FAR FROM CHEKHOV (Part 3)

30 Mar

How a play goes from someone’s brain to a stage in New York City. Part 3: The cast and crew.

Exactly a week ago, on Wednesday the 28th, we had our first official table reading of Far From Chekhov with the cast that will be performing in said production at the end of May. It. Was. Awesome. When a cast sits down together for the first time and reads a script… something awesome happens. Something even more AWESOME happens when it feels like this cast has been performing together for years. After the reading, we all looked at each other and just knew that this is about to be an awesome process. I think, in the back of our mind, we also simultaneously wished that we had more performances together. But that is the curse of being a starving artist in New York City, isn’t it? Space rental costs money!

Images-3Casting this show started easy and then got more and more difficult as we approached the idea of auditions. We had certain people in mind at the start, but there were conflicts that lead us to believe it may be an unfortunate impossibility to use these certain actors.

The first role we cast was the role of Charlie, the middle sister. The sister who comes back home, after building a successful music career for herself, to mend ties with her estranged sisters. The sister with a secret. And the actress we cast was… me.

16045_170121861901_689111901_3008674_6081398_nHere’s me acting my ass of as KATE from LOST

 When I first started producing professional theatre at the age of 17, I would sit behind the table and crave to be up there on the stage with the actors who were bringing to life my words and ideas. It was after that first produced play where I thought, “What if I wrote plays with parts that I know I can act in?” My initial fear is that some people would consider this a vain opportunity to wear multiple hats and do whatever I want. Then I started thinking… yeah. That’s exactly what this is and why should I be ashamed of it? I have always had an interest in performing, but not enough to go out for audition after audition and make it my entire career goal. There are more things I want to do… such as… WRITING. So why can’t I do both? If I’m willing to put in the work and find a team of people interested in being a part of it… then I’m  in a position where by the age of 30, I’ll have spent the majority of my life doing exactly what I love to do with out any omissions, with out any regret, with out rejection after rejection of “You’re too tall, you’re too big, you’re 80% hair and that isn’t going to work for us.” So I started writing pieces that I could act in because I love to perform as well as write and if it’s the right part, I can even be pretty good at it too. So yeah. I f*cking cast myself.

Next to cast was the role of Melissa. The older sister. The sister with a tough time being able to forgive and forget. On February 22nd, Play Club decided to host a reading of Far From Chekhov to hear the script out loud and decide if it was producible. We sent out an email blast looking for a few actors and to our luck, Samantha Rosentrater came and read for Melissa.

560240_10150662553565777_505110776_9671562_1721459092_nSamantha may have been the deciding factor as to whether or not we decided to go forward with producing this play. If she can do it, then we do. She was THAT good. We were also blessed at that reading with actor, Michael Grew.

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Equity Actor, Michael Grew. Thus the question “Do we go UNION with this production or don’t we?” The Actors Equity Association is the labor union that represents more than 49,000 Actors and Stage Managers in the United States. Equity negotiates wages and working conditions and provides a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans, for its members and is an extremely respected organization. It’s of dire importance, if you cast an equity actor, that you follow the rules and guidelines of equity or you and/or your actors could get into a lot of trouble with the union. With all the stress (financial, design, timing…) we were taking on just producing this play non union, the production team consisting of Patricia Lynn (director) and Rebecca Charles (Producer) decided that it might be best, for this first time around, to go NON Union. So we put out a casting call for the roles of Tom (Melissa’s husband), Ben (The adorable neighbor boy) and Carolyn (The youngest sister).

Images-4We sent out an email to certain people from our Play Club that we felt would be appropriate for the parts. We also put out an ad on Play Bill and crossed our fingers. Submissions came pouring in. Lots of chicks. We gathered those who’s resume looked BEST for the parts and sent out sides for them to look over before their audition and a time slot. We were hoping to cast a Play Club member and keep it all in the family, but were also looking forward to seeing fresh, new talent.

So many talented people read that night and I was so proud of every single Play Club member who auditioned. In fact, the top five (with out bias) happened to be 4 Play Club members and 1 newbie. At the end of the day, the right attitude, spirit and chemistry for the role of Carolyn came from Madeline Chilese.

2126_550700639762_42114179_33847017_9995_nMaddy is a writer/ actress and our first introduction to her was when she submitted her original play “Three Equals One” back in October of 2011. We produced a staged reading of the piece and it was a hit! When Maddy came in to audition, it had been a while since she had participated in Play Club, so we were pleased that her audition was so fantastic AND that she was ready to play again.

After a few back and forths the Chekhov production team decided to go Equity. It’s that much more professional and I had yet to go through the process of an Equity showcase code in my producing career. We were excited for the experience and to take producing to that next level. This enabled us to keep Grew on board as Ben and left to cast was the role of Tom.

Play Club has some pretty talented actors who like to get together and play with each other each month and one of the most talented actors in the club is Christopher Norwood.

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 Equity actor, Christopher Norwood. Chris was at our very first Play Club reading, which was a year ago on the 29th of March, and on that day he and Play Club silently agreed that we couldn’t wait to all work together on a more professional level. He had been originally considered for the role of Tom, but since we weren’t sure if we were going to go Equity, we kept him at bay. So thrilled that we can now add him to make a truly bitchin’ cast.

So Samantha, Michael, Maddy, Chris, Rebecca, Patricia and myself head unto the breach  to enjoy the slings and arrows of awesome fortune.

PAM QUINN Moved to California from New York at age 14 and entered the professional world of writing at 17 on the west coast. By her 20th birthday she had three original works produced in the Los Angeles area. Rising from sketch comedy writing and a background in theatre, Pam collected what she had learned over the years and compiled it into playwriting. She began collaborating on an idea for an original musical (Right Together, Left Together) with Will Collyer and Jacob Harvey. Since moving back to New York in ’05, Pam hasn’t stopped breathing this idea. She co-founded The Unknown Artists (www.theunknownartists.org) with Emily Clark and continues to be prolific within this fantastic company. www.uaplayclub.wordpress.com
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One Response to “FAR FROM CHEKHOV (Part 3)”

  1. Eddie 2012 at : #

    This is very Good Will Hunting of you and to create such amazing work and opportunities for yourself where you can showcase your talent is nothing short of admirable. You, along with your mates in Play Club, are a shining example to all the young people whose dreams are to come to NY and excel in various creative arts.

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