November 12, 2008

Standby Opening Night...And Go!

Hi Everyone,

Maggie again. We're getting close to opening for the Coward plays! Present Laughter had their preview last night, and my show, Hay Fever, has a preview/final dress tonight. The comedies open this weekend, with Hay Fever going up on Friday. I'm excited and really proud of all the hard work that has been put into these shows.

This past week has been hectic, but productive, as both shows plowed through a shortened tech process. Because we are two shows in rep, the tech process for both shows was crammed into the time period one show usually gets. The rehearsals were frustrating and long at times, but we all got through, and I feel like we are ready for audiences, at least from a stage management point of view. I know it will be beneficial for the actors to get audiences and laughs from the house.

I'll be doing my best to prepare for calling cues and organizing everyone prior to performance. Hay Fever has given me a great opportunity to work with a lot of talented people, and I think it's time for the performances to begin.

See you at the show,

SM, Hay Fever

November 5, 2008

And so it begins...

Hi Everyone,

Maggie here. We are now beginning the tech process of the show. Hay Fever opens in 9 days! I can't believe it! Last night was crew watch for Hay Fever, and Present Laughter has their crew watch tonight. At crew watch, the set crew, costume crew, and light and sound board operators come to watch the show and get a feel for what it will be like to work on the show. We did a run-through of the play for them, and I think it went really well. There is still work to be done of course, but a lot of progress has been made.

Tonight Hay Fever has rehearsal to work notes before we head into our first tech on Thursday. I'm nervous and a little stressed out by the tech process, but I am also really excited to start putting the technical elements into the show. It's just a little stressful because we are trying to put up two shows in rep in the same amount of time one show usually gets. Good thing everyone is in it together. We shall see what happens...

Until later,

SM, Hay Fever

October 29, 2008

Hay Fever Ongoings...

Hi Everyone,

Maggie here. I haven't written in a while, but maybe that speaks to how busy things are getting with these Coward shows! We open in two and a half weeks, and I can hardly believe it! There is a lot of work still to be done, but a lot of progress has been made so far.

We are in our last week of regular rehearsal before crew watches, hair and make-up, and tech. The Hay Fever cast is doing some great work, and I'm really looking forward to it all coming together. Last week, after the first run-through, the energy in the rehearsal spaces wasn't the same, as new worries about the show started to present themselves. However, this week the fun and playful energy has come back, and the cast seems to be having a lot of fun! I know I'm having fun in rehearsals, and it makes all the difference when the cast and director laugh while they work.

Well, I'll check back when we start getting into the tech process. I'm nervous and excited at the same time. We shall see what happens...

Until later,

SM, Hay Fever

October 15, 2008


Hi Everyone,

The Hay Fever world is busy! The cast has finished all the initial blocking, and we started going through the script doing more in depth work this past Saturday. As we go through some scenes, we have realized that it has been a while since we have worked on them. The actors are doing a great job with their blocking and lines. I can't believe how fast they all got their scripts out of their hands! It's really exciting to see everything take shape, from character to relationships to dialect to the set. I think Sari is doing a really good job at getting the actors to think about their characters in new ways in every scene. Even the most subtle changes in blocking make a world of difference.

On the stage management side of things, I don't see a break in the future. I am working hard to communicate a lot of information to many different people involved with the show, and I hope to keep everyone on the same page. Decisions have to made concerning props, set pieces, costumes, music, and pre-show announcements! I have to keep organized for sure. The actors are smoking on stage now, so my assistant and I have to constantly be on the look out for any fire hazards. :)

Tonight, both the Hay Fever and Present Laughter casts have a workshop on status with Kenny. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of work comes out of it.

Until later,

Maggie, SM Hay Fever

October 12, 2008

Mastering the Beast of a Dialect! 10/11/08

Today's rehearsal was really a run through and cleaning up of scenes we already had a general sense of but what was more of a struggle was the articulation and vocal boxing match we all had with Mira. She's trying to get us to remember the energy and breathe support it will take to be heard and understood on the thrust stage. It can be a hard thing to remember when rehearsing in a small space but its something that we have to be aware of at all times. So we went through many scenes doing what felt unnatural for most of us- putting 100% support behind the popping of the consonants! Felt weird but made a world of difference.

Things we're exploring in great depth: intentions in relation to pace, being understood and filling the space- should be fun!

October 11, 2008

On our Feet...and Kicking.... 10/10/2008

Well Hay Fever is well and on its feet and I think we all appreciate that so much...its wonderful to see everyone's characters begin to take shape and interact with the world of the play. We have a general shape of the entire play but now its all about clarification and intentions. Tonight there was a lot of going back to scenes where its all about wit-which I think makes the plays both hard as ever and so much fun-to make sure that our American sense of conversation didn't dumb down the electricity that is British wit! There is a scene between my character (Myra) and Stuart Gates' character (David) that is one of the quintessential examples of the difficulty in allowing the language and rhythms of these people to drive the action of a scene...There is at least one scene in which each actor has to tackle that balance of driving the scene with their own actions and letting Coward drive them through the greatly developed characters he's created! I think we're all starting to see how a play like this can be just as freeing as a play set in contemporary America. It's a really crucial time in rehearsal because we're all up and moving and trying to tackle the tendencies that we have as young American actors to want to play only the dialect or what we think people living at this time "would have" behaved like.

Best Decision of the Week:
*Working with Marcela on a gestural vocabulary for my character! She's wonderful*

9/22/08 Last of The Round Table

we're finishing up text/table work
* Sari takes the time to make sure each line is clear and that we understand exactly what each word is. Always a a shock how so many Americans don't understand the definitions of the words we say all the time. This part of the process is long and grueling but there is a big difference in the things we've worked on in depth and the things we have yet to clarify.
*We go scene to scene clarifying changes in dynamics and who's in control when and why.
Tonight is especially different because it seems like we've gotten past some of the hardest parts of the script to decipher.
*many funny moments ensue at table work but thank God and all the angels that Sari has such a wonderful sense of humor :)

Most Notable funnies of the night:
"Thupple" (supple said with a lisp) by Zach Fineblum
Max Polski's difficulty with the word "cuckoo"

October 8, 2008

Hay Fever Updates

Hi everyone,

Things have been busy in the Hay Fever world! As the stage manager, I am still busy creating rehearsal schedules, setting up costume fittings, getting rehearsal furniture together, taking blocking notes, and much more. We are currently working on blocking in rehearsal, and we have all of Act 1 and most of Act 2.1 blocked. Tonight we are beginning to block Act 2.2, which is the end of the play. I can't believe how fast time is going!

A couple of nights ago, the cast did a really interesting and beneficial improv exercise that had all (well, 8 of 9) characters in the show sitting around the dinner table talking. While no dinner scene is scripted in the play, this was a good starting point for the actors to transition into the world of the second act. From an outside view, all the actors did a great job staying in character and maintaining previously explored relationships with other characters. All in all, it was an entertaining and helpful exercise.

I'm really excited to see this show come together! Everyone involved in the production is working very hard, and I am thankful for everyone's enthusiasm.

Well, I'm going to go schedule some more costume fittings. I'll write back later.


October 2, 2008

Present Laughter

Hello again!

I haven't been in rehearsal a whole lot so I've been slightly negligent in my blogging. My apologies.

So far we've been up on our feet blocking the show. We work through an act, figure out the blocking, and then go back and run it. We're speeding right through the show, in fact we're starting the last 20 pages today, so it seems like we'll be done with the basics pretty soon.

Then hopefully we'll get to spend the next month working hard on relationships and character development and physicality and more.

Today we're getting Randy Reyes, a fantastic actor in the twin cities community, to come work with us on movement. We have a two hour workshop with him tonight which should be a lot of fun. I'll let you know how it goes!


October 1, 2008

Hay Fever- Hello Blog World!

Hi everyone,

Maggie here, the stage manager for Hay Fever. I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself to this blog world. I am a senior Theatre Arts BA with an emphasis in stage and arts management. Working on the Coward project, namely Hay Fever, is giving me the great opportunity to work on a Mainstage show in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. I am very excited to be working on this production, and I have a great creative team and cast to work with!

We are currently in our third week of rehearsals, and the work never stops. I am organizing rehearsals, props meetings, and costume fittings with help from Hay Fever's assistant stage manager Martha. Our first few weeks of rehearsals have been very productive and thought-provoking with table work, discussions, and blocking. I am looking forward to seeing where the rest of this process takes the whole Hay Fever (and Present Laughter) team.

One of the most interesting things to note about this production pair (Hay Fever and Present Laughter) is the presence of two female directors, along with a stage management team comprised of four women. In my experience, it is not common to have this many females working on shows in this capacity. I am excited to see what comes out of this collaboration of people.

I will write more later regarding the rehearsal process and cast. For now, I'm signing off with this quote from Noel Coward that speaks to the stage manager in me...

"Learn the lines and don't bump into the furniture."
-Noel Coward

September 24, 2008

9/18/08 Hay Fever

more reading of the play, lots of questions for clarification, more research. Sari's great and patient. We've introduced the presence of this plastic baby doll that we found in room 20. thats a side note. lol. we talked about the cat in our play. her name's zoe. zoe means life. and none of the family members knows where she is and no one even asks about her besides David. i think thats pretty interesting. seems like David's the only character who knows he's in the play with other people. we've been really dealing with the different definitions of words, playing with the idea that these people go about saying words that have double meanings and many of them are smart enough to know exactly what they're doing. Ashley also gave an interesting idea of looking upwards you THINK you have a general idea of. Martha's awake.

Favorite moments of the night:
Zach's impression of a shrimping net- for a heartier laugh look up what a shrimping-net is and consider that the word is used to describe a woman's use of her sexuality. lol.naughtynaughty.

also....this dialogue gave me a slight chuckle
Max: "Sandy's this wide eyed.....(extended pause)

Signing Off

9/17/08 Dramaturgy Day with Ashley

Though this entry is entitled Dramaturgy Day with Ashley it is also my, Iman Milner, first entry since starting this process...working on one of the two Cowards, Hay Fever. This entry will be a little more formal I guess than the other ones that I will post because I am big fan of streams of consciousness. So here is my formal hello.

Today was an interesting day because we went through a lot of the dirty work that goes along with starting a new project: the research...well the breaking down of the research. There were tons of interesting issues discussed (i.e. the roles of women, the importance of race and class, the fact that cars were a BIG I found his Ashley's opening statement extremely helpful. What did he say, you may ask? He stressed the importance of making sure to really seek out the harder to identify differences between 1925 Britain and 2008 America. This arose out of all the excitement that entered the room while we all sat and discussed how easy it will be to see how this play interprets right into current times...

One thing I thought both casts would benefit from is the idea that class was not just about money but about culture.

Favorite Quote of the night:
"there is no need for a thesis statement for a play."

September 22, 2008

Present Laughter - Hello Blog World!

I figured I'd just take this short break I have between class and rehearsal to introduce myself to this blog. My name is Alli Schaffer, and I am a senior in the UMN/Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program. I'm originally from Middleton, WI, a suburb just outside Madison. I started doing theater in the 6th grade, made the decision to continue with it while applying for colleges, and now I'm about to graduate from an acting program. As of right now, I'm planning on making a career in acting. I'm thinking about moving to New York soon and just figuring it out from there. So we'll see how that goes, eh?

I'm your blogger for Present Laughter, a comedy by Noel Coward and directed by Suzy Messerole this fall at the U. Our cast consists of half of my BFA class (8 of us) and two BA students. We've had a week of rehearsal so far and we've spent all of it sitting at the table going through the play. We did a preliminary read, and then for the rest of the week, we worked our way through the script slowly, talking about relationships between characters, the world of the play, etc. We got a fantastic session with Ashley, our dramaturg, who's job it is to tell us about the world of the play and the historical context, etc. We also did a character exercise where we cut out images from magazines to represent our characters, and put the images that the world sees on the outside of a bag, and representations of our inner lives on the inside of the bag. That was really helpful in exploring our characters on a preliminary level.

And now, I have to get some food and head out to our first rehearsal of the week. We're starting blocking, which means we're going to get on our feet and feel out the text and discover the movement for it. I'll let you know how it goes!

Alli Schaffer