Posts Tagged Chuck Patterson

Holiday Gifts from the American Theatre Critics Association!

posted by Carlyn Aquiline, Literary Manager and Dramaturg

It’s the season of giving, and the American Theatre Critics Association gave two gifts to City Theatre new plays this week! Two of our playwrights from this year have been nominated for American Theatre Critics Association new play awards.

Willy Holtzman

 Willy Holtzman’s The Morini Strad has been nominated for an ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award, which annually honors the best new American play that’s premiered outside of New York City. Six finalists will be chosen in January, and the winning play will be announced at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville in the spring of 2011. The winning playwright will receive $15,000 and inclusion in the annual theatre yearbook, Best Plays. The Morini Strad received its world premiere production at City Theatre from November 6-December 12, 2010.

David Whalen played Brian Skarstad and Carla Belver played Erica Morini in Willy Holtzman's THE MORINI STRAD.

 

Cori Thomas

 Cori Thomas and When January Feels Like Summer have been nominated for the M. Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award, which recognizes an emerging playwright for a new script produced outside of New York City. The winning playwright receives $1,000 and recognition in Best Plays. The award will be presented in the spring of 2011. When January Feels Like Summer received its premiere at City Theatre from March 20-April 11, 2010.

(L to R) John Marshall Jones as Joe, Debargo Sanyal as Indira, Carter Redwood as Jeron, and Joshua Elijah Reese as Devaun in WHEN JANUARY FEELS LIKE SUMMER by Cori Thomas.

Both plays were audience favorites, playing to sold out houses and to overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience response.

Artistic Director Tracy Brigden had this to say about the nominations: “We are thrilled for Willy and Cori and so proud of these productions. These accomplishments are impossible without the dedication and talents of our staff and artists, especially Daniella [Topol] and Chuck [Patterson]’s sensitive direction, the actors’ brilliant performances, dramaturg Carlyn Aquiline’s invaluable guidance and insight, as well as the team of designers and artisans who created gorgeous productions. Bringing new plays to life is what City Theatre does, and we’re honored to share in the success of these extraordinary new plays.”

If you’d like to read more about the awards or the American Theatre Critics Association, see the ATCA’s website.

City Theatre congratulates Willy and Cori. With only about two dozen scripts recommended for these awards in most years, out of hundreds of new plays seen by ATCA critics across the country, being nominated is in itself an honor. But we hope they’ll be sweeping the awards in the spring!

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WHEN JANUARY Feels Like a Party

Posted by Carlyn Aquiline, Literary Manager and Dramaturg

Gita Reddy, who plays Nirmala in When January Feels Like Summer, and playwright Cori Thomas took some great photos at the opening night party, which they recently sent to me. I think it’s clear how much fun everyone was having, buoyed by a terrific opening night performance and a genuine and enthusiastic response from the audience. Enjoy the following opening night gallery.

Playwright Cori Thomas (center) with her daughter Natasha and her mother.

Gita Reddy (who plays Nirmala) with Costume Designer Angela M. Vesco. See Ange's fascinating post--"Hip Hop Style and Natural Drag"--about her challenges and obsessions in designing the show.

Cori with director Chuck Patterson.

 

The comic duo of the year: Carter Redwood (L: Jeron) and Joshua Elijah Reese (R: Devaun).

What a glam shot of Gita and Debargo Sanyal (Ishan/Indira). Until you notice stage manager Patti Kelly goofing around and peeking in between them to get into the photo!

John Marshall Jones (who plays Joe) upstages Carter and Joshua.

Cori Thomas and her cast.

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Changing Perspectives

By Rachel Enck, Literary and Dramaturgy Intern

It’s been a few weeks since rehearsals began for our next play When January Feels Like Summer.  Generally when I go into rehearsal, I look at it from a literary perspective. This time, I have the privilege looking at it from a design perspective as well.  For When January Feels Like Summer, I’ll also be working wardrobe crew, helping actors with costume changes and maintaining the costumes through the run of the show. 

The first time most of us got to see what the designers were thinking was at the first rehearsal.  First the whole company answered a fun icebreaker question.  This time it was, “If you could be anything else, what would it be?”  Some of the answers were silly—a duck, a turtle, or a superhero, while others were more sentimental—an antique quilt handed down through generations, a grand piano, and a toddler.  Mine was “a professional paid writer,” maybe not as thought-provoking, but as that’s what I went to school for, it fit and who wants to waste an education? 

Set designer Anne Mundell gives her presentation.

After that, set designer Anne Mundell revealed her set model.  It was the first time most of us had seen any of the designs.  She and director Chuck Patterson described needing it to be versatile, to house small scenes that have the capability to easily open up to bigger ones.  Chuck wanted to allow the actors discovery room and he wanted to show the idea of being transported to these different scenes and places.  Both were inspired by the idea of closing subway doors.  They wanted a bunch of entrances and exits like a subway, and three scrims in the background to light up and convey mood or tone, and like always, our production team is creating a perfect life-size version of the model.  At this point in time, some of the set is standing on stage, but most of it is in pieces in the shop, where the carpenters are working on getting it loaded in to the stage. 

It took 12,636 "tiles" to make the back wall.

Then our costume designer, Ange Vesco, showed images she used for inspiration.  They ranged from a garbage man to a post-op male-to-female Indian transsexual.  She used real photos for her design research, as this is a contemporary play with realistic clothing.  Most of it she’ll buy and alter to suit the play’s needs.

Costume designer, Ange Vesco's favorite piece of research.

On the first day of rehearsal, I sat listening for the first time to playwright Cori Thomas’s words.  She explained that she was sitting on the subway in New York City, and two African-American men were sitting behind her loudly talking about a woman who needed to fix her teeth.  Cori told us that they were being obnoxious, using poor grammar and foul language, but on further listening, she realized how truly concerned they were for this woman, that they cared about her.  Her perception changed and a play about mistaken first impressions was born.

The electrics crew works on the stage lights (L) while the shop carpenters hang a tiled subway wall onstage (R).

Even sitting in just a few rehearsals and actually observing the process of a world premiere with the playwright in attendance is so educational.  It’s always a study for me when I meet the playwrights—what worked for them, what should I do differently?  Working somewhere that only does new plays is fantastic for a recent college graduate, especially someone who wants to be a writer, because I meet people who are excited to get their break through, and it makes me feel hopeful and encouraged.  No amount of training prepares you for the real world.  Some lessons I learned in school have certainly fallen by the wayside.  Others remain true: always be kind and courteous, cite your sources, and fill the coffee pot if you drink the last cup.

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