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Meet the Creators – Sarah Mosher

So, for the uninitiated, who are you and what are you doing for Transformations?
My name is Sarah Mosher and I created the pieces Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood as a part of my thesis exploring women and clothing in Fairy Tales.

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And what do you do in Real Life (i.e. that world outside of Transformations)?
I am currently an MFA – Theatrical Design candidate at UT Austin.  I have worked freelance as a costume designer and wedding dress designer here and in Seattle.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
I hope to continue my work as a designer and grow in my artistic abilities throughout my life.  I also hope to visit all seven continents and stay in an ice hotel.

Given a magic wand, you can immediately dress the entire country in one period. That period is…?
Ummm…. anything but Elizabethan

Is there a recent film (or exhibition) that you think really captures your aesthetic (as it stands today)?
This is an insanely difficult question to answer.  I’m still discovering my aesthetic, and I’m not sure I can narrow myself down.  However some imagery that I love the look of include the movies Brazil, Hero, O Brother Where Art Thou.  I like design that is obviously thought through and unified for the benefit of telling the story.

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What would you consider your Transforming moment as a person?
For me transformation is slow and continual.  I am transformed daily. 

What was your experience with Anne Sexton prior to this project?
I knew very little about Anne Sexton before I was recruited to participate in Rapunzel in Prague.  I’m glad I’ve had this chance to become familiar with her work.  I have a deep respect for her blend of humor and tragedy.  Simply beautiful in truth.

 

Is there a passage or a line (from the show) at this point in the process that speaks most to you about what this project is?
I love the line from Rapunzel : "We are strong.  We are the good ones" but I know that’s Megan’s favorite so I feel a little guilty for stealing it….  It’s just a fantastic collection of words.

Do you have a favorite poem or poet to share with us? Or line or phrase?
William Blake is my soul mate, not only for the amazing poetry he created, but his belief that words and pictures live hand in hand, never to be separated.  His engravings are intensely strong and simultaneously ephemeral and graceful.  He and his wife worked side by side printing and painting for years.

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Part of The Look is the Seams

In the beginning I outlined some aesthetic production rules for myself, and wherever possible, those I work with. That largely boiled down to not expecting the audience to simply give you credit for trying, and to make choices, not compromises (and later excuses) due to capital issues.

That extends to the front office. Technology covers a multitude of shortcomings given a little knowledge and skill.

Audiences thrive on comfort. No matter how you feel about that fact, it is a fact. You can do anything you want to comfort levels once you have them in the theatre, but before they get into the theatre? You need to make it as familiar as possible. (Alternatively you can chose to make it as unfamiliar as possible but you have chosen to limit your audience to avid fans and hoop jumpers).

Give them options. If they are internetters, let them order tickets online. Or at the very least reserve online.

If they are phone people let them call your box office. Don’t have a box office? Grand Central.

Grand Central?

Grand Central.

I wanted to offer phone reservations for my current show (Transformations) and I didn’t want to give the universe my home number or cell number and either be on duty until we close, or never answer my phone. So I researched solutions.

I started with Tossable Digits, which is a service created primarily for classfied ads and personals sites. It gives you a number to use for such things so you never need to give yours out. I was even willing to pay for it (so I could have a Real Number). But it doesn’t allow you to record a voicemail for the Tossable Number it’s really JUST a masking number for your phone line.

So Grand Central. Grand Central is such a good idea Google bought them.

Grand Central is the front end to cover the fact that you don’t have a box office. It is a separately functional number that forwards to the number of your choice. So my Grand Central number is
(512) 524-3761.

That can ring through to my cell (and home and office), OR I set it to Do Not Disturb – it goes straight to voice mail.

That voicemail is saved on the phone AND it is sent to an email address as a .wav file.

So all of my reservations are sent to the same account and are all in one place. Given a wi-fi connection I can take reservations up until it’s too late for them to get to the theatre, all without a dedicated second line.

I have five invites to Grand Central so if you’re interested let me know. (they are opening the beta at a pretty good clip so you don’t really NEED an invite if you have some patience.)

It seems to me that in general the theatre community at large is apathetic towards technology, at worst they are proud Luddites. Which makes no sense to me on this level. Technology can cover for the fact that you don’t have money. So go looking for cheap/free solutions. The fact that you have to turn on a computer is not reason enough to avoid it.

The theatrosphere is not particularly technophobic. so tell me:

How has technology covered for you?

Superstition

Everyone that I can think of that has ever been anywhere near a theatre will quote at you that “bad dress rehearsal means good opening”. Which has been statistically insignificant in my life. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. And fifty percent isn’t a trend.

For my money it’s always been the first run off book that has told true as to where you’re at. It is nearly always horrific, and it’s always the first thing that really clicks performers into the fact that the Show is Here. It’s time to stop trying every single thing that comes into your head, and time to lock into a choice, or at least narrow your choices down. And nothing in the world motivates quite like failure.

Which isn’t quite where we were last night. All right, not even in the same zip code. Last night we added a bunch of the tech to the show, and for the first time the cast saw all but the 2 imported pieces (they’ve been working separately) and it went relatively smoothly. We have a cast that is personally invested in each of their pieces, and they’re not overwhelmed with volume, so the work is manageable. Which isn’t to say it was perfect…

What with back soreness scotching one of the movement pieces for the evening, the two imported pieces still being en route, and a whole host of the tech yet to come, we have a long laundry list before load-in this weekend, but it’s a list with an end.

And 9 days out? That’s a pretty good place to be.

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So… long time no… anything.

So I stopped to take a big ol’ breath and deliver a really nice End of the Year wrap up and didn’t post for a month.

ALWAYS good for audience building.

I have been hip deep in preparations for Cambiare Productions entrance onto the Austin theatre scene: Transformations.

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I have been blogging that whole deal over at the company blog over at Blog.CambiareProductions.com

The process has been interesting. It’s amazing to me how much extraneous bullshit has built up in the streams and creeks that make up the intricate deltas of the rehearsal process. We have created so many rules for ourselves in our training and in our execution as we strive to make the Rehearsal Room an alternate Corporate Workplace rather than a place that we make theatre (whether or not it IS your work) we choose to make that space ape corporate america as much as possible.

Transformations is Design Driven Performance, and the two primary creators are both designers. Watching them work with actors (and dancers) is fascinating. They don’t have a vocabulary drilled into them. They’ll give line readings. But they also don’t take a half hour to explain to a performer that they mean “stop doing that fucking thing with your arm”. Which is awesome. The show is going to be very very good, and if you are going to be in Austin the first two weekends of February I recommend you see it and then we find a place to have an adult beverage.  


And apparently Jason Grote is taking over Austin. He has a Frontera piece going up, he has a premiere at Salvage Vanguard (home of Transformations) and there was totally one more thing. So Mr. Grote, when you are theatre King of Austin? Can I have a cabinet position? Sideboard? Buffet?

Shut up. I’m totally funny.


Scott Walters is on fire.

I mean he’s making posts about neuroscience interesting.

He’s fast, thorough, and sharp as a tack
He’s touring the facility and picking up slack…

But I digress… read him. Challenge him and then in the synthesis of the two make positive changes in your local theatre scene.

Processing the Process

I intended, as all theatre bloggers do, to chronicle the process of this piece. To really give the world a window onto the world we are creating….

and like all theatre bloggers I haven’t managed it.

This has been a process that has taken place all over Austin (and the WORLD) and is as much individual as collaborative.

For a performer of standard straight plays, we have spent a relatively small amount of time In the Room, and an inordinate amount of time outside of the room fiddling the technical aspects of the show.

Which of course is what the show needs…

That, and Christo’s own supply of fabric and three cords worth of branches….

But the magic is that instead of a process through which we meld the flavors over 6 weeks in a room together, we have the performative equivalent of a potluck. A potluck where you trust every cook to bring something you love, and a cook who is excited to be sowing up to the party…

No tuna noodle casserole here.

Some additional shots from rehearsal to cover for the lack of words here at T-Minus 2 Weeks.

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Meet the Creators – Janna Rock

So, for the uninitiated, who are you and what are you doing for Transformations?
I’m Janna Rock, I’m going to be choreographing and performing the piece "Maiden Without Hands", as well as playing the role of "Red Riding Hood" and dancing with the cast  in "Tower."

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And what do you do in Real Life (i.e. that world outside of Transformations)?
I’m a communications student, a dancer, and I work at Austin Java. [ed. note: The official Coffee Shop of Cambiare Productions]

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Motivated.

What is the best part of dancing?
An easier question for me would be what is the best part of NOT dancing, and the answer would be: not wearing tights all day long.  Needless to say, the pros outweigh the cons.  One of my favorite aspects of dance is the sense of inhibition it provides and the mind-body awareness that results.

What made you choose to dance?
Fantasia.  Enthusiasm.  It’s hard to say what makes people want anything, this just happened.

Who is you dance hero?
For me, dance is as much a mental pursuit as a physical one.  I have to say that the two figures who have done the most for my progress and perspective in this valuable aspect would be Kim McSwain, Chris Jacobson, and Andee Scott.

What would you consider your Transforming moment as a person?
I feel like I have one of those every day. 

But because I feel like that is a cop out of an answer, I do have a memory that fits well with the theme of the production.  I’ve always been the youngest of my family, friends, and schoolmates.  I explicitly remember sitting in my room a few days before my 9th birthday, and thinking, "Man, I am just enjoying life, I don’t want to be any older than I am right this second."  I think it was at that point that I gained a beautiful satisfaction that has stuck with me through every stage of my life.

What was your experience with Anne Sexton prior to this project?
Probably, middle school.

Is there a passage or a line (from the show) at this point in the process that speaks most to you about what this project is?
Eek.  Not really, for me, it’s more of an experience.  I will say that mine is an optimistic one.

Do you have a favorite poem or poet to share with us? Or line or phrase? 
imageI love Walt Whitman. 
Favorite poem: "O you whom I often and silently come"

O YOU whom I often and silently come where you are, that I may be with you;

As I walk by your side, or sit near, or remain in the same room with you,

Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your sake is playing within me.

 

Meet the Creators – Kasey Glantz

 

So, for the uninitiated, who are you and what are you doing for Transformations?
Well, who would you like me to be? Wait don’t answer that, Travis. My name is Kasey Glantz. I am an actress performing in Transformations.

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And what do you do in Real Life (i.e. that world outside of Transformations)? 
Oh so many things… 
If you mean my job, well, I’m doing the whole stereotypical waitress/actress thing at the Root Cellar in San Marcos. I also like to think of myself as a poet, an artist, a passionate mad woman who knows no bounds, a healer of sorts, mystic reader, realm walker, dream seeker, a miracle maker, divine wisdom in action, and sometimes…. a fire starter.

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Grow up?  I don’t think so.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
Everything and nothing all at once.

Are you in Austin for the long term, or do you have a destination in mind for you Next Step? 
Well, I’m in San Marcos at the moment… the destination will hopefully be revealed soon… but if you hear anything about my Next Step please let me know because I am so clueless right now. I’m waiting…patiently.

What do you wish they’d taught you in school?
Magic.

What would you consider your Transforming moment as a person?
I am transforming this very moment and every moment after that.. each time more profound than the last.

What was your experience with Anne Sexton prior to this project?  Well, I had read only a few of her poems once upon a time ago.

Is there a passage or a line (from the show) at this point in the process that speaks most to you about what this project is? 
Why yes there is:  
" I have ridden in your cart, driver. Waved my nude arms at the villages going by. Learning the last bright routes, survivor. Where your flames still bites my thigh and my ribs crack where your wheels wind. A woman like that is not ashamed to die. I have been her kind."

Do you have a favorite poem or poet to share with us? Or line or phrase?
Oh my goodness ..oh so many to choose from… this is part of my favorite poem of all time:
Alone By Edgar Allen Poe

" From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone."

I would include the rest but it’s a little long…and a bit depressing. But it’s the first one I memorized and will always be my favorite.

Meet the Creators – Amy Hopper

This interview has been preempted by the birth of Killian Brooke Hopper at 4:54 AM this morning. 8 pounds 7 ounces and while I have not yet spoken to Amy (or Clinton) I’m going to wager that the “Yay!” at the end of the text means that Killian is healthy and happy (if inconvenienced) and that Ms. Hopper still has fingers and some motor control.

Congratulations and every blessing to the Hoppers.

Happy Birth Day Killian 🙂

Transformations – an ad.

 

Meet the Creators – Megan Reilly

So, for the uninitiated, who are you and what are you doing for Transformations?
My name is Megan Reilly, and I’m the creator / director behind Transformations.  

And what do you do in Real Life (i.e. that world outside of Transformations)?
There’s a world outside Transformations? 
I’m a freelance lighting designer.  I recently finished my MFA at UT Austin and while I was there I was really inspired to start working more generatively as a theatre artist while at the same time working as a traditional lighting designer.  My work has started to take me into installation, video, and performance art thanks to a lot of my experiences in grad school.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
It really depends on the day.  Part of me wants to keep freelancing professionally and see how far I can take myself as a designer, see if I could get into the opera world.  And another part of me wants to continue down this incredible creative path I’ve started with both my own visual art and theatrical design work.  And another part of me thinks teaching would be nice, although I think if I started teaching I’d become my mentor from undergrad, meaning I’d just spend every non-teaching hour traveling around the world.  And that’s not a bad thing at all.

Which visual artists are we missing the boat on?
I think that there are lots of really fascinating things that installation artists are doing which are also very theatrical and relevant to stage design.  Installation art is, to me, about the experience of a physical space.  It’s not an art form that you can really look at in pictures or hear about, it’s a visceral real life experience, and that’s exactly what theatre is.  When I started reading about Ann Hamilton I never even really considered her a visual artist at first, she was creating performance, even if there were no actual human performers present in some of her pieces.

What would you consider your Transforming moment as a person?
I don’t think that anyone has just one.  In relation to this particular work, I would say that I have had two major Transforming moments.  The first was my freshman year at UNH, when I was assigned to live in an all-women’s dorm.  That particular dorm was where many liberal, activist, feminist, and gay or gay-friendly women chose to live, so right away I was surrounded by a particular culture and it taught me an incredible amount.  The friends I had back then were instrumental in my becoming a feminist.

I think the other moment was when I read Sue Monk Kidd’s Dance of the Dissident Daughter, from which we use a quote in the show.  She talks about how women are taught to be asleep, to be numb to our actual place in society and how we are oppressed or discriminated against in ways that we’re taught to not even notice.  She talks about how many women go through a period of waking up to reality, a period that for me at least was painful and angry and rough.  One day I looked outside and realized that I was looking at a world created by men, that no institution I was involved with – our economy, educational system, any architecture I encountered on a dally basis, mathematics, medicine, government, art – was all started by men.  Which is why it’s so important for women to have each other and to have strong, positive visible role models, because we’re not looking at things created in our image when we walk through the world.  And it may be that the world would not be any different if men’s and women’s roles had been reversed.  I think the whole "waking up" process really speaks to the idea that most oppression can’t be seen by the oppressors, that it takes someone who is a woman or a member of any minority group to really see that  lack of self in the world around her.

 

What was your experience with Anne Sexton prior to this project?
My only experience with Anne Sexton prior to working with Kim Gritzer on Rapunzel in 2005 was Peter Gabriel’s song "Mercy Street," which I saw him perform live in 2002 and it was so visually stunning that I had to know the words to the song and its meaning and so forth.  Then I was intrigued because she was from Boston, and my family is all in New England, and many relatives lived in Cambridge, so there was a connection there too.

Is there a passage or a line (from the show) at this point in the process that speaks most to you about what this project is?
We chose the tagline "Long ago there was a strange deception" to use on the posters because I think it speaks to the idea that women are sort of tricked into following certain paths or living certain roles as prescribed by our culture.  I think that many women (and people in general) believe they want a certain life or a certain path and don’t question why they want it until they have the marriage, job, house and kid all in place.  There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with that path, but there is something wrong with a world that assumes that’s the path you’re going to take, and prefers it even.

What would you hope an audience member walks away from Transformations with?
I hope that with all the abstraction we’re creating that she will see something that resonates with herself, I hope that she finds her own meaning in these pieces and doesn’t question that meaning or whether that was our original intention.  I hope that nobody asks me what my original intention was, because really that’s beside the point.  It’s an experience and whatever is taken from it is right.

Ann Hamilton

Do you have a favorite poem or poet to share with us? Or line or phrase?
Put your pale arms around my neck
Let me hold your heart like a flower
lest it bloom and collapse.
Give me your skin
as sheer as a cobweb
let me open it up
and listen in and scoop out the dark
Give me your nether lips
all puffy with their art
and I will give you angel fire in return
We are two clouds
glistening in the bottle glass
We are two birds
washing in the same mirror
We were fair game
but we have kept out of the cesspools
We are strong
We are the good ones
Do not discover us
for we lie together all in green
like pond weeds.

I think this is one of the most beautiful things I have ever, ever heard, especially when Kacey Samiee read it for the original Rapunzel video.