Posts Tagged ‘play’


Hello Dear Reader,

Well, February has come and gone and I am not anywhere near finishing my writing project. The power of frustration is palpable.  I was stewing in it. I feel all tender and a little sad. SO, I am just going to extend the time for this project.

Here’s the thing though.

I was putting way to much pressure on myself to complete this ASAP. What I have learned is when you’re creating something pressure like this is such a bad move. It isn’t helpful, Gentle Reader, and not conducive to the act of creating. If anything, it stifles creativity, I feel.

This will get done when it gets done. I mean, I do have the whole year off, after all.

Yesterday, as I was at my #survivaljob watching the rain fall, slamming onto the tiles that lead to the main lobby, I realized I haven’t been my normal self these last few years.

You know, Dear Reader, as an actor, I have to use every sense that is available to me as well as imagination and memories.  I watch people all the time.  Almost like I am studying them. I have memories, but I am certain that I don’t have enough memories. So I would create them my playing.  Not games, but playing with life.

But I stopped playing.  I stopped jumping in puddles and walking in the rain. I focused on going home and trying to be responsible so that I could get to that survival job day in and day out rather than going out and enjoying my friends. I stopped “going all in” at life. I put in just enough to get by.

But with this realization that what I am trying create isn’t meant to be done in the 5 weeks that I planned means that I can breathe.


And to jump in puddles.

And see my friends and their shows.

So, Sweet Reader, I AM going to continue to work on this show but I am not going to place that kind of pressure on it. I apologize that I don’t feel like any of the pages are worth sharing yet, but I will keep working on it.

Until then *inhale* more playing!

Dear Reader, have you ever had a realization that had kept you from enjoying your time? How did you break through that haze?  Leave me a comment or follow me on the social medias! Also, just pop in and say ‘Hi!’                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Vero: Jery Theactorvist

Until next time…

The last thing that I saw just before strike.

Now that “Shakespeare 3 Ways” has played it’s final performance, and the set has been taken apart and stowed away, and the theatre has been dark for a day or two.  I am getting a little anxious at the thought of the coming weekend arriving and me without a show to perform, or even any rehearsals to ease the withdrawal I tend to feel during those first two weeks away from a show.  I got so used to seeing the people that I was working with that it’s almost the same as “coming home.”  I guess it’s that sense of familiar that I crave.  I know that at a certain time, I would be on the road to the venue, and then I will have odd things to wear, whispered conversations behind the curtain as the audience files into the house.   This weekend instead of the above mentioned scenario,  I’m gonna be either at home watching a movie, or hanging out with friends which is always fun, or maybe reading, or writing.  But I know that it won’t be performing, and that makes me a wee bit blue.

At the end of the show last Sunday, Craig asked for a few minutes to get some closure on his work being brought to life “officially.”  As he began walking the stage, in one archway and out another, around the back of the main curtain, at the far end of the stage nearest the emergency exit and up onto his kingly throne once more, I wondered what was happening in his head.  He first steps on that stage at that particular time had so much of “something” in them that I felt compelled enough to grab my camera and shoot some pictures.  I couldn’t say what that “something” was, but it felt major.  So much so that now that I’ve seen the images I’ve gotten, I almost feel embarrassed for taking them.  The moments seem to private that I don’t feel like I should share them.  On the other hand, I can’t delete them.  So they shall sit in my computer as a memory for me.  A memory about the time when a group of people took a chance and cast me in two roles that originally called for someone quite the opposite of, well, me.  And when I see those pictures, I will wonder “What is going through his mind?” Is it happiness that a new theatre company that you’ve helped to create is up and running?  Is it panic, regarding the turn out of the audience?  Is it sadness that the show has come to an end?   Is it regret that the show was different than what you intended? Is it a combination of all of the above?  Maybe it’s similar to the withdrawals that I will have this weekend, but he’s just solving that problem with true closure.  Maybe one day, years from now, I’ll ask him.

San Francisco Free Civic Theatre presents an incredibly relevant play for the times.  Last weekend, I took a drive up to S.F. to watch my first actual Ibsen play.  I’ve read his plays before, but this was one that I hadn’t heard of:  An Enemy of the People.

HENRIK IBSEN (1828-1906) was born into prosperity in the Norwegian village of Skien but sadly that fortune didn’t last long.  He was a very intelligent man who was a cynic and an atheist.  His plays are dark and often force the audience to really look at the ugly underbelly of humanity.  He believed that in order to fix all the dark parts of human nature, a light should must be shone into those deep recesses that dwell within man.  Like most, his first plays weren’t well received.  He traveled to Rome, and it was there where he began to make a name for himself.  It seems as though all of his plays are a form of protest. This particular play happens to be corporate greed and hypocrisy versus public health.  Considering the Health Care Bill that got signed into law, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to present this masterpiece.

The play consists of three acts separated by two intermissions.  When I saw this in the program, I wondered what the running time of the show would be.  As it turns out, it’s just ten minutes over the two hour mark with the intermissions included.  What was more shocking to me than that, was that it never felt like the show was 130 minutes.  I have been to movies and performances (and have been in some of them) where it feels like time is dragging.

The plot of the play is that the town has built a new spa and is looking forward to the tourist boom that will accompany it.  The hero and villain, it totally depends on which side you agree with, are a pair of brothers.  One is a scientist (Thomas Stockmann)and the other (Peter Stockmann) is the mayor of the town.  The scientist discovers that the water is full of harmful bacteria which caused several cases of illness during the first few months that the spa was open.  He gets confirmation of this and when he presents his findings to his brother, the debate begins.  The board of directors of the spa built it downstream of a cannery (which belongs to the father of Thomas’ wife) even though Thomas had recommended that it wasn’t the ideal spot.  When Thomas discovers the bacteria, he begins a campaign to have the spa rebuilt on the previously recommended site and an overhaul of the town’s water delivery system.  Peter sees things differently. As a mayor, he is more concerned about the money and time the whole project will take and the toll it will take on town.  Even though the overhaul would benefit the entire town and the tourists that would visit the spa, they would have to wait not only for two years before the spa and the water system would be completed but also for the revenue and tourists from the spa.  When Thomas gets word that Peter will not move the spa he decides to take the matter to the people, who would be outraged at this news.  His friends at the local independent newspaper, The People’s Daily Messenger, offer to write his story so that the public knows about the spa and the Board’s decision on the matter. The publisher, Aslaksen, ensures Thomas that the people will be behind him 100% and offers to help as much as he can “in moderation”.   To counter his brother, Peter makes it known to the editors and Aslaksen that should the project be approved, he will enforce a tax on the public that many people cannot afford thus ensuring that Thomas’s attempt at a public outcry for change be effectively stifled.

Robert Cooper (Peter)  and Eric Nelson (Thomas), do a great job making this classic text feel as though it were written recently.  While the dialogue was snappy, it was accompanied by some weak movements while they would be standing face to face.  At one point, while having an argument, Thomas was making a case in which he has a solidly valid point and yet he physically takes an awkward stumble back.  When you see this kind of argument in person, the debater with the point doesn’t back up in this situation.  There are two movement that I have seen happen, s/he either a.) holds their ground or b.) moves in “for the kill”.   That backward step negates the power of the point that he is making.  However, both men give supreme performances.

The women in the play also play up the duality of an issue in their own right.  Thomas’ wife, played by Gabrielle Mortarjemi, served as the school of thought that women are the homemakers and caregivers of the family and that is the main function they serve.  Thomas’ daughter, Petra as portrayed by Corinne Oprinovich, played Mrs. Stockmann’s opposite.  Petra had opinions and wasn’t ashamed or afraid to make them known.  Both women complimented their respective roles perfectly in both voice and movement.  Mrs. Stockmann moves fluidly, while Petra tended to move in sharp short movements.  Mrs. Stockmann never seemed to want to make any waves o interrupt their way of living. Petra, on the other hand, takes after her father and even offered  help during a “town meeting” citing the appropriate methods to call in order for Thomas to have a chance to speak.  While it would be socially unseemly for a woman to have knowledge or even attend an affair of this issue, Petra walks in stoically while her mother keeps her eyes low and head slightly bowed.

As the Messenger’s fidgety and ever careful publisher, Aslaksen, Mark Romyn was my favorite actor on that stage.  In addition to great line delivery and movement, his character seemed to be so complete that I had a hard time figuring out if the shaky hand movement that he had on stage was a nervous habit, or if it was something that he did off stage as well. Aslaksen punctuated every promise of action with “moderation” throughout the show that by the end Act II it was something of a joke, which he delivered with perfection every time.

Most of the other characters were performed well.  However, having not read the script myself, I say this emphasizing the fact that this is merely my opinion, but there is a character, the junior editor of the Messenger, who needn’t be introduced into the play until Act 2.  The most memorable thing that he did in the opening scene was to call every person on stage a great man, or a great woman.  Of course, I exaggerate this by saying every person, but the character says this three or four times in the course of 10 minutes.  There didn’t seem to be any believability behind it.  So to me it just seemed like he was randomly yelling that phrase which by happenstance coincided with a line that the “great” person just finished.  “A great man!”

Aside from the junior editor in the first scene, this play had so many great attributes that I feel it would truly be a shame if it were missed.  It’s obviously well written, but it has some of the most wonderful lines scattered throughout.  One of my favorites was “Without power, what good is truth?” Thomas questions as he is given word that the people will not be giving their support to him.  Also, in Act II Scene II, Thomas has a great speech in which he tells the public that “the people are never right…at first…Were they right when they crucified Jesus…?” In addition to it being a great show, there’s even an amazing deal: The tickets are FREE!  There’s still one more weekend left to see it.  Click on the link at the beginning of this review or click on the Calendar of Events in my blog roll and you can see the dates and times that you can catch this show.

This afternoon, I attended a performance at the Pacifica Spindrift Players Stage 2.  I was treated, um…I don’t know if “treated” is the right word.  It’s not often that I have personally witnessed a script tackle an issue head on while being both very insightful, funny, and genuinely moving.  The play Coping Through Pain written and directed by Elizabeth Fatum was exactly that experience.

Susan (Maggie de Vera) is a woman who has a “unique” way of coping with stress and emotion.  This play was brought to life because, like all great theatre before, it’s a necessary topic that needs to be brought to light for the safety of those involved.

The lights went down in the audience and came up on the stage that had a podium, a white board on an easle, and a chair behind the podium; all of which are stage right of center. When the first few actors came on set, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It seemed like it was supposed to be improvised interactions between various groups.  Then, enter Susan and you get sucked in by her presence.  She begins as a quiet demure woman somewhat clumsy, but when needed, she becomes assertive until she accomplishes her goal, then goes back to quiet and unassuming.  And she makes you laugh while doing it.   A quick lesson in acting: playing the opposites within moments or beats of each other create interest and energy.  Susan uses the following during the opening scene: quiet and mousey  to strong and assertive and then back which is funny when done well, and Ms. de Vera was right on the money.

The funny thing about this is that once she gets the actors on stage to leave, she starts the show as though she were presenting to us a lecture about Controlling Uncontrollable Things.  She writes the acronym on the board – C.U.T.  She begins to explain that emotions and stress are things that are uncontrollable items in life that actually can be controlled.  She begins to use an example of a volcano and is suddenly interrupted by a loud thump backstage and then some of the other actors re-enter the stage and play out a scene, and you come to realize that those actors are the physical representations of Susan’s thoughts that show the audience glimpses into Susan’s past and private life which feature Stephanie Rose Neimann who plays Young Susan.  This explains the opening of the show.  Clever. Following the departure of the “thoughts”, there is a small interaction between Susan with a person that was a focus in the scene before. Once Susan “gathers” her thoughts, she continues with the presentation aspect but is again interrupted.  The play is told through this manner of storytelling.

As you can probably guess from the acronym, she suffers from Deliberate Self Harm Syndrome and is considered a “cutter.”  This behavior is not unique.  The problem is that it’s such a personal act that no one talks about it.  And it’s personal for any number of reasons.  Sometimes there’s feelings of shame or guilt tied to the action, while some do it because they “feel numb” and are looking to “feel alive.”  This behavior affects millions of people, and in a society that is so full of pressure to fit in, the possibility for it to become worse is high.  Ms. Fatum made it a point to explain in the show that Susan was a bright and well rounded person.  There isn’t a general group that this action encompasses. There is no way to simply look at a person and know if this something that they are going through.    I am grateful that Ms. Fatum has planted her foot in the ground and heaved this issue in the audience’s lap.

There are many great moments throughout this too short 40 minute performance.  One of the most honest, I think, was when Jodie (Kyeshia Arrington)  is talking to Susan and offering her a friendly ear to confide in.  One would think that something so simple and easy could be pulled of by anyone.  That’s the problem.  Nothing is ever that simple.  This particular scene felt so genuine that I felt like I was actually in a high school watching two friends secretly talking.

Another great moment is again Susan interacting with her Mom (Shannon Quinn) after a  flashback.  This was a really well written scene.  The mother was questioning her role in her child’s illness.

The most powerful moment is the point when Susan realizes that while she isn’t hurting anyone else, she is hurting the most important person.  Herself.  At this point, the entire cast is on stage and Susan has just stopped Young Susan from placing another cut on her arm.  Then while in an embrace, the Susans in unison ask for help.  The rest of the cast, also in unison answer the call.  It’s a very moving scene.

Congratulations to Pacifica Spindrift Players Stage 2 for producing an important piece of work for the sake of all those that suffer from this behavior.  While there were a few tiny, tiny choices I would have liked to have seen done in a different way, this was a great debut for Stage 2.  I live in Campbell, and if this is the type of shows that Stage 2 will be performing, I will be more than happy to drive the 53 miles to see another.

My hope for Ms. Fatum is that, while this piece has grown from a 5 minute skit to a 40 minute play, she continues her work on it thus creating a full length 2 act play.  I feel like so many people will be shocked to learn what I have during the 20 minute talk back after the show.  If there is a way to incorporate some of that information into the middle of the play to understand the mindset of a person with this illness it could possibly have a bigger emotional pay off  in the end.  Still, should you ever get the chance to see this show produced elsewhere, please see it.

The Director/Writer and Cast of Coping Through Pain