Monday, December 29, 2003

Some ACT Items from Terry

Some personal items from Terry for mulling and discussion, by email or at the next ACT Board meeting.

Here are some personal items from me for mulling and discussion, by email or at the next ACT Board meeting, on January 4 (Warehouse 4-6 pm).
1. TPEI Theatre Festival (March 25-28)

Monique intends to put in a scene from OFFICE HOURS.  I intend to put in, and act myself, a scene from a one-man play about Samuel Johnson.  (Some of you know that I have had the writing of such a play in mind for a long time.  I never got past the research stage, however, and now that research has uncovered the very play I would have written, only better, by an American playwright, who just yesterday gave me permission to use it.)  I mentioned this possibility to Emily—only a possibility, at that point—who would be coordinating our application(s) for the deadline of January 9.  Mine does not have to be ACT-sponsored at all, if there is a problem in having two (and Monique’s certainly has priority).

I’ll be looking for a props person at some point for this entry.


2. Murder in the Cathedral: Auditions

A date for these has not yet been chosen.  I think we need to coordinate the auditions for OFFICE HOURS, MURDER, and JCSUPERSTAR.  There is no reason why a keener could not be in all three of these.  It is just a matter of having each production team know about the others, possibly including the info for all on the audition information sheets.  In addition, as discussed, we will have a meeting of MURDER and JC teams to discuss rehearsal planning and crew-sharing.

3. ACT Readings

As you will know, the play-readings have fizzled this year, but certainly not for lack of an excellent selection and good publicity by Shannon.  It just happened.  However, an idea promoted by Gerry and supported by Shannon, to use one of those plays, THE WEIR, for a directed reading (four or five rehearsals with a pre-selected cast), is not dead.  The idea here is that since this (one-act, but longish) play takes place in a pub, with the publican as one of the characters, it could be staged in the 42nd Street Lounge, using the bar-man there, Greg Lipton (who is an experienced actor), to play “himself.”  This is a good hook, and the play IS interesting, though not without its challenges, including its setting in contemporary rural Ireland. **I** am working on this idea, as director, and have recruited Shannon herself to play the one woman and Raymond Moore to play the oldest of the four men.  Greg Lipton is definitely interested, and would turn over his bar to us for the evening (probably a Tuesday), BUT the sticking point could be his availability for rehearsal.  He is very busy as a bar-man at night, a real estate salesman during the day, and a single father all the time.  We are to talk in early January to see if he can do it at all.  If he can, the ACT Board would need to decide just how much of a “production” it is, how advertised, whether tickets are sold (both imply getting rights; copyright page in my edition includes: “Particular emphasis is placed on the question of readings”), whether it’s part of something else (party??), and so forth.

Gerry at one point said he might act as Producer.

This directed reading would be in APRIL, the ideal or only possible month for some participants, with all of the rehearsals in that month also.

4. Further on Murder in the Cathedral

Just a note that the production crew is building well, with Jennifer as Producer assisted by Brenda, Sue Urqhart as Stage Manager assisted by Aldera Chisholm (with advice from Wallena), Pam Jewell as Costumer, Greg Hughes as Solicitor for program advertising and sponsorships.  Sue Urqhart is also the Executive Director for the Indian River Festival, which neatly takes care of liaison with our co-presenter and with the venue.  She says that the church (St. Mary’s, Indian River) can be used for most rehearsals.  Also I have been in touch with the director of the recent production in Antigonish, who is a possible source of costumes (has already sent photos), properties, and ideas.  Carl and I intend a meeting with her during the winter.

5. Amahl and the Night Visitors

Producing this wonderful, expressive (not a dry eye in the house at the climactic moment), one-act (about 50 minutes), modern (written for TV in 1951), well-loved (the world’s most produced opera because in many communities it is a Christmas staple, like THE MESSIAH), Christmas opera has been in my and Carl’s mind for some years (since 1976).  Carl has also sung in it himself, twice, during the even earlier dark ages of his existence as an American.  It has been on CBC Radio at least twice this season, and was for many years after it was written always on Christmas television.

Towards the end of last summer, we contemplated putting in an application to the Confederation Centre to produce it as their official Christmas play NEXT year, in 2004, and went so far as to make preliminary enquiries about that possibility.  We needed a year’s notice anyway, since we would use the time to recruit a boy singer / actor, and work out how to handle the fact that the score calls for two oboists (and there are none on PEI).

However, this opera, with its demand for trained voices in the principal roles and only one child (though it is child-centred, and children love it), is so far removed in type from the Centre’s traditional Christmas play, well executed this year by Monique, Ben, et al, and has the added difficulty of the school matinees vs available performers and orchestra, that we have concluded it is a non-starter in that slot.  So the idea began again to languish when Carl surprised and pleased me by saying he could conceive of doing it, re-scored—with piano, flute, and one or two other instruments only—in Beaconsfield Carriage House.  We have both fallen in love with that space thanks to Emily’s initiatives there.  Again a preliminary enquiry—and the Beaconsfield executive director has told us she’d be happy to see the piece done there.

We’d like to do it as an ACT production of course, but are not yet seeking formal approval, since we would like to hear what others think, and also discuss some aspects of timing The play involves the three wise men on their journey, so could be done around Epiphany, Jan. 6.  But let’s face it, most people have put everything to do Christmas behind them at that point.

So what about the empty time, the right-now time, of between Christmas and New Year’s Day?  We have used this time-slot before, and Emily is using it now—what have we learned?  Could someone be both in this (there is a chorus of shepherds and some of them, or others, dance) and in the traditional Christmas show?  Yes, probably.  Would it interfere with any show being planned by us for the winter of 2005?  I hope not, but we need to discuss it.

Casting: three wise men (tenor, baritone, bass), one crippled, singing shepherd boy (Amahl), one mother of same (could be age 25+ - 50+), one bass-voiced servant, and chorus, not on for long.

Enuf already.  Your thoughts?


Dr. Terry Pratt

Department of English

University of Prince Edward Island

Charlottetown, PEI, C1A 4P3, Canada

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Posted by ACT One Editor on 12/29 at 06:07 PM
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