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