2014 - 2015 Season
South Pacific
South Pacific
2014 - 2015 Season
Friday
Jul182014

Community Spotlight: South Pacific

We depend on our volunteers,, our audience, our community to help us make the magic. Opening weekend is the perfect time to spotlight three amazing volunteers who have dedicated their time and passion generously to making South Pacific and YMTC a success!

 

         

Rene and Wendy Ponder (parents of YMTC company member Samuel Ponder)

Rene and Wendy have become central and beloved YMTC community volunteers behind the scenes (where Rene works alongside our technical director building sets) and in the front of the house, where you will find Rene and Wendy serving as Lead Ushers during performances.  They assure that every audience member is welcomed and comfortable.  Their generosity of spirit is infectious.  Huge thanks to them both!

 

Kathy Rogers (parent of YMTC company members Caelan and Gabe Wilkie-Rogers)

Kathy has spent countless hours offering her services and those of her design firm, Sogno Design Group, to the creation of a new home and YMTC youth arts campus in Aquatic Park.  One of our biggest cheerleaders, we so appreciate Kathy's many talents and her willingness to dedicate them to YMTC's student experience! Check out Sogno Design Group and Kathy's awesome vision for YMTC's new campus here. Thank you, Kathy!

 


Monday
May192014

From Scratch: The Making of a Musical - Day 1

After commissioning 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. Today marks the beginning of a workshop that will culminate in a full production the summer of 2015!

Dave Malloy shared some of his thoughts as YMTC embarks on this new adventure:

I was the Music Director for YMTC from 2006-9; during that time we did Guys & DollsCabaretMan of La ManchaInto the Woods and Les Miserables. It was a pretty formative experience for me; I had grown up loving movie musicals, and had played in a couple pit orchestras on college, but I had not really seriously thought about the musical genre as a composer until my time with YMTC. At the time I was focusing most of my time on writing music for experimental theater, so to be suddenly reintroduced to the worlds of Loesser and Kander & Ebb was a refreshing reminder of the power of standard song forms. And how exciting not just to be music directing these shows, but to be doing it with a group of young students who were learning this music for the first time. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and within a year of working there I was writing my own musicals, including Beowulf—A Thousand Years of  Baggage at Shotgun Players (which Jennifer graciously acted as vocal coach for!)

Crazily, YMTC was also my first real exposure to Sondheim. I had only heard his music in passing before YMTC tackled Into The Woods; I can’t think of a better way to learn a score than to music direct it with a full orchestra and 30+ teenagers, all of us struggling with and delighting in the rhythmic, harmonic and thematic complexities that make Sondheim so great. And getting to do Les Mis, which was my childhood favorite...in some ways I consider my time at YMTC my grad school, a crash course in musical form, orchestrations, lyric writing and book structure; and watching Jennifer work was like taking a masterclass in how to actually execute all of this on the stage.

So it’s with great excitement that I return to YMTC, with an opportunity to take all those lessons and apply them to the writing of a brand new musical. One thing I was always aware of when working with the students was how few of the roles in classic musicals are actually for teenagers; typically putting on a musical means donning lots of fake beards and tackling lyrical content that is difficult even for a mature actor with a life full of experience. Thinking here of things like “Do You Love Me?”, the Mysterious Man at the end of Woods, Valjean’s death…our excellent students tackled these pieces with aplomb and to great success, but all too rarely were they given the opportunity to act actual teenaged characters, to show off all the strengths and enthusiasm and unique outlook younger actors have. So it’s exciting to be a part of writing an original musical for teens that is completely age-specific.

Also exciting is that with these developmental workshops, Krista and I have the opportunity to work closely with the students and make our characters true reflections of their experiences. We’ve been learning a lot about what it is to be in high school in 2014, and using these insights coupled with our own memories we hope to write a piece that will be an accurate representation of what teenaged life is like, and how the microcosm of high school relates to some larger philosophical questions that we all continue to face.

And finally, setting the piece at a time-traveling high school dance is a composer’s dream; musically the piece will begin with contemporary dance music, from hip-hop to soul to house to techno, and then use that lens to reinterpret the dance music of the 50s, 30s, the Old West, Medieval Europe, a Roman Bacchanal, and a few other surprising eras. I’m excited to fuse the sensibilities of musical theater with such a disparate range of musical styles, focusing on the sounds of pop music today that are ubiquitous at teen dances but hard to find on a Broadway stage.

Making theater is my favorite way to get know people; so I’m beyond thrilled to be reunited with Jennifer and Pam, and to get to work for the first time with Krista and Dave. And of course I’m most eager to meet all these amazing students, find out what makes them tick, and then put it on stage. It’s sure to be a blast.

 

Dave Malloy is a composer/writer/performer/sound designer/musical director/pianist/theater slash artist. He is the winner of two OBIE Awards, a Richard Rodgers Award, Glickman Award, ASCAP New Horizons Award, Jonathan Larson Grant, and New Music USA Grant, a recipient of the 2009 NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Theatre Directors and Designers, the 2011 Composer-in-Residence at Ars Nova, and the composer for the Brooklyn based ensemble Banana Bag & Bodice. He has written the music for seven full-length musicals, most recently Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, an electropop opera based on Tolstoy’s War and Peace, for which he also wrote the libretto and performed as Pierre. Great Comet was commissioned by Ars Nova and premiered there in October 2012; the show recieved rave reviews, a sold-out run and won an OBIE award, the 2013 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, the Off Broadway Alliance's Best New Musical Award, 3 Lortel Awards (and a record-breaking 11 nominations), 5 Drama Desk nominations and 2 Drama League nominations. In May of 2012 the show transferred Off-Broadway to Kazino, a space custom-built for the piece, first in the Meatpacking District and then in Times Square. More...

 


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