Day One and So On... Production Blog
From the Living Room of Taya Kenny - October 22, 2010
Ashley Opstad - Director
Opening Night. AJ (our stage manager) and I arrived a little before 6pm. Taya's Mt. Washinton home sits high on the hills above Downtown LA and from just about every window you can see the city below. It was a beautiful place to begin our Living Room Tour.
It has been a long week - first with Justin Baker having emergency surgery and leaving the cast (hopefully temporarily), Jack jumped into the role of Paul last minute playing massive catchup, then technology decided to hate on us and AJ pulled an all-nighter to save the day...I was both incredibly ready to put this show out into the world and incredibly nervous that everything would come crumbling down. I should have more faith. Justin Abarca, Elizabeth Triplett, Jack De Sena, Sebastian Kadlecik, Negin Singh, and AJ Nowack are rock stars -- the show became theirs last night.
Cast and Crew
I am beyond proud of what we accomplished. This powerful play by Jack De Sena hits me in a very personal way and I wanted more than anything to share that, in an intimate way, with as many people as I could. I sat in the audience, surrounded by people who were going on this journey for the first time, and I watched them watching the show and it was speaking to them. This is why I do theatre. A group of shoe-less people on blankets and pillows sharing a unique theatrical experience that will mean something different to each of them, and yet we are all connected in that room for one night - an experience you can't recreate. You had to be there.
Song: Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie
From the Living Room of Lindsey Hatfield - October 23, 2010
Justin Abarca - "Robbie"
So Saturday's show was...great. It was great. It was awesome. It was weird performing in an apartment that I've hung out in many times, but we transformed it into our own place and the show was a success. The audience dug us and we dug them right back. It'll only get better from here.
The cast, and our host.
Song: The Ghosts of Saturday Night - Tom Waits
From the Living Room of John Carr - October 24, 2010
Amanda Jean Nowack - Stage Manager
A show in a dorm room. Easy peasy pumpkin pie, right? Well, first, there was no pumpkin pie. I'll see what I can do to change that this Friday. But, it was easy to set up - but difficult to get to.
Our audience: your typical, run-of-the-mill college kids, but more awesome.
Being the stage manager, I try to be the first one at the show site. I think I was the last one there. Oh, except for Sebastian. (Sorry to call you out, dude.) I'm familiar with the UCLA area, but have never actually been on campus. As usual, I check google maps for easy directions. Nothing. The address doesn't even exist. Okay, so... I find a map of UCLA online, and have to magnify it 3 or 4 times to read the text. But I am prepared. I plan my route, and I leave at a quarter to 6. It should really only take me 10 minutes to get there, so I should be 5 minutes early to find a place to park & unload props.
The playing space.
I hit the road, and it's raining. Drat. I love the stuff, but people seem to forget how to drive in California when it rains. I'm driving on Veteran, and getting ready to take a right onto the road I've marked on my map... and it doesn't exist. Like, it was there, and its closed off. By a wall. Okay, I'll try the next one. Closed off again. I start to get nervous. I drive around the entire perimeter of the campus. I eye the clock. With traffic running so slowly, I'm already 15 minutes late. I come back to where I started. Then, I call Jack. I could have called anyone in the cast and crew, but I had a feeling he could help - and magically, I was right. Jack went to UCLA. Thank goodness.
He tells me what street to turn on but I immediately make a wrong turn on a service road and end up at a dead end. I put him on speaker, back track, but then he has to take another call. On my own again. I say to myself, I can do this. I struggle to read the detour & constructions signs while trying not to piss off the drivers behind me who actually know where they're going. I stop a minimum of three times to ask students braving the rain where to go. But finally, I get there. About 40 minutes late.
Cast and crew and a confused Carr.
Thankfully, the amazing cast and crew that were already there and had done a lot of prep, and as we still had another 40 minutes until the house opened, we set up with time to spare. I took up the rear of a Jack-Matt-AJ caravan to move our cars off campus (where parking is free), and the three of us climbed some muddy steps (which I learned used to have a not-so-nice nickname, changed since the addition of bright lights and fences). The show goes as planned, and I end my night like it started, walking in the rain. Only this time, I have a big smile and that feeling you get after a long phone call with your best friend.
Song: It's Not The End Of The World - Super Furry Animals
From the Living Room of Ramy Eletreby - October 29, 2010
Miles Marsico - Projections
I'd spent the last 4 days sick and moping around my house except for that job interview on Wednesday which went, obviously, less than great. So this was a welcome break from the monotony. Being the Friday before Halloween I wasn't quite sure that many people would show, opting instead to dress like a slutty ___ and spend the night dancing to bad hip hop. Luckily some of my favorite people were there and there were enough of them to make it feel less than empty. Also Justin Baker, who'll be stepping back into the role of Paul starting (hopefully) next weekend, was in attendance. Now I'll have an excuse to see the show again.
Props. Surely, just props.
I see alot of Jack in this play. I'd read a draft of the script a while back and was immediately struck with how perfectly Jack had boiled each character's dialogue down to the essence of his own. An obstuse thing to say perhaps, but I read much of the words in Jack's voice. The phrasing of sentences and the minor epiphanies the characters have are a very distinct Jack way of looking at the world. Finally seeing others give life to these words suddenly opened it up and transformed it from Jack's diary to a full-blown character study.
Also a note on Ramy's interior decoration: I felt like I was being entertained by a film executive in the 1960s. And that rug under the coffee table was entrancing.
The loyal audience.
Sorry I'm not in any of the group pictures but I had to split almost immediately after it ended in order to DJ bad hip hop at a Halloween party.
Cast, crew, and hosts.
Song: Something that a 1960s film executive would listen to.
From the Living Room of Grace Tuan and Patricia Garza - November 5th, 2010
Sebastian Kadlecik - Actor: Gooch
I left work in Studio City early to get to our show in Monrovia on time. I actually made really good time and got a Diet Coke at Jack In The Box because I was very tired, due to the fact that I'm a really hard worker and thought the Diet Coke would help. It did.
Our lovely audience.
But not nearly as much as the energy from the audience. I mean seriously, they were awesome. We were all a little nervous before the show because it felt like a long time had passed since we had performed this play. Thankfully there was a moment early on in the play when the majority of the cast was "backstage" and we heard the audience laughing uproariously at something that was happening "onstage". We all looked at each other and realized this group of people were right there with us. They were completely open to enjoying this play to the fullest. And that made it such a fun night. Everything felt fresh because the audience was so alive and attentive. Lines came out differently and had to because we had to hold for laughter so much.
Our lovely stage.
This was really one of my favorite nights. Every night has been special, and this night was no exception. But what really stood out to me about this group is that they were theatre folk....and to have theatre folk that are supportive and not sitting in silent judgment is a pretty great thing in LA. Or I guess I should say the greater LA area because we were in Monrovia which is basically half way to Vegas I think. The comments after the show were incredibly encouraging and I was wide awake when I left that house. And 8 hours later, when I got back to Koreatown, I still couldn't get to sleep.
Our lovely us.
Also, I'd like to add that I'm just very grateful to be able to just go be a part of a play where I get to goof around and have fun with such a great group of people. Oh... I also stopped at Burger King on the way home. Accidentally. It was right next to the McDonald's and it wasn't until the guy at the window handed me my cup of Coke that I realized my mistake. I almost got upset at him for handing me a cup without a Monopoly piece on it. Then I realized I was in the wrong place. The Coke still tasted good. The end.
From the Living Room of BJ Allman - November 6th, 2010
Matt Chester - Producer
Last night’s living room definitely deserved the “most character” award. It was an apartment in an old Hollywood Spanish-style building, creaky old elevator, clay tiles and musty carpeting…it looked like the hotel from “Barton Fink.” Despite the apartment being two stories above the lobby, I still went inside their tiny, haunted-looking elevator every time I was given the opportunity.
While I was sitting outside, checking people off on my little reserved seat list, a neighbor of B.J’s came up to me and asked “You work with the foster children?”
A little confused, I said “Well, yes, we’ve done a show about foster care in the past, and we’ve worked with a few foster care organizations.”
“That is great,” she said, “the little ones or the big ones?”
Again, a little confused, I responded, “Um…well, both, small kids, teenagers.”
“That is wonderful,” she said. Then an awkward pause…and she pulls out a thick envelope. “My band is playing at The House of Blues on Monday, I wanted to know if maybe you’d like some tickets?”
“Uh…sure,” I said, taking them. “Great, do you think there are enough?” I looked at the envelope…there were easily thirty tickets in there, enough for each of our fifteen-person audience to enjoy. “Yeah, that’s fine.”
“Great,” she said, as she walked back down the stairs.
I craned my head to try to catch her; “If you want to see the show, it’s only…” but she was gone.
After the show was Negin’s birthday at Bar Lubitsch. She left at 11:30, and I got through the door at 12:30. In that intervening hour, she had gone from “Sober Actor” to “Walking Cocktail.” Eat some breakfast and drink some water, honey, you’ve got another show tonight.
The cast and crew, before the drinking. Well, before most of the drinking.
Song – Some Scratchy Recording of a Woman with an Impossibly Nasal Voice from the 1920s.
From the Living Room of Billy Parker - November 7th, 2010
So, tonight Day One and So On was hosted by a very nice Billy and roommates in Echo Park, which I was excited about because I used to live around there so before the show I went to eat at my old favorite happy hour sushi place-Kazuko. Or is it Kazoku? I don't know. Anywho... the eel was good.
Christmas lights, already! So festive..
No need to worry about having enough couch space for this show as there were three in this living room. I liked the space because it had an open kitchen, so in my two scenes where I come from the kitchen, I had to actually do stuff since the audience could see me. Well, I opened the fridge and washed my hands, so I didn't do much, but still.
Also, I liked that we had two loud laughers (here's looking at you- Anne and Kit). I really like loud laughers. It makes me feel good.
What makes me feel bad? Knocking over a deodorant sitting out on a table in our "green room" during a scene and making a loud noise. Ce la vie.
This is us. Love us.
Oh, and I saw Sebastian rub his own nipples while looking in a mirror.
All in all, I felt good about tonight's show. Especially the Sebastian-nipple part.
"Rock Your Body"- Black Eyed Peas
From the Living Room of Lilan Bowden - November 12th, 2010
Negin Singh - Producer
Here's the thing: I don't get nervous very often. I've done shows as a clown, I've improvised, directed, acted, ripped-tape-off-my-boobs enough in front of people that I think I've pretty much learned how to curb them tummy butterflies. But honestly, last night, I got nervous. Lilan and I have known each other since college, where we did a whole lot of improv together with my college improv troupe, Live Nude People (With Clothes On!). She, being the wonderful host that she is, invited all of our old college friends, most of whom hadn't seen an cARTel show in at least a year, and some of whom I hadn't seen at all in several years. These were people who were there for the beginning of cARTel, when we were just a tiny company of friends running around with no money and big ideas. Sure, we're still pretty much, but we have grown too (we bought a projector recently! and sometimes we can pay for company dinners!), and I wanted them to see that. I wanted them to see how much love I've put into this company over the years, how much care has gone into preserving our company's ideals, all the new, talented faces that we were working with- I wanted them to see that. Also, this is the first show I've acted in SINCE college, so, you know, that's a thing.
Here. Be here. Yes.
Since I don't go on "stage" till about minute 53, I listen to most of the show from a baby monitor in someone's car. As the show began, my jaw started to do that clenchy thing I hate, and my legs started to shake. "Were they going to like this?" "Is this any good?" "What the hell have I spent the last three years in LA doing?"- these are a few of the questions whirring through my skull. I felt like crying and peeing at the same time- which I realized at the time, I've never done.
The cast and hosts.
But then. But then. But then. I heard the first laugh. It was Zach Reino's, one of my dearest college friends. And then Lindsay Katai's, and then Ryan Hoskins's, Jeff Eberly's, Richie Root's, and more and more and more. And I realized that instead of thinking of them as people who had come back to judge me, I thought about how lovely it was that three years later, I had people who cared enough about me and the host of the event to come out and support. I thought about the love that each of them had given to cARTel throughout the years, how many of them were in cARTel shows back in the day, and how this was a celebration. This was a celebration of the last three years of hardwork, and I should just calm the F down already. So I did. And then I ate mushroom flautas.
The audience! (Some of these people used to be nude.)
From the Living Room of Nancy De Sena - November 13th, 2010
I was hoping to not have the opportunity to write for this blog. When Negin asked me last night if I would write this entry, "I'm not even supposed to be here today" might have been an appropriate thought bubble.
I'm blessed to be a part of LRT 2010 and happy to write to you (thank you for reading!), so let me clarify. This was scheduled to be Justin Baker's blog entry. I was hoping that I would have the pleasure of seeing Justin take the stage in front of an audience before the end of the tour. I arrived at our location on Friday and was sad that this was not to be. I'm sure we're all sorry that we missed the opportunity and all wish Justin a speedy recovery.
We also weren't where we were originally supposed to be last night. Negin sent an e-mail out on Thursday night that Saturday's night show was moving to a different location: Jack's parents house in Irvine. This turned out to be a wonderful thing! I misdirected you earlier; I was very excited to be where we were.
When we arrived for pre-show setup, Jack's dad made delicious pasta for Jack, Matt, and me. Macaroni (penne), cheese, bread crumbs, olive oil, and fresh garlic. The De Sena's also prepared a wonderful spread for all of the attendees: meatballs, pigs in a blanket (over a heated tray!), a cheese plate, crackers, cucumber and spread on rye bread, soda, bottles of wine, and non-plastic glasses! Super classy!
For an audience that was put together in two days, it was one of the largest. There's humor in the dialog that I find hilarious but don't always laugh at when the audience is more reserved (I'm shy). This night was full of laughs, and tears. It was a special privilege to watch a show in a space where some performers and audience alike have years of history. It was the only performance I've been to of any kind (that I've been aware of) where lines were delayed for audience laughter to subside (only when the timing made sense, subject to the actors' good judgment; clown shows haven't had lines). It was a comfortable audience for me to watch (and laugh and cry) with and felt like great performances came out of it!
There were probably as many chairs as we've had and I sat in one for the first time. I felt like giving a standing ovation, but I'm too shy to be the first to stand. And honestly, there's hardly room to stand even in the most spacious stagings and it seems like a hard sell when there are people sitting on the floor. Oh, Living Room Tour. I think this has been my favorite venue to see the LRT. And last year, Ashley murdered Sebastian on my couch!
A packed house. Literally.
After the show, Jack's dad made more delicious pasta for the rest of the cast and crew who missed out earlier. Cheese was held on the side, so every dietary restriction could enjoy! We felt no pressure to leave and, I think, so welcomed and comfortable that our lingering became an impromptu cast party (that I was worried we wouldn't have)!
It being Saturday, there was very little traffic on the way there (or back). The timing of LA traffic congestion has meant that going home has often been much faster than getting there (rush hour!), which is a relief but also a sad reminder of that temporal magic. I couldn't have been happier during the hour drive home at half past midnight :)
From the Living Room of Kelsey Milano - November 14th, 2010
Jack De Sena - Playwright
Well there it is. Last night in Westwood marked our tenth and final performance of the 2010 living room tour. We packed the room with our biggest crowd of the run and went out with a strong closing night. The show and the run were a success. I'm proud of what we accomplished here and so pleased to have worked with such talented people.
Such talented people.
I had no intention or expectation of performing in this bad boy, but stepping in for the still-recovering Justin Baker was quite the experience. Acting is fun, it turns out. I liked it. That was nice. But tonight happily and fortuitously, gave me a bit of a chance to watch as well. The downside of being in the show for me, other than the fact that Justin was great in this role and not nearly enough folks got to see it, was that I never got to sit back and watch and evaluate my writing from that perspective. It was something I was hoping for as a learning opportunity and also, ya know, it was gonna be nice to get to hear words and think 'oh hey, I typed those words and now somebody is saying them out loud. cool.' Well, tonight is the closest I got all tour to being able to watch. The way the house was set up left a long hallway shielded away from the audience's view that gave a perfect profile view of Justin Abarca's lovely mug. When I wasn't acting, I got to be the writer tonight: leaning uncomfortably against a wall, fidgeting and criticizing every word choice I made, but ultimately, being proud of having finished something and having brought something of merit into somebody's home. Yay. Thanks for coming.
A lovely spread.
Also from tonight: Our wonderful stage manager AJ, who has domain over our props, got into the spirit of closing night pranks and as a result I spent numerous scenes unwittingly reading about erections.
A closing night crowd.
Now on to what will be my favorite part of this whole process, trolling through Home Depot's across LA returning all this equipment. Shh. Don't tell them about me.
Song: It Must Have Been Love by Roxette...but it's over now.