Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Rainmaker: The Three Perspectives of H.C.

I enter the rehearsal process for The Rainmaker bringing at least three perspectives to my role as H.C., Lizzy Curry's, father. One brings to bear my two previous experiences with this play, both as Starbuck. The second relates to my personal experience on a quarter-horse ranch. And the third perspective is my 24 years as a father. I’m anxious to see how they will help me.

The first thing that hits me as we read through the script for the first time is my love for this play – the story of hope, dreams, love requited, family. I also realize that every time the director talks about Starbuck, I slowly start to shift mentally from the purveyor of dreams (Starbuck) to a safe harbor for dreams (H.C.).

The first couple of weeks are spent in blocking – learning where and when to move. It’s a small set – an implied ranch house and a tack room. We learn that we’ll be playing to an audience of sixty in a three-quarter thrust and that means it will be a very intimate night of theatre. I love this kind of acting – where every eyebrow twitch means something. It reminds me of my days on the quarter horse ranch – the small house where I shared a room for a year, the heat and hay-scented air, mucking stalls and walking horses. It feels at once familiar and comfortable.

I’m working with three terrific actors playing my two sons and a daughter. In real life – I have the same!  I can feel that my role of father in this new family will mean balancing the needs of each child as they work through their dreams and obstacles. Not so different than my real life. And with the chemistry we’re building nightly, our family is steadily growing.

Tickets are on sale now - please join us for this magical production BoHo Theatre's the Rainmaker.

 -- Robert Frankel, will be playing the role of H.C. in BoHo Theatre's production of the Rainmaker. Originally from Chicago, Rob is returning from Minnesota where he’s acted and written plays for the past 25 years.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Rainmaker: A Director's Dream

When choosing a show to direct, so many things play into the decision to do so. There are the logistical elements (i.e. does this fit into my life, time-wise? Will it be difficult to commit?), but more important are the artistic ones: Does the story interest me? Are there actors who can handle the roles? What do I do with the piece to make it my own, while honoring the integrity of the work? 

Every once in a while, a show comes along that answers those questions quickly and easily. For me, The Rainmaker is one of those shows. Not only is it a rich and beautifully written piece, but I have been fortunate enough to have a cast that embodies the characters fully and with gusto.

A director’s dream.

From the minute the show was cast, I had the idea that these actors needed to have a stage space that was intimate enough to allow their nuanced-yet-dramatic performances to shine. By seating the audience on the stage itself (instead of using the house seating that is in the space), we are bringing the actors and the text up-close and personal. This is the kind of theatre that many actors relish, and directors like me long for. A director’s dream.

Working with a group of designers that I not only respect, but am challenged by allows all of us to bring a heightened sense of drama to The Rainmaker. With bold colors in lighting, and sound design that is as environmental as the dry, parched setting of a dustbowl-era farm, this story is being told with grit and honesty that is indicative of those tough times. It also has a wonderful sense of humor to it. It is an honor (and a bit of a stroke of luck) to have such a piece, and group to work with.

Truly, a director’s dream.

-- Stephen Genovese is a founding member of the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble as well as the Director of the Rainmaker, coming soon to Theater Wit .

Tickets now on sale - we look forward to seeing you soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Announcing the 2012-2013 Season!

 On Tuesday, March 13, the Bohemian Theatre Ensemble gathered at COOPER'S CHICAGO to celebrate the announcement of the 2012-2013 Season. With the announcement now official, and the pizza put away, we wanted to share our announcement with our online community. Keep your eyes on BoHo Theatre's website as more information about the coming season will be posted soon!

BoHo Theatre strives to examine how love, truth, beauty and freedom thrive in our everyday lives. Focusing on the larger events to the everyday regularities, our stories focus on these four pillars.
They are seemingly simple, yet so wonderfully complex. 

And now...The 2012-2013 Season (listed in order of production):

Ordinary Days - LOVE
Music and Lyrics by Adam Gwon

Ordinary Days is a perfect example of searching for something so simple in a world so complex.
The story is about 4 people struggling to connect; searching for fulfillment, happiness, beauty, love, friendship and simplicity in an overly complex, confusing and often impersonal world.  The production centers on two couples – one dealing with their past in order to find love in the present, the other an unlikely pair of companions lost in the complexity of the everyday searching for a simple story they can share.  All come to find that the pieces of our lives, as jumbled as they may seem, do fit together (even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes). 
Funny, charming, witty, with a huge heart…  and a lot of LOVE

Pygmalion – Beauty
By George Bernard Shaw
The production will be directed by Stage Left Artistic Director Vance Smith, and BoHo Theatre's Peter Robel acting as Associate Director.

This co-production with Stage Left will explore the bohemian themes of identity and perception of BEAUTY. As Eliza suggests, the difference between a lady and a flower girl lies not in how she looks or speaks, but rather in how she is treated. Shaw asks us to examine how each of us perceives BEAUTY in our lives -- not simply in the conventional, but also in the ordinary and mundane. This openness to discovery and appreciation allows beauty to flourish, where it otherwise might never have been revealed.

This is an extremely exciting opportunity to join with venerable Chicago theatre company Stage Left theatre to mount this as a co-production. This will allow both companies to pool our talents and resources to tell this story in our unique way on the 100th anniversary of the first production in Vienna.
Hauptmann - TRUTH
John Logan
March 1, 1932: a 20 month old toddler was abducted from his home in New Jersey.  Two months later his body was discovered a short distance from his home. Cause of death? A massive skull fracture. 
After an investigation that lasted two years, a suspect was arrested and charged, and the “Trial of the Century” was held in 1935. That trial found Bruno Richard Hauptmann guilty of the murder in the first degree of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr and was executed in 1936.  Hauptmann proclaimed his innocence till the end. 
Whether or not Hauptmann was guilty of the so-called crime of the century, one verdict is clear from the play: his trial was a disservice to the judicial system.
BoHo Theatre's production doesn't seek to answer the question of innocence or guilt, but looks at the trial of the century in a personal and theatrical way.  As Hauptmann retlls his story, the guards turn into characters, allowing the audience to relive the critical moments. Hauptmann is a dark investigation of TRUTH.

Kiss of the Spiderwoman - FREEDOM
Music and Lyrics by Kander and Ebb
Book by Terrence McNally
Winning the 1993 Tony Award for Best Musical, our final show explores the question: What happens when a gay window dresser and a straight Marxist guerrilla are thrown together in jail?
The lead character, Molina, lives in a fantasy world in order to flee the reality of torture, fear and humiliation, and Valentin is happy to introduce this fantasy world to his new cellmate, a revolutionary that’s a key to eliminating a political terrorist threat to the state.  The only part of his fantasy world that scares him is the presence of the spider woman, who kills with a kiss. 
Playing with the contrast between the gritty reality of police-state torture and the beautiful fantasy world Molina creates, Kiss of the Spiderwoman is all about FREEDOM
From the obvious desire to be free from prison, to the more complex ideas of freedom from a reality that’s immersed in political and social strife, and freedom of personal identity, Kiss is theatrical, comedic, charming, and brutal.  It is, as the NY Times says, “the story of an uncloseted, unhomogenized, unexceptional gay man who arrives at his own heroic definition of masculinity.” 

Thank you to everyone who came out to support BoHo Theatre! We look forward to welcoming you next season.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What's to Love About a Pre-Show Speech?

One of my on-again-off-again jobs with BoHo is to create the pre-show announcements. The pre-show announcement should usher the audience into the show by creating a mood for the show while disseminating information to the audience (turn off cell phones, no pics, turn off cell phones, unwrap candies, and did I mention, please turn off your cell phones?). To me, it’s an art form in itself. Finding the right language, the right words, the right tone intrigues me because I love to play with words and ideas finding the right fit that represents the director’s concept and the actors who will be joining us to live in the world they’ve created.

The creation of the pre-show announcement reinforces the art we’d like to share in all its complexities, and with the pre-show announcement, we’re also beginning to work on the pre-show experience. We've had hints of pre-show announcements and concepts that have worked in the past– the pre-show announcement for The Wild Party came through the radio on stage, there was popcorn popped before Side Show so that audiences had the olfactory senses aroused, and for those of you who came to see Big River, there were fireflies in the Spanish moss that hung from the light grid to add to the ambiance along with panoramic photos of the Mississippi. My goal, now, is to try to incorporate all of the best of these ideas into every show we do. So, next time you’re at a BoHo show, that voice you first hear is probably mine.

-- Tom Samorian, Executive Advisor to BoHoTheatre