This Summer: ClassicsFest 2013 Part Two!

This summer, take a little break from the Salem witch trials.  Antaeus presents to you staged readings on all sorts of topics: angry young men, assassination, architecture, megalomania, idealism… and extremely large noses.  Join us for ClassicsFest Part Two!

Bess_DanielJun 23 & 24*, 7pm
LOOK BACK IN ANGER by John Osborne
Initiated by Daniel Bess & Linda Park, Directed by Jamie Wollrab

Park_LindaLook Back in Anger, written by John Osborne, first premiered at London’s Royal Court in 1956, where it was met with harsh criticism for its incendiary treatment of highly autobiographical material. According to Alan Stilltoe – another writer of the time – “John Osbourne didn’t contribute to British Theatre, he set up a landmine and blew it up.”  The piece, which gifted us with the moniker “angry young man,” still resonates today with its dissection of that ineffable longing to be loved.

*6pm Potluck Supper before the Monday performance.  In the Antaeus library. $15 donation or bring a dish!

Nagle_Rob 2013Jun 30 & July 1, 7p
OUR AMERICAN HAMLET by Jake Broder
Initiated by Rob Nagle, Directed by Darin Anthony

1866. Broadway. Edwin Booth, the greatest actor of the nineteenth century, prepares to take the stage as Hamlet, less than a year after his brother assassinated President Lincoln.  This brand new play from the mind of playwright Jake Broder begs the question: for the past century and a half, have we been blaming the wrong brother?

ERB_Nicole 2012July 7 & 8, 7pm
THE MASTER BUILDER
by Henrik Ibsen
Initiated by Nicole Erb & Elizabeth Swain, Directed by Elizabeth Swain

Swain_ElizabethHenrik Ibsen’s tale of ambition, madness and desire.  At the height of architect Halvard Solness’ power and success, a mysterious young woman appears, forcing him to face both the consequences of his quest for greatness and his growing fear that his creative powers are dwindling. Since its publication in 1892, some have argued that this is Ibsen’s most autobiographical play. Some insist it is merely a psychological study of one man’s rise to and fall from power. Join us for a reading of this extraordinary work and decide for yourself.

Cullum_JD_July 14 & 15, 7pm
CYRANO DE BERGERAC by Edmond Rostand, adapted by Emily Frankel
Initiated by JD Cullum, Directed by Robert Goldsby

Cyrano is a disappointed idealist. Dealt an unlucky hand in the nose department, he’s like a traumatized teenager who “just can’t deal.” Cyrano is also a figure of outsized proportions:  an intrepid warrior, an impromptu poet and an altruist… but with a tragic failing.  In a lean adaptation by playwright Emily Frankel, performed by a cast of sixteen, the fate of this extraordinary man is written in his own words: “The nose is the man… is Cyrano!”

http://www.antaeus.org for more information
Suggested donation: $10

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An Academy Interlude: Mother & Daughter

“ Why did you do that??-I can’t believe it, what is wrong with you?!,” my daughter is screeching at me, incensed that I have made a plan that involves her and I am about to holler back that she doesn’t have to go when suddenly I say excitedly, “That’s it –that’s the moment.”

“What are you talking about?”, she narrows her eyes.

Mom and daughter

Daughter & Mom Then

“What Rob said in class…for our “Delicate Balance” scene that’s how pissed Julia is at Agnes- like you at me now.”

At this point most observers would probably be appalled at this mothering style- but I am merely doing what comes naturally- honestly calling the attention of my teenager to the nitty-gritty emotion locomotive as it tears through the room, and teaching her to mine it for some art. It’s what I’ve been doing since I myself was a teenager and first started studying acting- applying mindfulness to the feelings that play us and turn us into instruments.

Delilah Napier

Delilah Napier

If you had told me when Delilah was a child that we would both be actors in a scene class together I would have resolved myself into a disbelieving dew and said, “I’m not that crazy…” but life takes its turns and we find ourselves in places we did not expect- like L.A.  I am a set in her ways New York theater rat, maybe on good days a mink, too accustomed to subways and bookish black box immortal shadows to be entirely comfortable with the Light. Action. let alone the Cameras of L.A. Imagine then the deeply orienting, flickering beacon that is Antaeus as we navigate the choppy waters of this new world-where there is even an inviting library-row upon row of shelves housing plays with well-worn spines.

Cut to: INTERIOR-NIGHT

A MOTHER and DAUGHTER sit in a black box theater in North Hollywood amongst actors trained in theater, many earning their livings in television.

antaeuslogoGreywithBlackROB NAGLE is on stage twisting his body into an impression of the Antaeus logo- A man firmly planted on the ground reaching forcefully towards the sky…

“Who is Antaeus?” he asks, and explains that in Greek Mythology he is the half-giant son of Poseidon and Gaia, who derives his super human strength through his contact with mother Earth. He is insuperable until Heracles discovers his secret and holds him high in the air and crushes him as his strength drains away.  Rob springs up, smiles impishly and reads to us from “Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams”-reconnecting us to our hallowed theater earth.

Mom & Daughter Now

Mom & Daughter Now

The next week my daughter and I will work on Amanda and Laura from” The Glass Menagerie”. I am an actor like any other but here, now in this iconic scene, in this class, with Rob’s help, I can realize the Gaia in myself-by reconnecting with my roots I can find the strength to pass on this art to my daughter-this wild mix of earth and spirit that is acting.

Picture 001- Rob

The impish AND puckish Rob Nagle. Photo by G. Wade

We have found a home for serious play. As we rework the scene with Rob encouraging us to blow every last bit of dust off our conception of these classic characters, he puckishly places himself on the wall of our scene; Williams describes the set as being dominated by a large photograph of the absent pater familias-and before our eyes Rob plasters himself against the stage right wall and becomes the portrait of Tom Wingfield Sr.-suddenly the father is no mere ghost but a living breathing presence in our scene! Talk about connecting us to the earth and the present moment! I am filled with gratefulness to be in this room right now. There are sun-soaked days of late when I can feel weary as something of youth seems to fall away-my daughter’s as she enters young adulthood, my own as I stare down the throat of middle age, but here, in this class we can find the common ground of theater, where we seek the paths to eternally becoming and where we remain ageless. Rob embodies the spirit held aloft as an ideal by my late-great theater teacher, Herbert Berghof, in whose studio I met my husband doing a Williams scene! On the walls of the H.B Studio, Herbert had framed a favorite quotation of his late-great theater teacher Max Reinhardt, “I believe in the immortality of the theatre…it is a joyous place for all those who secretly put their childhood in their pockets and ran away to play to the end of their days.”

Thank you, Rob. Thank you, Antaeus, for providing us with an authentic place to play.

Alex NapierAcademy member Alexandra Napier shares a very unique experience with her daughter Delilah Napier in our Classics: Rebs/Yanks class, which meets Tuesday evenings this Spring.  Lead Moderators: Rob Nagle.  For more information on the Antaeus Academy, please visit our website: www.antaeus.org/theacademy.html

An Academy Interlude: The Strangeness of Williams

Stefanie Ogden with Chris Clowers: Final Class - Photo by G. Wade

Stefanie Ogden with Chris Clowers: Final Class – Photo by G. Wade

Something strange starts to happen at 7pm on Tuesday nights in North Hollywood. That’s when Antaeus Academy’s “Rebels and Yankees” class takes the stage. For fourteen weeks we’ll be exploring Lillian Hellman, Edward Albee, Stephen Adly Guirgis, but for now Tennessee Williams has taken over. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire  – some of the best-known works of American theatre – but also plays we don’t know well, or perhaps at all – that famed Williams newlywed comedy, A Period of Adjustment, anyone? Anyone? No?

Emily Bergl & Daniel Bess in Antaeus 2011 reading - Photo G. Wade

Emily Bergl & Daniel Bess in Antaeus 2011 reading – Photo G. Wade

But still, it’s Williams. And we know Williams. We know what he’s about at an essential level; we know how his characters will try and fail and try again, only to finally crumble beautifully and devastatingly. And here’s where it gets strange. Because from 7 to 11pm on Tuesday nights we know none of that. When these scenes go up and our actors start to explore, we are drawn in completely, and though we know better, we can’t help but think maybe, just maybe, this time Maggie will reach Brick. Maybe this time

J. Sloan & R. Mozo in Antaeus' 2011 Williams Birthday Party

John Sloan & Rebecca Mozo in Antaeus’ 2011 Williams Birthday Party

Laura’s gentleman caller will stay, and Blanche will find a lifeline to hold on to. And that’s the incredible thing about working in a class at Antaeus – old becomes new; familiar material morphs into uncharted territory. When our actors step on stage to do a scene that’s been analyzed down the letter, that’s been done hundreds of times before, or one that’s been immortalized on film by Hollywood legends– when they step on stage all that falls away and it becomes a first. You see a scene that you’ve never seen before – and that you’ll never see again – as you watch these actors feel there way through these haunting scenes and characters. Everything feels fresh and new because you are watching true discovery take place on stage.

The "serious" students of Classics: Chekhov/Ibsen 2012 - Photo by G. Wade

The “serious” students of Classics: Chekhov/Ibsen 2012 – Photo by G. Wade

Which leads to another singular quality in an Antaeus class: a wonderful and particularly unique openness and sense of shared experience. Every member of the class is fully engaged for every minute of it. The fact that we will all sit riveted for four hours on a Tuesday night says it all.  Whether on stage or watching from the audience, everyone is involved and invested in the process – always engaged, contributing, and learning from each other. That mutual investment creates an incredible trust that becomes a vital foundation for daring work: we know that we can be daring, that we can be bold, because everyone in that room has our backs. It certainly doesn’t hurt that our beloved moderator, Rob Nagle, is always there with a firm but gentle push to go further, go deeper into these iconic scenes that are suddenly brand new and make them our own. And so we try, and we fail, and we try again – and we don’t crumble. We grow. And it’s that lifeline of support and strength from Rob and from each other that draws us through into moments of brilliance.

And that’s just Williams…

Ogden_Stefanie 2013Academy member Stefanie Ogden shares her thoughts on our Classics: Rebs/Yanks class, which meets Tuesday evenings this Spring.  Lead Moderator: Rob Nagle.  For more information on the Antaeus Academy, please visit our website: www.antaeus.org/theacademy.html

An Academy Interlude: PULL it, sir

In 1962, Albee took Broadway by surprise with what became one of his most famous plays. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf was an enormous success, running for a total of 644 performances and thereby firmly establishing Albee as a major playwright. It also sparked impassioned controversy amongst the critics, many who attacked the work for its destructive theme. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and yet the committee decided not to bestow this award on it because of the controversy. Some members of the committee who supported Albee’s nomination resigned in protest. Nonetheless, he did receive the New York Drama Critics Award and Tony Award for the play.

listen. the word ‘pulitzer’ is pronounced ‘PULL it sir’. there is no liquid u. you already knew that? great. you didn’t? cool. neither did i. until i took rob nagle’s class, pulitzer prize winners of the 20th century.

D. Thorpe 2

Danielle in Albee’s A Delicate Balance. Scene Night Spring 2013.

when asked to write a blog post about my experience in the class, my first thought was ‘wow, i’ve always wanted to write a blog post.’ and i don’t remember what my second thought was, but i’m really very happy to have this topic as my first assignment.

Rob Nagle 2011

Rob Nagle teaching (or just staring at 2 pieces of paper? You decide.)

not only is rob a phenomenal human; he’s a well-rounded, passionate, knowledgeable, empathetic teacher. with each class, he brought his own humanity and humility. he created an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust and a space to be unafraid. he facilitated a community. one of the things i appreciate most about rob and his teaching is that he’s completely unpretentious (is that my passive-aggressive way of saying i’ve taken class from pretentious teachers? i don’t know – it could be. is it pretentious that i’m writing this blog in all lowercase? nobody is perfect. okay?). rob was consistently prepared. before each scene went up, he provided thorough information about the play and playwright. he engaged us in dialogue about each playwright’s background and when the play was written and how those things inform the play and (more often than not) provide wonderful insight into the world of the characters.

A Pulitzer Prize Winning Class!  (and Santa)

A Pulitzer Prize Winning Class! (and Santa)

as someone who considers herself relatively knowledgeable when it comes to plays, i was pleasantly surprised to find out just how little i know. 81 plays have won the pulitzer prize for drama since 1918. that is so many plays. to make this more manageable, rob created a survey before class began – a survey which listed every play and offered a place for us to check off one of three boxes: ‘i know it well’ ‘i know of it…’ and ‘no idea.’ this, for me, was a great place to begin. rob took such time in looking at the class surveys. he narrowed the list down to around 20 plays. he gave us complete freedom to choose our scenes and he made thoughtful and appropriate suggestions when someone asked for recommendations. he gave us a structure within which to play, which is something i have always found tremendously important in artistic work.

rob was always available for questions and completely approachable. he was flexible in his teaching approach, knowing that what works for one student might not work for another. he knew when to push and when to back off. and of course it’s all about the process and not about the result, but our final scene presentations were great. they were really great.

oh, and santa claus was there. the real one. see picture for proof.

thank you.

THORPE_DanielleAcademy member Danielle Thorpe rhapsodizes on Santa Claus & the wonder that is Rob Nagle – Moderator Extraordinaire.  For more information on the Antaeus Academy, please visit our website: www.antaeus.org/theacademy.html

Academy Spotlight: Elizabeth Zerebko

Hello hello!

I am Lizzie Zerebko, and I am currently taking the American Classics at Antaeus under Rob Nagle.

After being born and raised in the Pasadena area, I went on to study Theatre at USC. I had a brief stint in London while studying at BADA (British American Drama Academy), which reinforced my love for classical theatre- I’ve never looked back. After graduating in 2010, I worked at A Noise Within as an intern and took classes there for nearly a year.

Certainly my favorite post-graduation project has been “Shakespearience” at the Alex Theatre, a field trip that serves as an introduction to the wonders of Shakespeare. The audiences (1,000+ students each time) are unlike any other- they allow themselves to feel moved by the material, and have no problem verbally expressing it! Their unique energy is overwhelming at times, but ultimately very rewarding. When I was a wee freshman in high school I saw this show myself, and it is a wonderful opportunity to give back. I can’t wait to perform again this coming March. (www.theatricaleducationgroup.com).

I could, of course, tell you that I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a performer since I was ten months old, yadda, yadda. BUT- what I remember most as the true change in the way I viewed theatre was a daytime student matinee at Pasadena Playhouse’s production of PRIVATE LIVES, directed by Art Manke. The overwhelming beauty, intriguing style, and sublime execution have colored my pursuits through the years, both in acting and directing.

It was from that performance, I believe, that I garnered my conviction that theatre should be beautiful… somewhere at its heart should be the search for and attainment of beauty, or the failure thereof.

My goal is to talk to Art Manke one day and just let him know what a great influence that particular show has had on my development. I hope that I am bound to run into him at some point, as Facebook tells me we have far too many mutual friends. Hopefully I will be able to give him that compliment and validation- after all, as theatre artists isn’t it our mission to affect the individual with human truth for days or years to come?

What brought you to Antaeus?

With this developing belief and the resulting inclination toward the classics, how could I not be drawn to Antaeus? In fact, I had been looking at the classes for years before I was able to audition, even while I was still at school. The welcome I have experienced this fall, paired with the dedication and talent of those I know involved, tells me that I have come to the right place.

My time with the American Classics has been wonderful. I know that I speak for many when I say that the class gives us an outlet where we can be truly excited and challenged by what we are working on. Rob has been astoundingly flexible and supportive, and has let each of us form our personal class journey to fit our needs. As long as the pieces fall within the guidelines of O’Neill, Williams, and Miller, we have been able to take on whatever material we are drawn to- whether a traditional two-person scene, a monologue, or a female version of Death of a Salesman featuring a Wilhelmina Loman. Our guest moderators have been very informative as well, bringing fresh eyes and new perspectives to make even more well rounded scenes.

The level of talent in the student group is truly apparent in the work. I am constantly impressed, as their honesty and willingness have created some of the best theatre I have seen in a long time. Everyone’s positive attitudes also create a nice support system that allows for more risks, regardless of the “success”.

I can walk away from this fall’s class knowing that I have reached for things that have scared me, highly triumphant with some…and no so much with others. I’ve been reminded of the immense detail and continuous thought that separates a good performance from a great one. I’ve remembered my personal weaknesses and my ticks and tried to work through them. AND, in the grander scheme of theatre scholarship, I am walking away with a wonderful comprehensive introduction to three distinct American playwrights, each with their own distinct voice that I had never been able to hear before. I am thrilled. I can’t wait for some High Comedy in the spring.

I will leave you with my favorite quote, shown to me by a dear friend and mentor:

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

-Louisa May Alcott

 

Thank you. Any and all of my information can be found on my website, at http://www.zerebko.com.

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