Hey, we’re on TV!

Boy Gets Girl

Stage Channel has two clips of Boy Gets Girl currently running here.

If the link doesn’t take you right to the video, you may need to search for “Boy Gets Girl” on the StageChannel site.

This is Michelle Courvais and Scott Stangland, playing Theresa and Tony, on their ill-fated first date.


Theatre Thursday – November 9

I’m running a little behind here – our first post-show disussion for Boy Gets Girl was one week ago tonight, and I’m finally finding a moment to write a post. I was away from the show for a few days (my sister had an absolutely beautiful wedding in New York last weekend, and James Joseph played the role of Mercer for three performances – he did a fantastic job from what I’ve heard, and I’ll probably write more about the process of working with an understudy soon), and life and work have been interfering with blogging time. But I’m back, and looking forward to having some great conversations with audiences after kicking things off right last Thursday.

It was a Theatre Thursday performance – a wonderful program that the League of Chicago Theatres offers in conjunction with Theatres all over Chicago (about a League worth, I’d imagine). The evening began at Kendall’s, a comfy sports bar next door to the theatre with great pizza and music that frequently finds its way into our theatre during quiet moments of plays. Patrons, who were encouraged to bring blind dates “in the spirit of Boy Gets Girl” (a suggestion they probably felt less comfortable with after seeing the show), had the opportunity to mingle with Eclipse Company members before the show, have a discussion with us after the show, and take a quick backstage tour.

The discussion covered a wide range of topics, many of which I expect to come up again as we along.

We talked a lot about Rebecca Gilman’s works in general – an audience member said he was unfamiliar with her plays and asked for a quick summary of her career. This sparked an energetic discussion of all of her plays, and a few comments on the consistent elements of her writing that we’ve seen this year. Gilman doesn’t shy away from any subject matters, and she seems to enjoy most the issues that are complex and unresolvable. We talked about the lack of a “solution” in Boy Gets Girl, Spinning into Butter and The Sweetest Swing in Baseball (it’s also true of The Glory of Living, Blue Surge, Dollhouse … ). It’s one of the things I loved about Gilman’s style when we started thinking about featuring her as our 2006 playwright; she explores difficult issues without pulling punches, and she doesn’t try to tell audiences how they should feel about those issues. Her plays are the kinds of plays you leave the theatre still talking about, the kinds of plays that demand a stop at a bar or coffeehouse on the way home so you can keep talking about them, the kinds of plays your mind returns to months later because those issues aren’t easy, and they’re not easily solveable, and there’s more thinking and talking to be done.

Opening Night

Boy Gets Girl opened Sunday night after a great weekend of previews. We got a lot of feedback – from the surveys we give our preview audiences, from conversations in the lobby after the show, and from the energy in the theatre each night.

Tomorrow is our first post-show discussion – the League of Chicago Theatres‘ great Theatre Thursday program is paying us a visit. From their description of the evening:

In the spirit of Boy Gets Girl, take your blind date out for Pizza and drinks at Kendall’s bar followed by a performance and a post show discussion and backstage tour.

Which strikes me as a little bit creepy, but it should be a fun night.

Like all of Rebecca Gilman’s plays, there’s a lot to talk about here. The story is mostly of a woman who’s being stalked and the effect it has on her life, but there are also interesting explorations of gender roles, pornography, and the romantic notions that pop culture and art have convinced us to believe in – that with some persistence the boy will, in fact, get the girl.

Dress rehearsal

Michelle Courvais in Boy Gets Girl - Photo by Betsy LentWe had our first audience last night for Boy Gets Girl (well, our second, really) – about ten or twelve people, mostly friends of the cast and crew, came in to watch our dress rehearsal. We’re still making minor adjustments, but the show’s pretty much as it will be when we open on Sunday.

It was great to have the energy of an audience, and especially an audience unfamiliar with the story – we’ve had designers and Eclipse company members watching the last few technical rehearsals, but most of the folks last night were seeing this for the first time. This is a tricky play in a lot of ways, and I’m learning that the trickiest element may be the tone. The story starts very much like a romantic comedy – we open on Tony and Theresa meeting for the first time for a blind date. Just like all first dates, (I assume) there are awkward moments, hopeful moments, and a lot of funny moments. As the play goes on, the tone changes dramatically. I don’t want to spoil anything, but we’ve got dramaturgical research about stalking posted up in the lobby for audiences to read, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the play ultimately becomes something very different than a romantic comedy (although not so different, really – more on that later).

For the audience last night, there was a sense of surprise, and it was interesting to hear some big laughs in the first few scenes, some nervous giggles towards the end of the first act, and a lot of quiet through most of act two. There were some responses we didn’t expect, and there are probably some moments that will change, consciously or unconsciously, now that we have a sense of how an audience might react to those moments, but for the most part the responses were what we anticipated and what the play needs.

We’ll probably have a larger audience tonight, as we begin our formal previews, and I know we’re all excited to have a few more chances to feel that energy before opening night. Preview tickets are cheap ($5 for folks in the theatre industry), so give a call to the box office (773.871.3000) to come out, see the show, and help us build up to a fantastic opening. 

Breaking the fourth wall

Speaking of breaking the fourth wall, there’s a great conversation going in the comments to Gary’s post from last week – check it out here, and share your thoughts and questions in the comments there or anywhere on the blog to join the discussion.

An evening at the Newberry Library

hpim0421.jpgCeCe and I visited Maren’s class at the Newberry Library the other night, and joined her students in a discussion of the theatrical process in general and Boy Gets Girl in particular. The course description explains the focus of the class like this:

We seek to break “the fourth wall” and establish discussion between those who see theater and those who create it, and the larger implications theater has as a lens for viewing the human condition.

We broke that fourth wall pretty well the other night – most students in the class had read and studied the script and watched a full run through at one of our rehearsals last weekend, and Maren led them and us through a fantastic discussion, some of which I’ll try to recap below the fold.

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A field trip to Boy Gets Girl

We had a small audience last night – students from Maren’s class at the Newberry Library joined us to watch a run through. We’re not really at a point where we’re ready for an “audience” yet, but they seemed to enjoy the glimpse into the rehearsal process, and it was pretty cool for us as actors to have their energy in the room.

A few of us will return the favor later this week, taking a field trip to the library to talk to the class about the play and the process. I’m looking forward to that; several students came to last night’s rehearsal with copies of the script in hand, and from the brief conversations I had with them they’ve clearly spent some time reading and thinking about the play – it should be a good discussion.