Monday, April 21, 2008

Hey look, a review!

I suppose I should link the review. The very good review.

Funnyman Steve Martin has given us "The Underpants," a lowbrow, highly witty look at scenes from a marriage with lots of digs at society.

Germantown Community Theatre's giddy production directed by Chris Davis lives down to the premise with a fine cast and good pacing that keeps the hilarity flowing.

Martin adapted the story from a 1910 satire by Carl Sternheim that examines the deep question of what happens when a young housewife, waving to the king at a parade, unintentionally drops her knickers. They are at her ankles only seconds, but the effect is rollicking.

Louise (Aliza Moran) becomes somewhat celebrated, to the utter dismay of her prig of a husband Theo (Randal Cooper) who believes his job as a government bureaucrat is doomed and that the couple will never be able to rent out their spare room. Her misadventure, however, attracts a slick poet (Grant Hatton) and a milquetoast barber (Kent Mathis) who saw her and were so overcome that they now compete for the room.

Moran is splendid as the flustered wife who is embarrassed but who also finds the attention stoking her desire. Not much comes from her husband who prefers to pontificate on any subject rather than tend to Louisa's needs. Cooper hits the Teutonic target dead-on in his wild-eyed portrayal of the obsessive boaster.

Louisa's only confidante is neighbor Gertrude (an excellent Denise Turner Barton) whose nosiness gets her more than she bargained for.

Characters run in and out of doors; misunderstandings and mistimings rule the day. I wouldn't have minded even more choreographed slapstick to give some of the gags a bit more time to play out.

Those gags also take a few digs at anti-Semitism (barber Cohen insists to Theo that Cohen is spelled with a K), elitism, gender prejudice and the uberpower of fame.

With an amusing set and fine costumes, the show provides some good, naughty fun, not for all ages, but worth a peek.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Go Underpantsers! Go!

For the historical record. As an ensemble we took a big leap forward tonight. Here's a little thank you card. Not dirty, but probably not work safe.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Schedule

Yes, I know there may still be some conflicts here, but we'll work around them

Thursday March13
Pages 48-80 and pages 94-120

Friday March 14
Pages 60-93

Saturday March 15

Sunday March 16
Pages 121-end of show

Monday March 17
All Versati’s scenes. Plus finish any scenes we haven’t worked on (TBA).

Tuesday March 18
Stumble through

Wednesday March 19

Thursday March 20
Work trouble spots TBA

Friday March 21

Saturday March 22
Sunday March 23

Monday March 24
Work through first half

Tuesday March 25
Work through second half

Wednesday, March 26
TBA (for trouble spots w/versati)

Thurdsay, March 27
Work trouble spots

Friday, March 28

Saturday March 29
TBA (if needed)

Sunday, March 30
Run (Maybe twice)

Monday, March 31
Work trouble spots TBA

Tuesday April 1
Wednesday April 2
Thursday April 3
Work trouble spots TBA
Friday April 4
Saturday April 5
TBA (if necessary)
Sunday April 6
Run (twice for sure) Full Dress all tech
Monday April 7
Tuesday April 8
Wednesday April 9
Thursday April 10
Friday April 11


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday: Theo, Louise, Cohen

Monday: Theo, Louise, Cohen, Gertrude.

Still no confirmed Versati. Stay tuned. Keep your ears open. Ask all your friends in the theatre that could do Versati, why the heck they aren't doing Versati.

I'm going to take this to the folks at GCT on Monday. I need some help because I've run out of options and ideas, and only now am I beginning to panic.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Full call on Monday at 7.

We will be taking measurement for costumes and the women will be trying on pieces borrowed from Rhodes.

Once all the measuring etc. has been accomplished I'll turn everybody loose but Louise, Theo, and Gertrude.

We're still without a Versati, and may remain without one for this first few days. But I've spoken to several prospects and hope to spend Wednesday evening interviewing/auditioning and getting this last piece of the puzzle in place.

I should be freaked out. But I've got a great deal of confidence in the cast we've got. And as omens go, this whole experience rhymes with a production of The Lion in Winter I did with Jim Ostrander at GCT many years ago. We had a Richard, then we lost our Richard, then we didn't have a Richard, then -- after some period of Richardlesness--we found a much, much better Richard. It was worth dealing with a bit of terror on the front end. And I'd rather do that than cast the first available body that walks through the door. I think I've got some good prospects. But am still open to suggestions if you have any.

Lysistrata, Room Service, and an unanticipated student production of Shakespeare's R&J have sucked many of the Y chromosomes out of the greater metro area.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Read through & Table Work Sunday, February 24

At 244 Looney Avenue, Uptown Memphis. The northwest corner of Looney & 5th.

Very excited!

6:30 pm.

Yes, there will be snacks and cold drinks.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

When's the best day for a read through?

I'd like to try to schedule a read through on either Sunday, February 24, or Monday February 25.

Rehersals will begin on Monday, March 3. Generally we will work on M, T, Th, Fr, and Sunday afternoons, with all Saturdays listed as TBAs that hopefully we won't ever have to use.

Ideally, I'll have a more detailed scene by scene breakdown or rehersals by Sunday, but maybe not until the read through.

My sincere sorries for not having more of this together sooner, but casting the final role has been a real bear, as has finding a designer, stage manager, etc. There's lots of exciting stuff sharing a time slot with the Underpants, and many of the people I'd have liked to work with already had previous engagements. But (fingers crossed) I think we're about to have a complete cast.

Thanksgiving through Valentine's day is a tough time for the working parents of five year old twin girls. Throw in a CD release for me, and three plays for the wife and... JEEBUS! But The neverending string of holidays is over, The Underpants is now getting underway, and moving closer to the top of my priority list. I'll try and be a little less flakey with every passing day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Ah, the Edwardians or, more correctly, given our play's Teutonic bent, the Second Reichers.

We're looking at a world where women have been kept, quite literally, in bondage, in their own clothing. But all of that is coming to an end. Only 10 years after our play Germany's Weimar Republic will earn its reputation as one of the most decadent periods in modern history.

The underpants takes place between this: a total covering of the female body that is, for the viewer, hypersexualized, and somewhat hellish for the wearer.

And This:

In short, we're at that in-between point where representatives of the status quo are most confused and nervous.

Fnding ways to represent the in-between-ness of it all will be a challenge. Suggestions?

Lying for the Truth: the post in which I use the word "I" way too often, without apology

As we go into this process I think it's important for designers and actors alike to understand my feelings about realism, realistic design, etc: As a tool it's as useful as any other tool. As an aesthetic it is a cancer that wrecks our imaginations and warps our values. We are most dishonest with our audience when we try to trick them into believing that what they see is real.

More: Too much fake reality does away with that elusive thing we call "magic." If you tell me we're going to see an elephant and you show me an elephant I may be impressed, but there's no magic. Show me an apple and make me believe its an elephant---- that's how magic works. And that's how I work as well, and it is how we will approach The Underpants.

For a better sense of what I mean you may wish to visit the blogs I created for Ubu Roi and Rocky Horror.

Also, here's a shot from Not About Nightingales, another show that brought realistic and abstracted images and performance styles together.

I care less about a performance space conveying a sense of place than it's ability to serve actors and alter an audience's perspective. I care even less for an actor's ability to mimic life than his or her ability to use their entire bodies to transmit necessary information in ways that are interesting to watch.

I like to think if a script as a puzzle box full of surprising things, waiting to be unlocked, not as a blueprint.

LASTLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: My job as a director, as I see it, isn't to tell the designers what to draw, or the actors where to stand (though there will certainly be some of that). My job is to unlock and channel the cast and crew's collective creativity. You are all smarter and more talented than I am, no doubt, and together we have the capicity for genius. This is OUR project, and I cannot stress how important I think it is for everyone to take full ownership. The more you allow me to simply play housekeeper and referee--cleaning things up and making sure we're all playing the same game on the same field-- the better this will be.

Please, feel free to comment even (perhaps especially) if you disagree.

Now, here are some more pictures to inspire set, costume, and character. Some are real, many are abstract. Hopefully all are useful