Saturday, July 17, 2010

We have been so busy....


.. that there has been little time to write.

Friday night was our first open class at the Drama Book Shop where students presented the readings of the plays they have been working on in our first two weeks.
Ensemble Studio Theatre playwrights Jeffrey Sweet, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Betsy Robinson, Tom Rowan and Gina Barnett all attended rehearsals with STC students as the students read thru scenes of the plays that the playwrights wanted to revisit.

Here's an excerpt from Marcia Jean Kurtz's letter to Billy Carden, the Artistic Director of EST:
"I worked this week with the NYARTS Summer Conservatory Students. I led a working session with Susan Merson , Rod Menzies and Jeff Sweet about my play BETWEEN TWO WORLDS. It was wonderful! Jeff gave a fascinating background talk about the history of the Jewish Theatre and showed clips from the 1937 Polish/Yiddish film of THE DYBBUK....They are a terrific group of young theatre students. They are a diversified group. They are talented, intelligent, personable, eager to learn, and a pleasure to direct and interact with. They seemed to soak up the ideas that we gave them. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience working with them. This is a very special program, Billy..."

Students focused on the skills of cold reading and learning to connect with each other. Each reader had to master the skill of scanning their script and trusting that the "hottest" word and idea would meet them so that they could lift the life from the page and place it in the arena with their acting partners. This is a tricky business on its own, but when you add the requirement of making clear, bold and immediate choices.. the task can be daunting for young performers.

I am happy to say, that the result was terrific. Through the week we could see the performers establish themselves, find their stability in the scenes and with each other and move the attention away from their own anxieties to the script and character and story they were telling.

We had a few friends come to our Friday evening presentation which gave the "open class" just a bit more shine and the performers moved one more notch in their confidence and service to the writer and the reading.

Students showed up early to browse the selections of the Drama Book Shop where they could purchase books and scripts from the theatre world, including those by several of their instructors.

Audition clinic continued today and there was another reading at PS 122 to attend. The solo piece POLANSKI POLANSKI offered a picture of the accused film director in his Swiss prison cell ruminating on the deeds that got him there. The reading was packed ... and the relevance of the piece enhanced by Polanski's recent release from jail.

Tomorrow we are invited to a solo performance at 59 E 59th street. Mary Hamill, a former student of Rod Menzies, is welcoming us to her play WILLIAM AND MARY.

Next week, we begin work on plays submitted by student playwrights. These pieces are finished and the writers are asking to take another look at them and see if there is more work to be done. It signals a change in our focus to more student centered work and several of these may move into fuller mini productions. But this is ahead of us.
For now, we are taking a short breather and heading back in Monday with even more energy.

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