Watching actors perform is the tip of the theatrical iceberg. There is so much work that goes into productions to provide the pleasure of performance. Bob and I like to talk with those people whose work contributes to the production that we see. Over the years at Shakespeare and Company, we have seen and chatted briefly with Steve Ball as he goes about his work as General Manager. We were curious as to what his title meant and what he does and finally had the pleasure of asking him the questions we have had. Click on the link below and you will find out as we did about the fascinating job of General Manager.
Finding out what a theatre has planned for the 2018 summer is exciting. Talking with Antonello Di Benedetto and Kate Hyde of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, we not only learned about the range of plays and other activities the company will offer, but what goes on during the rest of the year. Antonello is Director of Audience Engagement, Kate is Communications Manager. They work year round in Williamstown to help prepare for the many activities that take place during the summer.
The development of new plays is an important aspect of the Williamstown Theatre Festival’s work under the leadership of Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director. This year, a play that had its premiere production at the Williamstown Theatre in 2016, Cost of Living, won the Pulitzer Prize for best drama. Antonello and Kate talk about the theatre’s development of new plays and many other topics. Click below to listen.
Besides producing a season of fine plays each summer, The Williamstown Theatre Festival has a range of other programs, many of which involve preparing the next generation of theatre professionals. Bob and I were fortunate to interview some of those involved in these programs. Because of the number of plays and interviews we do during the season, we didn’t have the opportunity to share these enlightening discussions with the theatre people of the future on our blog. We do so now.
The first interview, with Brendan George, provides a picture of what life for an apprentice at the Williamstown Theatre Festival is like. Often after we finish an interview, a comment is made that adds to what we already learned. In this case, Brendan provided insight into how important each person, backstage or onstage, is. In commenting on what his experience working on The Model American meant, he explained that he had worked on the floor for the play. “I won’t get an award for that floor, but I know it was important for the play.”
Theatre is a collaborative art with many moving parts. Keeping all those parts together is the job of the stage manager. As we interview people in theatre we get a sense of how varied their lives are. Just as each actor’s experience is unique, so are the experiences of stage managers. Like actors and directors, they may return to certain theatres on a regular basis, but they are constantly interacting with new challenges, new combinations of people. Change seems to be the constant. Over the years, Bob and I have seen Hope Rose after performances or working serenely as we interview people. Seeing theatre from her perspective seemed the next natural step. As we were leaving the interview, I mentioned that some photos and links would be helpful. Arriving home, there on my computer were the captioned photos and links. Clearly, life would be simpler for all of us if it was stage managed.
Stage Management Fight Club Summer 2015 at S&Co – In picture are myself, Tracy Hoida, Kathleen Soltan, Laura Gomez, and Jessica Kemp. Kathleen, Laura, and Jessica returned this summer and worked on the Playhouse shows. Jessica was the one underneath the trap for Or, helping to making sure Allyn wouldn’t bump his head!
There are many elements that create the magic of live theatre. One of the most effective of these elements is the lighting. The mood of a scene is enhanced by lighting which focuses our attention and our emotions on what is happening. All through the production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, which is performing at the Dorset Theatre Festival through September 3, the atmosphere of the bar and Lady Day’s feelings were reflected in the lighting. In the last minutes of the play the drama was intensified by a change in the lighting.
Bob and I were fortunate to talk with Michael Giannitti ,the Director of Design and Lighting at Dorset Theatre Festival. We met him at Bennington College where he teaches. To listen to the interview click on the link below.
As Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill was getting ready to open, we were at the Dorset Theatre interviewing Taylor Crichton, the Box Office Manager and Emily Lafriniere, the Costume Shop Stage Manager. Besides running the box office, Taylor is also involved in marketing and has worked on some of the visual media the company has developed for the performances.
Emily told us about the white dress that Marinda Anderson would wear as Billie Holliday. When we saw it on the actress, it was something we already knew about. Not that it was any less glamorous. In fact it was more so.
To enhance the feeling of being at the club with Billie Holliday, the first rows of seats were replaced by tables and chairs as in a cafe. Our conversation with Taylor and Emily was most informative and made us feel a part of the process of creating a production. Listen to the interview by clicking on the link below.
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill will be performed at the Dorset Theatre Festival from August 18 to September 3. The play tells about the famed Jazz singer’s last days as a performer.
An essential member of the team that puts on a play is the stage manager. We had the pleasure of talking with Kelly Borgia, the Production Stage Manager, the week before technical rehearsals began. She gave us a sense of all that goes into the productions that audiences enjoy. Most people don’t know about all those behind the scenes which Kelly assures us is the way that it should be if they are doing their jobs correctly. Perhaps that is true, but we found it enlightening to talk with her. Kelly also told us what she does when the Dorset Theatre season is over. To listen to the interview with Kelly, click below