August 20, 2009

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Letter from backstage
New grad and Nashua native Lauren Duffy finds professional theater experience in NH
By Lauren Duffy letters@hippopress.com

Lauren Duffy is a Nashua native and a 2009 graduate of Keene State College with a BFA in studio arts. Duffy apprenticed for mask-maker Agostino Dessi in Florence, Italy, in 2007, and she was the artistic director of student film Selection in 2009. She is pursuing a career in design for theater and film. She wrote this about her summer experience at The Barnstormers Theatre in Tamworth.

About five months ago I met Bob Shea at the New Hampshire Professional Theatre Association Auditions and Interviews, and I had no idea what I was getting into. He’s the producing artistic director for The Barnstormers Theatre (and directs the Dana Center at Saint Anselm College in Manchester during the school year).

I decided right when I heard that The Barnstormers was one of the longest-running theaters in the country and the only theater that still runs eight shows (one per week) in the summer stock season that I was in love. Now I am officially the assistant to the costumer, Sandi King. I also assist the props person and the painter — on those days, I am called “the swing.” 

In the costume shop, I pull costumes from our stock, do alterations and fittings, and do more laundry than I ever wanted to do in my life. Props assignments usually involve a project someone else is unable to do. I’ve made a log out of Styrofoam, and did blood stage effects for Deathtrap. I do most of the upholstery and other little craft projects. I also paint sets -- mostly on my days off, I touch up furniture, or base-coat flats. My favorite paint project was a marble fireplace.

Barnstormers, I find, is all about the pace. In the sleepy little village of Tamworth, N.H., there sits the barn, newly whitewashed and wonderfully quaint. Just across the street is the inn-pub-swimming pool and only restaurant in town. The “Other Store” is more of a tourist stop serving breakfast and lunch … less of a store really since you cannot buy groceries there. More frequently we weigh the option of the 30-minute drive to the grocery store, hardware store, clothing store or pharmacy, or just going without.

Barnstormers folks often come from Massachusetts or New York and auditions are in Boston for Equity actors, but there are others with local ties, like this season’s carpenter, Jesse Lee Egan Porier, a Nashuan pursuing a B.A. in theater at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
The first night of our arrival Dane Leeman, our Technical Director [see “Curtain Calls” in the Aug. 13 Hippo to learn about the musical Leeman co-created opening in New York this fall], brought us on a trip to the Sandwich Creamery in Sandwich. Our two cars started out on the road, headlights illuminating the path, with us talking and laughing. Dane’s brake lights came on and we slowed down, then came to a stop. Mike and I in the second car were confused. We exited the car and there in the road were two trees. Pine trees.

Any sane bunch of young people would leave the 25 feet of wet, massive tree in the road and drive away. Our crew is not that sane. We pushed those trees out of the road, snapping the remaining wood clinging to its stump. We wanted ice cream. That is the pace of summer stock theater.

A little-known fact about the people here at Barnstormers is that they are all phenomenal. Not a bad seed in the bunch. Most of the time I am shocked; other times I realize that it is a long-standing Barnstormers tradition to only hire kind, sweet, fun-loving people, which adds to the magic of the place.

Making my way in the door here was the best thing I could have done. I’ve learned that I want to focus on scenic design and painting and props, and I’ve been able to make industry connections in Boston. 

Currently, I am following some leads and intend on applying to some theaters with scene shops. Many theaters contract out to shops like New City Scenic, which is one company that has caught my eye in Massachusetts. It is quite possible that I will pursue work designer Janie Howland got me interested in: helping to create a props warehouse located near Boston, supported by a community of theaters. It sounds like something that I would like to try and get off the ground and it’s close enough that New Hampshire theater and film could use the facility.

The Barnstormers season is almost over, but there is still plenty of action to catch. — Lauren Duffy


At The Barnstormers
The remaining shows at this summer stock company, co-founded in 1931 by Francis Cleveland, son of president Grover Cleveland, are these:
I Love You Because, a musical by Ryan Cunningham and Joshua Salzman based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, through Aug. 22.
On Golden Pond, by Ernest Thompson (the famed play for which the movie version was filmed on Squam Lake in New Hampshire) from Aug. 25 through Aug. 29. (An Ernest Thompson visit is a “maybe.”)
• Where: The Barnstormers Theatre, 100 Main St., Tamworth
• Tickets: $15-$29. Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays
• Contact: 323-8500, www.barnstormerstheatre.org.

8/13/2009 Curtain calls

8/6/2009 Curtain calls
7/30/2009 Finding direction
7/23/2009 Theater on the grass
7/16/2009 Germany, France and England
7/9/2009 The Bard and Disney!
7/02/2009 Robots!
6/25/2009 Curtain calls
6/18/2009 Altered souls
6/11/2009 Curtain calls
6/4/2009 Curtain calls
5/28/2009 This one time at theater camp ...
5/21/2009 Curtain calls
5/14/2009 Curtain calls
5/7/2009 Review:Actorsingers produces The Producers
4/30/2009 Journey to and through Motherhood
4/23/2009 Concord does the Full Monty
4/16/2009 Courtroom drama
4/9/2009 Scotland- bound
4/2/2009 Curtain calls
3/26/2009 The original sitcom
3/19/2009 Palace to produce The Producers
3/12/2009 British farce and new romantic comedy
3/5/2009 Curtain calls
2/26/2009 Serious stories
2/19/2009 Curtain calls
2/12/2009 On Golden Pond writer honored
2/5/2009 Divorce and death
1/29/2009 Red carpet?
1/22/2009 Curtain calls
1/15/2009 Money, powqer and family
1/8/2009 Offer your two cents
1/1/2009 Tapping into the spotlight
12/25/2008 Curtain calls
12/18/2008 BIg things that come in envelopes
12/11/2008 Curtiain calls
12/04/2008 Remains of an affair
11/27/2008 Ballet — not for the faint of heart
11/20/2008 Mary's new home
11/13/2008 Company, Secret garden and Doubt
11/6/2008 That Broadway sound
10/30/2008 Curtain calls
10/23/2008 Busy theaters
10/16/2008 All in one weekend
10/9/2008 Merrimack Rep at 20
10/2/2008 Curtain calls
9/25/2008 Curtain calls
9/18/2008 Stage sports
9/11/2008 Second Life to the rescue
9/4/2008 Curtain calls
8/28/2008 Tennessee Williams at Weirs
8/21/2008 Change for the moment
8/14/2008 Curtain calls
8/7/2008 Wicked experience
7/31/2008 Merry tales
7/24/2008 Review: the great outdoors
7/17/2008 Curtain calls
7/10/2008 Musical monsters
7/3/2008 Curtain calls
6/26/2008 Curtain calls
6/19/2008 Summer stock
6/12/2008 Curtain calls
6/5/2008 This one time, at drama camp...
5/29/2008 Curtain calls
5/22/2008 Making it big
5/15/2008 Curtain calls
5/8/2008 Curtain calls
5/1/2008 Forging ahead
4/24/2008 The Bard, condensed
4/17/2008 'Balance' in Bedford
4/10/2008 Curtain calls
4/3/2008 Singing for a cause
3/27/2008 These aren't recitals folks
3/20/2008 Albee at MRT
3/13/2008 Murder and rhinos
3/6/2008 Murder and rhinos
2/28/2008 The art of theater criticism
2/21/2008 Breaking the cycle
2/14/2008 Curtain Calls
2/7/2008 NH Theatre awards sixth year
1/31/2008 Elvis fans and ghost stories
1/24/2008 Building an audience
1/17/2008 Curtain Calls
1/10/2008 Fate of Annicchiarico
1/3/2008 A little confidence
12/27/2007 Stage notables in 2007
12/20/2007 If all they want for Christmas is two good seats ...
12/13/2007 Summer stock vs. southern NH
12/06/2007 Curtain Calls
11/29/2007 Curtain Calls
11/22/2007 Broadway composer and actress hit Granite State
11/15/2007 One-man play turns audience into students
11/8/2007 Curtain calls
11/1/2007 First times
10/25/2007 Curtain Calls
10/18/2007 Curtain Calls
10/11/2007 American History
10/04/2007 Active in the community
9/27/2007 Stringing single
9/20/2007 Curtain Calls
9/13/2007 Free range
9/6/2007 Curtain Calls
8/30/2007 Curtain Calls
8/23/2007 Curtain Calls
8/16/2007 Curtain Calls
8/9/2007 Curtain Calls
8/2/2007 That deaf, dumb and blind kid
7/26/2007 Potty humor
7/19/2007 Ease on down the road
7/12/2007 Jekyll vs. Hyde
7/5/2007 If it's free, it's for me
6/28/2007 Transformations
6/21/2007 Curtain calls
6/14/2007 No really, you'll get it
6/7/2007 Curtain calls
5/31/2007 Curtain calls
5/24/2007 Putting the camp in camp
5/17/2007 Curtain Calls
5/10/2007 Curtain Calls
5/3/2007 Curtain Calls
4/26/2007 Still going strong
4/19/2007 Vietnam the the Palace
4/12/2007 Confluence
4/5/2007 First look
3/29/2007 Reluctant star
3/15/2007 In a town far away
3/8/2007 Curtain calls
3/1/2007 Into the future
2/22/2007 But will it play in New Hampshire
2/15/2007 Curtain calls
2/8/2007 Family affair
2/1/2007 Curtain calls
1/25/2007 Curtain calls
1/18/2007 Curtain calls
1/11/2007 Curtain calls
1/4/2007 Fork in the road
12/28/2006 Standout performances of '06
12/21/2006 Curtain Calls
12/14/2006 Players remember Peter Bridges
12/07/2006 Young talent
11/30/2006 Lighthearted farce for the holidays
11/23/2006 Curtain Calls
11/16/2006 Good theater
11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
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08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An†actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palaceís Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad itís over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
Itís cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesnít lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxiís driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Playersí Solidarity is solid gold
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Playing with manís best friend
Proud of the Peacock
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Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
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Short-Attention Span Theater
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Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
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The Drawer Boy
The Festival
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The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace
Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to Ďnight Mother