Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Production Photos: Crew Edition

Lisa Bamberg (Co-Costume Designer) artfully ironing a shirt!

Mary Claire Owen working on one of the skirts for costumes!

John McGinnis building a platform.

Gia Nappo working on a platform while Wright Gatewood and Suzanne Reese supervise!

Shea Glenn working on set.

Lindsey Chambers helping out the set designer, Sufia Butt.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"The Miracle Worker" Rehearsal

Hello everyone! Here are a couple picture from "The Miracle Worker" rehearsals! I have lots of videos from rehearsals, but am experiencing some technical difficulties when it comes to actually uploading them! Stay tuned and hopefully I'll get them on the blog soon!

Jordan Crenshaw (Annie Sullivan) and Christie Connolly (Helen Keller) warming up at fight call.

Michael Flowers assisting Jordan and Christie with the fight choreography!

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.
Helen Keller

Enjoy, Emma

Friday, January 14, 2011

Freshman Theatre Experience

It has been so exciting being a part of the Birmingham-Southern Theatre family my freshman year of college. I had an incredible time in my Beginning Acting class which fulfilled my longing for a more structured approach to learning about acting craft than I received in a high school setting. My classmates were all so dedicated and talented. It was a joy to watch my friends perform their scenes and to offer comments about discoveries and improvements as the work progressed. I had the privelege of working with Dallas Taylor on a scene written by my acting profesor Alan Litsey called "Al Boasberg Gets His Due." Dallas and I created an intricate backstory to support the challenging dialogue. A scene that could simply be interpreted as a blind date between two neurotic people turned into a complicated family history meeting between a brother and sister who were separated at a young age by divorce and abuse. I grew so much as an actress by working on this scene. One of my favorite discoveries was and continues to be the freedom and flexibility that is part of the rehearsal process. I have worked on theatre for years but have never experienced such a creative exploration and sense of freedom with blocking and character behavior.

In addition to being part of an amazing acting class, I was cast in the first production of the season, Light Up the Sky. I remember the audition night clearly. I was extremely nervous as I walked into the lobby and saw the multitude of actors warming up and reviewing material. I had worked very dilligently on my audition scene with Robbie Hindsman, so we walked onto the stage confidently, hoping to have a good time presenting the scene. I was so surprised that I left the stage feeling great about my audition! I remember thinking that I was proud of myself for memorizing the lines and having fun regardless of the outcome. I was ecstatic when Robbie called me that week and said I needed to look at the cast list. I could tell from his voice that he was excited. I had received the role of Miss Lowell in Light Up the Sky and Robbie had been cast in Cabaret! We were so thrilled to be part of the BSC season!

Several weeks later there were auditions for The Miracle Worker, the Interim production. I was so excited about the show because it is such a huge part of my life. I live in Florence, Alabama, right accross the bridge from Helen Keller's birthplace in Tuscumbia, AL. Every summer, the birthplace, commonly called Ivy Green, produces the show on the outdoor set behind the Keller home. I grew up attending the show and being fascinated with Helen's story. One of my first acting experiences was playing a blind child in the production of the outdoor drama. In 2001, I was cast as Helen Keller and it continues to be one of my favorite roles. I returned to Ivy Green in the summers of 2002 and 2003 to play Helen again. It was incredible to perform at the place where the Kellers actually lived and experienced the circumstances in the show. Ivy Green has such a distinct spirit and joy; it is hard to leave after being involved with such an amazing production. Unfortunately, I grew too old to play Helen again the next year. My heart was set on one day playing Helen's teacher, Anne Sullivan. This past summer I returned to Ivy Green to audition for my dream role. I knew my size would probably be an issue--I am barely 5 feet tall, and Anne has to fight vigorously with a seven year old. However, I was cast as Anne and spent an amazing summer back at the Green!!
So when I heard that BSC was doing The Miracle Worker, I was very anxious and excited. Several people have played the role of Helen Keller and gone on to play Anne Sullivan, but how many people can say they have played Anne Sullivan and then played Helen Keller?? I prepared an enjoyable audition, which included the suitcase scene and the fight scene. Again, I had a wonderful time auditioning and walked away proud of my work. I was overwhelmed with joy when I saw my name on the cast list later that week!
Many people may think it is easy for me to do this role because I have played Helen before, but that is far from true. I was only 10 years old when I played Helen at Ivy Green. I had no clue about goals, obstacles, tactics, and communion. I am currently learning so much about her behavior and relationships that I would have never been able to understand years ago. I am also thoroughly enjoying working on the set crew. It is very humbling to experience first-hand all of the techincal aspects of the theatre. Each area works so hard in pursuit of our common goal. I have realized and learned how much heart and power really goes into making a production possible!

I am so thankful for all the wonderful opportunities I have received my first year at BSC! The support from the faculty and students is tremendous. :)
"One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar."
-Helen Keller

Friday, January 7, 2011

"The Miracle Worker"

Well friends, once again I am surrounded by scurrying props people, costume-clad actors running to rehearsal, the cacophony of sound cue tests, gel-cutting light crew members, and other similar hubbubs that can be found in the Birmingham-Southern College theatre! Feels like home doesn’t it? Well…for us theatre types at least.

The BSC theatre is currently almost one week into its interim project, “The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson. This play tells the story of Helen Keller, a blind and deaf girl that is trapped inside a world of silent darkness, until a determined young woman named Anne Sullivan is hired to teach her. The actors portray the ups-and-downs that naturally come with the frustrating process of trying to teach this young girl how to communicate with and understand those around her. By the end of the show, Annie Sullivan not only alters Helen’s way of life for the better, but also Helen’s family. I find the redemption is this show very moving and something for any audience member to look forward to.

All this I have gathered from a few short days of observing rehearsal and wandering around the building. As the company manager, I have a unique perspective on the theatre interim project as a whole. I am in charge of administrative things such as taking attendance, organizing tickets and the production program, and assuring that the word about this show gets out to the public. Since I’m the lone company manager, every once in a while I get time to visit all the different crews and sit in on rehearsal. Because of this I am once again reminded how many people it actually takes for a theatre company to tell a story like Helen’s.

When I was a freshman working on the theatre interim project, at the time I was too bitter about having to work in the theatre from 9 to 5 everyday while all my friends where relaxing to realize how important my part was. I played “a dead girl” in the show, and while I wasn’t sitting onstage on my “gravestone” I was sewing hem after hem after hem on every single woman’s costume. In other words, I felt very small and insignificant. However, now as a senior company manager, I realize how wrong I was. I hate to sound cliché (frankly I think clichés are a tad trite for my taste), but every single one of the people I mentioned at the beginning of this post (i.e. props, lights, actors, sound…even company managers, if I do say so myself) are integral parts of our craft. We certainly seem to maintain a rather "one for all, and all for one" atmosphere around here when we're not counting down the minutes to our lunch break.

Throughout the month I get the privilege of posting other musings such as this one on the theatre blog! I promise that the next several ones will actually share more about “The Miracle Worker” itself and a hopefully a little bit less of my rabbit trails! In the meantime, look forward to rehearsal pictures and videos that I will be posting soon!

~ Emma Palmer