A backstage tour of Spinning into Butter

Spinning into Butter

Gerardo Cardenas, who played Patrick Chibas in our production of Spinning into Butter this past summer, shared with me a collection of pictures he took during the final week of rehearsals.

His pictures are beautiful – they’re intimate moments with the cast and crew as they make their final preperations. Take a look through the photo gallery, or watch the collection as a slide show by clicking the link at the top of the gallery.


Much thanks to Gerardo for letting us share these.

Our run of Boy Gets Girl ended just before the holidays, wrapping up a great season working with Rebecca Gilman’s exhilarating scripts.

As we prepare for Blues for an Alabama Sky, the first in our 2007 season featuring Pearl Cleage, I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts about her plays and novels, my research in designing lights for the show, our dramaturgical research and the post-show discussions throughout the run.

Stick around.

Taking a break (for the moment)

Spinning into Butter had its last performance the Sunday before last – we didn’t have a post-show discussion since we had to take the set apart and vacate our temporary home.

We’ll be back soon though – rehearsals start in just over a week for Boy Gets Girl, and the blog will be back as well as we start the rehearsal process.

See you then.

Post-show discussion – Sunday, August 27

We invited guest panelists to join us for Sunday’s post-show discussion; it’s a trend we’re hoping to continue and to build on in an effort to bring in people who have a professional and/or personal connection to the stories we’re telling and the issues they raise. On Sunday we welcomed Nicole Woods, formerly the Director of Minority and Cultural Affairs at Northwestern University‘s School of Medicine, and Venu Gupta, who held the same position at Northwestern’s Law School. They’ve both spent a good part of their careers dealing with race, ethnicity and identity in an academic environment, and it was fantastic to get their perspective on Spinning into Butter.

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Post-show discussion – Sunday, August 20

hpim0366.jpgWe had a wonderful group in attendance on Sunday – our good friend and advisor Sandra invited everyone she knows to fill the house and join us for a reception before the show and discussion afterwards (including another backstage tour – Anish is demonstrating the lighting effects on the back of the cyc in the picture on the right. Or possibly he’s making a shadow-dog). We had champagne and cookies as we mingled in the lobby before the performance, and got to spend a good amount of time meeting audience members and talking about the show and the season.

In the discussion, we talked about many of the same issues that had come up in previous discussions – the absence of Simon in the script, the joy of working with Rebecca Gilman during the rehearsal process, the tablework and research that the actors begin the process with, and the personal effects on the actors of exploring these issues through the characters. If you missed it a few posts ago, Emily started a great discussion online about this last topic.

hpim0365.jpgWe talked a lot about the difference between responding to racism on an individual level (i.e. one person struggling with their own conscious or unconscious racism, or struggling with someone who expresses racist thoughts) versus responding to racism in the context of an institution (i.e. a school administration dealing with the abstract idea of racism without addressing the individual concerns of those involved). There were different opinions about how believable the actions of the faculty were – some audience members felt that each faculty member would have reacted in a more personal way to the racism that appears at Belmont College, while others felt that the defensive posturing of the administration made sense in the context of a school that prides itself on being a liberal and inclusive community.

hpim0364.jpgThe conversation continued after we had ended the formal discussion – Anish led a small but excited group of people back to the dressing rooms and backstage area, I took a few pictures and had another glass of champagne (which may explain the quality of the later pictures), and our dramaturg Cheryl talked to audience members whose curiosity held them in the theater.

There’s only two weeks left – if you haven’t made it out to see the show yet, please make plans to join us here. And feel free to get involved with the discussion here online even if you haven’t seen the show yet.

Post-show discussion – Sunday, August 13

We had a fantastic discussion Sunday, with a majority of the audience sticking around to ask questions. It was one of those discussions that could have gone on for hours, although I’ll try to keep the summary here short.

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Post-show discussion – Saturday, August 12

We passed the “seat of the pants” test, according to the first comment from an audience member after Saturday’s show (I think that’s what she called it, anyway – if someone else heard her differently please correct me): She told us that she never squirmed, never felt uncomfortable in her seat, and (although she may have put it more delicately) that her butt never fell asleep. It’s a pretty rigorous test, and a great compliment to hear that we passed.

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This is my first post on the blog, so this seemed to be a perfect topic for me to start with: what is a Nuyorican?  It’s probably one of the most asked questions by audience members at the post-show Q & A discussions.  Understandably, many audience members had never heard of the term (I must confess I hadn’t either before reading the script).

Quite simply, Nuyorican is a combination of the phrases “New York” and “Puerto Rican” and refers to people of Puerto Rican culture living in or near New York City. The term originated around the mid-to-late ’60s and was popularized in 1975 when the Nuyorican Poets Cafe was founded by poets and playwrights Miguel Pinero (“Short Eyes”), Pedro Pietri (“Puerto Rican Obituary”), and Miguel Algarin in NYC.

Today, over 30 years later, the Nuyorican Movement remains strong and continues to thrive with artists and everyday people who proudly call themselves Nuyorican.  To be Nuyorican is not simply a category on a census form: it is a state of mind. It is to be part of an intellectual movement. It is to have pride in their past and their present. It is the fight through a common struggle. It is strength.

That is why “Patrick” is adamant in wanting to be identified as Nuyorican and why he is ultimately disappointed, and later becomes disillusioned with the situation at Belmont College, when he feels he cannot.

In closing, I’d like to thank all the audience members who’ve stayed for the Q & A’s and shared their feelings on the play and the topics it raises.  It’s a tough subject matter and there are no easy answers, but it’s always great to have a dialogue and hear different viewpoints – because we’re all in this together.