Saturday
Jul132013

Meet Me In St Louis at Arrow Rock Lyceum

This week the musical Meet Me In St Louis opened at Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre. I had a fantastic time choreographing the show and working with the director Peter Reynolds (our third production together). We first worked together at Arrow Rock and I'm happy to have another chance to collaborate with him. And returning to Arrow Rock was like a sweet homecoming. The theatre has grown beautifully since last I was there.

The show is running now until July 21st, so if you're in the Mid-Mo area I hope you go to the show. You'll see a wonderful cast and a charming story based on the classic Judy Garland movie musical. 

Aaron Young as John Truitt / Mallory Hawks as Esther Smith

Friday
May102013

Post Show panel discussion: Owned by Julian Sheppard

This week I had the pleasure of moderating a post show panel discussion after a performance of Owned, a new play written by Julian Sheppard playing this week at The Barrow Group Theatre. The play is a commissioned piece by Knife Edge Production Executive Producer Neil Holland and Co-Producer Don DiPaolo. They happen to be lead actors in the three-person play. Their co-star is Susannah Hoffman. Their director is Sam Helfrich. 

The topic of the panel discussin was Playwrights creating roles or characters for a specific actor. On the panel were Neil, Don, Julian and three guest panelists, playwrights Stephen Belber, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Adam Rapp. I had so much fun moderating the lively panel discussion and Q & A session with the audience. Altogether, the panelists were a talented and passionate fraternity of artists. And the play is very entertaining! Since it was written specifically for the actors to perform, it fits them like a glove. And the language --oh, ho! The way the characters rip into each other, you'll want to remember some of the one liners to use for your next bar tiff. Go see it before it closes this weekend. If not for the zingers, then for the very clever set; a behind the scenes point of view of a New York City bar! Click the image below for more information:

Tuesday
Dec182012

Drama League blog: The full circle.

Last week was the wrap up of the official Drama League fellowship of 2012. It has been a truly amazing experience. I’ve learned so much about the industry. I’m impassioned by the people I’ve met along the way and I’ve learned so much about myself as an artist and person in the world. I don’t want the experience to end!

At the start of my fellowship, I had the chance to assist Drama League Alum Davis McCallum while he was directing February House at The Public. Davis was extremely supportive while I was applying to the fellowship. He was extra encouraging during my interview process. I’m forever grateful to him for his generosity. I found out I was accepted into the program in the middle of rehearsals for February House, I whispered the good news to him on a break. He was bursting with joy because he found out I was accepted earlier that day, and he promised not to break the news to me until it was official. It was a matter of weeks before the fellowship began. On the first day of my fellowship, I hugged Davis goodbye before leaving rehearsals, and went to my first Drama League activity. After our last Drama League meeting, Knud, David, Cat and I joined Roger for three pies of pizza at John’s pizzeria (yum!), then headed over to 2nd Stage to see Water By the Spoonful, the Pulizter Prize winning play which is being directed by Davis. I hugged him hello and that was how I wrapped up my last Drama League activity. That’s called a full circle and I take it as a beautiful and auspicious sign. I began and ended my fellowship in two different professional New York City theatres. I began and ended my fellowship interacting with a director I admire and respect greatly. I’m so appreciative of the journey I've had this year, and I'm thrilled for the journey ahead. ***Christopher rides off into the sunset; always bright, and looking toward the future***

Sunday
Dec092012

Drama League blog: Opening night!! 

Last night was opening night for our DirectorFest project. I can hardly believe how fast it all went. And I can barely wrap my mind around the mileage the designers were able get out of their budget to put together four very different productions. Lately as a director, I keep recognizing this feeling I get in the middle of the process. I take in all of the hard work that everyone is putting in to their perspective roles, and in this moment I wonder how it will all add up. Will it be the glory of a vision fulfilled, or will it fall short of the dream. In an episode of the classic tv show Laverne & Shirley, they win a grocery shopping spree where they have three minutes to grab all of the gorceries they can. At the end of three minutes, whatever they can put over the finish line they get to keep, free of charge. During the spree, Laverne and Shirley load their basket, and themselves, with so many groceries that they can’t rush to the finish line. They literally fall short at the end of the race. In the end, all they can manage to reach across the line is a box of fish sticks and a box of Scooter Pies. Now that I’m over the line I can say with satisfaction that I got more than fish sticks and Scooter Pies; I got a big cart full of groceries.

I wanted to share my appreciation to everyone who worked so hard during tech this past week. I wanted to celebrate their work to make the vision of Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry and the DirectorFest event a reality. Thank you notes were the way to go. I included all the design team, cast and crew, and thanked them for their efforts towards everything we have on that stage. I also wrote a note to thank Tennessee Williams too. I handed out notes at half hour but Tennessee never showed up. (Or did he.) Here is what my note said to him:

Dear Tennessee,

Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry is a story that’s epic and humane. The characters are mythic and mundane. Your words are sacred and profane. I now know life from both sides of this experience and I bring a piece of Moony’s world into my own.

                                                       Thank you, Thank you,

                                                            Christopher Windom

What did I learn? This week I learned a deeper meaning to the phrase “The joy is in the work”. I believe that what I focus on grows, and this week I chose to focus on the joy and fun of theatre making. And in ways epic and mundane, joy and fun came bouncing back to me. Joy in the work isn’t something that always exists, but it is something I can create and bring into the room.

Wednesday
Oct242012

Drama League blog: Productions re-visited: When your past comes knockin’ on your door

This week I had the chance to revisit a show I assistant directed earlier this year.February House directed by Davis McCallum which had two co-produced runs at Long Wharf Theatre and The Public. Tuesday, October 16th was the CD release party at Joe’s Pub. I was tapped to direct the event. This meant organizing the flow of the evening and staging of songs. Most of the original cast returned to participate. The composer, Gabriel Kahane stepped in to sing for one of our missing actors! It was a concert version of the full production. I had so much fun being in the mix of the material again. During sound check, I was talking to the light board operator. He asked about the mood and tone of each song so he could craft a simple lighting plot for the evening. I told him which songs were “bright”, or “introspective” or “playful” or “contemplative”. At the start of my conversation with the lighting designer, I had a moment where I asked myself, what would Davis do? And then instantly I imagined Davis telling me, “That’s silly. Don’t think like me. Do what the story says”. I thought to myself, what do I know about the story and each song, as if I hadn’t been in the rehearsal room for both productions. And then a funny thing happened; I just started talking to the light board operator. I just started talking, and then he responded. And then I responded to what he said and I talked a little more about the song and then we came to an understanding about that moment of the show, and then we moved on to the next song. And for ten minutes, that’s how we talked about the set list, and that’s how we crafted the look of the lights. It was so cool! I discovered (“discovered” meaning to become aware of something that already existed, i.e. the Wizard of Oz), that I had a lot to say about each moment of the evening—more than expected.

Revisiting a show I’ve assistant directed as a director is a fun opportunity. Having this experience with February House…. well… it made the adventure of the initial rehearsal process, and the focus, and being in the presence of Davis, and the actors and writing team, with that beautiful material… it made it a perfect and glorious actualization of a full circle.

What did I learn: Once I got over that speed bump of uncertainty, I could drive forward with trust. But the trust isn’t based on some blind faith. The trust is based on the effort I put into my role as Davis’ assistant—investing in the story of the piece and being present with the process and Davis’ original vision. And then trusting that I can advocate for the piece, with the same integrity and heart, using language that comes from me.

 

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