Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A View of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE: Preshow Actor Rituals and Superstitions!

Ever wonder what goes through an actor's head before they go on stage? Well wonder no more! Today the cast of A View From The Bridge, now open at Artes de la Rosa takes us through their preshow rituals and superstitions.

Alyssa Maldonado – “Before a show I like to do a lot of little stretching exercises! And i usually pray either on my way there or backstage like 15 minutes before the show. While I'm doing hair & makeup i like to just clear my mind of everything & just think about the show & each one of my scenes...Oh & breathing exercises help me stay calm too. ”

Fredy Edward Quiroga – “I usually workout before a show and then meditate…”

Laura L Watson – “I pray on the drive there- about 30 minutes worth- for everyone and everything. Once at the theatre, I do my hair and make up. Then I do my warm up on the stage- a mixture of dance stretches, pilates, and Linklater vocal work. It takes about 45 minutes. Once I'm warmed up, the house is open and I am banished to backstage where I finish dressing and review my entire script. I am often asked to lead a group warm up and energizer, which is always fun. Right before the SM calls places, it's breath mints, breath mints, breath mints! I am a creature of habit- it comfort and calms. I have no superstitions per se, but I respect and participate in any others have.”

Stephanie Cleghorn – “Prayer and lucky underwear.”

Eddie Zertuche – “Health first. Make sure I am fed and rested. Early in the day, I will scan my script for reinforcement of lines, blocking, direction, notes, etc... There is usually prayer/meditation all day long....basically trying to let my will go and put in the hands of something greater. This prevents any unnecessary thinking from occurring lol. The thinking is inevitable sometimes though. Warm ups prior to the show are helpful... stretching, breathing, vocals, etc. I do my best to welcome in the nerves. I treat it like its a normal, good thing because it is. No superstitions. Right before the show starts, I will find a quiet place, all to myself, and I will snap my fingers in comfortable rhythm and chant the words "It's gonna be right" over and over again. Smell the roses. Blow out the candle.”

Jacqui Rash - “This is my first play so I will pray for a wonderful show and that everyone will be happy with their performance. No stressful work, "Well, take it easy."

Jp Cano – “A lit bit of everything... some pray to God/Universe and some stretching/vocalization. I always have that Love/hate feeling for opening night that is amazing...I always feel like I need to go to the bathroom just before my first entrance to the stage, so I do go to the bathroom hehe!! No superstitions at all... life is acting... acting is life!! Oh something else...just before we start I really like to express to my cast members "break a leg" or "mierda" (I know, disgusting, but that's a Spanish ritual word)."

Carlos Iruegas – “I spend time with family and friends and make sure I laugh, so i remember to have fun and not take myself to seriously.”

Yvonne Duque – “I burn sage and face the four directions…”

Cole Spivey – “I used to be afraid of the color purple. I am no longer afraid of the color purple because I was overloaded with so much purple during this show that I became cured. On the other hand, I'll never say The Scottish Play cursed name anywhere near a stage. It starts with Mc. . .”

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A View of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE with Chorus Member Laura Watson

One of Director Adam Adolfo's goals in the bold staging of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE includes the inclusion of a 'community Greek chorus'. Today we blog with a member of the chorus, Laura Watson, as she share's with us her insight into this take on the modern Greek Tragedy.

One of the many hats I wear, in addition to working actor, is the as the (dreaded) theatre critic. But the reason I do it (despite the obvious conflict of interest it can create inside this tight knit theatre community of DFW) is more than a compulsive need to share my humble opinion which I respect very much. Imagine- it’s actually my job to sit and watch theatre! To react as I see fit- with laughter or tears, and at times loathing. I am asked by both the production and my readers to go with complete abandon on whatever journey lies ahead of me. The review is simply a reflection of this journey in hopes of making future journeys better.

Ironically, the job of the Greek chorus is, among others, “to show how an ideal audience might react to the drama” (August Wilhelm Schlegel). Now, not only am I part of this amazing production, but my job night after night as a member of the chorus is to sit and watch it- reacting as I feel motivated to, and thereby guiding the audience through the multiple reactions they themselves might be experiencing. All of this heightens the experience for both the audience and the actors.

As the ever excited about her latest project actor, I find myself constantly promoting the show to family, friends, and complete strangers on the street.
“How wonderful!” they all say, “I love A View from the Bridge. What role are you playing?”
I proudly beam and say, “Chorus.”
Dead silence follows.
“Did you make it into a musical?”
“No, it’s the original text.”
“Um, Laura? There’s no chorus in A View from the Bridge.”
“There is now!!”

In his research, our Director Adam Adolfo came across interviews and essays by Arthur Miller about how A View from the Bridge was his attempt at a modern Greek tragedy. Adam took it one step forward by adding the traditional Greek chorus. Not just a traditional Greek chorus, but a purposefully multi-racial chorus centered on a Dominican family.

This is only the tip of the iceberg- Adam is adding layers upon layers to this production, all of which we as actors are discovering were within this text all along.

As the Irish chorus girl, I might stand out a little in a play about Dominican immigrants. However, my cast mates made me an honorary north side Latina, and Adam makes sure that I’m in the head of my character- a recent 20-something Irish immigrant new to life in Red Hook so that I can give the Irish viewpoint and reactions to the story.

As actors, we often sit around talking about things we observe during rehearsals, new revelations that are fueling a brief moment in the play. Perhaps over a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Clusterfluff ice cream, the different racial, ethnic, and cultural viewpoints are all openly and honestly discussed. It’s enlightening to me, both as an actor and as a member of this diverse society. This may not be 1957 Red Hook, but, relatively, few things are different.

In the end, our audience- regardless of color- will have a wide variety of reactions to this story. Some will love Eddie, others will hate him, and others will simply mourn for him. There is a character for everyone to identify with, and their personal attachments will shape their ultimate judgment of both these characters and this production.

So, come see Artes de la Rosa’s A View from the Bridge. It is our modern Greek tragedy. Or justice. Or absurdism. It depends on what your view is.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A View of COSTUMES with A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE Costume Designer Carl Ramsey

Today Costume Designer Carl Ramsey returns to blog about the continuing process of costuming A View From The Bridge and shares a few preliminary pencil sketches, called renderings, that served as inspiration and the start of discussions with Director Adam Adolfo.

It is interesting, after so much research on one topic, the subject begins to become automatic. Especially in terms of fashion history, you become so accustomed to seeing certain silhouettes, certain lines and shapes, that things become readily identifiable. So when shopping for apparel, regardless if the clothing is vintage or modern, one can confidently grab or pass on a garment that may or may not be suitable for the period, only with a quick glance. This is all fun and games, however, when it comes to the real challenge; narrowing things down to the color palette and thematic elements of the play.

Something perhaps more challenging is trying to understand costumes from the audience’s point of view. One can argue that a particular ‘look’ did exist in the period, but if the audience does not recognize it, then its presence in the play becomes pointless. Therefore, in selecting costumes, I am learning that literal translations are not always the prerogative, but audience perception is key. In the theatre, the audience assumes things are present on stage for a reason, and if something looks like it is out of place, it is perceived either as a mistake or having some function at some point in time of the production.

As the production grows, so do the people involved with it. This show is beginning to come together, and interestingly enough, what the characters in the script learn about themselves, and about each other, so do the actors, the designers, and director, walk away with some notion that the qualities of these characters are not distant from what they would find within the real world, andpotentially, within themselves. Of course, nobody wants to admit to being an Eddie, having gone raging mad at the thought of losing his ward, Catherine. But we all must admit that we possess emotions that can overtake us, if it wasn’t for that fine line of control within our minds, that which we call ‘sanity’.

In terms of costumes, I am not saying that the character’s emotions and thought processes are going leap onto their clothing (giving another meaning to wearing one’s heart on their sleeve), but the fact is their clothes do make up an integral part of them, and they do make up some kind of subconscious character trait as a result. Eddie is always checking his watch, and so the watch has a purpose for his character. Catherine wears high heels at the beginning of the play, which tells us she is in transition into becoming a woman. Eddie forces her into a shorter pair of heels, giving us clear indication of his willingness to subjugate her and make her his own. Miller left no stone unturned when it comes to details, and things like pocket watches and high heels are embodied with important meaning for their respective characters; and as a result for the play as a whole.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Actor JP Cano plays the fiercely loyal immigrant Marco in Artes de la Rosa's production of Arthur Miller's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE. Today he blogs to us about the experience he's having in rehearsal and how personal of a story this is for him. Also at the bottom see a sneak peak photo from the photo shoot featuring the cast of A View From The Bridge.

Every time I step onto a stage, I always remember myself, in my hometown of Parral Mexico, doing my first play when I was 11yo. Now almost 2 decades later, I feel the same love for acting that I did then. That love of story-telling is an aspect of acting that is more then just a great feeling. By telling stories we try to find out and define who we are and also what we aspire to be. On a personal level, during a performance, I love to connect with other human beings (my fellow actors) in a way that I don’t get to connect with in “real” everyday life. I get to love, hate, inspire and experience life to the fullest, like no human being can in “normal” life. This August Artes de la Rosa and director Adam Adolfo makes my acting dream to be reborn come true again.

When I read for a first time “A View from the Bridge”, I was not familiar with the script. Being born and raised in México, as an actor I grew up with writers like Lope de Vega, Garcia Lorca, Cervantes, Jose Revueltas ,and Emilio Carballido but never Arthur Miller. Director Adam Adolfo made such a great effort at research that I felt I knew Miller for years. The story could be so simple but complex at the same time; very unique, and of course full of a beautiful real life drama.

Family and Immigration are the subjects of this award winning masterpiece. Being an immigrant myself, I felt so connected to the story and of course with my character. Marco is not the good guy or the bad guy. He is just a normal person with such strong brotherhood feelings and family bonds that have put him into a very difficult situation. The main character, Eddie, has so many shades that it is impossible not to love and hate him at the same time. That’s what is so wonderful about this play, its complexity of the human condition. All the characters are so normal, searching for their own dreams or may I say nightmares; also they make mistakes like everyone else.

Immigration has been a subject and issue for so many decades and theater is not the exception in talking about it. Miller’s vision about immigration is so wonderful that makes the narration for all type of immigrants accessible no matter the nationality. Adam makes a great twist with Latinos and a good investigation of history to be believable. The cast is magnificent… actors with very different backgrounds and natural talent that make you fall in love with the story telling of Miller. Don’t miss this beautiful, but dramatic “View from the Bridge”.

Actors Abel Flores Jr. and JP Cano play brothers Rodolpho & Marco in Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge. Photo by Shannon Atkinson on location at the Trinity River Bridge in Dallas.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A View of A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE with Star Eddie Zertuche

Today we blog with actor Eddie Zertuche as he talks abit about the rehearsal process, the journey, and the hope for our lavish staging of Arthur Miller's A View From the Bridge.

Well I'll start by saying I am completely looking forward to this production of A View From the Bridge. We got a fine cast, a fantastically imaginative director, and a wickedly fierce design team! My journey into this play has been one of excitement, a little fear (the good kind), and an anxiousness that just doesn't want to cease. I am playing the character of Eddie Carbone. Not to divulge too much of this man, but I will tell you this...He's all heart! I think that is what I love about him the most. What you see is what you get. If you're gonna say something, then say it. If you're gonna do something, then do it. I'll leave him alone for now.

Rehearsals have been going as smooth as can be for the most part; getting the show on its feet, sinking our claws into the script, and staying focused on the task at hand. I feel that a very healthy bond and trust are on the horizon as our cast members get more and more familiar with this show and its importance. I think that is crucial to have a "family" type feeling when putting a show together. For one thing, it makes the progress that much more enjoyable. I think we have a cast that is chomping at the bit to put this show up. I mean, come on, its Arthur Miller; its strong, its compelling, its intense, and its live baby! I will admit, this is one of the more complicated roles that I have ever had to play in my life, but being the competitive person that I am, my words are simple; bring it on!!!

I think I want to talk about that theatre a little, The Rose Marine. That place holds a pretty good chunk of my heart in it. I used to perform there a lot years back and I can't seem to stop feeling the gratitude for being able to perform there again. I walk in that place and it seems to blanket me with a comforting homey feeling (no pun intended). I love it. I love what it does for the Hispanic community and I love what it does for Fort Worth. I don't ever want to see it go away. So, I don't want to share to much about the show itself for I want you to come and see what we are doing. The production is innovative. It might seem a touch unorthodox, as we are stylizing it up some. Arthur Miller had a few ideas up his sleeve and I think we are going to look up it and see what we see. But again, I won't get too detailed. I want to lure you in so you can make your own decision. It will be entertaining though for that is what we do! Our cast consists of 13 wonderfully talented people and I hope I don't get in trouble for my nicknames; their not too bad. We got Alyssa Maldonado (the princess), Yvonne Duque (the mom), Jacqui Rash (the clown), Stephanie Cleghorn (the beauty), Tyler Cochran (the teacher), Abel Flores (the hot 'Rista'), Laura Watson (the 'working' actor), J.P. Cano (the stud), Cole Spivey (the actor's actor), Fredy Quiroga (el guapo vato), Carlos Iruegas (the brain), and Jimmy Moreno (the hustler), and me (the insurance man) We got a nice mix in this cast; ages, colors, etc... I really love watching, sharing, and being a part of the process with this group. I think this show definitely requires the right kind of focus.

As far as our production team goes, I am completely confident that the skills and talent they bring to this show wil be as magnificent as they will be fascinating. Adam Adolfo has found some very creative people to work on this show and it will be reflected in our final product. Oliver Luke is in charge of creating our physical "world" as it were. Carl Ramsey will come in and make sure we got our best 1957 gear on. And let us not forget Justin Treece who will be providing the illumination to what has been called a 'living watercolor' stage. Adam Adolfo, of course, will be doing something that we like to call "Directing!" Come and check it out!!