Can’t say no

I headed up to DC yesterday to catch the invited dress rehearsal (actually their first full run-through; they’ve got two weeks of rehearsal before opening) of OKLAHOMA at Arena Stage.  There were probably about a half dozen of us from VCU, if you include the fight choreographer (and dept. chair and my advisor) David Leong and a handful of the undergrad volunteers who helped with the pre-production fight workshop before the start of the Semester.  Sadly I didn’t see fight captain Robb Hunter there (a VCU alum who does fight work up in DC), or Lorraine Resseger, another graduate student in my program who assisted with the pre-production workshop.

It was a very solid production- yes, they have work to do still, but the design is perfect for the space, the leads are all very well cast and solid all around (a challenge when they have to act, sing, and dance), and I think the production really hits the mark.  Sometimes going to see old classics (my mother, who was able to join me, grew up listening to these songs on vinyl) you go in expecting them to be a bit… musty.  This really felt fresh and alive.  The very young (high school still, I think?) actress playing Edo Annie is amazing- I’m sure there will be plenty about her in the reviews when the show opens.  Brilliant set design and use.

As you can see, it’s theatre-in-the-round.  Honestly, 90% of the shows I’ve done fights for in the last few years have been non-proscenium… but we still find the expectation of standard stage haymaker punches, even though you really can’t sell those as connecting when you’re in the round.  There’s compromise ways of trying to do it, but nothing that at least people like me don’t see right through.  I wonder how long it’ll be before the stage combat curriculum changes to accommodate less traditional stagings as the norm- I haven’t heard of anyone doing so yet.

The dancing was great, and really made me want to get back in to doing more with that some time.  Maybe I can find some more ways to assist others at VCU with dance choreography/teaching… my CV could certainly do with the diversification, as I’m still so fight-heavy for a would-be acting teacher.

The new facility is also just as nice as I’d heard- you have windows and views from almost everywhere in the complex (including areas like the actor’s kitchen).  Three stages (one in the round, one thrust/fan, and one more proscenium), a cafe, a bar, etc.  Very interesting mix of materials, textures, and shapes.

If I can include it in this post without completely contradicting what I just said about diversifying… I also met the other day with local stuntman Kid Richmond.  Hoping to get a little more active in the local film and video scene, earn a little money on the side, and build up my stunt resume some more as well.  He had some good suggestions, and I’m hoping we’ll get to work together at some point here.

Sounds like I’ll be shipping some blank guns to Tennessee next week.  That’ll make two batches of props out right now, both out-of-state (and neither in WA either).  Need to get going on that local networking- and writing papers, catching up on reading, and working out what I’m doing next Semester.  Never enough time!

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