Posts Tagged theatre

A Civil War Christmas Character Breakdown

8 August 2012

*Actors, feel free to email or facebook me with any questions

DECATUR BRONSON (Male, 20s-30s, African-American): A strong, intelligent, passionate Sergeant in the Union’s Colored Infantry. Carries a heavy grudge for the kidnappers of his late wife. His motto is “Take No Prisoners.”

ELIZABETH KECKLEY (Female, 30s-40s, African-American): Mary Todd Lincoln’s companion; an expert with the needle, she has bought her life as a freewoman one stitch at a time. A thoughtful, introspective, caring woman who spent her childhood as a slave and lost her only son in the war.

MARY TODD LINCOLN (Female, 40s-50s, Caucasian): a devoted wife and mother, she also suffers from headaches and bouts with depression. She confides in her dear friend Keckley, and worries about her husband’s leadership in the war effort.

JOHN WILKES BOOTH (Male, 20s-40s, Caucasian): Lincoln’s assassin; an ambitious and passionate confederate conspirator; also a well-known stage actor.

CHESTER MANTON SAUNDERS (Male, 20s-30s): A young Quaker pacifist abolitionist in the Union army. Does not believe in war, but believes in the “divine spark in every man.” Deeply religious, he cares passionately about the abolitionist cause.

HANNAH (Female, 20s-40s, African-American): An runaway slave escaping with her young daughter. Desperate for her daughter’s freedom and safety.

RAZ (Male, 12-17, Caucasian): A young ambitious confederate determined to fight with the Mosby Raiders, even if it costs him everything.

WIDOW MARY SURRATT (Female, 30s-40s): An ardent Confederate activist, she owns the boarding house where conspirators meet to plot the assassination of President Lincoln.

ANNA SURRATT (Female, 12-22): Daughter of Mary Surratt, part of a family of conspirators seeking the assassination of President Lincoln. A sweet girl devoted to her mother.

JAMES WORMLEY (male, 50s-60s, African American): a successful Washington DC merchant, born a freeman. Describes himself as “shopkeeper, hack carriage company owner and all-around entrepreneur”

FREDERICK WORMLEY (male, teens-20s) son of James Wormley

JIM WORMLEY (male, teens-20s) son of James Wormley

MOSES LEVY (Male, 20s-30s, Jewish) a wounded soldier who longs for his faith at Christmastime and who feverishly foretells Lincoln’s assassination

ROSE (Female, 20s-30s, African-American): A smart and beautiful young freewoman who taught her husband to read. Appears as a memory/spirit that haunts Bronson.

WALT WHITMAN (Male, 40s-50s, Caucasian): an important humanist poet who is known to visit wounded and dying soldiers in the hospital. He is a source of encouragement and friendship to many.

SECRETARY OF WAR, EDWIN STANTON (Male, 50s): a tough, efficient, and brilliant military mind whose strategies brought the Union Army to victory. He lost several members of his family to disease and suicide before throwing himself into his legal work and working determinedly in the Lincoln administration.

WARD HILL LAMON (Male, 20s-40s): Lincoln’s bodyguard and head of security; sees danger everywhere because “danger is everywhere to be seen.”

GEORGE (Male, 20s-30s): Keckley’s only son, “light-skinned enough to pass as a white man,” he secretly enlisted in the Union Army when his mother sent him away to college. Dying in the first battle he fought, he appears to Keckley as a ghost/memory throughout the play.

JESSA (Female, 5-14, African-American): following her mother as they escape slavery and head north into Washington DC. A brave and trusting young woman.

LITTLE JOE (Male, 5-12), a young slave boy who gets sold in the family’s attempt to recover from financial ruin.

ROBERT E. LEE (Male, 50s-60s): General of the Army of Northern Virginia, leader of the Confederate cause, his surrender effectively ended the Civil War. He is a passionate leader, who does not seek privileges over his soldiers.

ULYSSES S. GRANT (Male, 40s, Caucasian): the Union general who led the north to victory. He is weary of the war, but determined in his cause.

My Yearly Update!

23 April 2012

I never blog anymore.

I think this is because I need to decide what this blog is, exactly. I know i don’t want to be 0ne of those “mommy bloggers” whose blogs I read often. I’m just not as awesome as they. Nor do I see myself being one of those that blog every major and minor life event, with pictures. I’m too much of a slacker for that.

Oh well.

Here’s an update at least:

I am working part-time at Cerritos College now. I teach Acting Fundamentals in the Theatre Dept. It is temporary, substitute. But they asked me to stay until the end of the semester because the reg prof is on medical leave. I am loving it! The class is great. I’ve decided I don’t really know how to act, but hopefully my students won’t figure that out until after the semester is over. Don’t tell. =) Next time I should teach something easy like how to tie shoes the cool way, or alphabetizing my bookshelf… j/k… The hardest part really is dealing with childcare. Andy stays home once a week and the other day we have been using a series of grandmothers and babysitters. It’s really hard to leave them, but I know they are in really good hands, and that they are enjoying the time they spend with their caregivers. I don’t know what we’d do if I was offered a more permanent job, but I trust the Lord will show us if He gives me such an opportunity.

The Downey Arts Coalition is embarking on its first theatrical endeavor! I am so excited to be producing Urban Acts: New Plays from the Street alongside Andrew, a couple other DAC members, and also alongside the critically-acclaimed Urban Theatre Movement. Those guys rock. This will be a staged reading series at site-specific locations throughout Downey. All new plays by new and established playwrights. We are very very privileged to be able to read these wonderful new works and to have most of the playwrights in attendance as well! Check out for more info.

Speaking of DAC, our organization is 1 year old now! I can’t believe the organization that Andrew started has grown into such a huge thing practically over night! I never imagined we would be involved with so many incredible people and doing so many exciting things here in Downey when he first started talking about wanting to form a group like this. That’s exactly it– when he started talking about wanting to do this, it was just going to be a group. Like maybe a support group. Well, God had other plans and it has exploded into an organization! No, a movement! We are even on the fast track toward 501C3 status with our plans to merge with the Downey Art League. This, alongside our friendship with the Downey Art Vibe, is making the arts movement in Downey a force to be reckoned with! Good things are happening and lots of people are getting on board.

It’s also pretty cool to see my husband in this leadership role. He’s always been such a strong leader and he is really thriving in this organization. I’m so proud to be his wife and partner. He stays up way too late, though. 😉

I’ve got a couple of potential directing gigs lined up. Not professional, but I’m excited about both the projects. I hope they don’t fall through! Meanwhile, just focusing on Urban Acts and my new job.

My children are a constant delight. I want to homeschool Peer, we’re learning more about that and considering our options. I might sign us up for a charter in the fall. At the very least we are glad that we can delay kindergarten and keep him home until age 6. A lot of parents are doing that nowadays. “Giving them the gift of time,” as I’ve heard it said. I like that. He will be 5 this summer and I am so proud of the young man he is growing into. I’ve recently discovered that he knows quite a bit of math. He is very adept at simple addition and subtraction, and he’s learning to read and sound things out. I catch him practicing on his own, it’s so cute. What a smart kid I have!

Leif is 17 months going on 5 years old as well.  =) He seems to have his own complete language that he is teaching us, and loves to play and run around outside with his brother. He wants to do everything his big brother (or “Ba-Ba”) is doing, especially the naughty things like smacking and destroying. Also wrestling and horseplay. It’s all a lot fun until someone lands on their head, boys! I am pleased that we are at the point with breastfeeding where it is so easy. But I often miss having a tiny one to nurse. Leif no longer needs/wants to snuggle in my lap for hours nursing. At most it may be 10, 15 minutes and then he’s back to playing. Oh well, he’s pretty heavy and squirmy anyway!

We still go to First Baptist, not a long happening there. Looking forward to several weddings this summer, especially that of our good friend Geoff, when Andy will be a groomsman. Geoff is very special to us and we are so happy for him and his new bride-to-be Scarlet, who is especially lover-ly and wonderful.

I guess that’s our family in a nutshell right now. Sorry no pics. I’m a slacker.



11 February 2012

I <3 Twitter

Does anybody else? It’s so unique among all the social media and I love how it seems to be the media of choice of intellectuals and information junkies. I’ve become very educated on many topics thanks to Twitter. And it also seems that bloggers who really have their finger on the pulse of their niche tweet a lot and offer so much more to their readers than just what they post on their blogs.

I knew I would have one of those moments eventually where it really became useful to me and here it is. As part of our efforts to bring more theatre to Downey, I was wanting to compile a reading list for myself of plays that have space, aeronautics, the great beyond, etc. as a theme or plot point. I follow a lot of dramaturgs on Twitter and they went crazy with the challenge. They were incredibly helpful and amazing. (honestly, I was surprised and ashamed at how little I knew before) So between tweets, links, and related research, here’s the list I got:

  1. Astronauts by Claudia Reilly
  2. Cosmonauts Last Message… by David Greig’s
  3. Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones
  4. Kaputnik : a comedy in one act by Frank Semerano
  5. Flight by Giron, Arthur
  6. Moving Bodies by Giron, Arthur
  7. The Blue Ball by Paul Godfrey (1995)
  8. Space by Tina Landau (1998)
  9. Galileo by Bertolt Brecht
  10. Star Messengers in the Millennium (musical) by Jillian Hanson
  11. To the Stars by Leonid Andreyev,
  12. The Starry Messenger by Justin Fleming
  13. The Astronomer’s Garden by Kevin Hood
  14. A Short History of Night by John Mighton
  15. Comet Hunter Miyagawa & Lattis (2003)
  16. Man on the Moon (musical) by John Phillips

Also, this link is a wonderful list of space/science plays compiled by a researcher whose book I own and reference often.

I think I might try to tweet this post, just to say thanks to all the wonderful dramaturgs all over the country who helped me out.

Looks like I have a lot of reading to do!

City of Downey = Not as Lame as You Thought

1 February 2012

So someone told me recently that Downey has a reputation. Like among LA people. Like that they don’t like us. This came as a surprise to me for a couple of reasons. First, I didn’t think LA people knew Downey existed. Second, why they would care is beyond me. But anyway, it got me thinking about all the cool things we have here in D-town that set us apart from the surrounding cities. We may not be Los Angeles, but we are significant. We’re not just a quaint little small town. Although we do have that small town feel.

Here’s a quick list of some cool things we got:

1. Two Hospitals (DRMC and a brand-new Kaiser)

2. Two Golf Courses (Rio Hondo and Los Amigos)

3. A nationally recognized rehabilitation center

4. A courthouse

5. Our own police dept

6. Our own fire dept

7. A movie studio (though not for long)

8. A mall

9. Our own Museum of Art with important works by internationally-recognized artists in its collection. (Although it currently has no home. Read more about that here.)

10. An annual float in the Rose Parade

11. A beautiful, professional Civic Theater that is now being booked as a concert venue with some pretty big names.

12. A brand-new Space Museum

13. As of last Saturday, protests. That’s right, people. We are a city that cares about stuff.

14. Not to mention all the cool stuff happening all the time with Downey Art Vibe and Downey Arts Coalition.

15. Two local newspapers (The Downey Beat and The Downey Patriot)

16. Our own Civic Light Opera

17. Our own professional Symphony

18. Weird Al Yankivic is from here. You read that right.

19. The world’s oldest operating McDonald’s

20. the very first Taco Bell

21. A superior Farmer’s Market (and I say this as a total junkie)

22. Our rich and lengthy history, including the hometown of The Carpenter’s, our connection to NASA and the aerospace industry, and much, much more.

23. Last but certainly not least, Downey Arts Ryan Gosling

Anything I’m forgetting?

Theatre, Childbirth, and Existence… and tea.

20 September 2011

I once heard childbirth compared to brewing tea with a teabag.  When the heat of the water affects the tea, what’s inside comes out.

This is comparable to why I love performance.  Probably my very favorite thing about watching a performance by someone I know personally is getting to see that unmatchable effect it has on them when they step up on to that stage in front of an audience.  The effect is astounding.  The powerful become weak, the shy become witty, the mysterious become funny, and the outcast become glamorous.  I was even enraptured by viewing a video of my own son when he performed at an open-mic night here in Downey. He is incredibly outgoing, but sometimes chickens out when the pressure is put on him to “perform” in social situations.  But he went on anyway, and the excitement he had for the songs he shared was nothing less than charming.  The giddy delight he had every time he made a mistake and his repeated insistence that he sing just one more, and then another, and another, was heart-warming.  This is even true of my friends from my former life, professional chameleons like I once was.  Even though they are good at it– the vulnerability, the control of emotions, the focus on action–there never ceases to be something truly amazing and beautiful about seeing another facet of that diamond that is that particular human being.

So it’s not such a stretch that my passion for theatre extends to my passion for childbirth.  Women do the same thing in labor.  What is inside often comes out, for all to see.  This is why it is such a vulnerable and personal thing for us.  This is why it can be difficult to give birth in an unfamiliar environment or in the presence of unfamiliar or unwelcome individuals.  But what is inside will eventually come out– and I’m not just talking physiologically here.  The weak do indeed become incredibly strong, the loud and obnoxious might become silent and introverted, the flirty girl might not want to be touched, the angry might cry, the gentle become self-determined and powerful.

This is one reason I want to become a doula someday.  To be able to experience humanity in such a powerful and rich way seems to be so thrilling– even more than doing theatre.  This all happens in the theatre, and after the show we go for a drink, then go our separate ways, then come together the next night to do it all again.  It’s beautiful really, but also very mundane.  But birth… ah… birth is monumental.  Life is never the same after a new being enters this world.  It’s sacred.

And theatre was once a sacred, religious act.  But the passage of time has turned it secular.  I suppose the same could be said of childbirth.  Yet with all the changes that women have experienced in regards to the ways in which we give birth, the passage of time has not been able to rob humanity of the sacredness of birth.  No matter how many c-sections an OB performs during his/her day at work, each of those mothers still goes home a new being.

It’s the change that delivers permanence.  That’s something that the temporal existence of theatre cannot imitate.  All it can do is express it.

So at intermission, I will have a cup of tea.  And since I’m a mother, I’ll take it sweetened, with plenty of milk.

Downey Arts Coalition Meeting

21 February 2011

The first live in-person meeting of the Downey Arts Coalition will be this Saturday Feb 26th at 11:00am at Xela Cafe. Please let me know if you want to come. Artists and art-lovers are all welcome. Andy has a lot of interesting ideas on the agenda. I’m typing this using the WordPress app on his iPhone. Not the easiest way to blog. Bye for now!

Sentimental Realization in the Midst of Academic Research

18 February 2011

Andy has been going in late to work once a week these days so that I can work on my Masters thesis (entitled Birthing Conflict: Childbirth and the Battle of the Sexes in Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama) and I have been seriously loving every waking minute I spend working on it!  I go to a coffee shop to work for a couple hours while he has DFD (Daddy Fun Day) at home with the kids.  This week while I was reading some 500-year-old birth stories told by historian David Cressy, I was struck by a sentimental epiphany.  I realized that these women–who lived so very long ago and who lived so differently than I–had labors that sounded just like mine.  And like other birth stories of contemporary women, that I am so fond of reading.  They gave birth just like I did.  It really struck me how cultures and customs change, our attitudes and behaviors toward childbirth change, our birth attendants and medical procedures change, but birth itself does not.  Pure,  natural childbirth is unchanging.  It is a human constant.

This, I find to be very inspiring.  To think that I shared something with women that came before me so very, very long ago.  To think that what I experienced was also experienced by some of the most phenomenal women in history– Catherine Aragon, Anne Boleyn, queens, princesses, wise women, and peasant girls alike.  This is why I get soooooo sentimental at Christmastime.  And why every Christmas play I’ve ever directed has strong moments that linger on the beauty of the bond between Mary and the baby Jesus.  I relish the thought of the mother of Christ sharing in the same emotions and feelings that I did when I birthed my babies.

So that was my epiphany of the week.  Tune in next week for more heart-melting stories from the land of theatre research.

Downey Civic Theatre makes the front page… (of our local paper)

6 February 2011

Could a turnout in the triple-digits ever be considered a ‘rough start?’ That’s the subject of my blog on Downey Arts Coalition tonight.

Look at Me! I’m a double-Blogger!

6 November 2010

I wrote my first blog post recently for Downey Arts Coalition about a really exciting opportunity to see some incredible theatre here in town. Check it out.

Our Vacation 2010

25 September 2010
SATURDAY: The Road Trip Begins

This year we took our fourth trip to Ashland, OR to visit the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I never thought I would be the type of person that vacationed in the same spot year after year. But we really love it there, and every year there is new theatre to see of course. And this is some of the best theatre in the country. Especially for a classics lover like myself. It’s been exciting following the festival in a new direction under the leadership of their new Artistic Director, Bill Rauch. His perspective on classics and his vision for the future is astounding, and he has been doing some really exciting work at OSF. This year, since we couldn’t afford to fly, we road-tripped it up the entire way. This is something I’ve been dreading, since I hate road trips, and since we now have a toddler. (Preschooler?)

Part of our plan included a very detailed listing of local parks to stop at along the way. This was to give Peer a chance to play, and give us a small break as well. Plus, being 7 1/2 months pregnant and with a tendency to motion sickness and pregnancy nausea, I didn’t expect to do so well either. We packed some sandwiches to make our lunch quick on that first day.

Our first park was a big hit. The others were not as good as this one. And actually, we made very good time the first day, traveling much farther north than Sacramento, which was our original goal. We made it to Red Bluff by dinnertime and while Peer and I waited for our table and waiter, Andy took his laptop to a nearby Starbucks to mooch off their free wifi and book us a hotel on priceline. Andy is a wiz with priceline. We really debated about whether or not to book a hotel room ahead of time in Sacramento. We eventually decided not to, in order to give us the freedom to keep driving if we felt like it. We did, and also ended up with a fabulous hotel room in Redding, at which we arrived just in time to put PJ to bed a tad late.
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