The Spelling Rules

A recent discussion about creating a style guide…

KP: So, will you also include basic spelling and grammatical conventions?

AW: Like?

KP: Oh, you know… serial commas… and/&… how to spell “theater.”

AW: It’s -ER, right?

KP: Yes! Thank you!

AW: I never understood the -RE spelling. Theatre. Centre. Are they trying to be fancy?

KP: I wish they would stop. Then regular people would realize the theater is something for them, not just for fancy people.

AW: Yeah, this is America — speak American!

KP: Yay for -ER theater!

I don’t think it will really change anything, my going on a crusade to change perceptions of the performing arts by ensuring an Americanized, common spelling of the word “theater.” Of course, I now also see commercials selling “healthy” corn sugar and making girdles sexier by re-branding them as Spanx. I suppose it couldn’t hurt to try.

Blessings at Orlando Fringe 2012

Getting to know yourself is a blessing.  The next offering from Rake Theater, in collaboration with The Movement Project; a spectacle of dance, movement, text, images, and martial arts.

Sat. 5/19- 3:00pm

Sun. 5/20- 1:15pm

Sat. 5/26- 11:30am

Sun. 5/27- 8:00pm

Announcing the 1st South Florida One-Minute Play Festival

The One-Minute Play Festival, The Deering Estate, and The South Florida Theatre League Present:

The First South Florida One-Minute Play Festival

2 Shows Only: Feb 26th, 2012 at 4:30PM, and 8PM

At The Deering Estate

16701 SW 72nd Ave.,  Miami, FL 33157

Tickets are $25 per show and can be purchased online or by calling the Deering Estate Ticket Office at 305-235-1668 ext. 233.

Featuring 40+ Brand New One-Minute Plays by writers connected to the South Florida Community, including:

Michael McKeever, Michael Yawney, Juan C. Sanchez, Gene Excaliber, David Sirois, Mark Della Ventura, Vanessa Garcia, Kimberly Patterson, Marj O’Neill-Butler, Andrew Rosendorf, Kenny Finkle, Sheri Wilner, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Andie Arthur, Carmen Pelaez, David Caudle, Stacy O’Neill, Neena Beber, Edith Freni, Jorge Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, and more!

Directed by Steven Chambers, Elizabeth Price, Nicole Stoddard, and Ricky J. Martinez

Curated by OMPF Producing Artistic Director and founder Dominic D’Andrea, OMPF Festival Director: Tessa LaNeve (Primary Stages), and co-produced by Andie Arthur (South Florida Theatre League) and Jennifer Tisthammer (The Deering Estate.)

The proceeds from this event will benefit the Theatre Lab, a yearlong series of playwright workshops presented by the South Florida Theatre League and the Deering Estate.

About the South Florida OMPF Partners:

The One-Minute Play Festival (OMPF) is an NYC-based theatre company, founded by director/dramaturg Dominic D’Andrea, working in partnership with institutional theatres and collectives across the country who share playwright or community-specific missions. OMPF creates local playwright-focused community events, using a specific playmaking process, with the goal of promoting the spirit of radical inclusion by representing the culture of playwrights of different age, gender, race culture, and points of career. OMPF attempts to reflect the theatrical landscape of local artistic communities by creating a dialogue between the collective conscious and the individual voice. OMPF is the first and only major American One-Minute Play Festival.

The South Florida Theatre League is an alliance of theatrical organizations and professionals dedicated to nurturing, promoting, and advocating for the growth and prestige of the South Florida theatre industry. For more click here.

Located along the edge of Biscayne Bay, the 444-acre Deering Estate at Cutler is an environmental, archeological and historical preserve. The Estate is part of the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department, which manages the Estate on behalf of the State of Florida.The Deering Estate is also a cultural and educational facility that features classes and programs for children and adults, teacher training and research opportunities. The Estate also serves as a small conference center for community organizations and corporate groups who share Charles Deering’s interest in the environment, botany, history, fine arts, antiques, rare books and wine.

This event is made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.

Reverse Ageism

Much Younger UshersI am apparently Palm Beach County’s youngest usher. This isn’t based on any scientific data, just on my own casual observation. That, and the fact that an artistic director recently approached me and said “You’re too young for this job!”

And I reply, “I most heartily am not!”

Sure, there are demands on the free time of un-retired people, what with the vast majority of our time being taken up by not being retired. How to prioritize and cram in all of those other activities in just a few short waking hours?

To me, it’s not really negotiable. I can’t really afford full-price tickets, so this is the best way to see free theater. Plus, I get the benefits of making connections and helping out the harried house managers. Seriously, who doesn’t love being thanked over and over again for being such a tremendous help?

I wish more people under the age of 65 would consider being an usher. The time commitment is not much greater than the duration of the play, and you only have to sign up for one shift at a time. Maybe I’ll come up with a “student usher” program and pitch it to local theaters, high schools, and universities. Everyone needs volunteer work on their transcript, and who knows, a kid may usher for a show that changes his life.

It’s All About the Benjamins…

Picture it: Friend A is starring in a local-but-professional theater production. Friend B wants to go see Friend A’s show, but just can’t bring herself to pay the $40+ ticket price (and that’s for one ticket). So Friend B is considering an alternate plan: PRETEND she saw the show, telling Friend A how wonderful she was. Friend B comes to me to ask how she can fake it.

“Is there something I can say other than ‘Oh, you were great!’?” Friend B asks.

I advise her to read some of the reviews, and check the theater’s website. Search for any press photos or B-roll, and make sure you understand what the show is about.

“What if the night I pretend to go is actually a night when Friend A is out sick? And then I tell her how wonderful she was, not knowing an understudy went on?” Friend B is a bit on the worried side.

“Well,” I respond. “I could call the stage manager — he’s a friend of mine — and make sure Friend A went on. Maybe I can get a copy of the performance report.”

Are we insane? Going to all of this trouble, creating this elaborate ruse just so Friend B doesn’t have to blow her budget?

Why are ticket prices in South Florida so high?

NOTE: I am going to see Friend A’s show also — and, like Friend B — I don’t really feel comfortable about paying the $40+. However, in exchange for my free ticket, I must chaperone 30 high school freshman. So the “free” is never really free.

Decommissioned

I’ve been a civilian now for about 6 months. Meaning that I’m no longer directly involved in the day-to-day operations of a professional theater company in South Florida. The theater community here is not terribly dense, so very quickly you know everyone’s name, what’s playing where, and who’s doing what. You’re not just in the loop; you are the loop — helping to turn news around, complete connections, and transmit data.

But spend some time away from that circuit, and there’s nothing but complete radio silence.

All of this is really just a fancy, over-long metaphor for the complete lack of “civilian” participation in the performing arts in this region. No wonder interest in theater appears to be diminishing among the young: there’s no outreach and scant information being pushed their way. How are new people supposed to get involved? How will recent transplants to the area find out that there’s actually a diverse, interesting arts scene here that’s worth supporting?

Because I am no longer scanning my Twitter-Matrix all day long, and because it’s no longer my job to stay on top of regional and national media trends, I hardly know what’s going on. What shows are playing? When are they running? If it weren’t for my still-looped contacts sending me occasional emails, I wouldn’t see any theater at all.

How is someone still finding their way ever going to make contact? It’s something I’m worried about, but not sure how to solve.

Tropical Depression Gets a Mascot

Remember how we tried to lure audience members to our 11:45pm Sunday night show with the promise of pimiento cheese, shark teeth, and manatee-saving? Well, the pimiento cheese didn’t work out (but that’s a whole other post), the shark teeth were surprisingly popular, and the manatee-saving is about to begin!

We just got our disbursement checks, and we clearly are not rolling in dough. But, hey, if I were doing this to get rich, well, that would be pretty stupid of me. But we did break double-digit dollar amounts, so yay! Unfortunately, our first payment (including Friday, Saturday, and that Sunday night show) wasn’t broken down by day, so I don’t know exactly how much I earned on Sunday night. But I figured I’ll just divide the first check by three — that gives us $100 raised for manatees!

It’s enough money for us to adopt a manatee from the Save the Manatee Club, plus send the rest as a donation to their Emergency Rescue Fund (which will deal with manatees impacted by the oil spill in the Gulf).

That manatee is so excited he’s doing backflips!

Speaking of excited, did you know that you can buy a Manatee Merlot? Or manatee-inspired coffee? All of this can be found on the Save the Manatee Club’s website. Not sure what exactly inspires a manatee coffee… sea grass? Also, I noticed that manatees are very flatulent and tend to have a vigorous excretory system. Please insert your own coffee-related joke here. Eww.

So once our donation is submitted and our adoption process is complete, I’ll post it all on here for your enjoyment. Until then, don’t spend any time thinking about what we should name our new bundle of joy. You know our mascot is going to be called Fat Tom!

MWAH!

This manatee is so grateful that he’s coming in close for a big, wet, hairy smooch. Pucker up!

All manatees in this post were photographed by me and live at SeaWorld Orlando and were rescued from the wild after suffering injuries. SeaWorld is actually very fun and not too crowded and doesn’t seem overly exploitive of its animals. Also, they have great deals for FL residents if you purchase tickets online.

Latest News from the Tropics (Home sweet home edition)

Whew. I think now we need t-shirts that say “I survived Tropical Depression” or something. Fringe was very fun this year, especially because I got to be involved much more than last time. I was able to see many more shows (which I will comment on in a future post) and meet nice people.

I have lots of other thoughts to share here: notes and comments from my own production, next steps in the play’s evolution (rewriting can be fun!), and plans for other Fringes and additional productions.

Mostly, I have enjoyed being home and sleeping for 12 hours a night. The unpacking has been brutal, and I fear that it may take weeks to put all my stuff back the way I found it.

The one bit of feedback I got most often (from people who read the play in early stages and also from the OS reviewer) is that the stakes aren’t high enough. I haven’t actually been in a hurricane, nor had to prep for one, so all of my research came from other people. Because I am generally an anxious, worst-case-scenario soul, I was surprised at how laconic many of my interview subjects were about the situation. Much like Doris, the “lady in the check-out line at Publix,” they all said “Eh, it’s just a little weather.” Really?

So I am going to use this year’s hurricane season — conveniently starting right now — to do my own first-hand research and post my thoughts here. It’s all research and development!

Tropical Storm Confessions

I have never actually been in a hurricane.

Aly has been in several, as have Rob and Chris (our sound guy). For the creation of this play, I had to do a lot of research. I read articles, watched a video of Hurricane Charley, and sent around a survey for folks to fill out. I asked everyone I came across to tell me about their experiences.

It was extremely gratifying to hear people in the audience give a knowing chuckle or two as my character went about her preparations. One person came up to me on the Lawn o’ Fabulousness to tell me how glad he was that we acknowledged that wind was the primary focus of a hurricane — not thunder and lightning, which is often used for effect.

I believe this summer’s hurricane predictions come out today or tomorrow. Some forecasters are concerned about the low-pressure system that’s already birthed itself near the Carolinas, a week before hurricane season actually kicks off. Other people are worried about how the oil spill will play in to all of this. If the oil gets into the Loop Current (which it seems like it’s poised to do), we could end up with oil all along the entire Florida coastline, exacerbated by storm winds and coastal flooding. A woman on the radio this morning is doing what she can to control any potential hysteria: “The oil isn’t going to KILL you. But a hurricane is going to be a little more serious. That’s what we need to pay attention to right now.” Straight to the point.

I’m going to feel kind of bad if we have a rough season in Florida this year. Of course, if we do get a hurricane, I’ll also get lots of first-hand knowledge to use for my script revisions.

Latest News from the Tropics (Central FL Edition)

Well, we’re not technically in the tropics anymore — we’re here in Orlando — and we’ve been super-busy. Here are the highlights…

  • Not everyone likes pimiento cheese. I know you’re shocked by this.
  • We had our tech on Tuesday. It was great being in our “home” and with all the props and the lights, it looks like a real play! Fingers crossed that we’ll have no trouble with the sound (had to run some of the cues on my iPod during tech). Still, in no way the most challenging tech I’ve ever had. That would be Fluency at FringeNYC, and that’s a whole other story.
  • I have found the Winter Park Whole Foods. Also, I have had delicious meals at the Pita Pit, Wazzabi, Mimi’s Cafe, and That Deli! (in Lake Mary). Part of hanging out in a new place is having all of their delicious food.
  • Went the gala on the Great Lawn of Fabulousness last night. It was fun! I especially like the Fringe mushrooms. We handed out postcards. Our secret weapon? An adorable 4-year-old in a Tropical Depression t-shirt.
  • Someone congratulated my actress on her performance in Spring Awakening. Woo! Except, she wasn’t in Spring Awakening. We consider this a good omen.
  • Today’s the big day! We open at 7:25 tonight in Blue venue. Get your tickets!
  • All ticket sales for our Sunday, 5/23 11:45pm performance will be donated to the Save the Manatee Club. Stay up late and save a sea cow!
  • The aforementioned 4-year-old sat through a full 50 minute run-thru yesterday (with no props, costumes, etc) and was not only well-behaved, but actually interested in what was happening! This bodes well for the grown-up audiences. And, uh, if not, well, looks like I have a future in children’s theater.
  • Lots more stories and pictures still to come… until then, happy Fringing!