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Actor John Carter on In the Midnight Hour

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Hi! This is John Carter blogging as an ensemble member in Kenneth Green’s new musical, In the Midnight Hour. This musical follows the life of Prattville native, Wilson Pickett and his career as a famous singer and songwriter of the 1960’s. It has been a treat researching Wilson Pickett in preparation for rehearsals on Friday. This guy had a huge hand in the development of soul music, beginning slowly with his controversial transition from gospel-group singer to successful secular solo artist, and skyrocketing with the debut of his single ‘In the midnight hour’. This funky R&B single gave Wilson the fame and influence to help legitimize soul music as another form of ‘popular music’ in America. Knowing all this I am beyond excited to start working on this musical!

I have never been a part of a world premiere-reading, at least at such a level as being produced and cultivated by a theater like the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Using so reputable a venue might put pressure on the actors and the creative team to deliver, but all that pressure usually gives rise to a beautiful and dynamic piece of artistic work. I am also encouraged by the actors who will be joining me in this endeavor. All of them have made careers for themselves as actors exclusively, which is a major goal of mine as I come upon the tail-end of my internship at ASF. I hope to learn a lot from the actors in this new musical. They have all walked miles in my shoes at some point in their career, and I only hope for the chance to take a step in theirs.


Meet the Playwright of Starstruck

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Kayla here! It’s always important to ask, when working on a new play, “Why now?” and “Why here?” SWP has selected four exceptional plays written by four different extraordinary playwrights who are perpetually aware of how their writing affects the “here” and “now”. In order to begin answering these questions myself, I thought it pertinent to learn a bit about Lucile Lichtblau, playwright of Starstruck, – before meeting her in person – and I’m happy to share with you all some of what I’ve learned.

Lucile Lichtblau is a graduate of Yale Drama, where she won the MCA Playwriting Fellowship award. Her plays have been produced at numerous theaters across the country, including The Hudson Opera House, Centenary Stage Company, the Manhattan Theatre Source, and Vital Theater Company. The English Bride, her play about the 1986 bombing of an El Al plane, won the Susan Glaspell Prize and the Israel Baran Award, and was nominated for the ATCA/Steinberg Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Award. Her plays, The Hemings Diary and Sorrento, were produced at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival as part of Southern Writers’ Projects past.


Lilly Wilton on Her Role in Lovesick

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Hello friends of ASF!

This is Lilly here and I’ll be playing Linda in the reading of Lovesick at the SWP. It seems like you have already met Chris, our reader/PA as well as Peter Hicks, our playwright.

Dear readers, I’m pretty flippin’ excited to read for this role. First of all, Nancy Rominger will be leading the team and I loved working with her in Cinderella, Melissa Nathan from White Lightning will be our stage manager (you may see “SM” on future blog posts), and Alice Sherman and Jackson Thompson (our Helena and Demetrius from Midsummer) will be playing Amy and Billy, respectively. This team is not only crazy talented, but also incredibly warm and welcoming and I can’t wait to see what kind of space we create in the rehearsal room next week.

I’ll try my best to not give away any spoilers in these posts, because that’s part of what makes thrillers so fun, but I will say that I get to show many different sides of a very smart (yet manipulative) young woman in some extreme moments of her life. It’s going to be a blast.

We have already received our second revision of the play and I read it last night. I’ll post more on revisions later this week.

Anyway, I’m off to rehearsal for YSWP. Thanks for reading and I’ll update you soon!


Andrew Dahreddine on Starstruck and What It Means to Him

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Hey y’all! Andrew Dahreddine here- I’m the reader and production assistant for Starstruck and I can’t wait to get started working on this play next week as part of SWP. This new play by Luvile Lichtblau is set in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, and follows a Jewish family in America that is struggling to get by and coping with illness and loss. Their daughter, Eva, dreams of a life in Hollywood as an actress, and is continually enticed by her cousin, Teddy, who is a would-be Hollywood director and producer.

I’m thrilled to be working on this play for a number of reasons. The cast is very strong, and I’ve worked with many of the actors throughout this season at ASF: Jonathan Kaplan, Bjorn Thorstad, and Paul Hebron. I’m also looking forward to meeting everyone else on the team, and disecting a play rich in culture and history. Being raised Jewish, the play hits close to home, and I find many of the characters reflected in my family.

More to come…

-Andrew Dahreddine

Parke Fech on Delta Secret and How SWP Works

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Delta Secret is a gripping drama where, an African American family, living in the Mississippi Delta, during the 1920s must find a way to heal itself after a terrible secret is revealed. Each member must find a path in which the past doesn’t destroy the present and hinder any hope for a future. This play questions what we consider family.

I reread Delta Secret by Prince Duren yesterday and I have to say this is a solid play! I was on the edge of my seat reading it. I got all choked up at the ending. I’m curious to discover what changes will be made when we start rehearsals next week. For those new to how SWP works, rehearsals will consist of reading the play and putting acting intentions and character motivations into the work. However, each day the actors and production side of the play will discuss what works, what doesn’t work, what is unclear, what is really great, and also suggest edits or cuts.

-Parke Fech

Kayla Eisenberg on Preparing for Starstruck

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

I am so fortunate to be working on a brand new SWP play, Starstruck by Lucile Lichtblau, which begins rehearsing next week. I’ve just received an updated draft of the script, and I can already tell – without having met Lucile or the rest of the creative team – that this piece will be very near and dear to my heart. I play Eva, a young, optimistic girl, who finds the silver lining in serving as the primary caretaker in her family, all while dreaming of becoming a Hollywood starlet. The play is set in 1938 New Jersey

As an actor, creating a character for the first time makes for a very exhilarating experience. Since rehearsals have yet to start, I’ve tried to begin digging into clues from the text, in order to start finding my way into the character, Eva. Fortunately, Ms. Lichtblau has so deliciously provided specific music in her play – music that tells a deeply moving and reflective story. Music is one of my favorite media to use when beginning work on a new character, and I’d like to share some of it with you. Below, I have provided links to: A Brivele der Mamen, a Yiddish song Eva and her grandmother sing at the start of the play, and After the Ball is Over, Eva’s favorite song, which she sings, hoping will take her one step closer to Hollywood.

Thanks for reading! Keep following these blog posts for more details on the SWP rehearsal process!

– Kayla Eisenberg



Noelia Antweiler on In the Midnight Hour and Wilson Pickett

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

This is Noelia Antweiler, writing in from the PA/Reader side of In The Midnight Hour, a new play for SWP. We start rehearsals on Friday for this show, since it’s a musical, and I can’t wait to begin. The team is fantastic- it’s headed up by the amazing James Bowen, who directed Ain’t Misbehavin’ earlier this season, and is a regular actor here. He did such a great job with Ain’t Mis that I’m excited to see what he does with this show. Also heading up the project is Joel Jones, who is music directing. Joel is an individual who is impossible not to like- I got the pleasure of working with him on A Christmas Carol earlier this season, and the man is a genius. With those two at the helm of this brand new show, I can’t help but think that it will be a huge success.

I haven’t seen a copy of the script yet, so I can’t comment on that, but I just want to talk a little bit about the music of Wilson Pickett considering Pickett is the basis of the musical. I was first introduced to his music in high school when I was a part of the Missoula Children’s Theatre performing arts camp, far away in Missoula, Montana. As part of our annual summer performance, we did a whole Wilson Pickett medley, and I got the great pleasure of being a backup singer for the song ‘In The Midnight Hour.’ I didn’t know at the time what an amazing artist he was, but the music moved me in a real way. Since then, I have become a huge fan, and have listened to all of his songs. I’m so excited to start working on this show, with such amazing music and people. Signing off now- until next time!

-Noelia Antweiler

Parke Fech on Preparing for Delta Secret

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

I’m very excited to be the reader and production assistant for Delta Secret, a play by Prince Duren. Usually there are two PAs on each play, however because of the high demand for actors in the new musical, In the Midnight Hour, the cards were dealt like so and I am immensely psyched about it. It’ll be directed by the incredible Walter Dallas, an award winning director, scholar, and playwright. I feel very fortunate to be in the room with a very talented cast, stage manager, and director.

My role in this reading involves: keeping track of script changes (rewrites, line cuts, new pages, etc.), being in charge of making sure that director, stage manager, and cast have everything they need (coffee, pencils, new scripts, etc.) to do their jobs effectively, and also reading stage directions during the reading and in the rehearsals of the play. My job will be more behind the scenes that what I’m used to and that excites me because it’s something new. I’m also excited because the script (more to come on it later on) is electric.

-Parke Fech

Introducing the Playwright Behind Lovesick

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Chris and Lily here! We are working on the play, Lovesick by Peter Hicks. Both Lily and I are PAs on the show, though the lovely Lily Wilton is also playing the character of Linda… More on that later! Lovesick is pretty exciting because not only is it a comedy… But it is also a thriller. What was that I just said? A comedic thriller? How can that be done? Well friends it certainly can and Lovesick is proof. In order to understand the piece a bit more, Lily and I reached out to Peter Hicks and asked him some questions about himself and Lovesick. Take a look:

Where were you born? And where did you grow up? Any fond memories you would care to share?

Morgantown, West Virginia. Grew up in Morgantown. Hooked on theatre in high school. WV University sponsored state wide high school drama competitions, in which I participated in the area of set design. Won it twice, and decided that was what I wanted to do.

When did you start writing? What was the first piece?

I’ve been writing plays and short stories since college, primarily for my own entertainment, like a hobby. Only a few people ever read them. It’s hard to say what the first piece was, I’d work on more than one thing at a time. There have been a few readings over the years, but the first piece that was fully developed was THINKING OF YOU, which was read at SWP in 2006, and then produced at ASF in 2007.

How has your work as a scenic designer influenced your work as a playwright?

I write linear stories that take place in one location. I think the environment can actually become another character in the story, so I like the setting to be complete, not forcing some director or designer to establish a new location for every scene. The setting can also give the audience a great deal of in formation before any actor says a word: time, place, mood, as well as a snapshot of the people who inhabit the environment. I like the characters to interact with their environment, live in it, use it. For me it helps with the storytelling.

Is there anything particular that you find yourself writing about? Common themes in your plays? Environment? Characters?

No particular themes other than what amuses me. As I said, it’s very like a hobby, so I’m first trying to entertain myself. Nothing deep. If something I write makes somebody else laugh, or is entertaining for them, I’m happy.

What inspired you to write Lovesick?

I simply wanted to try a thriller. I love a good mystery. I also like being surprised. My goal was to have these characters behave in completely unexpected ways, with interesting and unpredictable twists. If a thriller is predictable, then it’s no longer a thriller. I also love comedy, so I can’t resist throwing in a few jokes.

Anything else you’d like the audience to know about your play?

I hope the story is entertaining. That’s my one and only goal, to tell a good story.

That’s all we’ve got for now! Check back tomorrow!


Southern Writer’s Project 2016

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

And so it begins. The 2016 Southern Writer’s Project is just around the corner. Specifically, less than two weeks away! While there is some time before the audience is shown these four exciting new works, the staff and acting company here at Alabama Shakespeare Festival are already hard at work. One play, In the Midnight Hour, starts rehearsals in a mere two days! Check back here every day for updates and insights from the Production Assistants of each play.