Spoon River Anthology
Spoon River Anthology is the first production of the 2009-10 Culver-Stockton theatrical season, staged September 17-20 in Mabee Little Theatre on campus. C-SC performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for non-C-SC students. For more information about Fine Arts events or to reserve a ticket, call 573-288-6346 or e-mail email@example.com.
Well the show is over now, and so is three quarters of the set! I would just like to say that Spoon River was a great experience for me. I believe all of the cast would agree. But it is time for another play and even more after that. They just keep coming and I love it. Just remember that even though Spoon River Anthology is over: it haunts you, it hunts you, wherever you roam.
I can't believe it's finally here, opening night for Spoon River Anthology. Overall, this production has been a great experience! For the past week, we have been in dress rehearsals adding music, lights, costumes, and makeup all on different nights. We have been desperately ready for an audience and can't wait for tonight! I thank all of my fellow cast mates, crew, and directors for this amazing experience. It has truly been a great way to come in as a transfer and be in this show! I thank you all in advance for coming to the show! Stop me afterwards and say "Hi." I'll be glad to answer any questions!
"It's Your Show"
"My job is done, its your show now!" This is one of the things I traditionally say during notes after the final dress rehearsal. Tonight I was very confident in saying it. The Spoon River Anthology company is proof that the theatre is truly the collaborative art.
Just 23 short days ago, 20 student actors, a student management team of four and myself gathered in the Mabee Little Theatre for our first read through. For 70 percent of the actors this would be their first mainstage show at Culver-Stockton College. All of the student managers were taking on their roles for the first time at C-SC. This group quickly began to get to know one another and work toward the common goal of a polished and entertaining performance.
Along the way, we added several others to our collaborative. Doc Carol (Dr. Carol Mathieson of the music department) joined us as musical director and pianist. She has helped to create some truly beautiful moments in the show, and more than one laugh-out-loud moment too.
Once the songs were learned, it was the choreographer's turn. Our new dance instructor, Tracie Riley, came to rehearsal and taught the cast a couple of folk style dances. She also gave time to people doing solo and duet numbers. More collaborating was afoot...literally.
The designers and their teams of student workers and experiential leaners went to work behind the scenes. (There are students from six different theatre and arts management classes whose work on this production is in partial fulfillment of their requirements for academic credit.) The set was changing around us daily. Some valuable rehearsal time had to be given over to costume fittings for those who couldn't make it to the Costume Shop during the afternoon hours. Soon, lighting instruments began to appear on the grid above our heads.
Finally, this past Sunday night it all began to come together at "First Tech." This rehearsal is more for the technical aspects of the show than the performers. Lights and sound are added to the mix for the first time. Problems are assessed, adjustments noted, and we forge ahead.
Monday was the official start of "Production Week." This is a time most theatre students look forward to with great excitement. It is also the time when theatre faculty begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, at least on THIS production.
Monday is always "First Dress," when the costumes and make-up are seen on stage, under the lights, and against the scenery for the first time. Do the color choices work or is someone fading into the walls? Is everyone able to do their choreography or do they need wider hemlines and looser pant legs?
At last we have reached the end of the rehearsal process. Only one thing more is needed...the audience. Opening night is upon us. It is time to tell our story of Spoon River and its people.
Come, Be our audience!
Well, tomorrow is opening night. I am so ready for it. Jeff is completely right in saying that the cast needs an audience badly. I'm excited to see how the audience likes the show. I'm working in the box office for the show, and we still have a good number of tickets left for each show, so please come by from 3-5 today through Friday.
I got to start work on the sound also. I've never got to this side of tech work, which is cool. Erin, our stage manager, is doing a great job.
Jeff told the cast to push their character to a new extreme for rehearsal tonight. This should be very interesting :)
A mini soap opera
Hi, I am a junior arts management and business Major at C-SC, and I am performing in the upcoming play, Spoon River Anthology.
I am very excited for the show to open. In the beginning, I was extremely nervous about how well the show would be perceived. I felt like everyone had numerous monologues to memorize in a short amount of time, which was causing a bit of stress. Also, when I first heard the monologues (stories written about the lives of people who lived in Spoon River), the poetic wording really confused me at times. I constantly felt as if I had no idea what these people were talking about. However, once cast members began to memorize and internalize their individual monologues, characters where developed, and I could now see the "life" among the words. It was awesome to have those moments during practice where I realized, "Oh that's what this is about!" Another exciting thing about each person's story is just how relative they are to other people's stories. An audience member will really have to pay attention to the stories told by each character to get the full effect of the mini soap opera that took place so long ago in Spoon River. It really is an entertaining one full of comedy, drama and suspense.
Furthermore, we have lots of new freshmen this year; and I was afraid since no one really knew each other, our chemistry as an acting group would not be that great. However, to my amazement, everyone I met had awesome talents and I loved how excited everyone was to be a part of this play. After the first week, I already felt like part of a family.
Every day of practice is a blast. I get a chance to learn more about all the people I work with and I feel like our cast is growing stronger and better practice after practice. As members now have their lines memorized and are comfortable around their fellow acting partners, I have really noticed a difference in our play. I personally think our performance is going to be an amazing one, and I am very excited to be on stage that opening night with my new cast members as well as new-found friends.
Pumped for opening night
My name's Nick Johnson. I'm in the cast of Spoon River Anthology, and I am super pumped for Thursday!
Turning the corner
9:45 p.m. and rehearsal has been out for about five minutes. It has been an eventful few days since my last entry. I left rehearsal last Thursday (9-3-09) with a nagging cough, but determined to keep my individual appointments with cast members through the afternoon and evening on Friday. However, as a former student used to tease me, "Jeff makes plans and God laughs!"
Long story short...appointments cancelled...breathless ride to Quincy...Blessing Hospital urgent care...stethoscope to chest...shaking heads...thermometer...NOT SWINE FLU!...bacterial bronchitis...asthma attack...nebulizer treatment...release...Walgreen's...home to bed.
By Sunday night, I was half way back to human and ready to work; so were the students. It seemed like breakthrough after breakthrough was made and the energy of the cast kept feeding back on itself and pushing everyone further along. Rehearsals like this one are what make the theatre a spiritual thing for me.
When human beings come together with a common focus, open themselves to discovery, apply their emotion, intellect and physicality in the pursuit of creativity...How can it be anything other than a spiritual experience? As Edgar Lee Masters wrote in the closing lines of Act One in Spoon River Anthology,
"You're catching a little whiff of the ether
Reserved for God himself."
Some shows very clearly "turn the corner" in the rehearsal process. Spoon River Anthology has done just that. The ensemble has caught a glimpse of the possibilities and is beginning to pull as a team instead of as 20 individuals. An atmoshphere of supportive competition has started to emerge. As each member takes their turn leaping forward with their performance, the others cheer them on, then re-dedicate themselves to their own improvement. This is when directing a show is fun!
The work is by no means over. The transitions are still bumpy. There are always more textures to draw out. The overall rhythm needs some fine tuning. Lights, sound, costumes, makeup, and props are all still to be added. Then, there is that one other little element...the audience.
I am really enjoying the experience of Spoon River Anthology. Getting to work with and know the students. Watching them grow and gain confidence in their work. Creating a performance together. I love it when a plan comes together...and God laughs WITH us!
Becoming "Spoon River"
Well, we basically have two weeks left, and I can't wait! I think I get to run the sound board, which will be a first for me which is exciting. The cast works well with one another and are beginning to do more than just act. They are becoming the people of Spoon River, and it is amazing to see. Once again, if you weren't planning on coming to see the show, rethink that decision. It will be one incredible night that you won't forget.
PS: Oh it really wasn't that bad Lee. You are right when you said there were some shifty moments, but it was the first day off book. I have faith that you guys will continue to increase in skill. : )
First Run-Through Off Script
Time for blog number 2! The show is coming along well, and tonight was our first run-through completely off the script. There were some parts that were a little shaky, but that was in the second act. We have only been off book for act two since…6:30 tonight. People were working hard to memorize their act one lines, because that deadline was closer. All that is left now is to polish the show, work out the kinks, and have a blast doing it!
Most of the fitting for costumes has been done, and tomorrow there is no full cast rehearsal. However, Jeff is freeing up his afternoon to work hard and coach people on their monologues. I hope to see great progress, as Jeff knows what he wants from the show, and the actors are there to learn what he wants. I am excited for mine, as I love to learn what I am doing wrong. Once I know what I am doing wrong, I am able to fix it and be all the better at the part.
Great thanks to the stage managers and Jeff for being so patient tonight when we stumbled through the dance moves we had just learned, and a special thank you goes out to Tracie Riley for choreographing our dances in the limited space we have. When everything comes together, it will be beautiful. To anyone debating on whether or not to come; do it! If you get nothing else from the experience, you will get an ACE credit. But I assure you, if you listen to the words of the dead, and think about their stories, they will touch you and change you. You have nothing to lose!
New to the Campus and the Cast
Hey! My name is Alex Linardos and I am a musical theatre major at C-SC. I come to Canton from a northwest suburb of Chicago. Within the week of classes, I was cast in Spoon River Anthology and couldn't be happier. To be honest, it's been quite some time since I have been in a show. This past summer, I worked at a camp for underprivleged kids in the Boston area teaching them how to dance and how to act. I loved every moment of it! such an amazing experience that opened my eyes not only to the East Coast, but to different backgrounds. Before this past summer, I went to Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis., studying musical theatre and arts administration. As much as I miss that school and my friends, I am very much so liking Culver. I have recieved a warm welcome not only from the theatre faculty, but everyone on campus!
As for Spoon River Anthology, I have five monologes and a solo. Therefore, I have been pretty busy with memorizing my lines, and learning my music! I can't wait for this show! I promise that you're going to love it! I look forward to writing more blogs in the next couple of days. Thank you for reading this, and I hope to see you at the show!
PROGRESS! The show is now blocked. I am sure I will still be tweaking things along the way, and I can guarantee some of the actors will have brilliant moments of inspiration that require a change or two. The good news is that the foundation has been laid.
Tonight's rehearsal (9-3-09) will be the first off-book run through of the entire show. This is always a stressful night, but it is also a major milestone in the rehearsal process. After this rehearsal there is no looking back, only forward movement and continual improvement.
We open two weeks from tonight, and I'm very comfortable with where the show is right now. So far, there have been no major melt-downs. Okay...I did have a minor melt-down on Monday when I wasn't as prepared as I like to be. Hey, we all have days like that sometimes.
It has been great to see the upperclassmen step it up a notch. Its also gratifying that the new students are keeping pace with the "old timers." As I told the ensemble after Tuesday's rehearsal, "I'm beginning to see glimmers." TRANSLATION: The potential for a really good show is there.
The backstage work has also swung into high gear. Set construction is nearing completion, then on to paint and furniture. Preliminary costume fittings started yesterday (9-2-09), and the last costume shop buying trip has been scheduled for Saturday morning. I've started selecting pre- and post-show music and honing in on details. My master script and office look like they were hit by a blizzrd of sticky-note reminders.
The arts management students in Publicity & Promotions class have finished the poster design and started on the program. The students in the arts management lab are rounding up their box office and front-of-house crews, as well as finalizing the seating charts and having tickets printed.
Our co-curricular production program here in the department of theatre is where our students get to apply what they have learned in classes. They can test their skills and talent and push themselves to new levels of achievement. EXP@CSC, our year old curriculum initiative, challenges students to EXPect, EXPlore, and EXPerience.
I'd like to invite you to come see Spoon Riiver Anthology. EXPect to be entertained. EXPlore the lives of our American ancestors vicariously. EXPerience the magic of live theatre.
From the other Assistant Stage Manager
Hello bloggers! This is also my first blog entry, but I am excited to be a part of it. Lee is one hundred percent correct. The talent of my fellow students is increasing as more and more rehearsals are taking place. It is a remarkable thing to see, especially for me. I have grown to love theatre but mostly from a technical side. I have never seen much acting talent in me, but my peers are giving me hope that there may be some in there somewhere...probably really deep. lol.
Act One should be off book today, and I have confindence that it will run smoothly when we run it tonight. If you are reading this blog, please come see the show! It will make you laugh, cry, and all that other fuzzy warm stuff.
That is it for now. Till next time bloggers!
From the Assistant State Manager
This is my first entry, so here goes!
I'm very excited to be working with this show. I'm a freshman and the assistant stage manager, and having a great time so far. Tomorrow, act one lines are supposed to be down, so I'm ready to see how that will go.
So far, the show is coming along smoothly. People are bringing some nice stuff to rehearsal, and I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.
The Fun and Work of Rehearsals
This is my very first production that I have done at Culver-Stockon College. Therefore, it is only fitting that I am blogging for it. I have done musicals and dramas before, in junior high and high school, and am excited to have the next level up to work with. Everyone in the production is very talented, and I enjoy working with them.
That is the straight edge of it. Now comes the fun; rehearsals are from 6:30 to whenever we get done, usually around 9:30. I have so much fun at rehearsal, because I love to see a well-cultivated production working up from a simple read-through to a complete show. The amount of progress we have made already is great. I was a little hazy on whether or not I would enjoy the commitment it takes to be in a production, but I am very happy with the plunge I took. I look forward to rehearsals every night we have them, because I can’t wait to see the progress we will make.
Another great thing we have in the production, aside from the fact that everyone is doing wonderfully, is the fact that we have so many freshmen who tried out and got parts. There was little freshmen activity last year in the drama department; but this year…a large part of the cast is freshmen. It is exciting that I get to meet new people and have a new experience at the same time, while having so much fun doing it.
To anyone reading this; come and watch the show in a few weeks. You will not be disappointed!
Getting Under Way
I hope my previous entry gave you an insight into my emotional connection to Spoon River Anthology and the sense of place it creates for me. In this entry I want to give you more practical background information on why this show was chosen.
The theatre faculty usually begins kicking around ideas for the following year's season in January, soon after our return from the holiday break. As a faculty, there are several considerations we have to take into account when looking at scripts. We have to consider budgetary constraints, probable number of student actors to fill the roles, complexity of design requirements for costumes, sets and lights, and the amount of rehearsal time.
We also have educational goals to keep in mind. The scripts should challenge the students' skills enough to ensure their growth. We want to expose the students to a wide variety of genres and styles to work on over their college career. The co-curricular production program should enhance and build on the skills and techniques taught in the classrooms, labs, studios and shops of the theatre department.
Spoon River Anthology was finally selected for a number of reasons. A major plus was the flexibility in casting that it affords. It was originally done on Broadway with four actors and two musicians, but the cast could easily be expanded. I have cast 20 students in the ensemble who will present the nearly 60 monologues and more than 15 songs that comprise the show. The ensemble includes eight freshmen, five sophomores and seven juniors.
Another positive was that we could meet the technical demands of the show in the relatively short rehearsal period, 20 days to be exact. We are also "going green" on this show by
"recycling" the set from our last play. There will be significant changes to the set that make it unique for Spoon River Anthology. However, by re-using 75-80 percent of the set we make more responsible use of our resources.
The style of Spoon River Anthology also builds on the classroom experience of our students. I taught Oral Interpretation during the spring 2009 12-week, and many of the techniques and skills learned in the class can be applied on-stage, in performance of Spoon River Anthology. In fact, exactly half of the students from Oral Interp were cast in the show.
Another goal of the first show in the season is to get new students involved in the theatre department's co-curricular production program as soon as possible. Nine of the actors in the ensemble are first-year C-SC students, and this is the first mainstage experience for three other of the cast members as well.
It has been a busy first week of rehearsal. This past Monday evening, after the first day of classes, 46 students auditioned for Spoon River Anthology. The cast list went up around noon on Tuesday and the first read-through was held that night. By the end of Tuesday's rehearsal, everyone knew which monologues were theirs. On Wednesday the group interpretive pieces were assigned and blocking of Act One began. Last night, Thursday, songs were assigned and sung through for the first time. Tonight, Friday, Act One blocking was completed.
We still have a lot to do and only 16 rehearsals to get it done in, but I have every confidence that the company will be ready on opening night.
Remembering Spoon River
This blog is an opportunity for the Spoon River Anthology company to share a behind the scenes look at one of our theatre productions here at Culver-Stockton College. This will be my 57th production as a director and I am very happy to be doing this show.
Spoon River Anthology has a special place in my heart since I grew up very near the actual Spoon River. In fact, as a child, my family took many Sunday afternoon drives along the winding roads that cross and re-cross this fabled stream. It is a beautiful piece of western Illinois.
In winter, the snow lies soft on the undulating hills that define the valley. The orange disc of the late afternoon sun throws deep blue shadows of the great, bare oaks, hickories and maples that rise from Spoon River's banks. The land appears to be at rest, and the river looks frozen in place; but under the ice, it is always fidgeting its way over the stones of its bed.
In spring, the trees look as if a yellow-green mist has settled on them. The deep magenta blush of redbuds splashes randomly, creating a stark contrast with the rich chocolate brown of the plowed earth. The river has broken its icy bonds and sings a song of awakening.
In summer, the cornfields turn the roads into long meandering tunnels of green. The bright blue sky is like a vaulted ceiling above, painted with cotton candy clouds and peppered with flights of songbirds. The river flows indolently in the summer heat, throwing up sparks of reflected sunlight.
My favorite season in the Spoon River valley is the autumn. The hills look as if they are carpeted in red, gold, maroon, russet, yellow, orange and copper. The valley floor holds the bounty of the sun-baked crops of corn and soybeans. There is a crisp tang of fallen and fermenting apples on the refreshingly cool air that promises a throat-tickling gulp of newly squeezed cider at a nearby roadside stand. The blacktops are edged by the late season blooming of velvet golden rod, the fading periwinkle blue of wild asters and the shining faces of black-eyed-susans. These flowers seem to dance in the face of the biting frost that will eventually bejewel them before laying them to rest for the quiet season. The cool nights have begun to lower the temperature of the river's water; and it seems to run faster, as if it might escape the coming freeze.
Human beings can use highways to travel in two directions: away from and back towards. I am lucky to have several places where I am home, but I am most at peace when the direction I am travelling is back toward my first home. Spoon River is the eastern border of my home country and always flows on the fringe of my heart.