Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Five Questions for Titus O'Neil, Director

Titus at work in the Scene Shop
What got you first interested in theatre?
I don't really know at what point it was official. My brothers would always do skits for our churches Vacation Bible School, so as I got older, I sort of inherited the job of making them. When I was in high school I was in every play I could, but honestly, deciding to go to college for theatre was sort of a random idea. I couldn't think of anything I would really enjoy learning about in great depth. So I just kind of went with it.

What's the most exciting or challenging aspect of directing for you?
I love directing because I love to be able to see characters. I love to see another life. Theatre can be a window to another world or just another life somewhere in the world. So to be able to bring that window to audiences, to allow them to peer through the exact panes that I have been working on, is a fantastic experience.

Which play are you directing and what do you love about the play?
The Opposition by Courtney M. Dunn. This play is so intense, and the actors have really delved into that intensity. I love to look deeper and deeper into characters and their desires and questioning why they want that, and this play has lots of hidden reasons to explore.

What's it like to direct a brand new play?
It is so much cooler than I was anticipating! I was a little leery of what this process was going to be like, but it has been a lot of fun. It is so cool to see all the collaborative work of so many people coming together.

If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? 
I would certainly be a banana. Bananas are often best when they are "overripe but not rotten." Come see the 10-Minute Plays if you don't understand because if you do, then you're probably part of them.

Titus O'Neil is a junior theatre major with an integrated emphasis at Bloomsburg. He was last seen as Gavin in the BUPlayers' production of The Nosemaker's Apprentice, and he can commonly be found scaling the ladders of the Alvina Krause Theatre.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Five Questions for Chris Creyer, Director

Chris Creyer is directing The Compliment by Bry Kifolo in the Original 10-Minute Plays by Student Playwrights (April 1, 2, 6 & 7). We asked him five questions. (You can also read playwright Bry Kifolo's interview on this blog.)

Chris performing at Dorney Park
What got you first interested in theatre?
In a sense I've been interested in theatre since I was young, even though I couldn't conceptualize what theatre was until years later. As a kid I would always watch and listen to the Peter Pan VHS performance with Cathy Rigby. After watching I would reenact those scenes and sing along to those songs constantly. Yet, when it comes to that interest in theatre and my eventual involvement didn't occur until high school. The two events that sparked my interest in theatre was watching the Phantom of the Opera during music class and later my Drama Club’s performance of the Sound of Music.  After watching Phantom it left me in awe, those melodic songs were stuck in my head and I began to sing those songs. It was at that moment I realized I could sing but I was still hesitant to audition for the Sound of Music. After seeing the performance twice, it made me realize that I could do those same things and I truly wanted to be on that stage. Afterwards I had an epiphany that theatre was the thing I was so drawn to as a kid and something I wanted to be involved in. The next year I joined Drama Club and took part in Aesop’s Fables and Pippin, which is when that passion was firmly cemented.

What's the most exciting or challenging aspect of directing for you?
The most exciting aspect of being a director is to have a vison for a play and be able to see that come to life during rehearsals and the eventual performance.  The other is to have the opportunity to collaborate with very talented actors and to see them grow, as I guide them to finding the truthfulness in their characters. It’s a pleasure to be able to work with those individuals and to see such passion and talent hard at work.

Which play are you directing and what do you love about the play?
I’m the director of The Compliment and it’s hard to choose just one thing. If I could choose one thing it’s how relate-able the characters are. Their experiences and fears was something that resonated with me. I can see myself at various instances in both these characters either in their personalities, fears, experiences, and how it feels to withhold one’s true feelings and the frustration that comes with it. All of those things stood out instantly and allowed me to bring that truthfulness during rehearsals because I could sympathize with both characters. These things aren't unique to me because I know that people will be able to see a part of themselves in these characters, which is what I truly love about this play. 

What's it like to direct a brand new play?
Being able to direct a new play is definitely a unique experience. The play is literally a work and progress so it’s great to be part of that for the first time. Through seeing how many changes can occur before the play is seen by an audience but they don’t alter what makes the play so great. It’s also been a great opportunity to work side by side with a playwright throughout the entire process. It was very helpful to have that extra insight during rehearsals because it ensured I was meeting their intentions for the play. Ultimately, it’s fulfilling to bring their play to life and to see gratification on their face when they see their work lifted off the page and done in a way that meets everything they intended it to be. I never thought I’d get the experience of directing a new play but I’m glad I’ve gotten that opportunity.

Chris and his friend, Henry Carver
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?
I would be an apple because it’s my favorite fruit and I have one every day. Symbolically, I feel I can be like the apple that struck Isaac Newton because I can be the catalyst that’ll cause someone to do great things either as a director or as a teacher.

Christopher Creyer is a Sophomore Secondary Education History major at Bloomsburg University. He previously directed What Are You Going To Be? for the Directing Class Projects. Chris also works as a performer and supervisor in Live Entertainment at Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Five Questions for Kate Mochnacz, Director

Kate Mochnacz is one of the directors of the Original 10-Minute Plays by Student Playwrights (April 1, 2, 6 & 7). We asked her five questions. 

Kate as Julie (the one in the pink onesie with the pigtails)
with the cast of The Nosemaker's Apprentice
What got you first interested in theatre?
I saw my first Broadway show when I was seven.  Five minutes into the show, I fell in love with theatre.  I then saw the same Broadway show two month later and, I was much more observant of the show and the atmosphere.  I knew then that I wanted to be on stage and acting. As I started performing, I starting learning so much more about theatre and the different roles you could be a part of, which led me to other roles in a production such as assistant stage manager and director.

What's the most exciting or challenging aspect of directing for you?
I think that the most exciting aspect of directing is watching the actors make breakthroughs on their character or the play in general.  It’s so exciting to see them finally understand what they want from a scene or why their character is using this specific way to get them to their end goal.  I think that the most challenging aspect of directing is communication.  It’s difficult to get what you want across while still letting your actors learn and flourish (refer back to the most exciting aspect of directing).

Which play are you directing and what do you love about the play?
I’m lucky enough to direct two plays for the Original Ten Minute Plays. Pastime, written by Will Olsen, has been a pleasure to work on and I love how the play shows that some people are capable of change, while others are not. Dink, written by Titus O’Neil, has also been a pleasure working on and I love the lines that only make sense in the context of the play!

What's it like to direct a brand new play?
It’s been a lot of teamwork, a lot of work, and a lot of fun.  It’s definitely what I expected and it’s been such a great learning process.  The shows are constantly changing, and it’s been a lot of fun working with my playwrights to tell the story they want to tell.

If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be? Why?
In a previous blog post (Backstage with the BU Players: Five Questions for Kate Mochnacz, Actor) I said I would be a strawberry.  I stand by my decision since I still love strawberries.

Kate Mochnacz is a sophomore majoring in Early Childhood/Special Education with a Concentration in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education as well as Theatre with an Integrated Emphasis.  The Original Ten Minute Plays marks her third and fourth directing credits, previously directing Finger Food (An Evening of Ten Minute Plays; BU Directing Class) and Game Night! The Musical (Hillsborough Shorts; Hillsborough High School Theatre Department) which she also wrote.  In her free time, Kate balances her multiple majors, clubs, social life (insert laughter here) and questions her sanity.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Three Questions for Courtney Dunn, Playwright

Courtney Dunn is the author of The Opposition, featured in the Original 10-Minute Plays by Student Playwrights as part of the BU Players 2014-15 season. We asked Courtney three questions.
A brief summary of The Opposition: The Opposition brings into question the opinions of two philosophy professors, Dr. Gerald Packer and Dr. Andrew Reinhardt, who find themselves at odds with one another as a result of the endurance of the Vietnam War. The play highlights the conflicting opinions and emotions that festered throughout society as a result of this highly controversial time in U.S. history. 
How did you first become interested in theatre?
I became interested in theatre after taking a scriptwriting class at BU in the 2014 fall semester. Before that time, I had never attempted to write a play nor did I have any interest in doing so. The class inspired me to pursue this new field of creative writing, and before long, I found myself not only writing plays in my free time but actually searching for future playwriting opportunities outside of BU.

What inspired you to write this play?
I was inspired to write this play after reading about a BU philosophy professor who was told that his teaching contract might not be renewed due to his opposition of the Vietnam War. 

If you were a fruit or vegetable, which one would you be? 
If I were a fruit or a vegetable, I would be a strawberry, planted by my grandmother, watered and nourished, softly plucked from the stem and cleansed by her hands. My family members are a big part of my life and success, raising me to be who I am and giving me the necessary support along the way.  

Courtney Dunn is a senior, psychology and English dual major. Her plans after graduating are to attend graduate school and pursue a career in English studies/creative writing.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Three Questions for Bry Kifolo, Playwright

Bry Kifolo is the author of The Compliment, featured in the Original 10-Minute Plays by Student Playwrights as part of the BU Players 2014-15 season. We asked Bry three questions.
A brief synopsis of The Compliment by Bry Kifolo: Best friends Erin and Drew are spending the night together unfortunately going over Erin's Shakespearean homework. Drew's efforts to calm Erin down are thwarted and the two fall into a lengthy poetic discussion about how to really compliment someone on who they are as a human being.
How did you first become interested in theatre?
I think the first time I ever started to think about theatre was the summer after 5th grade. I had always loved singing and putting on little skits when I was young but it wasn't until I watched Phantom of the Opera ​for the first time on a vacation and did I really get theatre was a thing. I was hooked and completely fascinated by the fact that someone could don a costume and be a completely different character and do all these wonderful things on stage. From just one movie, my passion really took off. 

What inspired you to write this play?
My inspiration for The Compliment came out of someone calling me "hot" at work. I know it sounds pretty silly but it TICKED me off to no end. I get it, the person didn't really know me and they were just pointlessly flirting, but come on. Who wants to be called hot? I ended up taking this anger out on my computer later that night, typing out how I really wanted to be complimented, and the play evolved from there. I think there's so much to be said in how you compliment someone, and how to make those words really mean something. Appearances don't last, but personality does. It's much more heartfelt to compliment who someone is, not just how they look. 

If you were a fruit or vegetable, which one would you be? Why?
If I was a fruit I would be raspberry (berries count, right?) because they may look small and cute but they might actually be really bitter on the inside. You never know! 

Bry Kifolo is a junior-ish student here at Bloomsburg University. She has recently been in the productions of Macbeth  and Roadkill Confidential​ here at Bloomsburg with BU Players. The Compliment is the first piece she has written to be performed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Three Questions for Will Olsen, Playwright

Will Olsen is the author of Pastime, featured in the Original 10-Minute Plays by Student Playwrights as part of the BU Players 2014-15 season. We asked Will three questions.
A brief synopsis of Pastime by Will Olsen: Jack Drummond was once the face of Major League Baseball in Indianapolis, but after an encounter with a reporter, he lost it all. Ten years later, he is reunited with the reporter for a chance at redemption.
How did you first become interested in theatre?
I fell in love with theatre at summer camp. The other activities just didn't hold my interest. I sucked at archery, the sports all had rules, the nature lessons had facts, even arts and crafts had a set process you had to follow. Theatre was the only activity where I could just let my imagination run wild. My counselor, Mr. Dave, encouraged all of my crazy antics and it just snowballed from there. In elementary school, my friends and I wrote our own sketch comedy show and we would perform the sketches during recess. I obviously wasn't an athletic kid (as if that's changed...).

What inspired you to write this play?
John Rocker competed on last season of Survivor, and there was so much vitriol thrown at him in the Facebook group I'm a member of. They were calling him a bigot and all these other things, and they were so unwilling to give him a second chance. A lot of the other contestants from his season say that he's actually a really nice guy, but the fans are still unforgiving. That really annoys me. Some of my closest friends are the same people who bullied me in middle school, so my lived experiences have shown me that anyone can change. Plus, baseball is my favorite sport. There's just something magic about it.

If you were a fruit or vegetable, which one would you be?
Kale. Kale is the greatest vegetable in existence, and I always strive to be the greatest.

Will Olsen is a freshman Theatre Major with a Performance Emphasis and a five-time Survivor applicant. He also is the Assistant Op/Ed Editor for The Voice campus newspaper and volunteers with the LGBTQA Student Services office. When he's not writing, Will likes to beat all of his friends in Trivia Crack, daydream and stay up late watching Norm Macdonald's stand-up. He lives and breathes Boston sports.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Five Questions for Nicolai Kabana, Actor

Nicolai Kabana is playing Father in The Nosemaker's Apprentice. We asked him five questions.

Nicolai as Princeton in Avenue Q
What made you first interested in acting?
I would have to say my first memory of how I became interested in acting was when I was in 4th grade. I was asked by the director of the local high school to come join their production of Bye Bye Birdie as Randolph MacAfee. This was such a great experience for me.

What do you find appealing about The Nosemaker’s Apprentice?
When I first read this play it was like nothing I have ever read before and I knew I had to do anything I possible could to be a part of it. The part of the story that I found most interesting though is when Gavin is in France. I always am so happy when we make it to this part of the play. I also really liked the back story of why this play was created.

What is the most challenging aspect of acting in this particular play?
For me personally the most challenging part of the show was to constantly be in the moment even when the lights weren’t on me. I was told that there will always be people watching you even when they aren’t supposed to be. This motivated me to never lose character. Another equally difficult aspect was all of the monologues that the Father has throughout the story. I really surprised myself that I was actually able to learn them all.

What would be your ideal role in any show?
The role I would love to play the most is from the musical The Producers.  I’ve always wanted to play the part of Leo Bloom. It would be so great to follow the footsteps of some of my favorite actors such as Matthew Broderick and Roger Bart.

Nicolai at the People's Choice Awards
If you were a fruit or vegetable, what would you be?
Editor's Note: The artist declined to answer this question, but the editorial team of Backstage with the BU Players decided that he would most want to be an osage-orange.

Nicolai Kabana is a junior performance emphasis. He is most known for playing Princeton and Rod in Avenue Q.