Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Final Curtain Call

Denice Hicks and Maddie Hicks sporting VitaminWater.
Denice Hicks, Mayor Karl Dean, Maddie Hicks performing on stage.

I can’t believe this was the last week of performances. Our Friday night performance was rained out, but the apprentice company handled their responsibilities swiftly and efficiently. There were a few faithful audience members who were willing to wait it out with their umbrellas, but Mother Nature wouldn’t let us do the show. Fortunately, this was the only performance that was rained out for the whole run.

On Saturday afternoon the cast and crew gathered for a barbeque. It was so nice to spend the afternoon together eating and hanging out. The technical crew prepared an award ceremony for everyone to see at the barbeque. Brenda Sparks, from the professional cast, got a trophy for being the best microphone hunter. Many other awards were presented, and everyone enjoyed the Shakespearean Christopher Walken skit courtesy of Patrick Waller and Sam Spanjian.
Saturday night was absolutely fabulous! Audience members started vocalizing along with us during the opening protest, and the energy level was buzzing. Sunday night was great as well. There was a huge crowd and we had an amazing final show.

I have learned an incomparable amount of knowledge from being in the Apprentice company. When I think about all the loving and talented people I have met, and the experience I gained, I realize that I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. I learned so much about acting and the other departments involved in theatre. Besides that, I’ve discovered a lot about myself as well.From the nervous energy of the first day of training with Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s education department at NPT’s Studio A, the scorching hot combat training at Roy Cox’s farm, and bonding with the professional cast, this summer has truly been a journey.

I never would’ve believed how close we’d all become if you tried to tell me the first day at training. Saying goodbye to everyone was so hard to do, we are one big family now. I know that this isn’t really the end, and the bonds we’ve formed will hold strong for the rest of our lives. Thank you to everyone who helped and guided us along the way. I love you all so much and look forward to seeing you again.

-Maddie Hicks, Harpeth Hall

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Week Two of Performances

Diego Gomez watches members practicing for performance.

Week Two of Coriolanus performances started off a little slow, but that was probably because of the three-day break we had. Energy was down on Thursday, but we brought it all back up by the end of the show. Friday was a good show and the combat scenes went really well.

We were missing our fellow Apprentice Company member, little AW (AshleyWhite) Brothers, we were very thankful Emily was prepared to step in for her. Coincidentally, Emily was absent Saturday and AW had to fill in for her. Both girls did a great job taking on each other’s roles.

Saturday was our best night, the energy level of the cast was incredible and was only increased by the energy from the huge audience we had. Everything seemed to go so smoothly, and the audience just loved all of it. Sunday seemed to lag a little more than Saturday, but the energy was brought back up by intermission.

I think that during this week we, as a cast, grew stronger and more together. It is amazing how relationships grow so fast with people in such a short time. Being part of Apprentice Company is such an amazing experience it is almost impossible to put into words. What I can say is that the Apprentice Company will change your life completely for the better.

-Diego Gomez, graduate of Nashville School of the Arts

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Week Two of Rehearsals

Miranda performs her monologue at Whole Foods.

We just finished our second week of rehearsal for our production of Coriolanus. We’ve put so much time, effort, sweat and fake blood into this play, which makes it seem like we’ve been rehearsing for much longer than two weeks!

I could go on for hours explaining all we cover in just one rehearsal. This week we focused on every aspect of the production. We finished roughing through all of the blocking for both acts. To be expected, as the week went on numerous changes were made. After blocking the play, we did a couple walk-throughs of what we had established. This allowed us to get a better sense of the flow of the play, and to make changes where they were needed. We also spent time this week working through the scenes individually, polishing the acting and really getting into the core of what was happening in each scene. Our director, Mark Cabus, describes the process as “building up the play, tearing it all down, and then building it up again.” It was beautiful the way bits and pieces of a script started to morph into a work of art.

As the play started to come together, technical aspects of the production also began to take shape. It was amazing to watch all of the lights being put into their places. Seeing the cords, tape, and fresh paint brought a smile to my face. We are less than a week from opening night! I don’t think the words exist to explain the feeling; perhaps an insane mix between exhaustion and euphoria is the best way to describe it. For obvious reasons, I was dreading our 12 hour Saturday rehearsal. Spending all day in the park heat, sweating, and working all day didn’t seem nearly as appealing as sleeping. I was shocked at how quickly the time passed and how much fun I had. When we first arrived we were fitted for costumes, something everyone has been waiting for. The costumes are so awesome! We did scene work, a read-through, and then we began a technical run-through of the play. During the run-through we stumbled upon some problems but in my opinion, it went wonderfully. I feel that it was one of the most successful rehearsals yet. I left that night in awe and with an incredible amount of excitement. I know that quite a few members of the cast share my eagerness for an audience. We’re all so excited to show everyone what we’ve been passionately working on for weeks. When the Apprentice Company first joined the primary cast, we had already spent two weeks training together. In no way was Apprentice Company training a boot camp of any sorts. We had built relationships and developed countless inside jokes, all while learning an inconceivable amount. I felt I could spend the rest of my life working on Shakespeare’s text, doing movement exercises, and of course eating delicious meals provided by Whole Foods. I will admit that I was a little apprehensive about joining the primary cast and actually working on the play. I thought that maybe professional actors would somehow ruin atmosphere that we, the Apprentice Company, had developed. As these last two weeks flew by I have to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The adults have added a wonderful element of experience that has been such a joy to learn from and to watch. It’s such a rush to have the opportunity to hear their thoughts on how to approach certain aspects of their character or of a scene. It’s phenomenal.

I feel so incredibly grateful to be experiencing this. So, thank you to everyone involved in our Apprentice Company training and everyone involved in this production. This is a summer that I will never forget. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to expand and grow from all that I’ve learned. I can’t believe this is only the half way mark.

By Miranda Fisher, Nashville School of the Arts

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rehearsals Begin

I can’t believe it’s only been one week since our first rehearsal! I feel like I’ve been in the park with the adult actors for months. It’s surprising how fast relationships grow when you’re bonding in the hot Nashville sun. At the end of last week’s Apprentice Company training, I felt like one of the best experiences of my life had just ended. But when I walked into the bandshell Monday afternoon to begin rehearsals, I realized it was really only the beginning.

Saturday was a read-through which was exciting. It was my first chance to meet the actors and actually see what the play was about. It was one of the most interesting read-throughs I have ever been to because the actors switched parts. Sweet Valeria was reading the part of warrior Coriolanus, while big Sicinius was reading the part of motherly Volumnia. Needless to say, during some parts it was hard to hold back giggles! On Monday and Tuesday we began choreographing the major fight scenes throughout the play. When I first heard the schedule, I was terrified. Last week I had gotten a taste of fighting at Roy’s farm and let’s just say I was not a natural fighter. It turns out I had nothing to fear, for the more skilled actors were always willing to slow it down or help me learn a new move. They were really nice about it and never became impatient.

The rest of the week was spent blocking the play and getting to know our characters. All of the Apprentice Company students are part of the huge city mob in the production. It’s a great part to play because the commoners are just learning their own strength. They are in a new position where they are in charge, and it is cool to see them test their boundaries. On Sunday we were given the chance to go to Whole Foods to perform our monologues. I was so nervous because it felt like training was decades ago. In the audience I could see friends, classmates, and even some of the adult actors who had come to watch! It felt great that our fellow Coriolanus actors had come to support us.

The play is just beginning to take its form and it is looking awesome. I am so proud that I get to be in such a great production which such talented actors. I am learning more than I thought was possible, and I am grateful to be given the chance. It seems that at the end of the day the sweaty clothes, sunburned skin and bags under my eyes are worth it!

- Lindsey Myrick, student at Harpeth Hall

Choreographing a fight scene

The cast choreographs a fight scene during rehearsals in Centennial Park.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Apprentice Company Training - Week Two

Nashville Shakespeare Festival Apprentice Company

Apprentice Company members take a break during stage combat boot camp.

The second week of Apprentice Company training led us one long van ride out of Nashville to Westmoreland, the home of Roy Cox, our fight choreographer. Imagine the biggest, baddest, most intimidating man you can think of. Now, give him a beard and a great sense of humor. That’s Uncle Roy, a Marine and ten time world jousting champion. Last Monday and Tuesday the Apprentice Company and the adult staff worked with Roy, learning hand-to-hand, staff, and club stage combat. With the combined companies moving in unison to Roy's instructions, it looked like we had a real Roman army on our hands. We even got to choreograph some one-on-one fights of our own! Uncle Roy deserves a big hand for all his hospitality and teachings over the course of our combat training.

On Wednesday, we had the privilege of working with Christopher Brown, Coriolanus himself, on sound production. We had worked previously on communicating through body movement and position using the techniques Claire Syler (Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Education Director) and Denice Hicks (Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s Artistic Director), had taught us, but communicating through man-made percussion and vocal production was a pretty new experience. We created scenes based on death, judgment, battle, and animals. He then taught us a Stanislavsky technique of warming up the mind and body known as “The Cat”, a series of fierce body movements and sounds meant to both center and limber up the body. I've been trying to do it at least once a day, but I just can't get past the standing frog move! It was a lot of fun working with Chris. Working with and learning from seasoned actors is one of my favorite things about my Apprentice Company training.

Thursday was the Apprentice Company's dress rehearsal for the unveiling of our monologues. We practiced introducing ourselves to our audience before delivering. We then presented our monologues to the entire Apprentice Company and received praise and constructive criticism. Chris Brown was even able to come in for a bit and watch some of us. Friday was show time, the lifting of the curtain to show off our monologues to an audience of parents, Nashville Shakespeare Festival staff, board members and Apprentice Company alumni. Everybody gave a great show and gave it their all when it came time to present. A celebration was in order! The after party was a great reunion of past Apprentice Company members with current, and with sugary snacks galore. There was a powerful feeling of brotherhood and camaraderie between the Apprentices that I won't forget. We've worked, played, bared our souls, and formed great friendships together over the past two weeks. I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

And so, our Apprentice Company training ends! We received Apprentice Company certificates and some really awesome Coriolanus t-shirts, with “Apprentice Company” written on the back to commemorate our training and special place in the show. So, 50+ hours down, 175+ hours to go. The training may be over, but the show is just beginning! We move to Centennial Park Monday to join with the adult cast and start rehearsals in earnest.

- J.R. Knowles, Rising Senior at Wilson Central High School

Thanks, Whole Foods and Vitamin Water!Special thanks to Whole Foods for a hot lunch and snacks for everyone and to Vitamin Water for keeping everyone hydrated! See the Apprentice Company students perform their monologues at WHOLE FOODS GREEN HILLS this Sunday, August 3, from 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

2008 Apprentice Company Training Begins

Playwright John Patrick Shanley once said that “theater is the safe place to do the unsafe thing.” As the first week of Apprentice Company (ApCo) training began, I definitely felt like I was doing the ‘unsafe thing!’ Being the oldest member of ApCo this year, my nerves were running pretty high as I stepped into my first day. I expected that I would have a hard time fitting in with the younger folks and that it would take a couple days to start feeling comfortable. I was totally wrong. As we got going with our ice-breaking games and morning yoga exercises, it felt like we were all opening up more and more to what everyone else was bringing to the table. Even by just introducing ourselves through our own personal gestures, we learned more about one another and accepted each person in the group right from the start.

From there, we’ve begun to explore our limitations as an ensemble and as individuals. This week for me has been about taking risks and knowing that this environment is a safe place to try new things with my monologues or in a group exercise without the fear of being shot down or laughed at. We get constructive and very polite criticism where we need it as well as praise for things that we hit the mark on. What’s even more exciting about all the work we’re doing is that we’re all excited for one another. You can’t help thinking “that was so awesome” each time you see others around you create and make so many different kinds of discoveries!

For week two of our training, we’ll be traveling with the professional cast to our fight director, Roy Cox’s, studio to continue our stage combat training which I’m very excited about. There is so much stuff we’ve already learned in our workshops with Roy this past week: different kinds of punches and slaps, tumbling, pushing and pulling. Trust me; it’s all a lot of fun. The physical exercises we’ve done have also helped me so much in understanding how my body works and how I can use it onstage. Yoga and Suzuki have helped the most in finding out how to focus my mind and center my energy so that I’m ready for anything and can stay in the moment at the same time.

That, in a rather lengthy nutshell, is what has affected me most from this first week in the Apprentice Company. I can’t believe that it’s only the beginning!

- Jillian Frame, Rising Senior at Trevecca Nazarene University