Friday, August 15, 2014

The Lounge is Back from the Summer

Hey guys and gals! Dr. Fronkensteen here and I just wanted to tell you that I'm back from my summer at Hollins University and ready for another year of theatrical fun on the Lounge. DragynAlly and I had  great summer at Hollins learning lots of great things. Sadly it was our last Summer there (sad!) But now we're both starting our Thesis and moving steadily on to graduation. Here's a peak at a couple other big things coming my way.

Photo by Chad Runyon
Well doesn't he look dapper? (Photo by Chad Runyon)

One I am finally re-embracing theatre for youth! After such a great class this summer taught by the wonderful Nicole Adkins I found I got instantly sucked back into the fun of it all. I'm definitely going to write some more ten minute plays and one-acts for this very fulfilling market.

I'm also looking for job opportunities that allow me to explore theatre production and new works. As I'm going forward into the professional theatre life I want to immerse myself in a theatre lab setting and break into producing. I'd also love to expand my tribe of theatre people that let me I can get my hands dirty with.

But while I strive to move ahead into the professional world I also have to remember my call to bi-vocational ministry. I'm always going to have a passion for the church and the realm of worship arts. And I hope to continue my training in my journey to become a lay minister. I love it because I feel like I'm using my passion in the arts to make a difference.

Photo by Chad Runyon
Well don't we look pretty? (Photo by Chad Runyon)

And lastly I'm moving! Yep you heard me right. It's time that I moved closer to DragynAlly as we get closer to our wedding and move to a place that's more in the center of where great theatre is made. So by the end of this year I will be a Jersey boy surrounded by the arts I love so dear and in the arms of the love of my life.

So this fall is going to be busy and action packed for me but I don't think I would have it any other way. It's certainly a transitional period for me but as always I'm moving up and not out. I'll always be sharing my journey with you guys and I'll never forget the support you've given me the whole way.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Staying Smooth with Van Der Hagen

Disclaimer: I was given a product to review. Any and all opinions are my own. 

Have you ever wanted to just ditch the new fangled razors and shaving cream for the retro days of lather and a straight razor? Well Van Der Hagen is here to the rescue with an old school method to get your beard smooth and stylin'.

The best thing about this luxury shaving set..less mess. When I get my usual shaving cream can out there by the time I get it lathered on my face before I can move on I got a mess all over my hands and sink. You just can't ever get the exact amount of shaving cream on your hands that leaves enough on your face. Well with the badger brush and the apothecary mug those days are over. All you do is run the brush under some water and run it over the soap in the mug and then you're good to go. When you have just enough on your face then you rinse off the brush and your hands are still clean and you hang the brush up on the include stand to let it dry. The lack of clean up makes this thing super worth it!
Retro but Effective

It takes a couple of tries to get the lather just right but after you get it down you notice that the lather from the soap goes on nice and smooth. Since you're only using as much lather as you need with out much excess I wouldn't be surprised if it lasted longer than the usual can of shaving cream. The only thing that failed to perform was my own store bought razor that I found had gone dull. I felt very fresh and ready to start the day.

In conclusion this is a shaving set that has made me really want to go out and get a straight razor for a truly retro smooth shave. I know that I'm an old soul but this set will give any lover of the new fangled razors enough pause to try some old school. Stay smooth everyone!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What I'm up to now!

So it's been a long and fascinating year so far and the days are ticking ever closer until I hop on the bus to get onto Hollins again. For the third year in a row my play was chosen to be in Lab and every year the Festival line up gets even more interesting. I'm super excited to be with my Theatre family again and continue to do that voodoo that we do so well.

And of course I get to spend six weeks with this girl!
But I have found as I continue my research and tinkering with my keyboard that my style and interests are changing in ways that will make this summer even better! I'm taking a class in Brecht which comes in handy because I've been moving in some very expressionistic directions with my writing. In Theatre for Youth I'll be learning tips on writing children's theater from one of the masters which is great because I've been looking into writing Duets and Forensic monologues for High School groups.

And of Course there is Lab where my play Townies will receive some in depth criticism and critique to help me develop it. This is the third year of lab I've had a play in and with that and No Shame I've learned so much about how I work and think as a Playwright. I believe my plays and process get so much better every year. If Hollins was just wrapped up in Lab and No Shame that would be great but then there is just so much more!!!

I'm always interested in seeing how much my plays and interests have changed over the years and how many of my truest passions are still alive!  I really feel like I have grown every year and by the time I've started thesis I'll be ready to spread my wings and really fly!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Just keep Running the Race

Sometimes in the arts it's easy to think that you're competing with everyone else in your field. And whether or not you feel that way you do have to admit that we are all on our respective journeys. So as long as we are all on that road to success in the theatre here are some tips to make your journey smoother. 

Also the Road to Success is much smoother if you drive.

  • Stay in your lane: Ask yourself realistically what your skill level is and where you should be in your craft. A lot of the people that you think ahead of you have probably been in the game longer. So of course they should be going farther than you. 
  • Keep Realistic Goals: Yeah of course it would be cool if you could get on Broadway and get published and then earn a million dollars. But I'm sure you have to do a lot of things before you get to that point. Do some research and see what the majority of people are doing in your field. Then determine what your next step is.
  • Keep a reasonable/Sustainable pace: Of course you could be Playwriting God and submit to twenty theater's a day and write eight hours a day but after a while you're sure to get burnt out. Why not try to research one great place a month. Do your research. 
  • Find a mentor/coach: There is something great about having someone to be accountable with about your art. For me my mentor and partner in crime is my fiance. I know when I come to her she will give it to me straight and tell me what needs to be done. 
  • Stop Competing: In the theatre world this isn't a race to see who becomes the next Shakespeare. Maybe it's not even a competition at all but a fun run. You're hopefully doing this because you love it and want to grow in your craft and meet other people that do what you love. 
A very bright man told me that when you measure your success you need to look at where you want to be, your destination, and then look at what you're doing now. If what you're doing now isn't getting you where you want to go then maybe you should start asking yourself "well what needs to change". Keep looking ahead to your horizon and always be asking yourself "what do I need to be doing next?" You'll be surprised after a while how far you get. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cell Phones and Play Producing

We live in a world today where people live attached to the hip with their cellphones. And as a producer (or a playwright or director acting as a producer) you need to know how to utilize this tool effectively in your production. Cell phone or brick phone it makes no difference there are some certain things you should just know how to do in today's day and age that are going to help you. So here are the tips...

One of these things is a great toy full of hours of fun. The other is a Color Clix sculpture. 

  • Save your cast and crew as contacts immediately. Double check for accuracy. I once had an actress who was in a reading text me with a scheduling conflict and I didn't know that I typed her number in wrong. After being rude to a what I thought was a wrong number I ended up offending the actress and had a lot of explaining to do. Save yourself the hassle and do it right.
  • Take photos and videos like it's your job: Not only is this best way to communicate with design crew sometimes but someone better be posting stuff to your social media. A good web presence means people know you exist.
  • Make a text list for your cast and crew: It's the best way to keep in contact with them when you want to send mass texts to the whole group. This saves you a lot of time.
  • Update social media regularly: Again Facebook and other social media is like free advertising, The more you keep it in people's minds the more it works.
  • Create a Facebook Group for the cast: Unfortunately the analog call board in the greenroom doesn't always work anymore. Nowadays people will go to their Facebook more often than they go to their email or walk into the greenroom. So if you send the email and then update the Facebook group and also happen to have a printout on the bulletin board... well then they have no excuse to not see it. 
  • Try going multimedia with your feedback: On your usual smartphone not only can you write huge blocks of text you can also add audio, video, and pictures. So why not if you feel like you have to rant about something that's not working why not attach an audio file of that rant to the email. That means that the cast and production crew doesn't have to read large blocks of text that get real monotonous. Because you know they only read the first few paragraphs anyway. 
You have this great piece of modern technology in the palm of your hand. Why not make the best use of it? I bet that your cast will love it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tourettes Tuesday: Why I Carry a Cane

I have Tourettes and I carry a cane. I like to tell people that it's not because my legs can't physically work it's just that when my Tourettes is really bad they won't work. Think of it like in congress. I'm trying to move forward and my legs just like to fillibuster and all progress is stopped. And because part of that progress involves me standing upright and not falling over I sometimes need the third leg to keep from letting gravity take it's course.

A lot of it comes from the way that my specific tics affect me. Everyone's tics are like their DNA, there are some common things going on but everyone is different. When my Tourettes gets really bad my legs want to shake rapidly, kick, and twine around each other. All that is perfect when I'm laying down but when I'm up and walking that can spell disaster. And add onto that my abs contracting and relaxing against my will and then the balance goes out the window. After I'd fallen about three or four times I figured it was time to swallow my pride and enlist a little bit of wooden assistance.

My fiance happens to think it makes me look distinguished!

I already had this hand carved cane that I made myself a while before. And after some not so passive encouragement from my girlfriend (she swore to kill me if she saw me walking without it) I just sort of started walking with it everywhere. At first I thought I would get a lot of looks and sneers by people. I'm only 26 and I even thought people would look at my age and think that I was faking. But then I remembered something every person with TS knows: the same protection that the Americans with Disabilities Act gives you so that people can't hassle you because of your tics means that they can't hassle you because you carry a cane.

I've walked into high security buildings and onto busses right past security guards and management and they never said a thing to me because they know they can't. A cane is a medical device in the eyes of the law and that means they can't ask you anything about the nature of your disability or why you carry the cane. And if they take the cane away from you and you fall they know that there could be one heck of a lawsuit. You carry this thing because you need the support because you have a disability. There's no reason why anyone in public should be giving you guff about it.

I've only heard in passing about other people with TS needing to carry canes everyday and only one tale about someone that needed to be in a wheelchair. But alas they are only tales. If there are any people out there that also have to have some kind of cane to support them I'd love to hear your story. Please send me an email!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

6 Mistakes you make as a Beginning Director Prt. 3

#5  Trying to sneak in extra rehearsal

You may think that if your actors just can't seem to hit all of their cues or remember all of their lines then the best fix is to just schedule a surprise rehearsal on Saturday or keep them way after time to run that scene just once more. You may walk around rehearsal and hear people running their lines and you just want to jump in and yell "for the sake of all that's holy project!!!" But you have to remember that your job is to run rehearsal. And outside of all of this rehearsal these people have lives and jobs. Sure you think if your were professional then you could get away with it. But rehearsal means money and salaries so the more you try to shove in the more your start making the theater coffers cry. And if you start to get the reputation of the director that wastes time and money...well this may be your only directing gig.

Quick Fix: Aim for as many hours of rehearsal as there are pages in the script. That includes your tech and dress rehearsals. Don't waste a second of that time. Come into the rehearsal hall with a list of things you want to get accomplished that day and let people know what they are. You get people feeling like a success if they know they've succeeded or exceeded an expectation. Also plan for at least two "holy crap" extra days in advance and let your cast and crew know that they are only in case rehearsal time is lost due to emergency.(weather or actor illness)

In the south this exceeds emergency and goes straight to Apocalypse!
#6 Not having Faith/Gratitude in your cast and crew

These people are giving up their time and sharing their talent with you. A lot of them are doing this for the first time or are just doing it for fun. If they feel like all you want to talk about is about how much they're not hitting the mark or how you think the show is going to stink then why should they give their all? If the first thing you want to do is pull in some of your acting friends as ringers to fix bad acting should they feel like you even respect their effort? If you never tell them thank you for all their effort to make YOU look good are they going to ever want to act for you again?

Quick Fix: Say thank you as many times as you can. Let your actors act without making them feel like they have you hands on their shoulders. They made the commitment to be there you should make the commitment to make sure they're the best they can be.

The measure of a good the professional and the not so professional not by the number of butts they can get in seats but how many people they can get to answer the phone when they're in need of work. To do that you have to leave people wanting to work with you. So get your stuff together before you walk into the hall and trust your people.