Sunday, February 23, 2020

On the Dark Side of Twilight: Workshop Players

Ten years ago, Great Lakes Theater produced my first outreach tour "On the Dark Side of Twilight."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mistakes were made.

May I begin by saying our hosts at Workshop Players were stunning fabulous, resourceful, helpful and, might I add, cheery? This was a first-time venue, the GLTF outreach tour had never stopped here before. An old, small schoolhouse, converted into a state-of-the-art community theater-in-the-round in Amherst, with a staff on hand to help us load in, set up and load out, and they made us delicious, hot soup!

Honestly, this one hundred seat theater has the cleanest, best appointed green room I have ever seen. And because it's downstairs, they have these cameras to keep an eye on the stage. For our purposes, tonight, however, we lost a bank of seats to make room for our set. Even so, there was not much room, and setting up and performing was a bit of scramble.

We also had a deeper, narrower stage with people on three sides, which made blocking a challenge. Some of the words coming out of our mouths were a challenge, too. I do not know what shook me at the outset but I kept bobbling words in a manner I was not used to. But the response from the full house of ninety (yes! another full house!) made it emotionally possible for me to shamelessly chew the scenery during The Interview.

A prop was misplaced ... something was said twice ... but we didn't break any furniture (that happened yesterday) and really, considering the sheer weight of costumes, props, sound cues, blood and fog, I think we are managing things pretty well. It helps when we get soup.

Emily pointed out to me that almost the entire back row was filled with teenage girls, with long, straight, black hair. Sad girl win!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

On the Dark Side of Twilight: Our Lady of the Elms

Ten years ago, Great Lakes Theater produced my first outreach tour "On the Dark Side of Twilight."

Monday, February 22, 2010

This tour is really wearing me out. We have performed seven performances in seven days and I have not been engaging in any other extra-social business. I try to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. But waking up I feel like I have been hit by a bus.

Driving home from Akron today was a real grind, I kept nodding off at stoplights. Okay, not really. I don't want to worry anyone. So really, I didn't. Not more than once.

Now, is it the load-in, load-out thing, the lifting of heavy objects? Or is it the show itself? No idea. The heavy lifting thing isn't really a big deal, the set for Seeing Red two years ago was much more strenuous, much heavier, much more awkward.

But we need to set up and tear down:
  • A curtain
  • The set facade
  • Racks for 18 costumes
  • A tub loaded with props
  • Fog machine
  • Plenty of odd make-up extras and wigs
  • The sound system
And then there's the show itself. Not much time to stop and breathe.


We have been blessed to have assistance at many locations. Clague ended with a lot of good friends helping us tear down. And today the students of Our Lady of the Elms were extremely helpful in helping us pack it all together and load it out.

And today's performance? Man. I love that venue. These girls really surprised me last year, which was our first visit to the school. We were performing Two By Chekhov, a set of the Russian playwright's hilarious one-acts. How well they would go over for a modern high school audience was a mystery.

Well. The girls were prepared. They had actually read the Chekhov plays prior to our arrival. They knew what to look for in the performances, and I swear they laughed at absolutely everything.

This year, however ... a vampire play? It actually made me nervous, some of the questionable discussions about faith and God, there are some charged phrases in the production, which have really popped with the high school audiences.

As Elaine mentioned yesterday, the satire settles down a bit in the third arc, and what is at stake becomes quite serious. I think this is good, there's actually something to be afraid of, eternal damnation perhaps, that people take seriously in a way they may not all the vampire stuff.

But oh, that final arc. I was concerned the teenage audiences wouldn't like it, that it might feel condescending. I tried very hard for the conversation to be realistic, only Emily and Dusten take it to such a level it is impossible not to laugh. And it did really seem like the girls today were laughing at every single word the actors said.

That was a good day. Well worth all the effort.

Friday, February 21, 2020

On the Dark Side of Twilight: Clague Playhouse

Ten years ago, Great Lakes Theater produced my first outreach tour "On the Dark Side of Twilight."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Good News: We had a full house at Clague! A long-time venue for the GLTF outreach tour, and always very supportive, they were forced to turn away a large number of people. This was no doubt due to the fact that 1) they always have a great showing for our tour 2) a positive write-up the the PD and 3) it's got vampires in it.

The Bad News: We were forced to turn away a large number of people! I hope folks who were not able to get a seat show up at one of our future venues.

Today's audience was outstanding. They got everything. I just love the reaction during the Nosferatu sequence. During the discussion Elaine made note of arc three, when the satire abruptly stops, and things get kind of serious for a little bit. I am glad she saw that.

Everyone at Clague was super, it's always a challenge figuring out how to get our set to work there. It is an intimate space and we always arrive during a run or just before one and often there is a realistic set on the stage we need to work around.

Not only were we (with the help of the always fabulous Ron Newell) able to get the set up, and the sides well-masked, but the weird configuration backstage kept the three of us in the cast on our toes. I think that, and the full house, really pumped up our performance.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

On the Dark Side of Twilight: Jennings Center for Older Adults

Ten years ago, Great Lakes Theater produced my first outreach tour "On the Dark Side of Twilight."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I wasn't sure about turn-out for an early afternoon performance at the Jennings Center. Who goes to a 1:30 show on a Saturday? But we had a really great mix of residents and visitors, not only children and grandchildren of folks who live there, but also some really good friends, too.

Brian, who read my roles in the first reading of the script back in November, brought his eleven year-old daughter. She loves vampires (real vampires, not ones that sparkle) and she said she enjoyed the show. Win!

Got a new fog machine, but this one makes a terrible sputtering noise when it is doing it's work. Sometimes that doesn't matter but it is an unhelpful distraction. Our company of three has been working together very well unloading and loading the set, it's really getting down to a science. Instead of showing up two hours early, we may soon only need a ninety minute appearance before shows.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

On the Dark Side of Twilight: East Park Retirement Community

Ten years ago, Great Lakes Theater produced my first outreach tour "On the Dark Side of Twilight."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Successful evening at East Park Retirement Community Center. But first:
HYSTERICAL CAMPY FUN! 
- Tony Brown, The Plain Dealer
Also, I am "beady-eyed" and at my "perverse best." Thank you. Tonight some of the ladies remarked at what startling and creepy eyes I have.

And what a night! The folks at East Park were really up for a vampire show this evening. Just before the show started, one of the audience members got up on the stage and lay down on the chaise lounge, inviting women to come up and suck his blood.

Blew a fuse on the fog machine right before the show ended, so we lost the Edwyn Collins tune, which was a bummer, but at least that was all they missed.

Lisa ran her first talkback for this production this evening. Point: When asked, teenagers admit they want to live forever, even or especially if it means being a vampire. Senior citizens to do not want immortality under any circumstances. Discuss.

Source: "Vampire play 'On the Dark Side of Twilight,' performed by Great Lakes Theater Festival, is campy fun" by Tony Brown, The Plain Dealer, 1/19/2010

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

On the Dark Side of Twilight: Admiral King High School

Ten years ago, Great Lakes Theater produced my first outreach tour "On the Dark Side of Twilight."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The tour came to Lorain Admiral King High School today. Loading in we had the assistance of maybe a dozen volunteers who were pressed into service to help us move large bits of the set and help us get everything up and ready. The three of us have yet to put the whole thing together or tear it down by ourselves.

This was our first high school audience. True, there were students at LCCC last night, but it was a mix of old and young. We had a larger than usual Admiral King audience today, it was reported that there were some 8th graders with us. LAK doesn't send the entire student body to witness the outreach tour, but I am always mystified as to exactly which students have the privilege of attending the performance and why.

As for the performance itself, it went over very well. I believe this will be a trend, the high school students will watch patiently through the first two arcs and then bust out in surprise at the final two. Daniel warned me about the arcane nature of Arc One: The Giaour, and how it might go right over the heads of the high school audiences.

It doesn't go over their heads exactly, but I am worried they think the entire show is going to sound like that and check out. He prepped them during the pre-show speech to let them know what the play was about, and how it eventually reaches more contemporary material.

Something else ... teenagers can read something dirty into almost anything. And today was the first time an audience really got creeped out by the old, bald Count coming onto the Maria in arc two.

It is going to be very, very hard to get out of these high school shows within 90 minutes of the end of the talkback. So many kids want to talk to us, to sign autographs, to talk about the play!

And the girls keep hitting on Dusten. Pity poor Dusten.

Monday, February 17, 2020

On the Dark Side of Twilight: Lorain County Community College

Ten years ago, Great Lakes Theater produced my first outreach tour "On the Dark Side of Twilight."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Very good second night, at Lorain County Community College. We did have one drunk guy who answered his cellphone and took the call during one of my narrations, so I told him I would wait until he was done. What is this, TV?

However, the rest of the evening was just fabulous, and a real education. There were a number of folks, younger ones, who showed up because of the Morning Journal article on Sunday, and were out to see some vampires.

During the first arc, I was worried we may have lost them, but apparently the opposite was true. What do you expect, when you came for something Twilight related and instead we begin with a pithy riposte like "my intentions are all one might expect on such an occasion" (that's original Polidori)? You might be turned off.

However, the teens in attendance were rapt, thinking, "okay, this is new, but I'm with you." By the middle of the Dracula sequence, they were loosening up, and I think they understood there was some comedy involved.

So, by the fourth arc, we had them. Lots of positive feedback following the performance. One guy really liked the fight scenes (yay, Dusten!) and a girl asked ... well, I can't really say what she asked, without giving away some secrets. But Emily and I had an interestingly cryptic back-and-forth during the discussion. Honestly, Emily, you can say absolutely anything you want.
Özen Yula's Facebook status update, 2/17/2010: "On the Dark Side of Twilight" ı seyrettim. Çok basit bir dekoru vardı. Ama David Hansen'in teksti çok güzeldi. Polidori, Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Stephenie Meyer'in vampir hikâyeleri bir parodi çerçevesinde birbirine eklenmiş. Postmodern kan içmeyen vampirlerle son buluyor ama o da ilk hikâyeye,200 yıl öncesine bağlanıyor. Bildik film sahneleri art arda dizilmiş. Aynı sözler ama bu defa gerçekten komik!
Translation:  I watched "On the Dark Side of Twilight". It had a very simple décor, but David Hansen's text was very beautiful. The vampire stories of Polidori, Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, and Stephenie Meyer are intertwined into a parody. 

It ends with postmodern, blood-free vampires, but it also ties into the first story from 200 years ago. Familiar movie scenes are represented; the same words, but this time it's really funny!

Thank you, Google Translate! Thank you, Özen! Komik!

Source: A Vampire stars in Lorain County: Great Lakes tours famous tales of (bloody) romance to Workshop, LCCC, elsewhere by Laura Kennelly, Morning Journal, 2/14/2010