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Monday, November 7, 2011

An "outsider's" perspective.

Hi, everyone! My name is Emily and I run the light board for WOMAN AND SCARECROW.

This past weekend was "tech" for the show -- where all the costumes, lights, sound and props were layered into the work that the actors had been perfecting for the past few weeks. This weekend was the first time I was exposed to WOMAN AND SCARECROW and, let me tell you, I was seriously blown away.

The level of intensity at which the actors work is incredible. Felicia (Woman) and Jessica (Scarecrow) possess such beautiful and magnetic energy that captivated me from the very beginning of the show. Their connection is palpable. Felicia's commitment to her character brought tears to my eyes. Jessica's characterization and absolutely chilling portrayal of Scarecrow is fierce. Their relationship drives the show.

The support that Ahren (Him) and Lizzy (Auntie Ah) bring to the performance is equal parts refreshing and heart-wrenching. The way each character relates to Woman sheds light on haunting moments in her past. Ahren's ability to weave his inherent charm into Him gives his seemingly spiteful character a softer, more vulnerable edge. Lizzy's unique vocal qualities allow her to mold Auntie Ah's words into a striking melody that can, in one instance, both comfort and sting.

Never before have I been so awe struck by a play. The show offers so much to its audience -- humor, intensity, artistry and compassion. Each of the technical elements of the show combine to make the production a real "must-see." The student designers (Vandy Scoates/Set and Valerie Cavooris/Costumes) should be extremely proud of their amazing artistic work. Congratulations to Fr. David for creating such a gorgeously haunting production!
Please don't miss WOMAN AND SCARECROW (it's the Philadelphia premiere of the show -- how cool!) Thank you to everyone involved for creating such a brilliant and stunning piece of theatre!

Light board operator

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Intensity and passion"

Hello all, Lizzy (Auntie Ah) here...

Initially, I read my character "Auntie Ah" as a strict, God-fearing Catholic Aunt. But as rehearsals began, I started to see her in a new light. She is definitely a 'no nonsense' type gal, but the tender connection with her niece (Woman) is subtle yet endearing. Auntie Ah is fulfilling her destiny in life -- after her own sister died, she took on taking care of the ailing Woman, which she considers her destiny. In this instance, Dan's dramaturgy was crucial to understanding this world's fascination with death. (Dan -- You're awesome!!!)

Working with Felicia, Jessica and Ahren has been an uplifting and humbling experience. Felicia is heart-wrenchingly tender and emotionally perfect. Jessica is captivating as she moves about the stage like a force to be reckoned with. Ahren is so cool, calculated and oozing with 'old Hollywood' charisma.

Father David is so wonderfully generous as a director. His intensity and passion for this piece is so deeply rooted in his efforts to get us 'into the world' of the play. He doesn't let us 'off the hook.' He finds ways for us to discover crucial elements of the play, characters and relationships.

With only a week of rehearsals left, I hope to achieve Father David's vision for Auntie Ah and will remember this experience with fondness and appreciation of working with such an amazingly dedication team.

Thanks to Allie Ward and her team (Maddie and Erin) for keeping all of us on task. Allie gets the job done but adds an element of understanding and compassion to this grueling rehearsal schedule in combination with grad school demands...

'Til next time!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Woman & Scarecrow ~or~ "I wish I wasn't in this play."

So, let me qualify the title of this post before we go any further.

Every once in a great while actors have the distinct privilege of being a small part of an amazing piece of theatre. On those occasions where I happen to be in that position, I say to myself, "Man, I wish I wasn't in this play." I say that because I desperately want to see the production in its experience it as an audience would. To be moved by it, rather than being a part of what moves it. That is, of course, a testament to great writing, wonderful production ideas and execution, sensitivity to process, and keen and thoughtful acting.

I am aware, too, that it’s a selfish thing to say and I hope it isn't misconstrued as a means of alluding to some augustness concerning my small part in the play.

More to the truth, it is a statement born from intense desire to have the soul stirred on some deep level.

But it is also (if I’m going to be completely honest) a statement born in a small way out of fear.

When something, anything, is worthy of your full attention, mindfulness, and care...can you rise to meet it? Do you have the ability to turn off (or at least tone down) the inner critic that says, "You can't, you can't, you can't. It isn't safe to be open and vulnerable." And that’s a constant struggle no matter who you are or what you do. I try my best to laugh at that part of put on boxing gloves and challenge it in the ring, when I have the distract it with something shiny when I don't. And sometimes there is success and other times there are utter failures and complete breakdowns. When those breakdowns manifest in a process (and they always manifest) being in the wrong company can be devastating to an actor’s journey.

Fortunately in this instance, in Woman & Scarecrow, I am surrounded with wonderful, adventurous, and supportive people; in particular my cast mates. So, I'd like to talk about them for a moment.

I’ll be upfront about it…this play is scary. Scary in terms of the piece demanding sensitivity and an openness that only comes at great personal cost. It can be a terrifying place to live. It’s draining. Raw. Fragile. Points to the heart of individual sufferings. And asks for incredible trust and courage. My cast mates are willing to live in that emotionally expensive place night after night and I’m in awe of that, really. They don’t pull punches and they’re tenacious practitioners who attack this play. The exploration in the room is an amazing thing to be a part of and I’m very excited for people to come and see the nuance that these women breath into their roles. The work is phenomenal.

Last night I was re-reading Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, and I came across this quote, which reminded me of something Fr. David said when we started rehearsals:

“To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn that the only voice you need is the voice you already have. “

Folks...get ready to be sung to.

~Ahren Potratz (Him) first year Graduate Acting Scholar

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Artistic Representations of Death

This is Dan, the dramaturg for Woman and Scarecrow.

Throughout the play Carr continually mentions different pieces of death-related art, specifically Caravaggio's "Death of the Virgin". About this painting, Woman says, "Oh the grief, terrible to look on... frightening, because the miracle is over...Still there's something sacred going on. Not with her. She's just another of those invisible women past their prime. But the mourners are appalling."

Much of my research was devoted to exploring death-related pieces of art- visual art, poetry, music. On the first day of rehearsal, I framed my dramaturgical presentation with the fact that this play is Carr artistic representation of death, by showing one of my favorite dance pieces: Martha Graham's Night Journey. This classic of Modern Dance is Graham's exploration of the moment when Jocasta dies in the Oedipus Rex myth.
If you've never seen it, check it out:

In Vasey 206, the bulletin board is covered with a collage of death related pieces of visual art and poetry that I've asked the actors to build upon, integrating their own text and images about death. This blog is a great way to extend this discussion. Does anyone else want to mention any other pieces of art that has inspired or changed them?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 19, 2011: WHAT A DAY!

Jessica/Scarecrow here...

Yesterday I had an incredible opportunity to meet with Patrick Mason from the Abbey Theatre in Ireland. He spent two hours with the cast of Woman and Scarecrow, our director, Father David, and our stage manager, Allie, about character, language, and motivation. We all had a chance to work on a scene with him and hear his insight on diving further into the situation and the text.

He helped me to realize that the text of our particular play is its strongest asset, and that the beautiful language in Woman and Scarecrow can help carry it through. My character is out of the ordinary, so this helped me to get a new perspective on her. He told us, in reference to our audience, that we should strive to, "Grab them tightly, and let them go lightly."

What is most amazing about the entire experience I'm afraid I'm unable to truly articulate. He somehow got right to the core of me and floored me. When he left the room I felt as though I was coming out of a trance; it was one of those times where you know that something astounding had just happened. A heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone who made it possible.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Unboundable" Inspiration

Hey All!
Allie here, your lovely Stage Manager!
So I am actually blogging right now from one of our rehearsals! The cast and Father David are deep in conversation about language and motivation. They are reflecting on our lovely and AMAZING morning meeting with Tony Award Winning Director, Patrick Mason!
To witness the conversation that happened this morning and the conversation that is happening now is an honor; today is a day that I will never forget!!
The cast and I were deeply moved by the passion and intellect that Patrick Mason showed to us. At one time or another, some of us were even moved to tears. The inspiration that Patrick Mason gave us is “Boundless” or “Unboundable” as some might say! ;)
Okay, have to get back to my stage management duties!
Till later, Break Legs!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

We are BACK in action.

After a brief hiatus, our blog is BACK. There are lots of exciting things happening around here: a new chair, a new season, a new partnership with The Abbey Theatre in Ireland, and a new certificate program in Nonprofit Management.

For more on all of the above, be sure to visit us at and!

Also, stay tuned for some behind-the-scenes blog entries by the cast & crew of WOMAN AND SCARECROW by Marina Carr, on stage Nov. 8 - 20, 2011.

Woman and Scarecrow


We are now four rehearsals into Villanova's second production, Woman and Scarecrow by Marina Carr. The play is a powerful journey through the last moments of a woman's life as she prepares to die. This week the cast,crew and our dramaturg Dan Ciba, spent many fruitful hours doing script analysis. We also began to build the shape of the production with some simple blocking. And yet, this play exist on an existential level that propels the actor beyond words and into the physical in order fully explore meaning. So this weekend we will take the blocking and with our work on Given Circumstances together to explore through body work the shapes and interactions that objectives and obstacles have without words. My plan is to use digital recording in the rehearsal process so the actors can use the video as a text by which to make choices around their bodies in motion. Ultimately I would like the play to have moments of interaction and physical expression that function as exposition for relationships beyond language. Stay tuned to see how this adventure works out!

Fr. David