...because we're bold

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Magic, and First Night

As I write this, I have successfully closed out the Greatest Little Variety Show at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, where I was performing tricks and illusions along with the Hem Haw See and Saw Puppet Troupe, Belles Lingues (contortionists), as well as the Josh and Gab show. Going back to my sideshow roots, we had two shows a day, three days in a row. It was tiring, but a rather good show.

Moving on to magic, we are proud to announce that we will be joining in with the First Night Pittsburgh celebrations on New Year's eve. More details may be found on the schedule here: http://www.firstnightpgh.org/fest_event/dream-grimoire/

We are looking forward to sharing the Dream Grimoire with the community once again. In this one on one performative piece, the central character is the participant. The Librarian guides each person on their own journey of self-discovery. Given the piece's success at it's premier at Art All Night, I am looking forward to sharing this with a larger audience. Continuous performances will be held from 6pm to 10pm at First Night.

I hope to see you there, and until next time,


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thoughts on Returning

For those of you who know me, it has been a rather busy year, in the non-professional sense. I have recently returned to work from a long (at least for me) leave of absence. I am perfectly fine, but someone close to me was not, so I put the priority of taking care of them first. To that end, I put a hold on new productions for the time being.

Now that things have begun to stabilize, I am returning to more work. While I was preparing to type this blog post in particular about some of the new projects in the works (which I will be doing later) I received some news that a classmate of mine had ended his life. Naturally, this is more in my thoughts at the moment.

To be fair, to say that he and I were "close" is a dramatic understatement. In fact the closest we were was when I tackled him as we were practicing football. In theory, since I made the decision to detach myself from where I went to school, his death shouldn't be hitting very hard. Instead, it is surprisingly so.

Following my graduation, the numbers of people that I attended school with, both high school and college, is slowly starting to dwindle. These have been to a variety of causes, ranging from disease, accidents, drug use, and suicide. In each case, I knew them personally, and had, since the time passed where we had class together, grown more distant. I suppose I am selfish in this case, as each time I hear of another's passing, I think of them, what happened, but then a small voice reminds me that the clock is ticking to achieve what I want to accomplish. This is truly an odd feeling, considering I just recently celebrated my twenty-sixth birthday.

To that end, I am glad to be returning back to the work that I feel I had neglected during my leave. There is much planning, but as usual, it appears that next year will be even bigger than last year.

The best thing to do in this case: Celebrate the season with those you care about, Laugh, and Live.

Until Next Time,

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Coming Up this Month.

It is not yet the end of the first week of April, and the calendar is already looking incredibly full. After an excellent series of planning meetings, we are proud to announce that one of our latest pieces, The Dream Grimoire will be premiering at Art All Night on April 27th. We are thrilled to be joining in and participating in what has quickly become a Pittsburgh arts institution. More details can be found on their website: http://www.artallnight.org/.

Before that happens, however, we still have two important projects to handle, the first of which is Soup N'at. This fundraiser involves every guest at the event receiving a bowl of soup, bread, and desert, as well as a ballot. This ballot is then used to vote on which group of artist receives the proceeds of that night's event. Theatre Sans Serif's Community Outreach is one of the eligible projects, specifically our efforts at Urban Farming, After School Programs, and a Toy Drive for children in underprivileged families during the holidays. The community has given so much, and we now have an opportunity to help out. The grant would greatly assist with out efforts. The exact details are available on their website as well: http://soupnat.wordpress.com/.

Finally, after much delay, we launch back into rehearsals for Artie Goes West, formerly the Great Big Western Show. After issues with casting, and locations, we are ready, willing, and excited for the show to begin! That will take place in May at the Kaufmann Auditorium, at Hill House.

I hope to see you soon,

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"8" Wrap Up

The lights are off, and the theater is now dark. Theatre Sans Serif has ended it's latest show, Dustin Lance Black's 8. The phenomenal cast included Frank McAleavey, Bill Meoni, Kyle Bostian, Matthew Robinson, Laurie Mann, Kaitlin Mausser, Elizabeth Danko, Joel Ambrose, Dillon Diatlo, Kyle Bogue, Shane Conley, Danielle Winter, Stephanie Swift-Antill, Wesley Gadsden, Dan Derks, and Dave Malehorn. These 16 actors, under the direction of Kelsey Rispin, performed at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts. The show went extremely well, with both laughter and tears, as well as some thought provoking questions.

As the Artistic Director, I would like to thank the cast and director for seeing this project through, and for all of the energy and effort they put in on the project. I must also say the same for my parents, whose support and staffing made the bake sale so successful that it completely underwrote the reading. Finally, last but not least, I would like to thank the Hillman Center for Performing Arts for having us there. I look forward to seeing you at our next major project, Artie Goes West, at the Kaufman Auditorium, May 9-18.

Until next time,

Monday, February 25, 2013

8: or The Fight for Marriage Equality

On March 22nd, 2013, 21 actors will tackle a staged reading of 8 by Dustin Lance Black. This script, based upon the real life events surrounding the testing if Proposition 8 is Constitutional. This proposition called for California to disallow gay marriage. This fundamental right is being denied to our LGBT brothers and sisters, and as a result, Theatre Sans Serif is holding this reading to both raise awareness for the issue, and to fully announce our support for the cause. Directed by Kelsey Rispin, this phenomenal cast will bring this issue home to Pittsburgh, and at an especially important time, as this case is due to be seen by the Supreme Court on the Monday following. 

The reading will take place in the Kountz Black Box Theater, at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts in Fox Chapel, at 8 pm. A talk back with the actors and several local figures will take place immediately following. For tickets, as seating is somewhat limited, please email us at theatresansserif@gmail.com

This reading will be performed free to the public, but we are in need of some help. We are accepting donations at this time to help cover the costs of renting the space, and to print scripts for the actors. If you would like to help in either case, please call us at (412) 523-9882 for exact details. 

I hope that I see you there, 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

TEDxGrandviewAvenue Wrap Up

On February 23, Theatre Sans Serif had the opportunity to attend TEDxGrandviewAvenue. This event brings together some of the best and brightest from the fields of technology, science, engineering, design, the arts, and business to create an environment that encourages the exchange of ideas. I think everyone came away inspired to work to change our circumstances, our city, and hopefully the world. Personally, I now have several ideas to move forward and increase Theatre Sans Serif's involvement in community development.
Until next time, 

Paul Burke

Nicki Zevola

The Pillow Project

The Pillow Project

Jia Ji

Bill Peduto

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back.

On the occasion, a show can seem cursed. One thing happens, which leads to another, and sometimes the avalanche occurs.

At this point in time, The Great Big Western Show has been (temporarily) postponed. This is unfortunately due to a combination of cast illness, and problems at the performance space. At this point, some plans have to be shifted, but a viable plan is forming.

There are contracts to be discussed, but the general plan is for the residency program at Future Tenant to be postponed until August, at which time a new script will be premiered at the residency. Meanwhile, negotiations are taking place for a venue to premiere, and we are aiming for May.

In the meantime, things are moving ahead at full speed for our reading of "8" on March 22, 2013 at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts. This is going to be especially relevant as the case in question, Hollingsworth v. Perry, formerly Perry v. Schwarzenegger, will be going before the Supreme Court 4 days after that on March 26.

This reading will be performed free to the public, in the hopes of raising awareness about the issue of marriage equality. Many strides have been made, but we still have far to go. We are hoping to raise awareness at this critical juncture. Please join us for this reading, and a discussion afterwards. For tickets, please email us at theatresansserif@gmail.com, or call (412) 523-9882.

Until next time,

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Rehearsal Log #3

Well, as the saying goes in theater, "The show must go on." And on it does. We hit a few major snags recently, but after a few hair-pulling, sleepless nights, the problem seems to be solved.

Now that the cast is mostly off book, we are really starting to have a lot of fun with the physical aspects of the show. The Commedia dell'Arte is a very physical art form, and I think we are doing it justice, ranging from the circus arts of Doc Bernie, to Artie and Bo's slapstick, to the pratfalls and girlish screaming of the not so brave Captain. While all of this is going on, Kelsey is keeping a watchful eye over the cast (myself included) to make sure no one gets hurt.

We were also pleased last Friday to do a quick preview of some of the effects in the show for the Open Mic at Future Tenant. The audience response was fantastic. I hope to see you all there.

Well, I must go back to work, it seems like the paperwork never ends to produce a show. And of course, more rehearsal photos are below.

Until next time,

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rehearsal Log #2

Well, I guess first things first. The more aware among you might have noticed that the first rehearsal log was not written by me. Instead, it was written by the new Associate Artistic Director, Kelsey. You will be seeing plenty more of her.

One of the hardest parts of directing is the blocking. In the case of a venue such as Future Tenant, this is doubly so, due to the smaller confines of the space. This means that every move, every cross needs planned and timed out. Fortunately, with today's rehearsal, the actors now have all of the blocking for the show, and we can now focus on the physical comedy, as well as the lines.

We also started to touch on all of the fight work and physical comedy in the script. There are kicks, punches, slaps, falls, kisses, and head butts. There is also a lot of magic and sideshow stunts (fortunately, my specialty.) Part of me is a little worried about just how exhausted we are going to be on the 23rd, with its two shows, but I think we will get through it.

There really haven't been that many amusing anecdotes from these rehearsals, as we have been incredibly busy. I will therefore leave you with a few more images to tease you as to what we are doing.

Until next time,

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rehearsal Log #1

Hello there again!

So, the show has had kind of a rough start (better now than later, though!) - due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, we had to find a new rehearsal space for the first few weeks of the month. Luckily, we found a wonderful space with people who have been extremely gracious, I can't wait to start rehearsals there!

However, because of aforementioned rehearsal space complications, we had to have our most recent rehearsal/table talk at Milano's restaurant on 6th.  It was a really fun and productive time, and as promised, full of fun stories.

So FIRST, the cast ordered a large pizza to share, because nothing fuels creativity like food.  As we're divvying up the slices, someone, and I won't name names, tried to pass the entire pizza tier down to the other end of the table. One thing lead to another, and about 3/4 of the pizza slid off the tier, past someone else, and both pizza and metal plate crashed onto the floor. Not only that, but there is an open space in between the floor and window of the second floor of Milano's, and that's where much of the pizza went. So essentially, we made it rain pizza on anyone of the first floor. (You're welcome) Thankfully, our waitress wasn't angry, we cleaned up the pizza and got another, and the waitress blamed the mess on the party of children that were also upstairs. Note: I do feel slightly guilty about that, because that group of 20 or so children were about a million times better behaved than we were.

Second, we had another read-through of the script at the table, so everyone could get more comfortable with the flow of the show and address and questions/concerns. During said reading, we were probably louder than average, but it was manageable until we got to a heated part of the script and someone shouted "HELP! HEEELLP!" He was immediately shushed by the rest of the table, but not before everyone in the restaurant turned to look at our section. Indignance abounded, and rehearsal had to be paused while we got our giggles under control.

All's well that ends well, though - a combination of a truly wonderful and good-natured waitress, a large tab and a healthy tip made sure we are still welcome back, and the show has had its first round of embarrassing occurrences. At least after that rehearsal, no one should be afraid to act foolish in rehearsals, which is exactly what we'll need - this show is pretty exclusively foolish :)  That being said, if anyone's looking for a place to eat/purchase libation downtown, I recommend Milano's...Partially because I like it there, and partially because I feel like we owe them patronage :P

That's all for now, check back soon for more tomfoolery!


P.S. Here's a picture of the pizza carnage - it got stuck on the glass of the atrium. Thanks, Kyle for risking personal shame to get this pic

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Great Big Western Show

Good evening, theatregoers!

The Great Big Western Show is officially under way! Auditions were had, the cast list made, and with the first rehearsal out of the way, I am confident this will be an amazing experience, for cast and audience alike. We were fortunate enough to pull together a great group of performers, and I couldn't be happier. It's going to be a whirlwind of a reherasal process, but then again, when isn't it?

A little bit about the show: As you may have previously read/heard, this is an original show from Theatre Sans Serif, written in the style of Commedia Dell'Arte, which is a style of old Italian comedy. Don't worry, though, no subtitles are necessary for this show, because we've taken the ancient style of Commedia and applied it to the good ol' American West! It's a funny, farsical, rip-roaring good time, you won't want to miss it!

Working on an original show is ALWAYS exciting, and frightening, and thrilling. All of these emotions are heightened this time around because we are putting up the show in just a few weeks!

We'll be sure to keep you updated as rehearsals progress; with a script like this, there's sure to be some good stories. And remember, come see The Great Big Western Show, Friday, February 22 and Saturday, February 23 at Future Tenant Gallery on 9th and Penn Ave. And just so the suspense doesn't drive you crazy, here's some behind the scenes photos and the promo pic!

More to come,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Seattle Wrap-Up.

After a long week, we have returned from working the 14/48 Festival in Seattle. I can say that it was one of the most difficult, yet rewarding theatrical experiences I have had. Thanks to the crew out there, Theatre Sans Serif is proud to be associated with making the Festival bi-coastal,  and learning how to bring the theatrical community even closer together, and to foster a new degree of collaboration and participation.
To be fair, I was jet lagged for five days in a row, which is understandable, considering we had the first meeting within an hour of landing in the city. I then directed one play, a romantic comedy, followed by a slasher comedy the next night. The entire time, I saw how the 14/ 48 Festival ran as a smooth machine, and took copious notes.
Now, with the help of the Seattle team, we will be bringing the festival to Pittsburgh. Look here and on Facebook for more details as contracts are made, and ground is gained. Also, be sure to check out our reading of "8" at the Hillman Center for Performing Arts on March 22nd.

I must now go back to work, but until next time,