Writing tips from David Mamet…

Movieline article *

The link above will take you to an article on Movieline.com that quotes, in full, a memo that Pulitzer winner David Mamet wrote to the writing staff of CBS’ The Unit, the show that Mamet executive produces.  The memo is a mini-master class in the art of dramatic storytelling, with basically all that one would need to know in order to write a great piece of drama, for film, television, or the stage.

* This article does contain a mild amount of language that some might consider offensive.

Meanwhile… back in Rehearsal…

Last night’s rehearsal was splendid. If, in your language, splendid is defined as: the passing of two hours during which amiable conversation is made concerning blood, guts, howling winds, putrescence….well, you get the idea….basic dinner conversation.

The task in rehearsal last night involved divvying up the lines of the four young ladies playing the Chorus. Apparently the “poor women of Canterbury” have two styles: gross and grosser. Other extremely applicable synonyms include (gotta love dictionary.com) creepy, revolting, disgusting, repulsive. It’s true. Ask anyone in the cast!

After the gag-fest, our SM team got to work spiking the stage. All this means, is that  we are laying down visible tape that marks out the actual dimensions of the stage…it also means practicing your math skills. That’s why I left the numerical conversions to the much more talented Stage Manager!

Can’t wait to find out what comes from tonight’s rehearsal!

Article on Playwrights’ royalty percentages

New York Times article

Some of you may or may not be aware of how the legality and royalty situation works in the theatre, but in recent years, it’s become more and more of an issue where producing organizations are asking for a percentage of future royalties on a play, in order to capitalize on the success of a play after they’ve produced it.  The two producing companies mentioned in this article, The Public Theater and the Roundabout Theatre are two significant stages in new work development, and this is a good step forward to relieve the burden placed on the potential for a playwright to actually see the financial benefit of the success of his or her own work.

Knights in Rehearsal

Knights on Stilts

Cast members of Murder in the Cathedral getting used to the stilts they will be wearing for their performance as the Knights who come to Canterbury to silence Archbishop Thomas Becket.

We are in the beginning stages of rehearsal, with some rough outline blocking done and some time spent on practical necessities (like stilt practice).  We have a long way to go over the next few weeks, but we are all excited about the progress that we’ve made already.

Stage Manager — Model of a Servant Leader

Being the completely-new-to-theatre person that I am, it will come as no as surprise to discover that I had never heard the term “stage manager” before coming here. Well guess what? I KNOW IT NOW! I discovered almost immediately that the Stage Manager of a show is the very picture of servant/leader, and deserves so much respect and gratitude.
For those of you out there who are as uninformed as I was when it comes to theatre, a stage manager is essentially the person in charge of keeping the show moving forward! That person is there from beginning, through auditions and every rehearsal, and eventually “calls” the show during performances. The reason I say that a stage manager is the ideal servant/leader, is that he/she is invariably in charge most of the time, and yet is also a servant to the needs of each person involved in the show.
Last fall, D.S. informed me that she would be stage managing for “Murder in the Cathedral” in the spring, and asked if i would like to be an Assistant Stage Manager. Well who am I to turn away an opportunity to display my vast theatrical ignorance?! I happily agreed, mostly because D.S. is one heck of a person, and I couldn’t possibly pass up a chance to work with her!
Well, two very large shows later, here we are; finally beginning rehearsals for “Murder in the Cathedral”. With the final member of our SM team, (S. B.-Assistant Stage Manager), we are full steam-ahead in this production! So far, one of my favorite parts of being an ASM is that I got to sit in on the casting process. It was a huge gift for me to be able to watch the creative process of choosing who would be cast. I saw a lot of thought and love poured into the decision-making, and it was beautiful to see.
As an Assistant Stage Manager, I try to make the Stage Manager’s job as easy as possible. That includes getting her coffee, doing whatever paperwork I can, helping prepare for rehearsals and meetings, and sometimes just singing in harmony while we take our minds off of things! Isn’t life as a theatre major fabulous?!

-G H


Well it is that time of year again when the annual Southeast Theatre Conference happens.  We are in Lexington, KY this year.

Today I had an opportunity to attend numerous sessions some good some not so good, some met expectations, some surpassed expectations, like the session hosted by Shawn Paul Evans.

He gave a presentation on new technology for Stage Managers.  It had some really good ideas and gadgets that are not only good for SM’s but for other theatre people as well.  Here is his presentation in PDF and Evernote, and a few other forms.

My favorite techno-gadget that was the Livescribe Pen. It is definitely something I want to try and see if I can incorporate it into my workflow.

Along those lines here are a few other related type devices that do a few similar & but also different things.  Canson Papershow & Inklet — Enjoy the techno stuff. 🙂

Southeastern Theatre Conference 2010

This week, about half of our department is at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) which this year is in Lexington, Kentucky.  This conference is held each year for theatre professionals, academics and students from all over the Southeastern part of the US. (Officially Virginia through Louisiana, but there are people here from all over the country).  Workshops and Keynote addresses, performances and committee meetings, networking and auditions and job contact meetings from Thursday morning through Saturday night.  Thousands of theatre people all under one roof.  Two of Belhaven’s performers are auditioning in front of more than a hundred companies and graduate programs looking for summer work, further education, or beyond.  Many other students are interviewing or presenting portfolios looking for work in technical or production related positions.

Stay tuned for posts about our individual experiences at SETC 2010!

NY Times article on being a parent and in the theatre


An article in the New York Times about the experience of Maddie Corman, a 40 year old mother of 3 who is now appearing in the new show on Broadway, Geoffrey Naufft’s “Next Fall”.

Regular topics of conversation in our department include how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and potentially raise a family while pursuing a life in the theatre, and how just gaining life experience can and will influence an actor’s abilities on stage.  This article touches both of those topics.