Monthly Archives: July 2008

Share Your Thoughts

Tubthumping

Tubthumping

After many of our performances, we hold an “OpenForum” discussion where we talk about the show and the story in a book club sorta-style. We want the talking to continue (we are called FORUM and all) and have created this nifty little blog to do so.

So, for those of you who have been out to the Playhouse Asylum, what are your thoughts?

(note: some comments may contain “spoilers.”  Haven’t seen the show and want to be surprised?  Then check these discussions after the performance.)

f

f

Here are a few topics that have come up in our recent OpenForum discussions:

f

What themes brought out in the play feel especially resonant today?

f

f

What are some last images that have stayed with you after the performance?

f

f

Have we evolved, as a society, in the ways of equality and democracy, or is civilization in a loop? Is 1808 any different that 2008?

Also at Forum: [eureka]

With all the goings-on at the theatre involving Marat/Sade, we’d be remiss not to mention our other Fringe show, [eureka] which was written and is performed by our very own Patrick Bussink. The show just opened and has 4 more performances, so get with the program and be sure to check it out! I thought I’d conduct a little interview with Patrick and give you all the inside look at him and his show. First, the official [eureka] blurb:

Albert is so gosh-darned pent-up he can’t even talk about it. Lucky for us, he CAN launch himself into hilarious feats of physical and existential absurdity. A hilariously poignant cartoon of a play about one man’s bumbling search for peace of mind, performed in the clowning style of Buster Keaton and Rowan Atkinson.

f

f

Michael: Hi Patrick. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your relationship with Forum?
Patrick: Hello, Michael. I’m an actor, so I’d love to talk about myself for a minute, thanks for asking. Ok, let’s see…I’m from Annapolis, MD, where there’s lots and lots of boats and instead of summer camp I played on the shore of the relatively clear waters of the Chesapeake Bay. I started acting when I was 12 and up through High School, back when auditions were “try outs” and rehearsals were “play practice”. I did more shows during undergrad at Towson University and then toured with the National Players, performing the classics while sampling the fine fare at Waffle Houses across the country. On and off since 2000, I’ve been acting and writing in DC, mixed in with a dash of traveling whenever I can. Ok, I think that’s more than a little bit about myself.

I joined on as a company member with Forum in the Spring of 2007 and in addition to acting (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, The Memorandum, Rough for Theatre II), I co-curate our OpenForum post discussion series with the lovely Hannah Hessel and I help out the just as lovely Fiona Blackshaw with marketing. I don’t wanna give you a big head or anything, Michael, but Forum’s a really great family to be a part of , so thanks for not kicking me out yet…Dad—can I call you Dad?

f

f

M: No. That’s creepy. Move over another 2 feet, please. Thank you. Ok: Paddy, you are quite possibly known by more nicknames than anyone I know. What are a few of them you know of?
P: It’s totally bizarre—I just got a new nickname not long ago, actually, so I’ll start with that one: Chewy. And no, it’s nothing to do with Star Wars. I was at a wedding in Puerto Rico a few weeks back with a bunch of ladies from my office (yeah, that’s how I roll) and after being the designated salsa dancer for a few rounds, one of them said “We’re gonna wear you out, Patrick!” and I said “No kidding, I feel like the only chew toy at a dog park.” So there you have it: Chewy. I have no doubt they’ll call me that for the rest of my life.

Other nicknames include, but are not limited to: Tricky, Trick, Trickster, Tricksink, Patruccio, Pot-reek, Paddy-Paddy-Foo-Foo, Foo Dog, Foo, Foo Manchu, Spidey and…Pat, but only my family calls me that, so don’t even try it.

f

f

M: Got it, Pat. So, you are doing a show in this year’s Fringe Festival called [eureka], that you wrote and are performing in—-describe your show in 10 words:

P: One man’s messy, neurotic and absurdly funny search for peas.

f

f


M: Is use of a contraction cheating? Oh well. [eureka] is running in rep with Marat/Sadedo the shows have anything in common with one another?
How do you feel about performing on a stage that is meant to represent a mental institution?

P: Actually one of the initial springboards for the show was for it to be a companion piece to Marat/Sade and though it still is, it’s in a much less overt way than I’d first envisioned. I originally had all these great ideas about revolution and insanity (“autistic kid leads revolt!”), but as the drafts went on the connections between the two became more subtle. I’ll say this much: Albert definitely ain’t right in the head—he’d easily fit in with the wacky characters of Charenton—you could even say he lives life in his own self-imposed kind of cell; he’s what you might call a just-barely-functional-nutcase. So all things considered, it’s pretty darn perfect that his apartment sits inside a looney bin.

f

f

M: Do you have any influences that have affected this piece?
P: Apart from the obvious answers covered in the marketing blurb—Buster Keaton and Rowan Atkinson—that’s a tough one to put into words. I didn’t realize it, but this character and this story have been bubbling up for years in bits in pieces, so other influences would be…too numerous to mention.
f
f

M: Plug time—-when and where can the fine audiences see your show and how do they get tickets?

P: H Street Playhouse at 1365 H St. NEShowtimes:
Tonight Thursday 7/24 at 5:30pm
Friday 7/25 at 11:30pm
Saturday 7/26 at 3pm & 11:30pm

Tickets are only $10 and you can buy them online at BoxOfficeTickets.com, by calling 1.800.TIXS or just show up at the door.

More Images

A few more shots from the show. All photos by the extraordinary Melissa Blackall.

Steve Beall as COULMIER (with Parker Dixon as DUPPERET, right)

f

f

f

Jesse Terrill as the HERALD (with Eric Messner as ROUX, left, with Danny Gavigan and Helen Pafumi far left)

f

f

f

Joe Brack as BASIL/PATIENT

Opening Weekend

Well, first weekend is over and I’m even more excited for more people to see this show.  It has been, by far, the most challenging production Forum and I, have ever done.  With all the songs, dance, and multiple story levels, I’ve had some serious brain pain over this past month, but it has been a labor most worthy as we have this incredible show (if I may say so–and I do) on our hands.  Strangely enough, we have never been more ready for audiences as we were for Marat/Sade, but before I start trying my luck and claiming that we must be getting better at this whole thing, I should point out the tremendous efforts of the cast and crew for really bringing their “A” game on this show.  There is a real, palpable effort on that stage that is all due to each actor, designer, technician and company member giving a little of themselves to make it all come together.  Thanks, guys—it really shows.

Katy Carkuff as CORDAY, on bench.

We had a bit of a rolling opening for this show as we opened to the public and Fringe go-ers on Thursday, had a performance on Friday, then had most of our alumni and special guests on Saturday.  I would have thought that after 2 previews and 2 regular performances, my nerves would have subsided, but Saturday night still had me all nervy.   Even after 12 productions, 6 of which I have directed, I am still every bit as pins-and-needles on these opening nights.  You have 4-5 weeks where it’s just you, the cast, and various production teammates in the rehearsal room and no matter how much you anticipate the audience seeing the show, nothing prepares you.  I try to drill the idea that certain moments must be played to the audience and continually remind the actors and designers where people will be sitting, but it’s those first nights when you actually see and hear them in the room that can change everything.  The production had felt so private and intimate when it was just the small group and here we are, opening our doors and inviting all these people in to see what we have done.

Jonathon Church, as SADE, with cabbage as…Mr. Cabbage.

At first, I find myself watching the people in the audience more than the show.  Seeing how they react, what they look at, what they respond to.  Inevitably, there is always a moment of “why did they laugh at that?  Should it be funny?” Or even the moments that were funny to the cast 4 weeks ago resurface and remind us of its humor.  After that, I am able to relax somewhat and start prepping for certain moments, hoping they play the way we intended, hoping they delight/shock/titillate where needed.  Based on the crowds this weekend, I’d say we were very successful.  Thank you to all who have attended and have sent/said such kind words–they are much appreciated.

–Michael

Notes from the Audience: Richard Byrne

We found this posting by Richard Byrne on his own blog and asked if we could post it here.  After posting many thoughts and articles from cast and production team members in the past we’d like to start including more of your thoughts.  Not just your review of the show, but how it affected you and contribution to the discussion of topics raised in the play.  So, after you see the show, please feel free to contact us about posting your thoughts, or just add your ideas to the comments section of a related posting.

From Richard:

“I went to the opening night of Forum Theatre’s production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade — better known as Marat/Sade — in DC tonight.

Bottom line: This production of Peter Weiss’ play is miraculous.

Let’s start with the handicap: Marat/Sade is a quintessentially 1960s play. Playwright Peter Weiss hijacked the continuing immediacy of the French Revolution in post-1945 politics (with more than a nod to Georg Buchner’s 1835 play Danton’s Death). Just check out the movie based on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s staggeringly brilliant 1967 production of the play — all atom bombs and sexual revolution.

But director Michael Dove re-imagines this play so wonderfully in the Forum production, however, that you will (at least for the moment) forget the RSC version. Where RSC director Peter Brook went for anarchic sex and apocalypse, Dove angles for something more tangible and contemporary: madness, sensuality and war.

In 2008, the easy route for a director of Marat/Sade would be to angle for the stagecraft and song of the play: Armageddon as cabaret. And the actors who carry the music of this production — Jesse Terrill (who wrote dazzling new music for this staging), Barbara Papendorp, Lisa Lias, Colin Smith, Michael Grew, Ashley Ivey, Colin Smith and Emre Izat — skilfully inhabit the songs and placards that Weiss writes into the play.

For me, however, the center of the play is the fierce dialectic between Marat (Danny Gavigan) and the Marquis de Sade (Jonathon Church). Dove’s version foregrounds this bitter conflict, and uses it as the engine of the play, enlisting the animating energy embodied in the pivotal roles of Charlotte Corday (Katy Carcuff), Simonne Evrard (Helen Parfumi) and the rabble-rousing priest Jacques Roux (Eric Messner) to spur it along. (Corday’s assassination of Marat is downright sexy.)

The danger of doing Marat/Sade in 2008 is a nostalgie de la boue — leaning on Bobby Kennedy and mutual assured destruction and a Europe where revolution is taking the barricades against the bourgeoisie. Forum’s Marat/Sade scrolls forward to an America where war and religion and history are contested categories. The questions that this Marat/Sade poses are worth pondering. The Forum production pushes forward in all directions — the futility of revolution is (almost) fun; assassination is as sexual as it is brutal, and politics is a carousel of sensual brutality.”

MARAT/SADE Opens Tonight

The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade opens tonight!  Tickets are going fast for the opening weekend, so be sure to get yours today.

Vive la Countdown