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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My last summer blog

It's hard to believe that at this point next week, the festival will be over and everyone will be gone. It feels like just yesterday that I drove up here to Sweet Briar and auditioned, and now we only have five days left... I have to say that this has probably been the most exciting and fulfilling summer for me, as both an actor and a person. For one thing, I got to play with two of the raddest and most talented gents I know in Complete Works.

I am still a youngin' when it comes to acting, still in college and pretty green. I remember the day that Geoff called me and offered me the contract. I was ecstatic beyond belief, albeit scared shitless. Of course I knew Walter and Michael, having worked with them for the past two summers, but I never really developed a relationship with them. From day one though, we bonded quickly and effortlessly, to my relief. This show was an absolute blast, and all thanks to the two of them.

With Complete Works in full swing, we started up on Hamlet, which turned out to be even cooler than I could have anticipated.

The whole process was always exciting and fresh. The final product is not only a complete experience for the audience watching it, but also for me acting in it. From the environment to the ambience created by the lights and the music, this has truly been an incredible experience for me (even with all the sweat and crutch bruises).

So thank you Endstation, for a wonderful summer of incredible theatre, and for allowing me to be such an integral part of it all.

Until next time,

Derek Arey

Monday, July 19, 2010

A break!

Coming soon... pictures from Virginia Wine country...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Very proud

Here are some images I have taken over the last couple of performances. It gives you a little feel for the space and the performance, although this is something that needs to be experienced. I am so thankful for all the hard work that EVERYONE has put into this. From the transformation of the space, the routing of power and lighting the space up, the music, to the incredible performances... this has just been so awesome to be a part of. As an artist I really needed this too. This re-fueled me.

has been one of the best theatrical experiences of my life. The collaborators, the audience, and the space has made this truly exciting and invigorating. We are finishing up our first week of performances and apart from the sounds of band camp and last night a wedding reception, the evenings have been magical. The audiences didn't seem to be nearly as bothered by the sounds of distant prepubescent drummers (we joked that this was the Union Army approaching) and the electric slide as I was. The show is engrossing enough because of the beautiful music of Virgineola, the performances of our actors, the beautiful lighting, and the stunning scenery that the far away sounds disappeared for the audience.

What has also been really exciting is that audience members are coming back or are planning on coming back to see the show again. We had a family and a couple come on Friday night and then they returned to see the show again last night. I was so moved by this. I also love that each night I sit with Sally, Dan, and Krista and watch the show from the booth and the top of the hill. I don't think we are getting tired of watching it. I very often put a show up and like to walk away because there isn't much else for me to do and the stress of watching a show can be difficult for a director because of hyper sensitivity to mistakes. I don't feel that with this. I want to watch the work unfold and God does Shakespeare know how to write a play...

So please, join us. Join us more than once. I am so proud of everyone involved and so proud of this show. You won't be disappointed.

Geoffrey Kershner
Artistic Director