S. A. Shipley's "StarCrossed" "Portrays the best part of Shakespearian wit with a prequel twist."--Anon.

 
 

Director Jeffery Hartgraves' (photo right)
blog on "StarCrossed"
during rehearsal in San Francisco at the Phoenix Theatre
-

most recent first (read from the bottom up to read in sequence).

"cleverly borrows from a number of Shakespeare's plays to explain the background of the Montague-Capulet family feud...Writing in rhymed iambic pentameter, Shipley borrows creatively from other Shakespeare works ("Othello," Falstaff) and a bit of Boccaccio for a story of romantic rivalries and erotic complications that cast Romeo and Juliet's future in a titillating new light. "

San Francisco Chronicle

 5/10/05
JM saw the show for the first time last evening since going off to LA. It was fun hearing him laugh at all the right times and seeing his expression during the truly touching scenes. He told the cast afterward that he apologized for not being around more during the process but that this, being his last show in capacity as Artistic Director for Steinbeck Presents, was more than he could have hoped for. His eyes shone and there were hugs all around. A good feeling.
 
How are you?
Ready?
There have been some interesting glitches here. But I am dealing with them in the best way I know how. The acting and actors are fine. There are issues with some of the design elements but again, not to worry.  Finished sound cues last night at midnight.  Luckily I am abel to do this at home on my laptop. But I could definitely use a nap.

Squeezing in various theatre tasks. I'll be at the theatre tomorrow (as every evening) at 5:30PM. The cast is called for 6:30-7PM and then we have curtain at 8PM.

I believe there will be someone at the theatre during the day doing some of the tech stuff that remains. I can find out, of you'd like to spend some time there or drop in before I arrive.

There is apparently a critic coming to preview but it's the only time he can make it during the opening weekend. I told JM that as long as he understood he was seeing a glorified final rehearsal then it was fine.

I basically told the designers that anything that wasn't on-stage as of Dress, would be cut. I don't make the actors "deal" with stuff on preview night. They have to have at least 24 hours to acclimate to whatever they're going to use.

Oh my...the time has swept past hasn't it? Weren't we just sitting on the patio at TiCouz chatting about the staged reading? Or squatting in that dank basement at Rhino and listening to the cast working on lines for the same?

 
5/05/05  
                 ~ Director's Notes ~
The wonderful thing about finding a really good play
is that you know it upon the first read. Such was the
case with StarCrossed by Sharyn Shipley. The humor was
bubbly, the characters distinct, the drama and tension
beautifully paced.

There was no question as to whether SteinBeck Presents
would do the show but how soon we could mount it and
do it justice. After a staged reading which cemented
our adoration of the piece, we knew it had to be soon.
We missed having the world premiere by a few short
months but it was gratifying to see the rave reviews
and international attention the play garnered. The
National Theatre in London has requested a copy along
with MANY regional theatres across America.

We are proud and pleased to be giving StarCrossed its
West Coast premiere and believe that the [minor]
changes that have been made by the playwright after
its initial production will only enhance the inherent
charm of the piece.

Divining the root cause of a famous circumstance [in
this case the feud between the Capulets and the
Montagues] is a tricky thing at best. Ms. Shipley's
middle name should be Houdini. From the creative ether
she has conjured a rose sweetly layered and perfect in
form.

This production, while classically poetic, strives to
be contemporary in feel. The modern costume and
sylized set was a nod to the timelessness of stories
such as this one. Passion, love and tragedy are not
bound by time and we believe that the story of
StarCrossed should not be so bound either.

Jeffrey Hartgraves, Director
 
5/05/05 Sword fighting getting tighter. Might have about 30
kids from a class coming to preview...won't give a true indication of how an adult audience might respond but I bet they're enthusiastic anyway...or I could be wrong. But I think they'll like the "dirty" bits and
the fighting.

Cannot WAIT to see the set for the first time...and the lights...and the costumes (tonight!). I'll give you a report on those tomorrow. 
 
5/4/05 We knew what the event was but was wondering how they
handled it...just cheering offstage? Music? Ah
well...maybe fireworks...nah.
In the script (before "they are wed) and something
else it merely says "A great noise"...we were just
wondering...might just have cheering from offstage or
something.

We had a great rehearsal this evening. Tomorrow is
rehearsal, costume fittings, fight practice. Wher DO
we find the time to hold down mundane jobs?
Curious about the surprise here!
What did the other production use as their "great noise?" And the "wedding" music?
I've got a few choices...none I like as yet. But curious to know if they used a standard fanfare thing or something else.
 
We did TWO speed-throughs of the piece last night. All getting better. Tonight it's Fight rehearsal before the rest of the cast gets there. I've just gotten a freelance video gig so, the days will be completely full and crazed until the weekend. But hey, corporate money once again funds the arts (on a personal scale anyway) and we're moving forward.
 
5/2/05 I'm excited too!

Tonight we are doing speed throughs of lines and the a regular paced read through. It was the only night we weren't able to keep our rehearsal space. But the cast of course wants to work so, it's all about the language tonight!

We do run 4 nights a week. The 12th is indeed a preview and the 13th our opening. So, you could see it once at dress (the 11th) and then again with an invited audience (mostly) on the 12th and then the anonymous mass on the 13th!

When Montague takes the baby from Orangina and the end and she is begging to be allowed to stay, he says nothing of course. But I asked that he merely shove her away in one last getsture of contempt. I almost cried! It was sad.

Right now I am experimenting with a music cue under the last lines. It is a subtle, churning of violins...as Orangina says the name Juliet the violins crescendo slightly louder with energy and then the lights pulse up on the two couples who stare outward...lights fade on the couples, begins to fade on Orangina and then everything (and hopefully this includes the cyc, and all set elements) goes black...like at the end of a film...interesting. I'm still experiementing. We shall see....

Since there's not actualy "blood" effect in the deaths, it's about getting the audience to go along with the idea. Though Catherine produces a red silk handkerchief that represents the blood, though it isn't used "as" blood. Basically, during the fight Capulet slashes DiSenna along the back and then hits him the stomach with the edge of the blade, DiSenn leans forward against the blade and is mortally wounded. (In real life he would have nearly been severed in half.) The most poignant scenese for me are the revelation scene, the conversation between Rosalie and Capulet after all is revealed, and when the nurse is outcast. It's really terribly pathetic to see all these lives undone.

Cannot wait to see you in SF. Hopefully all your old friends will come from out the woodwork.

DiSenna has a group of over a dozen coming to support him on opening night! We may be making a group ticket deal with a school that wants around 50-75 highschoolers to see us as they are studying R&J at present. So...we shall see if we can get that deal. Would be fun!

Capulet will most likely not be 100% nude unfortunately but we realized the space was way too intimate. He will have something decidedly skimpy. We shall have to see about the level of breast exposure for Catherine especially with school kids, but most likely they'll have seen worse on MTV.

So many details!

J

Well of course you're welcome every night!

I'm sure once I've gotten over the hurdles presented by just getting the space oriented (hopefully there won't be too many required changes because of unexpected circumstances) then I'll settle down and can appreciate the "experience" of performance.

 5/2/05 The fight choreographer is really marvelous. Her main focus is safety of course since we're surrounded by audience on three sides and there's not that much room once people start clanging away at one another. She's managed the DiSenna death scene very nicely. I cannot wait to see it up at full speed.

I'm always nervous when we get to the stretch because our load-in is so incredibly tight. We go in late Sunday build the set and paint. Monday is light hand and focus and the cue to cue, Tuesday we run the show and fix whatever we didn't see coming and then Wed. is Dress. Getting everyone used to costumes, props, etc...you know - the usual. But luckily the cast is very enthusiastic and will to be flexible and help one another. We open Friday the 13th!

4/30/05 Meeting with the fight choreographer this afternoon before full cast gets there. Some of the scenes are ready for audience already. I get teared up at times...I'm a softy.
 
4/29/05 (Note from Jeffery to the Cast) - Good morning everyone.
 
At some future point you may chuckle (kindly) about your slightly crazy director but I wanted to mention...
We are at a time in the production where a lot of details are left to be worked out and added in.
There are also some things we won't be able to actually deal with until we are in the space itself. Nomadic theatres are under special stress because load-ins are quick and the performers and designers must be adaptable and flexible (both physically and mentally).
 
I understand that there will be moments when the frustration is at a peak for each of us, as we all come to a production with different needs and styles and habits. Please know that I am open to your input and welcome you're reminding me of things (I'm old you know).
 
I believe this must be a wholely collaborative effort. If I, at any time I seem to be brusk with you it is because I am merely working on my own agenda of things to get through and this is not a comment on how I feel about you. You are all talented and lovely people or else you wouldn't be here. And after all, we're doing this for the same reasons, basically.
 
Please feel that you can stop me and ask for that which you require to give the performance we know you are capable of delivering. But I will ask the same of you and sometimes there will be pressure, which I hope we'll view as opportunity for growth as opposed to strife amongst ourselves. Negativity, in all its forms has a tendency to fester and harm productions. Please resist the urge to be a party to this. We will have an excellent show to share with our loved ones and those we've yet to love (even casually).
 
You should know that I am pleased and proud to be part of your company and will do my best to serve you as director. And while I [often] fall short at times myself I appreciate your patience and your acceptance of the fact that someone must have the last word and be it for better or for worse, that falls to me.
 
Alright, go back to what you were doing...which IS I assume running lines?
 
4/27/05 Well, Since we've got a thrust stage (my how sexual that sounds in this discussion) it's a bit trickier...I'd have to have them WAY upstage and come up with some way of masking them. Right now I have Capulet pulling Catherine down on his lap (and I'm talking WAY downstage), hiking her skirts...and they basically grind away and have sex while whispering your lines to one another. I've placed the sex scene earlier in the script so that it "culminates" on the line "We are one." and then have a 'blue-out' allowing them to reposition to make their lover's plans...they get back into a [standing] sensual clinch after Catherine cries and Capulet tries to persuade her they'll be together forever...they are in this compromising "make-out" position when Oragina catches them. We thought that Orangina might not catch them in the act itself or else she would have been worried about a pregnancy before it takes her by surprise. She only knows that they were caught in heavy petting, thus her shock at the realization that Catherine is pregnant. I think it works but we could go for more subtly if you like....that might work better and be a bit more "romantic" but we were playing the Hormone-driven youth thing. Comments are welcome.

As to the babes...if Catherine could say something rather than "here is your son" as if he was present, then we might get around having the babes in the scene....right now they seem required but then we would need to fabricate two babes for the montagues (one Christening size and then one about a year later...bigger, which seems odd). Anyway having one person holding both babies after the great row that just went up between families doesn't quite seem right either.

 4/26/05 found this lovely sword place on-line. They're MAKING the ones we want and they should be in tomorrow. WE'll be working with them on Saturday.
 So much left to do, I'm afraid I've been a bit under the weather and need to catch up on a few things. The rehearsals themselves are going well. Some very nice moments coming through. We pulled back on one of the laughs last night because we were afraid we were the only ones that would find it as hysterical as we did. But the bit is still there. You'll see.
 
Anyway, there's some really nice stuff. Of course the sex scenes are challenging. We are playing in a relatively small space, have to get them out of a rather intimate position without flashing the audience...but I think we've worked it out with a post-love "blue-out" just long enough for them to resituate into new postures and give the illusion of some time elapse.
 
Details, details.

Here's the URL (for the swords) http://www.weaponsofchoicetheatrical.com

The rentals range from $10-$40 per month! And they have all the accessories to attach them to belts, etc. It was a lucky Google search on my part.

I adored the man I spoke with briefly. They make the blades and then attach them to whatever hilt you want or something like that. Anyway, browse about. They have a "sale" room called the attic as well.

You can give this link to your other production companies too that might not have the resources at hand. Happy to pass along a good vendor contact.

We'll be working with the fight choreographer [Antoinette - no less] this Saturday with the men, before the women arrive. Should be great fun. Pray there are no "incidents."

Talk to you soon. I am leaving the office early and heading home to rest before rehearsals. I have my priorities in the right order, don't I?

4/25/05 Thanks! Do you think people will assume that the "Fisherman's sone is Capulet and  that he's "done" Bernadine too while he was out whoring about? Anyway, we'll change it.

Thanks for the new line. In our script DiSenna's first name is Adorio...are we off? He's referred to as 'Dorio by Catherine too...anyway just our minds working overtime. We will use the new line.

Hope you're well. We are working away. The actors are a delight...now we have to drag out the little whips...ah well.

 
4/25/05 A few questions...is the "angel of the earth" in fact the "gardener's son" as opposed to what it says in the script (which is "Fisherman's son?") it just seems to make more sense since he brings her jasmine...anyway, we're all curious.
 
Also, there's a line which Montague says to DiSenna: "I'll brother you, Adore." which we had a conversation about. While I can read the line as written and get meaning from it (I'll love you like a brother" or something like that) since "Adore" is capitalized some feel it's a reference to DiSenna's first name, which also makes sense, except I believe it should be his first name in full rather than shortened to "Adore" because it's confusing to the ear (a known word in place of a name, which is not referred to often enough to be caught by the audience). In any case, clarification would be welcome.
 
This cast let's nothing slip past...jeez. Just my luck, SMART actors!
4/22/05 I am doing my best to keep up the pacing between scenes and yet allowing time for certain things to sink in before whisking everyone off to the next "event." I believe the balance will be acheived. (Fingers, of course, are crossed.)
 
 We're excited here...we open in just under 3 weeks. Why am I not on Valium?
4/22/05 Well, we're 100% blocked.
 
Measurements have been taken for all actors and the costume people are busy at work. As I mentioned before, I believe the first time the color RED will be seen in the entire play is when DiSenna is killed. A bit of red silk will appear from within the costume. A poetic way of getting the blood to be represented (and less messy) We are hoping to close that scene with the lights dimming, the cyc washing to red if possible and then, because of the death of DiSenna and the need to get him offstage, it will be an actual blackout. We believe this punctuates the death and covers a series of problems the space gives us. We are trying to keep light on-stage at all times and use just "blue-outs" and cross fades where possible. We'll see how it works.
 
We met with the fight choreographer [Antoinette] and she's done som preliminary work with the boys. Basically wanting their characters to come out in the fighting rather than just have them slapping blades, etc.
 
The set has been modified because of some theatre resrictions but it remains pretty much as we envisioned, just a stylized "cross" platform for the balcony and some cubes. Of course everything is white and grey, to take color and brighten the space. The "Tree" that Capulet climbs may be simply constructed by using a ladder [whitewashed] with foliage attached. A low-tech, industrial sort of look for the piece and a bit whisical as well. completely utlitarian.
We took some digital publicity pics too and will get those to the press and you soon!
 
Postcards and posters will go out next week.
Yesterday was a damned productive day, let me tell you. (time for a martini)
Hope you're well. The cast sends their thanks and salutations.
 
4/20/05 At rehearsal last night we had a really nice laugh come out of the process. Our Montague has a vocalization he makes when exasperated. An "Aaaaah!" sort of exclaimation. Later in the show when he is confronting Catherine and daring her to repeat what she said to her cousin when she was mocking him, she responds "Something about a donkey and a sheep." He automatically responded with his "Aaaah!" sound. We all took a beat and then I asked him to repeat it with a tiny bit of vibrato that time...of course he sounded like a sheep, caught himself, instantly composed himself and continued the argument. It was a wonderful tiny punctuation and gave a reason why should would even compare him to a sheep in the first place..he kind of sounded like one - though not too obviously. It was fun didn't detract from the momentum of the scene. Anyway...just an example of some of the "play" taking place on set.
 
I know...we're a bit crazy here.
4/19/05 Well, we're steaming along nicely. The cast and I are discovering some really interesting details, some that comment on the characters very nicely and add even a few laughs (at all the right moments of course) and we think you'll be pleased.
 
I  promised them I wouldn't become totally neurotic until you arrived to watch rehearsals.
(I think they bought it.)
 
In any case, we're taking some produciton stills for press on Thursday evening (I'll have them send those to you as well - once they're tweaked) and everyone is getting measured and we're meeting our fight choreographer. She's suggested the shorter swords rather than the longer, which, on such a relatively small stage, would actually be a very good idea. Don't want to skewer any critics...well, not yet anyway.
 
Hope you're well. I'm dreaming blocking. Great.

4/16/05 You like the images? I think we have an adorable cast.
Anyway...off to rehearsal in a couple hours. We have
about 8 scenes blocked and should have at least half
the show done by end of day today, if not more!

Some great fun stuff. (I hope)
4/12/05 I think the line additions are just fine. I'm always in favor of helping the audience a tiny bit and sometimes the unspoken seems like the unexamined. So, we'll add them in.

Working on a thrust stage is just giving me tiny fits of blocking anxiety. Can't have people hover and wait too many places and still have everyone seen...you know the way it is. I was going to get all creative with tableaus and such...now I just have to really creative with entrances and exits.

I love the wedding dress scene...I'm having Orangina get behind Bernadine and hoist her breasts together at when she's explaining how to make them look fuller. Is that how they did it? That's the last time I'll ask that question, I swear!

Anyway, lots of ideas swirling about.

Any idea when you actually will be dropping in?4/12/05 We should have the poster image by tomorrow at the latest...kind of exciting. We have our read through with the entire cast this evening. And you'll be surprised by some of it. No, I've not cast any albino hunchbacks...I'll give you all the info tomorrow.

Very excited here. Tell me...did they preset the men on one side of the stage and the women on the other for the first two scenes? Or did they have the men enter in a light shift of some kind? Curious.4/11/05 I sent that last one to the graphic designer. I think it'll work. It has a little intrigue and then says just exactly what it is.

While the costume designs are a bit more intricate than I had first imagined them, they're still quite stylized and don't look like street clothes. They're a combination of gymnastic/ballet type of attire with some embellishments to discern who's who. Everything is white and pale gray at present. There may be banners for each household...and the first and only time you'll see anything as shocking as red is when DiSenna is killed. I'm thinking just a blood-red hanky clutched to his chest by Catherine? Anyway...lots still in my head.

And I'm definitely thinking only soundscape stuff, water, wind, elements really...maybe some bells tolling for emphasis at some point...are you scared yet?

4/11/05 "Montague and Capulet - separated by the edge of a blade... and a whisper." [A Prequel to Romeo and Juliet.]

Hmmmm?4/11/05 How about tweaking something along these lines?

"Love and Hate are separated by only a whisper...or the edge of a blade."

"The Montagues & Capulets - How it began..."

"The Montagues and Capulets - Two Families divided by Passion, Betrayal & Hope."

"The Montagues and Capulets - the story you don't know."

Help!

Thanks4/11/05 I'll take your suggestions and give the tags a go myself and send them along to you for feedback. And I should have some imagery shortly. We do have a rather attractive cast.

Tag options to come!

 4/11/05 Well, we had a photo shoot for the print collateral yesterday. I'll send you the design we like best once the comp is finished. I was wondering if you have a couple one-line (short) "tag" lines that you liked to use as a teaser for the play. Something we could drop onto the print stuff. You know the standard "Love, friendship, passion, loss") sort of thing..or something more narrative. (i.e., "Two families undone by love...") Anyway, if you have something or can come up with something soon, that would be great.

Readthrough tomorrow night! Nervous and VERY excited here. 3/25/04 We had a great production meeting re: StarCrossed. This Saturday there is a full day of auditions. The designer and I are having a meeting of the minds. I believe that you'll be very pleased with the direction this is taking...I certainly hope so. We can talk when things are a bit more defined. Basically though we want LIGHT to be the basis of the set. I'll explain that more clearly soon. And I'm pushing to have the costumes non-period (at all) rather like ballet togs with added adornment to define which House people are from, etc. Very minimalist. Real swords of course! Those are my ideas anyway. So, we're in good shape thus far.

I have asked a few "ringers" to audition for the role of the nurse. I've worked with them before and know they could nail it in a heartbeat and bring some real acting chops along for the ride.

Anyway, thought you would appreciate an update. We're working on casting, print design, etc. If you have any questions please feel free to give me a call or email.

I hope you are well and basking in your creative glory.3/21/05 Noodle away for a few more days...would LOVE to have a final before Friday. We are still rooting through the talent of San Francisco for perfection. We'll let you know when we get it.3/15/05 Sounds great! I think it will make the Nurse's position clear and let the audience know that the "other" nurse isn't her.

Thanks! Lovely, as usual.3/15/05 I was thinking that perhaps when Capulet offers the nurse a place in their household, she refuses with some eloquent (your wonderful skill) words...about how she could not watch this tragedy as it grows along with the children themselves...something becoming more tangled and barbed with age...etc. You see I get imagery in my head, but I'm sure yours is better..

The ending phrase by the nurse could be contrived as a parting benediction or farewell from the nurse...we could actually have her exit, leaving the families at opposite sides of the stage...

Is that too vague? or too specific?3/15/05 I thought I had actually responded to this scene before..but if not...

I like it and think it covers everything and is nicely concise. I think it will be an acting "thing" to have DiSenna remind the audience that he KNOWS that Capulet is after his sister. I love short scenes like this. I mean, it could always BE longer but I don't think it's needed.3/15/05 The sound stuff I want to use will be either public domain or original stuff w/sfx. I don't want to use anything that we cannot license or marry to anything that has another context outside the play itself. I think just sound beds (without lyrics) will work for us more. But I wish I'd been able to see the other one just because it would have been fun!

Anyway, as I get the concept more focused I'll let you know what to expect. Nothing too weird I promise.3/15/05 I've been thinking about the sound bed and the music a great deal. Haven't settled on anything yet but...I'm considering marrying kind of period sounding tunes with sfx...(i.e., ocean sounds, even whalesong) but having the tunes played so that they are obviously electronic. The tricky part is making them sound lush and not "plinky." Anyway, still working on that. I think natural sounds will definitely be used.

How did they handle the Nightingale? Was it just a sound cue?3/15/05 Thanks for the script. I've just printed out a nice clean copy. We're still casting but I think you'll love everyone. As soon as we nail down some details we'll send you a preliminary set / costume design so you can see where we're headed with the piece look-wise.3/08/05 Sorry I was out of touch for a day. This evening we're going to scope out the space for StarCrossed with the designer. Then we should be able to come up with a preliminary design.

As to some of your questions and the suggestions made by others.

I think a line about Lawrence becoming a monk would be good.

I love the idea about a small "bragging" scene with Capulet...even if it's a paragraph with him on the way home...dreaming of his coming life with Catherine. I think it does raise the stakes with the audience knowing how disappointed he is about to become. 3/06/05 Auditions went very well indeed! We are busy calling
people and casting. Our Rosalie is amazing...she gave
us all goosebumps so we know it's a fabulous fit.

I noticed only one typo thus far - toward the
beginning, Capulet is referred to as both the
Gardner's son (during the scene in which he is first
mentioned among the girls) and the Fisherman's
son....(on the beach scene when she and Capulet meet).

John Michael will be in touch very soon regarding the
pre-press, etc. and we're very excited about how
things are shaping up thus far.

3/03/05 Absolutely!

When I read it I got goosebumps.

(During our production meeting we all got them periodically and knew we were on the right track design wise.)

I adore the new opening and we're trying to figure a way of getting lights in the floor so we have some up-lighting...depends upon expense and tech capabilities at the theatre but our fingers are crossed. We're thinking about triangulation as a theme...of course the nurse downstage between the two Houses at the end...holding the child...I'm seeing the front lights going out, we see the silhouettes...the starts twinkle in the background...then black...we want it to feel like a great iconic dream of some kind.

Best to dream big here at the beginning I think and then make the reality what we can. Never aim low...we're aiming for the stars from here.

Thanks for not minding my suggestions/questions and input. As a writer I know it can sometimes be offered in the wrong manner. I hope you know that I think the script is brilliant and that I'm only brainstorming from the perspective of audience advocate/director

 3/03/05 LOVE the new opening!

That could work for what I was thinking!

WOW....Cannot wait to get through the entire piece.

3/3/05 I shall re-read with your questions in mind.

I was thinking that rather than blackouts we might try silhouettes in some cases, or a specific light shift. Sometime we would just see the bodies against light as they move to new positions. I'm thinking of using a sound-scape to set scenes along with the light shifts...ambient marketplace sounds mixed with the ocean sounds, gulls, etc.

We are telling certain actors that there will be frontal nudity at the very least for Catherine in the balcony moon-bathing scene. We can always use a sheer transparent robe if it seems to close for the audience or something but we are DEFINITELY aiming for sensual and sexy.

Actually re: the Nurse...there's a woman I'm thinking of, a bit older than the rest of the cast but would still make her right for the R&J scenario as well. She's got an Irish brogue and red hair, an open moon face and just a dazzling personality. Anyway, that's one option.

I had one question too...I was thinking of opening with the actors on-stage, all neutral in their white/off-white on white outfits, during either a v.o. scene setting (should you be inclined to create one) or just a music/mood bed, have them add the elements to their costumes that indicate to which house they belong, using corresponding family banner/coat of arms...any thoughts? I kept hearing in my head the opening of R&J about the two houses divided..but something in keeping with your story. I completely understand if this is not part of the construct you had in mind but I think opening with the actors "becoming" who they are might be interesting to the audience and we might have a dance-like interaction indicating relationships...this would all take no more than a minute or so...anyway, just brainstorming. Would love to know your impressions.

Okay,...back to letting you rest up after your victory!

3/3/05   (notes on the production begin here) We had a great production meeting re: StarCrossed. This Saturday there is a full day of auditions. The designer and I are having a meeting of the minds. I believe that you'll be very pleased with the direction this is taking...I certainly hope so. We can talk when things are a bit more defined. Basically though we want LIGHT to be the basis of the set. I'll explain that more clearly soon. And I'm pushing to have the costumes non-period (at all) rather like ballet togs with added adornment to define which House people are from, etc. Very minimalist. Real swords of course! Those are my ideas anyway. So, we're in good shape thus far.

I have asked a few "ringers" to audition for the role of the nurse. I've worked with them before and know they could nail it in a heartbeat and bring some real acting chops along for the ride.

Anyway, thought you would appreciate an update. We're working on casting, print design, etc. If you have any questions please feel free to give me a call or email.

I hope you are well and basking in your creative glory. 2/11/05  (notes on the premiere in New Hampshire)

Congratulations! Absolutely divine and I am certain, well deserved...my, now I am nervous.

How lovely for you. Do take a little basking time. Lord knows you deserve it.

Send along any other news. Ciao bella and again, kudos to you.

I hope to live up to the [recent] reputation of your work.

 5/30/04 (notes on the backerís reading)

Welcome to all.

I cannot tell you how exciting it is to finally be under way...well apparently I can.

If any of you have questions I would like you to feel free to contact me.

A basic note about the text is that while it is written in iambic pentameter, please be more inclined toward communicating the meaning of the text rather than adhering to the meter or "breaks." If that's unclear, just give me a call.

Also, we have a young (albeit experienced) cast for several reasons; the play is about young love, the impetuous nature of youth, the role that PASSION plays in relationships of all kinds. You (I assume) have all been in love beyond reason and by that I mean the kind where you are willing to sacrifice yourself in some way for that loved one. While youth doesn't hold a franchise on this intensity of emotion it is somehow augmented by the immediacy that the young require and embody. AND we want the truth of this to imbue the piece itself.

Note: If you've NOT had your heart broken, please go out this weekend and meet someone.

Okay...now it's turned into some kind of lecture! Sorry. In any case I hope you are as excited about this project as I am. We have assembled a talented cast and I am confident that we'll not only create something special but also we'll have FUN. (I think that's why they call it "play" isn't it?)

CALL ME if you need ANYTHING! Please.

Sharyn - I will definitely keep you in the loop.

It would be great to provide a unified vision of some kind. Of course for a reading/workshop I think it should be more about discovery on behalf of the cast with guidance provided by me and enlightenment by yourself. Does that sound accurate?

In any case I've been thinking a great deal about design for the actual production and have a few ideas I'd like to share with the producers and then yourself. I'm aiming at something VERY simple to focus on relationships and language rather than production values. I do believe however that lights will play the most important role...anyway, I'll flesh this out a bit more and then present my ideas to you.

Thank you for the email and you'll be hearing from me soon.

Jeffrey

   
 

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