2x4BASH/TWS Announce Reading of “8” the play

The Western Stage and 2x4BASH are proud to announce a one night staged-reading of Academy-award winning screenwriter and Western Stage alum Dustin Lance Black’s newest documentary play “8” on Friday July 20th at 7:30pm in the Mainstage Theater.

“8” demystifies the debate around marriage equality by chronicling the landmark trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Using the actual court transcripts from the federal trial of California’s Prop. 8 and first-hand interviews, “8” shows both sides of the debate in a moving 90-minute play. Learn about the historical context of marriage and the human cost of discrimination from expert testimony. The play reveals the arguments used to justify bans on marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

                        

Directly following the performance, join us for a Q/A talkback with community partners and playwright Dustin Lance Black, who will be attending the event as the guest of honor.

“8” is one of many great events 2x4BASH at The Western Stage has to offer this summer and is presented in association with: Hartnell Pride, American Civil Liberties Union of Monterey County, Marriage Equality of the Monterey Peninsula (MEMP), Monterey County Pride, TGIF Monterey, Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of Monterey County, CSUMB Health & Wellness Services, The Diversity Center of Santa Cruz, Nonprofit Alliance of Monterey County (NAMC)/Social Equity Committee and Rainbow Panels and Friends.

Admission to this event is free. A limit of two (2) tickets can be reserved via email to 8theplaySalinas@gmail.com or by phone (831) 755-6816 during a very limited period. See www.2x4BASH.com for show information.

To learn more about “8” and the great work American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact do, visit their website.

Is tweeting the new tool in theatre?

We were the first in Monterey County to do it and we called them Saturday Night BASHers. Inspired by SFPlayhouse, who began their tweet seats in 2010, more information about the creation of Pluggers is available in this article.  

So what’s the big idea behind tweeting during a live performance? Is it a viable resource or is it “just gross”, as Curt Hopkins states in his article Tweet seats deserve to be booed out of theater (Arts Technica).

Check out this KQED/NPR radio piece, Theatres Torn on Tweets by Cy Musiker, featuring former 2x4BASH stage manager/designer, Casey Rebecca Nunes.

What do you think?

Experience Theatre with All the Senses

Have you ever been able to touch a set or rifle through the props when you’ve gone to a play? Mostly likely the answer is no, since traditionally, the audience is separate from the stage, behind an imaginary fourth wall that they are not allowed to penetrate. But when I think of theatre on the edge, I think of something that forces us to change the status quo of theatre and experience it in new or different ways.

A British theatre company called Punchdrunk has created a show, “Sleep No More,” which just opened in New York, based around crucial scenes in Shakespeare’s Macbeth that break the fourth wall and invite the audience to become part of the show. The “stage” is broken up into 100s of rooms, each a space for the actors, but also for the audience to fully experience the show by sight, touch, taste, sound, and smell. The audience may inspect the set as if it were a museum and touch it, look in drawers, smell the scents that waft from the different themed rooms, and even taste some candy if they are willing to grab a piece in the “candy shop” room.

Each room has a different theme such as the candy shop mentioned above or the bedroom of Macduff’s children, that build upon the show, while tearing down preconceived notions of how a Shakespearean show should be produced.

The New York Times did a in-depth article on the show and describe in detail several of the rooms that can be experienced during the show. If you would like to read more about “Sleep No More” click on the link below:

Punchdrunk Transforms Chelsea Warehouses for ‘Sleep No More’

To see some pictures from several of the rooms and hear an audio clip describing them click this link:

Something Wicked – Interactive Feature

We’re following the Tweeter, the Tweeter, the Tweeter…

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

An idea that we at 2x4BASH have been toying with is incorporating “media-friendly” shows, where people can sign up to sit in designated seats in the house (as to not disturb our ‘traditional’ audience members) and use their Smartphones during the show to comment on or react as they watch. SF Playhouse (http://www.sfplayhouse.org/) used this concept during their production of Wirehead with Twitter and they re-tweeted select posts from audience members. I think this concept is pretty cool, but as I see it, there are so many factors that go into making this even slightly successful, especially introducing it as a completely new idea to our theatre community here on the Central Coast.

Cell phones in the theatre are typically considered blasphemous, but as time evolves, I feel we as theatre artists need to, as well. Most of us always have our phones on our person at all times (I know I do) and yes, I do think it’s incredibly rude to talk on your phone at the theatre, or not silence it. But if we were to create an environment where it was okay to use your little, technological limb for good rather than evil, I think both audience member and the theatre could benefit.

We have to look at the constants versus the variables in this situation. The constants: where the seats are located, making sure all participants interested sign up and have a verified Facebook/Twitter account (so we can check to see if they actually posted something). The variable: Internet connection, and the biggest variable of them all… human beings. We can only tell them what they are supposed to do, but will 100% of the participants do exactly that? Doubtful. The idea is to get our audience engaged and talking about what’s going on, on a first impression basis. Most of the time when we see a show, if something strikes us in a strong way, we have the rest of the show to think about or rationalize it. But if you had the opportunity to say exactly what they thought or felt about that moment in time (as we often do with Facebook and Twitter anyway), wouldn’t you want to?

Ideally, if we can rally up enough interest in our production, people will want to talk about it, right then and there without having to wait. I believe this is our ultimate goal: interest, reaction, dialog. We want to share our dialog with you.

To get started, follow us on Twitter! (2x4BASH) We promise to follow you back!

Some interesting links, regarding this topic:

http://www.tcg.org/pdfs/publications/centerpiece/Nov09_Twitter_Centerpiece.pdf

http://www.ayoungertheatre.com/theatre-marketing-twitter/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/mar/13/tweet-twitter-theatre

The Relevance of Theatre

Theatre is all about exploring the human experience and computers are a major part of the modern lifestyle.  Technology has changed today’s audience tremendously due primarily to the instant access of information.  It has improved the way we produce theatre technically to meet the needs of a smarter audience.  Theatre is the ultimate social network streaming live through every brain present.  This non-physical connection between player and viewer is a give and take flow of energy feeding each other continuously.  The relevance of theatre today is more important than ever.

Theatre began as a tool to educate the masses in an entertaining way. Familiar situations and experiences were used to teach moral lessons or explain difficult concepts .  Night and day, good and evil, life and death, action and consequence. The beauty of theatre is that it has not changed much in that sense.  Contemporary plays have improved the perception of theatre, bringing the stories and characters closer to our time.  To the greater majority, however; theatre is viewed as old and stuffy.

Audience members have shifted their attention to other mediums.  They abandoned old fashion ways of thinking and living to keep up with technology.  People want to travel the world and explore themselves. They want to surf the web for information and make an impression on the digital world. Everyone is craving a connection and obsessed with the social network.  They watch movies and reality TV on their lap tops waiting to be inspired.  Although the content may be thought provoking and entertaining, it is still missing the live experience.  Human beings rely on all the senses to experience a moment and when one is missing we don’t absorb the situation completely.  We may not notice what is missing but we know that something is.  The advantage of being present is one can feel the actor’s emotions rather than simply observing and hearing the expression of the emotion.

There is something amazing about the feeling of sitting in the house anticipating the performance to come.  Sharing this experience with other audience members only validates those feelings.  When the goose bumps strike up with the orchestra and the curtain opens, the viewer is transported to a place between familiar and fantasy yet it is still a present reality.  Not Live via satellite but a live in the flesh interaction of characters at the mercy of the crowd.



Not Your Grandmother’s Dinner Theatre

While watching KTLA news, a segment came up spotlighting a new dinner theatre show and I have to say it definitely caught my interest. The show, at Vermont Kitchen and Bar, located in Hollywood, is called “FOR THE RECORD: BAZ LUHRMANN,” and showcases songs from his feature films, “Strictly Ballroom,” “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge.”  It stars performers you might recognize from Broadway, Television and Film, such as, Tracie Thoms (Rent, Cold Case, Death Proof), Jenna Leigh Green (Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Wicked), Kate Reinders (Wicked, Gypsy), Jackie Tohn (American Idol) and Brooke Tansley (Beauty And The Beast, Hairspray), as well as some new faces.  If you choose to enjoy dinner with this show there is a prefixed 3 course menu which consists of French inspired dishes.  In addition to the gourmet food, guests can also choose from a variety of Absinthe cocktails like The Sparkling Diamond, a Champagne cocktail with Absinthe and sirop de sucre, which I’m sure is cleverly named after the song in the movie sung by Nicole Kidman, “Sparkling Diamonds.”

Here’s a trailer for this new show:

While looking further into this specific dinner theatre venue and group, I discovered that they also put on a Quentin Tarantino show… yes, you heard me correctly. Quentin Tarantino. I have to say, not the first person that comes to mind when I think “Dinner Theatre” lols. This show features songs and scenes from movies “Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill” and “Death Proof,” which was very shocking to me, but I guess possible because of the great soundtracks these movies have.  Oh but wait!! The fun doesn’t stop there. There is one more show which showcases John Huges movies, with songs and scenes from 80’s films “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty In Pink,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ,” as well as “Vacation” and “Home Alone.”  And no, I am not making this stuff up!! I’m dying to see a clip of them performing something from “Home Alone” right now, but sadly, youtube has failed me.

After finding out that shows like this exist out there in the world I am a little speechless, and I admit, very intrigued.  As far as I can see this seems to be unlike any dinner theatre experience I have heard about, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t others out there. The idea of transforming films with great music into musical theatre is a concept which could fail miserably, and has in some cases, but the majority of the movies they have chosen, partnered with gourmet food and themed alcoholic beverages, seems to be worth a look and taste in my opinion. So if you ever find yourself in LA with nothing to do, Barre Vermont looks like it could be good times, and with each show style/theme being so different from each other there seems to be a little something for everyone 🙂

More information on the restaurant and shows can be found by clicking here.