Monday, April 30, 2012

TEam Work

from Christa Kimlicko JonesAssociate Artistic Director, Director of Programming: 
We have begun the creative discussions. Last week we held our first production meeting for our fall shows NORMALCY and THE JUNGLE BOOK. What’s most exciting about this season is the challenge of discussing two productions at once that need to work together. It is a lot to take on in a short, 3-hour meeting, but because of the team that we have, we all left inspired and ready for the next steps. 
First production meetings are so much about coming to the table with initial ideas and problem solving. Everyone has been doing work on their own and the time has come to begin to put it together—to collaborate, to really work as a team. I’m always amazed to see what the various departments have been working on. In many ways it’s the same excitement we, as school children, felt on Show-and-Tell days. It’s a lot of oohs and ahhs. Set, lighting, costumes, sound and music—all these incredible folks gathered in a room presenting their ideas, supporting the director’s vision...and the production manager making sure it all stays within budget. 
It was a great beginning, resulting in very workable and exciting ideas. We all left inspired and ready for more! Go TEam! 
You can also be a part of the TEam and help make these productions happen.  DONATE TODAY  to Theatre East!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Moment of Truth

from Todd Eric Hawkins, Managing Director

This past week I attended a preview of one of the new musicals opening on Broadway this season. It was a Monday night, I wasn’t particularly excited by the star, nor was I really in the mood to sit in the theater. But...I had a ticket so off to the theatre I went.

One of the disadvantages of being “in the business” is that there is a tendency to
be hyper-critical of theatre, especially when you are not in the mood to lose yourself in the story. Admittedly, this was one of those nights. I will not mention the show, because I am sure that my impression of it is completely based on my own psychological state, not on the quality of the show, or the performances. However, even in my disgruntled mood, a single line, in the hands of an incredible actress, pierced through all of the crap that I was carrying around. With just a few words, she was able to deliver that elusive, magical moment of truth: an emotional connection so strong that the audience has no choice but to connect.

At that moment, everything in my otherwise unremarkable, slightly annoying day fell away. For the first time that evening I stopped looking at the lights and the set and wondering how much they cost. I stopped nit-picking every performance and every song. I stopped being an ass.

Of all of the shows I have seen, I can only think of two occasions when a member of the
ensemble delivered, in my opinion, the best performance of the night. I have always heard the adage, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Both of these performers have proven that statement.

It is rare for actors—especially those in the ensemble—to hear how much their performance affects audience members. I think good work deserves praise, no matter how small the role. So, while I will not mention the show, I would like to thank that actress—in spirit here, and in a letter delivered to the stage door—for reminding me why I am in the theatre.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Power of Story

from Judson Jones, Artistic Director

One of the things I love about New York is the subway system. So many walks of life. So many histories. So many geographical, religious, and political backgrounds.  So many different clothing options! So many different faces. I love the shared glances you have with someone when you realize that you’re both eavesdropping on the same conversation and a bit a juicy news just came out. And for the most part, I love the myriad of musical performers (some good…and some not so good) that hop on the subway to play and then pass the hat. And all of this is crammed together in a hole in the ground.

The other day, it was an unusually early morning commute. I was on my way to a set and, as TV shows tend to start shooting at the break of dawn, I was not in the mood to do anything but go over my lines in silence. So of course there’s going to be a baby that’s having a complete and utter breakdown on the train. This child had some lungs and wanted everyone to know that he was not happy! Put on my headphones, but instead of hearing Jeff Buckley, I heard Jeff Buckley being backed up by the crying baby chorus. Ditched the headphones and tried to focus on my script. Then the doors open and I see two guitars and an accordion walk on. I looked up to the ceiling and thought, “Well, my morning just got better.” I was just not in the mood. Then they started playing one of the most beautiful and sad pieces of music I have ever heard. I’m not an expert of Spanish music but it sounded like it was perhaps a traditional folk song. The first thing I noticed was that the child stopped crying almost immediately. He just stared at the musicians, his cheeks still covered in tears. And then I looked across from me and there was an elderly woman mouthing the words, with tears in her eyes. There was such passion and pain in her eyes. I’m not sure what the history of the song is, but to her, it was very personal and it was very deep. I just sat there and watched her, and the child, and the band. And I smiled. Oh, the power of performance.

Today, throughout the world, two holidays are being celebrated by millions. Passover and Easter.  Passover celebrates the great exodus of the Children of Israel from the bonds of slavery in Egypt. And Easter celebrates the resurrection of a messiah. Both of these holidays celebrate the miracle of great change, journeys, and hope. Today people will gather in homes and perform the ritual of the Seder and others will gather in churches and take communion.  And at the heart of both of these rituals are the stories that will be told as they have been for many, many generations.

Theatre, at its core, is just that. Storytelling. Take away the lights, the score, the costumes, the scenery and what are you left with? The story. But the paramount aspect of the storytelling is the communion we share with each other. It is during time when we come together and we don’t just observe, but we partake. And when we leave, we should all be full.

Have a truly wonderful holiday.