Hi guys!

So I promised guest blogs, and what I promise, I deliver.  John Gardner, who is playing Paul in the Baby section of The Dome, has written about his experience in the rehearsals so far, and what it’s like to be part of such a wild and crazy process!  Read on…

-Rachel

John’s Guest Blog

As a performer, The Dome is a new experience for me, in a number of ways.

I’ve been in new shows before-shows that are going up for the very first time, where you have the opportunity to create a role and take that first stab at telling the story. I’ve been in new shows that were still in flux, still coming together and finding form, even as I rehearsed them. In both scenarios, the rehearsal process was always a wild ride, filled with moments of discovery, fun, and sometimes, anxiety that it just wasn’t going to come together.

What I’ve never done before is a new piece of theater that contains no less than four shows, all of which are in flux, all of which are finding not only their own form, but how they interlock with all the other parts, as well. That’s The Dome.

In real-time, we’ve been rehearsing The Dome for a little over two weeks, now. But it feels like twice that long, and here’s why: there’s been a density to the time we’ve all had together. On any given day, you’re working on a wide variety of things, and you’re answering to many different masters: directors, composers, writers, music directors. Each component of The Dome has its own aesthetic, and requires a specific approach; each director uses the ensemble in a different way; each song has its own unique voice. So every day has been full to the brim, dense with new ideas, words, and music.

If you think that sounds overwhelming, you’d be right. It is overwhelming at times; it’s a challenge. But in that challenge is also the joy: the joy of testing your limits. Every day has been a happy test of my capacity to absorb new material, process it, and put it on its feet. And while I’ve sometimes found myself overwhelmed by all that’s going on, I’ve also found something wonderful: my limits have grown.

At yesterday’s rehearsal alone, we completed a stumble-through of the Baby portion  that didn’t really stumble, but was instead already starting to walk; learned an intricate minuet dance for the Emilie and Voltaire portion; and  then sat down with a mixture of voices, musical instruments and pre-recorded soundtracks to learn a new number that will open the show. My brain was sore by the end of the day, but we got through it in one piece-and that in itself was a revelatory moment.

I’ve seen this with my colleagues, as well. Every day, the material we’re all being asked to take in becomes a little less overwhelming, and we become a readier, fitter ensemble, primed to bring to the stage an ambitious and exciting new piece that at it’s very best will make the audience ask big questions- and at the very least, will offer something for everyone.  And that’s The Dome.

The coming weeks promise new challenges as we all bring this thing into being. I find myself looking forward to those challenges-to tackling them with my fellow actors and to pushing my limits even further.  And just like Paul, the anxious, expectant father that I will portray in The Dome, I look forward to that singular feeling of joy that finally comes when you’ve created something wholly new.

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Coincidence or a sign?

January 20, 2009

Hello all!

Rehearsals for The Dome are going great.  The different sections of the show are really starting to look fantastic, and we’re working out how they’ll ultimately be woven together.  Last night the cast learned the opening number, written by Marisa Michelson and Jason Grote, and I can say personally that it gave me chills.  So I’m really excited (and nervous, but mostly excited!) that the show is rapidly approaching crunch time, then tech week, then, believe it or not, performances!

In other news, this email exchange was forwarded to me by Dorothy Abrahams, who is playing Emilie du Chatelet, a French scientist and philosopher who adapted and translated the works of Isaac Newton.  Dorothy and Dino Antoniou (playing Voltaire), Laura Marks (the playwright of the Voltaire section, which is also known as Hypothesis), Stefanie Sertich (who is directing Hypothesis), and Cara Reichel (Prospect’s artistic director and the conceiver and curator of The Dome) all participated.  See below:

From: Dino Antoniou
Subject: Words of Interest…

So after our reading today, I jumped on the train and I noticed that amongst the ads there was a graphic of a golden globe almost identical to the one used in our YouTube promo video shoot yesterday.  Then I saw that it was part of the ‘Train Of Thought’ series that they have on the subways.  The accompanying text read, “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

Then I wondered who had written these wise words and I saw it was Sir Isaac Newton.

Coincidence or a sign? You decide.

Dino

From: Dorothy Abrahams
Subject: RE: Words of Interest…

I choose

to see it as a sign.

Sent shivers down my spine.

-Dorothy

From: Cara Reichel
Subject: Re: Words of Interest…

cool… it’s a bad reproduction of an “armillary sphere” by the way ; )
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armillary_sphere)
Cara Reichel

From: Stefanie Sertich
Subject: Re: Words of Interest…

Hi Everyone!

I heard that the reading went really well which is so exciting! This project is going to be super awesome and I have all the faith in the world that we are going to create a memorable piece of theatre.

And in reference to the subway message- I don’t think there is any such thing as coincidence!

Talk soon,
Stef

From: Laura Marks
Subject: Re: Words of Interest…

Perhaps our diverse responses to this subway sighting say a lot about our characters: Dino refuses to commit himself (spiritually, at least), I fret about the play, Dorothy gets chills, Cara goes to Wikipedia, and Stef says there’s no such thing as coincidence…

xo, L

From: Dorothy Abrahams
Subject: Re: Words of Interest…

Thought this might make an interesting contribution to the blog…would anyone object to sharing our dialogue with Rachel?

-dorothy

From: Dino Antoniou
Subject: Re: Words of Interest…

Well, then I’ll have to commit to my full answer…

I would say this is a clear sign.  I’ve found when I’m being active in
a certain direction and not spending much time over-analyzing and
doubting myself, this type of clear sign happens fairly often.  I’ve
become so accustomed to them, I’d call them more sign-posts along the
road.  It’s like they’re saying, “You’re headed in the right direction
– keep going!”.

When I’m being passive and spending way too much time thinking rather
than doing, more vague coincidences seem to happen that don’t clearly
line up with the direction I’m headed in.  So I tend to see these
types of coincidences as signs that I’m headed in the wrong direction
and I try to see if I can change my course.  Sometimes I don’t listen
to the signs and then curse myself later for ignoring them.  But when
I do follow the signs and things work out, I look up with wonder and
gratitude at the system that is in play.

…and that’s my two cents worth on the subject!

Dino

As always, more to come soon, including links to the promotional videos for the show!

-Rachel

As promised…

January 10, 2009

Here’s the image for the postcard for The Dome!  Isn’t it lovely?

domepostcardweb

Thanks to Jaime and Cara for coming up with such a beautiful, evocative image.

Over and out…

-Rachel

Hello again!  Rachel here with some updates from The Dome‘s creative process.

The Edge Foundation is a nonprofit organization that, according to their website, seeks to “promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society.”  Every year they pose a question to philosophers, artists, scientists, and others, and publish the answers.  In 2006 the question was, “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?”  I came upon a selection of the answers in The Best American Nonrequired Reading: 2006 (ed. Dave Eggers), and shared some of them with the cast during our developmental meetings.  We were all intrigued by this question and the answers (which explored the nature of time, the mental and emotional development of babies, and the creation of the universe, among other things), and felt that the question captures the spirit of The Dome: the exploration of the unknowns we face, and the excitement, fascination, and fear that that exploration can bring.  As a result, we decided to use our own version of it as the promotional tagline for the show.

More to come soon, including a sneak preview of the promotional postcard!

Hello again and happy new year!  It’s Rachel, with more updates from The Dome.

On January 2nd we had our first official rehearsal.  We met and greeted, and did some hilarious improvisational activities, and then worked on the song “Lilianna,” which was contributed to the show by the very talented Deborah Abramson.  It was an excellent start with an excellent group!

Yesterday, January 3rd, we had a video shoot for some promotional videos that we’ll be posting online.  I ran around taking photos, and here are some of the good ones.  I don’t want to give too much away–you’ll have to wait for the videos to be posted!–but here are some shots, just to toy with you all:

dorothy-and-dino-as-emilie-and-voltaire2

Sitting at the table are Dorothy Abrahams, who’s playing Emilie du Châtelet, and Dino Antoniou, who’s playing Voltaire.  Standing against the wall is Tony Vallés, Prospect’s director of communications, and shooting the video is Jaime Vallés, Prospect’s graphic designer.

The video for the clowns piece involved various elements, including shoes and paper airplanes.

100_0811

Here Sarah Statler, one of the actors, tries to throw a paper airplane into the shot Jaime’s getting.  The other actors are behind her, also throwing paper airplanes in front of Jaime.

100_0815

Action shot!  John Gardner, who will be playing the father in the section about the couple expecting a baby, runs away with a pair of shoes at great speed.

100_0809

Here Andrew Zimmerman, one of the actors, holds a sign that says “What are you certain of?”  Prospect’s tagline for The Dome is “What are you certain of, but cannot prove?”  Come to the show and see for yourself what it all means…

As the afternoon wore on, the whole group traipsed over to what is often known as The Hippo Park (due to its many awesome statues of hippos, on which you can climb), on 90th St. and Riverside Drive.  Everyone blew up beach balls and ran around John in circles.  Trust me, it was profound.

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That’s all the news that’s fit to print for now.  Stay tuned for more photos and some exciting guest blogs: same time, same station.  And remember to take the survey!