Monday, July 25, 2011

Goodbye BRSTF 2011

I am awake. It is 4am.

This is always the hardest time for me. We work all year to produce this festival. There is a huge build up. Then when we reach the summer there is a tremendous amount of work and investment that is exhausting but rewarding. The entire experience is emotional, because it is such a labor of love. When ever I reach the end of a season it feels like something died because this particular, special experience, has come to a close. The beauty of theatre, like life, is that it is ephemeral. It ends and here we are, at the end.

Last night was very emotional for me. As Twelfth Night came to a close and George disappeared through the butterfly bushes singing "... our play is done and we aim to please you everyday." I began to cry. This moment was the conclusion of a year of anxiety over an increased budget (producing our first musical) and the need to yet again increase our audience base, ticket revenue, and fundraising. It was also emotional because Twelfth Night was dedicated to my friend Dave Aviv who passed away this winter. To top it off, we got through a stressful week of outdoor theatre with extreme heat and thunder storms hitting all around us and yet somehow... we made it through every show for the third season in a row.

As we closed up for the night, I wandered down to the soccer field below the performance space for a moment alone. As I looked up at the sky and thought of what we had accomplished and thought of Dave, a shooting star shot across the sky. I like to think that Dave was winking at me.

I want to thank everyone who was involved in this season. Everyone stepped up. Staff, volunteers, board, donors, actors, and interns all made this season a success. I love you all and Dave would have loved what we did.

Geoffrey Kershner
Artistic Director

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Endstation Means Family

This blog was incredibly difficult to write. I wasted two days just staring at my computer screen NOT typing anything. I am also notorious for not documenting anything so I had to snatch pictures from friends (Thank You everyone!). It's not that I don't have anything to say; I have a lot to say and I say it all the time. I can pinpoint moments this summer when I just wouldn't shut up. I didn't want to write a mushy, sentimental blog (Maria, that was for you) and we are about to go into strike week for Twelfth Night so I didn't think anyone wanted to hear about screw sorting or paint bucket cleaning.

I would have taken photos last night while we were preparing for rain right before Twelfth Night go time, but I didn't have an extra hand for a camera... no one did. I do have a cut on my knee from taking a dive in the mud, intentionally of course. (You all know that fall wasn't an accident, I am far too graceful) So instead, I am going to state some facts, tell it like it is and shut up again.

Twelfth Night Rehearsal

I love it here. The folks I get to work with are by far the most imaginative, down to earth and brave people I know. Sometimes we are full of energy and sometimes we can't breath because the campus is being groomed. We know what we want. We have purpose. We work well together, we converse, we enjoy each others company. We have a community here who strive to make things happen. We are supported and cared for. We eat. We laugh. We play. We argue and resolve. We take care of each other. We listen. We are a family.

Parker, Dan & Angie

Some of the gang...

Throughout the festival, a number of events and gatherings take place. Some are social company wide festivities, some are fundraising related and some are just small groups of folks getting together to break bread and enjoy a summer evening.

Box Office at Endstation's Station Transformation BBQ

One of our interns, Molly Harper, hosted a bonfire on campus which was such a blast and Friends of Endstation come together to host intern lunches every Friday. Other times we'd just come into work to a fridge full of surprise goodies.

Me, Ashley & Sarah on the Piney

Ben, Rebekah, Molly & Freezie Pops
(old friends keep each other cool)


Rebekah, Molly, Me & Sarah

So, yeah... we're nearing the end of the 2011 Blue Ridge Summer Theatre season. 10 weeks, 4 shows, an amazing staff and oodles of talent. We spend so much time intensely working towards a successful summer and then, well, it's over. Usually around this time everyone gets pretty emotional. Folks will all be returning to their respective lives whether that is back at school or the daily grind near and far from our summer home in Sweet Briar, VA. I realized yesterday that I get to come back every year and knowing that, there is no reason for me to feel sad. I have the memories and friendships that cultivated these past weeks to bring with me back to Connecticut and a strong body of work to propel me into my post season responsibilities.

I might also take a class... on blogging.

If you haven't seen Twelfth Night, tonight is your last chance. Come laugh, play, eat and drink with us. Be a part of the Endstation Family.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Last chance!!

Only a few more chances to see Twelfth Night the final production of the 2011 Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival. Make sure you get your tickets to see it this weekend!!

See you there!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Behind the Seams.

"These clothes are good enough to drink in."
Sir Toby Belch

The whirlygig of time! The 2011 Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival is nearly over. A season that included works by Shakespeare and Sondheim. That was good enough recommendation for me! I can remember first seeing our costume designer Sarah's sketches for these shows. As costume intern, I've assisted in making them a reality. Some characters are based on historical figures like Assassins, while others are from the Illyria of Twelfth Night.

Dressed to kill.. a president.

Each night I get to see the actors through costume, hair and make up, become the characters that will inhabit these clothes. I put on my dresser's apron and slip into the role of wardrobe mistress. So what else does a wardrobe mistress do besides that cast laundry? My overall job is to maintain the "look" of the costumes before, during and after the show. This could mean anything from performing an emergency repair, adjusting a bow tie, to assisting an actor with a quick change. In live theatre, each night has its own challenges and rewards. Its been wonderful working with people all committed to doing good work. I've learned a great deal here at Endstation and will have a lot to build on when I return to Atlanta next week! The whirlygig of time!
Paige McRae
costume intern

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Endstation?

We have less than a week left of the 2011 Blue Ridge Summer Theatre Festival. The final shows will be performed, end of the summer business will be handled, strike and clean up will happen, hugs will be had, maybe a few tears shed, plans to keep in touch will be made.....and then just as fast as it all will be packed up, flights and trains caught, and everyone will scatter to various part of the country for the year.

The end of the festival is always the time when I begin to get particularly nostalgic for many reasons, and before you think this is going to be a completely depressing post, let me assure you that I am simply going to open up for a minute and speak from the heart.

(Geoff and Krista in 2007 after the final DC Fringe Festival performance of Tell Tale Heart)

Since we are constantly moving forward and planning for times ahead, Endstation is not just a summer thing, but a year- round commitment for all of the core staff. I have gotten the question before from my friends and family of why.....why endstation, why the involvement in this particular company?

I first met Geoffrey Kershner in the summer of 2006 when I was stage managing a show for his dad (Dr. Bill Kershner). Geoff had come in to do the fight choreography and we met and chatted briefly. He told me about his and Krista's plan for a professional theatre company here in the local area, and I immediately got excited at the prospect. I remember thinking how neat it was that he wanted to return to where he grew up and got the feeling of just how special this area was to him.

(shot taken during dress rehearsal for The Bluest Water in 2008

Fast forward a few months to the winter of 2007 and I was reminded of Geoff's plan when I saw he was in the audience for a show I was acting in. Through a series of e-mails I signed on to stage manage the 2007 summer production, the first official Endstation production occurring in the area. I had a feeling something special was brewing with this company, and I was excited to be a part of it.

I soon met the cast and design team and off we went. That summer the show toured in Lynchburg, VA; Sweet Briar, VA; Charlottesville, VA; and Washington, DC. We were met with different challenges throughout, but we rose up and worked through it all as a team. I was really impressed with the professionalism and artistry that this group brought to the table and I did not not have to think to hard when Geoff asked if I would be interested in coming on as a company/staff member.

(Romeo and Juliet 2008

Little did I know the journey that being part of this company would take me on. As we have continued to grow over the years there of course are things that have changed, but there are many things that have not. Geoff and Krista remain true to the mission statement they first created back in 2006, and all of us put our heart and sole into every production that rolls out from Endstation. Everything has a reason and purpose for why it is done. Everyone that has joined us no matter for how short the time, can feel the energy that the company collectively produces and it excites them to be a part of something incredibly special.                

(shots from Midsummer Nights Dream and My Brothers Knife, 2009

Like any company we have our growing pains and different challenges that we are faced with, but we figure it out and move forward. We come up with new and innovative ways to handle things. We have been loved and supported by the community around us and it's a huge motivating factor for us. We continue to be amazed and thankful at how every summer turns out, and it's such a joy to sit back on opening night and watch these incredible productions unfold. 

(shots from Complete Wrks Abridged, Alice in Wonderland, and Hamlet, 2010

So when people ask me why endstation......I say it's because I love it....I love the people, and I love the chance to be a part of something unique. A chance to watch creativity, artistry, and a true craft unfold every year. Yes, there are many other theatre companies, and many other summer theatre festivals around the world out there. But there is only one of our company, this special group of people that I get the privilege of not only working with, but being able to part of each other's lives and calling them friends. It's nice to be reminded and thankful for the time spent with Endstation throughout the year and during the festival. I could think of other places and things that I could be pursuing, but I choose here, and I choose Endstation for this time in my life and I am proud to be part of this company. And with the fear of sounding too sappy......(may be too late), it's all because of these two people who had and pursued a vision, saw it through and continue to do so. 

So thank you Geoff and Krista for what you have created..........I am honored to be a part of it. 

Till next time~
Maria Hayden
Company Manager

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Last Days of Twelfth Night

Dear Mom and Dad,
It seems like just yesterday that I arrived at Sweet Briar and I now have to say goodbye. By this time next week I'll be sitting at my desk at work in Chicago convincing myself it was not all just a dream. Here are some pics I've taken of us hanging out backstage. Some of the best people I've ever taken a stage with.

George (our "Feste") tuning his guitar. Which he did constantly when not on stage seducing the audience with his finger picking.

Walter playing online Risk. His obsession courtesy of me. It's been the game of the summer, his handle is Soul Crusher, Michael's is Defender of the Vale.

This baby has been on the set of every Endstation show.

Jessica (our "Viola") getting ready for places. She's pretty.

Krista, our Designer Extraordinaire! She is a genius.

Michael (our "Count Orsino") has a preshow cig. He's always fun to watch and brought humor, sadness, and neurosis to his role. I always feel lucky to share a stage with him.

Walter (our "Malvolio") has the audience fall in love with him every night. He's SUPPOSED to be the show's antagonist... I like living with this guy. He's a beagle, a mensch, and one heck of a good singer. I'll miss our late night attempts at world domination the most.

George, up to his old shenanigans again!

The famed yellow stockings!

George's preshow trance...

Rachael's "Olivia" is grace and femininity defined.

Jessica always makes me smile no matter what she's doing!

Sarah did our costumes and she was WONDERFUL! She dealt with all our silliness with humor and warmth. And she made us all look like rockstars!

Ben our dashing rogue of an intern!

George wanted a prom like photo for the blog for reasons known only to him...

John our easily excitable intern goes over his cues in his head before each show... what a pro!

Catherine (our "Antonia") is a force of nature. Every time I'm around her I want to provoke a laughing attack from her!

To know Rebecca is to love her! Simply put: she is one of the best people on the planet. If you haven't met her: you are missing out!

This is Skyler. I think he might be related to me...

Could NOT stop checking herself out!

Jessica is french for smiley.

This mustache was deemed to much "man" for the show.

Under federal law Jessica can not remove this from her head until the two Bald Eagle eggs in it hatch...

Ties, ties, ties...

Alex (our "Sir Andrew") is awesome. He's a nice guy with some genuine acting talent. Big things are in store for him...

Michael becomes.

Melora (our "Maria") brings such professionalism and love to every performance. How she deals with me every night I have no idea. She's wonderful.

Paige has been so good to us! Here she makes Olivia look gorgeous. Thanks to her I'm not smelled from the stage...

This undated photo was found in a prop box during rehearsal. How curious...

This has been without a doubt one of the best summers of my life. The folks at Endstation are great people doing great things. I'm happy and honored to have been a part of this. I'll return to Chicago a different man. And will always think fondly of this tiny piece of heaven in Virginia.

Send my love to everyone and tell them I'm doing fine. I'm at Endstation.

Your loving son,

Sergio Soltero, Actor, Twelfth Night.