Get By With a Little Help From My Friends…
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. In fact too long. But… so much has happened in my theatre life.
I’ve become a company member and then took over the Managing Director role at Glass Mind Theatre.
I’m also mid-run for a show I directed called And Underneath the Moon.
Okay - well that doesn’t seem like that much when I word it that way, but let’s say all the little things that cascade out of those two things are abundant.
Honestly though, I’ve been blessed to start working with an amazing group of people, not only the theatre company, but also my cast for Moon. Not only are the people I surround myself with colleagues, but they are also my Baltimore family.
I love my day job. I’m good at it, it gives me purpose and it provides for the life that I have. My work in theatre feeds my artistic soul though, and keeps my head in the right place.
Well it’s the holiday times, and Glass Mind has taken on the ambitious goal of raising $5,000 before the end of the year. To do my part, I’m making it my personal goal to raise $600 in the next 3 weeks.
Here’s where my friends and family come in. I need your help.
At Glass Mind, we’re really committed to making theatre accessible - for us that manifests in many ways:
- Keeping ticket prices low. By far, this is one of our most important goals during our seasons. Most theatres in town charge around $15 for their discount tickets. GMT’s full price admissions is only $12. We want people from all walks of life to see the work that we do, so we are committed to keeping tickets prices as low as possible.
- Opportunities for new artists. We pride ourselves on working with a wide range of skilled artists and providing opportunities for them to experiment and play with their craft. Whether it’s a new playwright, a n00b actor or someone just looking to learn more about theatre, we provide opportunities for these individuals to have access to experienced artists. As a company we want to help our community grow and prosper while challenging ourselves to push our artistic limits.
- Exploring the theatrical experience in non-theatre events. Not everyone loves theatre, or at least they don’t think they do. That’s why through our auxiliary season and events we investigate what it means to have a theatrical experience in a traditionally non-theatre event. For example, our recent Open Mic night or our Drag Show over the summer. Theatre is everywhere, and we want to invite the community to explore what it means through various offerings.
So here is where you come in. I’m asking you to donate $10 to GMT before December 31st. If I can get 60 of my friends and family to donate $10 each, I’ll make my personal fundraising goal.
I’m only asking for $10, but feel free to donate more if you can.
The incentive. If I hit my personal fundraising goal, I will send (or hand deliver depending on where you live) the top 5 donors, by amount, a dozen of my awesome Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies w/ White Chocolate Morsels or my Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies - your choice - in an awesome holiday tin. And trust me, I’m an awesome baker.
To ensure that I can keep track of your donations (and see who gets the baked goodness), please email me at lmorton [at] glassmindtheatre [dot] com after submitting your donation.
TWO WAYS TO DONATE:
Online. Through our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas. They help DIY artists like Glass Mind be able to function as a non-profit.
By Mail. Send a check made out to “Fractured Atlas”, with “Project: Glass Mind Theatre” written in the memo line to:
Glass Mind Theatre
P.O. Box 19013
Baltimore, MD 21284.
Please be sure to include your Name, Address and Email with your check so we can make sure to get you a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.
All donations will receive a receipt from Fractured Atlas.
Alright, so that’s enough from me. I hope that you don’t hate me for turning a blog post into an ask for donations. It’s just Glass Mind means a lot to me. I feel like I finally have an artistic home, a place to take risks and really explore the next phase of my life as an artist. I hope you’ll join in supporting this amazing group of people I have the pleasure of working with.
Thank You Rusty.
There’s been a lot going on in my theatre life lately, almost too much to have time to write about it all (I’ll break it down soon, I promise!). But when someone from your past makes their final exit, it’s time to slow down and reflect on their role.
I recently learned that Rusty Clauss has passed. If you grew up during theatre in Fairfax county, more than likely you had some exposure to Rusty or her work. She was a force who came in a very small package.
I remember when I used to hug her, even then I felt as though if I squeezed too hard I’d break her, yet she had the tenacity of a terrier, always pushing us to challenge ourselves further.
I met Rusty when I attended Edison for high school. Though she had taught there prior, she was not my theatre teacher. Every year as a part of the Folger Shakespeare Festival (I think that’s what it was called, it was a bunch of high schools performing at the Folger) we would prepare a Rusty Clauss cutting of Willy Shakes. Her work taught me about the continuity of storylines, what was okay to throw away and what was vital to keep the audience engaged in what was happening.
Her cutting allowed me to play Queen Margaret in Richard III fifty years before I should have. Her cutting of Hamlet allowed me as a young artist to try my hand at stage managing and costume design. That production also introduced me to Tapestry Theatre Company and Peggy Jones as I needed to go outside the Edison costume room to find what I needed. Tapestry gave me my first opportunity to play an ingenue (and I think probably one of the last times I appeared on stage in that type of role), they also showed me that people were writing plays all the time and exposed me to new play development. I also built a mean castle wall with Peggy and Rusty one day, and though Rusty had a good many years on me, she was as hands on as the rest in the building process.Those ladies popped the bubble of what I thought being a theatre artist was all about. They showed me that you can have artistic fulfillment without having it be your day job. A lesson that I live every day of my life.
Though Rusty’s name was mentioned many more times than I had chances to meet the lovely, kind, supportive artist, I’m glad that I did have my moments with her. Without her, I don’t know if I’d be the artist that I am today.
Thank you Rusty for all that you did. You will be truly missed.
So I’ve seen a fair amount of theatre over the past couple of months, but have not been doing my due diligence to write about them.
So here goes, one sentence reviews on all the shows I’ve seen in the past three months:
Street Car Named Desire at Spotlighters
Some standout characters with a beautiful use of space & set, missing the mechanics of an abusive relationship.
In the Solitude of Cotton Fields at On The Boards
Eastern European goodness all in polish w/ a dash of justified nudity, not accessible to most, but had me leaving the theatre questioning everything (in a good way).
Reasons to Be Pretty at FPCT
One actress was really stand out and she walked circles around the others, but the piece overall left me indifferent which is not what a LaBute piece should do.
Death of a Salesman at Vagabond Players (aka Vags)
Not my favorite Arthur Miller piece, but had some stand out characterizations and some actors who focused more on themselves than giving to their partners.
Neighborhood 3 at Glass Mind Theatre Company
A ballsy piece to produce, I felt some characters need to go deeper or become more varied, and that “act of doing” wasn’t as present as it could be, but overall very worth my time to see it.
ONE Storytelling at Cyclops
Produce by Glass Mind Theatre Company, a vulnerable night of stories that touched the soul and inspired others to share their stories.
Long Christmas Ride Home at Single Carrot
A touching piece the jerked a tear or two from me, but the script left me with some questions, and it’s hard to match the beautiful simplicity of a puppet with the human form.
Last Days of Judas Iscariot at Mobtown Players
A show that went more for the comedy than the truth of the writing, it tried too hard, was offensive at times and left me utterly unsatisfied, despite a few standout performances and text that oozes with gravitas.
One Flea Spare at The Strand
Some beautiful moments, coupled with bold staging and a script with balls, however I was left with the question “why this play now?” and missed the storytelling in the majority of the monologues.
Alright, whew! That was quite a few, though if I hadn’t been traveling so much it could have been more.
So what’s your one sentence review on the last piece you saw?
Are the arts really that important?
So it’s been a bit of a bad month for theatre…
Intiman has cancelled the rest of their 2011 Season due to budgetary concerns.
Baltimore Shakespeare Theatre has closed it’s doors.
Woolly Mammoth sent me an email begging for donations because the National Capital Arts Program got their budget slashed by Congress. <insert anti-republican statement here>
It got me thinking? Do we really care about the arts any more or are they seen as a luxury? Something for upper middle class people to entertain themselves with, while they “give” to the starving artists that create what they see. Granted, 2 out of the 3 I mentioned above definitely don’t normally employ starving artists (Baltimore Shakes I’m unsure of).
So if I go on the assumption that the arts don’t matter anymore, why don’t they matter any more?
Do we make art for/of/by “the people” or do we focus so much on entertainment value that we miss the true mission of the artist?
Art is a reflection of the society. Our histories are told through the art that people make. Most of the theatre I see I wouldn’t consider art. There are a few exceptions, but most of the time my world view is not challenged or affirmed as an audience member.
I recently saw a production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (on of my fave plays of all time) and I was truly disappointed because the core of that piece is Stephen Adly Guirgis’ questioning of his own faith. The first time I read that play, and subsequent readings since, I’ve questioned whether or not I believed in God and why. Yet the production I saw focused so much on trying to make it funny that they missed the core soul of that piece. It went from being art, to being entertainment.
I’m not the only one that felt that way.
A fellow director on an upcoming project was sitting with me and we got into a discussion about how regional theatre isn’t dangerous and that’s why it bores both of us. We have very different backgrounds, directing styles and even our age is different, but we were able to agree about one thing… Art needs to mean something. It needs to challenge the status quo.
That is why we as artists exist.
So to those patrons who read this blog, I challenge you to see a piece that has never been produced before.
To those fellow artists who read this blog, I challenge you to always make the dangerous choice.
Maybe then we’ll get back the arts that our culture and our children so richly deserve.
Oedipus El Rey at Woolly Mammoth [REVIEW]
So after my last experience at Woolly, I told myself I wouldn’t go back. Yet somehow on Sunday afternoon I found myself driving once again down to D.C. with the boyfriend to take in Oedipus El Rey.
Maybe it’s my love affair with Latin culture, or my obsession with new adaptations of Greek plays, but something made me put aside my experiences and go in with an open mind.
(And just so you aren’t wondering, no bad customer service experiences this time, but I am averaging 50/50 it seems.)
This was the first time I’d seen Woolly’s stage as a thrust, it was an interesting choice, and honestly, the overall design was extremely tight conceptually. It was evocative of the prison and the barrio. It made me draw parallels of how close the two can be.The sound design was edgy and raw, it felt internal and mechanical, just what I would look for in this world. However, I was surprised to not hear the Latin culture infused into the sound design as much. Sound is something that is very important to all cultures, and it is also the thing that can transcend them.
As a director, I love interesting space set-ups, they challenge my skill at creating stage pictures, they also allow you to get right in the audience’s face. I was salivating at the thought of what I was about to experience this Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the actors didn’t live up to my hype. They felt like caricatures of who these people were supposed to be. I was missing the bravado, the color, and most importantly, the passion. I was engaged in watching the play, but I think most of that had to do with the strong design I mentioned earlier. The lead character Oedipus was intriguing, however, I did not see how a man raised in prison and was that skinny could get away with doing yoga in the prison yard. Ever watched an episode of Lock Up?
That also speaks to one of the main things I was missing from the actors. I was missing the danger. Gang life is no easy thing and for these actors it just seemed too easy, like their lives weren’t at stake every moment. As my former Literature of Theatre teacher used to say… “Theatre is about fuckin’ & dyin’”
These actors played their roles, but where was the truth of the situation? Some of the physical characterizations seemed over the top and as though they were playing at something. These are not people that I would be scared of should I encounter them in an alley, and they should be.
The onstage sex scene between Oedipus and Jocasta also wasn’t erotic. It was awkward. They don’t know they are related, which is what is supposed to make the audience feel awkward about that moment. As a director, my inclination, would be to make that as hot and erotic as possible, make the audience queasy in their seats. I need to feel the heat between them to up the ante in the end. Every moment of this 90 minute show should up the stakes a little more, and unfortunately, it failed to deliver.
Also a few random #fail moments:
- The dramaturg talks about machismo in the program and its prevalence in Latin male culture, then quotes the Village People…
- The tattoos didn’t look real at all. It looked like someone had taken a crayola marker and decided to draw on the actors.
I’ve had some really amazing theatre experiences at Woolly, including probably two of the most moving shows I’ve ever seen - Hell Meets Henry Halfway and Antebellum. I guess it was about time I had a less than stellar experience.
Still I’m excited to be going back to Woolly in June (thanks to my lovely friend Elizabeth) to take in Robert O’Hara’s new play BootyCandy. Keeping my fingers crossed that the experience is as striking as Antebellum.
P.S. Of course I ended up picking up the script for Oedipus El Rey and House of Gold. This is not helping my goal of reading every script I have at least once in my lifetime before the end of the year…
I hate the term New Years Resolution…
I really, really do. I feel like it’s a crutch to “try” and change yourself.
I also think that calling something a New Years Resolution is basically setting yourself up for failure. We all expect New Years resolutions to fail, so why give yourself that mindset at the beginning of the year? That’s not how I want to embrace new opportunities.
So I’m working on changing myself.
Since I moved to Baltimore, I’ve gained a fair amount of weight. A combination of comfort eating and a really bad relationship sent me on a downward spiral. I’ve finally sort of learned how to slow it all down and start taking control of my life again.
So I’m eating healthier. Got a book with some great recipes which has lead to me experimenting more with my food. I also joined a Yoga studio and have a stack of Groupons that I purchased last year, which will give me a lot of variety in the classes I take.
So instead of making a New Years Resolution, I’m just making a change in the way I live my life. I feel motivated and inspired once again by my yoga practice. So here’s to doing something a little different.