Thursday, October 28, 2010
About a year ago, the members of Brimmer Street began the first ever Blueprint Series: a development workshop that brings writers into our actor's studio with the goal of creating new work for our ensemble. From that series four plays were born including Leiris/Picasso, which we presented earlier this year.
We're very proud to announce the mainstage production of the second of those projects, Summer in Hell, written by company member Miles Brandman. The team has been hard at work bringing this play to the stage...you'll recognize company members Tyler Jenich, Amy K. Harmon, Dan Gordon and Melissa Powell on stage, as well as the directorial stylings of our own David Jette.
Join us over the next two weeks here on our blog as we take Summer in Hell from the rehearsal room to the stage. We'll include stories, photos and videos about the rehearsal process, set build, tech week and finally the performances themselves. We encourage you to comment and let us know what you want to see...and when it's up and ready to be seen, we hope you'll also join us at the theatre!
Thanks for tuning in,
PS: Find out more about the show on our website: www.BrimmerStreet.org!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
NEW REVIEW GO LEIRIS/PICASSO "We try not to have [too] many guests. It disturbs what's left of the neighbors," says Michel as he stumbles around his Paris home in the dark, falling down stairs, knocking over crudités, and scalding himself on a hot teakettle. It's all rather amusing . . . until you realize that it's 1944 and there's a Nazi patrol outside.
This [is] just the sort of dark humor that characterizes writer and director David Jette's farcical take on an actual evening at the house of Michel Leiris (Michael Bulger) when notable members of the French Resistance produced Pablo Picasso's final work: a play entitled Desire Caught by the Tail. Picasso's play itself is nonsensically awful (but oh, how the man could paint), so Jette has instead created a play about the circumstances surrounding its production, a sort of play without a play, except that we do see part of Picasso's piece during Act 2. What comes before, however, is the preparation, as Leiris, his wife Zette (Jenny Byrd), Albert Camus (Tyler Jenich), Jean-Paul Sartre (Patrick Baker), Simone de Beauvoir (Amy K. Harmon), and Picasso's mistress Dora Maar (Melissa Powell) scramble to set up while they wait for the master. Besides their own petty but hilarious squabbles, they also have to deal with a Nazi (Joseph L. Roberts) who keeps popping up, as well as the leader of the resistance, Sam Beckett (Dan Gordon); Beckett's men steal a six-foot swastika from the Louvre and bring it as a gift for Picasso. When Picasso (Fred Ochs) finally arrives, the craziness comes to a climax, and costumes are handed out in the staging of a ridiculous work that features characters such as Onion, Big Foot, Fat Angst and Thin Angst.
Jette's direction keeps all the moving parts well synchronized as the actors enter and exit Juliana de Abreu's well-designed, multi-door set, complemented by Sarah Krainin's properties and [Andrew] Thiels' set dressing. The ensemble is strong overall, though Baker's over-the-top bombastic caricature of Sartre's and Bulger's sincerity as the put-upon host stand out. And while Jette's work doesn't pretend to be historically accurate in the least, it succeeds for that very reason because, as Camus says, sometimes "happiness feels better than truth."
Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru July 24. (213) 290-2782. http://www.BrimmerStreet.org
Reposted from LA Weekly: http://blogs.laweekly.com/stylecouncil/stage-news/stage-raw-a-memory-of-what-mig/#more
LA Weekly Home Page: http://www.laweekly.com/
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Tonight we open our show to the public, and I couldn't be more excited. I have never been more confident about a piece of theater I've been involved in, and although the true measure of entertainment is determined by the audience, I am positive that we have succeeded. I could not be more proud of our company, our designers, our supporters, and yes, of myself.
Theater is a niche art, especially in Los Angeles. The next six weeks will bring a different kind of stress - we will have to work our asses off to bring people into the theater to actually see this play. I do believe we have an advantage over most other plays - we can all but guarantee our patrons an hilarious evening that is thought provoking and spectacular - but even with our magnificent cast, a madcap design with a high production value, and a script that lives well on the stage, we cannot overcome the natural ceiling for live arts in Los Angeles. That is, we can't do it without your help.
All the work we have put into this production is for you. Sure, it feels good to get something up, and obviously theater is fun (why else would people do it?), but our focus throughout this entire process has been to produce the most entertaining and meaningful evening for the people who commit their Thu, Fri or Sat night (and $15-$29) to share an experience with a room full of people. The only thing left to add is you, your friends, your co-workers, anyone you know who may like to come and laugh and have a beer or two after the show. There are many things to do in this city on a weekend night. There is a whole world of fascinating media to consume, (and most of it don't require you to find parking on Beverly at 7:55 on a Friday. Come early and you'll be glad you did!)
If you are anything like me, then you want to see it all. Make Leiris/Picasso a part of your summer, and I pledge to you, that when the night is done, you will have a greater treasure than one-hundred thousand Picassos. I pledge this to all of you!
I'll see you tonight.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
In the days before airplanes, steam engines, and nuclear power, it took months to cross the ocean. Anyone hoping to travel between the hemispheres knew they were in for a voyage that would take so long that they would hardly remember life on their former shore. Most people who made the trip would do it only once in their lives, so when they stepped off the boat in their new home, in a new world, they were transformed not only in space in time, but in mind and spirit as well. It was at this moment of disembarkation that their real journey began.
For the cast and crew of Leiris/Picasso, land is in sight. It's an exhilarating and terrifying thought that after eight months of writing, rehearsing, planning and building that we will soon set foot on a distant shore we've imagined but never truly known.
Although it's hard to bear, these feelings of insecurity, stress, and doubt are a very good thing. After last night's dress rehearsal, the cast was downtrodden. They dropped lines, forgot props, missed cues, and generally had a bad night (by their lofty standards). When I walked into the dressing room to give notes, everyone seemed ready for another beating. I told them right away how proud I was of all of them for making it this far and for committing themselves so completely to what is an incredibly ambitious project. Putting all the pieces of this play together is a massive undertaking, and while the designers and I have the advantage of sitting in the dark while mistakes are made, the cast must maintain character, voice and energy. All things considered, it was a remarkable success. That everyone sees the cracks shows me that we have a team of people so focused on quality, so married to every detail, that this play has not one or two parents, but more than three dozen. It takes a village to raise a child, and this play is no different.
So while the 18-hour days, the set backs, the terrible food, and the impending tidal wave of observers that (hopefully) will flood our theater this week all take their toll on the mind and spirit, I am almost comatose with anticipation for the next phase of our long, long journey. We have nearly arrived.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
We then moved to the dressing/green room in the basement and began sorting through the various set dressings and costume pieces from past shows that seemed to be everywhere, like a rainbow jungle of cloth, formica, and plastic.
The ladies sort of took control of the situation and chose their side of the dressing room first without much consideration for us guys. We took the space we were handed, and that worked out just fine, because it turns out that the ladies side of the room has some mysterious rank odor. We couldn't recognize what it was or where it was coming from. It smelled like rodent death to me.
Then we moved on to the run thru of the first act, which went very well in my estimation. The coffee we drank did its duty I suppose because we started off sharp and focused. I'm sure it was a really cool trip for all of us to be on the set for the first time, and especially one so real and elaborate. And five doors to slam! That was a special pleasure, though there were no handles on the back stage side of the doors and I sliced my finger open when I tried to open it. I played the scene though. Blood was everywhere. No big deal.
At lunch I got a bean and cheese burrito and went to the bathroom. We came back and there was this guy there named Cameron who I met at 4100 bar a few nights ago. He helped us work through some of the fight choreography, which needed some f**kin' work, lord have mercy. But we ironed that s**t out. Cam really knows what's up. After he left, we started in on ACT II much in the same way we went at ACT I and I was surprised because the quality of work was never compromised toward the end, like it usually is when we wrap rehearsals at 11:30 pm and we all wanna shoot ourselves. Great energy from everyone.
We took a dinner break. I took a smoke ; ) We talked about the oil spill in the gulf. We all pretty much agreed that we have no idea what to do about that : (
We came back to a special treat: rehearsing the closing number and curtain call. This is something that always gets left unrehearsed until right before the opening performance, in every show I've ever done, which is probably why they always look like a frickin' mess. So this time we did it differently. Patrick Baker is featured prominently. F**ing hysterical. But I really can't describe it here and I didn't take any pictures. You gotta buy a ticket to take the ride.
We got cut an hour early. Score.
Michael and I drove home in a red Mercedes. As he drove, he remarked at how nice it felt to be doing what we are doing, working and creating in a theatre all day. What a great job to have, to do that every day, he said. I know it's hard to believe, but I'm hard pressed to find a better way to spend my days.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Today was a hectic day for me personally, but there is major progress on all areas of our show. Dan and I went to the absurdly huge CTG prop warehouse today where Andrew and Sarah passed off the bulk of our plays props and set dressings. Among them was the massive swastika which you see above resting against our half made set. It is quite gigantic.
We have doors, furniture, guns, giant swastikas, windows, lights and a cast that's primed to rock. We're working around the clock to do this show right. (There are only a handful of days before we invite you people in.) Somewhere behind my aches and pains a sense of danger is starting to set in.