Theatre rantings and ravings by Jillian Bartels
Share your journies with me
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost.
7 days in NYC today. Although it feels like one of the longest weeks ever, it has already been “an experience”. I have sent so many emails, I can’t even count them. Auditions, jobs, interviews, sublets, networking, just saying hi, you name it, I have sent it via email. I have gone on my first audition (didn’t get it, but not surprised, I am a little rusty right now…especially on my Shakespeare). Crashing on Deniz’s mom’s couch currently. Haven’t eaten much, but mostly that is due to stress…well at least I won’t gain weight!
Mostly just hoping things start to go in my favor. Not that things are going badly. In fact, I am very lucky to have so many supportive people out here. But it is just not the same when you aren’t making it for yourself. It is amazing how annoying down time can be when you have nothing going on. I mean, sending emails IS my job. My job is finding a job. Very strange.
I miss California (mostly my friends and fam and the sunshine!) but I am taking it all one day at a time. After all, it is a new adventure, and that is what I came here for.
Fingers crossed for me and your messages are always welcome! <3
ps- Happy Valentine’s day to all my lovely friends and families all over the world. Special love to my Deniz who gave me the amazing gift of getting to see my family (old and new) much sooner than anticipated :D
Sorry Tumblr! I have been neglecting you terribly…but with a new year (and a little time off) it shall begin anew!
So I am back in the Big Apple as of yesterday (Feb 7)…but lets catch up first. This is first, and foremost a theater blog and therefore I have to apologize for minimizing the theater and maximizing the me in this post. After getting back from a rip roaring 3 months in England and meeting some fantastic people from all around the world at the University of Kent (Cassara, Stacey, Jo, Robert, and Simon…I am looking at you;) although there were many more fabulous friends) Deniz and I traveled around Europe. We hit London, Canterbury, Paris, and Barcelona before returning to LA. Although there were some rough patches (what couple on vacation after 3 months apart doesn’t have that?!) it was a really amazing time. After visiting friends Mayssoun and husband Aisa sorry if I butchered that spelling…) eating Macaroons and warm chestnuts, frois gras and wine, and enjoying romantic life in Paris, it was off to visit Deniz’s grandparents in Barcelona! It was hard not speaking the language, but they were adorable, as grandparents are and very accomodating (especially when they had to lend us clothes when the airport lost our luggage in Paris…didn’t get it til the end of the trip…but man did I rock the granny sweater, literally!)
hugging in Paris!….and in LA!
Christmas with my family was a success! Everyone loved Deniz (even my mom started to warm up to him, although he would find that claim debatable). But I think he passed the family test with flying colors, although this is only part one of many many more. mwahaha. Then it was off to Vegas with my mom and step-dad Jon for New Years! We didn’t gamble much, but we did have a fantastic time taking in the sights, the drinks, all the delicious food (Burger Bar: Luxor hotel. DO IT). New Years was spent at an wonderful party at the Flamingo. Not exactly our scene (we were by far the youngest couple in there), but it was a VIP thing that my family got for us, and the food/open bar was fantastic! Finally, to finish up a glorious vacation, we headed off to New York…well, Deniz had to go back to work, but I came up-state with him to Schenectady (yes, that is a place in New York state) to stay the week while he was making fabulous sound happen on Fiddler on the Roof.
Since returning home on the 9th of January, I have been preparing myself mentally and physically for my big move out to NYC. Recharging my California batteries if you will. I went to Santa Cruz and saw all my fantastic friends (I miss you guys already!!!) but mostly spent a ton of time with my family, which was amazing. I used to not get along with my folks (what teenager does?) but now I value the time I spend with them so much more. We only have one life and one family, we have to make the most of it while we are so blessed to be together. Many a night was spent Wii bowling, it is now my family bonding time (and their new favorite game, lol). Then I packed. I packed and packed and packed and it seemed like it would never end. But then there it was, 3 suitcases and a carry on later. My life in bags once more. Headshots in hand, resume updated, it was time to hit the city.
my first venture out into the cold today!
People keep asking me what my plans are. Stay warm? Is that an answer…it is currently 19 degrees here (Fahrenheit my lovely Europeans) and an hour outside today gave me a headache…darn wind! But otherwise, frankly, they are vague. But I know what I am here to do. I am here to audition my ass off, make new friends, get in touch with old ones, enjoy my time, stay safe, and make as much art as humanly possible. I mean, I did 4 shows in 3 months in England, so I know what is pushing the limit of possible :) Regardless, I am here to explore and to begin anew. I will never leave my home or family for good, I will always be a California girl at heart…but for now, look out NYC, I’m here and I am a force to be reckoned with.
Here are a few reviews of a show that I am IN :) I did not write these, but wanted to share (and advertise….of course!)
Unfinished Business’ Table for Two
by Jen Beard
“Last Tuesday, I found myself going to recently refurbished nightclub Club Chemistry (formerly known as The Works) to see a play. Fortunately, that play was much anticipated Table For Two by up-and-coming Canterbury based production company Unfinished Business.
Table For Two marks the third successful show for directors Alex Israel and Danny Pegg, with a sell-out first performance at the University of Kent’s Missing Link building at Darwin College. The show is running until Sunday 12th December, with tickets available for Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances.
Table For Two is a candid look at five unlikely couples sharing far too much over a three course meal. The audience experiences that impish delight of overhearing a private conversation held in public. The characters are engaging and six stories unfold in the same space, but neatly isolated by that imagined bell jar of privacy that seems to hover over the dinner table. This contains all the most satisfying elements of people watching: incredibly teasing snippets of conversation draw you towards the characters and who they could be. The overly chatty waiter, the drunken but oh-so-eloquent rich girl, the couple just beginning, the couple who are running out of steam: it’s a canny observation that the most intimate of conversations are carried out over dinner in a room full of strangers. The ingenious thing about Table For Two is that it allows the audience right in, not just with a twisted ear but a full-on, shameless stare.
Deliciously funny, wonderfully awkward, Table For Two is a fantastic play. With some brilliant lines from writer Danny Pegg, and a couple of unforeseen twits that take place between the acts, Table for Two captivates the imagination and the intrigue of the audience.”
as quoted from canterburypeople.co.uk, Dec 10, 2010
Table for Two review by Alex Clifford
“Snooping; it’s every bit taboo, yet every bit more intriguing, and as humans we have a taste for it – to be curious of those surrounding us, to read between the lines and to hem their lives together. Would Come Dine With Me have been such a success without it’s wit and voyeurism? Would Big Brother have ever gained traction without that urge to observe others? Table for Two latches onto that seedling and plants it into a fully flourishing performance.
Five couples enter the restaurant, woven together by the theme of love. We see the last dregs of marriage played by Tom Tokely and Catherine Nicholson – their hostility played out through war metaphors where Tokely brilliantly plays his role with the raw essence of a history teacher. Seated at the bar an ever-so-elegant drunken young lady cavorts with… the older gentleman, their every line oozing with innuendo - Sophie Munson’s stumbles and slurs at the waiter are even better than the genuine thing. Besides them sits an embittered wife confronting her husband’s young gay lover, Ellie Herold is as frank and vengeful as her character suggests. On another table sit two guys who evidently love each other, but are hindered by the stigma of homosexuality. Next along sit an American writer with her gigolo engaging in a battle of wits, they hold a poker-face and try to suss out each other until they get it right.
The table waiting is done marvellously by Olivier Blanc, and perhaps the hardest role in the play was that of barmaid Lexi Saunders, whose acting said much more than her one line totality.
Brainchild of Danny Pegg, the skilfully crafted play leaves the audience to ponder on what could have been. His intelligent snippets and one line quips stitch together a fascinating patchwork of restaurant conversation, and thus Pegg gives us a superb avant-goût of these characters lives. In spite of the rather lugubrious ending we are left as an audience with a meaty appetite for more because the more we snoop, the more interested we become.
SATURDAY 11TH DECEMBER - St Mary’s Bredin Church Centre - 8:00PM
SUNDAY 12TH DECEMBER - The Missing Link (Darwin College) University of Kent - 8:00PM “
as quoted from canterburypeople.co.uk, Dec 11, 2010
Afghanistan: 1989: the soil of the land stained red with the blood of the Soviets, the Afghan soldiers, and hundreds of civilians as the war comes to a close. All the while, behind closed doors thousands of miles away, blood money and top secret weapons trade hands. This is the story of the machine that fueled the first Afghanistan war and the terrible choices the men running it had to make. This is J.T. Rogers Blood and Gifts.
Performed in England’s National Theatre in London, Blood and Gifts not only offers a jaw dropping story line full of tension and fire, but a stellar cast to match. Leading the pack is Lloyd Owen, starring as CIA operative Jim Warnock. Owen’s charisma and surprisingly appropriate humor lends a unmatched quality of realism to this tragic story of war and death.
Staged in the Lyttelton Theatre space (one of three in the National’s complex), the traditional proscenium style stage does nothing to stop the feeling that with each second that passes, you are being sucked further into the war and there will be no escape before each bullet has been fired.
While the show deals mostly with the “behind the scenes” aspects of the war (a CIA boardroom, secret arms dealings in the mountains), do not be fooled, it is as action packed as any war movie. The bulk of the action, however, is in the fast paced and witty dialogue, brilliant, yet subtle, music, and the minimalistic scenery. Director Howard Davies brings a harmony and rhythm to the complex ballet that are the scene changes (you try moving giant platforms complete with pre-staged scenery AND actors atop them and make it look graceful) while highlighting the mood and tone of each scene. The lighting, going from moody and dark desert caves to florescent 1970’s era offices in seconds, is the cherry on top of this visually stimulating work. Though wholly minimalistic, there is no doubt that once in the theater, it is a guarenteed time warp to the past.
Alliances are made, friendships destroyed, and heartstrings thoroughly plucked, and that is just the first half! Blood and Gifts, though heavy in content, is enlightening and moving and should be commended as an excellent piece of intellectual theater that touches not only on the consequences of our past choices, but of those in our present time as well.
Terror in the Stalls
By Jillian Bartels
Thrillseekers be warned: The Woman in Black is not your average horror show. If it is a mere scare you seek, look elsewhere. If it is an intimate show that will make your skin crawl and has a storyline to die for, welcome to the manor.
The show sports a stunning two-man cast, played by Michael Mears and Orlando Wells, with the title character, the woman in black, playing a relatively small and unbilled role. The two men take turns portraying a myriad of characters while diving into the past and dissecting the mysterious, and often blood curdling, happenings of many years ago. Both Mears and Wells pour their heart and soul onto the stage, making the agony and trepidation of the characters all the more real, and all the more frightening.
Adapted by Stephen Mallatratt, the show explores a wide range of human failings and emotions that would take even the sanest man (or woman) to the brink of sanity. The relatively few heart-pounding scenes pale in comparision the sharp and clever dialogue abundant throughout this 1950’s drama.
A tip for the adventurous theatergoer: sit in the Stalls, there may be extra treats in store for you. While the Dress Circle is a bit more removed, know that once you are in The Woman’s clutches, nowhere is truly safe.
The Woman in Black is a masterpiece of dramatic and suspenseful dialogue that is sure to chill the bone and captivate with ease.
As seen in the Fortune Theatre, London, England
Five Well Earned Stars
by Jillian Bartels
Doing justice to a show such as Theatre Complicite’s Shun-Kin on paper is almost impossible. Conveying the strength and fluidity of the actors’ bodies, the grace and sophistication of the puppetry, and the overall spectacle of the show borders on the unfeasible, yet it is a show you will never forget.
In the several thousand seat Barbican Theater, the story of Shun-Kin, blind musician, renowned teacher, and merciless mistress seems to be played intimately to each individual witnessing the performance. With actors and musicians alike showing supreme dedication to their craft, this Japanese tale pulls a the heartstrings and boggles the mind with it’s fusion of traditional Butoh and Susuki style techniques, Japanese folk music, and modern multimedia.
While Shun-Kin is performed entirely in Japanese, the cruel pseudo- love story of blind Shun-Kin and her masochistic servant Sasuke loses none of its bite or beauty because of the language barrier. English super-titles are projected on either side of the stage, and are helpful for the fast paced story line, yet are not a requisite of enjoyment of the sheer beauty of the production.
By far one of the most memorable tactics used in Shun-Kin is the evolution of the blind girl into the ruthless yet fragile woman, played almost entirely by puppet. Adorned in a pink kimono, shoulder length black hair, and a white porcelain mask, Shun-Kin’s character moves seamlessly from hand moved child puppet to a grown adult puppet (complete with mask) played by a live actress, yet operated by others. The puppet woman is eventually tossed aside like a broken doll and usurped by the main puppeteer and voice of Shun-Kin who dominates the stage with her puppet like beauty, yet undeniably human presence.
The story of Shun-Kin and her devoted Sasuke is one that should be told over and over throughout the world. Its powerful balance of Eastern Tradition and modern theatrical media make this must see show a heart wrenching, jaw dropping hit.
As seen in The Barbican Theatre, London, England Nov. 13, 2010
The caretaker: alive and well
By Jillian Bartels
Some authors need an abundance of words to make their point clear to an audience. For Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker this is far from the case. Pinter’s characters speak through the dense silences, making their meanings clear through poignant yet punchy dialogue while still pulling the audience more and more deeply into the lives of Aston, his brother Mick, and the down on his luck Davies (or is that Jenkins?).
The three men, each filling themselves to the brim with beautiful delusions of life and happiness, leave the audience wondering if anyone will leave the stage with their dreams intact. The hopeful air that hangs around the play like a light mist never dissipates, yet it does not flesh out into any true sense of happiness for any of the men. Yet this does not detract from the show’s appeal or humor.
Written over 50 years ago, The Caretaker remains a moving tale of the loneliness and lifelong struggles of man. The title character is played by Nicholas Gasson, who handles the material with ease, effortlessly portraying the dual brokenness and inner strength of the old Caretaker while wittily playing the two brothers off one another. His shuffling movements and quick tongue push characters and audience alike to the edge of their patience while eliciting compassion and quite a few laughs.
Surrounded by a masterfully decorated, yet simple, set and accompanied by expert lighting, The Caretaker will take you inwards and show you a reflection of humanity that is tragic and striking.
As seen at the Gulbenkian Theatre: University of Kent, Canterbury, England