Author Archives: Thomas

King Lear for May 9 – Cancelled Due To Rain

We regret to announce that our performance for Friday, May 9, must be cancelled due to insistent rain. If you reserved a table for this evening, please email us at nfdramaclub[at]gmail[dot]com.

Published: May 9, 2014

King Lear: A Director’s Note

King Lear

Another king, but not a history. These struggles are far less political, removed from the usual intrigues of country against country. With Henry V, a young warrior king called upon all England to rise to his side in a claim against France. But with King Lear, the cry of rule is of much smaller scope. At stake is not so much the fate of a country, but the sovereignty of one man’s mind. To be considered is not the frailty of a state, but the tenuous alliances that form a family.

The opening premise is simple. Nearing the end of his reign, a king decides to divide his kingdom into three pieces, each to be given to each of his three daughters. Yet on the day of proclamation, the King asks each daughter in turn to describe their love.

This is where it all goes wrong.

William Faulkner and William Shakespeare

There is a remark, possibly apocryphal, attributed to William Faulkner:

“I have a one-volume Shakespeare that I have just about worn out carrying around with me.”

Faulkner and Shakespeare share a common appreciation for imagining the hilarity of life with as much clarity as is reserved for tragedy. Both examine the thin line between fate and free will, the things we can change about ourselves and the destinies we cannot escape.

Faulkner loved the characters that Shakespeare created, listing them in interviews by the handful. Lady Macbeth was a favorite, so too Mercutio. For his opinion on King Lear, he never said directly, but an observation from his fictional novelist in 1925’s Mosquitoes gives a clue:

“[Art is] a perversion … but a perversion that builds Chartres and invents Lear is a pretty good thing.”

A Pretty Good Thing

Imagine now the family tragedy of King Lear through the Southern Gothic lens of a Faulkner novel.

A beloved daughter is shunned by the family patriarch for speaking the truth, giving rise to her two older sisters’s conspiracy to take advantage of their once proud and noble father’s advancing instability. A bastard son finds an opportunity to turn his legitimate half-brother into a villain in their father’s eyes through misdirection and deception. The same bastard becomes an object of desire to both older sisters, wooing each to his advantage and turning them against one another. All the while, a once-trusted family friend disguises himself to protect the head of this family as he falls into senility …

Read it again with a slight Southern accent. Can you hear it?

There you go.

Now you’re ready to come along with us as we present this Faulkner-soaked take on William Shakespeare’s most intimate of tragedies. There will be blood, and there will be tears.

But trust, you’ve never seen Shakespeare done like this.

Published: April 30, 2014

Let’s Talk About Lear – A Director’s Early Note

Of all of Shakespeare’s tragedies, perhaps the most concise is King Lear. I would ever go further to say it is the best written, if not for the memorable quotes, but for the way it is constructed. It is a tale about family, about responsibility, about consequence and action, and it all unfolds without a single visit from the supernatural realm. No ghosts. And certainly no fairies. There is a storm, but there is no wizard to control it.

And so, as we approach King Lear, we do so with one of those intakes of breath through the nose. You know how that is, when you look at a challenge and tilt your head a bit, then inhale deliberately before muttering something like “Well, alright then” or “Let’s do this.”

So say it with me: “Let’s do this.”

Our concept this time around is harder to pinpoint, but simpler to describe. This isn’t just NFDC taking on the 1970s like with did with Shrew or Midsummer, or even the ’30s like we did with Macbeth. For King Lear, we’re calling our take Faulker Lear. As in William Faulkner. If you don’t get it right now, don’t worry, you’ll get it when you see it in May.

To this end, we’re doing two sets of auditions. The first set will be tomorrow night and Tuesday night. These nights of auditions are for only the titular character himself. King Lear. Arguably, one of the great roles in the canon.

There has been some question as regards to age. Lear is a father of three adult women, all of them very different and across a possibly wide range of seeming ages. Because of this, the most common portrayal of Lear is that of a man nearing the twilight of his life.

That’s not where we’re taking our Lear. I am looking for a Lear that is vital, that is sharp, that knows his mortality and recognizes that he must make decisions while he is still in full control. Yes, he is older, but somewhere between 50 and 75.

Understand that this age range is the character, not the actor, because actors are bound only by their talent and never their age, right? (Right.)

And so, if you are an actor with aspirations of royalty (albeit a kind of dusty, Southern kind) who has considered coming out and playing with us, then you should come and see us this week. Or if you’ve friends who might fit this bill, please send them our way.

Published: January 5, 2014

Sit Back And Watch … Our Steampunk Tempest

If you missed it live, the whole thing is on Vimeo, so find a comfortable chair and enjoy.

Published: August 1, 2012

The Cast for North Fulton Drama Club’s Hamlet

It is with great pride that we announce the cast for our upcoming production of Hamlet.

Claudius / Ghost of Hamlet’s Father
– Jeff Morgan
Hamlet – Weston Manders
Polonius – Kerrie Doty
Horatio – Emily Arvidson
Laertes / Player Luciano – John O’Keefe
Rosencrantz / Marcellus / Osric – Sean Anderson
Guildenstern / Bernardo – Alysha McCollough
Gertrude – Jessica de Maria
Ophelia – Stephanie Laubscher
Player King / Gravedigger 2 / Priest – Derek Faglier
Francisco / Player Queen / Gravedigger 1 – Emily Gail Howell

A Sidenote:
The audition and callback process for this production was grueling and casting proved more difficult than we could imagine. At the end of the day, we are all of us humbled by the talent that walks through the kitchen door at Barrington Hall on audition nights.

We are eternally grateful to our actors, both those we cast and those we cannot. Without you, we’d be back where we started, just imagining a company that did Shakespeare a little bit differently than everybody else. So thank you, all of you. And we look forward to seeing you backstage, in the audience and at auditions in the spring of 2013.

Published: June 15, 2012

Auditions for Hamlet

Fall 2012: Hamlet - Auditions

On June 11th & 12th, North Fulton Drama Club will be holding open, Non-Equity auditions for a new production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Auditions will be held from 6:30 pm to 9:30pm. Call backs are on Thursday, June 14th.


Download an audition form here!

**We are interested in actors of any and all races, ethnicities, body types, flavors, heights, whatever. Come as you are, because you are awesome.**

Show dates are evenings Fridays & Saturdays, September 21st through October 6th, with a Sunday Matinee on September 30th at 4pm.

Actors should come prepared to perform cold-readings from provided scripts. Monologues, particularly Shakespearean, are appreciated, but not required. Headshots and theatre resumes are appreciated, but not required.

Auditions will be held on the property of Barrington Hall in Roswell, Georgia. The Hall is located at 535 Barrington Drive, on the south side of the Historic Roswell Square, near the intersection of GA Hwy 120 and GA Hwy 9. Follow Barrington Drive and turn left on to King Street to access the graveled parking behind the blue barn. There is very limited parking available in the main lot, so please park around back.

Deal breakers include inability to be at ALL shows and inability to be present during the entirety of tech week. If you feel you have a particularly strong case for missing ONE day during tech week, please feel free to attempt to reason with us. We are nothing if not reasonable.

Please note: NFDC accepts actors who are age 14 and at least freshmen in high school.


Find Barrington Hall on Google Maps.

Questions? Email us at nfdramaclub@gmail.com or call us at 678-561-BARD.

Roles
Claudius / Ghost of Hamlet’s Father
Hamlet
Polonius / Osric
Horatio
Laertes / Player Luciano
Marcellus / Rosencrantz / Priest
Bernardo / Guidenstern
Gertrude
Ophelia
Francisco / Player King / Gravedigger 1
Player Queen / Gravedigger 2

NOTE:
NFDC is an all-volunteer community theater, and as such, no stipend or compensation is offered.

Published: May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, William

William Shakespeare would’ve been 448 this year.

And while he’s been studied and analyzed and denied, there are questions we’ll never answer.

Was he a morning person? I doubt it. Artists and writers wake early out of necessity. Only the night has a silence and a seeming isolation that fosters the imagination of grander ideas.

What did those 37 plays do to him? Literally, I wonder. How was his vision? Did he write into the blur of sleeplessness, until he felt the salt burn around his eyes? And what of his back? His writing hand? Hunching over, working by candlelight, squinting into the night. This conduit for the human condition, working unaware of how the world would later perceive him and his words.

He was just a guy making a living, wasn’t he?

It wasn’t until college, and it was late even then, that I developed any appreciation for William Shakespeare. It is all to easy to say that I’d never the right introduction, but while I owe a debt immeasurable to Dr Cooley, Berry College’s resident expert on most things Elizabethan, the revelation was long in coming.

A public school education in Georgia guaranteed a minimum four encounters with Shakespeare over the course of a high school career. Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet and Macbeth.

Of these four, Romeo & Juliet is remembered fondest. In the mid-80s, there was no Baz Luhrmann film adaptation to pull from the media center. Instead, we had the Zefirelli from the early 70s. A beautiful film, remarkably true to the source material, Zefirelli’s take presented a public school teacher with a challenge of timing. Why? A partially naked Olivia Hussey, of course.

I remember like yesterday the sight of Ella Greene, high school English teacher, dashing across the room, manila folder in hand. She covered the screen just in time.

But Romeo & Juliet was the one play in the four to include anything like a teenager. By all rights, my classmates and I should’ve lapped this up like the everyday drama that washed up and down the locker-strewn hallways. And yet, it remained apart from us, something cold and learned and disconnected from reality. In my middle-aged conceit, I wonder how much more we’d have learned from just standing and saying the lines out and in the open. What teenager couldn’t relate to the immediacy of infatuation that feels like the end of the world, starstruck and lovedrunk?

But I know better. There was no time. There were tests to take, standards to meet. Bells ring and we shuffle on to the next class of the day.

And later, after we graduate, and then we graduate. And sometimes after we graduate again, we’ve just no time. We’re so busy.

We’re all just making a living aren’t we?

I’m asked often why we at NFDC stick to Shakespeare. Don’t we ever want to do anything different? When will we expand our horizons?

For about six months out of the year, we get to immerse ourselves in the words of this amazing, hard-working man. We go to our day jobs from 8am to 5pm, we dash through traffic, grab a bite to eat (or not), then we gather for rehearsal. Blocking, scenework or choreography will take us through to 10pm. Then we drive home, ideas still percolating in our heads of how to tackle the same thing tomorrow. Sleep, wake, repeat.

We do this because we have the time. Because we are blessed. All of us in this company, we attempt twice yearly to form a conduit of human creativity.

And once the show goes up, just as our Steampunk Tempest has … perhaps someone will come to this space we’ve created from nothing, expecting little more than an evening’s entertainment, then walk away with the strange comfort that there once was a man who knew them, all their human failings and glories.

And a little over four hundred years ago, that curious man had so much to say that he fought off sleep and cracked his knuckles and allowed himself maybe one more hour’s writing before going to bed.

Happy Birthday, William.

Thank you for staying up a little later.

Published: May 1, 2012

On Steampunk and The Tempest

There are many definitions for it, but the easiest way to describe the aesthetic is that Steampunk is a kind of alternate history, a version of the Victorian and Edwardian eras where technology advanced about a century faster than history recorded.  The skies are full of zeppelins and flying contraptions.  Everything has a feeling of refinement and luxury made possible through impossible engines built from polished wood and brass, powered by a combination of clockworks and steam.  We all love our iPhones and Androids these days, but in Steampunk there is a longing for devices that aren’t simply built to use once and throw away, but instead are polished and repaired and made better with more gadgetry.

As for me, I’ve been a fan of Steampunk from before I knew there was such a word.  Back in the ’80s, I would stay up late on Saturday nights to watch episodes of Doctor Who on Georgia Public Broadcasting. When Tom Baker played the Doctor, the interior of his time machine, the TARDIS, had the appearance of a Victorian drawing room, all full of brass and what looked like mahogany.  

The lesson there was that it was great to travel through time, but if you could do it in style, then all the better!

So what does this have to do with The Tempest?  North Fulton Drama Club has always taken Shakespearean plays are placed them solidly in various eras of history.  We’ve done Louisiana in the 1930s, a turn of the century India, a New Wave 1980s and even the Wild West.  For a few years now, we’ve kept Steampunk in the back of our collective mind, just waiting for the right play.  At some point last year, it just clicked: The Tempest‘s Prospero is a wizard who loved his books, who steers thunder and lightning to further his goals, who seeks to control of often invisible forces just beyond his comprehension.

In that way, Prospero has a lot in common with some real-life wizards from history, like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and (in particular) Nicola Tesla.  From there, it was a matter of looking at the character of Ariel like the embodiment of electricity and the deformed Caliban as nature standing (or stooping) resistant to being tamed and ordered.

Like we said in our Kickstarter:

“The last of Shakespeare’s comedies, The Tempest is a wonderful tale of magic both real and imagined, of love as a voyage of discovery, of wild things that cannot be tamed.”

I adore The Tempest.  Some of my favorite lines are spread throughout the text, and so many of them will be familiar to the audience even before they settle in for our production.

This production is our most ambitious to date.  It’s huge and exciting and a little terrifying, but we can’t wait to get it in front of an audience.

Published: April 18, 2012

Spring 2012: William Shakespeare’s The Tempest

The Tempest

Mark your calendar now! NFDC is proud to announce our Spring 2012 production of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Opening April 27, 2012!

1893.

The World’s Columbian Exposition opens in Chicago … Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 premiers … Prospero, the Duke of Milan, is deposed, exiled and set adrift at sea with his infant daughter, Miranda … and his books …

1909.

Ernest Shackleton’s expedition discovers the South Pole … The Grand Isle Hurricane devastates Cuba … Alonso, the King of Naples, shipwrecks with his crew on the shore of a strange, uncharted island …

And this is where our steampunk Tempest begins.

Friday & Saturday Evenings April 27th through May 12th at 8pm
Sunday Matinee May 6th at 4pm

Seating begins at 7pm; Show begins at 8pm (more or less dusk)

General Admission: FREE!
Suggested Donation of $5 – Please consider giving in advance via our Kickstarter Campaign!

Reserved seating at tables will be available for this show. Tables seat six, and come with tablecloth and candle.
Click here to reserve a table today!

Location:
Barrington Hall
535 Barrington Drive
Roswell, GA 30075

Map:

View Larger Map

Funding for this program is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of the Fulton County Arts Council.
Funding for this program is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of the Fulton County Arts Council.

Our graphics courtesy of Erica Cruz. If you want some awesome graphics, just drop us a message and we’ll hook you up with the best graphic designer in the ATL.

Published: February 8, 2012

The Tempest: Announcing Our Cast

We are pleased to announce our cast for William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

  • Prospero – Zip Rampy
  • Miranda – Jo Arellanes
  • Ferdinand – Justin Munson
  • Ariel Prime – Cynthia Brower
  • Caliban – Paul Riley
  • Alonso – Donovan Craig
  • Antonia – Emma Greene
  • Gonzalo – Gary Heffelfinger
  • Sebastian – Christo Taoushiani
  • Adrianisco – Ren Robinson
  • Stephano – Ben Silver
  • Trinculo – Jessica DeMaria
  • Boatswain – Adam Levenstein
  • Master of the Ship – Kirsten Milliken
  • Mariner – Lyle Chadwick
  • Ceres – Kate Rasnick
  • Iris – Sarah Frey
  • Juno – Sarah Keyes Chang
  • And featuring as Aspects of Ariel: Ilene Miller, Emily Gail Howell, Emily Arvidson, Hannah Twiggs, Aleah Burgdorf, Shari Bohnsack

Published: February 4, 2012