Blue Surge honored with two Jeff Awards

I’ve never been all that good at tooting my own horn, and maybe that’s why I’ve been so slow to blog about the fantastic night we – and I – had on Monday. The 2009 Non-Equity Jeff Awards were held at the Park West, and two of the night’s awards went to myself (Actor in a Supporting Role) and Laura Coover (Actress in a Principal Role) from Blue Surge. The full list of nominees and winners is at

Jeff Award Winners Laura Coover and Nathaniel Swift in Blue Surge

Jeff Award Winners Laura Coover and Nathaniel Swift in Blue Surge

I think the acceptance speeches will be posted soon at – I’m excited to see them, since I have no idea what I actually said. I’ll tell that story when I link to the video, though.

Congratulations and thanks to all involved!

Interview with the Jeff Nominees

Laura Coover and Nat Swift, Jeff-nominated actors in Blue Surge, sat down with ensemble member Steve Dale before the final performance to talk about their characters, their process, and the nudity:

Friday photo rescue

Four Jeff-Nominated performances, from 2008/2009:

Jon Steinhagen in Plaza Suite:

Nora Fiffer in The Autumn Garden:

Nathaniel Swift in Blue Surge:

Laura Coover in Blue Surge:

Eclipse nominated for four Jeff Awards!

The nominations for this year’s Non-Equity Jeff Awards were announced this morning, and Eclipse was honored with four nominations, including myself and Laura in our current production of Blue Surge:

  • Laura Coover, Actress in a Principal Role – Play (Blue Surge)
  • Nathaniel Swift, Actor in a Supporting Role – Play (Blue Surge)
  • Jon Steinhagen, Actor in a Supporting Role – Play (Plaza Suite)
  • Nora Fiffer, Actress in a Supporting Role – Play (The Autumn Garden)

Congratulations to all the nominees!

There’s still one weekend left to catch the now Jeff-Nominated show – tickets are available online here.

Live blogging from backstage

2:04 – I just arrived at the theater a few minutes ago. We’re sold out and then some today, so I need to keep the producer hat on for a few more minutes. Warmups, notes and fight call start in six minutes – I’ll be back soon.

2:28 – The box office chaos is (mostly) under control, I’ve had a chance to practice getting punched in the face, and now I’m off to make sure my props and costumes are set where I’ll need them to be during the show. The first things I need, for a quick change after my first scene: socks, underwear and a gun. It’s a fun show …

2:42 – The house is open – I can hear only a few people out there right now, but we’re waiting on the group from MSU, so it’ll get a lot louder any minute. I just finished my warmups – pushups, situps, and some stretching, and now I just wait for the house lights to dim.

2:51 – Yeah, it just got a lot louder out there. I hope everybody got a seat.

2:57 – We’re holding for five minutes. I guess they’re trying to find seats for everyone. “Holding” is the right word for us as we’re backstage – we’re ready to start the show, and now we need to keep that energy and focus as we wait. Which means I probably shouldn’t be blogging right now, but what the heck.

3:00 – I just overheard the organizer of the MSU group tell her students that there’s no photography allowed during the show. Considering my first costume, I appreciate that.

3:10 – We’re off and running, a few minutes late. I’m not in the first scene, so I still have a few minutes to let my jittery nerves run their course. I think I’ll pace around the dressing room.

3:29 – Finished the nude scene and the first quick change. We’re in scene three now. The show’s going well, and this audience is giving us a lot of energy. Days like this are a lot of fun.

3:33 – I was just backstage waiting to do the set change after scene three. At the end of that scene, Curt tells his girlfriend not to be jealous of the prostitute he tried to arrest in the first scene. “It was just work,” he says. “I can’t even remember what she looked like.” From somewhere in the audience, as the lights were going down, we could hear someone say “Yeah, right.” Yeah, it’s going to be a fun day …

3:57 – Just did the fight scene. The package claims that the blood packs I use are “pleasant-tasting.” The package lies.

4:09 – Intermission. Lots of energy and noise from out in the house. I wonder if they know – Michigan State just beat Louisville 64-52. They’ll play Connecticut next week in the Final Four.

4:26 – This is probably the last time I have enough of a break to blog until the end of the show. This play moves fast, especially act two, and I need to stay focused so I don’t miss an entrance. I’ll be back if I can.

4:46 – My work here is done. Just waiting for the curtain call now. And the post-show discussion, which I’m really looking forward to. Kevin and Laura are in the final, heartbreaking scene on stage right now. It sounds like it’s hitting well – a great finish to a strong show.

Live blogging from backstage on Sunday

I guess technically I’m live blogging right now (we’re in act two, scene three of Blue Surge right now, and I have about five minutes before I’m back on stage), but this is just a quick post to say that I’ll be blogging throughout the show from backstage this Sunday. The show starts at 3:00 pm. Stop by the blog between 3-5pm to ask me what things are like in the dressing room …

Talking about the play

We have our first of many post-show discussions coming up after Sunday’s show, and we’re kicking it off with a group that I’m really looking forward to talking to – joining us for Sunday’s performance is a group of students from Michigan State (which means they’ll probably be checking NCAA tournament scores on their phones during intermission) who are in a program called MRULE – Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience. According to their website, the group encourages students to “contribute to positive race relations” by providing a community and forum for discussion:

Through open and frank discussions on controversial issues, informative presentations, interactive exercises and a variety of experiences that encourage the development of genuine friendships, students create and cultivate the experience of multiracial unity.

This makes us, I suppose, an “informative presentation,” but I’m looking forward to being informed by the students.

Blue Surge is a story about class, wealth and identity – in my mind, it’s about the way we see ourselves in the context of our own background, and the way that sense of identity can limit or destroy us if we allow it to. It’s not a play about race (it takes place in a small midwesten city, and all five actors in our production, myself included, are white), because the issues it digs into are not specific to any particular skin color or heritage.

That being said, I think it’s naive to think that class and race are unrelated – especially in America, with our long national history of intertwined -isms and the cultural identity issues that come with that history. So more than anything else, I’m excited to listen to the students from MSU tell me what this play is about – and I’m guessing that many will see it in a different light than I do.

This Sunday’s show is already sold out, but we’ll have discussions after all of the Sunday matinees through the run except the final performance on May 3rd. I’m excited about this week’s discussion now, but each week will bring a new group of people with a new way of thinking about the ideas Rebecca Gilman has given us to kick around. Join us if you can – the matinees begin at 3pm, and the discussion starts at about 5pm after the show ends (and yes, feel free to join us for the discussion even if you’re not seeing the play that day). There’s a link to buy tickets on your right …