Posts Tagged Stephen Massicotte

MOMENTUM: new plays at different stages

City Theatre announces four exciting, original plays set for MOMENTUM, the theatre’s annual festival of new plays at different stages, beginning May 31.  Whether the theme is growing old or simply growing up, this selection of works in development engages with universal topics—familial obligation and love; the pursuit of fame; race and relationships; coming of age; and the ever-raging debate between science and religion.

MOMENTUM is a celebration of new theatrical works featuring readings, workshops, panels, and conversation. The festival is a chance for audiences to not only see four new works in their earliest incarnations, but also to get to know the process of creating new plays and to glimpse inside the minds of the playwrights.

FESTIVAL PLAYS:

My Mother Has Four Noses
A musical play written and performed by Jonatha Brooke
Directed by Tracy Brigden

Nancy Lee Stone is a cancer survivor. She has four prosthetic noses and six names.  She is a published poet and a Christian Scientist. She is Boolie’s mother, and she has Alzheimer ’s disease. In this moving, one-woman show, filled with music, wit, and emotion, acclaimed singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke tells the story of her journey as she guides her mother through the last months of life.

The Shadow Sparrow
By Anton Dudley (book), Charlie Sohne (lyrics), and Keith Gordon (music)
Directed by Matt M. Morrow
Musical Direction by Douglas Levine
Featuring Candy Buckley and Vince Gatton

Edith abandons her only son to chase a pipe-dream singing career in post-war Europe.  With one earring still hanging loosely in her ear, she follows a man who promises fame and fortune into low-down brothels and basements. This lively, new musical envisions the viewpoint of Michel, the son who grew up in a classless Cleveland hotel only to discover a clue that will take the audience on a whirlwind pursuit.

A Swell in the Ground
By Janine Nabers
Directed by Carolyn Cantor
Featuring Daina Griffith, Scotland Newton, Skyler Sullivan, and Bria Walker

Four friends struggle to keep it together in this coming-of-age play about the Millennial Generation. Olivia is coping with her dad’s death in the 9/11 attacks. Nate has to choose between an acting career and a law degree. Charles lives the shallow life of a corporate jetsetter. Abby is a teacher underwhelmed by her students. All is just okay until a marriage dissolves, words are exchanged, paths cross, and life…happens.

Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher about Evolution
By Stephen Massicotte
Directed by Dina Epshteyn
Featuring Robin Abramson, Dan Krell, Sheila McKenna, and Noah Plomgren

How do you teach evolution in a divided America? Raymond has religious tattoos, listens to Christian bands, and has ten questions about evolutionary theory that his Biology teacher Kelly won’t answer. Kelly is an atheist urbanite who is up for review after her first year on the job at a small town high school.  As the student and teacher navigate their roles and religious beliefs, both learn an unexpected lesson.

FESTIVAL SCHEDULE:
All readings and workshops take place at City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203.

Thursday, May 31
8:00 pm          My Mother Has Four Noses

Friday, June 1
6:30 pm          Playwrights Panel
8:00 pm          The Shadow Sparrow

Saturday, June 2
12:00 pm        Songwriting Workshop with Jonatha Brooke
3:00 pm          My Mother Has Four Noses
5:30 pm          Ten Questions to Ask your Biology Teacher about Evolution
8:00 pm          A Swell in the Ground

Sunday, June 3
12:00 pm        How a City Theatre Season Gets Made:
A Conversation with Tracy Brigden, Artistic Director, and Carlyn Aquiline, Literary Manager & Dramaturg
2:00 pm          The Shadow Sparrow

TICKETS:
$20 four-day pass; $5 per show
Available by phone at 412.431.CITY (2489) or online at CityTheatreCompany.org

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Time Flies

by Carlyn Aquiline, Literary Manager and Dramaturg
Anyone who hasn’t seen The Clockmaker still has one last weekend to do so, thanks to a formula of popular demand + snow that required us to extend the show. Performances are Friday at 8, Saturday at 5:30 and 9 and Sunday at 2. If you didn’t read Sloan’s e-mails with the links to the great reviews, here you go again:

Gordon Spencer, Pittsburgh City Paper          http://www.pittsburghcitypaper.ws/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A74725

Alice Carter, Pittsburgh Tribune Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/theater/s_664959.html

Chris Rawson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blog                                 http://community.post-gazette.com/blogs/onstage/default.aspx

It’s hard to believe we’re at the show’s end—time has passed quickly. Before he takes off again for New York and future engagements, we wanted to touch base with Harry Bouvy once more. If the reviews have not convinced you to see The Clockmaker, then let me make a pitch that you see it for Harry’s portrayal of Heinrich Mann, the title character. Charming, funny, sad, sweet, poignant—he will touch you where you live. The memory of his onstage relationship with Frieda (Tami Dixon) will be one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Harry with plawright Stephen Massicotte at the opening night party.

Carlyn Aquiline: So we’re about to enter the final week of The Clockmaker. And in keeping with the themes of the play, time sure has flown! What kinds of discoveries did you continue to make through the run of the show that hadn’t emerged yet in rehearsal?

Harry Bouvy: How funny the play is. You can never really know everything about a play until the audience arrives. While we knew there was humor in the play, I’m not sure we knew the degree to which people would find it funny. The laughter comes in many different forms, mostly out of the audience’s need to release the tension in the room because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of tension and conflict in the play. 

CA: The play is a puzzle for the audience to solve, and of course people solve puzzles at their own pace. What does the audience “feel” like from the stage for this show? Have you felt like there’s a moment, though, before the final scene when a lot of people have clicked and gotten it—have had the “aha” moment? Or does the puzzle pull them right into the final scene before they get the solution?

HB: It varies. It’s funny that you put it that way—what does the audience “feel” like. I often talk about how the audience “sounds” as the play goes along. The sound of an audience is sometimes as confusing for actors as the plot of the play is for the audience.  If the audience is silent during a moment that usually gets a laugh, you immediately think, “oh wow…. that joke really bombed.” But it can also mean an audience is really listening intently and simply aren’t as tuned into the humor of a particular moment. So it’s not always a bad thing that the audience doesn’t laugh. Sometimes you crave an audience to tune in more to a certain moment. The reaction of the audience for this play is very unpredictable; all over the map. I do think there’s a moment just about halfway through the play when the audience starts to piece together the plot, right around the time of the bench scene under the lights in the trees. There’s something extremely sweet and accessible about that scene where the audience is finally able to exhale a little bit and love the characters. 

On the bench, under the lights in the trees.

CA: One of the great pleasures of the production is the lovely ensemble work among the actors.  Can you share two thoughts about each of the actors you’ve worked with on this show, and the relationships you’ve developed with them: 1) onstage and 2) off?

Tami and Harry celebrate on opening night.

HB: Oh gosh, it’s hard to think of just one thing about each. I would say the same thing about all three of them on stage, and that is that they are extremely present. Tami, Joel and Daryll are all extremely focused and in the moment. I think that’s why it’s such a good ensemble. We’re all very much in tune with each other and the audience, and ready to shift gears at a moment’s notice. We haven’t had a lot of opportunities to hang out together offstage because of the stupid snow, but I feel like I’ve known these people for a long time. All three are easy to love. Daryll is a seasoned pro who knows so much about life in the theatre, and I love talking to him about shows he’s done. Joel is nothing like the character he plays on stage… I want everyone to know that.

Joel and playwright Stephen Massicotte sharing the love on opening night.

He is a dear, sweet guy and loves being an actor. He is very focused on doing his absolute best at every moment. Tami is a dynamo, running her theatre company (Bricolage). She is such a passionate, caring person. She loves the theatre and loves people. I just love them all. Love love love…. 

Harry (second from left) with the Clockmaker company, (L to R) Daryll (Monsieur Pierre), Tracy (director), Tami (Frieda), Joel (Adolphus) and Stephen (playwright).

CA: We’re scheduled to have a student matinee this week. What do you hope those teenagers primarily take away from the play?

[Unfortunately, the student matinee, which had been postponed to this week because of the big snowstorm, was cancelled once again—and for good—because of more snow.]

HB: Well, mostly, I just hope they pay attention. Student matinees are rough for actors, and not only because they’re held at the ungodly hour of ten o’clock in the morning.  Teenagers can be so… well… unruly, you know? And with a play like this, that’s all over the map in terms of tone, it’s hard to keep the attention of an adult audience, let alone an audience with the attention span of a Twitter update. … But it’s important to expose kids to theatre for that very reason—to expose them to the fact that there are issues in life worth their attention, worth their time. I’d like them to go away with the knowledge that time is precious. Fleeting. That life can be beautiful and sad and tragic and uplifting. I would say to them: sit up and pay attention. Grasp every moment for its worth. … I don’t know. Mostly I just want them to not talk while I’m up there. Is that wrong? 

CA: No, that’s not wrong. We all want them not to talk while you’re up there! Once a show has opened the actors have to maintain their performances and yet there is always evolution within that. How do you feel the show has grown since opening night?

HB: Speaking for myself, I’m not as afraid of the story, which is gut-wrenching. I’m willing to go to the depths of it. Also, when we first started, I was afraid the audience wouldn’t love the play as much as I do. I go through that with many of the plays I do. I fall in love with the piece, and I want the audience to love it too. I needn’t have worried about this play. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The audience is moved by the play because it deals with issues we’ve all thought about. Also, Tami and I are a well-oiled machine at this point. It’s as if we’re the same person out there, very in tune with each other.

Mann and Frieda trying to solve the mystery of The Clockmaker.

I also think we’re not hitting it on the head as hard, you know? Less is more. Just speak the words. We’re not “sawing the air” as much, I think (to quote Hamlet). I don’t know that anyone would notice a difference if they saw the first performance versus the last one, but it feels simpler to me now, like we’ve gotten out of the play’s way.

CA: Have you heard anything that has struck you in the audience comments or questions at the talkbacks you’ve participated in?

HB: Mostly, it’s that people feel really good at the end of the play. I see a lot of smiling faces out there during the talkbacks. I wouldn’t have called this a “feel-good” show when we started rehearsals, but maybe I’m wrong about that. I’m satisfied that people have come to care about Heinrich and Frieda during the course of the play. They want to see them happy at the end. And while the end is bittersweet, I do think there’s a contentment in the characters that is extremely satisfying.

CA: In keeping with the play, what one moment will remain dear in memory about being back in Pittsburgh for a month and a half (I bet it has nothing to do with all the snow!)?

HB: No, definitely not the snow. Old Man Winter is a sour old puss. … There’s not one moment. It’s the whole experience. I’m so happy to have been around family and friends during the course of this play, especially because it’s so much about the connection between people. It’s about how people affect the course of your life. Here in Pittsburgh, I’m surrounded by the people who influenced me early in life. These influences continue to this day. I carry them with me every day, and will continue to carry them with me for the rest of my life. … Oh, and playing Barbies with my three-year-old niece. That was pretty darn great.

Keep up with Harry’s whereabouts at www.harrybouvy.com/. Hopefully, it won’t be long until he’s announcing his next return to City Theatre.

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Back in the Burgh

by Carlyn Aquiline, City Theatre Literary Manager and Dramaturg, and Harry Bouvy, The Clockmaker cast member.

Actor Harry Bouvy is a native Pittsburgher—his family still lives here—who grew up in the South Hills, went to college at Pitt, and still has friends in the local theatre community. But, though Harry played his hometown while on tour with The Producers, he hasn’t been back to work with one of Pittsburgh’s resident theatre companies since he moved out of town in the early 90s. City Theatre is thrilled to welcome Harry, now a New Yorker, back to play the title role in The Clockmaker, playwright Stephen Massicotte’s romance/murder mystery running January 23-February 15. Harry and I talked at the start of our second week of rehearsals. 

Carlyn Aquiline: Why don’t we refer to this as your “not a blog” entry—since I did a little research (I am a dramaturg, it’s part of what I do) and found out you’re not a fan of the blogosphere. I was surprised when I found out you’ve never been back, in all the years since you moved to New York, to do a play with one of Pittsburgh’s resident companies. Welcome back! What and when was the last show you did with a Pittsburgh company?

Harry Bouvy: This question feels appropriate, since one of the themes of The Clockmaker has to do with memory. I’m going to have to wrack my brain to answer this one! I last appeared in Pittsburgh in 2005 when I was in town with the national tour of The Producers, in which I played Carmen Ghia. But as far as appearing with a Pittsburgh company… um… I believe it was in a production of The Sum of Us at the Public. Anyone who saw that wouldn’t really remember me, though, because I was essentially part of the “ensemble.” I was among four scene-changers in soccer uniforms who changed the set between scenes one and two. That’s it. Are there theatre awards in Pittsburgh? Because I would have won Best Scenic Move of the Year for that one. 🙂 

CA: “Best set changers” is one year end list Chris Rawson doesn’t compile. You’re an alum of Pitt’s theatre department, so some of your close friends still work in the Pittsburgh theatre—including Patti Kelly, City Theatre’s long-time stage manager, and CT Steele, who sometimes designs costumes for us. Looking back, what was the best thing you took away from the training you received at Pitt, and why?

HB: Hm. I’ve thought a lot about this over the years, because there are two routes a theatre student can take when he enters college: the B.A. route, where you major in theatre while being exposed to a liberal arts training (like the program at Pitt); or the B.F.A. route, a conservatory style of training where you are immersed in “all things acting”: voice, movement, scene study, etc. (like the program at CMU). For a while, I regretted not following the more conservatory style of training, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really valued my liberal arts training. It exposed me to a broader spectrum of life, and when you get right down to it, acting is about taking your life experiences and loading them into your performances. So when I entered Pitt at the tender age of eighteen—after growing up in a relatively sheltered environment in the South Hills—I was glad to be exposed to new experiences that fueled the acting training I later received in graduate school (at the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory in Sarasota).

CA: How does it feel to be in rehearsal getting ready to perform again for the hometown crowd?

HB: Really great. You mentioned Patti Kelly and CT Steele in the last question. The three of us shared a house right here on the South Side when I graduated from college—wow, twenty-one years ago—just over on Jane Street. God, we rented a three-story, three-bedroom townhouse for 525 bucks! Total! Those were the days, right? To be back here, rehearsing just blocks from where I used to live is surreal. And my entire family still lives here in the ’burgh, so I’m seeing a lot of them. My nephew Benny, who is six years old, just had me over the other night to watch an episode of The Clone Wars on the Cartoon Network! And I just had dinner at my mom and dad’s house last night. Pot roast. Delicious. So yeah, I’m loving it. …. And being back in a rehearsal hall with Patti Kelly is fantastic. More about that later…

CA: In the play, the main characters are time-travelers of a sort, the choices of a life time (and the afterlife) receive a gentle existential examination, and the tenacity of memory is a dubious gift. I’m wondering how you think being “home”—i.e., where you grew up and went to school—might affect or intensify your reflections on the play’s themes of time and memory, or vice versa.

HB: Yeah. That’s a good question. I sort of touched on this earlier, the fact that acting is loading your life experiences into your performances. Heinrich (my character in the play) starts off with what seems like a case of amnesia, and slowly remembers parts of his life as he goes along. I feel a bit of a parallel going on as well… people from my past popping up on Facebook, for example. All of a sudden, a person you hadn’t thought of in many years has materialized and wants to know how you’ve been. And I think, “How have I been? Since 1985?!” How do you answer a question like that? Suddenly, all these images start to pop into my head… and I wonder if these images are the most significant events in my life? And what made them significant? And so I’m forced, in a way, to map out my past, which takes me right into the play. I’m doing what Heinrich is doing, essentially. So it fuels the rehearsals and, hopefully, the performance.

CA: When we were doing table-work, at the end of a read-through I heard you saying just what I kept saying after I first read The Clockmaker: “I love this play, I love this play, I love this play!” What do you love about this play? Why did you want to take on this role?

HB: This past year has been a difficult one, personally. A person I love died this year. I was at his bedside when he passed. And the main question in my mind was, “Where are you going?” I kept asking that question in my mind, over and over… “Where are you going? Where are you going?” The past six months has been about answering that question. And this play presents an answer that might be true. Might. Because no one knows, right? I love this play because, for me, it’s really ABOUT something. It deals with one of the great mysteries of life: where do we go when we die? I think Stephen Massicotte (the playwright) is a genius. The language he uses, his sense of humor, the structure of the play… it feels like a real mystery, a true reflection of what’s going on in our minds when we ask big questions like “Why am I here?” or “What is the Meaning of Life?” Sort of messy, unstructured structure. And beautiful.

CA: By some twist of fate, for the past few years you’ve performed only in either musicals or one-man plays. You’ve mentioned what a joy it is to be doing a straight play again—and with other people to act with! Can you talk about the differences in each of those acting challenges and why it’s great to be in a rehearsal room with some fellow actors again?

HB: Yes, I’ve done four one-man shows and lemme tell ya: it’s a lonely row to hoe. It’s also thrilling, though. The actor is in full control of the show… it takes a skill that is unlike acting with other people on stage. And it was a skill I didn’t have before doing the first one. Or, if I did have the skill, I didn’t know I had it. In essence, the audience is your acting partner. You become very attuned to how the audience is reacting to the show… if they’re not laughing in certain spots, or they’re coughing, or shuffling around in their seats… You have to be aware of everything going on in the house while continuing to say your lines and keep the show moving forward. It’s a big responsibility because if you have a “bad show” that night, you feel like, “Well I really screwed that up tonight!” And there’s no one else to blame! … I’m so glad to be in a show with other actors. It’s just more fun, frankly. There’s a camaraderie among actors that is unlike anything else. To go through a performance with other actors creates a kinship that’s hard to beat. And this cast (Tami Dixon, Joel Ripka, and Daryll Heysham) is fantastic. We’re having a great time.

Director Tracy Brigden gives a set presentation to Harry, along with Joel and Tami (sitting on the floor in front of him), to introduce them to the world they'll be living in for the next couple of months. Playwright Stephen Massicotte watches in the background.

CA: This is a play whose world has been wholly invented by the playwright. In this case, what textual and/or character exploration did you do on your own prior to the start of rehearsals, and then what did you discover last week as a result of the readings and table work with Tracy, Stephen, and the other actors?

HB: I didn’t have to do a whole lot of outside text work for this one because of some of the reasons I mentioned earlier about the year I’ve had. Also, a few years ago, I was a confirmed atheist. Organized religion just wasn’t working for me in my life and I wanted to allow my brain to consider that there was no God and no afterlife… that if you can’t explain something with science or logic, it doesn’t exist. I read books by Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins and pretty much toed the atheist line. When my friend died, that all changed. Not in terms of organized religion, but in terms of accepting that there are certain mysteries in life that cannot be explained. Sitting around the table last week with Stephen and the cast was just more confirmation that so much of life simply cannot be explained. People have their beliefs and opinions about God and the afterlife. I’ve never really understood why people insist that they KNOW the answers to these questions. I just don’t know. I’m comfortable with not knowing. I’m comfortable with a little mystery in my life.

CA: You’re into the second week of rehearsals now, the play is fully blocked and you’re going back to re-work and refine each scene and the blocking. What physical and mental challenges are the most present for you at this point in the process, and what primary challenges is the play presenting to you as we exchange these thoughts?

HB: Rehearsals are really about learning how to tell the story in the clearest way possible, with our thoughts, voices, and bodies. I’m currently focusing on Heinrich’s physicality… how he presents himself to the world. He says in the play that he’s “a nervous person.” What does that mean? How does it manifest itself in his voice and body that is different from mine? Or similar to mine? I think of times in my life when I’ve been nervous and try to apply some of it to the character in the circumstances of the play. As an actor, you’re constantly seeking truth. I don’t want to just go onstage and “be nervous.” You know what I mean?… shake and jitter and stutter… I don’t want to come off as a cardboard cutout. I ask myself lots of questions: Why is Heinrich nervous? How did he get this way? In what situations is he NOT nervous? It’s all trial and error, all in service to telling the story in the clearest way possible.

CA: Upcoming on the blog, we’ll be highlighting Patti Kelly, City Theatre’s Production Stage Manager for 20+ years, and what exactly she does as a show’s stage manager. So as a prelude and a little teaser, tell us: What’s the scoop on Patti Kelly? You’ve known her for 25 years, if I’m correct in my math. Can you share a classic “PK” tale from back in the day—you know, in the pre-iconic stage manager days?

HB: Okay, Patti Kelly is one of the best in the business. The thing I’ve always loved about Patti is that she loves actors. Loves them. And enjoys the process of watching an actor develop a performance. She’s “on our side,” if that makes sense. Yet she also has this amazing ability to sit on the other side of the table and give the director and designers what they need to make the show work. People don’t understand the role of stage managers very much. Let me tell you, I have worked with a few really bad stage managers and oftentimes, the show can just fall apart. You need that person who is going to somehow be all things to all people. I think it’s the hardest job in the theatre. And Patti Kelly is one of the best.

Harry with Patti in rehearsal last week.

My classic Patti Kelly story is the one where she choreographed a striptease for me when I played a go-go boy in David Rabe’s In the Boom Boom Room, the first show I did at Pitt. I wore a tank top, a leather cap, Daisy Duke cutoff shorts, motorcycle boots, aviator glasses, and chains that hung off my belt. Five minutes after meeting Patti, she was showing me how to bump and grind and exude sexual energy. I was eighteen and she was twenty. What the heck did either of us know about being a go-go boy?! But lemme tell you: it was hot! 🙂

CA: Patti Kelly in a whole new light! I should tell those reading that it is not usually in the stage manager’s job description to teach actors to bump and grind. BUT if you’re curious to know what IS the stage manager’s job, check back in a few days when Patti will tell you herself. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn something new about Harry from her.)

Getting back to Harry, we’ll be catching up with him periodically to see how The Clockmaker is going, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out his website at www.harrybouvy.com, especially for the terrific “show gallery” of productions he’s done in the past few years. As for me, I’m puzzled as to why Carrot Top ended up in the midst of a Spamalot cast photo. But I think I won’t ask—you know what they say: what happens in Vegas…

Thanks for talking to me for the “not a blog,” Harry!

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“Time Belongs to the People”

by Carlyn Aquiline
City Theatre Literary Manager and Dramaturg

Happy New Year! After some brief holiday time, we headed back into the rehearsal hall just before the new year for the start of rehearsals for The Clockmaker by Stephen Massicotte (the author of last season’s Mary’s Wedding). It hadn’t struck me until then how appropriate it was that we had scheduled this rehearsal process—by no conscious design—at a time of year when people are remembering and re-evaluating their pasts and making choices for the future. The Clockmaker is all about time, and memory, and consciously pursuing the well-lived life—literally, creating the time of your life while you still can. In the play, Heinrich Mann, the clockmaker, meets Frieda Mannheim when she brings him her husband’s mangled cuckoo clock to repair. And this action in due course sets them off on a race against time to solve a puzzle that ignites universal and existential questions of identity, the mystery and meaning of life, personal responsibility, choice, the ethical life—never let it be said that Stephen Massicotte flinched from the big questions!

Artistic Director Tracy Brigden is directing The Clockmaker, so she said a few words at the first rehearsal to the assembled staff and cast, which includes Harry Bouvy as Heinrich Mann (look for Harry’s blog—I’m sorry, “not a blog”—entry following this one on his triumphant return to his hometown just for this role), Tami Dixon (A Marriage Minuet, The Missionary Position, The Muckle Man) as Frieda Mannheim, Joel Ripka (Mezzulah, 1946) as Adolphus Mannheim, and making his first appearance at City Theatre, Daryll Heysham as Monsieur Pierre. Here are some highlights of her remarks:

 “Time belongs to the people.” It’s sort of the slightly Communist catchphrase of the play. Jeff Cowie [set designer] and I almost made a red neon sign that was part of the set that said that. [She was kidding.] But what does it mean? Other time slogans in the play: “We can’t make time, that’s up to you” and “…making the best with the time they have.” …Time bounces all over the place in the story—and makes us piece together a complicated puzzle out of order. Time moves differently in different scenes…What strikes me most in the time theme is the idea of how you spend time….the idea of enjoying it while you can.

Those who saw Mary’s Wedding last season may read Tracy’s remarks (and mine) and be reminded of it since Stephen’s storytelling in that play is told with a fluid sense of time, place, and memory. Mary’s Wedding is the story of Mary and Charlie, who connect in her dreamscape even after he has gone off to fight in World War I and she has remained behind in Canada. In The Clockmaker, however, Stephen may have invented a new genre: absurdist romantic comedy metaphysical murder mystery, in reverse. He calls the tone “Kafka lite” and refers to it as his “atheist play”—but the world of the play actually has a clear theology, just one invented by the playwright. Another characteristic it does share with Mary’s Wedding is a charm and sweetness in the love story. And despite having its genesis in the death of Stephen’s stepfather, which got him to thinking about things like existence and the root of morality, the play has a distinctive and winning sense of humor. (Stephen told us on the first day of rehearsal that all of his plays end up being about how to live well and how to die well. He said, when he’s in the process of writing, he’ll be thinking he’s writing a new play and then realizes he’s writing the same play again. I think that’s not unusual—all playwrights have one or two recurring themes that crop up again and again.)

Perhaps an anecdote from the Clockmaker Meet and Greet will provide a glimpse into the mind that can achieve equilibrium among such a number of elements that seem incongruent. As an ice breaker, we introduced ourselves and then answered a question related to the show’s themes: something along the lines of “what would you want to make sure was present in Heaven (or your version of the “good” afterlife) when you get there?” (which was already making a number of big assumptions!). Lots of people said things like “ice cream,” “chocolate,” “books,” and “my family.” Stephen Massicotte said, “Charles Darwin—because it would be ironic.” See? It opens a window, doesn’t it?

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Color Model for Mary’s Wedding

color-model-photos0062Scenic Designer Tony Ferrieri just snapped a few images of the color model for Mary’s Wedding.  While the actual build of the set is taken from very detailed construction drawings and elevations the model serves as a small scale representation of what the scenery will eventually look like.  Typically the director is given the model to reference as s/he begins more detailed work on the blocking — and help her/him determine where certain moments will take place on the stage and how best to have the actors relate to one another and the space.  And as you can see in these images the model also gives you a sense of how light and color might interplay with the sky backdrop which is made of painted and textured photographic paper.

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The model also helps the actors envision what the world of the play will look and feel like.  For the first three weeks of the process the actors rehearse in our rehearsal room with the outline of the set taped out on the floor.  But as you can see in the model there are dramatic sloping levels in the design.  The model helps the director and actors imagine how these slopes and height differences in the set impact physical relationships.  From the front of the stage to the back there is a  six foot rise as well as a trench that goes three feet into the floor.  The model helps keep these dynamic height differences in perspective.

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