Theater Conservatory Confidential: You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello!

Bay Area actor Eli Diamond continues his chronicle of his first year at NYU…

Leaving is always a hard thing to do.

It’s even harder when your flight gets canceled.

The day before I was supposed to leave, I said a warm, heartfelt goodbye to the most important people in my life. Unfortunately, the next day, my plane was canceled, leaving me with the most awkward of awkward days. That day was spent doing the one thing I was not expecting to do: hang out with my parents. Honestly, it was a much nicer time than I had expected, especially as I had ignored my parents most of the summer to hang out with my friends. We ate lunch together, watched television, and did all the things I was usually too busy to do. A few days later, after finally landing in New York, I finally said good-bye to them as I moved into my dorm.

Moving into my dorm was a relatively painless process, despite having 3 suitcases, two bags, and a microwave to carry up three flights of stairs. All in all, it took about a half-hour to move everything in, and another half-hour to unpack. My roommates all proved themselves to be incredibly nice people. One of them, Nathan, has helped me numerous times already on all sorts of fronts; unpacking, taking care of a few friends, waking up in time for orientation.

Orientation was, for lack of a better word, completely pointless. I wish I could lie and say I was thoroughly captivated and entertained, but instead, I was the guy sleeping with his head on a friend’s shoulder, constantly looking down at my phone to see if I had received any new texts. We tried to talk about an unappealing book, The Tiger’s Wife, but it got too dull for my group to even say anything. It was just a bunch of us, sitting in silence, checking our phones. However, during that meeting, I did make another good friend.

Actually, making friends has been surprisingly easy since coming to NYU. It seems that wherever I go, there are people willing to hang out. For example, last night, I hung out with my roommates for a bit, then I went across the hall and hung out with four people over there, only to have a couple of guys knock on their door and invite me to a Breaking Bad marathon a couple of doors over. Even today, while I was heading to lunch on my own, a couple of people who I never met before introduced themselves to me and invited me to sit at their table. So, even though I miss everyone from San Francisco (i.e. my parents, my girlfriend, my old high school compadres), it’s been wonderful to meet all these people.

Now, I just have to wait a week for class to begin. Tuesday, Sept. 4th cannot come soon enough.

Check in every other Friday to see how the prodigal son navigates his first year as a theater student.

Next Up At Theater Pub!

Something is Rotten at the Café Royale!

A one night only event celebrating all things HAMLET, “Hamlet and Cheese on Post” combines the Hamlet we’ve come to know and love with a riotous dose of comedy and fun.The evening features a staged reading of Richard Curtis’ “Skinhead Hamlet” and Shel Silverstein’s “Hamlet: As Told on the Street”, (famously penned for Playboy Magazine back in 1998), plus original songs from dynamic duo McPuzo & Trotsky and other musical surprises.

To be there or not to be there? That is the question.

We think you know the answer!

Directed by: Molly Benson and Karen Offereins, starring: Mikka Bonel, Jaime Lee Currier, Nick Dickson, Michelle Jasso, Rik Lopes, Nathan Tucker and Geoffrey Nolan as Hamlet.

The show starts at 8 PM on Monday, September 17th, only at the Cafe Royale (800 Post Street, San Francisco), and as usual the event is FREE, with a five dollar suggested donation. Our friends at Hideaway BBQ will be serving up plenty of southern style treats starting at 6:30, so get there early as we expect to fill up and it’s the best way to ensure a seat.

Measure For Measure Has Closed…

…but we wanted to share this fabulous moment from last night’s final performance.

As happens in a bar from time to time, a glass will be dropped or knocked over. What’s always fun to see (assuming no one gets hurt, and so far we’ve been lucky) is how well our cast will handle these awkward moments. Yesterday’s happened mid-way through a scene between Lucio  (played by Neil Higgins) and Vincentio (played by Will Hand), and one of our founding directors, Brian Markley, caught the moment beautifully on video.

Notice in this first still, taken from the video, that no one (including Neil) has yet noticed the glass is on its way to beer stein heaven.

In this next moment, the damage has been done, and there has been a collective gasp, “Dear God! What will the poor actor do?”

Neil, however, is a pro, and without missing a beat in his dialogue, he bends down, collects the shards on the floor, piles them all together, shakes the Crispin cider (which was having a promotional event at the bar that night) from his hand, and just keeps going.

Shortly after this moment, Neil and Will alter their blocking to stand and move over to the bar, so the bartender can slip in, quickly mop the floor, and wipe down the table. What’s impossible to show here (but you can find the video on our YouTube channel) is just how seamless it all was. In fact, you might have never known it happened, except that on Neil’s exit at the end of the scene, he received a huge round of applause from an unquestionably impressed audience. It was one of those truly lovely moments that makes live theater such a great thing.

Join us on September 17th, when we return for a one night only performance of a Hamlet satire that’s been lovingly dubbed, “Hamlet And Cheese on Post”. Hopefully we won’t drop any glasses that night (and you won’t either), but there are bound to be all kinds of unique surprises you won’t want to miss!

Closing Night of Measure For Measure!

Tonight is the final night of MEASURE FOR MEASURE! Don’t miss it!

Starting at 8 PM (though we encourage you to get there earlier), the Cafe Royale (800 Post Street) is transformed into the streets and rooms of medieval Vienna, where a phony friar and a novice nun battle the local conservative aristocrats for the life of a young man who has gotten his fiance pregnant before marriage. It’s a sexy, funny, bizarre romp through one of Shakespeare’s lesser known masterpieces, boiled down to an action packed 75 minutes and featuring some of your favorite Theater Pub performers and a number of wonderful Theater pub debuts!

Could it get any better? Yes, because it’s pop up BBQ night.

See you all at the Pub!

Hi-Ho, The Glamorous Life: Don’t Call Me, Maybe

Marissa Skudlarek continues her madcap intellectual adventures around the San Francisco theater scene, and this week takes on that love-hate relationship with theater subscription that so many of us have in common.

I am a fickle, flirtatious woman. Like so many members of my generation, the so-called Millennials, I am commitment-phobic, perhaps to the point of caprice. I run around town, setting my schedule at the last minute, always in the throes of some new fling or obsession, always eager to see what’s out there, unwilling to settle for something less than optimal.

If you’re a more old-fashioned type, you’re getting fed up with my lack of faithfulness and the way I chafe when asked to follow a well-ordered schedule. Moreover, you’re wondering if maybe you’re doing something wrong, and asking how you can ever conquer my fickle heart.

Well, let me tell you something: it’s not you, it’s me. Actually, scratch that – it might have something to do with you, in that I’m just not that tempted by what you have to offer me anymore. But it also might be, as I said, my own disinclination to make long-term commitments. Theater companies of the Bay Area, unless I love you, I mean really love you, I’m not going to buy a subscription package.

(What? You thought this column was about my dating life? That’s a different story.)

I’ll tell you something, though, theater companies: when you lose me, you take it hard and you don’t give up easily. Especially if I pledged you my loyalty and devotion last year, but decided not to re-up on my subscription for next season. My goodness, the persistence you have in trying to win me back! But I’m too much of a coward to tell you flat-out, “I’m not going to subscribe this year.” Especially because I don’t want to burn bridges with you – what if, next year, you program a really sexy season of shows and I’m crazy about you again?

So I ignore your phone calls, Theater Company I Used to Subscribe To. I’ve got your number programmed into my phone and everything, just so that when it rings, I can see that it’s you, and not pick up. Call me a bitch if you like; I’ve heard worse from the homeless guy on the corner.

Some of you are more persistent and demanding than others, almost to the point of arrogance. All right, I can understand that if I subscribed to you last year, you want to see if I’m willing to make the same commitment again. But what about the theater company that I saw one show at, two years ago, and have been fielding calls from ever since? (It’s not even that I disliked the show, but the company in question is a bit out-of-the-way for me and I can’t commit to going there multiple times a year.) Or what about the theater company in Portland? I moved away four years ago, but they still call me occasionally to remind me of the good times we had together!

And, oddly, some of the biggest, most powerful folks in town are the most desperate for my money, my loyalty, my love. San Francisco Opera is bombarding me with emails trying to convince me to spend $325 on a gala opening-night ticket; ACT just sent me an email asking me to spend $500 to be on the host committee of their MFA benefit luncheon. Do I look like a lady who lunches? (My well-documented love of Sondheim notwithstanding.) They ought to know that I am young and certainly not wealthy, but they demand from me more than I can possibly give!

Yes, I do get irritated by some of you theater companies, with your puppy-dog faithfulness, your persistent phone calls, the outrageous commitments you believe I will make if only you badger me frequently enough. But generally speaking, I bear you no ill will. We’re in the same business, you and I, so I know how hard it is. I know that on the other end of the line is an overworked, underpaid young box-office staffer, which is why I feel it is more merciful to ignore the phone call than to break his heart by telling him “No, thank you.” But I’m a busy girl, and if I said yes to every suitor that’s after me, I’d be giving up too much of my time and money. I have to be discriminating.

Ideally, Theater Company, you’d realize that I still like you a lot – I’m just not on board with everything you have to offer. I might still spend a few evenings with you in the coming year, but I’m not ready to make a wholehearted commitment to you. A subscriber is, I suppose, a “friend with benefits.”  But, you know, I’m not ready for that. Can’t we be just friends?

Marissa Skudlarek is a playwright and arts writer. If you want to subscribe to her, she’s on Twitter @MarissaSkud.

Correction: The Plough and Stars Show starts tonight @ 8pm!

Our performance of Measure for Measure tonight at The Plough and Stars starts at 8pm, Eight O’Clock sharp! (This is a correction from the time listed on The Plough and Stars website.)

The show is free with a $5 suggested donation. No reservations required, but get there early to ensure a seat! Run-time about 75-min. Be there or be “nun”!

Julia Heitner as Isabella

Measure For Measure Returns Tonight!

Join us tonight and tomorrow for two more nights of Measure for Measure at the Cafe Royale at the corner of Post and Leavenworth!

And if you’re looking for something fun to do in the Richmond this Wednesday night, don’t miss Measure for Measure’s touring version, only at the Plough and Stars on Clement Street!

All shows start at 8 and are free, though we ask for a five dollar donation, and we tend to fill up so we encourage you to get there early to ensure a seat.

Don’t miss it!

Theater Conservatory Confidential #1

Today we launch a new on-going guest blog spot with Eli Diamond’s “Theater Conservatory Confidential”, a semi-monthly chronicle of this young and accomplished Bay Area actor’s first year as an NYU theater student. What will happen when West goes East for fame and fortune? Check in every other Friday to find out!

“Oh brave new world…”

As a young man growing up in San Francisco, I spent a lot of my time figuring out how to get into an acting career. I mean, everyone knows how to get into an acting career: You audition for shows, you (hopefully) get a part, you make connections, you leave. But sometimes things are not as simple as they seem. For example, how do you become a good actor? Is it just something you’re born with? Or is it something that can be taught? Is it something that it’s worth spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on? Is it something that you should consider getting a degree in? These are things that I hope to discover over the course of my college experience. But before that, I should look back on how I entered this strange, colorful, world of theatre.

Early on in my high school days, I started doing plays and musicals, as an arts credit. But where some people just stuck to the school-produced shlock, I went outside looking for some theatre. Over the course of my high school career, I performed in over 35 different plays and musicals; professional, youth, school-related, and otherwise. To put it bluntly, theatre had become my addiction. I surrounded myself with my cast-mates, former and current, and I spent every waking moment at a rehearsal for something or other. To give you an idea, I was in rehearsal/performing nonstop from May 2011-June 2012.

But then, my senior year of high school came, and the big question emerged: Where should I go to college? I already knew that I wanted to act, so I did my research, and I decided to apply early decision to NYU Tisch School of The Arts. One 5:30 AM audition, tons of paperwork, and $67,000 in student loans (kill me kill me kill me) later, and: Ta-dah! Elijah Diamond became enrolled in the BFA Acting program at the Atlantic School for Acting, a subdivision of Tisch.

From what I had heard, Atlantic seems to be a pretty big deal. It has a militant reputation, namely because they lock the doors to their classes 15 minutes before they begin. It also has a fantastic history, having been founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy. Numerous actors have been through there; actors who’s names you would recognize, but I admit to being too lazy to look up. All that I remember is that Jessica Alba went there, for better or worse.

Right now, I am preparing on leaving: Packing up my life, abandoning the world I know, and heading into the unknown. I leave for New York on August 23rd and will be filling this blog with my (legal) exploits. Hopefully, this will be full of interesting and exciting adventures. Worst case scenario: you all feel like you’re stuck in school again. But if this works well: You’ll receive an insider’s look on what it’s like to be an Acting major in the heart of New York.

Keep checking in every other Friday for Eli’s updates as he navigates his first semester at NYU.

Day of Play!

Actress and Theater Pub Artistic Director, Julia Heitner, talks about what it’s been like to bring Measure For Measure from the page, to the stage.

After 3 ½ weeks with just a few rehearsals per week, we’ll be performing an 80-min version of Measure for Measure starting tonight!

Will Hand rehearses like a champ.

I am playing Isabella, a novice about to enter a nunnery, who gets pulled into the plot when her brother Claudio (played by Vince Rodriguez) is condemned to die for knocking up her homegirl, Julietta, and so she has to go save his ass. I love Isabella’s fierceness, eloquence, and that her particular character flaw is never being able to hold her tongue. I also relate to her being a sort of outsider in the play, left to fight her own battles, always speaking her mind (no matter what the consequences, and oh- the consequences!), and clinging to an outdated moral code in a modern world. Plus, I get to say things like,

Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.
Mercy to thee would prove itself a bawd:
‘Tis best thou diest quickly.

I am excited and extremely nervous to be performing in this role and intimidated to be in the company of such talented and hilarious actors.

Linda Ruth Cardozo, Tony Cirimele and Neil Higgins intimidate Julia, just for fun.

We’ve been working hard, stress is high and after our tech/dress at Cafe Royale on Saturday, Sunday was our day of play.

Kirsten Broadbear and Tony Cirimele sure do love to play!

It was an unexpectedly sunny and beautiful day in downtown San Francisco, so we took over a space near the Children’s Creativity Carousel in Yerba Buena and started a line through, which quickly turned into an innovative outdoor run-through, turning the area into our stage/playground. Most everyone wore sunglasses, which enhanced the severity of our Provost (Tony Cirimele) and Aeschylus (Carl Lucania) and added to the devilishness of Lucio (Neil Higgins) and Angelo (Nick Dickson). I tossed a shawl over my head to serve as a makeshift nun’s habit and we were off!

As usual, Carl Lucania is asking God why he continues to put up with our nonsense.

A few passersby gathered to watch us circle around a metal globe structure, scurry up and down stairways to the raised walkway above, and, of course, spout the beautiful and hilarious words of Shakespeare. In the final scene, as I let rip at Angelo and called him names, I felt a pang of shame when I screamed out that he was a “virgin violator” while groups of parents and their children wandered past.

Passersby were even more baffled by Will Hand and Tony Cirimele talking about beheading people.

Favorite moments of the run-through include, the moment when Mistress Overdone (Linda Ruth Cardozo), no longer restrained by a tiny rehearsal venue, made a run for it when she was about to be arrested, forcing Escalus and the Provost to chase her down. Marianna (Kirsten Broadbear) put on some extra fabulous attitude as she revealed herself to Angelo during the play’s climactic face-off, and The Duke and Lucio engaged in an imaginary sunglasses-nose-pushing-clown-off.

I turned to Stuart in the middle of the final scene and said, “It’s a comedy!” and he sardonically replied, “FINALLY!”

Linda-Ruth waves while Stuart Bousel passes judgement.

We can now take this show anywhere. All our costumes fit into one trunk. All the actors could squeeze into two cars.  We’ll need this flexibility when we hit up The Plough and Stars on August 22nd, when we have to dive into a space entirely different from Cafe Royale with no rehearsal time.

The Duke Vincentio Curse: when comforting someone just makes them cry harder.

Want to book us for your birthday party? We’re also available for Bachelorette parties! Your BART ride home? You’ll love it, I promise.

Don’t miss the show, August 14, 20, 21 and 27 at the Cafe Royale, and August 22 and Plough and Stars! Showtime is 8 PM, so get there early! Admission is Free!