Posts Tagged StageSource

Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Birgitta Dahlgren Knuttgen

Who are you? Birgitta Dahlgren Knuttgen

What do you do? I am a retired professor of languages, literature & theatre. I work in the Stage Source Library.

Where are you from originally? Gothenburg, Swedan, an important theatre town.

How long have you been working in Boston? I moved to boston in the 1960s.

What’s your earliest theatre memory? Probably a summertime production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a park. I was a mesmerized 6-year-old.

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? It would have been something at the Charles Playhouse. They had a fine rep. company in the 1960s.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? I don’t tend to eat much before a show.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Tigerbars.

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? No, I usually don’t. Just water & coughdrops & maybe a tigerbar.

The Boston Theatre Conference is focusing on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? I thoroughly enjoy living in this diverse and lively Theatre Town – it has grown tremendously since the 60s.

YOUR TURN! Write to us here.


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Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Jeremy Johnson

Who are you? Jeremy Johnson

What do you do? I’m a freelance director and teacher, occasional actor and the Member Services Manager at StageSource

Where are you from originally? New Jersey….NOT the shore

How long have you been working in Boston? Working? Ten.  Living? Fourteen

Why do you stay? After I graduated Emerson I said I would stay as long as I kept getting work.  I keep getting work and this is now more home than anywhere else.

What’s your earliest theatre memory? I was seven when I saw The Magician’s Nephew at a community theatre, a book I was obsessed with and couldn’t believe was happening in front of me.  A year later I was playing Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  That was 24 years ago and I haven’t gotten sick of it yet.

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? I went to see Tim Miller at The Theater Offensive when I was eighteen and had just moved here.  All I remember is thinking, “That man is taking his clothes off three feet away from me……That man now has no clothes on.”

What was your first job in theatre? I got paid a negligble amount of money to stain a giant wooden cistern for a production of Salome when I was fourteen.  It was summer, 90-something degrees, my hands were stained black and it took all day.  I was elated.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? I can’t eat before a show.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Well, it used to be cigarettes.  NOT ANYMORE!!

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? After.

The Boston Theatre Conference is focusing on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? This community has grown by leaps and bounds since I graduated college, with small companies blossoming into healthy mid-size companies and an exciting fringe scene that barely existed when I got here.  I am so inspired by the local artists around me and they push me to keep going and to stay here.

YOUR TURN! Write to us here.


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Auditions for sign language interpreters?

by Courtney Petri

What if an audition seemed less like a trial and more like a dialogue?  The typical audition experience can be somewhat traumatizing.  Blinded by lights, performing, you catch glimpses of a stoic jury out there, scrutinizing your efforts.  Upon exiting, you are informed that judgment will be passed shortly.  The showcase that took place at Boston University on September 20th,  hosted by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at BU was of another variety.  It was still an audition process, still endeavoring to match high-caliber performers in appropriate roles.  There were certainly still nerves all around.  However, the atmosphere was more open, more community-oriented, more…Deaf.

Visual Communications Clearinghouse at VSA Mass, Boston University (BU) School of Theatre and BU Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services are collaborating to increase the amount of qualified interpreters who work in performing arts settings. Accessibility is needed both in front of and behind the curtain as Deaf and Hard of Hearing artists make contributions to the Arts as professionals as well as patrons of the theatre. The relationship with VSA Massachusetts** and Stagesource – as a clearinghouse, professional advocate and informational resource for professionals who work in the arts – is an invaluable addition to this effort. This showcase is the first of a collaborative series of trainings and professional gatherings for interested individuals and organizations.

The people showcasing their skills were sign language interpreters for the performing arts.  The panel was made of up of a number Deaf ASL coaches who work closely with performing artists, directors, and interpreters, to make a wide variety of shows accessible to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.  Such a showcase enlarges the pool of interpreters in the performing arts sector, to provide even greater accessibility, and more optimized matching; if there are more people available, there is a better opportunity to discover the optimal grouping of interpreter, coach, and play.

An American Sign Language (ASL) coach assists the interpreters to accurately represent both the meaning and emotion behind each performance.  ASL coaches are skilled in ASL grammatical structure and balance authenticity of the characters on stage with ASL idioms, phrases, and vernacular.

The showcasing process reflected Deaf Culture in a practical sense, such as ensuring that not only the performer, but also the panel, was well-lit for visual communication purposes.  More importantly, the cultural aspects showed up in process itself.  When the interpreter had presented their prepared song, set to music, in American Sign Language, and signed a cold reading of an excerpt from a Shakespeare play, the dialogue began.  It is an interview, to be sure, but a back-and-forth with feedback is rare enough in traditional auditions!

The coaches, of course, are interested in the language skills of the interpreter.  If the work were a living being, the language and the interpreting process would be the mind.  Communication, enjoyment, and entertainment cannot happen without it.  The coaches are also interested in availability.  In our living being, that would be the body; even if the mind is brilliant, if the body is not present, the work cannot happen.  But the coaches are also interested in attitude – the heart, and that is another thing that sets it apart.

Perhaps, as a poor performing artist myself, I have a poor view of the “traditional” audition.  But there was something about this Performing Arts Showcase that humanized the process.  Watching the nervous faces of the lineup before they entered the room, and seeing the relieved glow as they exited, I believe that something special, collaborative, and cultural was happening, and I hope that it continues.

*See 2010-2011 season for Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston University BCAP and Broadway Across America-Boston

**Visual Communication Clearinghouse at VSA Massachusetts: Communication Access to the Arts and Culture.

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Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Dawn M. Simmons

Who are you? Dawn M. Simmons

What do you do? I work at StageSource, I run a theatre company (New Exhibition Room with A. Nora Long), I write, I direct. Stuff like that.

Where are you from originally? Buffalo, NY.  That’s right!  You don’t even know what snow and cold is!

How long have you been working in Boston? 7 years

What’s your earliest theatre memory? Commercials for “Cats” on WPIX.  Maybe Seasame St. On Ice, before that.

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? Three of Cups at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.  I was the ASM.  I was good! Oh, except that time when I was late with the food for the dinner scene.  That was not so good.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? U Burger burgers if I’m at BPT.  Onion rings at the Parish Cafe’ if I’m over near the Factory Theatre.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Anything crunchy if I’m the director.  Anything chewy if I’m the writer.

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? I don’t tend to be onstage, but I like to wait until after the show starts to eat.  I have sympathy nervous stomach.

The Boston Theatre Conference is focusing on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? I think that’s great! You probably want to hear more.  I love that the people who work here feel like family to me.  Especially since mine is miles away.  I love the Fringe and Small theatre scene.  NXR had a lot of fun with them this summer.

YOUR TURN! Write to us here!

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Why Boston?

by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary

When Stage Source’s Stage Page comes out, I get giddy.  I have this ritual of first circling all of the things I know I want to see and then I open my calendar and make my plan for the next 2 months or so.  This quarterly practice of mine isn’t just about keeping my schedule up to date – it actually pumps me up for the months ahead.  Since graduating from BU in 2008 and joining the staff at New Rep, I have had the privilege to attend many different kinds of theater in many different venues.  There’s a certain amount of theater that I see because “I should.”  Don’t get me wrong, I can get excited about obligatory theater too, but the majority of what I see is because I love theater, and specifically I love the theater here in Boston.  I am constantly inspired by other people’s work.  I have watched actors, designers and directors grow and change over the last several years and there is something thrilling about that.  During New Rep’s General auditions I can sometimes forget I’m there in some kind of “official” capacity and just get wrapped up in the work happening in front of me.  It is truly a wonderful experience.  I am still in awe when I run into people like John Kuntz, Anne Gottlieb, Scott Edminston, Ronan Noone, Kate Snodgrass, Will Lebow, Ben Evett, Nancy Carol, Karen MacDonald, Paula Plum and many others.  Their work has such an impact on me.

We have so many amazing and talented people that have chosen to make Boston their artistic home and this number continues to grow.  During the Stage Source auditions, my favorite moment is  when a brand new, just moved to town, actor shows up, totally nails the audition, and you feel the joint excitement in the room – like we all know the next “get me…” person has just arrived.  It’s happened every summer I’ve been here.

Over the last year I have tried to challenge myself to get off the beaten path and see more fringe work.  Sometimes the bigger our subscriber base and budgets get, the more afraid we can be to take the kind of risks that some of the fringe companies are taking to uncover all kinds of important, powerful stories.  Whistler in the Dark is flying this year!  How awesome is that?

I do what I do because I have to.  Quality people exist everywhere.  So, really for me, the “where” in what I do has to do with where I want to make my life, and who I want my community to be.    I stay here because this area is big enough to continue to surprise me yet small enough to still feel like my home.

Bridget Kathleen O’Leary received her MFA in Directing from Boston University.  She is the Artistic and Education Associate at New Repertory Theatre and lives in Watertown with her husband Chris.

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Slow Food = Good Theater

by Rafael Jaen

Originally posted on From the Tailor’s Table

For its next theater conference the Boston based StageSource organization has been looking at the relationship between the slow food movement and what we are calling “home grown theater” in New England. The idea got its start from various happenings including an inspired speech given by Peter Sellers at an Emerson College forum last Spring.

The website SlowFood defines Slow Food as a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment.

The organization stands at the crossroads of … ethics and pleasure. It opposes the standardization of taste and culture…. We believe that everyone has … the responsibility to protect the heritage of tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our association believes in … recognition of the strong connections between … planet, people and culture.

I did some paraphrasing, but you can probably appreciate why…

Along the way we have found some very inspiring stories (about the food industry) that do relate to the on-going development of theatre in our region. There are many samples that do denote a commitment to our community, our arts environment, our traditions and how theater creates a sense of place in the world. One sample is restaurateur Barbara Lynch, locally born and bred (South Boston) and now globally recognized.

That’s what I think of the growing Boston theater scene; it is locally grown and its tenacity is nationally known!

About Rafael Jaen

Mr. Jaen is currently the Costume Director at Emerson College where he is part of the Design-Tech Faculty. In adition he is  Co-Chair for Design, Technology & Management at the prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region 1. His design work can be seen on stage in Lyric Stage Company’s production of  The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickelby Parts 1 & 2.

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