The Magician's Nephew (Cut Glass Theatre, January 2017)
At last! My adaptation of this C.S. Lewis classic finally reached the stage! We toured twelve venues (and livestreamed the show to rural schools), once again boarding tiny seaplanes to bring the show to every corner of Kodiak. It was fantastic to workshop the script in such a visceral way, and once again we found the Kodiak audiences receptive and participatory and joyous. A particular highpoint was viewing all of the artwork submitted for the Through the Wardrobe Art Contest. What talented students!
Classroom Management for Actors (Cal Shakes, January 2016)
One of the most ubiquitous concerns I hear from Teaching Artists is that they worry about their classroom management skills. So often teaching artists come from a professional performing background and have not had the benefit of teacher training courses. As a credentialed teacher with four years in the classroom full time, I feel well equipped to help teaching artists bridge this divide between two spheres of professional practice. By putting management into a performance and actor context, I hope to encourage confidence and connection in the application of classroom management.
"Thank you so much for this great, great, great workshop! It was so fun and I learned so much today. I'm encouraged with these new tools. I know I can face challenging scenarios and learn from experiences. I love bringing in the personality full right from the start, from creating the space, from "yes and"—notice, celebrate, elevate, integrate w/all the scenarios." (Naya Chang)
"Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop. You taught lessons that I have believed strongly in for years, but I often never see any other teaching artists incorporate. Thank you for stating the idea that we are teaching artists, not teaching bankers, or business people. We can and should portray "character" based on our TA selves." (Michael Cavanaugh)
"I found this workshop incredibly helpful. The positivity that fuels your approach to classroom management is inspiring, and I look forward to incorporating these techniques in my own practice. Thank you again." (Teddy Spencer)
"Today I learned that I am already good at making 'challenging' spaces or student circumstances into opportunities, but now I need to see how I can make challenging student behavior into an opportunity to engage. I learned that being the victim won't help anyone. I learned I can be myself, share myself by including costume elements. I like the master improver/new improver instead of actor/director. I am excited to find ways to build more ensemble moments into the shows I direct...thank you for being an inspiration!" (Jacinta Sutphin)
Measured Approaches: Theatrical Perspectives in Shakespeare's Measure for Measure (St. Mary's College, March-October 2016)
By exploring acting techniques from the Renaissance, the Restoration, and Modern theatre, students were able to gain insight into the possible character interpretations in this sometimes very problematic Problem Play. The workshop is now an ongoing culminating feature of the St. Mary's freshman seminar.
What students have had to say:
"To be honest, at first I was completely dreading having to come to a Shakespeare workshop. However, this was actually very enjoyable!"
"I really did not understand Angelo's conflicting mindset during my initial reading of Measure for Measure. Yet being able to understand the various ways the scene could be presented was truly eye-opening. Thank you again."
"I loved the whole class and exercised presented. It opened my mind beyond the words on the paper, to the emotion and soul behind the play."
"Thank you for this wonderful workshop. I think it really helped our class become more connected and have more fun together."
"Your energy and spirit just light up the room. It was a pleasure learning from you."
"I had a lot of fun in this workshop... I wish there was one for every time I had to read Shakespeare."
"I really really enjoyed this workshop! I didn't know what to expect coming to the workshop. I enjoyed that the workshop was interactive, and I enjoyed how you started the workshop with historical background. I learned lots of information that I wouldn't otherwise have known if I didn't attend this workshop. I enjoyed the examples you gave. It really gave clarity to how Shakespeare's theatre was run. I love your personality! You kept me engaged the entire time! After attending this workshop, I am now considering auditioning for the school play. Thank you!"
Character Building for Actors (Cummins Theatre, April 2015)
This workshop, held for the Merredin Repertory Club and their guests, highlighted quick techniques for developing memorable characters, and culminated with a shared showcase of our quirky creations. Many thanks to the Rep Club for later offering their support to our youth production in the areas of costuming and set pieces. We had so much fun working with all of you!
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Cut Glass Theatre, May 2015)
Once again we brought Narnia to the far reaches of the globe, this time by visiting the somewhat remote town of Merredin in Western Australia. Performer Javi Harnly tackled the male roles, and we were both honored to perform in the historic Cummins Theater. Our most memorable audience member was a baby kangaroo (a joey) who, we must admit, slept through most of the show. Because we performed so near to Anzac Day we also had men in uniform in the audience. After the performance community children were invited for a photo op while they tried on our costumes. We were thrilled to perform for such a responsive and giving community.
Kapow! Splat! (The Cummins Theater, Western Australia, May 2015)
This community endeavor was made possible through an arts grant from Lottery West, and the support of the Shire of Merredin. Merredin is a relatively remote town in Western Australia, and the aim of the project was to celebrate the town, and its surrounding community, in positive ways. A competition was held for Australian playwrights to visit Merredin and craft a play, and I was hired to audition and rehearse community members to act in it. Actress Emily O'donnell appeared in her first starring role. Watching her rehearse while caring for her two small children (sometimes pushing a stroller during rehearsals) was an inspiration. Local actor David Petit, a celebrated member of the drag community, was a joy to direct. This was a true community event, and one that I will always remember.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Cut Glass Theatre, January 2015)
We revisited our beloved two-person production, this time with a new male performer. Mat Freeman was a joy to act with, and his knowledge of C.S. Lewis brought a new level of understanding to the text. Together we performed in schools, churches, and libraries all over Kodiak Island, Alaska. Perhaps most memorably, we boarded a small plane to perform for one of Kodiak's rural schools in Ouzinkie—accessible only by boat or plane. This tour was one of the most memorable, joyful, and heart-felt experiences of my life. It is my hope to revisit the region to tour another play soon!
The Taming of the Shrew (Shady Shakespeare, August 2014)
I acted as Assistant Director for this high-energy outdoor production that brought free Shakespeare to the residents of San Jose. This was a chance to dust off those choreography muscles, and to dust off some beloved text as well. My favorite aspect of this production was that our Kate was presented as a complicated, amused, intelligent woman, and that her relationship with Petruchio included such an interesting and nuanced journey.
The Jewish Wife (Marin Onstage, February 2014)
This was a treasured chance to explore my own Jewish heritage, and to work with an interesting and moving piece of theatre. Set in Berlin in the 1930s, Brecht's script primarily relies on one onstage actress who must establish a reality with several offstage presences. It was a joy to direct something so relevant and unusual.
As a parting gift to South Korea I co-directed an adaptation of the classic children's book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This two-hander text made use of the magic of storytelling. We toured it to three Korean cities, handed out cubes of Turkish Delight, and introduced many English-language learners to the text for the first time. I would love to tour the show here in the US again if the opportunity presents itself; what a beautiful story!
The Covenant Players (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, South Korea, 2004-2009)
This itinerant traveling troupe expanded my understanding of what is possible in theatre. I learned to enter any room and immediately find or create the most likely performance space (I still do this). I learned to tip tables over to form stage wings, to find and create props, and to craft characters with a minimum of make-up or costumes required. I performed suicide prevention for the troupes stationed in the Demilitarized Zone on the border between North and South Korea. I did family communications plays for the inmates of several upstate New York prisons, performing once for the guards between cell doors. I toured full-time with small groups of people, some of whom became lifetime friends. I played bunnies, aliens, bullies, children, old women, criminals, British servants, Mexican wise men, businesswomen, mothers, daughters, devils, drug addicts, cops, and angels. I learned to lead a team, to manage team conflict, to celebrate team birthdays, to rebook and recover and send a team member off to attend a funeral, to maintain a van, to make van-time fun, to handle phone and email PR, to file receipts, to keep detailed reports, and to direct a variety of actors in a variety of genres for a variety of intended audiences. Most importantly, I became comfortable speaking in front of any group, anywhere. The experience shaped my love for the people of New York and Asia, and deepened my relationship with the theatre.