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Archives for : Actor

2015 New Hampshire Theatre Awards

I am very pleased to announce that Into The Woods and Legally Blonde are well represented at the upcoming New Hampshire Theatre Awards, with four nominations each! Thank you to everyone involved. Excited to see you all at the awards.

Into The Woods:
Best Production – Musical – Community – Into The Woods
Best Actor Joel Iwaskiewicz as The Baker
Best Actress Jessica Dee as The Witch
Best Supporting Actor Colin Malette as Rapunzel’s Prince

Legally Blonde
BEST ACTOR (YOUTH): Zachary Spiegel as Emmett

A Week of Discovery and My Next Big Project

So this should really be two separate blog posts, but I’ve been so busy that I’ve fallen behind on updating the site as need be so I apologize for cramming two huge topics into one post. I want to talk both about my week at the TheatreKapow Artists’ Retreat, and my next directing project.

I spent the 11th-15th of August at the Chanticleer Gardens in Dunbarton, New Hampshire with some amazing artists. The TheatreKapow 2014 Artists’ Retreat covered many different types of theatre/actor training and was extremely refreshing, eye opening, and gave me some great moments of self-reflection. We explored the methods of Michael Chekhov, Viewpoints, and Integral Transpersonal Theatre:  La Poetica dell’ Invisible. The Transpersonal Theatre workshops were especially powerful, we were working with its creator, Valentina Lattuada, a theatre artist from Barcelona. With Valentina’s work, I initially was hitting a metaphorical wall. We focused a lot on breathe and being natural, following our actual impulses and not “creating” (forcing) anything. I really had to turn my brain off (something not easy for me) and just let my body/emotions do what they wanted to do. I was able to gain a whole new level of listening and person-reading through these workshops. The Viewpoints and Michael Chekhov work also helped me get in touch with various places in my psyche and physicality that I had previously not known how to reach. We also had a brief workshop in Shakespeare and Company’s technique called “Dropping in,” which is a way to create instant connection between actor and text. I cannot wait to use all of these discoveries about myself, as well as some new techniques, in both my directing and acting lives. I would like to thank TheatreKapow for their continual dedication to actor training, and for alway pushing me to be a better artist (and person.)

As for my next big project, I am very excited to announce that I have signed on to direct the Windham Actors’ Guild’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” This will be a very unique and fun directing challenge and I’ve spent the past week ripping apart the script, attempting to get at the soul of this character-driven musical that has a lot of heart. It is a show that is very quirky, and a lot more complex than meets the eye. I cannot wait for our first production meeting on Wednesday, and for auditions the following week. We will need some very talented performers to put this show on, and I’m certain we will find them. WAG is full of some delightful people, and it is an honor to get to work beside them on this show.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. I need to get back to dissecting the spelling bee script, re-reading “A Director Prepares” by Anne Bogart (one of my favorite books), reviewing some directing class notes, and so much more. Oh! Also, the first meeting of the school year for FRC Team 3467 is tomorrow. Really excited for that as well. I hope my schedule allows me to continue to mentor these amazing students. Okay, for real now. Signing off!

Making Noise About Cue Zero

We are a week away from Cue Zero Theatre Company’s opening night and I could not be more excited. There is a great buzz in the air about the show. We recently received some great press from Manchester’s The Hippo magazine. I have included the wonderful article below.

“Heroes On-Stage”

If you’re a recent theater grad who doesn’t have the time or financial stability for an unpaid internship, there aren’t a lot of options — particularly if you want your play produced or if you want to sit in the director’s seat. So, University of New Hampshire 2013 grad Dan Pelletier decided to take matters into his own hands.

Pelletier is the founding member of a new theater group in Southern New Hampshire called the Cue Zero Theatre Company, whose inaugural production, Project Zero, takes the stage for the first time on Thursday, July 10. It will contain two hero-themed original one-acts, Future Endeavors, written and directed by Pelletier, and We Could Be Heroes, written and directed by Joe Nelson. They’ll be performed back-to-back, July 10 through July 12, at the Derry Opera House.
Pelletier, an Auburn native and Pinkerton Academy grad, ultimately decided on this course while driving to a lighting design rehearsal for Taming of the Shrew at UNH in Durham last fall, which he did as a favor for the director.
“I decided that, before my next birthday — which is coming up in July — I wanted to direct an original piece. I started researching the best ways to get that done, and that was to start my own company,” Pelletier said.
He stocked up on books and took advice from local companies like the Windham Actors Guild and theatre KAPOW!, whose monthly open training session he often attends. He gathered his theater friends from school, put out open calls and wrote press releases for the company’s auditions and upcoming performances. He pulled in a few UNH grads, including Nelson and Danielle Pancoast, who works as co-producer, set/costume designer and stage manager. Right now, the cast and crew numbers total 15, and they have been working diligently at rehearsals in his basement.
“There’s this old saying that if opportunity doesn’t knock, make a door. Throughout our schooling at UNH, every professor said you’re going to have to start with your own work to break out,” Nelson said in a phone interview. “You’re going to have to make your own opportunity. It’s something that’s stuck with me. … And I think new works are really what the theater scene in New Hampshire needs right now.”
Future Endeavors is about a small-town wrestler named Kyle Jordan making his way to the big leagues. Pelletier wrote it as part of his senior capstone project.
It wasn’t hard to create the character; if you know pro wrestling, then you probably know it’s more a performance than it is a sport. So in a way, Pelletier and the cast members relate very well to the character.
“When I looked at the script, I saw a lot of parallels between myself and Kyle Jordan,” said Nate Shaw, a Lowell resident who plays the lead role. “It’s easy to become absorbed and really get into the character.”
Nelson’s is a one-man show, to be performed by his good friend (also a recent UNH grad) James Fay. He wrote it last winter. The scene is of a kid living in a “nerd cave” in his parents’ basement. (Think superhero shrines.)
“It’s a one-person show, essentially a ‘nerd’ sharing with the non-nerd world what it means to be part of this demographic, the triumphs and struggles one would come upon while reading comic books and playing video games,” Nelson said.
It’s a lot of work, building a new theater company from the ground up. First there’s the job of finding a location, which Pelletier secured with a pretty successful indiegogo campaign. Then there’s publicity.
“You can have the best show in the world, but if people don’t know about it, they won’t show up,” Nelson said. “You don’t have the name recognition that other organizations in the area might already have.”
But there’s also a wonderful excitement to a new company and a new theater.
“In that mindset, we can bend  and create something that’s completely new for us,” Nelson said. “If somebody’s seen Hamlet six times, it’s uncertain to how the seventh time will be any different. With a new play going on, you have no excuse  not to check it out.”
Pelletier doesn’t expect to make a lot of money with the inaugural show; he said he’d be happy just to break even. But of course, he hopes this first performance will create opportunity for future shows this year.
“It will be a phenomenal learning experience, if nothing else,” Pelletier said.
As seen in the July 3, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

One Full Trip Around The Sun As A Real Person

May 18th 2013, at about noon time I was handed something I had worked extremely hard for during the previous four years… well sort of. I was given my University of New Hampshire diploma…holder. The actual diploma would come in the mail about a month and a half later, but the symbolism was there. I was officially a owner of a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. I was now what I joking refereed to as “A Real Person.” I am an adult, with debt, a need for a career and a whole bunch of scary life choices sitting in front of me. One of my favorite teachers in college, Dan Raymond, usually made us write a “What I learned in this class” reflection paper to end every semester, which was always extremely insightful. Since today is sorta like my “first birthday” with respect to the diploma, I would like to reflect upon everything I have accomplished professionally and personally since graduation.

I guess my first major accomplishment was making my professional directing debut, which took place not long after graduation. The entire process that was “Bye Bye Birdie” was certainly an adventure. It was the first true test of my education while at the same time one of the most valuable learning experiences I ever had as a person. It tested my character. It tested my work ethic. It tested my ability to handle pressure, deal with many of the lesser than enjoyable parts of show biz, and made me realize a lot of things about myself. All things considered, we put on a damn good show. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I got, for the moments of self-discovery, and the continuous affirmation that the world of theatre is the world I belong in.

I also served as lighting designer on two very different productions. Both of these experiences involved me being a bit out of my comfort zone (for different reasons each time) which I find is one of the most important things when wanting to grow as an artist. Risks need to be taken, acceptance over the fact that you don’t always know 100% what you’re doing needs to be had, and you need to alway trust in yourself, and your fellow artists. I never want to accept easy tasks; challenges are where the real fun lies. My fulfillment in life comes from accomplishing, not necessarily the impossible, but the improbable. Now, is lighting design what I want to do forever? No, but it is something that pushes me artistically. Also during the two productions (as well as my time as “emergency technical director” for another production) I believe I earned the deep respect of a lot of people, which is something I value highly. I have nothing but respect for my craft, and I want to be respected for my craft and work ethic. When I lose either of these things, I will need to seriously reevaluate where I am in life.

Something I did not expect to be so life changing were the two major trips I took this year, first to NYC, then to Disney World. Both trips woke me up, allowing me to see there is so much more than just the world just outside my window. For a while I think I had set my goal as being a major player in the arts and entertainment scene in New England, but now I’m not so sure that’s the best thing for me. I think this guy has to go out and see the world as a whole, experience many different places, cultures and people. I can’t let my geography limit myself. So when the time comes, I’m going to explore all of my options across the country, and possibly even globally. I’ve said it for a while, but now I truly accept it: I’ll go wherever the road of life takes me.

Had I not made a pit-stop on an impulse, I would have missed out on an extremely important experience this year, and that was my joining of FRC Team 3467. FIRST shaped a major part of who I am, and I am always in favor of giving back to the community, so the partnership just made sense. What I originally envisioned as a minor amount of helping out burst into a full on mentorship of the team. I really feel like my year with the Windham Windup was very much like Kevin Garnett leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves for the Boston Celtics. I love (the now no longer active) FRC Team 241 of Pinkerton Academy with all my heart, but 3467 was just the right place for me. Everyone on this team has a great mindset, understand the culture, and wants to achieve big things. I don’t want to take more credit than I deserve, but I really did enjoy coaching the team to some major awards, as well as being along for the ride when it came to the robot’s successful season. I hope all of the students learned as much from me as I did from them. I’m not certain that my career path will allow me to continue being as active with the team in the future, but I will give them everything I can for as long as they will have me.

On a purely personal level, it has been a very crazy year when it comes to friends and family. Going back to slightly before graduation, I’ve spent the last 14 months solidifying some amazing bonds with people from all parts of my life. I have surrounded myself with the right people, cutout those hurting me or holding me back, and I love all of them deeply. My friends and family always go above and beyond for me, and for that I will always be forever thankful.

I’ve also put in another year as a mobile entertainer/master of ceremonies/DJ with Sowa Entertainment. The wedding industry is always an interesting place to work, and I have met some wonderful individuals. It’s kinda strange, I never wanted a job where wearing a tie was a requirement, but I never thought there were jobs this fun that require formal wear. I’ve had a very good eight years in the DJ biz. I take pride in the fact that I have had such a successful run since starting to do my own events. I hope the remainder of my events this year are all memorable and exciting for my clients and myself.

So the last thing item to reflect up is the fact that in little over a month and a half, I’ll be making my debut as an independent theatre producer. Creating Cue Zero Theatre Company has been a tremendous undertaking, and against all logical judgement, I knew this was the next step for me. I’ll go into longer detail later as to what exactly sparked this need to produce, but I’m really excited for this, in every sense of the word. I’ve gotten all the encouragement and support of some great people, and I cannot wait for July. There’s so much to do between now and then, but I am not afraid. I say “Bring. It. On!”

So, that’s where I am one year later. Where do I go from here? I honestly have no idea. As I said in a text message to Dani Pancoast the other day: “I feel our entire existence right now is ‘Well, I have several sets of plans for the next six months that may or may not happen… and beyond that I’ve just got some hopes and dreams.” It’s kinda nice knowing most of my friends are in the same boat, unsure if they have under or over achieved, and uncertain of the what the future holds.

I’ve got my goals. I want to be a successful theatre artist/director. I’ve got some ideas on how to accomplish that. I’m never going to stop working until I’m the best. How do I define “successful” or “best?” I don’t know. I don’t think I ever will, but I’ll know it when I reach it.

Thanks for reading.

The Month Where Too Much Happened

Since I last posted a blog update, I’ve had so many crazy things happen that I don’t know where to begin! I’ll try to be brief since no one likes to read long, self-indulgent posts.

First, I’ve spent many days this past month touring various venues in an attempt to find a home for the Cue Zero Theatre Company’s “Project Zero” night of one-acts that will be taking place this summer. This hasn’t been as stressful as anticipated, and I have really enjoyed each venue as they were all uniquely charming. I have sent in an application to my number one choice (fingers crossed) and am eagerly waiting to hear back.

A few months back, I interviewed to direct Oliver! at Windham Actors’ Guild. While they decided to go with someone else, they did offer me the position of lighting designer, which I accepted. I am very excited to be working with such an enthusiastic company on a show that is looking like a very bold and charming night of theatre. The show runs the first weekend in April at the High School in Windham. I hope you will all check it out!

Speaking of adding credits to my resume, shortly after the Super Bowl ended, I received a message from my dear friend Kimberly D’Agnese, who had a crisis she needed me to solve. She was directing the musical [Title of Show] at UNH, and during the week before set load-in and strike, she lost her technical director due to reasons beyond everyone’s control. While I had never served as Technical Director before, I was the most qualified person available. I have always been raised under the principle “take care of your friends,” so I gladly accepted, did some research, made some phone calls, and drove the forty minutes each way to Durham for Saturday and Sunday. It was a great learning experience for myself. I learned that I can drive a U-Haul without mowing down traffic cones, teach basic carpentry skills to most people, and by the magic of theatre, somehow the show (usually) always comes together in the end, despite endless adversity. Kim compensated me with all the free food I could eat, which was delicious, and although it was a very stressful process, I was glad I was able to help such a powerful show come together. When I returned the following weekend to view the show, I was very moved by the musical, and I hope all of my friends are as proud of themselves as I am of them.

The technical “Build Season” has come to a close for FRC Team 3467, but we still have plenty of work to do before we go to competition on the 6th and 7th of March. I am very pleased with all my students have accomplished this year, and I don’t know if they realize just how much they’ve grown since I met them in October.  The team is driven and motivated, and filled with the best and the brightest young adults Windham has to offer. The team is going to do great things come competition season, and hopefully will bring home some “hardware” (awards).

The final fun happening was that I got to do a little bit of acting this past week. On Tuesday I got a call from my wonderful friend (and clowning partner) Gabby Archambault asking me if I was free the next day. She was involved with a video shoot for PC Connection for their HR videos, and they needed another guy. I gladly emailed the director all my information and they accepted me. While it’s been a long time since I’ve done any on-camera work, it was lots of fun and a great change of pace. So if any of you ever get a job with PC Connection, be on the lookout for me during your training!

The word training just sparked my memory! I once again attended Open Training with TheatreKAPOW, and I LOVED the work we did. This month’s training gave explored spacial relationships, and really got both my actor-brain and my director-brain churning. I must give them my stamp of approval and highly recommend their work to everyone.

Thus far 2014 has been stressful but fruitful. It’s the moments when I have so much going on that I enjoy a bit more. When I have time to slow down and actually thing about how busy I am, it’s a little overwhelming. But I’m not afraid. I said this was going to be my year, and that’s still the plan. This is the beginning of the rest of my life, and I am running into it full speed. Wish me luck!

My Two Days In New York City

This past week, I spent a few days down in NYC on vacation with my good friend Dani Pancoast. Originally we had just planned on seeing “Waiting for Godot” but once we were in the city, we added two more shows to our docket, and that was the best decision we could have ever made. It was a wonderfully inspiring trip that taught me much about theatre, the city, and myself. Let’s recap the week, shall we?

Monday: After the robotics meeting got out at 5, I started on my venture to Dani’s residence in New Jersey. It was about a four and half hour drive from southern New Hampshire, just over 250 miles. To date, this is the furthest I have ever driven in a car alone, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was making very good time until I hit the CT/NY boarder and traffic came to a standstill due to road construction. Fun times. Other than that, my only other hiccup was not being able to make a five lane change at the George Washington bridge. Didn’t set me back too much tho, and I made it to NJ by 9:30. It was great to see Dani, who I believe I hadn’t seen in person since graduation back in May. She’s been very busy and working all over. Even though I was exhausted from the drive, we still stayed up for another three hours and caught each other up on our lives, as well as fun gossip about all our mutual acquaintances. We set our time of departure for the morning and headed to bed. I had a very comfortable couch to sleep on and actually was able to get a very good night’s slumber.

Tuesday: We set out around 10:00a to catch the bus to the city. I would never want to drive in a major city. I don’t even like going into Boston, I always try to stay on the outskirts of the city and ride the T to wherever I need to be. It just seems too dangerous and not worth the hassle.  After walking around for a bit, we decided to see if we could get some discounted tickets to any other shows. We popped into a few box offices, and came to the conclusion that the best course of action would be to see “The Glass Menagerie” that evening and then attempt to get rush tickets for either “Once” or “Pippin” the next morning. I was a little upset that the box office worker at “Glass” was rather snippy and rude, but we didn’t let it ruin our mood. We set out to explore a little, hitting some shops, Dani’s favorite $1 pizza place, and then going to Madame Tussauds wax museum, which was a delightful distraction. After wrapping up at the museum, we found some cheap eats, and then head over to the Booth Theater for “The Glass Menagerie.” Every aspect of the play was mind blowing.  Dani and I spent most of the pre-show examining the set from our nosebleed seats. It was a stunning design, and we were both very impressed with the ambition and imagination in the entire layout. The set had a few fun magically aspects to it, including a very special couch that Celia Keenan-Bolger, who played Laura, entered and exited through at the top and finish of the play, respectively. All four members of the cast brought life to these well-known characters, and the director made many bold choices with every aspect of the show, most of which were extremely effective, and those that weren’t did not detract from the show in any way. Even though I have read this play many times, I found myself praying for a happy ending that I knew wasn’t coming, which is always a sign that a production is top notch. After the show, we did wait by the stage door for a chance to meet all of these brilliant performers, but only Keenan-Bolger and Brian J. Smith, who played Jim, came out. We were a little sad that we did not get to meet Zachary Quinto or Cherry Jones, but we didn’t let it ruin our night. The one unexpected awesome moment of the week was seeing Katie Holmes going in the stage door, who apparently also saw the show that night, so I did get to have my moment of  “Oh my God, I saw a celebrity in public” that everyone likes to brag about while they are in NYC. We caught the late bus back to NJ, and figured we had to get up super early the next day in order to try to get the rush tickets when the doors opened at 10.

Wednesday: We somehow dragged ourselves out of bed and caught the early bus. We got to the street that the two theaters were on, and the line for “Once” was shorter than the line for “Pippin” so we decided “Once” was the show to see, which turned out to be a great decision, but I’ll get to that later. After getting our tickets, Dani took me to visit the theater that she works out, The Pearl Theatre Company theater, which is a nice little theater just outside of the main theater district. She gave me a backstage tour and it was fun to see that the theaters in New York do look and run just like the theaters in the rest of the world. We followed up our tour with a stroll down by the river, then headed over to Jamba Juice for lunch. With our smoothies in hand, we headed up to the Cort Theater to see Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen in “Waiting for Godot.” While sipping our drinks and waiting for the doors to open, Sir Ian did walk by us, and we had a both had to stop ourselves from geeking out and making a scene. The show was brilliantly hilarious. As someone who doesn’t usually find absurd, unrealistic theatre all that appealing, I loved this show. As I have come to learn recently, I don’t always have to one hundred percent understand what a show is about in order to enjoy it and get something out of it. To me, this piece was about how we expect life to have rhyme, reason and logic to it, but it never has and never will. Sir Ian and Sir Patrick had wonderful chemistry with each other and I laughed harder at this play than I have at any performance in quite sometime. After the show, all five members of the cast did come to the stage door, and were wonderful people.My favorite moment of the trip took place at this stage door.

For those of you who don’t know the show, the play consists of two men waiting for a third man named Godot, who never shows up. When Sir Ian made his way to our side of the crowd, a man behind us called out that his name was Godot, and held up his driver’s license to prove it. Sir Ian found this to be the most awesome thing and called over to Sir Patrick to show him that they had finally found Godot. Godot asked if he could have a picture with the two of them, and Sir Patrick said he could only if they could get a picture as well. Patrick then reached into his pocket and asked the crowd if anyone knew how to use an iPhone. My hand immediately shot up and he handed me his phone. I snapped a few pictures (the first one was blurry from my hands shaking a bit) and then took one with my own phone. This is a story I will be able to tell forever, and I am glad that these two knights were such delightful people.

This is a picture of Godot, Sir Ian, and Sir Patrick.


Dani and I left the theater and went to grab food at the Oliver Garden in Times Square. We sat at the bar rather than waiting to be seated and made friends with the man sitting next to us. After discussing all our backgrounds, we some how got on the subject of “Avenue Q” and the man asked to hear my Trekkie Monster voice, which made me feel like I was a real New York actor, even if most people usually get asked to sing something, rather than just say a line in a crazy character voice. For some reason, I blanked out on actual lines from the play and ended up just growling and then saying “TREKKIE ANGRY” which is what I do in real life when I get frustrated. We had some more time to kill, so we went into a few more stores, where I ended up buying my one souvenir.


We finished up our shop exploration in Toys-R-Us, where I momentarily lost my scarf, which would have ruined the entire trip for me, as this scarf has a lot of personal meaning to me, but I luckily found it stuck to a box of Lord of the Ring Legos on the third floor. We ran over to “Once” and made it just in time to see the start of the pre-show. This had to be the coolest pre-show I have ever seen. The set for the show consisted of a large bar, which served as the actual concession stand before the show and during intermission. Fifteen minutes before the show started, the cast came out on stage and played a bunch of music, as the actors also served as the pit for this performance. It was really fun watching the actors play around with audience members on stage. “Once” was one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of theatre I have ever witnessed. I have to admit, I knew nothing of this show before going to see it, and I fell in love before the first act finished. The music went “straight to the feels” and all the characters were unique and quirky. That night I immediately bought the soundtrack on itunes and listened to it on the drive home on Thursday.

Thursday: After sleeping in and then eating some pancakes, I hugged Dani good-bye and headed back to New Hampshire. I once again missed an exit, but this time it seemingly worked in my favor. Five hours later, I was home and added my tickets from the week to my collage wall.


The trip was very inspiring, as I saw three of the best shows on Broadway, all very different types of theatre, and each show makes me want to experience more theatre, as well as work so much harder at being an artist. I now know that I do need to travel more to grow as an artist. As much as I do love the New Hampshire theatre scene, the more of the world I can experience, the more I can bring back to my work. This was the best way possible for me to start 2014, and I once again would like to thank Dani for inviting me.

Thanks for reading!

First post of 2014

Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year, I know I did. If you came here from the main blog directory, you will have seen the picture for this post is of me with my good friend Jacob Randlett from the 1920’s themed New Years Eve party that we attended. Good times had by all.

So just like how I had my 10 goals for the 2nd half of 2013, I have drawn up 22 goals for 2014. Eleven of them are professional, eleven of them are personal. For now, let’s just look at the professional ones:

Produce a weekend of theatre
Lead FRC Team 3467 to an award
Read 30 plays
See 25 shows
Write 4 plays
Enter a playwriting contest
Direct a short film
Script a comic book
Do design work for a show
Attend at least 10 theatre related workshops
Read ten educational/professional text

I believe I’ve put together a good mix of accomplishments to shoot for that will all bring about professional growth for myself. The wheels are in motion for several of these already, and I will be keep everyone updated on them periodically.

The first goal I should be knocking off is seeing one of those twenty five shows, as next week I’ll be spending a few days in New York City alongside another one of my good friends, Dani Pancoast (who is an excellent designer and stage manager by the way) and we will be taking in “Waiting for Godot” on Wednesday afternoon. Very excited about this road trip.

When I return from NYC, I am looking forward to continuing attendance at Theatre Kapow’s Open Training sessions they hold every third Saturday of the month. We have done some great work at the ones I have attended thus far, and it is always a pleasure to be in a welcoming creative environment like the one Theatre Kapow creates.

Cue Zero Theatre Company update: We have a lot of good things happening, and a lot of people excited about getting involved with CZTC. I have had some very important meetings recently, and will be making some major announcements as soon we have details hammered out. I don’t mean to keep constantly pumping the hype machine, but I’ve never been more excited for a project than I am for our production that will be taking place this summer.

That’s all I have for now. I’m spending the rest of today watching playoff football (Go Pats!) and tomorrow the family and I are venturing down to see Blue Man Group, among other things.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


It’s The Holiday Season

Christmas is right around the corner, and all I want this year is for Cue Zero Theatre Company to have a prosperous first year. While this isn’t really something I’ll know until the end of the summer of 2014, we are already making more progress than I had imagined. The number of people looking to get involved has been overwhelming and I am very moved by the amount of people that believe in the project. The plans for our first show are just about finished, and I will unveil them in January in full detail. On top of that, I’ve already accepted a proposal for our second show, and will be working on the information for that over the next month or two as well.

Quick hits on my other projects:

  • The FIRST robotics build season starts on January 5th, and we have been busy preparing the kids for this undertaking over the past few months. At yesterday’s meeting, I was given the opportunity to help with team bonding, as well gage each member’s public speaking skills. I simply asked each student to talk in front of the rest of the team about something they are passionate about for at least one minute, and it had to be in a positive light. They were not allowed to have written anything down, but they were asked to put a little bit of thought into what they were going to say before they had their turn. I was very impressed with all of the students, and it was a great teaching moment on top of my other pieces of agenda. I was able to point out examples of good things each student did, as well as things they should be aware of and need to improve upon. Everyone enjoyed getting to know their team  mates a little better, and I hope we can do more activities like this in the future.
  • This past weekend, my family attended the Granite Statesmen Christmas Cabaret in Nashua. The Granite Statesmen are an all male barbershop chorus, of which my grandfather was a founding member of all the way back in 1955. While he has since retired from singing due to his age (I believe he is 92 or 93 years old), we still enjoy taking in the show every year, as the performances are always top notch. Some of my favorite childhood Christmas memories are from the Granite Statesmen shows, and I am sure these shows impacted my love for performing. If you are ever in need of some good clean family fun, I highly suggest seeking out these wonderful singers performances. You will not be disappointed.
  • I don’t think I remembered to bring this up in my last post, but I just wanted to take a moment to say that my trivia team finally won the monthly contest at Double Midnight Comics in Manchester. Trivia games has always been something I really enjoy doing, (I’ve often joked my means of making my fortune is going to be winning on Jeopardy) and to win the game after six attempts was very satisfying, especially since the game went to triple overtime.

Well, I think I’ve said everything I need to say. If you haven’t done so already, please like “Cue Zero Theatre Company” on facebook, as well as follow us on twitter @CZTheatre.

Merry Christmas to all!

“Cue Zero” starts now

After weeks of talking about it, I am finally ready to officially announce the formation of Cue Zero Theatre Company! Cue Zero will be dedicated to cultivating and showcasing new works, young directors/designers, and rising actors. It is my hope to produce our first show this summer, ideally the second weekend in July. It took me forever to come up with a name that I liked. It needed to capture the spirit of what I’m trying to do, not come off as cheesy or pretentious, and has to be catchy/memorable. My logic behind the name is when a performance is about to begin, usually the first thing that happens is the stage manager calls the first cue (lights up, curtain rise, etc) which is usually labeled “Cue One.” So before anything begins, you are theoretically in “Cue Zero” (occasionally there is an actual cue zero, which is pre-show). I want every show we produce to have some element of “new” to it, whether it’s an original script, a rookie director, a different lighting technique/style than we’ve done before, or just something as simple as an actor in a lead role for the first time. Every show will be the first time for something. I’ve always been huge on creating opportunities for people that might not get them, especially when it comes to theater. This industry is not easy to break into. In order to get most jobs, you need experience. In order to get experience, you need to get jobs. This paradox slows down the rise of new artists, and this is my way of circumventing that roadblock. It’s not that we will work purely with amateurs, the inexperienced, or people that have no idea what they are doing. We will instead be looking to work with artists who have been training, studying, and are truly dedicated to their craft, but have not had many opportunities to work at a professional level yet. We will have a high standard for quality in every aspect of the productions. Be on the look out for updates in the near future, especially once we hit 2014.

Since I want this post to primarily about CZTC, I’ll be brief in the rest of my weekly update. I took in three very unique pieces of theatre this weekend. Friday night, I once again traveled to Portsmouth to see my good friend Gabby Archambault perform, this time in NH Theatre Project’s production of “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” While I must say that individual performances given were all very strong, I did not particularity care for the writing of the show. There was too much talking and not enough doing for the majority of the first act. It was also the wrong type of witty, as it was smarmy, too self aware, and blunt with the points it was trying to make. It really just felt more like I was watching a dramatization of a textbook on how to create a new play, which I later learned was pretty much the story of how the play came to be. The play didn’t seem very accessible to a general audience that isn’t exposed to theatre and the creative process on a daily basis, which always rubs me the wrong way. This is not to say the production that NHTP put up wasn’t well-acted, well designed, and well directed, because it was, and everyone involved should be proud of their work. I just will never seek out this play again; it just isn’t my cup of tea.

On Saturday night, I found myself once again back at the University of New Hampshire for a David Kaye original. David, who is the department head of the Department of Theatre and Dance, is well known for his unique pieces of theatre. This show, entitled “eStranged” was especially unique in that it was a “telematic performance.” Half of the show took place at UNH, while the other half was taking place on the campus of the University of Maine Orono, with the two campuses connected via the magic of the internet, and strategically placed web-cams and giant projection screens. Going into the show, I knew it was going to be something different, and the pre-show setting helped get everyone in the mood and mindset that this was not going to be your typical play. We were not presented with programs as we took our seats, the set was simply four iMac computers on desks, and there was a large projection screen on the two side walls, as well as upstage. The music playing during the pre-show was also very different. I would describe it as electronic dissonance, with small clips of various pieces of well known pop music, movie and tv show clips, and other pop culture references inter-spliced with the  sound effects. This eased the audience into the world that David, his co-director N.B Aldrich, and the actors and designers had created. The show explored the strange difference between the real world and our on-line persona we created. It’s hard to explain exactly what happens in the show, and is really the type of art that one needs to experience first hand to understand. I really enjoyed it, as it was an extremely ambitious and moving piece of high art.

Finally, my Sunday was spent in the city of Boston taking in a type of theatre that is highly misunderstood and under appreciated and that is professional wrestling.  The show was World Wrestling Entertainment’s “Survivor Series” which is one of their longest running pay-per-view events, and considered part of “The Big Four” events that happens every year, along with Wrestlemania, The Royal Rumble, and Summerslam. Attending each one of these at least one time has been on my bucket list for quite sometime, and this was number two of the big four for me, as I attended the 2011 Royal Rumble, also in Boston. Wrestling is always a fun, high energy, interactive type of theater, as the crowds are encouraged to cheer for their favorite performers, boo the ones they don’t like, and come up with cleaver chants that sometimes do effect what happens in the ring. The show itself was a little underwhelming. The current writing of the storylines is a bit stale, illogical, and sometimes frustrating, but the in-ring product is at a very high level. We had great seats, and were surrounded by like-minded fans who all enjoyed yelling ridiculous things during the matches, which did add to the overall enjoyment of the night, but again, I left the show feeling like I did not get my money’s worth, as the company refuses to take risks and be bold with the direction of the story.

Well in my attempt to be brief, I once again rambled on longer than need be. Hope it was enjoyable, and once again, be on the look out for more info about “Cue Zero Theatre Company” in the near future (including performances, workshops and fund raising)  and anyone looking to get involved, please do contact me!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Time is a Funny Thing

The other day I realized I had really lost track of time. Not just for that day, but for a few weeks. I had no idea we were so close to the end of November, with Thanksgiving next week, and Christmas being little over a month away. 2013 is almost over, which is a bit of a scary notion.  As of today, I’ve been a graduate of UNH for 186 days, and I’m still attempting to get my footing in the world. I’m not worried that I won’t get everything figured out, I just thought I’d have a clearer idea of what I was doing at this point. I mean, a lot of people tell me I seem to have a better plan than most, but I don’t know, I guess everything is relative.

Anyways, back to what I did this week. Thursday night, Sam and I went to see “Spamalot” at the Palace Theatre, and both throughly enjoyed the performance. It was a very warm and charming production with the highest of quality when it came to sets, lights and the like. On Sunday, I took my mother to see “It’s A Wonderful Life” at Pinkerton Academy, which was a nice little student production. Pinkerton always puts on a solid production when it comes both to their fall drama and their spring musical. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mrs. West was still directing the productions, as she has been working at the Academy since 1959! Good for her, I hope my career is as long and fruitful as hers. So with these two shows, I am now one away from my goal of seeing ten different productions in the second half of the year, and there are at least two more shows on my calendar for this coming week, so I’ll probably reflect upon all these shows in next weeks post. Also this weekend I’ll be attending WWE “Survivor Series” in Boston. Not sure if most people would count this, but I do, as I have always argued that professional wrestling is the love child of musical theatre and comic books.

Last week I announced that I hope to self-produce an original piece for public consumption before my next birthday. I’ve set a target performance weekend of July 11th and 12th. I have also settled on exactly what I hope to produce. My idea is to do a night of two one-act plays both written and directed by myself. One play will be my play “Cheap Heat” with some re-writes and modifications, and the second will be a new play that I have begun writing this week. Ideally, I’ll have both scripts “finished” by the end of December. During January and February, I’ll get the script for the second play into the hands of very capable actors so we can “workshop” it, work out the kinks, and re-write it into a piece of compelling drama. Working on both pieces will continue into the spring, with a troupe of 4-6 actors recruited no later than mid-May, and formal rehearsals during the month of June. I’ll obviously have to bring in at least one other person to help out behind the scenes, and maybe even a business manager. Of course during these period I’ll be fund raising and advertising the hell out of the show.  I have a few ideas for a performance space, and I hope to nail it down sometime in the near future. I also need to find out a few more details about the business/legal/management end of producing, which I shall be investigating this weekend. I’m being really ambitious with this project, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

This past weekend I attended my first open training session with TheatreKapow, and I LOVED it. It was a great little workshop that crammed so much useful exercises into two hours. We started with a great relaxation exercise, which I am a huge fan of. I am always stressing to both my Sowa Entertainment colleagues as well as my robotics kids that the number one key to a good performance/presentation is being relaxed. After a group body exercise we did a short little active listening scene work, and in that moment I realized since I had been so consumed with directing and writing, I haven’t done any acting since April. Doing this thirty-second, on book cut from “The Seagull” was a great reminder of what I have been missing, and I really should seek out an acting project every once in a while, instead of purely focusing my efforts on directing like I have been over the past few months. While DJing is still partly a performance art, it still doesn’t capture the magic and rush of acting. The TheatreKapow monthly open training session is now marked down on my calender and I will be attending regularly

Speaking of acting, I’m about halfway through “Respect for Acting” and am still in love with the book. It’s been nice focusing on something that’s a bit more foundation level rather than the higher level acting/directing theory things I’ve been looking at over the past few months, as I am sure many of my actors in the near future won’t have as much, or the same type of actor training that I’ve had, and I need to be ready to deal with actors of all experience levels. Uta also discusses a few concepts I hadn’t given thought to before, as well as looking at ones I have but from a different angle, and having this widened perspective will be very helpful as both an actor and director. I am looking forward to applying some of her techniques in the near future.  I’m am also about twenty pages into “Laughter, Pain, and Wonder”  by my former professor David Richman. Since I know David personally, I really can hear his voice in the text, and his seemingly endless insight on Shakespeare, theater history, and directing is always a pleasure to hear. I’ll never forget taking one of his classes and feeling that this man knew everything worth knowing about theater. If asked him a question about theater history, and David didn’t know, I assumed it wasn’t a fact worth knowing, and no longer wondered about it. The last item in the subject of “What is Dan Reading,” I finished “Superman: Birthright” last night, which is a brilliant modernization of Superman’s early exploits. One thing I really love about these hardcover DC collections is occasionally they will include the writers original pitch for the story, which as a writer myself, I love to see thought process, especially when it comes to the Man of Steel. Mark Waid goes over every detail and justification for his choices for the novel, and it really shows his dedication and love for both the character and the history of behind him.

Well, this is certainly the longest post to date. Hope I didn’t bore you. See you all next week!