Posts Tagged Wheelock Family theatre

Getting Lively, Lush & Local With: Kenny Steven Fuentes

Who are you? Kenny Steven Fuentes

What do you do? Act, direct, produce, blog and write plays. When I get bored, I found theatre companies.

Where are you from originally? Down South…of Boston. Brockton, MA to be exact. We killed Sacco and Vanzetti.

How long have you been working in Boston? 2.5 years.

Why do you stay? I’m a wanted man. I have the death sentence on twelve systems.

What is your earliest theatre memory? As a child, watching Charlotte’s Web from backstage at Wheelock Family Theatre.T

What’s your first theatre memory in Boston? Technically the above, but I remember my first memory in Boston as an actor is of totally bombing at an audition for an Equity theatre. A month later, they called me and asked me to keep in touch. That meant a lot to me.

What was your first job in theatre? My first gig out of college was a small part at Wheelock, which seemed fitting. I looked like a smurf.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had before a show? Turkey Reuben at Francesca’s.

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack? Beer. I mean… Not beer…

Do you eat before you go on stage or do you wait until after your performance to eat? I try to have light meals. I eat as one would before competing in a sporting event.

If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? Bring down the price of a ticket. Even fringe theaters charge a lot.

What kind of theater excites you? I love watching a show where the actors are terrified and okay with it. That’s really the only truly honest acting.

What advice do you have for artists just starting out? If it scares the living crap out of you, you’re probably on the right track.

The Boston Theatre Conference is focusing on the lively, lush and local aspects of our theatre community. What do you think? That’s one of the reasons I stay here. I really appreciate our focus on fostering growth of local art. Also, I have the death sentence on 12 systems.

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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