Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"It's Chic to Reek"...another year of Stinkin' fun!

It was a beautiful morning early Saturday October 9th. I loaded my car with the final items we would need that weekend, then a quick "see ya" to Luke and Eleanor Rigby (our cat) and I was off to Amherst.

It was a gorgeous quiet drive as the air was crisp and the leaves were continuing to reveal their autumn wardrobes leaf by colorful leaf. The sun was shining and spreading it's rays across a sleepy town as folks were beginning to get up and move about. I was headed out to the 20th annual Wine and Garlic Festival hosted by Rebec Vineyards, you can read more about this year's festival here. Richard Hanson and the folks over at Rebec have graciously allowed Endstation to set up a booth since 2006 and we were prepping to set up camp for a 5th year.

I drove up 29N to the familiar U-Turn spot and headed to the gravel road entrance into the vineyard. I pulled up with vendor pass in hand and greeted Chuck who smiled as he recognized the Endstation shirt. I was able to pull right up to our booth and started unloading the supplies and wares we were going to be selling that day. I moved my car to the vendor spot, walked back to our booth and begin busying myself with set up. Just a few minutes had passed and I heard the very familiar "Hey Maria" from the Artistic Director himself, Geoffrey Kershner followed closely behind by his lovely and beautiful fiancee Ashley Zach, Endstation's resident Marketing Director and Box Office Manager. They had driven up from Florida the evening before and it was great to see them.

It was Ash's first time at the festival and it was fun to watch her discover all the amazing things various vendors had to offer (specifically very reasonably priced shallots and goat cheese!) We quickly finished the rest of the set-up and waited for the patrons to begin arriving. We had brochures to hand out about the 2011 Season, posters reflecting the 2010 season, wine holders and tee-shirts for sale, and an awesome wine/picnic basket raffle (or "raffly" as Jeff Price called it when convincing patrons to participate).

Geoff had recruited several folks to come over and help run the booth throughout the day, so as the morning and afternoon progressed we got to enjoy the company of good friends while simultaneously promoting Endstation to the Garlic Festival attendees. At one point we got dubbed the "party tent" since our booth was a happening spot for both friends of Endstation and folks who were hearing about us for the first time.

Of course there was one lovely lady that we definitely missed. The now "Mrs." Krista Franco (Co-Founder and Resident Scenic Designer) has not missed a Garlic Festival since Endstation first set up a booth. Here she is with our friend Victor at the 2009 Garlic Festival.

However we made sure to eat plenty of Garlic popcorn in her honor! MISSED YOU KRISTA!!

It was a fun Saturday for sure! At the end of the day we packed up, covered our area with a tarp to protect it from the overnight dew and went on with our evening activities. Sunday morning was just as beautiful and crisp as the day before. I made a quick stop at the Endstation office and was on my way to the Festival for Day 2. I drove in, greeted Chuck, parked my car and headed to our booth. I set up the area with all of our stuff and settled in to wait for patrons. Sunday mornings are usually pretty quiet around the festival with things picking up sometime around noonish. My Garlic Festival Sunday AM tradition has always been to grab a smoothie from one of the amazing vendors across the way. This time I added a fresh made pretzel braid to the mix and I was all set.

Two of our new board members stopped by the booth and we chatted for a while and they let me know how excited they were about Endstation and how much they were looking forward to the Fall Board meeting that afternoon. It is always nice to hear encouraging words about the company and see folks that are enthusiastic and in full support!

The morning carried on and I met all sorts of people from all over the country who were either visiting friends/family or had come in for the festival specifically. Since I was going to have to scoot out and back over to SBC, Luke showed up right around 12:30 to take over. He was just in time too as there were some dear friends who happened to be visiting the booth at that time.

I gave him the run-down of everything he needed to know, strapped on my backpack and made a bee-line for my car. I saw JD on the way out and pointed him in the right direction as he was going to be covering the booth for the afternoon as well.

We had an excellent board meeting with the Endstation board that afternoon, and looking ahead toward 2011 and beyond is an exciting thought.

We ended the meeting just in time, and I packed up and got ready to head back to the vineyard to tear down the booth. Luke called me while I was on my way and let me know that he and JD and taken care of "strike" already and had everything packed and ready to go. What gems! I got back on site and between the three of us carried everything back out to my car. We paused a minute to pick the winner of the raffle. As you can see JD made sure not to peak so there was no cheating!

Luke headed to his car and I drove JD back to his, we said so long and went our separate ways. I headed out of the vineyard and back down 29 toward home. The sun was hanging low in the sky and I smiled thinking back over the weekend. It was a great time over all between spreading the word about Endstation, friends old and new, the great food, excellent wine, and fantastic weather.

We have big plans for the coming months as we head into another planning season. You won't want to miss a minute as the journey continues and unfolds, so make sure to keep checking back for updates!

Till next time~

Maria Hayden
Company Manager

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We came! We saw! We conquered! (A Good Good Trouble in NYC Recap pt. 1)

All right, so a lot of you gave us your love and support, and well, we put up a production in New York City that you probably didn't get a chance to see.

That's a big wonderful step for us here at Endstation Theatre. No, not putting up shows you don't get to see, but presenting our stuff in a forum like the New York International Fringe Festival. And I got to tell you, it was a real fun time. But even more so, it was an amazing opportunity, and we'd like to thank you for holding our hand (via well wishing, monetary support, or simple good vibes) through the process.

Now, I, Joshua Mikel, Endstation Theatre resident playwright and Michael Stablein, our producer and head of the playwright's initiative, would like to recount the last few months in a (relatively) short blog to give you guys an idea of what we were doing with all your love, support, and... money.

I'll start at the end of the 2010 BRSTF (That's Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival for all you nubes). By this point Good Good Trouble on Bad Bad Island was well into its preproduction phase. We were having regular video conference meetings or phone calls between Chad (the director) and Bryce (the sound designer) in NYC, and Krista (the set designer), Sally (the costume designer), Dan (the lighting designer), and Michael (the producer) all still in Amherst, VA. There we started working out a number design concepts for the show, started pounding out the logistics of traveling a show, casting the thing, and handling a number of other (sometimes) unexpected issues.
Michael posted the auditions on a number of NYC acting websites and within a couple of days we had 300+ people submit to audition for the show. We obviously couldn't see all of them, so Michael and Chad sifted through the submissions and booked a jam packed 5 hours of auditions seeing about twenty people an hour, followed by a jam packed 3 hours of call backs. Soon after we had ourselves a cast. (A special thanks goes out to Lindsay Arella White and David Kimple for assisting Chad in those audition sessions.)

Our intended stage manager, Kathleen (bless that poor gal) had to back out of the show because of some health issues (she's fine now!), so for a moment we were kind of freaking out because we couldn't find anyone in NYC. Then suddenly it dawned upon us: why not ask sweet wonderful Jessica Boatright? She has, after all, been the stage management intern all summer long during the BRSTF. There was only one problem! She's British. Okay, so we weren't going to hold that against her (<---Dad joke, I know), but her student visa was coming to an end. Long story short, she pulled a lot of strings (including but not limited to: extending her visa, smiting her parents, and rearranging flights) and after a few nervous days we had ourselves a stage manager!
(Jess with cast member Jason Michael Miller.)

Now at that point, I went home for two weeks to hang out with my family and settle into a new apartment in Atlanta, but things carried on. I am after all, just the playwright... right?

Michael rolled over to hang with his parents in NC for a bit, then took a flight to NYC to meet the cast and sit in on some early rehearsals. From there he rented a U-Haul, drove it over to New Haven, CT where Krista and Drew had completed the set. There he spent the night with the lovely Francos (Krista's parents), and the next morning loaded the set into the back of the U-Haul and drove it BACK to NYC for rehearsals. What a freakin' champ. And as we found out later, driving a U-Haul van around New York City ain't easy.

S0, backtracking a little, following auditions Michael had the seemingly impossible task of booking a rehearsal space in the city (from Amherst, VA). After a ton of calls (it feels like a bit of a conceit to wrap this up so quickly because he spent literally two or three weeks stressing over nailing down a rehearsal space that would let us store our set at their studio between our booked rehearsals) he finally found one a few blocks from Times Square... and rehearsals began.
(A look at the rehearsals.)

I should say this was an ultra abridged rehearsal process. Following auditions and casting, there was about two weeks time before rehearsals began, and then we went right into a 10 afternoon rehearsal period. That's right, we only had 10- TEN- 10 rehearsals before our opening night to get comfortable with lines and blocking and whatever other issues might arise, and believe me, issues arose. The reason for such a short process? Rehearsal spots in the city ain't cheap.

So around the 6th day of rehearsals I finally arrived in the city. I came straight from LGA (LaGuardia) to the rehearsal space... which was... well... tiny. About the size of a... well... U-Haul truck... or a one car garage... or... it was small... and hot. I met the cast. They were awesome. You'll meet them later. Dan, Chad, Jess, Michael and I all went to Ruby Tuesday in Times Square afterward. The service was terrible.

So, I want to take this moment to say how amazing Michael and his sweet and wonderful roommate Lindsay (who just so happened to be playing CHOMPS in the show) are. They let me sleep on their floor in their spacious for two- not so prefect for 2+ apartment my entire three week stay in NYC. It saved me so much money and trouble and trouble and trouble, and undoubtedly inconvenienced them a great deal. So to those guys, I want everyone to know, I am indebted.
(Linda White sleeping next to me on an air mattress. She's going to kill me for this.)

I even had some awesome roomies during my stay. Michael's cousin Buzz was sharing the living room floor space with me as well (which for some reason was always so fun for me to tell anyone over the phone- "Yeah, well Buzz is asleep right now, so I can't talk." Or "I hope my shoes aren't too stinky for Buzz."). And for a few days, I had the pleasure of rooming with Miss Linda White (Lindsay's mother).

For all you folks that might not know what "tech" is- it's when the technicians run through the show with the actors to work out any kinks they might have in the lighting, set, costumes, and sound design before we put the show up in front of an audience. Although Fringe tech was different. Something that would normally take two full days had to be crammed into a four hour window.

Okay so we knew our tech was going to be a pain because our rehearsal space was separate from our performance space. That meant we had to travel the set (rent another U-Haul) to move the set from the rehearsal space to the performance space to complete our tech. Following me? As if that wasn't bad enough, we still had two rehearsals planned following our tech SO we would have to travel the set back TO the rehearsal space following the tech AND THEN travel the set back over to the theater after our rehearsals were completed before our first show. WHAT A FRICKIN' PAIN!

That being said, our tech went off without a hitch. We met our venue coordinator- the amazing Yi-Chen Lai. The costumes arrived a few hours before from Sally in Amherst- we had lots of choices which was real nice! Bryce and Dan were present at the tech along with our assistant stage hands- Lynchburg native Sarah Hoffman (who came in big for us later. I'll let Michael explain.) FSU Alum and NYC transplant Chantel King, and the lovely miss Sarah Shutt.

(L to R: Chantel King, Sarah Shutt, Sarah Hoffman)

Okay, so it's no secret: Driving in NYC sucks. Driving a large vehicle sucks worse. What's even worse? People who don't park within the lines on the side of the street are complete idiots, but are, apparently not at fault when their rear view mirror (go figure?) gets run into. Well, you can see what I'm getting at. During one of these trips between the rehearsal space to the theatre and back, we hit a mirror... on accident. To be fair, the dude was WAY OVER THE FREAKING LINE!
(That ain't perspective. That jerk was straight up over.)

Luckily, U-Haul has renter's insurance that covers episodes in New York transit like ours, and thanks to a very special and wonderful U-Haul employee, we came out from the whole ordeal smelling like a rose and not having to pay a cent to anyone.

Okay, so that takes us up to our opening night. I'm pretty sure I got most everything in there... right Michael?

Oh, and for you folks who donated through Kickstarter and were promised a spot in the program, but couldn't make it to the show, here's a jpeg of the program so you can see we made good on our promise. (Now for those of you waiting on artwork, you'll have an e-mail from me later today to snag your address!)

Anyhoo, thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for Michael's update.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Rebecca Grawl writes about Artistic Director Geoffrey Kershner. Check it out HERE.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


The winners of the Hamlet raffle have been chosen!

Yorick's skull (a fabulous Halloween decoration)
Robert Schultz

2011 Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival Subscription (priceless)
Denise Thomas

Congratulations to the victors, and thank you to all those who participated.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Goodbye BRSTF 2010

Every year I think that saying goodbye will get easier. I actually think it gets harder. This was truly the best theatrical experience of my life.

I sat out in the audience during Walter's "all occasions" soliloquy tonight, listened to Virgineola, saw the lights Dan has worked so hard on, saw the costumes Sally has slaved over, and viewed this incredible setting and I welled up. As a director you operate like a chef. You put together ingredients. You hope that foresight and vision will lead you to the right mixture. It doesn't always work. Sometimes things can be a bit off or a bit amiss. This was not the case here. In that moment I looked around and thought, "It worked. It really worked." I don't feel arrogant or pompous saying this because I feel like I simply put a group of people together in a space and they made it happen. I just picked the right ingredients.

Bravo to Alice and Complete Wrks too. This season was so exciting for audiences and covered the broadest spectrum yet. I love you all. I can't express how much this summer meant to me on a personal and professional level.

More soon. 2011 here we come.

Geoffrey Kershner
Artistic Director

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Heading to Fringe!

Wow, so my apologies first off for FORGETTING to blog ON TIME! It was over 100 degrees here in VA today so I will blame my temporary lack of responsibility solely on the fact that I might be dehydrated. Thanks readers for understanding.

We are a day away from the end of the Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival 2010 and I am having a really hard time believing/handling it. Spending the summer at Sweet Briar with my second family, Endstation, is something I look forward to and funny enough I feel the same way right now as I did moments before I got in the car to travel down here in May. "What's that?" you ask... scattered. Packing, finishing up projects, saying goodbye and trying to remember NOT to forget anything bookends the BRSTF for me every year without fail. However, as nerve wracking as this can be, I find it somewhat comforting and familiar; knowing that in a few days things will settle back to a neutral place and I can smile relishing in the memories.

So, what am I working on? FringeNYC! A few posts ago, you may have read about Good Good Trouble On Bad Bad Island, a new play by my roomie, Josh Mikel, intended for children. The play that is, not Josh. Good, Good is 1 of 3 Fringe Jr. shows being showcased at FringeNYC and an Endstation team has been putting together our product from soup to nuts for the last few weeks.

Director Chad Larabee and myself have been discussing using a singular piece of scenery for the show that has the ability to transform/deconstruct as the story progresses. Our singular image is a large shipping crate, ordinary as the day is long, with a tag addressed to Bad Bad Island and warnings such as "FRAGILE" & "THIS SIDE UP" across the side. Research is below.

shipping crate research

This shipping crate will reveal a world of fun for the inhabitants of Bad Bad yet not distract from the adventure that will ensue. Not going to give away too much here though...

smaller "sittable" crates for practicality and visual balance

More photos will be posted as we finish more set pieces this evening so stay tuned! In the meantime, HELP US GET TO FRINGE! Although planning/producing is already going on, we are still in the midst of fundraising for this awesome project. Please visit the link below to give, this is a great opportunity to promote New Works!

Friday, July 23, 2010

A BoD View into BRSTF & ETC, etc. etc. etc...

My first blog post! How exciting!

So….. first off. I've never really blogged. (Thanks Maria). I'm sorry this post doesn't have superawesome photos attached to them, because I really don't know how to post them. Believe me. I tried. If someone wants to edit this to make it far more interesting, you have my permission.

I have been charged with offering a board members point of view into the Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival and Endstation in general. Let’s start with the latter and end with the former.

My journey with Endstation started about 3 years ago (wow…). Tell-Tale was heading to Fringe, and I got a phone call from a close friend who asked if I might be interested in joining Endstation’s Board of Directors. I came to Rebec Vineyards to visit with Endstation and left a full fledged member of the Board, (there may have been wine involved) about a year later, I found myself President of the Board (there was definitely wine involved)! All because of a single phone call.

Over the past few years I’ve seen some great members come (our current President and Treasurer: Steve Martin and Lynn Fielding, Amherst County School Superintendent Brian Ratliff, and E.C. Glass Director Jim Ackley) and we’ve seen some great members go (local go-getter Lynn Kable, vintner and class-act Richard Hanson, local personality and one of the best people in the world (and coincidentally, my t-ball coach) Mike Gallagher). We’ve got the stalwart group that has been with us from the beginning (our artistic director and capitan, Geoff Kershner and his father, Sweet Briar Professor Bill Kershner, and my personal favorite human being, Krista Franco, scenic artist extraordinaire!)

I feel like I’ve been involved with theatre my entire life. From trodding the boards with my fellow local thespians, to now being involved in the structure of a theatrical company in an advisory position theatre has always been a part of my life. But as much as I love theatre, I love this area more. I’ve had the opportunity to travel quite a bit over the last decade of my professional life and I have yet to find a place I love as much as Amherst County and Central Virginia. For me (and I’m sure this goes for others on the board), Endstation provides a vital cultural service to this community. That’s what hooked me early on: that burning desire to provide high quality professional theatre in rural Virginia.

Every year, I’m amazed by the talent that descends upon our sleepy little community. And the impact is great. Farmers and small businessman have approached me to ask why we aren’t doing that “Hurricane Camille play” this year. The buzz from friends at church who ask, “Have you seen Alice yet?! It’s amazing!”, or even my own bricklayer father, who may not be the common theatregoer inquiring “What’s this about a Civil War Hamlet? Do they need any help?” To see the uncommon theatregoer being excited about what we do is a pleasure to behold.

Every year we meet new talented actors and actresses. And then there is the joy of seeing actors from previous year’s productions excited to return back to our home, and learning more about them. And then there is the joy of seeing these actors perform karaoke, and then having random people call me at my place of business to make sure they’ll be returning the following week, because they made their night. Endstation, in so many ways, is leaving a lasting impact on our community. And that's a good thing.

For me, Endstation is now a huge part of my summer. Whether it’s sitting in on the occasional rehearsal, discussing fundraising for this year’s productions, designing posters and printing flyers, or in my case right now, preparing food for a donor appreciation reception, Endstation has become an integral part of my life. And in my case, as I’m sure is the case for the rest of the board, it’s not a pleasure to work for Endstation. It’s an honor. It’s an honor to be part of a team of such amazingly talented professionals who not only bring theatre to a place, but bring a place, OUR place, to theatre. It's an honor to know Endstation and it's an honor, in my own small way, to be part of Endstation.

So that's my blog, as uninteresting as it may be. But hopefully you have a better understanding of us "gray hairs" who meet quarterly (and sometimes more often) to discuss the direction of the company and what we need to do to get a job done. Speaking of jobs to be done, I've gotta run, dessert skewers for tonight’s reception aren’t going to make themselves.

See you tonight at Hamlet

Jeff Price

Board of Directors, Endstation Theatre

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My time here!

Wow, this summer has gone by pretty fast, and I'm pretty bummed that I have to write some of this in the past tense. This was my first summer with Endstation and I didn’t completely know what to expect. I knew Krista and Geoff from Sweet Briar, but I was still kind of nervous because I thought everyone would be way cooler than me…and they were…but it was okay because everyone was really welcoming to me, which has made my summer quite enjoyable!

My days here have been pretty interesting.
I spent my afternoons in the theatre painting the set of "Alice in Wonderland" with Krista and Tania (I don't have any pictures of this but I assure you it happened) and hanging out in the greenroom with these fly people.

Now that Hamlet is up and running I get to hangout with neat people non-stop. Since Hamlet is at the Old Dairy Barn we have to carpool in our costumes to get there. Obviously, I made sure that I was in the carpool of the elite or what we like to call it "The Girlpool". "The Girl Pool" consists of Tania B., Shannon, Melora, and me!

Lots of cool rock star things happen in our backstage/greenroom area such as hanging out by farm equipment

and this

and looking at maria

and chilling in the pottery barn

After Hamlet I go back to Carson and hangout with these lovely people! We like to have little pow wows every now and then.

My time here has been really special and I feel I have learned a lot this summer. In fact I am going to share some of the life lessons I have learned from company members this summer.
Susan “You just got to take care of yourself”
Michael “Fly your freak flag proudly, because you got a big one”
Geoff “I’m not always judging you”
Shannon “You have to center the bonnet, not the comb”
Melora “You only have to shave your legs enough so they look like they’re shaved”
Ryan “Get in the GAME”
Krista “Never start a sentence with an apology”

Thank you to all of Endstation for letting me be a part of this!

-Catherine Tooke
Paint Intern and Actor

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Behind the barn wall.....

I am watching the clouds roll by, some look full and threaten of rain, still others fade in and peel back to reveal a blue sky and a beautiful dusk. We are safe for now.... the walkie talkie on my hip crackles to life as "Places everyone" is called by the faithful stage manager. "Heading backstage" I say and so begins another show. I have the honor of being on the backstage run crew for Hamlet each night, and I love it.

I head to the stage left area and sit on the hay bale and watch Josh and George prep for the curtain speech at the top of the show. "Elsinore Farm....not Farms, remember that" one says to the other. "Do you have the CD case?" "Yeah, yeah I got it" (usually Josh asks George that question just as Geoff comes running backstage with a CD in hand, George always gives a reassuring smile to Geoff and holds up the case he already had).

"Stage Left standby" the walkie crackles "Standing" I say. The boys really kick the pacing into high gear at this point as they begin to focus and get excited for another performance. There is usually a "bro hug" and a "let's do this!!" before "Stage Left GO!" is called. The guys head out and I proceed to walk Claudius and Gertrude (aka. John and Melora) out to the Far stage left corner, where they wait for a few minutes before taking the walk down the path to the actual playing area. I hang around for a minute or so and then head back over to Stage Left where I "standby" and "go" for a few more cues. At that point it is time to grab George's guitar and head back to the Far Stage Left area. I check out what the box office folks are up to and usually borrow a chair from them while I am waiting for the actors to come around the corner.

At some point we hear a loud "MARK ME" and look up in time to see the ghost appear from the upper woods, I can only imagine the reaction of the audience at this point, since the lighting and effect look really cool.

Before we know it Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are up and headed down the path to meet Hamlet himself and I settle in for a while longer at the Far Stage Left area as there are a few more cues that I need to wait for and make sure the actors know when to proceed.

After some more entrances I pick up George's now empty guitar case and head back over to the Stage Left area. At this point there is some time in-between the cues and I have been able to catch some shots here and there of the actors continuing to prep and get ready for their next entrance.

Derek and I even had time to squeeze in a quick photo shoot one day while he was waiting for his next entrance.....

After Derek (Horatio) is cued to enter stage left I head to a secret location to wrangle the gun used in the show. As soon as it is ready to go I head back stage right and wait for the hand off. After the scene is finished and I get the proper gun in hand, I head back to the previously mentioned secret location and secure the weapon. At this point we are at intermission and I hang out with some of the actors and crew while we wait things out in the Pottery Barn. As soon as places are called I am off again and walking three of the actors around to the shed area where they will await their cue. The show pretty much rolls along for the rest of the evening and we breeze on through to the end. I sit backstage listening to the final scene and all that takes place on stage, and think about the tragedy that is Hamlet.

We have the final lighting switch cues and then the audience usually erupts into applause for all the actors and the band. I go to a particular crack in the wood and peek out onto the stage to see the final curtain call. I love watching the audience's faces as each character comes out to take their bows. The entire cast should be very proud of the work they do in this production as it pays off simply by how much the patrons have loved it.

At this point, I walk around gathering props that I am in charge of and re-set them where they need to be so we can be ready for the next performance. As I am out and about, I hear bits and pieces of the audience talking to the actors or talking amongst themselves and swell up with pride when I hear the overall incredible positive feedback from folks. Don't take just my word for it, seek out some people that have come to see the production (some folks two and three times even), and I am sure they will relay what an incredible piece of work this show is. So if you have not already or even if you want to again, make sure to book your tickets here and grab a blanket, chair, some friends, and a picnic and come out and enjoy this unique and special telling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, believe me, you won't be disappointed.......I will be looking out for ya through my peephole backstage, so hope to see you soon!

Till next time ~
Company Manager