updates connected to the book Idylls for a Bare Stage
& to performances of the Idylls
& other initiatives related to the Art of the Poetic Monologue

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Performer Profile: Rachel Morrissey, and SAGP panel "Fear and Anger"

As mentioned in the last post, I'll be coming up to New York this weekend to participate in a panel on "Fear and Anger" at the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy conference. 

I'll be staying with friends Rob and Jayne Zweig.  Rob is author of the memoir Return to Naples and Professor of English at CUNY's Borough of Manhattan Community College.  The two performers profiled earlier this week, Kimberly Mikec and Genna Davidson, will stay with Rachel Morrissey, who will play "Leda" on October 22nd, as well as on November 20th at the Athenaeum.

Rachel Morrissey in "Leda" by Anne Ashbaugh

Rachel Morrissey - "Leda" in Anne Ashbaugh's soliloquy

      Included in the book Idylls for a Bare Stage is an introduction discussing the technique I developed over time in working with actors to perform the pieces effectively, to engage "the poetic" and packed language while falling neither into the cliches of poetic "wispiness" nor into the rhetorical bombast of theatricality.  A new - or, old-new - theory of acting and theatre emerged, based on the form of the Idyll itself, yet also relevant and useful to any poetic, or packed, monologue.

     So, in developing the acting theory and techniques along with developing the Idylls for production, I've also developed affinitive works for production.

      Anne Ashbaugh - the host of SAGP's "Fear and Anger" panel - and I met through Furniture Press publisher Christophe Casamassima, and we quickly discovered coincidental interests.  It wasn't too much of a surprise when in response to a discussion about my pursuit of an acting technique for the Idylls, she told me of a poetic soliloquy on Leda she'd just completed - of course, such synchronicity was only natural!  And her soliloquy was/is perfect for our purposes.

     For her to prepare for the part, I asked Rachel to research and get comfortable with her choice of one or two depictions of Leda and the Swan from paintings throughout the ages - she ended up with a vast collection found online, and was comfortable with it all (which is saying much, if you've seen the direction some of these images can take).  She doesn't stint in commitment to delving into the meaning of this story.  Rachel finds her her way into the vast roiling mixture of emotion and implications in Ashbaugh's quick tight piece, resonating and rolling through the multiple levels with which Leda has to take her fate, and new knowledge:  the bestial, the carnal, the human (of human love), and the divine.

     Rachel Morrissey is an actress and storyteller, member of The Actors' Center of Washington D.C., who has recently moved to Manhattan to study as a graduate student in the Media Studies department of The New School.

Along with presenting performances of two idylls and one soliloquy at the SAGP's panel, I'll be talking on Heraclitus' Doctrine of Strife - with "fear and anger" taken as elements of the world dynamism - from my book, Heraclitean Pride.

Heraclitean Pride


2pm. Saturday October 22nd, at Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus,
60th St, & Columbus Avenue.  (Panel attendees need to register to get a badge in order to move around the SAGP conference, but it's free to do so).

Rachel Morrissey will also appear as Leda on November 20th at the Athenaeum, and present as well another monologue relevant to the Idylls approach.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Idylls previews in New York this coming weekend - Actress Profiles: Genna Davidson and Kimberly Mikec

The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy (SAGP) Conference
Saturday, October 22nd  Fordham University - Lincoln Center campus 
2pm  "Anger and Fear" panel

Thanks to philosophy professor Anne Ashbaugh, author of Mythopoiesis, I've been invited to participate on a panel at the SAGP conference this weekend, and to present performances of poetic monologues.

Two Washington D.C.-based performers, Genna Davidson and Kimberly Mikec, will drive up with me on Friday, to meet a third, Rachel Morrissey, who has moved to New York to attend the New School since beginning the Idylls project with us this past summer.  All three will perform at the panel, as well as at the November 20th event in Alexandria.

Right now I'll profile the two making the trip up from the D.C. area:

Kimberly Mikec in "A Sorceress Casts a Spell on Her Faithless Lover"

Kimberly Mikec - "Simone" the Sorceress in Idylls

      The Sorceress Idyll is the form most closely taking off from the original form by Theocritus.  My version tracks Theocritus' version as well as Virgil's, while reinterpreting both the scene and the form itself.  Kimberly's interpretation of her character has been fascinating for me - my "Simone" already had some contemporary twists on the ancient Greek Simaetha, and now she has been given a cute geeky goth cast to her personality, Kimberly's inspiration for making sense of the deliberate-but-difficult contradictory and anachronistic elements of the piece. Meanwhile, Kimberly's approach to creating the scene out of thin air in great detail demonstrates the Idyll's connection to earlier Mime, and indeed Theocritus' Simaetha Idyll was also known as one of his "urban mimes."

     Kimberly Mikec plays a staffer in "Game Change," an upcoming HBO movie, starring Julianne Moore. In addition, she has performed in various plays and musicals in the United States and Germany. She has played major roles in in such plays as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," "The Real Thing," "Plaza Suite," "Trojan Women" and "Diary of Anne Frank."

Genna Davidson in "Antigone Buries her Brother's Body Against Orders of the King"


Genna Davidson - "Antigone" in the Idylls

     The Sorceress Idyll exemplifies the form as I've reinterpreted it from Theocritus and its evolution from Mime; that is why it kicks off Idylls for a Bare Stage both as book and as theatre (when presented in full). 

     The piece Genna has taken on is a compression of the Antigone tragedy into a packed and smoldering new form;  it pushes the Idyll to its limits, and Genna has evolved her performance to fill the form every instant and convolution of the way, intensely.   I think, through Genna, Antigone can be made understandable to us like never before.  Her own performance-process working through of an understanding of Antigone's decision and dilemma recently brought her to a fantastic aphorism during rehearsal:  "Not to pollute the self with a weaker action" - Genna Davidson

     Genna Davidson is a professional actress in Washington, DC. She has performed with Deviated Theatre, dog & pony dc, The Bay Theatre Company, and numerous Capital Fringe Festival shows. In addition to acting, she plays violin/fiddle with her band, The Josh Drews; she's a puppeteer with Wit's End Puppets; and she's hoping to be a Linklater Voice teacher one day. Some of her favorite onstage experiences include being an apprentice clown for 500clown, and playing fiddle for a workshop production of The Rude Mechanicals' I've Never Been So Happy when it was performed at Arena Stage. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2008 with a BA in Theatre Performance.


New York friends have a chance to see us at the 2pm panel (the performances won't begin until close to 3pm), Saturday October 22nd, at Fordham University, Lincoln Center Campus, 60th Street and Columbus Avenue.  Panel attendees need to register to get a badge in order to move around the SAGP conference, but it's free to do so.

And of course, Washington D.C. Metro -area friends will have a chance to see Genna Davidson and Kimberly Mikec in action, as described, on November 20th.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Triple Launch Party – November 20th, 2011 7pm at The Athenaeum

Welcome.  I’ve set up this site in order to announce, give details to, and provide updates on performances and events associated with my book/theatrical piece Idylls for a Bare Stage.

Save the Date

The D.C. release event takes place on November 20th, and will feature performances of several Idylls and of other relevant works by other authors, plus music, and general celebratory good times.

Enter the Mindscape of 
a Sorceress and a Saint, a Horse and a Captive Woman
A Mother feeling her estranged daughter's labor pains 
Antigone burying her brother's body
Palamedes (inventor of numbers, alphabets and lighthouses)
and Leda (after the swan)
and more 

Featured Actors’ Center performers planned for this evening:  Margaret Anthony, Genna Davidson, Carol McCaffrey, Kimberly Mikec, Rachel Morrissey, Paul Morton, Harlie Sponaugle, and Sue Struve.

Musical Guest is Old Songs, with Mark Jickling and Chris Mason - planned for this evening, songs taking us from the art of poetic monologue to the art of poetic insult, their versions of the raunchy and caustic 6th century B.C.E. poet, Hipponax

This is a triple launch:  1), for the book publication of Idylls for a Bare Stage;  2), for the production and presentation of the Idylls, featuring actors from The Actors’ Center of Washington D.C., to be performed in various contexts and venues throughout the next year or so, at least;  and 3), for the producing entity, Sui Generis Literary Performing Arts Lab.

The Sui Generis Literary Performing Arts Lab (or, SiGiLPAL) is my in-progress framework for creating approaches to acting the Idylls and developing the Art of the Poetic Monologue, as well as a progression from experiences I had as director of the Yockadot Poetics Theatre Project 2005-2010.  As showcase and incubator, Yockadot concentrated on “Poetics Theatre”;  SiGiLPAL continues that exploration, adding to it an interest in Poets’ Theatre from whatever traditional or avant-garde sources, plus openness to any poetic or text-centric/language rich performance and theatre pieces by artists working along affinitive lines. 

None of this could be possible without The Actors’ Center of Washington D.C. and, for our first event (and perhaps more to come), the Athenaeum and its organization, the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Association.

The show will begin soon after the 7pm arrival time (please see side panel for event details and map - and yes it is 7pm, that "8pm local" note is probably something that will correct itself at Daylight Savings Time);  please arrive on time so that you won't miss any of the performances.

Hope to see you there.

M. Magnus