Friday, August 21, 2009

Opening Night

So much for my plans to have a good night's rest before opening night; I got about an hour's sleep last night. Insomnia. Sheesh, how frustrating! Got a little bit this afternoon, but I'm pretty groggy.

Wondering if that will help with the show nerves, or simply sabotage my lines... :D

In any case, it's here! It's gonna be a cool night--wrap up, grab a thermos of hot chocolate (we'll have hot coffee for you at Liberty Park), and c'mon down!

I mean, really, what better thing did you have to do tonight?!?

See you at six-thirty!

--Karla Olson (Mistress Quickly)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Painting's done. Costumes mostly put together (and Jason got an outré wig tonight for "Brook"). Sound and lights have been going on. Tomorrow's the Dress.

Zoinks. This play is going to happen. In, uh, three days.

In the meantime, some teasers for you!

Go Team MASC!

I mentioned earlier that I was impressed by the teamwork this cast has demonstrated. I would like to elaborate on that, if I may. (Knowing that only Justin and Karla can stop me, bwah ha ha!)

As Jason said, theatre is a team effort. It doesn't matter how well you know your own lines if the next person doesn't know their own. You just have to be able to roll with what you have. I remember drawing a blank onstage during As You Like It, and being very impressed by the way Karla covered it.

A few people have come up to me to run lines, and that is always encouraging. It was especially nice when you consider that it started 2 weeks ago. Angie always seems to be one of the first ones off-book, but it was a bit of a race this year.

Not only does running lines with each other mean that we remember them, but it helps us understand the context of the words. Kayla came to me just last night, and I explained one of the words she was mispronouncing, along with its meaning.

Which reminds me: as an English major, I have a tendency to correct people's pronunciation. I mean to help, but it often makes me come off as a know-it-all. If I have come off that way in this show, nobody has said anything, or indicated that they were unhappy with it. I have seen almost no negativity between the cast members at all.

But the show isn't all about acting. Another impressive sight from last night was the speed with which the set was taken down and put away. By the time I went backstage to change my shirt and got back onstage, almost everything was completed. This is in no small part thanks to Mike Hulsizer, our resident sound and light wizard. But I am fairly certain I saw everybody chipping in to make it go faster.

We have also had a lot of people pitch in props and equipment. I do not know how my costume changes will go quite yet, as we changed something last night. But it looks like I will have three shirts from three different cast members. One is from my closet, one from Jason's, and one from Justin's. Although, as noted in other posts, we purchased costumes for the show this year, people are still bringing in their own costume pieces to contribute.

The fairies are doing quite well, and I know that they were recruited by our own cast members. Thank you for that, ladies and gentlemen.

Kate and Brian-Paco each told me about the events of this weekend, as a wedding was held in the park without our knowledge. I am impressed that the people present were able to be diplomatic enough to avoid anything negative coming from it. I was also impressed that from the way it was told, the first people on the scene were cast members, arriving singly. That, my friends, is dedication.

Last but certainly not least, I noticed that a number of actors helping Justin change scenes last night. It's just another example of everybody finding out what has to be done and making sure it gets done.

I have to go for now, but I will see you all tonight. Until then, enjoy your day.

-Jim, our own Fenton

Saturday, August 15, 2009



Today, that is, when we were supposed to pain the set. And it may rain tomorrow.

And we open on Friday.

This here? This is one example of why all the theatre people you know are somewhat wild-eyed, a bit daredevilly, and completely off their nut.

But, as the writers of Shakespeare in Love (thanks, Tom Stoppard!) so aptly captured, there is a god of plays that watches over us "speciously": How will it work out? We don't know. It's a mystery.

--Karla (Mistress Quickly)

The Time, She is Nearing!


The excitement (and, let's face it, abject fear) increases!

Two major developments today, and one minor development:

First big thing was that our costumes arrived today! Yay! MASC, through fundraising efforts in the past, was able to purchase for our permanent collection a bunch of really cool Elizabethan wear from Fox Hollow Renaissance wear. We were just finishing up rehearsal--getting Justin's notes on our performances--when a giant motor home pulled up and voila! We were hearing "Greensleeves" in our heads and trying on cool costumes as they were delivered!

We did not, however, have turkey legs...

The second big thing is that we're painting the set tomorrow---and I just now finished drawing and planning the designs (and figuring out scene changes). Simple--Shakespearean theatre, traditionally, doesn't do much in the way of sets and relies on costumes and props (and, well, *acting*) to get the story across--but we do have a little bit to lend some context and ambiance to the stage.

Or, we do in theory. The painting has yet to happen, of course!

Lastly, the little thing--and this one's personal. I (playing Mistress Quickly in this one) have a devil of a time learning lines. I'm a very visual person, and kinesthetic, so I have to learn by sight and movement. Audio does nothing for me--hearing the lines a zillion times won't help me at all--but picturing them on the page, and envisioning the movement on stage (and facial expressions, and gestures) helps. But this has been a slowwwwwww process...and tonight? I got through Act I (my toughest) only calling "Line!" about five or six (or ten or twelve) times!

That's good for me. And far better than last night!

I still have six days to get this all down...Justin assures me I'll get there. And, with any luck, I'll also have a costume (or two) and a few sets, to boot!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wow--two weeks to go. I apologize for my absence here but today I am back with another post from a cast member. Take it away Jason:

Greetings! My name is Jason Shores and I will be playing the role of Ford in the upcoming M.A.S.C. production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Before beginning my thoughts on this show, however, I want to give a nod to the director Justin Helmer for the creation of and upkeep of this blog. I think such efforts lead to a larger melting pot of creative influence and perspective. It is just this sort of creative ‘mingle’ that I would like to discuss further but before I do...

I am rather new to acting. Outside of a single play in high school, my experience on the stage began with M.A.S.C. in the summer of 2007 and the production of As You Like It. It occurred to me on the set of that production- and every show since, for that matter- that the inner workings of a play closely mirror that of any organized activity and from my own specific experience- basketball.

Growing up, I played a lot of outdoor basketball. I cut my teeth, so to speak, alone in alleys dribbling and practicing a variety of shots that only kids attempt. I also played on courts with boys often much older than I, which provided ample opportunity to develop fundamental skills- and also a lot of bloody noses, cuts and scrapes : ) Although this sort of ‘street ball’ was highly competitive, it was not well organized. I never attempted the organized game of high school basketball until one summer when a group I’d been playing with asked me to join the ‘summer league’ coordinated by the regions high schools. Although my skills were strong on the outdoor courts and one-on-one games I’d grown up playing, I quickly learned that as a team member, I was out of step and unable to fully utilize the tools I’d so carefully crafted in my earlier experience. The stage, in many ways, feels a lot like those summer league courts.

Being new to the stage, I’m sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of work that goes in to a show- specifically acting. It’s more than memorizing lines and blocking (position and movement on stage) but encompasses motivation, comprehension, direction, experience, timing and great reactive skill- just to name a few. Walking on the rehearsal set- like walking on the summer league courts- then becomes a learning experience for me. Watching my fellow actors take the stage, I sometimes feel like I can’t keep up but I also feel motivated to bring ‘my game’ to a new level. I try to take risks, to understand more, to learn from those around me. Community theater is great for this and I appreciate my fellow actors more than I could ever put in to words.

A fellow actor once told me that the stage is “the greatest place on earth.” She was right in her designation of the stage as the ‘greatest place’, not because of any personal accolades or attention actors receive but because of what such a position allows us to share with an audience. As much as I like standing on a stage, I love when an audience is entertained. The Merry Wives of Windsor provides me such an opportunity. In reading the script, I can see actors performing it in the playwrights own time- competing with other plays, outdoor noise, the elements and so on. I imagine the characters had to be played LARGE enough to be seen and heard by the entire audience. To share this comedy with an audience from a band shell stage on one of Marshall’s busiest streets seems very much in keeping with an original production. Consequently, I hope to play Ford larger than life. Large enough to be seen, heard and appreciated in all his cleverly written ridiculousness. Large enough that he is able to entertain. I hope you, my fellow actors and soon to be audience, will be entertained.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Digging In

Good morning everyone! The post below was originally posted by Jim Radloff (Fenton) in the comments section of a previous post. I felt like it needed to be out front where more people could see it--so I made the editorial choice to move it to the front. One of the most interesting things that has come from my involvement with MASC's Shakespeare in the park has been learning about the history and background of all of these shows. Often, what has been previously published can give the crucial bit of insight to solve a problem or answer a question.

So I 'll turn it over to Jim:

I mentioned this briefly to Justin last night, and thought I would share it with the rest of you. (This may become a rant. Sorry.)

After I read this post, I looked at a few of Shakespeare's plays on the Internet Broadway Database. It typed in the first 3 of his shows that came to mind: this one, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. And I noticed that the last Broadway run of Romeo and Juliet closed in 1987. The last Midsummer run ended in 1996. But Merry Wives has not been seen on Broadway since 1938.

That's right, 71 years since this play saw a Broadway production. There hasn't even been a film version since 1982, and that was made for TV.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. MASC's last production was The Sound of Music, and I remember a lot of people ordering each other to see the movie because they had to get the characters down. People had expectations of what they wanted us to be, and it restricted what we could do.

This show does not give us that pressure. I don't have to imitate William Post Jr because he retired 56 years ago and most people have no idea what he was like.

Instead, I decide let the script talk to me. Fenton is a nice guy because I see him as such. He is friendly because I want him to be. He is kind and energetic because I think he is.

We are each our own Laurence Olivier. Just as he defined how people saw Hamlet or Henry V, we define who Fenton, Falstaff, and Dr. Caius are in our own minds.

It also helps that we have a cast that helps each other, but more on that later.

The point is, our audience is going to see something they have never seen before. It has been a long time since I have been this excited about a show.