Thursday, August 28, 2014

Utah Shakespeare Festival Guest Blog- Sarah Greenman

Meet Festival company member Sarah Greenman. Sarah is playing Granny/Giant/Cinderella's Mother in Into the Woods and Lady Middleton in Sense and Sensibility

Have you ever worked at the Festival before? If so, for how many years and in what roles/capacity?
My husband has worked at the Festival as voice and text coach for the past six seasons, but this is my first time in the acting company. 

What brought you to Utah Shakespeare Festival?
USF is the perfect fusion of high quality theater, gorgeous natural surroundings and outstanding people. USF has made it possible for both my husband and I to work in our field and bring our children along for the ride. Cedar City is a dreamy place for our family of four to spend the summer. My 6 year old takes swimming and karate lessons, my 3 year old enjoys the many parks. And my husband and I have the extraordinary opportunity to share the stage together. What's not to love about USF?

What brought you to your field and what keeps you doing your craft? 
I come from a theater family. Storytelling is what we do and my parents were very supportive of my choice to pursue the arts - I am also a painter and a writer. The thing that keeps me going is my core interest in people. I am infinitely fascinated by the big "why": why do we say what we say, act how we act, live how we live, want what we want. Theater strikes at the center of these questions for me.

Where’s your home base? 
Although I was born and raised on the Central Coast of California, I am now residing in Dallas, TX.

What’s your education/training background? 
I attended Southern Oregon University in Ashland, OR before transferring to the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, CA. Then I finished my degree at Mills College with a degree in literature and creative writing. 

What are you looking forward to the most this summer? 
Nurturing relationships with the amazing acting and artistic company here at USF. The crews, the stage managers, the design teams, the actors, the staff and audiences - so many people to discover and know better. What a gift!


How will you spend your time off while here?
I will spend my time enjoying my two sons and the gorgeous weather. Dallas is not kind during the summer months, but here - here it is heaven!

What is your favorite musical/play/Shakespeare play? 
I fell in love with Twelfth Night - my most favorite of Shakespeare's plays - while playing Viola about 15 years ago.

But I also dearly love Three Sisters by Chekhov, Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones, and Sweeny Todd by Sondheim.  

What is your dream role? 
Mama in Gypsy, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeny Todd, Sonya in Uncle Vanya, Constance in King John - oh there are so many!

What is your dream show to design/craft? 
In my work as a playwright and writer, I dream of adapting two of my favorite books for the stage - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and The Alienist by Caleb Carr

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
The ability to dispel hatred would be very cool. However, flight is also very tempting.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Utah Shakespeare Festival Guest Blog- Amanda Mills and Kelli Lennox

Kelli Lennox 
Stage Crew 

Have you ever worked at the Festival before?
No I have not worked at the Festival, this is my first year!

What brought you to Utah Shakespeare Festival?
I was drawn to the Festival because of the amazing shows that are produced and the professional association with the company. 

What brought you to your field and what keeps you doing your craft? 
This is my first year as a stage hand but I love theatre because it inspires people and through theatre I hope to uplift and inspire those around me. Also being a stage hand, you get to create the magic backstage that inspires the audience, so I enjoy being part of the mystery. 

Where’s your home base? 
Gahanna, Ohio 

What’s your education/training background? 
I just graduated with a B.A. in Theatre from Ashland University.

What are you looking forward to the most this summer? 
Working with people from all over the United States and hopefully making some lifelong friends and connections. 

Who/What inspired you to pursue your dream of acting/designing?
I have always loved theatre, I would rather look back on my life knowing I at least tried going after my dreams, than looking back and regretting I didn’t try because of fear. My parents have taught me that I should do what I love and reach for my dreams.  

How will you spend your time off while here?
Hanging out with friends and possibly making a couple trips to Las Vegas to see some of the shows there!

What is your favorite musical/play/Shakespeare play? 
Musical- A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Play- Peter and the Starcatcher
Shakespeare play- A Midsummer Night's Dream 

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Flying so I could go anywhere I wanted and see the world!


Amands Mills 
Ticket Office 

Have you ever worked at the Festival before?
I have not! This is my first year. I have seen every show since 2011, though.

What brought you to Utah Shakespeare Festival?
The Festival has a great atmosphere. It's friendly, it's family oriented, and it's high quality.

What brought you to your field and what keeps you doing your craft? 
Working in the Ticket Office is fun because I get to be around a lot of people who love theater. I actually want to be a writer. I enjoy meeting people and getting to know their stories.

Where’s your home base? 
Syracuse, Utah

What’s your education/training background? 
I'm an English major (Creative Writing emphasis) at Southern Utah University.


How will you spend your time off while here?
I write murder mysteries, so there will certainly be some of that happening. Also, I will be working on my Honors thesis on the economics of magic in fantastic literature.

What is your favorite musical/play/Shakespeare play? 
Musical: The Scarlet Pimpernel
Play: The Importance of Being Earnest
Shakespeare play: The Tempest

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
The ability to never need sleep. I would be so productive.





Thursday, August 21, 2014

Utah Shakespeare Festival Guest Blog- Connor Bond

We have many new faces to our acting company this year and one of them includes Connor Bond. He will be in Henry IV Part 1 as Poins and in Sense and Sensibility as Robert Ferrars. Below are his comments on being at the Festival for the first time. 


 Ashdown as Prince Hal & Bond as Edward Poins
What brought you to Utah Shakespeare Festival?
This is my first time at the Festival, but I heard from so many fellow actors what a wonderful place it was to work. It’s been amazing getting to actually work here. The community is awesome. I was reminded what a small world it is coming here because I already knew a few people in the ensemble before I even got here, including three classmates from my recently graduated MFA class.

What brought you to your field and what keeps you doing your craft? 
I started out as a jazz musician, playing tenor saxophone, and then decided I wanted my practicing to be in a community creating a piece, instead of alone in my room most of the day. I still play saxophone a lot, especially in productions, but acting provided a technique I could develop through myself and not through an outside instrument. 

Where’s your home base? 
I am originally from Portland, Oregon. The great Northwest!

What’s your education/training background? 
I got my BA in drama and minor in music from the University of Portland and then immediately went on to get my MFA in acting from the University of California, Irvine. 

What are you looking forward to the most this summer? 
I’m most looking forward to being outside. Riding my bike, going on hiking adventures, and of course acting outside on the Adams. There is something supremely fulfilling and wholly connective about performing theatre (especially Shakespeare) out in wind, sky and trees that reminds you why you started acting in the first place. 

Who/What inspired you to pursue your dream of acting/designing?
My family was probably my biggest influence. My mother was always pushing us to be apart of productions from a young age and my father is a videographer for Oregon Public Broadcasting, so I grew up in a television studio essentially. 

What is your favorite musical/play/Shakespeare play?
My all-time favorites are Jesus Christ Superstar, Waiting for Godot and Julius Caesar.

What is your dream role? 
I have many, but a big one is Brutus in Julius Caesar.

What is your dream show to design/craft? 
I would love to one day direct The Creation of the World and Other Business by Arthur Miller. 

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I would want to be able to change the laws of gravity. I actually created this superhero as a comic book character. He had ancestry to Sir Isaac Newton. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Utah Shakespeare Festival Guest Blog – Mary Jane Schaefer, Playwright



During August, the Festival features the New American Playwrights Project (NAPP). Playwrights submit their plays and only three are selected for a staged reading, with Festival company members directing and acting. Each play has three readings.

This week, we feature Hamlet’s Shakespeare by Mary Jane Schaefer. The play focuses on Will’s reaction to the death of Hamnet Shakespeare, his only son.

We talked with Ms. Schaefer to learn more about her and her inspiration for the play.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Schaefer
I first read Romeo and Juliet when I was twelve years old and I fell madly in love with the play and the playwright. In college I performed a lot of Shakespeare. I’ve since acted professionally, taught, been a dramaturg and written many plays, including a monologue “The Great Will Shakespeare Speaks” that’s been performed in Canada and on the grounds of the Shakespeare Festival Theater in Stratford, Connecticut. 

What was your inspiration for this play?

The kernel of the play came from a 24-hour playwriting festival, where a topic, actors, and director were assigned. The goal was to write a ten-minute play that would be performed 24 hours later. My assigned topic was “Shakespeare in the Dark”.  From that nugget, I wrote this full- length play: Hamlet’s Shakespeare.

What do you expect as a result of this experience?

Peeples 
I’ve seen some of director, Henry Woronicz’s, work and I feel I’m in very good hands. I’m eager to see what his emphasis will be and what he’d like changed. I’d like to hear how the script sounds, how the actors respond – what they’re comfortable and uncomfortable with.  And, of course, I’d very much like to hear from the audience, especially what they would name the play because I don’t think this title is the final one.

Haaland 
Being here is a tremendous experience for me, as well as a wonderful honor. I want to participate as fully as possible, get to know people, and enjoy this great Festival.

Why should our patrons attend this play reading?

I think my play presents a new and dramatic impression of what Shakespeare might have been like as a man. I used a form of Elizabethan English to create an illusion of being there, in his world, in his mind, so we feel what he might have been going through while he wrote
Hamlet, after his son’s death.  

Hamlet’s Shakespeare will be directed by Henry Woronicz. Actors include Bailey Duncan, Ericka Haaland, Sara Griffin and Rick Peeples. Performances are August 22, 23 and 29, 10am in the Auditorium Theatre. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.bard.org or by calling 800-PLAYTIX

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Utah Shakespeare Festival Guest Blog – Dan Borengasser, Playwright



During August, the Festival features the New American Playwrights Project (NAPP). Playwrights submit their plays and only three are selected for a staged reading, with Festival company members directing and acting. This provides an opportunity for the playwright to make changes, both during rehearsals and as a result of feedback received during the talkbacks after the first two performances.

This week, we’re featuring Breakout by Dan Borengasser. “Roach” Rhinowsky and Russell Sloan share a jail cell, but they don’t agree on much. Then the prison adopts a theatre program as a form of rehabilitation, and the two concoct a shared goal. They decide the play the inmates will produce Hamlet, will be the perfect distraction for a breakout.

We chatted with Dan to learn more about him and his play.

Tell us about your background.

I was with a film and video production company. I wrote scripts with them. We made commercials and corporate videos. After retiring, I continued writing screen plays and then stage plays. I’ve entered many contests and had readings all over the world. One play, The Gospel According to Bowser, has been produced and performed in New York, LA, Florida, India, Australia and New Zealand.

What is the inspiration for “Breakout?”

After listening to an NPR program about Shakespeare in prison, I wrote a ten-minute screenplay called Breakout. I entered in a contest and the film was made. Then I decided to expand it to a full-length stage play.

What’s the difference between writing a screen play and a stage play?

Screen plays tend to be more streamlined and action driven. Stage plays are more dialogue driven. Pacing is important because the audience needs time to absorb the material.

What do you expect as a result of this week?

Bissell
I expect to do some rewriting. I’ll see what works and what doesn’t and get it back out there. This workshop experience is unusual in that I have the opportunity to get live feedback from the director, actors and audience.

Why should our patrons attend this play?

It’s a rare opportunity to see a work in progress and provide feedback that could affect the outcome, the final product.

Breakout is directed by Quinn Mattfeld. Actors include Cassandra Bissell, Drew Shirley and Kipp Moorman. Performances are August 15, 16, 28 at 10am in the Auditorium Theatre. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.bard.org or by calling 800-PLAYTIX.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Utah Shakespeare Festival Guest Blog - Levi Miles

The Festival requires an army to create our shows. Some of the soldiers are not onstage, but in the shops making sure the costumes are built. Meet Levi Miles our costume design supervisor who helped create the costumes for this season.

 Levi Miles 

Have you ever worked at the Festival before? If so, for how many years and in what capacity?
This is my third season at the Festival. In 2012, I worked as a wardrobe technician in the Adams Theatre, working on Titus Andronicus, Merry Wives of Windsor, and Merry Stuart. Last season, I served as a wardrobe technician in the Randall Theatre, on Peter and the Starcatcher and Anything Goes. I’ve also done some work in the costume crafts department, as well as giving backstage tours. This year I’m working as the costume design supervisor, assisting the costume director, the designers, and attempting to keep everything running smoothly in the shop.

What brought you to Utah Shakespeare Festival? What is it about the Festival that brings you back?
I came to the Festival to further my education, and was hired by Jeff Lieder, who is the costume director here at the Festival, as well as my professor back home. USF is a really unique opportunity for costumers because it allows you to further your building and
crafting skills in May, and then watch your pieces come to life on stage throughout the summer.

I come back because of the friendships you make. You develop a really close bond with
your fellow artisans, and the performers you are responsible for taking care of during the
run of the show.

What brought you to your field and what keeps you doing your craft?
I fell into costuming. In all honesty I never really planned on being a costumer, or a
crafter. I went into school knowing I wanted to tell stories, and I bounced around a couple
of majors (English education, performance, journalism ... etc) before landing in the
costume shop. I still plan on going into storytelling and journalism, but I really enjoy making things, and I love the challenge of taking a 2D rendering and making it into a real object.

Where’s your home base? 
I’m based out of Milwaukee, WI.

What’s your education/training background? 
Next May I will be graduating from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in Costume Production,
a BA in History, and a BA in Religious Studies, with a focus on Early Christianity.

How will you spend your time off while here?
We have a lot of fun playing games, particularly Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder
after the shows and on the weekends. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s made possible by having the awesome game store on Main Street (Gunjah) having everything we need to play!

What is your favorite musical/play/Shakespeare play? 
Definitely Titus Andronicus.

What is your dream show to design/craft? 
I think the show I’d most like to design would be She Kills Monsters, by Qui Nguyen.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I think I’d like to have the power to alter reality or grant wishes – like the Scarlet Witch from the Marvel universe.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Utah Shakespeare Festival Guest Blog – Rose-Mary Harrington, Playwright



During August, the Festival features the New American Playwrights Project (NAPP). Playwrights submit their plays and only three are selected for a staged reading, with Festival company members directing and acting. Each play has three readings.

This week’s play is Six Seconds, written by Rose-Mary Harrington. The play presents the events surrounding the JFK assassination through the vortex of the women caught in its awful grip: Lady Bird Johnson, Jackie Kennedy, Nellie Connally and Marina Oswald.

We met with Rose-Mary to learn more about her and the play.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I was born and educated in England, just outside of London. I’ve lived in the US for many years and currently live in Charleston, S.C. I’ve written several full-length plays, had a play performed at the Kennedy Center and was named the Oregon Literary Fellow for Drama in 2009. My plays are diverse in subject matter. I am drawn to writing about those who do not have a voice.

What was your inspiration for this play?
Bull plays LBJ
I received a solicitation in 2012. They were looking for plays to commemorate the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death.  As I researched, I realized the women who were involved possessed a unique perspective – I could relate to them – they’re all mothers and wives. On the outside they were all together and presented themselves very well. They played the traditional role of the wife at home and they supported their men. Each of them had a story to tell.

What do you expect as a result of this NAPP experience?

I want to iron out the wrinkles, see what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be added or deleted. Hearing the play read aloud by actors allows me to listen to the cadences and rhythms of the language and make adjustments. As a playwright I am solitary. Witnessing the interpretations of the director and actors together with their feedback has been invaluable.
Allred plays Jackie Kennedy

It’s a treat and an honor for me to be here.

Why should our patrons attend this play?

It’s a chance to revisit that turning point in history – it is very emotional. This is about the people involved. In six seconds it not only changed their lives, it changed the whole nation.




You can see Six Seconds, directed by Charles Metten and featuring Tracie Thomason as Lady Bird Johnson, Samantha Allred as Jackie Kennedy and Larry Bull as LBJ on August 8, 9 and 27 at 10am in the Auditorium Theatre. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.bard.org or by calling 800-PLAYTIX.