Friday, September 28, 2012

Monthly Media Roundup September, 2012

We have had an AWESOME start to our 2012-13 season here at The Civilians. We kicked off the year with a nearly sold-out cabaret at Joe's Pub, a national event about Occupy, and the wonderful world premiere of Paris Commune at ArtsEmerson in Boston! And here's a quick summary of all the new stuff we posted this month!

Rehearsing the Revolution - A report from the Paris Commune rehearsal room
Occupy Wall Street #S17 Wrap Up - Tweets and pictures from our national performance event for the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street
Sneak-Peek of Occupy - Awesome excerpts from some of our recent interviews
The Commune on the Common - Description of rehearsals for Paris Commune up in Boston

Featured Associate Artist - Aysan Celik of Paris Commune

Paris Commune - Behind-the-scenes interviews with the artists working on Paris Commune
You Better Sit Down Salon Night, Part 3 - More from our post-show events at The Flea Theater following our run there in April

Subscribe on iTunes HERE!

Animated Paris Commune Trailer

Check out photos from Sam Breslin Wright's Flickr account documenting Paris Commune rehearsals!

Stay tuned for lots of exciting stuff coming up in October - including the run of Paris Commune in the BAM 30th Next Wave Festival!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Enter to Win Two Tickets to the Paris Commune Invited Dress!

As you might know, our upcoming run of Paris Commune in the BAM 30th Next Wave Festival in the Fisher Building sold out in around 48 hours. But we really want you to see the show!

So leave us a comment answering our question and get entered into a raffle for two tickets to our Invited Dress Rehearsal on October 3 at 2:00pm. 

We want to know:

If you could change one thing in our country, what would it be?

In the actual Paris Commune, the citizens of Paris rethought lots of different elements of society, from free speech rights to women's rights to the practice of baking bread at night. So talk to us! What would you want to change if you could reimagine our society? More healthcare? Less healthcare? Campaign finance reform? Less regulations for businesses? Leave us a comment below, and get entered to win the tickets!

We're also running this contest on our Facebook and Twitter, so feel free to enter there, too!

Daniel Jenkins, Aysan Celik, Jeanine Serralles, and Nina Hellman in Paris Commune tech
Aysan Celik in Paris Commune tech
And thanks to Sam Breslin Wright for generously sharing photos with us!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rehearsing the Revolution

Here's a report from rehearsals of Paris Commune by Adam Odsess-Rubin! The show opened last night at ArtsEmerson - many congrats to all of the cast & crew! Grab a ticket to see the show in Boston HERE!

We are just days away from the beginning of tech here in Boston, as the room focuses in on Nina Hellman as she begins a rousing rendition of ‘The Internationale.’ As Hellman’s voice trembles with empowered indignation, the rest of the cast slowly joins in the final chorus.  With the end of the song, the rehearsal studio breaks into chaos as the actors/ communards prepare to defend the utopian socialist society they created, a new society that is tragically set up for defeat.

Nina Hellman
Late night rehearsals this past week have seen many laughs and frustrations, tensions and giggles, but what stays consistent is a unified drive to create a piece of art we can all be proud of come opening night.  As Assistant Director, I have the unique opportunity to sit back and observe the masterful focus this cast and crew puts into their work, and the rapid progress that comes of it.  Sam Breslin Wright infuses intense humor and passion into his performance of Pere Duchesne, the fictitious joker that provides commentary on the action, Jeanine Serralles glows with the light of the revolutionary as Louise Michel, the ‘red virgin of Montmarte,’ and Daniel Jenkins gives goosebumps as a poor incensed baker who joins the Commune.  The entire cast and crew turn history into a living, breathing experience from the first moments of rebellion, to the infamous ‘Bloody Week.’ With a healthy dose of tragedy and comedy, we are thrilled to bring this show to the public.

The show is certainly complex: Stage Manager Terri Kohler and ASM Lily Perlmutter as well as Director Steve Cosson have their hands full.  On the tables down in front of the stage, one might find hundreds of pages of blocking notes, floor plans, piles of gaffe tape, floor plans, aspirin, and sometimes grapes!  The crew is small, but dedicated.  Coming early and staying late, they work to support the actors and keep rehearsals running smoothly.  While Steve gives notes to an actor, stage management might be running around swiftly transforming the stage from one scene to another, while still composer Michael Friedman is in a corner with pianist Jonathan Mastro discussing ‘Yodeling Ducks,’ a song adapted from a 19th Century French tune to tell the story of a lonely duck who finds the virtue of socialist solidarity.    

Laughing over drinks at the Intermission Tavern after a late rehearsal, becoming short of breath as Aysan Celik (Seamstress) beautifully sings ‘Mon Homme,’ marveling at the majesty of Arts Emerson’s newly renovated Paramount Theater- these are the experiences that make up our time leading up to the world premiere of Paris Commune in Boston.  As earnest and wild as the commune itself, it will surely be an experience we will all never forget.  

Here are some photos from tech rehearsal generously shared with us by Sam Breslin Wright!

Nina Hellman and Jeanine Serralles - scandalous pose! 
Charlotte Dobbs as The Soprano
Aysan Celik and Daniel Jenkins working on "Yodeling Ducks"
Nina Hellman, Aysan Celik, Daniel Jenkins, and Kate Buddeke working with Director Steve Cosson

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paris Commune - The Podcast

Our latest show, Paris Commune, will be having its world premiere run at ArtsEmerson in Boston followed by a run at BAM's Next Wave Festival this fall. The play is about the explosive Parisian uprising of the working class in 1871, in which French citizens launched an attempt to overthrow the government and reinvent society. We wanted to give you a look behind-the-scenes at our efforts to recreate these historic events for the stage. This episode features interviews with Paris Commune's director and co-author Steve Cosson; co-author and translator and adapter of the songs Michael Friedman; and actor Aysan Celik (who is also our Featured Associate Artist this month) who has been with the project throughout its development. The episode closes out with Quincy Tyler Bernstine singing "La Canaille," a song performed at the radical cabaret of the actual Commune in the nineteenth century.

Grab your tickets to ArtsEmerson HERE! (BAM is already sold out - keep your eyes on the blog for a special ticket offer next week, though!)


Occupy #S17 Occupies the Night

A special thanks to all of our participating artists, both in New York and across the country, as well as everyone who was able to come out and see the show!

Monday night, we packed Joe’s Pub for Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy #S17- a night of monologues, punk rock, and democracy in honor of the Occupy Movement’s one year anniversary.

Jill Sobule, one of our musical guests, takes the stage to perform “We Want Our America Back”.

The show was a lively and moving part of our Occupy Your Mind program, which seeks to archive the living history of the Occupy Movement. It tells the story of Occupy (thus far) through monologues derived from interviews with activists, occupiers, and many other people who have found themselves amid the Occupy Movement for one reason or another.  

But Monday night wasn’t just about our performance for #S17 - numerous other theatres and performers joined in the festivities in their own homages to the one year anniversary. Using the transcripts of interviews that we compiled, as well as their own original pieces, theatre groups and schools staged their own readings. 

Our participants were:

Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, TX
THE-TREE Institute in Portland, OR
HartBeat Ensemble in Hartford, CT
Theatre4 in New Haven, CT
Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, CT
Bated Breath Theatre Company in Hartford, CT
ARTFARM in Middletown, CT
Capital Classics Theatre Company in Hartford, CT
Jacques Lamarre in Hartford, CT
University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH
Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY
Emerson College in Boston, MA
Company One/Boston Center for the Arts in Boston, MA

Here are some pics from their performances:
University of Cincinnati students Garrett, Roderick and Trey read the parts of Will, Ian and Cliff in an original piece about three peers who got arrested the previous fall during Occupy Cincinnati.

Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, TX performing Maddy

From the event in Hartford, CT 
Tweeted by @lnlbee
The event flier for the Occupy #S17 festivities and performances in Hartford Connecticut.
Not only were shows happening all over the country, but we also had a live Twitter stream going during the event. Here are some of the awesome Tweets that were going out, which included descriptions of the events, plus quotes from the monologues:

From  in Dallas, TX:
Not just monologues - photos by Dylan Hollingsworth will be on display tonight. Sneak peek here: #S17Civs @Civilians

.@Civilians #NoRoomForWishing contains >30 voices from Boston & NY- "Dennis"asks "Is this a movement about reform...or revolution?" #S17Civs
"but you can't have free speech over there because you're gonna wreck the petunias!" #S17Civs @Civilians @company_one @centsqtheater

From  (Tweeting for the TREE-Institute in Portland):

From  (Tweeting for Kitchen Dog):
"Capitalism is a game. You have to buy your way out of it. You have to buy your freedom." #s17civs

From :
@Civilians "A corporation is not a person. A corporation can't bleed, but if it could it would bleed money" #S17Civs
@Civilians "It was a thrill to be in the safety of the movement itself" #S17Civs

From @FireZia (Tweeting for Kitchen Dog):
"The most precious comodity we have as a country is our children's minds." @Kitchen_Dog #s17civs

From  (Tweeting for University of Cincinnati):
@Civilians #S17Civs "the political climate in this country was 100% changed by Oct. 16 from where it was Sept. 16"

From  (Tweeting from the Hartford event):
"you're telling me that I can't occupy the park that you are occupying" #S17Civs

From  (Tweeting for University of Cincinnati):
@civilians Had an audience member ask us to perform our pieces at Piatt Park: the park of Occupy Cincinnati!                   

Plus LOTS more!

But what really made the night a success wasn’t just the awesome performers, or the killer bands- it was the sense of community and empowerment that the night created for all who were involved. We were so glad that people came together across the country to bring attention to the many issues that the Occupy Movement is all about.

All of our performers hit the stage for one last song- Neil Diamond’s classic, “America”- and encouraged the audience to join in and rock out with them.
CCM Drama tweeted at the end of the night, “What an amazing evening it was to be a part of #S17civs @civilians and share stories that effect and inform. #occupy.”

And if you’re bummed that you miss the show- not to worry! It will be up on The Civilians’ free podcast series Let Me Ascertain You on iTunes. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sneak-Peek of Occupy #S17

Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy #S17 is right around the corner! We have a really incredible lineup of performers and musicians for you (which you can see HERE). Our street team of interviewers has been hard at work talking to lots of new folks, and we can't wait to share their stories with you on Monday. Click HERE to get your tickets! And here is a sneak-peek of some of the interviews we'll be showcasing:

Brazilian theatre activist:
“On January 17th we started a campaign called Glamarchy. Which is Glamourous Anarchy. We, we love acronyms. And the whole idea was to experiment with, um, glitter bombing oppression… Glitter bombing is the art and science of (laughs) having a bunch of glitter in your hand or in a bag and when you see oppression, personal or impersonal, you just aim it and you glitter bomb.”

British former diplomat:
“When I went down to Zuccotti park I could almost feel the bankers looking down on us, laughing, thinking, you know, these guys are just, just, you know, they’re never going to change the way things are really done. So I always felt that Occupy needed to be about actually, practically, building better systems to replace what are very bad systems.”

Man from Shelter System:
“And I would see like, 5 million dollars in some sort of stock transfer and it just astounded me to think that I’m carrying all this money in my, you know, in this satchel and I was getting paid maybe $8.75 a hour to do it. ‘Why am I carrying this 5 million dollars and I’m, you know starving.’”

We have all our interviews available for you HERE (and we added a few more yesterday) if you want to read more! Plus, we have satellite shows of Occupy interviews happening across the country. Here's our list of incredible participants:

Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, TX
THE-TREE Institute in Portland, OR
HartBeat Ensemble in Hartford, CT
Theatre4 in New Haven, CT
Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, CT
Bated Breath Theatre Company in Hartford, CT
ARTFARM in Middletown, CT
Capital Classics Theatre Company in Hartford, CT
Jacques Lamarre in Hartford, CT
University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH
Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY
Emerson College in Boston, MA

Follow #S17Civs for updates and conversation that day!

Lastly, this cabaret is launching what we're calling our Autumn of Revolution, which also includes Paris Commune at ArtsEmerson and BAM. We want to know:

If you could change one thing in our country, what would it be? 

Share your responses in the comments!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Commune on The Common

Many thanks to Adam Odsess-Rubin for writing up this post, and to Sam Breslin Wright for the photos!!

"Welcome to Boston!” says Kate Buddeke, as the company of Paris Commune loses its place rehearsing a maniac can-can finale, with Michael Friedman on piano. The cast and crew arrived in Boston last week to begin rehearsals at ArtsEmerson. Buddeke plays La Bordas, a popular singer who performed at the Tuileries palace for the reign of the Commune in 1871. The mood of the room changes at the drop of a hat: one moment, Kate captivates the rehearsal room with her powerful raspy voice singing ‘The Cherries of Spring,’ and in another the cast will fall into laughter over Michael seguing into some music from the musical Annie
The cast in dance rehearsal in Brooklyn
Rehearsing in a large windowless room on the fourth floor of ArtsEmerson's Paramount Center, the cast and crew manage to entertain each other between running scenes. The other day, director Steve Cosson was working with Aysan Celik (read more about her HERE), who plays the Seamstress: a Parisian who moonlights as a prostitute. Fellow actress Nina Hellman off-handedly commented that the rehearsal room looked like the dance studio from the Natalie Portman movie Black Swan. Michael started to play some music from the movie on his piano and Steve took on the Vincent Cassel director role in talking to Aysan. Steve cried, “You can be the white seamstress, but I need to see the black one!” as the cast burst into laughter.

The cast in rehearsal in Boston
The first and only stop before Paris Commune’s run at the BAM Next Wave Festival in the new Fisher Space, ArtsEmerson and Boston have welcomed us with open arms. Most of the cast and crew are staying around the Boston Common, a landmark not far from where so many significant moments in the American revolution occurred. Mere minutes from the church where Paul Revere famously warned the colonists of the oncoming Red Coats, the city’s history lends fascinating layers to the play's text. Chronologically between the American Revolutionary War and the current Occupy movement, the Paris Commune lives in one of the most exhilarating and bloody chapters of the revolutionary history book, and we're looking forward to reflecting on all these themes with audiences in a few weeks.
The stage!
The cast on stage at ArtsEmerson
For tickets to the show at ArtsEmerson, click HERE!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Featured Associate Artist: Aysan Celik

Welcome to our new blog series of Featured Associate Artists! We'll be asking a new Associate Artist each month the same ten questions so that you can get to know some of the many faces that have been working with us over the years and contributing their talents to our projects. Many thanks to our first, actress Aysan Celik!

Name: Aysan Celik
Year Joined The Civilians: 2002
Where you’re from: Claremont, CA
What City You’re Living In: The San Francisco Bay Area, and out of a suitcase.

How did you first get involved with The Civilians? 
An actor had to drop out of Canard, Canard, Goose?, and Michael suggested me to Steve as a replacement. Michael and I had worked together at the American Repertory Theater a few years prior, when we were both still in swaddling clothes.

What have you done with us, both in terms of investigating and performing? 
Performing: Canard, Canard, Goose? (the original production at HERE Arts and the 10th anniversary concert at Joe's Pub), This Beautiful City at the Studio Theater in DC (I covered the set of roles originated by the wonderful Alison Weller), the cabaret series Let Me Ascertain You (specifically Porn and Atlantic Yards), many a benefit, and almost every reading and workshop production of Paris Commune over the past ten years (and I am thrilled to be in rehearsals for the premiere right now).

Investigating: due to timing, I have missed a couple of chances to create pieces from the very beginning/interview process. I have experienced this on pieces outside of The Civilians, and I am hopeful for another opportunity with the company.

Tell us about something that surprised you, either in an interview, in using the investigative method, or in a rehearsal process.
If Steve looks like he is shocked at what you are doing, it could mean he is actually tickled.  (Could)

Sometimes it can catch me by surprise how absolutely strong and hopeful people can be while in dire situations, or when faced with censure or derision.

Why has it been interesting to work in this way?  
The text in the pieces is from people simply answering questions. They have not tried to shape their thoughts into a play, a film, or a novel. They're sharing their stories, speaking their truths. Granted, there is potential there for crafting or dramatization, but because a question is being answered in a moment, live, spoken, I think it’s less worked over. It’s direct. Most of the time, it does not seem to me like they planned what they are saying so that they could create something that is stylized or polished. This text then of course becomes developed into a theatrical experience by directors, designers and actors, and yet those words are still there, as they were spoken. That interplay of the un-crafted with the very crafted is interesting to me.

What is the last project you worked on outside of The Civilians? Ingmar Bergman's Persona - adapted and directed by Craig Baldwin, at HERE Arts this past August. It was a stage adaptation of Bergman's shooting script for the film, in which he wrote beautiful, weird and haunting commentary, and very vivid narration that is not necessarily reflected in the film in an obvious way. Any fan of the film should read this shooting script - it is a revelation. Bergman was fittingly a character in this piece, and was portrayed by Michael Rudko. Nick Westrate played Sister Alma (the nurse), and I performed both the doctor and Elisabeth Vogler (the actress who has a nervous breakdown and stops speaking).

What artist has had the biggest impact on you? 
There are so many. A few major ones: Pina Bausch, Yoshi Oida, Shinichi Suzuki, Jim Henson, and Gene Kelly.

What’s the last play you saw? 
A Bird in the Hand, by Jorge Ignacio CortiƱas. It just opened at Theater For a New City. I highly recommend it. It is magical, cruel and funny. The birds are exquisite. I love his writing.

What’s your favorite bad movie? 
She’s the Man is a teeny bopper take on Twelfth Night, to which it bears very little resemblance. So many of the performance choices are so confounding, so deeply awkward, and sometimes even unintelligible, that they are kind of ridiculously funny. At moments, you wonder if it's all on purpose! Also David Cross is in it, so yay.

Do you like sports?
Yes. I love the Olympics - everything makes me cry.  I absolutely love watching tennis!  A few of of my all time favorite players to watch: Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams and Serena Williams.

What question would you like us to ask our next Featured Associate Artist? 
What book do you re-read?

Click HERE for Aysan's bio!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

You Better Sit Down: Salon Night Episode 3

Our play at The Flea Theater in April of this year, You Better Sit Down: Tales from My Parents' Divorce, was presented with a bunch of post-show Salon Nights. This podcast episode features original material that was created for those events. Mia Kaitgbak performs a monologue written by Jon Kern from an interview he did with his own mother, who is a divorce lawyer. Next up is a talk-back with the cast: Matt Maher, Caitlin Miller, Jennifer R. Morris, and Robbie Collier Sublett, who discuss what it was like to create the play and interview their own parents about the often sensitive topic of divorce. Then The Flea's Resident Acting Company, The Bats, perform live audience and online responses to the question, Was there an object in your or your parents' divorce that was highly contested? And last, Sam Bisbee performs a song he wrote.