Monday, September 29, 2008

On the Shore of the Wide World - Production photos

Here are some beautiful photos of the Griffin production of On the Shore of the Wide World. We open Sunday! Look for a Friday Section feature story on the production in the Sun Times this coming week.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Our Berry Own" Time Out Chicago Article

Check out a great article with a funny headline in Time Out Chicago Magazine on ensemble member and director Jon Berry which focuses on his career and the upcoming Griffin production On The Shore of the Wide World. "OUR BERRY OWN."

“I remember being genuinely disappointed when Steppenwolf told me I wasn’t allowed to pull garbage out of alleys” for a staged reading of a new play, Jonathan Berry says. Clearly, the rising talent has had a hard time getting the fringe out of his system.

Read the Entire article by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Notes from the Director - On the Shore of the Wide World

Heading into Tech

We moved into the space today. After imagining the room and how it will all fit together, its thrilling to walk into the South Theater at the Theater Building and start putting paint on the walls. We began at 8:30am and when I left at 8pm, Mariana and Sarah (Set and lighting) were still at it, focusing lights and getting texture on the floor. (A mixture of wood mulch and paint that we desperately hope will be dried by tomorrow morning.) The folks who put their heads in seem impressed - its a lot of space, and when you paint it all green, it seems even bigger.) While the painting was happening, lights were hung and circuited, and we began dirtying up the chairs that weren't dirty enough and wiring crystals to a borrowed chandelier that will go up in the air tomorrow. Also tomorrow, we build a wall of windows and doors, and we start stacking chairs in hopes that we have enough to build our massive piles in the corners.

I'm so excited to see it and to start putting music and Brett's (our sound designer's) original music and city soundscape to the acting work. This week, with the actors, its been all about getting them to start burying their deep emotional connections under humor and resistance. (Actors are some of the only people who really feel better when they are feeling worse - but it turns out, the human beings, generally, try to fight against that kind of emotion - and interestingly enough, its far more interesting and emotionally affecting to watch someone try NOT to cry, then to watch them cry.) We are still getting the humor back into the play, and finding moments of lightness - which is right where we need to be. That's the easy stuff - its the emotional wiring underneath that's the really hard thing to get at.

From here - I have to start getting out of the actors emotional work and begin seeing the play as a whole. (Which will be easier now that we're in a space where I can actually see everyone - I've been having to jump up and look around a wall, or cross onto the stage and watch a scene from the back in order to actually SEE everything, crammed into the Griffin rehearsal space -) A mentor of mine calls it seeing things from the parking lot - stepping outside the room and looking at the play with a bit of distance - seeing it how an audience will see it, as opposed to seeing it as your precious piece of art. Its gaining perspective on the whole, and turning the play over to the actors and the stage manager and the designers and trusting their work.

Sadly - the actors, who have had my 100% focus for the last 5 weeks, will now have to share me with the designers - seeing how the lights and sound and set all work together and getting the technical flow of the play right - I'll keep a bit of an eye on them - but they won't really get me back fully until the dress rehearsal when I can focus back on their work, rather than the designers.

Its an exciting time. In 5 days, we will have an audience for the first time - It will feel like too soon and we'll cringe a bit and keep working - but I think we're ready and I can't wait to see an audience of strangers experience this play for the first time.
For now - I'm collapsing into bed, paint still on my hands and arms, and hoping that my back will feel up to lifting a couple more things tomorrow. (I swear - this was easier two years ago...)

Monday, September 15, 2008

2oth Anniversary Bash at the Leadway

The Griffin Theatre Company held a 20th Anniversary Season Kick-off party on last Monday at the Leadway Bar & Grill on Damen Avenue in Bowmanville--which is just on the edge of the Andersonville/Edgewater neighborhood. About 70 people braved the moonson rainstorm we had that night eat a drink with us.

The ELI STORY provided music and Paul Gilvary, Ryan Murphy lended their musical talents and Vanessa Greenway sang a great Loretta Lynn cover. So great that I think a lot of us were thinking she should be a country music singer.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On the Shore of the Wide World - Rehearsal Photos

Brian Deneen & Lucy Carapetyan

Elise Kauzlaric

Josh Schecter

Karyn Morris

Notes from the Director - On the Shore of the Wide World


I love this part of rehearsal so much – the initial blocking, the conversations about the scenes, the intentions. The actors and I jointly discovering who these people are and how they interact and what drives them, and what makes them stop dead. It’s a bit like a really well defined buffet, where everyone in the room brings something to the table and we work through and decide what we want on the plate of the play. (Wow – what a long and circuitous metaphor.) It’s the place where I get most to practice the art of being strong and solid inside with why we’re telling the story, but allowing myself to be surprised by how we get there – with the actors all bringing in their own insights and instincts.

The other day, working with Paul (playing Peter) and Ariel (playing Ellen) in this climactic scene in part two – as we worked and talked, the final paragraph took three distinctly different shapes until we all finally found the one that fits best for the moment. It was a shift in Ellen’s motivation, and a shift with how Peter was approaching his mother and then suddenly, the final paragraph took on a completely new and beautiful meaning. But it took all of us working openly and without ego to discover it. Ideas, as they say, are cheap – and a new one will invariably appear to fill the gap of the one that was discarded – and each new idea will lead you somewhere else – either to the answer for the moment, or a clear sense of what NOT to do – which can be even more helpful than finding the answer….

Its also one of the most frustrating times, for both the actors and I. They want desperately to get the scripts out of their hands – at first the scripts led us, and now instinct does, but the words aren’t quite there yet – so the script becomes a hindrance. Meanwhile, I’ve seen such lovely work in rehearsing the scene, and much of it will be buried during the run throughs, under struggling with lines, or struggling with dialect or struggling to remember the blocking… For me, my job becomes knowing where to look for the potential and being patient, knowing that – like any good cup of tea, the ideas have to seep for a bit before they are ready. (Another metaphor – but shorter this time…)

So the work continues. We started the second act last night. We will have worked through the whole show by Sunday and we’ll put all the pieces together. I am consistently amazed at the brave and honest work that the actors are bringing and I’ll remind myself to be patient and let the work catch up with the potential.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Here is the great image from our 2008/2009 Subscription brochure. You'll be able to download the entire brochure on our website soon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Griffin Ensemble Members Garner Jeff Award Nominations

Congratulations are in order for two Griffin ensemble members. The Equity Jeff Award nominations were announced last week and Bill Morey received a nomination for Best Costume Design for his work on Porchlight Theatre's production of the musical Nine. And Vanessa Greenway who's already had a great year with the Jeff's winning a Best Actress Award for the Griffin's The Constant Wife received along with her fellow cast members a Best Ensemble nomination for the musical Nine as well. Best of luck at the awards on October 20th!