Backstage Blog

Director Insight: Jennifer L. Nelson

Our August Wilson plays, Seven Guitars & King Hedley II, began rehearsal in this month.  Director Jennifer L. Nelson answered a few questions about August Wilson’s work and why these two plays performed in rep are so unique.  Performances begin September 28th, 2016!

Jennifer L. Nelson   Photo by Fern Seiden.

Jennifer L. Nelson
Photo by Fern Seiden

What draws you to August Wilson’s work and is there any specific way you will approach these plays? How do you feel these two works intersect and relate to each other?  Wilson exploded onto the scene bringing a fresh theatrical lens through which to view the portrayal os the African American experience. Particularly his portrayals of African American men provided a fresh 360 degree perspective on the inner lives of characters we may only have seen in lesser light. He gave us not only their humor and frustration but also the yearning, caring, humor and poetic pathos we might have only seen under lesser light—if at all. Because of the range of his characters, his plays expanded the range of audiences–particularly drawing more African Americans to the theatre, a feat which in itself was worthy of major note.

The two plays in the Cygnet rep are joined through a unique view of two generations of the same family. Although all but one of his plays take place in the same neighborhood, none of the others incorporate characters who have appeared in another play (though some are mentioned but not seen). It’s an exciting challenge to think of how to mine the context for familial continuity.

How do you feel about directing a Rep? What are the challenges & opportunities? I’ve not done a Rep like this before but the challenge is attractive and daunting. Somewhere I picked up this saying: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” I feel secure enough in my work up to now to look forward to stepping into a new-ish way of working. One reassuring factor is that Wilson’s métier provides enough structure and shape to provide a solid base.

What did you look for in actors?  I particularly looked for actors with enough readily available experience and versatility to be adept at changing roles. Much of my early career experience was in performing and teaching improvisational theatre so I will bring some of that into the rehearsal process to help everyone become comfortable with the process. The cast is not only talented and delightful to work with and I am confident they will be a joy for audiences to see!

Learn more about SEVEN GUITARS & KING HEDLEY II here. Then book your tickets!

Hedley Guitars image

 

The Kids of Gypsy

It wouldn’t be Gypsy without the kids! We asked our cast of talented kid actors a few questions about the show and their own background in acting.

Fun Fact: There are two separate casts that perform on alternating nights.  They selected names for themselves - “The Moostache Cows” and “The Gypsy Fives”.

Version 3Gabriella Dimmick,  Age 10, Baby June

Hometown: La Mesa
What other shows have you performed in? The Sound of Music at SDMT and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe
What are you most excited about? Dancing and singing in the show.
What is your dream Broadway role? Annie in Annie
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Bets Malone
How did you get involved in theatre? I was in The Nutcracker at the Civic Theatre when I was 4!
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I want to grow up to be a famous inventor.

Emily_Bautista_headshotEmily Sade Bautista, Age 11, Baby Louise

Hometown: Chula Vista
Is this your first professional theatre experience? I was in How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe last year.
What are you most excited about? Getting to know the cast and learning from them. I cannot wait to be on stage!
What do you like most about the show? I like Mama Rose’s attitude and songs. And my Uncle Sam costume!
What is your dream Broadway role? Eliza from Hamilton
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Lin-Manuel Miranda and Idina Menzel
How did you get involved in theatre? I love music and acting and I asked my parents to sign me up to audition for a show.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? On the day I was born, my Dad had the #2 song on the Billboard charts. I was given a record plaque as a memory from the label.

Claire Scheper Headshot CygnetClaire Scheper, Age 12, Baby Louise 

Hometown: Crown Point
Is this your first professional theatre experience?  I was in White Christmas at SDMT for several seasons.
What are you most excited about? The cast and artistic team.
Had you seen any productions of Gypsy?
I haven’t but I love the songs and music.
What is your dream Broadway role? Elpaba in Wicked
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Beth Malone
How did you get involved in theatre? Through my friends and vocal coach.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I am weirdly and freakishly strong.

IMG_1081Matthew Garbacz, Age 11, News Boy

Is this your first professional theatre experience? I was in Les Miserable with Theatre Royal.
What are you most excited about? Meeting new people and doing work with a new company.
Have you seen any productions of Gypsy? Never seen!
What is your dream Broadway role? One of the boys in Matilda.
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Matthew Morrison
How did you get involved in theatre? My brother Luke always went to rehearsals and I had to come along.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I like Jazz music.

DSC_1423Sophia Dimmick, Age 12, Balloon Girl

Hometown: La Mesa
Is this your first professional theatre experience? How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe and South Pacific at The Welk
What are you most excited about? Being in a Cygnet production and wearing balloons on my costume.
What do you like most about the show? I have watched the movie and love all the quirky musical numbers Rose thought up.
What is your dream Broadway role? Glinda in Wicked
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Robert Townsend
How did you get involved in theatre? I was in The Nutcracker in at the Civic when I was 6 and then cast in a Junior Theatre show.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I have been playing the harp since I was 5.

Hourie_Klijian_2016_071Hourie Klijian, Age 12, Balloon Girl

What other shows have you performed in? I was in Les Miz at Lamb’s and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe
What are you most excited about? Working with so many talented people.
What do you like most about Gypsy?  I love the score.
What is your dream Broadway role? Milly in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Steve Blanchard
How did you get involved in theatre? My voice coach encouraged it.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I love ABBA!

Giovanni Cozic may2016Giovanni Cozic, Age 10, News Boy

What other shows have you performed in? I was in Up Here at La Jolla Playhouse and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe
What are you most excited about? To be in a show where I work with adults and a new theatre. And I can walk to rehearsal!
Had you seen any productions of Gypsy? No but I read the script and love Mama Rose.
What is your dream Broadway role? Bruce in Matilda
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Lin-Manuel Miranda
How did you get involved in theatre? My brother was involved so I quit soccer and got involved in theatre instead.
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I love history and love to cook.

Catalina_Zelles_headshotCataline Jewel Zelles, Age 8, Baby June

Hometown: Oceanside
What other shows have you performed in?
How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe and Fiddler on the Roof at The Welk|
What are you most excited about? Working with Sean Murray and Cygnet. Also, I hope to get to twirl the baton.
Have you seen any productions of Gypsy? I’ve seen the movie and I love the music.
What is your dream Broadway role? Matilda, Elpaba, Tracy Turnblad.
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Idina Menzel
How did you get involved in theatre? I was in the tour of Beauty and the Beast when I was 2. My Dad, Mom and Nana were in it!
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I love Shakespeare and won Best Actres at SD Shakespeare Festival the last 3 years.

JJosh_Bradford_Headshotosh Bradford, Age 12, Newsboy, MC

Hometown: Vista
What other shows have you performed in? I was in Wizard of Oz, Tommy and Music Man and Moonlight and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe
What are you most excited about? Making new friends
What is your dream Broadway role? Gabs, Next to Normal
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Jonathan Groff
How did you get involved in theatre? I have two brothers who are also professional actors.

Scotty Atienza - headshot 1Scotty Atienza, Age 12, Newsboy

Hometown: Chula Vista
What other shows have you performed in? Les Miz, Festival of Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe
What are you most excited about? Working with Cygnet
What is your dream Broadway role? The Phantom
Who is your favorite theatre actor/actress? Johnny Depp
How did you get involved in theatre? Christian Youth Theatre
What would be one surprising thing to learn about you? I can do multiple accents.

Actor Q&A: Ro Boddie

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same four questions about themselves and their characters. Here is what actor Ro Boddie said about himself, and his character, Con.

RO_NAMED jpeg (1)

Ro Boddie

Ro
Occupation: Actor
Hobbies: Playing Guitar, meditating, physical fitness and watching Marvel 3D movies.
Favorite Saying: “Keep it sexy.”
Things I Love: Spicy food, making people laugh, Funk music and San Diego weather.

Con

Con

Con
Occupation: Unemployed
Hobbies: Dreaming of Nina, laughing with Nina, loving Nina and always wanting…Nina.
Favorite saying: “Actually, actually”
Things I love: The unconventional, the overlooked and undervalued things in life. Anything old school. Breaking boundaries and, of course, Nina.

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Ro Boddie (Con) and Brian Rickel (Dev)

Check out what the rest of the cast said and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th.

Actor Q&A: Jacque Wilke

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same four questions about themselves and their characters. Here is what actor Jacque Wilke said about herself, and her character, Mash.

Jacque Wilke

Jacque Wilke

About Jacque:
Occupation: Pilates and Cycling instructor
Hobbies: Hiking, Photography, Poetry
Favorite Saying: “Don’t stop, get it get it.” -Ice Cube
Things I love: Family, Craft Beer, Nature, Live Music, Theater

Mash

Mash

About Mash:
Occupation: Part Time Cook
Hobbies: Drinking, long walks, writing, playing the ukulele, baking
Favorite Saying: “If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed” -Sylvia Plath.Things I love: Con. That is it, that is all.

Stay tuned for the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th.

Jacque Wilke (Mash) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Jacque Wilke (Mash) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Actor Q&A: Rachel Esther Tate

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same four questions about themselves and their characters. Here is what actor Rachel Esther Tate said about herself, and her character, Nina.

Rachel Esther Tate

Rachel Esther Tate

About Rachel:
Occupation: Actor/Gypsy
Hobbies: Playing in the sunshine, swimming in the ocean, being surrounded by friends and taking photos
Favorite Saying: I love you
Things I love: Sunshine, wildflowers, laughing, snuggling and mashed potatoes

Nina

Nina

About Nina:
Occupation: Aspiring actress like Emma
Hobbies: Swimming in the lake, rehearsing plays, dancing, snuggling with cats, daydreaming
Favorite Saying: Holy Cowsiedotes!
Things I love: Love, fame, rose petals, cool rain, Trigorins stories, seagulls and applause

Stay tuned for the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th.

Rachel Esther Tate (Nina) and Ro Boddie (Con)

Rachel Esther Tate (Nina) and Ro Boddie (Con)

Actor Q&A: Brian Rickel

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same four questions about themselves and their characters.  Here is what actor Brian Rickel said about himself, and his character, Dev.

Brian Rickel

Brian Rickel

About Brian:
Occupation: Professor, Actor, Property Manager
Hobbies: Local breweries, photography, smoking meat, traveling
Favorite Saying: “We’re all just seeking beauty in this messy-ass world.”
Things I love: Mandi, local craft beer, BBQ (the southern meaning….not grilling outdoors in nice weather), the theatre, teaching, performing, the sun going down in my backyard, cooking for friends, my niece’s and nephew’s laughter, did I mention local beer?

Dev

Dev

About Dev:
Occupation: Tutor
Hobbies: Walking by the lake, reading, bird watching, relationship counseling, making beer
Favorite Saying: “Just get to know her. You’ll get it.”
Things I love: Mash, beer, teaching, the moon reflecting off of our lake, reading, Con, hearing my kids play, pie.

Stay tuned for the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th.

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Brian Rickel (Dev) and Ro Boddie (Con)

Actor Q&A: Karole Foreman

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same questions about themselves and their characters.  Here’s what Karole said about herself, and her character, Emma.

Karole Forman

Karole Forman

About Karole:
Occupation: Actor, Singer, Writer
Hobbies: Gardening, Knitting, Sewing, DIY Home projects
Favorite Saying: “You can hide inside a character, but acting is about exposing who you are. And I’m never sure if I’ve done a good job.”–Don Cheadle, actor
Things I love: My amazing husband, guinea pigs and other small animals, traveling, good food, dancing, my family, my close friends, my profession

IMG_1879

Emma

About Emma:
Occupation: Famous Actress
Hobbies: Shopping, shoe collecting, badminton, pilates
Favorite Saying: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”—Winston Churchill and
“Don’t give away your art for free.”— Herself
Things I love: ART & ARTISTS, Doyle Trigorin, my profession, a good massage, my personal trainer, my hairdresser, Sterling Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Cannes

Karole Foreman (Emma) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Karole Foreman (Emma) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Stay tuned for profiles on the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th!  Get tickets HERE.

 

Stupid F**king Bird Vs. The Seagull

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“The original work is just a jumping off place or an inciting incident for my own personal explorations.” Aaron Posner

If you think you need to know anything about Chekhov’s The Seagull before seeing our production, we’re happy to say that’s bulls#!t. If you have, fantastic. You’ll pick up on connections with the original work.

We asked director Rob Lutfy to share some thoughts on how to understand Aaron Posner’s Stupid F**king Bird through the lens of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull.

Chekhov was radical, revolutionary and exciting…100 years ago: Imagine sitting in the audience at the Moscow Art Theatre at the turn of

Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov

the 20th century and seeing The Seagull for the first time. You would have seen actors actually feel the emotions they are expressing and seen a production with an actual rehearsal process. Today this seems like a standard, but Chekhov created a paradigm shift in drama (theatre and film/TV) that it still pertinent today.

Read between the lines: His characters often think what they do not say, their unspoken thoughts have come to be called “subtext.” His relationships are unvarnished, his characters (as in real life) say less and mean more. What covers our embarrassment? Our Fear? Our excitement? He is representing people as they really are–examining eternal questions about love, death and of life in the space of a raindrop.

Our pain is f**king hilarious: Chekhov considered The Seagull to be a comedy because he had an amused view of human weakness. When the play opened it felt like a trick to most audiences. People didn’t know what was meant to be taken seriously and what was funny; Chekhov redefined those terms. In doing so, his plays often provoke “laughter through tears.”

Chekhov reads The Seagull with the Moscow Art Theatre company

Chekhov reads The Seagull with the Moscow Art Theatre company

Chekhov puts offstage the obvious moments of crises: He writes about the epic moments in our domestic lives. How important our day to day is to the inertia of our life. It is the build up to the big moments that define us. The famous director Stanislavsky, who worked with Chekhov, calls this “inner action.”

Chekhov fan or not, we think you’re going to enjoy Stupid F**king bird!  The show runs May 19 – June 19, 2016.  Buy tickets HERE. 

 

 

Great Scott! It’s a costume contest!

Get ready for a campy, crazy good time…dress up as your favorite Rocky Horror Show character and join us before select performances. And of course, we encourage you to dress up every night!

How it works:

Lips guest judge Landa Plenty

Lips guest judge Landa Plenty

Our hostess-with-the-mostest (and a little extra) Landa Plenty, along with her team of girls from Lips San Diego will be the contest judges and will be mingling with the contestants before final judging. Thirty minutes before the evening’s performance they will narrow the contestants down to their TOP SIX. Then, the audience will select the 1st,2nd, and 3rd place winners by applause. So bring lots of friends to cheer for you!

  • 1 hour before performance – Check in and first round of judging
  • 30 minutes before performance – Lips judges narrow down to six contestants, audience applause for top three!
  • During performance – special recognition from actors on the stage

Contest Dates:

  • Wednesday, March 23 from 6:30 – 7:30 PM
  • Friday April 15 from 9:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Friday, April 22nd from 9:00 – 10:00 PM (added bonus, it’s Tequila Tasting night!)
  • Friday, April 29 from 9:00 – 10:00 PM

Just two rules:
1. No nudity – keep your naughty bits covered
2. Must be dressed as a character

Instagram contestIt’s the #CygnetRocky Instagram contest!
Even if you don’t attend on a costume contest night, or don’t want to get all dressed up, you still have a chance to win a prize!  Post a photo on Instagram and tag away! The top 3 photos with the most likes will win a voucher for 2 tickets to see a future Cygnet show! Winners will be contacted via Instagram the week of May 2nd.

You MUST use the hashtag #CygnetRocky to enter. Make sure you tag @CygnetTheatre.

Here are some hashtag ideas to encourage likes!
#SanDiego                   #SanDiegoLife        #SanDiegoTheatre
#SweetTransvestite    #OldTownSanDiego  #RockyHorror

You’re lucky, I’m lucky, we’re all lucky!
We’re all winners tonight. Show your Instagram or Facebook post at concessions before the show or at intermission post for a free glow stick!

show us your selfie

Your Guide to Rocky Horror!

Rocky Guide Image

Whether you’re a Rocky Virgin or you’ve been around the block a time or two, you’ll need to know a few things before coming to our production. We only ask that you have two things with you to see The Rocky Horror Show – A sense of humor and money for your ticket. Everything else is up to you.

Audience Participation:

  • No throwing of anything onto the stage. Period.
  • If you’re going to yell out – don’t be offensive.  If you’re vulgar Frank will throw you out.
  • That being said, there will be swearing.
  • Dress up…or don’t. Just make sure your naughty bits are covered. And don’t be an a**hole like Brad by blocking anyone’s view with a huge hat.
  • Costume Contests will take place before the late night shows on April 15, 22, and 29 as well as Out @ Cygnet on March 23.

“Performance Enhancers” aka Props:
Cygnet will have prop kits available for purchase for $5 at concessions. Please see a doctor if your props last longer than 4 hours.

What is absolutely forbidden:

  • Food of any kind: Toast, rice, hotdogs, prunes – Can anyone say ants?
  • Noisemakers/Bell – Nope.
  • Toilet paper – Great Scott! TP is hard to clean.
  • Water guns – Just no.
  • Lighters and matches – We’d have to put out the fires with water guns but they aren’t allowed.
  • Confetti – Known as the herpes of art supplies, confetti is hard to get rid of so we’re not allowing it.

Cygnet Theatre reserves the right to determine what is allowed into the venue. All persons and property are subject to search upon entry…hey, you might even like it! Anything that is not allowed will be confiscated.

Give yourself over to absolute pleasure:
Again, our goal is to provide a safe, enjoyable and authentic “Rocky Horror” experience. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated, dammit!