As we continue to workshop our devised production of Don Quixote, we’ll post some photos from time to time. Here’s a couple from the first week of October – our process is to break the story down into shorter parts (sometimes a couple of the 125 chapters at a time) and do a quick “bad first draft”, staging it in just a few minutes. We video the draft, then watch it back and make decisions about what we could do better, or differently, or more interestingly, then get back up, re-stage it, film it and watch it again. After multiple passes, we end up with a stronger (yet still rough) draft of the scene. Over the next month, we’ll take these rough scenes and work through them until we put them down in script form, to tighten the action and clean up the dialogue.
For a Friday Seminar session a few weeks ago, we were treated to a stage combat workshop by MFA candidate Lauren Gunn – who previously served our department as administrative assistant a few years ago. She is working on her graduate degree in acting at the University of Southern Mississippi, and brought some of her training in unarmed stage combat back to share with our students. A lot was learned in a short time, but we are looking forward to the opportunity to have Ms. Gunn return for further instruction in the future!
Belhaven University Theatre Department will present Tennessee Williams’ timeless memory play The Glass Menagerie September 27-30 in Barber Auditorium in the Library building on Belhaven’s main campus. An extremely complex and emotional play such as this is always a challenge to present, but our brave cast and crew are tackling the play in an intense rehearsal process, where the cast was set only 4 weeks ago.
Our cast is made up of 4 BFA performers – Grace Reeves (junior, Acting) as Amanda, Noelle Balzer (sophomore, Acting) as Laura, Christopher Miller (freshman, Acting) as Tom, and Caleb Henry (sophomore, Musical Theatre) as Jim.
Barber Auditorium is a highly intimate space, which can bring out the best in performance, but presents special challenges for the design team and our director, Dr. Elissa Sartwell. We are excited about the dramatic potential of presenting a play with such personal power in a space with such immediacy.
One of our productions for this semester is a devised theatre work based on the novel Don Quixote – which will be in production in November. Devised theatre is a process of creating a play as an ensemble, and the early part of rehearsing is largely about learning to create together, and establishing an environment where we all feel comfortable sharing ideas and allowing each other to respond and expand those ideas.
This year, as a department, we are taking headshots so our students’ photos for our productions this season have a consistent look to them. For some of our students this is the first time doing headshots this way, so it can certainly be a learning experience.
Hopefully we can share some of the finished product with you as you see this season’s productions!
Thanks to our friend David Sprayberry for taking our photos this year!
Student-directed Look Away will kick off the spring season of shows at Belhaven. Student blogger, Eric Henderson shares his thoughts on this stirring piece of theatre being produced in our Second Stage space.
‘Everyone on the train seems to be reading my letters. I heard one man refer to me as though I were dead.’
-Mary Todd Lincoln, Look Away
It is my pleasure to announce that on Thursday February 12th, 2015 a two-act play based on Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress and confidant, Elizabeth Keckley will kick off our spring semester of shows. This compelling production is based upon the life and letters Mrs. Lincoln wrote to friends and family during President Lincoln’s terms, after his assassination, and during her stay in the Bellevue Hospital for the insane.
The action of the play occurs in that hospital on Mary Todd Lincoln’s last night of residence before her sanity hearing. A stirring journey toward hope and recovery through avenues of grief, the first show of our spring season is not to be missed. Look Away was first presented at the Playhouse Theatre in New York City on January 7, 1973 with Geraldine Page as Mary Todd Lincoln and Maya Angelou as Elizabeth Keckley.
Belhaven University’s Theatre department prides itself on seeing their students explore their truest potential. With that being said, senior Theatre Production major Anna Bryant directs the show with conviction, enthusiasm, and fervor. Bryant says, “Mary Lincoln and I have the bond of both being Kentucky-born. Her story pulls at the very heartstrings of life. This story has tragedy, love, and friendship intertwined together giving you the woman who stood faithfully by one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America.”
Look Away by Jerome Kilty runs Thursday, February 12th through Saturday, February 14th with performances nightly at 7:30 PM in our Second Stage space located in the Center for the Arts. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens. Admission is free for Belhaven students, faculty, staff and their immediate families. For reservations, call 601-965-7026.
This week, we open our first production of the year, Ice Island : The Wait for Shackleton by Marjorie Duffield. It tells the story of the crew of The Endeavor, who faced the loss of their ship on their expedition to Antarctica, and had to survive 18 months of waiting and struggle, hoping to be saved. (Shackleton and his crew left England in 1914, 99 years ago…)
Performances are Sept 19-28; Thursday through Saturday night, then the following Wednesday through Friday night, all at 7:30, and 2 pm matinee shows on both Saturdays. Contact email@example.com or call (601) 965-7026.
Knowing the business
The culture of this work environment is networking. If you don’t network you will never be a successful actor in LA. It is all about whom you know and how they can help you in the entertainment industry. Some ideas I have is to arrange informational interviews by attending events. The best way to talk to people is to go to major events that are full with people that you can connect with. You are most likely in a laid back environment which opens the door for you to talk to that person. After they are comfortable you can begin to talk about your career. Another way to get information is to go to seminars and talk to people who are working actors. You can ask them how they got started and what your particular steps should be. Attending plays and industry night in Hollywood are beneficial as well. You can talk to professionals in the field one on one and create connections that can lead to you being invited to more exclusive events. It is all about creating business relationships and networking is how this is done.
As we are preparing for our upcoming musical “The Drunkard”, we have been making our own back drop. Some of our students have done similar work but for most of those involved it is new.
The finished size of the drop is 30 feet wide and 15 feet tall. Over the past several days we have been prepping it for painting, which should start tonight. Before it could be painted however, three pieces of 10 foot wide fabric had to be sewn together and than the entire drop needed to be starched. After the starching process we were able to hem the top, and add in our hemp for suport, as well as add in our pipe pocket at the bottom so it will hang correctly. And now for several more days of action to get the finished product that we are looking for.
We are pleased to announce that over this Christmas season, we have been overseeing the installation of a new lighting grid – a significant investment in the safety and ease of work for our lighting crews and future productions. Check out Inter-America Stage’s website and see a video on their SkyDeck system.
Crews continue to work to complete the installation – safety kickplates and handrails, two stair units (a spiral set near the theatre entrance, and a straight set backstage near our costume shop door), a ladder by our tech booth, and plenty of final adjustments to be made before completion.