Monday, May 2, 2016

WTRSF: Meet the Design Team

Director - Kimberly Mohne Hill
Kimberly Mohne Hill is pleased to return to the Dragon Theater after directing The Other Place last season and Six Years in 2008.  Kimberly has a long history as an actor, teacher, dialect coach, and director in the Bay Area. She received her MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco. She is an Associate Professor of Acting at Santa Clara University.  She most recently directed Venus in Fur at San Jose Stage Company and The Tempest at SCU. Other Directing credits include In the Next Room (or, the vibrator play) at CityLights Theater; The Seafarer and Reasons to be Pretty (San Jose Stage Company); In the Heights, Footloose, Hayfever, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Songs for a New World (Santa Clara University); I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! and The Last Five Years (Staged Concerts- Music Theater Conservatory/NDNU); Machinal (A.D. for Amy Freed at Studio A.C.T.).  Her next project will be directing Footloose at West Valley Light Opera.

She continues to Dialect Coach around the Bay Area and most recently worked on The Elephant Man at CityLights in San Jose. Additionally, she has published three books for Young Actors on the subject of dialects: Monologues in Dialect for Young Actors, Vol. I & II and Scenes in Dialect for Young Actors. A professional actress as well, she was last seen onstage in San Jose Rep’s beautiful version of A Christmas Carol where she played numerous roles including “Mrs. Cratchit” and “Mrs. Fezziwig”.
Stage Manager - Katie Semans
Katie is excited to be joining Dragon Theatre for her third production. A resident of the Bay Area for seventeen years, Katie grew up working with local school and youth theatre productions. After a four-year hiatus from theatre work to pursue her degree in Mechanical Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona, she is thrilled to be backstage again. Credits include The Voice of the Prairie, Show People (Dragon Productions), Death of a Salesman (San Jose Stage Company), Art and Spamalot (City Lights Theatre Company), Les Miserables and All Shook Up (Peninsula Youth Theatre). A true Silicon Valley nerd, when Katie is not at the theatre, she works as a software tester at Google. She would like to thank her family and friends for understanding and supporting her in her weird mash up of theatrical and engineering endeavors.
Scenic Designer - Daniel Stahlnecker
Currently a student at Santa Clara University, Daniel Stahlnecker is a young up and coming designer. Studying both acting as well as theatrical design, Daniel entered the scenic world three years ago. His work includes assisting his mentor, Jerry Enos, in shows such as Awake and Sing!, The Good Doctor, What Would Crazy Horse Do, and Chicago. Daniel is very excited to display his work here at Dragon Productions.
Technical Director - Charles McKeithan
Charles has been working in Bay Area theater for over ten years now as an actor and a carpenter and is happy to be back with the Dragon for another round of fun. His past works include Voice of the Prairie at the Dragon, Walls of Jericho at the Pear, Colossus at SF Playhouse, and countless productions with Ron Gaspernetti under the guise of Thrust Scenic Design.
Lighting Designer - Dan Garrett
Dan is excited to join the cast and crew in bringing you When the Rain Stops Falling! This is his inaugural show with Dragon Productions, bringing his twelve years of technical theater experience to Redwood City. A native of the Santa Cruz area, he has supported over eighty productions with twenty different companies in a dozen venues with all aspects of technical work from light to flight. Recent credits include Lighting Designer for Spotlight Youth Conservatory’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Lead Flight operator for Cabrillo Stage’s Mary Poppins. Connect via linkedin.com/in/dangarrett
Sound Designer - Ryan Short
Ryan is excited to be designing his first show at Dragon! His noises (and sometimes music) can also be heard in productions around the Bay Area including at The Custom Made Theatre Company in San Francisco and San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s Free Shakespeare in the Park (where he is a proud member of the Resident Artist Company). He also can be found behind mixing consoles at the occasional musical and the annual San Francisco Sketchfest. Many thanks to Kimberly, Katie, and Taylor, as well as the rest of this fabulously talented cast and crew, and much love to Laura.
Costume Designer - Elizabeth Coy
Elizabeth is proud to be working on her first production at Dragon Theater. She has been a licensed cosmetologist for over 20 years and holds a bachelors degree in Theater from San Francisco State University. As a photo stylist, Elizabeth's work can be seen in the current Safeway ad campaign. She has also done work for Longs Drugstore Back to School ads, several issues of Bon Appetit magazine, as well as three covers for Gentry magazine. Her credits include, styling the hair, makeup, and wardrobe for over 25 Comcast Spotlight commercials, Facebook's annual convention f8, the Josh Kornbluth show at KQED. She has also designed the hair, makeup, and even props for shows at City Lights Theater Company in San Jose and Filbert Steps productions at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

During the week, Elizabeth can be found doing hair at Tonic Salon in Belmont. Check out her work Instagram @lizthestylistt or her website, www.lizthestylist.com.
Properties Designer - Beth Covey-Snedegar

Beth has been on the stage and off since she was a little girl. Her passion for theatre inspired her to become a theatre arts instructor, teaching musical theatre, dance and acting to kids of all ages. In her off time, she is a first time mom and owns her own floral design and special events company, Sassy Diva Designs and Events.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

When the Rain Stops Falling: The Australian Locations

Adelaide - The capital city of South Australia, Adelaide is the fifth-most populous city of Australia. In June 2014, Adelaide had an estimated resident population of 1.3 million. 


Named in honour of Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningenqueen consort to King William IV, the city was founded in 1836 as the planned capital for a freely-settled British province in Australia. Colonel William Light, one of Adelaide's founding fathers, designed the city and chose its location close to the River Torrens, in the area originally inhabited by the Kaurna people. Light's design set out Adelaide in a grid layout, interspaced by wide boulevards and large public squares, and entirely surrounded by parklands. Early Adelaide was shaped by prosperity and wealth — up until the Second World War, it was Australia's third largest city. It has been noted for early examples of religious freedom, a commitment to political progressivism and civil liberties. It has been known as the "City of Churches" since the mid-19th century.


Alice Springs - Alice Springs is the third largest town in the Northern Territory, Australia. Popularly known as "the Alice" or simply "Alice", Alice Springs is situated in the geographic center of Australia. ‘The Alice’, as it is known, combines laid-back charm with all the modern conveniences, comforts and diversions you’d find in a good-sized town. The site is known as Mparntwe to its original inhabitants, the Arrernte, who have lived in the Central Australian desert in and around what is now Alice Springs for thousands of years. "Alice" in the English language was named by surveyor William Whitfield Mills after Lady Alice Todd, wife of the telegraph pioneer Sir Charles Todd


Alice Springs has a population of 28,605, which makes up 12.2 percent of the territory's population.

The town straddles the usually dry Todd River on the northern side of the MacDonnell Ranges. The surrounding region is known as Central Australia, or the Red Centre, an arid environment consisting of several different deserts. In Alice Springs temperatures can vary dramatically, with an average maximum temperature in summer of 35.6 °C (96.1 °F) and an average minimum temperature in winter of 5.1 °C (41.2 °F).

Alice Springs has faced many issues in recent years, largely stemming from an increase in crime and a strong racial divide that has existed for years in the town.

World War II brought significant changes to Alice Springs. Prior to the war, Alice Springs was an extremely isolated settlement of fewer than 500 people. During the war, however, the town was an extremely active staging base, known as No. 9 Australian Staging Camp, and a depot base for the long four-day trip to Darwin. The railway hub in Alice Springs was taken over by military operations and the number of soldiers posted in Alice Springs grew rapidly, as did the number of personnel passing through on their way to and from Darwin. When Darwin was threatened by Japanese forces, the sea routes—the Northern Territory capital's primary means of transportation and resupply—were cut off. The evacuation of Darwin first brought a large number of civilians including elected officials and many of the territory government's records. Alice Springs became the war-time civilian capital of the Northern Territory. When Darwin was bombed by Japanese air forces, a large number of military personnel and their heavy equipment were rapidly moved south to Alice Springs.





The Coorong - Located in Southern Australia, southeast of Adelaide, the 
Coorong is a place of tranquility, solitude and wonderment. 

The distinctive landscape is an important breeding area for the Australian pelican and is a refuge for ducks, swans, cormorants, terns, grebes and numerous species of migratory birds. 


The Coorong, most likely derived from an Aboriginal word karangk meaning narrow neck, is one of the most breathtaking national parks in Australia. The Coorong is of Aboriginal significance and renowned for its archaeological sites.
Stretching more than 130 kilometres, Coorong National Park protects a string of saltwater lagoons which are sheltered from the Southern Ocean by the sweeping sand dunes of the Younghusband Peninsula.
The western end of the Coorong lagoon is at the Murray Mouth near Hindmarsh Island and the Sir Richard Peninsula, and it extends about 130 kilometres (81 mi) southeast. The Coorong National Park park was formed in 1966 as a sanctuary for many species of birds, animals and fish. It attracts many migratory species. It provides refuge for these animals during some of Australia's regular droughts. The 467 square kilometres (180 sq mi) also supports coastal dune systems, lagoons and coastal vegetation. 
One of the unique aspects of the Coorong is the interaction of water along its length, with sea water and Murray River water meeting rainfall and groundwater. The freshwater supports the fauna (animal) of the area while the sea water is the habitat for much of the birdlife.
The waters of the Coorong are a popular venue for recreational and commercial fishers. The popular 'Coorong Mullet' and 'school mulloway' are the main species. 
A wetland of international significance and important archaeological site, the Coorong is of enormous cultural significance to the Ngarrindjeri people, with ancient mounds of discarded shells revealing archaeological evidence of Aboriginal campsites over thousands of years.

The Hay Plains - The Western part of New South Wales Australia, the Hay Plain is located halfway between Sydney and Adelaide, and about five hours from Melbourne. The Hay Plain is called one of the flattest places on earth.

The town of Hay is a historic farming town in the heart of Country New South Wales. Located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River and surrounded by the vast grasslands of One Tree Plain, Hay has many fine heritage buildings and a diverse collection of museums. 

During World War II Hay was the location of internment and prisoner of war camps, due in no small measure to its isolated location. Three high-security camps were constructed there in 1940. The first arrivals were over two thousand refugees from Nazi Germany and Austria, many of them Jewish, aged between 16 and 45. They had been interned in Britain when fears of invasion were at their peak, and were then transported to Australia aboard the HMT Dunera. They arrived at Hay on 7 September 1940 in four trains from Sydney and were interned in Camps 7 and 8 (located near the Hay showground) under the guard of the 16th Garrison Battalion of the Australian Army.

Later known as the 'Dunera Boys', the internment at Hay of this assemblage of refugees from Nazi oppression in Europe was an important milestone in Australia's cultural history. 800 of those interned at Hay eventually chose to remain in Australia. The influence of this group of men on subsequent cultural, scientific and business developments in Australia is difficult to over-state; many became an integral and celebrated part of the nation’s cultural and intellectual life. The 'Dunera Boys' are still fondly remembered in Hay. Every year the town holds a 'Dunera Day' in which many surviving internees return to the site of their former imprisonment.

Uluru - Sometimes known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia.

Uluru rises 348 metres above the plain, more than 860 metres above sea level. That's higher than the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Chrysler Building in New York.

If you walk right around the base of Uluru, you'll find it has a circumference of 9.4 kilometers, or about 5.8 miles. 


In summer it can get really hot. Temperatures can reach up to 47 degrees Celsius in summer, that's over 116 degrees Fahrenheit. But you might be surprised to learn that the park still gets around 307 millimetres of rainfall a year and temperatures can drop to minus seven degrees Celsius, 19 degrees Fahrenheit, on winter nights.


In 1950 Ayers Rock, today known as Uluru, was declared a national park. In 1958 both Ayers Rock and Mt Olga (Kata Tjuta) were excised from an Aboriginal reserve to form the Ayers Rock/Mt Olga National Park. It took more than 35 years campaigning for Ananou, the native Aboriginal people, to be recognized as the park's traditional owners and given the deeds back to their land.

Ananou now own all of Uluru and Kata Tjuta and lease it back to Parks Australia to be jointly managed as a national park. This arrangement first came into place in October 1985, in an historic moment known today as handback.


Monday, April 18, 2016

The Family Tree

When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell is a twisty piece of theatre that challenges the audience to stick with it as the time bending slow burn pays off in a painfully beautiful way. In order to help navigate this story that travels between four generations of family, we've included the following family tree in the program:


One of the things we all loved about this play is that there's so much to unpack. It looks at so many things and gives each actor at least one really great moment to shine. We've been trying to get this show on the Dragon stage for several years now and couldn't be more thrilled with the team we managed to land.

The cast during the designer run


Directed by Kimberly Mohne Hill, When the Rain Stops Falling opens May 6th! Tickets now on sale at www.dragonproductions.net.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Post-Show Discussion for Too Much, Too Much, Too Many

On Sunday, April 3rd the cast and director took questions from the audience after the show. Below are producer/director Nancy McClymont's responses to some questions they were asked on Sunday afternoon.

-What prompted you to choose this play?

I was interested in the grief aspect, the trauma and attachment issues for the survivors, as well as the enduring love of Rose and James. Grief and enduring love are not really getting much airtime in our current theatrical climate...I wondered if this fresh voice could deliver on what the play promises. I believe it did. I also shared that I really wanted to choose the work of a female playwright and explained that the ratio of female roles/playwrights/composers/directors was low when I was a child in the seventies but it is far lower NOW which is just ridiculous. The 2nd Stages Series is a tremendous opportunity for burgeoning artists!

-What was the secret ingredient in the muffins?

I asked a ton of chefs, bakers, & foodies...The limitation of 1 teaspoon greatly limited the options in terms of what would make a difference. We tested some muffins that our Rose (Mary) brought in that did the trick...I'll never know what the playwright had in mind but Mary's idea was not just poetic but also culinarily appropriate. She used rose extract...Get it?! I love the message within that. Put yourself in what you do, what you make, how you live! Hoping Emma caught onto that!

-The ending left us with so many questions... what happened to Rose?

As a cast we made no firm decisions on the ending. But we did decide that Rose was declining over the course of the play. She ages a bit more, gets a little less agile, and you see her coughing/fighting to breathe in one scene. We opted to never do that when Rose knew someone could hear. We also made a decision  that she wanted to die looking her best. She had her pride! No one would choose her outfit, do her hair, etc. but her...she dresses up, in our production (it was not suggested in the script) because we see her intentionally seeking to re-experience her glory days of dancing with James. I work with some clients who struggle with clinical depression, so I wanted to be careful to not hint at a glorified suicidal trek to the lake. I cannot be guilty of triggering suicidal ideation. Instead I chose to belief that, like many others who seemed fine, she just died when it was her time. My own mother died at that age and seemed pretty well until a few days before she passed.

-On the same note, do John and Emma get together?

Again, we honored the author's resistance to answering that question in the play. We did decide to not pretend this was Emma's great love story. We viewed their connection as friendship mixed with attraction, loneliness, and shared grief. It is certainly possible that something could have happened, but I'm inclined to let people heal and do their personal work individually before encouraging that they dive into a new romance. We can't rescue each other from grief.

-Who chose the music?

Our wonderful Sound Designer, Lance Huntley did a wonderful job selecting transitional music along with the sound effects. It was important to mark the passage of time as many scenes are either morning scenes or nighttime ones. Toggling back and forth, with such a small cast and the need to change clothing etc. required some blackouts although we did eliminate about a third of them by combining transitions and improvising stage business wherever it added to the characterization. If it would just be repetitive we went with a blackout.

Lance is a sensitive, romantic soul and a great jazz lover. He came up with the songs and I really only said no to one spoken word piece (Walt Whitman reading his poetry quite quickly) because it was distracting from the emotions we were seeing unfold in John. He knew it was a wildcard and had another option ready to go. Drew Jones, our assistant director, was in charge of transitions and I had a strong desire to accomplish a few things in those. I wanted the audience to see the story unfold with the physical environment changing the more James is removed from their world. We ended up realizing most of that would happen AFTER the last scene. I was also determined to show how Rose got food, clean clothes, etc. This music was a true gift, it gave us a larger canvas to paint on. Even in the dark! It never occurred to me that our audiences would laugh to see Rose waiting for Emma to walk away before snagging get lunchbox, or rushing to turn out the light for fear of being caught waiting up for Emma after the big date with John. Life is funny, no jokes required!

This also brings up silence. We felt, from the start, that slower pacing and silence were important for this piece. I tend to be a fast walker/talker/thinker and can frequently be found directing folks onstage to pick up the pace. For this story about one small family in 2 rooms dealing or, rather, not dealing with their grief - rushing was forbidden. My battle cry became, "Give me my ellipses!"

-Since they lived by a lake, not an ocean, why would there be seaweed in James' hair when he dies?

This is something we wrestled with too. Mary checked it out and found that it's still called seaweed regardless. One audience member recounted that he grew up in Illinois, surrounded by lakes, and they always called it seaweed. Another fellow discovered there was also a particular type called lake weed (courtesy of his smart phone.) Either way, we happily blamed the playwright who was unable to see our production due to working on a television series. Lol!