I Am a Seagull: v.V

The cast of The Seagull, Act I (photo by A. Goodman)

We had our first previews of The Seagull at The Antaeus Company last week – which means we had our very first audiences! For weeks we have been rehearsing for our fellow actors, director, designers and occasionally our artistic directors. Last Thursday night was the first night in front of an audience of fresh eyes. And these eyes were seriously fresh – aka young. The seats of the Deaf West Theatre were packed with students from Louis Fantasia’s class at the New York Film Academy.

The students appeared to be in their late teens to early 20s – the same age as Nina and Konstantin in our play. Many of these students were working on Nina/Kostya scenes in class and had a lot of questions for us. One of the young women in the audience asked me at the talk-back,

Jules Willcox, Act IV (photo by Alexandra Goodman)

“How do you prepare for Act 4?”

This is a tough question to answer in only a few minutes. Two years pass by between Acts 3 and 4. These aren’t easy-breezy years for any of the characters, least of all for the character I play – Nina. I won’t add any spoilers to this post, but I will let you know that Nina undergoes a major psychological and physical transformation in those 2 years. I let them in on some of the things I work on when prepping for that scene – dealing with the circumstances, sensory work and the moment before. I also explained that everybody’s process is so different and personal – that what works for me may not work for them. The biggest thing I’ve realized while working with 2 casts is that Chekhov gives us so many hints, obstacles and rich circumstances but the character isn’t real until it is inhabited by an actor. Each actor that takes on a role in “The Seagull” brings something different, so each performance becomes a whole new play.

I recommend playing this while reading the next bit:
Tchaikovsky – Op. 39 No. 15 Italian Song (Act II – Piano by John Allee)

Avery Clyde & Patrick Wenk-Wolff (photo by A. Goodman)

As the Samovar cast trickled into the theater on Thursday night, you could sense them all slipping into character. The effervescent Avery Clyde (Masha) puts on something black and broods to tunes on her iPhone. Patrick Wenk-Wolff (Medvedenko) rattles off random facts about the Death Star. Gigi Bermingham (Arkadina) gives me a compliment about my costume and follows it up with a quote from the play and a wink (“But we don’t want to spoil her”).

Adrian LaTourelle & Gigi Bermingham (photo by A. Goodman)

Adrian LaTourelle (Trigorin) in turn, compliments the lovely Gigi. John Achorn (Shamrayev) presides over the library. Joe Delafield (Treplev) messes up his hair and immediately looks like a petulant teenager. Gregory Itzin (Sorin) simply picks up a cane and his whole physicality changes. James Sutorius (Dorn) turns up the charm (he goes to 11). Reba Waters (Paulina) sigh deeply as she gazes on our prop flowers.

“The Seagull” opens tomorrow March 1 at 8pm.

Antaeus Member, Jules Willcox, shares her experiences working on our production of The Seagull. This is the fifth installment. Tickets now on sale at  www.antaeus.org

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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