plays again and again? Why do we see them in parks, on film, on, off, off-off (even off-off-off) Broadway and in schools? Why do theaters name themselves after him, dedicate their missions and their budgets to his oeuvre, and how does this draw thousands of people night after night to sit in the dark and listen those words? Is it the language, the characters, the comedy, the tragedy, the cross dressing? What is this mysterious hold that Shakespeare has exerted on the human imagination throughout history and across cultures?

After four centuries you would think we’d have moved on.

These were the questions rattling around in my head as I boarded a westbound plane two weeks ago. These were the questions rattling around in my head as I sat down at the table in the Great Hall to listen to the first read through of The Tempest.

And in Act V came an answer. Throughout the play Prospero has sought revenge on those who have usurped his kingdom, dispatching the fairy Ariel to torment them and administer a charm that will render them insane. Ariel reports back to Propsero:

Ariel: Your charm so strongly works ‘em

​That, if you now beheld them, your affections

Would become tender.

​Prospero: Dost thou think so, spirit?

​Ariel: Mine would, sir, were I human

Prospero: And mine shall.

Mine would, sir, were I human.

In this small but pivotal moment – Prospero’s reversal – Shakespeare both demands and defines our humanity. To be human is to behold another and to become tender. He gives Hamlet, the poor prince consumed by a revenge burden, a similar moment in Act V:

Hamlet: But I am very sorry, good Horatio

That to Laertes I forgot myself,

For by the image of my cause I see

The portraiture of his.

In this formulation, to be human is to look at someone else and see yourself. The act of doing so makes us larger, renders our cruelties impotent. Theater at its best, Shakespeare’s theater, fosters tolerance and empathy, teaches us humanity. Theater challenges the outer limits of that empathy – shows us the humanity that is in everyone – not just a small group of people who look and think like us. This is why theater, especially theater dedicated to Shakespeare, must be committed to diversity in the broadest, most expansive sense of the word. This is why I’m thrilled to be spending four months at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. And this is why Shakespeare will never lose his relevance or resonance – our affections can always become more tender.

-TR

A Brand New Day from Frank Guzman

In Assistantship, Audience Development, Frank Guzman on July 3, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Frank Guzman 7.3

This week I was able to do more with my assigned project in one day than I have been capable of doing in the 2.5 weeks that I’ve been here. This is not to say that you can view my work just yet. I have much further to go and a whole lot of expertise to cultivate before I will really be proud of exhibiting potential changes to my department’s website. Under the tutelage of my boss, Freda Casillas, and the folks who have been kind enough to teach me about website editing, my knowledge base has been growing in leaps and bounds. I now know a great deal about the work of the Audience Development department and my ability to help present its public face has been strengthened through meetings, copious note taking and sheer trial and error. Still, I am an amateur and each new accomplishment, i.e. discovery about a button’s function, is like a fascinating, shiny bauble. When I say I was able to do more today, I mean that I have taken several steps forward in terms of my confidence and editing prowess but goals remain and are not yet met. The work I am doing is humbling. Every small accomplishment is a reminder that teamwork and preparation are crucial elements of any success story. Just throw in a dash of dogged determination and voila! Progress.

It’s Getting Interesting… from Azalea Micketti

In Azalea Micketti, Internship, Stage Management on May 26, 2013 at 12:53 PM

I am so fascinated by the daily change in the rehearsal room. Some days it is smooth as butter, easy as making tea. Everything clicks, everyone is in sync, it’s quick, efficient, and organized. Other days it is like wading through a bog. Nothing lines up, words don’t make sense, time moves slowly and talking is painful. It is at these times that you truly see the nature of our human experience. Everyone reacts differently, experiences differently, copes differently. I have learned so much all ready, not just about theatre, but about being an adult. About letting go, not taking things personally, knowing when to hold your tongue, and understanding that someone else’s bad day doesn’t have to effect yours. Emotions run so high and it is so important to be respectful of the individual’s process as well as the collective exploration that takes place.

More than anything, this internship has only increased my desire to be an actor, a writer, and even a director. I want to continue to experience life through theatre, and share that with others. But more than that, it has begun to teach me what sort of person I want to be, what sort of art I want to create, and what sort of relationships I want to cultivate. I think it is so important to maintain artistic integrity in everything you do, no matter how ridiculous it is. For the first time I actually like The Taming of the Shrew, and I attribute a lot of that to the attention to detail and the importance of story that has been beautifully encouraged by the director and incredibly well manifested by the entire company.

Taming a Shrew from Azalea Micketti

In Internship, Stage Management on January 30, 2013 at 5:28 PM

My favorite moment of this week was seeing everyone on stage for the first time. We stepped on deck and had to find our sea legs. Imagined two-dimensional doors had finally been brought into the real world. Images on paper became 3D, everything was shiny and new, although unfinished. The colors were bright, the space new, the movement slow but steady and filled with potential. Going back the second day was like peeling back the second layer of the onion. The lights went on, the projection went up, and suddenly it felt like we were somewhere else. This world is starting to reveal itself moment by moment, the pieces falling into place, all the rehearsal feeling like it’s actually leading to something real, rather than a mass fantasy we’re all participating in.

One problem I do have with this play, or rather with the modern audience’s opinion of this play, is the double standard represented by Kate and Bianca. When this play is discussed from a feminist perspective, Kate’s treatment is the one shouted out as problematic, as sexist, as misogynistic. Very rarely do we hear about the sexist nature of Bianca’s story. The way she is manipulated by men, and the way she manipulates the men around her. The problem doesn’t come from the story, but the fact that we, as the audience, see no problem with Bianca essentially being bought and sold. The only redeeming factor is the fact that, despite the money thrown at her, she manages to choose the one she wants in the end, through a heavy dose of her own brand of manipulation. When the violence becomes physical, we complain, but if it is folded in and hidden within the double standards of our society, it is invisible. I think it’s time to start seeing both sides of the standard, pointing it out, and speaking up.

“One Brick at a Time” from Jose Rivera

In Internship on January 30, 2013 at 8:36 AM

Jose Rivera Photo Week 1

Beginning my internship was somewhat intimidating to me since I don’t have any background experience in scenic painting. However, after being in the shop the first day and after getting to know the paint crew I was more at ease because of the support they gave me. Overall, my internship experience for the last month has been great. Time seems to just fly when I’m in the shop working on something new. It impresses me and fascinates me the amount of detail and hard work the paint shop invests in each piece for the set.

The first things I began working on were the brick walls for the set of Two Trains Running. The first step I was taught was texturing the brick in order to add more dimension to make them appear more realistic. After that, the bricks were primed with a grey color and then each brick was painted one by one with a red/brown color. The bricks were also given highlights and once they looked like realistic new bricks we then began the aging process. A very translucent wash of dark grey was then brushed and splattered to all the bricks, which gave them a more worn look.

This process will be very useful to me in the future, not only because I will be able to use these skills as a scenic painter, but I will also be able to use this knowledge in my own artwork. I truly enjoy working with everyone in the Scenic Paint Department and I appreciate them taking time to teach me new techniques in scenic painting that I do not know. Being surrounded by humble professionals who don’t mind helping me out motivates me to keep striving to improve and leaves me with deep and meaningful appreciation.

“What’s the Password?” from Danielle Leigh Hicks

In Internship on January 29, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Danielle Leigh Hicks Photo Week 1

This is the unspoken phrase that I anticipated I would hear upon starting my internship with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s lighting department. There is a general understanding that every department, at every company, everywhere has their own language and camaraderie amongst employees. This can be difficult to mesh with upon becoming the “new person”. This is what haunted me as I entered the light shop on my first day at OSF. I expected to see the faces of those much more experienced than I, looking down at me with the expression of “Are you really one of us?”

THIS IS NOT WHAT HAPPENED AT ALL.

While I was already acquainted with Michael Maag, the Head of the Lighting and Video Projection Departments at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I was not familiar with any of the other lighting employees. To my surprise, they welcomed me with open arms and a wrench in hand, guiding me through my first few days in a way that was most helpful and educational. Everyone who I have met thus far in this company has been warm and welcoming, showing me that no matter what, I can go to anyone for help or just to chat about my day. It is a place that I would recommend to any theatre professional – young or old, experienced or not – to come to learn and to teach and to grow. It is a place that I have dreamed of coming to for many years, and I am incredibly excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work helping to create some of the most inspiring and passionate theatre in the country.

“The First Clear Day” from Greg Taubman

In Assistantship on January 29, 2013 at 7:31 AM

Greg Taubman Photo Week 1

I arrived in Ashland under the cover of darkness, driving into town several hours after sunset. When I awoke the city was bathed in grey, fog-covered. The top floor of the Ashland Springs Hotel was barely visible—to say nothing of the peaks of the surrounding mountains.  The fog continued for the next few days, obscuring the world at any more than a few yards distance.

It felt somehow appropriate. Here I was in a new place, off on a new adventure—it only made sense for the road ahead to be clouded, the future unclear. Knowing no one in town and having no place in particular to be, it felt natural to be cloaked in uncertainty.

And then suddenly one morning: utter clarity. Every brick of OSF’s campus, every tree on Mount Ashland, every blade of grass in Lithia Park shone beneath the clear sky. On days like that, when the world is born anew, it feels in a very literal sense like an epiphany: you can see the bigger picture and grasp where you fit in. These are the kinds of days I live for.

They are some of the most rewarding days in a rehearsal process, when things snap into place and you stop feeling like you’re groping through the fog together. In many ways this was an ideal way to begin my time at OSF: with a sense of mystery and getting lost and then, suddenly, found.

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