Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reporting for Duty

Back in New Haven - back to work, back to school, back to headaches. But KCACTF was one of the best experiences of my life, and I'm so happy and honored that I got to go.

I meant to blog a bit while I was up there, but I didn't have any downtime - I was always about to go somewhere or it was 3 in the morning and I was about to pass out. I will, however, fill you in now.

I got to the Four Points and was shockingly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who were there, but I managed to check in and dump my stuff and get to orientation without too much difficulty. They gave us the runthrough of where we'd be sitting and waiting and when to go in and how to come out and told us to relax and have fun, and I was so stoked. The majority of everything that took place at the Festival was in the hotel we were staying in, so they were in board rooms on the first floor. Danielle and I were number 5 in group 2, so we had an hour or so to wait before we had to go compete. There were hundreds of people competing, and it was a little overwhelming, but the fact that I was so young and still able to take part was so thrilling.

When we did compete, it was our Agnes of God scene, and I think that for a pair of 18 year old freshman competing in our first Festival we did a pretty good job - I was proud of it because despite the fact that I knew we weren't even close to being as good as everyone else there, we were definitely better than some of them, and I did as well as I could be expected to do. Hooray for us. :)

That night we went to see a the first production brought to the Festival to compete, called 451: The Musical. I don't even want to talk about it. Ray Bradbury and Thespis are rolling in their graves at the insult to literature and theatre that was performed on that stage.

I did a workshop with Jim Beauregard of Dean College on stage combat with unorthodox fighting instruments, and I got to work with Danielle and two people from my school who I didn't know all that well, Tory and Mysti. They'd done serious stage combat before, so we choreographed a really cool fight sequence involving shoves, a punch or two, a knee to the face, a great over the hip flip, a pull, and a phone cord used in funky ways. At the end of the week there was an epic photograph on the slideshow of me flipping Tory over my hip and it made me look so badass. I'd love to learn more stage combat - it's really really awesome when done well. The festival gave me a really cool taste of a lot of different things, and just really added to my desperate need to be onstage. It scared me too though, because of so many people there who were so much more talented than me who also want this as badly as I do. It scared me but also made it easier to say "hey, I've got to freakin' bust my ass every day of my life for this now."

And my buddy Josh ran around the hotel in pink fishnets, a red silky bra and a scarf half the night. Hooray for way too much wine. :)

Thursday was the day of the Irene Ryan Semi-finals, so we watched our fellow Southerner Kiel compete, and he did very well. He was the only nominee from our school who went on to the next round, so we were really proud of him. He and all the other semi-finalists were very, very good, and it was clear why they went to the next round. I was sad for the seniors who didn’t get to advance, since they’d worked so hard for so long, but what can you do. Kiel and Mysti did a scene from Fat Pig first, then from The Importance of Being Earnest, and unfortunately their second scene was a little lacking. They did not move on to the finals, but we were proud of them nonetheless.

I saw two more shows that day, a modern play written by the director at Dean called Public Speech/Private Thought which was incredibly awesome and words cannot describe how amazingly well it was written and performed. The one that evening was Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband as performed by Bridgewater State College, and though I adore Oscar Wilde, this play was a bit dull - the school did not use the pace necessary to keep Wilde's writing sharp. It was enjoyable, but not nearly as good as the one earlier.

Friday we watched the SSDC (Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers) award nominees present their scenes, since one of our students was directing a scene. His scene was the same as another group’s scene, but his was much, much better overall. He didn’t win though because the scene before his was absolutely brilliant and deserved to win hands down. It was from a show called Quake, and I would love to get my hands on the script one of these days because it was so intriguing, even the five minute snippet I got to see.

In the afternoon I went to a workshop with a professor from our school, Larry Nye, entitled “What Would Fosse Do?” and got my first taste of the sort of dance classes I have to look forward to, and though I threw my back out a bit and was entirely ungraceful (out of the necessary “triple threat” status, I am seriously lacking in the dance department :P), I still had an absolute blast and amused myself with my own inability. Most of the students from my school attended just for kicks, so that was highly entertaining.

After that I saw another play entitled Pope Joan as performed by BU, which ultimately won the award out of all the plays performed, and it won for good reason. It was a beautiful script about a woman who disguises herself as a man and becomes pope but has fallen in love with the only person who knows her secret. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and I would love to see it again. Later that evening was Keene State’s The Matchmaker, the play on which Hello, Dolly! is based on. It took me until intermission to figure out that it was Hello, Dolly!, and I felt like a bit of a fool. They did a fun job with it, and I certainly enjoyed the show, though it made me anxious to get back onstage. All of that week I realized how badly I wanted to get back onstage and how long I’m going to have to wait before I can.

I went to yet another stage combat workshop with Jim Beauregard. I couldn’t help myself – none of the other workshops available in my time frame were anything I could find use in at my current level of ability or my concentration (Design-Tech Portfolio and Resume Reviews wouldn’t be much help to me, unfortunately), and I’d had so much fun the last time that I had every intention of learning more. This workshop handled more basic moves this time, focusing on proper form and creating the illusion of violence successfully. Jim walked by as we were practicing and said I had a really good punch. Ego boost. :)

After that I went to watch the Tech Olympics, a series of mini events that techies are supposed to be able to do proficiently. Screw blocks of wood together, hang and focus a light, hem a skirt, sew a slip stitch, tie certain types of knots, help with a quick change, read a set blueprint, et cetera. I did not participate, seeing as how I didn’t even know how to do half of those things, but I enjoyed watching the others. At the awards, my university swept the competition and won all three places in the Olympics. We sort of rocked the technical awards this year. It was totally cool.

That evening was the Irene Ryan finals, which were incredible to watch because everyone was so amazingly talented and I want to be just like them – I want to reach their level and then just keep going. As insanely hard as that is going to be, sometimes, giving up isn’t an option if I want to have any respect for myself in the future. They had excellent scenes and monologues, and next time around, if there is a next time around for me, and I can only hope, I will keep them in mind and work my ass off so much more than I did. It’s a lot of work, but I’m okay with that.

Later that afternoon there were a series of ten minute scenes, most of which were entertaining, and after that the awards ceremony, where all winners from all competitions were announced. A very good friend of mine is going to the National KCACTF for his work in sound design, so there was a bit of insanity about that, haha. Our school represented fairly well, which was wonderful to see, our little state school cranking out such talent.

And Sunday we departed. So here I am, typing this to you, knowing it does not translate how awesome the week was whatsoever. I was almost constantly doing something or about to be doing something – I desperately want to go again, and I just need another opportunity to prove it to the department that I’m good enough to go again. Somebody cast me, I know I can do this!

Break a leg to V is for… on Saturday for his college audition at Marymount Manhattan – you’ll be brilliant, I know it. :)

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