Apprenticeship Workshop: Observation and “Detailed Details”

by Emma McDonald, Company One Apprentice

 

Observation is something almost all people are capable of. In preparation for the Apprentice’s next event, they have been observing the people and world around them through a series of activities and exercises. These have included describing daily what they see on their the way to work, a mental and physical visualization exercise of a familiar place (bedrooms), and a step by step description of how to make toast. By digging into receptors of the mind, people are able to better differentiate the world around them, eventually becoming more empiric. In addition to observing what they are able to see with their own eyes around Boston, the Apprentices have also looked at a myriad of different photos, exploring different themes and feelings and challenging themselves to record their observations as thoroughly and with as many details as possible. During one exercise, each Apprentice chose a photo, and then had to describe it in four ways: what they saw, how they felt, the smells it reminded them of, and choosing or creating a song to represent the chosen picture.

Below are examples of their work!

 

APP3Emma’s narrative about a photo of a New York City skyline sunset:

A summer sunset in a big city, far from any neutrality. The warm, copper-like horizon breaks off into a juxtaposed, cool metallic line. The strategically placed iconic buildings have one side facing the sun, which illuminates said side and leaves the other in almost complete darkness. The windows twinkle like the stars you see in upstate Vermont, some are brighter than others, but they all hold at least one wish. The clouds are intertwined with the buildings that are grand in stature, both having racing opacities as each minute passes. The water off in the distance is calm, unlike the chaos happening below the sunset. The stretch of buildings could continue forever but is stopped by the darkness of night ready to fall from space itself. The shadows cast by the colossal structures overpower the smaller buildings and even the people who cannot even be compared by size. The top points of each building stretch as much as they can to the sky, desperately trying to not be forgotten.

 

Erique’s feelings regarding a well organized photo of a man typing:

APP2Memories of me sitting in my room, lights are off, except for the firefly lights that are always on, so there is a distinct red and yellow lighting. I would be laying back on a pile of pillows, laptop on my lap. Chips or Oreos in a paper plate sitting on the comforter. And me staring at my laptop, either on Facebook, Instagram, or watching Netflix. My phone in my pocket and really just chilling. Or a memory of me still with lights off and firefly lights on, But instead the laptop would sit on the bed and I would be rearranging furniture in my room while also cleaning. Listening to Alessia Cara Album, or the Neighborhood, or  Lianne La Havas’ song Elusive. Again though feeling of being warm and in my space, just chilling. Maybe a friend might FaceTime me or something. Memories of doing my junior thesis up until 3 am, with the TV on just to keep me awake, or loud music. Memories of me forgetting I had homework and then remembering at 12. Nights of 5 page Bio Homework

 

The smells Kennisha associates with a tropical, beautiful beach:APP

There seem to be a gentle breeze as the trees seem to be swaying and dancing slowly to it. The waves seem to be caressing every pieces of dry sand it touches. The waves seem to be so soft and quiet that it could rock a baby to sleep. The breeze is beckoning the waves ashore but instead of going ashore, it forms a blanket of water over the already wet sand. It reminds me of when I went to the beach with my mom and our church when I was little. I was so excited on that day. It was a beautiful sunny day with barely any clouds in the sky just like in the picture. I remember smelling the salt water when I got off the bus. You could almost taste the salt from the water as the warm breeze was blowing.

 

Eric’s rap he wrote about a photo of birthday cupcakes:

APP4

Happy birthday, yo it’s yo’ birthday rap up for yo’ birthday. It’s the one day of the, of the year where it’s all about you. Make sure to make that live. Hard stay up, yo.

Did I hear it’s yo’ birthday? Make it count because the one day (day) of the year where everyone wants to make your day, but this just made your day.

It’s that day again,  yo, because it’s yo’ birthday. So get that money, live it up, don’t stop trying. Don’t let nobody bring you down.

It’s not only make money Friday, but it’s yo’ birthday, so it’s make money big today.

‘Ight I feel like we been through it all. Hell and though fire and water. Broke money though it all.

I am happy. Say you’re not only the best person to me in the world. You are funniest, smartest person in the world. When we first met I didn’t like you at all, but now it’s like your  are my life. Have a good birthday. Live it up.

A Day at the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club

On Saturday January 16th, the Company One Apprentices ventured into the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club and hosted an eye-catching, political and socially innovative event that focused on the groundbreaking news that covered the year 2015.

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The foundation of the event was the play AN OCTOROON by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, which will be Company One’s 2nd play of its 17th season. The play has many themes such as racism, love triangles, money, melodrama, and slavery. The characters that the Apprentices connected with most were two slaves: Minnie, an optimistic straightforward and fearsome dreamer, and Dido, her more reserved emotional and overly cautious best friend. The event was centered on the contemporary issues people are facing and how it is related to the social issues of the 1850s that Minnie and Dido lived in.

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Our participants were young members of the Boys and Girls Club, who ranged between the ages of 10 to 16. The event began with introductions from the Apprentices, Company One staff members from the Education and Dramaturgy departments, and the youth attendants.

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We then projected onto the wall a video of the last scene from the play featuring Minnie and Dido, followed by a witty commentary reaction clip featuring the Apprentices. This was then followed by another reaction video from Minnie and Dido, which prompted the youth members to creatively reflect on the year 2015. Each person was given a list of notable topics from 2015 to discuss – this list, which the Apprentices put together, included #NetflixandChill, Donald Trump, ISIS, Bill Cosby, Planned Parenthood, #BlackLivesMatter, and more.

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The discussion was very productive, encouraging, and the youth members had many valid points about the many topics. They each had to pick a topic and comment on that topic through any creative medium they chose. This could include a skit, rap, scene, poem, short story, letter, drawing, design, collage, etc. on how they felt about the topic.

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Youth members chose to design shirts, write poems and short stories, and create a graphic design on the computer. They were incredibly expressive, articulate and passionate about the topics they chose. Their work was innovative and all were impressed by the creativity in the room. Everyone came together to share out what they did and were supportive while their peers were expressing themselves. The act of reflecting on what has happened is a skill everyone, regardless of age or gender, has the capability to do. It was a dynamic and creatively rich event that the Apprentices will never forget!

 

Hello From Company One’s Apprentices!

IMG_0993Hey! We’re the Company One Apprentices – Emma, Erique, Eric and Kennisha! This school year, we look forward to exploring the different aspects of theatre and putting them to the test in communities in Boston. Right now our work is centered on AN OCTOROON. We’ve been learning about the themes of the play, which include: melodrama, love, race, money, and social classes. Organizing community events is a top priority, and we look forward to going to the Dorchester Boys & Girls Club next month! Join us for this wonderful event! See our bios below!

Copy of IMG_0986Emma is from Boston, MA and currently attends Snowden International High School. She is a part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at school, which strives to make students all around the world globally aware citizens. She has traveled to both France and Italy with school. Her work was featured in the Above Youth Voice Exhibition this past spring. She took musical theatre classes at Boston Children’s Theatre and has been in productions of The Pajama Game, Into the Woods, and currently, Urinetown in her community. She is interested in performing and writing; and plays guitar, ukulele and piano. She hopes to study musical theatre in college.

 

IMG_0987Erique Green, a native of Boston and Junior at Newton North High School  proudly joins Company One Theatre for his third term as a Teen Production Apprentice. As Vice President of his class he actively participates with school and related community events. Outside of education, Erique has been modeling for two years now working for Model Club INC, a local agency that has been in Boston for years. He has numerous experiences in theatre and the arts, including acting in productions such as Oliver!, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat, Seussical, and Into the Woods. Alongside with onstage experiences with theatre, Erique has done production work as well. Musically directing Into the Woods, and working costumes and tech for Oklahoma!, Willy Wonka, and The Sound of Music. Erique is also a second year major in the culinary arts.  After becoming  Mr. Teen USA 2015, in 2014 he continues to represent Boston youth in hopes that it will teach other youth the importance of volunteer work and having the ability to influence communities.

IMG_0984ERIC BAIRD is  from Boston, MA. He goes to the  Josiah Quincy Upper School. He is in the 10th grade and currently taking a theater class. He will be in a show in the winter titled How to Succeed In High School without really trying. When he gets older he wants to be in actor/director  for movies. He says theater could be easy but only if you really put your mind to it. The main thing he likes about theater is the acting because he wants to be in actor when he grows up.

 

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Kennisha Fignole was born in Haiti in 1999. She was raised in Port-Au-Prince until she moved to the US. Every since she was little, she loved to sing, read and draw pictures. She loves to write poems and wants to learn how to play music instruments. She moved to the United States after the earthquake that happened in Haiti. She joined the youth choir at her church at the age of 11 years old. After entering High  School, she became a volunteer for the children ministry. She’s been going to TechBoston Academy ever since she was in 6th grade. She participated in the show that her school puts on. She is the secretary of both her youth council and the choir board in her church.

Company One’s Professional Development for Actors Showcase

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Brian Savage and Lynn Hall in The Gin Game by D. L. Coburn

In mid November, Company One’s Professional Development for Actors (PDA) class had its biannual Showcase. The evening consisted of 29 scenes and monologues performed by the actors and actresses participating in the 10-week program. The purpose of the PDA class is to prepare actors for the audition process and to equip them with material to audition with.

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Dionne Cail in Mr. Marmalade by Noah Haidle

 

The pieces, thoughtfully selected by instructors Ros Thomas-Clark and Victoria Marsh, were diverse and befitting of the actors performing them. They ranged from Shakespeare’s classic As You Like It to Kirsten Greenidge’s contemporary 103 Within the Veil (first produced by Company One in 2005).

 

Over 100 people attended the Showcase, from friends and family to casting directors and Company One staff, including Artistic Director Shawn LaCount.

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The success of the evening was evident by the energetic atmosphere in the lobby following the performances. In the midst of hugs and congratulations, an immense feeling of pride was felt by everyone.

We at Company One congratulate the actors and actresses in the Fall 2015 PDA class on an incredibly successful evening! We congratulate your growth, your commitment and your talent, and we look forward to seeing you on stages throughout Boston very soon!

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From Left to Right – (1st Row) Danny Sayson, Marcos Valles, Sophia Koevary, Stephen Harrison Jones; (2nd Row) Francisca Da Silveira, Melissa Nussbaum Freeman, Adjovi Koene, Josh Santora, Kerline Desir; (3rd Row) Jay Street, Christopher Gaskell, Dionne Cail, Kitty Drexel, Daniella Seidl Brian Savage, Jacquelyn Weatherbee, Lynn Hall; (Back Row) Tito James, Srin Chakravorty, Aaron Wilson, Ashley Wisneski; (Not Pictured) Gwen Coburn

*Photos Taken by Phyllis Bretholz

EJ Bonilla Inspires Stage One and Boston Arts Academy Students

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Company One (C1) recently had the pleasure of hosting film and television actor, EJ Bonilla, best known for his work on the independent films Four and The House that Jack Built, and who is currently featured in A&E’s Unforgettable. EJ visited Young Achievers Academy (YA) in Mattapan, where C1 facilitates a yearlong residency and touches the lives of more than one hundred students per week with the transformative power of theatre.

Alexandria King, C1 Teaching Artist at Young Achievers, said, “EJ was extremely generous with his time and wisdom. EJ is a true artist and educator.” The day began at YA with an assembly of eager students waiting to meet the rising actor. Opening with a performance of Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet speech, EJ aligned the concept of ‘to be or not to be’ with his personal story of pursuing his dreams.

EJ Bonilla Visit 3EJ grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where the distractions and circumstances of living in a struggling neighborhood often presented roadblocks in his life. It was because of teachers that recognized his unique talents (even landing him a scholarship to ballet school), and a family that rallied around him, that EJ was able to realize his personal mission as an artist and commit to achieving his goals.

Ms. King said the most important lesson EJ wanted students to learn is that, if you commit yourself 100% to what you love, take advantages of the opportunities that come your way as a young person, and resist poor choices, then doors will open for you. EJ shared with students that he was a very shy kid, even pretending to sleep at the lunch table to avoid his peers. It was theatre that enabled him to build confidence and become the dynamic performer that he is today.

Not only did EJ impart sage advice to the aspiring actors of YA, but he also worked closely with students on developing characters and rehearsing scene work from Romeo and Juliet. EJ visited Boston Arts Academy the following day, and collaborated with students from the beginning of the school day until the end of evening rehearsal.


EJ will return in January 2016 to reconnect with YA students and hopefully meet more of the young people that benefit from C1 theatre residencies in Boston Public Schools. On behalf of Company One Theatre, we would like to extend our deepest thanks to EJ Bonilla for the inspirational visit with our students and empowering them to make good choices and pursue their dreams. We would also like to thank Ms. King for inviting EJ into the C1 family.
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Stage One Profile: Ros Thomas-Clark and Victoria Marsh

Ros and Victoria, preparing for another PDA workshop.

Ros and Victoria, preparing for another PDA workshop.

Like Sonny and Cher, Abbott and Costello, and Fry and Laurie, one cannot think of a better duo within the Company One Theatre family than acting instructors Ros Thomas-Clark and Victoria Marsh. Both Ros and Victoria serve as members of C1’s Board and have been vital contributors to the growth of the company, particularly in the education department. Although fondly referred to as a twosome by many who know them, both have had incredibly diverse and rich journeys that led them to C1 and both are extremely respected and active in the theatre scene in and around Boston.

A native of England who has lived in the USA for decades, Ros’ passion centers on educational theatre as a means of social change and remembrance of history. She is a founding faculty member of the Boston Arts Academy (BAA) and strives to bring together theatre makers with varied training backgrounds, particularly the youth she works with at BAA. Ros is the Artistic Director of TC Squared, a company that embraces mentorship as vital to the development of civically engaged artists.

Victoria in class with the Fall 2015 PDA students

Victoria in class with the Fall 2015 PDA students

Equally committed to this idea is Victoria, whose passion for new play development has led to a career in theatre collaborating with playwrights and theatre companies from all over Boston. Victoria has directed 6 Company One productions, including 2 Boston premieres by Kirsten Greenidge. Victoria has served on the Company One Board since 2006.  “When Ros joined the Board, we discovered our mutual passion for working with actors.  We saw the need for a class that keeps actors on their toes when they are between gigs.  We just love to watch actors grow.”

Despite already having incredibly busy and fulfilling careers in theatre, Ros and Victoria’s dedication to artist development brought them together to lead C1’s Professional Development for Actors (PDA) program in 2009. The dynamic between the two instructors give the class an energy and pulse unlike any acting class of its kind. Actors leave the audition room that first day having forgotten their nerves because of Ros and Victoria’s critical yet kind and encouraging feedback.

“They feed off of each other’s energy, bringing so much joy and excitement for the work into the room that the other folks in a room with them can’t help but come along for the ride,” says Mark VanDerzee, C1’s Education Director who works very closely with the two.

There are many students who return to PDA precisely for this reason. There is a nurturing quality to the way Ros and Victoria run the class and yet they are large advocates of risk taking and bold decisions. Each actor is encouraged to find their autonomy and yet they are supported and guided to grow into their characters and into their craft.

“It’s good to be in a class that’s very hands on,” reflects Danny Sayson, who’s currently completing his second session in the class. “They have different views and they’re great at pointing out different ways to look at a scene.”

Like any iconic duo, it’s what differentiates Ros and Victoria that makes them memorable as individuals and it’s how they are able to seamlessly work together that makes them invaluable as teachers. “Victoria and I stay up into the wee small hours as we become more and more excited about finding strong pieces that work for each individual actor,” said Ros when asked to speak on her time with the PDA class and on her relationship with Victoria. “Our directing style is both comic and intentionally serious as we compliment each other running each Master Class.”

Comic and intentional – what a fitting way of describing not only their personalities but their teaching style as well. As teachers and as citizens, as mentors and theatre makers, Ros and Victoria will first and foremost always be friends – to their students, to C1 and to one another.

Check out the work of Ros, Victoria, and this year’s PDA students at their fall showcase, Tuesday, November 17th at the Boston Center for the Arts Plaza Black Box Theatre. RSVP online: CLICK HERE.

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C1’s Fall 2015 PDA Class, instructed by Ros and Victoria

Final Meeting for 2014-2015 Teaching Artists

Stage One Teaching Artists take a selfie with their program director.

Stage One Teaching Artists take an end-of-year selfie with their program director.

The Teaching Artists at Company One are the driving force behind our Stage One In-School teaching residencies. You may recognize them from appearances in C1 shows like SHOCKHEADED PETER, DISPLACED HINDU GODS TRILOGY, SPLENDOR, and HOW WE GOT ON, but they’ve spent the entire school year representing C1 and bringing their skills, talent, and artistic leadership to elementary, middle, and high school students all over Boston. Stage One theatre classes cover units like improvisation, playwriting, and social justice, and provide students with the foundational experience of working towards common artistic goals with their peers and using theatre as a tool to explore, represent, and articulate the values of their community. At our last program meeting, the Education staff and Teaching Artists shared some of their most memorable in-school moments and discussed their end-of-year plans for Stage One students. Keep an eye out for future posts of student work, feedback about their experience, and photos from final performances and showcases.