IMPULSE

What is Ensemble-based Theatre?

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As you get to know me, you will notice I tend to use a lot of sports analogies when explaining my thoughts. I find the complexity and artistry of certain sports very comparable to theatre life.

With that out of the way…

Imagine a football team. Championship caliber.

The quarterback drops back and throws a screen pass to the slot receiver. The receiver, running a slant route, catches the ball and turns up field and 30 yards later, he scores a touchdown.football

That’s ensemble theatre.

You were focused on the two players. Yet it was the team play that scored the touchdown.
The offensive line protecting the quarterback.
The tight end and other receivers placing blocks to clear the route.
The coaches recognizing the defense and calling the correct play to exploit it.
The advance scouts watching game film and noticing team tendencies and communicating back to the coaches for practices.
The head coach trusting his players and coaches to make the right plays and calls in the right situations.

And so on…

For one touchdown.

The experience of Ensemble-based theatre is no different.

 

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I love the feeling of trust and collaboration you get within an ensemble. Ensemble theatre starts from the director, artistic staff and designers collaborating on the initial vision of the project. Next we add the actors, and we dive into the piece, together.

Utilizing table work and an open dialogue, the entire artistic team helps to form the project. The production team and technical crew will help to turn that vision into a reality and finally it’s the operational staff and audience that fully form the ensemble we have been building.

Ensemble Theatre is based on trust and the power of the unit. It’s knowing that every person in the room not only matters, but is invaluable to the production as a whole. It starts from the spark of an idea and continues through the last audience member leaving.

We hope these productions will memorable and transformative for all involved.

Blood. Sweat. Tears. Be prepared to leave it all on the stage.

I tell you what…The sheer talent of an ensemble, working together, trusting each other and giving their all?…They can do amazing things.

Let’s be amazing together.

Have you checked out our Gofundme campaign, yet? That’s the first way to show your support as we embark on this new adventure! http://www.gofundme.com/imprinttheatreworks2017

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– Joe
Co-Artistic Director
IMPRINT Theatreworks

Q&A with Board President, Shane Beeson!

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This week, IMPRINT’s President of the Board, Shane Beeson, sat down to answer our survey questions. Check it out!

 

How did you come on board of IMPRINT Theatreworks? 

Ashley and Joe texted me the following exchange:

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Artistic Directors, Joe and Ashley with Shane Beeson

Ashley: Shane!  Joe and I would like to chat with you about a business opportunity with Imprint.
Joe: This is not a Timeshare presentation…  Unless you’re into that kind of thing.
Shane: …What is Imprint?

And there you have it.

They pitched me over drinks on the back patio at the Katy Trail Outpost in Plano, and the rest is history.

What is your artistic background?

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Shane Beeson

I was in my first show at my church, Preston Hollow Presbyterian, when I was 8.  I did some children’s theatre, but took a break for the most part in high school.  My love of acting was re-ignited when I spent my senior year in high school touring with an educational outreach company sponsored by Planned Parenthood of Greater Dallas called Teenage Communication Theatre (T.A.C.T.).  I also had quite a bit of intense training at Rhodes College in Memphis under the great Cookie Ewing and the late, great Tony Lee Garner.

Pretty much right out of college I toured with the professional Shakespeare company based at Theatre Memphis called ShoWagon.  I performed HamletMacbeth (is it bad luck to type it?  It probably is… awesome.), Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar in rep at age 23.  Not a bad experience!

These days, even though I have an awesome day job, it’s really flexible so I still perform quite a bit here in DFW.  The show I just closed (oddly enough, the Scottish play again, my first Shakespeare since those ShoWagon days of 23 years ago), was my 82nd play.  I’m only like 400 behind B.J. Cleveland!

 

What is a favorite role you’ve played?

Come on, now, too hard to limit to one.  Give me 3.  Howie in Rabbit Hole (performed it twice already and hope for more shots at it…such a complex and rich play, that one).  Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet.  And the Pilot in Jeff Swearingen’s adaptation of The Little PrinceLaughter in the Stars, opposite my son, Jaxon.

What is one of your favorite experiences as an audience member?

I can limit it to 3 again.  (3 is the magic number.) In 2004, seeing Brian Dennehy, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Sean Leonard and the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman in a Broadway revival of Long Day’s Journey Into Night.  In 2008, seeing the original Steppenwolf/Broadway company of August: Osage County.  I saw a Saturday matinee of this three hour plus show and if there would have been tickets available I absolutely would have watched it again that night and again the followin

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Shane with his wife Katrin & son Jaxon (16)

g day.  And finally, sitting in the Richard Rogers Theatre on a Saturday night in March of 2016 with Katrin andJaxon and seeing every single member of the

original Broadway company perform the greatness that is Hamilton.  Absolutely life changing.  It was 16 months ago, and I still have visceral, emotional reactions thinking about what I saw and heard on that stage that night.

What excites you most about IMPRINT?

I just think the theatre has a clear vision and a great mission statement. I work really well with both Ashley and Joe.  We think along the same lines when it comes to powerful, ensemble-based performance that is grounded in truth.  From the early reaction of friends and colleagues, I think we’re onto something.

What is one of your favorite lines or lyrics from a show? 

This one took me a while. I have to go back to Hamilton, a line from the song “Hurricane.”  Whenever I need a real shot in the arm, a dose of inspiration, it never fails to do it for me.

I wrote my way out of hell.
I wrote my way to revolution.
I was louder than the crack in the bell.
I wrote about the Constitution and defended it well.
And in the face of ignorance and resistance,
I wrote financial systems into existence.
And when my prayers to God were met with indifference,
I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance.
-Hamilton

 

Who, living or dead, would you love to get to work with?

One of my theatre professors, Tony Lee Garner, was mostly a musical  and choral guy, but I saw him perform in plays a couple of times and he was mesmerizing on stage.  I would, quite simply, love for him to direct a play I was in.  As far as those still with us, I’ll give Joe’s hometown some love and go with Jeff Perry, a Chicago actor.  Yes, he’s great as Cyrus on Scandal but as mentioned above I saw him in the original Broadway company of August: Osage County.  Just a ferocious actor…be it in a somewhat cheesy, prime time soap opera, or a Pulitzer prize winning, heart wrenching play.

Share a random fact about yourself.

Again, the magic number is 3.  I’m a 9/11 survivor.  I’ve been in a show with Jessica Simpson, playing her ex-boyfriend.  I have a fear of most homemade baked goods.


Which SATC Character are you
?

I honestly didn’t watch the show.  My apologies.  I’ll guess Sarah Jessica Parker’s character. *googles* Carrie.  Yep, that’s it.


What is the last show you binge-watched?

13 Reasons Why.  Bad, bad idea as the parent of a sixteen year old.

 

Stay tuned for more posts and exciting news! Have you checked out our Gofundme campaign, yet? That’s the first way to show your support as we embark on this new adventure! http://www.gofundme.com/imprinttheatreworks2017

First Impressions…

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We keep getting asked – and it’s one of the things we are most excited about…. so I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk to you a little bit about our plans for the First Impressions Project.

 

In short, the First Impression Project is an opportunity for local playwrights to have their pieces workshopped, heard, and seen within a developmental and professional setting.

What does that mean? 

As an ensemble-based theatre company, we believe collaboration and openness are integral to development and want to provide outlets and opportunities for creators to bounce ideas, work new thoughts, find inspiration, and utilize available resources within the community.

IMPRINT’s aim with The First Impressions Project is to provide access to those resources.

How are we doing that?

Well, a few ways. First, we will be offering a festival of new works, which you’ll hear more about in the coming months. The goal is to feature new works of local playwrights, read by local actors, and to open the door for these writers to get their pieces heard at an early stage, prompting discussion and development within a safe and nurturing environment.

We will also be offering prime placement within each season to one candidate. That playwright will work with us over the span of year as we set up workshops, internal readings, as well as feedback sessions with local actors, producers, and directors. The culmination of this will be a weekend of staged readings at the conclusion of our Season, showcasing the developed work. Additionally, this show can then be optioned to be included as a full-scale production in IMPRINT’s following Season. Pretty cool!

Through this project, we are hoping to unite artists, encourage collaboration, and shine a light on the incredible writers and creators we have right here in our metroplex.

It’s so easy to focus on great works that were born in other cities… and we will of course be including those in our Seasons… But we felt it was so important to also dedicate a significant portion of our Seasons to our amazing local writers. We are passionate about this city, about our community, and about our community’s ability to make amazing art.

So, let’s show the world what DFW has to offer – and let’s do it by starting at home.

We will be accepting submissions for the First Impressions Project soon, so stay tuned!

Have a question about the First Impressions Project or IMPRINT? Contact us!

Have you checked out our Gofundme campaign, yet? That’s the first way to show your support as we embark on this new adventure! http://www.gofundme.com/imprinttheatreworks2017

Ashley H. White
-Ashley
Co-Artistic Director
IMPRINT theatreworks

 

 

Q&A with Co-Artistic Directors

Co-Artistic Directors Joe Messina and Ashley H. White sat down to answer a few questions about themselves, their history, and a little trivia:

 

Tell us a little about your background?

Joe: I wanted to be James Bond. Pure and simple. So I had to become an actor. Unfortunately I wasn’t tall or British…so there went that. But I loved the craft at an early age and continued, as most do, throughout high school and college. I had a great education at Columbia College in Chicago. Most of my teachers were working professionals in Chicago at Steppenwolf, Goodman and particularly Second City. 

After school, I was given an opportunity to join the creative team at the Jedlicka Performing Arts Center. As the institution’s Creative Producer/Managing Director I was able to produce and/or direct several plays and musicals. It was a working education like none other. Several of the productions were premieres, which allowed me to begin learning to collaborate with authors directly on bringing their works to bring to life on our stage. It was during this time, I started a creative friendship with master farceur Ray Cooney. He taught me so much about comedy, drama and even running a theatre (as he ran one for ages in London). Trust, Honesty and Collaboration. Those were his keywords for success in farce and drama.  After JPAC, I co-founded the BrightSide Theatre with some good friends. It is still going strong today.

My nutty family (Kathy and our two boys, Mike and Tommy) moved to Dallas not too long ago and have loved it here ever since. It is such a vibrant, creative city with so much to offer, and so many opportunities to make your mark. Ashley and I see one such opportunity for IMPRINT.  

 

Ashley: I’ve been involved with Theatre since I was four and began directing when I was 19. I grew up in North Texas, but really came to my own after I moved to New York City at 17. I attended acting school there and then lived and worked in the city for several years. That’s where I met my husband, Aaron, and where I really began to understand who I was as an artist.

It was serendipity that led me to directing in 2004, when I was asked to Assistant Direct a show for the New York Fringe Festival, even though I’d never done it before. It was during that process that I had a moment of clarity I’d yet to feel in my artistic career. I’d found my home, and I began to pursue directing and study it as much as I could.

In 2008, we moved to Dallas, got married, and haven’t stopped since. I directed my first show in the DFW area in 2010 and have been actively working locally as a Director, Fight Director, and Movement Specialist for the past seven years. We had our son, Miles, in 2016. He lights up my life in ways I never could have imagined.

 

How did you guys meet?

Ashley: It was in 2013, when Joe auditioned for a farce I was directing.

Joe: After living in Dallas for three years, I finally decided to audition for my first show. I saw a familiar title and went for it.

Ashley: He’d just moved here from Chicago a few years earlier. You’d been itching to get back in, though…

Joe: Yes. But it’s like going to a new High School. You don’t know anyone. It can be a daunting task.

Ashley: So, yes! In comes Joe, whom I’d never met or seen around before and within the first minute of his audition, everyone in the room was laughing and nodding. It was one of those experiences where, as a director, you’re just like “YES.”

Joe: I’m there, and I think my cold reading goes well. Luckily, I had done the show 20 years earlier and it was a favorite of mine. At the callback, Ashley, who I didn’t know at all, gave me some direction and feedback. I thought…”She really gets this, this could be fun”

Ashley: Yep! So he got cast, and the rest is history.

Joe: To add one last moment, when I knew we clicked. The Window scene. You gave me free reign to play and come up with my own stuff. That was early on in the rehearsal and that trust meant so much.

Ashley: Well, you earned it. Haha. Joe and I quickly found we shared a language and mutual appreciation for ensemble-based techniques and finding truth in comedy. It was fun to bounce ideas off each other and we were able to establish a great connection and rhythm as actor and director that has followed us through every show we’ve worked on together. It was an instant friendship that eventually evolved into what is now IMPRINT.

 

What is one of your favorite moments working in theatre?

Joe: I have had the sincere pleasure of having so many amazing moments. From seeing/performing with incredible actors on stage, to working with talented writers/directors behind the scenes…But it is the small intimate moments that stand out. When each of my sons finally got to see me on stage performing for the first time.

Ashley: Oh gosh, I have so many. I’ll say one of the most meaningful. I have a tradition I do with my casts every show, following Final Dress. I won’t tell the full tradition because it’s very special and personal, but I will say that it involves each of the cast members reciting their favorite line from the show. When I was doing It Runs in the Family, my lead, Chris Taylor, raised a glass of champagne, looked around at the cast, and said his character’s line: “I’ve obviously been a very lucky man.” He delivered it so sincerely. It was just such a powerful moment and great commentary toward what we are so fortunate to get to do through theatre. I get a little choked up every time I think of it. (Joe: I was in that show, too… my favorite line which I said, was “You naughty pussy…” so…there we are in a nutshell.)

 

Favorite line or lyric from a show?

Joe:I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is called a disgrace; that two are called a law firm, and that three or more become a Congress!” – 1776

Ashley: “Don’t be afraid it won’t be perfect. The only thing to be afraid of, really, is that it won’t be.” – Company

 

What’s one of your favorite memories as an audience member?

Joe: Where to begin? I have been blessed to be able to have seen so many great shows during my life…I was especially lucky to experience so many great shows featuring great actors, directors and writers growing up in Chicago and traveling.

A few stand out…

In high school, a group of us saw the original production of Grapes of Wrath at Steppenwolf. If there was a show that capsulized our vision with IMPRINT, it’s this one. The ensemble, the raw emotion and the honesty. Nothing was left backstage, everything they had was on stage.

Seeing the revival of Inspector Calls in London might be one of the most glorious nights I’ve had in a theatre. A simple chamber room whodunnit was turned into a searing commentary on class with a production design so original, you gasped at each individual invention. A masterpiece by director Stephen Daldry.

But sometimes it’s who you are with that makes the experience unforgettable. Seeing Beauty and the Beast in London, and Lion King and 1776 on Broadway with my wife (while we were dating) are moments that will always make me smile.

 

Ashley: Again, so many. I’ll say three: One, here in Dallas, was seeing Uptown Players’ Production of Next To Normal in… 2011, I believe? That show was just so so powerful and beautifully done.The performances were so honest and the entire audience became a single unit experiencing the show together. It was a remarkable night and I often think back to it as one of my favorite shows I’ve seen.

Another, this time in New York, is when my husband and I went to see Bridges of Madison County on Broadway. We were walking down the street and on a whim decided to see if there were tickets available, and there were. We hadn’t done our research, though, and didn’t realize until we were sitting in the audience that it was Opening Night (How we got those tickets, I’ll never know)! Being in the room for Opening Night of a Broadway Show is electric – it was such a cool vibe. At final curtain, they brought Jason Robert Brown (music), Marsha Norman (book), and Bartlett Sher (director) onto the stage and everyone was just hugging and kissing, and it was like you were in the room where dreams came true as it was happening. Very cool experience.

Last… seeing Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot on Broadway. Their artistry and craft is… I mean, there are just no words for how dynamic they are. Watching them bounce back and forth, engage with each other, and their interpretation of the script was a master class. I wish I could see it 100 more times, and I know if I could, I’d still notice something different every show.  

 

Who would you love to work with…living or dead?

Joe: I would have loved to act with Peter O’Toole and Richard Harris on stage in London and get a pint before, during and afterwards with them.

Ashley: Lucille Ball. She’s my dream. What she did for women in television and comedy is legendary and I would have loved to get to witness her process.

 

Share a random fact about yourself.

Joe: I have been to Disney World every year with my family since 2004. Um…I like Disney.

Ashley: I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer nut and will make you watch it with me if you tell me you’ve never seen it or aren’t a fan.

 

Throwback! Which Sex and the City character are you?

Joe: Miranda 100%

Ashley: Haha! I’m going to say Carrie with a splash of Samantha

 

What is the last show you binge-watched?

Joe: House of Cards Season 5

Ashley: The Magicians on SyFy. It was intense!

 

Stay tuned for more IMPULSE posts coming soon – and if you haven’t yet, check out our GoFundMe to help support our first Season! http://www.gofundme.com/imprinttheatreworks2017