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."

StageStruck: Crime on Campus

We were featured last week in the Valley Advocate.  Read the full article here.

Photo by Jon Crispin
Quoted from the article: Darren Harned, an MFA candidate in the Smith College playwriting program, says he wrote Some Mother's Son because "I love crime fiction and I wanted to tell one of those sorts of stories, but from a woman's point of view." Though it's not specified in the script, he set it precisely in 1963—on the cusp of history just before the Beatles and Vietnam—because in that era the woman's vantage point "would have been limited and oblique, as most women were stuck in their homes." Much of the play's dialogue has the feel of TV shows of the period, from Perry Mason toAlfred Hitchcock Presents.
The point of view is that of Masha Kvichak (Susanna Apgar), an unhappily married Midwestern housewife whose teenage son appears to have murdered his best friend. Her maternal impulse leads her to destroy incriminating evidence and ultimately to violence. She is, the playwright says, "a mother trying to protect their way of life for her son's sake, while that way of life may be the root of their problems." The cast also includes Masha's husband, her lover, her potential nemesis and two cops—but not her son the suspect, whom we see only through his mother's reckless devotion."

Some Mother's Son on Craigslist

Not sure who posted this, but it was found today on Craigslist and contains some neat quotes from Darren Harned, the playwright.

Smith College Theatre Presents Some Mother’s Son, a Premiere of a New Play by Darren Harned

Ticket Information: and Tel. 413.585.ARTS (2787), or visit

Northampton: Was it suicide? Or murder? In the spring of 1963, a high school boy is found drowned in a local lake. An eyewitness accuses the boy’s best friend, a star varsity player named Richie Kvichak, of killing him. As the investigation heats up and the evidence piles up against Richie, his mother Masha (Susanna Apgar) must choose to stand by and hope for the best or to protect her son at all costs–and keep a lid on the secrets and lies that threaten to tear her family apart. Darren Harned is an MFA Playwriting candidate at Smith College and a graduate of Hampshire College. His short play Board of Review was produced as part of Smith College’s One Acts Play Festival in 2010. Another short play, Ephemera, was accepted into the 2007 Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival and was performed as part of Smith College’s Festival of One-Act Plays in 2008. He has also been the recipient of two Five College Denis Johnson Playwriting Prizes.

When asked why he set the play in 1963 Harned replied, “Because the mood of that year fit the mood of the play. The rapidly mounting tensions in American society were right there on the surface, but they hadn’t yet boiled over into conflict: the Cuban missile crisis had just happened, we saw the onset of the Civil Rights and Women’s movements, the JFK assassination, the beginning of the Vietnam era…that social backdrop provides the play with a certain thematic weight it wouldn't have had in any other year.” We asked Darren how he conceived of the complex character of Masha and he said, “I had the idea of a mother trying to advocate for her child in wrongheaded ways–she’s trying to protect their way of life for her son’s sake, while that way of life may be the root of their problems. That’s why it’s set in 1963.”

Director Kendra Arimoto has assembled a stellar cast of actors with extensive and varied acting backgrounds: Susanna Apgar (Masha), Emily Brown (Constance North), Johnny Donaldson (Nelson), Hannah Vasconcellos Hastings (Christopher), Rory Alexander Farrell Madden (Officer Partridge), Kevin Maroney (Detective), Alex Techeira (Carl). Visit the play’s Web site for actor and designer biographies, interviews, and behind-the-scenes updates and videos.

“For most audiences it is easy to imagine the Monster, while at the same time it is almost impossible to imagine the Monster’s Mother.” To purchase tickets online visit: or call the box office: 413.585.ARTS (2787).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Opening Night!

Join us for opening night! 
Tonight at 8pm in Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre at Smith College.  
For tickets go HERE.  
Don't miss this highly anticipated production!

Susanna Apgar 'AC stars as Masha Kvichak in
Some Mother's Son by Darren Harned and directed by Kendra Arimoto.
(Photo by Jon Crispin).

Watch the trailer!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spotlight on... Susanna Apgar!

Hello, folks!
Last night was our final dress rehearsal which means... we open tonight! It's been an inspiring, exciting, and fast four weeks of rehearsal. We cannot wait to have an audience.
Want to learn more about the show? Check out the TRAILER.
Already interested? Purchase those tickets HERE!

Despite all the craziness of tech/dress week, we snuck in a chance to chat with leading lady, Susanna Apgar, who stars as "Masha Kvichak" in Some Mother's Son

Susanna Apgar ('AC)
Name?  Susanna Apgar

Character?  Masha Kvichak

Why acting?  Because I love it (in an inescapable kind of way), and because I believe theatre can be more than it's become, or than it's thought to have become.

How and why did you get involved with Some Mother's Son?  I was in Andrea Hairston's playwriting class at Smith with Kendra and Darren, and I was fortunate enough to have read this play from its earlier stages.  I loved it.  I was thrilled to learn they'd be producing it here at Smith, with Kendra directing.  I couldn't wait to audition.

What has surprised, inspired, excited, and/or challenged you most throughout the process thus far?  Logistically, balancing rehearsals with school and work has definitely been a bit challenging.  But I can't complain - I love school, I love my job, and this play really is just phenomenal.

Artistically, this character has been an enormously wonderful challenge.  What is she most concerned about?  Her son?  Appearances?  Is she actually a sociopath?  Who exactly does she love, if she even CAN love?  What is she trying to break free from - that which threatens her life as she knows it, or that very life itself?  It might be both, and the question might be how aware she is of precisely that struggle, and its impossibility.  It is a tremendous, tremendous role.

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?  Should

What turns you on?  Digging toward new ideas, learning and teaching (as a never ending cycle), vulnerability, mistakes, generosity, gratitude.  And love.

What turns you off?  Treating one's opinion as fact.

What sound or noise do you love?  My niece & nephew's voices, baby sneezes, my cat cooing (he almost never meows - he honestly sounds exactly like a dove).  And I must say - when I played Roller Derby, the sound of the home crowd going nuts when I broke out of the pack as the Jammer was just indescribable.  I miss playing a ton.

What sound or noise do you hate?  Angry yelling, especially especially especially at kids.

What is your favorite curse word?  Fuck

In addition to theatre skills, Susanna boasts an
eclectic resume that includes skating
for the Pioneer Valley Roller Derby. 

Susanna knows how to whip it.

What is something you want to do during your life?
Learn.  (I'd especially love to learn to speak Spanish.)

Earliest memory of theatre?  I played a tooth in first grade.  A Second Bicuspid.  I had two lines .... and I messed them up:  I said the second one first.  So i just said the second line again when the time came.  I didn't mind too much - I liked my outfit, and I got to talk in front of the audience.  It didn't matter a whole lot to me what I was saying.

Why is theatre necessary?  Roughly speaking, for the same reason that dogs sniff each other's bums.  We're terribly, terribly interested in ourselves, and in each other (perhaps as other versions of ourselves).  Humans are endlessly interested in other humans, interested in the story, the many stories that make up the one grand story, of being human.

I heard somewhere along the way that after the Plague had wiped out a full third of London, and the theatres were finally allowed to reopen, Shakespeare opened not with a comedy or a triumphant history, but with Romeo and Juliet.  A devastated city could then let their hearts break as they needed to, they could see and hear and feel and know, recognize, the story of these brilliant, beautiful young kids whose lives were blooming spectacularly as they shone with love and humor and folly and gorgeous humanity .... until everything went utterly out of their own control, and they did not survive.

There is something in theatre being collective and public.  I think theatre has always been and remains one of the safe-houses for something primal, something indescribable and necessary, a vital brand of communication that we ironically have no word for.

* * * * *
Susanna Apgar (Masha) is an actor, writer and director.  She trained with Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA, and studied with Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles.  Past shows include Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Lysistrata, The Celebration, and The 24-Hour Theatre Project.  She also skated and coached for Pioneer Valley Roller Derby in Northampton, MA for several years.  She is attending Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar, and lives with her small, naughty cat, Mitch.

Susanna and Mitch.

Spotlight on... Rory Alexander Farrell Madden!

Rory during rehearsals for the 24 Hour Theatre Festival at
Northampton Center for the Arts (2010).
Name: Rory Alexander Farrell Madden

Character: Officer Partridge

Why Acting: I enjoy getting into another person's head and thinking about what motivates them, what their mannerisms are, and how they react on a physical and emotional level in ways different than I do. And of course, this is all more fun since all the other actors are doing the same thing, and we get to play off each other onstage.

There are other perks as well. Acting is a great way to hang out with other creatively minded and interesting people, for example!

I also like that despite the work required an actor, there's a lot that flows naturally once you get cast. For example, unlike forcing myself to write a story or play, which requires a lot of willpower, I basically HAVE to show up for rehearsals and performance. I'd let way too many people down if I didn't. Furthermore, I have TONS of help with my character; the writer literally wrote down all the lines I am going to say, and there's a director there to help me interpret them! Someone chooses what I wear, and I even get an awesome set to play around with. So basically I got plopped down into this creative outlet where everyone, even the other actors, are trying to make my job as easy as enjoyable as possible. It's great!

How and why did you get involved with Some Mother's Son? Kendra emailed me and asked me to join after another actor had to drop out. She wrote a one act at Smith that I performed in, so I was excited to work with her. Plus some other people I'd worked with were involved in the production so I was looking forward to working with them again. Oh, and my character description was something like "A young, sexy policeman." HOT!

Surprises and Such: I'm only in a few scenes so I have found that to be an interesting challenge. It's fun because I can devote all my energy to just those scenes, but it's challenging because I have only a short period of time to establish a character and make an impression. In one of the scenes I play primarily a background role, so I enjoy finding opportunities to add to the scene without dominating it.

Favorite Word: Indignant. A friend of mine made me a shirt that reads "Morally Indignant" on the front and "And Okay with it!" on the back, and I wear it proudly because it's one of the qualities about myself that I admire!

Least Favorite Word: Oh, one of the many standard words that shouldn't have been created in the first place because they are demeaning to whole groups of people.

What Turns Me On: Gosh, I forget what other people said, but I assume this isn't supposed to be overtly sexual... Intelligence, wit, charm, atheists, logic, whimsy, forwardness, polite honesty, compassion.

What Turns Me Off: Cruelty, irrationality, passivity.

Sound that I love: Cool science fiction sounds like lasers firing, explosions, whooshes, that sort of thing.

Sound that I hate: I am not fond of the classic nails across a chalkboard thing.

Favorite Curse Word: Clowntarded. It's so ridiculous that I like to think that makes up for it being derogatory. Also, favorite curse phrase is "Go fuck a duck".

Life Goal: I think I'd like to design and publish a roleplaying game I'd really enjoy playing.

Earliest Memory of Theatre: Huh, I really don't remember. Maybe a "Punch in Judy" show when I was in England and four years old, though those all tend to mush together. My mother is a theatre professor so I've been watching her plays and plays in general since a very young age.

Why is Theatre Necessary? Not a super easy question, but I think it has some notable advantages over other mediums. For one, you have a direct connection with the audience; you are aware they are watching you, can react to their reactions, etc. Plus, theres the whole fetish angle; it arguably feels more "real" or important than watching a television show or a movie. That also has a perk that people are probably going to be in a different state of mind and more invested in what they are watching so you can push them a little harder than you might otherwise be able to. There's less of a forced focus; the audience is free to choose to some degree who and what they pay attention to which adds an extra dimension to things. You can also play around more with stripping away the pretense of reality you often find in film or television; you can tell a story and show how you are telling the story by exposing the set pieces, using simple or representational costumes, and creatively casting actors of different genders, ages, races, etc to make fun points!

Rory in a skintight suit for the opening scene of
Big Love at Smith College (2008).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spotlight on... Alex Teicheira!

Name: Alex Teicheira

Character: Carl Kvichak

Why acting?
This is all I can see me doing with my life, until I'm 93, on my way to a rehearsal in New York, when I slip on some wet pavement and die from impact on my now brittle bones.  

How/why did you get involved with Some Mother's Son?
My GF lives in the same house as the director Kendra Arimoto, and we were all talking in the kitchen together over cooking and washing dishes, when it became clear we could help each other.  I wanted to act, she needed men to audition that very night, and so it began...

What has surprised you about the process?
I was surprised to find so many talented people from so many backgrounds and experiences in such close proximity, either students and alumni from the 5 college system, or members of the community, all together 

Favorite Word:  Kumquat.

Least Favorite Word: e or i-anything (email, eharmony, ipad, ipod, ibook, itunes, etc). Twitter and Facebook rank lowly as well.

What turns you on?  Travel, my girlfriend, and traveling with my girlfriend. 

What turns you off? Belching, social networking sites.

What sound or noise do you love? The sound of a baseball hitting a wooden bat. 

What is you favorite curse word? Joder (Espana)

What is something you want to do during your life?  Be able to afford a fantastic honeymoon and apartment. 

Earliest memory of theatre? My earliest memory of theatre is acting in a school Xmas play when I was 5, and I got to be Santa Claus, replete with beard and hat. 

Why is theatre necessary? Theatre is necessary as a way to celebrate life.  It is a LIVE art form, one that always seems to be threatened by new mediums, yet still finds a way to survive and be vital to society. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spotlight on... Kaidi Williams (Costume Designer)!

Today was our final rehearsal before Tech begins on Saturday. One of the many exciting things happen in the next few days is the introduction of costumes. Speaking of costumes, we sat down with Costume Designer Kaidi Williams to learn more about her background and process.
Pictured: Kaidi Williams (Costume Designer for Some Mother's Son) 
showing off her cartridge pleating skills.

Kaidi Williams

Which designer are you? 

Why designing? I have always loved doing crafts, sewing, and designing clothes.  My high-school notebooks were full of sketches in the margins.  I have also always loved theatre.  I grew up attending countless community theatre and high school performances (mostly musicals- which I adore) as well as enrolling in many summer theatre programs.  Designing costumes for theatre is the perfect meld of these two passions of mine.  I find researching clothing so interesting, and then I welcome the challenge of adapting and choosing what each character should wear on stage.  Costumes can beautifully enhance a character by giving the actor a certain feeling in the clothes and by communicating more information to the audience with simply the initial visual.

How and why did you get involved with Some Mother's Son?
As a senior at Smith, I was hoping to be able to design my own show before leaving.  Kiki Smith, Costume Design Professor and my advisor, asked me if I would be interested in working on this new show.  I was very excited to have the chance to design for a period show, and then when I read the script I was intrigued by the actual content.

Describe your design process. (Where do you start? What do you look to for inspiration? 
I begin by looking for images from the time that convey a feeling or direction that I would like to work towards with my designs.  These images may or may not include specific details that I think I want to include for the play.  After talking with the director I start to identify certain clothing elements that I think would be important to include for each character.  Sears and Roebuck catalogues are one of my favourite things to use for 20th century clothing research.  They give me such a good idea of average styles at the time- more so that documentation of high fashion.

What has surprised, inspired, excited, and/or challenged you most throughout the process thus far?
When I began my research I was surprised to learn that the iconic ‘60s styles that we all know, did not come around until much later in the decade.  The first half of the ‘60s is very much still the styles we think of as being ‘50s.  The next big hurdle was the fact that the play takes place all in one day.  This means that the characters would be wearing the same clothing for the entire performance.  It is hard to pick just one ensemble for each character, especially once you watch the actors filling out so many dimensions in rehearsal.  Think about what one outfit you would choose to represent your entire self: personality, interests, job, friends, hobbies, hometown, hopes, dislikes, etc. etc. etc.  In the end I saw Masha trying to rewind her life to the mid ‘50s when her family was happier, so I have given her three outfits to wear over the course of the show as she dresses for dinner and then has to change when that gets dirty.

What are the joys and/or challenges of designing for Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre?
Hallie is such a wonderful space.  I love that I can use a garment with small detail and the audience will still be able to see the beautiful touches that make so many things, especially in this period, special.  On the flip side, the drawback of Hallie is that you can’t hide anything.  There can’t be any stains or wrinkles because the audience is so close that they will notice everything right away.

How has the decision to set the play in Northampton inspired your designs?
I would say that having a setting of Northampton hasn’t inspired as much as informed my design.  It is very important to know if these people are living in a small town or in Manhattan.  Their surrounds really affect what they would have worn and how “fashionable” they would have been.

Kaidi as "Thomasina" in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia
alongside her brother, Caleb, playing Gus.
What is your favorite color? 

What is your least favorite color?
Avocado Green

What turns you on?

What turns you off?
Rough itchy fabric

What sound or noise do you love?
Loon call

What sound or noise do you hate? 
Long finger nails scratching pantyhose

What is something you want to do during your life?
One thing I really want to do is to raise and train a service Golden Retriever from a puppy.  I love training dogs, and I think that would be a great way to do that while helping people.

Earliest memory of theatre? 
When I was 4 I went to see “Annie” at the local children’s theatre.  I thought it was the greatest thing.  I wished I could be Annie singing those songs up there.  That really started my intense love for musical theatre.

Why is theatre necessary?
Theatre is necessary for my happiness.  There is nothing else that makes me more happy than coming home with that theatre high.  I get it when I go to watch something that is really well done, and when I am working a show backstage.  Outside of just myself, I think theatre is so important because it allows us to explore other worlds and other people outside of ourselves.  You can watch a story about another time and place in a movie, but you can’t connect to actor and the atmosphere as deeply as you can with live theatre.
Kaidi drinking tea with her boyfriend on top of a tor in the Peak District of England.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


As of earlier this evening, we are only one week away from opening! The set is almost finished, lights hung and focused, and the light board out.  Thursday is our last rehearsal before Tech. Today is also the official launch of the Some Mother's Son trailer.  Watch below and then order your tickets! You don't want to miss the theatrical hit of the Smith College season.

Get your tickets!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Win Free Tickets!

As we enter our last week of rehearsal before Tech/Dress, the publicity team has put together a fun giveaway via Facebook.

All you have to do is:

1) Join the Facebook page for Smith Performing Arts.
2) Tell us which U.S. president was in office during the period in which Some Mother's Son is set by posting your answer to the wall.
3) We'll enter you in the giveaway.
4) If you win, you get to see the show for free!

More information on purchasing tickets found here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Spotlight on... Claire DeLiso (Set Designer)!

Claire's sketch of the set design for Some Mother's Son.
Name: ClaireDeLiso

Which designer are you? 

Set Designer

Why designing?
When I was little I was the kid in the back of theclassroom who drew instead of taking notes, I never stopped drawing. When I went to high school I got involved as an actress and after a few years I realized I could combine both my passion for theatre and my passion for visual art. I tooka few design classes here at Smith and completely fell in love with theatre design. I know now that designing for theatre or film is what I want to do for a living.

How and why did you get involved with Some Mother's Son?
This past summer I was working for Ed Check, the Set Design Professor at Smith with whom I have taken three classes. He asked me if I’d be interested in designing this show. After reading the script, I gladly accepted. I absolutely loved the play and thought starting off with are presentational piece would suit me very well.

Claire in Roussillon, near her hometown of
Lourmarin in the South of France.
Describe your design process (where do you start? what do you look to for inspiration? etc?).
I read the play a few times. The first time Idon’t take notes at all, I
just take in the story. The second time I go through it and underline what the playwright has included in his description. I then go through the whole script again and write down every action all characters do (For example: “Masha, goes to the sink. Goes to the phone and walks back to the sink.”) After I get a sense of all the different areas, I sketch three or four different configurations. I try to do these fairly quickly so as not to get myheart set on a particular one. Before that, for this play I mean, I looked at some “Ladies Home Journal” and “Home Beautiful” from the early 1960’s to get a sense of the trends and style of the era. After all of that I dig deeper and deeper in the research and look for specific details.

What has surprised, inspired, excited, and/or challenged you most throughout the process thus far?
This process has been alot of fun actually! Obviously I have to stay on my toes and make sure thingsare going smoothly in the shop. I think trusting my design and believing in my instincts has been the most challenging thing so far.

What are the joys and/or challenges of designing for Hallie Flanagan StudioTheatre:
Because I was really keen on making the basementreally present, off the bat I knew I wanted a both an interior stairwell and an exterior bulkhead leading to the basement. With this particular idea in mind the placement of the set was basically determined by the location of Hallie’s trap room. So my first challenge was to find the best emplacement for the set without creating impossible site lines to work with. On the other hand because the audience is so close to the playing field, the little details are what willmake this set look like a 1960’s kitchen. Therefore when I started my researchI looked at magazines and ads from the period, I even watched random episodes of “Julia Child: The French Chef,” and I had a blast doing that.

What is your favorite color?
Right now? Bordeaux Red. It changes depending on mymoods*

What is your least favorite color?
That’s a really hard question for me... As cheesy as this sounds, I
actually like all colors! A color can always be beautiful depending on
what other color it is combined with.

What turns you on?
Genuine smiles and effortless conversations.

What turns you off?
One-way conversations.

What sound or noise do you love?
The sound my coffee maker makes when it is done brewing!

What sound or noise do you hate?
Fire alarms. They stress me out.

What is your favorite curse word?
“Va te faire foutre!” I am French and as awful as this sounds I miss
cursing in French.

What is something you want to do during your life?
Hold a monkey, among a lot of other things!

Earliest memory of theatre?
When I was eight years old my parents took afriend and me to a circus
show. A lady clown and a man clown did the openingact, and both my
friend and I were sold: we were going to join the circus! I just remember
how comfortable these adult clowns were in front of a pretty
big audience, even though they were dressed in outrageous outfits (that
is, tonormal standards). The fluidity of their act and the amazing
connection they were able to create through basic slapstick comedy
obviously required a confidence that I absolutely admired. And my friend
and I DID join the circusand that was definitely one of the best
decisions of my life.

Why is theatre necessary?
It brings all kinds of people together!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Behind-the-Scenes: Publicity Photo Shoot

Last night, we met up with Jon Crispin to do a publicity photo shoot with leading actress Susanna Apgar (Masha). Mr. Crispin shoots theatre and dance throughout the Five College region in addition to sports, people, etc. Keep an eye out for Jon's work and Susanna's modeling featured in Some Mother's Son ads and press releases launched in the next few days.

L-R: Jon Crispin and Susanna Apgar.
Photo by Jessica Sabogal

L-R: Susanna Apgar, Stella Schwartz, and Jon Crispin.
Photo by Jessica Sabogal
Thank you to Kaidi Williams (Costume Designer) and Stella Schwartz (Costumes Assistant) for dressing and styling "Masha."  It's exciting to get our first taste of 1960's period costuming.  Kaidi and Stella are both extremely talent designers who will both no doubt have a long, artistic future.

Also, big shout out to Jessica Sabogal for stopping in with her glass eye to catch some behind-the-scenes action.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Spotlight on... Johnny Donaldson!

Name: Johnny Donaldson
Character: Nelson Harford

Why Acting? 
Why not? Seriously, I never really questioned it – this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was a child.

How and why did you become a part of Some Mother’s Son?
Was getting the itch to do another theater project and then saw an ad for an audition and auditioned. Helped that I previously did a play at Smith, so I felt comfortable doing it.

Painting Johnny blue for the film "Tuesday's Gone."

What surprised me about the process so far?
I feel challenged as an actor. With every project I do, I try to get better, learn more and refine my voice as an actor. This is one of my biggest speaking parts thus far, and I feel like I need to push myself and dig out more of me and bring this character to life. I like that I have to be somebody, that I can’t rest on my laurels. It makes me better as an actor.

Favorite word:
Fuck. It’s the only word I can think of that is a noun, verb, adjective and a figure of emotional expression.

Least favorite word: 
Morality. People abuse that term so much to justify all manners of bigotry, hate-mongering and emotional terrorism.

Turn on’s: 
Intelligence, strength, creativity, imagination, individuality

Johnny (Top Center) on set for the film "Killing Brooke."
Turn off’s: 
conformity, stupidity, bigotry

A sound I love: 
the squeal of an overdriven electric guitar; the purring of my cat

A sound I hate: 
alarm clocks

Favorite curse word: 
see above
Behind the scenes of "Killing Brooke."

Something I wanna do? 
Learn to ballroom dance. Direct (a film and a play). Visit Europe (Paris, London, Rome and Spain specifically), the jungle and Tokyo. Cook an haute cuisine dinner. Turn my hobby into my career. Sky dive. Learn an instrument.

Why theater is important?
      Like all art, it refracts through a personal lens the experience of life, only with theater it does it live and in person.
      That’s for the audience. For me, personally, it gives me that charge of living on a high wire. With theater, there is zero safety net and that feeling – the fear, the nervousness – is not just thrilling, but downright electric.
*  *  *  *  *

Johnny Donaldson (Nelson) was born and raised in the arts-centric college community of Northampton, MA. He has acted since high school and studied theater at the University of Massachusetts. Since 2008, he has taken an aggressively DIY approach to acting, appearing in several plays (including Measure for Measure and a previous Smith College production, Cuentas De Eva Luna) as well as a slew of independent shorts and feature films. In 2010, Johnny became a film producer as well as an actor, with the horror feature Killing Brooke, which is currently in post-production with a premiered slated for late 2011. This August, he will once again produce and star in another feature length horror movie, a remake of the 1971 Italian B-movie The Devil’s Nightmare – a film with which he will also make his co-screenwriting debut. In addition, Johnny writes horror-related stories for, an entertainment website devoted to geek culture. (A trailer for Killing Brooke can be found at, while a short clip from the movie can be found at You can also “like” us on Facebook.)

Spotlight on... Hannah Hastings!

Hannah (Top left) as "The Butler" in
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at
Andover High School, 2005
Hannah Vasconcellos Hastings


Why acting? 
I act because it allows me to go outside of myself. I get to explore my inner thoughts, inhibitions, and emotions through a character.

How and why did you get involved with Some Mother's Son
I decided to audition for Some Mother's Son because I was intrigued by the plot. I also had the opportunity to work with Kendra Arimoto through the 24 Hour Play Festival and knew she would be a fabulous director to work with.

What has surprised, inspired, excited, and/or challenged you most throughout the process thus far? 
I have been most challenged and inspired by all of the ensemble work we started out the process with. I had never done such rigorous ensemble building before and it challenged me to quickly break down my barriers and inhibitions. It built a closeness between myself and my fellow actors that enabled me to delve quickly into the play.

What is your favorite word? 

Hannah (Center( as "Frederick Fleet" in
Titanic the Musical at Andover High School 200

What is your least favorite word? 

What turns you on? 
My girlfriend's eyes

What turns you off? 

What sound or noise do you love? 
My girlfriend's laugh

What sound or noise do you hate? 
Windpants swishing

What is your favorite curse word? 

What is something you want to do during your life? 
Ride a horse on the beach

Earliest memory of theatre? 

Getting measured for costumes for Jack and the Bean Stalk when I was 7

Why is theatre necessary? 
Theatre is necessary for self expression and exposure of the public to issues, history, and human emotion. It can be used as a tool for the oppressed to give them a venue to make their grievances known and gain support. Theatre creates an intimacy between actors and the audience that is so lacking in our world of technology and isolation.

*  *  *  *  *

Hannah Vasconcellos Hastings is from Andover, MA and is a Junior majoring in Government and Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and Smith College. She is playing the role of Christopher. Hannah has been acting since she was in third grade and has greatly enjoyed returning to the theater through various opportunities at Smith. This is Hannah's third appearance on the stage at Smith. Last year she participated in the 24 hour play festival and Henry V. Christopher is her first major role in her time at Smith and the challenge of playing a young boy is one that she is greatly enjoying. Outside of theater, Hannah enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee for Smith's club team, Lunadisc, and spending time with her wonderful girlfriend and friends. While at school she greatly misses her loving and supportive parents, two older sisters, and dog. This summer she hopes to travel to South America or Europe to pursue her interests in development and sustainability. She loves the ocean, reading, cooking, cuddling,dancing and singing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Setting the Stage

We checked in with Set Designer Claire DeLiso and Paint Charge Shannon O'Brien who gave us a sneak peek into the the design process.

Faux concrete sheeting in the foreground.
Freshly painted walls drying in the background.

RB Axtell measuring the stage.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spotlight on... Emily Brown!

Emily Brown as "Maria" in Westside Story
at Santa Rosa Junior College, 2006.
Emily Brown


Constance North

Why acting? 

Acting helps me understand everything more deeply. Why humans do what we do, and feel how we feel, and commit both horrific and transcendent acts on a daily basis. With acting I get to delve deeply into the psychology and emotional life of a particular human, to immerse myself in a world outside of my own, sometimes in a real, specific history (a place and time), like we have in this show. I also get to trust a new group of individuals and form a community around the project we're working on together. And the beautiful thing about it is that it only lasts so long, and then the show is over, and we part ways, but every time I leave a show I feel I have gained new friends, new perspectives and new inspiration. It's a constant recycling and a constant development.

How and why did you get involved with SOME MOTHER'S SON?
The playwright, Darren Harned, sent me versions of the script as he was beginning to finalize the second act and complete the play. So I've had this particular show in the back of my mind for some time now. I auditioned, and was lucky enough to join this rock solid cast as the complicated woman who accuses Masha's son of murdering his best friend.

What has surprised, inspired, excited, and/or challenged you most throughout the process thus far? 

It has been thrilling to do some really deep character work with this cast, and watch these people emerge from each of the actors as we work together. Constance has been really interesting because she only makes a single short appearance in the play, but her presence and the results of her actions are such a constant in the telling of the story (no pun intended), so it's as if she never leaves. One of my favorite parts about acting is that I get to feel like a defense attorney for all the characters I play. No matter if they did something horrible, or even just something that's seemingly horrible, I get to look at this person and say--what was it that made them do this? If I can find the answer, then I can play the character without judgment, which, I hope, makes everything about her more interesting for the audience, and the other people standing with me onstage.

What is your favorite word? 


Emily Brown (far right) as "Isabella" in Measure for Measure 
at Oval House Theatre in London, 2009.
What is your least favorite word? 

What turns you on? 
Food, art and laughter.

What turns you off? 

What sound or noise do you love? 
A running stream.

What sound or noise do you hate? 
My alarm in the morning.

What is your favorite curse word? 
The torrent of curses Colin Firth utters in "The King's Speech". I couldn't pick just one.

What is something you want to do during your life? 

Go to the Fes Sacred Music Festival in Fes, Morocco.

Earliest memory of theatre? 

Sitting in Ives Park with my parents, watching Shakespeare...some of the earliest ones were Othello and 12th Night.

Why is theatre necessary? 

I'd almost be inclined it say it's more necessary for those doing it than those watching it. Certainly, as performers and artists we hope to have some positive effect on our audiences, and, of course, the community aspect of a cast, crew and audience joining together in energy to create a piece of art is a huge part of why I do this. I don't know why theater is necessary to the world, or to audiences or even to other actors, actually. It's necessary to me because it challenges me to do my best, it inspires me to acquire knowledge, and it enlivens me to be an agent of color, of song, of creative thought and action in the world. It gives my life meaning, and when I feel my purpose, I am able to transfer that sense of belonging, of inspiration, of alive-ness to others. That's the most important thing, I think: that we all give each other a reason to be excited, to feel understood, and to be inspired to make change.
*  *  *  *  *  
Emily Brown (Constance North) is an actor-singer-dancer with a passion for storytelling and performance. Originally from Sonoma County, California, Emily will graduate with a BA in Theatre from Smith College in the Spring of 2011. Prior to receiving her undergraduate degree, Emily completed a number of theatre and music training programs, including the California State Summer School for the Arts as a Vocal Major, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Summer Seminar for Juniors, and the British American Dramatic Academy in London, UK. She has performed in multiple productions with the Summer Repertory Theatre and Sonoma County Repertory Theater. This year, Emily will be involved in the creation and performance of an original work based on the lives such artists as Frida Kahlo, Virginia Woolf and Marilyn Monroe, exploring the artist's identity, her relationship to her art, and the intersecting pathways of artistic and personal passions. Favorite roles include: Maria in "West Side Story", Nancy Blake in "The Women", Sabine in "The Three Musketeers", Isabella in "Measure for Measure" and, of course, Una in Kendra Arimoto's "Shikataganai (It Can't Be Helped)."  Email for casting inquiries.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spotlight on... Kevin Maroney!

Each week we'll sit down with some of our actors, designers and crew to find out more about their passion for theatre as well as ask some James Lipton-esque questions.  First up in the hot seat? Kevin Maroney!

Franz Liebkind in "The Producers"
at The Shea Theater,
Turners Falls MA. October 2008
Kevin Maroney

The Detective

Why acting?
It’s a great question! I really enjoy the challenge of creating a character, and working with the director and cast to bring that unique individual to life for an audience.

How and why did you get involved with Some Mother's Son?
I received an audition notice via email, and was intrigued by the play’s story. The opportunity to be involved in the premier presentation of a play made it an especially interesting project. I emailed Kendra to see if she was looking for actual old guys, and she encouraged the audition. I was very happy to be invited to join the cast.

What has surprised, inspired, excited, and/or challenged you most throughout the process thus far?
Kendra encourages a collaborative and somewhat organic process of creating a company, then telling the story. Our first few hours of rehearsal focused on getting to know one another, and forming trusting working relationships. I feel that some interesting elements have come out of that work that I might have missed without that foundation. It’s been fun!

Edward Hyde in "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde"
at the JaDuke Black Box Theater,
Turners Falls MA. October 2010
What is your favorite word?
Yes. (I’ve been hoping to do a James Lipton questionnaire!)

What is your least favorite word?
Winter storm warning. (I know that’s more than one word. I think you get the point, though.)

What turns you on?

What turns you off?
Ignorance and certainty, particularly when concurrent.

What sound or noise do you love?
The Dave Brubeck Quartet

What sound or noise do you hate?

What is your favorite curse word?
I love all of George Carlin’s 7 words, but motherfucker is the king. Or maybe queen.

Marcellus in "Hamlet" with the
Hampshire Shakespeare Company,
Hadley MA. July 2010
What is something you want to do during your life?
I have had many great experiences. I really look forward to seeing my teenage kids continue to grow and create their lives.

Earliest memory of theatre?
My family went to see “Carousel” at the Jones Beach Theater in New York one summer when I was a little kid. It had to be in the mid-1960s. I can remember my amazement at the whole spectacle.

Why is theatre necessary?
Live theatrical performance is immediate. It can’t be captured, recorded or replayed. (I won’t be convinced that watching a video of a stage performance can compare to being at the actual show.) It is fundamental, direct communication, and it has no substitute or rival. In my opinion, of course.

*  *  *  *  *

Kevin Maroney (Detective) is thrilled to be a part of this amazing production. Last fall he appeared inDr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, creating multiple roles (including the police inspector). He is an Artistic Associate with the Hampshire Shakespeare Company, and played multiple roles last summer’s production of Hamlet. Kevin has performed in several musical productions, including The Producers (as Franz Liebkind) and Curtains (as Sid Bernstein). He works in marketing and development at WGBYTV-57, and has also appeared as a contestant on both Who Wants to be a Millionaire and The Family Feud. Kevin lives in Shelburne Falls with his lovely, patient wife and their two teenage children. Next month, he will be directed by his son in the play “pfv,” which he expects will be a life-altering experience.

A Peek into the Rehearsal Room

We're just over one week into the rehearsal process.  Last night, the incredibly talented Rory Alexander Farrell Madden joined the cast in the role of "Officer Partridge." Rory has graced the Smith College stage numerous times.

Rory Alexander Farrell Madden
Also exciting, the entire show has been blocked and we're looking forward to two nights of stumble-through's.  What is a "stumble-through?"  For the first time in the process, actors piece together the entire show by stumbling through blocking and lines (first time off book).  Actors rely heavily on the stage managers for blocking reminders and line prompts.  It's a challenging and critical rehearsal.  It is also the first time the entire cast will be together since parting to focus on individual scene work.

Rehearsing in the space. The platform and stairs are built.
The walls are currently drying in the shop.
L-R: Nelson (Johnny Donaldson), Masha (Susanna Apgar), and Detective (Kevin Maroney).

L-R: Nelson (Johnny Donaldson), Masha (Susanna Apgar), and Detective (Kevin Maroney).

Become a follower of this blog or subscribe to your RSS feed of choice (see right column).  In the coming days/weeks we'll spotlight the actors, designers, stage management, and rehearsal/design process!

For ticket information click here.