Actors Rep and #WTF HAPPENED? at the KC Fringe: A Reflection

 

Wow.

What an amazing experience.

Six performances, audiences that exceeded everyone’s expectations, enthusiastic responses, an opportunity to broaden Actors Rep’s reputation and reach to an international level, and three weeks in a beautiful and charming city and area that are brimming with culture and theatre (a reasonable sample of which I was able to see).

We very proud of what we achieved:

The Fringe run of #WTF HAPPENED? ON THE PHENOMENON OF TRUMP was Actors Rep one of the best attended single runs of any show we’ve ever done.

UPDATE (04. September 2018) : We have received the final numbers from the KC Fringe and we now know that over 300 people saw the show there. That makes it our most popular production ever, with the highest total attendance of any show we’ve done (across the three runs in September 2017, June 2018 and July 2018).

#WTF HAPPENED? was named ‘Best of the Fringe’ for its venue (Musical Theatre Heritage Mainstage — ‘MTH’), a determination based largely on audience attendance.

The show received yet another glowing review (by Bob Evans of KC Applauds — linked below).

We opened dialogues with a couple of KC-area theatre companies about potential future collaborations.

 

 

‘The Coal Miner’

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was able to see six other shows on the Fringe plus two additional great productions at the Kansas Repertory Theatre (KRT) in Lawrence, Kansas, where Actors Rep Artistic Associate Peter Zazzali is Artistic Director.

We also did some touristy things, taking advantage of KC’s superb cultural and historic sites — the World War I Memorial and Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a Kansas City Royals baseball game, ‘The Plaza’…

 

 

‘The Conspiracy Theorist’

 

 

 

 

 

 

As an actor and writer, I was struck by the different responses the show has received not only from different audiences through all its runs, but also by the marked differences between Luxembourg / European audiences and US / Kansas City ones. I confess I experienced some trepidation about doing the show in the States, especially in a part of the country where President Trump is generally popular (although less so in the city itself).

Although the play is not, in our view as a company, politically partisan — and indeed we worked very hard to create a piece that did not take partisan political views (even though the characters within the play do) — we were (and I am as a playwright) very aware that the title of the play might suggest otherwise to some.

We did get one profane response to a Facebook post about the show from someone who lives in the greater KC area. I don’t know for sure whether the gentleman came to see the show, but my assumption is that he did not. A couple of people walked out of one performance, but we’ve no way of knowing whether they were upset about the play attacking the President, or not attacking him, or whether they were perhaps just late for an appointment they’d forgot.

The show is of course political, though not partisan. Overtly political theatre will often, even usually, offend someone.

And probably should.

 

 

 

‘The Christian’

 

 

 

 

 

Laughs came at different places. The KC audiences found humour in things that Luxembourg audiences did not — and vice versa. The first two audiences, on Friday and Saturday, July 20th and 21st, laughed often and heartily. The critic, who attended one of those shows, described the piece as a ‘parody of Trump Supporters’ and termed it ‘a rollicking review’ of ‘character-types’ — a perspective I found interesting and unexpected, as we’ve never thought of the show as a parody. Still, Mr Evans loved the show and I personally take it as a point of playwright satisfaction that different audiences and different audience members can respond to the same piece in so many varied (and overwhelmingly positive) ways.

 

Bob Evans’ review: https://www.kcapplauds.net/parody-of-trump-supporters-makes-fun-political-humor/

 

 

 

‘The Guy Down the Street’

 

 

 

 

 

 

The list of ‘Thank yous’ is a long one, but I’ll repeat it here (with hopes I’m not leaving anyone out):

– FOCUNA, who gave us a travel grant that covered travel to and from KC.

– Our sponsor, e2advance, whose great work on our website has been essential to spreading the word about Actors Rep.

 

– Peter Zazzali, a long-time friend and loyal supporter of Actors Rep (and now our first Artistic Associate), who suggested we try to bring the show to the KC Fringe when told we were considering applying to one or more US Fringe Festivals — and who introduced us to Forrest Attaway and Kokopelli Theatre Company, our local on-the-ground co-producers.

– Forrest Attaway and Kokopelli, who were fantastic and generous collaborators and partners (and the two Kokopelli shows I saw, How Does Your Garden Grow? and Little Headshop of Horrors were very very funny).

– Steve and Wallace, the technicians for the run.

– The staff of the Musical Theatre Heritage space, a lovely complex of three performance spaces set on the top floor of a downtown retail and food complex (Crown Center). These folks were wonderful hosts.

– The staff and volunteers of the Fringe, for their hundreds of hours of work and incredible organisation. I’ll especially single out Program Manager and Director of Operations Tiffany Chappell, Executive Producer Cheryl Kimmi, and Technical Director Skip Gordon. The execution and organisation of (and communication about) this mammoth project was extraordinary, from the first email right through to the final party.

– The audiences. Of course.

 

– Christine Probst, without whom neither #WTF HAPPENED? nor Actors Rep would still exist. Actors Rep audiences have seen what magic she creates onstage as an actress. Her work as a director and dramaturgical collaborator is no less spectacular.

– Charles Muller, former Director at Théâtre D’Esch, who commissioned the earliest version of #WTF HAPPENED? in early 2017.

– Dena Abbott, who has been tireless in her support of Actors Rep (and its chaotic Artistic Director).

 

 

 

‘The Congresswoman’

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s next?

For #WTF HAPPENED?

For Actors Rep?

This show has proved to be popular in three separate runs in two countries; it appears to have struck a theatrical nerve in these interesting times. So we hope to keep doing it. We’re exploring other possible venues, festivals, etc., where we might be able to present it to new audiences — in Luxembourg, in The Greater Region, in Europe, in the UK, in Ireland, in North America — anywhere an audience might be open to the questions posed and the ideas presented in what we feel is the exciting theatricality of #WTF?

If you have any ideas, please contact us. The production is extremely portable. We took it 7,500 kilometres; we can take it anywhere.

Know of a theatre that might like to feature it as a visiting production?

A school that might like to have it presented to its students?

A company, organisation, club or group that might fancy a bit of thought-provoking theatre?

Ask around. Let us know.

 

As for Actors Rep in the coming months…

We will present Dear Santa… again for the holiday season.

This completely portable 45-minute dose of seasonal cheer is available for booking for your company or organisation’s holiday event.

We can bring it to you!

Last year’s response — both in the public and private shows — was overwhelmingly positive. Don’t miss your chance to brighten your holiday with Dear Santa…

Details about booking available soon — book early!

 

We’re planning on offering a workshop this autumn — probably a fun two-session playwriting exercise — and are looking at the possibility of offering a set of classes.

 

And we’ll be hard at work planning for 2019 — to bring you another year of outstanding professional English-language theatre.

 

So keep in touch. We’ll see you at the theatre…

 

 

 

Actors Rep on the Fringe in Kansas City

Day Five of the Kansas City Fringe Festival, performance number three of #WTF Happened? On the Phenomenon of Trump.

I arrived late on Sunday, July 15th, met with Forrest Attaway, Artistic Director of Kokopelli Theatre Company, on the 16th, had the tech rehearsal on the 18th, preview night on the 19th and opened on Friday the 20th.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, but it’s been fabulous. The staff and volunteers working to make the Fringe possible are truly amazing. The level of organisation required to provide and opportunity for roughly 75 independently produced productions is staggering and they have pulled it off with extraordinary aplomb.

Actors Rep has been extremely fortunate to have Kokopelli as co-producers on the ground, with Forrest Attaway getting five of their productions up and running as well as helping bring #WTF to the KC stage.

I am extremely grateful to all of these people.

The show itself has been enthusiastically received. Somewhere around 150 people have seen the first three shows and we have received very positive feedback — and one standing ovation!

It’s been interesting seeing the difference in these US audiences and the Luxembourg audiences who just saw the piece in early July (and in its previous incarnation last September at Théâtre National du Luxembourg — TNL). Both sets of audiences were and have been great, but there have been differences — laughs coming at different times, moments of recognition landing perhaps in a different way.

As a writer it is enormously gratifying to see that my words have had an impact on both the mixed cultures of Luxembourg audiences as well as the mixed cultures of audiences in Kansas City.

As an actor, the generous and thoughtful response to the work has been humbling and gratifying.

I treasure the many conversations I’ve had with audience members after the shows and look forward to many more.

#WTF Happened? wouldn’t be here without the inspiration and work of Charles Muller, who commissioned the first version last year at Théâtre D’Esch, and without the brilliance of Actors Rep Associate Artistic Director Christine Probst as collaborator and Director in the subsequent productions in Luxembourg and now Kansas City. It wouldn’t be on stage again without the encouragement of Actors Rep Artistic Associate Peter Zazzali and the help of Forrest Attaway and Kokopelli, and the tech support of Matilda Hansson, and Steve and Wallace working in the booths at the Musical Theatre Heritage (MTH) for the Festival. And I wouldn’t be able to do the work without the support of Dena Abbott.

We’re grateful also for the financial support of FOCUNA, whose generosity assisted with the travel expenses of coming to the Fringe, to the Ministère de la Culture of Luxembourg and the Fondation Indèpendance for their financial support of the September production, and to e2advance, who does the tremendous work of the website design and maintenance.

We at Actors Rep hope this show will have a continued life and that we may be able to present it to additional audiences in other cities. The piece seems to spark thought and emotion and laughter in and dialogue with its audiences. We hope to be able to continue sharing it with new audiences. We look forward to doing so and to engaging in the dialogues that result.

In the meantime, we understand President Trump is on his way to Kansas City. We’d be happy to have him see the show.

NEW Video Trailer for THE GUYS

Filmmaker Mak Wolven came to our tech rehearsal a couple of days before opening (TONIGHT — WEDNESDAY, 30 May 2018 at 8pm) and shot a few minutes of the show as we rehearsed.

Take a look:

 

Performances:

Wednesday, June 30th, at 8pm

Thursday, May 31st, at 8pm

Friday, June 1st, at 8pm

Saturday, June 2nd, at 3pm AND 8pm

Monday, June 4th, at 8pm

Tuesday, June 5th, at 8pm

Wednesday, June 6th, at 8pm

 

ActorsRep.tickets@gmail.com

or (+352) 35 63 39

 

At Bamhaus:

18A / 18D rue de la Cimenterie

L-1337 Luxembourg-Dommeldange

 

Neutral Mask and Clown Workshop with Carine Montbertrand

Actors Repertory Theatre Luxembourg is proud to announce

A Neutral Mask and Clown Workshop

With New York and Paris based actress and teacher

CARINE MONTBERTRAND

 

When and Where:

Sunday, 03 June 2018

At: Bamhaus

18A / 18D rue de la Cimenterie
L-1337 Luxembourg-Dommeldange

Time: To Be Confirmed

Cost: 100 €

OR

Register AND pay by 12pm (12.00), Saturday, 19 May 2018 and receive a 25 € discount — only 75 € !

(This offer has been extended but will not be again.)

About Carine:

Carine is a professional actress based in New York who has performed in most of the United States. Born in France, She is a dual citizen who grew up in the US (American mother / French father).

As a young actress, she developed a love of French classical theatre and decided to go back to her roots to train at France’s premier acting school, the Conservatoire National Superieur d’Art Dramatique in Paris. Later she received an MFA in acting from the University of Delaware’s Professional Theatre Training Program. Her roles have spanned a large range of types from Lady Macbeth to Brecht’s Arturo Ui to Laura in The Glass Menagerie. She loves transforming and creating roles for all styles of theatre — classical, contemporary, and original.

As a freelance actor, she’s performed Off-Broadway, on tour, and for many major US regional theatres. She’s also been a member of several exceptional theatre companies including The Acting Company, The Flying Machine, and University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players. In related fields, Carine is the award winning narrator of numerous audiobooks as well as an acting teacher specializing in neutral and Commedia dell’Arte mask.

As a teacher, aCarine has over twenty years of experience. During that time she has taught everything from basic acting to Shakespeare to mask work. Her students have ranged in age from high school students and teens to undergraduate students (BFA and BA) to graduate students (MFA) and professionals. Her special passion is teaching neutral and Commedia dell’Arte mask, which she first studied at the Conservatoire National Superieur d’Art Dramatique in Paris. She has taught mask at Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York, the University of Delaware, and Amherst College among others. Carine has also spent many years as a voice and speech teacher at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York. She coaches accent acquisition privately in New York or via Skype, and is also an audition coach.

This three-hour workshop will focus on Neutral Mask work and will incorporate some Clown work.

For ages fifteen and up.

Neutral Mask

A Neutral Mask is a Mask with no expression and no opening for the mouth. The work is silent. The exercises we learn will enhance the actors’ spatial awareness, timing, listening, concentration, management of focus, economy of movement, spontaneity, and ability to guide the audience. Students will have a new idea of what it is to be present on stage and a side benefit will be enhanced stage presence. They will discover the expressive potential in the most basic movement and become acutely aware of extraneous or habitual patterns or postures revealed by the simplicity of the Mask. With Neutral Masks actors find their simplest states, devoid of personal character as far as possible. Onto this blank canvas they can later build and add the traits of a brand new character of any style, age or type, while they themselves transform and become unrecognisable. I tell my students that what we learn with Neutral Mask is the skeleton that holds us up on stage, the most basic stage technique.

TO REGISTER or for further information, please contact Actors Rep: ActorsRep.Erik@gmail.com

Please also visit Carine’s website:

http://carinemontbertrand.com

Don’t miss this unique workshop with an extraordinary theatre artist!

CANCELLED: Actors Rep Actors Lab PLAY 2 Series of Workshops

Actors Rep regrets to announce that we must cancel the Actors Lab PLAY 2 Series of workshops that was scheduled to begin Thursday, 15. March 2018.

Actors Rep is a very small non-profit professional theatre company. Our experience has shown that we cannot present workshops and classes without the minimum enrolment needed to cover the costs of offering them. Unfortunately, with PLAY 2, we fell short of the minimum number needed.

We’re very sorry, as we were excited about this new section of workshops. We will offer a section of classes or workshops later in the year. We also plan at least one short (one- or two-day) workshop in 2018.

 

 

 

 

Actors Repertory Theatre Luxembourg Actors Lab

Announces

PLAY 2: A Series of Six Workshops

Actors Repertory Theatre Luxembourg (Actors Rep) announces its Spring 2018 Actors Lab offering, ‘Play 2’, a series of six workshops taught by Actors Rep Associate Artistic Director Christine Probst.

Christine Probst, Actors Rep Associate Artistic Director and Instructor for the PLAY 2 Series of Workshops

Actors Lab is a place to experiment, succeed, fail, laugh, cry, whisper, scream, twist and shout. Actors Lab will once again focus on the need to play and how we can use play more as actors and as non-actors.

We invite anyone who wishes to explore the personal creative self to come and play with us.

Actors need to be in full access of childlike curiosity and an ability to play (also very helpful for non-actors), to find the truth of self and eventually the characters.

This series of workshops will explore play as another way of finding truth.

Actors Lab continues with The Play Series. The first of The Play Series focused on opening, experimenting and playing, and we will continue opening, experimenting and playing.

Play 2 Series will also begin to dip into the play as a structure as well as an action. The Actors’ Lab series Play 2 will focus on ‘The Play’—that is, the theatrical play. We will explore and delve into scene and character work through play. This series of workshops is reserved for experienced students.

If you would like to participate in this series you must submit a CV or have previously participated in a prior Actors Lab acting class or workshop.

We will work with several different kinds of texts and play with how one can find a character through play. These workshops will be physical, so please come prepared to move.

‘The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.’ – Carl Jung

 

When and Where:

Thursdays: 15, 22, 29 March / 12, 19, 26 April 2018 / 7:30pm – 10:00pm

Location: TBA

Cost for class (six sessions): 300 €

 

UPDATE: 

We have confirmed that the PLAY 2 series of workshops will be at

Bamhaus

18A / 18 D rue de la Cimenterie (Old ArcelorMittal site)

L1337 Luxembourg-Dommeldange

 

 

Contact Actors Rep for more information and to register: ActorsRep.Erik@gmail.com