25 October 2009

24 October 2009

Cheers to DRAMAC!

BRICK The Play as presented by Macquarie University’s student-run theatre guild, was a rousing success.

Working from a more streamlined script, the story’s high action content was emphasized...and with it, an absolutely fearless journey into Brendan’s (played with grave conviction by Andrew Jackson) desperate quest for the truth.

Laura, deftly played by Steph Merriman, was precisely the femme fatale we were hoping for. As her role in the cover-up is revealed, we gasp. It’s not how we expected things to go. Ah, noir!

Isabella Woolley as Brain was compelling in her thinking-gal’s devotion to the good fight. Matt Dennis’ Dode was spot-on. And Nib Brattoni’s Pin was the show-stopping highlight it is meant to be (with the Aussie accent...shades of Alan Rickman, perhaps?).

Excellent performances ran deep into the cast list. No doubt, DRAMAC’s BRICK The Play will be hard to out-do.

21 October 2009

15 October 2009

HOW WAS THE SHOW? Let us know! Post comments and photos.

08 October 2009

03 October 2009

What's next for BRICK The Play?

The DRAMAC gang is going all out to completely sell out every performance of BRICK The Play at Macquarie University. Make your reservations by e-mailing the box office directly: brick@dramac.org.

DRAMAC's presentation of BRICK The Play in Sydney will be the second full production of the play this year. We're looking for two more opportunities to add to our production history in early 2010, and a late summer/fall production in New York City.

Contact Chris White if you'd like to be production version 3.0 or 4.0!

25 September 2009

There Will Be Blood

BRICK The Play is unusually violent for a stageplay (well, not counting Shakespeare's tragedies).

There was a performance in the SC/USA production when an apparently mentally ill audience member slipped into retching convulsions each time a stage punch landed. And despite our stage managers' most humane efforts to relocate this woman to the lobby, she and her family felt it best to endure.

Thanks alot, Rian. Nice story.

Be fair-warned future audience members, NSW/AUS fight choreographer ("Boots") is readying a rip-roarin' smack-down for all y'all. No word yet on the use of stage blood (there was quite a bit of the old red stuff in the SC/USA version).

Weak-kneed audience members should stay away at all costs.

20 September 2009

Playwright In Residence

I am thrilled to report that I will be attending the second week of performances for BRICK The Play Down Under.

Thanks to many Fundable supporters and a ridiculously generous gift from Ildi Revi of Leopard Forest Coffee, I have a plane ticket booked that will put me in Sydney the morning of October 20 and bring me back to the US on the 29th.

So...THANK YOU supporters! And thank you Ildi. And I CAN'T WAIT to meet the cast and crew of BRICK The Play at Macquarie University.
What an amazing opportunity!

06 September 2009

No cobblers needed for this play.

Those who saw the play last spring in South Carolina, will find a more streamlined script for the New South Wales production.

I've tried to build on what worked in the first full production, and improve things for the second.

A lot of old films—especially film noirs—devote time to following the detective as he moves from place to place...car to office, seedy hotel to underworld hideout. This is often referred to as "shoe leather." A whole lot of walking, without much actually happening.

These transitions are actually an essential element of the film noir genre. And Rian Johnson pays homage to that tradition in BRICK...primarily using such passages to build tension. (And on one ocassion—the Lug fight—he plays it to the its ultimate, ironic conclusion.)

On stage (and in most modern cinema) too much shoe leather is narrative death. It kills momentum and flow.

So in the play, ALL between-scene action has been cut away...even Brendan's phone booth scenes are reduced to audio only in the most recent draft.

When Brendan asks Brain for Em's locker number, we never see him go to her locker and find the red party invitation. When he pulls it out, we assume he went there to find it.

And much of the building tension at the end that begins with Tug killing Dode and ends with the shots fired in The Pin's lair, is built by plot points just flying by...pausing only long enough to remind us who is a good guy and who is a bad guy.

Rian's BRICK screenplay is lean. But BRICK The Play feels even tighter in some spots. Keeping things moving in the live environment is essential to the audience feeling the building dread.

04 September 2009

Girl Brain? A Controversial Choice!

One thing that's different from the film, is that in BRICK The Play, Brain...is a girl.

And though it is a choice that was first made of necessity (not enough dudes in the acting company), it has become one that Rian Johnson himself has expressed fondness for—particularly Reid Cox's performance in the initial production.

The latest production of BRICK The Play at Macquarie University in Sydney will again feature a female Brain (Bella Woolley, left).

The ensuing sexual tension between Brendan and his Brain, adds a really nice, noir-inspired flavor to the brew. And fans who see the stage version will find a tidy plot twist at the very end.

As Rian might say, "a controversial choice." But it's one live audiences seem to like a great deal.


30 August 2009

BRICK The Play Down Under?

As news of BRICK The Play spread across the Internet, director Chris White was interviewed by Adam Kempenaar and Matty Robinson on Chicago Public Radio’s “Filmspotting” program.

And that’s how a theatre-trained cinephile in Australia heard about the play. Christopher Marchand, a student at Sydney’s Macquarie University, tracked Coach White down via e-mail, and invited the American high school teacher to visit Australia this October to make BRICK The Play there with the university’s student-run theatre society.

It will cost Chris about $2,500 to get from Greenville to Sydney. The students at Macquarie have promised to provide for his expenses during his two week residency, but a little help buying the plane ticket would be greatly appreciated.

Support transcontinental theatre and the reimagining of a great film on the live stage. Fund...BRICK The Play Down Under! A gift of any amount is welcome.

20 July 2009

BRICK Happened.

A complete update is coming.


08 March 2009

Why are we seating our audience on the stage?

We've got this amazing new Auditorium...500 comfortable seats...a huge stage...so why are we performing BRICK in a 20 foot square, with the audience half a foot away on three sides?

Because theatre is always better...when it's close.

I love U2. Dig the new record. But I have no desire to sit in the upper deck of a football stadium for one of their shows. I want to be close!

I hate texting my daughter Gibson (even though she likes it quite a bit). I'd much rather be sitting next to her...talking...up close and personal!

And teaching...I will take a class of ten over a class of 50 any day. Why? Because closer, smaller, more intimate is better.

When you want to say something really important...share something personal...let someone in on a secret...closer and smaller is better, right?

That's how I feel about the theatre we make at Mann. What we have to say to our audience is really important, personal...it's like an amazing secret, just for them.

So BRICK players, BRICK audience...let's get close. Let's share something really, really cool. Something big...huge...in someplace small.

PHOTO: London's Cockpit Theatre.

28 February 2009

One Month Before Opening Night

Thursday, February 26, we ran the entire show for the first time.

Although the fights are still far from finished, the complex sound and lighting design is not nearly implemented, no costumes or final props are being used...I must say that things are looking good.

- We are working on the mainstage now. All blocking seems to work in the actual space.
- All actors know their lines...earlier and more precisely than in any previous Mann Show production.
- Principal actors are doing quite well. Rian Johnson's BRICK characters look different in our version, but are just as believable as those in the film.
- Our Stage Manager (Mandy Gonzales) and Assistant Stage Manager (Taryn Miller) are quite a team...our best ever.
- The crew at Todd Inc. is already working to make the cast's hair look great.
- The Brendan-Lug fight is a blast...different from the film, but just as exciting.

A whole lot of hard work lies ahead, but we're on pace to have an incredible show March 26.

Hey...would anyone mind if I change the credits/curtain call music? I like "Sister Ray" a lot, but am feeling something different for the play.

PHOTO: LaBrian Drummond (Brad Bramish) thanks his Stage Manager. (Siovean Lehner, Photography)

07 February 2009

The play has been blocked.

"Blocking" refers to the director's (and sometimes actors') plan for movement on a stage. Some plays require very precise and deliberate blocking. Other plays need very little. Some directors like to meticulously plan and direct every movement on stage. Still others sit back and let their actors have free reign.

BRICK called for a more stringent blocking plan than any other play we've done at J.L. Mann. One reason for this is the numerous stage combat scenes, but the main reason is because we're doing the play in a very small, empty (I like to call it, "limbo") space. There aren't many visual cues for our audience to know where they are and where they're going. In lieu of this, a very precise stage movement plan is required.

Figuring it all out was exhausting. It took two and a half weeks of after school rehearsals. Next week we begin reviewing our work...making sure that it works. I expect that we'll have to make certain corrections...may even have to rethink a scene or two. Our actors will be off-book (lines memorized) beginning Monday. Seeing them moving in the space without scripts for the first time is sure to inspire a creative blocking idea or two.

Kudos to Stage Manager Mandy Gonzales and her Assistant Stage Manager Taryn Miller (pictured above from the fall 2008 play, MUSEUM). Together they make a great team. The next two weeks will try their patience no doubt...remembering blocking, helping the cast off-book, collecting all the required rehearsal props. Here's hoping the cast remembers to thank their stage managers generously and often.