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Archives for : Theatre Company

Exciting Week Ahead

Just want to write a quick post updating all the crazy things going on right now in my life.

This past weekend, I took in two great shows: UNH’s production of “Comedy of Errors” and my mentor David Kaye’s one man show: “How I Brought Peace To The Middle East: A Tragicomedy.” Both shows were wonderfully enjoyable. “Comedy of Errors” was delightfully hilarious, and David’s show was a brilliantly written and performed piece. After studying under Professor Kaye for years, it was still mind-blowing to watch the master at work. He effortlessly portrayed multiple distinct characters, made the audience laugh, cry and think, and was simply inspiring.

Now on to this week.

On Friday night, I will be heading back to my old high school for the selection processes of 24 Hour Play Festival, presented by TheatreKapow and Wax Idiotical Films. The five playwrights will be given their prompts, pull directors out of a hat, and then assigned their actors. We will all return the next morning to begin rehearsing on the plays the writers will spend all night slaving over. I have been asked to guest-blog for TheatreKapow about Friday night’s process, so be on the look out on their website for that. I cannot wait for this unique directing challenge.

After the 24 Hour Play Festival will have concluded, and I have gotten some much needed rest, I will head to 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee rehearsal. We will have the entire show staged and be having our first full run-thru of the show. I am extremely proud of how well the show is coming together, and that we will have just under a month to polish this musical. Mark your calendars for Nov 21-23rd so you do not miss what is going to be a very special show!

Also, we have been getting everything in place for next year’s Cue Zero Theatre Company productions. News and updates to come soon!

Hope to see you all at both of my next two performances.

More publicity for CZT

Project Zero has come and gone and it was a wildly successful weekend. I will do another blog post about how everything went, but right now I just wanted to share another article that ran about the show/myself. This appeared in the July 10th edition of the Nashua Telegraph, written by written by Emily Kwesell

Back in November, Dan Pelletier set a goal for himself: “Before I turn 24, I want to direct an original piece,” he thought. This weekend, this goal will become a reality for Pelletier, as his acting troupe, Cue Zero, will be showcasing two original pieces in their “Project Zero” show, Thursday- Saturday at the Adams Memorial Opera House in Derry. The presentation of Pelletier’s own piece, “Future Endeavors,” will satisfy his goal of directing an original piece before he turns 24, as his birthday is the end of this month. Pelletier, of Auburn, graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2013 with a degree in theater. Through his studies at UNH, he was able to find like-minded people who shared his devotion to drama. It’s all about “finding people who are passionate about what they do,” Pelletier said, about getting people interested in participating in his group. Using this network of passionate artists and actors, Pelletier was able to form the Cue Zero Theatre Company. The company seeks to support young, talented artists who need a venue in which to showcase their works. Every Cue Zero show has an element of “newness” – whether they are using an original script, a new director or a different technique, all their shows will aim to be different. “They’re very unique pieces … they’re not your average piece of theater,” Pelletier said. The idea to use new techniques, actors, directors and stories was centered around the desire to “create our own opportunities,” he said. Sometimes creating these opportunities can be risky, especially for first-time business owners. Despite the risks involved with starting a business, Pelletier believes Cue Zero is being run professionally. “I did my homework and figured out what it would take. … We’re being very self-observant,” he said. Whether he is writing plays, going to dress rehearsals or trying to raise money for opening weekend, Pelletier has had a blast turning his dreams into a reality. “It’s been a wonderful process; it’s what we want to do. Not a single second of it has felt like work,” he said. Pelletier is optimistic of his and his coworkers’ hard work and hopes their opening shows will be the first of many as, Pelletier believes, the versatility of their shows will entrance all audience members. “Don’t think it’s just a show for dorks … everyone will get something from these shows. There’s something for everybody,” he said. “Future Endeavors” is a play about change, growing up and what we are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve our dreams. The other play, “We Could be Heroes,” written and directed by Joe Nelson of Manchester, looks at the life of a nerd as he uses his favorite fictional characters as life guides. Pelletier is confident that Cue Zero’s inaugural weekend will be successful, but he also promises consistent growth for the group. “I’m a big dreamer, I want this to be successful … I want every show to be the best show,” he said.

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.

Countdown to Zero

Rehearsals for both pieces in “Project Zero: A Night of Original One-Acts” have begun and I could not be more excited. This semi-scary bold adventure is taking off at a million miles per hour and there is no stopping it now. I am so glad I have the support of my wonderful friends who have made this process so much easier. From stepping up and taking on very important roles in the company, to helping find actors, to just spreading the word about the show, I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of generosity.

In the year it’s been since I first put up “Future Endeavors” (at the time titled “Cheap Heat”) as my senior project, I have forgotten just how much I love these characters, and what exactly they mean to me. During last night’s rehearsal, it all came flowing back. I had a fantastic one-on-one session with our new leading man, Nate Shaw, who is going to bring some amazing dynamics to the character of Kyle Jordan. This cast is full of some very talented performers who all bring unique perspectives to their work. I guarantee this show will not disappoint.

I don’t want to write an overly long piece just yet. Tho we only have 24 days, 8 hours until opening curtain as of writing this, I don’t want to drown on and on about the rehearsal process. There is so much to do in such little time, and I am looking forward to every moment of it.

See you all at the Opera House in July!

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.

“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!