Sunday, June 15, 2008

Entering Week 4: Thoughts from the Artistic Director

To be honest, I can't believe how much time has already past. We are now heading into Week 4 of our Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival. This has been an exciting and energizing experience. We have a fantastic group of people working with us and Sweet Briar has been an outstanding host. As we move forward I am excited to see what continued discoveries we make.

R and J has had the majority of its rehearsals outside now and I have enjoyed strolling over to Benedict after my rehearsals to watch their rehearsals. When evening settles the building is just beautiful. Once the heat wave ended (or perhaps the reality of our weather for years to come) and the evenings cooled, sitting out side and watching rehearsals is a joy. My father has been dealing with the challenges of staging the show on such a wide space. I have enjoyed my after rehearsal discussions with my father as we brainstorm about how to utilize the space while making it an optimal experience for the audience.

I also had the opportunity in the last two weeks to stage the fights for Romeo and Juliet. I have had the assistance of Michael Stablein (Romeo) who is a certified actor combatant. The cast has done a great job. Below is a portion of the brawl. This is Tyblalt and Benvolio. What has been important to me with these fights is to treat the women as women and the men as men as it applies to the violence with in these fight sequences. This has been interesting with a female Benvolio and a female Gregory and Abram. The fights involve parasols and I have had to have fun creating a fight between Tybalt and Benvolio that makes sense with in the circumstances of their sexes and the circumstances of 1901. I love artistic obstructions like this.

Below is a portion of rehearsal from The Bluest Water. Here Casey Carden (Playing Emory) talks about dealing with tragedy. Casey has been a joy to work with. I love this scene that Jason has written. Casey and Ken Parks (Playing Jared) have done some really fine work in this scene.

We have also been working very hard to create a movement and staging vocabulary with the "Nelson Ensemble." This is a creation of Hemo's (Jason Chimonides) to bring a voice to the Nelson community and their first hand experience of the storm. This portion of blocking rehearsal is the Nelson Ensemble at the top of the show. It is hard to tell exactly what you are watching because we are in a rehearsal room, roughing it out, but it still gives a sense of the dialogue and their presence.

Dan our lighting designer arrives this week and I am very excited to begin work with him. Dan is easily the best lighting designer I have ever worked with and he also happens to be from Amherst. Dan and I grew up together and both graduated from Amherst County High School. This week Krista and JD will also begin their process of moving "junk"into the theatre. This "junk" will be implemented into the set as deluge and destruction from the storm. We will begin to see the set take shape this week.

We continue to move forward and I get more and more excited with every day. We are also getting wonderful coverage from the local media. Casey Gillis is doing a feature on the festival for the News and Advance and The Burg, we are making an appearance on "Studio Virginia" on WVTF (Local NPR station), and two appearances on "Living in the Heart of Virginia" a program on WSET (Local ABC Station). You can also read a story about the festival featured on the Sweet Briar College Website:

Less than a month away!

Geoffrey Kershner
Endstation Blogger and Artistic Director

No comments: