Rosedale Community Theatre is excited to be presenting our first ever virtual One Act Festival!
Our annual live One Act Fest was derailed in 2020 (I am sure we don’t have to tell you why!!). I missed this popular kick off to our season, which was a great way to showcase local writers and actors. The One Acts was my first RCP event, and I have come to relish seeing both veterans and newbies on stage together for these 10-15 minute plays.
And I love opportunities for local playwrights to submit new scripts. I am always in awe of all of the talent we have locally.
So I was super excited when member Meg Berger proposed to spearhead a Virtual One Act Festival with the tagline “From Script to Screen in One Month”.
Last week we put out out a call for scripts and within seven days and we had 13 submissions.
Five scripts were selected:
A Call for Directors
Have you ever wanted to direct? Think fast! Because we need names of all people interested by tomorrow April 16th. If this piques your interest email firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP!
If you have thought about directing, but this is all too sudden, stick around and get involved with RCP. As we are able to offer more performances, there will be opportunities to get some experience behind the scenes. Follow this blog, as we hope to have some upcoming artilces on directing too.
Auditions will be formally announced after director selections, but we are aiming for them to be on or around April 21. The best way to stay up to date with upcoming opportunities is to follow us on our Facebook page.
Auditions and rehearsals will take place via Zoom. We encourage all skill levels to give auditioning a shot. If you have always wanted to give acting a try, this is the perfect opportunity!
And with our virtual One Acts being presented online, all of your family members can safely watch your performance from the comfort of their own home. From your cousin Ted in Alaska to your Grandparents in Florida!
We Love an Audience
If you aren’t able to come be part of our One Acts team as a director or performer, we still hope you will consider letting us entertain you. We have all be itching to get back to performing art and now, after flying high from the success of our online radio show, The Maltese Falcon, we are excited to bring even more artists’ work to your screen.
We hope to premiere our performance around May 22nd. Stay tuned to this site for more news about our show!
Have you ever entertained the thought of writing a story?
Or even more, dreamed about having your story come to life on stage? With actors taking the words you crafted, and bringing the characters you dreamed up into existence.
What is stopping you? As someone who has done a little script writing here and there, I often say the biggest hurdle is time. But if I’m being honest, it is scary!
However, opportunities to get our scripts read are all around us here in the Metro Detroit theatre community. With so many theatres hosting One Act Festivals that embrace local playwrights, it is a great opportunity to try your hand at writing.
So a few weeks ago I reached out to a few Rosedale Community Players members that write, and have had their shows performed, for advice and inspiration to get those of us teetering on the edge of writing and procrastinating to just sit down and put pen to paper.
Meg Berger’s first script, “Sisters Before Misters” is special to me personally, because it was the first time I auditioned and performed at RCP.
Meg was motivated to write this script when RCP put out a call for one act scripts for their annual One Act Festival and fundraiser in 2018. While she had written novels before, this was her first script, so she wrote what she knew. Her script was inspired by her own life.
Script writing has provided a good outlet for her to achieve her goal of seeing more women’s stories created.
“Too often women get cast as the romantic interest or the mother and that’s their point in the show, they are there to move the plot forward for the male lead.,” says Meg. “And women aren’t just love interests or mothers. We’re so much more than that. I really make a point of focusing on that when I write.”
A One Act Festival was also the motivation for playwright Maureen Paraventi to write her first script. She made it her goal to write something to submit. It was accepted and even won an award for being an audience favorite.
For Maureen, script writing allows her to see how people respond to her work.
“It’s a format that allows you to actually see the audience’s reaction to your work,” says Maureen. “I write fiction and nonfiction as well. When someone reads a book you’ve written, you rarely find out what they thought about it.”
Those reactions took time to appreciate. In the beginning it was tough to watch and see what people thought
“I felt so self-conscious the first time I sat in an audience and watched a play I wrote be performed. It was excruciating!” says Maureen. “But when I realized that the audience was responding to the characters and conflicts, I started to relax. Now I’m pretty Zen about it.”
Dave Durham also got his start in script writing with RCP’s One Act Fest. An avid writer that writes poetry, song lyrics and even creates and writes board games, he considers writing his way of painting.
So it was natural that when RCP member Heather Hudson was spearheading our very first One Act Fest, that she asked Dave to consider submitting something.
“I procrastinated and fretted right up to the deadline, then handed in barely enough to be considered,” reflects Dave. “ That play, Royally Touched, was such a great experience, I haven’t stopped. “
In 2020 Dave’s full length play Of Divine Interest won First place in the Community Theatre Association of Michigan’s Annual Playwriting Contest. And RCP is excited that we will be producing this show in our next live season.
New playwrights tend to have a lot of excuses not to start. For instance, how do you find the time to write?
Dave suggests scheduling time, just as you would s doctor’s appointment. Make that time a priority and stick to it.
Maureen also points out that you do not need huge blocks of time to write. She suggests squeezing in time whenever you find it.
And Meg says it is important to know what will work best for you.
“If you’re a morning person, get up early and write. If you’re a night person, try to sneak in a few pages of writing at night,” she suggests. I have even written during my lunch.”
Like many newbies, I always claimed I didn’t have the time. But then the pandemic hit, and I had a lot more time. So I had to come up with a new excuse. I couldn’t get my creative juices flowing.
And the pandemic seemed to stunt Meg’s creativity too. She ended up turning to writing prompts to get her started again and has made it her goal to write at least once a week.
For Maureen, inspiration happens everywhere. She observes, listens and imagines all of the time. The biggest issue for her is finding the time to develop the ideas she comes up with.
Dave is inspired by stories he hears on NPR, or even through friends.
And when writer’s block hits, he advises that you step away and work on something else.
“I often have three or four artistic projects going at once. My best script ideas hit me while driving or doing household chores,” says Dave. “ I immediately hit the record button on the phone’s voice app and blurt it out in one steady stream. When I sit down again to write, I listen to all the ideas and pick out the best.”
Meg once told me, before I started a script, that to get started writing, I have to just start writing. She said I shouldn’t expect my first script to be good, but I will never get better until I get through that experience.
With my lowered expectations, I was able to finish a script. And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be!
After you finish your first script what do you do with it?
Personally, I sent mine in to a One Acts Fest. It did not get selected but I did get useful feedback to create a better second draft.
But that is part of the process for a writer just starting out. Maureen said that if she could go back in time to give herself advice in the beginning she would tell herself to “learn how to take constructive criticism earlier. I’m fine with it now, but as a beginning writer, I was sensitive. Everyone is going to have an opinion. Take everything in, but take it all with a grain of salt. Not every bit of feedback is useful, or fits your intentions for your play.”
And Dave says that while it is important to get other eyes on your script, but be selective at first.
“Don’t be so quick to spread around your work to everyone you know as soon as you have a first draft. Find reader’s groups, or get a group together to read it out loud, then work on what didn’t quite sound right,” says Dave. “There are so many wonderful groups in the area, and they are hungry for new scripts to peek at. Many of them have actual actors among them so you get an interpretation, instead of just a critique at the end.“
Rosedale Community Players has a script writing group that will resume meeting when things get closer to normal that does just that. The group is composed of both readers and actors (many of us are both) and we provide encouragement and guidance for script writers both new and seasoned.
So to be a writer, all you really have to do is to start writing. What are you waiting for?
My family has been involved with community theatre for a decade now. When I tell people about it, I have had quite a few people say, “Really? I wish I could do something like that.”
But the thing is, you totally can. Everyone can!
When I tell people that they usually say something like they can’t act, or sing, etc.
I couldn’t either.
I had always wanted to try theatre growing up but thought I couldn’t. Then I sort of fell into it as an adult.
My first step into the theatre world was as a stage mom. My daughter had speech issues when she was young, so I thought getting involved in theatre classes would help. And she took a shine to it. So we kept finding classes to get involved with.
Then we heard about a theatre near us, Warren Civic Theatre, that did open casting for some of their shows.
I will never forget her very first audition there. I thought, “Well, this will never be her thing.” But since they had open casting, she automatically landed a role in the ensemble and it sounded like a pretty fun way for her to stay active during the summer break.
She loved it. As she got used to being on stage, her inner star became more bold and confident. So she ended up doing shows there almost continuously for a few years. After two years, the artistic director said to me in passing at a rehearsal, “You know, you’re here at every rehearsal, you might as well get on stage yourself.”
That thought simmered with me for a while. For a whole year. I tossed it over. I shared it with my best friend who said, “Why not? I’ll audition for a show too.”
I had a lot of fun with my kids, with my friend, and with my castmates that became new friends. I didn’t want it to end!
I had more courage than I ever thought I had.
I have learned that open casting can be controversial. Some people tell me that it is not “competitive” enough. But I will tell you with 100% confidence that if there had not been a theatre with open casting, no one in my family would be involved in the theatre.
That thought makes me sad.
During youth productions, the costuming department at WCT taught me how to sew. This is something I have always wanted to learn, but never seemed to have the time. Now it was a way to help the kids.
Getting to know other actors got us out and about to see shows at other community theatres too. Our theatre world kept expanding.
And I even tried my hand at singing. With great musical directors that had the patience of saints, I actually improved. I went from clearing a room with my singing, to merely scaring small children!
As luck would have it, one of the friends that I had made doing theatre reached out to me about Rosedale Community Players. They were doing their annual One Acts Festival, and one of her scripts was being produced. She encouraged me to audition because it would be a very small time commitment.
I was intrigued because RCP performs all plays, so there would be more parts that were a better fit for my singing talents (which are slightly more than none). That was the first time I stepped into RCP.
And I made it in!
The special thing about RCP, is that no one ever makes you feel like a stranger there. You become part of the family immediately.
From that experience stemmed other wonderful opportunities within the next year. I stage managed for the very first time. When I was asked, I remember saying, “I don’t know how to do that!” The producer of the show said it was easy, and they could teach me.
It wasn’t exactly easy, but it was something I really needed to do. It made me realize that I like being part of a production team as much as I like being on stage. You get to make the magic from behind the scenes, and it is pretty gratifying.
Next I was asked if I wanted to be on the Board of Directors. Something else I never considered, but find very rewarding.
I met playwrights and actually started writing scripts. Knowing I can sit down and create my own world is pretty cool. And we have a whole group of people that are willing to read over your scripts and make suggestions to make it better. They are so very encouraging and willing to share their vast experiences
So you don’t have to have any special skills to be a part of the theatre community, just a passion to want to contribute. And you have to love working as a team.
As the world slowly crawls back to normal, I would invite you to think about joining us at RCP (or a community theatre near you). The imaginary lives we create on stage change everyone involved for the better.
So along with my new hobby came so many new friends and experiences that have just made my life richer. I hope you get to experience that too.
If you would like to become a member of Rosedale Community Player for the 2021-222 season visit this link.
The Maltese Falcon radio show was the first show Rosedale Community Players has produced using this format. And it has exceeded our expectations! Viewers have shared with us how much they have enjoyed this unique performance!
Lost On Stage contributor, Heather Hudson, recently interviewed the show’s director, Laurie Smalis, about RCP and the Maltese Falcon!
Heather Hudson: Hello Laurie! First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. You’ve been one of our go-to directors for so long, and we’d be remiss not to share your story with our community (and the blogosphere). Shall we start with how you became a part of RCP?
LAURIE: Back in the 90’s some friends took me to see some RCP shows. I was very impressed with the talent and thought that I wanted to get involved. Well, life got in the way and I wasn’t able to join until the 2000’s. I had directed many plays over the years in college and other theatre groups. Directing is my passion. My first show directing for RCP was Flemming.
HH: That passion absolutely shows, in everything you do! I can only imagine how challenging this “pandemic pause” has been, being away from the physical stage. How have you been keeping art in your life, outside of your recent RCP production of The Maltese Falcon?
LAURIE: I had actually not been doing anything artistically other than watching old movies. I was getting so antsy to do something and remembered my parents talking about radio shows “back in the day”. I thought, well, why not? These are the perfect circumstances to bring it back.
HH: I agree, a million percent. How did The Maltese Falcon get on your radar, exactly? Was it your first virtual directing gig, or one of many?
LAURIE: I have always been a Humphrey Bogart fan. When I found that the original radio script was in public domain, I knew that was the show I had to do. This was my first virtual gig.
HH: As Hannibal would say, “I love it when a plan comes together”. I suspect it had its share of joys and struggles. What was your greatest challenge to overcome in putting the show together? In other words, what words of wisdom do you have for other people thinking about directing online theatre?
LAURIE: The biggest challenge was trying to figure out how we were going to put this together and to make it look like more than just an average zoom meeting.
HH: Well said. How about one of your favorite moments — a “happy accident” or “magic of theatre” moment that reminded you why we do this thing called art?
LAURIE: Well, there were more than just one moment: The professionalism of the actors that I chose and their ability to adapt to this venue (we did not have auditions because I wasn’t sure if this would work). Our foley artist, Calvin Carson, stepping up and really taking on the role of an old fashioned sound effects man, and our sound and music editor. And I guess just how good it turned out!
HH: You certainly have a lot to be proud of with this production, and we could probably chat about it for hours … but I think Devene is going to drop the curtain on me in a second. Let’s close this out with a preview of projects on your list to tackle when we’re all back together again, doing live shows at RCP – do you have anything on your radar?
LAURIE: Yes, I was selected to direct “Of Divine Interest”, written by our own Dave Durham, for the winter of 2020. Well, we all know how that turned out. So now, if all goes well, I will be directing it for the upcoming RCP season. Fingers crossed because it’s a very funny show, and everyone needs a good laugh these days.
HH: I cannot wait to see it. Laurie, you’ve been amazing, thanks again for taking the time. And to all the readers out there, stay safe, stay well, and keep making good art.
Heather Hudson has been a member of Rosedale Community Players since 2009, and was last seen in “Cliff Dwellers”, one of many short plays featured in RCP’s 2019 One Act Festival. Over the years she has also served as actor, director, producer, and sound designer at RCP. Heather holds a B.A. in Psychology from Michigan State University and works at a professional services organization in Detroit as a vendor contract negotiator. In her free time, Heather enjoys writing (especially blogging), acting, photography, and watching endless Netflix entertainment with her three teenagers and two cats.
Today, February 13, 2021, is World Radio Day. A day when we celebrate how radio brings us together. Because before there was the World Wide Web, there was the radio, broadcasting shows, news and stories from all over the world.
As a community theatre that isn’t able to gather together to rehearse or perform, we decided to revisit this medium that brought families together for decades before we moved on to the glows of our TVs, and later, our electronic devices.
I grew up hearing stories from my family about being gathered around the radio listening to the news, or a soap opera. I couldn’t quite grasp it.
And I will never forget watching The Night That Panicked America on TV as a child. This was a made for TV movie from 1975 that told the story of the chaos that hit the country during the 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds. I could not wrap my head around the type of power this medium held to create that type of immense panic.
But the radio and the info it gave us was part of the fabric of American life. Families in small towns and big cities alike could listen to the same concerts, dramas, and sports.
C. E. Hooper Company did a survey in 1947 that found that 82 out of 100 Americans claimed to listen to the radio.
Just this Christmas, my father told us a story about what a radio meant to his family. He grew up in a small mining town in the upper peninsula of Michigan.
My dad remembers when his family first installed electricity in their home. They couldn’t afford to purchase both lights and a radio. My grandmother decided on a radio.
I was a little surprised. But my dad said that his mother wanted the radio because it could bring the world to them. Hearing that made sense. And he has so many fond memories of listening to the radio with his family and learning about the world from his small town. The thought of getting news about World War 2 moments after it was reported seemed so sophisticated.
For years, I grew up visiting my mom’s childhood home, also in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The radio still stood in the living room, but I never remember it working. And I always thought it was so pretty it was just part of the decor.
My mom’s mother used to listen to Guiding Light on the radio, before it was broadcast on TV on CBS. A habit that was passed on once the show moved to television.
My family recently sold that house, and with it the radio. I just asked my mom if she had a picture of that old radio. She said she did in a way. Years ago, while visiting Elvis Presely’s Graceland, she was amused to see that Elvis (or at least his house) had the exact same radio. From a small town in the country to the King of Rock and Roll, the radio was accessible to most Americans.
So you may be able to imagine how excited I was when RCP president Chuck Goddeeris asked if anyone had a radio script they would like to propose for a new project. And then, RCP director Laurie Smalis answered that call!
She chose to direct the original radio script of the Maltese Falcon from 1941. Her production features a few RCP favorites!
And for those of you, like me, that are fascinated at the pure genius of the Foley Artist, our broadcast on Youtube will show our foley artist in action. I can’t wait for my kids to see this aspect of the production.
Our production will premier on the Rosedale Community Players Youtube Channel on Friday, February 26th at 8 pm. It is free to watch, but you will have the opportunity to donate to RCP, so we can keep finding ways to bring art to our community.
We hope you will join us. And while the production is free of charge, we do hope you will consider making a donation while enjoying our show. This has been a difficult year for all of us. So while we have enjoyed getting creative in order to perfor, we also hope to raise funds so when we can perform live again, we come back stronger than ever.
And if you have stories about listening to the radio during its Golden Age, please send us those stories. We would love to share them as we celebrate this wonderfully historical medium. Contact us via our website or on our Facebook page.
Devene Godau, Rosedale Community Player Promotions Chair
Have you enjoyed what you’ve seen this season from the Rosedale Community Players? Would you like to be a part of the action? If you answered yes to either of those questions then look no further. We are always looking for more acting talent as well as stagehands and techies to help us behind the scenes. We have two wonderful opportunities coming up for you to join in on the fun.
The first is very low commitment. We are putting on a fundraiser performance for our show Dear Methat we are taking to the Michigan AACT Fest and are in need of some more talent for some dramatic readings to perform with it. The details are as follows:
The second opportunity is for our final full length production of the season: Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies. Full details are listed below:
Lastly, we’d like to thank everyone who has come out to see Becky’s New Car, especially those from this past snow-filled Sunday. Our final two performances are SOLD OUT this weekend so we hope you already got your tickets or saw an earlier show. Thank you for your ongoing support and we hope to see you at our next show.
Hello there theater patrons. This is the new blog for the Rosedale Community Players. Please bear with us as we gather content from our actors, directors and stagehands to share our experiences both onstage and offstage.
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.