Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Bunch of Photos, mostly from Open Rehearsal 11/9/08

Asta Hansen lookin' lovely in costume.

Winnie up to her neck in mock set.

Winnie explaining how one sometimes get through the whole day without having put up at all.  The rehearsal sunshade did a fine job, but will be replaced anyway.  The sunshade will become smaller and more whimsical.  Tassels will be included.  

Rehearsal props.  Some are done.  Some not.   It is impossible to rehearse this play without props.   The lines and the actions are so intertwined as to be one.

The cover of our chapbook.  It is the poems that Winnie tries to remember during the course of the play.  The picture on the cover of the book is our earlier postcard photo, with Janet Ward as Winnie.  I miss her.  

Me and Asta Hansen in costume, listening to someone after our scenes presentation.  We got some good feedback that day.  We learned some things that were working well and some that needed tweaking.  

Dale Fuller in the Willie hat.  I love this hat - it is just right - except that it is a little too small for Dale.  I made it from aluminum foil and paper mache.  I'll have to make another and I hope the new one comes out as nicely as the first!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Moving along Apace

The Happy Days crew is moving along in our journey toward our production.  After an open rehearsal at which we showed off some well prepared scenes, we have invigorated confidence.   (You see here a bit of our mock set, and Asta Hansen as Winnie, deciphering the toothbrush while Dale Fuller as Willie fans himself with the newspaper.)  We have no illusions about how difficult the road ahead is, and we look forward to the journey.  The play is so complex, so rich, and so good that the work is a joy.  Each time through a new detail becomes clear or a new sense of a moment asserts itself.  
We are joined on our journey by set designer Darya Geerisimenko.  Below is her first draft rendering of a back drop.  We are thrilled to have such a talented and enthusiastic designer on the ride with us.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Poetry Reading a Success!

A wonderful evening was had by about 40 people in the basement of Lolita Bar at the Poetry Fundraiser for Intentional Theater's Happy Days!  

The atmosphere was relaxed as poets Jeff McDaniel, Rachel M. Simon, Hila Ratzabi, Cristina Izaquirre and Chris Hansen-Nelson each wowed the audience with amazing words.  Ms. Simon graciously donated some of her books "The Theory of Oange" for sale, and we had early copies of "Those Wonderful Lines; the poetry of Happy Days" available.

Alba Garzon brought baked goods to sell; whiskey cake and the stunning "Winnie in the Mound Guinness Cupcakes" pictured here.  They were clever and delicious!  Two bottles of wine, a Sarah Lynch cd, and a Fourth Arts Block canvas bag with compact fluorescent bulbs were all raffled off to the delight of the winners!

Thanks to the generosity of those people, Intentional made over $200.oo toward the production, and the tallying is not done yet!  Some folks who could not come have sent donations in the mail, so far another $250.oo!  If you would like to join these fine donators please see the post titled Donate! for how to do so. 
If you are interested in a copy of "Those Wonderful Lines", contact me:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Poetry Poetry Poetry (Fundraiser!)

Come one and all to Lolita Bar on Broome and Allen, October 22nd at 6:oo pm for poetry, prizes and fun to raise funds for Intentional Theater's Happy Days!  $10.00 entry.  

This project has been suffused with poetry since it's inception; from the time Janet and I discovered that Beckett's text could be scanned as Shakespeare's text can to our finding and reading all the poems that Winnie can't remember and more.  Beckett was a poet.  Janet was a poet.  Asta's husband is a poet.  So . . . poetry reading!

On the 22nd of October, downstairs at Lolita Bar, we will have several New York poets read new work on a theme suggested by the play, commissioned by Intentional Theater.  They will also read other pieces of their own.  I have given each poet a choice of theme for the new poem; either "the allure of death" or "the unknowability of time".  

Other fun to be had will be a raffle with great prizes, a poem that you may add to (for a small fee) projected on a wall, baked goods for sale and . . .  drum roll please, "Those Wonderful Lines", the chapbook of poems that Winnie can't remember will be on sale!

It promises to be a great evening and you should all come!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Coming Back

On January 9th of this year I signed a contract with Georges Bourcahardt agency for the rights to produce “Happy Days” with Janet Ward and Dale Fuller at Wow in 2009. Two weeks later Janet was diagnosed with stage four, metastasized lung cancer.
Immediately I didn’t care about the play anymore. I just wanted my friend to get better. There were optimistic doctors and whenever I told someone they had a story of their mother or their uncle or friend who beat the same disease. Janet’s spirits were good and she wanted to keep working on the play. She said it would help her heal. We scheduled some rehearsals but it quickly became clear that fighting cancer is a full time job. I dove in to a side project we had all discussed: the production of a chapbook of the poetry that Winnie tries to remember.
I should have written here then, when she was sick and we all had hope. But I didn’t write. I couldn't bear to put it down that she was in danger of death even as I tried to believe she was safe. I didn’t want to have to answer the next question: if she dies, will you go on with the production?
Though we all kept optimistic (myself perhaps blindly so) each visit to the doctor brought a change of outlook. After one round of radiation, chemotherapy was stopped as she was too weak. New symptoms revealed new tumors. More radiation, and again too weak. On April 24th she was moved from Sloan Kettering to Calvary Hospice in Brooklyn. On Wednesday April 30th, on my second visit to her there, I read poetry to her, tried to sing a little, and talked in a stream of consciousness about what she had meant to me and how mad and sad I was that she was dying. That afternoon, with her sister and her niece next to her she died.

Janet was my good friend for over 15 years. She introduced me to wonderful people, to music, to poetry. We talked plays, books, plays, whiskey and boyfriends. Even at almost 20 years her junior, I could not keep up with her jazz-club-playgoing-almost-every-night-out routine. She was hungry for life and all it’s joys always learning and growing, heart always open, always excited about an artist, a film, a piece of music, a musician. I’m stunned that I will never again experience meeting her for brunch and having her pluck her notebook out of her bag and read me a new poem. I will never again hear her laugh, or see her purse her lips and raise her eyebrows as she makes a deft analysis of a film or a play, which she did so well (the analysis, not the eyebrow raising, though she did that well too) that I encouraged her to start reviewing for papers. I will never again see her in a play. She was a terrific poet, a marvelous actress and a wonderful woman and I miss her more than I can say.

Even before she left us though, the horrible question was looming: what will happen with the production? It could no longer be put off. Janet’s sister Judy was the first to bring it up, suggesting the project as a cause people could donate to in her memory. The suggestion made me frightened, proud, hopeful, guilty, trusted. In the swirl of these contradictory feelings, realizing that for some, continuing was an assumption, not a question, I started thinking: can we continue? How? It felt to me almost a betrayal of Janet to recast her but also like a betrayal to drop the project. Janet loved the work, she loved Beckett and she loved us.
Dale and I talked about it. He was adamant; we can’t possibly go on, the project was Janet; meaningless without her. I asked Janet’s daughter Sarah what she thought and her reaction was immediate; Janet would want us to continue. At Sarah’s home a day or two later, surrounded by a crowd of folks who loved Janet, Dale and I spoke again and we decided to go on.

We can’t go on. We must go on.

We asked Janet’s friend and ours, Asta Hansen to join us. Asta was in the workshop with us when Janet and I first worked on the play. She worked, in fact, on the same section of the play directed by the leader of that workshop, Joe Chaikin. Asta is a also marvelous actress. Luckily for us Asta is available and willing to take on the part.

Instead of producing it with Janet, we will produce it dedicated to Janet.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Big Thanks, Big Scary and Small Publishing

Thank you to all who made our post funddraiser funddraisng successful! On January 9th I went to the offices of George Bourchart, literary agents, and signed a contract granting Intentional Theater the right to produce Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days" in February and March of 2009! We are truly on our way!

Unfortunately we are not able to begin working as the wonderful Janet Ward, our Winnie, is very ill. She will recover, but not quickly, so our plan of having, in April, an invited presentation of a couple of sections of the play is scotched. This is the Big Scary mentioned in the title of this post. She'll be okay, but she is very sick now and I worry evrey day over her.

In the meantime I am working double time on a publishing aspect of the project!
When Janet, Dale, Alba and I were going through the "Happy Days" notebook of Beckett's we were delighted to find citations and quotations of the literary refrences made in the play. All the times Winnie can't remember a poem, Beckett has something particular in mind, and he wrote down what they were! It was very exciting and illuminating and we said to each other that it would really be great to make a little booklet of the poems! We'd call it "Those Wonderful Lines" and perhps use it to raise funds. So that is what is happening! I've compiled the poems, and Winnie's attempts to remember them and I'm putting together a little chapbook of poems! It's all coming together with the help of The Women's Press Collective, an all volunteer alternative media outlet in Brooklyn. "Those Wonderful Lines" will be completed in early Summer, with illustrations by Erin Hiser