Kudos and deepest thanks to Robert Macadaeg and Eliot Johnston for their masterful performances in my production of Caryl Churchill’s A Number. Kate Quisumbing was my Stage Manager extraordinaire, Meghann Beauchamp designed impeccable lights and sound and Michele Macadaeg gave invaluable help with costumes. We had great houses that surpassed my expectations for such a peculiar, offbeat little show. And we were extremely well reviewed! This was a deeply satisfying directing experience for me and I’m sad to let these characters go. Best wishes to all, and I hope to work together soon. Next up for me: “Saving Portsmouth: The Crusades of Miss Dorothy Vaughan”!
Read the review of my production of Caryl Churchill’s A Number here. So proud of Eliot and Robert! So thrilled to watch the final three shows this weekend!
I’m having a great time directing Robert Macadaeg and Eliot Johnston in Caryl Churchill’s A Number, a tight little thriller about cloning with gorgeous, spare language and unforgettable characters. It’s part of ACT ONE’s Beyond Festival.
These guys are fabulous actors and each is a joy to work with in his own way. Eliot seems pure sweetness, with an amazing emotional transparency to his characterizations, but his hidden superpower is his spot-on Hannibal Lecter impression. Robert is usually smooth, sarcastic and intellectual, and then he slips into character and hands you his heart. Both are smart and bold with the choices they are making on stage. I’m excited to open next Friday, October 3rd so audiences can finally meet these guys (Eliot plays three people, so there’s a whole little family for you to enjoy). Visit ACT ONE’s website for information and tickets for A Number.
Then, in late October I start rehearsing “Saving Portsmouth: The Crusades of Miss Dorothy Vaughan” with Kent Stephens’ STAGE FORCE for Strawbery Banke. I play the title character, who was an eccentric local force who lived to be 99 years old. Yep, I aint the young romantic lead this time around:
I will play Dorothy from her young adulthood through her “hag” period (to cite Kent’s script), but somehow I don’t think it’ll come across as glamorous at any stage! This show starts November 7th, I’ll let you know how it’s going when we get closer. . .
Happy autumn to all!
ACT ONE’s Festival 2014 starts next week with Norm Foster’s MENDING FENCES opening on August 7th! I’m really excited by all the great plays and concerts we’ve put together. This year the Festival is in two parts: Summer Festival and Beyond Festival. I’m working behind the scenes and at box office for the Summer Fest, and then I’m directing Caryl Churchill’s A NUMBER, which opens October 3rd.
I’m over the moon about A NUMBER, which will star my dear friends (and exquisite actors) Robert Macadaeg and Eliot Johnston. But there’s lots to see before then! So visit the new ACT ONE site at http://actonenh.org for all the details! See you soon at WEST for Festival 2014!
What a fantastic spring for ACT ONE and MSIM! In March, we gave a great presentation at the Red River Theatres in Concord, NH. In April I traveled to Greenfield, MA to lead the student veterans of Greenfield Community College in their own reading from Make Sure It’s Me. Then, in early May, I received a call from Ron Snow of the Brain Injury Association of NH, inviting Stephanie Nugent and I to their annual conference the following week. Why? To be presented with the Ellen Hayes Award!
BIANH’s Ellen Hayes Award is granted each year to the individual or organization who has done the most to advocate for and improve the lives of the brain injured and their families. We were chosen for our work on ACT ONE’s MAKE SURE IT’S ME/nh event series, which consisted of eight traveling presentations and fifteen fully produced performances based on Kate Wenner’s play about Traumatic Brain Injury in the military. Through MAKE SURE IT’S ME/nh, we reached over 800 audience members across New Hampshire and into Massachusetts, including civilians, veterans of several generations, military family members, and health care providers. Our presentations included the creation of the TBI Fact Sheets, created in collaboration with veterans service providers and sponsored by the American Red Cross and BIANH.
At the award presentation, BIANH president Laura Flashman shared extensive and glowing observations of our work: “The difference in making a good production into a great production is the knowledge of the subject matter. Leslie embedded herself in as many TBI-related commissions, collaboratives, and events as humanly possible. While admittedly a greenhorn in the beginning, she dedicated herself to learning as much as possible about this invisible wound. She spent countless hours visiting day centers, neuropsychologists, and speaking directly to veterans. Leslie’s smile is infectious, her passion is obvious, and her motives are full of sincerity and caring.
“While most of us saw Leslie in the forefront, her partner Stephanie was quite often behind the scenes. After seeing the final production in Portsmouth, it was obvious that Stephanie’s theatrical production talents are immense. When you put two amazing people together on a project like Make Sure It’s Me, the results change lives.
“Thank you ACT ONE for your tireless efforts on Make Sure It’s Me, and for helping to break down the barriers caused by Traumatic Brain Injury in New Hampshire.”
We are deeply thankful to BIANH for this recognition, and for their support throughout the implementation of this successful performance outreach series. We look forward to continuing to serve our state in the seasons to come, in various ways. So stay tuned!
Hey, all! The snow is not yet gone and I’m hitting the road already, sharing ACT ONE’s traveling presentation based on Kate Wenner’s MAKE SURE IT’S ME. This Wednesday, March 19th, we’ll be at the Red River Theatres in Concord, NH. Click here for an article from yesterday’s Concord Monitor about how we’re raising awareness about Traumatic Brain Injury affecting combat veterans and their families. My Executive Director Steph Nugent and I will be joined for this presentation by retired Navy Corpsman Nick Tolentino, former Marine Angela Molihan, and actor and MSIM supporter Paul Yarborough. Register to attend by writing to Ron “at” BIANH.org. Huge thanks to the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire for sponsoring this event!
Then, on April 10th, I’ll be leading members of the student veterans group of Greenfield Community College in another version of the presentation I shaped just for them. I was invited to GCC because Joshua Carnes is a student there–he’s the multi-talented photographer and Army veteran behind the images ACT ONE uses for our posters and TBI Fact Sheets. (His original photos accompany this post.) I’ll be joined there by MSIM playwright Kate Wenner and several of the veterans service providers I’ve met during this journey. . . and I’ll be sure to report back! For info on the GCC event, call 413-775-1868. I’m delighted and humbled to have the chance to bring so many people together around this powerful issue, using such a powerful script. So, if you are going to be in Concord or Greenfield, give us a look!
Hey, snow-enduring creatures of all kinds! There’s an interview with me discussing CLEAN ROOM and mask performance which airs on Portsmouth Public Media TV this week, and which is also available to view online. I had a marvelous time being interviewed by Bill Humphreys back in December as part of a series on the 2012 Spotlight on the Arts winners, and I think it came out pretty well! I spend a portion of the interview as each of my characters, so if you’ve been missing Brighina and Stupino (or you’ve never seen them before), this is your chance to visit with them.
If you live in Portsmouth, you can tune in to channel 98 tonight (Thursday the 13th) at 9 pm, or tomorrow (the 14th) at 11 am, or Saturday the 15th at 11 am.
Or you can watch the 26-minute interview any time you like at:
One other note–the interview includes a lengthy clip from the gorgeously filmed and edited trailer for CLEAN ROOM, created by Shay Willard. To see the full trailer, go to: http://vimeo.com/53951003
Big thanks to Bill and the crew at PPMtv for their support of my work!
Phew, where did the end of 2013 go? Like many folks, I spent the holiday season rushing about between blizzards, visiting with family while dodging second and third helpings of dessert. Also, there’s the issue of a new, boisterous voice in the house:
But, in addition to such chaotic fun, I do have a few exciting theatre accomplishments and upcoming events to report.
My trip to the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts in Concord, MA reunited me with my former student Brian Boruta, who is now doing a marvelous job directing the Performing Arts department of this impressive organization. I performed CLEAN ROOM in the new “Downstage” space, and I also gave a three-hour workshop on Clowning to high schoolers. The workshop was a blast–what an intelligent and courageous group of young performers they were! I warmed them up with a few minutes of Brighina and Stupino, who laid out some basic concepts and got them talking and laughing. Then I just set the exercises in motion and watched the kids unfold. I love this work. . . you see brand new characters with physical mannerisms, postures, walks, and burbling sound tracks emerge in just minutes and then grow and refine themselves over the course of an hour or two as they interact with other creatures. It’s extremely empowering for actors of any age to discover that they don’t always need to be picked by a director to play a role written by a playwright in order to make theatre. All you need is your own self, no matter what physical shape you are in or how fluently you speak. And it allows us to let go of the pressure to look pretty or confident or sexy as we explore the more truthful realms of goofy and even grotesque. Love it! The kids seemed to really enjoy it, too, and they were courteous to me and each other. Kudos to Emerson Umbrella for inspiring such professional, joyful creativity in these young people.
So, that revived my love of workshop teaching and I hope 2014 will bring more of that! Stay tuned.
I rounded out 2013′s CLEAN ROOM work with a surprise invitation from Bill Humphreys to be interviewed by him for airing on Portsmouth Public Media TV, the local cable station for Portsmouth, NH. I brought my masks along and we had a fun and finely detailed conversation about acting, mask technique, and the process of devising CLEAN ROOM. That segment will air sometime soon, so again–stay tuned!
Lastly, MAKE SURE IT’S ME marches on in March, up to Concord, NH! The Brain Injury Association of NH is bringing ACT ONE’s traveling team to do a beefed-up version of our library presentation at the Red River Theatre on Wednesay, March 19th from 5-7 pm. The event will include a pre-show reception and talkback. Admission is free, but please register by visiting: http://www.bianh.org/awareness1.html
I have another MSIM opportunity in the works, and Steph Nugent and I have been hard at work crafting Festival 2014. So I look forward to sharing more news with you soon. Be well and stay cozy!
Hello, friends! I hope you are keeping cozy as the cool weather sets in. Thanks again for all your support during my recent run of CLEAN ROOM at WEST in Portsmouth. Now I am preparing to bring the show a little bit south, to the Emerson Umbrella for the Arts in Concord, MA.
The Emerson Umbrella presents a wide variety of programming in the performing and visual arts. For theatre, they boast a lovely old-fashioned proscenium space where their performing arts director (a former student of mine, Brian Boruta) uses both traditional and on-stage seating configurations to mount everything from huge musicals to domestic dramas. But Brian decided he needed an additional venue to present quirky, edgy work that would benefit from a non-traditional, deeply intimate setting. So he rehabbed part of the basement of the Umbrella building into a venue he calls “Downstage.” It is perfect territory for the edgy–yet lovable–tales of Stupino and Brighina, so he’s asked them to help inaugurate this new venture.
So! If you missed CLEAN ROOM in Portsmouth and would like to see it . . .
Or if you’ve seen CLEAN ROOM but know someone who just MUST see it . . .
. . . Brighina and Stupino and I invite you to join us Downstage at the Emerson Umbrella on November 16th at 8 pm! Tickets are $15 and you can reserve yours by calling 978-371-0820 or visiting www.emersonumbrella.org. Seating is extremely limited, so do reserve your ticket if you plan to attend!
I will also be teaching a Clown workshop for teens on Saturday, November 16th from 2-5; call or visit the website to register your teen for this playful afternoon. See you in Massachusetts!