One Act Festival 2015 – Meet Playwright Stephen Sussman

We are less than 3 weeks away from our 5th Annual One Act Festival @ Rosedale Community Players so it is time to learn more about our playwrights.  We are producting 6 short plays, all by different playwrights, over 3 days.

There will be performances at 8 pm on Thursday, September 10th, Friday, September 11th and Saturday, September 12th as well as a matinee on Saturday, September 12th @ 2pm.  Tickets are $10 each so get your ticket now!

So, without further ado, let’s meet one of our playwrights, Stephen Sussman, writer of Stavros’ Chili, who comes to us from our neighbors at Birmingham Village Players.

 

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Stephen Sussman

1)  What is your day job?

I am an architect with my own practice, started in 1992 in Birmingham, specializing in commercial office space.

2)  Why did you start writing plays?

I joined the [Birmingham Village Players] Playwrights@Work group in 2010, shortly after I appeared in their One-Act Festival.  They said they needed actors at their meetings to read scripts and I thought it would be fun.  After attending several meetings and reading the playwrights’ scripts I decided to try my hand at writing — loved it — and have been doing so ever since.

3)  Why did you write this play in particular?

I wanted to write something light-hearted and silly and this just came to me.  I love that the characters are true to their nature and are not really trying to be funny.  I think that’s what makes this goofy play work.

4)  What are you most looking forward to with this show?

Seeing director Chuck Goddeeris’ vision for this production and how the actors portray these characters.  This is my first submission to the Rosedale Community Players One Act Festival and I am very excited about being part of it!

5)  What’s next for you in terms of playwriting?
I have just written a new one-act comedy that I look forward to being produced, and in the meantime I am submitting some of my works to various festivals and theaters.  I hope to get further opportunities to have my plays performed on stage.  Having actors speak the words you write on-stage is an exhilarating experience!

One Act Fest V needs your scripts!

It’s that time of year again.  Spring is in the air and the flowers are blooming so that means it is time to start submitting scripts for your favorite playwriting festival – the Rosedale Community Players (RCP) One Act Fest!  This will be the 5th year of the festival and we want your submissions to make this the best one yet!

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So, what’s the deal?  How does this work?  When do these shows go up?  All very good questions.  And here are your answers:

  • We’re now accepting one-act submissions of any length, genre, style, etc.
  • All submissions are due by the end of May 8, 2015.
  • We typically select 5-7 scripts to be performed on 4 nights the weekend after Labor Day.
  • We’ll hold auditions in June, with rehearsals running as needed up until performances.

Performances will tentatively be the following dates @ Peace Lutheran Church in Southfield, on 13 Mile between Southfield and Greenfield Roads:

  • Thursday, September 10 @ 8pm
  • Friday, September 11 @ 8pm
  • Saturday, September 12 @ 2pm
  • Saturday, September 12 @ 8pm

RULES:

  1. Plays must be original works (previously produced works are OK, first-time seeing the light of the stage is even better).
  2. Minimal set / set dressing requirements preferred – we will be performing all works in a black box setting.
  3. We prefer casts of 6 or fewer, but a large cast size will not in itself be grounds to reject a piece.
  4. Multiple submissions are OK and encouraged!  We love when writers write.
  5. Writer participation in rehearsal process is encouraged but not required.  We encourage submissions that are in “workshop” mode as this festival is a great opportunity for writers to develop the pieces with the help of performers by attending rehearsals and tweaking as you go.

Questions and submissions can be sent to scripts@rosedalecommunityplayers.com.

Meet John Bruton from Time Stands Still

Tonight is opening night for Rosedale Community Players (RCP) production of Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies.  The play tells the story of two journalists, a female photographer named Sarah and her partner and writer James, and how they come back from covering stories of war and trauma abroad.  They are soon joined by Sarah’s photo-editor, and their close friend, Richard, and his much younger girlfriend Mandy.

The part of Richard is played by long-time member John Bruton who took a few minutes to answer some questions about himself and the show in preparation for the run.  Get to know more about one of our favorite volunteers/stagehand/technician/extraordinaire below.  And don’t forget to order your tickets today!

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John Bruton as Richard Ehrlich

 

What attracted you to the show Time Stands Still?

The play itself is modern and well written and because of our directors, Larry and Cindi.  I hadn’t been on stage in 5 years so I thought it was time!

What are you most looking forward to about this show?

I am curious as to what the audience‘s reaction will be!  It is a heavy play that will make people think and question our foreign policy.  The Middle East is the news right now.

What do you want audiences to take away from seeing this show?

That the soldiers and reporters we read about are people. They have moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and wives and children.  They are not just a 25 second sound bite on the news.

What are some of the favorite productions you’ve worked on and why?

Some of my favorites are 12 Angry Men, the NerdLend Me a Tenor, and Rumors. I tend to like to do comedies and ensemble plays.

What dream roles or productions are still left on your bucket list?

I don’t really have a bucket list, but I just want to do a quality play with good actors.

 

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Meet Lance Alan from Time Stands Still

As we draw closer to opening night for Rosedale Community Players (RCP) production of Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies, we take a moment to get to know more about the rest of the cast.  Today we feature respected RCP member Lance Alan.  A couple things you may not know about Lance is he served as Vice President of RCP from 2012 – 2014 and was the Artistic Director for this past season’s One Act Festival.

 

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Lance Alan as James Dodd

 

What attracted you to the show Time Stands Still?
Time Stands Still is my third show this season. I started with Leading Ladies at the Barn (Farmington Players) which was a comedy, really over the top farce.  Then I did RCP’s previous show Becky’s New Car which was more modern farce mixed with dramatic and darker elements.  So doing a drama seemed like the perfect ending to my season, like I’ve been following an arc and working my way to this.  I also wanted to work with director Larry Rink.  I’ve directed him, we’ve performed together and we’ve been friends for a long time, but I’ve never had the privilege of being an actor in one of his shows.

 

What are you most looking forward to about this show?
Opening night.  Memorizing lines, researching the role, going through costuming, working out props, rehearsing again and again to try and get it right, it’s a lot of work.  I’m not complaining, it’s enjoyable work.  But there’s really nothing like that moment when the lights go down that first time and everything you’ve worked for is about to come to life.

 

What do you want audiences to take away from seeing this show?
One thing I hope they take away is an appreciation (or a greater appreciation) for RCP and the diversity in the shows we stage.  This season is a great example of that from beginning to end.  Last year we followed up Leaving Iowa with Superior Donuts.  The year before that we went from God of Carnage into A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody.  We try to offer a little something for everybody and in doing so we’re not afraid to take some chances.

 

What are some of the favorite productions you’ve worked on and why?
Without a doubt, my favorite was playing Lucky in Waiting for Godot at The Abreact in 2011.  My love for Beckett aside, I learned more from that experience than any other production I’ve ever been involved in.

 

What dream roles or productions are still left on your bucket list?
Eventually, I’d love to play Vladimir and/or Estragon in Waiting for Godot.  Hopefully, when I’m a little older.  Another dream role requires me to age as well and that’s Krapp in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape.

 

Time Stands Still opens this Friday @ 8pm at Peace Lutheran Church in Southfield.  Don’t forget to order your tickets now so you don’t miss out on this compelling story.  Remember, at RCP, the popcorn’s always free!
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Meet Kori Bielaniec from Time Stands Still

Rosedale Community Players (RCP) are just days away from our Coffeehouse preview of Time Stands Still, the compelling drama by Donald Margulies about two journalists, photographer Sarah Goodwin and writer James Dodd, who return from reporting in war-zones and how they deal with their life together while they recover from the traumas (physically, mentally and emotionally) that they experienced abroad.

The show officially opens Friday, April 24th but with the Coffeehouse this Saturday the cast is buckling down and going through their “hell week”.  We took a moment to get to know RCP’s newest member, Kori Bielaniec, and want to share a little more about her with the rest of our patrons.  She comes to us from doing numerous shows with the Players Guild of Dearborn and Farmington Players and blesses us with her talent as Mandy Bloom, the girlfriend of Richard Ehrlich, who is Sarah’s photo-editor.

KoriBielaniec2015colorKori Bielaniec – Mandy Bloom

What attracted you to the show Time Stands Still?

I knew nothing about the show before I was asked to audition, which is somewhat unusual.  A lot of times in community theatre it seems every group does the same shows over and over.  I was excited to have the opportunity to audition for something different, and something modern.

What are you most looking forward to about this show?

As this is my first show with RCP, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the cast and production team (it’s less scary to join a new group when it’s a small show—I highly recommend it!), and that’s truly what I continue to look forward to: meeting the membership and experiencing the patrons of a new group.  I love that the show presents some very different viewpoints about war, terror, and these world events that all of us see on a daily basis.  I connect so much to one of Mandy’s lines: “But what am I supposed to do about? Me, an ordinary person…”  She makes a great point.

What do you want audiences to take away from seeing this show?

Spring boarding off the last question, I hope audiences take time to think about what they can do.  It might be donating to a charity, saying a prayer…or becoming a UN Ambassador and going out on humanitarian missions!  Who knows…the thing is, we really all CAN do something.  It might not be big, but it’s there, if we look for it.

What are some of the favorite productions you’ve worked on and why?

My all-time favorite production was Twelfth Night at Henry Ford College, when I was still in high school.  My first big Shakespearean role, as Olivia, was just so exciting, especially for a 16 year old!  Another favorite was Gloria in Boeing Boeing, which is just an excellent EXCELLENT show to be a part of—you really can’t go wrong with a freaking hilarious farce.  Rabbit Hole (RH) is definitely one of the other stand outs in my acting career, and Time Stands Still reminds me a lot of it.  Four core characters, deep drama, and then comedy and light moments interspersed (by my character in both shows, oddly enough).  Izzy in RH was the hardest character I’ve ever played, to date, but once I got her, it all just clicked beautifully.

What dream roles or productions are still left on your bucket list?

I’ve done Arsenic and Old Lace three times already, always of course playing the ingénue role…I can’t WAIT until I can play the aunts, and I fully intend to play both, multiple times if possible.  I also am dying to play the lead in The Heiress, and would really like to revisit Twelfth Night now that I’m older and hopefully ever so slightly more mature as an actor. Any Shakespeare, really, is on my bucket list.  I’m aging out of playing Juliet, but I would love to do that role again too (I cling to the fact that I’m short, so that means I could pull it off well into my 30s…RIGHT?!)

I also am inching ever closer to wanting to direct (I’ve assistant directed several times), and although I don’t sing, two recent productions I’ve seen have made me want to try my hand at directing musicals: Bonnie and Clyde and Spring Awakening.  Amazing shows with terrific music you can’t get out of your head…and not much dancing so I don’t have to worry about trying to figure all that out!

Don’t forget to order your tickets today!!

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Time Stands Still – Meet the AD – Cindi Moll

As opening night draws near for Rosedale Community Players (RCP) production of Time Stands Still, lets learn a bit more about the rest of the production team.  Today we get to know the Treasurer of RCP, Cindi Moll, as she wears a new hat in her role as the Assistant Director.

CindiMoll2015beta1Cindi Moll (Assistant Director)

What attracted you to the show Time Stands Still?

I have a military connection in my family, my son in law is in the army (as a career).  He is Military Police, recently serving 12 months in Cuba at the Guantanamo Bay prison.  I’ve come to understand the sacrifice that not only the service personnel make but their whole family as well.  Although this play is about civilians, these characters share many experiences and the dangers that our military does, with the same effects (physical and emotional injuries).

What are you most looking forward to about this show?

Discovering a facet of theater that is new for me.  Learning from someone that I respect and admire as a director and a friend is a “dream come true”!  I am looking forward to seeing the final product, it is such a talented cast and they’ve developed a great working relationship with each other.

What do you want audiences to take away from seeing this show?

Possibly opening some eyes to the sometimes unseen dangers that our military and civilian volunteers are exposed to.   Creating an awareness and understanding of the emotional toll this can have on persons serving in such conditions.

What are some of the favorite productions you’ve worked on and why?

Moon Over Buffalo (with a different company), it was the first time I had an individual character with a name and I was able to work with and learn from a talented group of people (including Dave Durham).  My very favorite would be Sylvia with RCP in 2003.  Lindy Bruton was a wonderful director and the cast & crew was filled with fun and talented individuals.  I was new to the group and everyone was so welcoming.  I’ve made many lifelong friends through that production and those that followed. 

What dream roles or productions are still left on your bucket list?

No specific production in mind, but would like to gain the experience and confidence to direct a show one day.  Of course, it would still be fun to be on stage again, too!

Don’t forget to order your tickets – we are just two weeks out from opening night!

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Meet Larry Rink – Director – Time Stands Still

The next show that Rosedale Community Players (RCP) is putting up is Time Stands Still by Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies.  This story focuses on Sarah and James, a photojournalist and a foreign correspondent (respectively) trying to find happiness in a world that seems to have gone crazy.  Theirs is a partnership based on telling the toughest stories, and together, making a difference.  But when their own story takes a sudden turn, the adventurous couple confronts the prospect of a more conventional life.

RCP’s production of Time Stands Still is directed by the venerable Larry Rink.  Let’s take a moment to get to know a bit more about this long time member.

larryRinkLarry Rink – Director

What attracted you to the show Time Stands Still?
The plot of this script is very timely given the current events in the Middle East, especially as it relates to what is now happening with Journalists covering the war zones.  As the Director of this play, I felt that my life-long career in the Defense Industry and charity work supporting Military Veterans and their Families could benefit the actors by bringing a perspective about war and its effects on the people involved.

What are you most looking forward to about this show?
Quite simply, the high quality production that this cast & crew will bring to our audiences.  The dedication of the cast in bringing these characters to life and the crew for creating an environment that makes this story so real has been remarkable.

What do you want audiences to take away from seeing this show?
I hope this show brings our audiences further awareness about our brave men and women suffering from PTSD and those recovering from war-related injuries.  It is so important for our society to support and help with the healing process of these friends and family members.  I also hope this show will spur spirited discussion around the ethics of how much is too much media coverage of the tragic stories of war.

What are some of the favorite productions you’ve worked on and why?
I am one of those actors/directors that enjoy a hilarious comedy as much as a heartfelt drama.  But, since you have asked the question, two of my favorite productions in the last few years are RCP’s 2013 comedy The Love List and 2010’s 12 Angry Men.  Performing in The Love List was so much fun because of the frenetic Abbott & Costello-type comic timing with my fellow actors, Eric Goldstein and Ashley Croft.  12 Angry Men was a wonderful ensemble cast and was beautifully directed by our friend, Lindy Bruton who recently passed away.  It was such a powerful and intimate production that those who saw it are still talking about it!

What dream roles or productions are still left on your bucket list?
While I do love the old classic theater productions, the older I get I find myself looking forward to new and fresh plays to get involved in.  RCP has put on three newer productions this season and I’ve been involved with two of them and enjoyed every moment!  Plus, I love it that RCP really supports the creative playwriting process by sponsoring a One Act Play Festival every year of original scripts by our own group members.

Don’t forget to order your tickets now and spread the word about the show opening later this month by sharing the flyer below!

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Reflections for AACTFest 2015

As we await our performance for Michigan AACTFest we posed three questions to our cast and crew of Dear Me and wanted to share some of those responses with you.  As you’ll read below a good portion of the group is new to the experience but still very excited about the competition.  The set of questions they were asked to answer were as follows:

(1)  What is your biggest challenge in preparing for AACTFest?
(2)  What is your favorite experience from prior AACTFests? If this is your first time going, what are you most looking forward to?
(3)  How has this experienced changed your approach to theatre moving forward?

 

Pat Rodgers (actor)

(1)  Getting myself mentally prepared for the competition and my confidence level up.

(2)  This is my first time, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the process works, seeing the other groups perform, and winning of course!

(3)  This is only my second time performing in something other than a musical, so I don’t know that I have an “approach” yet!  For now, I’m going to keep auditioning and improving on what I’ve learned.

Barb Mathers (director)

(1)  Besides it being a well written play that touched my heart. I felt it had a message that needed to be told.  A message of Love and acceptance.The AACTFest was the vehicle where that message could be told.

(2)  The paperwork and the million and one questions that needed to be answered.  Many thanks to the AACTFest Chairpersons for their help and guidance.

(3)  My favorite experience was the camaraderie with the other theater groups. The devotion our group had to the project and the life long friendships that were formed.

Loren Mathers (set construction and stagehand)

(1)  The biggest challenge was getting the time to work on the set. And trying to make everything go together fast.  And then having to change it to Barb’s and Claudia’s specifications – that was moving the door on a angle.

(2)  Just try and have fun with all my theater friends.

(3)  Having the first leg done so I can get some more work done on my house.

Dave Durham (actor and playwright)

(1)  I was not prepared for the huge amount of coordination and effort that goes into bringing a production to AACTFest.  I feel lucky to be a member of RCP, which as a group has individuals who have gone through this process before and can navigate through it confidently.  My biggest challenge is to keep from being distracted by all the huge effort going on around me and keep focused on my performance.

(2)  I love the smile that comes across someone’s face when you ask them to remember their experiences at AACTFest.  I am looking forward to indulging in the performances from so many different community theaters.  Where else does all that happen in one place?!  I want to go home with that same smile I have seen in others who have attended in the past.

(3)  Honestly, not much.  My approach has stayed simple over almost four decades now.   Place myself with talented people and wait until they decide to do a show – then see if they will let you play with them.  RCP has trusted me with more stage roles than any other group.  These are friends, these are story tellers, and this is, in fact, theater.

Linda Rogers (set dressing and stagehand)

This is my first AACTFest experience.  I’m looking forward to seeing how the other groups construct their sets and just taking in the entire experience.  Since Vince and I are re-locating to Cheboygan we’re looking forward to being active with the Northland Players and hopefully we can get them to go to AACTFest.

It’s been fun watching how things go together.  I find it amazing that we can take a stack of “stuff” and in less than 10 minutes look like a professional set!

Dear Me arrives at AACTFest

Well, we’ve packed up the truck, and a car, and made the hike to Owosso.

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We received a tour from the host company the Owosso Players, and to be honest we were quite envious of their resources and spaces.  We started out backstage unloading our truck and then we actually saw how big the stage is:

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Then we were greeted by the bright, colorful seats for the audience!  A nice bit of ambience we all enjoyed.  (Not to mention they were pretty comfortable when we sat in them later to enjoy the first session.)

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They took us downstairs into their expansive costume shop where they also had room for more set construction.  They had costumes as far as the eye could see, and then some!

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Finally finishing up by showing us their “2nd Stage”, which served as their primary theatre while they rebuilt the main theatre after it was damaged by a fire.

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They were given this “2nd Stage” space by the bank next door and boy did they make it look great.  It also turned out to be where they were going to host the afterglow sessions – the time you get to mingle with all the other competing theatre companies at the end of each day.

After the tour and the load-in we got our 80 minutes to rehearse on the stage and we are ready and raring to go.  Many of our RCP members observed the opening session later that evening of the first two shows: The Sugar Bean Sisters performed by the Center Stage Theatre (Midland) and The Women of Lockerbie performed by Tawas Bay Players.  They set the bar high but we are confident we’re up to the challenge and are excited to present them with our little slice of Americana – Dear Me.  So please come join us this evening (we go up @ 7:40 pm) and throughout the day as we watch the other theatres walk the boards.

AACTFest is hosted by the Owosso Community Players and will be held in the newly re-opened Lebowsky Center at 122 E. Main Street, Owosso, Mich. For more information, please visit www.owossoplayers.com.

 

 

Dear Me heads to AACTFest

We are in the home stretch of final preparations for taking Dear Me to the State AACTFest for 2015.  The actors have been rehearsing for months, with all four original actors from the 2014 RCP One Act Festival reprising their roles: Dave Durham (also the playwright), Pat Rodgers, Emma Kennedy and Bobby Silberberg.  They are led by director Barb Mathers and assistant director Claudia Scott with an army of members making up the tech crew.

The set has been built (thank you to Loren Mathers and Karle Kimball) and awaits its final coat of paint before everything is packed up and hits the road for Owosso – the hosting theatre.

Pictured below is Linda Rogers leading the charge on painting/set dressing, not wasting any time as the rest of the crew has finished placing all the set, props and dressing into the 10′ by 10′ box the show must start from.

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Each competing theatre only gets 10 minutes to set up their production from the 10′ by 10′ starting box and then an hour to perform the show, followed by another 10 minutes to strike the set back into the starting box.  The crew has been rehearsing this process just as much as the actors have been running the show and are fully confident they will have the fancy set below ready to go well within the allowed time.

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Dear Me is a LGBT themed life comedy in one act that shows the many sides of love and it’s power to form, strengthen and heal families.  The cast had the benefit of putting on a fundraiser performance of the show on Saturday, March 14th that provided them valuable feedback (and helped subsidize the cost of the trip) to help prepare for the competition.

According to director (and current RCP President) Barb Mathers: “AACTFest has been a newer tradition for us that allows us to hone our skills and strengthen relationships with other community theatres.  We have been going for the past decade and it’s always been a wonderful experience.”  The group is proud to have won the State level in 2005 and 2007 as well as placing third (aka First Runner Up) in 2013 with another member written piece and hopes to improve upon that accomplishment.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESPictured above is Dave Durham and Emma Kennedy.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFrom left to right Bobby Silberberg, Dave Durham and Emma Kennedy.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESPictured above is Pat Rodgers and Dave Durham

Even if you don’t know anyone involved in our show we encourage you to join us in Owosso and support community theatre.  Theatergoers can enjoy a variety of one-hour shows throughout the weekend. Individual registration is available for $70 and includes full festival attendance and admission to all performance sessions, Friday and Saturday festival parties, and Sunday Awards Brunch. Tickets to a session, which includes two shows per session, can also be purchased for $10. These may be purchased during regular box office hours (Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Tickets will also be available at the door and concession center during the festival.

The 8 competing theatres are:

Center Stage Theatre (Midland), performing The Sugar Bean Sisters
Tawas Bay Players (Tawas), performing Women of Lockerbie
Ichabod’s Little Theatre (South Haven), performing Belle of the Bijou
Holland Civic Theatre (Holland), performing Revival at Possum Kingdom Community Church
Riverwalk Theatre (Lansing), performing The Passion of Richard II
The Farmington Players (Farmington Hills), performing The Amish Project
Rosedale Community Players (Southfield), performing Dear Me
Players de Noc (Escanaba), performing The Hairy Ape

Michigan AACTFest is generously sponsored by the Community Theatre Association of Michigan, the Comstock Inn and Conference Center and Roma’s Back Door.

AACTFest is hosted by the Owosso Community Players and will be held in the newly re-opened Lebowsky Center at 122 E. Main Street, Owosso, Mich. For more information, please visit www.owossoplayers.com.