Pardon me, but you skipped the most famous line in the play!

From http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/17/at-the-fringe-when-things-go-wrong/

“… besides introducing a certain kind of spontaneity and titillating uncertainty that can only take place in live performance, what makes bloopers so interesting is the opportunity they provide for the performers to display their quickness, wit or personality, uninterrupted by the dictates of the author. Disasters, oddly, are the only time when the actors are completely in control. I’ll never the forget the star of an Off Broadway production of Cyrano de Bergerac who after his fake nose dribbled off his face in a combative scene, quickly chased it down and repurposed it as a sword, earning the biggest laugh of the night.”

Jason Zinoman, writing for the ArtsBeat for NYTimes.com, has been recounting the fun of “When Things Go Wrong” at the New York International Fringe Festival running through the end of August. I, too, am an avid lover of watching things go wrong.

Antaeus’ ClassicsFests have similar limitations as the NY Fringe. With almost no rehearsal time, our festival plays are staged, still on book and use the main stage production’s set and light plot. Our Classics Festival is one huge obstacle course for our actors. This is one of our most anticipated, popular events to attend and participate in—mishaps and all.

Last year, the actor playing Richmond was stopped by the actor playing Richard III walking out on stage and interrupting him mid-speech. Why? Richmond had accidentally skipped over the “My kingdom for a horse” speech, and Richard III wasn’t going to miss out on performing it. In other readings: an actress had to read her own stage directions when the reader dropped the ball on a crucial action.

Missed entrances, missed lines, incorrect sound cues, partially choreographed fights—all add to the thrill of experiencing something LIVE. This is why the audience loves things going wrong in a show. It is the excitement of watching actors handle the unexpected. This is why I love the theater. A group of people get together on any given evening, and no matter how long the run, this audience experiences a performance no one else will ever see. A collective personal memory. Live is better.

Kendra Chell is a member of A2, The Antaeus Academy’s ensemble, and also works as Company & Administrative Manager of Antaeus.  She can next be seen in The Illusion, directed by David Bridel.

Kendra as Florinda in A2's workshop of THE ROVER, ClassicsFest '08.  Photo by Michele K. Short


Kendra as Florinda in A2’s workshop of THE ROVER, ClassicsFest ’08. Photo by Michele K. Short
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Antaeus in the ‘The New York Times’

There’s a nice piece in THE NEW YORK TIMES today about the Shaw Festival in Ontario, which is currently staging TONIGHT AT 8:30, Noël Coward’s collection of one acts. According to the piece,

The festival is presenting nine of the works in three groups of three plays each, the format in which they were seen in London in 1936 and a few months later in New York, when they starred Coward, who also directed, and his muse, Gertrude Lawrence.

Writer David Belcher provides a thorough production history of the piece, including a mention of Antaeus’s run of the show in 2007.

All’s Welles in this King Lear

True to form, I prepare for Antaeus to begin study sessions on KING LEAR by watching every version of the play I can

Welles as Lear, Peter Brook directed for TV

Welles as Lear, Peter Brook directed for TV

get into my grubby hands.  I started with the DVD library at Antaeus, and a TV version I’ve never seen which seemed like a recipe for a fascinating evening: Peter Brook directs Orson Welles in 1953.  It would be theatrical, at the very least!  I couldn’t wait to get home and pop it into the DVD player, especially after reading what Welles said about Lear, even back then: In our consumer society we are encouraged to forget that we will ever die, and old age can be postponed by the right face cream. And when it finally does come, we’re encouraged to look forward to a long and lovely sunset.
Without going too far into how obsessed Welles was with Lear throughout his entire career (staging it as a schoolboy, and various attempts at staging it until the disastrous City Center of New York production in 1956, marking the end of his theatrical career).  My expectations were high.
The opening scene didn’t disappoint.  Welles as Lear looked like a pretty nightmarish version of a storybook king, one whose pages had perhaps been left out in the rain a few too many times.  He literally ripped a crudely drawn map of his kingdom into pieces with a large carving knife, throwing it at his daughters’ husbands after they proclaimed their ‘love.’  There has yet to be a truly satisfying translation of the aside on the TV or movie screen, so I let go of Cordelia’s concerns being a VO while Natasha Perry looked pensive in white among her dark sisters.

Everything moved along pretty well until about fifteen minutes into the story: where was Edmund?  No “Why bastard,” no “Excellent foppery of the world”—how can you do Lear and omit the “excellent foppery of the world?”

When we got to the storm and all my fears were confirmed, I turned it off.  I’ll soon move on to the recent RSC’s version with Sir Ian McKellan; even though I’ve heard mixed reviews, at least I’ll see the play, the story Shakespeare intended.

-Cindy Marie Jenkins

Artistic Associate

The Antaeus Company

Likin’ ‘As You Like It’

This past weekend, we did a down & dirty reading of AS YOU LIKE IT, which was co-initiated by myself and fellow company member Devon Sorvari. We were incredibly lucky to assemble a fantastic cast for the reading who brought life and merriment to the room. Everyone attacked the reading with gusto, and for 2.5 hours, we were transported from a black box theater to the Forest of Arden. Here’s a bit on the background of the project…

–Tamara Krinsky

Why AS YOU LIKE IT?
Devon and I wanted to read AS YOU LIKE IT because it’s lovely and fun and has great roles for chicks such as us! I approached Devon almost 8 months ago about co-initiating the project with me, proposing that she take on the role of “Rosalind” and I tackle “Celia.” Given the numerous references in the script to Celia’s, ahem, shorter stature, this seemed to be our natural casting.

Another reason we were attracted to initiating a reading of AYLI? We young ladies in the company often Sorvari Krinskydouble for one another in Antaeus productions, which means we never actually get the chance to work on stage with one another. AYLI gave us a chance to do that, in addition to enlisting the sizeable talents of the experienced ensemble. We knew it would be a treat to hear the play with Antaeus voices.

Plus, something about AYLI in summertime just made us smile…it does indeed seem the right time of year to hang out in the forest, singing songs, falling in love….

On a slightly deeper note, there are several themes in the play that we were attracted to and curious about. Sibling rivalry. Mirth vs. melancholy. Getting out from under the thumb of a repressive, controlling regime (Age of Bush) and entering an era of brotherhood and compassion (Age of Obama). Choosing who you want in your life to be “family” – whether that be your cousin, your lover or your band of brothers in the woods.

It’s also been fascinating exploring AS YOU LIKE IT while we have been prepping for a study cycle of KING LEAR. There are quite a few parallels between the two plays, and juxtaposed against one another, they become all the more clear. Father-daughter relationships. The exile of Kings. The corruption of court life vs. the simplicity of nature.

In his essay, “The Character Of Life In As You Like It: Consciousness Approach to Shakespeare,” Garry Jacobs writes:

A striking example of the relationship between comedy and tragedy is the similarity of plot in KING LEAR and AS YOU LIKE IT. Lear’s two elder daughters deprive him of all his kingly trappings and cast him out onto the stormy heath where the banished Kent comes in disguise to serve him. Edmund plots to capture his brother Edgar’s title with the result that Edgar too is forced to run away to the heath for safety. Lear, Kent, Edgar, Gloucester and The Fool roam in the wilderness and face the harsh conditions of physical nature. In AS YOU LIKE IT, Frederick usurps his older brother’s title and exiles him to the forest. Oliver deprives his younger brother Orlando of his rightful share of the inheritance and later plots his murder, forcing Orlando to flee to the forest with his servant Adam where they join Senior with his lords, Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone living in nature.

CAST
The cast for the reading included:
•    ROSALIND – Devon Sorvari
•    CELIA – Tamara Krinsky
•    DUKE FREDERICK/DUKE SENIOR/WILLIAM  – Gregory Itzin
•    JAQUES – Arye Gross
•    AMIENS / SIR OLIVER MARTEXT / PAGE 1 – Mark Doerr
•    ORLANDO – Ramon DeOcampo
•    OLIVER / LE BEAU /  LORD #2 – Bo Foxworth
•    ADAM / CORIN / HYMEN – Paul Eiding
•    CHARLES / LORD #1 / JACQUES DE BOYS / PAGE #2 – Aaron Lyons
•    TOUCHSTONE – John Apicella
•    AUDREY / LORD #2 – Anne Gee Byrd
•    PHOEBE / LORD #1 – Angela Goethals
•    SILVIUS / DENNIS  – Russell Soder

The Antaeus Academy: Origins & Curriculum

“The Academy is a door into a wonderful community of actors who truly, wholeheartedly love what they do, and I am honored to be a part of it.” -Chris Pine

ABOUT THE ACADEMY: By Jeanie Hackett, Artistic and Academy Director

At Antaeus, we believe mastering the acting challenges of great classics takes a lifetime. And we believe that wanting to take on these challenges is what makes for great acting. Here, we’re constantly putting young artists-in-training together with seasoned professionals — in the classroom, in readings, workshops and in full productions. So that skills, work ethics, inspiration are not just taught but ‘passed down.’

At Antaeus, you learn through study and by osmosis from some of the most talented and acclaimed actors and directors in the country, as you take part in a program that makes the utmost demands on your instrument: voice, body, intellect and talent. Antaeus is a company of artists who share your passion for great acting, great language, great human stories. The exhilaration of this lifelong collaboration—artist to text, artist to process, artist to artist – is what informs our productions and feeds our hunger for exploration and theatrical truth. It’s why an ongoing ensemble company can make theater that can thrill audiences– and maybe even make a difference in the world.

“Taking classes at Antaeus has been an incredibly illuminating and fruitful experience for me. The unique thing about the Academy that I feel is lacking in other courses in this town, or anywhere for that matter, is the inspirational way we are encouraged to look at the text and our characters. Antaeus does not produce “cookie-cutter” actors but inspires us all to think outside the box and really home in our unique selves, which then creates unique characters and a truly spectacular result, which is captivating theatre.” -Rebecca Mozo


ABOUT THE ACADEMY

Academy training programs are for established professionals and upcoming, early-career actors. Our ability to give students the opportunity to explore complex texts in front of an exciting array of esteemed actors, directors, and instructors makes us unique among Los Angeles acting schools. Created in part so that we could get to know the work of younger actors for company projects, actors in Academy workshops become a part of a community of artists who cultivate and nourish a passion for the greatest (scripted!) hits of all time.

Our astonishing roster of ongoing Academy guest moderators includes some of the finest actors, directors and acting teachers in the country: Annette Bening, Alfred Molina, Daniel Sullivan, Stefan Novinski, Kate Burton, Jonathan Lynn, Tom Moore, Jessica Kubzansky, Dakin Mattews, Brendon Fox, Art Manke, Bart DeLorenzo, Gordon Hunt, Austin Pendleton, Nike Doukas, Olympia Dukakis, Susan Sullivan, Michael Hackett, Barnet Kellman, Sheldon Epps, Andy Robinson, Stephen Wadsworth, Mark Rucker, Simon Levy, Jeanie Hackett, Susan Sullivan, Andrew Barnicle, Jeffrey Nordling, Arye Gross, Armin Shimerman, Jean Louis Rodrigue, Rowena Balos, Stephen Collins, Alan Mandell, Stephanie Shroyer, Blythe Danner and Gregory Itzin among many others are regular guests in our scene study and Shakespeare classes.

We believe that working on great material with a variety of experienced teachers is the best way to create dynamic, flexible actors who can excel, inspire, and amaze, whether working on stage, or in film or television. Actors coming to the classics for the first time have the opportunity to become familiar and comfortable with a wide range of dramatic literature and acting styles. Well-trained actors coming to us from graduate programs have the invaluable experience of testing their technique against real-world scenarios: multiple points-of-view, methods — and directors. Thus, the workshops provide both a safe and supportive atmosphere and one that mirrors the realities of the professional world where actors are called upon to adapt to many different styles and ways of working over the course of a career.

Most Academy workshops culminate in invited presentations of scene work for the company; in doing so we hope to foster a community of artists who share a common artistic language as well as a dedication to a company spirit of working together to create vibrant, moving, entertaining theater.

“The space, the people, the instructors made it so that I dared take my acting to higher levels and push myself to the limit. It made me feel like an actor again – not an auditioner, which is how LA sometimes makes you feel.” — Kristin Proctor Campbell

CLASSES OFFERED

CLASSICAL STYLES
A fourteen-week scene study class for actors from 18 to 35 years old. Each four-week segment focuses on a different aspect of classical theater, including modern classics. In the Fall, each month is divided into Shakespeare, the Greeks, and work on Shaw, Wilde and Coward. The Spring session covers Chekhov, Ibsen and Strindberg, American Classics, and Moliere and Restoration Comedy. Jeanie Hackett (actress, teacher, and author of The Actor’s Chekhov and Towards Mastery) is the principal moderator with a variety of guest moderators leading the class every other week.

Class Details & Requirements
Classical Styles meets Tuesday evenings from 7 -11 pm and culminates in a scene presentation open to Antaeus members and invited guests. Students are eligible for casting in Antaeus Company readings, projects, and productions, and the presentation is the primary way Company members get to know students and their work. 24 – 26 students participate in each session, students do at least three new scenes and two reworks over the three month period. Admission by audition only. We look for strong, classically trained actors, as well as younger actors who show genuine potential for meeting the challenges presented by classical texts.

“One of the best parts of Antaeus is that the class leads to a performance. You get the excitement of moving towards something.” –Ryan Spahn

SHAKESPEARE WORKOUT
Experience the challenges and rewards of playing Shakespeare in sessions moderated by a rotating group of L.A.’s top actors, directors and acting teachers. An ongoing, year-round program, SW features a different guest moderator every month.

Class Details & Requirements
Open to actors of all ages and levels of experience, the workout focuses on text analysis, monologue and scene work. Open to actors in of any age with the discipline and potential skills for classical work. This workshop meets Tuesdays from 2 – 5 pm for twelve (12) weeks. Actors new to the workshop commit to an initial 12-week session; returning actors may join the workshop on by the month. We are looking for actors of any age eager to learn or re-discover the skills required for dealing with Shakespeare’s text.

INTENSIVE IMMERSION

These workshops focus on a single playwright, style, or acting technique, are led by a master teacher and culminate in a presentation for Antaeus Company members and guests. In the past, these workshops have included Dakin Matthews’ Intensive Immersion in Shakespeare and John Achorn’s master class in Commedia dell’Arte. Future Intensive Immersions may include a workshop in myth and mask work led by Andy Robinson, a Russian Theater/Chekhov Immersion led by Jeanie Hackett, and a Language in Shakespeare workshop led by Gregory Itzin and/or Alfred Molina.

Class Details & Requirements
These two-weekend long workshops are open to actors with extensive experience in classical theater, and by audition to actors who have completed Classical Styles. Actors recommended by Company members will be accepted without audition. Workshop fees vary according to program and length.

Why is Arts Education important to me?

Brett Colbeth, A2 member & volunteer for Shakes Alive!, Antaeus's Shakespeare in the Schools Program

Brett Colbeth, A2 member & volunteer for Shakes Alive!, Antaeus's Shakespeare in the Schools Program

Why is Arts Education Important to me?

By Brett Colbeth, member of A2 & Antaeus Shakes Alive! Volunteer

You ask that question to any artist and they will probably chuckle like I did.  To me, it’s like asking, “Why is breathing important to me?”  I can only speak from my own experience and that’s exactly what I hope to achieve in this, my very first blog post.

If I weren’t fortunate enough to have had arts education in my life I would have turned out to be a degenerate… seriously!  I came close a few times in life.  Since as far back as I can remember, the arts have always acted as a productive and healthy outlet for me.  As a child, I would sketch and paint in order to quiet my mind and make sense of what I was feeling.  I still do.  Ms. Hemmings, my elementary school art teacher, taught me that whatever I created was beautiful because it came from my own personal truth.  She praised my version of “American Gothic” a la “Ren and Stimpy.”  I won my school district’s art award and a lot of self-esteem. Thanks Ms. Hemmings.  Mr. Provost, my fourth grade cello teacher, not only taught me “Ode to Joy” but how to handle and care for something with love and grace.  Thanks Mr. Provost!  Bruce Altice, my guitar teacher, taught me how to wail on the guitar and not on others.  Mr. Wahl, my senior year English teacher opened my eyes and soul to Shakespeare and poetry!

These are just a few of the arts educators that played a major role in putting the arts into my life.  I would like to conclude with recognizing my mother and father who nurtured my love for the arts at an early age and though not “artists” in the purist sense of the word are two of the most creative and original people I know.  They taught me to look at things subjectively, empathize with others and seek out the beauty in life, my brother man, and myself.  And most importantly, never settle for anything less than the truth! So to conclude, why is arts education important to me?  If I didn’t have sketching and painting as a means to quiet my mind and focus my energy I would have drugs and alcohol.  If Ms. Hemmings never told me about my own personal truth I would have looked for it in another person, place or thing.  If Mr. Provost never taught me how to hold and care for a cello I would have a difficult time holding and caring for anyone and anything I had the chance of laying my hands on.  If Bruce Altice never taught me how to wail on the guitar at that very moment in my life, I would have been kicked out of school and thrown in juvenile hall for violent delinquent behavior. And If Mr. Wahl, never opened my eyes and soul to Shakespeare and poetry I would struggle even more than I do today with “finding the words to say.”  And that’s exactly where I will end it.  Do the world a service and create some art today!

Brett Colbeth

“The arts provide a more comprehensive and insightful education because they invite students to explore the emotional, intuitive, and irrational aspects of life that science is hard pressed to explain. “

-Charles Fowler

The Antaeus Company

Artists-in-Residence Program

SHAKES ALIVE!

BACKGROUND

Shakes Alive! Is the education outreach program run by the nationally-renowned Antaeus Theatre Company.  Dedicated classical theater actors, many of whom are recognizable from TV and film as well, encourage students in non-theater classes to dive into Shakespeare and other classic plays.  Students discover how actors breathe life into these texts, and then they do it themselves.  By analyzing rich, dense language, absorbing its meaning and beauty, and then performing it with energy and emotional truth, students gain confidence — and a deep appreciation for some of humanity’s greatest works of art.

PROGRAM

Our Lead Teacher works closely with your teachers to choose a text to bring to life in each class.   Perhaps in an English class students are studying THE TEMPEST, THE CRUCIBLE, or ROMEO AND JULIET.  In a science class, we can introduce a play to like the Pulitzer Prize-winning COPENHAGEN, which explores the concept of objectivity both in science and in our moral lives.

Each week one or two professional, successful actors visit to share their process in mining and examining a role.  Students participate in acting games, improvisation, and “direct” the actors as they make choices about their performances.  In so doing, students learn that they have power both as artists and readers, and that classic plays are dynamically relevant and exciting.

For more information, please email cindy@antaeus.org