Archive for the ‘VenetianBlond’ Category

VenetianBlond

February 17, 2011

Editor’s Note:  We’ve asked Machelle Allman – well received actress about town – to report from the local actress beat.  We start wtih her first job: 

Stubborn Actress (age 5) Clashes with Director

The Perp

“I got cast in my first lead role at the age of 5.  I was to play the girl who could spin straw into gold.  I was very excited about this, and I took it very seriously.  It seemed so real, somehow.  The smallest boy in town, who jumped around a lot like a little leprechaun in training, was cast as Rumplestiltskin.  A tall, dark-haired boy played the messenger who discovers Rumplestiltskin’s name, and he looked just like someone who could save the day.  If you’re 5, that is.
The reason I remember this so vividly is because there was a controversy–an argument over the creative direction of the show between me and my director.   Once I became Queen, and Rumplestiltskin returned to take my first born child (in exchange for the ability to spin straw into gold) I was supposed to cry.  And I would not cry.  I told the director I would not cry.
What I remember so clearly now, and what I could not articulate then, was that I was used to being told I was a big girl, and I was NOT supposed to cry.  If the director told me to cry, then I was to really do it, but I was in school now—I was too big to cry.  I also remember that on Halloween I was dressed as a witch and I would not run out into the rain in order to catch my bus, because I would melt.  This was just after the huge argument with my mom over the fact that I was not going to take the bus, I was going to ride my broom. Talk about betwixt and between—I was 50% growing up and 50% pure imagination.
So the director was just boggled at my recalcitrance, and I could not explain that I was not a baby any more, and would not cry like one.  My director never had a chance to explain about using imagination and creating feelings for the audience.  We came up with a compromise, in which I slapped my hands over my face and then leaned over in my chair and put my face on my lap.  That was my crying.  I hope the audience got the point.
There are two things I think about now as an actor in relation to that experience.  The first is, you have to be able to talk to your director.  This is not to say that you can direct yourself, but if you’ve got something that’s holding you back you’ve got to be able to articulate that to the director.  Or at least the stage manager who can push it up the line.  The second thing is, I admire that little kid I used to be, who was so willing to suspend disbelief, who thought it was all so terribly important, who really thought that play was supposed to be as really real as it could be.  That’s theater magic right there.  Like spinning straw into gold, or riding your broom to school.”  – Machelle

Photo Courtesy of the Machelle Allman Archives

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VenetianBlond

February 7, 2011

3 Screams

By Vincent Delaney

A West Coast Premiere

At Theatre Off Jackson

Family Photo

 

“The inaugural show for a new production company is a notable event, but when that company includes names like Peggy Gannon and Brandon Ryan, such a show definitely makes a Seattle theater-goer sit up and take notice.  Man Alone Productions presents 3 Screams through February 26th.  Written by Seattle playwright Vincent Delaney, the play is an ambitious work that takes on a lot thematically as well as visually.

Michael Oaks as Edvard, Erin Ison as Tulla, and Brandon Ryan as Gunnar play a nuclear family, but they don’t share the stage or exchange dialogue.   Their words are directed to Edvard Munch, who painted one of the most iconic works of all time, “The Scream.”  This painting has had a remarkable effect upon their lives, and the play deals with how they manage the fallout.  Not very well, it seems, because these characters are all cracked to some degree. 

Why would this be so?  Certainly there is the genetic factor of mental illness, but the show is not as interested in that aspect as the effect of art, great art, on life.  Much like how 12 Angry Men is less about the legal system than those caught up in it, 3 Screams is less about the vocal reminders (“Decorum!”) the compulsive baking, and the meds the characters use to hold on to something stable than it is about how art itself could drive them to their extremes.

 Edvard dares to declare that “The Scream” is not great art, and his drive is to produce happy, rather than despairing, art.  Tulla vows that she loves her husband’s artwork, when he’s sure she hates it.  Gunnar is forced to deal with the fact that his brother has become a world renowned artist who paints flowers, of all things.  “I feel like an artist, but without one drop of ability,” he says.

 What is great art?  Who can be a true artist?  Is it required that insanity, or at the very least, depression, be comingled with great talent?  These are the kinds of questions Delaney takes on.  There is a danger of preciousness with a play about art because the playwright himself is an artist and a biased observer.  However, in the same way, those in the seats are there to partake in it, so turnabout is fair play.

 This is a play that must teach the viewer how to watch it.  A full-length show comprised of three massive monologues (and yes, three screams), in which the characters address a long-dead artist is something different.  The middle monologue, Tulla’s, is the most difficult.  It is less plot driven than the first, and the unreliable narrator makes for question marks in the mind.  Tulla is also the most horrific.  That said, some plays are fast-food—you know exactly what you’re going to get because it’s the same everywhere.  This production is not fast-food theater.

 But neither is it relentlessly highbrow or somber.  It is often hilariously funny.  Brandon Ryan, with a remarkable ease on stage and unique line delivery was a delight to watch.  He doesn’t do it alone, however.  His performance benefitted from all the groundwork laid by Oak and Ison.   Well produced, with effective sets and sound, this new play is the kind that might even benefit from a second viewing.  There’s a lot to turn over in the mind, which is what we would hope to gain from art.” – Machelle Allman

For more details: http://www.manaloneproductions.com/ 

Production Photo by David Judith Turnipseed

VenetianBlonde

February 7, 2011

Machelle Allman

Editor’s Note:  Machelle Allman (check out VenetianBlond on our blogroll)writes so well I asked her if we could have something, and Machelle sent me a review of a local play she has just seen.  (See our next posting.)  Machelle is a local actress/playwright/blogger about town – and quite good at each.

Photo by Carl Nelson


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