Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Festival of Ten - IX



Festival of Ten -IX opens Friday.

This production and all the crazy snow is what has been keeping me busy lately.

Photos from 1st Dress




Thursday, January 29, 2015

Monday, December 29, 2014

Roshamon, March 1991




Our first show in 1991 was Roshamon, a play based in part on a 1950 Japanesse movie directed by the famous director Akira Kurosawa and staring the well known actor Toshirô Mifune.
The story of the play was the retelling of a murder and rape by several witnesses who each have a different story.


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042876/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashomon

Traditional Japanese theatre includes several styles including Kabuki, Noh (and Kyōgen) and Bunraku.
Our guest director wanted to incorporate parts of each style in our production.
Most traditional Japanese productions would not use a blend of styles but we had them all in our show.
We had hired a temporary costume designer that year and she was chosen in part because she had experience in Japanese costume design and she did created very beautiful costumes for the show.
We also had to make Bunraku puppets, a life-size horse costume and a very stylized set which included a Hanamichi, a ramp that ran out into the audience.
Although a mixture of styles the play looked nice and came off well.

The biggest problem during the production came on the Sunday night of the first weekend of the show with the start of the Ice Storm of 1991.
The storm caused major powered outages and closed the school for several days and delayed the second weekend of the show.


http://www.progrocher.com/pix/icestorm/ice1.htm

Many branches and whole trees fell that night and a tree fell across the front of my car.
As luck would have it, the tree did no damage to my car it except bending my radio antenna.




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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Stamping, Shouting & Singing Home, Dec1990





Directed By: Suzanne Sturn
Scene Designer:  Drew Francis
Costume Designer:  Madeline Huggins
Lighting Designer:  Gary Thomas Musante




 Stamping, Shouting & Singing Home was a collection of three one-act plays written by women.
The plays were: A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell also known as Trifles, A Chat with Mrs. Chicky by Evelyn and Stamping, Shouting & Singing Home by Lisa Evans.

Links to more information about the plays:


The three plays were acted on a unit set that was a large raked stage that had translucent panels flown in for each play.
The stage floor was covered with many lauan ply planks that made a large parquet pattern on it.
It was very time consuming but looked great when it was done.
The flooring for the just completed The Cripple of Insihmaan might have been more complex and certainly took many more staples to finish and when done it took two days to remove them all.

The Cripple of Inishmaan, 2014

Taking out the staples.


The large panels were simple and covered with a spun mesh fabric that was very expensive had to be shipped in from Germany.
With some changes we re-used the panels again the following year for A Christmas Carol.
We got the material from Rosco but the closest thing to it that I could find today comes from Rose Brand.


So what do I remember most about this production?
The actors, crew or plays themselves?
Nope, something else.

When we came in one morning we found that the main stage curtain had fallen down on the stage.
It appears that the tie lines had rotted away over the years and one finally broke and the slight shift in weight snapped others and started a cascade of broken ties and the whole thing fell down.
As the curtain fell it ripped itself apart and we had to buy a new one.
Few people would miss the old purple curtain.
Fortunately the only other item that was a damaged was a golf club that had been leaning against the proscenium.
What it was doing there I do not know, it was just a toy that someone had been playing with most likely hitting tape balls around the theatre.






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Friday, October 24, 2014

The Day Room, 1990



The Day Room the first play written by Don DeLillo a noted author of unique novels.
Perhaps his first novel of note was White Noise a book which I have read and really enjoyed.
I have also read some of his other book including End Zone, Mao II, Libra and Falling Man.

The show title for each program was hand-lettered in crayon.

Act I of the play is set in a in a psychiatric hospital and we see some really unique characters and we are not sure who is the staff and who are the patients.
Our set seemed  simple, a white hospital room.
At intermission there is a set change from the hospital room to a motel.
To make the change one of our very tall actors playing an orderly came onstage and just leaned into the side of the set and the walls of the room shifted angels and  a previously unseen window appeared.
Of course what really happened is that about 6 stagehands behind the set helped move the walls when the cue was given.

The Day Room, Act I

The cast was a mix of faculty, adult and traditional students.
I really enjoyed the oddness of the play.
There were some fun, odd, surprising and unique moments in the play.
In the second act on of the actors is brought in a straitjacket and chained into an alcove in the set and became a television set.
Using different voices and noises the actor became various  television programs as another actor used a TV remote to change the channels.
I am sure that many of the audience did not follow the absurdest structure of the play but it was still interesting.

The Day Room, Act II

At the end of the play instead of a curtain call the actors ran off the front of the stage, up the aisles and out into the lobby.
When the audience got up to leave when they got to the lobby they found themselves surrounded by or 7  or 8  stage hands holding  4' x 8' white flats just waving them side to side.
One of the crew was "little person", or dwarf, who was very game and he was OK with it when he was given a  smaller flat, maybe 3' x 5'.


After a few moments of the waving flats the cast appeared on the upper level of the lobby and repeated the first line of the play and then everyone ran off.
As the audience left to go the parking lot or back to the dorms they passed by the stage hands with their flats dancing  around a bright light on a stand the was set out in the lawn outside the building.
This was all done in support of one of the themes of the play in that the play never ends.
Many students had a hard time writing their critiques for this play.
Absurdest drama can be hard to explain, even for those working on it.








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Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Story of Jumping Mouse, 1990

Twenty-four years ago today I helped work on a production of The Story of Jumping Mouse produced and performed by Das Puppenspiel Puppet Theatre.





Das Puppenspiel was a well know puppet touring company that closed down in 2010.
The Department had brought them in to perform and they were fairly self-contained so I had little to do except help them set up and then sit back and enjoy the show.

I enjoyed the show but even more I enjoyed the performers as they were all fun and one guy in the company was truly nuts.
After the show I went out with them to eat.
While at the restaurant as I was talking with one of the puppeteers he took out a small finger puppet and put on a show for a little girl at the next table but all the time still talking with me.
Of course the little girl was captivated by the puppet and laughing the whole time.

The 1990-91 season had the normal for plays and four music events but that year we had several extra plays and music events.
Our plays that season were The Day Room by Don DeLillo, a collection of three one-acts by women writers, Roshomon by Fay and Michael Kanin and Dark of the Moon by Richardson and Berney.

Additionally we did an original production of Jacob’s Ladder written by one of our staff and the cast included Taye Diggs and his very talented mother Marsha Berry.




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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Geoffrey E. Guja, a 9/11 Hero



As we come to the thirteenth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11 I think it is important to take a moment to remember all of the heroes that we lost that day. 


I found out a few years ago that I had once met one of those heroes thirty-eight years ago while I was still in college.



He was the twin brother of one of my friends and I enjoyed a few beers and some laughs with him during a visit to Buffalo.

I recently asked my college freshmen if they remembered 9/11 and they said that they did, but they were only about 5 years old at the time. Soon we will have a generation who does not remember the world before that day.

* * *
Please take a minute to remember him and all of those who we lost on 9/11.




Geoffrey E. Guja


Age: 47


Hometown: Lindenhurst, N.Y., USA


Occupation: Firefighter, New York Fire Department

Location: Ground, World Trade Center