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Welcome to the Arden Theatre Company blog, where we share behind-the-scenes stories and current happenings with you. You will hear from the Arden staff as well as actors and other visiting artists, and we hope to hear from you, too. If you have an idea for a topic, please post a comment about it. We can't wait to hear what you think!

2016/17 Stage Management Intern, Jackie Leibowitz, shared her year-long experience interning at the Arden. We loved having Jackie work with and learn from us and wish her all the best during her masters program at Temple University next year. 


How did you hear about the internship?

I’ve been seeing shows at the Arden since I first moved to Philadelphia back in 2012 (shout out to Next to Normal!). When it got close to graduation, the first internship I looked up was the Arden Professional Apprentice (APA) program. Since that program is highly competitive, I kept looking for other programs when I wasn’t accepted. I applied to 52 programs around the country over a period of about 6 months.

Selfie with Samantha

A few months passed since my initial search and I saw the posting for the internship when I was searching the “Jobs” page on Theatre Philadelphia…then I immediately sent in my cover letter that night! I interviewed about a month later. I didn’t hear anything for a few weeks and by this point I had already decided I was going to stay in Philadelphia to try and find work. I was rehearsing for a Fringe show in August when I got the email telling me I actually got the internship. It would be an understatement to say that I was dancing around with my fellow Stage Manager throughout the entirety of our 10 minute break after reading the news! Then I started in September and have been here for the last 10 months.

Do you remember what your first day was like? Last day?

My first day was pre-production rehearsal hall cleanup for The Legend of Georgia

A perfect rehearsal setup

McBride. I didn’t even know where to go! I went up to the production offices where I met one of our stage managers, Alec Ferrell, for the first time, and he took me on a tour around the Arden. It was totally different seeing it all from the other side! He then took me over to our rehearsal hall in the HamFam (the Hamilton Family Arts Center) where I started cleaning up from the previous rehearsal setup from Stupid F***ing Bird. As I ripped up old spike tape from the floor (which I actually enjoy doing! It’s very satisfying!), one of our other SMs, Katie Ringwood, came over to talk to Alec and introduce herself. After cleaning up, Alec and I went for a cup of coffee to talk about what I’d be doing this year. I’m the first full-season SM intern the Arden has ever had, so we decided we would all figure it out together.

I kind of consider two different days as my “last day.” My last day with the cast was a rehearsal during Gypsy previews. I did what I always do: I sat in the house on book, I took some pictures for the Arden Instagram, I helped out backstage when we needed extra hands, and I hung out with Andy when he wasn’t busy being a show-dog star! At the end of notes, I told the cast it was my last day and received an overwhelming “awwww!” as I went around and hugged all these beautiful humans.

My actual last day was at the end of our understudy run. Typically, I’m in the house on book during these runs just in case, but this time I had the opportunity to shadow Katie’s backstage Assistant Stage Manager track! I followed along on their run sheet paperwork and saw first-hand what she does during the show. After dinner break, I went upstairs and saw an evening performance of The Light Princess with my roommate to celebrate. It was a great way to come full circle!

What is a typical day for the Stage Management intern?

There’s two type of “typical days”: rehearsal days and tech days. When it’s a rehearsal day, I come in at my scheduled call, make coffee for everyone, and sweep the rehearsal hall to get everything started. I’ll help whoever is the APA on the show set up the room and get everything ready whether that be sharpening pencils or setting up furniture. During rehearsal it’s a mix of being on book, running around the room to make things run as smoothly as possible, making copies, and running errands between our two buildings to keep our ship running so our SM never has to leave the room.

On a tech day, I do mostly the same thing, but in the theater. I set up everything I can when I get there, sweep, put down some safety tape if I need to, and pick a spot in the house where I can be on book. Since I only work on each show through opening, I can’t do any backstage tracks in tech since I won’t be there for performances. So any time someone needs a hand while we’re in a hold…I’m there! I also love these days when I’m doing an Instagram takeover because I can get the best pictures when we’re in-action during rehearsal.

Being SM intern is a lot like being a production assistant, so I know the ropes and how to do the job…but it’s different on every show and always keeps you on your toes!

What was the funniest show to work on this year and why?

I think I’d have to say The Legend of Georgia McBride. That cast was full of goofballs who always had my stomach hurting from laughing so hard at the physical comedy bits they did in the show. From the first read through during our meet-and-greet, I knew I was in for a great time! One of my favorite memories will be the day that we did the scene where Casey gets into drag for the first time. Matteo and Dito were still getting their footing since it was our first week, but when you add in rehearsal undergarments, dresses, and heels, everyone was in tears from laughing so much! The final scene looked like organized chaos, but choreographing it was one of the biggest delights I had the opportunity to watch.

And speaking of choreography, I’m still not over that mega-mix dance party from the end of the show that Melanie Cotton created! I’ll never be able to hear “Lady Marmalade” and “Crazy in Love” without picturing Miss Tracy Mills lip-syncing to it!

Nancy Boykin, Jackie, and Phoebe the dog

What was the most challenging show you worked on this year? 

The most challenging is split between two shows for me: John and Gypsy. For John, I was the furthest from my comfort zone since I’m definitely not used to working on as many straight plays. We had a LOT of props to keep track of (go Chris Haig!) and I found myself a little overwhelmed by how much was involved in the show itself. I had a pretty good idea of what my job was at this point, but since I didn’t have any music to hide behind, I had to really dig into the play to keep myself active. I also spent a ton of time taking care of our American Girl doll Samantha! Fun fact: I have about 15 American Girl dolls at home, so I knew how to care for her and keep her looking nice throughout rehearsals and the run…but doing that on top of everything else was the challenge! Luckily, on this show I had the pleasure of watching one of my mentors every day: the incomparable Nancy Boykin! Nancy was not only my adviser during my time at Temple, but she was my very first professor on my first day of college. Getting to come full-circle and work with her on this show made my days so much brighter!

Gypsy was obviously the other challenging show. Musicals are my strong suit, but this show is a monster to put on for anyone! We had a bit of a staggered rehearsal schedule, so I came in even more during this show than I typically did for the rest of the season. The sheer volume of the show, cast, understudies, furniture, and everything else made this show a huge challenge, but it also made it the most satisfying when we got all of it right! It was the biggest show we’d done all season and it felt so great when I got to sit down and watch it for the first time during our final dress rehearsal.

What are three things you learned this year that you find invaluable?

  1. Theatre is a big game of “hurry up and wait!” especially when you’re waiting on tasks to do for other people.
  2. Having keys is a luxury. There are a LOT of doors at the Arden and they all use different keys…and when you’re an intern, you don’t have any of them.
  3. The first step is getting in the room. When you’re lucky enough to be in the room with all of these incredible people, you know you’re doing something right. Once you’re there: sit back, keep your ears and your heart open, and learn from the best.

Frog and Toad SM team

What is an accomplishment from your year at the Arden that makes you especially proud?

          Honestly, I’m proud that I found a home at the Arden. I’ve gotten to know so many incredible people that I’ve idolized over my four years in school…and in one year I actually got to know them as people! I’ve learned how to balance work with play in this crazy little theatre world that I love so much, and that isn’t easy. When you make the jump from seeing shows from the audience perspective to actually working behind the scenes to make them a reality, you have to step back and take a moment to realize how special it all is. I also have to constantly remind myself how lucky I am to be a part of this community that I love so much. I’m so grateful to everyone for allowing me to be a part of their art when I’m still in the process of learning.

What advice do you have for next season’s Stage Management Intern?

Patience is key! This job is packed with long hours sometimes where you wonder, “why did I take this internship in the first place?” The answer is to be in that room and to be a part of something greater than yourself. You get such a diverse group of shows, people, and methods thrown together in one season, but you need to figure out what works best for you and apply it to your own artistry. You’ll find your niche here…just give it time and be open to all the wonderful possibilities that the Arden can give you.

What Arden show are you looking forward to seeing next season?

All of the musicals! I’m such a musical theatre dork at heart and there’s something I love about seeing new productions of classic shows I love and new musicals all together. Next season has more musicals than usual and that makes my little dorky heart jump with joy to see what the Arden does with them! The last show in the season specifically…I can’t wait to see what we do with it!

What are your plans for next year?        

In the fall I’ll be returning to my alma mater, Temple University, to pursue my M.A. in Musical Theatre Studies. While I love stage management, I also have dreams of becoming a musical theatre historian one day and this is my first step in that direction. I deferred my enrollment for a year in order to save some money, and now I’m ready for one last year of school!

I won’t be far from the Arden though…next season you can still find me in the box office or working concessions!

Last day on stage

The multi-talented Emily Gardner Xu Hall is currently delighting audiences in THE LIGHT PRINCESS as the Queen. Get to know Emily better and her experience working on this world premiere musical in our interview.

Emily Gardner Xu Hall

You are more than a triple threat. You are an actress, writer, composer, singer, instrumentalist, director… How do you juggle all of that?

That’s very nice of you. I don’t really know how to answer that. These things are just what I do, what I have done, and what I aspire to do better. I take a lot of lessons.

Some things I’ve done longer than others. I started music at 4, my first poem was published across the UK when I was 9 years old, my first composition was commissioned when I was 15. And then I started acting in college and continued to study acting at NYU Tisch’s Graduate Acting Program, after having met some amazing professional actors when I was singing in Coram Boy at the Royal National Theatre. One craft informs another, and you just keep working to be a better craftsman and maintain your joy.

I think in a parallel universe I’m a Shakespearean academic who only wears tweed, loafers and tweed accessories. Who occasionally finds a cobweb in their hair. Or maybe a construction worker.

What inspired you to write a musical adaptation of The Cherry Orchard. (The music is beautiful, by the way.)

The play sets me on fire, and I think I want the world to burn in that same fire. The Cherry Orchard is a really complex, political,emotional play that doesn’t get as much time in the sun as The Seagull. It resonates with so many parts of my life and my politics: it’s about love and death in the family, but also about social change and a class system that is crushing everyone. It’s about ethnicities mixing up, something I know lots about from my life. It’s about survival and financial crisis, and home. It’s about the effects of the widespread social constraint of women.

But my as-yet-untitled Cherry Orchard musical isn’t musty old skirts looking glum at a picnic. It’s a pop musical full of love and comedy.

What excites you most about The Light Princess?

I mean… I have never been asked to act, sing, play piano, guitar, viola and accordion all in one show. So that is crazily fun! Alex Bechtel has written some fun and gorgeous music which is a joy to play and sing. But once it starts, it’s a crazy ride to get on. It’s like Song, Piano, Scene, Viola, Scene, Accordion, Song… You certainly don’t want to grab the wrong instrument at the wrong time!

The audiences are just going crazy at every performance of The Light Princess! There’s so much to enjoy for kids and for adults. Every audience responds differently, and I think that’s testament to the writing: Tony Lawton has written a strong story that offers milestones and hidden Easter eggs to enjoy along the way. You can hear how invested the audience gets as the play goes along! I almost want to tape an audience’s responses secretly… is that allowed?

How does it feel to be performing in a world premiere?

It’s been a pleasure to workshop the play with its creators, and then to perform the show with both the composer and librettist. I was privileged enough to sneak glimpses into the writing process, and then grow the show into the full production: it’s really satisfying to be able to ask the creators about how best to serve their piece. But part of how fun this process has been is definitely the warm environment created by director Steve Pacek, and the amazing culture of high-quality children’s theatre that artistic director Terry Nolen has cultivated at the Arden.

Emily rehearses music from The Light Princess with Alex Bechtel and Rob Tucker

What instrument do you play in the show?

I sing, and play piano, viola, guitar and accordion. Oh yeah, and a slide whistle.

What are you most excited to share with audiences?

The design of the show is so unique; it really allows the story to bloom. Cotton candy costumes by Jill Keys, fun and unexpected lighting by Oona Curley and this storybook set by Nick Benacerraf — to walk onstage is really to walk into the world. It’s quite easy to step out of the mundane and into the pop-up book world of this fairy tale.

I enjoy sharing with the audience… the gift of my mellifluous voice! No. That was a joke that another cast member made yesterday. I enjoy sharing my weirdo chipmunk monster, who gets enchanted by the witch and joins the party.

One thing I’m not responsible for, but which I’m always excited to share with audiences is: the THUNDER! Audiences are always asking about how the thunder is made, and the answer is really that it’s an instantaneous collaboration between sound designer Rick Sims, the set, the lights and the amazing Stage Manager Kate Nelson. But that answer doesn’t really explain how magical it feels!

Learn more about Emily when you visit her website at http://www.emilygardnerhall.com.

Rob Tucker, Emily Gardner Xu Hall, and Brett Ashley Robinson in The Light Princess

THE LIGHT PRINCESS

A world premiere!
Adapted from the story by George MacDonald
Book and Lyrics by Tony Lawton
Music by Alex Bechtel
Directed by Steve Pacek

Now thru June 4 EXTENDED BY POPULAR DEMAND!

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Production photos by Mark Garvin

Actress Emily Kleimo

Philadelphia actress Emily Kleimo, who makes her Arden debut in Gypsy, introduces us to her many talents on stage and off!


You’re a voice actor, too. Tell us a little about that job. How are voice acting and acting on the stage different/the same?

EK: Yes, I am! I have done a few commercials, a series of PBS Kids promotions and narrate audiobooks. With voice acting, it is all about nuance. When your audience can’t read your facial expressions or body language, you have to bring those elements through with your voice. That being said, when recording it helps to move your face and body as you might on stage to keep your actions and reactions natural. Believe it or not, this authenticity comes through in the voice when recording. I also really enjoy creating different characters voices for various projects, particularly audiobooks. Similarly, I love manipulating my voice on stage when it is appropriate whether that be a dialect, affect etc…

What excited you about being involved in this production?

EK: I have really enjoyed the work that I have seen on stage at the Arden and have wanted to be a part of it for a long time. Gypsy was actually a show that I did not know very well but knew that it was a classic and was interested in working on something that was new to me.

Gypsy_13 – Emily Kleimo as Agnes and Paige Smallwood as Marjorie May in Arden Theatre Company’s production of Gypsy. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Tell us a little about your character.

EK: Agnes is a bit of a poor soul who wants to be an actress and wants very much to do well. She is curious but naive. She becomes easily attached and can be sensitive at times.

Best advice you’ve ever received as an actor?

EK: This is a hard question! A piece of advice that has really made a great impact over the last few years was to slow down and “stay in my lane.”  By that I mean slowing down in life (when I can) in order to focus my energy in specific areas in terms of what I really want to be doing as an actor.

When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?

Emily’s artwork.

EK: I write cards, answer emails, check Instagram or hang out with cast mates. Sometimes I draw.

If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next?

EK: Hmmmm, something totally different just to switch things up… maybe Avenue Q or Urinetown.

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?

EK: Take a deep breath, center myself and soak up that burst of excited energy.

Emily (C) in the dressing room with Paige Smallwood (L) and Rachel Camp (R).


EMILY KLEIMO (Agnes, Renée) Arden debut! Regional: Sylvia Carol in The Carols (1812 Productions); Alexi Darling/Ensemble in RENT (11th Hour Theatre Co.); U/S Eileen-Dance Captain in I Love A Piano (Walnut Street Theatre). Film/Television: Weis-To-Go Commercial, Smirnoff Ice, PBS Kids Promo. Training: Drexel University. Love and thanks to Ms. Holly, JKK and Jon. www.emilykleimo.com and for her voice over work, www.thevoicesofemilyk.com.


Gypsy

A Musical Fable
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Suggested by memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee
On the F. Otto Haas Stage
Playing now thru June 25, 2017

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H. Michael Walls

Veteran actor, H. Michael Walls, returns to the Arden for the 2016/17 season production of Gypsy. He discusses his journey towards a life in the spotlight and penchant for Shakespeare as he crafted a professional career out of habit.

You were a reporter, earned your real estate license, and worked in public relations. Your acting career has had a very different journey than the girls in Gypsy. 

How did I get to the theatre?

Well, all those other jobs were to support my theatre habit. When I was a sophomore at the University of Virginia (I think Jefferson may have been alive then), I found that law and public affairs (which had been my intended course of study and career) were not to my liking after all. So there I was at a prestigious and conservative school (jackets and ties to classes were a tradition) without a compass. I discovered the theatre building which sat to one side of a Greek amphitheatre, while the art building sat on the other with the Bursar’s Office at the head. Students not in jackets and ties played frisbee in the amphitheatre in blatant rebellion against the Powers That Be. It appealed to me, and I enrolled in a drama course. When I discovered the practicality of it (most of the day’s classroom discussion had direct application at the night’s rehearsal), I fell in love. I really haven’t thought about anything else since then. Of course, life intervened and all those other jobs provided stability while I continued acting and directing in educational and amateur theatre. I even ran a theatre in the seventies where we staged O’Neill, Miller, Williams, Albee, and other greats. The best part of life intervening was meeting my wife (we met in a theatre) who told me I should be doing this professionally. She spotted an open call for auditions at the Arden. I went, was cast, and the rest is why I’m still here.

Are you thinking about a career change again? Obviously, we hope not.

I don’t contemplate any career changes, but I keep toying with the idea of writing, too. We’ll see.

A great deal of your career has been performing Shakespeare. . .

Bert Lahr as Bottom in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” 1960. Town of Stratford

A great deal of my career has been in Shakespeare because I love and admire it, and the opportunities presented themselves. My second play with the Arden was Hamlet. My history with Shakespeare goes back to seventh grade with a near tragedy in eighth. Seventh grade we studied Julius Caesar. A great teacher and a production of a play about some students who decide to perform Julius Caesar with little understanding of it. The mob was simply the tallest one dressed in a bathrobe (toga), and Cassius’ gait was a picket one worn as a breastplate. We had a ball and learned a good bit about Shakespeare and theatre while doing so. Eighth grade was not so good. The play was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and despite the previous year’s production resembling the rude mechanicals’ play in “the dream,” I missed the parallel and pretty much everything else. It was supposed to be comedy but I didn’t find it funny at all. The class went to see a road production by the American Stratford Theatre. Bert Lahr played Bottom. I laughed hard. I “got” almost all of it. Bert Lahr “saved” Shakespeare for me. Since then I have been fascinated by the process of making that sometimes seemingly arcane language not merely understandable but also human and powerful by the art of performing it. I believe I have developed some skill at that, and every time I perform it I remember Bert Lahr, hoping to “save” Shakespeare for contemporary version of my child-self. And by the way, it is great to just say those words of his!

What brings you to musical theatre for Gypsy?

The trip from Shakespeare to Gypsy is not as strange as it might seem. First of all, a HUGE story told masterfully. Secondly, the Arden and Terry. Thirdly (and these are not in order of importance – they’re all equal) Mary Martello. Anyone who has seen her or worked with her knows she is magnificent as an actress and as a human. Tony, Caroline, Rachel and the rest of the cast are wonderful as well, but I didn’t know any of the other casting at the time I accepted. By the way, the cast, the crew, the Arden and the entire Philadelphia theatre scene bear no resemblance to the harshness faced by Mama Rose and her family. It is working in that stimulating and wonderful pool of talent that keeps me coming back.

What has been your favorite role to play in your career?

Picking a favorite role in my career is impossible. Sometimes it’s the material, sometimes a specific speech or scene, and I always feel it unfair to whatever my current role may be to look back at something else as a favorite. That being said, I look back with fondness on some of my younger roles such as George in Of Mice and Men, or McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, or Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. More recently, there are Sir Toby in Twelfth Night, Common Man in A Man for All Seasons, and Willi Unsoeld in Willi. If I were forced to choose a single favorite or lose my life, I suppose it would be Hogan in A Moon for the Misbegotten. There! You made me do it!

Grace Gonglewski, H. Michael Walls (rear), and Eric Hissom star in “A Moon For The Misbegotten,” at the Arden Theatre.

If you could hijack any song from the show from another character, what would it be? (ie. “Rose’s Turn”) 

As far a hijacking a song, I wouldn’t do it unless you gave me the singing talent to go with it. However, even though it is a relatively light-weight song in a show loaded with others, I really like “Mr. Goldstone.” Not just because it’s named after one of my characters and sung to him. It is so incredibly energetic and celebratory and silly. It encompasses nearly all the cast, and it makes me laugh and feel good.

 H. MICHAEL WALLS Arden: A Moon for the Misbegotten, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Willi: An Evening of Wilderness and Spirit, Translations,  Appalachian Ebeneezer, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Third and Indiana, Henry V, St. Joan, The Brothers K, Hamlet. Regional: Three Nights in Tehran (Arena Stage); The Three Sisters (Studio Theatre); Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, A Man for All Seasons (PA Shakespeare Festival); Under The Whaleback, The Invention of Love (The Wilma Theatre); Glengarry/Glenross, The Importance of Being Earnest,  Harvey (Walnut Street Theatre). He has also performed at Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Philadelphia Drama Guild, Philadelphia Area Repertory Theatre, Novel Stages, and Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays. Training: B.A. Universities of Virginia and Delaware.

Gypsy

A Musical Fable
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Suggested by memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee
On the F. Otto Haas Stage
May 18 – June 18, 2017

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Caroline Dooner plays Louise in Gypsy.

Caroline Dooner returns to the Arden to play Louise in Gypsy this May 18- June 18. In this interview, Caroline speaks candidly on her acting career, body image, and introduction to burlesque.

Your website says, “Every few years, I tell myself I am quitting acting so I can focus on eating and sleeping and making money. And then I regret it and I un-quit and start the cycle all over again.” What always brings you back to acting?

What brings me back to acting is that I love it. I love getting to tell good stories through complex characters and good musicals.

What I don’t love as much, is the business side of it. I lived in New York for ten years, and up there I really was exhausted by the auditions, being my own agent or working with agents who don’t know or care about you, working so hard to get in the room, and the competition. Philadelphia has always been so welcoming to me. I’ve been very lucky here.

Do you relate to Louise as an actress? How has your journey been similar or different?

Caroline in rehearsal.

Well, I wasn’t a child actor forced into boys clothes and a cow head, and constantly neglected in favor of my more talented sister.  And no stripping – (until now). But, I do completely understand the exhaustion with performing and wondering if it’s all really worth it. Performing is such a special, magical, and joyful thing, but it is also a strange grueling, scrutinizing, vulnerable thing. As a child I probably felt more like June – I was a good singer so I was always expected to perform – and I both loved it and hated it – sometimes wanted to just be left alone with a bag of chips.

However, whenever I seemed particularly tired or stressed, my mom would tell me I should just go into nursing – which Mama Rose would never, ever do. So I guess ultimately, I liked audition nerves more than needles.

What I do relate to in Louise, was eventually finding some autonomy and success in my own creations/writing and comedy. Which is what Louise did as Gypsy Rose Lee: humor and a little shock (The F*** it Diet, anyone???). If you read her autobiography that this musical is based on- it’s really dry and funny.

What is your favorite scene to perform and why?

My favorite scene is the one near the end leading up to the strip, where I have no lines. It’s the character’s terror, leading straight into a big musical montage which spans a few years, ending with a really empowered, practically different person than the one who started the montage. It’s fun to do and hopefully fun to watch? (I didn’t give anything away did I? We all know it’s a musical about a famous burlesque star, right??

You run a website called “The F*** It Diet.” Tell us about that.

5 years ago I dramatically declared to my parents that I was quitting theatre, and that I was diagnosing myself with disordered eating and body dysmorphia. I had been really obsessed with weight and food for years, and I wanted to heal that. And I knew I couldn’t do that while auditioning/acting. Plus I needed to know whether I cared about acting enough. I had always been on this acting train. I knew I liked doing it, but I never really chose it, so was curious if I would choose it when I had enough space from it.

At the same time I started writing about disordered eating and our cultural weight obsession over on The F**** It Diet. It grew and grew and became something I never thought it would be. I have some pretty strong and radical beliefs about how our society looks at weight and fears fat, and our misguided way of connecting weight and health.

Since you’ve written about body image before, what are your thoughts about body image in Gypsy, particularly in the world of burlesque?

This show and weight: It’s really interesting, this show does not address weight. It really never talks about it, which is kind of an amazing and rare thing. It was written in the 50s, sort of right before our cultural obsession with twiggy skinny, so that might be part of it. And on a related note, it’s kind of hard to wrap my head around whether this play is feminist or not. On the one hand, it’s a show about women. It passes the Bechdel test over and over – women talking about things other than men. But in the empowerment of Louise comes from stripping. Is the way Gypsy Rose Lee did it empowering? Partly yes and partly no. She was forced into it, and is playing out a male fantasy. At the same time, it is her humor and ingenuity that made her a huge star: her own jokes and her own costume designs, which allowed her to be very much in control of her own life. The complexity of female empowerment in this play is fascinating and absolutely true to life.

Gypsy

A Musical Fable
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Suggested by memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee
On the F. Otto Haas Stage
May 18 – June 18, 2017

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Meet Tony Lawton and Alex Bechtel, the writers of Arden Theatre Company’s original musical The Light Princess. They’ve shared stories about the creation of this new work, their inspirations, and the lessons along the way.

Alex Bechtel

Tell us about the writing process. Why did you choose to adapt this story? When did work on this play first begin?

AB: It was Tony who first decided to adapt The Light Princess. It was a story that he had been fond of for quite some time, and had long thought would make a great play. Once he started working on it, he thought that it should be a musical. It was at this point that he asked me to come aboard as composer. Tony sent me the first drafts of scenes and song lyrics in the spring of 2015 and that was when music started showing up, too.

TL: Most of the time, I wrote drafts and sent lyrics to Alex, who then wrote music for them. We got a grant from the Independence Foundation to workshop the adaptation in early 2015. We had a public reading at Fringe in September 2015. Terry booked us at the Arden not long after that.

What was your favorite scene/song to write?

Tony Lawton

TL: I don’t want to give away the happy ending, but every time I worked on it or read it, I cried. MacDonald really gave us great material there. Also, the Witch was a gas to write.

AB: There’s a song in the second act called “The Turning of the Tide.” It’s the dramatic and emotional climax of the piece, and it was one of the last songs I composed for the show. I believed that if I wrote most of the other musical elements of the story, that I could use the melodies from those songs within this emotional breakthrough. If you listen carefully, the counter-melody that the piano is playing as the Princess sings is from her first love duet with her Prince. Needless to say, I cried a lot while writing it.

Bechtel in rehearsal.

How does it feel to be performing in a musical you wrote the music for?

AB: Great! And scary. I love being able to shape the material as we build things in rehearsal. I’ve done a lot of ensemble-created/devised plays and musicals, and I feel that being able to create something as you perform it gives the actor such a sense of ownership. And Tony has written such wonderful versions of these characters: I have such unbridled fun playing The Witch. She is vengeful, justified, passionate, and absurd–and I love every moment of playing her. The Prince is the scary/hard part for me. I have a tough time imagining myself as the “handsome prince” type. So there’s a bit of nerves that I have to work through on that stuff.

Do you feel connected to George MacDonald, the stories originating author, as a storyteller?

TL: George MacDonald had a heavy influence on C.S. Lewis, another author I’ve adapted.  What they have in common is an insightful and highly nuanced understanding of the human psyche, and a tight grip on the drama of the soul, especially in the context of the Invisible.  MacDonald’s fairy tales are, in my opinion, the clearest and most dramatic of his prolific writing. And The Light Princess offers the most opportunities for humor, which I think we can always stand more of.

Lawton in rehearsal.

What part of this story are you most excited to share with audiences?

AB: I think Tony’s take on this story is so important–the notion that a human being is not complete until they have experienced both joy and sorrow, the fact that sadness is a vital part of the human experience, the idea that “We just are not worth very much until we’ve cried a little.” I tear up a little just writing that down right now. And I feel lucky to be able to share that message with kids, teachers, parents, and grown-ups.

TL: The love story really works like a top; I’m keen to see how that aspect of the story draws  in the audience.  Also, the plight of King and Queen as parents of a spirited child will, I hope, spark recognition among parents in the audience.

Bechtel in rehearsal.

What instrument do you play in the show?

AB: As I write this (things sometimes change in rehearsal!) I play piano, guitar, and accordion in the show. Emily Gardner Hall has me beat, though! (She plays piano, guitar, accordion and viola throughout the show!)

How does this show differ from solo shows? 

TL: The negotiation over the script’s contents was surely a lot more drawn out and complicated. That process required that I learn a lot of diplomatic skills, and more importantly, to keep my ego in the backseat, behind considerations of quality and audience experience.  I’m learning every day that “my concept” is not nearly as important as better ideas that arise from collaboration.

 

The Light Princess is extended by popular demand thru June 1. For tickets, purchase online or call 215.922.1122.

 

Reawakening “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

by Paige Farestveit

In 1998, the Arden Theatre Company’s brand new F. Otto Haas Stage opened with a remarkable production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by company co-founder Aaron Posner, that featured a cast that can only be described as an embarrassment of riches: TonyBraithwaite, Pearce Bunting, Jen Childs, Melanye Finister, Grace Gonglewski, Scott Greer, Leonard Haas, and Ian Merrill Peakes, among others. That year, the Arden led the pack in Barrymore nominations, garnering twenty four total, eight of which were for Midsummer, including Overall Production of a Play, Ensemble Performance, Direction of a Play, Set Design, and more.

Pearce Bunting, Robert Christophe, Ian Merrill Peakes, Scott Greer, Grace Gonglewski, Jen Childs. Arden’s 1998 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Over the last two decades, these artists have not only established themselves as some of the most beloved in the Philadelphia theatre community, but garnered a national reputation for excellence. Some are still regular players on the Arden stage, such as Grace Gonglewski and Ian Merrill Peakes, who have appeared in twenty four and twenty productions, respectively. Others have gone on to Broadway and television work, like Pearce Bunting, who portrayed Bill Austin in Phyllida Lloyd’s rollicking production of Mamma Mia! and appeared on the acclaimed television series Boardwalk Empire. The creative team has likewise fixed themselves in prominent roles on the national stage. Posner has racked up over 250 directing credits at regional theatre companies around the US, and penned celebrated works such as Stupid F**king Bird and District Merchants, while scenic designer David P. Gordon has designed for over 300 productions on and off Broadway.

Posner’s Midsummer was poised at a unique tipping point in the Arden’s history. As the first production staged in the new theatre space, it was not only responsible for drawing on the history and practices that informed the Arden’s developing artistic principles in its first decade of life, but for displaying the rich resources the new space provided and setting a precedent for the young theatre company’s cultural future—to proclaim what the Arden was, and what it was capable of becoming.

According to Producing Artistic Director and co-company founder Terry Nolen, a Shakespearean comedy was the ideal choice for accomplishing such a lofty task. Nolen writes, “Shakespeare was a touchstone for us in 1998. Aaron had a great passion for Shakespeare and we included his work every few years. One of our earliest productions – in 1989 – was As You Like It, from whence the name Arden comes. It was an incredibly beautiful production, and helped establish the Arden’s early reputation as a theatre striving to create exciting and innovative work. We thought opening the F. Otto Haas Stage with another Shakespeare comedy that took us into the woods might be an exciting new way to open our new theatre.”

Pearce Bunting and Melanye Finister. Arden’s 1998 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Further, “the Haas Stage had height that our previous spaces did not have. You can have sky and second floors and action that takes place above the audiences’ heads. In the design process for that production, Aaron and Set Designer David Gordon knew they wanted to take advantage of that height – and created a set with floating beds and ladders. The set also acknowledged the architecture of the new Haas Stage – lighting the ceiling of the theatre (the structure holding up the roof) and the brick walls (newly painted a deep blue). There is a dream quality to the shade of blue chosen by our architects Kieran & Timberlake, and the design team incorporated that into the visual world of the play, lighting the walls and the ceiling above.”
And finally, Nolen notes that such a production in such a space reinforced the most magical element of live theatre: an awareness that the actors and the audience are in the same room together, sharing an experience both precious and fleeting. Amongst the lushly be-decked Midsummer set, Nolen felt an enduring celebration that “everyone was breathing the same air.”

Shakespeare works were written to be performed in the shared light of the public playhouses in early modern England, where groundlings could cheer, boo, hiss, and heckle in full sight of the actors. Reactions were visceral, honest, and immediate- and it no doubt informed the players’ performances and playgoers’ experiences. By leaning into that history with design and direction, Posner’s Midsummer reached back and pulled a particular bit of Shakespearean magic into the present.
Posner and Nolen’s commitment to shared experiences and fresh Philadelphia talent found new life in this season’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Matt Pfieffer.

Katharine Powell as Titania, in Arden Theatre Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Like Posner, Pfeiffer’s production achieves the seemingly impossible task of honoring historical precedent (both Shakespeare’s and the Arden’s) while fiercely pursuing newness. It is an unfortunate truth that contemporary takes on Shakespeare often get so caught up in demonstrating ingenuity that they lose their grip on the text. New stagings become marred by cheap tricks that display an innate mistrust of the audience’s ability to understand four hundred year old verse.
Matt Pfeiffer admirably avoids this trap by stripping away excessive production elements in favor of clear, text-driven storytelling. In his Director’s Notes, Pfeiffer acknowledges the inevitable weight of doing “Shakespeare”—the cultural assumptions and expectations of who Shakespeare is and what his plays should be that follow audiences, for better or for worse, into the playing space.

“History plays an important part in the way you receive Shakespeare,” Pfeiffer writes. “His plays are foundational texts in Western culture. I’m deeply interested in being in conversation with the history of these plays and how Shakespeare’s company would’ve worked on them. How do we as 21st century theatre artists approach this work in the spirit of what Shakespeare had available to him?”

Sean Close as Flute, Brandon J. Pierce as Starvling, Doug Hara as Quince, Taysha Marie Canales as Snout, and Rachel Camp as Snug in Arden Theatre Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Scenic Designer Paige Hathaway’s peeled back set lets the audience in on the plan from the moment they enter the theatre. Her design is a meeting of the historical and the contemporary theatre. Worn wooden floorboards and a tiring house harken back to the open air playhouses of Shakespeare’s day, while the familiar backstage paraphernalia of a contemporary house—ladders, vanities with bright round lightbulbs, costume pieces and wigs askew—pulls us firmly into the theatrical present. Pfeiffer does not want his audience to lose themselves or their awareness of the theatricality of the experience in an ultra-realistic set. He insists, rather, that we all remain aware and willing participants in the re-telling of a much beloved story.

But to be clear- Pfeiffer is not overly precious with the text, nor with original practice. He describes himself as “committed to working in spirited conversation” with Shakespeare’s world. He pulls in historical elements that assist in the developing of characters and relationships, but always with a contemporary twist. For instance, he draws on the era-appropriate tradition of live music played and sung by members of the company, but the musical selections are hardly early modern. Instead, Alex Bechtel’s beguiling score incorporates folk-rock classics like The Kinks and David Bowie, and infuses original compositions. Pfeiffer also cuts and rearranges Shakespeare’s text to clarify the plot and complicate character arcs; for example, he redistributes some of Theseus’s dialogue to the traditionally silent Hippolyta, and splices together Puck fixing the ass’s nole on Bottom’s head with the sprite’s recounting of the events to Oberon.

Katharine Powell as Titania, and Dan Hodge as Bottom in Arden Theatre Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Mark Garvin.

It is the ensemble, however, that truly brings this production to life. A dazzling display of established Philadelphia talent and bright up-and-comers, their affection for their story and their company shines brightly. They are effortlessly cool, disarmingly honest, and can rattle off verse with smart specificity. They forgo the fourth wall, and draw the audience close with a genuine invitation of camaraderie.

While watching Pfieffer’s work, it is impossible to ignore the peculiar magic of live performance- that moment of connection between audience and actor, between past and present, which promises that well-loved stories can grow more precious through continued re-telling. We will undoubtedly all look back on this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as another defining moment in the Arden’s artistic history—a celebration of where they have been, and a glimpse at the work to come.
Paige Farestveit earned a M.A. with distinction in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London and Shakespeare’s Globe in 2016. She is currently hard at work as an Arden Professional Apprentice, and as an understudy for Titania/Hippolyta in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by William Shakespeare with Original Music by Alex Bechtel is extended thru April 13. For tickets and info visit www.ardentheatre.org, or call the Box Office at 215.922.1122.

Sean Close as Lysander, Rachel Camp as Helena, and Brandon J. Pierce as Demetrius in Arden Theatre Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Ashley LaBonde.

“Paige Hathaway’s scenic design evokes a weathered downtown warehouse with stark steel ladders and a sumptuous moon hanging high over the various found objects in the background. At times the space seems to glow from every corner with the magical fairy ambiance created by lighting designer Thom Weaver.” DC Metro Arts

Photo: Paige Hathaway

Paige Hathaway answers questions about her artistic process as a scenic designer and the magic behind the whimsical and modern set of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

 

What first interested you about theatrical design?

Theatrical design felt like a natural combination of my love of fine art and theatrical storytelling. When I design sets, I’m able to create worlds and environments while collaborating with artists who inspire me to tell a story. For me, there’s nothing more fulfilling.

When you read a play for a job, what information are you searching for to start designing?

When I read a play for the first time, I try to take it in like an audience member would. I like to lose myself in the story and the characters and take note of how the effect me. My second time reading the play, I’ll look for specific staging needs, pieces of furniture, time of day, etc. I also like to pull out pieces of dialogue or stage directions that hint at the emotional landscape of the play or any overarching themes. This will ultimately be the foundation on which I build my design.

What was the vision for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM set?

Matt Pfeiffer (the director) and I set out to create a neutral, ritualistic theatrical space that contains nods or hints towards the themes and set pieces of Midsummer without being beholden to them. For example, we didn’t feel the need to have actual trees or foliage onstage, the language of Shakespeare alone paints the picture for the audience. Instead, we hint at trees and forest through the ladders on either side of the stage and through Thom Weaver’s amazing lighting design. We wanted tastes of magic and whimsy, while still being firmly in a theatrical space.

Do you have a unique style that runs through all of your scenic design projects?

My friends and I joke that my style can be described as “whimsical stuff and things.” However, I do try to not get stuck in doing any particular style. That being said, a handful of my designs have some common aesthetics. I often find myself trying to incorporate lighting fixtures and elements into my designs as much as possible; from table lamps and strings of lights, to moon light boxes and light-up jam jars. I enjoy incorporating light into my designs, which makes my collaboration with the lighting designer all the more important.

How do you collaborate with the director, costume designer, lights and sound to create one cohesive production?

The structure of my collaboration often fluctuates from project to project. On some projects, my conversations about the design for the show begin with just the director and no other designers. On others, the entire creative team has conversations together (which I prefer). Regardless, most of the time a director will have a clear vision or path down which they would like to take the production. From there, the designers and I will discuss, interrogate, and riff off of these ideas until we find a cohesive whole with everyone playing their part. This is my favorite part of the process and why I enjoy designing for theater.

Describe for your process from design conception to opening night.

My first step when I am designing a show is to, of course, read the script. I read it a couple of times, thinking about the location, time period, emotional landscape, and practical needs. After reading the play, I begin conversations with the director and creative team. We start to dream up the world of the play and how express that world visually. I usually do some visual research after an initial concept meeting. I gather images that inspire me or provide contextual information for era or location.

After the team responds to the research, I usually have enough information to take my first stab at actually designing the set. I create a rendering of the set, typically using Photoshop. I try to render the set to look as realistic as possible so that the creative team can respond to the realities of the set. Depending on the responses of the team, I may revise the renderings or move forward to create a model.

When I’m modeling the design, I end up answering a lot of logistical questions about my design. How tall are the walls, what is the exact position of the deck, how many steps do I need to get to the second level, etc. If I do my job correctly, the model will be a perfect scale representation of what will end up on stage. In tandem with creating the model, I begin drafting the design. I create a groundplan, centerline section, and elevations of every pieces and part of the design. I use a computer-aided drafting program called Vectorworks to do all of this.

Once the final model is approved by the creative team, I send the drafting off to the Technical Director who will analyze my drafting, piece by piece, to create construction drawings for the set. Although I have a cursory knowledge of how to build scenery and the laws of physics, I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as a Technical Director. I rely completely on TDs to make my designs a reality.

After that, I am in touch with the Technical Director as he and his team start to build and paint the set. I’ll also be in conversations with the Prop Designer who will find and create the furniture, dressing, and hand props that are required for the design. This is when the design really starts to become a reality.

After the cast, director, and stage manager have been in rehearsals for a couple of weeks, we move into the final phase of the design and production. We have technical rehearsals where we start to put all of the pieces together. The actors are on the set for the first time, we add costumes, lights, and sound and begin to work through every cue in the show. It can be slow going, but is where the show as a whole truly takes shape. We will adjust or do notes on the set or props as needed to put a final polish on the design.

At last, we add the audience. You would be surprised by how much it changes the show. During preview performances, we listen to the audience’s responses and reactions and adjust if we feel we need to. It’s a vital part of the process. And then, we open!

Photo: Paige Hathaway

What element of this set are you most proud of?

I’m particularly fond of the two light box moons. They look just lovely, and the moment that they rise and glow is wonderful.

What was a challenge for this set?

The most challenging thing about the design was to find the balance between the messy, chaotic “backstage” world of the set and the clean, ritualistic stage-within-a-stage. It took some time during the rendering phase to find the right balance, and we continued to tweak through technical rehearsals. Ultimately, I feel that we found a great balance that is visually interesting.

Is there a play you have not done yet that you would love to design?

This is a hard question, because there are so many different types of shows that I would love to tackle. For a musical, I would love to do “Great Comet of 1812”… for a play, I would love to do a “Macbeth” or “Peter and the Star-catcher”… But more than anything, I get excited about working with people who push me creatively and make me look at a play in a new and inspiring way.

If you could give one piece of advice to young aspiring scenic designers, what would you say?

Reach out to the scenic designers in your area and ask them questions! More often than not, they would love to talk with you and help you find your way into this strange career. Work hard, don’t burn out, and find ways to fill your creative cup!

 

PAIGE HATHAWAY (Set Designer) Arden Debut! Regional: The How and the Why, Another Way Home, (Theater J); Ella Enchanted (Adventure Theatre MTC); Little Thing, Big Thing; Wild Sky (Solas Nua); The Gulf (Signature Theatre); The Pillowman (Forum Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Folger Theatre); Godspell (Olney
Theatre Center). Upcoming: A Chorus Line (The Muny); Or, (Round House Theatre); Thurgood (Olney Theatre Center). Training: University of Oklahoma, B.F.A. in Scenic Design, University of Maryland, M.F.A. in Scenic Design. www.paigehathawaydesign.com.

Buy tickets to A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM by William Shakespeare, Music by Alex Bechtel, extended by popular demand thru April 13.  For the Box Office, call 215.922.1122.

Photo of the cast by Ashley LaBonde.

Dan Hodge

The Arden Theatre Company is thrilled to welcome Philadelphia artist Dan Hodge to our stage to play Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s DreamEnjoy this interview with him in which he discusses Shakespeare, his career in Philly, and our upcoming production.

What is your favorite Shakespeare play and why?

That’s a tricky question – I love a number of different plays for different reasons, but I have to land on King Lear. It’s a mighty piece of writing and there’s not a bad role in it. The characters are rich, and the story is clear, clean and profoundly moving. The language is tight and strong and we see Shakespeare at the peak of his powers. Othello offers similar joys, but Lear has a greater scope. It’s beautifully constructed and apart from being one of the ‘Greatest Tragedies in English,’ it’s just a solid play.

What is the most important part about performing Shakespeare?

Clarity and human connection. There are traps that even very fine actors can fall into, and one of the primary ones is letting the beauty of the language overwhelm the sense and intention. This can leave the audience sitting there thinking: “Wow, that’s beautiful poetry” or “What a good actor” while ultimately obscuring the sense of what is being said. When handled well, those thoughts never come to mind. Instead the audience is leaning forward thinking: “How could she say that terrible thing to him? What is Cleopatra going to do next?”

Cast of Hamlet at Hedgerow Theatre. Photo by Kyle Cassidy

You directed Hamlet in 2014 at Hedgerow. In an interview, you said that you wanted audiences to identify with the characters. How have you carried this over to A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

The great danger in Shakespeare is tied to this. We tend to elevate these characters beyond the realm of the human, and this is a mistake. Never lose sight of what makes these people human, otherwise the audience will never actually engage with them. Hamlet is not ‘The Prince of Denmark,’ he is a man who happens to be the prince of Denmark. I try to bring that to every classical play I engage with, and Midsummer has been a lot of fun in this regard because the characters are so fallible. When I play a part, I usually try to hunt up what makes the characters weak or afraid, because that is where the humanity lives.

Hodge in rehearsal.

How do you relate to Nick Bottom?

What a dangerous question! I actually relate to Bottom a lot, probably to my own detriment! He is like so many of us: vain, easily hurt and convinced of his own infallibility. Bottom is a fool because he can’t see past the end of his nose (or snout), but that’s not to say that he is only worthy of derision.

Thankfully, he doesn’t operate from a place of malice, and the comedy comes from watching someone inept trying to do a difficult job to the best of their ability. As an actor, that’s what I feel like essentially all the time. That’s only kind of a joke.

What’s your best/favorite experience with Shakespeare?

There have been many, but probably the thing that has given me the greatest satisfaction was creating my one-man performance piece out of Shakespeare’s epic poem The Rape of Lucrece. It’s a tremendous piece of writing and each time I come to it I find something new about myself and about the people in its world. It’s a humbling challenge in trying to breathe honestly in the skin of both the perpetrator and victim of sexual assault, as well as the other people whose world is shaken by the event. The language reveals Shakespeare at his strongest and simplest, and I hope to be speaking those words for the rest of my life.

Hodge in The Rape of Lucrece. | Photo by Kevin Monko.

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Matt Pfeiffer
On the F. Otto Haas Stage
March 2 – April 9, 2017

Buy Tickets 

Photo of the cast by Ashley LaBonde.

Matt Pfeiffer in rehearsal.

Philadelphia director Matt Pfeiffer brings the Bard to the Arden Theatre this spring. Not only is Pfeiffer directing a unique and vibrant production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but he is also teaching a masterclass in Shakespearean acting.

His master class for Arden Drama School will be held on Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The class is offered for students in grades 9-12. Each student enrolled will get an opportunity to work on their own portion of Shakespeare’s text. This series is a great opportunity for young artists to gain insight into the exciting process of creating work at a regional theatre.  Students will examine how Shakespeare’s text works and Shakespeare’s cannon in order to discuss themes and ideas and examine why they still matter.

For students considering attending the master class, Pfeiffer said that having a general familiarity with Shakespeare’s plays would be most helpful. If there is a particular scene that you are interested in, please bring it with you.

If you think Shakespeare is daunting, Pfeiffer has this tip: “Because it is poetic language Shakespeare’s text often feels like it’s beyond our grasp. We tend to deify Shakespeare as a playwright and treat his text as something other than human speech. When in fact, getting to the truth of the character’s intent, like all basic acting, is still what matters most. Hamlet instructs the players; ‘Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.’ So when you think of Shakespeare, think about the action. What does the character want? Why do they have to do it now? These are actually the same root questions we ask in all of acting, but with Shakespeare, because the language is daunting, we tend to skip over these core questions.”

Matt Pfeiffer enjoys the costume presentation.

On directing Shakespeare, Pfeiffer says, “My main interests lie in getting these plays back in the hands and spirits of actors. I’m more deeply interested in being in conversation with the history of these plays and how Shakespeare’s company would’ve worked on them. No designers, no director, no rehearsal really. This is the environment Shakespeare wrote for. So while we’re not repeating it, I remain committed to working in spiritual conversation with that craft. That’s a long way of saying, I try to strip these plays down to something essential. To show the audience our company and our process.”

Alex Bechtel in rehearsal.

Thus, his production of Midsummer will feature exposed costume racks, prop tables, dressing space, furniture, and musical instruments and original compositions by Alex Bechtel. Utilizing other Shakespeare texts, he and the actors will collaborate to create the soundscape of this magical world.  Pfeiffer says, “I’d like to try it with ingenuity and openness. There’s no flying by Foy or magic by Teller. But there is us. And the text. The hope is to find the magic in that text and in our souls.”

About Pfeiffer

Pfieffer, who directed Bruce Graham’s Funnyman with us last season, has also directed for Theatre Exile, The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Brat Productions, Walnut Street Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Bristol Riverside, The Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Lantern Theatre, and 1812 Productions. He has been nominated for 11 Barrymore Awards, of which he won 2.  He attended DeSales University, the home of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. He has worked there for 18 seasons and has professionally directed and acted in over 20 productions of Shakespeare’s plays.

Dates:

Director Master Class Series – Matt Pfeiffer: Acting Shakespeare

Saturday, February 18, 2017

10:00 AM- 1:00 PM

Enroll: http://tinyurl.com/j2mc8z6

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

March 2- April 9

Tickets: http://tinyurl.com/hy8tlfg

Photo of the “Midsummer” cast by Ashley LaBonde.

©2009 Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. For tickets, call 215.922.1122.
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