Sunday, March 20, 2011

Production Photos by Jessica Sabogal

Thank you to Jessica Sabogal for snapping a collection of beautiful production photos.
Click below to enjoy the album.

Some Mother's Son

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Tense, Compelling"

Critics are an interesting element in the production process. They can often make or break a show with one single swift pass at the keyboard. In one single evening they judge months (even years) of a playwright, cast and crew's work. Worst of all, some critics have never even penned, directed, performed or designed a play. They are voyeurs of our world. Powerful, box-office-altering voyeurs.

At the college level, reviews tend to not really make a big difference. They rarely come around and when they do they tend to be three parts summary and one part flattery. No matter what, it's always exciting to see our work earn public attention.

Ian Opolski wrote a review for The Collegian that went to press on closing night. It's an overall positive review. Unfortunately for Ian, I'm not sure he truly understood the play and would benefit from a second viewing. For example, he refers to Mrs. North played by Emily Brown as the "the mother of the deceased boy." Did the constant repetition of  the name "Alexander Boltwood" and "The Boltwood's" throw him off? (He could've been tired that night.) Fortunately for us, a lot of people did think the plot full of action and we performed the last two nights to full, fantastic audiences. Thus, proving that word-of-mouth may indeed overpower the critic. 

An excerpt from the review:
Some Mother’s Son is a low-action domestic drama, so it naturally must rely on character development to maintain interest. Smith’s production fares well in this regard. It is fortunate for the performance that the bulk of the action falls on Susanna Apgar, who plays Masha. While the entire cast handles the material capably, it is undoubtedly Apgar who dominates the stage. Even in the rare moments in which attention is drawn away from her character, Apgar often manages to pull the focus back onto herself by way of small, effective movements of her face and body. Constantly cleaning, wiping or wringing her hands, and taking shuddering breaths, she skillfully relates the growing emotional strain of her situation 
while also gesturing to the character’s darker undercurrents.

Alex Teicheira, who plays Masha’s husband, Carl Kvichak, also performs well, particularly in the second act, in which his character develops more nuance. Likewise, the brief confrontation between Masha and Constance North – the mother of the deceased boy played by Smith undergraduate Emily Brown – is one of the most shocking and shattering moments of the entire piece. As little actually happens in the plot of Some Mother’s Son, its cast should be commended for how engaging and lively this character-driven drama continues to be throughout its duration."
-Ian Opolski, The Daily Collegian
To read the complete review go HERE.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Revealing Secrets

Last night we closed the show in front of an oversold audience! What a fantastic way to end a successful run. We're sad to say "good-bye" to the show, the cast, the crew and the world we created.  However, we're excited to reveal one of our big secrets!

We've received a ton of questions about the mechanics behind the Mrs. North Murder Sequence. Hopefully, the following will provide some answers:

Step One:

Rigging Emily Brown (Mrs. North) with blood pump and tubing.

Step Two:

For the performance, Kaidi Williams (Costume Designer) dressed Mrs. North in a turtle neck, added a little more volume and sag to the brassiere, and designed an updo that together masked both the pump and tubing.  Upon impact, Mrs. North exploded a handheld blood pack on her head. We also filled breakaway bottles with about a quarter cup of fake blood for additional explosive effect. Once she hit the floor, the actress slowly pumped the blood which oozed from the tubing and out the side of her head. Kaidi specifically chose a white costume so to highlight the oozing blood. 

Step Three:
Hana Kadoyama (SM), Emma Jimerson (ASM) and Zoe Travis (ASM) clean and reset.

Thank you to SMASH Props for the incredible breakaway bottles!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sophian Review: "A Thrilling Mystery"

"Some Mother's Son is a dynamic play about family, loyalty and honesty. Written by Darren Harned MFA '11, and directed by Kendra Animoto MFA '11, this mystery thriller keeps the 
audience on the edges of their seats from beginning to end."
-The Smith College Sophian

Read the complete review HERE.

Don't miss the show! Last shows tonight and tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Local Reviews and DOLLAR NIGHT!

Short on cash, but don't want to miss what everyone's talking about?
Come to Dollar Night!

$1 Tickets for all Five College and High School students!

"Wow, stellar performance, one of the best ever! Phenomenal!"
-Rachel Besserman

"Niceley done"
-Elizabeth Brasington

-Sarah Dunn

"[I] had the amazing pleasure of seeing "Some Mother's Son" last night. I am still truly blown away by the human inticracies and the attention to detail. So incredible. The actors were all spectacular, Kendra the brilliant director shaped an amazing story, and the play written by Darren was full of life. EVERYONE SHOULD GO SEE IT. I'm going again while I still have the chance! :)"
-Emily Wiest

"I send you [the director], send all of you, my vigorous congratulations!  
I'll be getting as many as I can to realize how much they'll miss if they don't catch one of this coming week's performances."

-Professor Len Berkman

Also heard in the Smith Theatre Department halls:
"Truly entertaining" 
"A great performance" 
"Perfect combination of tragedy and comedy."

Opening Night cake based on poster design by Jessica Sabogal.

Opening Night Reception.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Spotlight on... Stage Management!

So much happens onstage that we often forget the infinite number of backstage tasks, cues and performances. We caught up with Hana Kadoyama, Stage Manager of Some Mother's Son, who pulled back the curtain and gave us a peek behind-the-scenes

Cleaning up after actors.
Back row: Hana Kadoyama (Stage Manager).
Front row (L-R): Emma Jimerson (ASM) and Zoe Travis (ASM).

What does the Stage Manager do?
What doesn’t the stage manager do? That might be a more accurate question! The stage manager is there throughout the whole process of mounting a show, from the first design meetings through the last performance. Theatre is inherently collaborative, and I like to think of all the teams working on a show as different spokes of a wheel: the director, actors, all the designers, the technicians, publicity, playwright (on a new show), etc. If all the different people working on the show are the spokes, the stage manager is the organizational hub of that wheel, facilitating communication among everyone. Basically, it’s the SM’s job to know everything that’s going on, all the time! When the show opens, the stage manager is the one who runs the whole shebang, calling all the light and sound (and video, etc.) cues throughout the show. And that’s not all of it…it’s so hard to explain!

What does the ASM do?
Even though they’re called “assistants,” assistant stage managers have their own responsibilities and are totally in charge of their own worlds in rehearsals and shows. ASMs are in charge of tracking props and staying on book during rehearsals; once the show opens, the stage manager runs the show from the booth (light/sound cues) and the ASMs are backstage running the show from there and dealing with the real-life crises that occur backstage on a daily basis!

Walk us through the day in the life of the SM Team during a typical rehearsal?
Some Mother’s Son has a ton of very specific prop moments, so a lot of the pre-show focus is on making sure every single prop, set piece and costume piece is preset in exactly the right place! During rehearsals before tech, the SM takes blocking notes while the ASMs are on book, making sure the actors get their lines right. Now that we’re in tech, we’re working like we would during a show: Hana calling the show from the tech tables in the house, and Emma and Zoe rocking it backstage!

Why stage managing?
Nothing makes me feel closer or more essential to the artistic process of making theatre. Plus, calling a show is the best feeling ever—the held breath before the “GO,” the  adrenalin when that instinct comes in just the right place and you see that light cue or hear that sound and you know that this moment of theatre magic came from the designers and through you to that perfectly timed moment playing out onstage.”

What's something very few actors know about the stage manager's role?
We’ve got your back! An awesome stage manager once told me that there’s a reason actors and stage managers are in the same union: they’re the only ones who see a show all the way through its final performances. The designers and director may leave, but it’s up to the actors and SM to keep putting a good show out there onstage every night. We’re in this together, man!

How and why did you get involved with Some Mother's Son?
I’ve been involved in stage management at Smith since my first year, and when I met Kendra last year and found out she was directing this show, I knew I wanted to work with her. I read the script and was hooked—working on a new play has been a really exciting and eye-opening process as well.

What has surprised, inspired, excited, and/or challenged you most throughout the process thus far?
I have a friend who says that she does theatre because there’s no way to perfect it; every show, every day is different every time you do it. I’m a stage manager because I’m constantly surprised, inspired, excited, and challenged simply by the process of making theatre.

What are the joys and/or challenges of SMing in Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre?
I love working in blackbox theatres, and this one especially has a spirit that constantly reminds me how lucky I am to be doing this.

Earliest memory of theatre?
Fourth grade, on the tire swing with my friend Katherine as she sang songs from the after-school play she was in. I jumped off the tire swing and into the theatre and never left, I guess.

Why is theatre necessary?
Anything that gives humans a positive, creative way to connect and communicate with other humans is necessary.

What's next?
I'm headed to Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon on a summer fellowship!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Keeping Tabs on the Arts

We were also featured in the Daily Hampshire Gazette

Picture: Susanna Apgar (Masha Kvichak) and Hannah V. Hastings (Christopher).
Photography by Jessica Sabogal
Quoted from the article: 

The tale about a high school boy who is discovered dead in a local lake is set in 1963, just after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and at the onset of the Civil Rights and Women's movements. "The mood of that year fit the mood of the play," Harned said. "The rapidly mounting tensions in American society were right there on the surface, but they hadn't yet boiled over into conflict. ... That social backdrop provides the play with a certain thematic weight it wouldn't have had in any other year."