Remember how awesome Frogs was? To help remind you, here’s a snapshot of Communications Director Matt Clevy in his frog costume. How’s that for some holiday cheer? Merry Christmas from everyone at FLT.
After working as the Fault Line Theatre intern for the last year, I’m excited to officially be a member of the newly expanded communications department! Back on Friday, June 8, 2012, during the original run of “From White Plains,” Good Baby Films, a film collective I co-founded with four other artists, was tasked with recording the entire play for publicity and promotional purposes. Recently, Travis Bogosian, Dennis Kozee, Neo Sora, and myself had an opportunity to reflect on the incredible experience of filming “From White Plains”.
What preparations needed to be taken to film a live event like this?
Travis: Shooting a theater performance like this is really like treading the line between narrative filmmaking and documentary filmmaking. You know what’s supposed to happen, but you need to be ready for anything to happen. We just tried to cover as many angles as we could with our cameras, and made sure we were prepared for anywhere the play went.
Neo: We only have one shot to get everything. Getting as much coverage as possible is the most important thing.
Dennis: It’s important to know the space, and how sound is going to be picked up in that exact room. Where the waves are bouncing, that kind of thing. Oh, also, make sure you replace the batteries in all the film equipment!
What were some of the challenges in filming this play in particular? How did it look through the lens of the camera versus watching it in the theatre?
Travis: There is a liveness of emotion that is exhilarating in the theater. That’s the case for a lot of theater, but especially true for this play. On film, the subtleties come through as a twitch of the eye, or a flick of the wrist. A piece like “From White Plains” has this tremendous power to it that is hard to truly capture on camera, but which is also what makes it such a great play to watch. The best way for us to capture it was to try to capture as much of that action as we could without stylizing or treating it.
Dennis: Plays are always hard to shoot. And when you watch a play on film, you have to be forgiving, because in person, the eye and the imagination and just being in the actual space while the actors are doing their thing, that does a lot for the audience. On film, the film itself is doing all the work almost! In life, people don’t need closeups, because your eye and your imagination already know how to focus, you know what I mean? So when you shoot a play, which is meant to be live, directed to be effective in front of living people, you have to be careful to not get in the way of that.
Neo: This play was especially difficult because it seemed to experiment with spatial orientation a lot. For certain scenes, the peripheral vision that would be required by the audience to intake all of the action on stage would be lost on camera.
In order to film this show, we had to watch it a couple times prior to prepare for the day of filming. What was the experience of watching this play more than once?
Neo: For me, it benefited to watch it a second time so that I could distance myself from the emotion of the play. That way I could concentrate on technical tasks better without being absorbed by the story.
Dennis: Well, this is my experience anytime I see anything more than once, but I saw the structure more. After seeing it a few times, you see the shape of it, like looking at the sheet music as opposed to listening to the orchestra. But that’s a good thing! It definitely helped with the recording. Though, both times, the acting hit me equally hard.
Travis: It’s great watching a play more than once, because you discover what the actors are discovering as they delve deeper and deeper into their characters. Watching a play to film is about understanding the blocking, and this became the focus of my viewing. Still, and again this is about that liveness I mentioned, each performance is unlike the last. You never just go into a play knowing what you’re going to get.
From White Plains is gearing up for a second run, this time at The Pershing Square Signature Center. What do you think it is about this show that has made it so successful?
Dennis: Aw man, solid acting, solid direction, and everybody seems to care so much about it! I think that is the engine of its success. I think it’s also about a really great topic, a kind of dissection of bullying, and public space, and how we use language, and homophobia, and… well, it’s all worthwhile of course, but I think it’s successful because it’s unbiased in its approach to the material. It’s telling the story, and the actors let you into these characters’ lives. You care about them.
Travis: It strikes at some issues that I think are very prominent today in a very accessible way. It hits a nice balance between funny, active, quick, and dramatic that I think are the recipe for a really enjoyable theater experience, but it also has that lasting post-performance itch that sticks with you. You can’t just leave the theater and shrug off some of the ideas they’re throwing around.
Neo: The ability to tell a genuinely emotional story while still playing with the style and form of theater in creative ways make it extraordinary I think.
Anything else you’d like to add in closing?
Neo: I would love to see more from Fault Line Theatre. They seem to have a very current grasp of what needs to be discussed through artistic mediums.
Travis: I hope I’ll get to see it performed again, I’d like to see where the actors take their performances.
Dennis: Well just, I really hope this show has a long life! And ‘good luck’ to the Fault Liners!
For more information on Good Baby Films, feel free to visit our website at www.goodbabyfilms.com. And, of course, check back here regularly for more blog posts as we move towards the return of “From White Plains”!
- John Racioppo
Fault Line Theatre Communications
The blog is back folks! I hope you all had an amazing summer. Mine was wonderful, due in no small part to the fact that Fault Line Theatre was nominated for SIX IT Awards. We were all thrill to receive such recognition in only our second season, but we couldn’t have done it without the support of our wonderful audiences. Thank you all so much, Check out the complete list of nominees here. The awards ceremony will take place on September 24th, and we are all very excited to see what happens.
Our dear friend and collaborator Karl Gregory was nominated for not one but two awards. He received an Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role nod for his performance as Aeschylus in Frogs, and an Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role for his work in From White Plains. Karl took the time to answer a few question before the ceremony:
Those who know you and your work know that you’re no stranger to awards, having won a SALT Award in 2005 for Fully Committed and getting the “Best Local Actor” nod in the Best of Ithaca Awards in 2010. Even so, how does it feel to be nominated for not one, but TWO IT Awards in the same season?
Are you kidding me?! It’s amazing. I feel like Meryl! Yeah, it feels nice to be recognized for what you do. The NYC OOB world is full of new and interesting kinds of plays, and it’s definitely cool to be nominated as one of the best.
What were the biggest challenges for you in creating the role of Aeschylus in Frogs?
Well, I think the thing we all had to grapple with in that show was the level of absurd comedy while still being truthful, to the play and to ourselves. Aeschylus was a freaking nutjob - a pompous, self-aggrandizing whack. Who also happened to have a pretty solid point about the nature and purpose of art in society. So how do you get that message across without losing the richness of character? You put it all out on the table, faults, triumphs and egos, and you let the play do it’s job.
Speak a little bit about the process of creating From White Plains. How did it differ for you from other new play processes in which you’ve participated? Did the fact that the material hit so close to home make it more or less difficult to portray Dennis?
First of all, this was the first time that I had ever signed on to a project without having a script yet. When we all came on board, Michael Perlman (writer/director) had a single idea, the inciting incident of the play. We also had a fully assembled team. Designers, producers, actors, and our writer/director were involved from conception through development, and into the theatre. I’ve never experienced anything like that before, and I’ve got to say, you can feel the effect. We have a play that is so undeniably in our bones, all of us. As for Dennis, well….. there was nothing easy about that part. There’s a lot of me in there, ideas and things that came out of development. I’ve always found it much harder to play myself onstage. You have to be a lot more naked, willing to show all your baggage. That final monologue hurt every night. But I think it’s important that people see that hurt. So I did it. (And secretly loved it.)
Why do you think there was such an overwhelmingly positive response from audiences to From White Plains?
It’s not something anyone has ever seen. I certainly never have. We were thoughtful about crafting the play so that there was no enemy, no ‘bad guy’. Just four human beings with completely different life experiences. And isn’t that what life really is? No one is the same, no one truly understands what you have been through, what makes you who you are. We make other people feel bad, to make ourselves feel good. But we must have some kind of honest discourse about what happens when society says it’s ok to treat people like they are less than human. I think the real gem of the play is that it asks a lot of questions, and asks the audience to come up with more. Because these questions don’t have answers. It’s an ongoing conversation, and From White Plains bravely stepped out front to make sure we are having it.
We’d love for you to join us at the awards ceremony on September 24th. You can get your tickets here. Be on the lookout for more exciting news from Fault Line in the next few weeks!
Director of Communications
As I was watching Karl, Jimmy, and Michael put the second scene of the play on its feet yesterday, I thought to myself, “Does a person who doesn’t work in the theatre really know what a director does?” If I wasn’t a theatre practitioner I think I would assume that a director’s primary responsibility is to tell people where to stand. While it’s true that a director is responsible to an extent for the composition of the stage pictures that the audience sees, that’s far from the whole story.
My father is very successful in the business world. Over the course of many years he worked his way up from being an entry level engineer to running international corporations. I told him once that I could never do what he does, and to my surprise he disagreed. He said that I’m good with people and that what he does is a people business above anything else. Obviously there’s some specific technical knowledge required, but beyond that it’s about the ability to relate to people, and to use that ability to achieve the desired results. That’s exactly what a great director does.
Watching Michael work with Karl and Jimmy yesterday only reinforced what I’d learned in the conversation with my dad. Michael, like a good CEO, creates a space that allows his collaborators to excel and do their best work. He is caring, open, and generous with his actors and his demeanor infuses the rehearsal room with a spirit of collaboration that is necessary for success. Creating this collaborative environment removes ego from the process and places the play and storytelling at the center of everyone’s focus.
Once this tone is set, the work becomes more technical. A good director must possess an intimate understanding of the play and be able to confidently discuss the major events in the text and how they relate to one another to form the structure of the piece and reveal characters’ relationships. Most daily conversations we have involve hundreds of tiny changes in tactics and intentions, split off into tangents, and contain many subconscious levels of understanding that we take for granted. Michael excels at breaking down the text of a play to illuminate these details. He communicates these discoveries in a clear and actable way that yields nuanced and emotionally truthful performances from his actors before they even get up from the table. When the actors do get on their feet, they now have a solid foundation to work from and are able to physicalize the play in a seemingly organic way because so much emphasis was placed on understanding the play at the table. Then if Michael doesn’t like what he sees, he just tells them where to stand. Seriously though, he’s a really good director.
Come see From White Plains and see what I mean.
-Director of Communications
If you haven’t been living in some secluded cave for the past few days, you’ve heard that President Obama has publicly voiced his support for same sex marriage and that Mitt Romney was involved in bullying “hijinks” at his Michigan boarding school. As a supporter of marriage equality, I’m encouraged that Mr. Obama chose to affirm what I believe should be everyone’s inherent right, to marry the person they love. As wonderful and important as the President’s announcement was, I am more intrigued by the events surrounding Mitt Romney’s high school years- and how they relate to the events of From White Plains. In the play Ethan Rice, portrayed by Aaron Rossini, is labeled as a high school bully and forced as an adult to confront the consequences of his behavior as a teenager.
When I look at my own high school experience, I definitely picked on others more than I was picked on. My behavior wasn’t as extreme as Romney’s seems to have been, but for the sake of fitting in I made fun of kids and slung around my fair share of mean spirited jokes. Am I sorry that I may have hurt those kids’ feelings? Yes, absolutely. Do I regret the way I behaved? I don’t think that question is as easy to answer. When we’re in high school, we are far from becoming the people that we will be when we’re adults. We’re in a constant state of growth and change, and we do many things without giving thought to the consequences. Regrettable actions and mistakes are an important part of our growth as adolescents. Without them we cannot learn how to be better moving forward.
The situation becomes more complicated when the severity of those mistakes increases. Where do we draw the line between immature adolescent behavior and actions that inflict real trauma? Romney refers to his actions as “hijinks,” and perhaps to him at the time they were. From the outside perspective as adults in 2012 it’s hard to seem them that way.
My opinion of who Obama and Romney are as people is shaped by my political beliefs and the way they are depicted by the media. Generally, I believe that Obama is a good person because we have similar political ideologies. Conversely, I think less of Romney because we disagree on religion, same sex marriage, and numerous other issues. However, the fact remains that I don’t actually know either of them, and their portrayal in the media is not the whole story.
In the world of From White Plains, Ethan Rice is judged by millions who don’t know the whole story. I’m inclined to say that’s not fair, but we have to make decisions and judgements based on the information we have at hand. I invite you to see the show and decide for yourselves.
Get your tickets here: http://bit.ly/KqYzTz
Director of Communications
When From White Plains has its first audience on May 31st I will have lived in New York City for almost a year and a half. In that time I have worked primarily with graduate school colleagues-but have also had the opportunity to work with some very talented individuals who come from a completely different background. As an artist it is important to understand that everyone has a unique process, and just because that process is different from your own does not mean it is “bad” or “wrong.”
A major difference between my Brown/Trinity colleagues and my NYC collaborators is that my NYC friends spend far less time at the table when they’re working on a play. As I sat in on FWP rehearsal this afternoon I was reminded how important good table work is to me and my process. Director Michael Perlman was working with Karl Gregory and Jimmy King on a scene in which their characters are having an argument. Many actors, myself included, tend to fall easily into the trap of raging and screaming when they come across an argument scene. We desperately want to show how much we care, and tapping into anger is often the easiest way to express that. Without good table work a scene becomes one dimensional and stagnates. If the play doesn’t happen at the table it will never happen on its feet. Michael, Jimmy, and Karl were doing excellent table work. They closely examined the text and found many subtle shifts in intention and motivation which made the scene dynamic and interesting. They were not two characters in a play yelling at one another, but two human beings trying make each another understand their respective points of view. I believe that the search for truthful acting is not in mumbling or adopting a “natural” physicality, but in mining the text for clues that key into who my character is, what he wants, and his relationship to the other characters in the play. Only after I’ve done clear and specific text work do I have a foundation upon which to create a believable character. I think the four actors in this play would agree with me. I’ll see you at the theatre.
Director of Communications
Click here for tickets.
Ladies and Gentleman the Rehearsal Blog is back! Rehearsals are underway for Fault Line’s next project, From White Plains, conceived and directed by Michael Perlman and starring Aaron Rossini, Karl Gregory, Craig Wesley Divino, and Jimmy King.
What strikes me about From White Plains is that its message extends beyond the treatment of LGBT individuals in America. It speaks to all of us, without regard to sex, creed, or sexual orientation and asks us to examine our own lives and the way we’ve chosen to treat other people and how they have treated us. Our actions have consequences, and in a world dominated by social media the power to reach millions with our thoughts and opinions is literally in the palm of our hands. We can be held accountable for every word we type or tweet on the internet. Because our comments have such a broad reach, are we obligated to hold ourselves to a higher standard? Must we take broader responsibility for the presence we establish in cyberspace? I don’t have the answers, but I’m excited that this play asks these questions. From White Plains forces us to look at who we’ve been, who we are, who we want to be, and how we chose to express that to the world. I look forward to seeing you at the theatre.
Director of Communications
Megan Auster-Rosen is a busy woman. She is currently pursuing her PhD in clinical psychology, seeing several patients a week as part of that program, volunteering for an after school program, and oh yes, writing and acting in Fault Line Theatre’s latest project.
I’m marveled by her ability to deftly juggle all of her outside responsibilities and pour herself completely into From the Same Cloth. The photo below shows her portraying the Shaman, one of the many characters she plays in this show.
There are very specific vocal and physical techniques required to play multiple characters effectively. It’s necessary for each character to possess a distinct voice and physicality and that the change from one to another happen swiftly as an actor breathes in to speak the next line. Shifting focal points is also important because it allows the audience to understand who is speaking to whom. Megan is executing these techniques wonderfully. It has been a pleasure to watch her performance grow and change throughout the course of the rehearsal process. I’m excited for you to see it on opening weekend.
Director of Communications
Click here for tickets.
Tonight’s blog will examine both Ken and Megan’s respective African journeys. When Ken received his Peace Corps posting he was stationed in Segbwema, a major agricultural and trading center in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone. As you can see from the map below, Segbwema is located northeast of the Provincial capital of Kenema in the southeastern portion of the country. The Mendes are the dominant ethnic group in this region, but Ken found that due to the commercial nature of Segbwema, its inhabitants primarily spoke English and Creole, the common market language between the surrounding tribes. Ken wanted to completely immerse himself in the Mende language and culture, so he moved to the tiny village of Pendembu Djegbla, where they spoke only Mende. Unfortunately, Pendembu Djegbla is so small that it doesn’t appear on our map, and according to Megan, is so small that it mostly likely never appeared on any map. Although a few modern towns in Sierra Leone bear the name Pendembu, we assume that Ken’s village was located somewhere in the outskirts of Segbwema.
Megan’s journey began in Teshie, a town just east of the Ghanian capital of Accra. This region is inhabited by the Ga people. A fascinating Ga custom is the construction of “fantasy coffins” when a loved one passes away. These untraditional coffins are constructed to reflect the personality of the deceased and serve as a vehicle to mourn their death and celebrate their journey to the afterlife. Some examples of these coffins can be found here.
Megan felt the need to escape the anglican lifestyle she was living in Teshie and headed northwest to the village of Ekumfi Atakwa in search of a more immersive African experience. As we learn from the play, she met similar dissatisfaction in her new destination.
Once Ken joined Megan, they first traveled to Ada, a small city in southeastern Ghana at the mouth of the Volta River. Ada was once a major trading hub when the Volta was used to transport goods, but now it is primarily a popular tourist destination known for its beaches and water sports. Ken and Megan then flew to Tamale in northern Ghana and spent time in Mole National Park. Although not directly indicated on the map, Mole National Park is the region west of Tamale that surrounds the Mole River. Western Africa isn’t famous for its wildlife like the southern portion of the continent, but Mole National Park is a rare exception. It is Ghana’s largest wildlife reserve and home to a resident population of 800 elephants.
It is imperative to note that the landscape of Western Africa changed dramatically in the years between Ken’s Peace Corps assignment in the 1970s and Megan’s trip in the early 2000s. Sierra Leone was ravaged by a civil war that tore families apart, left over 50,000 dead, and wiped out many villages, including Pendembu Djegbla. Many charitable organizations throughout the world have dedicated themselves to providing aid to Sierra Leone, and the links below offer some insight to the type of work being done:
Megan is also involved with the Theatre Arts Against Political Violence program, which is part of the International Trauma Studies Program at Columbia University. Theatre Arts Against Political Violence is “a community arts project using theatrical performance to provide a public space for testimony, witnessing, and conversation.” More information about the program can be found here.
I love the movies. Many of my first memories are of going to see movies with my Dad on the weekends. It’s a tradition that we maintained throughout the time I lived at home and was the reason I first fell in love with acting. I was reminded at rehearsal this weekend of one of my favorite differences between theatre and film. There’s a moment in the play when Ken and Megan endure a long and arduous trek to a beautiful waterfall. I pictured in my head that the film version of the scene might look like something out of Congo or The Mission. At that moment, however, I realized what was happening in the room was far more compelling than the stock footage running through my brain. Jacques and Megan were bounding throughout the rehearsal space, jumping over furniture and one another to create the journey right in front of me. Creating the space in this way invites the audience to use their imaginations to fill in the blanks and invites them to participate in the theatrical event. I don’t need to see a treacherous trail or a gorgeous waterfall on stage because there are two very talented actors making me believe that they are there. I know they will make you believe the same.
Click here for tickets.
Director of Communications