23 December 2008


In his highly entertaining DVD commentary, BRICK writer-director Rian Johnson says that he discovered and fell in love with Joel and Ethan Coen's MILLER'S CROSSING (1990) in film school. From this, he found inspiration in the dark, detective fiction of Dashiell Hammett. Hammett created "private dick" Sam Spade, the brooding detective brought to life by Humphrey Bogart in John Huston's THE MALTESE FALCON (1941).

If you plan on joining the cast or crew of BRICK—or if you are a future audience member who can't wait for March 26 (Opening Night!)—get ready by seeing these films [Rian also cites Polanski's CHINATOWN (1974) and Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) as influences on the language of BRICK] and Hammett's books and stories.

I remember seeing MILLER'S CROSSING during college, myself. My roommate bought the score and used to play it all the time in our dorm room. It would be the Coen's next film, BARTON FINK (1991), that totally rocked my world, though.

As theatre artists, our influences come from all sorts of places. This play is inspired by Rian Johnson's film, BRICK. But the very idea of turning a cool film into a stage play comes from childhood, I think...all those afternoons of playing World War II with my buddies. Or playing with Star Wars action figures while listening to a record of the music. Oh, and lest I forget, the very notion of high school theatre being something cool, fun, exciting...that all came from my own experience with theatre in high school...Mrs. Suber, my drama teacher.

Something is influencing you right now, today. Your life has been filled with influences—some good, some bad. Take inventory. How do, how will these things manifest themselves in what you create?

20 December 2008


David Sims, Heidi Kurtz, and Chris White will be meeting at 1:00 PM on Monday at an undisclosed location to discuss scheduling for the upcoming production.

This is where it gets tricky. Coordinating this ambitious production with both CCES and Mann's crowded school schedules has forced us into a condensed, ten-week rehearsal period...the shortest ever for a Spring Production.

The bad news is that we will have to cram a bit to get all the necessary acting and technical rehearsals in. A whole lot of work done on the fly.

The good news is that we'll be done with the entire production just as Spring Break is beginning. So...we all will be able to truly relax and enjoy a full break from an intensive three months of school and theatre.

I tell people who audition for plays at J.L. Mann that they can expect to spend about 100 hours working on the play. Some spend far more, others may spend fewer hours. Still...if you plan to audition and accept a part in BRICK, you must be willing and able to devote a full measure of life and time to the project.

So think hard before you come out to the Auditions on Monday, January 12 and Tuesday, January 13. The rewards of being in BRICK will last a lifetime, but...the time commitment will be great.

13 December 2008


BRICK the film embraced many elements commonly found in American noir movies of the '30s and '40s. As we bring BRICK to the stage, the Production Team intends to integrate some of those elements as well.

This play should be dark...hazy...kind of creepy, actually. Characters should materialize out of the darkness at times. In fact, there should be several startles as certain people suddenly appear from the darkness. It is important that the audience feel as though they are observing the play from the shadows...or maybe the Pin's creepy, basement corridor. Remember that scene in the film? When Brendan first visits the Pin? Tug turns on the hallway light and there's like half a dozen thug dudes lining the walls. THAT. That sort of thing needs to happen in our play.

Film noir took a whole lot of look and feel from early German Expressionist cinema. I recommend seeing the BRILLIANT Robert Weine film, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920). It's a terrific movie...and illuminating (irony!) when considering noir's darkness.

10 December 2008


This year, MANN SHOW 2009 presents the world-premier of the play, BRICK.

Drama Coach Chris White is adapting the screenplay of writer/director Rian Johnson's 2005 film of the same name. (Johnson's next film, THE BROTHERS BLOOM, stars Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz, and Mark Ruffalo, and is set for a January 16 US theatrical release.)

BRICK, a gritty and provocative thriller, follows loner Brendan Frye as he untangles the mystery of how the girl he loves turns up dead. Along the way, Brendan plunges into the dark and dangerous social strata of rich girl Laura, intimidating Tug, addled Dode, drama queen Kara, and the ominous Pin. USA Today calls BRICK, "a clever, twist-filled, whodunit." Rolling Stone says, "A spellbinder! It pins you to your seat."

The show runs two weekends, March 26 through April 4.