Theater

A Look Inside 14/48

14/48 Band on Friday Night

There are two questions people ask when told about 14/48; the first is “what’s 14/48?” a question we have taken great pains to answer in the past, although here is a brief summary. The second question is “what’s it like?” which is a little harder to answer.

The only real way to answer that question is to experience it first-hand, but as not everyone is able to volunteer their time on a Friday or a Saturday to find out, most people are pointed to the 14/48 Blog, which is both an ideal and imperfect solution. Ideal because it gives a fairly comprehensive accounting of what transpires during a given weekend of the festival; imperfect because it is voluminous (just over 200 blog entries written during the first weekend alone) and at turns detail-oriented and impressionistic. Which isn’t to say that meaning can’t be gleaned from the blog, quite the contrary, but reading through the sheer volume of entries might discourage those who are merely curious about the goings on.

Below, we attempt to provide a condensed primer using the blog entries written during this past weekend. Excerpts will have been written by Erik Van Beuzekom (EVB), Gina Marie Russell (GMR), Michelle Chiachieri (MC) and your correspondent (JA). These will be accompanied by images taken by Ian Johnston and Omar Willey; Johnston was the official photographer of 14/48’s first weekend, his collection of images could be seen here.

If you are curious to read more about the weekend, we do recommend reading the weekend’s entries on the blog, beginning here and working your way to the present. -ed.

[media-credit name=”Omar Willey” align=”aligncenter” width=”645″]First Read Through Rehearsal[/media-credit]
Keith Dahlgren, Samie Detzer, Meghan Arnette (mirrored) and Paul Mullin read through their script on Friday Morning

Thursday
7:51p.m. – EVB
Energy all over the house. Middle Eastern trance music pulses over the speakers. Hugs from Gary M. Shawn B, Peter DOC and Meghan A. This version of 14/48 has many virgins (artists who have not participated in 14/48 before). It is exciting to see all the people with the apprehensive energy of anticipation…

Virgins are now running for beer for the veterans. All the introductions have been happened. Love has now entered the proverbial campfire!

We don’t know quite what to expect. But we all are very excited. All hail the mighty tidal wave of creativity.

8:08p.m. – JA
[The 14/48 Steering Committee gives out the Mazen Award each weekend of the festival. The award is given to artists who embody the “spirit of risk-taking and camaraderie” that the fest engenders. For more about the award, and its origins, read this entry. -ed]

The winner of the 14/48 Mazen Award for Winter 2012 (First Weekend) is: Kaleb Hagen Kerr

A talented and profusively dedicated performer, who has worked as both an actor and musician over the years. His tenure at 14/48 is marked with distinctive character after distinctive character…My personal favorite performance of his [at 14/48] came while he was in the band (at CHAC, if I’m not mistaken). I was directing a Kelleen Conway Blanchard piece, with Chuck Leggett, Michelle Chiachiere and Jodi Paul Wooster…

The actors were kids who were used to the talent show circuit and its finale called for a tap dance routine. Kaleb was our music coordinator, and he came up with the idea of faking the tap dancing: the actor would go through the tap dancing motions, and he would mic his own shoes going tapping on some random piece of wood.

There’s really no way to describe the effect of his idea; needless to say it accentuated the hilarity in a fashion that put it over the top for yours truly.

Congratulations, Mr. Kerr!

8:38p.m. – EVB

The theme for Friday night is “Headin’ down South.”

8:39p.m. – EVB

What will tomorrow bring? That is the thought for the evening. Actors are congregating, Directors are meeting, Megan and Shawn are talking to the actors. Andy J is talking to the directors.

Now the campfire is blazing and we are warming ourselves before we ride the wave a new 14/48 weekend…This is what Seattle Theatre is. This is what makes creativity great. All of us heading into the unknown…until tomorrow.

“We’re all here together to make each other look great!” -Megan A.

8:52p.m. – GMR
Advice to the Actors

From Megan A: “Girls, bring something slutty”

From Erin BF: “If you’re a shaver, shave”

From Ryan H: “Bring a shit-ton of clothes”

From Megan A: “And this is FUN!”

From Shawn B: “We’re telling you all the crazy scary shit, but have fun”

11:27p.m. – JA

“Dude, I just shaved so much I look like I’m 24 again. Can’t be too careful with that theme.” –Anonymous Female Actor

[media-credit id=3 align=”aligncenter” width=”600″]The 14/48 Band[/media-credit]
Brendan Hogan, Liam Blodgett and Daniel Salo performing with the 14/48 band.

Friday
12:40a.m. – Post from a playwright
This 14/48 festival is my second stint as a writer…I get a Bat Text from Andy Jensen with the theme and my assignment. Play #3. 4 men, no women. ‘Heading Down South’ The very first thought that leapt into my head made me laugh. ‘Really?’ I asked my brain. ‘Really,’ my brain replied. ‘Don’t be a pussy.’

So I’m writing, and not being a pussy.

–Eric LB

[media-credit id=3 align=”alignright” width=”300″]The Script[/media-credit]
An actor reads through the script first thing in the morning.
10:04a.m. – JA
The room is a-buzz with expectant energy. It’s Friday morning and everyone — save the playwrights — is coming in from a night’s rest; the sense of possibility is rampant.

Directors are conferring with their playwrights and actors mutter about nights spent either tossing and turning, or conked out. Mazen Award winner Kaleb Kerr looks in fine fettle.

Amy P is the first director up for the (random actor) draw, she jumps like a little kid waiting for Christmas. “I’M SO EXCITED!!!” She exhales and then picks her cast.

10:36a.m. – EVB

Head Designer Gary M and Meghan A, director for show #6 discuss prop needs.

Gary-“How tall do you want that thing?”

Meghan-“Umm, I think about head high, or eye level.”

Gary-“How big, just go like this with your fingers.”

Meghan-“Readable for the whole audience. but pickable by a person.”

Gary-“So about 2 feet.”

11:58a.m. – EVB

More designer speak:

“Who is getting the watermelons?”

“I’m going to the Schmee.”

“That sound good?”

“Hey guys, I have to tech tonight, could you grab me a black t-shirt?”

“No Problem.”

These guys are awesome. Back in the early days of 14/48 there were no designers. Now it is efficient, competent and friendly. These people make it happen.

[media-credit name=”Ian Johnston” align=”alignleft” width=”200″]Renata Friedman[/media-credit]
Renata Friedman rehearsing Daniel Tarker's The Fortune Teller
2:02p.m. – EVB

Speaking with 14/48 Virgin Renata Friedman:

EVB-“What else, how does this appeal to you, is 14/48 something that you would do again?”

RF-“Absolutely, and I love the abject horror that you have to put yourself in, I’m excited, they have asked me to do it a couple of times before and I just haven’t been able to but now I finally can.”

2:07p.m. – JA
Alex S approaches director Jaime R and asks about getting a special “big rip” sound effect from the band — something she hadn’t thought of yet. She’s enthusiastic about what it could add to the piece.

Alex then asks if he could pull Sarah MP aside for a moment. “OOOOOOOOH, you’re in trouble!” goes the rest of the group. Later, the two rejoin the group as if things are settled. (Alex was basically making sure that some business wasn’t crossing a boundary with Sarah, a courtesy that’s necessary when working in such close and rushed proximity.)

2:33p.m. – JA
Director Amy P confers with Tonya A, “you have a lovely sexy voice, but I don’t want to over use it, so let’s find places to use it specifically.”

Amy then reminds her cast to think of simple ways to hint at their animalities without making it either uncomfortable or too obvious. Holding her arms straight out: “Doing this for two minutes will tell us you’re flying, but it’s tiring and boring, so we need to find other ways of saying that.”

At 3:00p.m. on Friday and Saturday, the directors meet with the stage manager to go over logistics for their pieces before tech rehearsal starts at 3:30p.m.; each piece will only have 20 minutes to iron out their difficulties before having to cede the space to the next show. -ed

3:38p.m. – JA
Tech rehearsals, like everything else at 14/48, are something of a crucible. A lot of stuff needs to happen in the 20 minutes allotted for each play in the evening; 20 minutes isn’t really a long time, spend time focusing on one single aspect, the stage manager’s call can go from 18 minutes to 4 minutes without you really noticing it.

[media-credit id=3 align=”alignright” width=”300″]The Descent[/media-credit]
Ryan Higgins (right) tries to get Daniel Chercover (left) to put his finger on Bobby Temple (center) in Eric Lane Barnes' The Descent
4:22p.m. – JA
Kate J is going from cue to cue to cover the tech hurdles her piece calls for. As they happen, here’s what needs to be covered:

*Actors need to hug the chairs as they walk through the audience.
*Can the harp sound like a sitar? Is that possible?
*We need to make Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You, Baby” even more sexual.
*The last moment of the piece features Ryan Higgins tasting Bobby Temple’s forehead.

5:11p.m. – JA
(Describing show #5)

Man, why’s a Ho Ho gotta be a gang tough whose momma abandoned her? Leading Twinkie and Zinger astray, causing mad beef with Li’l Debbie.

5:53p.m. – JA
(Describing show #7)

Show #7! Last show of the night! Also the biggest cast of the night! Director Tim M starts by establishing the dings! The band makes cars driving by noises! MJS sits in the house to watch the run through! The transition is rehearsed! The band moves from a spiritual to The Girl from Ipanema! The most apt metaphor for LinkedIn ever! The tallest building in the world! Gumball machines as character development! Lisa B is adorable! So is Libby B! Michael P is sleazy and macking on Shoshana! “White Bluffs” is code! Granny pants float effortlessly! Same can’t be said for watermelons!

[media-credit id=3 align=”alignleft” width=”400″]14/48 Band on Friday Night[/media-credit]
Gavin Kovite performs on the stand up bass during Friday night's performance.

Dinner begins at 6:00p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, if everything runs smoothly, tech is over by then. After dinner, the whole cast and crew meet for one last time before the show begins at 8:00p.m.

7:24p.m. – GMR
Remember that feeling you got RIGHT before a big test? That’s the feeling in the air right now. Everyone cramming in last minute lines, notes, staging… It’s pretty electric…

7:28p.m. – EVB
Relaxed and tense at the same time. Funny how from 1 pm to 8 pm just flies by.

9:50p.m. – JA
Theme for Saturday is drawn: Delicious Indiscretions

Saturday
3:22a.m. – Post from a playwright
It’s 3:22am and I have my idea!

– Celene R

8:01a.m. – Post from a playwright
I took a nap from 3:30am-6:30am. It was scary going to sleep knowing my play wasn’t done but it would have been scarier if I’d sent in the 3:30am version.

Mailed it at 7:58am.
– Juliet WP

10:23a.m. – EVB
Woke at 8:42 am and went “oh shit!”

That is the next element of the 14/48 experience, dealing with your own fatigue. And knowing that everyone else feels the same. But it is the intensity of the work that fuels you forward. It should be an interesting day to witness what everyone will do. When it isn’t anxiety mixed with adrenaline, but fatigue mixed with adrenaline it becomes a whole different animal.

[media-credit name=”Ian Johnston” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″]Saturday Morning Check In[/media-credit]
The 14/48 actors check in at ACT's Bullitt Cabaret theater on Saturday Morning

11:28a.m. – JA
The scripts are more ambitious, the cast and crew are a touch exhausted. As is everyone’s wont, a lot of energy was expended in delivering Friday’s performance, and Saturday, there’s just enough juice left for one more performance…maybe.

Meaning, everyone will be stretching that energy over two shows, and making it happen. Meaning, creative and emotional stakes are a little higher. I’ll be honest, I like it that way, I do. I’ll tell you why:

To my mind, part of the 14/48 appeal is the exertion it offers to everyone involved. It’s about making it happen, no matter what your personal energy or current level of emotional investment. It’s about the spirit of camaraderie to get through to the next moment, and excelling while you’re doing that.

It’s not about coasting. At least, not when you’re doing it right. It’s about trying new things, about reaching new heights, it’s about going for the unexpected honest moment — funny or dark — not about the easy laugh. It’s about challenging the artist and the audience, as well about enjoyment of creating and entertaining that audience…Again, when done right.

Are frayed energies and fraught emotions necessary to achieve that? Not necessarily, no. But they can be signs that the attempt to stretch with every fiber of your creative being is taking place. As long as it’s being contained, and no one is being rude or dismissive of each other; as long as everyone is conscientious of the other beings in the room, then some raw nerves can be tolerable. Because we’re trying, damn it.

And that is always a welcome sight, no matter the results.

11:48a.m. – GMR
I walk in [on rehearsal] as Rob RB explains, “And now we’re washing hands so we can suck on fingers” followed quickly by, “Are you OK with syrup, Kaleb?”

And oh is there finger sucking…

Rob, “And I want pancakes, too.”

In the first throes of staging, “I think lick the tip. Lick the tip a couple of times.”

This is blogging gold, “Can you slide it out? But don’t make that pop sound because that’s too dirty.”

“That grunt is great.”

12:14p.m. – JA
Random line quote:

“I feel like a lesbian milking that cow.”

Dunno when it comes in, dunno who says it, but that’s a line that will be uttered this evening.

[media-credit id=3 align=”alignright” width=”200″]Amy Poisson[/media-credit]
Amy Poisson directing in a corner of ACT's Allen Theater
12:16p.m. – EVB
Evocation; to conjure a spirit or ghost.

14/48 has such a history now that whenever this process happens it is more than just creating theatre. It is more than just working hard on something for 12 hours. It is more than just unveiling a drama or staging an idea.

It is an evocation. A summons to all that have come before and to all the greatness that we can become. We salute this craft of theatre. We rise up from the mundane and pedestrian, attempt to shake hands and mingle with the weight and cares of the treasure chests inside our souls. We unlock the hymns and jump from cloud to cloud for that brief instant of time that our evocations allow. Sometimes we fall short. Sometimes we only briefly leap. But sometimes we soar; when we do, we all bear witness to the collective greatness that lies within us all.

It is an honor.

12:31p.m. – GMR
I hear Andy J say, “OK, let’s start at [the line] ‘You know, for a guy with a such tiny dick he comes like a fire hose’, OK?”

There is a frog and a pony, guys. And they are puppets.

Lisa Branham, “Yeah, I’m glad my mom isn’t gonna see this one.”

Sam Hagen, “There’s magic in the air.”

12:31p.m. – EVB
Talking with the Mazen Award winner:

EVB-How is the second day going?

Kaleb HK-It’s pretty good, I’m in another group sex scene.

EVB-You did great work last night, putting your Kaleb stamp on another character. Kudos to you.

KHK-Thank you, tonight might be the first time I just play a regular character. Nothing too over the top on this one, which is a challenge for me.

EVB-Any other thoughts or pieces of wisdom?

KHK-This whole process brings wisdom to you at the most awkward moments, and you think that there is nothing left and it gives you a little seed.

EVB-Cool.

KHK-I’m not even sure what that means, but it’s a seed so it’s going to grow into something and probably in six months I’ll know what that wisdom is and what I took from this weekend.

1:56p.m. – EVB
Talking with producer/artist liaison Shawn B.

“I’m sorry, but girls fighting is good theatre. I like that.”

3:30p.m. – JA
Tech has begun.

Things are moving a little slower today, as opposed to yesterday’s energetic focus…This might become an issue as groups start running out of time. Just finished with this observation when stage manager Miranda P calls out “four minutes!” A flashback transition is rehearsed a couple more times.

[media-credit id=3 align=”alignleft” width=”300″]14/48 Band: Stringed Instruments[/media-credit]
A handful of the many guitars used by the 14/48 band.
4:56p.m. – MC
The band techs for a gazillion hours. Each of the seven shows gets a half-hour tech, with the band serving as the glue for all of that on-stage genius.

Tech is busy for the band – a steady stream of in-show cues into outros into intros into who knows? Seriously, these guys and gals are on their toes for all of tech, looking for that sweet spot where the directors’ faces light up and actors match blocking to sound cues they’ve never heard before.

Fortunately, this band is chock full of pros, as evinced by this interchange between two band members:

“Did you say porn is in A-minor?”

“Always – porn is always in A-minor.”

5:29p.m. – JA
What is going on in this piece? We’ve got a hunchback, a mafioso, a straightlaced baker and Rhonda Soikowski as…the titular character (The Gingerbread Girl)…This has to be seen to be believed. Heard as well.

The band plays a very warm version of “When You Wish Upon A Star”…also the fifth iteration of ‘bow chicka bow bow” of the day. Or maybe the weekend. I’ve lost track.

5:55p.m. – MC
“No, it’s – chicka-wocka-chicka-wocka-chicka-wocka-brown-cow.”

“Those are technical terms.”

“Yeah, I learned that in the third year of music school.”

5:59p.m. – JA
Line uttered from on stage (from Quick Change):

“God invented actors so that prostitutes could feel better about themselves.”

Matt M, an off-stage (for the moment) peanut gallery: “But prostitutes get paid.”

[media-credit id=3 align=”alignright” width=”200″]Katie Driscoll [/media-credit]
Katie Driscoll looking over her lines in ACT's Buster room.
6:23p.m. – JA
The over riding sense among the crew right now is of conserving energy.

I’ve seen this before on Saturday, and it will make a quick turnaround the moment the audience lights go out. As dinner is served, performers essentially refuel with enough time to digest and give one final push.

Aimee B and Sarah MP walk through the stage, working out specific moments, making sure they both feel safe and nothing needs changing. Helen H is really pissed off at someone, giving a particularly animated bird flipping to the target of that anger.

And we’re out! Tech is over!

8:10p.m. – Brendan Kiley posting on the blog and on the Slog simultanously
[Encapsulating Matthew Richter’s opening speech:]

14/48’s like cracking an egg or cutting wood—the magic of seeing the new.

9:06p.m. – Post from a playwright
First half of the Saturday 14/48 went exceedingly well. To the lighthouse! Beloved cows! Sweet elderly love! Sinful syrup! God I love 14/48.

– EVB

Sunday
12:41p.m. – Post from a playwright
Thank you 14/48 for always pushing me to the point where I swear I will never do it again, then past that point, all the way up until the point where I wish we could do it every weekend.

That is a good process. My brain and body are the “good kind of sore” that you get after you’ve had a really long workout. You feel pain, but it’s reward-pain.

I never last long at those Saturday night after-parties. I always try but once it’s all over, the shut-down process is pretty quick for me.

– Celene R

4:01p.m. – Post from a playwright
This past weekend was probably the most insanely exhausting weekend of my life. I had a bunch of other stuff to fit into the already wonderfully unreasonable of the 3 days, resulting in putting in a pair of 18-hour days. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I always have a fantastic time at 14/48, but this last weekend seemed to be the best yet. Great shows, everyone! Great band! Great casts! Great directors! Great designers! Great greatness!

We return now to the nap already in progress.

– Eric LB

10:20p.m. – Post from a playwright
Thank you for an amazing weekend 14/48!

– Juliet WP

11:55p.m. – Post from a photographer
The role of photographer at 14/48, at least as I decided to play it, is one of perpetual benign voyeurism. Constantly roaming the halls of ACT, looking for beautiful moments, or dramatic moments, or inspiring moments. I would flit from room to room, watching the rehearsal process unfold. I would hover over the random draws, photographing people’s reactions as they saw the play they’d be directing, or acting in, or designing for. I narrowly missed catching one of the designers as she raised her fists in the air, triumphantly exclaiming, “I get to make BOOBS!” I did manage to catch a shockingly beautiful photo of Samie D gazing straight into the lens in her lighthouse-keeper drag, with the bright Saturday light of the Buster’s room window streaming around her. Her comment when I showed her the picture: “I look tired.”

[media-credit name=”Ian Johnston” align=”aligncenter” width=”300″]Samie Detzer[/media-credit]
Samie Detzer rehearsing Juliet Waller Pruzan's The Lighthouse Keeper

There are so many beautiful scenes happening during 14/48, it’s essentially impossible to describe. I caught a few of them, so I got yer 1000 words right here and all, but there are many more I couldn’t quite capture, or didn’t have the camera ready for, or simply didn’t see because I wasn’t in the room. Every human emotion was on display, from some of the finest actors I’ve ever seen perform.

[The second weekend of 14/48 begins again tonight at ACT, with the first performance taking place on Friday at 8:00p.m.-ed.]