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Welcome back to Capping Off the Week! So sorry that there was not an update last week, but reading period just got the best of me (I’m sure you all understand). Still, to make up for that, there will be an extra edition of Capping off the Week coming in the middle of this week where I interview the directors of everyone’s favorite Williams tradition: Frosh Revue!
This week, I sat down with Ali Bunis, the director of Oleanna, in Woodbridge House shortly after rehearsal. Ali is a senior from Brooklyn, New York. She is majoring in English and is currently writing her thesis on Jane Austen fan-fiction. She is also a member of the Zambezi Marimba Band.
Nico: So Ali, what was it exactly that made you want to direct Oleanna?
Ali: So I actually read it for a playwriting class while I was abroad last spring. I was reading it on the train back from Oxford to Bath. I hate train rides, I always get distracted by the people on the train, but while I was reading this play I didn’t notice any of them. I also think that it brings up some really important issues that should be talked about, and it does so in a very interesting and ambiguous manner. More importantly, it has the potential to piss off a lot of people, and really, what’s the point of doing something if you don’t get a reaction out of someone?
N: Have you ever directed a show of this scope before?
A: I’ve never directed anything before. I was assistant director for Rob Baker White on Fefu and Her Friends, and an assistant director for Paige Peterkin on The Vagina Monologues [both her sophomore year].
The nice thing about this play, though, is that as long as you have actors that are good enough, there are so many choices that you can’t really make the wrong choice. I would say that it directs itself, but it really doesn’t. I sometimes feel more like a moderator than a director.
N: What has it been like working with this team of actors and designers?
A: It’s a very small team, and very intimate. Obviously, the actors are very good, but they make a very striking pair. I could have cast any number of people who could have played each individual part well, but they were the only ones who stood out as a pair.
And the designers are phenomenal. Phoebe, who is designing the set, is actually sort of designing everything except costumes, so I feel a little bad about that. But she’s doing a fantastic job and she’s not complaining (to me at least), even though that’s sort of her modus operandi. She has the best bad attitude, as do I, and I live with her so it’s nice to be able to sit around our kitchen table and snark with her.
N: Speaking of your house, tell me a little about Woodbridge.
A: Woodbridge is a co-op, which means it’s all seniors. My pick group is Gabrielle DiBenedetto (who is also our fight consultant), Sarah Pier, Paige Peterkin, Conor Mook, and Connor Lawhorn. And we kind of lucked out because one of the other pick groups in the house already knew some of the people in mine. I actually picked Phoebe as a designer by talking to her about the show around the kitchen table; she seemed really interested in the show, so I asked her if she wanted to design and she said yes.
N: What are you hoping that people get out of this show?
A: I just hope that people talk about the issues that it brings up: power dynamics, personal power, institutional power, sexual assault. And it’s especially important in the wake of the Hour of Feeling issue last year to address student-teacher power dynamics, especially in theater where you’re really making things together. I may have said earlier that I was excited that this play might piss people off, but what I actually want is for people to leave the room and really think about these issues. But more than that, I just don’t want people to leave and go, “Eh, that sucked.”
So there you have it everyone! Remember to go see Oleanna when it goes up in Griffin 7 on October 28, 30, and 31.
Welcome one and welcome all to the first episode of Capping Off the Week! This feature, written by yours truly (Nico MacDougall, the Publicity Manager of Cap & Bells) will debut every Sunday evening on the Cap & Bells website and will consist of interviews with members of the cast, crew, and design teams of our current shows. And kicking off the first article is an interview with the stars of Oleanna!
Kimmy Golding, who plays Carol in the play, is a senior from the Bronx, New York. She is the Artistic Director of Cap & Bells, is a tour guide for the college, and is in the improv comedy group Combo Za.
Tom Robertshaw, who plays John in the play, is a freshman from Manhattan, New York, although he was most recently travelling as part of his gap year. He lives in Willy E and is in the acapella group The Octet.
I sat down with Kimmy and Tom this past Saturday shortly after the end of their regular rehearsal in the classroom Griffin 7, which is where the show will be performed. What follows is an edited version of my conversation with them.
Nico: What is it like to work together as a senior and a freshman in a two-person show?
Tom: I am very seriously honored to be working with Kimmy because she is very talented. It’s very exciting and I feel like I’m learning a lot.
Kimmy: Obviously, Tom is a very talented human being. Funny story, we did our first callback together. It was the scene at the end of act 2 where it gets very physical. And because of the nature of that scene we had to get comfortable with each other very fast. So by the time we got to the first rehearsal we already had a great rapport.
T: The dynamic is made more interesting by the fact that the play is very lax on the whole personal space issue. It requires that we get very physical and in each other’s face pretty often.
K: Being in a two-person play is very hard because you have to in it all the time. It’s very easy to tell when you’re not feeling it, and this play is very intense. And once we have our lines memorized it’s going to get to a new level of intense.
N: Have the two of you ever been in a two-person show before?
T: No, I haven’t.
K: I’ve been in at most a three-person show for the Summer Theater Lab 2013. There were three acts but each act only requires two people and I was the person who was in every act. It was very similar because you still have to be in it and I had to change ages from act to act. But there isn’t too much age changing in this play, it covers a much shorter span of time.
N: What is it like to work in Griffin 7?
T: It’s challenging because it’s not a conventional space. I think it allows for a more realistic effect, because there’s not as much need to project and you can work more on nuances and details, but it can be awkward at times.
K: Working site-specifically is also really interesting. I mean, people teach here, in this building, and this play is really about the teacher-student relationship. So it’s sort of like a commentary on that relationship since we’re doing the play in this particular room.
N: Anything else that you would like me to add?
T: We are under great direction and stage management, I think that has to be said.
K: Our whole team is just boss. We’re kind of just really talented human beings. Okay, the way I said that sounded condescending, however the people who are working on this production are actually amazing. Ali is amazing, Uygar is amazing, Phoebe, our set designer, is amazing. They’re all just going to come together and make this space amazing and make this play as realistic as possible… Anything else you want to share Tom?
T: No, you took the words right out of my mouth.
So there you have it! A little bit of insight into what it’s like to be inside to room during Oleanna rehearsals. Make sure to catch the actual show on October 28, 30, and 31. See you next Sunday!
Cap & Bells hashtagfour is a night of original and published theatrical works ranging in length from ten to thirty minutes. It is an invitation for the student body to get involved in a low-stress and collaborative process and, to put it simply, make…
The Art. (re)
Apr 30 – May 2| Adams Memorial Theatre | 7:30 PM | $5 / $3 student
What went on…
This year we started our Cap & Bells season (New Generation: A Season of Student-Written Work) with Late Night At The Chat Noir. Overseen by the lovely Sarah Sanders ’14, a group of seven talented Williams Students performed short pieces of original theatre written during a September rehearsal process. It was not a sight to miss! Publicity was everywhere. We got a shout out from The Goodrich Coffee Bar, The Williams Record, and our own Cap & Bells Twitter page (that was a shout out to me right there…lol). By the time October 3rd rolled around, Chat Noir was the talk of the town! The performances were amazing! There was music, jokes, crying, swanky tablecloths, and lots of talk about nudity. What could be better than that? Nothing!
Next up? Mission: Imfroshible III (ergo… Frosh Revue 2013). “These eight frosh will blow your mind,” said The Directors, and they definitely did. The magic eight worked for two long months and came up with a brilliant show. Shout out to The Directors for leading those frosh to a Willy victory! “But… How did it happen?” you ask. You know the drill. No questions! I can only tell you what we saw, and trust me, it was amazing. There were Williams jokes, dancing to classics (Miley Cyrus anyone?), small vignettes (hello Henry David Thoreau!), and a lot of fun. It was a show that appealed to the masses. The only question is…what will they do next year? Look to Cap & Bells to find out.
Not but a week after we HI HOED to The Directing Studio for Get Written Up, overseen by Lizzie Stern’14! C&B decided to refocus its season and direct it towards the playwright. It was a chance for WILLIAMS STUDENTS to workshop new plays and hear their work performed. Many drafts were written, many readings were done, and after three weeks, the work was finally heard. The community got to hear fresh, new plays written by their fellow peers. The turn out was unbelievable. Here is the list of plays read that weekend:
WHAT A WIRE by Craig Corsi ’14, directed by Julia Juster ’14
GET LIFE by Lizzie Stern ’14, directed by Lily Riopelle ’14
QUARANTINE by Meagan Goldman ’16, directed by Quinn Solfisburg ’14
MARMA TURNS 70 by Steve Marino ’14, directed by Matthew Conway ’15
Rumor has it (ooohh… Adele alert) that one of these plays might be staged by Immediate Theatre…
Our last piece of student written work was Of One Allegiance Only, by Frank Pagliaro ’14, directed by Lily Riopelle ’14. It is a gripping historical drama surrounding the events of Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916. At its core is a young man’s conflict between fighting for what he believes in and remaining true to the woman he loves. What a play it was. I was in tears by the end of the performance. The acting, staging, set, lighting…EVERYTHING was amazing. It could not have been done without Frank, who poured his heart and soul into his play, Lily, who brought the play to life, the actors, and the amazing design team.
In three short months, we brought New Generation to a close. It is sad to see it go, but of course… there is more.
What’s to come…
Looking to Winter Study… we are zoning in on the Immediate branch of Cap & Bells and are presenting The Fantasticks, directed by Lily Riopelle ’14, musical direction by Eric Kang ’09. Yes everyone! You heard right. The wonderful Eric Kang ’09 is coming back to Williamstown after music directing a WONDERFUL production of Cabaret. It is going to be a FANTASTIC show (hahaha…get it?)!!! Trust me, it is not a performance you want to miss. I doubt you will, however, because publicity will be EVERYWHERE. GO BECCA FALLON!
But Winter Study would not be Winter Study without Immediate Theatre’s annual 24 Hour Theater Festival. There will be writers, actors, directors… and an interesting prop that has yet to be revealed. Stay tuned for more information.
Thats it from me folks! I hope you enjoyed my small recap of this season. If you want more information, look to our Twitter page (@Cap_and_Bells) and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/capandbells). A spring season announcement will be on its way soon 🙂
Thanks to everyone who came out Saturday night for the Season Finale Party. I’m proud to say goodbye to our regular season and to my term as Artistic Director (my attempted coup de tat failed miserably) in such style. In all seriousness, it has been such an honor serving as the Artistic Director for this organization over the past year. I think—as our celebration Saturday night showed, in part—we are a dynamic organization of incredible talented and inspired artists capable of so much. I want to congratulate the cast, crew, and team of Tigers Be Still for a fantastic run and thank everyone who came out to see that production and all of our productions over this past season. I also want to thank the incredible board of 2011-2012. Without your commitment, your innovation, and—literally—your blood, sweat, and tears, we would not have been able to have the fantastic seasons that we’ve enjoyed this past year. I also want to challenge the next generation of artists committed to making student theater at Williams to be brave: write the play that you’ve had the idea for, come up with the project no one’s imagined, think about each other and make work that speaks to your fellows, try something fast, try something slow, try it again and never settle. I’ll end the way I began my work as AD, asserting the firm belief that making theater together creates strong and lasting friendships and powerful artistic commitments that will stay with us long after our four years at Williams.
Here is a little moment captured during the Tigers Be Still tech extravaganza this weekend:
No, we’re not trying to hoover Tostitos crumbs from the carpet into our mouths… although I wouldn’t put it past us, judging from way we’ve nommed Ephporium’s entire stock of carbohydrates over the last two days.
Instead I’d like to title this vignette “Still Life of Tigers, Loving the Set.” It’s been great to get into our space. While rehearsals in Wood living room and the Makepeace Room were intimate and incredible (I wouldn’t give up Lily running to the Greylock bathroom screaming “SUPER PEE!” for anything,) I think we’re all glad to be in the CenterStage. Here, the dulcet tones of a rugby team upstairs throwing all of the things can’t reach us.
While we’re tired after this weekend, it was worth it to see the creations from our fabulous designers come together in one room (not to mention watching stage manageress Anna Barnes be a boss from her tech-table-throne.) As many in my current Plays and Performance class can attest to, a wise woman named Anne Bogart once said to think of a play as a peep show, and to imagine that each designer and actor and director and stage manager had their own little window with its own little curtain onto the play. And when these many little window views get added together… poof. You’ve got a show.
I asked some of the cast, crew and production team to tell me what their view of Tigers Be Still was — either their experience working on the show, or what they saw when they watched it. But so we wouldn’t go full Williams-admissions-essay on you guys, I asked them to do it in six words or less. Here’s what they had to say.
Emily Loveridge ’14, Assistant Stage Manager: “Depressed people finding comedy in hope.”
Holly Fisher ’13, Set Designer: “Top Gun. Tom Cruise. Bubbliness. Bannister.”
Lily Riopelle ’14, Director: “AAAAAABOOOOOJEEEEEEDAaaaa. Feelings.” [plus wild gesticulations.]
Petra Mijanovic ’14, Grace: “Jack Daniels. Waiting for car horn.”
Emily Ciavarella ’13, Production Manager: “People should go to work call.”
Griffith Simon ’15, Lighting Designer: “Seriously, get your ass to work call.”
Wanna know how all of these come together (PLUS MUCH MORE?)
I have six small words for you:
This. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Seven. Thirty.
Dearest Makers of Theatre,
It has been an honor, and my pleasure, to keep you all punctual and properly scheduled for the past eighteen months. For those of you who don’t know it, I’m the rising Assistant Production Manager and the stage manager for Cap and Bells’ latest creation, Tigers Be Still, directed by the brilliant Lily Riopelle and featuring a brilliantly talented and (for the most part) on-time, off-book cast.
Stage managing is a truly unique experience. I’d never experienced anything like it before coming to Williams. From the god-like rush of calling a show to the little voice in my head going, “Oh my god, if I screw up, the whole thing is going to come crashing down and everyone is going to hate me,” it’s certainly never a dull job. It also happens to be one that I’ve come to love with all my heart, especially in the course of the Tigers rehearsal process. I’m continually amazed at how the script blends off-the-wall hilarity with heart-breaking human suffering, allowing Lily and the actors to let themselves go and just have fun even with the heavier passages. I spend rehearsals laughing myself silly, pausing only occasionally to put in a request to our props master for extra-large odor-protecting tampons, or perhaps to use my laptop to blast the Top Gun theme under the sound of barking Chihuahuas.
Unfortunately, I will have to take a break from stage management next fall, as I’m going to England to indulge my ever-growing obsession with Jane Austen. However, when I return in the spring it will be to serve as assistant to the lovely Miss Emily Ciavarella, our rising production manager. Production management has been something I’ve been aching to try ever since I found out the position existed , so I’m super-excited! Also, I will get to spend lots of time with Emily, who was the first stage manager I encountered at Williams and thus holds a very special place in my heart. It was her dedication, quiet sense of control amid chaos, and general badassery that first inspired me to try out the whole production side of things, so of course I’m very happy to be teaming up with her for the coming spring. Get excited. And slightly terrified.
In conclusion, I look forward to continuing to schedule your lives and make theatre with you all in the coming year!
P.S.: Guys. Chihuahuas. Top Gun. Extra-large, odor-protecting tampons. Seriously. Come see the show.
It’s strange being at this point in my Williams career. I can now look forward and see that I am only a few months from my senior year and all of the responsibilities that come with it. A big chapter in my life is staring me in the face and frankly it is terrifying. It felt like yesterday that I was a carefree freshman who had all the time in the world to figure out what I wanted to do but now I’m becoming a leader and role model to a new generation of people who look to me for all the answers. I have been the new Artistic Director for only a week now but I already see all of the things I have to do to keep Cap and Bells the great organization that it is and heading in the right direction.
I look at all this and though it seems scary and very daunting I realize one very important thing; I am ready and excited for it. I am ready to take on all of the responsibilities that are being handed down to me because unbeknownst to me these last two and a half years have been preparing me to take them all along. The new people I meet each year, the great leaders here who are leaving or are already gone, and every experience I’ve been blessed to share with them have taught me exactly the type of person a good leader on this campus should be and hopefully through this next year I will come to embody that.
I have a lot of new and bold ideas for Cap and Bells and where I want the organization to go that you will all be hearing about very soon. I couldn’t possibly do this job alone and I’m very lucky because I have an amazingly talented group of people around me who are as excited as I am to get this ball rolling and start this next year of Cap and Bells. There is still a lot I need to learn to do this job right but I feel like I’m in a good position and heading in the right direction thanks to you guys.
You will definitely be hearing much more from us in the coming weeks and I thank you for listening to my rant about the future. It will probably not be the last time I talk about it.
I currently have the pleasure of collaborating with an inspired creative team, committed production staff, two gloriously organized stage managers and four wonderful actors on a production of Kim Rosenstock’s Tigers Be Still, which will open on May 3 in the CenterStage. We have only been rehearsing for a few weeks, but I am happy to report that so far, the process has been fun, funny, and—most excitingly—full of surprises. Rosenstock is a sneaky playwright; on the page, her language seems simple, the action of her scenes straightforward. But as soon as we start rehearsing, the complexity that lies just underneath the surface begins to emerge, thanks in no small part to the nuance that the small but mighty cast brings into the room.
Of course, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that a comedy about depression (it’s not an oxymoron, I promise) would not reveal itself to me entirely (or even mostly) on a first-reading—or any of the many other readings I did on my own in order to prepare for the design meetings, production meetings, and rehearsals that now occupy my afternoons and evenings. This process has reminded me of why I love making theatre, as opposed to other kinds of art—the input of others, be they actors, designers, or technicians— constantly challenges my preconceived notions about the play’s characters and themes.
Starting to work on the play has also reminded me of why, back in the Fall when I proposed Tigers Be Still, I thought the story it tells would be such a fantastic one to share with the Williams community here and now. Williams is a small place. We all know (or think we know) one another. It can be so easy to feel trapped in a way of behaving, or a mindset. Every character in Tigers is stuck in some way. The play shows us how these four people get up the courage to make changes, but more importantly it helps us understand that the process of changing is simultaneously scary and hilarious, and that we shouldn’t let fear hold us back. The play shows us that process of changing is inevitably full of missteps, embarrassments, and misunderstandings, but a willingness to laugh at oneself and with one’s companions can make changing a task that is not quite so daunting.
I am grateful for the chance to tell this story at the end of the academic year—a time when we naturally reflect on how we have spent our time, when we look back and ask what we might have done differently, and how we might like to change for the future. Until then, the lessons I am learning from Tigers about change will serve me well in rehearsals; rather than let hesitation or fear take over, the cast and I will continue to cultivate the evolution of the the play, which should (and will!) be changing constantly as it evolves into the performance you will all see in May.