Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Resident Company "Snapshot" - Jeany Van Meltebeke

Jeany is thrilled to be back on the deck at Rosebud Theatre. Her previous shows include ‘Doubt’, ‘Treasure Island’, ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, ‘Lettice and Lovage’, ‘$38,000 for a Friendly Face’, ‘Godspell’, ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’, ‘On Golden Pond’, and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. Before Rosebud, Jeany worked at the Chemainus Theatre Festival, Wisconsin Shakespeare, Western Illinois Musical Theatre, and Eugene Festival of Musical Theatre. She holds an MFA in acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as a BA from Trinity Western University. Jeany enjoys teaching and living in Rosebud with her family.
Rosebud Theatre
Jeany Van Meltebeke and Declan O'Reilly in Rosebud Theatre's The Skin of Our Teeth. Photo by Morris Ertman.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Eugene, Oregon and moved to Rosebud in 2006.

What’s your must-have morning ritual?
Buttered toast and O.J.

What music have you been listening to lately?

In ‘The Skin of Our Teeth, you’re playing Mrs. Antrobus, one of the iconic female roles of American Theatre. Do you approach it like any other role? 
It’s not unlike most roles, I lend her my self and my sympathies and let the playwright do the rest.
I definitely have to take her at face value, and deliver the lines full and true. There are some melodramatic stage directions in the script, and Morris is usually pretty iffy about following those… and yet he keeps asking for ‘the tigress’ whenever I get too reasonable, so the tone of those stage directions are probably being realized in the end.
I can’t plan though. It really has to be moment to moment – play my action and then react to my scene partners. Sometimes Mrs. A cowers, but usually she is straight up and persuasive – for good reason of course.

Jeany Van Meltebeke and Heather Pattengale
First day on set - Jeany Van Meltebeke and Heather Pattengale take a moment with text. Photo by Declan O'Reilly.
What’s been challenging about Mrs. Antrobus?
Her strength, and the technical challenge of being on top of my game and remembering all the exact words and business and details. (Can you tell we’re in tech week?)
This may sound surprising, but it’s actually been important for me to separate myself from my character so it doesn’t become too personal. Ironically, this distinction allows for greater freedom and availability and likely even more of myself to emerge.
Overall, my job is to stay healthy and positive, or as Wilder would say, “Keep my wits about me” and tell the story.

Any other iconic roles still on your bucket list?
Lizzie from 110 in the Shade
Josie from Moon for the Misbegotten
Mother in Ragtime
Richard the Third
Miss Hannigan in Annie
Paulina in Winter’s Tale

Your family recently came back from a mammoth tour to Europe and Africa. What’s something that has resonated with you about the journey?
I loved being with my family. I loved watching my boys make new friends with young and old alike. I loved watching my hosts thrive on lavishing hospitality. I loved seeing new places and eating new foods and experiencing similarities and differences in our cultures. I loved the moments of community, of beauty, and serendipity. I liked getting to stop our routine here and just go… and I loved having little agenda other than what was right in front of us.
Now I think of myself more of a citizen of the planet, and not just a particular country… And I’m grieved by all the plastic waste… And I realize how astounding it is that I live in Rosebud.

What’s inspiring you right now?
Tabata workouts, Artisan bread, and University of Oregon basketball. Oh, and Call the Midwife.

What’s a piece of acting advice that’s stuck with you?
Acting is 90% Audacity, so just commit and “Put ‘em at ease.”

And what motherly wisdom do you think Mrs. Antrobus, the “original” mum, would give in our current turbulent times?
Preserve and protect your own little corner of the universe: your home. Let it be the safe spot where one can be known, and it will be an incubator for potential. Investing in family is the most noble and courageous calling, for it ensures the survival of the human race.

‘The Skin of Our Teeth’ opens this Friday, March 31 and runs through June 3rd. Don't miss this opportunity to marvel at Jeany Van Meltebeke residing as the original matriarch, the ferocious Eva Antrobus. For more about the story, click here. For tickets and information, visit rosebudtheatre.com

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Wilder "Words to Live By"

Our upcoming 'Skin of Our Teeth' is a wild blend of prehistoric, Biblical, and mid-century American dynamics. A show you have to see to believe, the crazy adventure follows a 5,000 year old family as they navigate apocalyptic and every-day disasters. For more information visit rosebudtheatre.com

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A Blog Within a Blog Within a ... WHAT?

This week on the blog we’ll attempt what no-one in their right mind would: a satire on the satirical masterpiece, 'The Skin of Our Teeth'. The play plays with a play within a play (Got that? If not, click here). So we'll do our best with a blog within a blog...

Let us know if you find your way out of this. 

  • Krista Marushy: the person who came up with this stupid idea
  • Morris Ertman: Artistic Director (Rosebud), Regular Director (The Skin of Our Teeth)
Note: all interview questions are real. Artistic liberties have not been taken with Rosebud’s Artistic Director, just liberties with art, in general.


*ACT 1: Home*
A woman sits, distractedly, before a computer. The first words appear on the screen: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE BLOG. A rewrite looms ominously.

KRISTA: I’m sitting here in my living room, pleased to take you on the artistic journey into this blog process.

Calgary, AB.

This morning was daylight savings, and my children were appropriately unreasonable. In the news, many dispiriting things, mostly coming from the country south of our borders. There is reportedly a wall of ignorance moving northward, but disruptions within our own country’s communications indicate the wall may be surrounding us more closely than first suspected. For further information, see your daily papers, or grossly inaccurate social media feeds.

But let's settle into something a little more comfortable, as in, the actual interview.

She types more words into an e-mail then fires it off to Morris Ertman, Artistic Director, Rosebud Theatre.

KRISTA: I wonder if he’ll hate this idea.

Time passes. Slowly. Later that day...

KRISTA: 6 PM and he hasn’t responded yet! He almost certainly hates the idea. Direct questions would probably be best, but a telemarketer once told me a clear question is the most dangerous thing and should absolutely be avoided at all costs. Oh why oh why can’t anyone respond in a timely manner on their only day off at dinner time?

Every e-mail it’s the same ole thing: will they respond, or won’t they? Will they use words, attachments, emojis? Emojis, by the way, are the only sure way to tell what's really being said and if the Garden of Eden had more emojis in front of that treewe’d all be in a better place.
Of course Morris is extraordinarily intuitive so there really shouldn’t be a problem. Artistic too. He’s been running that Rosebud for so many years, it’s a wonder the theatre’s still standing. But since they’ve rattled along for some time now – my advice is not to inquire why or whither but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate – that’s my philosophy. (Or rather, a direct quote from The Skin of Our Teeth.)

Oh, look! The e-mail has arrived and all is right with the world.

*ACT 2: The Interwebs*
Krista opens the e-mail and transcribes Morris’s answers into the appropriate places. A blog appears on your screen:

Morris, why on earth would you choose this story at this time? Please keep your answers direct as there is too much artistic freewheeling going on as is. 
Because someone has to do this play in this time! It's all about the state of the world we live in right now - climate change, refugees, what is good in us, how can we survive? What is our place in the Cosmos? It was written in the 1940's, as if it were written for today! And I love Thornton Wilder. And the 1st Act is all about refugees finding safety in an everyday suburban home because it is so cold outside. What are we reading about in the news? Refugees crossing the border from the U.S. to Manitoba, losing limbs because of frostbite and a small Manitoba town of generous people bing overwhelmed by the steady stream of people seeing refuge... Short enough for you? It is a play about the end of the world, you know. 
What’s a question within a question that you have about the play?  
Why is a man's love for his son manifested only in expectation? 

The profundity of Morris’s answer reveals a doorwary. They open it and stand in front of the dawn of creation. The first moonlight blazes like the inaugural launch of a virginal ship. 

 Morris: Always present, some days appearing round, other days a crescent. And never the same for everyone on the planet.
: Do you have any snacks, and if so, what would they be?
              Morris: Nuts and mango juice.
              Krista: Do you think we’re meant to sleep under that light?
              Morris: We’re all meant to sleep under that same light.

They close the door.
Some would call this show Metatheatrical. First of all, what is that, and second of all, does it get confusing?
Meta Epic! It’s an epic show about a family spanning thousands of years surviving huge threats to its existence both outside and inside. [Meta = self-referential: the characters in the play are actors putting on a play and they sometimes acknowledge that.] And surprisingly, it doesn’t get confusing. It’s as if Thornton Wilder touched genius and heart all at the same time. It’s so approachable as a story. We know these people. We know their struggles and their triumphs.
What IS confusing about this play?
At the moment, nothing. But that could all change in today’s rehearsal.
What are some of your favorite lines from the script? 
   Mr. Antrobus: Broken-down camel of a pig’s snout, open this door!
   Mrs. Antrobus: God be praised! It’s your father! 
"Pass up your chairs, everybody. Save the human race."
Mrs. Antrobus: I have a message to throw into the ocean… It’s a bottle. And in the bottle’s a letter. And in the letter is written all the things that a woman knows. It’s never been told to any man and it’s never been told to any woman, and if it finds its destination, a new time will come. We’re not what books and plays say we are. We’re not in the movies and we’re not on the radio. We’re not what you’re all told and what you think we are: We’re ourselves. And if any man find one of us he’ll learn why the whole universe was set in motion.
When do you think humanity is most aware of the passing of time?
When we come to an actual understanding that this life is finite. This world is finite.
What’s the best reason to see this play right now, other than it’s profound hilarity and it’s hilarious profundity?  
It’ll make everyone feel again. It will give hope to live and love despite all the turmoil we face in the world. It’s that powerful. It chokes me up just writing this, because I’m thinking about the end of the play and the fact that it feels like beginning again is actually possible.
Discuss the difference between allusion and illusion, and if that matters to this play. 
Allusion is referencing something in passing in a way that gives it substance in the subconscious. An illusion is a trick of the perception. This play is a pastiche of ideas and people and places and literature and imagery that live in our collective conscience. It’s as if they’ve bubbled to the surface – to the lips of characters in the play that have survived thousands of years. Imagine being 400 years old. Imagine all of the reference to life one would contain at that age. All of the allusions that would be part of your life, all of the most important impressions and experiences. They’d be part of your vocabulary. Now multiply that by thousands of years, and what kind of language would one have to draw upon? It’s a staggering idea. And it’s what we as a collection of human beings possess because of literature, oral tradition, painting, theatre, art, movies, architecture, science, the experience of millions of people staring up into the heavens, standing on bluffs looking across prairie grass or ocean vistas, BIG LIFE so precious it can’t help but be noted in some way.

*ACT 3: Infinity & Beyond*
Krista, distracted, imagines Morris interviews her.

Morris: How many times have you read the script, Kris?
Krista: At least once. Twice. I’m gonna go with 4.
Morris: Did this play get your motor running?
Krista: I always like a play with big ideas that you can’t quite “get” until it’s in front of you. It’s very rare to read a play that can’t be done for another medium… i.e., made into a movie. This is a PLAY. Capital P. Hardly anyone does that, but I think it’s what Thornton Wilder did best. He knows what theatre is capable of.
Morris: If you were to ask me more questions, what would they be?
K: Do you have any dialogue swirling around in your head that
you’re just waiting to put into a play someday?
M: An old man in a Massey-Ferguson cap standing on a prairie bluff – the grass around him rippled by the wind, his long white hair blowing, his nose hairs rippling like the grass with every intake of breath.
            K: That’s not dialogue.
            M: It’s more a story idea than dialogue.
            K: Images mostly.
            M: There’s just a lot of swirling.
            K: Do you ever imagine interviewing me?

Morris imagines a blog with questions for Krista.

It goes on and on, like this forever. Just go see the show. It's way better than this. Trust me. 

'The Skin of Our Teeth' March 31 - June 3. www.rosebudtheatre.com