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Zelda Fichandler

Dominant Voice in Regional Theatre

Zelda Fichandler has been honored with the creation of the award named after her. She was a dominant voice in regional theatre whose company was mixed race. Fichandler started three theatres and excelled in a variety of subjects.

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Zelda Fichandler was a dominant voice in the regional theatre movement in the 1950’s. Her work includes oeping a stage with a mixed-race resident company during “a time when the National Theatre closed its doors rather than integrate” (Glabraith). Arena Stage was planned and built with a classmate, starting from an abandoned movie house to its permanent home as two parts-the Arena and the Kreeger (Fichandler). Fichandler’s company was the first to have toured the Soviet Union and “Arena won the first regional Tony Award” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler).

Childhood

Fichandler was born in Boston and was raised in Washington, D.C. since she was four. She was Helga in Helga and the White Peacock when she was eight and when she was eleven she won an essay contest in the Washington Star on how she wanted “’to be different people.’ It wasn’t really to be famous or rich, I said, but it was to show people ‘what other people could be like’” (Fichandler). Her father died without ever seeing the Arena and Fichandler says that “I don’t think he knew that I was going to land in theatre.”

Schooling

Zelda went to Cornell where she excelled in piano and learned Russian. She made money translating Russian to English. She read Chekhov and took classes about Soviet civilization. It was a class when Edward Mangum said to her, “Do you all know that the professional theatre in America consists of [ten] blocks on Broadway and nothing more? Touring shows, a lot of community theatre, nonprofessional. How does this sound to you? How does this seem to you” (Fichandler).

Profession

In Washington they found an abandoned movie house that the converted into a 247-seat arena. Mangum and Fichandler had to raise $15,000 dollars to renovate the old movie house. “There was this economic  fallacy which we bought into—that it would be cheaper because it didn’t have flats and drops” (Fichandler).

They started planning their permanent location while they were in their second “home” called the Old Vat by their costume designer, Jane  planning their permanent location while they were in their second “home” called the Old Vat by their costume designer, Jane Stanhope. She had just been to England and seen the Old Vic and so name it the “Old Vat” because it was a “brewery and there were all these beer-making kettles lying around” (Fichandler). Mangum was intrigued with the arena stage because he saw Margo Jones’. “[I]t  was the intimacy of the form that caught his imagination” (Fichandler).  The Old Vat sat 500 people and was not air-conditioned. They were there for five years (Fichandler).

In October of ’61 the Arena was built and in 1970 the Kreeger joined it. “I prefer the Arena. I think I can do anything in there and it invites a more expressionistic, a more poetic discovery of the play” (Fichandler). In 1973 the company toured the Soviet Union.  She realized that “you can’t do everything in the Arena” because of one of the plays she saw there (Fichandler). “So the Kreeger serves its purpose,” Zelda Fichandler says. “It allowed us also to do plays where only 500 people a night need come, instead of 832, so maybe we could do our riskier plays in there” (Fichandler). In 1990 she stepped down from the Arena to be the “director of New York University’s graduate acting programme” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler).

The Arena won a Tony in 1976. In 1968 her production of The Great White Hope was “the first regional theatre to transfer a show to Broadway” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler).

The Fichandler Award

The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society created the Zelda Fichandler Award.  It was established “to recognize an outstanding director or choreographer who is making a unique and exceptional contribution to the theatre through work in the regional arena” (Stage Directors and Choreographers). The first recipient  was “Jonathan Moscone of California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda, California” (Stage Directors and Choreographers).

Conclusion

Zelda Fichandler’s accomplishments as a director and a woman is best described by the woman herself. “I get asked quite a bit why women excel at running theatres. I don’t think that’s so much the case [anymore]. In the beginning of the movement, maybe, but I think there are more men than women now. Perhaps ‘we girls’ started our own because men wouldn’t hire us, didn’t trust us as leaders, or to manage money” (Fichandler). “As the director/producing director of Arena, Mrs. Fichandler has directed more than 50 plays herself” (Sweeney). These include The Crucible by Arthur Miller, The Seagull by Chekhov, and A Doll House which was written by Henrik Ibsen (Sweeney).

 

 

 

Works Cited

Faculty Directory. n.d. November 2012. <http://gradacting.tisch.nyu.edu/object/FichandlerZ.html&gt;.

Fichandler, Zelda. Zelda Fichandler is the founder and long-time producing director of Washingon, D.C.’s Arena Stage. She currently heads the graduate school of acting at New york University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She served as TCG president from 1993 to 1995. 2001. November 2012. <http://www.tcg.org/publications/at/2001/zelda.cfm&gt;.

Glabraith, Susan. Zelda Fichandler galvanizes artist directors at the Zelda Fichandler Awards. 31 10 2011. November 2012. <http://dctheatrezcene.com/2011/10/31/zelda-fichandler-galvinates-artistic-directorss-at-the-zelda-fichandler-awards/&gt;.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler. n.d. November 2012. <http://www.answers.com/topic.zelda-fichandler#ixzz2CFPvc9B4&gt;.

Stage Directors and Choreographers. 2012. Novemaber 2012. <http://www.sdcweb.org/foundation/fichandler-award/&gt;.

Sweeney, Louise. Zelda Fichandler Looks for `Main Event’ In Each Play She Directs. 4 April 1990. Article. 26 November 2012.

 

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Good Ol’ Girls at Hollins Theatre–A Review

Going to the Little Theatre to watch any performance is exhilarating, but musical especially. There’s something about the way the actors, the set, and the musicians come together that can let you know the style of the director as well as his or her teaching style. Ernie teaches his actors while he works with them. They don’t notice at first, but after a while its obvious. I should know, I was in Goodnight Moon in Fall 2011.

Good Ol’ Girls is a montage of different stories of the Good Ol’ Girls of the south. It has a Nashville, TN style of music that demands a twang to your voice. The girls are sassy, young, old, crazy, easy, in love, out of love, beaten, and even more. They go through birth, death, first love, last love, and so much more. The musical made me laugh, cry and my heart burst.

The story line is just that its a tribute to the good ol’ girls who go through so much. Its a montage of music and monologues that show who and what a good ol’ girl is.

“A Good Ol’ Girl…speaks her mind. Just ask them ol’ boys who crossed her one time.”

We see this throughout the musical.

The actors were phenomenal. Their voices fit together better than the lime and the coconut. The set looked like they took months to build, but I know it was shorter than that and for the first time the band was up on stage. I’ve never seen the band actually on the set. Above, yes. Below, yes. Offstage, yes. It was nice and the actors played to each member. It was like they were actors as well. It made things amazing.

I only had a few issues. Okay, ’twas only two.

1. There were a few technical difficulties. Mics cut off suddenly mid-line only to come back again. That was all the TD, but it was still annoying. Really important scenes were ruined because I couldn’t hear the girl’s voice.

2. I couldn’t understand half the songs’ lyrics. I understand there’s that twang, but I know its possible to sing in a way to be understood with the southern twang. Country stars who don’t act can do it. Why can’t actors. Alright, I’m being hard, but that’s because Ernie accepts nothing less than perfection. Most of these girls don’t naturally have southern accents, but its easy to learn the accent in Roanoke. Southern accent hotbed, people.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I really wanted to give five stars, but it wasn’t meant to be. I do appreciate how hard these girls worked though. There are encore performances in May and June, so you should really really check it out and buy tickets.


I Am

I am an Artist.

Colors swirling in my brain

Blending and contrasting with no shame.

My light source is to the right

And my pencil is in my hand.

 

I am a Writer.

Words flit about my head

Like little birds trying to take flight.

A keyboard under my fingers

And word vomit spews forward.

 

I am a Singer.

Notes fly out of my mouth

To the sky to drift away.

Soprano highs and Alto lows

All in a song.

 

I am an Artist.

I am a Writer.

I am a Singer.

I am.


Smash Fail–A Review

Smash is a show about creating a Broadway hit from complete scratch by two prominent writers. There are some major cliches in the entire thing (the sweet, naive girl from the south, the as–prick of a director, the seemingly innocent vixen who can’t keep her hands off the hunky singer) as well as somewhat original characters (the straight gay man). Including some major drama that should be shown on stage instead of behind curtains, I’m still not sure how to feel about this show.

The main character of Smash is Karen Cartwright, the naive and dreaming girl hoping to break out in some musicals. Okay, honey, you need to brush up on the jargon before you head into a big workshop where you’ll only be paid about $200 a week. I mean, really? And where the hell are your priorities? A major record owner wants you to meet him for a recording session, you don’t blow it off for a workshop you, again, only receive $200 for! I mean, seriously? Even a small town, legit inbred redneck would have passed on Marilyn the Musical. I would have. The only redeeming quality you have is that you refused to sleep your way to the top, though you could just bribe Derek with how much money your fiancee makes.

Sorry, way off point.

Karen auditions for the aforementioned musical and goes throughepisodes long of tension of whether or not she’ll get the part. And yes, there was more than one episode devoted to it.

Speaking of Derek… Derek Wills is a hotshot director, working on Marilyn because he has a personal friendship with Eileen (who’s going through her own shit). He is harsh and not well like by the only gay male main character who has any depth outside of sports. He tries to sleep with Karen and gets REJECTED. Seriously hard. She might have well dug her heels into his boner. He had that “I-got-kneed-in-the-balls-by-someone-in-eighteen-inch-heels” look on his face. It was pain. He finally gave the part to Ivy (whose a total sl–sexually minded female) because she had sex with him. I’m not sure who the bigger man-whore is really.

Eileen Rand is a producer for Broadway who just so happens to be divorcing her business partner. She’s an interesting character, mostly because she constantly douses her soon-to-be ex with a martini (snicker). Other than that, she really has no depth. I feel sorry for the actress.

Ivy Lynn is a former ensemble member who is a total slu–I mean sexually minded woman. She auditioned, same as Karen, and slept with Derek, obvious knowing that she was having sex with him for the part. I obviously disliked her, because she was keeping what she’d done from her friends. “Rumor Has It” alright, Adele.

There are two writers, who aren’t strong characters past their stereotypes. I wouldn’t bet on them. There are a few minor-ish characters who are only as deep as a piece of rice paper.

I’ve waited seven or eight episodes before I wrote this review, because I was waiting so long for the story to develop into something better. The only things that keeps me watching are the phenomenal vocal talents and the music. I understand that this is just the first season, so there will be some footing that still need to be cemented, but still. It isn’t working for me. Its like a bad fairy tale.

Anjelica Huston, what did you get yourself into? I mean, come on. You have a history of great stories and roles. I mean you were Morticia Addams!

Smash gets 2 out of 5 stars.

 


The Story of Delusions: “Sucker Punch” 2011

 

I got a Sucker Punch that knocked me from my seat. Hehe. Okay, seriously now.

Sucker Punch opens to Babydoll as she sits on a stage, in the bed. A nice segue takes us into her bedroom as she waits to find something out. Next thing we see is a doctor, who shakes his head. We find out that someone had died, her and her sister’s mother by the look of things. A man checks the mother’s Last Will and Testament and doesn’t like what he sees. He locks Babydoll in her room before going to her sister. She runs in a closet and then the man breaks in. We don’t know what he was going to do because Babydoll breaks out of her room and tries to shoot the guy. She kills her sister instead. When she had a chance to kill the man, she ran.

Somehow they find her at a grave, maybe of her father’s, and bring her to an asylum. He checks off all these things on his this form before we meet Blue. We don’t stay long in the asylum because as soon as she hears Mistress Gorski speak to one of the other patients. We spend the entire movie in Babydoll’s delusion of being forced into prostitution.  Blue is in charge of the club, giving the girls to the clients and Madame Gorski teaches them to dance. Babydoll sinks into a delusion while she is dancing, so it’s like Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream.” She develops a plan through the delusion and convinces the other girls to help. We meet Sweet Pea, Rocket, Amber, and Blondie through two different means towards the beginning of the film.

Abbie Cornish did a good job playing such a clichéd character who doesn’t care about anyone, but her sister, Rocket. However, the character and the acting were both mediocre because Sweet Pea was written that way. Its more than a little disturbing how much like other characters Sweet Pea is like. Maybe giving her a deeper reason than just being over protective might’ve given Cornish something to go off of.

Rocket was an interesting character as was her hair. Unfortunately for Jena Malone, the most of the movie was spent staring at her hair as it changed rapidly. What I did gather from her performance was that I’m looking forward to something that has a bit more depth. Rocket’s only depths were her sister and the cook trying to have sex with her.

Venessa Hudgens impressed me. Having been forced to see all three High School Musicals, I wasn’t looking forward to seeing her performance, because of how cliché HSM and her former character were. I was afraid that she wouldn’t be as good playing someone with quite a bit more depth. I’m not worried about that anymore. I am worried, however, that despite Sucker Punch she might be type-casted to only take clichéd roles.

Amber was a clichéd cheerleader-like character played by Jamie Chunq. While Chunq did a good job portraying such a role, there are still a few issues. Amber, the character, is beyond cliché.

Oscar Isaac did a mediocre job of portraying someone’s whose supposed to be a tough cracker without being cliched. He fell short in the performance because it reminded me of a movie I had never seen, but is talked about by my significant other all the time. Blue was not entertaining.

Carla Guqine started out being quite cliché. The doctor  who takes interest in each patient and the strict dance instructor. It deteriorates so that its obvious that there’s a slight attraction between Gorski and Blue before its blatantly explained that her role was to teach the girls to survive Blue. This shows that she has a lot more depth.

Babydoll (played by Emily Browning) was a splendedly played character. Browning knew that the delusions were just in her imagination, but she made it seem like the character didn’t know the difference until the end. She was believable and I couldn’t find many cliched things about her. The fact that she’s the naïve “child” of the film, is a cliché.

The acting over all was well done, though it could have been better. Ican’t believe how many times I’ve typed “cliché” in this review, but it’s the best I could come up with when it came to the actors. The cinematography was superb. It’s a shame that a well shot film with an amazing plot, and decent dialogue had so many cliched characters. It pains me that a film of the quality of Sucker Punch would be brought down by the idiocy of unoriginal characters that weren’t even reinvented.

Sucker Punch is a good film that I more than recommend you either check it out from the library or rent it if you can. Its definitely a buy, though, for those of you who can afford it.

Sucker Punch receives 3.5 out of 5 stars.