Noelia on the Process of In the Midnight Hour So Far

Written by Christopher Lemieux on May 3rd, 2016

This is Noelia again, writing in from the rehearsal room of In The Midnight Hour. Today was the official start of SWP week! Everyone arrived, and the theatre has been positively buzzing with creative energy. We started the day off with a bit of a surprise- a character has been cut, and therefore an actor has had to leave our show. Although it’s sad to see someone go, it is a testament to our playwright that he is really changing things up, and making bold choices in his writing. It’s also a good reminder to me as an artist that art and creativity are ever-changing, and during this week, the goal is to make the plays as clear as possible- and sometimes that means big changes!

But it has been an incredible few days so far- today, we officially welcomed Brik Berkes to the cast (he’s been doing other shows and so hasn’t been able to be in rehearsals until today), and it’s been fun to see the dynamic of the play shift with him in the mix. The cast will be working hard this afternoon to learn the music, and as has become expected, we will be getting a new draft of the script this afternoon! Looking forward to seeing where the next few days take us.

 

First Rehearsal of Lovesick

Written by Christopher Lemieux on May 3rd, 2016

Hey readers!

First day of rehearsal today!! Woooo!!!!

What a blast! Our stage manager from Midsummer, Julie Richardson, had told several of us first-timers that one of the best parts of being in SWP was that there is creativity going on in every room of the theatre. Boy is that true. The whole building is now bustling with a new kind of energy.

I love being a part of the Lovesick team. After we read through the play once, we all talked about things that resonated with us, questions we had, etc. I enjoy being a part of a small team because there is a nice intimacy that’s hard to find on a large production. Everyone was able to voice their thoughts and have a thorough discussion on each of the questions that arose.

I got to meet our dramaturg, Kaitlin Stilwell, today, and she is absolutely brilliant. Kaitlin has an incredible way of articulating questions that come up while getting to the heart of how to address them directly. I’m completely in awe of how she works.

At our lunch today, we got to meet several of the other cast members from the SWP plays. Everyone here is so talented and generous. On day one, this already feels like a kind of summer camp for professionals. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you soon!

Best,
Lilly

 

Chris Lemieux on Beginning Lovesick

Written by Christopher Lemieux on May 2nd, 2016

Chris from the Lovesick team here! I just had a chance to read over Lovesick again. We got a new edit of the script on April 28th. Just highlighting all of the stage directions because while I am PAing Lovesick, I also have been given the task of being the reader for this production. I have never been a reader before so this will be a very new experience for me. We start rehearsals for all of the SWP shows tomorrow (though In the Midnight Hour has already been hard at work this past weekend). Being a writer myself, one of my passions is creating New Work and I am extremely blessed to have been assigned a play such as Lovesick.

As Lilly and I have been saying over and over this past week, Lovesick is a play you cannot talk too much about without spoiling everything. The amount of layers this piece has is astounding and the ending makes you question everything the characters have been doing or saying. It is a pretty intense piece, but it is super surprising how funny it can be. Looking at the piece from a reader’s perspective, there are a lot of things I will have to take into consideration while reading the stage directions. It is a very physical piece with the actors really inhabiting the space that they are living in. And right from the get go questions are arising as well as the tension and the stakes. The stakes are huge in this piece and I definitely think that will be something the actors and myself will have to constantly keep in our minds as we rehearse this play. As a writer, I am always looking at other people’s work to see how they create characters and situations. It will be a learning experience on all fronts and I am looking forward to getting started tomorrow.

Be seeing you all soon! Let the rehearsals begin! SWP here we come!

-Chris

 

Interview with Actor Bjorn Thorstad from Starstruck

Written by Christopher Lemieux on May 2nd, 2016

Today, we sit down with actor Bjorn Thorstad, who plays Teddy in Starstruck.

1.What previous plays have you worked on for SWP?

I worked on Lucille’s play Sorrento with Jonathan and Michelle two seasons ago where we all met for the first time.

2.What excites you about this play?

What excites me most about working on Lucille’s latest Project is getting the band back together.

3.What is your favorite part about developing new work?

My favorite part about developing new work is the opportunity to put your stamp on it, working closely enough with the writer that your personal DNA becomes indelibly incorporated into the character and parts of you and/or your performance become immortalized, or the golden standard.

4.How do you dive into a character that no one has every played before?

I dive into every character the same way, be it new work or a classic: I pay all my attention to the clues and cues in the material and let it go to town on me.

 

The Sound of Wilson Pickett

Written by Christopher Lemieux on May 2nd, 2016

Saturday marked our second rehearsal for In the Midnight Hour and, for me being a big fan of music, especially American roots, learning about the history of Wilson Pickett has been very exciting.

Wilson Pickett was born in Prattville, Alabama where he was heavily influenced by Gospel and his religious upbringing. Soul and R&B are intrinsic in Southern culture and soon Wilson incorporated this sound in his first recordings. He began writing and recording in Muscle Shoals, Alabama where he was around and collaborating with major artists such as Aretha Franklin, Duane Allman and many others. Eventually Pickett made his way further north to Memphis where he cut his hit track “In the Midnight Hour” with the help of Jerry Wexler at Stax Records.

Capturing this sound, its origins, and its meaning is vital to the creative team and everyone is working hard to make it right. It is an excellent opportunity for audiences to learn about, but especially hear and feel, Wilson Pickett’s influence in music history.

-Michael

 

Noelia on the First Couple of Rehearsals of In the Midnight Hour

Written by Christopher Lemieux on May 1st, 2016

This is Noelia, the PA & reader, writing in again from IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR, this time from the rehearsal room! It’s our first day of rehearsal today, and it’s been a blast so far. We got a brand new script to start the day off, did our introductions, and then started with a read-through. Then we took a quick break, did a few script changes on the fly, and now the cast is starting to go through music- and boy, does it sound good!

The cast includes a few ASF return-ees: we’ve got Eric Summers, who was most recently in Ain’t Misbehavin’, directed by James Bowen (who incidentally is also directing this play), playing Garrett Brooks and is in the ensemble. Also cast is ASF favorite, Brik Berkes (currently playing Bottom in Midsummer, Chester Pike in White Lightning, and Boolie in Daisy), who is playing Charles Goldstein, the reviewer who has slandered Wilson Pickett’s name, and is his main adversary in this play. Also cast in the production are acting interns John Carter and Michael Quattrone, and new-to-ASF actors Kenney Green and Jessie Hooker.

It’s so cool to be in the room where it happens (did you catch the Hamilton reference, theatre fans?): the writer (the amazing Kenneth Green) and director are sitting in one corner of the room, going over possible script edits, while the cast is in the other corner of the room learning music with our music director (the incredible Joel Jones). The room feels alive and vibrant and I’m so excited to see this musical progress over the next ten days!

Thanks!

 

Lilly Going Lovesick!

Written by Christopher Lemieux on May 1st, 2016

Hello readers!

Lilly here again. I’m on my break (we had Midsummer in the morning and also Comedy of Errors later tonight) so I’m using this time to re read Lovesick along with the YSWP plays (the young southern writer’s project). If you haven’t seen the YSWP yet, you should check it out this year. A few days ago, the intern acting company got a chance to see the ceremony for next year’s YSWP winners and it was really lovely. James Bowen, who you probably recognize as Hoke from Driving Miss Daisy, gave a beautiful speech about creativity and how important it is to foster the creative spirit in young artists. The next day, our director of Lovesick, Nancy Rominger, forwarded us all an email from one of the parents, who had mentioned how special it is for these young artists to be recognized in a region that typically gives most of the recognition to its athletes. So, if you have the chance to come out and support your community’s next generation of artists, we’d love to see you there!

Anyway, back to Lovesick. I’m researching something right now…and I just realized that if I tell you precisely what it is that I’m researching, that’ll give away a vital plot point and spoil the ending. So I won’t do that! But I can tell you that I haven’t stopped reading the play since I got the script in order to get more familiar with it and hopefully get some more ideas for the reading. So far there haven’t been any major revisions yet but I was just told that we’ll be receiving another revision shortly! In other news, Chris and I are trying to get Alice and Jackson to play a competitive RPG board game with us, which will make rehearsal great or terrible depending on who turns traitor…

That’s all for now! Got to go do Comedy!

Talk to you soon,

Lilly

 

Meet Prince Duren: Author of Delta Secret

Written by Christopher Lemieux on May 1st, 2016

Prince Duren was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi and is the third in his family of four boys. His mother moved to Muskegon, Michigan, where he attended Muskegon High School and participated in Upward Bound, a program for college-ready students who needed financial support. He graduated in 2003. Prince graduated from Jackson State University in 2009 with a degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in English. While in college, Prince was drawn and exposed to a new world called theatre. It was here that he was bitten by the clichéd “acting bug”. Prince was involved in many productions including Before it Hits Home (Douglas). The Colored Museum (Walter Lee Bo Willie). Mama I Want to Sing (DJ). Bubbling Brown Sugar (Skip). During the 2007-2008 school year, Prince was president of the MADDRAMA Performance Troupe, a campus organization showcasing the beauty and culture of the African American art. After graduation, he completed his MFA training in Playwriting from the University of Arkansas. It was here where he learned the art of creating and performing for the stage. During his matriculation, he performed in productions such as: Waiting to Be Invited (Palmeroy Bateman). Anonymous (Pascal). Exonerated (Delbert Tibbs).

Awards:

2013 Summer Resident at the O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference

2013 Boston College Arts Festival Participant

2013 KCACTF National Lorraine Hansberry Award for Playwriting (Delta Secret)

2013 KCACTF Regional 6 Finalist for Playwriting (Dances with Football)

2012 Mississippi Theatre Association Award for Playwriting (The Verdict)

2012 Guest Dramaturgy for Alabama Shakespeare Festival

2011 KCACTF Regional 6 Honorable Mention for Playwriting (The Verdict)

2011 Featured Work in Stage Black Play Festival (Drinks on Me)

2010 Carrie Hamilton Memorial Scholarship in Playwriting

2009 S. Randolph Edmonds Award in Original Playwriting Competition at 73rd National Association of Dramatic & Speech Arts

2008 S. Randolph Edmonds Superior Award in Original Playwriting Competition 72nd National Association of Dramatic & Speech Arts

 

Meet the Cast of Lovesick

Written by Christopher Lemieux on April 29th, 2016

Chris here! I wanted to take this time to tell you a little bit about the actors in Lovesick. We have a pretty talented and funny cast in this comedic thriller and we start our engines on this play VERY soon. Two faces in this cast will be familiar to the ASF community and the other is a fresh face, new to the SWP game.

First up, we have the one and only, Alice Sherman, playing the character of Amy who is the wife of the character Billy in the play. Many patrons and regular audience members will remember the lovely Miss Alice in the production of Mary Poppins about two summers ago as the title character. Miss Sherman has also played Belle for the past couple of years in Geoffrey Sherman’s beloved adaption of A Christmas Carol. Currently, Alice plays Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Knowing Alice on a personal level, she is a gracious and caring actress who is always there to listen and truly has a heart of gold. Without giving too much away, the character of Amy is someone who you could argue cares a little TOO MUCH… So much in fact that the idea of murder is ignited in her brain and works it’s way through to her very soul.

Second, we have Jackson Thompson, playing the character of Billy, Amy’s husband. Jackson has been seen on the ASF stage in Merry Wives of Windsor where he played Fenton. He is currently in A Midsummer Night’s Dream playing Demetrius. On a personal level, Jackson’s wit is extraordinary and he is a very fast and quick thinker, which will come in hand playing the character of Billy. Again, without revealing too much, Billy has some secrets of his own that he will attempt to cover up real fast.

Last up, we have newcomer to the SWP game, Lilly Wilton, as the character of Linda. You all have met Lilly already via the previous SWP blog on Lovesick, but I’d like to tell you a little bit more about her. Lilly, like me, is a part of the amazing acting intern program here at ASF. She has been seen this year in the following productions: Comedy of Errors (Luciana), Cinderella (playing the title character herself!), Christmas Carol (Fan), and Midsummer Night’s Dream (Peaseblossom). Lilly is a super gifted and caring individual who will bring everything she has into the role of Linda.

So that is our brilliant cast! See ya on the blog space tomorrow!

-Chris

 

The Physical Aspects of Delta Secret

Written by Christopher Lemieux on April 29th, 2016

Today, I wanted to talk about my thoughts on Delta Secrets possible physical language and violence. From my perspective, as a fight director/choreographer, Delta Secret would be a fun play to stage because the main character is a old boxer. I would love to explore how the sport of boxing has changed over the years. The differences between fighter styles in the 1920s.

This is a solid article on the history of boxing: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/05/30/boxing-a-manly-history-of-the-sweet-science-of-bruising/
Boxing strategies: http://coxscorner.tripod.com/hunnicut1.html

This script also has other small but significant scuffles in it, which would be very fun to stage.

-Parke