The Wood Demon

The Cast of the Original Production of "The Wood Demon" at Rest

“Actors climb up Chekhov like a mountain, roped together, sharing the glory if they ever make it to the summit.” While that quote is directly attributed to Ian McKellen, any Antaeus company member would be likely to agree. Much like Antaeus, there are no stars in Chekhov plays. Everybody sinks or swims together. Therefore, it’s no surprise that, twenty years ago, Antaeus’ first full-length production was a Chekhov play, the rarely-performed The Wood Demon. One of Chekhov’s earlier plays, many people consider it to be the precursor to Uncle Vanya. In honor of our twentieth anniversary, we’re bringing the show back this weekend for our Flight of Fancy. Frank Dwyer is returning to CF11, after his production of Othello, to direct.

As I wrap up my time at Antaeus, I’m constantly impressed by the amount of history this organization has and how it’s managed to stay an important part of the Los Angeles theater scene. The amount of passion these company members have for the work they do here helps me understand the crazy little dude on the logo: keeping one foot in the world of theater truly does help these actors stay relevant.

There are three chances this weekend to see The Wood Demon: Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Saturday’s performance is preceded by the Flight of Fancy prix fixe dinner at The Federal and a symposium on translating Chekhov for a modern audience with Frank Dwyer and Founding Members Dakin Matthews and Lillian Groag. Come celebrate twenty years of this fantastic company! We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Summer Intern and Columbia University MFA Candidate Jen Hoguet is keeping you up-to-date on all things ClassicsFest this summer at Antaeus. She can be reached via twitter @JHoToGo …..

Advertisements

Dakin Matthews Responds

Antaeus’ Founding Artistic Director, Dakin Matthews, wrote a satirical response to Sunday, August 8th’s LA TIMES article, “Dialogue: Critics Charles McNulty and Steven Leigh Morris discuss the state of L.A.’s small theaters.”

Over a tube of Pringles recently, actor-martyr Genisio Santo and director Meiningen Sachs began a dialogue on the state of theatre reviewing in L.A.; and this give-and-take, subsequently pursued over a second tube of Pringles, seemed worthy of a larger forum.

MS: I think it’s a shame the way not just the major critics like Nutty McCharles tend to be marginalized, but even the—shall I call them minor?—critics like Maury Lee Stevens.

GS: For the record, we don’t tend to think of the latter as “minor”—we prefer “waiver journalists.”  But be that as it may, how do you mean “marginalized,” Meiny?

MS: Well, literally.  I mean, they have to write in columns, they have to stay inside the margins. It’s sad, really; they’re treated like three-year-olds forced to stay inside the lines in coloring books.  I’d love to see their stuff spilling all over the page.  Wacky fonts!  Occasional gibberish!  I mean, what about their creativity?

GS: I hadn’t looked at it that way.

MS: I blame the marketplace.  They’re required by their public to write syntactically and coherently—

GS: Well, I’m not sure that’s true. . . .

MS: And to pander to that 99.5% of their readers who actually read, by having to conform to the stifling, old, traditional spelling and punctuation rules.

GS: Yes, what about that other half a percent who can’t read?  They’re the real cutting edge.  They’re the future.

MS: Yes, print reviewers these days can’t really write what they want; they’re so font- and format-whipped by their editors.  I look forward to the day when they can really cut loose, you know, dump those style sheets in the wastebaskets and write something I could honestly call a McCharles review or a Stephens review instead of that conformist boilerplate stuff that passes for reviews these days.

GS: I agree.  I mean, come on, who needs paragraphs?  What’s in a paragraph?  A screed by any other name, , , ,  But now, Meiny, let’s think even further outside the box.  I’m thinking interdisciplinary reviewing.

MS: Hmmm. How would that work, Genisio old chap?

GS: Well, all the big papers have websites—why shouldn’t Nutty or Maury sing their reviews in streaming video?  Or better yet, write them and then have somebody else deconstruct them, you know, pick out a line here, a line there, reassemble them into a collage, and then stage them as puppet shows?

MS: Yes, Travesty Presson might be just the person to do that!

GS: Whoa, wait—here, let me open that second tube of Pringles, Meiny old boy, I’m a trained actor.  What if we throw away the box entirely, and let the reviewer go to one play and review another one entirely?

MS: But don’t they do that already?  I mean, I often get the impression that they tend to review the play they wanted to see or thought they should have seen—or the one they would have produced (if they actually were in the producing business)–instead of the one they actually saw.

GS: Okay, then how about this—they don’t even see plays.  They just write reviews.

MS: Now you’re talking.  I’ve always thought the ideal situation would be for a reviewer to call me when a production was announced and I could explain to him my concept and what I wanted to do, and he could just review that, without have to deal with all those pesky playwrights and actors.  (Beat.)  No offense, Gen.

GS: None taken.   I mean, who do we think we are?

MS: Or, back to the interdisciplinary idea, how’s this for a picture? All the reviewers in spandex tights with lots of artificial fog, posturing their reviews to pretentious music—Critique de Soleil!

GS: Or–wait a minute—how about a mime review–live and in streaming video; and you could print it in the paper as well.

MS: Yes, fabulous!  And then—no, wait a minute—a mime review in the paper?  Then it’d just be a blank column.

GS: Exactly.

Peter van Norden on ‘King Lear’

One of the benefits of an ensemble company is the wisdom and insights of those offstage as well as the talents of those appearing in a particular production. Throughout the run of our production of King Lear and ClassicsFest 2010, we’ll be sharing thoughts from Antaeus company members about their experiences of the shows they see.

Peter Van Norden on King Lear
Okay. Lear. I’ve done the play twice and seen it countless times, so it’s the small, interesting choices that I’m drawn to – that fascinate me. So, here’s two moments that I found quite striking…one an image and one a “surprise” that I found quite affecting.

‘Lear’ before the hovel, at the end of the storm, III, iv.
It’s a famous speech, of course, ‘Lear’ praying in the tempest – “Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are…” — but both Dakin and Harry have found a fully realized moment with “O, I have ta’en too little care of this.” It becomes a sudden, surprising revelation to both Kings — and it humanizes ‘Lear’ in a visceral, beautifully moving way. In both performances, this sudden self-realization quite literally took my breath away. I’ve never seen the moment presented as clearly or as movingly.

Another “surprising image” that startlingly brings the depth of the play into a shattering focus is provided by both our ‘Edgars’ and ‘Edmunds’ — at the very end of their fight. When ‘Edgar’ finally has the upper hand in the battle…he suddenly and viciously goes for ‘Edmund’s’ eyes, as if to pluck them out. For me, this horrifying image brought an extra level to their struggle – a level that I found quite affecting and that reflects on all that’s gone before it. Not only is this a political battle (for power), and not only is it ‘Edgar’s’ personal revenge for what’s been done to him…but it’s ‘Edgar’s’ uncontrollable response to what has been so unjustly done to their father (‘Gloucester’). It solidifies the ‘Gloucester/Edgar’ relationship in one startling, almost unbearable moment. Kudos to Bart and Ramon/John/Seamus/Daniel for coming up with this idea. Great moment….

Name That Lear

Giants of the theater have tackled the role of Lear.  While we await the announcement of The Antaeus Company’s cast of KING LEAR, we offer you:

Name That Lear!

Announcing Moderators for our Fall Shakespeare Workout!

Jonathan Lynn moderates the Hay Fever Intensive

Jonathan Lynn moderates the Hay Fever Intensive with Director Douglas Clayton Photo by Geoffrey Wade

Announcing Guest Moderators
for Fall Session of


Shakespeare Workout!

Great actors need great writers. Experience the challenges and rewards of tackling Shakespeare in sessions moderated by a rotating group of L.A.’s top actors, directors and acting teachers.

September: Jonathan Lynn

Filmmaker, Screenwriter and novelist, Jonathan Lynn’s prolific career spans nearly four decades and includes directing, writing, producing and acting. He has directed numerous films, including “The Fighting Temptations,” “The Whole Nine Yards,” “My Cousin Vinny,” and “Clue.” From 1977 to 1981 he served as Artistic Director of The Cambridge Theatre Company, where he produced more than forty plays, directing twenty of them himself including a Macbeth with Brian Cox that toured both the UK and India, and played a special performance for the Prime Minister,Mrs Gandhi. The 1980’s phenomena “Yes, Minister” and “Yes, Prime Minister,” which Lynn co-created and co-wrote propelled Lynn to fame in his native Great Britain. Also an accomplished actor, his stage performances range from playing Hitler in The Comedy Of The Changing Years at the Royal Court Theatre to Motel The Tailor in the original London cast of Fiddler On The Roof. With Antaeus, Jonathan serves on the Board of Directors, as Chair of the Artistic Advisory Board, and has directed a variety of readings and workshop productions.

October: Dakin MatthewsMATTHEWS_DAKIN

A founding member of the Antaeus Company and has appeared in its productions of The Wood Demon, Of Mice And Men, The Man Who Had All The Luck, Mercadet, The Liar, The Proof of the Promise, and Chekhov x 4.  He is active in professional theatre in Southern California, and has appeared frequently in film and on TV.  He is also a playwright, director, dramaturge, and Shakespeare scholar. Dakin is an Associate Artist of the Old Globe Theatre, a founding member of John Houseman’s Acting Company, former Artistic Director of California Actors Theatre, Berkeley Shakespeare Festival, and the Antaeus Company, and current Artistic Director of Andak Stage Company. He has performed with ACT in San Francisco, the Old Globe in San Diego, the Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Repertory Theatre, specializing in Shakespearean roles. He has appeared in over twenty films and a hundred and fifty television shows, including regular or recurring roles on twelve different series. His handbook on verse-speaking, Shakespeare Spoken Here, has been used in universities and training programs throughout California; he has given masterclasses in Shakespearean acting across the country and has taught and directed in professional training programs at The Juilliard School, American Conservatory Theatre, Cal Arts, and USD/Old Globe.

November: Brendon Fox

Brendon Fox_053_A#F426small

Brendon Fox is a consultant and former Associate Producer for L.A. Theatre Works, directing   and producing many acclaimed radio plays for NPR as well as numerous national tours. For Antaeus, he directed one-act in Coward’s Tonight at 8:30

and The Rover with the A2 Company. He has worked as Associate Director at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego for seven years where he directed An Infinite Ache, Sky Girls, and Much Ado About Nothing (with Billy Campbell and Dana

Delany) among others. Regional directing credits include: Playmakers Repertory, The Pasadena Playhouse, The Weston Theatre Company;  The Julliard School and University of San Diego; Two River Theatre Company, Ravinia Music Festival, Writers Theatre Chicago, Merrimack Rep and Diversionary Theatre. Mr. Fox has directed national tours of The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial (with Ed Asner), Private Lives, and The Prisoner of Second Avenue (with Hector Elizondo) with L.A. Theatre Works.  Mr. Fox has taught and / or directed students at numerous prestigious conservatories around the country.  He holds a BS in Performance Studies at Northwestern University and an MFA in Directing at UCLA.

All Moderators are subject to availability

Shakespeare Workout meets on Tuesdays from 2-5pm, beginning September 8th

email academy@antaeus.org for more information

The Antaeus Academy announces auditions!

Welcome to Another Year at the Antaeus Academy,

The prestigious Antaeus Academy announces auditions for the fall sessions of Shakespeare Workout and Classical Styles.   Become a part of a vibrant theater community as you tackle material that demands the utmost of your talent!Michael Hackett instructs on the Greeks


From A2 (Academy Company) member Chris Pine:

“What I enjoyed about the class was the feeling that good work was demanded of you.  It always felt like a ‘no bullshit’ class.  It wasn’t ‘Hollywood’: didn’t matter how you looked or how many credits you had.  You were being taught great literature, it’s analysis and its performance from people whose credits would make you blush.  And I loved that.  There’s a tremendous respect for the actor as an important artist that’s taught in the academy and reflected in the community as a whole.  I think that’s really it: the academy is a door into a wonderful community of actors who truly, wholeheartedly love what they do, and I am honored to be part of it.”

Our classes open for auditions include…

CLASSICAL STYLES!

An intense excursion in classical scenework, this 14 week workshop focuses on Shakespeare, The Greeks, and Shaw, Coward, or Wilde.

Taught by Artistic Director Jeanie Hackett with Company Member Geoffrey Wade and Artistic Associate Cindy Marie Jenkins, and featuring our usual dazzling array of expert guest moderators! Workshop culminates in a presentation for Antaeus Company members and invited guests.

Meets Tuesdays, 7 – 11pm beginning September 15th
Class fee: $550 for 14 week session
Class size: 24 – 26
Open to actors age 18 – 35

Past Moderators included: Rowena Balos, Annette Bening, Kate Burton, Brian Cox, Olympia Dukakis, Sheldon Epps, Sabin Epstein, Jeanie Hackett, Michael Hackett, Gregory Itzin, Jessica Kubzansky, Jonathan Lynn, Art Manke, Dakin Matthews, Alfred Molina, Tom Moore, Jeffrey Nordling, Stefan Novinski, Austin Pendleton, Andy Robinson, Stephanie Shroyer, Daniel Sullivan, Geoffrey Wade and many others

and 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. Now an ongoing, year-round program, SW features a different guest moderator every month. Actors new to the workshop commit to an initial 12-week session; returning actors may join the workshop on a by-the-month basis. Open to actors of all ages and levels of experience, the workout focuses on text analysis, monologue and scene work.

Meets Tuesdays 2 – 5 pm, beginning September 8th
Class fee, new actors: $550 for initial 12 week session
Class fee, returning actors: $135 per month
Class size: 16 – 20 actors per class
Open to actors of all ages

Please email your picture and resume with audition request to academy@antaeus.org. Or, mail to:

The Antaeus Company
5114 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
Attn: Cindy Marie Jenkins

Upon review, you will be contacted for an audition appointment.

Please prepare one classical monologue, no longer than two-minutes.