Viewing entries tagged
creatingseattle

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From Val #6

We are in our final week here in Seattle. The atmosphere in the theatre is full of good will and palpable electricity. Audiences are growing, and our performances are getting better and better; Wade and I are finding more and more little “moments” together, more layers and more depth in our interactions; and I remember again each day how addictive this performance thing really is. There’s simply nothing else like it, and I feel like the luckiest person in the world, getting to share this magical, surreal, totally inspiring story with people every night. 

I’ve become able more and more to manifest and embody what’s going on with Kat - the extreme cold, the questioning of her own sanity (is what she’s experiencing real or merely an extended hallucination?) - and as I dig deeper into it, I’m finding that the reality of physicalizing all of this takes a HELL of a lot of energy. Shivering, for instance: the body’s natural reaction to freezing temperatures is specifically designed to warm you up by the uncontrollable shaking of your muscles - and when the stage is actually quite WARM, and the hot lights are on, and you’re running around wearing a parka and shivering like mad - well, it’s a great workout, it seems. Combined with the hyperventilating and output of excess nervous energy released by being convinced that you are completely insane and you can’t trust your own senses or instincts (added on top of my normal everyday regimen of playing and singing), the exertion is enormous.

I know this because: I’m eating like a MAD FOOL! Tons of food. I crave MEAT and eat it before nearly every show…and yet, after the final curtain I am absolutely energized and exhilarated.

My whole schedule is topsy-turvy (usually, at home with husband and kid, I’m up before dawn and asleep before 9 PM) - and now, I’m up for at least 3-4 hours AFTER the show, insatiable carnivore that I am.

I know there is a bittersweet sadness coming in a few days when we close here, the stage returns to its bare former self and we all disperse to our various homes…but I also know it is temporary, because the future of this show is looking so bright now that we’ve launched it into the world. My job now is to savor every moment we have here, stay centered, and eat some prime rib from Met Market. 

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From Val #5

We’re getting into a groove here at SHACKLETON HQ. I’ve figured out the best pain-free method of dealing with the tattoos (leave them on LONGER! and then they disintegrate with rubbing alcohol pretty easily after about 3 days); I still run my eyes over the script each day before the show, but it is starting to feel part of my muscle memory now and not so much a series of words and actions and emotions I have to strain to remember.

Wade and I, along with our assistant stage manager Laurel, have a fun new pre-show ritual: there’s a TED talk that inspired us. 

It’s all about how “alpha posturing” (meaning putting your body into very expansive, open positions, such as standing like Wonder Woman and taking up lots of physical space) can produce chemical and physiological changes in your body, making you more confident and bold and able to, for example, be your best self in a job interview after alpha posturing for only two minutes. So when we hear the “places” call, we troop into the darkened backstage area, check our in-ear monitors with Ryan, and then stand tall and proud like Wonder Woman, feeling the confidence suffuse our bodies during the final minutes before we begin the show. 

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Technical Rehearsal, Day Two.

A hoe down in a snow storm? Only in Ernest Shackleton Loves Me!

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Filming the Shackleton - Ponce Duel!

For a theatre show, we sure have a large video crew! Yesterday, we did our first take of the duel between Shackleton and Ponce de Leon, both played by our own Wade. How can they appear in the same video together?

The wonders of our Production Designer Alex Nichols, his Associate Designer (and Balagan Technical Director) Ahren Buhmann (pictured with pony tail behind camera).

And green screen of course! Pictured above are Chelsea (costume designer, see her post below) and Wade as Shackleton.

And now Wade as Ponce!

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Ryan Conlin

Ryan Conlin is the Property Master on Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (and Balagan Theatre’s beloved Production Manager)!  He has worked in various aspects of theatre all over the country and is now here in Seattle.

Here’s what Ryan had to say about props for Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (bonus Ryan is hiding in one of the pictures!):

 

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“Here’s a fun game….. how many people here literally have the word “master” in their title? I do! My name is Ryan and I am the Properties Master for Ernest Shackleton Loves Me. Being a props master is kind of like being a professional scavenger hunter except you are given a budget and expected to find things that will make the director happy. My favorite note I got from Director Lisa Peterson in this process was for Bruce’s keys and keychain. Lisa thought about it for a moment and then told me that the keys should look like they might smell bad… 


This show has some really great things for me to work with as it takes place in two timeframes and two completely different locations. The New York flat is what it is and has it’s own fun challenges but the early 19th century nautical explorer items are the ones that I feel give the show the most texture. 

My favorite prop in ESLM is Ernest’s bag and it’s contents. It’s a collection of period items such as a bosun whistle, a sextant, a spy glass, a flask and whale blubber. Much like choosing a cast and company, each item was chosen not for how it worked, but how it worked in a collection.


I am so very happy to be on this scavenger hunt with these fine people and can’t wait to see how Wade and Valerie use the items that I have found.”

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Creating Seattle: Load-In Complete!

In just three short days we have gone from an empty stage to a theatrical canvas! Starting tomorrow, it’s lighting focus, video projector hang and notes from the Production Designer, Alex Nichols, who is flying in from San Francisco to check-up on the Seattle build. Fingers crossed!

Note: the prominent naked bulb in the foreground is the ghost light.

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Builder Ian explains some of the stage tricks involved in making the “magical” fridge. First he shows how the inner parts of the fridge can be taken out. Then, he reveals the trick of how the magnets suddenly fall off of the fridge as if the polarity of the magnets had changed…The inner knob pulls back a metal plate so that there is nothing for the magnet to be attracted to.

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Load In, Day 2! At the Leo K Stage at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Connecting the side platforms, consulting the plan to place lighting boom stands, attaching the projection fabric to the central back wall of Kat’s apartment, touching up the “snow treatment” on the platform legs, bringing in new downstage platforms, creating platforms that allow Kat and Ernest to exit, and beginning the sound set up.

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Load In, Day 1! At the Leo K Stage at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Laying carpet on the platforms, laying down “snow” carpet on the stage, setting up the central platform, bringing over the “road boxes” backstage and getting ready to install the snow machines!

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Chelsea Cook

Chelsea Cook is the mind (and fingers) behind the fantastic costumes for Ernest Shacklton Loves Me.  She graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in 2006 and has been making a splash all over Seattle ever since!  Chelsea has worked for many theatres in the Seattle area including INTIMAN Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Village Theatre and Balagan Theatre.  Check out the other costume posts to see how Chelsea got her ideas for the characters we get to meet in Ernest Shackleton Loves Me!

Here is a rendering of Kat Chelsea created: 

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Chelsea gives a sneak peek into her insights for Kat’s clothing, hair and makeup.  Check out these great boards!

Kat clothing

Kat Hair

Kat Makeup

Kat Bonus: Tattoos too!

Inspiration Board: Ernest Shackleton

Inspiration Board: Ponce de Leon

Inspiration Board: Bruce

And just for fun, this is Chelsea!

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The process of making the poster. We started with some basic sketches to review some concepts: Locket, Fridge and Photo-Realism. We then decided to merge Fridge with Photo-Realism. Next, we looked at different ways to integrate a figure, representing the heroine. Finally, we added color and appropriate color and text. Original key art designs all by Jeff Gillam. Final poster layout and design by Mark Drilon.

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Stage Manager Sarah Mixson checking out the build at the Seattle Rep. The Rep is building “road boxes” that will live in Kat’s apartment and then transform into mountains, boats and more. Plus, see below the special Refrigerator full of fun surprises!

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Oops. I guess someone forgot to tell us theatre folk that the Super Bowl is happening the same weekend as our workshop performances at ACT. And since Seattle’s  actually in  the Super Bowl there’s no sense trying to fight it. So, here he is. Ernest Shackleton, in all his glory, reppin’ a Beast Mode shirt. Go Seahawks!

Oops. I guess someone forgot to tell us theatre folk that the Super Bowl is happening the same weekend as our workshop performances at ACT. And since Seattle’s actually in the Super Bowl there’s no sense trying to fight it. So, here he is. Ernest Shackleton, in all his glory, reppin’ a Beast Mode shirt. Go Seahawks!

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Meet Ryan O'Connell and Rob Witmer: the men behind the audio.

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The Importance of Being 'Ernest'

Ernest has become such a wonderful and pivotal role in our show. And we have taken great strides to make sure that we cast the perfect actor that’s up for the challenge. 

On Jan. 15, 2014, we still did not have an Ernest.

The first actor that we thought would play the role had to back out of the production. Then he was back in. Then he got cast in Les Miz. So, back to the drawing board.

We started reviewing audition videos from Seattle. We had casting directors sourcing NY talent. Valerie and Brandon were working their connections in LA. All of the options were being funneled to Lisa, the writers, and our producers, trying to find that perfect fit.

After rounds and rounds of phone calls and emails, the choice became so clear: we offered the role to Wade McCollum and he accepted!

In a matter of days, he was whisked down to LA for our Jan. 18th rehearsal start date with Val, Brandon and Lisa.

And in a true bit of comedy, we lost our recording studio in LA. (Ah comedy, why must you always come in threes?)

But what matters now is putting fingers to the keyboard/piano and rehearsing for our upcoming workshop performances!

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