Sunday, December 16, 2007

Apprentice's Perspective, Volume I, Issue 2

Hey blog friends. It's Jacob. 'member me?

Did I say weekly? Maybe not. In fact, I even had a whole post written up, but it was apparently eaten by the draft system on blogger. Oh is some info on what I've been up to.

- I found out who I'm going to be in Twelfth Night! Please come out and see me in January as *deep breath* Valentine / Sea Captain / Servant / First Officer / Priest. My real star making turn as the Sea Captain comes in the second scene, so I suppose you could leave after that, but if you did, you'd miss a pretty darn good show. Everyone has been working ridiculously hard on it, as the time crunch is, apparently, even more severe than in a "normal" Tavern production. No worries, though. It forces one to step up their game when they know they're under the gun. Or at least it forces me too. I'll speak from my own experience.

In conclusion, come see it. It's a lot of fun!

- I would also be remiss if I didn't point out that my partner, Tiffany, is ripping it up as Fabian in Twelfth Night. She's really good, y'all.

- Since we last spoke, I've gotten to audition for two other shows at the Tavern. The first, Of Mice and Men, was interesting in that I was able to audition with a fellow apprentice. I was also, sad to say, a little more nervous than I would be normally, just because it was my first "real" Tavern audition. And, granted, you won't see me in Of Mice and Men, but the experience was invaluable. Plus, you will see an apprentice make an appearance, as Mark Schroder will be playing "Interstitial Banjo Guy"! Congrats, Mark!

The second just concluded and, let me tell you, I'm pretty tired from it. The first set of auditions for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead were this past week, and I felt pretty good about them. Jeff McKerley is such a wonderful, sweet man in the audition room. He really put me at ease immediately so I was able to calm down and focus on the task at hand. I was even able to remember all of my monologue - No small feat, as I has just memorized it the day prior. During the cold read portion of the evening, I really took in my surroundings. Everyone being on even ground was exciting. I felt as if I had just as much of a chance as anyone.

Turned out, I did, because I got a callback that I went in for today. It was odd to be reading for R&G with guys that have played Hamlet, Petruchio and The Bastard from King John at the Tavern, but I definitely took ownership of it. It was my time, for good or ill, so I made the most of it. We'll find out what happens with that later on, but there's plenty of time for that. For now, I'm still pretty darn tired. That play is so textually thick that it takes energy to put those thoughts out there.

- We're working on Alexander technique. I know so little about it, I am loath to say anything, so let's just say that it's a new frontier to explore.

- We also started Madrigal class, which has to be the hardest class for me. I came here with a solid working knowledge of what it took to build a scene, create a character, drive a fight, drive a nail and so on. However, music is something I fall behind in. I've been in several musicals before, but I have problems singing in front of an audience. Furthermore, I have no clue about music theory, how to read music, or...anything, really. Thank God our teacher (Matthew Trautwein, who you'll ALSO see in Twelfth Night, as Feste...) is taking it slowly. As is, it's like someone speaking Spanish to me. I know enough to be able to pick out a word or two, but I just feel lost. I'm working hard to try and catch up, though. I know that class will be very good for me.

- After taking a little time away from my monologue in text class, I was able to dive right back into it. I'm having a great time inhabiting Hotspur for the time being. It's a very focused mindset to have.

- Speaking of text class, what promises to be my favorite class is coming up as the year draws to a close. Pizza and monologues. I can't wait. I also can't wait for it to be over, because, once it draws to a close, I'll be heading to my old Kentucky home for Christmas.

That seems as good a place as any to stop. I'll have another entry up...eventually. I'll try and make it sooner rather than later.

Have a great day, blog friends!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

December Featured Actor - Matthew Felten

Matt Felten joined the Shakespeare Tavern with the 2003 Apprentice Company, or the “Grasshoppers” as they were affectionately referred to in house. Matt has been a staple actor here at The Shakespeare Tavern, starring in plays such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida and many other productions. During December, Matt will be playing Tiny Tim, The Ghost of Christmas Past and Peter Cratchit in A Christmas Carol.

Matt grew up in Winston Salem, North Carolina. His history with Shakespeare goes back to when he had just graduated high school. He spent a summer with the Carolinian Shakespeare Company in New Bern, NC, performing in Romeo and Juliet. He also trained with Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts during his Junior year of college. Matt has a BA in Theatre Arts from Furman University.

Matt’s first onstage experience at the Shakespeare Tavern was during a 2003 production of Macbeth. He loved the immersion in professional theatre as well as being on stage with part of the Senior Company. Matt’s favorite line in Shakespeare also comes from that play. He loves the line “Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill”.

Matt also busies himself around the Shakespeare Tavern as the Assistant to the Lighting Designer, an Artistic Association, and as a member of our Education Team. Over the summer you might have found Matt taking Improv classes or teaching Clown Class to our Summer Intensive for Teens.

Matt told me that his favorite roles have been Puck and Hamlet. He found Hamlet to be his most challenging role yet, not because of the staggering amount of lines, but because he finds Hamlet to be so intellectually brilliant.

In Non-Shakespeare, Matt loved playing Picasso in Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

His dream role to play is Richard III. He would also love to play the Devil, but in a more suited businessman character than horns and a pitchfork. He would also love to work on anything by David Mamet or the Cohen Brothers. He’d also love to work in Chicago, as the Improv Theatre scene there is thriving.

Matt finds inspiration in the work of Gary Oldman, Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, Buster Keaton and Cate Blanchett.

An interesting fact about Matt? When he was a child he used to enjoy wrapping himself from head to toe in toilet paper and sitting in the drawer of the oven. He doesn’t know why, but he told me the pictures of him look like he is having fun.

After A Christmas Carol, you will be able to see Matt in Twelfth Night, Of Mice and Men, and A Midsummer Nights Dream.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

November Featured Actor - Bryan Lee

Bryan Lee joined the Shakespeare Tavern with the 2006-2007 Apprentice Company in August, 2006. Since then, Bryan has graced the Tavern’s stage in Romeo and Juliet, Troilus and Cressida, and Cabaret. Now Bryan is playing Arthur in King John, a young prince who is caught in a tug-of-war for the throne of England.

Bryan grew up in Bleckley County in Middle Georgia. He majored in Theatre with an emphasis in Music at Northwestern State University in Louisiana. He is an accomplished singer and often worked with NSU’s music department

When Bryan came to the Tavern as an Apprentice, he found his favorite thing was being completely immersed in theatre. To him, it felt like an extension of his college training.

You may also have seen Bryan in The Lost Colony at Roanoke Island, The Andrew’s Brothers at ART Station, and several other productions around the South East.

Bryan told me that he always finds the role he is currently working on to be his favorite. He says that he would love to play Puck in A Midsummer Nights Dream, Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and Iago in Othello. Outside of Shakespeare, his dream roles include Chris in Miss Saigon and Sweeney Todd.

When seeking inspiration and looking up to actors, Bryan looks to the work of Alan Cumming and Sir Ian McKellen. He also likes the work of Julianne Moore.

When I asked Bryan to tell me something different and unusual about himself, he told me that he really likes to fish. He likes the ritual of getting ready and going to buy junk food and beer beforehand, and then how peaceful it is on the water.

As far as Bryan’s acting career goes, he says that he feels happy and fulfilled in Atlanta. He wants to be part of making the Atlanta Theatre Community great and he is having fun and being challenged here,

In King John, Bryan is playing Arthur, the nephew of Richard the Lionheart and heir to the throne. When Richard changes his mind on his deathbed, the throne passes to Richard’s younger brother John. Arthur, who is very young, gets caught in the middle between opposing factions. Bryan says that in his personal interpretation of the role, Arthur is very young and does not want to be King. His favorite scene is what he calls the “Eyeball Scene” with Hubert, played by Jeff Watkins.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Apprentice's Perspective

Hey blog readers. I'm Jacob York, one of the eight apprentices who will be working at the Tavern until at least late April. First off, the opinions expressed here are not NECESSARILY the opinions of the Shakespeare Tavern, etc and so on. Just me. When I found out I was coming here, one of my first questions was, "Will I be able to contribute to the blog?" I think blogs are a great way to deliver a personal touch and let people know a little more of the inner workings of the theatre.

The hope for my contributions is that it will give you an insight into what it's like to work at the Tavern in an apprentice capacity. We might not be as visible as folks like Drew Reeves or Laura Cole, our wonderful teachers, but we're a vital part of the future of the Tavern, as Laura mentions in the podcast mentioned on the front page. In MacB, for instance, there are six (I think...I'm doing this by memory...) former apprentices on stage, not to mention the current apprentices running light board and serving you drinks at the front bar.

I'll be trying to do one of these a week, but time can get a little pressed here, so we'll see how well I can keep up with that. I'll have a more cohesive entry next time, but for now, I'll just bullet point a couple of things I feel I have to mention.

- About me: I'm from a small town in Western Kentucky (Benton) and went to school at Murray State University. I've worked all over including Madison, New Jersey, Rothbury, Michigan, and Manteo, North Carolina. My dream role is Hotspur and am ridiculously excited to find out who I am playing in Twelfth Night. I'm sure more interesting tidbits about me will come forth as I work on this blog, but that's an alright basis, right now.

- Since coming from small town Kentucky, I'm pretty amazed at the amount of theatre here. For instance, I went with another apprentice to see Richard III at Georgia Shakespeare last week. I really enjoyed the design and thought the second act was REALLY tight. I particularly enjoyed Joe Knezevich as Richard and the multi-faced Brik Berkes, who some of you might remember as Prince Hal / Henry V from the Tavern productions of the Henry plays. I'd love to see more theatre in this vibrant area, but alas, I am a poor actor. I gots to pick and choose.

- The highlight of my week so far has got to be the fact that I'm about two hours away from another text class with Laura Cole. Laura has been an inspiring teacher so far, and I can't wait to work my monologue in front of her again.

- I've heard great stuff about King John, opening next week. I'm probably in the minority, in that I've actually seen it before, but I can't wait to see it again from an Original Practice perspective.

- MacB has been great every time I've seen it, also. Which is a pretty good track record, because I've seen it four times now, with my fifth and sixth coming in a week's time.

Those were all of the points I felt like I needed to cover for my first time. So, I'll see you next week, blogfriend!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Our Education Director, Laura Cole, has been named Lexus Leader of the Arts for November 2007! Our Artistic Director, Jeff Watkins, was a Lexus Leader September 2001. Congratulations, Laura!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The curse of The Taming of the Shrew???

Rarely do we find ourselves in the position of having to cancel a performance. Most of the time it is weather-related. On a handful of occasions the number of people in a cast outnumbered the people in the audience, and so we move those patrons to another night and cancelled the show. In the 15 years I've worked here, I think we've cancelled less than 15 performances.

This past Friday we had to make the difficult decision to cancel the performance of The Taming of the Shrew when one of the leads fell very ill with bronchitis (he couldn't say 10 words without coughing up a storm). While we made every effort to try and fill his role for that performance, it just wasn't going to work out in time. So we all did what needed to be done: Box office contacted everyone who had tickets for that show (thanks for everyone's understanding), Stage Management called the cast and crew, our Volunteer coordinator called the volunteers who were scheduled to work, the caterer told the kitchen crew to stop food preparation. Some of us stayed until 8pm to catch any walk ins or people who didn't get the message that the show was cancelled. It definitely felt weird not having a show.

For tonight's performance, here's what you'll find:

The actor who normally plays Hortensio (J.C. Long) will be playing Petruchio (having never played Petruchio before)
The actor who normally plays Gremio (Drew Reeves) will be playing Hortensio (having played the role in previous productions)
We are bringing in an actor (Doug Kaye) who is in other shows during the Threepeat to play Gremio (he has played this part in another Threepeat Shrew).

A few years ago, in another production of Shrew, the actor playing Grumio (different from Gremio), Marc McPherson, tripped and injured himself during an entrance. While he was being taken to the hospital, our Artistic Director Jeff Watkins was outfitting himself in a costume, the stage manager, Cindy Kearns, was photocopying Grumio's lines on to parchment paper for Jeff to read from, and the show went on.

As I type this, the cast is rehearsing in the theater, the costumer has arrived to recostume the "understudies" and I am still selling a lot of tickets! The energy is tense, tinged with excitement. This is what we do really well here at the Tavern (among other things): our actors have so many parts under their belts, they understand how to read the stage directions Shakespeare has hidden in his text so they can get a feel for blocking and intent even before going into a rehearsal. I am so not worried about the show tonight because of the incredible talent we have around here. It will be a wild and fun ride! The show must go on! If you're coming to the show tonight, have a great time; the actors will need your energy, your compassion and your sense of humor.

Regardless of the acting prowess we've got in the company, it makes me wonder: is there a curse on The Taming of the Shrew??

Angels and ministers of grace protect and defend us*...

-Jeanette, Marketing and Box Office


*this is the blessing we like to say whenever anyone utters the word "Macb-th". Can't hurt to invoke it today!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Busy Bees

There is so much going on here at the Shakespeare Tavern this week and next week!

Cabaret is closing on July 1st and we have very limited ticket availability. The show has been a wonderful success and the cast and crew have worked very hard. I thank especially all of the patrons that have chosen to come and see the show multiple times! It's been lovely getting to know all of you and I hope you can squeeze in one more visit for closing week!

Our staff and especially the wonderful Becky (Day Box Office) have worked very hard this week to get the 2007-2008 Season online for sale. Tickets are now available and our Calendar is finalized. Look out for some amazing shows, including a Shakespeare play that we have never performed before!

Lastly we are gearing up for the opening of The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) starring Tony Brown, Paul Hester and Andy Houchins. We'll be opening on July 6th and running through the first week in August. This play is an absolute riot!

(Night Box Office)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Buzz

Our greatest marketing device here at the Tavern is word of mouth. And I'm proud to say that we have a very vocal audience. For the current production of Cabaret, we've had patrons post reviews and comments in all corners of the web from to I've even had freelance writers submit reviews (warning, contains spoilers)! Thanks for creating such a buzz about this incredible production!

Some of you may not know this, but the AJC has cut back on their Arts Coverage. Years ago, a review (no matter good or bad) would bring in bigger crowds. It got the word out to all of Atlanta about what we were doing. There is a great debate on how these cutbacks will affect us, however this season we only received two reviews (for Troilus and Cressida and Cabaret) out of nine productions and yet, for the majority of the season, our houses have been full.

I attribute this to word of mouth marketing.

I want to thank all of you for talking about the Tavern. Whether it's to your friends, your family or to your pet goat (I hear they are great listeners), your opinion matters. And I look forward to reading all of your thoughts online. I encourage us all to start a dialog about theatre all over the web. Here are some sites for you to post your thoughts:

Theatre Review
Judy's Book
MySpace (you must have your own myspace account)
Live Journal (you must have your own LJ account)
City Search
Yahoo Travel

Let me know if there are any other places you know of that posts user reviews.

So get vocal! And thank you!

I am grateful for our audiences.


Monday, April 30, 2007

Happy (Belated) Birthday Bill!

Well, last week on Monday, April 23rd William Shakespeare had another birthday. If the Bard were still around today he would be 443 years old!
We at the Tavern celebrated with Club Member Cupcakes, balloons, and party hats on Sunday the 22nd for our performance of The Taming of the Shrew. Thanks go to everyone who came and celebrated with us!
Did you know his birthday was also his death day? William Shakespeare died on April 23rd, 1616. We didn't celebrate that though. It's hard to find party balloons for that kind of event!
Tonight (Monday April 30th) is our Apprentice Company's final farewell with a night of Shakespeare Scenes! We are very proud and very excited for them! The show is at 7:30pm and you know it will be fantastic!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Coaching with the Ed Program

Imagine that! I get back from a wonderful morning coaching high school students for their Shakespeare Festival (with several other Tavern folk) and discover that a forum for expressing my elation and excitement about the morning has magically opened up in the form of this blog! Well, that's really it - elation and excitement.

This was a festival that has voluntary participation from Clayton County High Schools. They work on scenes from Shakespeare's plays and then show up with the lines memorized, and having worked on the piece quite a bit. They do the pieces for us and we help them tweak them. Then they perform their pieces for judges. Two of us stayed for the performance and we could actually see the difference we had made. It was very gratifying, not to mention hugely entertaining. I saw the most inventive Banquo's ghost ever, for instance. And who would have thought that "Shakespearean Idol" in the form of characters from Shakespeare auditioning to play other characters from his plays (Lady M reading for Tybalt!) could be so much fun?

Watching kids get fired up about my favorite writer/philosopher/psychologist/humorist ( you could keep adding applicable titles indefinitely) is a feeling like no other. I wish everyone who loves Shakespeare and what we do at the Tavern could experience it! Thank you, Laura and Kirk!

From Jeanette in Marketing: Questions

This is the first blog entry!

I had a request from an actor. He thought it might be a good idea if people sent in questions for us to answer in this blog.

We had a place to do that on our old website and decided to not include that section on the new design, however we're very open to answering your questions.

So, if you have a question for anyone in the company: actors, directors, administration (we're fun, too!) e-mail

If you want a specific actor to answer your question in the blog, just let me know who.

On another note, it seems that the one question that gets asked among the staff and actors over and over is "What's the house look like tonight?" I must say that looking back over the past season, 75-80% of the time, the house is mostly full! This weekend we're sold out tonight and Sunday and are in the mid-100's for Friday and Saturday. We seat around 200, 220 if the wind is blowing right.

I'll let Artistic Director Jeff Watkins discuss the irony of full houses in another blog.

I am grateful for our audience.