Tuesday, May 11, 2010

And Roll Credits

In my final week here at BSC, not only am I thinking about what the future holds for me, but I also think back upon where I've been, what I've done, and who I've met. When Michael Flowers asked me to write one more blog I knew immediately what I would write about. This is a sum it up...a history of my journey from my first day to now. The point of this post is simply this: you never know what life will bring you. Be open and go after what you want. So, in chronological order from August 2006 to May 2010, this is my contribution to BSC Theatre.

1. Urinetown: The Musical - Ensemble: My first ever college show. This was also the first opportunity I've ever had to take a show on tour. This show was entered in The KCACTF and we were passed on at the state level to the regional competition where we came so close to winning the chance to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

2. As You Like It - William: The first time I ever experienced Jan Term, or Interim, at BSC. The month of January in the theatre really shows you what it's like to work in professional theatre environment where you don't have the luxury of 6-8 weeks of rehearsal...you only get 3! It's a crazy ride, but somehow it always works.

3. Ah, Wilderness! - Richard: I never would have expected to get a leading role my freshman year of college. This was quite a rewarding experience for me becuase it is a play by my favorite playwright, Eugene O'Neill. It also goes to show that it is possible to go far in your first year at BSC, where you might not get as far in a larger university setting.

4. Taming of the Shrew - Gremio: A psychedelic, 1960's interpretation of Shakespeare's classic. This show featured one of the most colorful sets I've ever seen as well as a motorcycle and a closing dance number set to the song "I'm a Believer."

5. For Interim this year, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Italy to study at the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo. A group of theatre and music students spent two weeks in Arezzo living in a 15th century gothic villa and studied with world renowned artists who taught us philosophy of art and performance, Alexander Technique, Italian, movement, and many other things. We also traveled to Rome and Florence.

6. Merrily We Roll Along - Ensemble and Props Crew Head: For this Sondheim show, we spent the semester "in class" putting the entire show together. There were about 12 students who spent three hours on Monday and Friday afternoon rehearsing, learning music, finding props, hanging lights, painting the floor. We literally did everything ourselves. It worked almost as an independent production company might put something together. This was also the first time ever that Theatre One was transformed into theatre in-the-round.

A FORK IN THE ROAD: At this point in my college career I came to the conclusion that I no longer wanted to be a performer. I had begun thinking about how much I enjoyed technical work, especially sound and live music. As a matter of fact, I even began thinking of how I could take my theatre knowledge and apply it to the live music industry. This was a critical turning point in my life as I was about to start making decisions that would truly affect the rest of my life.

7. West Side Story - Baby John: To celebrate the theatre's 40th Anniversary, we put on an epic version of this classic musical. Michael Flowers' interpretation of this show was a bit out of the ordinary compared to typical productions. It was a dark portrayal of gang life in the 1950's. This only added to the cultural implications and tragic ending of the show. We also had the opportunity to perform with a 25 piece orchestra...and there's only one word for that...amazing.

8. Dead Man Walking - Sound Designer: So here's where I started stretching my legs in terms of what I wanted to start doing with my life. This unique opportunity allowed me to look at this Tim Robbins play from the angle that someone might look at scoring a film. The arena style set up of the theatre created an environment perfectly conducive to allowing the aural world of the play contribute greatly to the story being told. Not to blow my own horn, but I really felt that my sound design was almost another character in the play.

9. You Can't Take It With You - Ed: This charming 1930's comedy was such a joy to work on considering the dark, heavy material of the season's previous two shows. The set for this production was easily one of the most complex and detailed of any that I have ever worked on. In this case, the set itself was as interesting as the characters on the stage.

10. In the summer before my senior year, I was fortunate enough to intern at WorkPlay. I won't go into detail about what I did becuase there is whole other post I've written that gives a detailed account of that. Basically, this was one of the best things that can happen to a student in college...an opportunity to work with real world industry professoinals. BSC is very supportive of getting their students out into the world by allowing them to create their own class to credit for the work they do. The moral of the story here is: GET AN INTERNSHIP. You won't believe what a difference it makes. It greatly contributes to your overall education.

11. Striking 12 - Stage Manager: I've been wanting to stage manage for a long time and I finally got the opportunity to do it. I like taking on a lot of responsibility and being in a leadership position. I found this to perfectly complement the direction I was wanting to go with my career.

12. Hamlet - Polonius: This post-modern interpretation of the most famous play in history was quite an experience, as we put the whole thing together in the month of January. I have to say that it was a rewarding experience because of the opportunity to perform with John McGinnis as Hamlet. His energy was infectious and he truly made this a production to remember.

13. The Woods - Director: For part of my senior project, I directed this disturbing and dark piece by David Mamet. Even though it was just a two person show, it took an enormous amount of work to put together. And we only had the month of February to do it all. Kind of crazy, I know, but it worked.

14. Hair - Claude: Not really expecting to be cast as the lead in the big Spring musical, I have to admit that I was a little worried about how my final semester was going to end. With such a massive responsibility to the production, I wondered how I was going to find the time to find a job, find an apartment, both in Los Angeles, and still have time for me. I underestimated myself, though. I was able to find an internship, finish my classes with all A's, and put on a good performance, if I do say so myself.

And there it is. It's been a wild ride, but it has led me to where I am now. Where am I now, you ask? I'm moving to Los Angeles at the end of the month of May to begin an internship with a music publishing company. Looking at all the entries listed above, you might wonder how I ended up where I am. It just goes to show, though, that you really never know what's going to come your way. The only thing you can do is work toward what you want. It may not work out exactly like you thought, or it may be a dream come true. I hope my journey can inspire some of you future college students to reach, reach, and reach for what you want. Don't settle. Don't back down.

That's all from me. Here's to the past four years. This is Matt Adams...signing out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ending to Begin

My intern ship is drawing to a close. I have three more days before I head back to good 'ol BSC and start again with crazy class schedules, homework, and shows. Over the weekend I was dreading leaving the amazing city of New York and returning to school. But yesterday and today I've been reexamining my life as a college student and what I would like to focus on.

I wanted to come to New York for interim was because I needed to find out if this was a place I wanted to live and if I really wanted to pursue play writing. Interning with a production company was the best way to experience both. Not only did I live here for a month, but was privileged enough to get a piece of the producing side of theatre. Obviously, producing isn't play writing, however, they directly connect with one another. Both questions of living and play writing were answered with a resounding "YES!"

So now comes the part where I figure out where to go from here. I have a few things about my schedule to reconsider, but nothing terrifying. And leaving here makes finding ways to return that much sweeter. I now have a goal. I know where I want to go when I graduate. I think I may try and return this summer depending on the results of SETC auditions.

I'm no longer dreading returning school, but excited. Now that I have a stronger idea of what I want to do, I'm ready to take the necessary steps to get there.
This has been such a rewarding experience. Like I said in my last post, I feel like I've conquered one of the world's many perplexities. I see the world slightly differently now, and lemme' tell ya', I like the way it looks!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Head First

Hi, Clara here, writing for the first time all the way from New York City. I'm thrilled to say that I am a sophomore musical theatre major at BSC.

Currently, I am spending my interim in Manhattan, interning with a Broadway and film production company. I've very much enjoyed my time at the company, though I feel as if one month is not nearly enough time to get the full experience of the producing world. It has also been especially slow because the CEO, VPs, and Creative Executive, are all out working on a separate project in Los Angeles.

My job has consisted of answering phones, creating lists, and doing a little research. However, with everything moving so slowly, I have time (and have been strongly encouraged) to work on my own writing. Jason, the CEO's assistant, and I have been the only two people in the office for the last three weeks, presenting more opportunity for relaxed conversation. I asked him to read some of my work and he gave me strong feedback on how to improve it. Not only is it nice to get the opinion of someone directly in the business, but it's also relieving when they don't say that they thought your draft was awful. "It has potential." YES!

I've also had a chance to look into the shows they're producing. One of the projects is based off of a book (I'm not at liberty to share this information), and I read both the book and the treatment of adapting it into a musical. It was fascinating how different they were.
Some of the other things Jason and I have talked about are the differences between commercial theatre and not for profit, how production companies are run, budgeting, copyrighting, and play writing. Many of these things are not as complicated as I thought they would be, but I can't say I would do the best job explaining them to anyone else.

While out of the office I have explored several things. I didn't come with much money so seeing many Broadway shows was not in the budget. I actually have yet to see any. I may in my final week here. But instead I decided to use my money to buy a cheap guitar that I named Abel, and go "busking" as they call it. Busking means to perform your talent on the street, in the subway, where ever really, for money. I chose to stick to the subway. Other things I have done include taking an $18 vocal technique class at Broadway Dance Studio, attending a free show of the Upright Citizen's Brigade improvisation company, going to an open call audition for the musical HAIR, and giving guitar lessons to a good friend's daughter on the weekends.

Wait WHAT? Yes, I went to a cattle call. I tagged along with the roommate of my old friend in high school that is letting me stay in her apartment. We arrived at about 5:15am and waited for almost five hours in the cold to sign in. There was at least a thousand people who came. Even though we showed up early, there was still around 300 people in front of us. As soon as we signed in we were given our audition time (2:50pm) and left to get some sleep and warm up our frozen toes. We returned at 2:30 to wait for our time, lined up to turn in our head shots and resumes, sang our 16 bar audition piece, and returned home. It's a huge wait for thirty second slot of time to prove yourself, but I'd do it again I think.

All of those details aside, I've learned so much more about myself as an artist from this little adventure of mine. It's kind of cheesy, but it’s like listening to a song you’ve heard a million times and having that moment when you finally understand what it’s saying. This one time when you hear the song, you connect with its depth and truth, and it strikes an understanding in your heart that changes the way you see the world (if only slightly). But that’s all it takes; a slight tilt in the angle or a small change in hue, to give you the feeling that you’ve just conquered a small piece of the world’s many perplexities.

For the first time in my life, I've been given the opportunity to be completely independent. College doesn't count because you are provided housing, have a cafe to feed you, and it isn't necessary to leave campus. Here, I spent two weeks living by myself (my friend and her roommates weren't back for school yet), and was forced to figure out New York without help. To some of you, this is a "been there done that" statement; "No big deal, easily done" etc. But that is exactly what I discovered myself on this journey.
Let me explain a little.

I originally chose musical theatre as my major because, frankly, I didn't know what else to do. I was a musical theatre major at the creative arts high school I attended, and though I had no idea if it was a career I desired to pursue, I somewhat enjoyed performing so I chose it by default. I also figured it was a good way to receive scholarship money. When it came to deciding on a college, BSC ended up as my only option. You see, I only applied to Indiana University and Birmingham Southern. Yes, I know. It was not the smartest decision I could have made. But this time around, my lack of preparation lead me exactly where I need to be. I was placed on the waiting list for IU, and BSC offered me great scholarships. So there you have it.

I realize now how unbelievably risky that was. For the last year and a half I have, somewhat silently, worried myself over whether or not I had what it takes to plunge head first into this business. I wasn’t only interested in performing, but playwriting as well. Sure, I could “do it” but I didn’t know if I could do it well enough to make it in the real world. "If you imagine yourself doing anything else, than do that," I constantly heard my professors and fellow students fervently advise, "Because this job asks everything of you with a large possibility of not giving back financially." As a perfectionist, I didn't want anyone to know that I didn't "have it together". I attempted to hide the fact that my mind spun like an overactive merry-go-round, arguing myself dizzy with the fear that I was making a very big mistake. However, something in me told me to stay. That "something" was right.

Over the summer I discovered that my passion lies more in writing than performing. Over fall semester it became more and more evident to me that it’s what I want to do. But I was still afraid. The question, “Am I good enough?” hammered me down, among other questions revolving around my sense of ability, keeping me trapped in insecurity.

Last month when BSC held a master class with Ben Vereen, Ben called me out on my overwhelming fear failure. It was astonishingly liberating, however, no less of a struggle to be confronted with in front of about fifty of my colleagues and my professors. I couldn't have been bestowed with a better preface to my adventure here in Manhattan.

And somehow, everything fell together for me to come to New York for interim. Even though I had been planning it since second semester freshman year, the weight of my decision didn't become a reality until the taxi ride from JFK airport to the apartment in which I would have a mini freak out before realizing I wasn't going to get mugged if I walked outside. Then when I realized I was going to be fine, the thrill of independence over took me, and my level of confidence boosted to unbelievable levels. At first I thought it was just being in New York that brought about my oozing confidence. It was when I had time to calm down and realize that New York is just another city, another place that is full of routines, smelly trash, and busy people, that I realized it wasn't the city. I was so excited about my independence that I never gave my fear enough time to tell me that I couldn't do it.

There's still a feeling of fear and uncertainty at times, but now I know to ignore it, because I've been there, done that. I've proven to myself that it is possible. And honestly, I can't see myself doing anything else but theatre anyway. I only wish I could tell Ben!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


We're fast heading toward our Monday opening of the BSC production of Hamlet. You'll find many students who have taken on significant leadership roles, including Costume Designers, Lighting Designer, Technical Director, Stage Management, Assistant Director and more. Hamlet is our January Interim production, so we have the luxury of working on this one project for the entire month. Students, faculty and staff hit the ground running at 9:30 in the morning and we collaborate for the entire day. As director on the production, I've been privileged to work with many talented theatre students. Whatever our role has been, we've all learned alot about the play!