2014 - 2015 Season
South Pacific
South Pacific
2014 - 2015 Season
Wednesday
Apr022014

From Scratch: The Making of a Musical

After commisioning a new musical with award-winning composer, Dave Malloy, and award- winning playwright, Krista Knight, YMTC is preparing for the piece's developmental workshop in May where 20 students will collaborate to bring a brand new musical from the page to the stage.

 Krista Knight tells us about how you build a musical from scratch:

We knew going into the January workshop that there was a ‘depression era type danceathon to the death’ and the piece would visit different historical dance/music eras.

After two intense days of workshopping the fodder pages and brilliant first song of this new musical, and rewriting and discussing and printing and burgers with the creative team, we now have the proper makings of a beginning of a show.

Now Dave and I are writing. We’re reading the free-writing from the YMTC actor company and anonymous digital surveys. We’re gearing up for a two-week May workshop where we’ll test out what we’ve got.

One huge understanding from the two-day January workshop is how presentational the piece wants to begin. There was a chillingly exciting moment in the closed Sunday presentation where the entire company was singing, standing close and akimbo to the audience. I now believe the musical wants to start with the live streaming-cast Plain Spring High’s Sadie Hawkins Danceathon. The musical can still have side moments when the trials and tribulations of individual constellations of characters play out, but I think we begin in the world of it (rather than an eerie trickle-in). We’ll see if this is right come the May workshop!

Spending 5 hours that Saturday in in-depth discussion with the YMTC teenagers—some of whom may ultimately be in the summer 2015 world-premiere production—Dave and I got a window into the issues that are important to them. What they’re obsessed with and afraid of. What words they use and what they hate and which they hate but still use. What they dream about for their future. What stories they don’t see enough of on stage.

The (SO) in-process presentation Sunday gave a into the larger YMTC community. The parents and siblings (some of who I know from the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre – what what!) who are passionate about the arts and making something true and new and theatrical.

I got to know YMTC because I saw their production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR in 2011 and I was blown away. 

I feel incredibly lucky and excited to be going on this generative journey with Dave Malloy, Jennifer Boesing, Dave Möschler and the YMTC community.

The script is changing and growing every day. I hope you’ll come say HI in May. 

 

 

Krista Knight's work includes SALAMANDER LEVIATHAN (Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre, Ars Nova, Fingerlakes Musical Theatre Festival, New Georges, Inkwell, KCACTF Musical Theatre Award from the Kennedy Center), DOOMSURFING (Parkside Lounge, Vineyard, UCSD), CLEMENTINE AND THE CYBER DUCKS (Ontological Hysteric Incubator, Hangar Theatre, Inkwell), PHANTOM BAND (The Claque, Walden Theatre, Voice and Vision, Dixon Place, UCSD), UN-HINGED: A SILENT OPERA (Wily West, TerraNOVA, WordBRIDGE, Playhouse Creatures), and ANAEROBIC RESPIRATION (Playwrights Center of SF, NYC Fringe Festival) among others.  

 

Come see the final product!  YMTC will present a work in progress presentation on May 31 at NOCCS.  Time TBA. The Danceathon piece will receive a full production as part of our 2014-2015 season so stay tuned!

Friday
Feb212014

Art Isn't Easy: Elise Morris

Inspired by Seurat's story of the process of creating art in Sunday in the Park with George, we've been talking with some local artists about what they believe is the art of making art.

How would your describe your work?

I create abstract paintings that are based on my experiences in nature.  I work in many layers, allowing the under-painting to shine through. I am interested in capturing light and reflection, and a sense that our experiences in the world are not easy to capture. For me, painting is an intuitive process of creating space, a layering of experiences that evokes both unexpected complexity and the bareness of the moment.

What is one work of art that has changed you or the way you approach your work? 

When I was  teenager, I saw a show of Terry Winters' large scale paintings in Los Angeles. I was captivated by their rawness, and realized that painting doesn't have to be beautiful to capture beauty.

How do you define what it means to be an artist?

We're all artists in some way - it's the ability to be creative and see things differently.

What do you find to be most difficult about being an artist?

I go through cycles of inspiration and flow in the work - it feels terrible to get stuck and not be able to do much about it.  Generally it just takes getting my hands dirty and pushing around some more paint to get my gears going again.  When I need inspiration I head outside with my camera, seeking out interesting light patterns and the elegant shapes of nature.

"Open Breath" 

What is the most joyous part of your process?

Getting immersed in the materials, and getting out of my own way.

 

What's one thing you wish people knew about the process of making art?

That it requires patience and sometimes very hard work and physical labor.

 

What's one quality you judge essential to the making of art?

Not sure about this one!  It's in all of us.

Learn more about Elise's work at www.elisemorris.net

Visit our pop-up gallery on performance evenings to see the work of our featured artists.  Gallery opens at 6 pm and is free.

Sunday in the Park with George February 28 - March 9

Friday
Feb212014

Art Isn't Easy: Jenn Schifflet

Inspired by Seurat's story of the process of creating art in Sunday in the Park with George, we've been talking with some local artists about what they believe is the art of making art.

How would you describe your work?

I paint mostly abstract fields of color with patterns of light. Color and Light have been the central 
themes to my work since I started painting in my early teens. I work in thin transparent layers to create 
depth, space and luminosity.

 

What is one work of art that has changed you or the way you approach your work?

I saw an Yves Klien painting at the SFMOMA that awoke nearly all my senses while viewing it. It was a 
transformative experience for me. I was amazed at how the color and light of his signature blue painting 
seemed to expand beyond the confines of the canvas and stretch way out beyond. It inspired me to 
think in much bigger ways about experience of the viewer and the role of perception in art.

 

How do you define what it means to be an artist?

I have no definition for being an artist. I imagine its different for everyone. I get up in the morning 
thinking about my paintings, I get in as much painting time in a day as I can, and I go to bed thinking 
about the next step in each of my paintings. I live to paint, and it feels like there is never enough hours 
in the day to make art. I think that obsession is what being an artist is all about.

 

What do you find to be most difficult about being an artist?

Making a living. In my eyes, the business side of being an artist does not always blend well with the creative freedom that I need to do my best work. I make it work because I that is the way it is, but in a perfect world, culture would value art and artists in a way that supports artists to thrive and being able to solely focus on creating their best work. All cultures are enriched when the arts are given due respect.

 

"Brought To Light"

What is the most joyous part of your process?

Being in the flow of the creative process. It is a state of mind akin to freedom in its naturalness and ease. 
It is a state of refuge to get out of my own way and allow the work to emerge freely.

 

What's one thing you wish people knew about the process of making art?

I don’t think that making art is about talent, but instead about practice, time and learning skills. With 
enough dedication I’m sure anyone can create good art. The great thing about art is that there is always 
something more to learn.

 

What one quality you judge essential to the making of art?

The ability to let go of preconceptions and be in the moment. I think that is where creativity comes 
from.
To Learn more about Jenn's work visit www.JennShifflet.com

Visit our pop-up gallery on performance evenings to see the work of our featured artists.  Gallery opens at 6 pm and is free.

Sunday in the Park with George February 28 - March 9

Wednesday
Feb192014

Art Isn't Easy: Stephanie Robison

Inspired by Seurat's story of the process of creating art in Sunday in the Park with George, we've been talking with some local artists about what they believe is the art of making art.

How would your describe your work? 

I make sculpture that reflects my surroundings; pulling from familiar things that exist in our present-day world: clouds, bricks, towers, barricades, cannons, smoke, signs, pillows, umbrellas, flags, scaffolding, a staircase, a boat, the body. The early years my grandmother and I spent together making forts out of dining room chairs, blankets, and the old hide-a-bed have definitely had an influence on the way I think about and respond to the world today. Through play, my Grandmother inadvertently showed me that objects could function in more than one way; could exist as something other than for what they were intended.

What is one work of art that has changed you or the way you approach your work? 

I went to see the Eva Hesse retrospective at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2001 and it was very inspirational for me. The physical presence of her sculptures was so powerful and visceral. Seeing for the first time the way she painted gradations of color on the surfaces of her sculpture was surprising and unexpected. The amount of work Eve Hesse did in such a short lifetime is incredible. 
 
How do you define what it means to be an artist? 

I often like to think of the role of the artist being that of a trickster character. Trickster characters are found in many cultures and are the truth tellers, the ones who lubricate the joints, the ones navigating the in-between. I feel successful as an artist when I can cause people to think differently. 

 
What do you find to be most difficult about being an artist? 

Overcoming my fears and navigating the unknown toward creation. 
 
What is the most joyous part of your process? 

Discovering something new! Trusting myself and having faith in the journey. 
 
What's one thing you wish people knew about the process of making art?
 
That art is important and deserves to be valued and supported. 
 
What's one quality you judge essential to the making of art?

Experimentation and play! 
 
To learn more about Stephanie's work visit www.stephanierobison.com 

Visit our pop-up gallery on performance evenings to see the work of our featured artists.  Gallery opens at 6 pm and is free.

Sunday in the Park with George February 28 - March 9

Tuesday
Feb182014

Setting the Stage - Creating La Grand Jatte

Sunday in the Park with George largely takes place in the setting of Seurat's famous painting.  We caught up with Paul Collins,  YMTC's Master Carpenter/Technical Director, and learned about he and the set designers bring the the world of La Grand Jatte to the stage...

How do you begin thinking about the set design for a show?

It always starts with the source material, in this case a beautiful musical by Sondheim, and the director's vision or interpretation of the show.

How does the design support or add to the story?

The design, or the building of the set for that matter, must bring the story to life. The story has its own inherent world and the circumstances of that world. So, a design must bring that world, those circumstances to life. A good design does not take away from that, but brings it out.

Have there been any particular challenges in creating the design/set for Sunday in the Park?

The main challenge has been negotiating many scenic elements from scenery to scenic painting and how those particular elements exist in a harmonious relationship with the lighting design, projection design as well as the costume design. The above mentioned really have to work cohesively together.  

Using projections of Seurat's painting at Malonga Theater

What is your favorite part about design?

My favorite part is building it, bringing it to life.

 

What is one part of the Sunday design that you are very excited about?

I'm very excited about the scenic painting. This show's focus is about an artist, so the painting is very strong. We must bring George Seurat's work to life. I'm also excited about the projection design from the main projections to the "Chromulome" show which will be a real treat for the audience.

In a show that has such a specific design (Seurat’s painting) how have you added your own spin to it?

One of my main contributions has been the use of the "triangle flat" or Periactoid. It is a Greek scenic convention which will allow three different scenes to be displayed simply by turning it. They are covered in muslin cloth which acts as a huge canvas from which we have painted the world of the show. The "Chromolome" is a cube, so there are geometric shapes being used in a large degree in this show. I feel these shapes as well as the "canvases" of the Periactoids add the feeling of an art installation which is part of the director's vision. Using these elements not only brings the world of George Seurat out, but extenuates it. 

 

If you could have any other career, what would that be?


I would probably be an anthropologist and find ways to help others break through and combat the horrible inequities that exist cross culturally. For now, as an artist, perhaps I can help to facilitate change through productions such as "Sunday" with others such as the incredible team of designers, performers, crew and YMTC staff.
 

Trees for La Grand Jatte

Sunday in the Park with George opens February 28 at The Malonga Center for the Arts near 12th Street BART.