Archive for the 'Theatre' Category

DESIGNING FOR THEATRE IN THE ROUND

Friday, January 7th, 2011

A Guest Blog post by MFA Design student Mandi Lau who’s set designer for our upcoming production of Sarah Rhul’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone ~

The use of the arena configuration in the Telus Studio Theatre is an honest and direct response to the existing architecture. From my recent lighting design experience in the space for The Madonna Painter, I noticed a lot of great qualities, as well as unique design potentials that set apart the Telus from all other black box or conventional proscenium style of theatres.

The Telus has quite a few flaws as a theatre in terms of practicality (ie. the lack of an overhead grid and efficient rigging system etc.), but nonetheless, it is a very interesting and special piece of architecture. For example, the unique “flexibility” of the Telus comes from the 12 movable towers that hold the audience seating, but such quality is only true to the extent that half of those remain attached to each other to form a semi-arena of box style seating, which there is no escape from.

The fact that there are three separate floors of seating in each tower creates an enormous sense of height and closure within such a small space. This imposing sense of height is not only to be felt by the performers but most importantly impacts greatly on how the audience perceives the space for the duration of the performance.

Most often for the audience members on the towers, they have to sit on the edge of their seats and lean on the ledge that surrounds the seats (in groups of 4) for the entire show in order to be able to see what is happening down below on “stage”.

If those unique spatial features of the theatre are appropriately utilized and appreciated, it could reward any production with a great theatrical experience rather than imposing a rigidly fixed set into the already limiting space. For this reason, I want to take this special opportunity and emphasize designing on the ground, embracing the floor that is already existing as the central focal point of the space.

This, in turn, will create a theatrical experience that is unique to the Telus. It is also an exploration and experiment to challenge the conventional “forth-wall-picture-frame” perception of theatrical spaces with a minimalist set and projected stage floor. The use of light and multimedia imagery from multiple projectors will morph and sculpt the space into different locales as the story unfolds. The design of the set and the stage itself only exist for the duration of the play, making all a temporal experience just as any live performance. ~ Mandi Lau

Note: Dead Man’s Cell Phone opens January 20, 2011. To see production photos, designers’ portfolio and more go to the Dead Man’s Cell Phone show site. Tickets are Reg. $22/Senior $15/Student $10 and are available online.

My Summer Stage-cation

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

A guest blog post by BFA Acting candidate Christine Quintana

After 8 intense months of training, rehearsal and performance, most theatre students are grateful for their summer holidays and see them as a brief break from their theatre lifestyle.  Not me, apparently.  In September I’ll begin my final year of the BFA Acting Program, but all this summer I’m working part-time for Bard on the Beach and the Arts Club Theatre Company, and I’m also working full time at Carousel Theatre, and loving every minute of it!

This year marks the 20th year of the Carousel Theatre’s Teen Shakespeare Program, and I’m here working as the Marketing and Audience Services Coordinator for their summer production of The Taming of the Shrew. In the Program, 16 teen actors undergo an intense 4 week rehearsal process culminating in a fully staged production which runs for 2 full weeks free to the public.  It’s my job to do everything from getting posters and fliers printed, writing and pitching the press release, taking press photos, to eventually acting as House Manager as we welcome over 3000 audience members to our show over the two week run.  It’s hard work, but it’s the best experience a theatre student could ask for!

Christine works behind the scenes at Carousel Theatre

I work with the incredible Carole Higgins and Jessie Van Rijn, who run Carousel Theatre as the Artistic and Managing Director and General Manager respectively. I feel lucky to go to work every day and learn from such talented women who are leaders in the Vancouver theatre community. I’m so glad to be working behind the scenes because I feel it will make me a better and more professional actor – the things that don’t seem like a big deal (“Oh, sorry, I’ll get my program bio in on Friday…”) can cause massive delays in important administrative or stage management projects!  A successful production means all hands on deck, and I’m so thrilled to be on board with Carousel Theatre for their summer show.

Christine does the photo shoot for Carousel's free outdoor show "The Taming of the Shrew"

I’m blogging and tweeting all summer leading up to the run of The Taming of the Shrew from July 30 to August 14.  I hope you’ll come out and see our show – bring your friends, it’s completely free!  I am excited to be back at UBC come September, but I’ll miss my Carousel Theatre family when I go.

On Performance:“Secrets that Whisper in the Blood”

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

As an novelist as well as an actor, I have always been fascinated by ‘the secrets that whisper in the blood’; by inheritance, what we have taken from those that have gone before us, our parents, grandparents, even further back. In our genes, of course, but also in how these people behaved, characteristics and even attitudes passed on that we have adopted, that rule some of our actions in ways we cannot tell.

The theme reoccurs in my books… and it is one of the many reasons why the production of this play, ‘The Master Builder’ by Henrik Ibsen has been such a fascinating journey. He was Norwegian, of course, wrote about his countrymen and women. And I am half Norwegian, have always felt viscerally connected to that land of fjords and myths. It features in a lot of my writing. But there is another connection of blood and legacy – my Grandparents, all of them, English and Norwegian, were actors too. And most of them played Ibsen.

Tim Matheson

L-R: Chris Humphries, Norman Young Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

I have a framed photo of Betsy Jordal, my grandmother, on stage in a rather obscure Ibsen, ‘Fru Inger’. Also one of Karl Holter, my grandfather, playing the better known ‘Peer Gynt’. I brought both of them out to UBC, have them sitting there on my dressing table. It seemed appropriate, in the week that included November 2nd, ‘the Day of the Dead’ when people, especially in the Latin countries, visit with their Dead, for me to visit with mine.

Tim Matheson

Chris Humphreys, Photo Credit: Tim Matheson

Karl, Betsy and Me. Eighty years apart, all playing ‘title’ roles’, all wrestling both with acting choices and personal demons, in the psychological maelstrom that are the plays of Henrik Ibsen. I wonder what from their lives they brought to the roles. How, perhaps, consciously and unconsciously, they used their grandparents. Wonder about the line that stretches back, the secrets hidden in time, held in blood.

Somehow, they are up there with me, Karl and Betsy, under the lights, in ways I cannot fathom. I am glad of it – and just a little bit scared.

Guest Post ~ C C Humphreys

Director’s Notes for MK Woyzeck

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

While I may have taken the extreme liberty of adapting Georg Büchner’s timeless masterpiece, Woyzeck, I remain well aware that no words of mine could ever come close to expressing the anguished ruminations at the play’s core as well as those penned by the author himself in an oft-quoted letter to his fiancée:

“I felt as though utterly crushed by the hideous fatalism of history.  I find in human nature a terrible sameness, in human circumstances an ineluctable violence vouchsafed to all and to none.  Individuals but froth on the waves, greatness a mere coincidence, the mastery of geniuses a dance of puppets, a ridiculous struggle against an iron law that can at best be understood but never mastered… ’Must’ is one of those words by which mankind was damned from the very beginning.  The saying, ‘It must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh’, is horrifying.  What is it in man that lies, murders, steals?”

Theatre at UBC's production of MK Woyzeck

Theatre at UBC's production of MK Woyzeck

It was over fifteen years ago that the inspired and inspiring teaching of UBC’s own distinguished Professor Emeritus of Theatre, Dr. Errol Durbach, first ignited in me a burning obsession with Büchner’s Woyzeck that has continued to smolder to this day.  It is to him that I dedicate my work on this production.

Tom Scholte
Assistant Professor
UBC Department of Theatre and Film

Note: MK Woyzeck runs in the Frederic Wood Theatre at 7:30 nightly until Saturday October 10th. Call 604.822.2678 for tickets.

Report from Northern Voice: a bloggers confession

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Forgive me interwebz for I have sinned.

It’s been six months since my last blog post.

Ironically Ian’s last post was to crow about our attendance at Northern Voice 2009 a personal blogging and social media conference. The conference was tremendously inspiring around the topic of social media.

Teh Funny

Rob Cottingham at Northern Voice: Teh Funny

It was exciting to understand more fully what the social media accounts we’d established on [find us here] Facebook, YouTubeTwitter and Flickr could do for theatre artists. Not just in terms of self promotion but also for gathering ideas from and forming relationships with people around the globe.

Where is the Art in Social Media

Darren Barefoot at Northern Voice: Where is the Art in Social Media

But blogging?
Not so much on the inspiration front.

In a workshop entitled Help! I’m Sick and Tired of Blogs! it was pointed out that blogger burnout is epidemic. Bonus I thought, once again I’ve proven to be ahead of the curve – I only just started blogging and I’m fed up with it already. Wired Magazine suggests that blogs are dead and that some of the medium’s strongest voices are starting to go quiet.

Well never mind, I’m back at it in preparation for the new school year and hope to find some guest bloggers to jump into the flames with me to blog about our theatre season. One of my other dependable traits is to fly in face of conventional wisdom, a perpetual underdog. Blogging is dead? Long live the Blog! I’m determined to rise above my publicist’s catch phrase mentality and 140 character expertise. Wish me luck?

Here’s a presentation at Northern Voice that I should have gone to. It provides some great pointers on the nuts and bolts of bringing your blog to life: Bring Your Blog to Life from Bruce Sharpe

See more photos of our weekend on Flickr.

Are MFA Programs Worth It?

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Recent PuSh Festival performer and monologist Mike Daisy continues a lively discussion of the value of MFA programs in theatre. He questions the choice that large institutions make to charge tuitions that are far out of alignment with what sort of income graduates can expect after their training. His focus seems to be MFA Acting programs (Theatre at UBC only offers MFAs in Directing and Design for the Theatre) and tuition at American colleges and universities far outstrips Canadian costs, but the various posts and replies from those who disagree with Mr. Daisey make for interesting reading, especially in the context of a recently released report on the dire situation of incomes for artists in Canada.

The Heart of a Theatre

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Over at The Guardian’s Theatre blog, actor and writer Molly Flatt posts a short piece on British theatres and their accompanying bars:

The bar has always been at the heart of a theatre. Not so long ago, it was most likely to be a humble, unlovely little corner where you would anaesthetise the pain of the third act with a watery ale, or hang around in the hope of getting a sweaty handshake from a track-suited off-duty thesp. It may have been a functional, haphazardly stocked meeting place, but the company was lively, local and usually worth a hangover.

Our own unlovely little corner of the Frederic Wood remains dry most of the time (liquor-licensing on campus is not for the faint of heart!) but it definitely makes intermissions and after-show discussion a little warmer if there is a glass of wine to be had. What do you like to see in a bar at a theatre? Let us know in the comments what your favourite theatre bar is either in Vancouver or beyond.

Patrons attending our current production of Medea (opening tonight at the Telus Studio Theatre in the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts!) will be able to enjoy a well-stocked bar as the Chan Centre runs their libation-dispensing operation year round. So come to the Chan and enjoy a drink before the show.See you there and cheers!

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