From 2002-2005 we had a very active and wonderful program of Stage Productions at our Studio, performed by Studio actors, and directed by Studio directors, with Judith as co-director. Below are the archives notes: including Philosophy, Guidelines, and Announcements/Diary for that program. To see photos from the productions, go to PHOTO GALLERY Stage Productions.
All actors should know at some point the thrill and creative inspiration of performing a thoroughly rehearsed production in front of a live audience. There is nothing like it!
And when film directors direct a theater production, they can learn a huge amount, on a very fast track, about working with actors.
Even though the focus of my teaching is on directing and acting for film and television, I believe deeply that working in theater is fantastic preparation for film and television work. And – it is good for the soul. It is a great happiness to me to be able to offer my students something of the joy and freedom and growth as an artist and a person that I have gotten from working in theater.
Auditions are open to all actors who are in class with me. The productions have, as “co-directors,” directors selected by me from my directing classes. In each case, I am the other “co-director,” and I over-see each production, in order to make this a learning experience for both the actors and the directors.
If you are interested, read the GUIDELINES below, and contact us. And please consider volunteering to work as Stage Manager or Light Booth Operator, as a way to begin getting involved.
I want to work with people who are committed and disciplined and interested in learning and growing, who put the play itself first, and who are interested, to paraphrase Stanislavski, in elevating the art in themselves, not themselves in the art.
Training for actors and directors should be accompanied by performance opportunities in an environment of high standards and total support. Two Lights Studio Theater is an extension of the classroom. This "Classroom Production Project" came out of brainstorming sessions in February 2002 with actors and directors in the Actor-Director Laboratory. The Actor-Director Lab itself, of course, emerged from pairing the actors of my weekly Scene Study classes with directors who had taken the Acting for Directors courses I've been teaching since 1988.
1) There are two central purposes of this "Classroom Production Project." One is the learning experience. Theater discipline is a superb preparation for many aspects of life - but especially for work in film and television. The other is the fun - the liberation, the connection, the high - that live theater uniquely offers.
2) There is no "producer." Everyone has to help out with finding props and costumes, building sets, folding programs, getting people to come, etc.
3) The amount of the budget is limited to what we can bring in from collecting suggested donations of $10 per person at the door. This tiny budget has been generously supplemented by the bounteous contributions of talented set designers and amazing donations of set and lighting equipment and installation. And by Judith and John's decision to increase the Studio's investment in leasehold improvements. We are proud of the professional look, modern technology, and convenience of Two Lights Studio.
4) But we also like its "home-made" feel. "Poor" theater is for us not just an economic necessity, but an aesthetic choice. Again - this is a learning experience. The point of sticking to a limited budget is not to settle for less than excellence - it is to learn ingenuity and stretch our imaginations.
5) The emphasis, for the actors, is on the freedom and confidence that comes from a serious rehearsal period and a significant run; and, for the directors, on their communication with the actors, and on learning to block and shape the emotional action. In other words, the hard work is meant to be its own reward. Solving the technical pressures of a fully mounted production, and dealing with the excitement and demands of pleasing an audience are definitely part of the fun and part of the learning. But we have to keep such pressures and demands in perspective - for example, by not getting too carried away with the technical side of things - because the best result is always achieved by attention to process.
6) There will be open auditions for all the roles, except in certain unusual cases that will be clearly announced. All actors who are currently in class - or have been recently in class - are invited to audition. This includes any of the classes for actors, including scene study, the Masters class, Audition class and the Actor-Director Lab.
7) Directors will be chosen from among directors who have taken the Actor-Director Lab, or the Script Analysis and Rehearsal Techniques workshops.
8) It was originally my intention that all actors and directors involved in productions should be in class during rehearsal and production. There were two reasons for this: 1) to foster a "family" feeling to the venture, rather than a "guest artist" feeling, and 2) to make the "Classroom Production Project" an incentive for people to take class rather than a reason for them to drop out. And I still think it's a good idea for people to stay in class while rehearsing and performing. But of course it is difficult to do a play and class at the same time. We are no longer insisting on this aspect of the Production Project - in effect it becomes a free class and free showcase for my students - but with the expectation that people will return to class either during or after the Production, whenever they can.
9) One-acts. Many of the productions we have done have been programs of 3 or 4 one-act plays - in order to give as many people as possible a chance to participate. All programs of one-acts will be performed on a unit set - that is, there can be changes of furniture and dressing between the plays, but no changes of set walls. So the directors of the one-acts on the same program will need to collaborate on a set design that works for all of them. Directors must also collaborate and cooperate on the casting, and on the allocation of studio space for rehearsals.
10) Directors and actors are invited and encouraged to submit ideas of plays to produce - or to write plays themselves. We can use part of the budget for paying royalties, where royalties are required, but of course if writers are willing to let us use their material without royalty, that will leave more funds for set construction and publicity.
11) The "co-directing" thing. All the directors involved in this "Classroom Production Project" are really co-directors, with Judith the other co-director on each production. That means that final decisions on selection of plays, selection of directors, casting, set design, and scheduling will all be made by me (Judith), as Artistic Director and Co-Director on all productions. Basically I get my fingers in all the pies - I come to auditions, and as many rehearsals and performances as I can manage - and I must be consulted on all important decisions. In rehearsal, I listen to the directors' ideas, and make suggestions if I feel I can be helpful in making the directors' ideas work. But if I feel that time is running out, or that something is going wrong, or that the co-director is overlooking something crucial - then I step in however I see fit. When there are differences of opinion between the director and me, we can argue it out, and let the best idea win. I am always willing to battle for excellence, to battle out ideas. However, I have learned that I can't afford to spend my emotional resources on battles for chain of command. So I will not be inviting autonomous "guest directors" to operate in my studio. Instead, I feel the "co-director" concept provides the best environment for the learning and creativity of the directors, the actors - and me.
12) The time commitment. Our rehearsal periods for the one-acts have typically been three times a week for three or four weeks, plus a big push during the last week before opening - set-building days, production meetings, and tech and dress rehearsals. A full-length play requires a more intense commitment. The productions have a four week run, Friday and Saturday nights.
13) It is not possible to do this without volunteer stage managers and light and sound operators - house managers and graphic artists too. So far we've had incredible contributions in these areas - the people who have made commitments to help out have been unbelievably talented, dedicated, resourceful, uncomplaining, and totally reliable - often way beyond the call of duty. I can't take responsibility for finding the technical support - those of you who want to act and direct need to take turns helping each other out, and/or finding the people who will volunteer to make those commitments. As far as I can tell, EVERYBODY who has volunteered as stage manager, light/sound operator, graphic artist, house manager, set builder, stagehand - has had fun, learned a lot, and been very glad they did it. And, although this is not a "policy," I'm only human - I do find that my gratitude to the people who do volunteer makes me eager to be sure they get their chance at acting or directing as soon as possible.
14) It is of primary importance to me that this should be an environment of total support, creative expansion, and commitment to excellence - free of jealousies, resentments and gossip. Maybe expecting that to happen in a theater group sounds like hoping to reinvent human nature - but I have no interest in doing this unless it is a happy and nourishing experience. We're all struggling to be heard, to be seen, to find our artistic voice. It's very helpful to do this in a community. One of my actors put it this way during the run of one of our plays: "Oh yeah! It's a competition out there on stage! But it's a competition of adoration."
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND DIARY
So far this page is just an open letter to my acting and directing students.
The first time I walked into the new studio, a few weeks before I signed the lease, and a month before we moved in on May 1, my first thought was, "We could do plays here." So I am now nervously and tentatively giving some thought to the idea of allowing the Two Lights Acting Studio, aka Judith Weston Acting Studio, aka Two Lights Studio Theater, to become a producing entity.
Already a Showcase evening of scenes and one-acts (Stage Fright 2001) went up in June. In October we received Equity Waiver status, and rented the space to a group of playwrights (Bootstrap) whose program of original one-acts ran for four weeks.
Right now I have a better idea of what I don't want to do than what I do want to do. Although it's possible that the space may be rented from time to time for brief "outside" productions, I don't really want that to be a major focus. I also don't want to focus on "Showcase" productions any more. And I don't particularly want to compete in the L.A. small-theater scene, either.
What I am envisioning is "studio theater" - student productions, but not on the Showcase model. The reason for doing it would be learning, and theater discipline would be part of the curriculum. Not all the actors involved in a production will have equal size roles. There will be no real budget for production costs. Although some admission could be charged, ingenuity and elbow grease will need to prevail. Actors can do a postcard mailing to invite casting directors and agents as well as friends - but no display advertising, and no reviewers.
I'm not planning to be the director and/or producer of all the productions. So this is an opportunity for my directing students as well as acting students. I'd be the Artistic Director. Whatever that means. But it probably includes final say on choosing plays, casting roles, and deciding whether a production is ready to show the public.
Even though the focus of my teaching is on directing and acting for film and television, I believe deeply that working in theater is not only good for the soul - it is fantastic preparation for film and television work. I want to give to my students something of the joy and freedom and growth as an artist and a person that I have gotten from working in theater. I also want to work with people who are committed and disciplined and interested in learning and growing, who put the play itself first, and who are interested, to paraphrase Stanislavski, in elevating the art in themselves, not themselves in the art.
There are plays and playwrights I've already been noodling about: Camino Real (Tennessee Williams), Lone Star (James McClure), Krapp's Last Tape (Samuel Beckett), a couple of Horton Foote one-acts (Land of the Astronauts and The One-Armed Man), Uncommon Women and Others (Wendy Wasserstein), Proof (David Auburn, if the rights are available), Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Steve Martin), Time of Your Life (William Saroyan). And, of course, Waiting for Godot, The Three Sisters, and Shakespeare.
I'm open to ideas and suggestions. Maybe we need to set up a meeting sometime early in the New Year of people who are interested in exploring this? In the meanwhile, email or call me with your feelings and ideas.
Announcing a meeting for any of Judith's current or former acting or directing students. Saturday, February 16, 10 AM to around noon, at the studio, 3402 Motor Ave. To brainstorm, focus energy, create wish-lists, and maybe even make some plans - to do some theater at the new studio. If you are interested, please come!
There were about 20 of us at the first meeting yesterday morning to discuss possible theater productions at Two Lights Studio: twelve actors, seven directors, plus me and John. I had forgotten this was a holiday weekend, so there were a number of others who wanted to come but were away for the weekend. Following are notes from the meeting.
1) The next meeting is scheduled for next Saturday February 23, same time (10:00 AM to noon). You are all welcome, whether or not you came to the meeting on the 16th.
2) Judith (me) talked a little bit about her own theater history, basically how the only reason to do theater is for the love of it. She touched on these subjects:
Why she doesn't want to do "Showcases" anymore;
Her desire to have a group that puts the material and the group well-being ahead of jealousies, resentments and gossip;
Not to put pressure on ourselves of having to produce shows that casting directors would come to and relate to;
How to have a group built on "grass roots" and consensus, but still subject to the final decisions of an artistic director (Judith);
The need for participants to take turns doing production work if they are not cast in a show;
Her promise that no one will lose out on being cast just because they are really really good or even invaluable on the production side.
3) Judith asked everyone to say a few words about what first came to their minds when they got the first email announcing the meeting, i.e. their hopes and dreams, fears, etc. Lots of great stuff came out of this sharing and discussion! Following is an impressionistic sampling:
(Director) "It sounded like a safe haven. I'm not a self-starter."
(Actor) "My first thought was this could be great. But what about the logistics of the space - no backstage?" (Many creative solutions were advanced to address this problem, from building more flats to having the actors make up on stage while the audience is being seated. Someone said, "We don't have to do Julius Caesar." Someone else said, "Why not?")
(Director) "I've been a stage technician, an a.d., I can wear different hats."
(Director) "I'll take on as much as I'm allowed to take on. I can dress sets, make props."
(Director) "If the work is process-oriented and seen as learning and training, instead of career-oriented and ego-oriented, then the problem of jealousies and resentments can be avoided."
(Actor) "The last theater I worked in was a lot of grandiose talk, pie-in-the-sky."
(Director) "We could do one-acts."
(Actor) "We could pick one subject, like a psychiatrist waiting room, everyone is a patient, create our own show."
(Director) "We don't have to do full length or even one-acts - we could present scenes people have been working on in class."
(Actor) "We need to make sure there is sustained interest."
(Actor) "What's important for me is the community aspect. The people I've met in classes here are like a second family. I want to educate myself and advance my own craft."
(Actor) "I want it to be a learning experience, and not worry about casting directors. The material is the most important thing. I think we should start off small, see what the interest is."
(Judith) "Don't forget, there is no budget."
(Director) "I'm a clean slate. I know nothing about theater. My first reaction was, what the heck is this? I live nearby so I decided to come, but I almost turned around and went home. But maybe it's another way to step out of my comfort level."
(Director) "My first thought was, everyone says LA has no good theater - this could be a way to make some good theater. I had a non-damaging experience in college - a great professor - we alternated big cast things that everyone could be in - Woychek - with cabaret theater, a program of 2 or 3 one-acts. I co-directed a production with my professor. I warmed up the actors, did some choreography, it was a great experience."
(Actor) "I didn't go to college, never had that. Recently I've been asking myself what am I doing in LA. I just want to do good work with good people. Everyone should live as creatively as possible."
(Actor) "I've been looking for a theater group. The groups I've been in, we always have to do the nuts and bolts, it's no big deal. In class here I've stretched and grown. Basically I'm looking for people that I like to be around. It's a soulful experience. Something I have to do."
(Actor) "I've loved everyone I've come in contact with here. I want to do great work and work with awesome people. In any capacity."
(Actor) "I don't care what we do or how it works. I've never been in a show when I didn't paint or build the sets."
(Director) "We could have Saturday morning presentations of ideas of what to do."
(Actor) "I was thinking of the things we'd need - time, money, talent. A database - we could post projects. People could say what they are interested in - "This month I feel like set decoration.""
(Actor) "I'm not a clean slate. I come with a lot of baggage. I have tried to get involved with five or six different theater groups. They are never collaborative, people are not on the same page. It's always just a bunch of individuals in a room. I've been guilty as charged of thinking it's all about business. I've been focused on business, I need to be concentrated on creative. So what if we don't have a backstage - certain elements have to be creative. Let's not try to be something we're not. It's LA, not NY. In LA people constantly try to use space in a way that's unworkable, and act in material that's not right for them. I say we all bring our own baggage, and just root through it."
(Director) "For me it's an excuse to come to America. I was just in Australia, visiting my family and my mother wanted me to stay, but I told her, I have to come back to America, there's this class that starts in two weeks. I've been shooting my movie, and all I want to do is keep shooting, forget post. I am happy, charged."
(John) "My first thought when Judy showed me the email she wanted to send was, Oh my God, how am I gong to protect her? But I'm optimistic. I want something like this to happen. I'm thinking about what Quincy Jones said when he produced We Are the World - check your egos at the door. We could get involved with process, helping each other, and the work. And anyway I know Judy - it's full steam ahead."
(Director) "I know I said earlier that I want to be process-oriented. But I want to do a whole thing, one-act, whatever, not just scenes. I'd do whatever it takes, borrow lights, put in my own money, to generate enthusiasm, make something to be proud of, that I could invite friends and family, maybe even producers. My reward would be if I could touch an audience."
(John) "What about the role of producer?"
(Director) "Directors could partner. I could produce yours - you produce mine."
(Director) "We might not have time. Directors have to find their resources."
(Actor) "I forgot to say earlier, I'm not interested in doing anything safe."
(Actor) "In Judy's classes I've played male parts even though I'm a woman. I've done Twelfth Night in a baseball cap. We can do anything."
(Director) "Would this be a dues-paying group, or would everyone involved have to be currently in class?"
(Judith) "This is a big question for me. I don't like the dues-pay model, it gives me a bad taste. I'd like it to be that people involved are all currently in class - but if you have a big role, you can't really carry classwork as well - and then it ends up your class fees are really dues, which I don't want. On the other hand, although I'm not planning to make money doing this, I can't afford to lose money by encouraging people to drop out of class to do a show."
(Director) "We could have a very small dues, even $20 per person per month, to build up some capital."
(Judith) "I want to go slow. I want to move organically, make sure there is interest. I don't want to jump into a dues structure. Or a big production "schedule." But I feel the time is ripe for a community, it doesn't have to be theater, it could even be a film collective instead of theater. Or both! I want to find out what there is energy for."
4) After a break, Judith proposed another meeting next Saturday, to bring in more concrete proposals. Judith has a few up her sleeve herself.
FULL STEAM AHEAD!
There was a second meeting Saturday the 23rd.
1) We're starting simple, with evenings of one-acts. The first program of three one-acts is set to open March 22, and run Friday and Saturday evenings (and maybe Sunday) for four weeks. The second program (of three more one-acts) would open the weekend after the first program closes (April 19, or maybe a week later) and again run for four weeks. Then probably a third program of one-acts to open late May.
2) For the first program, we'll look for three one-acts that are in the public domain (don't need to pay royalty). Judith has already chosen one, "The Stronger" by August Strindberg - Leslie Kolins will co-direct it with her. Cathy Fitzpatrick will choose and direct a second one-act on the program - today she was getting excited about one by George Bernard Shaw. The third director will be M.F. McDowell, who is intrigued with "The Bear" by Chekhov - or may have an original piece for us.
3) Other directors are looking for material for second and third rounds. Directors who were not at the meeting and all actors are welcome to look and make proposals too. There are shelves and shelves of one-act collections at Samuel French. And if you have original material, we would love to consider that too!! People should start investigating the rights situation to any material they are interested in.
4) I want there to be auditions, open to all the actors from the group, for all the plays we do. I'm saying "open to all" because who knows? maybe we won't always restrict ourselves by age, ethnicity and gender.
5) The concept of "co-directing." I want to keep treating this as a learning situation, an extension of the Actor-Director Lab, if you will. So in a sense all the productions will be co-directed by me. I'm not talking about the "directed by" credit on the program - that doesn't matter to me. But I want to be involved, to come to some rehearsals, to ask questions, to step in when I see problems. And I will the one to sign off on casting, choice of material and production design (there can't be any production design that is so elaborate that it interferes with class).
6) Since it's going to be a learning situation, the pool of actors and directors need to be restricted to people who are currently in class.
7) After these programs of one-acts (summer I guess), it would be cool to do a full-length play, preferably with a big cast. A number of possibilities were tossed around, including: Camino Real (Williams), Marat-Sade, Bus Stop (Inge), Sensitive People (by a writer one of the actors knows), Time of Your Life (Saroyan), Uncommon Women (Wasserstein), Blithe Spirit (Coward), Lower Depths (Gorky). Again, it's not too early to start looking into the availability and cost of the rights. (Blithe Spirit and Lower Depths are in the public domain.)
8) In a way, every time a new group or venture is begun, whether it starts with a Constitution and By-Laws or with an email Contact List, there is an implied desire to redesign human nature (which is self-absorbed, easily offended, and contentious) so that a bunch of people can work together. The meetings have been incredibly helpful for me, in articulating a philosophy. This group, Two Lights Productions, or whatever we want to call it, seems headed for a structure of responsible anarchy, with two guiding primacies - the work, and the community. I couldn't be happier! No date has been set for a next meeting. Instead, I guess we're getting to work.
Judith and John
THE BEAR by Anton Chekhov
Director: M.F. McDowell
Actors: Rachel Toles, Mary Pringle, Max Bretos
THE STRONGER by August Strindberg
Director: Leslie Kolins Small
Actors: Katharina Wressnig, Melissa Timme
HOW HE LIED TO HER HUSBAND by George Bernard Shaw
Director: Cathy Fitzpatrick
Actors: Amanda Sickler, Sean Foley, Bernard Van Bilderbeek
Artistic Director and Co-director on all productions, Judith Weston
We are proud to present the inaugural program at Two Lights Studio Theater. We're really a classroom, the Judith Weston Acting Studio, where I teach classes for actors and for directors. This new project, a production arm of the studio has, I suppose, really come out of the Actor-Director Laboratory, a workshop that began last August. It was only with the Actor-Director Laboratory that I began to see that a fully collaborative community of directors and actors, with a teacher/artistic director, dedicated to learning and stretching rather than competition and career advantage, might actually be possible - even in Los Angeles.
All the plays on our program of one-acts are 100 years old. Believe it or not, we initially made this programming decision in the interest of efficiency (they are all in the "public domain," so we could skip the hassle of securing rights). We were sort of overlooking the obvious: that Strindberg, Chekhov and Shaw are probably the most demanding of playwrights ever (outside Shakespeare and Beckett). That, of course, is why their work endures. And why they are such a delicious and scary challenge for actors and directors in a student company.
But these plays are still remote for many modern audiences. It is quite impossible to set The Bear or How He Lied to Her Husband in any other era than the one in which they were written, because the ideal of love that would lead a woman to lock herself up after widowhood (The Bear), as well as the ideal of love in the courtly, hyper-romantic sense that might motivate such a suitor as young Henry Apjohn (How He Lied to Her Husband) disappeared from western culture very soon after these plays were first presented. The central notion of love that informs The Stronger, on the other hand - the sexual double standard - was not really questioned in our culture until the 1960s. So we have set The Stronger in 1951.
But even if the devoted widow ideal and the courtly love ideal and the sexual double standard (non) ideal may seem irrelevant to a modern audience, the deeper themes of betrayal, loss of innocence, and sexual foolishness that are explored and celebrated in these plays, will, I hope, always carry the potential to touch, enlighten and entertain us.
Please come! And enjoy these lovely plays.
Judith Weston, Artistic Director
Thanks to you all who have been interested - or involved - or obsessed! - with the goings-on at Two Lights Studio. Round One (IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN) has been unbelievably great. One thing that was so important to the success of Round One was the inclusion of live music - Terry Harrington at the piano. I feel like I've learned all over again the importance of art in our daily lives.
We are now in rehearsal for Round Two of Two Lights Classroom Productions, with directors Michael Ruscio and Ben Rock, and actors Melissa Timme, Amanda Sickler, Jessica Cunningham, Dave Clark, Chip Sickler, and Todd Malta. Mary Pringle is the stage manager. I'll be co-directing, attending as many rehearsals as I can. And John will be continuing the lighting upgrade. Round Two is set to open May 10.
Round Three? Coming up.
Judith and John
The Second Round of one-acts (May 10 to June 8) was a great success! Many, many, many thanks to all of you who gave your energy, talent and support. We're now getting ready to begin the Third Round. Three one-acts have been selected and cast - with directors Dorka Hegedus, Bob Primes, and Tak Inagaki - and actors Binky Van Bilderbeek, Kristin Lorentz, Mary Pringle, John Hoskins, Jack Noonan, Morgan Vukovic, and Tara Ciabattoni. The show will run Friday and Saturday nights, 8:00 pm, July 26, 27, August 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17.
Auditions were more exhilarating and the decisions more painful than ever. We have a formidable talent pool. And the success of the first two rounds seems to have raised the stakes for everyone, actors and directors. Success is so dangerous! Of course we all are committed to the process as a way to learn, and grow, and support each other. But sometimes it gets scary. We're also now flirting with style - these plays are more impressionistic than the last two rounds. I'm not sure yet of the title for the program - I'm considering "Memory and Imagination" or "Romance-Anti-Romance."
We are proud to present our fourth Classroom Production at Two Lights Studio Theater. The actors are John Hoskins, Brian O'Brien, Mary Pringle, Bernard Van Bilderbeek, Amanda Sickler, Todd Malta, Max Bretos, Chip Sickler, Melissa Timme, Dave Clark.
Round Three ("Memory and Imagination"), which ran from July 26 to August 17, was another amazing experience. It was a huge leap in our technical commitment. Charles Dwight Lee designed and built for us three unique sets - one for each of the three one-acts - and in the process completely redesigned the possibilities of the physical plant itself (he has joined us again for Round Four). Director Robert Primes organized extraordinary donations of equipment, labor and expertise in the lighting. And director Tak Inagaki, together with Bob Primes, donated a Source Four spotlight.
The swiftness and scope of the technical expansion was challenging to say the least (for example, for the first time we needed two people in the light booth...). And did I mention that we had chosen extremely demanding material? But - with unbelievable dedication, commitment, caring, and sacrifices of time and convenience by everyone - it was pulled off. The actors and directors all did wonderful work, and grew tremendously from the experience. Thank you.
We set out last February with the very ambitious plan of producing three programs of one-acts, and one full-length play - and in less than a year, we have accomplished exactly that! I couldn't be prouder of the actors, the directors, and all who helped so enthusiastically and unselfishly with production - plus all of you who showed up as audience members!
This is a dream come true for me. I have always felt that training for actors and directors should ideally be accompanied by performance opportunities in an environment of high standards and total support.
On March 1st we opened Round Five, an evening of three one-act plays called "Isn't It Romantic?" -- which has been a smash hit! There are only four more performances (Friday and Saturday, March 21, 22, 28, and 29) so if you want to come, you'd better hurry and make your reservations. It's been standing room only! This time we are proud to present original work - "Benjamin Splits," a one-act play by Seth Jaret, plus two other wonderful plays. The actors are: Christopher Backus, Samantha Bahramian, Jean Bradshaw, Max Bretos, August Caimi, Ruthie Frank, Margo Hara, Todd Malta, Adam Sneller, Binky Van Bilderbeek, Johanna Watts, Ryan Williams. The directors are Kaz Brecher, Jocelyn Jansons, Seth Jaret.
We are officially open to proposals from "members" of our intrepid band for the next round of - One-acts? A full-length play? Musical? Let me know your ideas! Please read the GUIDELINES.
We are in rehearsal for a new Round of One-Acts. Titled "Dreams and Nightmares," it opens July 18, and runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM, until August 9. Location is the Two Lights Studio Theater, 3402 Motor Avenue, Los Angeles (entrance in back).
The program is as follows:
The Battle of Bull Run Always Makes Me Cry, by Carole Real
Co-Director: Brad Tanenbaum
Actors: Ruthie Frank, Kim Garcia, Morgan Vukovic, Ryan Williams
Peace in Our Time, by Larry Cadman
Co-Director: Elizabeth Orne
Actors: John Hoskins, Joel King
I Dream Before I Take the Stand, by Arlene Hutton
Co-Director: Mike Dow
Actors: Sean Foley, Amanda Sickler
Company Man, written and performed by Michael Alan Wright
The magnificent crew for this production includes Meredith Flynn (stage manager), Mary Pringle (assistant stage manager), Michelle von Schweinitz (light and sound operator), Dorka Hegedus (lighting design), Nancy King (costume design), Kim Garcia (sound design), Kaz Brecher (postcard design). As before, the Artistic Director and Co-Director on all productions is me, Judith Weston.
We just closed "Dreams and Nightmares" (see below) - it was a lovely success - very wonderful work. And we're getting ready to open our most experimental work to date - a one-person show, "Flower Murderer."
Sabrina Stevenson is the writer-performer. She is also the lead singer of local LA underground punk rock group "Third Grade Teacher" (Pinch Hit Records). Sabrina's been attending my classes - scene study and the Actor-Director Lab - for a year and a half. During that time, besides her work on scenes and monologues, she became captivated by an exercise in which I ask students to create a story - improvised or written - around a newspaper photo with the caption clipped off. The first time she brought in a "photo exercise," the class was spellbound. Week after week, she'd bring in a new vignette to every class. The other students eagerly awaited each presentation - usually saved for last at the end of the evening.
Very soon I found myself saying to her, "You've got to put on a show." "Flower Murderer" will be the culmination of that imperative! Elizabeth Orne was instrumental and invaluable in the early stages of the development of the production. In recent weeks, I have taken the reins as director. Dorka Hegedus is lighting designer, Kim Garcia is music designer, Michaela Von Schweinitz is light board programmer and operator, Amanda Sickler is sound operator, and John Hoskins is the Person Generally in Charge of Everything.
"Flower Murderer" will be performed on Sunday evenings, at 7:00 PM, on September 28, October 5, October 12, October 19, and October 26, at Two Lights Studio Theater.
Since "Flower Murderer" closed (after a triumphant seven-week run of mostly full houses, and a rave review in the LA Weekly), I've taken a short breather from the break-neck pace of our production schedule. But we should be ready to start up again before long!
Please check out the signposts of our rapid growth in earlier postings - and look at the photos of our productions. And - if you are interested in joining us - please read the GUIDELINES.
As many of you know, from March 2002 through November 2003, we mounted seven Classroom Productions at the Two Lights Studio Theater - with exhilarating success. We've been taking a break for a few months, but lately there has been interest in getting started again... So we're getting ready to go back into the fray!
Round 8 of the "Classroom Theater Project" at Two Lights Studio is envisioned as a program of 3 or 4 one-act plays. (Although if anyone were to come forward with a feasible plan to put up a full-length play, I'd also consider that.) My plan is to select the plays and the directors, and to cast the actors, by the end of May. The month of June will be rehearsals, with an opening night of July 2nd, running Friday and Saturday nights for four weekends.
So right now I'm soliciting the following:
1) ideas for plays
2) applications for the co-director slots
3) volunteers to work on sets and stage management, light booth, sound, etc.
Please read previous posts to check out the signposts of our rapid growth - and look at the photos of our productions (see GALLERY links). And - if you are interested in joining us - please read the GUIDELINES.
Announcing Round 8!
I LOVE YOU…AND OTHER HALF-TRUTHS
Friday and Saturday Evenings, 8 PM
July 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31
"AFTER LOVE" by David Willis
DIRECTOR: David Willis
ACTORS: Poppy Davis, Joel King
"THE AUTHOR'S VOICE" by Richard Greenberg
DIRECTOR: Mike Dow
ACTORS: Henry Maguire, Jamee Damron, Sean Foley
"BROTHER" by Mary Gallagher
DIRECTOR: Matia Karrell
ACTORS: Gina Hieber, Binky van Bilderbeek
"PERFECT" by Mary Gallagher
DIRECTOR: Karen Aschenbach
ACTORS: Amanda Sickler, Renee DeBevoise, Eric Peter-Kaiser
SET DESIGN: Nancy Deren
SOUND DESIGN: Kim Garcia
COSTUME DESIGN: Nancy King
PROGRAM DESIGN: Kaz Brecher
LIGHTING: Wayne Pere
STAGE MANAGEMENT: Jeremiah Ocanas, Marianne Porter, Michelle Santilli
A fantastic group! I'm very excited.
"I Love You…and other Half-Truths" will be performed on Friday and Saturday evenings, at 8:00 PM, on July 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, and 31, at Two Lights Studio Theater.
After this wonderful program, the next production will open in late October - "Mrs. Cage" by Nancy Barr. For the production of "Mrs. Cage" there will be two casts, appearing on alternate weekends: cast A will be Judith Weston and John Burton, Jr.; cast B will be Meredith Flynn and an actor yet to be selected; the director will be Karen Aschenbach.
Please check out the signposts of our rapid growth in the FURTHER POSTINGS - and look at the photos of our productions (see below for Gallery links). And - if you are interested in joining us - be sure to read the GUIDELINES below.
Los Angeles Times - CRITICS' CHOICE!
Hello! We are thrilled to be posting in full the review for "MRS. CAGE" from the Los Angeles Times, which ran April 15, 2005. The schedule of remaining performances and ticket information are below the review. Please come! Judith
SUBURBAN RAGE IN "MRS. CAGE"
By David C. Nichols, Special to The Times
This much we know: On Aug. 4, Mrs. Martin Cage, wife and mother of lawyers, witnessed the fatal shooting of grocery box-boy Billy as he grappled with a purse snatcher. The purse's owner, Phyllis Dean, continued to bewail her stolen bag. Mrs. Cage then retrieved the thief's dropped gun and shot Phyllis between the eyes.
What we will never know rolls like moving doggies through "Mrs. Cage" at Two Lights Studio Theater. Nancy Barr's 1990 look at suburban ennui gone lethal receives a gripping revival with Judith Weston, who originated the title role in its premiere and revisits it as though for the first time.
"Mrs. Cage," filmed for "American Playhouse" in 1992 with Anne Bancroft and Hector Elizondo, studies this disparate hausfrau as closely as interrogator Lt. Angel (the superbly invested John Burton Jr.). On Nancy Deren's scrim-boxed set, "Mrs. Cage" suggests a Saul Bellow nightmare visited upon early Edward Albee. Lt. Angel subtly prods Mrs. Cage to unfold the frustrations of a lifetime, as she tries to iron over how, when, where and why it all went awry.
Barr's script, vaguely tame by today's lights, still arrests us as it veers from macabre humor to chilling rage and sudden pathos. As co-directed by Weston and Karen Aschenbach, the spirit of Shirley Jackson hovers overhead. The staging makes virtues of limited means, notably Robert Primes' footlights and Kim Garcia's sound cues.
Burton is an able foil for Weston, who inhabits Mrs. Cage's skin with an alchemy that approaches Kim Stanley. Meredith Flynn doubles in the role, which gives "Mrs. Cage" fans an alternate take. Still, to miss Weston's indelible turn would be a crime.
MRS. CAGE by Nancy Barr
Friday and Saturday evenings 8:00 PM, thru May 7, 2005
Running time: one hour and ten minutes
Two Lights Studio Theater 3402 Motor Ave, Los Angeles (entrance in back)
Judith Weston and Meredith Flynn alternate in the role of Mrs. Cage. The role of Lt. Angel is played in all performances by John Burton, Jr. The director is Karen Aschenbach; set design by Nancy Deren; lighting consultant Robert Primes; sound design by Kim Garcia.
"Judith taught me how to communicate with actors in a completely new way, and what I learned from her has had a huge influence over both my work and my life. She is an incredible communicator, a gifted teacher, and a remarkable human being. I can't recommend her classes highly enough for directors and actors who want to bring more emotional truth to their craft."JULIUS RAMSAY, director, THE WALKING DEAD
"All the scary transformative moments I've had in your class really paid off. And I can never begin to thank you for all that you've done for me. I'm simply not the same person I was when I started my journey with you."ANDREA TOYIAS, Voice Director, Blizzard Entertainment, WORLD OF WARCRAFT / DIABLO / STARCRAFT
“I really wanted to thank you because I know that I could have not done it without the knowledge I got from you. You will always be one of the greatest teachers I've ever had and I'm truly proud to be one of your students. Thank you for teaching me to love my actors.”TANEL TOOM, writer-director, THE CONFESSION (nominated for Academy Award, Live Action Short Film, 2011)
“I took a seminar with an acting teacher named Judith Weston. I learned a key insight to character. She believed that all well-drawn characters have a spine, and the idea is that the character has an inner motor, a dominant, unconscious goal that they’re striving for, an itch that they can’t scratch. I took to this like a duck to water.”ANDREW STANTON [from his Feb 2012 TED Talk] writer-director, WALL-E, FINDING NEMO, A BUG’S LIFE; writer, TOY STORY, TOY STORY 2, TOY STORY 3
"Directing my first movie would have been impossible without Judith's book, 'Directing Actors.' Her insights taught me how to audition actors, how to cast intelligently, how to rehearse. When production began, I cribbed a set of Weston reminders on to a 3-by-5 index card, and kept it in my shirt pocket every single day of shooting. She saved me."BILLY RAY, writer-director, SHATTERED GLASS, BREACH; writer, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, THE HUNGER GAMES, STATE OF PLAY, FLIGHTPLAN
"Judith, you're the one that gave me the tools for success with actors!"KAREN GAVIOLA, director, SONS OF ANARCHY, CRIMINAL MINDS, CSI, NCIS, BLUE BLOODS, CSI:MIAMI, CASTLE, PRIVATE PRACTICE, LOST, GHOST WHISPERER, PRISON BREAK, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NYPD BLUE
“Judith Weston taught me how to listen – what she called ‘listening with your whole body.’ She taught me about the power and the magic of the subconscious world. She showed me doors and windows and portals into creative possibilities I scarcely knew existed. Her wisdom changed the way I write, the way I direct actors – and, with no exaggeration, the way I look at life.”MARK FERGUS, co-writer: CHILDREN OF MEN, IRON MAN; director: FIRST SNOW
"Judith Weston is a great teacher. She's inspired me to be interested in people more than concepts, behavior more than attitudes, process more than results. In her classes I've learned to ask more questions, to trust what is happening, and to always be willing to dig deeper. She is the kind of teacher who makes me excited about taking chances."NORMAN BUCKLEY, director, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, RIZZOLI & ISLES, THE FOSTERS, THE CLIENT LIST, SWITCHED AT BIRTH, GOSSIP GIRL, CHUCK, MELROSE PLACE, 90210, THE O.C.
“You've taught me the essential tools so I could carry on with the visions that haunt me day and night and to embrace the process which I will continue to learn. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”DEJA PREM, writer/producer/director/actor, at Green Coco Production
“Your workshop was wonderful in letting me know that many of the things I am already doing are the correct way of dealing with actors and taught me other things that add to that knowledge. And your patience and unbridled energy and passion for what you teach is more than admirable, it is inspiring. So thank you once again for this wonderful experience, one I will never forget and that will continue to help me on this path on which I am forever learning about new and wonderful things.”MICHAEL TRIM, director, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, WEEDS, PARKS AND RECREATION
"Judith Weston is not a drama teacher, she is an art teacher. She understands that at the heart of great drama is a powerful mystery. What she shows you in her workshops and her book are simple and effective tools that help you get deeper and deeper into that rich, complex and surprising place."DAVID JACOBSON, writer-director, DOWN IN THE VALLEY, DAHMER
“In your classes I learned to love actors and acting. The experience opened for me the secret door to the magic I witnessed when actor and material find each other in just the right way. What I once thought were 'happy accidents' and performance miracles are now the kernels of creativity I relentlessly pursue with an actor finding a performance. You helped me find that part I could play in the process and how to capture it.”FRED TOYE, director, THE GOOD WIFE, PERSON OF INTEREST, RIZZOLI & ISLES, FRINGE, CHUCK, CSI:NY, LOST, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, GHOST WHISPERER, CHUCK
“Judith Weston gave me the greatest gift you can give to a first-time director - she gave me confidence in my ability to work with actors. I will be forever grateful for her extremely hands on and applicable advice for directing actors and I know I will use it for the rest of my career. She has a contagious love of the process and an unbelievable understanding of human emotion. I would not be where I am today if it had not been for her.”SHANA FESTE, writer-director, ENDLESS LOVE, COUNTRY STRONG, THE GREATEST
"Judith's method is wonderful because it is practical. She has given me numerous tools to solve problems on the set and to earn the trust of actors. Her classes and her book are invaluable resources to any director."LAWRENCE TRILLING, director, MASTERS OF SEX, PARENTHOOD, PUSHING DAISIES, DAMAGES, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NIP/TUCK, MONK, SCRUBS, INVASION, ALIAS, FELICITY
"Every time I step on a set, I think of what Judith taught me. Every time I begin a project, I review a notebook I kept during the years I studied with her. Every time I'm in rehearsal, I'm using her techniques. Every time I'm in a bind within a scene, I go back to the foundation she gave me. I didn't go to film school. I sat in Judith Weston's workshops, took everything she said to heart, then went out and started telling my stories. I'm so grateful for that path - and for her."AVA DuVERNAY, director, SELMA (2015 Golden Globe nominee for Best Film, and Best Director), SCANDAL, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (winner of the Best Director Award at Sundance Film Festival and the I
"Judith's ideas and principles are incredibly useful when it comes to giving clear, actionable direction to actors. To anyone aspiring to direct, I would recommend making her classroom one of your first stops."LEV L. SPIRO, director, MODERN FAMILY, UGLY BETTY, WEEDS, EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, ARLI$$, THE O.C., EVERWOOD, GILMORE GIRLS
"Everything you taught me was more than useful. I am deeply grateful."ALEJANDRO GONZÁLEZ IÑÁRRITU, director, BIRDMAN, BIUTIFUL, BABEL, 21 GRAMS, AMORES PERROS