MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING now playing through
December 10, 2017.
Tickets at americanstage.org/MUCHADO
By Kody Hopkins, American Stage 2017/2018 Acting & Production Apprentice
Behind-the-scenes (Nov. 3rd, 2017):
One of the major draws for me when applying to be an American Stage Apprentice was the scope of the program. While I am a performer by nature, I quickly gained an interest and respect for all aspects of theatre making upon entering university. I put myself to work in a little bit of everything: I sewed costumes, took lighting design, wrote some plays, directed several scenes, and even house managed two productions. The stage always feels like home to me (and I’m glad to be returning to it in MUCH ADO!), but I realized that being a part of everything it touches is what makes me feel whole. So, when I found out just how MUCH I would get to put my hands on here at American Stage, I was excited… and maybe a bit overwhelmed.
Because of this program, I am afforded the ability to peek behind the curtain, to see how the proverbial sausage gets made. It’s inspiring, if not always easy. From the design reveals at our first rehearsal, to making marketing posts I can’t believe the boss green-lit, to putting together the set and cabling the lights (you know you’re committed when you’re crawling on your hands and knees under the stage…), I get to see my small, but noticeable touch on the final product. Jack of all trades, master of none, I like to say. All of this is fueled by my passion for the profession. But, how does anyone else get to know about any of this? About the late night light hangs with lo-fi music and Master Electrician Chris Baldwin, or early morning bagels before tearing down a set you helped put up?
Well, in the words of Beatrice, there is “a very even way”: American Stage’s BEHIND-THE-SCENES series. A few weeks before each production, we put on an event that gives you the down low on not only the particulars of the play itself, but the process behind it. Want to know where that crazy awesome set for MUCH ADO got its inspiration from? How about the specifics of what went into creating the killer beats for THE ROYALE? Are you curious what it might be like taking a production from coast to coast next year with MARJORIE PRIME? You can get the answers to all these questions and more by joining us for one of our BEHIND-THE-SCENES events. Basically, you get all the cool nuggets of information I do in the Apprentice Program without having to worry about getting splinters or inhaling the dust that collects up in the electrics (really, Chris needs to take a Swiffer to that whole thing).
Something I was thankful for at my university was our post-show forums. About a week after the closing of each production, all those interested would get together and sit down with the cast and creative team of the play. We got to ask them whatever we wanted, from role preparation to the logistics of student/work life balance. For one hour, we got to peek into their theatrical family, see how they’d grown as individuals and artists, and know what it was like to be a part of an awesome creation. BEHIND-THE-SCENES at American Stage has a very similar feel.
So next time, come on out, grab a cookie, and pick the brains of our incredible creative talent. (A RAISIN IN THE SUN’s BEHIND-THE-SCENES is scheduled for January 14, 2018! Click for Tickets.)
Can’t make it? You’ll miss out on Professor Emerita Dedee Aleccia’s amazing insights into the show, but you can tune in as members from the creative team take the floor for an interesting conversation regarding their process and inspiration! We try to Facebook Live all of our BEHIND-THE-SCENES Conversations! Check out this video from last Sunday’s MUCH ADO BEHIND-THE-SCENES.
First Rehearsal (Oct. 27th, 2017):
There are a few things to be found at every American Stage first rehearsal: good friends, good vibes, and good food. These first rehearsals, like any inaugural gathering, bring a medley of energies. Excitement from the newly minted Floridians, anticipation from the design crew, and anxiety from the apprentices (though, maybe that’s just me) collate to create an atmosphere of collective creative potential. Some regulars may be there, such as the distinguished Richard B. Watson. Others may be making their American Stage debut, a la Don Walker. All, however, are united on this night to embark on a journey unlike any other: building a world for our audiences to live in from the ground up. A task such as this carries a touch of sacredness.
This first rehearsal for MUCH ADO was imbued with an even more reverent energy than past ones, as the daughter of one of our legacy society members gave a moving account describing her family’s relationship to American Stage over the years. American Stage productions, for her family, were a chance for mother and daughter to come together and share an experience that would have them talking from the moment the car door shut after a performance, sometimes spilling into phone calls the next day (or next week!). It is heartwarming stories such as this that solidify the arts’ place in the community. I was motivated to major in theatre because of audience member stories like this one. Stories like these equally kept my spirits up when the going got tough in university. Ask any theatre practitioner why they do it, and I’m sure you’ll find at their core a touching story. It is inspiring to see these tales still being told as I begin my career path in the performing arts world.
Speaking of beginnings, this will be this apprentice’s first time on an Actors’ Equity theatre stage! American Stage’s designation as an Actors’ Equity Small Professional Theatre is part of what affords it the ability to attract such high caliber talent for show after show; MUCH ADO’s first rehearsal exhibited that it is no less true for this production. Even though each actor will undoubtedly take their character on a far reaching journey over the next few weeks, it was awe inspiring to see the talents of people like Brock Vickers, Lisa K. Powers, and Richard B. Watson take on Shakespeare’s text as if it was their first language. In the right hands, the words of Shakespeare are like no other, a big reason why the bard’s plays are still performed more than 400 years after their writing. The power, the emotion, the energy of merely his words continues to make comparisons hard to come by (or, in the words of Dogberry: “Comparisons are odorous: palabras, neighbour Verges.). Audiences are definitely in for a treat come November 8th! And that’s to say nothing about the beautiful set and earworm inducing soundscape…
We hope to see you all join us in “Messina” for Shakespeare’s much awaited return to American Stage!
Watch the video below to get a first hand look at our First Rehearsal of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.