Monday, February 04, 2008

Mensch

First off, I appreciate that the anonymous poster who was hatin on Rick was enough of a mensch to cop to liking “Laramie.” Thanks for setting a good example of how to be opinionated but also willing to make a concession (not a trait overly common in the blogosphere).

Second, I’d like to address some of what the other anonymous poster who talked about “stars” and “status” was saying. He/she said so much it’s hard to know where to start. While I don’t necessarily agree or don’t fully understand everything he/she said, I believe there are definitely some salient points in his/her post.

Since there’s no way I can address it all, I’ll try a couple of general statements that I hope at least show that I appreciate the comments. One is that any scene I’ve been involved in personally or professionally has certain elements of ‘high school’ in it. There are people who for some reason are perceived as popular and others who aren’t. But perception and reality are often (usually) different. Here’s one example from the theater world: I knew nothing about Chamberlayne Actors Theatre until they turned pro and I went to a couple of their shows. What I was surprised to find is that this sleepy little company had a large and fervent following. And from what I could tell, the people in the audiences of the shows I went to could care less what the critics said, they loved the work that CAT did. CAT was getting more and better support than the Barksdale was, for instance, which was in the process of going through financial and organizational turmoil at the time. The point I’m trying to make – and really trying (probably unsuccessfully) not to step on any toes – is that particularly in a town like Richmond, ‘star’ and ‘status’ are totally relative terms and, as Frank said, the most important critic is the theater-goer. I personally think Scott Wichmann is a star – thousands of people in Richmond have no idea who he is. But there are people who think Amy Berlin is a star (and rightly so!) and have never heard of Randy Strawderman.

Now some folks might complain that I’m being disingenuous because, if being a ‘star’ or having ‘status’ is relative and subjective, how come Barksdale / Firehouse / etc. always get the press coverage. I have two possibly contradictory things to say about that:

1) size does matter – some companies will always be looked to first for stories because of their budgets, the size of their audiences, the caliber of the people they hire (based on Equity membership for instance), their longevity in the community, etc. That’s life.

BUT

2) if you want to be treated like a professional, act like one. Just because a show or a program exists, does not mean that I (or Mary or Style) know about it. Anon said that some great work is going on at inconspicuous companies. That’s great but if those companies want to stop being inconspicuous, they are going to have to market themselves. Even if you are the biggest company in town, marketing is key. If you want more coverage, pitch a story – and not just “this production is going to be really great” – but something new or different or interesting – something that you’d want to read about even if you WEREN’T involved in the production. And if a pitch is not picked up the first or second or even third time, keep trying! It’s a lot like auditioning – there are a lot more actors than roles, and a lot more stories than there is space to print them.

OK, I’m sure I’m rambling now. I know I still haven’t addressed my audacity at saying I hang out with some people in the theater scene. More on that later. Must sleep now…

18 comments:

amyberlin said...

Yea, my mom and my dog totally think I'm a star . . . actually, make that just my mom.

Anonymous said...

Since Santaland Diaries, Rounding Third (where he alternated roles every night with one of my associate artists) and Tartuffe, there are people in Lexington who think Wichmann is a star...especially when he has temper tantrums in rehearsals, which are hilarious!! I think he's funny...

Peace
Rick

Anonymous said...

ps Since anonymous admitted to liking Laramie, I feel totally validated in my directing career...I can retire happy now!!

Peace
R

Jacquie O. said...

Oh man…Scott had some wonderful chair tossing moments during Kingdom of Earth rehearsals. But he was supposed to make me scared...so it helped. But as we all know he is a tree hugging, mush head, red sox cry baby in real life.

Jacquie O. said...

Oh, I should mention that Scott would toss a chair when he forgot a line or word (Bill was dead set on us being WORD perfect…because Tennessee Williams is GOD!).

I would have tossed a chair too…but there were not enough chairs in the city of Richmond for me to toss for each line or word I dropped during a run-through.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Every actor should be word perfect. ;) Tennessee Williams is such a beautiful poet of dialogue. Big fan of directors who are word Nazi's (although sometimes the actors that I'm directing hate me for it).

It's fundamental to the craft, I think.

My two cents for the day.

Frank Creasy said...

See, I never saw Scott throw a chair or anything else when we did "Midsummer Night's Dream". He did, however, run into a chair during a rehearsal and cursed a blue streak. We thought we'd have to put him on the DL, but he rehabbed quickly and said "Manny" five times on the rosary and he was back in the pink!

But he must be a star, you mention his name in a posting Rick and five people comment on it. But ya know - I love me some Amy Berlin too. We keep thinking we'll work together one day, just hasn't happened yet. Hope springs eternal Amy!

amygroupie said...

Amy, we all think you're a star. Well, star-ish. Maybe star-licious?

hoosier steve said...

I sent a UK student from Lafayette Indiana to Tartuffe, and she is convinced that Scot is a star. I wonder if he threw a chair on Sunday when yet another Manning destroyed his teams dreams?

The chair throwing is great, it endears him to me in a way that only a college basketball fan with a sense of history could understand.

Dave T said...

Dear Anonymous,
Though you were careful to say "this is not a personal attack on Mr. St. Peter," your comment absolutely was a personal attack on Mr. St. Peter. And so it will not be appearing in this space. If you have a beef with him, I suggest you contact him directly.
Dave

Anonymous said...

ummm....

rstpeter@actorsguildoflexington.org

Peace
R

Thespis' Little Helper said...

I wish I could have seen some of Rick's work (but alas he was gone from town, I think, by the time I arrived in town). So much buzz and controversy! Hell, maybe I'll have to make a road trip.

Andrew Hamm said...

I do remember Scott getting very angry during a Midsummer rehearsal when he discovered that Ukrop's had gotten his sandwich wrong...

Jacquie O. said...

BC...I had 96 pages of non-stop dialogue and 5 monologues. I don't disagree with you on Mr. Williams words and how VERY important they are. But when you have three weeks of rehearsal and you have to talk your butt off...you do the best you can, ya know? I have a whole new respect for actors who have done one person shows. This was a three person play, but about as close as it gets for me to that experience. I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. Memorizing lines…mind blowing…working with Scott Wichmann in a Tennessee Williams Play…priceless!

Robinitaface said...

BC, I'm going to call playful bullsh*t on your comment about word Nazi's. I seem to remember working on a/that/the (which article is it!?!?!?) certain play with you...it was beautiful.

*smooch*

love. miss.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Just for the record Robin, I do believe that I was absolutely word-perfect with all of my dialogue in AB, which is one of the many reasons Bill C. loved me...hahaha. Lyrics I must admit to have a tougher time with. BUT...lines...hmmm...perhaps I'm forgetting something, but I think not. :P

Love back to you. Hope you're enjoying being back in the city from the scary place.

Frank Creasy said...

Andrew, I thought we agreed to NEVER discuss "the sandwich incident." Shhhhhh!!!!

It was hot, it was opening week, and we were all exhausted. Had it not been for Scott bringing Starbucks' Frappacinos for everyone, I think I would have gone postal myself.

Andrew Hamm said...

Hells yeah Scotty brought frappuccinos! I'll make him a bad sandwich myself if that's the result.