Slumming it in the theatre like some third-class peasant

We rented a U-Haul, drove to the Lincoln Storage Warehouse where we did Freakshow and started to load platforms and lumber out of the building with these pallet mover dealies. It was awkward but we got creative in how to balance weight.

 

On to the Alchemist, where we are doing the show. It’s hard to describe how I felt. The last time I stood on that stage we were doing the fundraiser for Jason and Andrew. I have a feeling I’m going to be feeling this a lot throughout the next month. Random pangs of deja vu. I want to use the word nostalgia but that isn’t appropriate because there is nothing to really feel nostalgic about. Right? It’s all happening again. Before the stabbing, the whole experience of directing for the first time was really scary and thrilling. After every rehearsal I was asking Grace, you know, “Did I make sense? Is this going well? Am I sucking? Am I sucking? Tell me if I’m sucking.” Not so much now. I’m really comfortable right now about how the show is going. So things are different. But nostalgic? I don’t know. I hope others are feeling it too.

platforms and lumber soon to be a set.

These are a couple of load in pics from my crappy camera on my phone. I’ll do better next time. After that we visited a couple of Value Villages for beds and also found a better cassette player. Yahtzee.

We  blocked the second part of the show and now we’re doing runs and getting into memorization. Going well. After rehearsal I had the cast watch the movie Shortbus. I wanted them to see it to give them a new outlook on sexuality onstage and basically to have a discussion on sex and art. I think it was a good decision. We had a good discussion.

Next day got a bed from the Value Village at Riverwest. This one of my favorite parts of doing a show the Youngblood way. “We need a bed. Time to go to Value Village and start looking. Oh look. A tape player. Yoink! Maybe that dumpster has something we can use.”

That and after rehearsals. We have a pretty good time after rehearsals.

Back in Action

Last night was our second rehearsal for Red Light Winter. It’s crazy how much people remember from the last run of the show. There were a couple of places here and there where we had to stop and investigate what the blocking was, but it’s pretty much all there. We are keeping, as of now, most of the blocking. I feel like we are going to see things that could be improved upon as we work the show more but actors are remembering lines from last year. They’re even emphasizing the same things. Maybe this is how a remounting is.

To be honest, when I was making the rehearsal schedule, I was a a tad worried that we were not giving ourselves enough time. We blocked half the play last night. The other half will be blocked tonight. So, knock on wood, it’s going really well.

Very often actors will look back on shows they did a month ago or a year ago and they think to themselves, “You know, I wish I had another chance to do that one show I would have done this differently and I would have done this and that.” I know I though that. This time we get the chance to do it again. It’s a unique experience. It’s hard to describe the feeling we had last night before we began. It was this mix of nostalgia and excitement. Then we got to work.

For whatever reason, here's a picture of my sister's dog with a cone on its head.

On to the next show… Red Light Whatnow?

 

Freakshow was a blast. We didn’t blog about it much… like.. at all. We were all pretty busy with a slew of acting and working in a warehouse, eating Transfer Pizza and whatnot. Regardless, we will endeavor to make Red Light’s remounting  blog worthy deal.

A few of us had a reading last night of the show with red wine and crostini things. It was nostalgic and fun. It felt like an old winter coat. We have old ideas we want to revisit and some new ones to throw out there. We have all grown a year physically and  leaps and bounds mentally and emotionally from how the last production ended. It seems as though the next production is going to reflect that.

I’m finishing up laundry and then I’m heading over to the warehouse space to clean up a bit of stuff. I’ll have a few photos of the rehearsal and production up soon.  We have a lot of ideas for the next few months and beyond and we’ll be announcing them as we get closer to opening for Red Light. On to the next show…

 

Back from Twin Cities

So yeah. We’re all back from the Fringe. All in all, it was a great experience. This’ll be a rundown of the last couple of days.

Megan Peters, The photographer came up the day before last. Her and Andrew are going to a wedding and flew out the last day. While she was here, however we had a good time.

Lillian, Megan, Andrew, and myself went to the Minneapolis Zoo. That place was constructed really well. The trip was well worth the journey out of the city.

You could crawl into the monkey cage through a tube. We didn't even know monkeys were sitting on our head.

We ate at Spaghetti Factory and then went to Bedlam. The roof had a makeshift dance party.

Curt, one of our "host parents" is the guy in the Obama shirt. I really don't think we could have asked for more awesome/generous people to stay with.

Kelly Crandall is talking with Andrew. She was really really helpful throughout the trip. If we had any questions, she was out very informative and encouraging insider in the fringe.

I danced. No pictures were taken of that. And none ever will.

The next day we We swam at Lake Minnetonka, took a nap, and had our last performance. These are pictures of us striking the set and getting rid of it.

Afterwards, we had one more trip to Bedlam. Called it an early night.

Our show at times really didn’t seem to fit at the fringe. We had some less than desireable reviews. (The one labeled our show as “Avoid like the Plague” was comically bad. We had a good laugh at it.) We had some great responses as well. We were loved by the techs who had no reservation hanging out with us  long after the show and into the night. Audience members were talking about the show long after they headed out from the building and had great things to say. In retrospect, for a bizarre show in the middle of one man shows, one hour musicals about robots and inside Minneapolis jokes, for a first time theatre company that no one had heard of from Milwaukee, We did really well. Our audience attendance was above average for first time out of town companies. People want us back.

It’s really good to be back in Milwaukee. I don’t think I ever got homesick while I was there until the drive back. It might just have been the cramped truck but somwhere during the ride, I just itched to return. Jeff Grygny called Minneapolis the “great northern theatre Valhalla” in the Examiner. He also expressed a possibility that Youngblood would go there and not want to return.  We wanted to return. I suppose  I cannot speak for the group, but I’m going to do it anyway. We love Milwaukee. We are not going anywhere.  I’m sitting in Alterra right now and I’m going to head to the lake after this and read. Minneapolis is great, but Milwaukee is home. I like to think that we are all in agreement about that.

Here are a few more pictures from the Milwaukee run of the show.

Our next show is Freakshow by Carson Kreitzer. It’s going to be Awesome.

Things settling down a bit.

Things have slowed down a bit. For the past few days, Our routine has been meandering around in the morning, hocking the show in the afternoon a show in the evening, then going seeing a show, or going or Bedlam at night.

Youngblood met Carson Kreitzer te other day. She wrote Freakshow and she was a really cool person.  She had drinks with us the next evening after our show.  We now have some more really great ideas of what we want to do with the next Youngblood play.

I’m winding a bit down from the updating this thing. It’s been a weird past few days but we’re all doing well. The show is going well. Our audiences have been growing. Last show a volunteer’s cell phone went off right in the middle of the show right outside the theatre door. Everyone could hear it. I had to leave the theatre and find her. She was banging on her cell phone as it was beeping, going… “I don’t know what to do with it! It’s never done this before!”

I’ll post a few more topics, a few more pictures over the next few days. Right now, most of the cast is heading back to Milwaukee for a couple of days of working. They’ll be back on Wednesday. I’ll be walking around, seeing many shows.

Here are a few photo shoot pictures from the Milwaukee run.

Fringe. Is. Opened.

First thing’s first… AN INTERVIEW WITH OUR DIRECTOR, LILLIAN!

This morning was a tad more relaxing than those before. Most of us woke up around ten or so and we kind of went our seperate ways. Andrew went off to get the zippo butane lighter parts that he needed, Tess, Rich and Tommy went for a bike ride, and Grace, Dave, Lillian and I found ourselves in the American Indian Cultural Corridor. We were talking to a shop owner and he was telling us about the large Native population they have in Minneapolis and, specifically, in the area of Franklin Ave. I knew there was a large population, but I didn’t know that it was so concentrated in one little area. There were shops, clinics, a few headquarters of tribal agencys and the Cultural Community center. We headed over there where there was a small café area. We got some frybread.

So good. And filling like crazy. They were out of taco meat which was sad, but frybread and honey’s still good.

We went back to the house where we slept off the food.

Andrew’s working on making that damn zippo work for us. We didn’t get it totally working but We should have it for the next show.

Oh yeah. We had our first show. Holy crap! So get this. A dumpster caught on fire outside our theatre. A dumpster CAUGHT ON FIRE.  For our show DRIVE ME TO ARSON. Someone must have thrown a cigarette in there or something. I’m in the space and the cast’s like, “Ben come look at this! I look outside and I see this:

How am I as a writer supposed to do this circumstance justice? I ask you, how?

As I stare at this, a yellow Dave says in my ear, “I did it for you, Ben.”

I was half expecting cops to interrupt the show asking how committed we actually were to our art.

The show went really well. We had a small house but that was okay. We’re first day on a thursday and we’re getting momentum. We’ve head really really good things about our show from a lot of different people so I’m feeing good about this. Yesterday, I was really nervous about bringing the cow to market. After today, I’m feeling really damn good about my cow.

The actors with Lillian before our first run.

out of towner showcase/ Drive me to Sinkhole

Last night was amazing. Check in for the out of towner showcase was at 6:00 PM. After a bunch of moving around trying to get organized we got there just in time and we spent the next hour having drinks and talk to people until the show started at 730. Basically, a bunch of people who have travelled to Minneapolis had five minutes to show what their show was about to a bunch of ENTHUSIASTIC fringers who, like a Star Trek Convention, gather to hoot and holler and cheer for the new blood participating in the festival. I was nervous as hell. I felt like I was taking my cow to market.
I get very nervous quickly. It’s not the best quality about me. A lot of horrid “what ifs” go through my head. “What if they don’t think it’s funny?” “What if they boo the show offstage?” “What if, in the middle of the show the heavens open up and angels descend on the theatre and strike me down for my Youngblood ways?” Things like that.
The scene went really well. People loved our piece. But the heavens did open up. Again.

Drive Me to Arson opened to torrential rains that drowned the city of Milwaukee. After we opened and the house was leaving the building, we were getting these crazy reports that I-43 was closed. Downer and Oakland had huge floods that were taking out cars. Gridlock everywhere and people are stranded. And a huge sinkhole opened up not fifty yards from where I live. We go outside and there is no rain falling. The streets are desolate. My truck seems fine and it starts. Lighting is flashing all over the place. And all you can really hear from a normally loud east side was sirens off in the distance. Holy Crap.

We’re driving back to my apartment and slowly we see crazy random damage. Two cars collided for no apparent reason in the middle of the street. WE energy trucks scattered here and there with people shouting orders at each other. Cop cars all over the place. Two more cars have collided. We get to my place and there is this huge sinkhole with cops all around it. I could hear the Escalade’s engine but I could not SEE it.  This is how it looks the next morning.

The view from my apartment the morning after opening night of Drive Me to Arson

Flash forward to last night. Um… Well. during the act where I scene was scheduled,  torrential rains hit the city with huge gusts of winds and one of the umbrellas on the roof of Bedlam snapped and flew off into the evening sky. Tommy thinks my play is cursed. I really can’t … disagree.

Opening is tonight. The weather forecast looks good. It’s gonna go so well, a sinkhole’s going to form outside the Guthrie.