Apr 012014
 

So it is really April 1 already…and our work keeps on..We are doing two new projects this month so please come see us at 910 Arts at 9th and Santa Fe in Skylite Station. First is a Tom Waits musical called Alice very loosely based on the story by Lewis Carroll.  Tom Waits collaborated with Robert Wilson on this and some other projects. Robert Wilson is one of the fathers of the avant garde in American Theatre and I saw a lot of his work at Harvard when I was in Drama School. So we are taking the album and score and some of the script and doing an adaptation of this adaptation. We have moved a way from realism for a bit this new year with Greek and Brecht and now with music theatre. Gary Grundei an amazing musician, composer and teacher is working with us and will play for the performance on April 13th. We look at archteypes as an extension of the greek and brecht work. This approach to character is grounded in work I was able to do with Lee Breuer in the 1980s. He was the founder of Mabou Mines in NYC one of the most important avant garde companies in America. He is most known perhaps for his adaptation of Gospel at Colonus the gospel adaptation of Oedipus recently performed at Su Teatro in collaboration with the Source theatre. One of my favorite productions in Denver ever. The approach to material here is about finding contemporary anologues and archetypes for more ancient ones and it is a way to make old myth and legend more accessible and interesting to contemporary audiences. This is done all the time in film and television especially all the mythological and fantastical stories like Game of Thrones or Harry Potter or even the Hobbit etc…old legend and myth is mixed with our own time and place and sensibilities to create a new world that is resonant while being fresh and new. And it is very fun for the actors. We still are always aware of an objective in scene work but the character actions are really explored short hand through the playing of attitude. It is hit or miss at times and there is a looseness and intuitive approach makes this  very freeing and fun for actors and audience.

On april 27 we will have an open rehearsal of work explored and presented by our Young Conservatory. These younger students meet on Saturday mornings and are presenting some of the one acts by Tennessee Williams out of 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. These young students are becoming  the core of our program. I did not start Visionbox with this in mind. I have been surprised and so excited by the openness and honesty and commitment of the kids we have met. From age 11 to 18 they are grasping technique in a way that continues to surprise and instruct  and inspire me all over again. We look at thinking at Visionbox. We are truly creating a process together and this exploration is creating great product in a new way I have not seen in many companies here. We do not just focus on performance or the way it is going to look. Actors and students of all disciplines are exploring a play and understanding the construction of the text, the behavior that comes out of that and the world of the play and playwright. And I am constantly surpised by new incites and the intelligence and depth of our young students in looking at very old texts with fresh attitudes and ideas.

Finally we are gearing up for the summer. This is the best way to join our company. something about the every day immersion and our lives seem less stressed and we come together in an easier yet more intensive way. so please check out the summer program for yourself or your child!

Well happy april fools to all of us. Being foolish is perhaps the most important part of our work. As we look at the struggle and difficulty of life we must remember  to laugh is perhaps one of the most healing aspects of live expression in the theatre. So come take American and British Comedy on April 15!!! Audition class as well and new instructors I hope in June!

the work continues…

Jenn

Feb 262014
 

So first of all February came and went in a blur….we are working on some Brecht and Greek material only scratching the surface of this complex literature but being reminded that the plays of an era are certainly a major reflection of the time in which they are written not only the writers own life but the world he or she is inhabiting. The world of the play is really its style. Michel Saint Denis was the great articulator of the idea of style. HE said “Style is the man himself..” Meaning that everything that goes into the evolution of a man’s life is the style of the work. History, Politics, Social class and education, Family, birth order, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, war and peace…relationships…The young conservatory is doing Tennessee Williams one of the most overtly autobiographical writers I know. In that case style is absolutely the man himself.

So MARCH. We have Brecht and Greek piece called Speechlessness ironically on March 9th. Then an irish play for irish night at Skylite Station called “Meatless Friday” by my favorite woman from drama school Brighde Mullins on March 15th. First friday is March 7th at 910 arts and Amber Fries our donor and board member and major part of this company is having a show of her new work on Beaty and the Sublime at Ice Cube Gallery. Her last show called the “Fog” was amazing and moving and inspiring. Her images are beautiful and disturbing and make you pause and think. Please come support her and this work by coming at 6 on MArch 7th! It is challenging and exciting to be in this environment where artists from different disciplines and backgrounds are influencing each other. This is the best part about the Art District location for all of us. Then I am proud and excited to start working with the brilliant Gary Grundei on March 11th. Spots are open We are going to look at Tom Waits’ adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Music and scene and the avant grade….and a performance April 13 as well as a possible performance at the Art Museum so look out for this and if you are an actor or singer please contact us ASAP! Then MArch 15th is also our first round of Auditions for the summer intensives as well as ongoing young conservatory classes. Adults and younger actors all welcome. Please come meet us if you haven’t or if you just miss us!

Finally time is going by too fast…I want to stop and breathe and think and reflect. Where are we going with this work? The pursuit of truth in acting, the study of technique, the study of great writing is an end in itself . It needs no artificial or overreaching goal. However this is somehow not enough for me personally right now. I see so many of us wishing for something better in our world, culture, community in Denver. Better how? Better quality of life. Better economic stability. Higher quality of work overall. Professional ethics and goals. Standards and excellence. Impact on the audience. More audience. How do we transform Denver into a center of art and thought and financially sustainable work for artists? We  must keep studying and improving our work overall. Technique, depth, experience, ensemble, new ideas and ultimately new forms and content reflective of our moral and social concern will come in time through the trudging and study and application of technique. Most importantly it is endurance and commitment. I am not looking elsewhere. I am not here while I dream of something somewhere else that might be better. I will take who I am, where I have come from and the community I am in and try to forge something beautiful and powerful. I will keep working and I will be here now in the moment grateful for the past, grateful for this moment, and extremely full of hope for our future. If you want to join us our door is always open. And the answer is YES. I am looking for a few great men and women who have the faith and the commitment to stay and make something happen that has never happened before and will never happen again. A few great and visionary artists who want to be here nowhere else. Come find us. The work continues….

Jenn

Feb 122014
 

It has been bitter cold but warming up. We finished the audition section of this year and will keep doing that as it is so key to actor’s getting out there and getting work. Along those lines a couple of our members have made the trek to both coasts to audition for the big schools, Yale, Juilliard, NYU, UCSD, ACT and the one I can’t remember the name Gary Logan’s amazing one year program associated with the Shakespeare Theatre in DC. All the programs require in person audition two monologues. Now they all have call backs. When Earle Gister was a live and well he started something called The League. All the schools went to Chicago etc together and then did series of showcases upon graduation together in NYC. I assisted Bonnie Timmermann after undergrad for a time and saw many League audition showcases. It was long and intense and very cool. NOw it is kind of every man for himself and everyone does callbacks on the day sometimes three times and then you wait for the MArch callback if you are real lucky.

So how does one get into grad school? Keep training! Don’t stop after undergrad. Seek out directors and companies and studio work where you keep working on the work. I took 4 years between undergrad and grad school. But I was going for a directing degree. Actors have more flexibility depending on who you are age range type and overall life plan. But all of this is your choice. You have to find a way in this industry to self empower and not be reliant only on the directors and casting people to define you or give you work. grad school is a great way to train very intensively over a three or even four year period. Generally you don’t go to a day job and it is exciting and challenging and all immersion. And you create relationships that last for the rest of your life personal and professional. But this is not the only way to become a professional actor. Work with directors and teachers and mentors and a company over time can also train you. however only doing shows for the performance experience in my opinion is not enough. The rehearsal is more important in some ways for the growth of an actor. This is where you find your process and that is all training is. A reliable process. Acting for me is about transformation. The actors’ ability to take the words of a playwright and put the life of the character onstage in an authentic compelling and imaginative way. But it is not born only of instinct and talent. The translation of those words into live behavior, action and the playing out of objectives is a process born of technique and craft.

Perhaps all this is obvious. but somehow I feel we still resist this discipline and approach to art and artists ongoing work. We watch reality tv and think well if they can do it so can I. But that is not art. That is some weird culture of sensationalism and live soap opera. And if that is what will be left of our time to those who come after us I am very very sad…

So we are still working hard at Visionbox to create and continue to provide a place for actors to study, find fellowship, get where they want to go and most importantly perhaps to begin to create new work that changes the world we live in. High goals perhaps too high? I don’t think so. This is what we have been doing for the last 4 years and we are here to stay.

JEnn

Jan 302014
 

Maggie pointed out that all my posts have some sort of time attached. time of year, time of the day, time in the month, time in my life…Question number two of the five questions is when and where are you? So that may  be a good way to start. It is the end of JAnuary 2014. We will finish our first round of classes for 2014. And we did what we said. We took some time off this month, doesn’t seem like it, to rebuild and recommit to the Ensemble as well as look at our goals and ideas for 2014. We finish an audition class tonight. Then on to Classical Realism with the young conservatory on Saturday. they produced a new play last week. It was amazing. And I can’t wait for the second half to come…Then we are supposed to start Brecht and Greek plays next week with our adults. If we get enough interest. We have a very committed ongoing group and I want to see new people. We will always want new people! The flow and flux of the actor groups keeps us energized and challenged and new. And the permanent Ensemble will begin to develop new work. Probably the most important outcome of the Studio.

One of the things I am thinking about this month is what is this word “professional”? And what is it to be a professional actor in Denver? It is a struggle clearly. I don’t think it is just difficult economy. There is just not enough ongoing work to sustain actors financially and actors are often not paid at all. I have always believed the actors should be paid first. I love designers and design in theatre but if we don’t have the funds, the empty space, a script and the actor is all we need. The impulse to inhabit life on stage and find the behavior of a play is also an impulse born and bred and developed in the imagination. At some time long ago some mentor of mine used the word “connotative” to define the life of a play. As opposed to “denotative”. that we look for language and behavior and stuff on stage that resonates beyond what it is. A stick is a cane, a piece of a tree, a weapon,…the way you buy a kid a fancy toy when they are tiny and they would rather play with the tupperware in the cabinet, making drums and building castles. I digress as usual….so back to the imagination. The most important key to talent in an actor and also what truly engages the audience is the connection to their imagination as well. This is the kind of work I love. Minimalism. Simplicity and the ability to take me out of my own experience into some other world for an hour or two. while paradoxically connecting us to each other.

So this money thing. more than one company member has come into the Studio this week talking about this challenge. Should I quit for a while and focus on my bank account? My day job has become my life. Can I support a family? Can I have a child? This is no easy dilemma. Rainer Rilke discusses this in his letters to a young poet. He says badly paraphrased here….when you are alone in the dark ask yourself this question ” Must I write?” or in this case ” Must I act?” Is there anything else you want to do as much? Is there anything else you could replace it with? If the answer is ” I must” then this is what you have to do. There is no quitting because there is no other way to go on living and you find a way. If you can only act at night you do that. If you can only act in your living room with some friends you do that. If you can only act at school or on the weekends you do that. If it is only in a class you do that. If it is only in the summers you do that. And one class and one project begins to build in to the next and eventually you are connected to a community of artists and you struggle and you find your way. Sometimes this means hard choices. The choice to go to school away from friends and family. the choice to end a relationship because they cannot accept you as you are. You are an artist.

This does not make you better than everyone else. Just a little different. Really. And that is ok. Tennessee Williams called it ” The Fugitive Kind”. We are a bit apart from some of the rest of society but we are also deeply connected to each other and to everyone through our work. We observe life and we live it at the same time. We live connected to life not apart from life it just feels like that sometime.

I would not change my life in the theatre for any other life. I have had long term jobs like NTC for 18 years. I have had projects. I have never felt unemployed because I have training and technique and work experience and life experience. I have a way of working and a way of living that is deep and full and challenging and not boring and filled with the love of life and love of the people in that life. I have been poor but like Blanche says “I am not a destitute woman as I have so many riches in my soul.” And those riches have been in part given to me through this career and work and the people and places it has taken me to. Please come join us at Visionbox on February 1 as the work continues…

Jenn

Jan 162014
 

Jennifer Rincon and Joan Channick at the Yale Cabaret Dec 31, 2013

A quick note to say we are back in almost fullswing. We are doing an audition class as so many actors are auditioning for grad schools and other companies. it is nice to keep the actors in the studio no matter what else is going on in our lives. I recently had an incredible experience going back to Yale Drama School to visit the Yale Cabaret and my colleague Joan Channick now the associate dean! She was an admin student when I was in school and we collaborated on the Summer Cabaret in 1987. We are looking to create a similar project here in Denver this year. Nova Catering and Visionbox are starting research and planning on a venue and performance project to team up amazing food and new performance work. With the Nova food and acting by Visionbox. I will post the plans as they develop.

Jennifer in the University Theatre above the Yale Cabaret Dec 31, 2013

Our Dec 17th event was a huge success and it was so great to meet and get to know our First Lady, Mary Louise Lee. We will continue to speak to her about her platform and ways we might work together this year. Will also keep you all posted.

Right now we are publishing young conservatory classes for the rest of the spring and summer as well as the adult classes. this will always stay the core of our program.

Auditions will be February 1 and 3rd for the rest of our classes and projects this season so please come meet us and see our space if you are available.

On a more interesting note the trip to Yale was very inspiring. to see where I have come from and to see how small everything looked and to see it was not the space or the facility or the place but know it was the people that made Yale an amazing place to train and create new work. Our own small space on Santa Fe drive is just the same. We are doing this work with the little we have but it is not limited or defined by our finances or the four walls of the buildings. This was a great reminder of my own energy and passion for this work that has never waivered even in the darkest of hours and the leaner times. I saw a couple pictures of me in 1987 with all the cabaret crew. Who was that 12 year old is what came to my mind….well we are not looking younger but I feel I am getting younger and know less it seems sometimes than ever. I am trying to put aside some of what I think I know and be open to the new talent and ideas that come in the room every day. Hope to see some new faces on february 1!!

Jennifer

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