McCarter Theatre Blog

Archive for October, 2007

Mann Interviews Albee, Part I
Posted by Adam Immerwahr on October 16th, 2007

A few weeks ago, McCarter Artistic Director Emily Mann sat down with playwright Edward Albee to discuss the upcoming world premiere of Albee’s Me, Myself & I, which Mann will be directing. The interview was recorded and transcribed, and a very shortened version will appear in upcoming programs and audience resource guides. The interview was so enlightening, however, that we decided to post the full transcript on the blog. Because of its length, we will be posting this in four installments. Read on for Part I of Mann Interviews Albee.


Tartuffe Party
Posted by Adam Immerwahr on October 15th, 2007

Tartuffe opening night went really well. It was fantastic. Fabulous. Wonderful. Extraordinary.

Okay, okay. Technically, I didn’t actually go to opening. I needed some R&R after the long day of A Christmas Carol casting, so I went home and took a nap, and came back for the party. I did see the performance the night before, however. And according to Simon Saltzman’s review in CurtainUp, the opening night show went really well. And I believe him.

But I did come back for the party, which was a great celebration. One of the neat things about McCarter opening nights is that many former (and hopefully future) McCarter artists come to the show. Wandering around the room, I spotted composer Polly Pen (The Night Governess), playwright Theresa Rebeck (The Bells), and actress Kathryn Meisle (Mrs. Packard). It was a great celebration. I caught a quick and sorta blurry (hey, it was a party) photo of some of Tartuffe’s cast members celebrating the night. In the center of the photo are Nick Westrate (”Damis”) and Michelle Beck (”Marianne”). On their right is Alexandra Eaton, Tartuffe’s video designer. The gentleman on the left is one of our enthusiastic audience members, the actor Billy Carter.

See also:

Posted by Adam Immerwahr, Producing Associate at McCarter Theatre.

We Fly Away
Posted by Monette Magrath on October 14th, 2007

Cornel West with the Stick Fly company

In the theatre, every story is a love story; the key is discovering where that love resides. In Stick Fly, every character needs to be seen—surely the first step to love. The desire to be recognized and acknowledged in this story is sometimes strong and demanding, sometimes broken and messy. But, to love one’s self enough to ask to be seen, is to claim one’s dignity.

And so, to honor the journey we have all taken these past ten weeks, I wanted this final post to be from those who have brought you this show each night.

Here are their closing thoughts on our Stick Fly experience:

  • “My first car was a piece of crap with a clutch in it. I had to get my prom date to help ‘kick it off’ while I pushed it out of the gas station. Since then I can appreciate riding in style and knowing that reaching your destination is possible. Stick Fly is the answer to my prayers. The staff at McCarter, Lydia Diamond, Shirley Jo Finney, the volunteers, and the crew have made this the Bentley of my life.” - Kevin Carroll “Kent LeVay (Spoon)”
  • “Every now and then there comes a gem more precious than the actual stone. Such is Stick Fly…a play, a moment in time, an experience far greater than the stage that will forever travel with me on this journey called life. Thanks to the playwright, director, cast, and McCarter staff…closing night is truly the official opening to new friendships, bonds of humanity, trust, support, and creative spice.” - Javon Johnson “Flip LeVay”
  • (more…)

Tartuffe Opening Night
Posted by Adam Immerwahr on October 12th, 2007

Photo by T Charles Erickson

Tonight is opening night for Tartuffe! I hope to see some of our blog readers in the audience (I may snap a few blog photos at the opening night party, so if you see me and wanna be famous, let me know!). I’m actually posting this entry from a rehearsal studio in NYC where we are auditioning the Adult Ensemble of A Christmas Carol, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll make it back to Princeton in time for the opening. Just in case it is tight, I’m wearing my suit to auditions.

Break a leg, actors (and special good wishes to embedded blogger Nick Westrate)!

See also:

Posted by Adam Immerwahr, Producing Associate at McCarter Theatre. Photo: Michelle Beck in McCarter Theatre’s production of Tartuffe.

Student Matinee Bus Karma
Posted by Francine Schiffman on October 12th, 2007

Wednesday was the second student matinee performance for Stick Fly. Most of the students who attended the first matinee we did a few weeks ago will be taking part in our playwriting residency, Youth Ink. They created a really exceptional audience, and the post-show discussion was above average. So the education staff was excited when the second stu-mat was scheduled. Plus we were told subsidy was available (thank you, Development Department!) to fund the ticket cost for the 270 student attendees from Newark and Trenton.

The students and teachers were so excited when they arrived yesterday by the bus loads. It’s a huge undertaking to greet all the students, make arrangements for pick up with their bus drivers and escort them into the theater. Luckily, we have an incredible staff of interns who work their butts off to ensure this happens. We had really great bus karma and all the schools arrived and students were in their seats with 10 minutes to curtain. Before the performance started, Paula Alekson, the Director of High School Programs, polled the students during her pre-show speech. We learned that over half of the audience had never been to McCarter before. We also suspect that a large percentage of them had never been to a play!

We have at least one matinee for the all the main stage shows and 7 (yikes!) for A Christmas Carol, 4 for Youth Ink and 4 for the Education Department’s touring show, The Odyssey Experience. Well, two down and 20 more to go!

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Posted by Francine Schiffman, Education Administrator at McCarter Theatre.

Tartuffe Previews
Posted by Adam Immerwahr on October 11th, 2007

Photo by T Charles Erickson

Previews for Tartuffe began last Sunday. Tomorrow is opening night. Time flies when you are having fun (or, in my case, when you are in NYC all week).

In a short meeting following one of our tech rehearsals, one of our designers said about Tartuffe director Daniel Fish: “Daniel learns more from tech than any other director I know.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and it definitely seems to be the case (and also matches what Nick Westrate said on the blog about teching with Daniel Fish). Through tech, previews, and the rehearsals that precede each preview performance, Daniel is continually honing, adjusting, and experimenting. Changes go in one day and might be removed, or changed again, the next day. What is incredibly inspiring about it is that there is never a sense of: “this is right - this is perfect,” but rather, “Let’s try this. And we’ll see if it works. And then we’ll see if we can’t find something better.”

It has also been really fascinating to see how Daniel’s production embodies all of the different concepts that he described prior to rehearsals in interviews, audience/artist conversations, and at the McCarter brown bag lunch. I’d be very interested to hear from you, our audience, about the ways in which you discovered those original concepts manifesting in the production itself. Post a comment to share.

Posted by Adam Immerwahr, Producing Associate at McCarter Theatre. Photo: Michelle Beck, Sally Wingert and Michael Rudko in McCarter Theatre’s Production of Tartuffe.

Tartuffe Quotes
Posted by Carrie Hughes on October 11th, 2007

Photo by T Charles Erickson

A couple weeks ago, right as the Tartuffe program was headed to the printer’s, I ran in to Daniel Fish at Small World (this is what I love about working in Princeton!). He’d found a great quote in a book that he was hoping we might still be able to stick in to the program. It was too late for the program, but I promised him we could use it for the lobby display. At the time, having only seen the model of the set, I thought it was in interesting quote that told us something about the historical period in which the play was written. Tuesday night, when I saw the preview and the fully realized design and staging, I realized just how appropriate the quote is– it really goes to the core of this staging of this production.

In case you miss it in the lobby, here it is:

“Like a house within the house, the bed was one of two focal points in the home, along with a fireplace. A space most often closed off by curtains, it was not only a refuge for sleeping and resting, but also a stronghold against cold in these poorly heated, draughty rooms. It was also a refuge for marital intimacy within these interiors where overcrowding and lack of privacy in single rooms were the lot of many families. In an age when each individual’s life began and ended surrounded by loved ones, the bed was the site of births and deaths. Having witnessed both joyful and painful events in the household, it takes us to the heart of the family’s private life.”

–Annik Pardailhé-Galabrun, The Birth of Intimacy: Privacy and Domestic Life in Early Modern Paris


Stage Management Archeology
Posted by Cheryl Mintz on October 6th, 2007

Photo by T Charles Erickson

Though we are busy running performances of Stick Fly and teching Tartuffe, “Prep” has begun for A Christmas Carol in the Stage Management Department. I actually begin planning for A Christmas Carol in the spring when I choose my Stage Management staff for the upcoming season. This will be my 14th year as the Supervising Stage Manager for A Christmas Carol; joining the team this year will be Assistant Stage Manager Hannah Woodward and McCarter’s Stage Management Interns, Kimberly Pretz (who will be the stage management assistant on stage left) and Heather Klein (who will be the Young Ensemble Supervisor).

In 1993, when I first took over the Production Stage Manager position on the last version of McCarter’s A Christmas Carol, I was walking into a machine that had been running for 3 seasons. The production script contained so many cues to call that I was basically talking almost non-stop for the whole performance, the running sheets for our 23 person crew were about 36 single spaced pages long, volumes of information existed and systems were generally in place. I had to lead the troops, most of whom had worked the show in past years, and I needed to hit the ground running. At that point in my career I had stage managed a vast number of productions at New York City Opera, many of which were remounts of major productions in the repertory. From that experience, I had mastered what I refer to as “archeological stage management”.


Well-Built Walls
Posted by Adam Immerwahr on October 5th, 2007

During a break in tech, I had a chat with Chris, McCarter’s Technical Director, and I learned about the two wall treatments on Tartuffe’s set, each of which you can see in the attached photo. The set was designed by John Conklin.

1. Gray Wall - These walls are made from approximately 80 panels, individually wrapped by our shop staff in gray craft felt (treated with fire retardant so that we pass fire code). The panels are like mini-flats, with their edges designed to be easily felt-wrapped. The wall itself is basically a giant frame, and each individual panel is attached to the frame, giving the entire thing this really sharp, solid and neat appearance. It also uses a lot of felt. Chris suggested I calculate how many teddy bears you could make out of the Tartuffe set, but I’m lazy and bad at math. But extra credit points to anyone who feels like figuring it out.

2. Wallpaper - The wallpaper pattern was specially made for this production. The original pattern is taken from a magazine photograph of an antique rug (from some gallery in London), which was then scanned into a computer, photoshopped, and sent to some dude who makes custom printed wallpaper.

Of course, there are also the video screens (embedded in the walls). Those are made of, um, video screens.

See also:

Posted by Adam Immerwahr, Producing Associate at McCarter Theatre

The Wardrobe Room
Posted by Adam Immerwahr on October 5th, 2007

During technical rehearsals, the costume department moves their operations from their spacious costume shop on Alexander street to the relatively cramped wardrobe rooms in the Berlind and Matthews theaters. Since the actors need to wear the costumes during rehearsal, the staff saves a lot of time by coming to the theater, rather than driving the costumes back and forth between the theater and the shop every time they want to change anything.

In the wardrobe room, the ladies of our costume department can make last minute alterations (and repairs), put on finishing touches, and make whatever adjustments the costume designer and director feel are needed once they see the clothes onstage. The costume staff uses every available second that the costumes aren’t being worn, including before rehearsal, during dinner breaks, and when a specific character isn’t needed onstage. When I went over to visit, I found Sarah, the assistant to costume designer Kaye Voyce, working on Orgon’s costume, which you can see in Kaye’s original sketches.

See also:

Posted by Adam Immerwahr, Producing Associate at McCarter Theatre.

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