Mommy Redroom Trailer

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27th, 2010 by kellinewby

Behind the scenes at Mommy Redroom

Click on the link above to see our featurette!

Writing the Redroom

Posted in The Redroom, Uncategorized on July 26th, 2010 by kellinewby

The beauty of and the pain of working with new material and having the playwright in the room is this–the piece is up on stage, we’re reading it and blocking it and suddenly the actors say “This isn’t working.”  And they mean “the script” because something can be done about it.

That’s what happened a week ago.  Two hours into a three hour rehearsal, as we  tried to block a skit about a baby shower gone wrong, we stopped halfway through.  There were a lot of funny jokes in it, and we loved the idea, but it was a long skit with a lot of sitting.  The blocking session turned into a talk about what worked and what didn’t, and then I had the less than appealing task of calling up one of the writers to let him know I was going to be completely rewriting his skits.  Take comfort, I said, I’m retooling the entire show.  While it seemed like a lot of time working on something I had thought was finished, I am forever grateful to be part of a company that keeps me on my toes, writing-wise.   It’s a little like a writing workshop, only the people around the table are a lot more invested in your work because it will eventually become their work as well.

This week, with a mostly new script, things went better.  Two hours into the three hour rehearsal things were in good shape and we did a run-through–something that not every Redroom gets a chance to have.  For Redroom, we generally have two rehearsals and a speed through before the show and that’s it.     Because we’re a little out of shape, we’re having two long rehearsals, a short rehearsal and a dress rehearsal before we open.  It leaves us little time, but it’s a highly concentrated creative burst that allows more people to be involved in the process because the comitment is so low.

I even broke out the video camera and made a trailer for Mommy Redroom.  As soon as YouTube officially posts it there, I will post it here.


Posted in The Redroom, Uncategorized on July 20th, 2010 by kellinewby

Draft one of the script=rewrite.  Draft 2=written.  T minus three rehearsals to show time.

On Sunday we ran our first Mommy Redroom rehearsal and Lex had her baby.  It was a good day.  Updates to follow.

Resurrecting the Redroom

Posted in The Redroom, Theatre of the Mommies on July 14th, 2010 by kellinewby

It's been abot a year since we wrote a Redroom.  In 2008, when we started the Redroom, we were together all the time.  That summer we were rehearsing Romeo and Juliet and running the Redroom every week--a new show every week, but it was okay because any downtime became a brainstorming session.  The theatre was tingling with creative energy--there was a big cast full of new company members with new ideas--and the director had done an excellent job of making us a cohesive unit.  Redroom scripts poured out of us.

But there's no way we could maintain that kind of momentum.  Also, at the end of last summer, Jack, my second in command, went off to grad school, I lost another one of my writers to real life as, and I was pregnant.  We decided to put Redroom aside for awhile.

As time passed, I got bigger and bigger, and the break was doing us all some good; the combination of these two things got us thinking and we started to plan the Redroom for Kelli's Baby.  The original idea was to have the cast put together dances, songs, skits and readings and then invite me to watch, but we all decided that it would be really funny to have me waddling around on stage.  We would tape the show and one day present it to my child a kind of demented gift.  They were also secretly planning to have my baby shower during the show.

But then we got 700 plays for SPF and had to move that production date from January to March. Then the only date that we could find that would work for the Redroom was either the Saturday before my scheduled C-section or the same night as the big MassMoCA dance party that the cast wanted to attend.   I was secretly pleased.  Writing, producing, and coordinating a show at 8 months pregnant was not going to be as easy as I had thought it would be when I was a lot less pregnant, and that would be on top of the rehearsals and the performances.  Needless to say, we called it off.

So the Mommy Redroom brainstorming session happened Monday night.  In some ways, it was like most other Redroom writers' rooms with wild ideas, overlapped conversations, readings of drafts, but in other ways, it was very different.  My baby was passed from lap to lap, continually adored and played with until he got fussy.  I ran the meeting while bouncing him.  I listened to skits while sweating under a blanket while he breastfed.   And we called it an early night so I could put him to bed, but in the end we had the makings of a script and a baby-friendly rehearsal schedule.

The only problem was I stayed up way too late that night making revisions, writing new skits and co-ordinating schedules, buzzing with creative energy.  Part of the buzz was getting back into something I've always loved to do after a nice long break.  Part of it was reclaiming some part of me that has been dormant, a part of me I had worried about losing after having a baby.  And part of the buzz was a moment of finding balance between motherhood and theatre.

Mommy Redroom is on!

Posted in The Redroom, Theatre of the Mommies, Uncategorized on July 14th, 2010 by kellinewby

The press release has gone out.  Mommy Redroom is really happening.  It’s been nearly a year since we’ve all brainstormed in earnest.  It feels good to stretch those muscles again.  It will be the first weekend in August, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  We’ll be workshopping scripts on Monday, but if you have a story, let me know.  It’s never too late at Redroom.

Theatre of the Mommies–Board Meeting

Posted in Running the theatre, Theatre of the Mommies on July 7th, 2010 by kellinewby

Things are also moving forward with our strategic planning.  Last night we met at the stage and even turned on the AC–something we don’t usually do unless we have an audience.  We had to get a meeting in before Lex has her baby to start implementing our plans.  Downstairs, 3 children were going through the costumes, putting together a play that we kept putting off.  On stage, Lex shifted around constantly and kept her Tums nearby while I paced around trying to keep my baby happy even though we were meeting dangerously close to bedtime, but we both stayed in the conversation.  I nursed, put the baby in a sling, took him out of a the sling, put him on his tummy, rocked him and still discussed past grant writing attempts.  Eventually the baby did fall asleep and I put him down on a pad on the stage to slumber through discussions about the blog and the Wilco Weekend plans.

Every ten minutes, the kids from the basement would emerge with more costumes on–breast plates, gowns, crowns, cloaks, flowing hippie shirts–and annouce that the play was nearly complete and they needed the stage.  We kept saying “soon” or “ten more minutes.”  It held them at bay.  The 9 year old caught on to what we meant and did her best to keep the 6 year old and the 4 year old in the basement, but eventually the 6 year old said, “It’s been more than ten minutes.”  She insisted that they needed to build a set before their production.  We suggested that they choose all their props.  That got them back into the basement.  Lex’s 4 year old followed the other two around carrying his sword and wearing a crooked  muscleman breast plate, going up and down the stairs after them.  I’ve jokingly referred to the kids as the young company, but it’s becoming less and less of a joke.

The kids let me  sneak out before the show began.  It was a fighting play, they said, and not suitable for babies.

Mommy Redroom is on and we are back in the theatre with our new additions.  Somehow it’s all different and all the same, just like at home.

Collaborating the night away

Posted in Running the theatre, Theatre of the Mommies, Uncategorized on July 3rd, 2010 by kellinewby

There are a lot of arts organizations in North Adams.  A lot.  Three theatre companies.  2 mills full of artists.  Dancers.  Writers.  Performance artists.  Photographers. Sculptors. Painters.  How does one survive?

Being a theatre artist, I smugly believe the answer lies in my own particular poison: collaboration.  One of my favorite musicians, Amanda Palmer, said that she ended up doing music rather than theatre because to do theatre she has to organize 20 people and with music she just needs a piano and an audience.

I’m not saying anything new here, but I am seeing things from a new perspective.  You see, I have this baby now.  And Lex will have a baby in the next couple of weeks.  Having me away from home at bedtime simply doesn’t work for my son. However, bedtime is prime theatre time.  How do I run a Redroom and rehearsals for a Redroom when I need to be home at 7:30?  It’s an exercise in problem solving, no doubt.

But it’s not just people with babies, people with jobs and lives need to find a way to fit in volunteer theatre.  The show we’ve planned for September is going to be broken up between two directors to fit in a couple of summer vacations.  It all works out for the best–each director will work with his/her strength.  And, as I am one of the directors, we also have to figure out the best way to make sure my baby is happy.  We have been a highly collaborative theatre company for the past several years, but the upcoming months are going to put it to the test.

One person will cast the show, another begin the rehearsal period and a third will bring it all together for the end.  We are on the verge, as it were….