MSIM returns–and much more!

MSIMVetCenterflyer162016 has been a busy year, so busy that I haven’t been writing on this blog too much.  Most of the work I have been doing involves upcoming events supporting veterans and their families.  I’m thrilled to say that my traveling version of MAKE SURE IT’S ME will return to the Manchester Vet Center on September 29th.  I will be joined there by a cast of 5 veterans to read dramatic scenes from Kate Wenner’s play, as well as VA Manchester clinicians to help me address questions about Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD.  Then, on October 20th I will take it to UNH, where my readers will be members of the Student Armed Forces Association, joined by some Theatre majors.  That promises to be a winning combination!  The research and treatment options for TBI and PTSD keep evolving, so whenever I pull this presentation out I retool my framing material to reflect recent developments.  It’s also extremely fun for me to work with the coordinators and readers as different venues, as well as to meet the audiences and mediate the conversation on performance day.  So I’m looking forward to both of those events.

CS logoI have also had the honor of serving as Humanities Expert for Community Stories: Soldiers Home & Away, a nine-week event series celebrating, commemorating and supporting veterans and military families across 8 libraries in Southern NH, as well as Timberlane School District.  The event series runs September 16 through November 12. My duties to this project have included helping the amazing group of library officials on the committee to write the grant proposal for the New Hampshire Humanities (which was successful, thank you NHH!);  helping to identify presenters and keep a “humanities” angle across the event series;  and I’ll be contributing to the “after-action” report to NHH about how Community Stories fulfilled its mission.  I am also involved in three of the events: I will present a brand new presentation, “Staging War: Veterans’ Voices in Post-9/11 Theatre” at the Plaistow Public Library on October 4;  I will mediate a book discussion of “Either the Beginning or the End of the World” will the glorious author Terry Farish on October 27th in Hampstead;  and I will be co-presenting the final keynote presentation on November 12th, “War Trauma: A Changing Story”, with neurologist Dr. James Whitlock.  That final presentation will include some readings from MSIM, aided by veteran and former Vet Center counselor Al Porsche.

So that’s a lot of exciting work I’ve been putting together, with fantastic and inspiring collaborators.

I have also been invited to do several more ongoing projects:  The NHH Humanities To Go program has selected my new presentation for their catalog.  In response to their feedback, the title is slightly different from the one in Community Stories, but it will be effectively the same format: “Speaking of War: How Theatre Gives Voice to Combat Veterans.”  (It’s always tricky to figure out appealing titles.)  Once the presentation is in the catalog, it remains to be seen if anyone wants me to bring it to their library or meeting hall.  So stay tuned!

I have also been hired as an actor by PowerPlay Interactive Development.  PowerPlay was founded by UNH Theatre Department Chair David Kaye.  It is a UNH sponsored business that uses Applied Theatre techniques to address issues like corporate culture, gender bias, harassment, and diversity for clients who include university departments, nonprofits and corporations.  So far, I have worked on four improv-based workshops for Easter Seals in Manchester;  in November, I will be traveling to the University of Virginia to present a combination of scripted material and improv addressing biases and potential conflicts in faculty hiring.  This is extremely challenging, fascinating work!  I am learning a lot and, once again, working with a great group of people that includes David Kaye, CJ Lewis and Susan Poulin.

Lastly for now, I am pleased to have been cast in New Hampshire Theatre Project‘s winter show, METAMORPHOSES, directed by Genevieve Aichele.  Rehearsals begin in November.  Phew, that’s a lot!!!

HAVENlogoIn the meantime, my Board work for HAVEN is ongoing, so don’t be surprised if I tap your shoulder in a fundraising campaign.  Best wishes to all as we move into Autumn!

clowning for HAVEN!

clownteachOn May 21 I held a workshop on “Finding Mindfulness Through Clown” at Yoga in ME to benefit HAVEN.  This was an experiment to see if I could bring my ideas and interpretations of clown to non-theatre audiences through the yoga setting. Well–and I actually laugh out loud whenever I think about this–the answer for now is a resounding NO!  We had a marvelous time working for three hours with our host, yoga teacher and Yoga in ME owner Nancy Garnhart, and several of my dear friends from the theatre community, who were eager to explore clown through the particular lens of mindfulness.

Yogis and HAVEN supporters stayed away in droves, attesting either to the difficulty of picking a good day for a workshop during graduation and wedding season . . . or to the ongoing hard sell that is CLOWN in a world haunted by real-life Bad Clowns like John Wayne Gacy and Stephen King’s fictional predators. (Lately I have been noticing that some people in law enforcement or who create fictional police procedurals call criminals “bad actors.”  I agree that bad acting can FEEL criminal when you watch it, but it isn’t technically illegal.  And all actors must do it in the course of their careers,a t some point.)

So I’m accepting any suggestions for the Great Clown Re-Brand!  The term “Physical Theatre” sounds kind of clinical, but “improv” misleadingly points to other forms of theatre.  I probably need to repurpose an innocuous word like “skylight” or “purple.”  Please give it some thought and get back to me on that, will you?

But the workshop was a blast and I loved every minute!  We explored physical leads and their relationship to status, we created soundtracks as well as physical “zeroes” for our clowns, we allowed clowns to meet and have little status battles, and we wound up the afternoon with classic solo turns interacting with the environment and a prop.  Everyone brought some new character to life over the course of three hours–it’s my favorite kind of theatre to watch and I’m always thrilled to make a space for that work.

Thanks to Nancy Garnhart for hosting and for publicizing the event to bring more attention to HAVEN in Southern ME and Portsmouth.

HavenSWNA few days later, I was honored to help represent HAVEN at the Seacoast Women’s Network’s networking night.  I joined Joi Smith, Lori Waltz-Gagnon and Debra Altschiller.  I really love spending time with every member of the HAVEN Board of Directors and Staff.  I look forward to meeting more of you in the future!

Happy and healthy summer to you all, and I’ll keep you posted on my next adventures . . . MAKE SURE IT’S ME will be popping up in various ways in 2016!

Spotlight 2015 nomination news!

DVphoneI’m giddy to announce that I was nominated for Best Actress by the Seacoast Spotlight Awards committee for my performance as Dorothy Vaughan in Saving Portsmouth.

Even better, my actor Eliot Johnston was nominated for Best Actor for his performances of Bernard One, Bernard Two and Michael Black in A Number! Congratulations to us, and huge thanks to everyone involved in both shows, and to our audiences (and patient loved ones) for all their support.gameofthrone1

I have a feeling we are each dark horses in this race, but it is marvelous to know that the panel thought so highly of our work in 2014. As they say, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.” I will let you know how it turns out!

 

 

Dorothy Vaughan hits NHPR!

Saving Portsmouth writer/director Kent Stephens and I were guests of Virginia Prescott on today’s “Word of Mouth” on NHPR. Scroll down to hear the segment here.

Tickets for all remaining performances are sold out!  But stay tuned, we may bring it back in a few months…!

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SAVING PORTSMOUTH had a great opening weekend!

Our first weekend of SAVING PORTSMOUTH: The Preservation Crusades of Miss Dorothy Vaughan was extremely well attended and received! Here’s a link to a feature about the show. . . and here’s the candid photo I had no idea they were using for it, which they snapped during rehearsal:

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And here is another production photo:

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SAVING PORTSMOUTH opens tomorrow!

Here’s Dorothy (Leslie Pasternack), Jeremy Waldron (Christopher Savage) and Jim Smith (James Sears) planning the “colonial village” that would become Strawbery Banke Museum. Get your tix at strawberybanke,org: only six performances beginning tomorrow night!

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shows, shows, shows!

 

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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: DorothyVaughan

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!

Brig and Stu hit TV and the web!

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCqq08t30dE

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!