Friday, December 9, 2011

Check out this amazing promo video by Brian Siano. Such a funny show!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Snack Days

Two weeks ago, while in the midst of the closing Eurydice, helping coordinate the showcase for this year's Fall Saturday Theatre Classes, and putting in hours at my day job, I somehow found time to bake a batch of chocolate chip and oatmeal bar cookies for the the first rehearsal of Accidental Death of an Anarchist. I ran out of time to handcraft individual cookies, so the dough went straight into a pan and became bars.

I made these Tuesday, and they lasted a little under a week. How do I know that? One, I was there. Two, the cast of Eurydice found the final remnants of the bars around Friday night and expressed their feelings of abandonment.

Last week I baked again. Having the time, I made actual cookies instead of bars, and because they are (Superintendent) Len's favorite, and because he was super nice to me one rehearsal last week, I made oatmeal raisin. These did not make it through one rehearsal. That's four hours.

How can one snack last so much longer than the other, in the face of starving artists? Our director, and fearless leader, Craig answered this for me. Actors are lazy. Cutting out one bar from a pan is too much effort to extend, even of it means you get to eat a cookie.

This week, after days of pestering and copious amounts of bribery, I've made mini banana nut muffins. Let's see how long they make it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"What light through younder window breaks?"

Our productions don't always have cameras (although we've had some fantastically creative promotional videos created by Brian Siano), but lights and action we have plenty of. And while typically the lights are pointed blindingly at the actors, we here at Curio thought it might be nice to give them a small break.

Want to see what we're so excited about? Just walk past our entrance on Baltimore Avenue after sunset. If you're feeling lazy, or have had a tiring day, you can peruse the photos at the bottom of this post instead, but I highly recommend seeing this light for yourself. It may just look like some typeface-talented toddler graffiti-ed the sidewalk with glow in the dark chalk, but don't be fooled! Attached to the Calvary roof, through perilous and ungodly feats of engineering madness, is a huge, bazooka-shaped light (as we laymen like to call it) with a fancy, schmancy, glass gobo in it.

Basically, it's like the bat-signal. Only with color. And we pointed it at the ground. And when it's on, instead of crime, there's theatre.

Special thanks to Jimmy Reynolds, without whom this monstrous instrument would not have made it onto the Calvary roof.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at Curio? You're about to find out! Here's a video from Eurydice rehearsals and Kyle Cassidy's photo shoot. Video by Brian Siano. Eurydice runs until November 12th.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Video by Brian Siano for Curio Theatre Company.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Eurydice Week Four: Tech!

This week was tech. Next week we open! I'd say more but honestly, do you want me to spoil everything?

What did we learn this week?
String tangles. Constantly.
Placing children (and actors) in water causes water fights.
Working over the ambient drip drip drip of water is more difficult than you'd think. Especially when you're standing underneath the spigot.
Costume parades are the closest you can get to Halloween before, well, Halloween.
Harry (Big Stone) makes some pretty tasty donuts (but only if you bug him to).

And now for photos! Granted, they're not as good as the photos taken during our photo shoot on Saturday with Kyle Cassidy, photographer extraordinaire. We'll try to post those later. (If you want to see them now, check out the Facebooks)

Loud Stone n' Little Stone
Stones in the Water
More Stones in the Water

Red Umbrellas are all the fashion
A Stage Manager's desk collects so many things...
"It's so high up!"

Friday, October 7, 2011

Water and Snacks

So it's official: we have water! On the stage! Splashing people! Gallons and gallons of it!

But enough about that, let me tell you a secret: the only reason any actor goes to any rehearsal is in the hopes that there will be snacks. For Eurydice rehearsals, we've somehow gotten into a rotation of snack brining, not unlike a children's soccer league. So some days our stage manager Beth will bring in home baked cookies and muffins and full blown cakes and stuff, some days CJ Keller will bring in three gummy bears for the cast and crew (for the record there are about 10 people at any given rehearsal). Then sometimes it becomes my day for snack bringing, so on those days there are no snacks.

That is, until today! During yesterday's rehearsal I was shamed by an anonymous stage manager (who may or may not have been already mentioned in this post) into dusting off the old oven and baking something for tonights rehearsal:

Not the most photogenic donuts in the world, but having eaten four of them already, I can tell you they are decadently good.

And now for the catch: if you want to know what's in em and how to make em, you'll have to come see Eurydice, opening next week. If you ask me after the show, I'll tell you the secrets of fried cakey wonderfulness.

Harry Slack (Big Stone)

PS Go Phillies

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week Three, Eurydice

If you don't think that beautiful rhyme in today's blog title was cleverly thought out, then clearly you're not reading it the same way I am. But that doesn't mean you can't read on!

This week we had a wonderful Designer Run for, well, the designers. What is this thing we call a Designer Run? It's all in the name. We do a full (but still rough) run through without stopping for our designers so that they can see the full product. Most of them haven't seen anything of the show up until this point in the rehearsal process. So, for instance, the lighting designer can see where the actors are, what the mood of a scene is, and then have an idea of what and how he needs to light the show. Pretty neat, huh? We also had a lovely visit from our composer. He had lots of great tunes for us to dance, bike, and Suzuki to.

The lights are almost all up. The actors are off book. Next week is tech. We are, as they say, moving right along.

What did we learn this week?

  • Glenn Miller is all you could want in a fifty's musician, and more
  • String houses don't just take time, they take a lot of time
  • The Arden Shakespeare edition of King Lear makes a fantastic thump noise when thrown from a height of 10 feet
  • Orpheus writes a lot of letters...
  • Stones and Eurydice take direction
Hats are fun!
Working Stones

Orpheus writes another letter
Father takes a phone call

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Two Weeks Down

Week two of rehearsal: complete. This week we had another lovely visit from Josh Browns for our third and final Suzuki workshop, and we started delving into the language of the Stones. We have, as foretold by the mystic prophesy of rehearsal schedule, moved and grooved our way through the Second Movement, and are now ready for the epic conclusion of this three part play.

On the schedule for next week is the Third Movement. This may not seem as exciting as, say, a week of dancing and Suzuki, but believe you me, it is! The end of the play is something we haven't seen hide nor tail of since the read through. Who can remember how it ends!?

What did we learn this week?

  • Making a list of what we learned is super fun: I'm making it a weekend tradition!
  • Tricycles are not built for adults
  • String houses don't just take time, they also take patience, and a whole heck of a lot of imagination
  • Suitcases can be stylish, and fun to sit in!
Stones strike a pose
Suitcases are comfy!
Orpheus writes another letter to Eurydice
He's growing, can't you tell?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One Week Down

Week one of rehearsal is over! Granted, half of the week was filled with read-throughs and workshops, but that doesn't mean there was any less work being done. We've danced and played through the First Movement (Eurydice doesn't have acts, like other, more pedestrian plays) and are ready to forge ahead!

On the schedule for next week is Day Three of Suzuki training (which means rocking it out to, and with, the Stones), slogging through the Second Movement, and straight on till morning. I mean straight on to the Third Movement.

What did we learn this week? Let's make a list:

  • The Jitterbug isn't hard. It's just slightly more complicated than your average macarena. Especially when you have lines.
  • Suzuki is hard. But it's a really good workout, it connects you to you core, and it becomes art when Paul Kuhn does it (I type with a metaphorical gun to my head).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Suzuki Blog Postponed

Yesterday was Suzuki Training: Day 2. You'll notice that there wasn't a blog post following the events of Suzuki Training: Day 1. That's because we were all exhausted and could barely move, let alone blog, for three days. When we came back yesterday we'd all but forgotten just how intense the training had been. That being said, we have another training session next Tuesday, and as I'm still too tired to blog, please enjoy the wonderful photo below and look back here next week for a full account of Suzuki Training: Days 1-3.

Stones learn Suzuki

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Swinging on the East Coast

It's hard to dance by yourself. But when Sarah Ruhl sets down a stage direction that isn't physically and conceptually impossible, it's hard not to make the effort. So while Orpheus and Eurydice (Steve and Tessa) dance the Jitterbug at their wedding, Eurydice’s Father (Paul) parallels them, and dances alone in the underworld.

That being said, learning the Jitterbug by yourself is, well, kind of pointless. For both leader and follower. It’s neigh impossible to learn how to follow without the guiding hand of a leader, and equally difficult to lead with no one following. There are nuances that one can only learn through doing the deed properly. And that, my friends, is how a stage manager gets roped into learning how to dance.

I’m not complaining. I know that’s what it sounds like. In fact, I shouldn’t even say I was roped into this. I was, and still am, rather excited to say I know a dance other than the Hand Jive.

That being said, The Jitterbug, which is in the Swing family and closely related to the Lindy, isn’t that difficult if you have a little rhythm in you. Or an excellent teacher. Enter Colleen Hughes, dance teacher extraordinaire. In ten minutes Colleen had the four of us doing the basics; in an hour we had a routine. A few fancy moves in our back pockets, and we were set to go.

Colleen shows Steve and Tessa the Rock Step

Steve and Tessa do the Jitterbug

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Curio poster by Elizabeth Gallagher

Notes from a Stone

Just got back from my first rehearsal of Eurydice and boy are my arms tired (because I flew). Anyway, thing about Eurydice is that it's based on an old story called "How Orpheus got his Groove Back." Now this story has been told by many different people through many different ages. Ovid told it, Virgil told it, Aaron Spelling told it, all the greats have put their grimy mitts on this tale. The Version we're doing is by Sarah Ruhl, who wrote other plays like Cleaning the House and De Parking Meter in de City.

However, as a public service to all you loyal blog readers, I have gone into the Curio archives, and unearthed a dusty old version of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It’s written in Latin by a man named Bolognius Halatocia. Now I don’t know Latin, but I have an old Wheelock’s Latin textbook in my basement, so I’m going to try to do my best to translate it into modern English. Here goes:

“So there was this dude-brah, a total stud right? This dude-man fell in love with a beautiful mystery lady. Dude-guy said to mystery lady, ‘hey yo, wanna have a son or something?’ Mystery lady was all like, ‘here’s the deal, I got a lot of irons on the fire, but I guess I’ll give you a son or something.’ So they shack up for a while, but they mystery lady gets the wanderlust and leaves dude-fellah, with the baby. The baby’s a son, and he’s named Orpheus Dorpheus, but everyone calls him Orphy-poo. So Orphy-poo grows up the regular way, but one day he’s all, ‘yo pops, where’s my mama?’ And dude-dude, not wanting to make the kid feel bad told Orphy-poo, ‘You’re mother was a magical music lady, so you should be a magical music lady too… only the boy kind… a musical man we call them sometimes.’

And so Orphy-poo learned all about music and stuff. He wrote all the great songs of the time, “Cherry Pie,” “Ave Maria,” and Hank Williams’s “I’ll Never Make it Outta this World Alive.” Then one day he met this super hot lady. He saw her and literally said, ‘Wowza!’ [Translation note: He said ‘wowza’ in Latin, but really it would have been Greek.] He said, ‘hey, nice lady, with the hair and the legs and things! Wanna maybe go out some time, with the dating and the smooching?’ And she, her name happened to be Eurydice, agreed. They dated for a while, and things were going great. They were gonna get married, but then Eurydice went walking in a meadow without any shoes on, and she stepped on snake. The snake, being justifiably peeved, bit the lady, and poisoned her to death. So she was dead, which was a major bummer.

Orphy-poo didn’t want to be married to a dead woman, so he wrote the saddest song in the world. He played it all day everyday, until finally Pluto, the cartoon dog god of the underworld, said to him, ‘Hey guy! Cut that out, you’re bumming everyone out with that jam! I’ll make you a deal, if you can walk an arbitrary distance without looking back at your foxy lady wife, then you can have her. But the catch is that you gotta chill it with that sad song stuff… go back to playing ragtime jams!’ I probably forgot to mention that Orphy-poo used to play wicked good ragtime jams. So Orpheus Dorpheus said he’d be down with the deal, and got to the starting line. He was supposed to walk four hundred steps before turning around, but he miscounted and only walked three hundred and ninety nine steps before turning around. So Eurydice was doomed to eternal death again. Orpheus was bummed out, and joined a Screamo band called “The Thrashing Maenads.” He screamed so hard one concert that his body just straight up exploded into bits. His skull was found by a fan, and she buried it at the foot of Olympus Mans, that big mountain on Mars, because it turned out that she was a Martian. And they all lived happily ever after, except for all the dead ones. The end.”

So that’s the original version of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. You should come see our production to see how the versions differ.


Harry Slack, Big Stone

Season Seven Starts

Yesterday started the new year.

Well, that's not entirely true. I mean, the calendar year starts January 1st. The Chinese New Year is generally late January, early February, depending on the seasons. The school year starts in September, or mid-August if your university bound. The Fiscal Year can start whenever you'd like it to. Personal years start the day a person is born, preferably marked with candles, cake, and gifts.

Yesterday started the new year of (capital t, spelled with an re) Theatre.

Well, that's not entirely true either. Designers and directors have been in constant communication since the season was chosen. Casting was made. A lot of work went on in the off-season, to start the on-season on time.

Summer has ended, and the new season is rolling in. What does that mean? A full year of theatre-y goodness starts now. We'll run through an action packed, four show season, hit a benefit featuring some new, workshopped pieces, fit in two semesters of after school classes, and end the whole shebang off with a month of summer camp.

So where does that leave us? It's Tuesday. Monday started the rehearsal process for Eurydice, our first show in the official Curio season.

Here on the Curio Blog you'll find the back stage scoop; all the stuff that should have made it to the director's cut. Straight from the rehearsal room, I'll be posting stories and interesting tidbits about the ongoing, behind-the-scenes work that you, the audience, never see. From read-through to dress, with  workshops and more, we'll have it all.

So sit back, relax, grab your popcorn and soda. A laugh track will be provided upon request.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Curio Theatre's Philly Fringe production of Lord Of The Flies opened last night. It was an exciting evening in Clark Park. This stage version of William Goldings book was performed Free to the public for over 500 audience members. The cast was outstanding in their portrayals of these British school boys stranded on an deserted island without adults.

The production starts before sunset, and uses primarily natural lighting effects. As the boys descend into madness and savagery, the sun sets upon them, and the darkness swallows them whole. It will be playing for three more evenings, September 7th, 8th and 9th at 7pm.You don't want to miss this! Bring a picnic and blanket.

Come see this bloody show and get in touch with your inner beast!

(Photo by Tessa Kuhn)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern aren't quite dead!

We are thrilled to announce that, due to the overwhelming popularity of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," three performances have been added to the run of the show! This means that if you miss the four performances this weekend, (including our 3pm matinee on Saturday the 14th,) you have May 19th, 20th and 21st at 8pm as your final opportunities to "treat yourself to an evening of superbly absurd theatre at Curio Theatre," as Ellen Wilson Dilks of Stage Magazine suggests.

Find out what all the laughter is about; and remember to reserve your seats early!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A play within a play

As we approach our sold-out opening night performance of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," I wanted to follow up my original mask-making post with an image of the gorgeous finished product.

As mentioned previously, the base of the masks is plaster of Paris, molded to the actors' faces at Curio; these were then sent to wood-carver, Katie Dannenberg, who, incredibly, is a student at Friends Select School in Philadelphia. She beautifully carved the masks out of modeling clay, coated with a rich brown shoe polish. The end result is a mask that looks like the finest Italian leather, feels like smoothly carved wood and is a dream to wear.

In this rehearsal photo taken by Kyle Cassidy, actor Brian McCann (center) explains the intricasies of Commedia performance to CJ Keller and Eric Scotolati (far left and right), while Steve Carpenter and Jennifer Summerfield demonstate.

Remember to reserve your tickets early for this one, and sit back and enjoy Tom Stoppard's masterpiece, running from April 22 through May 14.

Jennifer Summerfield (Gertrude/Commedia actor)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Photo by Kyle Cassidy

featuring CJ Keller, Brian McCann and Eric Scotolati.

Opening night is Friday April 22. Join us for a get together with the cast and crew after the performance, hosted by the Gold Standard Cafe!

Let the previews begin!

Last night we wrapped up our week of tech rehearsals with a ten hour day of fine-tuning, adding full costumes, lights and sound to the mix. We all breathed that collective sigh of relief to see the show take shape under our very feet and to know that we are more than ready for our first preview audience on Thursday evening.

It's been an absolute inspiration to see Eric Scotolati, CJ Keller and Brian McCann work tirelessly to achieve the seeming effortlessness of Tom Stoppard's rapier sharp wit; they're at work when the rest of the cast comes in at the assigned time, and they remain at work when the rest of the cast leaves at the end of the night, perfecting every nuance and giving each movement the specificity it needs.

With a show like "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern," where it's almost impossible to divide one actor from another, so dependent are we on each other as a unit, we're loath to break that connection, even at break-time. So, despite the long hours yesterday, we spent our dinner hour together as well, ordering pizza and sharing thoughts on theatre and language and literature and movies.

This is going to be a fun ride!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A costume's evolution

To me, one of the most interesting aspects of a production like "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" is the amount of effort that goes in to making the costumes and set, lights and sound seem effortless and fluid. There are so many seemingly instant changes between the three worlds of Hamlet, the troupe of traveling players, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and we rely on a set and costumes that both evoke the sense of the world we inhabit and are easily transformed.

One of the roles I am playing is Gertrude, and I had the great pleasure of working with costume assistant Karen Heenan to bring the design created by Aetna and Elizabeth Gallagher to life. I thought it would be interesting for you to catch a glimpse of a costume's evolution, from design to pattern to completion.

First came the original Aetna Gallagher design, beautifully rendered by Elizabeth Gallagher, who, if you can believe it, is still a highschool student!

Both the design rendering and the pattern were sent to Karen, who is incredibly adept at using the pattern as a model while still adding in the beautiful details apparent in the original design.

Karen and I made an outing to Jomar, where we picked out black and white brocade to match the production's color scheme.

I only had one fitting, due to time constraints. Here Karen is fitting the muslin bodice mock-up to me.

When I next saw Karen, it was to be given the finished gown, complete with Aetna's original underdress idea and a bodice that laces up the front! A gown fit for a queen!

--Jennifer Summerfield (Gertrude/commedia actor)
photos by

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Art Behind the Mask

We are deep into the rehearsal process for Curio's next production, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," a darkly comedic look into the psyches of two of the minor characters in Shakespeare's "Hamlet," written by the brilliant Tom Stoppard. Many of the actors double as members of the King of Denmark's court and members of the traveling group of players that comes to entertain the court. Director, Liz Carlson, has made the wonderful choice of having the players be a troupe of Commedia dell'Arte actors, which means: MASKS! MOVEMENT! WORKSHOPS!

This week we were fortunate enough to have Brendon Gawel of Philadelphia's Ombelico Mask Ensemble come to lead us in a Commedia workshop, reviewing the stock characters and their quirks with us. It was fascinating, fun and exhausting. I think we all realized just how many leg muscles are used in maintaining the basic Commedia stance, let alone are required for any sort of movement through space!

The plaster half-masks we will be using in performance are still under construction and will, hopefully, be ready for use in rehearsal by the end of this week.

Here, Brian McCann, who plays the role of the Player, is being fitted for his mask by artistic director, Paul Kuhn (Paul wears many hats at Curio, including set designer and constructor... but more on the set later.)

Facial hair had to be protected by vaseline and tape so that the strips of plaster wouldn't stick to the face, making removal of the hardened mask a painful process. As it was, it required only a scrunching of the facial muscles to pop the mold off. The twenty minutes it took for the soft strips to harden on the face were incredibly relaxing, at least for me, and I found myself naturally using my hands and arms to express myself as I waited for the process to be complete.

I can't wait to post an update with photos of the fully-molded and painted Commedia masks!

Until next time,

-Jennifer Summerfield
(Gertrude/Commedia actor)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Eric Scotolati portrays Pip and Paul Kuhn portrays Magwich in Curio Theatre Company’s production of Dickens' Great Expectations. Adapted and Directed by Jared Reed.

Photo by Kyle Cassidy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Curio presents Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Adapted and Directed by Jared Reed

Previews February 3,4,5 and runs from February 10 to March 5, 2011. Thursday, Friday, Saturdays at 8pm. Tickets $10.00 t0 $15.00. Visit or call 215-525-1350