Friday, August 28, 2009

ApCo Alumni Enjoying Being "At" the Park rather than "In" the Park.

Photo by Brenda Sparks, August 27, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Some Closing Thoughts From ApCo 2009

The Cast of The Taming of The Shrew - Apprentice Company 2009, Photo by Jeff Frazier
Demark Grant, ApCo student 2009
Father Ryan School class of 2009, entering University of Tennessee, Knoxville

"The difference between school and life? In school, you're
taught a lesson and then given a test.

In life, you're given a test that teaches
you a lesson."

And man, what a lesson it was! Before entering ApCo, I was hot off the heels ofportraying Seabee #7 in South Pacific, and prior to that, embracing the lunacy of aboundless General Harrington in M*A*S*H. Shrew was going to be my first non-bit role, and in an arena like no other: the fabled, oft mythologized (Nashville)Centennial Park. I had never played an unabashed romantic like Lucentio. Many of my early ideas centered on comic execution, rather than narrative necessity. So Brenda (our wonderful director) had to steer me back on course a few times, inform me of my narrative function, and remind me that the comedy of the piece is rooted in the earnestness of the character's attempting to achieve their objectives, rather than something that may look funny but deter from that authenticity. The most significant evolution has been the maturation of my craft as a live performer. Theater is focus, focus, focus. Undoubtedly, I execute my art with a higher level of truth, precision, and clarity. I must say: I am going to miss the time spent this summer as an Apprentice Company member. There's nothing like being a member of a talented troupe and opening a show every night to a crowd of over a thousand people.

Joseph Stanley, Senior at McGavock High School
Apprentice Company has been a wonderful and exciting experience. I have gotten to know and befriend many others who share my passion. I have been able to play with an ensemble full of mature, intelligent, and exuberant young adults. As a young man with a passion for acting, ApCo has assured me that this is what I live for, and what I want to do for the rest my life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Last Weekend to See Taming of The Shrew

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thoughts On The First Weekend from Meredith and Diego

Performing in "Taming of the Shrew" this first week was the most exhilarating,tiring, wonderful, hottest, grooviest time I've ever had. I can't wait for next weekend!!- Meredith Locke, Belmont University

From what I have learned from doing theatre so far, is that no show is ever the same. The cast is always learning or, adapting to their environment and basically just growing. It does not matter how many times you have rehearsed a show, what ever it is, it will always change with an audience. Our opening night was fantastic because of our amazingly energetic audience. Every actor on stage feeds off of the audience's energy just as much if not more than our audience feeds off of the actors.

The second night was a good lesson in teaching us that we can still make mistakes and wrong choices, but as human beings, who happen to be actors, we learn from them. We pulled through with good energy even though we had a few technical difficulties. Saturday night we had explosive energy thanks again to our magnificent audience. We gave them all we had and they just ate it up. It is shows like these and moments that I notice that will never happen again on stage, that cause me to love and crave to pursue theatre as a career. I love every second/aspect of the theatre world and cannot see myself doing anything else. - Diego Gomez

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Say it Hot, or Say it Not - Catlin Kelly on Commitment

Catlin Kelly as Kate in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Ben Reed as Petrucio in background) - Photo Brenda Sparks

I am so grateful to once again be a member of the Nashville ShakespeareFestival's Apprentice Company; so grateful for another opportunity to workwith and be taught by such interesting, intelligent, and inspiring individuals.

To spend a summer in the park is sort of like building a tree house in the highest, fruitiest branches of the proverbial Tree of Knowledge. The feat is not easy: it requires energy and drive and awillingness to learn, but if one is truly COMMITTED to absorbing all that the experience has to offer, the fruit will fall in abundance. In fact, if I had to use only one word to describe the most importantand useful thing I've learned this summer in ApCo it would be this: COMMITMENT.

Being a successful member of the Apprentice Company requires commitment, being an artist requires commitment, and, perhaps most importantly in this case, performing Shakespeare requires commitment. Commitment is of course an important concept in any artistic environment,but it seems especially necessary this summer. This summer we are facing not only the usual summer heat, but also the lagging support for the arts due to the bad economy, a smaller budget, a large ensemble encompassing many ages and levels of experience, a short rehearsal period, and an incrediblychallenging text. The odds, it seems, would be against us, but fully committed, there are no odds. I stand by the words Petruchio speaks in act one of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, "Think you a little din can daunt mine ears?"

This summer I have witnessed everyone involved in this summer's productions, from the ApCo members, to the professional actors, to the directors, to the designers and the technicians, rise magnificently to the occasion and commit. And out of this commitment comes constant discovery, endless possibility, truth, comedy,wisdom, awareness, and true connection. In just the past month I have spentt raining with the Apprentice Company and rehearsing for THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, I have realized that any challenge can be faced confidently and successfully if there is a true commitment on my part.

Personally, my greatest challenge this summer has been the text of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW itself. Shrew is a funny play, but it is also, when taken purely on it's literal, surface level, quite misogynistic. The challenge of putting on this show in modern times is how to work within a text and tell a story that is about love, union, and transformation rather than submission, misogyny, and male-domination. At first I was scared out of my mind. How could it be possible? I might be able to justify the story in my head, but how could it possibly be communicated to the audience? The answer was commitment. If I am committed to the story as we are interpreting it, committed to my goals and objectives in each scene, committed to clearly telling the story to the audience, then it is impossible to go astray.

Just as if an ApCo member is committed to learning, it is impossible that he or she won't learn anything. However, it's not as though I stumbled theoretically upon this answer in my little head. I came to the conclusion that commitment is key both onstageand off by seeing examples of true dedication and commitment all around me. Seeing Brenda Sparks, our wonderful director, being totally and utterly committed to the story and totally committed to our interpretation of it. Seeing the professional actors commit their full days to working on two shows, and never giving less than their all even at nine o'clock at night when they've been on their feet for nearly twelve hours. Seeing our amazing costume designer June Kingsbury put in endless andendlessly stellar work, never ceasing to making our costumes better and better. Seeing ApCo members in minor roles commit to so fully to theircharacters that they come up with fascinating and thorough backstories fully supported by the text. Also, seeing the staff of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival; Artistic Director, Denice Hicks, Executive Director, Nancy VanReece and Producer Robert Marigza, and other Festival volunteers devoted completely to Saving Our Shakespeare.
Witnessing all of this commitment is proof enough that it is fully committing to something, no matter how silly or outrageous, not matter off stage or on, no matter whether you are committing to shrieks of fury or utter silence, commitment is that action that opens the doors of the most opportunity. As D.H.Lawrence said, "when genuine passions moves ou, say what you've got to say,and say it hot." That is commitment.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Miranda Fisher on The Creative Process

photo by Brenda Sparks
pictured: Paige Gober, Diego Gomez, Miranda Fisher

I’m continually amazed by the strength and creative expression that theatre allows. The cast of Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare in the Park 2009 production of Taming of the Shrew is comprised of a generous assortment of differing individuals. The youngest being a fourteen year old student and the oldest being a well experienced teacher, it has been a highly advantageous learning experience in each element of the spectrum. I’m learning so much from everyone. It simultaneously reminds me of how inexperienced I am and how much I’ve already learned in such a short amount of time. Last summer, my first time being in the Apprentice Company, was my first real exposure to Shakespeare. I remember at the beginning of my sophomore year being embarrassed that I was unable to name five Shakespearean plays. I was terrified of Shakespeare! But now, only two years later, I’m thrilled to tear apart and analyze any of his text.

The first day of Apprentice Company training I was filled with heaps of nervous energy and apprehension. I’m not some fanatic believer in Murphy’s Law, but the first day of training a couple major things went wrong. One of our workshops fell through because the instructor's wife had a baby that morning! But like a Shakespearean superhero, Nashville Shakes Artistic Director, Denice Hicks made an impromptu text based workshop. I’m constantly reminded of the fortune theatre provides even in the midst of unfortunate happenings.

Nashville Shakes has lost numerous sponsors and support due to this distasteful economy. We’re fighting against the odds, but it’s all good. My experience this summer has been filled little potholes of the like but it seems that, with a little flexibility, anything can be mended.
To say the least, our training went exceptionally well. After we all were acquainted with one another, we chose monologues to rehearse, and began a series of Viewpoint exercises. Anne Bogart’s Viewpoint exercises have been the foundation for our character development, and the creation of our ensemble. Thanks to Viewpoints Brenda Sparks, our director, has been able to effectively communicate broad ideas. We’ve mainly focused on ideas of shape, spatial relationship, tempo, architecture and topography. Viewpoints is an essential part of our creative process.
We just completed our second day of blocking rehearsal and have made it through the entire first act. (With only two weeks of rehearsal , we’re making great time!) Over the next two weeks we’ll be finishing the blocking, exploring specific character interactions and layering in the technical aspects of the show. We’ve already got some groovy costumes, thanks to June Kingsbury. I cannot wait to make it to opening night. Everything is coming together so quickly.

Dude, ApCo has been such an essential part of my growth as an actor and human being. It’s offered such and opportune learning experience. Donations, please! Keep this program around! Young people need this exposure to Shakespeare and the arts.
Miranda Fisher, ApCo 2008, 2009