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LiveJournal for Discovery Theatre Lab: Gresham, OR.

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Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

(Rage into the winds)

Subject:GLT space in the news.
Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:10:15 pm.
Text from http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/metro_east_news/1141694768292240.xml?oregonian?en&coll=7&thispage=1


A second act for the Grange
Thursday, March 09, 2006

GRESHAM -- When the lights come up on the Gresham Little Theater's stage, the oldest Grange hall in Oregon is transported to Broadway or the mythic time of Grimm's fairy tales.

In a mutually beneficial stroke of luck, Multnomah County Grange 71 has become an unofficial arts center in east county: The theater has found a home, and the Grange has avoided the fate of 171 other Oregon Granges that have closed since 1940.

Five years ago, Grange 71 at 30639 S.E. Bluff Road faced an uncertain future. Membership had dwindled to six. The cavernous hall built in 1909 was slipping into decay -- or as the Grange master says, "When it rains outside, it rains inside." Even the younger Grange members were past retirement age.

One summer night while visiting Main City Park, grange secretary Marjorie Sander noticed people rehearsing a play.

Sander walked up to the director and asked, "What are you doing?"

Her question startled Michele Brouse Peoples, an actor who'd appeared off Broadway and who wanted to concentrate on rehearsal. She shot back, "Why, do you have a place for us to perform?"

Sander answered yes.

"Within two days, we were out there looking at the Grange, and we haven't left," Brouse Peoples said.

Through the partnership, the Grange added new members from the theater volunteers, including Brouse Peoples, the Grange master.

"Whoever has money in their coffers takes care of the bills," Brouse Peoples said, "because one doesn't survive without the other."

Grange 71 shifted its mission from farming to community activities, which is what the growing suburbs around it want.

"In the beginning, they were saying, 'What are we doing here? This used to be our agricultural center, and now we're not doing that anymore,' " Brouse Peoples said.

The theater always had operated on a shoestring and needed the Grange's help. Last spring, budget pressures prompted the city of Gresham to eliminate its recreation program, including Brouse Peoples' job, which had allowed her to develop the theater.

Suddenly, the theater was without its paid director. The talk was it would close.

Around Sander's kitchen table -- where Grange members had evolved into the roundtable that guides the theater -- everyone agreed the show must go on.

Rentals for use of the Grange expanded from bluegrass shows that draw upward of 200 people to belly dancers, juggling groups and the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District.

Brouse Peoples also has found businesses willing to donate supplies and labor to replace the roof, the crumbling siding and the 1940s plumbing.

The theater will produce "Robin Hood: A Very Funny Musical" this month and "The Foreigner," a comedy, in May.

Last week, Jeff Puukka, director and playwright, waited in the Grange's lobby for a performance of "The Tower-Maiden's Daughter," his play about the daughter of Rapunzel, the fairy tale heroine. Theatergoers milled around discussing the steep ascent of the neighborhood's real estate prices and development on land where some of them used to live.

"I remember someone coming up to me after my first production here, saying, 'This is Greek theater, and this is a Grange hall. It doesn't match up, but it works,' " Puukka said.

Puukka, the director of the Gresham-based Discover Theatre Lab, was a student at Sam Barlow High School when he met Brouse Peoples eight years ago. He complained to her, "No one is going to give a 16-year-old space to put on a play."

To his amazement, she did.

The Little Theater's aim is to encourage people and promote creativity, Brouse Peoples said.

For Sander, community theater isn't that different from the Grange's roots.

Sander remembers stories of her great-grandmother playing honky-tonk tunes on Grange 71's piano while her long hair swung on the floor. Bluegrass, Brouse Peoples said, always has been played in the Grange, though in years past it was accompanied by square dancing.

Granges elsewhere also are transforming themselves.

"In the old days," said Martha Bachler, a longtime Grange 71 member, "people had their church, their Grange and their lodge." Now Granges must evolve to survive, she said.

One dramatic step was taken by the Long Tom Grange in Junction City, which for two years published calendars of nude members discreetly covered by garden implements.

"The state Grange didn't much care for it," Bachler said, but the local Grange "donated so much money and gained so many new members that in the end, no one complained."

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

(Rage into the winds)

Subject:New website!
Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:11:58 pm.
Discovery Theatre Lab has a new website:


Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

(Rage into the winds)

Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:4:13 pm.
Well "9 parts of desire" by Heather Raffo is not due to be distributed until June/2006 through Northwestern University Press.

"Mary Stuart" by Peter Oswald is not due to be distributed until April/2006 through Oberon Books.

Soooo... That's that. -- I am trying to network a little to get a copy of "9 parts..." before June.

I've also purchased Declan Donnellan's book on acting "The Actor And the Target" to be an addition to our library.

Saturday, February 11th, 2006

(Rage into the winds)

Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:1:12 am.
9 parts of desire by Heather Raffo

Mary Stuart adapted from Schiller by Peter Oswald

. . .

If anyone reads these scripts before I get the chance to buy them, let me know what you think of them. Based on what I've read about them (I.E. reviews of performances), I'm intrigued to get my hands on a copy of both a.s.a.p.

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

(Rage into the winds)

Subject:x posted memories.
Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:11:52 pm.

(Antigone, adapted and directed by Jeff Puukka,
Discovery Theatre Lab, 2004; Elizabeth Tobey, Michael Aucoin,
Sean Reilly)

That was good juju.

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006

(Rage into the winds)

Subject:Rehearsal continues; The Schedule
Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:6:09 pm.
Dear Cast of "Tower-Maiden's Daughter"

I believe all of you have a copy of the rehearsal schedule. Just in case, here it is:
Here are the rehearsal times as planned:

2/8: @ shoe box. 7:15-7:50: "learning mroe about the witch". 8:00-9:30 "inside the labyrinth"

2/9: @ shoe box. 7:15 - 8:30: Sean/Rose pgs 12-13. 8:40 - 9:40: continuing work on "two Roses"/Sean's monologue.

2/10: @ shoe box. 7:15-9:30 -- Run through all blocked Sean/Rose scenes

2/13: @ G.L.T. 8:00 - "Thoughts"

2/14: @ Shoebox. 7:30 - 9:00 "Learning more about the witch"

2/15: @ shoebox. 7:30-9:00 "A story is told".

2/16: @ shoebox. 7:15 - 8:15 "A Rose Dies". 8:25 - 9:30 "Two Roses"

2/17: @ shoebox. 7:30 - 9:30 "thoughts" through "inside the labyrinth"

2/20: @ G.L.T. 8:00 - 9:30; complete run through

2/21: @ G.L.T. 7:15-9:30p; Tech and dress.

2/22: @ G.L.T. 7:15-9:30p. Tech and dress.

2/23: @ G.L.T. 7:15-9:30 P. Final tech and dress/"preview".

2/24 and 2/25: @ G.L.T. Evening performances at 8:00 PM

2/26 @ GLT. Afternoon performance at 2:00 PM.

(Rage into the winds)

Subject:St. Michele
Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:3:30 am.
Mood: musing.
One of our foremost collaborators was the subject of an article in gresham's "Outlook".

One of the observations I have made about St. Michele is her fearlessness and passion in creating a venue for artists of all calibers to perform in. When I first met Michele I was not sure what to think. I was extremely cynical and jaided at that time in my life, (and still am to a degree). I did not trust sincerity when I encountered it. Flash forward a few years, and the G.L.T.'s theatre spaces have hosted the work of a scatterbrained plethora of programs, companies, schools, and ensembles. Indeed, without the support of Michele's G.L.T. venues, EMACC, and the Tobey family, Discovery Theatre Lab would not exist in any physical form. This is perhaps most important to note in reflection of the fact that Michele and I are excited about doing very different kinds of work. Our aesthetic goals and values, our approaches are very different.

However, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The idea of ongoing theatre and arts activity in Gresham is a collective ambition. -- However, this is a lesson I learned from Michele during a meeting at city hall four years ago, and I now tend to celebrate the notion. Our community has many faces, muses, and ideals. So long as there are passionate people in Gresham who want to exhale their experience and reactions to the world through theatre/the arts, Gresham's fledgling artistic community will continue to diversify and develop. Flash forward a few more years into the future, and the result will no doubt be very rich.

We owe much to the G.L.T. and Michele's efforts!


(Michele Brouse-Peoples
Producing Director; Gresham Little Theater
Article: http://www.theoutlookonline.com/article/6110
Theatre weblink: http://www.greshamlittletheater.org)

(Rage into the winds)

Subject:Volunteer opportunity.
Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:3:12 am.
Discovery Theatre Lab is based in gresham, or. Our next production, "The Tower-Maiden's Daughter": a fairytale thriller, opens February 24.

If you are passionate about theatre and its enrichment for a community, I'd like to encourage you to volunteer in our effort. There is much activity and creation that can be still done: sewing, painting. If you don't feel artistically inclined, consider spreading play advertisements/flyers to get the word out, taking tickets, assisting the audience, or doing any number of things to help support the collective experience of all collaborators involved. All volunteers are entitled to see the show for free, be mentioned in the program.

Discovery Theatre Lab is dedicated to creating theatre and promoting theatre activity in Gresham, OR.

For more information, or to volunteer in the effort and cheerlead us on to a beautiful result, contact The Lab's artistic director (Jeff Puukka) at JPuukka@juno.com

(Rage into the winds)

Subject:x post #2
Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:3:11 am.
I've been feeling quite productive lately! Whenever I am consumed by something that keeps me awake until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, I feel productive. And I feel quite productive if I'm able to wake up before noon and start going at it again!

I've been writing a letter to actors I've been collaborating with. With it, I will try to spark an important discussion about The Lab. After the dust from the main part of the day settles, I work on the letter late into the night. I have a reputation to be a mad rambler, so, what's the best way to communicate the ideas and concerns this letter is addressing? That's what keeps me up. The following digressions are two of the points I explore in the letter. I'm again exploring them here in case it is of interest to any of you. I've noticed that since I've started writing about theatre again, more people have mentioned my journal in the recent conversations I've had with them. So, here's another entry about theatre.

. . .

1. Why is The Lab in Gresham?

Put simply: because I started The Lab.

When I first started directing ten years ago, my ambition was very career oriented. I was convinced at the time that I wanted to direct professionally in the cities that are major theatre centers, like Chicago, New York, and Seattle. However, as I continued to direct I discovered I felt that working in Gresham was a more important and rewarding goal than directing in a spotlighted theatre city. It would certainly stand as a roadblock to a professional career and making a living, but it offered very unique rewards. I discovered that: 1.) When you're in a town that has little to offer its people in the way of the arts, apart from dance schools, you have the opportunity to do very bold and daring work. 2.) You have the opportunity/huge responsibility to help define a sense of what the theatre is and can be. 3.) You can establish a community for people to join and participate in. Especially recently, this is very close to my ambition. -- A lot of times, adolescents who are not ideally apt for public education get lost in the system. If they have nothing positive or productive to be passionate about, they can easily fall behind and become overwhelmed by unhealthy decisions. We're all aware that Gresham has an abundance of social problems and prejudices. Gresham also has a huge Meth problem. Kids in Gresham get involved with drugs and alcohol as early as they do anywhere else. This is where I feel that the arts, education, and community are--or ought to be--linked.

Here I reference Peter Hall to give my own words some back up: Refer hereCollapse )

"We're talking about giving children a musical education, so that they're more interested in participating in the arts than in getting pissed every Friday night!"

(--Peter Hall, Stage 125 commentary)

Theatre--and all the arts--offer an enrichment for young people who want to be passionate about something. Not all of them do, and that's that. However, many of them do want to be passionate about something. Theatre is a social activity. When you do theatre, you witness the impact of good communication, and choice-making, and both of these are skills that one must learn in order to navigate the ordeal of growing up and living life. Fact is: theatre offers endless gifts to a community. And that's something that I've made the choice to be proactive about, and that's why I went to route that I did, and abandoned the goal of ever becoming a "celebrated director".

2. Community Theatre, or Theatre Community?

I have been fortunate to direct a handful of actors who I've at times called my "core" actors. What I mean is that I have worked with them on multiple occasions. I want to make a serious effort to take things a step further, and see Discovery Theatre Lab develop as a theatre community of its own. When the same actors collaborate on multiple projects, each project becomes sequentially more meaningful, because the people know each other. When the actors know each other, are comfortable with each other, and trust each other, it results in a better offering for the audience. When an ensemble of collaborators is established, actors know that they are part of something which is shared. Each project has a more collaborative sense of conception and ownership. When a certain actors want to do another play, they know where they can go to have that experience, because the director is committed to casting from that group. If a committed ensemble is established, it opens the door to many possibilities, all because of the simple agreement that "we're committed to being here and doing this, because we like doing this."

Now, not everyone can or would or should stay forever. Life changes. People move away, people change priorities. People grow past a certain point, and need to move on in order to continue to develop. However, if I successfully create a committed ensemble for The Lab that is continually nurtured and growing, then the goal of ongoing theatre activity becomes possible.

Building the ensemble won't be an easy thing to do. The challenge is getting the right people to agree, which is tricky. It's not anything like forming a club, because there's a lot of work and thinking and sacrifice involved in the rehearsal period. Especially if someone is playing a large role. If the ensemble were to be successful, I think they'd have to like working with me. It's sort of silly to actually say that outloud, but, it's a realistic observation. At the moment, I'm the one directing The Lab's shows. They'd have to enjoy collaborating with me, and be able to get something from that each time. They'd be foolish to join, and I'd be foolish to let them join if they didn't. I say this because the only reason to do theatre over and over again is to work under the flag of joy and have fun, and therein free yourself. Sometimes my approach or personality clashes with other people's. That's just the nature of the game. It's no one's fault because it's a matter of chemistry. Like any relationship, some people match better than others. Most of the time, if you've started rehearsal and you discover a problem, you find a way to make it through that show, and then you don't work with the person again. But the ensemble of actors would be working me very frequently. So they'd have to be people who liked working with me. By extention, they'd have to be comfortable working in Gresham, facing the challenge of building the audience project by project. It is possible to do, but it doesn't happen overnight.

. . .

So that's some of what I've been lulling around in my mind. If you do theatre and you have a reaction to any of the above, your comments will be helpful.

(Rage into the winds)

Subject:x post #1
Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:3:09 am.
Rehearsals have begun for The Tower Maiden's Daughter which will open February 24, and is my first time in the director's chair after a break that lasted over a year. I was getting my head and my confidence together.

The first night's reading was typical. A gathering of people, curious about the project and curious what to expect from one another. -- As a director, I've always been wary of read throughs at first cast meetings. I don't really consider it the most productive or inspiring use of time. Some people are aren't confident about their reading skills, so they offer up only a murmur. Some people are dyslexic. Some people come in with their performance already bundled in a bag, and they give it. It's an evening that just sort of plods along for me. However: some actors tend to be lost if the process doesn't begin with a read through, and so they insist on having a complete reading on the first night. I never used to do that. We'd start by getting to know each other, we'd read bits and pieces from the script, and we'd do exercises. However over the last five years, I've come 'round to giving into them. Now of course, I hear Michael Boyd and Peter Brook refer hereCollapse ) saying things like: "I've gotten away from starting rehearsals with readings", and I think: Awwww, I should have stuck to my guns when I had the chance. But oh well. What I hope is useful for the actors is to spend that reading as a time to familiarize with the story, familiarize with how the script tells the story, and get an idea of the voices and people they'll be acting opposite.

The first rehearsal was last night at Elizabeth's. The ability to do constructive blocking was stilted somewhat by the space. We couldn't access the Shoebox (Rehearsal Room) and it was too late to go out to the theatre, so we made the best of it.

Bottom line: It's good to be started.

(Rage into the winds)

Subject:le début
Posted by:restlessechoes.
Time:3:04 am.
Mood: mellow.
At the moment, I am the only member of this community. But as word begins to spread to my collaborators and friends, I certainly hope I will not be the only member of this community.

Dialogue is such an essential part of the theatre-making process that it just seems downright foolish to not host some online discussion group. So, here it is.

Join. Let's have a ponder!


LiveJournal for Discovery Theatre Lab: Gresham, OR.

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