December 13, 2010

RUINED by Lynn Nottage: Coming Soon!

contributed by Todd Williams

Where did the fall go??? I can't believe the holidays are upon us and we're gearing up for production #4 of the season. Ruined is currently running at La Jolla Playhouse to great response. The Vengeance is the Lord's set has been cleared from the BU Theatre stage and we've been working with the LJP tech staff and Ruined designers to make all the arrangements to get the show here and up and running. The show will close in California on Sunday Dec 19, get packed up and on a truck and arrive here on Dec 27. The cast and creative teams will arrive for rehearsals starting January 4 and we begin previews on Jan 7 with our press opening on Jan 12. And most of us will squeeze in at least a five day holiday break. Yay!

Here's a video slide show - take a sneak peek at what you're in for.

This production of Ruined was just nominated for eleven 2010 Craig Noel Awards, awarded by the San Diego Theatre Critics: Outstanding Direction of a Play; Music for a Play; Choreography; Set Design, Lighting Design, Sound Design, Outstanding Ensemble, Featured Performance in a Play - Carla Duren, Featured Performance in a Play - Zainab Jah, Lead Performance in a Play - Tonye Patano, Dramatic Production. The awards will be presented on January 10. Playbill and TheaterMania announce.

And Variety reports that  "Oprah Winfrey may star in an HBO Films adaptation of Lynn Nottage's play "Ruined." HBO's developing the project as a potential TV movie starring vehicle for Winfrey that's a Harpo Films production, with Nottage adapting the script from her Pulitzer Prize-winning play." Cool.

I think it's a pretty exciting way to start off the New Year!

The Huntington Theatre Company production of Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined plays January 7 - February 6, 2011 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. For tickets and information click here or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800

December 1, 2010

How Richard Gave Me Back My Mojo

Tony Bell: Diary of A Gossip
Week One - Coventry

Actor Tony Bell plays Margaret in Richard III and Pinch in The Comedy of Errors, the two plays Propeller will perform in repertory when they visit the Huntington in the spring. Below, Tony writes about his experience working with Propeller again after time away. 

I’ve got a confession to make. After I left Propeller in 2007 following the Twelfth Night/The Taming of the Shrew Tour, I fell out of love with acting - which is weird coming from Mr. Method himself. I was obsessed for the first ten years of working with the company. I didn’t get round to doing the things normal people do when they grow up, like having a wife, or a husband, or a partner, maybe a kid or two, a car, a pension, a life. I just forgot about everything else when I was in a production, going to ludicrous lengths to get into character. When I played Bottom [in A Midsummer Night’s Dream], I broke into Mark Rylance’s office at the Globe to pilfer his custom-made donkey teeth, so my dentist could make a set for me. I appropriated an afgan rug from a Brick Lane skip after a photo of Brian Jones of the Stones in a mink had triggered an idea for Autolyclus [in The Winter’s Tale]. I shaved my hair off across the top of my head, giving myself a Care in the Community haircut for Feste [in Twelfth Night] (it took a year to grow normal again, during which time I never went without a seat on the bus). During rehearsals for “The Dream” I left a detailed answer-phone message for Michael, the designer, about how I thought we could make my donkey penis rise to attention using a pulley system, only I dialed another Michael, my football team captain, and left the message on his machine by mistake. His wife got to it first and never forgave her husband for not telling her about his secret love life. I copped the blame for their divorce six months later.

VENGEANCE IS THE LORD'S: Audience Comments

Have you seen Vengeance is the Lord's? Please share your thoughts with us.

Roberta Wallach, Lee Tergesen, Katie Kreisler, Larry Pine, and Karl Baker Olson, photo by T. Charles Erickson
Did the Horvaths display any family traits that you recognize in your own?

How did you think the play would end? What do you think happens to Donald after the curtain comes down?

Did you attend a post show conversation? What comments surprised you or made you think differently about the play? Would you attend a post show conversation again? What were you thinking about on the way home from the theatre?

Leave your comments here

The Huntington Theatre Company production of Vengeance is the Lord's by Bob Glaudini plays now through December 12th, 2010 at the B.U. Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800

November 30, 2010


Kris Holmes serves up a feast
It's time for a family dinner. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and Easter all happen onstage at the Huntington's production of VENGEANCE IS THE LORD'S. Read all about it on BU Today.

The Huntington Theatre Company's Production of Vengeance is the Lord's  is playing November 12 through December 12, 2010 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston MA. For tickets and information click here or call our box office at 617 266-0800

November 19, 2010

Thanks for a great Evening with Sutton Foster!

contributed by Michelle Cicerano

Peter DuBois, Sutton Foster, and Michael Maso
celebrate following the show

On behalf of the entire Development team, I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved with the many pieces of the puzzle that all came together so beautifully for Monday night's fundraising events and performance of An Evening with Sutton Foster!

From the very beginning, several departments, along with our Board co-chairs Neal Balkowitsch, Anne Cucchairo, John Frishkopf and Debbie Lewis, pulled together to help conceive the event and to make it all happen, and I am extremely proud of our teamwork and grateful to have had the wonderful support of so many co-workers. We couldn't have done it without you, and everyone did such an outstanding job!

We are still tallying the financial results, but based on the raves we've been getting from guests, the evening was an overwhelming success. The dinner party guests had a fabulous time, and if you were in the audience last night, you know how truly spectacular Sutton's performance was. It was a very special moment for the Huntington to have her here with us!

There was a real warmth to the entire event and our guests sincerely enjoyed the various dinners and venues, the outstanding performance and, of course, the post-show reception with Sutton.

What did you you think of the show? I downloaded her album WISH from iTunes on the way home myself...

November 18, 2010

TCG: Stage Matters

contributed by Todd Williams

Here's a really interesting video about how/why theatre matter from some of our friends from around the country and right here in Boston. You might be surprised. Produced by our friends at TCG. It's a little small here - so I recommend you watch it full screen.

Stage Matters from Theatre Communications Group on Vimeo.

Why does Theatre matter to you?

November 16, 2010

Judgement Day: Richard III The Musical?

The actors of Propeller Theatre Company all do double duty, playing characters in both Richard III and The Comedy of Errors, the two plays that will be performed in repertory when Propeller visits the Huntington in the spring.  Jon Trenchard does triple duty; in addition to playing Lady Anne/Mayor in Richard III and Dromio of Ephesus in The Comedy of Errorshe is also responsible for arranging the music for the plays. Below, he writes about the music of Richard III. To read his first blog about the music, click here

Judgement Day is nigh! We have just a day and a half left of technical rehearsal before our first preview in Coventry on Thursday. We still have lots of ideas for the play, and lots could change even now. For example, the soundscape of the show will become quite different now that we are rehearsing in a theatre: our new sound designer, David, can now add not only reverb effects to our voices, but also other recorded sounds – a feature that would controversially break from Propeller's tradition of producing all sound effects live from the stage! I think recorded sounds could be really effective for the eerie ghost scene in the second half... But the jury is still out on all these ideas, so good luck to Ed [Hall, Propeller’s artistic director] and the creative team who will be making final decisions this week to sort the wheat from the chaff!

November 15, 2010

RUINED Actor's Blog: Adrien Roberts

Ruined is currently in rehearsals at La Jolla Playhouse and will come to the Huntington in Boston. Actor Adrian Roberts offers an inside look at the process.
Greetings from the Congo,
We have been in rehearsal now for two weeks. It has been both inspiring and challenging. The cast and stage management staff have immersed ourselves in the world of this play. From doing choreography with Randy Duncan to dialect work with Robert Barry Fleming, we have begun forming our piece. The work has been fantastic and everyone is digging deep, but we have just begun to scratch the tip of the iceberg. Liesl [Tommy, the director] has created an environment that is both challenging and fun to explore and play in. Again, I cannot stress enough, by doing this kind of work and living in the culture, I am struck by how we are all connected. This story belongs to everybody. Until next time.
Best regards,
– Adrian, November 2, 2010
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.” – B. Marley

Adrien Roberts is playing Commander Ossembenga in Ruined. He previously appeared in the Huntington's production of A Raisin in the Sun. Other credits includeTough Titty (Magic Theatre), Playboy of the West Indies(Lincoln Center Theatre), Top Dog Under Dog(Sacramento Theatre Co.), and First Person Shooter (San Francisco Playhouse).

The Huntington Theatre Company production of Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning Ruined plays January 7 - February 6, 2011 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. For tickets and information click here or call our Box Office at 617 266-0800

November 12, 2010

Aiming High: The Richard III Requiem Mass

The actors of Propeller Theatre Company all do double duty, playing characters in both Richard III and The Comedy of Errors, the two plays that will be performed in repertory when Propeller visits the Huntington in the spring.  Jon Trenchard does triple duty; in addition to playing Lady Anne/Mayor in Richard III and Dromio of Ephesus in The Comedy of Errors, he is also responsible for arranging the music for the plays. Below, he writes about the music of Richard III.

When Ed offered me Lady Anne in Richard III a few months ago, my first response was to stifle a rather girly "whoop" of excitement: it's a role I've always thought was really hard to play, and therefore a brilliant challenge for me! However, my next reaction was more down to business: what musical ideas did Ed have for the play? You see, for the last tour of The Merchant of Venice, I spent a significant proportion of the rehearsal process arranging music for the production when I really should have been learning lines, so this time around I wanted to get a musical head start...

Shirley, VT Young Artist Blogs: Gregory Pember

From Gregory Pember ("Jared" in SpeakEasy Stage Company's production of Body Awareness):

It’s hard to imagine that in two weeks I will no longer be a part of this amazing show or working so intimately with this creative and supportive cast.  This show holds a very special place in my heart and always will because it is about the love of a family and every night we get to reshape and tell this family’s story.  It also holds a special place because I get to be back in Boston, a city that throughout my four years at the Conservatory I grew to call my “home away from home.”  I feel very comfortable in this city and it’s been so awesome to have the opportunity to reconnect with those at school who have supported me so much in the past.

The show has definitely changed some shape throughout these past three weeks of performances and it’s always interesting and fun to compare audiences’ reactions to the show from night to night.  Some nights the show seems to almost ride this tidal wave of laughter whilst other nights the audience is much more subdued and sensitive to the issues that the four of us are dealing with onstage.  This is one of the things I like most about the play: Annie Baker does not tell the audience how to feel and she allows them many opportunities to form their own opinions about the characters and the situations at hand.  This has also taught me not to rely on any consistent audience reactions when performing the show, which really keeps me on my toes as an actor.  It has also been cool to share our backstage with the cast of Circle Mirror Transformation and to get to know some of their cast and hear about their process and how audiences are reacting to their show.  It is a very exciting festival to be a part of and I look forward to actually being able to see the other two shows this week!  I am also looking forward to two talkbacks that are happening after the show this Sunday as well as after next Saturday’s matinee.  We’ve already had one actor-audience talkback and it was awesome!  It was such a great chance to connect with the audience after the show and hear about what they thought as well as answer any questions that they had for us.  Honestly, I would love to do a talkback after every performance!  I think it is such a gift to hear an audience’s perspective firsthand and immediately following the show when everything is still fresh in their minds.  I would love for people to come participate in the talkbacks after these shows and share your experience of the play with the cast!  Thank you to everyone who has come to support SpeakEasy and this show and it has been an honor performing in Boston again.  I can’t wait for these next two weeks of shows!  See you at the theater!

November 11, 2010

My Night in Shirley

Meg Wieder
Contributed by Meg Wieder, education department manager
As most of my time is spent working with high school students, it’s always a great pleasure when I am able to utilize my teaching skills with a group of adults. Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation is currently playing, and I have just spent an incredible night in her world of Shirley, Vermont.
Our Marketing Department decided that it would be a nice touch, and great fun, if we offered pre-show theatre games for our patrons coming to see Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation, a play comprised mostly of these games. Knowing that it would help audience members connect to the play on a deeper level, we in Education were eager and happy to offer our services by leading the classes.
Annie Baker includes some incredible and important theatre games in her script. The Counting Game, Explosion Tag, One Word Story, and of course, Circle Mirror Transformation. We offered the pre-show class before 4 performances throughout the month of November, and I had the pleasure of teaching the one last night.

Shirley, VT Young Artist Blogs: Marie Polizzano

From Marie Polizzano ("Lauren" in Circle Mirror Transformation):

Marie Polizzano
So here we are, only ONE more week left of Circle Mirror Transformation. I have to admit, I am already feeling a bit blue! This experience has been incredibly special to me for so many reasons, and I keep learning something new (about the play, or about myself, or about the art of making theatre) with each performance we do.  I will miss the routine of going to the theatre each night and of seeing my fellow cast-mates and crew members.  But as this play so beautifully reminds us: Life is a circle. Things come and things go. Here's to a celebratory and exciting last week of the run! And to the hope that theatre will bring us another opportunity to work together again!

With only one week to go, I find myself reflecting on all the things I love about doing this show . . .
One of my favorite onstage moments in this play is when we are all onstage playing the game "Circle Mirror Transformation." This is the only part of the play that is unscripted. In other words, we play the game every night for real, and it is totally improvised and new each time. The spontaneity of this game is so exciting and refreshing! I look forward to it every night.

November 10, 2010

RUINED Actor's Blog: Adrien Roberts

Ruined is currently in rehearsals at La Jolla Playhouse and will come to the Huntington in Boston. Actor Adrian Roberts offers an inside look at the process.
The Ruined cast for the La Jolla Playhouse/Huntington Theatre Company/Berkley Rep production, directed by Liesl Tommy, gathered in NYC on October 14 for three days of table work before coming to the Playhouse for rehearsals. Meeting everybody for the first time was great; we all seemed to click right away. I think it’s really important for the cast to be close, not only because we’re going to be together for a long haul, but especially when dealing with the subject matter of this play.
Ruined deals with the complicated armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the war being waged against women with sexual violence. We started out by watching a few documentaries. The first was King Leopold’s Ghost, an adaptation of Adam Hochschild’s book about Belgian King Leopold the II. He looted the Congo of its natural resources in the late 19th century by enslaving the Congolese and wreaking all manner of human rights abuses and atrocities on them. His exploits paved the way for what is happening in the Congo today.

November 9, 2010

VENGEANCE: All in the family

contributed by Todd Williams

Roberta Wallach
Roberta Wallach, who plays mom Margaret Horvath in Vengeance is the Lord's, will soon be celebrating with her Dad - Eli Wallach. The occasion? An honorary Oscar celebrating Mr. Wallach's lifetime achievement - just in time for his 95th birthday. You know Eli - or I think you will as soon as you see the photos in this NY Times article (written by Mr. Wallach's nephew A.O. Scott).


The Huntington Theatre Company's Production of Vengeance is the Lord's  is playing November 12 through December 12, 2010 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston MA. For tickets and information click here or call our box office at 617 266-0800

In the News: CIRCLE MIRROR... and VENGEANCE...

Contributed by Rebecca Curtiss, communications manager

With all that we've got happening at the Huntington these days, it's not surprising that we've been popping up in the news. In case you missed them the first time around, here are a few items you may want to check out.
Betsy Aidem (Marty) in Circle Mirror Transformation, photo by T. Charles Erickson

Regarding Circle Mirror Transformation, our offering in The Shirley, VT Plays festival, which closes this Sunday:

Larry Pine (Mathew Horvath) in Vengeance is the Lord's, photo by Bryce Vickmark

Regarding Vengeance is the Lord's, our upcoming world premiere that begins performances this Friday: The Patriot Ledger and sister Community/Tab newspapers ran a feature on playwright Bob Glaudini.

Watch out for The Boston Globe feature about Glaudini, director Peter DuBois, and the production in this Friday's paper.

Which media outlets or blogs do you rely on for your news about theatre?

Circle Mirror Transformation plays at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA through Sunday, November 14. Vengeance is the Lord's plays at the B.U. Theatre November 12 through December 12. Tickets are available online, by phone at 617 266-0800, or at the B.U. Theatre (264 Huntington Avenue) or Calderwood Pavilion (527 Tremont Street) Box Offices.

VENGEANCE IS THE LORD'S: from shops to stage

contributed by Rebecca Bailan

It’s nice to see how the puzzle pieces fit together to create something great. A week ago, the pieces of production for Vengeance in the Lord’s were still in their shops. But since then the staff have been busy making a masterpiece on stage. With dress rehearsal so soon, it’s no surprise that they've got their stuff together.

The costume designer has given a starting point, said Virginia Emerson. Now all that has to be done is to see how the costumes look on stage, or next to the set, or on the actors. Nothing is final. Since this is a modern show, there will still be changes made to the outfits as the designer and the director, Peter DuBois, see them on stage. Virginia has also been arranging the necessary paperwork to determine what quick changes will need to be done backstage.

The paint shop is on their way as well. They are currently trying to catch up with all the changes being made. Most of the things that I’ve seen them working on are already set up on stage and looking great. Now they just need to do the last minute jobs like working on the shelves for the kitchen, adding more exterior details, finishing up the bathroom door, and aging the windows and door knobs. After seeing how most of the set looks on stage, Pecan said that they decided to build an extra doorway with a curtain to hide the staircase. They are also working on the telephone poles to go “outside” for the play.

Props is in the same boat as the other shops. They are basically done with the big things—it’s just the little things that need work. All they plan to do, said Kris, is see what’s missing and see what everything looks like under the lights. At this point, it’s all about the details to help the director and designer further tell the story.

That’s it for now. I’m excited to see how the dress rehearsal goes and if any changes will be made once we see how everything looks on stage.

For more photos visit our facebook page

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The Huntington Theatre Company's Production of Vengeance is the Lord's  is playing November 12 through December 12, 2010 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston MA. For tickets and information click here or call our box office at 617 266-0800

October 29, 2010

VENGEANCE IS THE LORD'S - Lights and Sound

Contributed by Rebecca Bellan

Paints, props, and costumes aren’t the only shops that are making waves in the production of Vengeance is the Lord’s. In fact, lighting and sound departments are putting into action some really cool ideas for the upcoming production.

Kat Herzig, master electrician, said that the show will be set on a turn table, so lights is working with the scene shop to bring power to the set. They are sending power to the turntable through a ring on the central pivot to a dimmer rack, which will be hidden in the set. The rack contains 16 low voltage dimmers that then run power throughout the set to wherever it’s needed. “The cool thing about the turntable,” said Kat, “is that the control signal from the light board to the rack is wireless.” In other words, there will be no cables so that the turntable can spin. The light board will be able to turn on any and all electricity within the set. For example, lamps, chandeliers, a Christmas tree, and a working coffee pot will all be turned on via a push of a button in the lighting booth. In addition to this innovative dimming arrangement, Kat said that they’ll be using fiber optic strands—the same ones they used in Two Men in Florence—for stars in the sky. I don’t know what fiber optic actually means, but it sounds like it will look pretty.

Sound designer Ben Emerson said that Vengeance will have original music composed by David Van Tieghem. They are talking about composing music for cello, piano, and other ethereal instrumentation for the play. This instrumentation, said Ben, will be intentionally sparse. In addition to the composed music, Ben is deciding on what other sounds he thinks will be good to provide a sonic underscore. There will be very subtle bits of environmental sound such as the sound of wind for the late fall and winter scenes, and birds chirping during Easter. He is also trying out other specific sounds, like an owl hooting, which one of the actors has to interplay with.

That’s all for today. I’m excited to see how the other shops here on Huntington Ave. are progressing with their work.

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The Huntington Theatre Company's Production of Vengeance is the Lord's  is playing November 12 through December 12, 2010 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston MA. For tickets and information click here or call our box office at 617 266-0800

October 26, 2010


contributed by Todd Williams

Michael Hammond (James), Betsy Aidem (Marty), Marie Polizzano (Lauren),  Nadia Bowers (Theresa), and Jeremiah Kissel (Schultz) in the Huntington Theatre Company’s production of Circle Mirror Transformation, by Annie Baker, playing October 15 – November 14, 2010 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA as part of the Shirly, VT Plays Festival. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Have you seen Circle Mirror Transformation? Share your thoughts with us!

Did you find the structure of the play different from Bus Stop? How did it affect your experience as an audience member?

The play was very specifically scripted, the pauses, even the games. Only one game was improvised. Can you guess which one?

Were you familiar with the theatre games the characters were playing? Was the class portrayed in the play what you would expect of a drama class? Tell us about an experience you've had in a creative drama class.

Leave your comments here

The Huntington Theatre Company production of Circle Mirror Transformation  by Annie Baker plays now through November 14th, 2010 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 572 Tremont St Boston MA 02116.  For tickets and information click here or call our box office at 617 266-0800

Honk if you love the Huntington

contributed by Todd Williams

We've finally retired our 1995 Ford Cargo Van.  You may have seen it parked out front - you know the one with the yellow pinstripes and three bandaids? I haven't had a chance to take the new one it for a spin yet myself, but it's already got it's first parking ticket. That's city living for ya.

Anyway - here's a couple photos of our new baby. Expected retirement - 2025.

Honk if you see us on the road!

In the Shops - Thanksgiving Dinner

Contributed by Rebecca Bellan

Production for Vengeance is the Lord’s is moving right along. The shops on Huntington Ave. are busy working hard and working on schedule.

extension wall

The Paint shop is doing almost everything at once right now. They are working on varnishing the wood, painting green walls, setting up the exterior, and plotting wallpaper. The only thing they are not thinking about, said assistant charge artist Pecan Johnson, is painting the DS extension wall currently being built in the scene shop. Hopefully we'll get to it before tech.

New tables and chairs have been added to Prop shop’s list of accomplishments for the upcoming show. They also have received their orders of faux Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham to try out in rehearsal. The prop food looks surprisingly delicious and authentic…from afar. Up close, not so much, but the audience will surely be fooled. Hopefully the actors work well with it.

Head draper Anita Canzian said that the cast is about ready for their second round of costume fittings. The first round, she said, was about hearing the actor’s input about which direction they would like to go with their costumes. In a modern show such as Vengeance, the first fitting is more intellectual than just trying on clothes. The second round of fittings, which will happen on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, will serve to continue refining and deepening the ideas for the costumes. Anita said that the costume shop and the cast have explored more in terms of direction and action.

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The Huntington Theatre Company's Production of Vengeance is the Lord's  is playing November 12 through December 12, 2010 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston MA. For tickets and information click here or call our box office at 617 266-0800

October 25, 2010

Press Update

contributed by Rebecca Curtiss

In addition to Friday's terrific Boston Globe review for Circle Mirror Transformation, we've now seen great ones in the Boston Herald and on Hub Review, Blast Magazine, and South End Patch.

B.U. Today ran a great feature/audio slide show about the show and scenic designer Cristina Todesco last Thursday.

Last Thursday's Metro included a nice feature about Annie Baker and the three plays of the festival.

The Aliens also received a great Herald review.

The Shirley VT festival was featured in the Globe's "What to do this weekend" feature on Saturday.

Tune into ABC's "Castle" tonight at 10pm to see Vengeance is the Lord's actor Lee Tergesen play a villain.
Here is an interview about the appearance in which he mentioned us and our production.

October 22, 2010

Shirley, VT Young Artists' Blog: Marie Polizzano

Contributed by Marie Polizzano ("Lauren" in Circle Mirror Transformation):

Hi there! This is Marie writing again to update you on our status withCircle Mirror Transformation. We opened on Wednesday night, and from the moment I stepped into the theatre that day, there was an exciting buzz in the air. Because we made a lot of progress throughout our rehearsals and preview performances in the days preceding, I think we all felt ready and eager to finally open!

October 21, 2010

VENGEANCE IS THE LORD'S - Construction begins!

Contributed by Rebecca Bellan 

Production is starting out beautifully for the world premiere of Bob Glaudini’s play Vengeance is the Lord’s. The show will begin performances at the BU Theatre on Nov. 12 and continue on to Dec. 12, 2010. Peter DuBois, Artistic Director of the Huntington Theatre Co. and director of this upcoming play, is no stranger to Glaudini’s work having directed the NY production of Jack Goes Boating and is excited to direct this one.

The costume shop is just in the beginning phases of their work says Mimi O’Donnell, costume designer. They have already talked to the actors to see what they want for their parts and are brainstorming ideas to make the costumes fit the characters.

Scenic Artist Kate Bosch and Charge Scenic Artist Kristin Krause move walls around in the Paint Shop
A roof, kitchen, and exterior to a house are already on their way to being a finished product in the paint shop. This department is very busy moving around different sets to prepare for the upcoming show, but they were able to describe the basics—black floor, brown house, and cream kitchen. The set, designed by Eugene Lee, is the first floor in the home of a working class New England family and is placed on a 32' turntable so that the kitchen, living room, front door, and bedroom can all be viewed by rotating the stage.

October 18, 2010

Connection Rather Than Catharsis: Gregory Pember

For our third entry in the Shirley, VT Young Artist Blogs, Body Awareness actor Gregory Pember continues his character research on a visit to the Asperger's Association of New England, and also shares with us his new rehearsal mantra.

Rehearsals are well on their way and every day is a whole new learning experience. Today was exceptionally eye-opening as our awesome Stage Manager (Victoria Coady) and I made a trip over to the Asperger's Association of New England where we were graciously given the opportunity to meet and talk with some men around my age who have been diagnosed with Aspergers. This opportunity was generously offered to SpeakEasy by Dania Jekel. They were all really great guys and I am so lucky to have had this resource and to hear first-hand what it is like to live a life with Aspergers! I talked with eight guys about what it was like to grow up with AS, the process that they each went through as they were being diagnosed, how life pre-diagnosis differed from post-diagnosis, the frustrations that they face day to day as well as their individual, specific strengths. Much like Jared’s autodidactic knowledge of the origins and histories of words, each person I got the chance to talk to had one very personalized strength or all-encompassing knowledge of a very specific subject of interest. One of the guys quoted Stephen Shore (author of Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome) saying: “If you’ve met one person with [Aspergers] — you’ve met one person with [Aspergers].” One point that they were all very adamant about me understanding was that no two people with Aspergers are ever the same and that the symptoms can manifest themselves in a wide variety of ways, differing from case to case. What I found the most beneficial as an actor developing a character with Aspergers was hearing their various thought processes when they have to face overwhelming situations and how they have had to teach themselves how to handle certain adversities. It was also fascinating to just observe their physicality and how they communicated within the group setting. Taking stock of what I observed this evening at AANE has now given me some ideas of what to draw upon when playing Jared and I can not thank these eight guys and Dania enough for being so accommodating and generous of not only their time, but of their stories and experiences.

October 14, 2010


contributed by Lisa Timmel, Director of New Work

Circle Mirror Transformation begins at the Calderwood Pavillion this weekend, Bus Stop winds down its run over at the B U Theatre. I think I’m alone in this, but my favorite times during the season are when shows overlap, perhaps because there’s nothing sadder or spookier than a dark theatre. I especially love overlapping shows when there are dramaturgical connections between them. Given the contingencies of scheduling a season, this is often a purely serendipitous event, which makes it even more special.

I find there to be a lot of interplay between Bus Stop and Circle Mirror Transformation, both in their similarities and their differences. Both plays are ensemble dramas, are populated by rural Americans, find humor and pathos in the faltering interactions between flawed people, and both plays use an exceptionally intelligent teenage girl as a kind of bell weather figure.

What do the similarities tell us? We can see that while an ensemble drama does not concern itself primarily with family or love relationships, both plays contain elements of both. Grace is a mother figure to Elma and much of the plot concerns Beau’s courtship of Cherie. But also one sees that the sheriff, Will, and Beau’s companion, Virgil, join together to teach Beau how to be a complete man. In other words, they parent him. In the shadow of the Beau/Cherie love story, there is Professor Lyman’s tentative seduction of Elma. Similar alignments and misalignments occur in Circle Mirror Transformation.

And what do the difference tell us? Primarily we can see the evolution of storytelling techniques. For a play to be successful in the 50s there was an expectation of certain kinds of set-ups and pay-offs, a certain sense of decorum and there more patience for techniques like an off-stage fight being described for the audience by a witness (it was good enough for the Greeks too) and these are elements that will divide an audience (on both sides of the curtain). Some find Inge’s dramaturgy unbearably old-fashioned and some find them joyously comforting. I myself marvel at the skill and grace he employs in the service of a deeply humane (and dare I say it, proto-feminist) point of view. But if a young writer sent me a play written in the same style, I would find it too old-fashioned.

Circle Mirror Transformation on the other hand strips away rhetorical and dramaturgical embellishment. The play does not open with a “who, what, when, where and why” kind of scene. It starts in media res, or rather in media acting exercise. The class has started, introductions that we the audience are not privy to have been made. The audience will pick up all the information it needs to put together the story over the course of the evening. Inge’s characters are pretty articulate, but Baker’s characters are often tongue-tied, filling the air in their speech with pauses and stammers, the “ums” and “ahs” of everyday language. Inge puts it all out there, practically begging the audience to love the characters as much as he does; Baker is much more subtle and perhaps confident that a smart, patient, attentive audience can’t help but love her characters as much as she does.

Stephen Lee Anderson and Noah Bean in Bus Stop; Marie Polizzano, Michael Hammond, Jeremiah Kissel, Betsy Aidem, and Nadia Bowers in Circle Mirror Transformation, photos by T. Charles Erickson.

October 13, 2010

Developing Asperger's in Shirley, VT: Gregory Pember

The next entry in our Shirley, VT Young Artist Blogs comes from Gregory Pember, who will be appearing as Jared in SpeakEasy Stage Company's production of Body Awareness. Gregory discusses the challenges of creating and portraying a character with a unique psychological condition; in this case, Asperger syndrome.

My name is Gregory Pember and I am playing Jared in Annie Baker’s Body Awareness at SpeakEasy Stage Company. This is my first play at SpeakEasy and after graduating from The Boston Conservatory this past May, I am very happy to be back in this great city. Body Awareness takes place in Shirley, VT, a fictitious town in New England and much like Boston, it is very far from where I was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. New England differs greatly from the Pacific Northwest (Vancouver is on the Pacific Ocean, about three hours north of Seattle). Founded in 1886, Vancouver cannot compare with the rich, vibrant history of New England that dates back to the early 17th Century. This was a huge culture shock for me when I originally moved to Boston, as the dorm building in which I was living in was in fact older than my country! Finding Jared’s place in the town of Shirley, VT will be an ongoing challenge as we continue rehearsals.

Rehearsals have been very productive and exciting and I could not be working with a better cast and production staff. There are some definite challenges that come with developing and rehearsing the role of Jared, a 21-year-old who most likely has Aspergers Syndrome. Aspergers Syndrome (AS) is on the Autism spectrum meaning that people with AS can potentially land anywhere between fully Autistic and having almost no Autistic symptoms whatsoever. Every AS case is completely different and the symptoms can vary quite drastically from person to person. In Jared’s case, he definitely displays many of the typical AS symptoms including a need for routine and structure, ritualistic behavior, a lack of social prowess and an obsessive, single-minded focus on one specific subject of interest, which, in Jared’s case, is his autodidactic knowledge of etymology (the origins and histories of words). So far, I have found that the biggest challenge with developing the character of Jared has been finding a balance between being completely in the moment and truthful to the scene/situation at hand whilst playing with the fact that he does not pick up on social cues as well as you or I would. How much do you play into the fact that he can understand what is happening in a scene, but does not have the necessary tools to communicate and respond to situations in a “normal” or “socially acceptable” manner? I personally believe that the frustration felt by people with AS would be constantly overwhelming as one of the symptoms is an inability to comprehend or see other perspectives. Thus, when other people do not see eye to eye with Jared he physically cannot understand why those people do not think the way he does, or see things the way he sees them. I am very excited to be venturing further into the rehearsal process and I look forward to continually working on bringing Jared to life and really figuring out his journey within this great play.

More to come!

Gregory PemberGregory Pember (Jared) is thrilled and honored to be making his SpeakEasy debut. A native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Gregory recently graduated from The Boston Conservatory with a BFA in Musical Theatre. At TBC, Gregory played such roles as Romeo (Romeo & Juliet), Young Ben (Follies), John Wilkes Booth (Assassins) and Mark (Rent, the latter under the direction of Paul Daigneault. Other professional credits include Rolf (The Sound of Music), Will Parker (Oklahoma!), Man 1 (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change) and Jack (Into the Woods). Thanks to Mom, Dad and Bob for their unconditional love and support, and to Paul Daigneault for his guidance and this amazing opportunity.

October 12, 2010

Shirley, VT Young Artist Blogs: Marie Polizzano

The three plays in the Shirley, VT Plays Festival are full of different, unique, and often times, conflicting perspectives. To expound upon this, we asked the youngest cast members of each production to share with us some insight into their experiences in the rehearsal room, and what it's like getting into the minds of the unique characters that inhabit this small, fictional town.

Special thanks to Vicki Schairer, our Professional Artistic Intern, who actually compiled all of the information and made this project happen.

The first entry in our Young Artist Blogs comes from Marie Polizzano:

Hi there. My name is Marie Polizzano, and I play Lauren in Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation. The play takes place in the fictional town of Shirley, VT at the community center where the characters have come to take a 6 week adult creative drama class. At age 16, Lauren is the youngest person in the class, and she has come there because she wants to prepare herself for the upcoming Fall musical auditions at her school, Shirley High.

In creating the character of Lauren, I have to constantly imagine and re-imagine the world of this play. Where is Shirley, VT? What kind of place is it? Who are the people that live there? What is the community like?

What we know from the play and the playwright is that Shirley, VT is very rural. “Small-town New England.” I can easily imagine such a place, due to my upbringing in a very similar small town in Connecticut. I imagine that Shirley is like my hometown in that there are lots of family-owned places, not many chain stores, not a lot of shopping, but lots of homes and gardens and farms and schools, some privately owned bookstores, coffee shops, boutiques. My hometown, like Shirley, had a community center that offered the same kinds of creative arts classes, many of which I took when I was a young student just like Lauren. In imagining the community of Shirley, I am drawing from my own upbringing and remembering lots of people from home, some of whom remind me in certain ways of the other characters in the play.

The fact that these people live in a community that is so rural and disconnected from the hustle and bustle of city life is absolutely specific and crucial to the play. These citizens of Shirley have never taken a creative drama class. They are not even sure what it might entail. The class is under-enrolled (only 4 people signed up). They are naive to the intimacy, trust, and openness that the theatre exercises will demand. They have never been asked to embody an animal or an object. It is awkward and uncomfortable for Lauren. It is all so much outside of anything she’s ever done before. All of the characters are not used to interacting with people outside of their respective “circles” at work, at home, or at school.

All of this has been important to remember throughout the rehearsal process. As an actor, I’ve had to “un-learn” a lot of these theatre exercises, had to try to see them through Lauren’s eyes and not my own. As Marie, I know all the rules to these activities; I know what works and what doesn’t because I’ve participated in a lot of these exercises throughout my theatre training. As Marie, I am comfortable standing up in front of a group of people and telling a story. I like collaborating with new people, building trust, remaining open and creative with others. As Lauren, though, I am the complete opposite. I don’t know these theatre games, I don’t feel comfortable standing in front of people and giving a speech, and I feel awkward opening up to strangers.

Imagining Shirley, VT and who these characters are has been important for our rehearsal process. I am eager to hear more from the actors in the 2 other Shirley, VT plays. Are they imagining Shirley in the same way? Who are their characters, and might Lauren know them from school or around town?

More to come! Thanks for reading!


Marie Polizzano* (Lauren) has previously worked with the Huntington on She Loves Me (swing and assistant to the choreographer), How Shakespeare Won the West (understudy), and Pirates! (Or, Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder'd) (assistant to the choreographer). Regionally she has appeared in As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, and Shakespeare On Love (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); The Crucible, Othello, and Of Mice and Men (New Rep on Tour); A Christmas Carol (Stoneham Theatre); Hamlet (GAN-e-meed Theatre Project); and Limonade Tous Les Jours (Exquisite Corps). She can be seen in various commercials and the upcoming independent films Slip and Fall and Gem of the West. Ms. Polizzano earned her B.F.A. in acting from the Boston University School of Theatre and has also studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

October 8, 2010

"A Half-Constructed House," Circle Mirror Transformation

Contributed by Lisa Timmel, Director of New Work

One of the great pleasures of working behind the scenes at a theatre company is the joyful terror of a first real run-through. On Wednesday, a handful of staff members including Bethany Ford (associate production manager), Charles Haugland (literary associate), Christopher Wigle (producing diretcor), and myself attended a run thru of Circle Mirror Transformation. The actors and director are now at a very particular turning point in the rehearsal process. They've worked individual beats and scenes. They've begun to learn blocking. They are all "off-book," meaning that the actors have memorized their lines, but still need to call for a prompt every now and again. They are working the language of the play into their bodies. And so, an early run-through like today's is a bit like talking a walk thru of your half-constructed house with your architect and your contractor: the cabinets are in but they are waiting for that final finish, walls are constructed but the paneling, the carpeting, the fixtures — the things that make a sturdy structure a home — are waiting to be installed. And that's what Director Melia Bensussen and her incredible cast will be doing over the next week, turning an expertly built but unvarnished production into a lived-in world.

October 7, 2010

Spreading the word about Poetry Out Loud

From Lynne Johnson, associate director of education:

Poetry Out Loud recruitment took a new turn by way of a Poetry Out Loud Informational Get-Together, hosted by the Huntington's Education Department (MA State Coordinators for Poetry Out Loud) on Tuesday, October 5th. Twelve high school teachers, interested in learning more about POL came to the Huntington's conference room to meet with teachers from other schools and the Huntington's education staff to hear how teachers have had success with instituting the competition into their schools.

Anne Ford from Burlington High School and Dave Londino from Malden High School shared their stories and inspired the new teachers to hop on board. Huntington education Staff showed a PowerPoint presentation to show teachers the basic nuts and bolts of running the competition. 2009-2010 State Champion, Wilmene Hercule powerfully recited the poem, "The Song of the Smoke" by W.E.B. DuBois, and talked about her experiences at the Nationals in Washington, D.C. Piped in on speakerphone, Jamele Adams, poet, shared one of his amazing poems, and spoke about what an substantial opportunity Poetry Out Loud is for kids of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, and how it bring kids together on common ground in such a magical way.
All in all, it was an inspirational meeting which motivated new schools to hop on board for this year.

Do you know a school that should participate in this year's Poetry Out Loud competition? Tell them to learn more at

October 1, 2010

A Postscript to Michael Maso's Post about Travel

Huntington Managing Director Michael Maso wasn't the only one with travel troubles last evening. One of the actors in Bus Stop made a quick trip down to New York yesterday morning for an audition. Her return train was supposed to leave New York at 12:30pm and arrive in Boston at 4:40pm - in plenty of time for the evening's 7:30pm curtain.

Or so we thought.

When the actor learned that her train was scheduled to depart New York late, Huntington Company Manager Anna Kohansky tried to reschedule her on an Acela (like Michael!), but all trains were booked. So she boarded the original train at 2:10pm. Amtrak arranged for the 5:10pm Providence-to-Boston commuter train to be held for its passengers. When the actor arrived in Providence, she boarded the new train, which left at 5:30pm.

And subsequently ran 40 minute late.

A 6:55pm arrival time at Back Bay Station was predicted, but at 6:30pm, Anna learned that the train wouldn't be stopping at Back Bay. So Anna told the actress to try to get off at Ruggles Station and to take the Orange Line one stop to Mass Ave. where Associate General Manager Justin Hasslet would meet her. As a back-up, Anna and Associate Producer Bevin O'Gara raced to South Station. At 7:05, the actor learned that the train was 30 minutes from Boston. When the train passed Ruggles without stopping, Justin left his post.

The train arrived at South Station at 7:18pm. The actress was in the car by 7:30pm, in the B.U. Theatre building at 7:45, and onstage just a few minutes after 8pm! Whew!

The adventure provided the opportunity for our fantastic staff to flex their muscles: Stage Management team Leslie Sears and Kevin Fitzpatrick kept the rest of the cast on point and prepared. Box Office staff Barbara Crowther, Hailey Fuqua, and Derek Martin prepared our audience as they arrived and picked up tickets. House Manager Daniel Morris and his staff did a great job of updating our patrons about the delay, answering their questions, and keeping them content and in the theatre. Dresser Jeff Burrows put the actor's wig cap on in record time, Wardrobe Coordinator Christine Marr got her into costume, and the run crew, comprised of Pat Austin, Andrew Deshazo, J Jumbelic, and Mike Wellman were always ready to go.

Thanks to our fantastic audience for their patience and understanding.

Travel Karma

Managing Director Michael Maso, from the train last night at 10:30pm:

In fairness and deep appreciation to all Huntington subscribers I would like to issue the following advisory: if you ever find yourself on a plane or train with me heading from NY to Boston, CHANGE YOUR PLANS!

Two weeks ago I was in NYC and heading back to Boston on the 5:00 US Airways shuttle when tornados (I'm not making this up!) hit Queens. As a result I spent 5 hours on the tarmac before finally taking off. Without drinks. They had water, yes, but not DRINKS.

"Wait," you say, "they can't do that anymore." What they can do is hold you on the tarmac for three hours, take you back to the terminal to let the most panicked and/or sanest among you escape, and then go out for another three hours of waiting. I got home at midnight.

Today I was back in NY with a shuttle reservation on the 4:00 PM shuttle home, and this time US Airways cancelled my flight 10 hours in advance. I guess that's progress. So I decided to get smart and booked an Acela Express. Yes, my friends, you guessed it. The 5:00, due into Back Bay at 8:30, was first delayed coming into Penn Station, and then "trees on the power lines" meant that our electric-powered train had to stop at Providence. So they put us on a diesel train to get to Boston. Problem? Only one. We have been waiting on the new train for over an hour waiting for a engine.

I'm not kidding. Our substitute diesel train has no engine.

It is now 10:30, and I do not expect to be home by midnight. I will tell you how this ended tomorrow. For now this puzzler: which is better - losing five hours to US Air or five hours-plus to Amtrak? The jury is out (I'm not home yet after all) but I'll give you a clue: on the Acela they have a bar.

In the meantime, the Huntington will shortly be issuing mug shots of me with this warning: DO NOT TRAVEL IN THE VICINITY OF THIS MAN.

- Michael Maso

UPDATE: The engine was found, and the train pulled into Back Bay Station around midnight. Michael was home in Brookline by 12:15.

September 29, 2010

Bus Stop Audience Comments

Ronete Levenson (as Elma Duckworth), Noah Bean (as Bo Decker), Karen MacDonald (as Grace Hoylard) and Will LeBow (as Carl) in the Huntington Theatre Company's Production of Bus Stop playing through October 17, 2010 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston MA

The post show feedback has been very positive with our audiences; Bus Stop seems to be a hit. Audience members are telling us that it's fun, there's substance behind the laughs, a real sense of loneliness within the comedy, and people seem to be taken by surprise at the ending. How did you think the play would end?

Stephen Lee Anderson (as Virgil Blessing) and Noah Bean (as Bo Decker) in the Huntington Theatre Company's Production of Bus Stop playing through October 17, 2010 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston MA

What did you talk about on the way home? We'd love to hear what you thought about Bus Stop - please leave your comments here.

Want to learn more about Bus Stop - click here for articles, bios, audio and video, and more!

Post show Audience Conversations take place, with a member of the Huntington staff, following most performances. Click here for a complete calendar of Bus Stop events

The Huntington Theatre Company's Production of Bus Stop is playing through October 17, 2010 at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Ave, Boston MA. For tickets and information click here or call our box office at 617 266-0800

September 22, 2010

Breaking Ground Series continues

Contributed by Lisa Timmel
We’ve been busy and we haven’t been blogging!

Readings, readings, readings!

We kicked of this year’s Breaking Ground Reading Series in late August with HPF Patrick Gabridge’s powerful historical drama FIRE ON EARTH which chronicles the struggles of William Tyndale and his friends as they illegally translate the Bible into English.  Recently, Patrick wrote a couple of posts about life as a playwright in Boston on his blog,  Check it out.

LONG SEASON returns!
Right after Labor Day, collaborators Chay Yew and Fabian Obispo headed back to the rehearsal room in New York to rework their epic musical about the lives and loves of Filipino cannery workers in 1920’s Alaska.  They ended up with a really tight structure and some fantastic new songs. 

… next up

Directed by Jessica Bauman
Friday, September 24th at 7pm
Calderwood Pavillion at the BCA—Wimberley Theatre

Jack Hitt tells extravagant, true tales — a yarn about the childhood neighbor who was one of the first men to become a woman, or his apartment super with a deadly secret identity. But, the stories always lead people to ask, did that really happen? The Atlantic Monthly recently called This American Life contributer Jack Hitt "one of America's best storytellers." In his new show, Making Up the Truth, he shares his stories and learns that, of all things, new scientific breakthroughs point to an answer to that question: Do extraordinary things only happen to certain people, or do we all swim unaware in a sea of the uncanny and unbelievable?

Jack Hitt is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, Harper's Magazine, and public radio's This American Life.

- Lisa

September 21, 2010

Subscriber and Friends Reception

Hi everyone! Temple Gill, Director of Marketing, here. I generally feel strongly that you all want to hear more from our artistic and production departments rather than from marketing folk, but wanted to share some news with you about our Subscriber and Friends Reception.
Last night, we opened our doors to about 120 Huntington subscribers and guests for our annual subscriber reception. Subscribers enjoyed taking backstage tours, hearing a season preview talk, and meeting our staff, and it gave us the opportunity to meet many of our terrific subscribers and hear about the things they love about the Huntington.
The backstage tours were an absolute highlight – subscribers got a chance to go up on stage with members of our production staff to see the set of Bus Stop, and go backstage to visit our scene shops and costume shops, where all of our wonderful staff artisans create our fabulous sets and costumes. One group of ladies told me that this was the third year in a row they’ve taken a tour and that they love that they learn more and that it’s different every time. I feel that way, too, even though I work here, and enjoyed hearing our production team talk about how they make it snow steadily during Bus Stop, what went into repainting the stage floor yesterday afternoon, and how they found vintage jeans and a cowboy jacket for our leading man. It gives me a new appreciation of the show and what my colleagues across the street are going through!
After the tours, everyone settled into the theatre to speak with Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso. Peter described each of the shows of our season, and then the pair took great questions from the audience. Thanks so much to everyone who attended and to all of our staff who helped out! And if you couldn’t make it this year, I hope you all will join us next time!