It’s been a true joy working on WORTHY at Adventure Stage Chicago which is the new devised work I’m directing. The show uses projections, puppets, movement, and fairytale tropes in a modern world to explore how youth identity is shaped by the media and technology. The cast is phenomenal and the designers are incredibly talented.
Here’s a recent interview talking about the show with my partner in crime, Dani Bryant, the one and only, Ada Grey!
Thrilled to be one of the featured Storytellers at Story Club South Side. My plan is to make you laugh…annnnnnd I think I will with this gem of a story!
Tuesday, February 17th Theme: RETURN OF THE SHORT MONTH Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan St
$10 suggested donation Doors open & open mic starts at 7:30 PM
Show starts at 8 PM
RETURN OF THE SHORT MONTH! – Even shorter than last year – two Featured Performers more, one minute shorter – This month we’ll have SIX storytellers telling you THREE minute stories. If brevity is the soul of wit, then this show is the wittiest.Our south side featured performers are:
– Emmy-Award Winning Writer & Improviser JOE JANES – West-Side Poet & Storyteller LUIS TUBENS – Essayist & Classically Trained Clown MICHELLE CABRAL
– A.V. Club Contributor, Playwright & Live Literati RANDALL COLBURN – Actor ALIF MUHAMMED
– Fulbright Scholar, Educator & Theatre-Creator SARAH ROSE GRABER
Story Club South Side is BYOB (we suggest Maria’s Packaged Goods, just up the street) and BYOPie (we suggest Pleasant House Bakery, which is right next to Maria’s, for the very best English meat pies you have ever had, son.) Produced by Will Hindmarch, Andrew Marikis, & Maura Clement. Hosted by Andrew Marikis.
As an Associate Artist with the National Theatre of Scotland, I’ve had to bite my tongue…until now! The Tin Forest has been publicly announced. So let’s talk about it.
The Tin Forest is a beautiful tale about an old man who lives in a desolate landscape surrounded by other people’s rubbish. Every night he dreams of a beautiful forest with animals and plants and decides to build what he’s imagining from the garbage around him. A bird lands on a tin tree he constructed, drops some seeds, and a real forest begins to grow around the trash. It’s a beautiful metaphor for Glasgow. A city that was run by industry and factories that has now been regenerated into a city that is full of culture, arts, vibrancy, and life.
The South Rotunda in 1896.
We will be taking over the derelict South Rotunda structure along the river Clyde and creating an immersive journey for audiences to experience this story with puppetry, toy theatre, projections, and music. However the production has a massive community engagement portion in which we will be creating art with the people in Springburn, Hillington, Govan, and the East End that explores the stories from each area in relation to the Tin Forest. Since the show is running in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games, there is also an international component in which young artmakers from across the commonwealth countries will come together to devise a theatrical work that leads to the rotunda.
Some of the Tin Forest Team: Philippa Tomlin, Simon Sharkey, Gavin Glover, and Graham MacLaren
This project is massive and will cover the entire city of Glasgow. I’m beaming with excitement! The development work has been really strong, the artists involved are highly skilled, and the community engagement has been well received and fruitful. I’m looking forward to showing Glasgow as a city “near nowhere and close to forgotten, that was filled with all the things that everyone wanted.”
Fernanda Prata and Jesse Kovarsky in The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable
Punchdrunk is a British theatre company known for creating immersive, site specific productions where the audience is free to choose what to watch and where to go. The company was formed in 2000 and their style of “epic storytelling in sensory theatrical worlds” has continued to evolve over the years. Each production they make starts with the space. From there, they decide what story that space could tell and begin to design and create until the show becomes a mixture of art installation, one-to-one theatre, voyueristic scenework, and dance.
I love Punchdrunk. I love what they’ve done for reinventing theatre. I love that they create theatre in non-traditional spaces. I love that the audience is empowered to choose what they want to see in their shows. And I LOVE that non-theatregoing people want to come back again and again.
That being said, I was delighted when I got accepted into the Punchdrunk masterclasses in London. As an audience member, their work feels magical because so many characters and tracks are running at once and you can’t fathom how they do it… so a chance to see behind the scenes and breakdown their process for creating new work was fascinating.
Artistic Director, Felix Barrett and Associate Director and Choreographer, Maxine Doyle spoke about their process for the creation of their current show “The Drowned Man” with the National Theatre. They discovered a former Royal Mail sorting office building by Paddington Station and upon walking through the open space, it felt like being on a movie studio lot. That became their container as they began to craft the show.
The Drowned Man Poster
Associate Artists, Conor Doyle and Fernanda Prata led a series of exercises that are used to generate content for their shows. This included tableau making inspired from the architecture, integrating props, the effect of music, eye contact, choreography, actioning, peripheral vision, touch, merging pedestrian and abstract movement, and ultimately creating pieces on the set of “The Drowned Man.” The work was physical, clever, and daring. We found the potential in the play space around us, and by using the vocabulary Punchdrunk taught us, we were able to use those tools to create performances.
I learned so much from the work that my brain was swimming. I learned that witches are the coolest, I can run upside down in a phone booth, seduce everyone, see out of your back, Felix Barrett has great hair, invading audience space takes extreme specificity to detail, amazing things can happen in cars, love your superstar designers, and always brush your teeth… “because this is immersive and you might snog someone.”
Playwright’s Studio Scotland is a company that fosters the development of new and emerging writers. Every month they host an event called Stage to Page which provides the opportunity for playwrights to submit a selection of their work for the chance to have it staged by professional actors and directors. It’s an exciting forum for new work to become realized.
Playwright Ros Borland and myself
I was brought on board as a Director and had a team of actors to work with on a piece called “Gold Dust” by Ros Borland. The play was a fascinating story chronicling the trials and tribulations of the coal miners during the strike in a small town called Dalmellington. Ros has a background in producing and writing for television and film. As a result, her work has a great cinematic quality to it. By working together, we generated a performance that brought the story to fruition.
The whole event was a great success and a fantastic way of showcasing talented artmakers in a true collaborative environment.
The National Theatre of Scotland has charted some new territory with a project called “Other;” a digital gaming adventure that takes participants all over the city of Dundee. The app for the game is downloaded onto an iPhone and starts at the Dundee Rep Theatre. You pop in your headphones and follow the gps map and directions to each new challenge or story. The journey takes you down high street, through a graveyard, a mall, into a cafe and along a warehouse district; all the while pointing your attention to different parts of the city landscape that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. The piece was directed by Philippa Tomlin and the game was created by an independent game development studio called Quartic Llama. It made for a fascinating collaboration between digital gaming artists and theatre practitioners… a fusion I certainly hope to see evolve! If you’re ever in Dundee, Scotland be sure to check it out.
I recently returned from a productive trip to London, filled with development/workshops, meetings, and shows. The new project with David Rosenberg, Frauke Requardt, and Fuel Theatre is off to a fantastic start. The piece is a highly physical creation to be performed on rooftops and is already beginning to take shape after several days of choreography, sound recordings, and some set construction.
I met with Mark Ball from the LIFT Festival and learned all about the structure and plans for this summer’s festival. LIFT travels the world to bring global stories to London, transforming the city to stage, presenting unique cultural experiences and sharing the stories of the world with the culturally curious. Bringing international companies to London is a huge undertaking and one that has been refined after 32 years of being in existence. The festival hosts work from different companies in addition to commissioning and producing their own new work.
My trip also included quick visits with Frantic Assembly, Louise Stephens Alexander from the Royal Court, and Henriette Morrison, the Artistic Director for Theatre of Europe, to learn more about exciting projects on the horizon.
I’ll be returning in about a month to continue the work, but left the city feeling inspired and enthusiastic about the innovative approaches to new art being created.
The National Theatre of Scotland is currently touring a production of “Dunsinane” by David Greig which I saw last week at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. He is one of my favorite playwrights; most notably for “The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart.” His versatile style and true skill for utilizing prose, playful whimsy, song, heightened drama, humor, and inventive storytelling through audience engagement has always stuck with me.
Gillian Gourlay and David Greig
On the stage of King's Theatre
I got the chance to meet David Greig and speak with him about making new plays. I’ve always been fascinated by the audience experience when seeing his shows and wanted to know more about what he hopes audiences take away from his work. He responded by saying that he aims for an audience to be “swept away into the story.” It’s a simple idea at the core but chock full of much larger and complex layers. He tries to use his words to transport the audience into a space that lets one feel and connect with characters and emotional situations. He attempts to make audiences laugh, just when they are about to cry, take what we know and give it a slightly modern touch, and have enough of a political resonance to connect the story to a world that needs to hear its message. His collaborative use of devising workshops to help generate the ideas and language, for “Dunsinane” in particular, are essential to his creative process.