Capturing the Magic: Bengal Tiger at the Bagdad Zoo

The production photos from our first 2014-2015 show are here! Our amazing photographer Luis Rodriguez capturing these stunning images of Bengal Tiger at the Bagdad Zoo during dress rehearsals and photo call. This production was directed by David Girard, with scenic design by John Michael Eddy, costume design by Marie Anne Chiment, lighting design by Liz Phillips, sound design by Mark Valenzuela and projection design by Michael Long. The show performed September 17 – 27 in the Main Stage at the Adrienne Theater as part of the FringeArts 2014 Festival.

 

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The Process: Dialect Work in She Stoops to Conquer

The cast works with Rosemary Hay on their character’s accents

By Emily Young

She Stoops to Conquer ArtworkThe third show in the Temple Theaters, She Stoops to Conquer, is fast approaching, and the cast and crew are hard at work. Set in northern England, the play presents a unique challenge to the cast: a collection of English dialects, including Yorkshire – think the downstairs staff of Downton Abbey, and Recognized Pronunciation (R.P.), the most recognizable English dialect – think Harry Potter.

The two dialects share a forward resonance and purer vowels which are universal in English dialects, but they are still vastly different. R.P. differs from standard American mostly in placement: Americans focus their voices toward the back of the mouth, while the British focus sound closer to their lips. Adjusting the placement of the sound and adjusting a few vowels-and there are fewer than you’d think-takes an American actor most of the way to R.P. Yorkshire, on the other hand, demands a more challenging balance between being forward and not too forward, being more closed but also much more open than R.P. Americans are also much less exposed to the Yorkshire dialect, which only adds to the challenge.

Fortunately for the cast, Rosemary Hay, and adjunct professor at Temple and an English native, has come to their aid. Hay teaches acting for the department, but has stepped in to help with the production. She works on a regular basis with cast members, either individually or in groups, on both dialects. The hardest part of working on a dialect can sometimes be simply not knowing what’s right and what’s not. By working on lines with Hay, and receiving her corrections, the entire cast has been able to grown more confident.

Cheryl Williams, a Temple adjunct faculty member playing the formidable Mrs. Hardcastle, started work on her dialect well before rehearsals began. “The first thing I did,” she says, “[was watch] Downton Abbey…to listen to the people downstairs. But that didn’t help me. At all. So then I ordered a dialect tape and started listening to that.”

Image of actors Julia Hopkins and Ken Sandberg in character

Kate (Julia Hopkins) and Marlow (Ken Sandberg)

Dialect tapes are available for countless dialects, but most feature a male voice demonstrating the sounds. Many actresses, including Williams, have trouble using them, because imitating the speech pattern of a male voice is difficult for women. Fortunately for the ladies of the cast, Rosemary recorded an interview with a young woman from Northern England, a foreign exchange student studying theatre here in Philadelphia. With a native, easy-to-listen-to voice to work with, dialect work has been a bit easier for those working on a Yorkshire Dialect.

Julia Hopkins, who plays Miss Hardcastle, has a double challenge, having to use both RP and Yorkshire dialects. “It’s difficult, especially in scenes where I flip back and forth,” she says. Hopkins has been working hard on her dialects since the cast list went up earlier this semester, and is lucky enough to have a friend from England to talk to. “I run my lines with her and she helps me over Skype,” Hopkins says. Having two dialects to work on, and having to use both in the same show, means having to be twice as confident in both. With help from friends and from Rosey, though, Hopkins is already doing well.

With only a few weeks until opening night, dialects are starting to be easier for everyone in the cast. “We’re trying to get to a point where we don’t think about it,” says Williams. But think about it they will, until the curtain goes down on closing night.

She Stoops to Conquer will open November 12, and will run until November 22 in Randall Theater.

 

Temple Theaters to Host Screening of In Conflict

 In Conflict, the award-winning play adapted by Douglas C. Wager, will be screened at Tomlinson Theater on November 15 at 7:30 pm in honor of Temple University’s Military Appreciation Month. In Conflict, based on the book by Yvonne Latty, is a collection of personal stories from Iraq War veterans. This presentation will include a special Q&A session with Wager and Latty.

Directed by Wager, former artistic director of Arena Stage, the play premiered in 2007 as the season opener to Temple Theaters’ 40th season.  Eleven student actors starred in this docudrama based on interviews from veterans collected by Latty. The play explores how hostile conditions of war and near death experiences affected veterans’ adjustment back into civilian life.  In Conflict prompted discussion about treatment of veterans, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the Iraq War at large.

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A highly acclaimed book, In Conflict: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out on Duty, Loss, and the Fight to Stay Alive, is a first-person account of one of the most controversial wars in modern American history. Latty interviewed twenty-five men and women from diverse backgrounds to shed light on their experiences at war and at home.

A graduate of New York University (NYU), Yvonne Latty worked as a reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News for 13 years, where she specialized in urban issues. Latty is currently the Director of the Reporting New York and Reporting the Nation graduate programs at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of NYU. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed text We Were There: Voices of African American Veterans, from World War II to the War in Iraq and producing director of award-winning documentary Sacred Poison.

In Conflict, the play, received rave reviews and was awarded The Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The production was also selected to compete in the Region II edition of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. The production traveled to New York City, running Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street Theater in 2008.

Read more about the In Conflict: New York Times’ review, American Theater Magazine, or Temple University News Center.

In Conflict: An Encore Screening of the Play, November 15 at 7:30 pm in Tomlinson Theater, 1301 West Norris Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122. The screening is free and open to the public; the film contains adult content and adult language. Donations will be collected in support of Wounded Warrior Project.

Meet The Designer: Mandy Goynes

Details set the stage for She Stoops to Conquer

by Deneia Washington

All hands are on deck as Temple Theaters’ She Stoops to Conquer, an 18th century comedy about an high class country woman’s attempt to woo a wealthy London man who’s more at easy with lower-class women, will be making its debut in Randall Theater soon. Graduate student and set designer Mandy Goynes has been hard at work capturing elements of this period piece that’ll make audience members feel like they’re back in time.

“For She Stoops, we have really changed the setting of this room so it’s really almost like you’re walking into this house as an audience member,” says Goynes.

As staple pieces of the set have their humble beginnings as raw wood transformed into artistic elements that capture the historical aspects of this production, Goynes believes that building pieces from the ground up strips one of certain limitations, leaving room for more creative freedom.“You get to build the world to what you want it to be, whereas if I were renting, say, the walls, I could only rent wall that’s this size or this size because that’s all they have,” Goynes explains. “It gives you the creativity of building a world to where you need it to be, whereas if we were purchasing a lot I don’t think we’d have that.”

This was especially the case for Goynes as she picked out specific elements of various fireplaces she liked, molding and configuring these elements together to create one uniquely made unit. “I got to design that from scratch and say, ‘well I like that thing from this fireplace, and I like that thing from this fireplace,’ and I got to decide what I wanted and it allowed me to totally create that,” says Goynes. “Whereas if we were renting, it’s more of a ‘that one’s pretty,’ kind of thing.”

Goynes believes that inspiration can come from anywhere, thus she documents fascinating elements she comes across on her daily ventures. “I have a visual diary and I take pictures when I’m walking down the street and see a cool piece of graffiti or a really cool decorative ornament on a house, and I keep all those  because sometimes the smallest thing can inspire you,” she says.

Set designs are also helpful to actors as well. Instead of standing on a bare stage, actors are given the ability to enhance their capacity to narrate through interaction with the set pieces. This artistic touch makes actors appear even more realistic as their movements around these pieces mirror what an audience member would do in their everyday lives.

“There are plenty of shows out there that you can go to and the actor is standing on a blank stage, maybe on a box or something, but you then have to really have some juxtaposition to tell the audience about what we are, where we are at, what is the show,” Goynes says. “Whereas if they can walk into this room and there’s a set that really explains it, they know and they can immediately dive into that world and dive into that realm that we’re in.”

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Although She Stoops to Conquer is set in the 18th century, the visual dynamics of this production showcases a multitude of time periods through costumes and location.“The set is supposed to look like [the Hardcastle family has] been in this house for a really long time, so it’s actually a little bit of an older period than what you’re seeing in the costumes,” Goynes explains. “But there is almost a few periods happening in this because we wanna show that this house is older, its been lived in and it’s not something new and fancy.”

Because of the the bold and accentuated fashion of 18th century women, Goynes had an interesting obstacle of making sure her set was actor friendly. “Women use to wear panniers which use to bring the hips out really, really wide, so that was something I had to worry about. Could they get through the doorways? Could they get through these areas with these extra wide hips?”

During the run, Goynes hopes that the audience captures the essence of the set as if they are common dwellers of this space. “I want them to feel the majesty of this location that we’re in. We’re in this beautiful, old London house owned by somebody who has quite a bit of money and I want them to feel that, says Goynes. “I want them to feel that they are really apart of this show.”

She Stoops to Conquer opens on Friday, November 14. Tickets can be purchase online or at the box office.

Day in the Life: Matt Zarley, Senior

Today we introduce a new feature: Day in the Life. We asked senior Matt Zarley, of Pottstown, PA, to share his Thursday (October 23) with us.  He photographed key moments of his day to give you a sense of what being a Theater Major at Temple University is like. 

Zarley - Dorm

Nothing says “Good Morning” like 52 degrees, windy, and raining…

 

7:00am Time to (slowly) roll out of bed and head to class! It’s a Thursday, which means it’s a stage combat day.

7:30am Finally out the door with a few extra layers on today. There’s no such thing as inappropriate weather, just inappropriate clothing!

 

 

8:00am- Warm-ups start for my first class of the day: Combat & Stunts for the Actor! This class is taught by Ian Rose, a Fight Master with the Society of American Fight Directors, and an all-around action hero. I don’t have pictures of warm-up (because I was warming up too) but I do have a few blurry shots taken from my phone.

 

Hey Jimmy John’s, I’ve decided to thank you with free advertising!

Hey Jimmy John’s, I’ve decided to thank you with free advertising! 

9:20am Class winds to a close, as I begin a harrowing adventure to find some food, and a better raincoat, before my next class.

10:00am After careful deliberation, I decided upon a package of strawberry pop-tarts. Thankfully, today was also a day where Jimmy John’s employees were handing out free samples by the bell tower. Victorious and exhausted from my hunt, I head over to Temple’s new Science & Research building (SERC) to wait for my next class while I eat.

Image of Instructor and screen with CATEGORY 6

We also watched a movie called CATEGORY 6.

11:00am Time for my next class, Disasters!: Geology vs Hollywood, taught by Dr. Glen Havelock. It’s basically like your typical geology course, but with a much greater emphasis on terrible “B-list” movies. Today we watched clips from The Perfect Storm and discussed why hurricanes are so scary.

12:20pm Just got out of class, and I’m on my way to the next one — Introduction to Design. The bad news is, it’s still raining. The good news is, I have a raincoat now!

This is what’s referred to as my “pretty face”. Spirits are still high, despite the weather.

This is what’s referred to as my “pretty face.” Spirits are still high, despite the weather.

12:30pm Intro to Design starts, taught by our theater’s Technical Director Andrew Laine. Over the course of the class, we design (I know, big surprise) the various elements of a show. Today, we were talking about the basic principles of lighting a stage, as our next project will revolve around lighting.

 

Photo of Matt's Lunch

Sometimes still being on a meal plan has its perks.

1:20pm Out of class for the day! As the lack of an actual meal is finally starting to sink in, I head over to Morgan Hall to grab a late lunch in their “all you can eat” area.

1:40pm Finally got home, watched a TV show, and relaxed a bit before I quickly fell into an accidental nap. Rest is very important to a young mind at work, after all.

4:00pm Time to wake up, get some homework done, and do some prep work for dinner so I can eat after my call time.

5:30pm Back to the theater! We have another performance of Brigadoon tonight, and as the assistant Fight Director under Ian Rose, I have to be there to run fight call. If you haven’t seen the show yet, what are you waiting for? It’s fantastic!

6:00pm Fight call begins. We work a couple of scenes, while I provide notes and receive feedback from the actors regarding how they’re feeling, what’s working for them (or not working, typically), and what they should keep an eye on.

6:30pm- After checking back in with Rachel Beecher, the Stage Manager of the show, it’s time for me to head out, finish my homework, go home for the night, and get up and do it all over again the next day!

Department of Theater adds new Theater Education 4+1 Program

by Deneia Washington

In order to give students more ways of engaging in the theater world, the Department of Theater is now offering a Theater Education 4+1 Program, which allows students to earn both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in five years while preparing them for professional careers in theater education and outreach.

 As one of few schools on the East Coast to offer a Theater Education program and the only institution offering a Pennsylvania certification, Temple University’s Theater Education 4+1 Program grants students the ability to receive a Bachelor’s of Arts in Theater, a Master’s of Education, and a Pennsylvania teaching certificate in four academic years and one full year of study. The 4+1 program provides opportunities for students hoping to pursue careers in academic settings, children’s theater, and educational outreach programs across the country.

Program director Matthew Miller states, “The 4+1 degree will allow a student to teach English and Theater in the Pennsylvania secondary school system, grades 7-12.  It allows a student to earn a BA in Theater Education, a super minor in English, a masters in Education, and have a semester long student teaching experience.”

Students can take 12 graduate hours (four graduate courses) in the final two years of their undergraduate education, leaving only 19 credits left to fulfill after earning their BA. This makes the program a cost-saver, as students pay undergraduate rates for the graduate courses they take in their final years of undergraduate education.

Those interested in the program must be driven and focused students, with a 3.5 grade point average and the desire to learn, grow, and share with others.  The 4+1 program could be a good fit for someone who wants to enhance their skills in various modes of theater; the semester of high school teaching will help students in the program learn to troubleshoot different obstacles, as many high school drama programs are a one-person operation.

Miller says, “Temple’s BA program already helps students be well-rounded citizen artists, and the Theater Education 4+1  continues that tradition.  Through advising and the electives in the program, students will be encouraged to diversify their talents in order to be that do-it-all kind of teacher.”

This program hopes continue to develop well-rounded theater artists, citizens, and teachers by enhancing their abilities to impart the knowledge and artistry of theater to the next generation.

A informal information about the program will be held on Wednesday, October 29 from 3 pm to 4 pm in the Tomlinson Lobby. Questions about the program can be directed to Matthew Miller at mbmiller@temple.edu or Theater Recruitment at TFMA@temple.edu.

The Process: Maggie Anderson, Choreographer

Professor Anderson discusses the challenges and rewards of choreographing at Temple Theaters

By Deneia Washington

The second production of the season, Brigadoon, the musical about two American tourists who stumble upon a Scottish village that is a tangible reality, only once every one hundred years, will be debuting in just a few days. Rehearsals and technical meetings have now kicked into high gear with six to eight hour rehearsals and minor adjustments being made to ensure clear storytelling throughout.

Over the summer, Assistant Professor and show choreographer Maggie Anderson got a jump start in the pre-production process for the big show. Just as acting plays an integral role to the fluidity of the play, dance is instrumental to the narrative.  Maggie Anderson headshot_o “We always say ‘When a character can no longer contain the emotion in words, he must break into song. And when the character can no longer contain the emotion in song, he DANCES! My hope as a choreographer is that the dance always feels necessary, and never artificial,” says Anderson.

Once the school year officially began, it was time to get to business. Auditions were set in motion and the show cast was delicately chosen. For Anderson’s movement call auditions, she knew exactly the type of dancer she was looking for. “I choreographed specific dance sequences for skills that I needed to see. I was really looking for ballet technique, which you’ve either studied and have a lot of that under your belt, or you don’t,” says Anderson. “I needed people who were incredibly proficient and experienced in terms of their ability to execute pretty complicated ballet sequences.”

Technique and athleticism were not the only factors for Anderson; those cast also had to be able to become a visual narrator through their movements. “They needed to be able to really story tell to connect the steps together,” Anderson says. “So they really had to work hard to figure out where the intention of the choreography was and how to story tell through it.”

Once auditions were complete, Anderson began pairing movement to cast member, basing particular placement off of each actor’s strengths. As students have varying degrees of dance experience, it can be challenging to make movement accessible to everyone. “The choreographic process takes months of preparation. It’s like putting a huge puzzle together, and sometimes the pieces evolve in size and shape and you keep tweaking and adjusting until everything comes together,” she says.

As music, dance, and blocking are all intertwined in this production, rehearsals were no different. “We try so that they can memorize the music first, then they can get the dance sequence the second, because those require a lot of rehearsals. Then we implement the blocking and then we piece it all together,” Anderson explains. “They have more information about the whole trajectory of what the journey is going to be and we bring the three parts together. So it’s a whole journey for everybody.”

Even with all of the preparation of dance sequences she created over the summer, there were some things that had to be reconfigured to match the abilities and skill sets of the cast. “I changed some sequences, formations, and stuff to play on the skills of the actors that I had, which is a traditional part of the process,” says Anderson. “So some of the storytelling through the dance numbers I manipulated how they were originally done so that they featured a different kind of a story,” she adds.

Professor Anderson believes that as a choreographer you have to use discernment when challenging your students to help them grow, while also making sure they are comfortable and can exude confidence with each step. “We do make adjustments along the way, especially if there’s a solo and I’m watching someone and they’re struggling,” says Anderson. “But I also want them to try because sometimes you don’t know what you can do right when it’s given to you. You have to really practice it and then come back.”

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Another important aspect of the dance numbers of Brigadoon were the duo sequences. Anderson says pairing the right dancers together is “an education itself.” In order for the storytelling to connect with the audience, partners have to build trust with one another. “If you’re trusting somebody to lift you over their head every night it takes both partners being on their game, completely focused, and then being fully committed to it, because if either person backs off a little bit, it’s not going to go well,” says Anderson. “Every little beat, in turns of timing is crucial.”

Just days before the show, the cast is able to rehearse with the costumes and fully embody their character. Anderson and costume designer Jeff Sturdivant were constantly communicating with each other about making sure the designs flowed effortlessly with the dance sequences. “He has a lot of experience working with dance companies, so he has a really good eye for all of that,” she says. “What type of shoe, what length of skirt, what type of undergarment, if there’s a quick change, all of that is sort of choreographed. It’s always done the same, night after night.”

Anderson sees the growth in students within the Department of Theater as they continue to put on more productions. “We keep raising the bar for musical theater and what we’re able to accomplish here,” says Anderson. “I’m really proud and pleased and surprised each year as the caliber of skill gets higher and higher, which allows me to be able to do more and more, which makes the productions really exciting.” For these reasons, Anderson enjoys working with student actors and watching them grow as actors. “They are full of discovery and it’s fun to stretch student performers beyond their notions of limitations and grow in their capabilities.”

Brigadoon previews starts Wednesday, October 15 and opening night is Saturday, October 18. Tickets and information can be found here.