Monday, December 24, 2007

A few minutes with Sven Nelson

Behind the Curtain once again brings you up close and personal with a wonderful member of our staff: House Manager of the Charlotte Martin Theatre, Sven Nelson.

Keep checking back here for profiles of the people that make SCT go. And if you've ever asked yourself "What does a Stage Manager do?" or "What are SCT teaching artists really like?" drop us a line and we'll turn the camera on them next!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shout out to TeenTix!

Have you heard about TeenTix? This is a great program that offers teens aged 13 to 18 access to $5 day-of-show tickets to local theatre, dance, music and visual arts.

Not only are these fine folks cultivating the next generation of arts patrons (something we believe we do here at SCT, as well), but they also run this fantastic blog of reviews written by their interpid team of teen reviewers. TeenTix has been very supportive of our programming this season, posting reviews of High School Musical, The Big Friendly Giant and The Neverending Story.

TeenTix deserves a big shout out for the work they do, and Behind the Curtain is going to give them just that.

We love you, TeenTix!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The season of giving and getting

In this case, it was SCT doing the getting, which, frankly, we just love. And the giving? Well, Steven Vande Griend's 6th grade class teamed up with Al Lyon's 2nd grade class, both from Lynnwood Elementary, to create this incredible life-size Big Friendly Giant.

They presented SCT with this truly giant (notice the tiny SCT staffer in the background) gift when they came to see The Big Friendly Giant this week.

GIANT thanks to both classes for our new large friend!

Monday, December 10, 2007

10 Questions for... Morgan Rowe

Morgan Rowe currently appears in SCT's production of The Big Friendly Giant, running through December 10. Reviews of The BFG are posted on our website.

How did you get cast in this show?

I simply auditioned when the director called me in. I had never read The BFG and was supposed to go to Europe this fall. But while auditioning I fell madly in love with the play, the language and the character and was thrilled when they offered me the part.

Who are you in this play? Tell us about your character(s).

In the first act I play a mean giant and a character in a dream caught by the BFG. In the second act I play the Queen of England. To play the Queen of England is a dream come true for me. When I was a kid I knew everything about British royalty. I was convinced that I would be Queen one day. Lo and behold, I am... only without all the responsibility and with all the glory. My Queen is an adventuress who is thrilled to meet a giant since she has met everybody else, I figure. She is strong and sassy and very British. I adore her. And not just because I am her. What Roald Dahl wrote is genius and easy to play.

How has the play been received by audiences? Any surprising reactions?

I think they like it. Some people want it to be scarier and a handful are too scared. No way around it with man-eating giants. But for the most part The BFG is so lovely and the world is so fantastical that everyone, kids and adults, seem genuinely swept away by the story.

Are there particular challenges working with large costumes and puppets?

You can’t act and react the same way you would without those things. You can’t play the scene with your fellow actors; you have to let the puppet act the scene. This was frustrating at first. But now I really love the challenge of filtering my actions through the puppet. It forces me to be more specific with my voice and my actions, which is always a good thing.

Do you identify with any particular aspects of the story?

I think we all know, at one time or another, what it is to want to run away from our lives. I remember diving into fantasies as a child that took me to far off places where everything went my way in the long run.

In terms of playing the Queen, I am at a point in my life where I am really loving the challenge that comes with embracing the large obstacles that might come my way as a means to adventure, to a more passionate life. I like to think that if a dream I had started becoming real around me and I was given the opportunity to meet the BFG in person that I would say Yes with as much enthusiasm and as little hesitation as the Queen does.

What dream would the BFG deliver to you?

Oh, this is a hard question as I have a fantastic dream life, so I think the BFG is already working overtime to bring me dreams.

How and why did you become an actor?

My parents were both actors and directors so I grew up in the family business.

When not in the theatre, what are you most likely doing?

Writing. Playing scrabble online with friends from all over the world. Walking my dog.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Living in a foreign country, writing and performing around the world.

You have the audience’s ear – what would you ask them?

I would ask them to embrace theatre with the wide-eyed innocence of a child, to relax and let the story lead them to undiscovered countries within themselves. This goes to the adults and even the children, who often try to forget that they are children because it isn’t cool anymore.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Activity: The Book Expert

Bastian, the young hero of The Neverending Story, is a true lover of books. They provide him a way to escape from his ordinary life and the cruelty of his peers, and one particularly powerful book connects him to the magical world of Fantastica.

Our Education department has developed an exercise that a book expert like Bastian would enjoy, entitled, not coincidentally, The Book Expert. This activity was originally designed for the classroom, but works for any group of perhaps five or more.

The Book Expert

Assemble your participants and tell them that you have some special guests eager to meet them. These people are so smart that they have two heads. And they are experts at books; they know everything there is to know about reading books and writing books, and they just love anything that has to do with books!

Ask two participants to come to the front of the group and become the two-headed book expert. (Have some fun with it if you like - have them sit together with one's head over the other's shoulder, or squeeze them into a giant oversized sweater.)

Choose one member of the group who has a question for the wise book expert, and ask him/her to share it with the group. All together in one voice, the group asks the question of the book expert. The question should always begin with "Oh, Great Book Expert..." and then into the question. For example, "Oh Great Book Expert, what does it take to be a fast reader?"

The Book Expert has to answer the question one word at a time, one person at a time. If the Expert knows the real answer, then they should answer with that, otherwise they must make it up.

You can mix it up by adding more heads to the Expert, and can get everyone involved by swapping out whichever Book Expert "head" slips up in their answer.

This is a great activity for building cooperation, imagination and spontaneity.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Costumes of Fantastica

"If a person were to try stripping the disguises from actors while they play a scene upon stage, showing to the audience their real looks and the faces they were born with, would not such a one spoil the whole play? And would not the spectators think he deserved to be driven out of the theatre with brickbats, as a drunken disturber?"
Erasmus, The Praise of Folly

Now, of course, we would never advocate violence against fellow theatre patrons, but costumes are an incredibly important part of a production. Particularly when one is trying, as SCT will with our upcoming production of The Neverending Story, to create a fantasy world onstage. Fortunately, we have the wonderfully talented costume designer, Cathy Hunt. Here's a sneak preview of some of her designs for the denizens of Fantastica.

Falkor the Luck Dragon

The Childlike Empress



The costume designs for "The Neverending Story" were inspired by many great artists: Gustave Klimt, Salvador Dali, the Japanese graphic artist and illustrator Yoshitaka Amano. Strong bold shapes and fanciful colors of the Fantastica world are contrasted with the monotone colors and textures of the real world.
Cathy Hunt, Costume Designer

Good Fairy




The costumes for this show are stunning, and truly help bring Fantastica to life. Which is not to downplay the work our actors do once they have donned them, but if anyone should try to strip them onstage, we'll have the brickbats waiting.

All drawings by Cathy Hunt.

We have a winner!

Behind the Curtain is pleased to announce the winner of our first-ever Family Reviewers contest! Randi Harper and her son Ben Milne have won four tickets to opening night of The Neverending Story and a chance to have their review of the show published right here on Behind the Curtain.

Congratulations to Randi, Ben and their family, and thanks to all the families that entered. Check back here in February when we will run our contest again for our next Charlotte Martin Theatre production, The Hundred Dresses, and stop by next week to read Randi's review.