light in the darkness

Where did November and December go? I’m pleased to say that my work with the Artists’ Collaborative Theatre Of New England (ACT ONE) swallowed up my fall and moved me through half of winter before I realized I’d failed to blog any of it! So, while the New Years’ Eve dinner simmers on the stove, I’ll run down some of the high points of the last two months and share our plans for ’13:

ACT ONE’s Festival 2012 at Portsmouth’s West End Studio Theatre was a smash hit, as it has been for several years now under the leadership of my Executive Director, Stephanie Voss Nugent. She brought back some of her favorite storytellers and musicians, whom I was delighted to meet, including Pat Spalding, Susan Poulin, James Haller, and Ed Gerhard. ACT ONE also produced three plays: The Drawer Boy, Sylvia, and Tragedy: a tragedy. All of these boasted stellar casts and happy audiences, many of whom took in two, three or more shows over the course of the twelve-week festival.

My own involvement in the Festival as the new Associate Director of ACT ONE included some behind-the-scenes work as I began to learn the ropes of Stephanie’s largely one-woman operation. I say “largely” because she does have a lovely Board of Directors, a great cadre of volunteers, and a supportive Circle of Friends among the audience to help her produce these consistently entertaining and thought-provoking Festivals each year. (Plus Steph’s secret weapon, her mom Joan Voss, keeps it all together in the front of the house!) But the amount and variety of work that Stephanie does each year to develop, promote, and produce the Festival, in addition to directing at least one play in the lineup, is truly awe-inspiring. I can only take a deep breath and run to catch up with her.

In addition to supporting Stephanie’s work, I had the honor of presenting a four-performance run of my solo show, Clean Room, in the Festival. Settling this show into WEST felt like coming home; the space is perfectly suited for intimate mask work and I was able to perform for loved ones of mine who haven’t been able to travel to my previous performances. I adore WEST and I am so thankful to Stephanie for producing my show there. As an added bonus: Stellar young filmmaker Shane Willard was on hand to work with some of us Festival artists on promotional videos. The result of my work with Shane is a beautiful trailer for Clean Room¬†that finally captures on video the warm souls of my mask characters, Brighina and Stupino! Check out that trailer here.

Lastly for Festival 2012, I had the pleasure of directing Will Eno’s Tragedy: a tragedy, a “comedy” about the end of the world as viewed by the newscasters struggling to make sense of the whole thing. Steph shot some great pictures of my cast, which I’ll include in a future post. We weren’t sure our audiences would come along for the ride on this one, but most everyone did (although, on opening night, one interesting couple in the front row cracked open some nip bottles to help them through–kudos to my cast for not cracking up when the tipsy folks kicked off their shoes and got a little too comfortable).

Well, it turns out I had more to say about the end of 2012 then I thought! I think I’ll call this Part One of the year-end wrap up and I’ll write a bit more tomorrow. So, coming up: how exactly¬†MSIM/nh rocked the Portsmouth Public Library on November 14th, and why the Spotlight thinks ACT ONE has made a “major move”. Happy New Year!