Monthly Archives: July 2009

Better Know a Cast Member: Casie Platt

Our next installment of “Better Know a Cast Member” features the lovely and talented Casie Platt.  Casie plays the double roles of Nick’s love interest, Molly, and Nick’s online creation and Adam’s object of desire, Rachel.

We have 4 more performances of dark play before closing on Sunday.  For those light on the funds, Saturday’s 2pm matinee will be Pay What You Can for you blog readers, so you have no excuse!

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Forum–Hello Casie!  Please:  give us your online profile

Casie–I am originally from the Birmingham, AL area.  I went to Birmingham-Southern College where I received at BA in Theatre.  Then I made the trip to DC to receive my MFA in Drama from The Catholic University of America.  I graduated in ’04 and have been working in the DC area ever since.  As for other interests, I love baseball and college football, BBQ, however I am kind of a snob about it being southern and all, all different kinds of music, currently on a Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Animal Collective kick, always on a Radiohead kick, listening to Ten by Pearl Jam a lot and thinking of my grunge days.  I finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale which was pretty frickin’ amazing.  Currently reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  I love Lost, 30 Rock, Arrested Development and reruns of The Golden Girls.  My favorite movie is probably The Shawshank Redemption, and I can quote Ghostbusters, Batman (Burton/Keaton/Nicholson), Major League, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? from beginning to end.  I do many impressions.  I love dogs, especially my own, Bowie.  I have a lot of shoes.

Forum–When did you decide to get into acting/theatre?

Casie–When I was in 8th grade, we read Romeo and Juliet.  We read it aloud in class.  Each day we all got to draw out of a hat to see what character we would read that day.  I read Lady Capulet, Mercutio, Peter, and Juliet.  I was way more into this than the other kids.  We watched the movie in class and I cried.  I knew I wanted to do this for real.

Forum–Where might we have seen you on stage/off stage, recently?

Casie–I spent 7 months doing 2 shows back to back with Signature for their ’08-’09 season.  They were The Lieutenant of Inishmore and The Little Dog Laughed.  This show is actually my first Forum show but not my last.  I will be playing Harper in the upcoming Angels in America and I am mad excited!  When I’m not onstage, I’m a server at Cafe Deluxe on Wisconsin Ave.  Yep, I’m an actress and a waitress.  I am a walking cliche and that is a-ok!

Forum–There’s nothing wrong with that.  Tell us about dark play.  How would you describe it?

Casie–I think dark play is funny, touching, scary, heartbreaking, and all too real, obviously because it is based on a true story.  Just the fact that anyone can be anyone/anything they want to be online which can be fun at first but can easily take a turn for the worse.  I think this play is very relevant to our times.

Casie as RACHEL

Casie as RACHEL

Forum–Tell us a little bit about your process in dark play.  What challenges have come up in approaching these roles (Molly and Rachel)?

Casie–I was nervous about it.  I didn’t know how to approach a character who was a fiction inside the fiction.  I had never done that before.  I didn’t know if I should humanize her or even how to humanize her or if I was just a vehicle, a mouth piece for Nick, my creator.  I struggled with the idea of wanting the audience to be just as fooled as Adam about my existence but then I had to let that go because that’s the point, the audience sees what is going on.  And then Michael said to me, “The audience has to fall in love with Rachel too.”  It was tricky, but that helped put things in perspective.  I made her a person who was an extension of Nick.  She is Nick, just what he wants to be for Adam.  I had to feel everything he felt, which is real emotion.  Whew!

Forum–What is your favorite place on H St. outside of the Playhouse?

Casie–I really like the Rock N Roll Hotel.  I’ve seen a couple of concerts there and it’s a great venue.  And Dr. Granville Moores!  Yummy mussels and frites!!

Forum–Tell us about someone else in the cast/crew.  Got any good dirt?  Or even…..nice things to say?

Casie–Cliff took 15 years of ballet, James is actually 112 years old, Brandon still believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and Charlotte is just a loose cannon.  Don’t make eye contact with her.  Seriously, I love this group.  Everyone is so talented, funny, generous, and perfect in their roles.  This is definitely one I’m going to miss.

Forum–Do you like to chill?

Casie–Chill??  No.  Hate it.

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Notes from the artistic director

Here are the notes from our Artistic Director, Michael Dove, from the dark play or stories for boys program.

And remember—we only have 5 more performances of dark play, so if you haven’t done so already, get your tickets here.  Tonight’s show will be followed by an OpenForum discussion.

Notes from the artistic director

best2Welcome to the final production of Forum’s fifth season!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years. Forum’s first production, BECKETT: The Shorter Plays, opened on August 13, 2004; since then, we have produced 15 full shows, 3 late-night programs, and one DC area-wide theatre festival. We’ve performed in10 venues and earned our first Helen Hayes nomination. It has been an amazing ride.

As we prepare to move to our new home in Silver Spring, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has made Forum possible to this point. To all the artists who have graced our stages, backstages, and rehearsal rooms; all the supporters who have contributed both time and financial gifts; the various venue owners and managers; our tireless board and hard-working company members; and the audience members who have allowed us to produce our brand of thought-provoking theatre: from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU.

In Forum’s first five years, we have revived many classic plays and produced several shows by internationally renowned playwrights. But, just as important, we have strived to introduce DC audiences to new and exciting voices in contemporary theatre. It is with this mission in mind that we are proud and honored to have Carlos Murillo’s first DC production on our stage.

Since seeing dark play or stories for boys at the 2007 Humana Festival of New American Plays, I have become enamored with Murillo’s exciting use of lang-uage and imagery. He’s writing plays that explore our everyday experiences with a style that combines strong storytelling and adventurous theatricality.

Carlos’ plays often use modern technology and media as a backdrop for extremely personal and eternal human struggles. In dark play, half the story takes place in cyberspace, but the situations are no different from many Greek tragedies or plays by Shakespeare.  The e-mail exchanges and chat rooms may be fairly new territories for theatre, but the questions and emotions raised are the same ones we’ve struggled with for thousands of years. Love can be dangerous no matter what century you live in.

Thank you for joining us for this performance and for making these past five years such a success. We look forward to seeing you again in the fall in our new home at Round House Silver Spring. We open our residency with the two-part modern epic Angels in America by Tony Kushner.

If you enjoy Forum’s work, please sign up for our mailing list in the lobby, help us spread the word about dark play by telling a friend (or twenty), and consider supporting us by subscribing to our sixth season. And, if it is within your means, we would really appreciate any contribution you would be willing to give toward our ongoing mission to provide adventurous, thought-provoking productions that resonate beyond the four walls of the theatre.

Enjoy the show—and thank you for making Forum your theatre.

Michael

Better Know a Cast Member: James Flanagan

Our series of interviews with the cast of dark play continues with a nice conversation with Mr. James Flanagan.  This is Jimmy’s first full production with us after performing in our staged reading of another of Carlos Murillo’s plays,  MIMESOPHOBIA (OR BEFORE AND AFTER), at last year’s Page to Stage at the Kennedy Center (more info on this year’s series coming soon~).  After a period of time where we lost James to NY, it’s really great to have him back in DC.

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Forum–When did you decide to get into acting/theatre?

James–High school.  This was after my failed attempt at figure skating/hockey; I wanted to be D.B. Sweeney in the Cutting Edge.  Moira Kelly had me twitterpated.  When the hockey part failed to take (the other kids grew), I auditioned for the spring musical, having developed a crush on a girl I’d seen perform in the fall.  Took me three years to ask her on a date.  We went to a movie, barely spoke, and she had brought her little brother along with us.  As a reason for being onstage, “to impress a girl” isn’t the strongest.  Over time that reason has changed, but that’s how it started.  I will sing songs.  I will learn to tap dance.  I will slather dark colored foundation on my entire upper-body to fake a tan for South Pacific, because I want to talk with you.  A little melodramatic and desperate… I was a teenager.  And for an hour and a half, four or five times a week, I get to be one again in dark play.  Which is terrifying.

Forum–What is your favorite place on H St. outside of the Playhouse?

JamesThe Argonaut.  A great place to regroup with the cast after the show.

Forum–Tell us about this play.  How would you describe it?

James–Michael Dove emphasized (very early on in the process – something he’d discussed with the playwright) that the play’s a love story.  It goes through some twists and turns, and some unsettling places… there’s a lot being said about technology and its impact on social interactions.  But at heart, it’s about intimacy – and how far one goes to get it.


Forum–Tell us about someone else in the cast/crew.  Got any good dirt?  Or even…..nice things to say?

James–The most difficult part of this process is resisting the urge to make fun of Brandon McCoy backstage.  Unless you’re Cliff or Casie – in which case, you’ve already given up the fight.  Charlotte’s recently joined in.  It sounds terrible on the outside, but within the group, it’s part of how we bond.  The backstage atmosphere is one of the best I’ve encountered; it’s relaxed, easy, fun.  We play cards.  The ribbing is good-natured; a kind of sport.  It jumps from person to person, but does have a tendency to land on Brandon – – mainly because he’s a master at turning it around with just the right mix of wit and humor.  It’s a big part of what makes this cast a joy to work with – that level of comfort and familiarity.


Forum–Lastly, do u like 2 chill?

James–I love to chill.

Better Know A Cast Member: Brandon McCoy

As we shift into our final 5 performances of dark play, we thought we’d give you an opportunity to meet some of the players involved with the show.

We’ll start with our Adam, Brandon McCoy.  Brandon made his Forum debut in Marisol where he played many roles—most notably, as the ugliest man in a dress you’ll ever see (we still love you, Brandon).

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Forum–Brandon, give us your online profile.

Brandon–I am originally from Huntington, WV…and attended Marshall University in my hometown. I moved to DC to pursue my MFA at Catholic University.  The very very best show on television at the moment is Dexter.  If you haven’t seen it…oh my god…do.  My favorite thing to do in the world is fish.  If I could make money doing one thing…it would be that. I think I may be the only actor in DC with that response!  By the way…go watch Dexter…NOW!

Forum–Tell us about dark play.  How would you describe it?

Brandon–I would describe Dark Play as a tight, funny, chilling, and heartbreaking piece of literary magic. Wow…we should have put that on the post card!

Forum–Tell us a little bit about your process in dark play.  What has been difficult?  How has the show changed after a few weeks of performances?

Brandon–I was terrified by this play…which translates to “Me want to do it”.  Now that it is opened and running…(WHY HAVEN’T YOU SEEN IT YET!!!!!) it is just an absolute joy to perform.  What is so great about this cast and crew…everyday seems fresh and new…so…although the show hasn’t changed greatly…I do feel we are constantly “tweaking” things here and there. I put Dark Play as one of my top two plays I’ve ever appeared in.  Period.

Forum– For those who are making it out to the show this week, where would you recommend as your favorite place on H St., outside of the Playhouse?

Brandon–S-T-I-C-K-Y R-I-C-E!!!  I swear to goodness…if it didn’t take 4 hours to eat there…I would eat nowhere else.

Forum–Tell us about someone else in the cast/crew.  Got any good dirt?  Or even…..a nice thing to say?

Brandon–Let me tell you a little something about about Jimmy (James) Flannagan.  Although it is in my nature not to like people of any kind…it is impossible not to like this guy.  He is one of the most…no…THE most generous actor I’ve ever worked with.  My first professional show in DC…I was cast as Guildenstern in Hamlet at Rep Stage.  Jimmy was the Rosencrantz to my Guildenstern…or…vice versa…whatever.  From this point forward…Jimmy and I come as a package deal.  Take THAT DC!

Oh and let me tell you something about Cliff Williams III.  He’s a teddy bear.  A teddy bear I tell ya.

Forum–And lastly, in the spirit of the play, Do U like 2 chill?

Brandon–Wow.  I knew it was going to come to this. Ummmmmm….if by chill you mean drink whiskey and make collages…then…yes.



Notes from the Dramaturg

Here are the dramaturgy notes by Mary Resing for dark play or stories for boys:

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“Dark play is a kind of game
Where certain players know the rules,
And other players don’t.”—Ms. Spiegel
, dark play or stories for boys

In the late 1960s, the noted performance theorist and stage director Richard Schechner became deeply interested in the boundary that separates performer and spectator. In Dionysus in 69, his revolutionary reworking of The Bacchae, Schechner carefully blurred this line. Night after night, the nearly naked actors would carry out a scripted seduction, seeking to persuade spectators to engage in semi-sexual encounters in front of their fellow audience members. In Dionysus in 69, these willing and often naive audience members became the entertainment. The actors became knowing voyeurs.

Immensely influential, Dionysus in 69 rewrote the rules of theatre. It also set Schechner on a journey that eventually led to his formulation of a theory he called “dark play.” Dark play is the term he used to describe games in which some players are aware of both the game and the script and some players aren’t aware of the game at all. According to Schechner, dark play “subverts order, dissolves frames, breaks its own rules, so that the playing itself is in danger of being destroyed, such as [with] spying, con games, undercover actions, and double agency.”

Fast forward 40 years: Carlos Murillo, a playwright with an interest in the influence of electronic media on storytelling and an affection for Schechner’s theories, hears of a bizarre instance of dark play. In 2003, in suburban England, a 14-year-old boy named “John” used the Internet to create multiple characters and intricate narratives. Via 58,000 lines of text typed into an MSN chat room, John carried out a complex and emotionally intense seduction of a naive older boy named “Mark.” Eventually John convinced Mark that he was being recruited into the British Secret Service and had to undergo a dangerous and bizarre initiation ritual. The ultimate result was criminal convictions for both boys that unmasked both John’s game and Mark’s gullibility.

dark play or stories for boys is the meeting of these two events–Schechner’s drive to explore the boundaries of performance and John’s need to control another human being. The direct inspiration for the play was a February 2005 Vanity Fair article about Mark and John. But Murillo’s work on the piece also had classical roots. Like Dionysus in 69, it was heavily influenced by Euripides’ The Bacchae, a play Murillo calls “my favorite ever.”

Although dark play was written in collaboration with young theatre students at the UC Santa Barbara while Murillo was in residence at the University’s 2005 Summer Theatre Lab, it is not intended to be a lecture on the dangers of the Internet. Rather, it reveals the potentially endless circle of art and life: theatre is reflected in life, which is then reflected in theatre, and so on.

Mary Resing

Dark Play Open Thread

James Flanagan and Brandon McCoy

James Flanagan and Brandon McCoy

Thanks to  all who came out to our first OpenForum discussion over at H Street last night, it was a really great conversation.  We started off with a little exercise where everyone wrote their reactions to the play twitter-style, only it was 50 characters or less instead of 140—some interesting responses.  Here they are, in no particular order:

“Boys occupy time by testing the limit of power play.”

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“Surprisingly layered.”

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“This is why I had to play pussy wants a corner” or “Juxtaposing what we want with who we are”

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“Does it make it real if we both pretend it’s real?”

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“Amazing play.  beautifully directed and performed.  provocative.”

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“If it wasn’t based on a true story I wouldn’t have believed it.”

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“How we identify ourselves comes through more truthfully online?”

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“No one is safe and privacy is extinct.”

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“A revealing tale of the times we live in where anyone can appear & disappear on the internet and the detachment of the social situation.”

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Ok so not everyone can count, but who’s counting?  From there we went all over the place, from the early days of internet chatting—back when AOL was pretty much the only name in town—to how social networking has transformed our online lives.  We talked about the addictive quality of living online, specifically the hardcore gamers who spend countless hours a week living another life in another world—we’re not naming names, World of Warcraft.  And finally we got into some other real stories in the media involving dark play, including the MySpace Suicide, the GQ story from the last entry, and the Vanity Fair article that inspired the play.  And last but not least, what conversation about our technologically saturated lives would be complete with out touching on sexting?

Thanks again to all who came out.  This is an open thread which means we welcome you to continue discussing the play by posting a comment here, whether you were with us last night or you saw another performance.  And don’t forget we have 4 more OpenForum discussions in person on July 19,23, 26 and 30.  See you in the lobby at H Street!

Recent Occurance of Dark Play

GQ has an article about an “awkward high school senior in Wisconsin went online, passed himself off as a flirtatious female student, and conned dozens of his male classmates into e-mailing him sexually explicit images of themselves. What he did next will likely send him to jail for a very long time”

We return to performances tonight.  Be sure to get your tickets soon to the show that Tim Treanor at  DCTheatrescene called “one of the best shows I’ve seen all year.”