First Company Meeting of the new season, and boy are there things to talk about at this meeting! And I am so superdeduper excited because three new girls that we are quickly falling in love with will be joining our meetings! I don’t really have much to say except that I wanted to document my excitement at the first meeting of the new season. Its a nice milestone and follow up to our great season kick off event (photos/vido blog coming soon)! So much is changing at Teatro Luna— so many new hurdles (CCPA– more on that soon) and on and on that we haven’t been able to fully RE-LAUNCH as promised.
Please come out to see Dominizuelan at the Chicago Improv Festival on Wednesday, April 21st! Our ensemble member, Diane Herrera, will be a guest performer with them as well! Details are below:
The 16th Street Theater, 6420 16th St, Berwyn, 708.795.6704 Tickets: $16 (available at the box office or on-line) Dominizuelan [opening act] ImproTOP [closing act]
For tickets, buy them at the box office or on-line:
Dominizuelan: These two ladies rocked it last year at CIF and we expect more of the same. They are totally committed and utterly fearless in both their character work and their exploration.
Impro Top: ImproTOP is to Mexico City what iO & Second City are to Chicago. They have been performing in Mexico for over 13 years and this is their American debut. In 2009, their improv show, “Hazme Reir y Seras Millonario”, was a series on Mexican television and it was a great success. This year, they have been working with Mexico’s most important cultural institution CONACULTA. At CIF, they will perform two shows, Improbroadway (their improvised musical), and Improteptl (their prehispanic improvised tale). The cast of five will improvise bilingually in English and Spanish.
For our February PlayLab 1, the participants shared the first drafts of their 10-minute plays based on the theme “THE MOON”. All I could think as we read through them was “WOW”. It has been so inspiring to see these women develop into playwrights–their plays were creative, fun, and interesting. It will be hard to choose amongst the submissions–I wish we could produce them all-but alas. We have only 10 slots for this particular festival.
Even though the participants had a great start to their plays, there were some notes that kept cropping up–these notes are fundamental for any playwright, beginner or experienced to follow:
1) Be sure to HEIGHTEN and EXPLORE the CONFLICT inherent within the scene. Remember, conflict is what drives drama, so having two characters agree on a point is not as exciting as having the conflict with the scene between the characters. That’s not to say that they
argue throughout the scene…but that they are in conflict with the situation or the other character.
For example–two sisters talk about the death of their mom and both agree that they miss her very much. Nice scene, could be loaded with humor to make it fun and interesting. BUT–how much more interesting would it be if one sister had an unresolved issue with her mom, and is
glad the old bat is gone? Or if she was going to tell it to her domineering older sister that she has always cowed down to? All of a sudden, the scene is more intense because of the conflict between the two sisters.
2) BE AWARE OF THE ACTION WITHIN YOUR SCENE. Remember, there should be events that led to action. Be sure to look for passivity with the characters–are they moving forward to the next action, or are you just writing to write?
For example–best friends meet up in a coffeehouse, and one confides that she’s leaving her husband. The passive way of continuing the scene would be to have the other friend just listen to the wife’s complaints like any good friend would. Truthful, but boring! What’s the next action? Will the wife decide to kill the husband? If yes,
then make sure that the trigger is there that leads to that action (the friend suggesting the murder, or the friend admitting an affair with the husband, etc).
3) What do the characters WANT?-again, this is about heightening the scene, to make it more intense and dramatic. Be sure that your characters are there in that scene for a reason. If needed, give them a secret that only they know about and write with that secret in
mind…if you’re in a tough spot this might sharpen the focus of the character.
For example–two people at a laundromat, one accuses the other of stealing her clothes. Fun, intense, action-filled, but what if you’re lost on the motivation of the thief? Give them a secret–they are the mother of the accuser and wanted a memento of her lost daughter…it doesn’t need to be said within the play but now you have motivation driving the thief to the action of stealing.
4) TODAY IS THE DAY–we use this phrase all the time, to emphasize that THIS is the days of all days that the characters chose to act, and the scene written is a result of that action.
For example–a scene with a married couple at dinner. Eh…so-so. A scene with a married couple at dinner and the husband tells the wife that he’s leaving her for his Starbucks barista–TODAY IS THE DAY! Insta-drama!
The thing is, you can be an excellent writer–but can you be an excellent playwright? Can you write dialogue that leads to action? Can you write dramatic conflict that actors can flesh out, without bogging it down with exposition?
As we continue our labs, the participants will be writing a one-act play that should be completed by the end of the program. I’m looking forward to reading what these ladies have to write!
Please feel free to reply with comments, etc…looking forward to updating you with more on PlayLab 1 in March!
Our directors lab last month was led by Derrick Sanders. Derrick has had such amazing experiences ans a director; working with August Wilson, artistic director of a theater company; directing for any number of great theater in Chicago, NY and elsewhere.
All I wanted to do was ask him questions. How do you maintain power as a director? How do you run your rehearsal room? Where do you find your inspiration? What is your process before a show begins? Is it the same every time?
Derrick was gracious enough to answer all of our questions no matter how seemingly pedestrian.
Am I exposing myself here?
I guess I am.
As a new director I was intimidated. I have very little experience and the craft is still unfolding in front of me every time we meet. I don’t feel like I have a solid process. I get really anxious about having to have all the answers.
I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW!!
I don’t have to have all the answers and being willing to admit not knowing is a powerful thing. I know that. In my mind.
But not my heart.
Does that make sense?
It sounds cheesy and cliche but as a director I want to be able to help guide my actors, designers, crew to express clearly the message the playwright has laid out for us.
Do professional directors feel power within themselves because they trust the process or their research?
Is finding that power a matter of practice and doing it over and over and falling on your face?
The prospect of falling on my face with so many people counting on me is…unnerving.
Do directors feel terrified every time they work but have become so good at managing the personalities in the room they are able to muscle through?
Lots of questions in this blog huh.
For the next part of the lab Derrick began to tackle composition.
My tension starts to rise.
I had been reading out our textbook “Play Directing: Analysis, Communication and Style” by Francis Hodge. It makes it all seem so complicated and formulaic. I am not formulaic by nature.
Do directors really have all of this going on in their mind at any given time when they are working on a scene? Points of power and planes and 120 degree angles and the like.
I mention this to Derrick.
He responds that it’s good information to have and know and that different directors use that information in different ways.
Tension still rising.
Now having some distance from our lab and preparing to enter into another process there are a lot of things swimming in my mind. The most compelling of which is something I have scoffed at when I’ve heard it mentioned in the past.
My husband talks about needing SPACE. That to be creative requires lots of SPACE and TIME. And I’m all – who has space and time? I have a career and a business to run and two kids I don’t have time to create space.
It’s interesting to me now to try to carve out time to be inspired. Time to find images. To shift my perspective from panic to pleasure.
Derrick said that he has pictures he took on his iphone, of people he saw on the street who resembled characters in a play he is working on.
How fun is that?
The director of our next month’s lab talked about how she listens to lots of music to get inspired and watches lots of movies.
So I’m off to fill my ipod and carry around my Flip and will try to keep reminding myself to make it fun and find inspiration in the tiny spaces I have in my life.
Did I also mention I got rid of cable? Thought that might open up some time since I won’t be watching Supernanny til midnight.
And am giving up drinking until June when my next project opens. I’ll keep you posted on how that one is going.
Comments, smart remarks and inspiration are welcome.
Non-Equity General Season Auditions & Interviews for Teatro Luna: Monday February 15, 2010 & March 13 2010
Our 2010 General Season Auditions are coming up and we are looking for talented Latinas of all ages and backgrounds.
MACHOS: Looking for Latinas of all ages and types to tour with our hit show MACHOS. The ideal person is willing to wear facial hair and able to travel. Bilingual English/Spanish is NOT necessary.
HALF: Looking for writers, performers, and musicians to work on creating a new ensemble devised full-length performance. This is a chance to experience Teatro Luna’s unique development process from the very beginning!
LUNADAS READING SERIES: Looking for actors of ALL racial/ethnic/gender identities for the casting pool of a bi-monthly reading series.
AUDITIONS: Monday February 15th from 9 am – 2:00 pm, by appointment only. We will also be taking appointments for March 13, 2010 10 am – 4 pm For more information, and to make an appointment, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your resume & headshot. 2649 N. Francisco Avenue 2nd floor, Chicago IL 60647 On Francisco between Diversey & Logan Blvd.)