Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Nether: What is an intimacy consultant?

Most people who to go the movies or the theatre know that there's always a fight choreographer on the behind the scenes team to choreograph any kind of violence between actors. It might range from a simple shove to something much more elaborate like sword play. However in 2016 a new branch was founded - intimacy directing. Let's face it, kissing or simulating sex with a co-worker is awkward at best or leads to terrible situations at worst. The Me Too scandals that have rocked Hollywood have made it abundantly clear that this type of protection is absolutely necessary for a healthy and safe acting environment.

Artists can now be certified as Intimacy Directors via a nonprofit organization. You can read more about their mission and training here. The New York Times has laid out a pretty interesting story about this here and it's worth a read.

When we read The Nether with its very difficult role of Iris, it was pretty clear that we needed to bring in an expert to work with the actress, a high school student, the rest of the cast, and be very transparent with the parents to make sure that everyone was on the same page and felt good about what was happening. We're so proud of what Arcadia Conrad, the Intimacy Director for The Nether, brought to the show and we'll utilize Intimacy Directors again for Spring Awakening, a teen musical, and The Baltimore Waltz. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Anne of the Thousand Days: Director's Note

Anne of the Thousand Days presents some special challenges to its cast, crew, and audiences. It catalogs the span of an entire relationship - all 1,000 of its days - in the span of a few hours of moments. It requires the audience to meet and get to know the many other names and faces involved in Anne and Henry's lives, from first meeting to final (and permanent) end. The play also presents its highly stylized (and fictionalized) story through two unreliable narrators as they attempt to justify the ending of their lives together. Heavy stuff.

From the very beginning, I hoped to stage this play in a way that put a unique focus on the performativity of memory. So many people go in and out of the lives of these two characters during their story - and when they outlive their place in the narrative, where do they go? In this production, the small cast ensures that the faces and bodies of Anne and Henry's memories are remade and recycled into the next wave of moments. Faces become familiar, but interchangeable, as the dynamics of the play's relationships blur and change along with them. 

In the end, I hope the cast, crew, and audiences of this play are left with a sense of how memory - how we remember, and how we are remembered, the impermanence of people, places, and moments - can be embraced and experienced as a performance in its own right.

Melinda Marks

Anne of the Thousand Days: A Word from the Artistic Directors

Dragon’s 2nd Stages Program is one of the biggest factors that attracted Max and myself to take up the role of Co-Artistic Directors at the Dragon. Giving local artists opportunities to produce their passion projects in the Bay area, where options can be limited, really makes our job so worthwhile. 

Melinda Marks left quite a lasting impression with her robust pitch of Maxwell Anderson's play Anne of the Thousand Days. We could tell that Melinda had done her homework and that Anderson's text really had struck an artistic chord with her. The story of King Henry VIII and his courting of Anne Boleyn and the founding of The Church of England has always been a personal fascination, and with the today’s Me Too movement, the themes of gender power dynamics resonate even louder. Melinda’s approach to this production not only serves the story spectacularly, but also pays forward the opportunity she got in producing this show by creating roles for brilliant actors who may not otherwise get to play any roles quite like these. You're in for quite a treat! 

Alika & Max Koknar

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Anne of the Thousand Days: Meet the Designers

Melinda Marks (Director) is a longtime Bay Area actor and director, and the co-founder and casting director of San Jose production company Play on Words. This is her first time directing at Dragon, after having previously been Stage Manager for Shoggoths on the Veldt earlier this season. Melinda holds an MA in Theater Arts from San Jose State and an MFA in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin University. She was last seen onstage in Shakespeare in Love (Palo Alto Players), and in Teatro Visions' world premiere of Departera. In the spring, Melinda will be directing The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the Pear Theatre in Mountain View.

Nathanael Card (Lighting Designer), Wizard of the Theatre Arts, is proud to take the form of lighting designer for Dragon on this production. His past lighting designs include: Hickorydickory, Shoggoths on the Veldt, The Revolutionists, Three Days of Rain, and Cirque Exotique du Monde at Dragon. In addition to lighting, he designed sets as well for his last four shows at Dragon, and often crews as an electrician with Stanford University School of Music, Smuin Ballet, Berkeley Rep.

Arcadia Conrad (Stage Intimacy Workshop Facilitator) is an actor, director, playwright and theatre educator. She is currently an intimacy director in training and program director of Cupertino Actors Theatre at Cupertino High School, a contributor with Play on Words, and teaches writing with the San Jose Writing Project. A reading of her latest play, Script Doctor, was recently presented at The Dragon Theatre's Monday Night Playspace. 

Nita Lambert (Stage Manager) is pleased to be stage managing again, after a 17-year break. Favorite acting roles include Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor and Mariah in Twelfth Night, both at Silicon Valley Shakespeare, as well as multiple characters in many productions of Northside Theatre Company's annual A Christmas Carol. In real life, her favorite roles include wife, mom, stepmom and grandma. She also enjoys directing choral music. Nita would like to thank her fabulous husband and daughter for their love and support.

Marley Teter (Costume Construction)

Michael Weiland (Sound Designer) has previously appeared in Shoggoths in the Veldt and Equivocation at the Dragon Theatre. Other appearances are Geeks vs Zombies at the Pear Theater, The Legend of Georgia McBride  at Los Altos Stage Company, Boom! at Minilights, and Rocky Horror at City Lights Theater Company. Michael is also a company member at Play On Words San Jose, a staged reading company for new works by local authors, playwrights, and poets.