Friday, July 15, 2011

How To: Not Stress

The full company of actors arrives in a mere two days' time. We will also host Professor Leslie Reidel for a Verse-Speaking Master Class. ADK Shakes believes strongly in the power of the verse, and we admire Leslie's work a great deal. When he reached out to us last month to propose doing a workshop for our actors, I was absolutely thrilled.

This Master Class is just one of the many puzzle pieces that Patrick and I have been attempting to fit into place for our Second Summer Festival Season. (It is so cool to be able to say that, by the way.) Currently, Lee Ann is hard at work finishing the program. Yep, it's 2:30 a.m. What can I say? We are a busy clan!

Already today, there has been one tour of Complete Works. There's another tomorrow, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday. I have been compiling a detailed schedule for our actors, a housing map for where our company of lucky thirteen will be staying for the next three weeks, and a dinner map. Oh yes, we have a fun tradition of company dinners where one person cooks for the entire company. The wonderful catch is that you will only have to cook twice for everyone, and the rest of the nights you enjoy a fabulous home-cooked meal that someone else made. Those always taste better, don't they? Mixed into these activities are calling to confirm rehearsal venues, tracking down those last-minute ads for the program, shoring up the mother-mold for the Bottom mask, and oh right, I have lines that I need to be working on too!

So here's my How To for coping with some of this stress:

1. Yoga.
True North Yoga in Schroon Lake Village has graciously donated yoga classes to the Adirondack Shakespeare Company actors during their stay this season. Hatha is my favorite, but I did feel brave enough to try the Active Flow Vinyasa class on Tuesday. Boy, was that a stress-reliever!
2. Run.
Not away. No, no. I put on my running shoes and take a half-hour to myself a few times a week. I'm working on the Couch to 5K program and am just about to start Week 6. The side-benefit is that I get to eat:
3. Ice Cream.
It's not really summertime without ice cream at Stewart's Shops. I am incredibly excited that my all-time favorite flavor "Crumbs Along the Mohawk" is back on the board this year. Graham-cracker flavored ice cream with graham cracker chunks and a caramel swirl. tasty.
So ... my advice, if you're feeling like your head is about to explode because even though you caught one mouse last night, another one just ran across the counter mocking you, is to remember that "stressed" backwards spells "desserts." And you know, then do some yoga or some running to burn off those ice cream calories.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ADK Shakes Summer Tickets

The Important Information: TICKETS via Ticketleap and our detailed SUMMER SCHEDULE

I am incredibly proud to announce the opening of our 2011 Summer Festival Season, our second annual Summer Festival Season, that is. We had an amazing first year of shows in Schroon Lake, NY last summer. We are beginning to make a name for ourselves, and it is a very big year.

Lesley Berkowitz rehearses Complete Works
In fact, we have already opened The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield. We opened on July 3 and we have already performed the show in Lake George, Long Lake, Glens Falls, Chateaugay, Scaroon Manor, and Lake Placid. Tomorrow the company heads to Saratoga Springs for a "good will" performance at the Wesley Health Community.

Friday kicks off another busy weekend with a free public performance right outside the beautiful Crandall Public Library in downtown Glens Falls at 7:00 p.m. On Saturday, July 16, we have two performances in North Creek at the Tannery Pond Community Center. And on Sunday, July 17, we have been invited to perform at the incredible Crown Point Historic Site, which is right on the shores of Lake Champlain. The company will be performing amidst the ruins of 18th-century pre-Revolutionary War barracks. Amazing! The show is at 2:00 p.m. and it is free. (Bring your own seating!)

The other exciting thing about Sunday's show is that the entire 2011 Summer Company will be in attendance! We pick them up in Albany on Sunday morning from the bus and head straight up to Crown Point. Get some time in with the actors before they start stressing about Midsummer and Merchant rehearsals.

Which start on Monday!

Here is what you need to know for opening week of the Mainstage Season:
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream opens Thursday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m. at the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake Village
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream tours to beautiful Long Lake on Friday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mt. Sabattis Pavilion
  • The Complete Works tours to Lake Placid on Saturday, July 23 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at Mid's Park
  • The Merchant of Venice opens on Sunday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m. at the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake Village
  • The Complete Works returns to Lake George on Sunday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m. at Shepard Park
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream comes to Lake George on Sunday, 24 at 7:00 p.m. at Shepard Park

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meet Tara and Patrick!

So I am the last actor in the company to be introduced, but I feel strange introducing myself. I have therefore decided to introduce Patrick and myself as a team. Behold: your Executive and Artistic Directors!

Patrick and I first met in 2005 acting in back to back productions in Delaware and in Harrisburg, PA. We continued to act in the occasional show together, but by 2008, we knew it was time to begin a new venture. One of the things I found most frustrating about being an actor was being subject to someone else's ideas. (I have had the most interesting time reading about this dilemma in Simon Callow's book Being an Actor.) I fully appreciate a director's vision of a production, but no one was quite producing Shakespeare the way I wanted to perform it. So Patrick and I began our Shakespeare IN THE RAW experiment.

No more props. We used dowels -- you know those thick wooden sticks you buy at the hardware store. Those were our swords. We've progressed to daggers -- blocks of wood you'd use to stop a door, wrapped in duct tape. No more costumes. We used basic blacks as a base costume and augmented with jackets, sashes, hats, skirts, etc. No more rehearsal time. We've whittled it down to approximately 12 hours per production. Yes, that is correct. We don't have anyone holding book during the show. No one carries a script. These are all-out, uncut, full-on productions of Shakespeare by some of the finest classical actors I have ever met or seen perform. The focus is almost entirely on the text and on the verse and musicality therein. And these productions are exciting! This is the way I love to perform Shakespeare and to see Shakespeare performed.

To date, Shakespeare IN THE RAW has encompassed ten productions:

1 Henry VI
2 Henry VI
3 Henry VI
Richard III
As You Like It
Romeo and Juliet
Titus Andronicus
The Tempest
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)

And in just a few weeks we will open the rest of our second annual summer festival:
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Merchant of Venice

and our very first children's show: Theseus and the Minotaur

In our non-ADK Shakes world, Patrick attends the St. John's University School of Law as a St. Thomas More Scholar. He will be entering his third and final year this fall. I also attend St. John's University and am enrolled in their Doctor of Arts (think PhD) program in the English Department. I will be entering my second year of coursework this fall. I also tutor in the Institute of Writing Studies and this year I am looking forward to working more closely with the Writing Fellows program, which involves placing undergraduate writing tutors into first year writing courses. This year at St. John's I will also be producing The Gender Project. I will leave you hanging on that one. It deserves its own post. I will tease you with the fact that it involves three productions throughout the course of the academic year.

I'm not sure when Patrick and I will get to be together on stage again, but here's a walk down memory lane of some shows we have done together over the last six years.

as Celia and Oliver in As You Like It, 2010
My back as Nurse and Patrick as Friar Lawrence
 beating up on Aaron White as Romeo.
There's not a picture of us together in this scene, but Patrick played Hecate (with Becca Stevens) and I played Witch 1 in Macbeth.

Fuzzy pic from Richard III
3 Henry VI rehearsal
The rabble about to take down Lord Say in 2 Henry VI
Patrick accompanies my beat-down of Lord Talbot
(The shot is a little stretched and grainy - sorry!)
There's a few others mixed in there too but I'm having trouble digging up some pictures. So last but certainly not least, our very first Shakespeare production together, Henry V at Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival in 2005.
Ahhh... memories.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Meet Laura!

Aaron White as Romeo and Laura Montes as Juliet
I have had the pleasure to know Laura Montes for the past (nearly) three years and the privilege to work with her in perhaps nine productions over those three years. Laura is a tremendous performer, and she is just plain awesome to have around. If I need an ear, ladies and gentlemen, this is the one.

If you are a returning ADK Shakes fan, you will no doubt remember Laura's stunning performance as Juliet, which I have to say is the finest portrayal of this character I have ever seen. And I've seen R&J performed a bunch. Laura was able to bring an utterly convincing simplicity to her portrayal of Juliet that I haven't encountered anywhere else. It was rather deceptively simple, because the complexity of her character work was incredible.

Laura Montes, Tara Bradway, and Greg Davies
 as the Witches in Macbeth
Here are a few pictures of Laura from last season. She appeared as Juliet and Sampson in Romeo and Juliet, as 2nd Witch, Gentlewoman, Messenger, and Macduff's son in Macbeth, and Phebe in As You Like It. Laura received a Moosie Award for her dramatic death as young Macduff. Welcome her back this year as Hermia in Midsummer, Jessica/Duke of Venice/Solanio in Merchant, and she is in the ensemble of Theseus and the Minotaur playing multiple roles. Somehow Laura always ends up with a larger track of roles than anyone else, and she holds the current record of 9 characters in one show for 2 Henry VI in 2008.

If you love Laura and her work as much as we do, adopt her or Hermia! In fact, Laura has already been adopted once this year, and a portion of this donation is going straight to her. But that doesn't mean that she can't be adopted by others as well! We are so grateful to all who support our actors. It's a tough job, but where would we be without them?

(MID: Hermia; VEN: Jessica, Duke of Venice, Solanio; KIDS: Hermia, Wall)

Laura originally hails from New Mexico, currently lives in New York City, and has a special place in her heart for California and Ohio. She has an MFA from Ohio University's Professional Actor Training Program.

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