Thursday, February 28, 2008

Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre Proudly Announces Its 2008-09 Season

Atlanta’s nationally acclaimed Alliance Theatre, recipient of the 2007 Regional Theatre Tony Award®, and Artistic Director Susan V. Booth are proud to present the 2008–09 season for the Alliance Stage, the Decidedly Underground Hertz Stage and the Alliance Children’s Theatre. The specially selected productions for this milestone 40th season reflect a focus on celebrating and appreciating the artists and works that have been (and will continue to be) a part of the legacy of the Alliance Theatre. The productions are grounded in a unique blend of significant (but familiar) classics; work by remarkable members of the past, present and emerging Alliance artistic family; and bold initiatives in new directions that will captivate, engage and inspire. These productions speak to the identity we have built, inherited and lived for four decades. They also speak to the positive and lasting influence of the Alliance on the national theatre community while it continues to support and pay attention to local interests. (Tentative production dates are shown in parenthesis.)

Alliance Stage Productions
The season opens with a voice that is passionate and profound. The power of the August Wilson legacy is brought full circle in a rare theatrical event with the presentation of two shows in the acclaimed Century Cycle: Gem of the Ocean (the first play in the chronology) and Radio Golf (the final play in the chronology) performed in rotating repertory, each featuring the same company of actors. Gem of the Ocean is directed by True Colors Theatre Company Artistic Director Kenny Leon and is a story of redemption and renewal set against the legacy of

emancipation in 1904 Pittsburgh. Radio Golf is directed by the Alliance Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director Kent Gash and brings audiences back to Pittsburgh 90 years later as a successful real estate entrepreneur launches his campaign to become the city’s first black mayor. Two plays. One cast. A rare event not to be missed. (September – October 2008)

The power of love defines the new romantic comedy Managing Maxine by Atlanta favorite Janece Shaffer (Bluish, He Looks Great In a Hat). Directed by Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth, Managing Maxine is a story about getting a second chance at love—even at age 70. The play provokes laughter and tears in equal measure and will leave audiences celebrating the fact that all great romance feels like young love, whatever your age. (October – November 2008)

Rejoice in a vibrant explosion of beloved music that puts the power of praise back into the gospels when Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL arrives in Atlanta. Re-conceived by Louis St. Louis, this new version is arranged from the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The production traces the last seven days of the life of Christ in a vividly contemporary gospel setting with an inspirational beat to classics like “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “Everything’s Alright.” This is a unique, revolutionary musical experience in association with Andrew Lloyd Weber. (January – February 2009)

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County is a sultry Southern gothic mystery with a blues-tinged, guitar-driven score. This World Premiere musical brings the power of suspense to the stage with a script written by Stephen King and music and lyrics by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp. This remarkable creative team brings to Atlanta a great story of family tension and secrets that mixes a gripping mystery with a traditional ghost story. In 1957, in the tiny town of Lake Belle Reve, Mississippi, a terrible tragedy took the lives of two brothers and a beautiful young girl. During the next forty years, the events of that night became a local legend—but legend can just be another word for lie. (April – May 2009)

Hertz Stage Productions
The Hertz Stage transforms into an underground comedy club for a World Premiere revue
that brings the power of laughter to Atlanta. The Second City: Too Busy To Hate… Too Hard To Commute. is an original Atlanta-inspired comedy created to reflect our city in all its diversity. The revue is created in partnership with Chicago’s fabled Second City, legendary for producing

the most accomplished comedians and writers in contemporary America (i.e., Steve Carell, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers and Tina Fey). Audiences are guaranteed a belly laugh from this revue that asks, “What’s so funny about living in Atlanta?” (September – October 2008)

Smart Cookie is the fifth winner of the nationally recognized Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition. This play, written by emerging playwright Julia Brownell, is a sly, wicked comedy about how the power of surprise helps us become the people we never realized we wanted to be. Directed by Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth, Smart Cookie is about a New York socialite who has the perfect life until her world is split wide open when her son comes home from prep school with a Spanish exchange student and a big announcement. Brownell is the first comic writer to win the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition. (February 2009)

The Alliance Theatre is thrilled to welcome Pulitzer Prize finalist Quiara Alegría Hudes back to Atlanta for the World Premiere production of her new play 26 Miles. The Alliance produced Hudes’ Pulitzer Prize-nominated Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue in 2006. Directed by Alliance Theatre’s award-winning Associate Artistic Director Kent Gash, 26 Miles is a tender and funny story of a teenager and her mother on the road trip of their lives. Through the power of family, they find that the best souvenirs on the road of life are the relationships made along the way. (March – April 2008)

Family Series
Rosemary Newcott, The Sally G. Tomlinson Artistic Director of Theatre for Youth, once again brings her talent for understanding children’s rhythms and energy to the stage with the classic of early childhood Goodnight Moon. Adapted by Chad Henry from the favorite children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, Goodnight Moon embraces the warmth and

whimsy of childhood in a magical journey. The power of wonder is awakened as Bunny tries to put away the day and prepare for the happiness that dreams will bring in this tale that will charm both adults and children as it celebrates the simple rituals around getting young ones to sleep. (October – November 2007)

Andre Benjamin’s (Outkast’s Andre 3000’s) Emmy Award-winning show “Class of 3000” first appeared on Cartoon Network in November 2006. For the first time ever, the hit animated series leaves the small screen and jumps full throttle onto the Alliance Stage. Harnessing the power of creativity, Class of 3000 Live teaches important lessons about the rewards and temptations of a life devoted to music through the story of a hip-hop artist teaching at an Atlanta performing arts school. Rosemary Newcott will adapt and direct the stage version from the first episodes of the Cartoon Network show. Produced in association with Cartoon Network and Moxie. (February – March 2008)

Special Holiday Show
Scrooge is back! A Christmas Carol, our holiday gift to Atlanta, is back for its 19th smash year. This Broadway-scale musical features the best singers and actors Atlanta has to offer. Full of beloved songs of the holiday season, it is a yuletide heartwarmer. (November – December 2007)
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Preparation is Key for Success in Auditioning

by Susan M. Steadman, Ph.D., Artistic Director, Offshoot Productions

Whether we’re theatre artists or not, we all audition at times in our lives. Job interview? Audition. Blind date? Audition. Soccer team try-outs? Audition. New teacher facing a class of students? Audition. The difference is that in a certain kind of theatre audition, the actor has control of many factors. This kind of audition is the prepared monologue.

Theatres and theatre organizations (such as the Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts whose Unified Auditions come up in March) frequently use the prepared monologue (sometimes with singing as well) as a tool when viewing large numbers of performers. Although Offshoot is a very small theatre company, I’ve found it useful to require monologues because they give me a chance to assess a performer’s potential and gauge their level of professionalism before he or she engages in improvisation or cold readings from the script.

The following is merely part of the advice I give to actors of all ages when they take auditioning workshops with me or I coach them one-on-one. Do be aware that entire books have been written on the subject, so this is at best a few selected pointers.

Preparation is key in all auditions. And this preparation may take quite a bit of time and effort. For example, you should have several memorized pieces at your fingertips. The director or casting agent may ask you for another monologue. Or the actor auditioning right before you may have chosen the very same speech. It happens.

Choose a monologue that is suited to this specific audition. Sometimes the choice of monologue is stipulated in an announcement (e.g., “two- minute monologue from a Shakespearean tragedy”). Sometimes you have the universe of scripts from which to choose. If the show for which you are auditioning is a comedy, chances are you’d be best off presenting a comic monologue.

Along the same lines, you should choose a monologue that is suited to you. I’ve coached a lot of teenagers and, granted, it is hard finding age-appropriate materials. But they exist. Each performer simply has to do the work to find the right materials. There are other factors in addition to age. For example, if you’re a six-foot tall woman, don’t choose Midsummer’s Hermia (who Shakespeare has clearly designated as petite). One of my pet peeves is actors choosing a monologue from monologue books and knowing nothing about the play from which it came. Do the reading! There may be choices available for the monologue that don’t occur to you without understanding the work as a whole.

To have the most impact and allow yourself the most exciting challenge, choose a monologue that allows the character to change in some way or to make a discovery about himself or herself. A monologue which contains long descriptive passage may be fine within the context of a show–but your “show” is only 30 seconds or 90 seconds long, and it’s important to reveal a character undergoing change.

Be sure to rehearse your introduction and conclusion, and to have a rehearsed verbal resume available should you be asked questions about your experience. Find friends or family members who are willing to watch and offer feedback on how you present yourself. (Not every friend or family member is equipped to critique your monologue--nor should they be. But you may be surprised at what they tell you about your voice, posture, or communication skills.) The better rehearsed you are, the more confidence you will have. Better confidence is likely to result in a better audition–and certainly one that is much more fun for you.

Time yourself more than once and be sure you stay within the time limit given. At best, you will annoy the audience by running over. At worst, someone will stop you at the cut-off point and you’ll be left mid-sentence to smile with embarrassment and hurry offstage.

Dress appropriately for your age, size, character, if pertinent, and the audition requirements, especially if the monologue is only a part of the audition process.. (Another pet peeve involves actors who arrive at an audition with really tight clothes or high-heeled shoes that don’t allow for movement. More taboos: suggestive attire more suitable to a Saturday night date, jeans with holes, ragged t-shirts...well, you get the picture.)

In an odd parallel to the old real estate saying about location, location, location, actors need to address the three most important factors when faced with an audition: preparation, preparation, preparation. An actor can’t control the picture a director has in his or her head of the ideal candidate for a certain role. Actors can’t control the temperature of the audition space where the air-conditioner has stopped working; the fact that a casting agent’s child is ill and she is totally distracted during the audition; or any of the myriad factors that contribute to choosing actors for specific projects. What actors can control is the work put into the audition piece, the adherence to guidelines put forth by the theatre, and the way they present themselves to an audience.
Really, the challenges actors face are not so different from those faced by non-actors. Whether dealing with a job interview or a blind date, knowing yourself and your capabilities and feeling comfortable and confident in your preparation and presentation can make all the difference when it comes to achieving success.

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