Academy Spotlight: Tro Shaw

Tell us about yourself (where you’re from, maybe where you studied, how long you’ve been in LA, your favorite credits).
I am a native Berkeley girl, raised by a couple of social hippies in the amazing bay area.  I had a burning passion to study acting from a very young age, and I ended up at Carnegie Mellon University, where I earned my BFA in Acting.  I moved out to New York in June, 2008 and had the great good fortune to be cast as Anybodys in the Broadway revival of “West Side Story” about 3 months into my living in New York.  Being a part of that show changed my life, and it was absolutely thrilling and challenging and very fulfilling.   I had a bit of difficulty adapting to the hussle and rush of the New York lifestyle, and not too long after the end of my contract I came home to Berkeley and gave myself a break.  I drove down to LA to visit a few friends in October, 2010 and I sorta forgot to leave.  Here I am a year later, and I absolutely love it here!  I’ve had an opportunity to direct, produce, act, sing, dance, and even take classes again.  Its been a wonderfully freeing experience.

Tro Shaw

Tell us why you love acting or what made you choose it as your profession, etc.

When I was 4 yrs old, my aunt was stage managing with Berkeley Shakes (now Cal Shakes).  They were rehearsing a production of “Romeo & Juliet” and the director wanted street urchins to be a part of the opening fight scene.  I actually got to stand down center, as a sword fight broke out over my head, and scream out, “Mama, mama!!!”.  My acting was so convincing that my own mother, who was reading in the back of the house, jumped up and ran to me, distressed.  I apparently said, “Mom, I was just acting!” She says that was the beginning of my love for theater, but all I know is that its a passion I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
I decided to make it my career when I saw a production of “Chicago” around my 13th birthday, and was moved by the passion and skill of the two main women.  It made me want to work at my own craft in order to have the flexibility to do any kind of role; singing, dancing, shakespeare, anything.What brought you to Antaeus?}
When I first arrived in LA, I couch-surfed a bit, and ended up more than once on the Joanna Strapp’s couch.  She and I had been friends at Carnegie Mellon, and she has always been an extremely generous person.  She told me about the Anteaus, and how much she enjoyed being surrounded by so many passionate artists.  I also spoke with my aunt, who has always been like a mentor to me in the arts, and she spoke very highly of Anteaus’ work and their overall reputation.  So I decided to audition, and I’m so glad I did.

 
What do you want to gain from the class?  Do you have a specific “problem” on which you want to focus?

My main goal with taking this class is to free myself from self-imposed limitations.  When you’re working in a college conservatory program, its easy to feel that you are limited by your weaknesses, and by your classmates’ strengths.  For example, I always felt like I wasn’t the most emotionally free actress, while a couple other girls in my class were extremely emotionally free.  I also didn’t feel very brave in school, so I am finding myself overcoming some of that in this class.

What do you think of the class so far?
Geoffrey Wade is an amazingly supportive and nurturing teacher.  He finds a way to balance the two components of teaching a class like this (acting coaching and scene directing) with such a delicate and refined skill.  Its lovely to watch him work with others, and thrilling to get up yourself and work with him.  I also feel so lucky to be in a class with people from so many different backgrounds and experiences.  Each actor has a unique strength and struggle, and it makes for a lot of exciting work every time we meet.

Tro in class with Guest Moderator, Andy Robinson

What is your experience with classical theater?  Has class reinforced/changed what you previously thought, or have you learned new things, etc?

I was surrounded by shakespeare from a very young age, and even in elementary school I felt as though the text made sense to me in a way that was somewhat innate.  During my training at Carnegie Mellon I was able to work in great detail on many classical scenes from Greeks to Shakespeare to Checkov to Ibsen to Miller to Williams.  I had the opportunity to play Natasha in a CMU production of “The Three Sisters” with guest director, Vladimir Mirodan, from The Drama Centre in London.  This class has definitely reinforced a lot of my conservatory training, and its been a great reminder to me of some key things, like the importance of giving all you have to your scene partner in order to make something happen between the two of you.  The most successful scenes so far have been when both actors were totally invested in each other and truly responding to what the other actor was giving them.Tell us a fun fact about you or highlight one of your unusual special skills.

I was a gymnast from age 4-12, and I can still do a mean back flip.  Also an aerial (no-handed cartwheel).

Anything new and exciting going on in your life? (doesn’t have to be acting related, can be an engagement, upcoming trip, new dog, etc.)

I just celebrated my one year anniversary with LA and also with my boyfriend, who I met two weeks after I got here.  I couldn’t be happier!Tro Shaw is currently in the Greeks/Shakespeare Classics Class. Auditions for our Spring Semester of Classes take place on January 13th and 14th. Email academy@antaeus.org for more info.

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Unmasking The Malcontent: v. XIV

“Now, by my troth, beauties, I would ha’ ye once wise…” Maquerelle, The Malcontent, Act IV Scene 1

The Antaeus Company does not limit itself merely to staging works of classical drama ranging from Noel Coward to John Marston to Tennessee Williams to Jeffrey Hatcher (although, we do in fact do all those things. Very, very well). The other side of the Antaeus mission statement discusses its devotion to furthering education in the classics, and in my experience with the company, this has meant the education of the next generation of classical theater actors. But Antaeus is also active in classrooms all over the county, and last week, we were paid a visit by a class from North Hollywood High School.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I loved performing for the students — the main reason being that it was really fairly recently that I would have been in that kind of field trip, so I have a special big-kid sort of glee performing for one. More than that, high school students are fun to perform for because you do not expect them to be judging the acting, direction, and technical aspects of the show against every other production this season; so it’s easy to let go of your paranoia and simply tell the story. After the show, the cast changed out of costume and came down to the edge of the stage for a Q and A with the students. We talked to them about the rehearsal process, the weeks of table-work, how the double-casting worked, how acting in a Marston play differs from a day on a TV set. Then we asked if, for any of them, it was a first time seeing live theater; of the two who raised a hand, one gave us a beautiful summation of her thoughts.

She told us that she understood why more people didn’t want to go to the theatre; she told us that she had been afraid she wouldn’t understand what was going on and was fully prepared to simply pretend that she did (and this was before she knew it was a 400 year old play; “then I really knew ‘ok, I’m so not going to understand what’s going on.'”). But she went on to say that she not only understood everything she saw, but that she was fascinated to see how “people 400 years ago were doing the same stuff that people are doing now: the way men use women, the way that love so easily turns into lust, the way power corrupts…” are still things that she sees people dealing with, and that’s why theater is important; because if people saw that they were in the same mess today as they were 400 years ago, maybe they’d stop doing it.

It just doesn’t get any better than that. We gave her an ovation.

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Abby Wilde (far r) with the "BECCOS" cast of The Malcontent. Photo: Karianne Flaathen

And now, here we are: the home stretch, the last inning, the sports metaphor that properly expresses how it feels to approach the last performance of The Malcontent. I face the end with sadness and satisfaction; I think we have thus far acquitted ourselves with dignity and style on the stage, and unceasing shenanigans and tomfoolery off it, both of which I will miss dearly. But it’s not an utter goodbye; so many of us are either Company members or Company member-adjacent that we’re nearly all re-uniting one way or another through Classicsfest 2011. For some of us, it’s Aphra Behn’s The Lucky Chance, a reading which will be directed by the one-and-only Liz Swain (although personally, I think she should stop picking such popular, everyday plays and go for something a little more obscure). Others of us are joining the ranks of Macbeth, directed by Jessica Kubzansky. (There are countless others; I only mention these two because I happen to be in both of them and dreadfully excited at that.) But while the cast may continue on in one iteration or another, it will not be The Malcontent. The corsets, bum-rolls, tights, petticoats, and towering wigs have been shipped home where they belong and the words of the play will sink back into the silence of the Antaeus Library.

 

A2 Ensemble Member, Abby Wilde, shares her experiences working on our production of The Malcontent. This is the fourteenth installment. For tickets, visit www.antaeus.org

Karianne Flaathen and “The Typists”

Karianne Flaathen is a member of the A2 Ensemble, and the project initiator of the upcoming Last Call for Theater production of The Typists by Murray Schisgal. We’ve asked Karianne a series of questions about her project to allow our friends to get familiar with this upcoming show. We are certainly excited about it!

A2 Ensemble Member, Karianne Flaathen. Photo by Geoffrey Wade

The Typists is not a widely known play. What attracted you to it?

I was first introduced to The Typists through its companion piece The Tiger a few years ago. The Tiger is just so raw and compelling, with great humor as well as an underlying danger throughout. It’s a great piece, which deals with the everyman, his sense of failure (both within himself and from society as a whole), as well as the class difference between him and the female character in it. So after that, I couldn’t put the book down. I was further inspired and moved by The Typists, because it’s really a play that I think everyone, no matter where they’re from or what their social background is, can relate to on some level. I think that’s what attracts me to it, besides being brilliantly written! It deals with universal human issues – and what is really interesting too, is that Schisgal’s work (including these two pieces) was first produced in London in 1960. It then continued to be produced all over Europe, as well as Israel, before it finally made it to New York in 1963. As a newcomer at the time, he found it pretty much impossible to get in the door here at home, so on his way through London one summer, without much optimism, he handed in a couple of his short plays to a small theatrical group there. He was completely surprised when they contacted him almost at once telling him his pieces would be produced–and then they kept asking for more!

What themes in The Typists do you find to be the most compelling?

Oh, there are so many… I suppose the tragicomedy aspect of it is one part. The sense of having dreams and aspirations, but not fulfilling them. The sense of love and loss and trying to carve out one’s own identity while society and other family members’ influences loom large. Wanting to hide, wanting to get away, or simply just wanting something ELSE, but not knowing exactly what, or how to find it… Feeling paralyzed within society, just unable to move in any direction.

These are issues relatable to most people I think, or certainly to me!

What do you most look forward to when working on this play?

I think… all of the above! And also the physical aspects of the play, and really using the language. Exploring all the relationships – the one on stage and the many off-stage ones… It’s just a really juicy piece, with lots of layers. It’s a real privilege to work on this kind of material, especially with the caliber of people I get to work with on this particular production – the great team behind the scenes, as well as my co-actor, Drew Doyle, and then being directed by Rob Nagle. It’s just a real privilege all around!

What do you think makes this play relevant today?

On the dust jacket of the first edition of this play, The Typists is described as: “timeless in its vision of human suffering and aspiration” – I suppose that kind of says it all. It really is timeless, and will always be relevant in the same way Chekhov will always be relevant. It quite simply deals with the human condition of the everyman, with the ups and the downs, the tragedy and the comedy, love, laughter, tears and regrets – it never gets old.

Flaathen, performing with Antaeus. Photo: Geoffrey Wade

Is there anything about this play that poses a particular challenge for you?

Besides the whole thing??!! I suppose the aging aspect of it. The play moves through time, so finding the subtle nuances of the changing physicality that comes with that aging. When you’re not yet old, I think it can be easy to fall into a mannered idea of what ‘old’ looks and feels like – so trying to avoid that will be a definite challenge!

How long have you worked with The Antaeus Company?

I was first made aware of Antaeus when I moved to LA in 2006. Daniel Bess, who I went to college with, told me about the company and invited me to attend a ClassicsFest rehearsal he was in – I then attended two of his staged readings, and promptly came back to see more and more! I knew after that summer that this was a place I wanted to be a part of, on whatever level they would let me, so I got on their mailing list and nearly a year later I received an e-mail about forthcoming auditions for Classical Styles. Thankfully they accepted me into the class, and then I was asked to join A2 in 2008!

What do you most enjoy about the experience you have had with Antaeus?

The sense of community, and having an artistic base. That’s always something that was missing for me before. Acting is an unpredictable life and business at the best of times, so to have some kind of a constant in the midst of it all, and to be around people who know and trust your work, and you theirs, is invaluable! AND being able to work on some of the best plays ever written – whether through fully staged readings, or just sitting in the library among other actors whose work always inspires you – is just always a true gift!

Starring Karianne Flaathen and Drew Doyle, directed by Antaeus Company Member Rob Nagle. Performances run April 7th, 8th and 9th at 11:00pm, and April 10th at 2:00pm. Reservations are free. For tickets: www.antaeus.org

The Antaeus Company announces 2011 Line-Up

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lucy Pollak (for media only)
(818) 887-1499 lucy@lucypr.com

Hot on the heels of LADCC Award for “Outstanding Season” in 2010, The Antaeus Company announces 2011 line-up.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA – March 16 2011 – The Antaeus Company will offer double-cast productions of The Malcontent by John Marston and Peace in Our Time by Noël Coward in 2011, as well as a new installment of ClassicsFest, Antaeus’ signature, six-week festival of classical work. Presenting classical plays in Los Angeles since 1991, the company known as L.A.’s classical theater ensemble offered an inaugural season in 2010 that garnered the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle’s (LADCC) Polly Warfield Award for Outstanding Season at last Monday’s awards ceremony.

“This year, once again, we chose productions based on ongoing work we’ve been developing over the past year or two,” explains Antaeus artistic director Jeanie Hackett. The Malcontent was the hit of last summer’s ClassicsFest; and we’ve been working on Peace in our Time for over two years. Both plays use a wide range of actors, and are great vehicles for our ensemble company. And this summer’s ClassicsFest is full of gems-in-process.”

The Malcontent is John Marston’s viciously funny, filthy and surprising Jacobean masterpiece. The former Duke of Genoa takes the disguise of the outrageous Malevole (the titular Malcontent) to spy on the corrupt foibles of the new Duke and his unctuous cronies. Disguises, false deaths, seductions, deceptions, and adulteries all drive the plot of this enormously entertaining play. Elizabeth Swain will direct. Performances will take place May 5 through June 19, with previews beginning April 28.

Until now a biennial event, Antaeus’ popular festival of the classics, the vehicle through which the company develops much of its work, is going annual. Classicsfest 2011 marks Antaeus’ sixth, six-week “smorgasbord” of actor-initiated workshops, readings, and special events: a different project will take place almost every night of each week, July 12 through August 19.
Peace in Our Time is Noël Coward’s one and only anti-war propaganda play. Directed by Casey Stangl and choreographed by Harry Groener (recipient of the LADCC award for Performance for the title role in last season’s production of King Lear), Antaeus presents a new adaptation by company member Barry Creyton of this rare Coward work that has never before been produced in the U.S. What might life in England have been like if the Nazis had won the Battle of Britain? Performances are set for October 20 through December 11, with previews beginning October 13.

The Antaeus Company strives to keep classical theater vibrantly alive by presenting professional productions with a top-flight ensemble company of actors. Taking their company name from the Titan who gained strength by touching the Earth, Antaeus members – many of whom are familiar to movie and television audiences – regain creative strength by returning to the wellspring of their craft: live theater performances of great classical plays. All Antaeus productions are fully double cast, with two equally talented actors sharing every role. This means that audiences rarely see an understudy and frequently come back to see each show a second time in order to see the same play in the hands of an equally good but very different set of actors. Members of the company and its board span a wide range of age, ethnicity and experience; they have performed on Broadway, at major regional theaters across the country, in film and television, and on local stages, and are the recipients of multiple accolades including Tony, Los Angeles and New York Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly, and Back Stage Garland nominations and awards.

For more information about The Antaeus Company and the 2011 Season, call 818-506-5436 or visit online at www.antaeus.org.

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The Antaeus Academy announces its Spring 2011 Session auditions January 15th and 16th

By appointment only:  please email headshot/resume and cover letter to academy@antaeus.org to schedule your audition.

Joceyln Towne and Antonio Jaramillo

The Antaeus Academy focuses on all aspects of classical theater skills, technique and experience. From basic to advanced levels, classes are taught by an ev er-changing roster of some of the finest actors, directors and acting teachers in the country. Experienced actors reinvigorate and reconnect with their craft. Early-career artists learn from seasoned professionals in classes, readings, workshops and productions.  All are encouraged to audition:  previous classical theater training not required.


Classical Styles

Scene work from the classics, focusing on:
Chekhov/Strindberg/Ibsen, American Classics, and Restoration

A series of master classes in classical scene work moderated by various Antaeus members, as well as other acclaimed professional directors and actors. The workshop culminates in a presentation of scene work for Antaeus Company members and invited guests.

Past moderators include: Annette Bening, Gil Cates, Stephen Collins, Brian Cox, Bart DeLorenzo, Nike Doukas, Olympia Dukakis, Sheldon Epps, Brendon Fox, Arye Gross, Michael Hackett, Gregory Itzin, Jessica Kubzansky, Jonathan Lynn, Dakin Matthews, Alfred Molina, Jeffrey Nordling, Austin Pendleton, Diane Rodriguez, Armin Shimerman, Stephanie Shroyer, French Stewart, Elizabeth Swain, & Stephen Wadsworth.

Tuesdays, 7 – 11pm beginning February 8th
Class fee: $600 for 14 week session, $550 early bird discount.
Class size: 24 – 26 ~ Open to actors age 18 – 35

CS Fundamentals

Scene work from the classics, focusing on:
Shakespeare, The Greeks

Our newest class offering, designed to help upcoming professional actors gain experience and skills in performing the classics.  Through text analysis, monologue and scene work , study will focus intensively on two styles/authors per session, allowing actors intensive exploration in the fundamentals of classical theater.

Tuesdays, 7 – 11pm beginning February 1st
Class fee: $600 for 12 week session, $550 early bird discount.
Class size: 24 – 26 ~ Open to actors age 18 – 35

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, Shakespeare Workout features a different guest moderator every month. The workout covers an array of all things Shakespeare: text analysis, poetry and prose, historical study, vocal and physical technique; featuring monologue and scene work throughout. Actors new to the workshop commit to an initial 12-week session.

Tuesdays, 1:30 – 5pm, beginning February 1st
Class fee:  $570 for initial 12 week session, $500 early bird discount.

Class size: 16 – 20 actors per class ~ Open to actors of all ages

For more information, please visit our website:  http://antaeus.org/theacademy.html

Allan Miller Guest Moderates in May

We are so thrilled that Allan is teaching this May Interlude, in our time slot for the Shakespeare Workout.

Allan’s workshop runs May 4th-25th (Tuesdays, 2-5pm at Antaeus in North Hollywood).

From Allan:

“Every marvelous piano player knows you don’t just go out and play concertos, you have to practice fingering, chord structures, arpeggios, dynamics, etc. Every terrific basketball player knows you don’t just go out and play games, you practice dribbling, jump shots, lay-ups, etc.  For any creative actor there are five basic areas of work: text, character, situation, interpretation, and the actor’s habits. This class will focus on the process of practice.

Please join me for my May workshop: What & How to Rehearse—in any medium, from first readings and auditions to full production. We will work on cold readings, monologues, scenes, even songs.”

ALLAN MILLER is an actor, director, teacher and writer. He has acted in over two hundred films and television productions, and dozens of plays.  He recently appeared on Broadway in BROOKLYN BOY by Donald Margulies and THE SUNSHINE BOYS in Los Angeles. Mr. Miller was artistic director of the Back Alley Theatre for ten years, for which he received the LADCC Margaret Hartford Award for Distinguished Achievement. Other directing credits include theRoundabout Theatre, the Berkshire Theatre Festival, the Westport Playhouse, the Odyssey Theatre, International City Theatre, and Actors Studio West.  He teaches acting privately and at colleges and professional schools, including Circle in the Square, The Actors Studio, Yale School of Drama, New York University’s MFA professional program, the Focus Theatre in Dublin, and the International Actors group in Rome. His work as a master teacher is featured in the compilation book, A New Generation of Acting Teachers, published by Penguin. He is the author of “A Passion for Acting: Exploring the Creative Process” now in its third printing, and a DVD “The Craft of Acting: Auditioning.”  He is the author of “A Passion For Acting” and a DVD, “Auditioning.”  He wrote the play The Fox, which has been widely produced both nationally and internationally.  Mr. Miller is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has served on the Board of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild, and has been a panelist for the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and the California Arts Council. He studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, Uta Hagen at HB Studio, and Erwin Piscator at the Dramatic Workshop.

For more information, contact cindy@antaeus.org

A Disease Called Sobriety

PUNTILA AND MATTI poster small“There are bad people who would be less dangerous if they had no good in them.”

— La Rouchefoucauld

Brecht’s epic comedy of two men from very different strata of life — the good-natured, somewhat suspicious but always honest chauffeur, Matti, and his employer, gentleman farmer Puntila, whose only problem is this little disease he suffers from:  A disease called sobriety.

For when drunk, Puntila is warm, generous, insightful and wise.  It’s when he sobers up the trouble starts..

Written in Finland in the mid 1940s, “Puntila and Matti” premiered in Zurich in 1948 and was the premiere production of the newly-formed Berliner Ensemble in 1950.  Brecht believed this show should be done in style evoking the Commedia, and adaptor Lee Hall responded to that in 1998 by remaking it as a vaudeville extravaganza.

Sober Puntila has affianced his daughter Eva to a boring but respectable government Attache, but Drunken Puntila can’t stand the man and moves heaven and earth to strike a spark between Eva and Matti.  Sober Puntila is resigned to the single life, but Drunken Puntila, an inveterate ladies’ man, proposes to half the eligible women in the district.  Sober Puntila hires his laborers grudgingly at slave wages, but Drunken Puntila is a one-man stimulus package.

Can Mr. Brecht’s theories of alienation and collectivism survive in a breakneck world of snappy patter and showbiz pizazz?  Join Puntila, Matti, Eva, and the whole gang as they find the answer to that question!

Monday, Sept. 28th

7:30pm Reading

Email events@antaeus.org for more information on how to attend!

-John Apicella

John is a stage, film and tv actor whose thirty year career includes dozens of feature film and network television roles. His work with L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum includes West Coast premieres of Vaclav Havel’s plays Largo Desolato and Temptation, as well as the Antaeus/Taper production of Chekhov’s The Wood Demon.  Regional work includes A.C.T. (San Francisco) in The First Picture Show, Glengarry Glen Ross and The Imaginary Invalid, and the Dallas Theatre Center.  He is a founding member of Antaeus and served on the board for fifteen years and as co-artistic director for five years.
Besides a lifelong fascination with the plays of Brecht, his specialties include commedia dell’arte (he is a skilled classical maskmaker), the American drama of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the classical Greek and Roman theater