Category Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

Welcome to the Livermore Shakespeare Festival 2013

June 2, 2013

Welcome to LSF


By Peggy Riley
Dramaturge

 
 
Last year we celebrated our tenth anniversary of Shakespeare in the Vineyard.  As part of our celebration, we began our LSF blog, and here we are – back for 2013.  In the weeks to come, we’ll share with you some inside information about what goes on backstage, about the incredible variety of artistry, skills and knowledge it takes to put a show together.  We’ll also share some background to this summer’s plays – all kinds of stuff.

To begin, we’ll reprise our first blog from last year.  Folks were interested in the background of the Victorian home, the Ellen Row Concannon House, our spectacular venue at Concannon Vineyard.  The house bears surprising similarities to Shakespeare’s London theater.

Two Shows

August 17, 2012

Two Shows

Elissa Beth Stebbins
Actor

 

 

Let me tell you about rehearsing and performing two shows. At the same time.

There aren’t many companies in the Bay Area that rehearse and then perform more than one show at a time, using the same company of actors in both shows. It’s a huge undertaking, and my mind reels at the organization I witnessed every day from our incredible production team (and then I completely black out when I try to comprehend all that happened outside of rehearsals).

The Schedule

Many actors overlap projects, going into rehearsal for a new project while in performance for the last one. And while that can be grueling, it’s far easier than what I experienced this summer at Livermore Shakes.

We began rehearsal for Hamlet, rehearsing up to 8 hours each day, and one week later we began rehearsal for Merry Wives, splitting the day between the two. For three weeks we rehearsed both shows, then moved into technical rehearsals for Hamlet at night while still rehearsing Merry Wives during the day (are you following this? I’m not even sure I’m following this). After opening Hamlet we plunged right into technical rehearsals for Merry Wives, and then proceeded to perform both shows for four weekends. All of this around (for many of us, myself included) a day job.

Apprentices

August 9, 2012

The Apprentice Life

 

by  Stephanie Neuerburg and Sean Nill
Apprentices

 

 

Acting apprentices (top) Paddy Mulligan, Sean Nill, (bottom) Tricia Vang, and Stephanie Neuerburg explain "cuckolding" during The Merry Wives of Windsor, dir. by Virginia Reed. Photo by Kenneth Alexander.

Sean: Well…

Stephanie: Um…

Sean: Yeah…I guess we’ll talk now.

Stephanie: This is going to be the best blog post yet, I can tell.

Sean: Anyway. Being an actor in college is fantastic; you get good training from seasoned professionals and also get opportunities to be part of quality productions at a university. However, when it comes to getting rep work, professional companies can be very discriminatory to actors still in college or fresh out.

Stephanie: Especially when you’re like me, just at the beginning of your training but wanting to get more experience outside of school, during summer. I haven’t taken a lot of auditioning classes or had as much training as other people. It’s easy for companies to not take you and your talent seriously because your resume isn’t as full as someone else’s.

Sean: So it’s great when you have a professional company like Livermore Shakes which not only has an apprentice program specifically for college students, but which also casts them in roles and allows them to be a part of a summer stock company.

Stephanie: This is the first time I’ve been involved with theatre outside of a school setting, and it’s been great to learn how a professional company works. I feel like Livermore Shakes is a little more laid-back than other companies I’ve heard about, but they still teach you what it’s like to work in the real world.

Sean: Yeah, that’s true, and Lisa [Tromovitch, artistic director] treats the apprentices like professionals rather than little kids who get to sit at the big kids’ table. I went to general auditions, and I was treated like all of the other actors.

Stephanie: I actually wasn’t able to go to the general auditions because I go to school in Ashland, Oregon and couldn’t make it down. When I found out about this apprentice program, I was super excited because it had been a while since I was in a show, and I knew I wanted a theatre-related job for the summer. So I applied, and was able to audition in early January, when I was home for winter break. I did a monologue and read some sides, and when I told Deborah Munro [casting director] and Peggy Riley [dramaturg] that I could also do some basic sewing, the deal was sealed. They offered me an apprenticeship doing some acting and being an assistant to the costume designers. I did have to leave school two weeks early to be here, but trust me. It was worth it.

Sean: It was totally worth it.

Stephanie: I’ve been feeling pretty nervous about what my career in theatre is going to be like in the future. It’s easy to get caught up thinking about how difficult it is or is going to be breaking into this sort of business, but it’s places like Livermore Shakes that tell you straight-up what the real life is like and give you a taste of how hard you’re going to have to work, but also make you even more excited and confident about making acting and theatre your career.

Sean: Well said.

Stephanie: Thanks Sean.

Sean: Anytime.

Creating a Character

August 2, 2012

Rehearsal: Creating a Character

by Michael Wayne Rice
Actor

 
 

Photo by Kenneth Alexander. Michael Wayne Rice as Ghost in Hamlet.

Red light, yellow light, green light:
And they are off!

This is usually my first thought when I attend the first rehearsal for any show I do: “Oh my God! Here we go! I hope the director doesn’t expect too much from me. And I hope I am not the only actor not off book!” (“Off book” is cool stage lingo for having one’s lines memorized.)

For an actor, what is rehearsal? Quite simply it is a time to play, discover, mold and solidify a character. It can actually be an intense process, but it is also fun. Making character choices (a complicated process) is a hard thing to explain to a non-actor. You see, for the most part people who watch performances, TV, or films, see a character that has been fully developed. And how many times have you seen a performance and said to yourself, “I could have done that,” or “I would have done that differently”? If you have never said those things to yourself, you are a rare individual, for most people look at acting as something that is easy. And it is certainly easy to do when you are mimicking a performance.

This leads to the question, is acting different form mimicking? While the ability to mimic is a talent in and of itself, mimicking takes what has been created and tries to recreate it. The hard part of “character creation” has been done for the mimicker. An actor creates. A person who mimics re-creates. One starts from scratch and builds something. The other takes what has been built and re-purposes it.

But to create from scratch is a whole other ballgame. I am fortunate enough to have taught acting classes and have had individuals come into my class saying they want to act because they saw their favorite actor (Deniro, Pachino, Depp, etc.) do a role that they (the students) thought they would be able to do. And most of them were pretty decent when reenacting a performance of their favorite actor. But when I gave them a script, a monologue that they have never heard or seen before, well let’s just say they broke down, looking dumbfounded at the paper in front of them. The lesson: to create a believable, memorable character from scratch, is infinitely harder than reproducing an already created character.

A View From The Audience

July 26, 2012

How To Succeed in Viewing Shakespeare
Without Really Trying

Keena Batti
Marketing Associate

 

 

I’m not an actor. I’m not a director. I’m not a Shakespearean scholar. In fact, my qualifications for writing this blog are entirely questionable. I am, however, a reader, a viewer, a lover of Shakespeare in its various forms. Being an audience member of one of Shakespeare’s works usually starts in the classroom, so that, my friends, is where I will begin.

Shakespeare for Shakespeare’s Sake

I had read the typical Shakespearean high-school canon (i.e. Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar) by the time I was preparing to start at UC Berkeley. I had half a mind to major in English—a route I did actually end up taking—but felt grossly unprepared for collegiate-level literature. So what did I do the summer before college? Instead of spending my days at the beach and my evenings partying with my friends, I decided to read a little Shakespeare, Hamlet and Othello, to be precise. I had gotten it in my head that every incoming freshman must have read these two plays, and I would be the village idiot if hadn’t. I refused to be the village idiot.

So I opened up my Barnes and Noble edition of Hamlet—right-hand side of the book filled with the original text, left-hand side with footnotes—and when I finished it, I felt good about myself because I had read Hamlet. But did I really understand Hamlet? No. Did I enjoy Hamlet? No. I read Hamlet to fulfill some sort of societal expectation that kids who go to Berkeley are smart, and smart kids read Hamlet. I’m just explaining my thought process to you; I don’t say it was logical or rational or good.

This skewed approach to Shakespeare is actually the approach taken at the college level—at least the introductory level. I took a Shakespeare class where the expectation was that each comedy received one day (60 minutes) of lecture time while tragedies and histories received two. That’s a lot to get into a short lecture, people. What it came down to was reading Shakespeare for the sake of reading Shakespeare—getting through the plays the night before (or after, if I’m being completely honest) lecture, skimming through footnotes and introductions in an effort to stay afloat, saying that I had read the major works of Shakespeare because if you’re going to be an English major, you have to read The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III—but not really reading Shakespeare. I was a sham of an audience member.