Monday, May 31, 2010

let me tell you about this FRINGE thing

Okay, so my blog is a little late. So freakin' kill me. I've just been working my butt off scoring and animating this little project. It's a teaser for my play Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island being presented by us folks here at Endstation for the 2010 Fringe Festival. Check it out.

I guess we've done some talking about this FRINGE thing, but haven't really explained it all that much. Here's the long and short of it.

I'm Joshua Mikel, co-director of the Playwright's Intensive here at Endstation. That's an official title that doesn't really carry a lot of duty until the intensive actually rolls around, and even then it doesn't mean much to me, because simply enough it means I do what I want to do: that's right, I write.

More or less calling myself the co-director of blah blah blah is just a way to make sure Geoff, Krista and the rest of the Endstation higher ups keep me around from summer to summer so I can come hang out up here at perhaps one of the world's most awesome places to be with perhaps the world's most awesome people to be with. Granted I've never been to any tropical islands or hung out with Bill Nye or Jack Nicholson.

So I wrote this play, Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island last summer for the first annual Endstation summer playwriting intensive (which initially was basically a fancy excuse for getting more of my friends to come hang out at this awesome place with me until Michael Stablein in all his Type A glory really lit a fire under our hineys and turned it into something real special). We had a reading of said play up here, and if I do say so myself, it went really well. So well in fact that a few weeks later I shipped it off to Playscripts publishing and then it got published. Yes, it wasn't that easy.

In the meantime I started talking to some friends of mine about submitting my play to Fringe NYC. For those of you not familiar with Fringe Festivals, they're basically where a lot of awesome new and edgy (whatever that means) theatre gets done in a short amount of time by a bunch of weirdos and folks who don't ever shave or shower. Think Woodstock but with
more drugs and rock and roll.

That's not exactly true. Anyhoo. I asked Michael for his help in submitting my play, and lo and behold we got accepted. I reached out to a few friends and assembled a veritable all star team of folks to help us make it happen.

So we got Mr. Michael Stablein Jr. producing this thing. I was mentioning to someone the other day that I'm so happy to have him on board. He is so on top of things he flies, you know what I mean?

We got Mr. Chad Larabee in the director's seat; an FSU alum from the MFA directing program (like Endstation Artistic Director, Geoff K.) with whom I worked with on The Spin Cycle Trilogy, his first directing project at Florida State. I was an even worse actor then. He was an even worse dresser then.

We got Miss Krista Franco. An MFA design/ tech alum from FSU. She designed my first ever production, Quentin G- and I was lucky enough to have her for some class at FSU that I paid too much out of state tuition for. She also did the design for my play My Brother's Knife here last summer. Also she's an excellent roommate. ALSO she makes a mean Eggplant Parm.

We got Dan Gallagher. I met him three or four years ago when he was doing lights for the first Endstation summer production here at Sweetbriar, The Tell Tale Heart and the Mind of Poe. I was also lucky enough to have him work his magic for My Brother's Knife. He is the perfect kind of dude to have on a team. Completely pro and the nicest dude ever.

We got Mr. Andrew Becker- technical director extraordinaire fresh out of his MFA program at Yale, yeah that's right Yale. And as if that wasn't enough, he's affianced to Miss Franco. Good life decisions are obviously his strong suit. Drew is the one on the left. I think.

We got miss Sally Southall doing the costumes. I'm sure glad she is, because I don't know anything about that stuff. She's the nicest lady around, worked on My Brother's Knife, and she kind of reminds me of my mother. That's a good thing.

We got Mr. Bryce Page doing sound design. He also worked on My Brother's Knife last summer and has worked on a few projects I've been in. He's an all around BAD MOTHER F'er, and if you ever need to know how to totally slim down and look like a total stud, ask that guy. Also, apparently, he likes motorcycles?

We got Miss Kathleen Connor stage managing this bad boy. I also worked on a bunch of stuff with her in my years at FSU. She is ultimately and undeniably the best SM I've worked with, and a nice lady to boot. She makes the... uh... tough calls.

And then of course we have Geoff, Ash, and Maria doing some big time helping with all their Endstation resources, moral support, and what have you. I mean, If putting together an awesome creative team were a competition, we'd of won it, and then we'd be spending the money on penny slots and all you can eat buffets, you know what I mean?

That's not the half of it though. We have a lot of work to do. You yourself, yes YOU can help us out. Join our facebook page here:

There you'll be able to learn more about the production, and in the page's info you'll find a link to help us by donating through the Endstation donation page. I mean, who wouldn't want to give us lots of money?!

That's all for now. I hope you enjoyed this post. I sure had a heck of a time writing it.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Quick Recap

Below is some footage of the Alice In Wonderland cast tackling character work in early rehearsals. Susan also shares her thoughts on the show and explains what she has been up to this past week.


Company Manager

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Teaching With Alice

This week I’ve had the fortune of participating in Educational Outreach Workshops, promoting our production of Alice In Wonderland, along with Angie Gallagher (Education and Development Director) and Josh Mikel (Playwright's Initiative Co-Director).

Our days consist of roughly 6 one hour sessions in which we lead 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders through various activities related to Alice in Wonderland. Angie starts us off by telling the story of Alice in Wonderland (or at least the version we’ve selected to produce), encouraging the group to participate and share their ideas as well. I then lead them in a freeze frame exercise, in which we divide them up into groups to recreate parts of the story in tableau form. This is followed by Josh, who leads our gang of exuberant tykes through a coloring exercise. We then send them on their merry ways, along with a free ticket to come see the show in July (the announcement of this is usually followed by “Gasps” and “Eeks” of all shapes and sizes).

It’s amazing to see the excitement generated by these bright, young minds. Just when I think I’ve seen and heard it all, another group comes in to surprise us with their creativity. As the director of Alice, I am forever grateful to have the opportunity to step outside of the rehearsal room and have a one on one interaction with our potential audience. Aside from sharing the importance of making the most of your creativity, I view these workshops as a chance to custom fit our show to our audience. I can bring the ideas I’ve gotten from our workshops back into rehearsals and production meetings to insure that we are putting up a show suited for such a deserving audience.

The activity sheet Josh created for our workshops.

I’d be lying if I said Josh, Angie and I weren’t completely exhausted by the end of our days. There’s a level of intensity to the energy children exude that can be tough to match as an adult. While our brains may be zonked as we pack up the crayons and pick up stray pieces of paper, a huge Cheshire Grin stretches across my face. I am not s school teacher by any means (and if you are one - more power to you, cause it ain’t easy), but I can’t help but feel a little sentimental when I think that through sharing my greatest passion, I have possibly encouraged the growth of several young artists!

Want to support the growth of young artists too? Click here to donate to the Educational Outreach Program.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Something Refreshing

I had no idea what to expect when I got off the plane at Lynchburg. I decided to keep an open mind considering my previous experiences in the theatre have been so unpredictable. The town seemed nice enough, however, it was hard to see anything past the rain. During a dry patch in the weather I was fortunate enough to get a quick tour of the campus. The campus was like a dream. It felt like I got dropped off in a Jane Austin novel. Right away I was impressed by the kindness of the Endstation staff. Everyone was so welcoming and they made sure I was comfortable and settled in. By the end of my first day I felt extremely blessed to have this opportunity to do what I love in such a beautiful place with such wonderful people.

This is my first stage management gig outside of school. I’ve never actually SMed or ASMed any productions that would be considered “normal” or “traditional”, so I knew this production of Hamlet was going to be right up my alley. I absolutely love working in an environment where I constantly need to adapt or adjust and this production thus far has given me more than enough opportunities to do so. One of the things I appreciate most about this theatre company is that everyone seems to have a generally laid back and optimistic way of going about their jobs. It is this attitude which allows me to do my job to the best of my ability. I have never once worked with a group of people like Endstation who have been so on top of their games and I can’t imagine a better place for me to start developing my professional career outside of school.

It almost feels like a dream. People are trusting me now to be the responsible leader. I’m an adult now and I’m starting to feel like people are seeing me as one. I could get used to this. Before, I have always kind of been the shy one who always wanted to stay under the radar, but these people here make me want to talk. There are so many stories to hear. Everyone is like a fascinating book waiting to be read. It just amazes me that all these people who have traveled to so many different places ended up here with me for this period of time. I love it. We’re all here for such a small amount of time and some of us may never see each other again, but I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had or will have with these people for anything in the world. I believe I am a better person because I ended up here and for being given this opportunity, I will always be grateful. I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here is going to be like.

Christiana Cabrera
Festival Intern (Stage Management)

Cleaning out the barn!

So, on Wednesday a group of us headed out to the barn for a major clean up. We had to prepare the barn for the actors so that we can safely hold rehearsals at the space starting next week. There was a lot of "stuff" in and around the barn. This old barn has become a bit of a dumping ground for random things on campus.

Above is the pile of debris we cleared from the barn. The barn had everything from random hoses to poison ivy. We also picked up broken glass, bricks, and object that we could not even identify. We also lugged large pieces of wood and piping from the area.

These concrete pillars that we found are going to come in handy for HAMLET. We are going to use these for the graveyard in the space.

Our production intern Ryan did incredible work on the above space. This will serve as a "backstage" space for the show.

We also had to clear out the "booth." Above is a small shed across from the barn where we will house the light board.

We also got the door above opened! Yay! Another entrance. This was blocked by a metal shelving unit. This might be where Polonius will hide when he is shot by Hamlet.

We cleared out the above path. Actors will travel through here to get to entrances and exits.

This little cove was FILLED with random junk. We are now using it to store our insecticide and tarps. We will also store a lawn mower here for our playing area maintenance.

Next up: We clean up and prepare the audience area!

Geoffrey Kershner
Artistic Director

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Little Fun......

New Manuscript May Change Our Understanding of Hamlet

London Times 4/28/10

The discovery of a manuscript may shed new light on how we should understand William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. The manuscript, discovered in Stratford late last year, is a handwritten copy of the play and is believed to be dated earlier than the First Quarto, the first published version. Most scholars date the First Quarto, an undisputedly inferior copy of Hamlet, to 1603. “It is believed that Shakespeare wrote Hamlet somewhere between 1599 and 1601. If genuine, this manuscript would come from that period,” claims Arthur Pennington, Professor of British Literature, Elmswood College at Cambridge University. Pennington is a world-renowned Shakespearean scholar and author of A Scholar’s Shakespeare.

“It’s an extraordinary find,” says Pennington, “It totally revises the plot and theme of the play. In this earlier and possibly more authoritative text, the focus is not on Hamlet at all, it is on Polonius, the Lord Chamberlain.” Even the title of the play, found on the first page of the manuscript, refers to it as “The Most Noble Tragedie of Polonius, Lord Chamberlain of Denmark.” In the well-known traditional version of Hamlet, Polonius is a secondary character whose daughter Ophelia is enamored with Hamlet. Polonius is convinced that Ophelia’s rebuffing of Hamlet’s affections is what drives the prince mad. He is killed when Hamlet stabs him while spying on a conversation between Hamlet and his mother in her bedchamber.

“Yes, all that is there,” says Pennington, “but in this manuscript, the play ends with the death of Polonius. It seems he is the main character.” Pennington speculates that Shakespeare really wanted to focus on the theme that foolish fathers need to mind their own business or face serious consequences. “We see this theme of the foolish father throughout the canon of Shakespeare’s plays. Note the questionable parenting skills of Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, Leontes in A Winter’s Tale, and Titus in Titus Andronicus. They were terrible fathers who suffered the consequence of bad parenting skills. This is a common theme in Shakespeare’s plays.”

“There may be something to this” concludes Dr. Samuel Jenkins, author of The Psychology of Shakespeare. “It is believed that Shakespeare had a tenuous relationship with his own father. In one of the more obscure letters believed to be written by Shakespeare he berates his father for favoring his brother Herbert, leaving him the best furnishings in the house. William apparently only got the second best bed which we all know was left to his wife Anne upon his death.”

Other scholars are not convinced of the authenticity of the manuscript. “Poppycock!” exclaims Richard Proudfoot, general editor of The Arden Shakespeare, “There is nothing ‘noble’ about this piece of (doo-doo). Hamlet is a classic and possibly the greatest example of dramatic literature in the history of the western world. I refuse to believe that a minor character like Polonius is now the center of this masterpiece simply because it ends with his death. How do you explain the quartos and folios that contain the complete text?”

Pennington has a theory about that. “I believe Richard Burbage, who was to portray Hamlet, became furious when he read this early draft of the play, so shortly after Shakespeare’s death in 1616 he wrote an expanded version that focused on Hamlet instead of Polonius. However, we may never know.”

Pennington hopes to produce this new version of an old story this summer in America, stating, “Americans are always open to newer and shorter versions of Shakespeare’s plays.”.......
author: Mark Foreman

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Round and Round We Go......

It seems like just yesterday I was walking around campus, anticipating everyone's arrival here in Virginia. Or getting excited thinking of all the actors, interns, designers, and other production folks that would soon gather and begin rehearsals. The office was a bit lonely, the theater quiet, the green room still, the parking lot empty. However in a blink of an eye everyone has arrived by trains, planes, and automobiles (literally), and the hustle and bustle that is the festival has officially begun. People going this way, people going that way, meetings, meetings, e-mails upon e-mails and so on and so on......IT.... is all amazing! The energy and excitement that is in the air is electrifying. Everyone is bursting with ideas and was ready to get started.

The Complete Wrks cast are still going strong as they performed a little of the show for the board of directors recent meeting and got ready this past weekend to head into some local high school this week to perform for the students.

They are troopers for sure as all three of the gentlemen that are in Complete Wrks also have roles in Hamlet, which began rehearsals this past Sunday. They will continue to rehearse both shows as they finish up the high school performances and prepare for the run at Renaissance Theatre in downtown Lynchburg. They are handling it very well, although sometimes they may feel like this over the next few weeks.

So we now officially have three shows that are up and running either in rehearsals or actually beginning performances. I am sure I can speak for all the casts when I say that everyone is having a lot of fun doing what they love and beginning to explore all the new roles that they are taking on.

This week the Hamlet cast has been with Geoff up in the studio theater plugging away at table work and beginning to get the show on its feet, while the Alice cast has been down in the rehearsal room with Susan tackling character work.

Since I am playing a role in Alice in Wonderland, I have been in rehearsal with the rest of the cast this week. Susan has had us doing some really neat exercises to get us thinking and feeling like our characters. At one point we used all of the objects in the picture below.

One thing is for sure, even in the few days that we have all worked together, you can already feel the cast coming together and beginning to gel. Everyone is so supportive of each other and the creative juices have been flowing!!

There has definitely been a lot of belly laughing going on this week in our rehearsals as we continue to bring out and develop these characters that live in Wonderland. All of us are stoked to think about the little ones that will be coming to see the show. The idea that we get to take the audience on a journey to this magical place where they can forget about the outside world and let their imaginations run wild for even a short time is really, really cool.

I am so excited at things that are to come from all three shows as we continue to move forward in the coming weeks. I hope all you faithful readers will continue checking back day after day and enjoy the journey through different sets of eyes.

Even as I sit here in a quiet room, I lean my head back, sigh a bit and a little smile dances across my face as I think about what a truly unique and special time we have going on here. I hope you are able to catch some of the magic too.......

Till next time~

Company Manager

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

By George, I think he's got it.

Meet George Carruth. A native of Camden, South Carolina and a recent graduate of the College of Charleston, George is the acting intern for Endstation this summer. Since his arrival to Sweet Briar on Saturday, George has been absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival, and we are thrilled to have him join the family. I asked George a few questions about himself and about how he came to be a part of Endstation:

How did you hear about Endstation?
I heard about Endstation Theatre Company through Geoffrey Kershner at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. I was competing and Geoff was an adjudicator in one of my auditions. We started a dialogue throughout the competition, and we got in contact afterward.

What was your first impression of Endstation?
A tight-knit group of people who had known each other for a number of years, and a fun group of close friends. But then upon spending just a few days here I found that they're still fun and they're still a tight-knit group, but they are very welcoming. Later, upon sitting in readings and attending a show, I found that they are a very talented group of people. So: fun, talented, and welcoming. Good, a good impression.

What are you looking forward to most about working with Endstation this summer?
I am looking forward to learning from my peers and coworkers, and expanding and stretching as a performer in general.

What's your favorite part so far?
It's still really early, and I don't think I've found a favorite part yet. But I'm happy about that.

What roles are you playing?
In Hamlet, I am playing the Ghost and the Player. In Alice in Wonderland I am playing the March Hare.

Describe yourself in three words.
Excited, excited, and eager.

Over the past few days of getting to know George, his excitement and eagerness have definitely been apparent, and contagious. He's really a grade-A guy, with a lot of energy, talent, and as Shakespeare would say, chutzpah. I can't wait to work with him and to get to know him throughout the summer!

Derek Arey

Monday, May 24, 2010

1st Hamlet Rehearsal!

Here's some footage from the first rehearsal of Hamlet, Sunday, May 23, 2010. Director Geoff Kershner shares a few thoughts about his artistic vision for the show.

Hope you enjoy!

Walter Kmiec

Sunday, May 23, 2010

How I got into theatre...

This week the Complete Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) will go into area schools to perform. Listen to some of the cast talk about how they got into theatre at an early age.

Give to Endstation's education campaign today! Help us create some of the first theatrical experiences for Central Virginia students!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oh the Places You Will Go

“Oh! The Places You’ll Go”

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

by the incomparable Dr. Seuss

No, Endstation is not doing Dr. Seuss (at least not this summer) although we are blazing trails into exciting places, that’s certain. So, it occurred to me, as I was departing Richmond, Virginia at 7:30 am to venture to Roanoke, Virginia (three hours away) to venture into the unexplored, vast unknown for costumes, that we were all going to Great Places in preparing for the Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival 2010! So, this blog is not only about where I have been in preparing for costumes for this festival, but where we are all going, starting Sunday, May 23 when the Festival officially kicks off with directors, actors, directors, and interns in the exciting creative process of summer theatre with Endstation Theatre Company.

A short, but related segue --- collaboration is, for me, is a mainstay of theatre. I thrive on sharing with, creating with, working with others who have incredible ideas and vision for a production, and I love it when the circuits are overloaded (creatively, not realistically). So, as I have been messaging and talking with actors, directors, designers for The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Alice in Wonderland, and Hamlet, the energy and excitement have been palpable! It is the joining, the convergence of all of these ideas that will create some incredible productions, and I feel fortunate to be an integral part of this incredible process.

“And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.”

So, collaboration plays into costumes as well. We are fortunate in Lynchburg to have a theatre community that lives into collaboration. For example, for these three productions, costumes will be used from Lynchburg College, Renaissance Theatre Company, Sweet Briar College, Mill Mountain Theatre, the Academy of Fine Arts, Carolina Connection, and other businesses and individuals who contribute because they want to offer support to Endstation Theatre Company.

“You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”

“And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.”

Ginger Poole at Mill Mountain Theatre

The value of these contributions is tremendous, and Krista Franco with set design and Dan Gallagher on lighting design will tell you the same. The cooperation from Sweet Briar College Theatre, thanks to Bill Kershner and Cheryl Warnock and the administration is an incredible element. Terry Jachimiack from Lynchburg College is on board this year as technical director, so that is yet another collaborative piece to the puzzle, and Ken Parks, at Randolph College, handles the online ticket sales. And, this is only a small portion of the efforts – from advertising, to fundraising, to board direction…Endstation Theatre Company is a thriving and collaborative organization.

“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”

And so, the Festival begins! Not only are there places we will go, but we are welcoming people who are coming from so many different places, converging for the Festival: from Virginia - Lynchburg, Richmond, Staunton; West Virginia, Illinois, Connecticut, Florida, Pennsylvania, the United Kingdom, just to name a few. And, lest we forget, there are heart-locked Endstation members who are in other places, but always with us here, in spirit!

“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”

Destination: Sweet Briar College

Endstation: the places we will go! Come along!

Next up: The Secret Life of Clothes

Sally Parrish Southall
Endstation Costumer