Radical Acts

Posted in Uncategorized on January 26, 2016 by ironagetheatre

Iron Age Theatre will be working with students at Temple this semester. Helping them interpret, connect with, and perform texts from the western canon at a year end special event. These are students from all walks of life and cultures. But they are not actors, or acting students, nor striving to become actors. [ not yet anyway] They will be reading great literary works as part of their general liberal arts education. Galileo, Marx, Emma Goldman, Lucretius, Sojourner Truth, among others.

Those of us who are actors are , in a sense, lifetime students. Like these young people we are given texts to read and interpret and present in public. We strive to understand the authors intention. To stand in the shoes of a given character and connect to the circumstances in which that character exists, all with the fragile hope we might communicate his or her big ideas to others. We strive to go deeper into our own emotional and intellectual lives to infuse this work with all the humanity and truth we can muster. And then, as best as we can , experience a new way of seeing and feeling, and thinking. We see the world with new eyes…Inevitably we learn something new…and we learn something about ourselves. We then humbly, with vulnerability, dare to share it with others.

This opportunity to work with, and for , the future generation… Well, it feels like a great gift . 

We love what we do. 

Let the journey begin.

MARX IS BACK! And heading for the West Coast

Posted in Marx in Soho, Uncategorized on December 13, 2014 by ironagetheatre

We are proud to announce that Howard Zinn’s timely and moving play “MARX IN SOHO” will be touring the Western States during the Fall , 2015. If you would like to schedule a special event for your campus or community contact Bob Weick at MARXINSOHO@GMAIL.COM.

The celebrated actor Bob Weick is now booking his 10th anniversary tour. This is your chance to see this important work of Howard Zinn’s. Visit http://www.ironagetheatre.org/marx.html for FAQ’s, reviews and references

IMG_2747.JPG“Bob Weick captured Marx and his ideas with the proper strength and subtlety, moving very effectively through a range of moods: humorous,angry, poignant. We admired Weick’s transitions, change of pace, the nuances of feeling. In short, I am very happy with what Bob has done. John Doyle directed the play brilliantly .”
Howard Zinn
Author: Marx in Soho & The People’s History of The United States

Acting for the Stopwatch: Bringing One Minute Plays to Life.

Posted in Uncategorized on August 5, 2014 by ironagetheatre
2014-07-28 20.57.32

Cristina Rodriguez and Gina Martino in 925 by Tommy Butler

Working on the One minute play festival is like being responsible for a series of sonnets in a sequence as part of a cycle communally presented. I have responsibility for 10 one minute pieces which I order and direct with a cast of talented folks, which is then placed into a larger sequence with 10 other directors’ clumps of plays. Each play must be under one minute, no matter the textual length, so there is manipulation of pacing and beats to meet that time table as well as revisions by the authors if the play runs long. The lighting, sound and setting are limited or non existent. It is just actors, words, ideas and a stopwatch. This was an interested challenge both from a practical and an aesthetic perspective. 
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Plays In the Palm of Your Hand: Reflections of the Literary Ancestry of the One Minute Play Festival

Posted in Fringe Wraiths with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2014 by ironagetheatre

I have an extraordinary love of two stylistically similar authors that seem appropriate to directing at the One Minute Play Festival at Interact in August. I am a great lover of Yasunari Kawabata and Richard Brautigan both of whom are creators of the shortest and most lovely short stories on the planet.
Their writing is light and breathy, full of sadness, idealism and scarce language. The works are dense without being crowded by language. Both of their lives ended in suicide and both writers are heroes of sorts to me. They are a window into the literary pedigree of the “One Minute Plays” I cam currently rehearsing.
The power of the short work  is condensation: a fragment of life distilled and presented, an idea embraced but unexplored, an image burned into the mind. Like Irish whiskey, the work is heated until the until the water evaporates and as the text condenses and reforms, it is stronger, tighter and more potent.
These are not works of plot or description.

The stand as full plays and yet require more that a novel or short story.
The micro work is dependent on the audience. The viewer must do much of work. The audience examines the image or idea or situation and then engages with their own experience to bring the context, moral or back story.

The fleeting nature of these short works is contrasted by the resonance that this type of material offers.
Long works prevent the audience from reflecting in the moment. Each passing image or action replaces or builds on the previous and thus the specific impact of the original image is, or at least can be, lost. The build does not let the single image stand alone; it is infested with context.
Intensely short works provide opportunity to focus and embrace a single idea.
I think of Brautigan’s story, The Scarlatti Tilt, which I have taught in schools across the tri-state region to teach analysis of short works. The piece is only 33 words long but with an active reader or audience, the ideas and in fact the action of the story can change.

It is very hard to live in a studio apartment in San Jose with a man who is learning to play the violin. That’s what she told the police when she handed them the empty revolver.

The reader must decide about the intent of the woman. The reader must visualize the apartment and cops and gun. There are many clues and many possibilities. The Scarlatti Tilt is an open story with limiting information and yet without a limited outcome. The story uses or own prejudices and our own experience to fill in the gaps around the single event in the story.

I think of the power of Kawabata’s tale of stillborn puppies in The Palm of the Hand Stories. The images of that three page piece lingers in my mind today. I have never seen puppies born. I don’t even like dogs but my empathy and my understanding of life is enhanced by that brief piece. I have not read the story in years but the intensity of the image resonated in my mind.

I love Haiku as well, not the clever haiku of a or modern revisionism, but classic Haiku by the masters. Those snapshots of life, boxed in by seasons and syllables, feel pure and can be reflected on in solitude. I both react to the cleverness of the piece, the turn in the phrase that shock me into new perspective and the rich meaning that follows.

It is spring
And the streets are flooded
With children

-Issa

Theatre, because of its ephemeral nature, is in many ways is like these short works. Theatre is fleeting and emotionally potent, and temporally isolated. The world of the one minute plays festival are even more so.

Iron Ages Fringe Wraith project is similar to this festival. Short works touched on by an audience through technology. The images are fleeting but the experience can echo.

It is exciting to bring short works in the vein of Kawabata and Brautigan to the stage in the One Minute Play Festival at Interact in August. I love the plays I have been given. They range from the tragic to the ridiculous and yet each has a moment that lives beyond the paltry one minute they exist on stage.
The pieces are quick and skeletal yet they resonate with emotion, possibility and imagery. They , if taken only in the one minute that they play onstage, are actually quite simple but if the audience takes the time to allow them in, to hold on and explore the memory of that minute, they are in for rich rewards.

Killing Babies…. Letting go of the precious cargo in a new play.

Posted in Toughest Boy in Philadelphia on June 12, 2014 by ironagetheatre

I figured the first post about Toughest Boy would be something about transgender issues and human rights but… not so…. Working on the Toughest Boy has been a process full of new script pages. The initial text we began with has changed little but it has grown in size with new scenes added regularly.
This means the play has been evolving both at a text and production level.

New ideas supersede thoughts that we were anchoring scenes in early in the process. The prop list has expanded as well and the costume plot.
The play has changed in production style in a slow organic way.

The pressure of the impending opening and the new material has drawn focus for some very standard editing practices of Iron Age. We are an organic company. The actors in the space present new ideas, This means hard discovered moments fade as the play grow into more developed form.

Toughest Boy has let little time for the process and so as we sat after our first run in the Philly space, each member of the team asked me questions about the viability of two seemingly important props.

Very early in our rehearsals KO and I were discussing the experience of worming with new playwrights. We were discussing how a playwright can become committed to an event or emotion or even an idea that after the play has progressed, no longer has a place in that play. KO called it killing babies.

KO, my lead; Heather, my stage manager, Luke, my sound designer; all asked about two set pieces we were using. They grew into the rehearsal process in two ways. One was from a script requirement and the other was from an actor request. Both appeared early in the rehearsal time and became simple parts of the production. As the play grew, these two precious items have lost their value and my team brought that to my attention.

My desire to meet the playwright’s needs made me take these recommendations with a grain of salt and yet as I weighed the thoughts of several trusted team members, I realized these two items, one cool and the other beautiful, were babies best let pass.

I asked the playwright, pulled them from the production, cut a line or two and we were off to the races. And I might mean that literally…losing those pieces accelerated scene changes, relieved actor stress and made the style of the show much more consistent.

I have found that many of the playwrights we have worked with developing new plays over the past 9 years have had their babies who need killing. It is often a struggle to let things go that seem like the core – a treasured bit, a clever prop, a catchy line, a unique image.

I have learned and am learning that it is good to let those things go in favor of a more streamlined production and to trust, not one person, but the impressions of my theatre team, who have been as deeply in the text as I am. It is a hard task for me. I am a hoarder in many ways, both in my messy car and office and in my embrace of the text. It feels good when you make a hard choice and see its value.

So if you come see The Toughest Boy In Philadelphia, June 12-29, you won’t see a phonograph or a podium and thus those lovely and evocative items do not obscure the beauty of Andrea’s text and my cast’s work.

The Ballad of Big Daddy Earl: a parody tribute to our mythological mascot.

Posted in Iron Age Mythology on April 25, 2014 by ironagetheatre

To the tune of “Big John” (and with apologizes to Jimmy Dean) by Randall Wise

Big Daddy, Big Daddy, Big Daddy Earle.
Every evenin’ at the theater you could see him arrive
He stood six foot six and weighed two forty five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn’t give no lip to Big Daddy.
(Big Daddy, Big Daddy Big Daddy Earle.

Nobody seemed to know where he called home
He just drifted into Norristown and stayed all alone
He didn’t say much, kinda quiet and shy
And if you spoke at all, you just said “Hi” to Big Daddy. Continue reading

Meet Big Daddy Earl

Posted in Iron Age Mythology on April 18, 2014 by ironagetheatre

By Randall Wise with Ray “big daddy earl” Saraceni

During rehearsals our production of “One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest,” Ray Saraceni, was getting lunch at the Norristown McDonalds. As he was leaving the restaurant a man stopped him and loudly proclaimed “Hey, I know you! You’re Big Daddy Earl!” Ray, nonplussed, said, “uh, ok,” and headed back to the theater. He related the story to the rest of the cast who found it funny – not only that it happened to Ray (who seems to attract odd characters), but that it was another example of how colorful downtown Norristown can be.
Needless to say Ray became known as “Big Daddy Earl” to the Iron Age crew, and it became a tradition to have some reference to “Big Daddy” on the set of the show we were working on. Usually the Big Daddy item is a prop or small set piece, and is often,” small enough that even the actors sometimes miss it.

photvvvoThere have been “Papa Grande Earle” cigarettes in “Night of the Iguana,”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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