Thursday, December 13, 2007

Performing Arts Interim

I know everyone has been waiting anxiously for my first post on the theatre blog...well, maybe anxious is the wrong word. But nevertheless, here it is. So, as my first post on the blog I thought I might discuss the upcoming Performing Arts Interim that I will be participating in this coming January.

This is the first time, that I know of, that an Interim class has specifically focused on performing arts while also studying abroad at the same time. Along with four other students from the Theatre Department, two students from the Music Department and a faculty member of the Music Department, I will be traveling to the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy. Arezzo is a medieval town in central Italy southeast of Florence. We will be staying in the Villa Godiola, a 16th century palace that overlooks the hills of Tuscany...sounds terrible doesn't it? We will be there for two and a half weeks studying Basic Italian Language, Alexander Technique, Philosophy of Art and Performance, Stage Movement, and optional Voice Coaching. All of these classes are designed to specifically help the actor develop advanced stage performance skills. I'm assuming that we will be "learning by doing" when it comes to most of these classes...afterall, Theatre is a "doing" profession. While we are there, we will also take day trips to Florence and Rome to visit museums and theaters and hopefully put the Italian we are learning to good use.

I am incredibly excited about this trip. I have never been out of the country before, so that should prove to be very interesting. I am also excited because I think it will be fascinating to experience theatre somewhere that is so completely different than Birmingham. This trip will allow us to delve into Italian theatre and culture in a way that could never be done by studying it in a book here at BSC. If this trip goes well, I am almost sure that they will continue to do this every Interim. So, cross your fingers all you potential BSC Theatre students and hope that you will be able to experience this yourself when you get here.

I hope to post updates about what we are doing while we are in Italy. If I can, I'll try to upload some pictures. Don't count on this though...I'm not very good with computers - haha. That's all for now. Hopefully, my next post will come from Arezzo. Until then, I bid thee farewell. Matt A.

Here's the link to the Accademia dell'Arte. Check it out!!!
http://www.dell-arte.org


Monday, November 12, 2007

The Tale of Hammy the Pig

Well guys, sad news. The show is over.

That, of course, explains why I am sitting in my bedroom at 7:00 on a Monday night. It has been a very long time since I have had a rehearsal-free Monday night. I'm not really sure what to do with myself!

The Taming of the Shrew closed last night. If you got to come and see it, then thanks! We had fantastic audiences each night. If you didn't come see it, we forgive you. But you better come next time! : )

It was a long journey to the end. My humble little dorm suite houses 4 members of the Taming company, and believe me, we definitely bonded quite a bit throughout the process! For the show, my roommates Lucy(who played Baptista's servant Violet), Ginny(who played Biondello as a girl named Biondella), Skyler(who was the incredible head of the props crew), and I (Bianca) definitely shared some stressful moments and sleepless nights while we prepared for the show, but we also had some fun along the way. One of Skyler's biggest props projects was creating a roasted pig on a stick for a scene at Petruchio's house. One day, I came home after rehearsal and found a hideous rubber pig about the size of a cat sitting on top of my desk. After I gasped and jumped, I burst into Sky's room to ask if she knew where it had come from. As I waited for her to finally stop laughing, I realized that it was a rejected prop. I thought, "Ok, two can play this game!" As soon as Skyler left for a few minutes, I shoved the pig into her bathroom drawer. She didn't discover it until a few days later, and we got another laugh.
For a few weeks, the four of us randomly hid the pig in each other's rooms. I once woke up to find it staring at me on my pillow! We have now affectionately christened the pig "Hammy," and he occupies a prominent position on top of the TV in our common room. Who knows though...one day he might just show up on Lucy's bookshelf or in Ginny's closet! Beware!

Oh, and in order to see the real pig prop that Skyler and her crew created, you should watch the video excerpt of the show!

Meanwhile, we'll move on to rehearsing for the student-directed one-acts, to be performed on December 4th and 5th. Then, we can take a little break before our January performances of Our Town and Marry Me a Little!

-Amanda

BSC's Taming of the Shrew Company


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Taming of the Shrew Video

video

DANCE! DANCE!

Hello blog viewers,


Anais and Spurge here wanting to drop by and pump you up about the big song and dance number at the end of Taming--it's awesome. Barclee came up with some pretty cute stuff, and who doesn't feel good when they hear...well, we'll let it be a surprise.





Anais and I conned our way into being on the balcony; sike! No, seriously, we did. Basically, I wanted to be up there and since Anais just wants to be like me, she asked to be up there, too. I don't know why, though--I dance better than she does. (In case you didn't know, Anais has been trained in classical ballet since she was four, and I have trained myself...in front of my mirror when I'm getting ready.)


Okay, I'm admitting it, Spurge is right-SHE'S THE BEST. The choreography for the Shrew is really depicting of the time period! Barclee gave us a lot of great things to work with and kind of make our own. Not only will the audience experience it in the end but also in the lobby before the show (which is a really nice touch). The dancing truly does add so much to the overall feel of the play. It has a way of bringing us all together not only as characters in this classic with a twist, but as an ensemble and family that is the Birmingham-Southern theatre department. There is no doubt that the audience will leave grinning. Let's face it...all you need is love. Peace out...yet another 60's reference for you.




Enough of our ramblings. It's important to know that all of Shakespeare's plays ended with big dance numbers, and this is our version of that. Come hang with us Thursday -Saturday at 7pm or Sunday at 2:30 to enjoy some ridiculously awesome fun and exciting entertainment. Hey, we don't live in that theatre for nothing!






Spurge and Anais

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Taming of the Shrew Opens Next Week

There's much activity afoot this week. Lighting instruments are hung daily, costumes and props completed, scene painting aplenty on an incredible set, and daily rehearsals. Our company of 43 technicians and actors have logged in many hours of time on the production (our rehearsal schedule is close to 90 hours--though not everyone is called for each rehearsal).

Already, we are adding sound cues to our process, which adds a real spice to our work. Michael Seward has assembled a total design of 50 cuts, including pre-show and intermission sounds.

On Sunday we have our first dress rehearsal--an exciting visual and sensual feast of lighting, sound and costumes.

It takes teamwork to pull off a production of this complexity. And our students do this on a consistent basis. Our program engages over 3,000 each season, all in the context of our creative scholarship--students, faculty and staff working together. We'll have more photos shortly.

Alan

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Southeastern Theatre Conference

Work continues apace on Taming of the Shrew! The huge set for the play progresses daily, costumes are selected and altered, we add new layers within individual scenes, props are designed or purchased. In the midst of our brew of activity, a number of students are also preparing to participate in the State Screening Auditions for the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC).

SETC is an amazing organization, supported by a 4,000 plus membership, numerous volunteers, and an incredible staff at its Central Office. For many students, SETC is a significant path for finding professional opportunities to work in the theatre. The largest organization of its kind, SETC also offers a Job Contact Service for students and professionals, Graduate School Auditions, and much more.

This March, members of the Miss Julie Company will conduct a presentation on our recent Edinburgh Fringe Project at the Chattanooga Convention. This annual March event is an exciting salad of distinguished theatre luminaries, workshops, staged readings of new works, Play Festivals, and more. It is a luminous celebration of our art form--and a real connection for
students who are ready to make the leap to summer opportunties, and further study.

You can take a look at SETC's diverse offerings at http://www.setc.org/

Alan

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Taming of the Shrew


















The BSC blog site is transitioning to our work this fall. Next week, Miss Julie to the campus community. We're excited about sharing our work with the campus and Birmingham community.

In addition, we've just assembled our company for Taming of the Shrew, which is set in the 1960s. Co-Costume Designers Patti Manning (BSC Costume Designer in Residence) and Nikki Craft (Senior Theatre Major) have been planning their look for the characters of the play for some time. The 1960s is richly diverse in its possibilities, as you can imagine. Conservative suits and narrow ties contrast loudly with bold colors, flared jeans, love beads aplenty. Our "look" has not been set as yet, but the landscape of possiblities is bright indeed!

Professor Matthew Mielke (Scenic Designer) explores the space using a famous Los Angeles destination as inspiration for color, line and atmosphere--the famous Whiskey a Go Go. Well, famous to lots of folks, but neither Matthew nor I had heard of it until now!

We envision the scenic design to extend far beyond the stage itself--the lobby luminous with 60s posters, lighting, music and actors dancing to rockin' tunes. Leslie Brown, Assistant Director, is borrowing her family 60s "bug," which will be the centerpiece of our design outside the theatre itself.

The creation of our idea will require the collaboration of over 44 student company members--including a signifant core of students who are involved in building scenery, working as lighting technicians, responding to call in the box office, and much more. Leslie, Nikki (also serving as Fight Director), Company Manager Christina Johnson, Stage Manager Sarah Schiesz, Choreographer Barclee Woods, and faculty/staff will work closely as team members to support the production process. Music will serve as a vital character in the play. Theatre Major Michael Seward is at the helm, researching and assembling this critical aspect of our production.

Over the weeks, you will hear from other company members, such as Matt Adams (playing Gremio) and Ginny Coats (playing Biondella), and doubtless additonal student company members. So much of creating art is all about teamwork and problem solving within the broad context of technical theatre, performance, and management. Theatre provides loads of opportunity to develop a breadth of skill in a wide variety of areas.

Perhaps the most satisfying part of our work is the chance to collaborate together--we're really a community of explorers. What we will discover as a company will reflect untold hours of "going to the wall," challenging ourselves to get as bold and specific as we can. As a community of theatrical adventurers, we'll go far beyond what we can as individuals. It's part of the magic I think--in our goal to create an event that transcends the earth-bound. Ah, perhaps I seem too lofty here. But, that's the challenge--to reinvent a play, truly reinvent theatre each time we go into the "empty space" (as Peter Brook put it). More soon!

Alan

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Harry Potter Land!

The Belmora--where the last chapter was written...





The Elephant House-where it all began





Arthur's Seat






Thursday, August 30, 2007

First year CONNECT trip to American Village

American Village was a perfect place to talk about liberal arts, theatre, history, and more.
Back to Front: Liz Wyngaert, Alan Litsey, Joseph Laughridge, Kristen Lennard, Jordon Crewnshaw, Conner McVey, Destiny Traweek, Chelsie Miller

Taking Stock

Joseph Laughridge, Destiny Traweek; Jordon Crenshaw, Amanda Kramer (Peer Advisor)



More Fringe

Here's the copy of the wonderful article written by BSC English Major Jeremy Burgess for the Birmingham News.

TO THE FRINGE: BSC takes Southern adaptation of Strindberg play to Scotland festival
Tuesday, July 31, 2007

JEREMY BURGESS For The Birmingham News

When Alan Litsey, a theater professor at Birmingham-Southern College penned an adaptation of August Strindberg's 1888 classic "Miss Julie," he chose to set his script in the American South. Now he's getting a chance to bring the South to the other side of the world.

Litsey, along with his ensemble of cast and crew members, left Monday to showcase the world premiere of his adaptation of "Miss Julie" at the world-famous Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Beginning Friday, they will perform the play nine times at the C Soco venue there.

"One of the reasons we chose the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is that it's the largest arts festival of its kind," Litsey says. Last year, the festival advertised 28,014 performances of 1,867 shows in 261 venues, a larger tally than the year before. "We are excited to give our students the opportunity to work in that kind of international venue."

Along with Litsey, the BSC Edinburgh contingent includes Kate Jenkins, a recent BSC graduate from Vestavia Hills; Amanda Kramer, a junior from Alabaster; Mac Smith, a sophomore from Auburn; Alex Brouwer, a senior from Fort Payne; Nikki Craft, a senior from Decatur; and Laura Spurgeon, a sophomore from Phenix City. Faculty making the trip are director Michael Flowers, scenic/co-lighting designer and technical director Michael Mielke and co-costume designer Patti J. Manning.

Although Litsey put a great deal of time into the writing of his script, the actual production process was a bit rushed - especially for the students. "The production time is much shorter than that of most plays that we work on at BSC," Kramer says. "I still can't believe that we ran the show in front of an audience after approximately two weeks of rehearsal."

Rehearsing was just one of the tasks the ensemble had to accomplish. Throughout the summer, they've been building sets, designing costumes, and perfecting every piece of the process. Although the students have said that working during the summer is nice because of the absence of schoolwork, it has still been a tremendous task putting this production together.

"It's easy to become overwhelmed by all the responsibility of putting the production on its feet," says Jenkins, who was given the daunting task of playing the title role in "Miss Julie." "But I know that my main job is to explore my character to the fullest extent." That exploration doesn't come easily. Just ask Smith, who was given the role of John, the play's least likable character.

The character "is, essentially, an evil man," Smith says. "(Playing this character) is particularly hard because I have to draw these maniacal feelings from places that I was unaware I had to draw from, and it can be rather frightening. I have to find pieces of my life in this alienated and constant theater life that allow me not to lose myself in the character."

There is one element that each of the actors already knew how to adapt: their Southern backgrounds. Being from the South was an added advantage for each of the actors. Litsey, however, faced the more difficult task of bringing the American South to a play that was originally set in 19th century Sweden.

"I've made my home in the South for over 17 years," Litsey says. "I love the region and, other than my native central California, it's the culture I know best. And, certainly, our company of theater students brings rich, Southern-based experiences to our process. We hope that the play will connect with a diverse audience, at home and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival."

When penning his adaptation of "Miss Julie," Litsey was forced to update not just the region but the time period of the play as well. "`Miss Julie' in its debut was considered controversial, dangerous, edgy," Litsey says. "It's still a great, great play. But what happens if we envision how our 21st century challenges might influence Strindberg's rich, complex world?"

"Miss Julie" won't be finished after the Fringe Festival - the ensemble will be performing the show at Birmingham-Southern on Sept. 18-23. After that, Litsey will take up the role of directing an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew" that takes place during the '60s for BSC's fall production.
© 2007 The Birmingham News
© 2007 al.com All Rights Reserved.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Student Company members with our host for an English High Tea with BSC Alum Byron Matthews at the Scotsman Hotel.

Nikki Craft and Laura Spurgeon and a handful of food props used in the show.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More pictures of BSC in Edinburgh

We gather at the airport waiting for a flight. We seemed to spend a fair amount of time waiting in airports.-Atlanta, Newark and Edinburgh.



The entire Miss Julie Company before the gates of Holyrood Palace. When the Queen comes to Edinburgh, she stays at this palace. She did not come out to greet us-probably busy that evening.


Alex, Amanda and Kate. Behind them is an ex-volcano in the middle of the city with the peak known as Arthur's Seat.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Destinations




The Rover by Hunter Productions

The Rover is one of the great discoveries of the 20th century--a virtually forgotten comedy-drama by one of the two most popular dramatsts of the Restoration. Amazing, in the male-dominated theatrical swirl, Behn single-handed created the role of the first professional female playwright in history.

Hunter Productions brings The Rover to life at the Edinburgh Festival with a zest, honesty, and creativity that would have made Behn herself proud. Her language has as much wit as any Stoppard play and still very relevant social comment. In this company's graceful hands, her words are urgent and full of vitality. Tom Hunter, as the rogue Willmore, makes us like the scalawag despite his considerable faults. Abby Forknall, Sarah McKendrick and Valeria (as Florinda, Hellena and Valeria) are a formidable trio. Together they model Behn's new vision for fighting the gender war.

Natasha Dawn plays the take-no-prisoners courteson, Angelica. In addition, she is director and adaptor, pairing down the original text to 90 minutes of swift playing time. Dawn stages the play with panache, making full use of the small space, beautifully chosen props and costumes. This is true ensemble work.

View some excellent production photos at http://www.myspace.com/hunterproductionsuk

This production is a disctinctive example of young professionals at their best--creating their own opportunities in the setting of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As Behn herself did beginning in the fateful year of 1640--they are making it happen for themselves.

What a fitting finale for my Feast of Fringe plays.

Alan

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles

Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles made its debute at the Edinburgh Festival in 2004, and fortunately its back this summer. Created by Emily and Christian McKay, it's a brilliant insight into the humanity, humor and achievement of one of theatre and film's most dazzling figures.

For those who may not know Welles' work, he is most known for the infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast on Halloween night in 1938. His Citizen Kane is embraced by many as perhaps the finest film ever made--and almost destroyed forever by Kane's real-life archetype, newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. Welles preferred making art to making money--though much of the money he did make went into his own film-making pursuits.

Christian McKay's performance is a rare gift for theatre lovers. He is unpredictable, charming, dangerous, fiery, elegant, unforgettable. He captures' Welles' rhythms and mannerisms with astonishing grace--making them his own.

The writing, direction and simple scenic design is as seamless as the performance. Though Welles was larger than life, in an hour and twenty minutes, Rosebud captures his Falstaffian essence. I did not intend to "blog" today--but this was an important theatre event. For me, as a long time theatre goer--it will be one of the events--a magical experience. And one that asks some big questions about the nature of creativity, politics, personality, and more. What more could one ask for?

Find a link to a clip of Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles at

http://www.atomic80productions.com/

And--the production may come to the US and Birmingham in the near future. I urge you to see it if you can.

Alan

Friday, August 10, 2007

Joanna at the Fringe

Joanna is an intriguing play by Neil Brand playing at The Jazz Bar--the most inviting venue I've attended at the Fringe. It is a comfortable, cool, and charming space with loads of history.

Brand adapted the play from a from his radio play. Here's the description of the story form the web site: "One grand piano. One secret. Joanna tells her tale of being encased in wood for a century, revealing more than just a few notes… "

Joanna's "notes" play on the connection between art and human experience, the ephemeral nature of it all, the fragililty of magic, and its importance in our lives.

The talented young company share the story with passion, pathos and humor. It was a delightful hour of theatre.

We have two more performances of Miss Julie, so more "flyering" for us--and we're hoping to catch some more good productions as well.

Alan

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Alex's pictures of the trip so far!

Scotland outside of my window in the plane!





Mac and Spurge having dinner in front of the Edinburgh University!





Spurge, Amanda, and Kate having at picnic!










I like the way you prep

SO THIS WAS THE VERY FIRST BLOG POSTED...EVER...I JUST POSTED IT ON THE WRONG PAGE...OOPS!


Over the past three weeks, our ensemble has been on an emotional roller coaster. The cast had to come in and immediately create intimate relationships and duplicitous characters without the crutch of a script. “No time to waste with scripts! We’re going to Scotland in three weeks!” We had to design, construct, and prepare the scenic elements with less of a technical crew and more of a—well, whoever had their hands free to work. “We don’t have time to redo this! Time management in crucial! We’re going to Scotland in TWO weeks!” We have bit our tongues, gritted our teeth, and pulled out our hair. “What else do we have left to do? We have to go back to the store? We don’t have time for that! WE’RE GOING TO SCOTLAND IN A WEEK!” Why do we allow ourselves to become stressed, you ask? Because we love it! At the end of the day, we have one goal—to entertain. “If you can’t run with the big dogs…”

We have had our fair share of fun getting ready. My favorite preparation experience was taking Mac to karaoke. He needed to connect with his inner rock star to prepare for his character, John, and I just needed an excuse to go. Instead of rocking out, Mac decided to ‘bust a flow’ to Big Boy’s “I like the way you move.” (Video blog hopefully coming soon.) Please note that I met Mac at nerd camp two years ago—which is not an insult because I was there too! Needless to say, I was shocked, but not long enough to keep myself from joining our posse in a sing-a-long.

I’m not sure what else to explain about our prep work. I could go through the intricate details of how we made the props, hung the lights, arranged the set… or you could just come to the show and see all of our hard work put into action! Until then, keep checking back here to see what’s happening. Don’t forget to look for that V-blog! Also, Mac will have to do his own blog discussing the tattoo experience, a saga in its own right.

The Bloody Tour

Ok, so we were under the impression that we agreed to go on an underground tour through Edinburgh to see the "Lost City." Much to our surprise, there was a big blood red tri-fold advertisement at the meeting spot informing us that we were going on a haunted underground tour. That's not what we signed up for, but we agreed. The tour guide made it very clear that some women have had strange encounters with ghosts, such as having their hair pulled and coming out with scratches on their arms. Without hesitation, we two ladies agreed that throwing punches would be our best defense.

The stairs leading up to the side of the hill smelt like urine. Great. The door opened into an old college flat for the university that is now housing us. Awesome. The story goes something like this: the resident of this particular flat became bored one day, and after knocking around on his walls, realized they were hollow. So, he did what anyone in their right mind would do and took a sledge hammer to it, revealing a secret city.

The secret city contained a series of vaults--stone caves in short. The vaults housed anyone needing anonymity such as thieves and rapists. These vaults are now apparently haunted by those that died within. We were really excited to be there, to say the least. There have different reportings of attacks by spirits, such as pushing, having the sensation of being followed, and showing up in pictures as gray like figures.

Our favorite story was of the watchman. He was always described in the same manner: long dark hair, with half of his face disfigured, and wearing a long black cloak. Who did this sound like to me? Bill Weasley, ladies and gentlemen! Of course I (Spurge)have been reading the last Harry Potter book, so it's probably just wishful thinking. Two tours have been known to follow this figure as if he were the tour guide (who is also clad in a black cloak) until he "disappeared" into the wall. (I wonder if anyone actually followed him into the wall?)

The last room we entered contained medieval torture devices. On the far wall was a device known as the man trap, which I (Spurge) confessed I had been looking for for a long time. The most noticeable device for me (Nikki) was the anal probe. Hmmmm, what does that do? Well, it's heated and inserted....

So anyways, the tour was pretty cool, but the day tour is too short. Our guide was cool, and even came to see the show. Cheers!

Nikki and Spurge

Grasmere at the Fringe

Yesterday's theme reflected "man's inhumanity to man." Surely a fertile pool for the theatre, including this year's Fringe offerings.

Grasmere, which I saw performed yesterday, is a subtle and poignant meditation on this issue as well. Here is the description of the premise on Grasmere's web page: "Lives unravel as jealousy, addiction and love threaten to tear them apart. In the exquisite seclusion of the Lake District, William and Dorothy Wordsworth live happily until the unexpected arrival of old friends promises to change their lives forever."

Grasmere is the setting of the play. Web sources indicate it is the final home of Wordsworth. For Wordsworth, it is an oasis for his genuis to flower. For his sister Dorothy, the pastoral setting is a microcosm of early 19th century western culture. In one distinctive scene, Dorothy, clearly a gifted individual in her own right, unleashes her anguish at the limitations her gender has placed on her options. This fateful choice leads her to a difficult and painful choice that will define her fate.

The play raises provocative and timely questions. How does gender influence our lives, positively and negatively? What is the "right" choice? How is society blinded by its own bias and agendas?

Grasmere is performed by a youthful company, all of whom are mature and sure of their craft. Their honesty and integrity to their characters and the play, I think, is what this kind of Festival is all about. I hope we'll hear more from this company, Roanproductions.com.

Alan

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Underground of Edinburgh

Yesterday a few of us took the famous Underground tour of Edinburgh. Interesting, this site of "Old Town" was bricked up and forgotten until the 1970s. A bored college student discovered a certain wall seemed hollow and battered it down--discovering an underground lairs undisturbed for over 150 years.

The vaults were created, circa 17th century, as the over-crowded city had no room for growth. Conditions were dangerous and deadly, the average life expectancy for those poor citizens inhabiting the vaults was about 18 months. Crime in the vaults was rampant. The vaults are a respository of innumerable tragic stories, known and unknown.

Allegedly, there is much paranormal activity in the Underground vaults. In one gloomy space, we were warned to avoid entering a circle defined by ancient rocks. This warning was framed with a rather dramatic story. Our guide put a brilliant button on her tale as she switched off her flashlight, plunging us into the most dense darkness you can imagine.

The tour ends with a visit to a small room with mighty implements of torture that have been collected over the years. Our articulate guide shared a few more stories to make our heads spin. This is truly a memorable, if dark insight into a piece of Edinburgh's history.

Needless to say, we invited our guide to the afternoon's show, and she graciously accepted!

Alan

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

photo time from Edinburgh

Our performance space: C Soco Venue Studio 1-a brand new venue, so new it does not yet have houselights. It is in the very large attic of a building next to the main C venue. It has 58 seats in thrust arrangement and is, compared to many spaces that act as venues at the Festival, quite user friendly.
On the Royal Mile--many thousands of people, most of whom are handing out flyers to promote their plays, music events, dance and comedy shows. Edinburgh is an amazing, ancient, exciting city during Festival time.
Our approach to Edinburgh Airport. Here we are over the Firth of Forth after an approach over the city from southwest to northeast. Final leg will take us over Arthur's Seat before landing at the airport.

Julie's Daily Journey

Many thanks to my friends Tony, Joan and Rowan Haigh for being guests in our audience last night. Tony and I go back to graduate school days. Tony and Joan teach at Centre College, a member of the Associated Colleges of the South consortium. It was a real treat that Tony, Joan and their daughter Rowan (who works in the theatre like her dad) could see our work.

We have lucked out. Most days are sunny--not typical for Edinburgh. Ideal weather for our afternoon flyering, and perhaps catching a quick show. Late afternoons are all about preparation for "magic time" (as Jack Lemmon used to call it). Actors do make-up and hair at the "flats," then everyone walks or take a short bus to the C Venue on Chamber Street. Other company members are carrying props, including our previous laptop computer!

The first few days, dressing rooms were not available. They are now, though all company members schlepp up three flights to our performance venue in Studio One. We generally wait about twenty minutes for the previous show to end, then a C Venue staff member gives us the cue to enter the space. We wait for the stage to clear, then the company sets up within five minutes. When the house open, audience members are seated within a few minutes. The show lasts 68-70 minutes. Then we "strike" the show within five minutes. After a brief post-show chat, all props go back to the flats!

Yesterday, my son Trevor and I caught an interesting comedy show called Heroes and Villians, playing in the basement pub of a near-by restaurant. The writing is very witty, and all connected to the challenges of post-modern relationships. So far as I can tell, the company consists of the two actors and the stage managers (who Trev and I flyering the other day). Interesting and encouraging that so many of the company members here at the Fringe are young people who appear to be in their twenties. Here we are in the midst of the new generation taking theatre to the next level!

We also caught a lunch time stand-up routine, a very funny fellow who is clearly a seasoned performer. His name is Brian, and his intentionally "low tech" political humor was original and saucy. The audience was small, couple of his buddies, also comedians, a middle-aged couple, and us--but a delightful 45 minutes. The masters of comedy also expressed interest in Miss Julie, so we may see them at a show. (Yes, I'm always looking for graceful ways to share my excitement about our work!)

I am hopeful of getting photos posted this evening--Edinburgh time. A number of us have been on the look-out for interesting bits.

A number of us are off to do the tour of the Underground Edinburgh at lunch, before dazzling the city with our flyering technique.

Cheers,

Alan

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bob says, Bloody Brilliant!

Hey everyone, this is Alex. Today was a very productive day! Not only did I see one show before our performance, I passed out tons of flyers and even twenty actual tickets. Yay! I had a lot of help from Spurge. People seem to actually talk to her! People here are so pretty- no really, they're gorgeous! They are all friendly too.
Bob came to see our performance tonight. I have never met this Bob before, but he said the show was "bloody brilliant." He promised to pass the word along about this amazing Miss Julie company. ( We were all wondering if we could put that on our flyers; you know, "Bloody brilliant!" -Bob.)
Today before the show, all of the actors were in places, and our C-venue staff member started to announce that we were ready to begin. At that moment, the light board monitor went completely black. We died. The end. Ok, just kidding. We managed to fix it in a couple seconds and went on with the show. Then, in the middle of the show, a light cue refused to come up correctly, so we decided to skip it and move on. Really, we just wanted to see if the actors were on their toes! They survived beautifully!
Right now we're just hanging out at the cafe in the theatre building. A gorgeous guy is currently staring at Amanda (who can really blame him?). He's in the show that we're going to see tomorrow, called Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. Mac saw it a few days ago and hasn't shut up about it since, so we thought we'd try to see it. Also, tomorrow, I'm going to see a kid's show. I'm kidnapping ten-year-old Rosalind (Alan's adorable daughter) to go with me. I'm excited! I hope Alan doesn't press charges! : )

-Alex

PS- Karate chop your neighbors!

Flyering High (Street)

Promotion is the Word for each day. High Street is one of the The Spots that company members who are producing at the Festival attract an audience. Not only are actors, stage managers and technicians passing out flyers (colorful postcards trumpeting our shows), but street acts abound! Fire eaters, magic acts, musicians, tight rope acts--just to name a few--festoon the streets with color and action.

The challenge is to make a personal connection with as many passers-by as possible. It is not enough to merely get our flyers into someone's hands, to but entice them with something about the world of the play in about ten seconds. Yikes!

"Flyering" is also a great opportunity to meet other Edinburgh theatre folks. In fact, I suspect that company members make up a significant number of theatre goers at the Festival. We have exchanged flyers with more than a few. Hitting the streets is essential for generating audiences.

The most interesting production I've seen at the Festival--not that there's been much time yet--is Tony the Blair Musical. The writing is fresh and funny, and the young company plays it with a brash charm.

Well, off to lunch, then more "flyering" for me...and perhaps a quick squint at show before our 5:15 performance.

Look for photos shortly, and more updates from the company!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Cheers, mates!

Hi! Amanda here again, along with Kate.
Well, we survived opening night! This is not a small accomplishment. We had to put on our make-up and do our hair back at the flat, and then we gathered all of our costumes, accessories, shoes, extra make-up, props pieces, and who knows what else, for the trek down the street to the theatre. Because it was opening night, Ms. Patti treated us to a bus ride to the theatre, so that we wouldn't have to walk. Once we arrived, we tried to change into our costumes in a crowded restroom, and then we all gathered in the lobby of the theatre, only to find that the venue was running shows about ten minutes behind schedule. I don't know how all of the company members felt, but I was a bit relieved to find myself with a few extra minutes to breathe before we had to jump on stage! We began our set-up and fight warm-up five minutes before the house opened, and then we were on. For me at least, the show flew by. I think that there were perhaps 15 audience members there, but I really didn't pay much attention. We had a few technical difficulties in that one of the panels on our kitchen counter fell off, and then Kate's necklace went flying off her neck just before the big fight scene began. Thankfully, we were able to recover from those two unexpected events fairly easily. I tried to replace the panel during one scene, but it fell off again. The next time I went on-stage, I was able to motivate carrying it off-stage while still in character (at least, I think I may have pulled that off!). Miraculously, brilliant Kate managed to catch her necklace as it went flying over her head! Other than that, the show seemed to run pretty smoothly, and now, I think we can all breathe just a bit easier. Until tonight's performance at least!

Now Kate informs me that I have written quite enough, and it is time for some of the other company members to make entries. So, we leave you for now, and head off to harrass Mac, Spurge, and Nikki into writing to you!

-Kate and Amanda

Alarms and Adventures

We awoke yesterday morning to the sound of bold alarms. We found ourselves together on the Clerk Street sidewalk with other semi-amazed (and some of us still sleep glazed) guests. It was a quick episode to be sure. An official looking gentleman in a black suit, in tandem with at least two firemen, scoured the building from to bottom. Apparently, this big drama was due to mere burnt toast. However, romantic that I am, I preferred to think of the brilliant electronic battle cry as a declaration of the opening day of Miss Julie!

And open we did. We have loads to share with you. Briefly, I just checked the net and we have received our first review. Geoffrey Evans gives us four stars. The entire text, available at one4review.com is quoted below:

"Miss Julie
The three handed play Miss Julie written by August Strindberg has been adapted by Alan Litsey bringing it up to date and also relocated in the American deep south and is performed with zest and no mean talent by Birmingham Southern College Theatre from Alabama.

Now set in the home of a wealthy family on the fourth of July, Julie, played with passion by Kate Jenkins, is the beautiful, rich bitch, crazy daughter of the house. Kristin, the much put upon family maid, Amanda Kramer and her boyfriend, trailer trash musician with a past John, portrayed by Mac Smith are the other two performers.

At the party Julie makes a play for John, because she can and her attentions are not rebutted but him, but does he have an ulterior motive? Who is Julie’s stalker? Is Kristin as mild as she seems?

The answer to these questions can be found by going to see this superb interpretation of an engaging play, but be quick the show only runs until the 11th."

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Scotland Rocks!

We are finally in Scotland! This is Amanda here, and Kate and I are writing to you from an internet cafe here in Edinburgh! We are about to head to the Royal Mile to pass out flyers for the show, and then we will be off to the final dress rehearsal before our opening tomorrow night. We had a four-hour tech rehearsal yesterday, in which our miming skills were put to the test; none of our set or props has arrived yet! We are all eagerly hoping for their safe arrival sometime today, but unfortunately, there are no guarantees. Oh, the joys of touring overseas!
Last night, Alex, Spurge, Mac, and I went to a party at our venue. We met a ton of theatre people, most of whom are from the UK. Everyone is very friendly and excited about the festival. We plan to try to go and see tons of shows while we're here. Kate has already seen two! (Sadly, I was too exhausted yesterday to drag myself out before the party; lame, I know!) Kate and the rest of the company saw Tony: The Blair Musical, and she also saw a musical called Famished, which they described as a combination of Urinetown and Young Zombies in Love. Yep, we feel right at home around here!
Well, our time here at the internet cafe has totally expired, so we'll check back in with you later!
- Amanda and Kate

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Miss Julie's Podcast Debut

Recently, I joined the 21st century. How? Well, recording podcasts with BSC Theatre alumn Trey Tatum and Scott McCellan. Trey, who begins the graduate program in Playwriting at Pace University this fall, created the site a couple of months ago. It is located at
http://www.brassringwriting.com/ with an ever-expanding collection of podcasts, transcripts and more. At brassringwriting you will find links to the podcasts, including a discussion of the Miss Julie adaptation entitled The Julie of the Nile.

The site focuses on playwriting, but given the interdisciplinary nature of theatre, student actors, technicians, designers and directors may find topics of interest as well.

In future weeks, you will find more podcast discussions with BSC Miss Julie company members. Early next week, hear a talk about the design process with Matthew Mielke (Professor of Theatre), Patti Manning (Costume Designer in Residence) and Nikki Craft (Senior Theatre Major and Co-Costume Designer on Miss Julie).

If you are following our blogs, we would love to hear your comments or suggestions. Blogs from students, photos, and even movie diaries are upcoming from Edinburgh, Scotland. Our flight arrives on August 1st, allowing us to ready for our opening on the 3rd. We'll keep you posted!

Alan Litsey, Professor of Theatre

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Julie and John

Here is quote from our press packet on the show: "Strindberg’s characters are among the most ill-matched couples in theatrical history. Each is so mistaken about the other, and in shadow of night, long hidden secrets are unleashed in the claustrophobic confessional of the family home. The conflict between Julie and John escalates to psychological and physical warfare—and total destruction."

The characters really experience every possible emotion over the course of the play. Over the course of the rehearsal process, the actors willingness to "go to the wall" in their exploration of the physical and emotional life of the play has resulted in some very exciting sparks in onstage. The photos published this week share just a bit of the work discovered in the last week.





Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Miss Julie Countdown

















We count down the days until leaving for Scotland Monday morning from campus at 8:00 AM. A portion of our morning was devoted to rehearsing our set up and strike onstage, which must time out to the minute. As of today Miss Julie plays at exactly 70 minutes. Our "window" for the performance is 90 minutes, leaving us just enough time to set the stage, open the house, and strike the set. The entire process was organized by our Stage Manager, Alex Brouwer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Miss Julie in the 21st Century


August Strindberg is acknowledged as one of the great innovators in all of theatre’s past. Miss Julie was not only a revelation but in some circles in its 1888 premiere—scandalous. Why? The reasons are many. Certainly, this unpredictable genius had a hunger to dig way below the surface of human experience. Not only did he wish to influence his audience, he was equally passionate about changing the landscape of theatre! Are we talking about yet another dazzling artistic wunderkind working to change the world? You bet. And he certainly did. You can read all about Strindberg and his work at http://www.extrapris.com/astrindberg.html

Why a modern adaptation? Why set it in the south? Well, our experiences are in a constant state of flux. Just consider how different your parent’s world is from your own. We can imagine the vast differences in perception and experience young characters such as Julie may possess in a context leaping over a hundred years.

Miss Julie in its debut was considered controversial, dangerous, edgy. It’s still a great, great play. But…what happens if we envision how our 21st century challenges might influence Strindberg’s rich, complex world? Is there potential to heighten even further our own culture’s questions embedded within the play? How closely can we define a world that will allow us to explore issues of privilege, gender, and social divisions, to name a few?

Why the deep south? Well, as the playwright/adaptor of Miss Julie, I’ve made my home in the south for over 17 years. I love the region and other than my native Central California, it’s the culture I know best. And certainly, our company of Theatre students bring rich southern-based experiences to our process. We hope however, that the play will connect with a diverse audience, at home and at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Theatre, at its best is always a high stakes experiment. We challenge ourselves in an effort to create a memorable—even magical—experience to share with our audience.

As we learn and grow together, we discover more as a learning community than is ever possible working solo. Shortly, you will hear from other members of our Production Team.

Alan Litsey, Professor of Theatre
Birmingham-Southern College

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Edinburgh Bound




Thanks for checking out BSC Theatre's blog site and sharing our Edinburgh Fringe Festival Experience with us. Over the summer, you'll have an opportunity to hear from Theatre students and faculty as we rehearse and perform our world premiere of Miss Julie. As many of you know. the Fringe Festival is largest and most diverse performing arts festival in the world. Check out the Fringe site at http://www.edfringe.com/ We make our debut on August 3rd, so please stay with us for continual updates and photos!

Theatre is perhaps the most collaborative of all art forms. The Miss Julie Project includes a company of six very talented students: designers, actors and technicians working on all aspects of the production with four faculty and staff members. One of the unique aspects of our process is that we are truly working together to create this experience for our audience--right down to planning the daily schedule together.

Please feel free to post your comments and questions as we share our adventures with you.

Alan Litsey, Professor of Theatre
Birmingham-Southern College Theatre Program