Monthly Archives: February 2016

Flippin’ Fun

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Rodd Robertson and Bea Gilbert with John Masa

On March 5, DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre is flipping things around in the name of fun and fundraising. We are hosting a special event called Flippin’ Broadway which is a cabaret of Broadway show tunes with a fun twist.  Rodd Robertson, DreamWrights actor and Guest Director, came up with the idea. Robertson explains, “A few years ago, another actor and I were discussing songs we would never get to sing in a traditional Broadway show.  We were having a great time imagining what it would be like to perform songs as those characters and suddenly we looked at each other and asked why we couldn’t stage a show where we could perform those songs?!” And the idea for Flippin’ Broadway was born.

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Rebecca Wolf with Michael Frock

Although, Flippin’ Broadway wasn’t originally conceived as a benefit show, it soon took on that life.  Robertson says the idea grew as they talked to friends and other cast mates about the idea.  Robertson reports, “We’re thrilled to be doing this for DreamWrights because we admire their mission statement and that they abide by it.  It’s a real testament to the theatre that we wanted to have our premiere there.  We’re doing good for a great place!”

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Patty Price with Michael Frock

With 18 cast members performing 27 songs, the evening promises to be full of entertainment and surprises. Robertson agrees, “If the scores of people who auditioned for it and the word of mouth buzz is any indication, we should have a really nice crowd; hopefully a sell-out.”  Robertson quickly adds two more reasons to attend the event: “to support this community theatre treasure and to imagine what different Broadway musicals might be like if they were ‘flipped’!”

He’s not kidding when he describes it as “flipped”! The concept of Flippin’ Broadway is for Broadway songs to be performed in a non-traditional way.  For example, “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserable is sung by a middle-to-older-aged white man, Jean Val Jean, but not in the Flippin’ Broadway version.  Robertson dishes, “In our version, a young teenage girl is singing the song.  So we’ve switched it up with some funny results and some thought provoking changes.”

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Hannah Kuhn and Caitie Kieffer with Missy Kiefer

But that’s not the only act that will stand out. The evening will feature talented adults as well as kids.  Robertson boasts, “We have a mother with her two teenagers in the show.  I think this exemplifies the opportunities that DreamWrights provides families in the mid-state region.  How great is it that so much talent lies in one family!  Just wait until you hear them! You won’t be disappointed!”

Flippin’ Broadway will be held at DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre on March 5,, 2016 from 7 – 10pm. Tickets are $15 and are available online at www.dreamwrights.org or by calling 717-848-8623. There will be an extended intermission offering elegant desserts for purchase. Proceeds will benefit DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre.

Sew in the Family

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Cali Fife with great grandmother, Romaine Coeyman

Romaine Coeyman and her great-granddaughter, Cali Fife, were been born more than 70 years apart, but surprisingly, they have a lot more in common than just DNA. They both share the love of sewing and creating. And what’s more, they have done much of their craft in the exact same place, but more than 50 years apart.

Romaine Coeyman began working in the William Bernstein Sewing Factory in 1960, soon after the birth of her son. “I liked the job because I got to set sleeves. I loved that!” Coeyman remembers.

She says she always enjoyed sewing and the friendships she made at work. “I always think of [my work] around Christmas time.” She remembers setting tables up and having a potluck lunch to celebrate the season. “It was really jolly at Christmas time.” Coeyman mostly worked on the second floor in the sewing area where she sewed night gowns. She has fond memories of her days at the sewing factory.

These days, the Bernstein Sewing Factory building is occupied by DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre, where many kids, like fifteen year old Cali Fife, fell in love with designing for the performing arts. Fife used to dance but she quickly realized that she loved the costumes more than the spotlight. She found her comfort zone creating costumes at DreamWrights, working in the second floor sewing area, exactly where her great-grandmother worked decades previously.

Cali Fife Bag
Cute bag created by Fife

Fife enjoys creating with fabric and has made many friends through her craft, just like her great-grandmother. She enjoys the collaborative nature of sewing and designing, and in fact, even has her own online shop called Cali Ann, where she creates cool scarves, clever pouches, cute bags, and even the occasional custom costume.

Although the space is much different than what she remembers, Coeyman is amazed at the transformation of the building from a sewing factory to a theatre space. “I love it! I think it is amazing!” And when asked what she thinks about her great-granddaughter sewing and creating, just like she herself did more than a half century ago, Coeyman sums it up simply, “That’s nice. She really loves it too.”

Top 10 Things Most Often Heard Backstage

1. Can you get my ________ ?
This is mostly heard during tech rehearsals when we’re all trying to figure out the important stuff, like timing and how the show runs. But at one point or another, there’s something you’ll leave in the dressing room or green room.

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2. Put that back!!!
If you are part of the props crew you say this a lot. If you are backstage you hear it a lot. In fact, there are signs saying not to touch stuff! (They don’t always work.)

3. SSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!
Even though it sounds like a geyser is going off back stage, this is used a lot. With kids, teens, young adults, and older adults not everyone knows the appropriate level of volume.

4. You need to move!
This also is heard mostly during tech rehearsals. People don’t always know where set pieces live backstage or realize that the costume that person is wearing will end up on that chair your sitting on in about 3 seconds.

5. You can’t sit there.
You might say this is a repeat because you have to tell different people that they can’t sit there every show.

6. Will you help me change?
Also heard during tech rehearsals when the actors are realizing how little time they actually have to switch from a fish to a Whoville character, for example. If you have a buddy to help get the zipper up or the hair in that wig cap, it make those changes go a lot faster.

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7.  I found this.
As a veteran crew member, I have been given all kinds of found treasures including staples, tape, bobby pins, safety pins, plastic things, birthday candles, batteries, parts of costumes, parts of props, and parts of the set! The fun of theatre!

8. What is this?
Even though this prop has been sitting on the props table for six weeks, it never fails that during the most quiet scene in the show, you hear someone ask someone to explain what it is.

9. Where’s the director?
Everyone always has questions for the director. But for some reason, the middle of show is the best time to ask.

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10. It’s dark.
Yes, back stage is dark. Thanks for letting me, the whole cast, and the audience know!

Jacob Schlenker
Student
and Veteran DreamWrights Crew Volunteer

 

 

Unique Alley Staging Features The Secret Garden

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DreamWrights Theatre in Alley Configuration

Artistic Director, Diane Crews, knew that the biggest challenge in mounting DreamWrights’ next play, The Secret Garden, would be the number of scenes and locations needed. So, instead of the traditional proscenium seating configuration, Crews and her crew felt that this production would lend itself best to an alley configuration, a form of theatrical staging in which the stage is surrounded on two sides by the audience.  Crews explains, “Alley staging will allow for the action to take place on both ends [of the alley] and up and down and in the middle of the audience. There will be five different acting areas including a home in India, the interior of the Manor in England, the Manor’s front garden, outside of the British home, the village, the moor, and of course the secret garden.”

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DreamWrights Theatre in Alley Configuration

Crews is excited. “It’s a wonderful format that lets the audience use their imaginations right along with the actors.  We can all see the wall around the garden, and at the same time be able to see right through it.” But, when Crews first pitched the alley staging idea to Guest Set Designer, Allen Brenner, he wasn’t sold. Brenner explains, “Alley staging presents several challenges. One is the sightline. With the set in this configuration, I have to try to do as much dimensional stuff as possible and it has to be low profile.” Even the blocking can be a challenge, he says. “You have to consider what audiences can see, what you want them to see, then make sure that they can actually see it.”

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Brenner’s scale model

But after some consideration and in brainstorming with Crews, Brenner agreed that with all of the different and faraway scenes in the play, alley is a great option. “Alley provides separate locals for the audience so it gives the feel of different places.” For example, Brenner reveals that on one end of the alley will be the scene of the English manor and the other end of the alley will be scenes in India.  “Alley staging gives me a lot of territory to work with. It makes it a lot of fun.” Brenner also points out that it will require the audience to participate more in the action, as they will feel the movement from one end of the corridor to the other and in between.

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Guest Set Designer, Allen Brenner

DreamWrights is pleased to have the talents of Guest Set Designer, Allen Brenner, for this production. Brenner’s design hasn’t appeared at DreamWrights since The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 2010, and it will beautifully transform the audience to faraway lands including the fascinating secret garden. According to Brenner, alley staging is less common than the traditional proscenium. It has rarely been done before at DreamWrights, and as far as he knows, possibly never elsewhere in York.You can count on The Secret Garden to be a unique experience. Call it an adventure, one that will take you from India to England to a secret garden. You won’t want to miss it.

DreamWrights’ Shakespearience

This spring, DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre is offering a new experience… a Shakespearience!  The teaching artist for this experience is Billy Wolfgang, founder of OrangeMite Studios where Wolfgang has been involved in 16 different Shakespearean productions.  He promises to bring not only directing experience to our workshop, but more specifically, Shakespearean acting experience. “Getting participants involved in many different scenes will be the key to our success.  Students will be involved in material from a variety of plays to give them a broader view of Shakespeare’s work.  We will then use that knowledge and apply it to the comedy play we produce as a class.”

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Teaching Artist, Billy Wolfgang

By looking at him, you might not recognize Wolfgang as a lover of the bard. He’s young, hip, and enthusiastic. Wolfgang says that his love of Shakespeare had to grow on him. “It wasn’t something I was born loving.  And, unfortunately it wasn’t something I discovered a love for in high school.” Wolfgang says his love of Shakespeare didn’t start until he was committed to a Shakespeare performance. Wolfgang remembers, “Then, and only then, did I discover what all the Shakespeare ‘hype’ was about – finally I figured out why we had to read it in English class.” It was through the production of Shakespeare’s work that he was fully able to understand and appreciate it.

The DreamWrights Shakespearience will include a look at Shakespeare’s work in different genres and acting out some famous scenes from Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Cymbeline, and others.  Students will learn the importance of verse and how to use it to their advantage, to aid with their memorization. “To say that the dialogue isn’t difficult would be a disservice to those participating as an actor or as an audience member,” Wolfgang explains. “So we will unlock and make it understandable to all involved on both sides of the process.”Wolfgang promises a lot of movement and laughter in the workshop. “Together we will take the text off of the page and make it real for each other and for our audience.  We will laugh and we will move.  Movement and kinesthetic activity are an extremely vital part of the experience.  The movement will be one aspect that will help us with the text, and together they create a complete ‘Shakespearience.’  Also, it wouldn’t be Shakespeare without a little sword fighting!”

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A group of Shakespearean performers at OrangeMite Studios

Shakespeare has many layers of comedy in his plays.  Even Shakespearean plays that aren’t supposed to be funny (like histories or tragedies), are still quite funny.  Wolfgang explains, “This was done intentionally, of course.  Shakespeare was an entertainer first and foremost – he wasn’t writing material to be added to high school English textbooks, he was writing to make people come back to his theatre year after year, he wanted them to have fun.”

Who doesn’t love blatant Shakespearean insults?! “Thou leathern-jerkin, crystal-button, knot-pated, agatering, puke-stocking, caddis-garter, smooth-tongue, Spanish pouch.”  Wolfgang explains, ”We might not know what all those bizarre words mean, but trust me, ‘puke-stocking,’ for better or worse, gets an audience every time.”

Wolfgang promises that the jokes will jump out at you, one way or another. “Silly one-liners may be great, but they don’t necessarily demonstrate Shakespeare’s real comic genius, which is the fantastic, witty and comic exchanges between characters.  The silly mix-ups of mistaken identity or the goofball clown character interacting with a serious and angry lord always prove to be fun moments.”

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Wolfgang performing

The DreamWrights Shakespearience begins March 2 and runs for six Wednesdays: March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and April 6 (6:00 pm – 8:00 pm) and six Saturdays: March 5, 12, 19 & 26, April 2 and 9 (9:00 am – 12:00 pm). Participants in this exciting and playful performance class will explore Shakespearean text with the body, voice, mind and imagination, learning how to play with verse effectively in order to communicate story with an audience and portray the intriguing characters presented in one of Shakespeare’s comedies. The class will culminate with a performance of a 30 minute Shakespearean comedy. Beginner and experienced players are both welcome! Ages 10 – 16. Cost is $270. Spaces are limited. Register via phone at 717-848-8623 or online at www.dreamwrights.org.