November has been quite an artistically rewarding month for me, all things considered, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to connect with other artists in a variety of innovative ways over these past few weeks!
Quote of the Month
“I’ll use that tongue I have. If wit flow from’t
As boldness from my bosom, let’t not be doubted
I shall do good.” - Paulina, The Winter’s Tale, II.ii
Current & Upcoming
The highlight of this month was an absolute gift of a project, the opportunity to direct a virtual production of The Winter’s Tale for the Evergreen Theatre Collective. This is my favorite play in the Shakespearean canon and one to which I have numerous personal connections: it has been the first classical play I performed in as a student, the first professional Shakespeare production I worked on after graduating from college, and now the first full production that I have directed virtually. I could not think of a more fitting time to explore this beautiful story of speaking truth to power and of the hope for new beginnings after tragic mistakes, and could not have asked for a better team. It was a blast to get back to production meetings and rehearsal rooms, albeit over Zoom, and I am so proud of all that we were able to accomplish during an intensive process. The live performance took place on November 14, but the recording is still accessible on ETC’s Facebook page and can be found here.
After Winter’s Tale, I spent the last couple weeks reading and evaluating script submissions for the National Playwrights Conference (discussed in previous blogs). With the end of the month that project is complete, and I look forward to the announcement of the conference finalists next spring. Speaking of new plays… the Stagefemmes Alumni One-Act Festival, which I alluded to back in August, is finally available online! This is an annual event hosted by Stagefemmes, a student theatre at my alma mater Kenyon College which focuses on the work of female-identifying artists, that invites alumni to submit short scripts which are then acted and directed by current students. This year the festival has gone virtual, and all five one-acts are now free to view here. My piece, The Haunting of Zoom Room 3, explores what some of our storied ghosts might be up to during these strange semesters…
On Directing over Zoom
The character Paulina has a line in the final scene of Winter’s Tale which I kept coming back to when reflecting on the limitations and opportunities of directing virtually, “It is required you do awake your faith.” There are countless directors’ tools which I love to use in traditional theatre that cannot be duplicated over Zoom: eye contact between actors, staging large group scenes, and utilizing complex movement or dance are just a few. However, if we “awake our faith” in the virtual format as a new and different performance medium, it offers exciting potential in its own ways. Our Winter’s Tale team brought together artists across at least four time zones, and when you add in our audience I don’t even know how many more. People who would likely never find themselves together in a physical theatre space experienced the same live text, and shared a post-show talkback with our cast and crew. I will be ecstatic the moment I can return to an in-person rehearsal room and begin using some of my favorite tools again, but if we can learn to embrace them virtual performances do have some unique joys of their own.
Final Act of Shakespeare 2020
With the approaching end of the calendar year, I am into the final stretch of the Shakespeare 2020 Project with only three more plays left to read. I’m looking forward to a refresher on Timon of Athens, a first-time read of Two Noble Kinsmen, and a visit with my old friend The Tempest. I had no idea the year this would turn out to be when I started making design collages and future production notes for each play back in January, but I am thrilled to be coming out of this crazy year with this valuable resource. Come back next month for my end-of-year rankings of favorite plays, most surprising discoveries, and wackiest stage directions!
A Crafty Closing
This is where I give a little monthly shoutout to the Etsy shop to which I contribute, Queequeg & Paulina Vintage (on Instagram @Queequeg_PaulinaCrafts)! If you’re looking to shop small for the holidays, please check out our varied vintage finds, beautiful hand-knitted accessories, and other one-of-a-kind crafted items. And coming very soon, we’ll be offering a lovely set of winter greeting cards featuring some of my watercolor artwork (pictured at left) -- I can’t wait to see these in print!