Saturday, July 31, 2010

So Glad We Had This Time Together

All right, an hour away from the late show, and truly, if anything happens from here on out, you should've been here to witness it.

And so, this was a hell of a weekend, incredibly fun folks, and, again, big huge thanks to the folks at Theater Off Jackson for welcoming us as warmly as they have.

On behalf of Connor Toms, Hana Lass, Deb Fialkow, Meaghan Arnette and myself, thank you for reading!

Stay tuned for next weekend, where your blog hosts will be Chris Bell, Troy Fischnaller, Kimberly Coffin, Amy Mikel, MJ Sieber among others. If you missed the shows this weekend, come next, when some more impossibly talented people participate to bring you another 14 new plays in forty-eight hours.

With that, I'll let PE play us out.

An Actor Prepared, continued continued...

John Lutyens just came in from outside. From the smoking porch. Lutyens doesn't smoke. He says he only smoked half of one. For his character. Cuz, apparently, he's a method actor. An Actor Prepares.

Rehearsal Drop In: #1 Boom!

Stepping into the rehearsal room, you'd witness Mik Kuhlman drilling the cast on their choreography for the top of the scene. We're talking about maybe 90seconds worth of stage time, all set to the Mission: Impossible theme, and while it all seems simplistic enough, there are a large number of details to take care of.

Once things have been ironed out, they combine the intro with the rest of the text, and we get to witness the magic of 14/48 at its simplest...

Rehearsal Drop In: #4 Volunteer Night

Take Kaleb Hagan-Kerr's British innocent, add Rob Burgess and Imogen Love's repressed non-profit execs, toss in James Weidman's weasel-phobic flunkie, then mix in a kind of manic screwball energy. Blend. Bake. Put icing on it. Serve while hot.

Tech show #7, Stephanie Timm's "A Fish Story"

The largest cast of the night -- 4 dudes, 1 lady. So of course, the lady plays a stripper... or a fish... it's a Stephanie Timm play so it's probably both... the rare, mythical Stripperfish. Perfect way to end this summer's 14/48.

Director John Vreeke walks the cast and crew through the opening moments, essentially beginning a cue to cue.

The aforementioned gold-sequined jacket is draped over a seat in the back row of the house. Will it make an appearance in the course of the play? Will it be saved as a surprise for later? Will it even be used at all? The suspense is killing me!!!

Its the last tech. People are punchy. The smell of pizza wafts down into the theater from the lobby upstage, and we are all aware that others are partaking of cheesy goodness while we are not.

After a series of fits and starts, the actors get to start rehearsing... but not for long. Lights, once again, need to be leveled. The band needs to rehearse internal cues once, twice, three times.

And the final cue. Now that's how to end a festival.

Rehearsal Drop In: #2 A Cock and a Carnation

It is the time of day where the individual pieces are tightening the screws to their plays.

Which brings several moments to shine in Brendan Healy's play, which concerns itself with a strange love triangle between Mark Fullerton's shy wallflower, Mike Dooly's hillbilly ne'erdowell and Gretchen Douma's sexpot.

The fact that Gretchen uses beer instead of milk on her Lucky Charms should tell you what you need to know about the milieu.

Tech show #6, Jerry Kraft's "On Matters of Estate"

Director M. Elizabeth Eller starts her tech with a cue to cue with a hope of running the whole piece after. Luckily, the band is only needed at the top and end.

I watched a rehearsal for this piece earlier in the day and was really quite impressed and I've been excited to see this tech all day.

So far the tech is simple. Lights and sound up, lights and sound down. Easy peasy. The emphasis is the script and the actors, like all good two-hander plays should be.

Eller, after hearing the band's rendition of "Why Can't We Be Friends?" announces "Band -- I want to have your babies." I wish I could say who, but someone calls back "You can have mine!"

The actors struggle with their lines, and Eller tells them to "push through it", hoping they'll find their way. Two-handers are hard, this one especially, and actors David Anthony Lewis and Deb Pralle are doing a damn good job of pushing to the next beat. I can only imagine how stressful the next few hours before show time will be for them. A lot of lines to memorize, and a lot of emotions to delve. Good luck, guys.

Tech show #5, Mallery Avidon's "I Hate Bikes"

Veteran actor Seanjohn Walsh is wearing a tuxedo t-shirt. 'Nuff said.

There's confusion whether the 20 minute tech time has started. No official call has been made, but action is occurring. Decisions on lights and microphones are debated.

The band breaks into a thumping post-punk groove with a heavy bass line and a blistering fuzz guitar. The feedback is turned on high for added effect -- it works. The band once again proves it's worth.

Actors still pace, rehearsing lines as yards of microphone cable are uncoiled. Director Paul Budraitis converses patiently with Belyea and superstar stage manager Lou Butler over lighting and sound cues, at one time needing to call for quiet onstage, then commences with directing the tech for his play. This transition from intermission into Play #5 is a tricky one and needs everyone's complete focus, which is getting harder to do, given how late in the day it's getting.

The band has a lot to do in this one, and there's not a whole lot of time to practice it. These things have a way of coming together when they need to, though; the magic of 14/48...

One minute... the last moment is found... the next show has moved into the house... apologies are made (whether necessary or not)... aaaaaaaaannnnnnnndddddddd.... TIME!!

Tech show #4, Becky Bruhn's "Volunteer Night"

The next show has moved in. The actors, looking very posh, find their places backstage. Director Shanga Parker gets things going immediately. Again, there are internal music cues that the cast has not yet heard, and staging the band has not yet seen. The overlapping of the two is never seamless, but luckily, everyone involved is a professional and it goes well.

Rob Burgess is wearing an absolutely AMAZING tie!! And his dumb show at the beginning of the piece had me rudely laughing out loud.

The actors get to go through their entire play, which I'm noticing is really quite a luxury. Let's hope it helps, they're obviously having fun and are cracking each other, and all of us, into hysterics. I imagine the 10:30 performance will be quite an event.

The band song for the transition into intermission will go down as one of the best in 14/48 history. I'm just saying...

Tech show #3, Wesely K. Andrew's "And Nothing Too"

Three stools. Three mic stands. Brian Faker is going minimalist.

This play is obviously set to a rhythm. Faker guides the cast and band in tandem. There are lights not working and microphones needed. Veteran actor Brandon Whitehead takes the reigns and walks the cast through the opening. There seems to be a lot more people in the audience and are told to hush multiple times. People are antsy.

Faker and Belyea discuss what lights are needed, what needs to go, and both agree that, as always, 'Less is More'.

Five minutes... Final decisions are made... Microphone levels are set... The next play has moved into the house... aaaaaaaaannnnnnnnndddddd.... an extra valuable 30 seconds... aaaaaaaaannnnnnnnddddddd.... TIME!!

Rehearsal Drop In: #6 On Matters Of Estate

Melizabeth Eller, David Anthony Lewis and Deb Pralle are in the middle of tackling the emotional issues found within Jerry Kraft's piece. The 14/48 gods know how to cast as Lewis and Pralle seem perfectly suited to Kraft's 2nd intimate, intricate and decidedly adult piece in as many days.

This one explores the semi-sensual remains of a marriage about to dissolve...

Rehearsal Drop In: #3 And Nothing Too

The simple truth is that Brian Faker does not need submarines and mermaids.

The group is approaching the material musically, wherein the cast (Brandon Whitehead, Sylvester Kamara, Jon Lutyens) functions like a jazz combo in action. Faker sits back listens, interjects, has them start over again, picking up rhythms, slowing down patterns.

The piece has a gumbo jambalaya kind of feel to it as I walk out the door.

Tech show #2, Brendan Healy's "A Cock and A Carnation"

Veteran actor Mike Dooly sports a camouflage visor, a t-shirt saying "Money Shot" and flip flops. Type casting, obviously. Scripts still in hand, he and Mazen Award winner Mark Fullerton walk their blocking onstage. Gretchen Douma, in a quite fetching bathrobe watches the action from a couch brought onstage during the transition.

Speaking of transitions, quite a lot of time seems to be being spent on the transition into this scene. It's the first one, of course, and hopefully the other will go more smoothly.

Director Katherine Van Meter recognizes that there is still a prop missing, but doesn't press that this is anything dire. I can't help but be reminded how amazing 14/48 is. These "problems" arise, and are handled. Questions are asked and answered. The magic of spontaneous theater just happens. Truly, it's amazing.

Back to the tech. The band isn't needed in this play, and they take the opportunity to take a break in the house. The actors are having far too much fun with this play. Van Meter let's them go through the entire scene, and they use the time effectively, getting a feel for the space and the stage. I'm excited to see the audience's reaction to it -- the actors are cracking me up!

Four minutes... Set pieces are re-spiked... Light specials are settled on... The next play has moved into the house... at the very last minute (literally) Van Meter asks the band what "Turkey in the Straw" would sound like in minor key (it sounds awesome)... aaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnddddddd..... TIME!!

Performance Space, Before Tech

Apparently TOJ Tech Meggan Davis was sent backstage in order to find a green extension cord; she returns with blue and yellow one. "Together they make green!"

Shawn Belyea and Patti West are refining the light hang for tonight's show, it is here that Patti reveals her love for light design and , of all things, gobos. TOJ has your gobo needs covered. We play a couple of rounds of Find The Gobo while she looks for a water-themed one. (She wins both rounds.)

Meanwhile, the band is rehearsing the music for Show #7 (A Fish Story; keyboardist Michael Owcharuk leads this session. Once again, the cojón is used enthusiastically. Then the tune morphs into War's Why Can't We Be Friends?

They break this down for a few minutes before moving on to the coup de grace: Tom Waits. Hang On St. Christopher.

Tech show #1, Ramon Esquivel's "Boom"

The actors pace the house, chanting their lines under their breath. Gary Menendez has constructed what can only be called, as he puts it, a "talking heads mask". It looks like a medieval stockade built for four people.

Mik Kuhlman starts directing hard and fast--getting the band going and the actors practicing with the strange new prop (that they've never seen until this moment, and are adapting to nicely).

Shawn Belyea works on the lights above Mik as she goes through the multitude of sound effects with the band, politely shushing the actors as they keep trying to go over their lines.

Seven minutes left, the next show has moved into the house. Mik, the cast, and the band go over last second choreography, timing out lights and sound for the opening image and the final moment, promises of "we'll work on that later" are made, aaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnndddddd......... TIME!
The cast of Volunteer Night from L to R: Kaleb Hagan-Kerr, Imogen Love, James Weidman, Rob Burgess, and Director Shanga Parker.

And Nothing Too in mid-rehearsal (clockwise from bottm): Playwright Wes Andrews, Director Brian Faker, Brandon Whitehead, Jon Lutjens, Sylvester Kamara.

moment of genius

I'm hanging out in the theater before tech starts. The band is coming up with the best way to play Def Leopard's 'Pour Some Sugar on Me'. All I'll say is what they came up with is pretty awesome. As Eray Anderson exclaimed, "F-Yeah, my people!"

Moment with Gary Menendez

Menendez: "Fifteen and a half, close enough. Fifteen and a half, close enough."

He's measuring out spaces for a contraption that will isolate the heads of five actors, "kind of like--you know, I was reminded of [Erin Stewart's] Mr. Jibbers, from OTB, that Tyrone [Brown] did. That piece, and the thing is that the physical demands of doing that made Mark [Fullerton] a little crazy. Then it turns out to be the hit of the night."

Gary says that it has been a fairly smooth day. "I like the scripts today, they seem grounded."


"Explore the rotational capacity of your stool"
--Brian Faker


The Scene Transition That Could've Been

"I just broke my underwire doing cartwheels with Annie [Jantzer] and now I'm getting stabbed repeatedly." - Lou Butler, Veteran Stage Manager

Lunch observations

The artists come in for lunch. The actors, directors, designers refill on coffee, water, snacks and beer. Scripts and run plots are in hand, the first desperate attempt at memorizing and feeling prepared, however mildly. The band sits to the side, shoveling in food as fast as they can, knowing they still have a lot more work ahead.

Veteran actor Seanjohn Walsh sits alone, munching a sandwich, capitalizing on a much-needed break, which I interrupt for my own selfish gain. Walsh is recovering from, quote: "an accidental physically improvised, self-inflicted head injury" that occurred during last night's 10:30 performance. When asked how today's show will differ, he replies "It's a bit lighter today. I get to MFA today." But knowing what I know to expect of Seanjohn, i'd be surprised if he comes offstage without a bruise, at least.

I wander downstairs to see what action is taking place...downstairs...ahem. Shawn Belyea sits behind the operating board in the TOJ light booth. Belyea is going through the light plot he's designed for tonight's show. I mused on Belyea's position here at 14/48 and asked, "Shawn, is there a hat you haven't worn for 14/48?" "I've never been a writer," he replied. "Would you like to be someday?" "Yeah, but I'm sure I'd write something horrible. It'd be 3:30 in the morning, I'd have written nothing so far, and I'd think, 'how about a bunch of people in diapers having a poop fight?' It wouldn't be substantive, but it'd be entertaining." Please God, please let Shawn Belyea write for 14/48 someday.

Walking outside, I run into virgin actor Dan Brockley running his lines and veteran band member Eray Anderson being, well, Eray. When asked how his first weekend has gone so far, Brockley says "The best way to introduce yourself into 14/48 is being in a show with Brandon Whitehead and Seanjohn Walsh. Nothing could be more chaotic and entertaining." Head wounds aside, I can only imagine. And Eray, when asked how things are going as of now, very astutely announced "We...right now...are in the middle of it..." Well put, mon frere...

Notes From The AL/Blog Desk

The Artist Liasion office is sort of the liver of the 14/48 weekend. If you have something that needs fixing, come in and mention it, and if they can't help you right away, they will at least help you get the ball rolling toward a solution.

Mik Kuhlman comes in giggling. Peter: What do you need, Mik?

Mik: A couple more hours. (Laughs.)

The discussion goes into the large number of accents that Matt Shimkus came up with for the show she's directing, Ramon Esquivel's Boom.

Brian Faker comes in minutes later.

"How's it going, Faker?"

"You know, my days of taking it easy on them are over." Yeah? "Gone are the days of having them build submarines and mermaids...This is a show (Wes Andrews' And Nothing Too) I could do submarines and mermaids with. So, I asked for three music stands." Okay. "Apparently this is a problem."

Peter: Oh, I'm about to get them now.

Brian: Really?

14/48 virgin actor Ben McFadden, too cool for school.

When asked what his feelings are on his first weekend, McFadden says "I came in with the attitude of 'Dare to Suck'." And luckily he's had the opportunity. (kidding)

But after last night's performance, where McFadden, like so many other men before him, donned a dress in his very first 14/48 show, Ben says "I mean, once you've seen a man in a dress, you know him, know what I mean?"

Welcome to the craziness, Ben.

Heather Gautschi learning lines.

lines overheard while eavesdropping...

"Surgery's awesome. Especially if you're kinda hung over."

"Could you deal with it? Fucking a Governor?"

"There's no need to be ugly."

"You are a very very fat weasel."

"That's no stripper. That's Aquamarine."

"Your Plan B won't work, I booby-trapped it!"

An Actor Prepares, continued

I watched the beginning of "On Matters of Estate", Jerry Kraft's play directed by M. Elizabeth Eller. Actors David Anthony Lewis and Deb Pralle are obviously mining some pretty weighty material. About 4 lines in, Lewis stopped, apologized and asked to start again. He walked to the side, started shaking a countertop, muttering obscenities under his breath, turned around and announced "I need counseling. I think I need counseling", then started the scene. It was exponentially better.

Happens all the time...

In true 14/48 fashion, Gary Menendez entered into a rehearsal with a prop, most likely sought after from far away and under duress, asking if the prop was worthy, only to have the actors and director say "oh, we no longer need that".

God Bless you, Gary Menendez. We couldn't do this without you.

Brief Background on Sylvester Kamara

One of the best aspects of participating in 14/48 is the meeting of new people. So many new connections between artists are made here, it's an unspoken benefit of doing it.

So, meet Sylvester Kamara.

Sylvester's been working locally for about the last ten years, mostly doing readings here and there, the occasional Book-It, Seattle Rep, touring Shakespeare show, but mostly he's been working with Living History; a traveling theater troupe that visits High Schools in the Washington area.

A Moment With Brandon Whitehead and Sylvester Kamara

"They got the funny yesterday, not so much today," Brandon sleepily declares out in the smoking closet. "Everybody gets one." This is all delivered in the wryly dry way of his.

Virgin Actor Sylvester Kamara steps into the closet, and we take a couple of seconds to congratulate him on his inaugural voyage of 14/48. "Thanks, I had a lot of fun the second time through." Yeah? "Yeah, you know, the nerves from the first time through went away."

It turns out Sylvester and Brandon will be acting together tonight in Wes Andrews' And Nothing Too, something of a creation myth with a Raven (Kamara) and a Weasel (Whitehead).

"Don't you think we'd make a great Christmas card," Whitehead asks, cozying up to Kamara, who gamely plays along.

So, what do you think of the experience so far?

"This thing just highlights the areas I need to work on [as an actor]. I find that I have certain comfortable habits when I work on a project, and, so far, 14/48...No comfort zone, you know?"

"See, I'm on the other end of the spectrum, there's nothing that's outside of my comfort zone," Whitehead pipes in. "Except maybe vaginas."

"I'm comfortable with vaginas."

"Yeah, not me...They have teeth you know."

The remainder of this tangent is best left to the great lost conversations of the universe, but it ends with Kamara stating, "I'd rather lose a finger."

One show under his belt and he can hold his own with Brandon Whitehead.

First moments, continued...

play #1, "Boom" by Ramon Esquivel is rehearsing in what appears to be a one-bedroom apartment on the top floor. Seriously. there's lounge chairs and couches, a queen sized bed, and mood lighting. Director Mik Kuhlman sits in one of these chairs and watches her actors run through their lines. Just sitting to the side and listening was hard for me--every actor is using a different dialect, some very UN-PC, and they're hilarious. Apparently, Esquivel has taken the concept of "weasel" to mean an espionage/James Bond-ish national security information dropper, and the different actors are different spies all come together for a -- well, i wont spoil it for you...
A Fish Story's cast: Daniel Brockley, Ben McFadden, Chris Bell, Heather Gautschi, Sam Hagen

A Fish Story's Director John Vreeke and Playwright Stephanie Timm

The 14/48 Band

Jodi Paul is unsure what to make of Kathryn Van Meter's actor draw. Peter Dylan-O'Connor has a Rainman moment.

Brian Faker and Wes Andrews have an early morning discussion about And Nothing Too.

First Moments Even More Continued...

More from the frontline!

The Band: When I sat in they were jamming to a famous spy theme, followed by foley work capturing the sound of ticking and a gas leak. I can only speculate that the results come showtime will be nothing short of "explosive."

Play #3: Director Brian Faker, sitting at the table with his actors and playwright, seemed to be on the hunt for a specific sound-scape with his casting: "All three of you are great, so when you switch the combinations it makes a different song." However, by the time I ducked out, he seemed to have settled on role assignments. To one actor he instructed, "It's a corpulent creature in danger of swallowing creation." This blogger will leave it to you, the audience, to guess which actor he was talking to...

Play #6: M. Elizabeth Eller (I'm told the "M" stands for "Mystery") seated her two actors, David Anthony Lewis and Deb Pralle, on couches across from one another as they read through Jerry Kraft's script exploring a wealthy couple in the first discussions of divorce. M kept instructing the actors to smile more, which, suffice to say, made things seem that much nastier.

Play#4: The actors in Becky Bruhn's "Volunteer Night" were already up on their feet when I popped in. Director Shanga Parker gave Imogen Love permission to "really not be nice" to a particular character, a note which Imogen seemed to take to with gusto. James Weidman plays a world-weary security guard with an unfortunate name; you'll have to come see tonight to find out what his name is...

Play #7: I "peeked" in (pun intended) just in time to witness Chris Bell unzip his pants and "dig deep for his character." I had to leave shortly after because I was laughing too loudly, but I'd hazard a guess that tonight's Stephanie Timm play may very well be a tribute to a certain by-gone establishment with a famous marquee.

P to the D to the O to the C

oh, PDOC.
How we love you, so.
So many hats--literally and figuratively.
So many facial hairs. Just literally.

There's so much that happens in the runnings of 14/48. Peter Dylan O'Connor is one of the reasons they happen so smoothly.

Here's to you, PUD. I mean, PDOC.

Observations Going Into Day Two

I briefly mentioned the yin and yang nature of 14/48 weekends during an update yesterday, and there have been some differences between yesterday and today.

For instance, the scripts today are a little longer than yesterdays, each more detailed before. This is what usually happens on Saturdays, as the writers and directors know the limits of what the design team, who in turn are more aware of what they are working with.

Also, after the strain of delivering a tight polished package on Friday, Saturdays then to be a bit edgier, shabbier, and in the end, provides a more adventurous evening. (Not that this is a hard and fast rule, but in general, it's how it works out.)

Hey, it wasn't reported on yesterday, but big thanks are due to the fine folks at BOOM Noodle, for providing an excellent dinner of both vegetarian and meet noodle dishes!

You don't know how weird it is to walk into the Actor Draw and hear the band already rehearsing first thing in the AM. Who are these people, and what have they done with the real musicians?

First moments

i just did a quick walkthrough of a couple of the rehearsal rooms. we're still in the discussion phase, the let's bounce ideas around phase.

play #7, Stephanie Timm's "A Fish Story", is rehearsing across the intersection on Jackson and 7th, in an abandoned store front. All the actors are lined up against exposed drywall, sitting crosslegged on concrete floors; the director, John Vreeke and Timm sit in chairs in front of them, explaining the themes and points of the play, while a gold sequined jacket lays haphazard upon the floor. It looks like a strange urban steam-punk art installation. As i stand to leave, I hear Chris Bell read a line--"All I want is to jerk off and go home!" Can't wait for this one.

play #2, Brandon Healy's "A Cock and A Carnation" is rehearsing in an extremely small space just inside the front door to Canoe. I enter the conversation mid-stream, but Mike Dooly is describing how he sees his character. He wants a cigarette hanging from his mouth, AND chewing tobacco in his lip. Really? Both? "Yeah," he says, "don't you remember those assholes?" Yes, i sure do.

play #5, Mallery Avidon's "I Hate Bikes" is rehearsing in a space above and behind Theater Off Jackson's main door. It's a low-ceilinged storage space for office supplies. From my experience, the best 14/48 magic happens under the most extreme of pressures. Good luck to the kids in the crawl space.

And they're off!

"Pop Goes The Weasel" is officially off and running! The actors have been drawn at random and assigned to their plays.
Whereas yesterday morning every actor was surely wishing for that scene-chewing role that would allow them to shine above all others, Day Two of 14/48 often brings a different state of mind for many. Silent prayers to the 14/48 gods frequently drift towards, "Please don't let me get cast in the two-hander!" or "Please spare me the page-and-a-half monologue!"
Directors and playwrights, of course, have their own silent prayers. Director Brian Faker, upon drawing a name from the hat, groaned, "Oh, no...Brandon Whitehead. Can I have the keg in my rehearsal room?" Good luck, Brian!
The Band, not wasting any time, underscored the entire drawing process with groovy tunes floating up from the stage where they were already rocking out.

And now the companies have dispersed to their various nooks and crannies and all is quiet in the Canoe...for now.

An Actor Prepares

Actors are pouring into the Canoe lobby this morning. Munching french toast and bagels, downing coffee and chatting up fellow 14/48'ers.

When asked how people feel about today,

Mike Dooley said, "Day Two is easier than Day One. You're locked in."

Jon Lutyens said, "I tempted the fates yesterday. We'll see what happens today."

Alison Strickland said, "It's Pop Goes The Weasel. I just don't want to be naked."

and David Anthony Lewis said, "Doughnuts doughnuts doughnuts!!!!...zzzzzzzz"

It's gonna be a good night.

Pictures from 7/30 Performance: Truth or Dare

Heather Gautschi presents pictorial evidence of malfeasance to Imogen Love (not pictured) and Mike Dooly. (Something to Declare)

Brandon Whitehead and Seanjohn Walsh in a rare moment of clarity in Dorkfest.

Erin Fetridge takes some of Sam Hagen's matters into her own hands. (Fireworks Tonight)

Sylvester Kamara in full Mayan regalia. (Prophecy)

James Weidman and Chris Spott determining just who is the title character in The Game.

Ben McFadden and Rob Burgess, despite appearances, are not performing a drag version of Golden Girls, instead they are trying to support a reluctant Bachelorette.

Jason Sharp admonishes Chris Bell about the necessity of his plan in Spaghetti Tuesday.

All pictures by Alfonso Poso, to see the full 14/48 portfolio visit Alfonso's Picasa album.

The Best Part of Waking Up

Ahhhh...Breakfast of Champions. As our playwrights and directors consult over their scripts, the first of the actors start wandering in from the I.D. streets. Does that french toast taste good, Kaleb?

Overheard in the hum of the early morning preparations:

A member of the band marvels over a script, "This is a pretty good one--I LIKE this one, actually."....

Playwright Stephanie Timm cackling hysterically and clapping her hands as director John Vreeke sketches something on the back of his script....

A director instructing the Band, " when it's done, people go, 'holy F**K, what was THAT?!"

Here's hoping all our fearless 14/48 crew follow the advice on the Parker Bros. boardgame found in the lobby here at Canoe: "GO FOR IT!"

July 31st: Pop Goes the Weasel!

Play #1: Boom
by Ramon Esquivel
directed by Mik Kuhlman

Matt Shimkus
Chris Spott
Allison Strickland
Christina Mastin

Play #2: A Cock and A Carnation
by Brendan Healy
directed by Katherine Van Meter

Mike Dooly
Mark Fullerton
Gretchen Douma

Play #3: And Nothing Too
by Wesley K. Andrews
directed by Brian Faker

Sylvester Kamara
John Lutyens
Brandon Whitehead

Play #4: Volunteer Night
by Becky Bruhn
directed by Shanga Parker

Rob Burgess
Kaleb Hagan-Kerr
James Weidman
Imogen Love

Play #5: I Hate Bikes
by Mallery Avidon
directed by Paul Budraitis

Jason Sharp
Seanjohn Walsh
Erin Fetridge

Play #6: On Matters of Estate
by Jerry Kraft
directed by M. Elizabeth Eller

David Anthony Lewis
Deb Pralle

Play #7: A Fish Story
by Stephanie Timm
directed by John Vreeke

Daniel Brockley
Ben McFadden
Chris Bell
Sam Hagen
Heather Gautschi


Tick-Tick-Tick ...

In just under the wire. This will be fun.

- Ramon Esquivel

Friday, July 30, 2010

Theme Draw for Saturday's Show

Theme for Saturday, July 31st: Pop Goes The Weasel.

And thus, the process begins again. No, really, see you tomorrow.


Round one done!
Mad shuffling to get ready for the second show. I get to go be audience now, SEE YA!
More last minute line cramming.
Chris Spott whisper yells "PUT IT AWAY" then adds... "if you don't know it by now..."
Good wisdom for theater in general. But does it apply when you only got your lines 10 hours ago?
It may be, but I am seeing lots of actors hanging on to those scripts for dear life. I don't blame them.

I just turned around and there is a director drawing on her actor who is wearing a GIANT headdress and little else. So Sparkly! I can't wait to hear the audience reaction when that is revealed.

Breaking News!

Sadly, this news will come to you second hand.

In the 8:00pm show, while the revised version of Becky Bruhn's Dorkfest was running, Brandon "Straight Face" Whitehead, went completely off the rails. The cause in unknown, but mere minutes later, while scene partner Daniel Brockley was on-stage, shirtless, Whitehead joined him in hairless nakedness and while, you know, re-writing the script on the fly, the two of them lost it again.


Now, word has it that, miraculously, Seanjohn Walsh managed to keep it together, and kept on trying to get them back on track by giving them cues. The keeping it together I buy. It's the "getting them back on track" that I have trouble with. Those of you who've worked with him know what I'm talking about: If given the chance to create chaos on stage, ShackJack is the kind of guy who will jump on the opportunity.

I could be very wrong about this instance, but we'll see.

Now, I'm just hoping that instance gets repeated during the 10:30pm show.

UPDATE - Turns out the bit about Seanjohn in legit! There were other details to the event that would be best seen to be believed.

UPDATE 2 - Ask me sometime about the second show.


Allison Stricklan is trying to stay calm and energized at the same time. She is alternating the calm breathing and the shaking her self up for energy. Show 7. So much time to wait.

Intermission comes nd backstage EXPLODES with actors and directors and oh my god's.
Beers are being quickly refilled.
Some first act directors are checking in with their actors back here. Mostly just giving the love, but I am hearing some plans to fix things for the second show. Train wreck is mentioned again. Several times. Brian Faker is having a big discussion with the band about the cues for the first show of the second act. Lots of people in and out and squeezing through. Crew has cleaned up everything from the first act is and running after things for the second.
Sustained hysterical laughter onstage. No words. What are they DOING out there?!!!!!
This is torture to not be watching.
3rd show is up.
It appears that the pantless gentlemen are on 4th as they are working their way over near the entrance. They are apparently old pantless gentlemen as Jason is working his way slowly with a can and Chris Bell is now slowly and painfully hobbling along with a walker. But there is some drumming from the band and now lots of spontaneous but shaking back stage. David Lewis in a trench coat with only sock and a hat shaking his booty is a sight to behold.

Most actors huddle right after they leave stage to process how it all went down. I hear trainwreck mentioned from one group.

And now another scene change. There is like a 3 foot area where the actors enter and so does the stuff. Tricky.

more backstage

First show sounds successful and is over now.
I can hear some awesome yodeling from the band and then a CRAP ton of furniture just got hurled back stage by the awesome run crew. Only a TEENY crash. Now, they have to try to quietly wheel it all out of the way while the second show is starting. Stage Manager Lou Butler is back here and they team is whispering furiously, working out scene change plans. They have the job that nobody says anything about until something goes wrong. Kudos to their awesomeness!
And now I have been notified that I must check out the man candy on stage. I was told that he "broke" the crew when he took his shirt off during tech. Apologies to the smart and complete person that is that actor, but HAWT.

backstage antics

Chris Bell is talking to himself in the mirror.
Brandon and Seanjohn ARE TALKING. I am telling.
Mike Dooley's face just got really intense. He was a jovial 2 seconds ago. I think he is getting into character. A character with scary eyes.
There is a whisper chorus of actors whisper whispering their lines back here.
First show is getting some good giggles out there so far.
Overheard "I'm just grabbing tit"

Pre-Show Meeting Detritus

- Apparently, it was a generally smooth day all around. Good job, troop!

- JJisafool commented earlier today: "Why does 14/48 not just buy hardcore porn mags in bulk because we need some every damn time." This is a very good point, and I suspect that somehow the magazines that are bought sprout legs and walk away from the storage area. Still, while this problem exists, it's somewhat worth it for the discussions that arise while "auditioning" new "talent" for the shows. I've put the bug in people's ear, however, that these magazines will likely come in handy next week.

- The running crew is standing agog at the bottom of the stairs with beers in their hands. It's quite a sight.

- By the way, they've cast two magazines, one for the family oriented 8pm show, another for the 10:30p show. Apparently, there is such a thing as a family friendly porn magazine.

- Hey, how about that Alfonso Poso? Again, you can check out his complete 14/48 album here. More pics to come tonight!

- I feel like Larry King in USA Today, when I write these random notes.

- And the 8:00pm show is under way now. Excellent. Me, I'm waiting for the 10:30pm. Call me crazy, but I prefer to see the shows after they've run it with an audience once, add in the notion that it's "closing night" for that particular play (when actors tend to relax and release and play a bit), it's more of an enjoyable proposition. At least in my eyes.

- Adam's peanut butter, delicious. Especially when combined with the jelly that comes in the blue tubs. They just don't make peanut butter this good anymore.

- Okay, I'm done. Anything after this will be in the form of quick non-sequitor quotes and events. See you tomorrow!

The show is on

So much wooing out there, love it!
Note- Mark Fullerton was talking. I shut it down.


(sorry for the black post, I moved my computer to a better shhhhh.... spot and it entered for me. OOPS!)

6/30/2010, Truth or Dare Tech Rehearsal Photos

Prophecy's director Elizabeth Eller speaks with Board Op Peggy Gannon, while Allison Strickland, Kaleb Hagan-Kerr and Sylvester Kamara run over business.

Alisson Strickland and Sylvester Kamara during the eclipse (Prophecy).

That's James Weidman laying prone next to Chris Spott, for reasons left unknown (The Game).

The Game's director, Mik Kuhlman, makes an adjustment; Chris Spott and James Weidman do what they do best.

still not shushing yet

You can feel the ramp up of nerves. People are not just sitting with scripts they are now pacing with scripts.

I am now being serenaded by Brandon Whitehead. This is the best job ever!

I also got a hug from Jason Sharp and had not noticed till then that he had no pants on. SWEET!

Just announced they are holding for 5. Not sure if the first show folks are relieved or more stressed because of that but I think there are some last bathroom runs happening.

Peter just entered and gave everyone a ROCK N ROLL! Almost time for the Shhhh..... hat.

I asked Seanjohn if he is memorized. "I'm indicative" is his answer.

2 more boys without pants are back here now.

Not shushing yet

My hat is not on yet so the noise continues.

Note- you cannot play "Livin on a Prayer" without at least half of the room singing along.

10 minutes to places, several actors whip out their scripts again.

Lot's of people on the hunt for beer. Beer is very important to 1448. Beer is like oil for your car. You can run it with just gas and no oil, but Beer is the lubrication that prevents psychic injury.

"Smell my feet I'm made of leather" was just sung by Brandon Whitehead. I don't know if that was a riff on "More than a Feeling" which is playing or a line from his play. Could go either way.

Hello from the Shusher!

Howdy 1448 fans!
Meghan here. I have a VERY important job tonight. I have been assigned the official 1448 Shusher. I have a hat.
It says Shhhh....

I will be sitting backstage as a visual deterant to the NOISE MAKERS aka actors.
Because backstage just has a little curtain flap separating it from the actual stage.
And there is no where in this lovely historic building that you can make noise without people hearing.

So I am also going to blog while I am here, YAY! About 30 minutes ago it was completely quite and now there all sorts of last minute reminders being thrown out and severl people memorizing lines. Lots of belching for some reason as well.

The band is together and grooving to the preshow music.
Someone realized they left their beer out there and it is now lost to the open house. I think there was tears. I made that up. But it was a deeply sad moment never the less.

Further Truth of Dare Tech Photos

Vet Director Brian Faker talks the crew through Bachelorette's tech requirements. Seated behind him are (l - r) Matt Shimkus, Ben McFadden, Rob Burgess.

The cast of Spaghetti Tuesday (Jason Sharp, Chris Bell, Deb Pralle, and David Anthony Lewis) sit waiting for the bus.

Virgin Director Kathryn Van Meter deliberates a technical decision, while Imogen Love, Heather Gautschi and Mike Dooly wait in a holding pattern. (Something to Declare)

Annie Jantzer, Beth Fleenor and Dave Pascal of this weekend's 14/48 Band.

Tech Show #7 Prophecy

First half spent working on a few specific light moments, followed by a cue to cue with the band...

The Mayan headdress arrives, though it looks more like a Vegas showgirl's.

The band is stretching its muscle in this piece, providing some indelible atmospherics.

The group is feeling pretty punchy before dinner time. As am I, to be frank.

By and large, this has been a pretty smooth tech! 'Nuf said.

Tech Show #6 The Game

Building cues, spot checking set pieces, listening to the band's contributions, and finally working through the cues.

Once done, Mik Kuhlman, Chris Spott and James Weidman get to run through this strange and subtle piece...

Really curious as to how people will react to this.

Tech Show #5 Bachelorette

The band rehearses The Who's Magic Bus, while the set is brought on by three men in various stages of drag.

Brian Faker's first request is to have the band, who have no internal cues, take a break. Gary Menendez and Banton Foster walk through with enormous set pieces. He then spends the first half of his tech time ironing out the final cue and once that's done, he gets to run through the whole piece, which is rare and welcome for the cast.

Ben McFadden rocks his dress, Rob Burgess' top is a sight to behold, and Matt Shimkus is pretty convincing as a woman who does not want to be pregnant.

Tech Show #4 Spaghetti Tuesday

Top of tech is spent rehearsing fart noises. IBS is a deadly unfriendly beast.

Annie Jantzer asks "is that fart cut?" Laughter. Then she finds a spot to add one, director Shanga Parker approves and she is named the evening's fart curator.

This piece now makes sense! No, it's not all about gas. At the same time, it's impressive to find that these four somewhat depraved characters hail from the mind of Stephanie Timm.

And yet, somehow, it earns an "awwww!" by the end of it.

Time's up!

Tech Show #3 Something to Declare

Band flexibilty, exhibit A: Accordion, stand up bass, bongos (w/echo effect), flute, egg maracas. Exotic beat.

Imogen Love is sporting my favorite hat of the night so far. Mike Dooly is awfully orange, and Heather Gautschi looks quite sleek in the black suit.

Imogen Love goes all Ruth Buzzi with the hat, Gautschi lets her hair down and leads(!) Love in a tango, while Dooly watches enthusiastically.

Katrhyn Van Meter attempts to find a volume balance between the band and the actors.

Three minutes, and Van Meter spends it marking through sound and light tech cues aaaaaand time's up.

Here's What I Thought Of When I Heard The Theme

Tech Show #2 Dorkfest

The band rehearses the transition.

Paranoid Nazi fantasy, with Whitehead, Walsh and Brockley, who is holding his own against the giant hams. Does anymore need be said?

No, not really.

Peggy Gannon clarifies with Paul Budraitis that he's looking for comedy timing for the last light cue in the piece. Yes, comedy timing is what is sought for. Peggy Gannon rocks.

Tech Show #1 Fireworks Tonight

Managing the transition between the theme song to the scene is always a little rough, just a general truth. Some re-arranging of set pieces transpires, followed by a speed through. Still (relatively) early in the day and the cast chemistry (split in half, no less) is palpable. Virgin director John Vreeke tosses ideas out to the cast and the actors incorporate them.

Three minutes left in tech.

They jump to the last cue, it's given, and a flute plays Don McLean's American Pie, which sounds more melancholy than the original, somehow.

20 minutes are up.

Exit music features Annie Jantzer yodeling...somewhat.

The Spirit of Camaraderie

Melizabeth Eller finds herself at a loss, needing a choreographer for a particular moment in her piece (Ramon Esquivel's Prophecy). During lunch, she sits next to Jon Lutyens and bemoans that fact.

Jon just happened to be sitting right next to Virgin Director Kathryn Van Meter, who also just happens to be *the* choreographer for the 5th Avenue and Village Theater. Van Meter reaches across Lutyens and says to Eller, "hi! I'm Katrhyn, I do that for a living, what do you need?"

Ask and the 14/48 gods provide.

The Movable Beast

That's how Mazen Award© Winner Gary Menendez describes 14/48, primarily because this is the fifth venue to hold the fest in the last three years.

This in and of itself is pretty remarkable, but not when you take into consideration that this is the 12th venue to house 14/48 since its inception. Here's the complete list:

Chamber Theater (Seattle Mime) in Oddfellows Hall
Freehold (Rhino) in Oddfellows Hall
ConWorks 1
ConWorks 2 - Gallery
ConWorks 2 - Theater
Broadway Performance Hall
Seattle Center House
ACT - Bullett
On The Boards
ACT - Falls
Theater Off Jackson

Campus Tour, Designer Check In

At the time of check in, things feel relatively calm (knock wood). It helps that there's no costumer for today (Design Vet Hannah Schnabel returns on the morrow).

As things stand, the runners are out collecting information, the extent of the build list is the building of a head dress. There are a ton of props to collect, but that's all coming along.

It seems a bad time to even start thinking of the yin and yang nature of 14/48 weekends. (not a jinx!)

Pictures from 6/30 AM and Early PM

Dorkfest's Daniel Brockley and Seanjohn Walsh on why the ladies like 14/48 too.

Spaghetti Tuesday's Jason Sharp, Chris Bell, David Anthony Lewis listen to Deb Pralle's unique mothering techniques.

Fireworks Tonight's playwright Wes Andrews and director John Vreeke.

Prophecy's Allison Strickland, Sylvester Kamara and Gretchen Douma

The Performance Space

Campus Tour, Show #6, Jerry Kraft's The Game

A two-hander, with Chris Spott and James Weidman handling performing duties on a souffle of subtle tension.

Vet Director Mik Kuhlman discusses how the key word for this piece is "ambiguity." These three are well on their way there, as it is somewhat diffuse as to what they're talking about and what exactly their motivation or where they'll end up.

And with that, I'll leave you to discover what's behind this piece, and also the rest of the evening.

Campus Tour, Show #3, Brendan Healy's Something To Declare

Let's discuss this one abstractly, for a little bit.

On the prop list: a viewmaster, a hardcore porn magazine, a coconut and an oversized AARP letter.

Further details, who needs them? You should know that this is a light take on some twisted relationship dynamics, and with Mike Dooly, Heather Gautschi and Imogen Love on board...

Campus Tour, Show #1, Wesley K. Andrews' Fireworks Tonight

Another entry in the Simultaneous Dual Realities subgenre of 14/48 plays, and something of an intricate one, it seems. This crew is spending their time ironing out the tech and artistic details of the story/script. In other words, still cultivating the piece, but bound for massive growth shortly. That sense of imminent break through was palpable by the time I moved on.

Mark Fullerton would like you to know that he is also fond of strawberries.

Random Sighting

Newlywed, Mazen Award Winning, multi-disciplinary veteran Tim Moore walks by delivering a beer run.

Campus Tour, Show #4, Stephanie Timm's Spaghetti Tuesday

The group is at a crossroads at this point, a seemingly minor decision that could foreseeably alter the course of the piece. Thankfully, they quickly find the solution that solves everything...for the time being.

Vet director Shanga Parker: "This leaves Chester in the middle for the big cheese fight."

Yeah, cheese fight. If I have the algorithm correctly, it's Old Men + Cheese + A Heist + Indulgent Soccer Mom. Together that amounts to an odd premise. Familiar territory for Ms. Timm.

Campus Tour, Show #5, Mallery Avidon's Bachelorette

The group is waiting on toilet paper before getting into the rehearsal full force. They decide to keep working and talking it through.

Again and again, the practice of not pre-reading the scripts before visiting the rehearsals pays off.

Brian Faker: "The thing is these guys have been to bridal showers that were incredibly fun."

This is in service of a scene that slowly mines the field of uncomfortable comedy between three characters, one of whom is not entirely pleasant.

The TP arrives, and the meaning of the title is even clearer.

Campus Tour, Show #2, Becky Bruhn's Dorkfest

Something's up.

Here's Brandon Whitehead, Seanjohn Walsh and Daniel Brockley are stomping around and speaking in truly outrageous German accents. Paul Budraitis catches his breath, "okay, guys, let's go back and mark it through."

Yeah, it's what they're up to. Okay. "We took a perfectly harmless buddy play and turned it into a paranoid Nazi fantasy."

How can you not love these people?

All Right, I'll Try Not To Worry

"I think I just discovered something that could be potentially horrific..." - Peter Dylan - O'Connor

Thankfully, it proved to be more of a false alarm than initially feared.

Campus Tour, Show #7, Ramon Esquivel's Prophecy

Only mild disappointment when it was discovered that Ramon Esquivel did NOT turn in a naked Scooby Doo script for today. This is quickly dispelled when overhearing the conversation happening during the rehearsal for the script he did turn in.

Beginning with the various options for the vocal mannerisms of the character played by Sylvester Kamara; then Esquivel using a defining moment in Saving Private Ryan to clarify the stakes of a particular moment; finally landing upon director Melizabeth Eller's 1-2-punch of a note: "You know, I thought 'genital blood' was too potent...I want bold colors there."

This piece ends the night!

The Very Capable Hands Of...

Bassist Dave Pascal noted during the meeting last night that the band was particularly diverse and flexible, and he wasn't kidding. While traveling the TOJ campus for this next barrage of blog entries*, any time I was within earshot of the band something new and exotic could be discerned. I mean, you've got Beth Fleenor on top of the cojón, an instrument I'd never heard of before that fits right in with the latin sound to the theme that they've worked out...

The 14/48 Band, folks, always a surprise, always satisfying.

*These entries are not pulled out of my ass, people.

Programming Note: 14/48 Represented On New Day Northwest

This coming Monday, August 2nd, tune into KING 5 at 11am, to see 14/48 founder Jodi Paul Wooster-Brown, along with other 14/48 luminaries (such as they are) on New Day Northwest!

July 30th, 2010: Truth Or Dare

Play #1: Fireworks Tonight
Written by Wes Andrews
Directed by John Vreeke

Sam Hagen
Mark Fullerton
Erin Fetridge
Christina Mastin

Play #2: Dorkfest
Written by Becky Bruhn
Directed by Paul Burdraitius

Seanjohn Walsh
Daniel Brockley
Brandon Whitehead

Play #3: Something to Declare
Written by Brendan Healy
Directed by Kathryn Van Meter

Mike Dooly
Heather Gautschi
Imogen Love

Play #4: Spaghetti Tuesday
Written by Stephanie Timm
Directed by Shanga Parker

Deb Pralle
Jason Sharp
David Anthony Lewis
Chris Bell

Play #5: Bachelorette
Written by Mallery Avidon
Directed by Brian Faker

Rob Burgess
Ben McFadden
Matt Shimkus

Play #6: The Game
Written by Jerry Kraft
Directed by Mik Kuhlman

James Weidman
Chris Spott

Play #7: Prophecy
Written by Ramon Esquivel
Directed by Elizabeth Eller

Allison Strickland
Gretchen Doumas
Sylvester Kamara
Kaleb Hagen-Kerr
Jon Lutjyens

What Are The Odds?

As mentioned earlier, there are 17 men actors and only 7 women actors. Only one guy would be able to be outnumbered in a cast with this make up, and who gets to be that guy? Flippin' Mike Dooly.


Tickets For Tonight

The 8:00pm show is now sold out! There are tickets still available for the 10:30pm.

Get 'em while they're hot!

Note To Self

Do not leave laptop unattended when next to Christian Bell.

Late Night Check In W/Becky Bruhn

TBO: How's the writing going? Didn't you get all men again?

Becky Bruhn: Yes, I got three men again. Always. It's my 14/48 curse.

And the thing is, men don't talk to each other. On the plus side, when they do talk to each other, the stakes are usually pretty clear.

TBO: I thought writing for men was easy. Just end every sentence with "bro," and toss in a "f-ing" or "g--damn" every third word.

Becky Bruhn: Oooh! Thanks for the man tip. I'm on it! :-)

I heart Bell

Bell has been sitting by me and, dear gods, what a beautiful man. He carries himself with such calm and his balding head looks golden in the sun. Can't wait to see what this genius comes up with today.


Friday, June 30th, 2010: Breakfast, Pre-Actor Draw

The room is primarily filled with playwrights and directors at separate tables, talking over scripts, ideas and generally brainstorming.

Slowly the actors file in and line up for the traditional 14/48 breakfast: coffee, bagel w/cream cheese, donut, egg, potato cakes.

Mik Kuhlman approaches and shares her enthusiasm about the piece she drew (yes, most everything about the weekend is done by drawing something out of a hat). She describes her piece, written by Jerry Kraft, to be "really intimate." Take that as you will, but note there wasn't any sniggering in her demeanor (not that that insures anything).

Crew determinedly read the scripts, taking notes on what may be needed...

Kitchen Vet Alex Samuels puts out another tray of breakfast items.

Mike Dooly, on waiting, "this is the part I hate."

Melizabeth Eller to Chris Bell: If you get cast in my piece, you will be naked again.


RE: Tip for a "Virgin Writer"

"Always go with your first idea." So advised a 14/48 Veteran to us newbies. Had I done that, my play would have begun like this:

(FRED, DAPHNE, VELMA, SHAGGY and SCOOBY are smoking up in the back of the Mystery Machine. They are all naked.)

I opted to go with my second idea.

- Ramon Esquivel

Pictures from 7/29/2010

Alfonso Poso is the man who is providing these images for us this weekend, unless otherwise noted. To view more of the pictures Alfonso took for this evening, and throughout the weekend, go here

Also, as always, click on the picture of a full sized image.
TOJ Before The Storm

The Artists Check In

JPW Checks Out The New Swag While The Crew Enter Their Theme Suggestions

Vet Actor Mike Dooly Prepares For The Weekend The Old Fashioned Way

Shawn Belyea Begins The Proceedings

Here Thar Be Virgins

Witness The Horrible Hazing Virgins Must Endure

Witness The Wailing, The Gnashing Of Teeth

O, The Humanity!

Patti West Graciously Welcomes The 14/48 Festival to Theater Off Jackson

Do You Recognize The Model?

Mark Boeker Sure Looks Cute

Jody Paul "Don't Blog About Me" Wooster-Brown Shares Some Wisdom With The Playwrights

Tim Hyland Shares Wisdom With Directors

Deb Fialkow Speaks With The Actors. Yes, She Is Always That Poised And Photogenic

Stan Shields With Words Of Advice For The Band. Yes, He Is Always That Poised And Photogenic

Peter Dylan-O'Connor/Wisdom/Designers. Yes, Poised/Photogenic.

Gary Menendez Humbly Waxes Rhapsodic.

Per Tradition, The Mazen Award Winner, Gary Menendez, Draws The Theme For Friday Night ("Truth or Dare")

Becky Bruhn Draws Her Assignment, Hoping The 14/48 Gods Have Given Her A Reprieve