I have had the privilege of working with Peter Wolfe's "Creative Team" as Acting and Movement Coach, the first time I believe this position has been chosen by a director at IT! I've given all seventy cast members a crash course on preparing their personal back stories/motivations/objectives from their Les Miserables lives portrayed in France in the mid 1800's. Quick character bio sketches usually suffice, but this show required a deeper understanding of the social/political milieu and resulting desperation leading to the French Revolution. I've received sincere journals, letters, diaries and handouts from the cast providing rich, specific details for their chosen lot in life, their chosen name and their purpose in each scene. The exercise has provided a rich background for their characters and a network within the village which shows onstage during the revolution. In short, the actors were required to kick it up a notch in their preparation for their roles. I'm also enjoying being the Madame Prostitute and a beggar. So I get to play on both sides of the stage! In addition if I'm needed in other areas, I try to help.
How many people have you been working with?
47 members of the cast have done the required reflection and writing I assigned and many others have met with me one on one to discuss character ideas, or staging ideas they need ironed out, or just concerns about how a section is playing to the audience. So I've connected to almost all 70 of us closely at one time or another. I share confidential, truthful notes to each person who asks me to be their 3rd eye and tell them what more they could add and still be believable - within the director's vision of the show. I've had a chance to support most everyone in the cast so far and hope by closing to have worked closely with nearly everyone who is open to explore together. I posted many of the writings backstage because they were powerful, insightful, historical stories of very believable people in our French Village. Many written with heart. I see a "meeting of minds" collectively in their body of work. The meetings with the leads have been very fruitful and productive. It makes me wish I'd had someone like myself to talk to when younger when I got a big role or smaller role and could have used a boost to get started. I try to be that kind of person. Positive and helpful. And resourceful.
What have you enjoyed the most?
I've loved being back on familiar boards in a building I'm at home in and working with gifted directors and kind, professional staff members. And I've made some great new friends at this show; I also have 17 students from my Coaching Studio appearing with me on stage. I don't get to act with my students often! Les Mis is my 20th show on this stage. I love the camaraderie and lightheartedness that doing a good show brings out in us.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Although we've rehearsed for 6 months total by the time we open, we would all agree that if we had more time, we could make it even better before it opens. But we need to get open and then start living in the village together and let the show modulate, change shapes and become the Les Mis at IT! that will go down in history. We have to tighten it up and see if she's sea-worthy and go for our maiden voyage. I think we're close to having a show...
What is your past relationship with Imagination Theater and the theater in El Dorado County?
I have been involved acting, directing, teaching theater arts classes, etc for forty years in El Dorado County--twenty five of those as full-time high school teacher. In former days when Theatre El Dorado occupied this space, I enjoyed many shows here and worked on many aspects in bringing up a new theater - on stage and in the Board room. I've also enjoyed working in other civic and regional theaters in California and Alaska. My Coaching Studio is in its 12th year now and I've enjoyed connecting hundreds of students with local productions.
Do you have a favorite show or shows?
Sometimes when a cast works within the right team, a bond results that makes all the hard work worth while. Some shows have that glue, that bond, that magic - that luck. It's impossible to predict. Life happens in the course of the weeks and months of bringing up a show. Some shows have casts that get tight in their network of support and nothing can rock their resolve and discipline and they put on good shows. Such shows stay in your heart. Coming down off a big show can be a bit sad. It's a loss, for a while. My favorite shows are the ones on which I'll always reflect with a smile and a tear...
What's your motto?
You're only as good as your next show..... or .... Don't rest on your laurels!