Category Archives: Stage

Summer of the Play

Since we’ve been in Crystal Lake (it was two years last month), I’ve nicknamed our summers. Our first summer was The Summer of the Move, and didn’t really count as summer since we got out here in late June and spent the following two months unpacking, settling in, and trying to avoid the 18,000,000 mosquitoes that had made our backyard their home.

Our first picture in front of our first house!

Our first picture in front of our first house!

Last summer was The Summer of the Screenplay, because I worked on a horror screenplay with a former student of mine. I am 99.9% sure that it will ever be made (or read by anyone, ever), but it was a weird and interesting experience and now I can say that I’ve written a screenplay. A good screenplay? Well, let’s just move on.

Roo oversees the writing process

Roo oversees the screenplay writing process

This summer has been The Summer of the Play because this summer I’ve been rehearsing for a play that opened last night. (Do you notice how amazing my nicknames are? I am the most creative person you know!) The play is God of Carnage, and I wrote about it a bit last week. Here are my castmates and me, posing like happy, well-adjusted people:

Me and my GOC castmates

Me and my GOC castmates (Photo Credit: Brian Bieschke Photography)

And here we are, being…not happy:

Although we’re four of the angriest, saddest, most frustrated people on stage, we’ve been having a hell of a lot of fun backstage.

A dressing room selfie with me and the amazing Shannon Mayhall

A dressing room selfie with me and the amazing Shannon Mayhall

Our sound technician Paul and assistant stage director/"Monica"/clafouti server Danielle

Our sound technician Paul and assistant stage director/”Monica”/clafouti server Danielle

Maggie comes in to give Patrick a haircut before final dress

Maggie comes in to give Patrick a haircut before final dress

And our comfortable, relaxed, and frequently silly backstage energy fed us last night, for the opening night of the show. Our ninety-seat black box theater space had an audience of about sixty, and let me tell you, they were terrific. They laughed and cringed and reacted visibly and audibly. It was a wonderful relief. I’d forgotten how funny this play is — our director and crew have sat through it about a dozen times; we’re used to them, and during tech early this week they were much more concerned about lights, sound cues, and costuming than they were about laughing at us. But having a room full of strangers laugh where you want them to (and laugh where you don’t expect them to) was new, fresh, and fantastic.

One of the audience members was Bill Geheren (a.k.a. Sir William), co-host of the 2 Dudes and The Duchess radio show on Huntley Community Radio, where we appeared last week to promote the play. And post-play, while some of the cast came to Camp Crystal Lake to eat, drink, and debrief about the performance, Sir William was writing a generous and flattering review of the show. It was lovely of him and we are grateful for his support.

Sir William, setting it all up

Sir William, setting it all up

Sir William (Bill Geheren), The Duchess (Kate Curtin), and Franklin/Alan (Patrick Thompson)

Sir William (Bill Geheren), The Duchess (Kate Curtin), and Franklin/Alan (Patrick Thompson)

Patrick, Bill, Kate, and Me, at Huntley Community Radio station

Patrick, Bill, Kate, and Me, at Huntley Community Radio station

Trevor is coming to the show tonight with Mom and Dad Bork (he might try to sneak Roo in, too…). I told them to get to the theater early enough to enjoy a piece of clafouti, which will be served for the first twenty minutes that the house is open.

Apples and pears? Apples and Pears!!!!!!!!!

Apples and pears? Apples and Pears!!!!!!!!!

Danielle in the kitchen

Danielle in the kitchen, serving up clafouti

If you’re looking for something to do tonight or next weekend, come out to Camp Crystal Lake to see the show. It’s only eighty minutes and you’ll get to see me do things you have likely never seen me do before. Yes. You’re intrigued. So make a reservation now.

Notes

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God of Carnage Wordle

God of Carnage

In a post a couple of weeks ago I mentioned the new play I’ll be in, and now I’m going full out with some shameless self-promotion: come see my play; it opens on Friday, July 10!

The play we’re doing is God of Carnage by French playwright Yasmina Reza. Reza’s play won a Tony in 2009 and was adapted for film by Roman Polanski in 2011. The characters have been played by Ralph Fiennes, Ken Stott, Tamsin Greig, and Janet McTeer;  James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Marcia Gay Harden, and Hope Davis; John C. Riley, Christoph Waltz, Jodie Foster, and Kate Winslet. So the bar has been set pretty damned high.

It’s a funny, brutal, and smart play, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I play Annette, a mother whose child has hit his schoolmate. I’ve brought my husband to apologize to the parents of the injured child, and the four of us have a…conversation. Of sorts. The pace is fast, the play is only about eighty minutes, and we volley the insults and aggressions back and forth like nasty little grenades.

Our cast, from Left: Michael (Jay Geller), Veronica (Shannon Mayhall), Annette (me!), and Alan (Patrick Thompson) -- Photo Credit Brian Bieschke

Our cast, from left: Michael (Jay Geller), Veronica (Shannon Mayhall), Annette (me!), and Alan (Patrick Thompson) — Photo Credit Brian Bieschke

God of Carnage is the inaugural production for The Black Box Summer Theatre at McHenry County College. Typically, the college produces shows during the fall and the spring semesters, but the space is dark over the summer. This year, though, we’re lighting it up!

God of Carnage at MCC

The director, Kellee Stall, is the founder of Inhabit Theater Company, a company that “makes its stage wherever [they] go: empty houses for sale, warehouses, coffee shops and local businesses.” Kellee directed Our Town at MCC in March 2013, so we already knew that she was talented. Working with her has proven that she works just as well with a small cast as she does with a large one, and as well with an American classic as with a contemporary work.

Kellee gives us post-rehearsal notes

Kellee gives us post-rehearsal notes: Photo Credit Kate Curtin

This week we’re in promotion mode: we were featured in today’s Northwest Herald, and tomorrow we’re taping an interview for the 2 Dudes and The Duchess radio show.

Northwest Herald

Northwest Herald “Play” Section — please notice we’re sharing space with Channing Tatum.

NW Herald Play Inside 7.2.15

You might have noticed that the picture in the paper features three of the four cast members, and that I’m missing. I was kind of bummed about it, so I decided to make a quick adjustment:

There I am! With my nephew Leo, who won't be in the play, but is super cute.

There I am! With my nephew Leo, who won’t be in the play, but is super cute.

Opening night is next Friday (July 10), so get your tickets now (now!):

  • Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11, 7 p.m.
  • Friday, July 17 and Saturday, July 18, 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 19, 2 p.m.

Call 815.455.8746 or email jgeller[at]mchenry[dot]edu for tickets (only $12, what a steal!)