Gathering the Pieces Together

This morning we had more rehearsals with Jacque Troy to reinforce the notes she gave us during last night’s workshops.  Each play also took some time outside of her workshops to continue the work and finalize changes before the dress rehearsal we had tonight.

The stage managers and run crew spent the afternoon setting locations of props/set/lights/sound in the space (which now has curtains and lights).  The directors were brought in to set lighting cues and check sound cues.  The SMs ran threw the entire show multiple times to ensure that everything went smoothly when the actors were incorporated after dinner.

A twilight view from the ice

A twilight view from the ice

A few of us went outside for a bit before dinner, as the cabin fever is beginning to set in, and it’s always good to remember how nice it is inside after being exposed to how bitterly cold it is outside right now.  Lake Michigan is beginning to freeze, so we walked out on the ice for a bit for the fun of it.

We had a dress rehearsal after dinner, and ran the entire show.  It was the first time we incorporated costumes and music transitions to the piece, and it all came together.  It feels like a real show, which is incredible considering we had nothing a week and a half ago. 

We also had a bit of a game night after we finished making some changes and giving/receiving notes on the run.  There were some more intense games of Bananagrams (because that’s always a good idea), as well as a very enthusiastic group of Taboo players. We got a record of 6 guesses in a one minute time (and my team won, just sayin’).

It’s hard to believe that we open tomorrow, but we’re totally ready for it!

Backstage trust

Hello blog readers! I'm Alex Koszewski, junior theatre major and art minor who grew up in both Kentucky and Iowa. I am the Production Stage Manager (PSM), Playwright for Stiff, and part of the Web team. As others have said before me, this experience has been very new and exciting. While I would like to say that everything has just been going hunky-dory, there have been various challenges along the way. Being part of something new requires new foundations and trust that those foundations will work. I'm not sure if it's my position as PSM that I have a wide look on things but over the past week and a half, we have really begun to trust each other as a company.

As PSM, it has fallen to me to run the light board. I get the best view in the house.

As PSM, it has fallen to me to run the light board. I get the best view in the house.

I know, that just got very deep and/or cliche. I'm not trying to sound sappy but we really have grown to trust each other as a group. Taking from my own experience, this is the first time I have ever written a play. However, after a long two days here Stiff was written and chosen to be performed in our 10-minute play celebration. Watching my words come to life has been one of the most exhilarating and nerve-wracking experiences I have ever had being involved in theatre. Exhilarating because you watch the world that was originally in your head come to life and nerve-wracking because you want everything to work and have the same meaning as when you were writing it.

Kirsten O'Donnell and Daniel Vinitsky in  Stiff.

Kirsten O'Donnell and Daniel Vinitsky in Stiff.

This is where the trust comes in. Kayleigh Kitzman is the director and Daniel Vinitsky and Kirsten O'Donnell are the actors for Stiff. It has been difficult not being the overbearing parent of my script, but I had to trust Kayleigh, Daniel, and Kirsten to do a good job. Granted, in the beginning there was a lot of trial and error. One day I had to sit down with Kayleigh and Daniel (Kirsten was visiting schools) and simply ask "How does this sound?" "Can you see yourself saying this?" Tonight was the first time that I saw Stiff in about 3 days and I can no longer say it's my play. With help from some professional adults, Kayleigh, Daniel and Kirsten have created a relationship on stage in ways that black ink on white paper could never describe. It has become our play. It may be my words, but Daniel's and Kirsten's emotions and own interpretations have created a new show that is entirely unique to them. It has been fascinating to watch and on a personal note, I'm grateful for all of the hard work that they have put into it. 

Our company meeting today.

Our company meeting today.

Like my part as a playwright, everyone's work is no longer defined by just their individual roles that they have taken on as part of this company. Thresholds is our production as a company. Every day since we arrived at Bjorklunden, we have had company meetings. This is where everyone gets updated on everything: from marketing, to outreach, to rehearsal schedules. Various issues have arisen where as a company we needed to find solutions and people needed to step forward to head certain divisions. Yet whenever anyone said that they would get something done, no matter what division they fell into, 2 or 3 other people would always volunteer to help and whatever job that needed to get done, got done. The trust from that tiny example was expanded where we really did come to trust each other to do our best and to support each other so that we are the best company that we can be.

At this moment in time I am currently sitting in the Great Room in Bjorklunden watching some people take rest on the couches next to the fire while a large group plays "Taboo" at one of the tables. Tomorrow, we have our first show. It's amazing and humbling to think that over the past week and a half, we have created our own unique name, mission, and plays. We have handed out flyers, reached out to the community through schools and caroling, and marketed through various media. Every person in this room plays a unique role in our company. A director who also helped write a press release. An economics and government major who was introduced to the world of theatre. An actor that designed our Greyfell logo and 2 other actors who took that logo and designed our website. A group of students who created a theatre company. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are Greyfell Theatre Company.

Rehearsal Day

Much of today's focus was on the theatre making side of things, but that doesn't mean that we didn't get everything else taken care of.  In the morning, the lovely Sophie Hernando Kofman and Kim Eckstein (the Office Coordinator here at Bjorklunden) took one of our Lawrence vans to get the tires fixed. During the day, a group went to the store to pick up some snacks for the reception following our last show on Saturday. And finally, our program is ready for print!

Today was filled with rehearsals. Each show met about 4 or 5 times to rehearse throughout the day. For our last session of the day, our Literary Manager, Jacque Troy, played her role as Acting Coach and gave suggestions to the actors and directors.

Our Technical Director and Assistant Technical Director drove up and have started setting up the lights and curtains for our performance. The space is beginning to look even more like a theatre! We also have all of our props and costumes arranged and ready for the dress rehearsals tomorrow.

Jacque works with the cast of  Sitting With Strangers

Jacque works with the cast of Sitting With Strangers

Reflections of a Newcomer

As our debut performance draws ever nearer, the halls of Bjorklunden echo with the voices of my peers, who are in the final stages of revision and preparation for our show. The past week has been a turbulent one. With everything that's been happening all at once, it's been hard for one to find time to sit back and reflect on the experience. As I sit here collecting my own thoughts, I realize just how much I have learned over the course of this brief, yet intense period of immersion.

As one who is completely new to the world of theatre (aside from playing the part of sugar plum fairy # 5 in my first grade class' rendition of The Nutcracker), it has been fascinating observing the artistic process of my committed peers, the majority of which have had extended exposure to the theatre arts prior to this program. What initially drew me to this program was my interest in innovation, entrepreneurship, and start-up businesses. Subsequently, I have tasked myself with several of the more business-oriented aspects of this projects, preparing press releases, programs, and financial statements.

However, I have realized that tackling all these tasks in the context of a theatre company has been a very different experience compared to a traditional, for-profit business when I ask myself, "Why? What has been the primary motivation behind all the efforts and energy that we have been collectively channelling over our time here?" It has not been to maximize profits, nor has it been to beat out our competition; our ultimate goal has been to share a fleeting, yet powerful moment of artistic expression with others in hopes of provoking thought and emotional response. In the words of singer-songwriter Lorde, "We seek a different kind of buzz."

This realization of our cause has given me a newfound respect for the theatre arts. Before this experience, my understanding of the theatre-making process did not extend much past the memorization and recitation of lines. But over the past week, as I have witnessed my peers tirelessly working as directors, stage managers, costume designers, and more, on top of handling many aspects of the business side of things, my eyes have been opened to the depth of the field that is theatre production. To see such ambition and drive for the sake of artistic expression truly inspires me, and if there is one thing I hope to take away from this experience, it is the passionate and zealous spirit of those around me.

I think many would agree that this song, "Royals," by Lorde (quoted above) strongly characterizes the spirit of our team over this past week. Give it a listen and get on our level!

-Kenn Goh

Fires and Full Runs

We've come to the end of another exciting day here at Greyfell. A group of students went back to Sevastopol School to work with an English teacher. They talked to all 6 of her classes about what we are doing here at Greyfell Theatre Company. Two other groups travelled to nearby towns and talked to businesses about putting up posters for our show. There were also rehearsals happening periodically throughout the day. We were very lucky to have a photographer from Door County Advocate come and take some pictures of us as we rehearsed and worked on marketing. 

Matt, Madeline and Kirsten talking to students at Sevastopol School.

Matt, Madeline and Kirsten talking to students at Sevastopol School.

In production news, we have decided on the live music transitions that will be performed during the show. We also performed a full run of the show in order to get an idea as to how it flows as a whole. It was a wonderful success and we look forward to sharing it with everyone.

Students and professors gathered around the fire.

Students and professors gathered around the fire.

Before dinner, we all gathered in the Great Room and sat by the fireplace. It was nice to sit together as a group and enjoy a little down time before a great meal.