Notre Dame blogs experienced a major server crash, causing the database to lose hundreds (thousands?) of old posts and photos across all hosted sites. I’ll have new pictures to you ASAP, but bear with me as I’m reconstructing from the ground up. Thanks for your interest in all things theatre!
The set for both “The Bear” and “Afterplay” is minimal — “Bear” has a chaise, a chair, a window sill and a small table; “Afterplay” has a table and two chairs. So what Marcus Stephens has done that makes the set so extraordinary is pay extraordinary attention to the groundwork both shows have in common: the floor.
What started as a raised wooden platform has transformed into a truly beautiful basis for the performance. Marcus and his team have painted and treated the wood and added blue and gold accents along with gorgeous gold stencil work framing the edges of the platform — the stencil was added just before last night’s final tech rehearsal.
The work offers a subtle flair that distinguishes the real world from the play world, and the play world shifts between acts. What at first seems vibrant and beautiful in “Bear” grows faded and cold in “Afterplay.” Take a close look at these details when you come — sometimes the beauty of minimalist shows is just how much attention goes into the smallest details.
Ever wondered what actors do when their props aren’t available but they still need to rehearse? We make it work! (That’s kind of the point of acting, right?) At multiple points in “Afterplay,” Sonya and Andrey have to deal with pieces of paper — actually, in the interest of honesty, at almost every point in “Afterplay,” Sonya has to deal with a mountain of paper, and Andrey gets sucked into her explosion of work, maps, receipts, ledgers, etc. etc. etc.
But work, maps, receipts, ledgers written on parchment in Russian or even Cyrillic script are (shockingly) not easy to come by. So Ty London and I have been working with my own folders, homework, spiral notebooks and stationery. Each of us has to write an address on one of these crazy pieces of paper, and, after weeks of rehearsal, this is the result:
(*Fun fact: I initially tried to photograph every piece of paper Ty ever wrote for me, but we’ve done it so much at this point that the gallery would be way too big. So these are a representative few.)
For me, this week is an anomaly. For the first time in 2016, I have only one show to think about, and that is “The Bear” and “Afterplay” (side note: tix available here). Until now, I’ve been split between this and PEMCo’s Thoroughly Modern Millie. But, I’m both pleased and terrified to confirm that this anomaly ends on Sunday — it’s true, “Pride and Prejudice” rehearsals begin this weekend!
When I was down in the costume shop last week, I managed to sneak a peak at a few of the costumes I might get to wear as Mrs. Bennet. Nothing is confirmed yet, of course, but what I’ve seen so far is stunning! More to come on this as I have fittings in the coming weeks.
We wrapped up our three-show run of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” tonight. Watching everyone’s hard work really blossom and come to a close is always hard — PEMCo can’t afford the rights to perform more than three shows — but seeing and hearing the audience respond so warmly to the work we put in is an irreplaceable, priceless feeling.
We sold just over 70 percent of tickets, a strong number for a show that many on campus had never heard of. Despite technical glitches in the first two shows, the Saturday show went off with minimal issues, and the audience was as lively and responsive as it had been on Friday. All of us in the cast and crew have been hearing positive feedback from classmates and professors as we transition back to our so-called normal lives, a major accomplishment for PEMCo as an artistic force and brand name on campus.
Thanks to everyone who came to or supported this show from here and afar. It’s been my greatest pleasure and privilege to work with PEMCo and hopefully make a difference for the company in the long run. Come see us next in the PEMCo Revue on April 2!
The first time I can remember hearing / using / understanding the meaning of the word “collateral” is in the movie National Treasure (which in my humble opinion is an actual national treasure — who didn’t love Nic Cage as an action hero/intellectual? And fashion icon/world class Instagrammer Diane Kruger as the even smarter and faster Dr. Chase, am I right?!). Ben Gates (Cage) offers an Urban Outfitters cashier his diver’s watch as collateral as he takes his $100 bill back from her to look at the time depicted on the Liberty Bell tower’s clock (side note: as a former URBAN employee, I’m 100% sure taking that $100 out of the register would be a big no-no).
Collateral has another meaning that I’ve learned much more recently in my graphic design courses: it refers to the ancillary products that typically promote a main product or event through various physical forms. Think of free giveaways — pens, posters, hats, toys, etc. For the first time in my years at PEMCo, we did not collaborate with a freelance designer — instead, the work was handled in house, and by in house I mean in my computer.
I had the awesome and totally daunting task of designing the logo, posters, programs, T-shirts and all marketing materials related to “Millie,” and as a new designer I often felt very much out of my league. Inspiration finally hit me in January: I had been trying to incorporate a swooping line between “Thoroughly Modern” and “Millie,” when what the logo needed was a crown and a base. Borrowing from Art Deco themes, the logo became a framed block of text with lines and curves that evoke the decorative style of the 20s.
The typeface, for those interested in design, is Futura — a very contemporary, geometric family that incorporates basic shapes (circles, rectangles) in a timeless manner. Futura, as a matter of fact, was chosen by Typewolf.com as the most popular typeface on the Internet in 2015. By opting for the Condensed Medium font, I was able to pack in the lengthy “thoroughly modern” while maintaining legibility and complementing the larger tracking (i.e., spacing between the letters) of “Millie.” The secondary typeface is Bodoni Oldstyle, a very classically elegant, retro look that high-fashion magazines like Vogue use in their brand identities.
Inspiration struck again just a few weeks ago, when I started playing with ideas for the “Millie” T-shirts. A huge tenet in design is that less is always more. Our professors constantly challenge us to use as few elements of possible to relay the message. In fact, painted on the wall of West Lake, the design building, is renowned typographer Ellen Lupton’s mantra, “Think more, design less.” With that in mind, I found numerous design opportunities in the gorgeous simplicity of a flapper silhouette and a short quote from “Millie,” “This is 1922.” The line, taken from the show’s first number, immediately gives the show context, while the silhouette alludes to the dance and costume style as well as the spunkiness of the show and its heroine.
In creating the posters, programs, T-shirt and special event poster, the simple idea grew into an incredibly flexible concept that adapted beautifully to whatever needs PEMCo had. Though I’m still growing as a designer and I could definitely have improved these products, it was a totally unique and exciting challenge to develop a brand across platforms to sell this show.
The whole cast of “The Bear” and “Afterplay” (all four of us!) had a chance to start learning our hair and makeup and figuring out costumes today for the FTT promotional photo call. This was SUCH a different experience for me. Photo shoots are my favorite part of the job I do with PEMCo, so it was pretty foreign to be taking direction and trying to implement all the tips I’ve given actors on set. We had fun, and I hope you’ll all have a chance to see the results soon!
We have a tradition in PEMCo that, like most PEMCo traditions, we have no idea where it came from or why we do it. But we love it, and it seems to have been going on for a while at least, so we continue doing it.
At the end of every rehearsal, No. 1 dog goes to the cast or crew member who’s putting in phenomenal effort and going above and beyond the call of duty to make the show succeed. Yomara Acevedo, one of the Priscilla Girls, presented me with the dog last night, and tonight I had the pleasure of passing it to our technical director, Brynn Alexander, whose birthday happened to be last weekend! She brought her birthday cake to the production team meeting, which is not why I chose her but a pleasant surprise after the fact.
Having No. 1 dog carries the added responsibility of carrying him and taking pictures with him everywhere you go. So here are a few peeks at where No. 1 Dog and I went!
For those who don’t know, “Millie” relies heavily on 1920s tropes and stereotypes, particularly those that expose xenophobia in U.S. history and society. Because of that, we on the production team want to open the door to conversation about how these tropes are used (successfully or unsuccessfully) in the theatre.
We’ve coordinated a panel discussion, “This Is 1922: Stereotypes and Satire in Theatre,” immediately following our Thursday performance in Washington Hall. Tickets to the show are on sale now in the LaFortune Box Office, and we encourage everyone to see the show before attending the panel. More on the context of the show and the reasons for this panel can be found here, in a letter the PEMCo producers and director wrote to The Observer.
The panelists will include Jason Ruiz, associate professor of American studies; Lionel Jensen, associate professor of East Asian languages and cultures and Cecilia Lucero, assistant professional specialist in the First Year of Studies and faculty advisor to “Show Some Skin.” We look forward to hearing your thoughts and contributing to the discussion of inclusion on campus!
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” opens THIS WEEK. It’s crazy to see this project coming together in the end. We’ve spent all day bringing decorations, paint, props, swivel chairs, desks, carts, step ladders and all sorts of tools into Washington Hall, and it’s looking pretty phenomenal.
Brynn Alexander, our technical director, and Ryan Jones, our scenic designer, are leading the charge directing our cast and crew members as they set up everything. We should be finished in time to begin cue-to-cue, meaning we’ll start setting up lights and sound cues.
Just by the way, tickets are on sale now at the LaFortune Box Office!