Saturday, April 26, 2008

Adventures in Theatrical Piracy!

Have you always wanted to shout insults at some poor Blockhead? Always wanted to allow friends to trash your living room? Maybe you should throw your very own “It’s a Rocky Horror Christmas, Charlie Brown!” party.

RHXCB was born out of a mistaken belief that everyone in America, nay in the world (!) knew the perennial Peanuts holiday special. Backwards AND forwards. I have since been surprised to learn that I am the only one with the cartoon dialogue on vinyl, and the only one who spent their childhood listening to it year round much to the chagrin of my sister, who to this day won’t even let her own children watch the special for fear that they’ll want an aluminum Christmas tree.

I also have a strong belief that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has a number of things in common with The Rocky Horror Picture Show; a dance number that everyone knows, a floor show, and most importantly slowly paced dialogue with odd pauses that were ideal for audience partici—pation.

Looking at RHPS it always seemed to me that there were essentially five different kinds of audience participation.

1. The use of props
2. Talking back to the screen
4. Some mild virgin hazing
5. Acting out the action in front of the screen

So I took these five points and applied them to Charlie Brown. Throwing foam packing peanuts and pine needles, reciting the story of the first Christmas with Linus, decorating a virgin as a Christmas tree at the finale, and a lot of yelling at the TV.

Because I figured he would get a chuckle out of it I shared my audience participation with a friend of mine. He ended up asking if he could use the Charlie Brown mash-up as a kind of party game. His idea was the TV special was just short enough for the joke to not wear out its welcome.

To say my friend takes everything way too seriously, would be an understatement. One of the things I point to as proof of him over-thinking everything is that he actually did a workshop of my "script," and then gave me notes!

The first year my friend, Kevin hosted the party, he told me eight people were there. And four of them lived in his apartment at the time!

This is, I think, a picture from the second year Kevin and his wife Jennifer tried to host the party.

They sent me a copy of this when they wanted to convince me to come out and help them host the party. If I remember correctly there is a picture from a different angle showing them watching Food Network? Needless to say after I got done laughing at them, I agreed to come help them with the party.

Now I don’t want to brag, but this is what the party looks like when I am there to help out.

So if you run into Kevin or myself ask us about getting the instructions on how to host your own party! Also if you are a member of Facebook, you can check out the "It's a Rocky Horror Christmas, Charlie Brown!" fan page.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude

As Playlab NYC launches, I think that it is important that we thank Kate Gibson. Kate is the Executive Director of The Red Door Theatre Company, a company she founded two years ago. Red Door is dedicated to providing opportunities for theater artists, at various stages in their careers, and to producing shows in a risk free environment. She has been working hard over these last couple of years to create a supportive, creative community for the people that have joined her at the Red Door.

I first met Kate eight years ago when she came to assist at Professional Artists, a talent agency where I was working as an agent. And in 2001 just before she went to grad school, I had the opportunity to direct her in the role of Grace Galt in Emma and Company at the Wings Theater.

Last August, The Red Door Theatre Company was preparing to present Macbeth as a part of the Halloween Harvest Festival at Socrates Sculpture Park. When she lost her director, Kate asked if I would be interested in directing. I was flattered and the experience was a needed kick in the creative pants.

It was while working on Macbeth that I thought The Tempest would be an excellent choice for the stage at the Sculpture Park. It was during rehearsals that Kate introduced me to Kyle Grant who joined the show as my assistant director and stage manager. Kyle will be directing our maiden production. Through Kate’s efforts at building her creative community I was able to meet many talented people some of whom I hope you will have the chance to see in our own Playlab NYC productions.

So thank you Kate.

I encourage you to take a moment to see what The Red Door Theatre Company is up to.