Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Laura Sturm directs Phantom Pain

Laura Sturm celebrated having a new acting student unaware he would be one of her greatest challenges. The man had a goal. He had a desire. He had a cane. A student needed eyesight to make observations and perform movements. Laura had many questions, but all resulted in the same answer. It is impossible to teach these techniques to a blind person. Laura was determined to make possible the impossible. As he who benefited from Laura’s determination, I wrote about it.
Laura Sturm Movement

The beautiful and talented, Laura Sturm continues to bring the best out of talented artists. I asked her some questions about the play she is currently directing. Phantom Pain by Barbara Lhota. This world premiere production, which runs March 15-April 2 at The Greenhouse Theater, stars Lisa Herceg, Pamela White-Raines, Stephanie Sullivan, and Kristen Williams.

Q: Barbara Lhota has written 200 plays and has had 60 productions.
 Is this the first time you’ve been involved with a production of one of her pieces?
LAURA: No, I have been an actor in a couple of staged readings of her play GIRL FOUND, also set in Detroit.   I have also been an actor in her short play, 85 Billion Neurons to Forever, produced with Women's Theatre Alliance and Other World Theater's Paragon Fest.  I know she's working on developing that into a full-length, and I hope to be involved in working on the development of that with her.  

Q: What drew you to Phantom Pain?
LAURA: A number of things really - it's a play focused on a group of vibrant, interesting women who aren't just wives, mothers or sexual objects; the idea of looking back at the past and how it shapes you, both in your life and historically; reminiscing about the 70's and 80's; the exploration of different perspectives from different characters (liberal vs. conservative); and of course, the racial issues that spring up in the show and how each character reacts to them.  These conversations need to be had, and I'm not sure they are.  I don't think this show preaches, and yet watching it, you learn something and really have to think about some things.  No character is 100% good or bad - all have their strengths and flaws - Each character is very multi-dimensional, and I love that.  Plus Barb's writing feels real to me - it's how I talk, in my world, so I am drawn to that as well.  She adds a lot of humor to the tough stuff, which makes it all that much more poignant, from my perspective.

Q: Is there extra excitement or anxiety because it’s the world premiere production of Phantom Pain?
LAURA: Both, really.  We've been working since long before rehearsals started to get the best version of the script, and then each week, Barb would watch rehearsals and send changes.  We cut a lot of excess away and pared it down quite a bit.  So, it takes a little more time than just rehearsing a play that won't change at all, and you're always asking - should we have cut that?  Should we have left that in?  And yet, it's so exciting to be the first folks to really fully actualize the piece - the final script that remains will have pieces of all of us in it, and that's kind of a legacy, isn't it?  Even if no one remembers that but Barb.  :)  With a new play, there's the excitement and anxiety over how people will respond to it - you just never know, which is a little scary, but it's also really exciting when they do respond positively. 

Q: How much did you lean on Chicago based Barbara Lhota during the rehearsal process?
LAURA: She was at the majority of the rehearsals.  If I had a question about what something meant, instead of hypothesizing what the playwright meant, or researching it and making a choice, I just asked her.  Sometimes she would answer specifically and other times she'd tell me to make the choice that made sense to me.  Barb is an incredibly giving playwright.  Plus she's incredibly knowledgeable and a lot of fun!!!

5. What excites you about the performances Lisa, Kristen, Pamela, and Stephanie will give?
I feel so fortunate to have been able to assemble such a strong cast.  All of these actors are really dedicated to the truth of the moment in their acting, which is enormously important for me.  They get uncomfortable when they miss the honesty in the moment, and are constantly working to achieve that, so it really doesn't happen that often.  I feel that I'm just helping shape that honesty for the audience, so it is clear and interesting.  They have also developed into quite a lovely team - you see them each supporting each other and going out of their way to help each other out onstage and off.  I think this team of women, with their wonderful truthfulness and the intimacy and vulnerability they allow themselves to achieve, will allow the audience to fully immerse into and enjoy this very intimate piece, almost as if they were sitting in the living room themselves!

PHANTOM PAIN
Playwright: Barbara Lhota
Director: Laura Sturm
Organic theater
March 15, 2017 - April 2, 2017, Wednesday to Sunday

http://organictheater.org/

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Amanda In NBC Crossover event

Amanda Marcheschi is a beautiful actress, model, singer, dancer, and teacher. She is one of the nicest, kindest, warmest people I have ever known. For over ten years, she has been one of my dearest friends always encouraging, supporting, and inspiring me. Since November 2015 Amanda has played Nurse Dina on Chicago Med which airs on NBC. The show is part of Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise which includes; Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, and Chicago Justice. Starting Wednesday, March 1, the franchise will feature an epic four show crossover event. Amanda as Nurse Dina will be in the middle of all the action.

Amanda Marcheschi as Nurse Dina from Chicago Med will appear on an episode of Chicago PD on Wednesday, March 1 at 8P.M. Eastern/7P.M. Central on NBC.

Please follow Amanda on Twitter at:

AmandaMarches

Monday, February 13, 2017

Money Make Em Smile

I was nervous. Then I met her and my anxiety increased. Not only was I about to audition for a play, I was about to do so alongside a talented and beautiful actress. She put me at ease. After my audition, she insisted I did well. As I sat next to her, the director offered me the role. I was thrilled to be cast. I was even more excited that I would get a front seat to watch such a wonderful actress be amazing. Katie Bellantone proved to be all that and so much more. From day one, I was speechless each time she took control of the stage. I learned plenty by observing her. She was kind, warm, and charming. She inspired, challenged, and motivated me to be a better actor and person. Katie Bellantone was truly the most important and influential person for me in that production.

Katie Bellantone can currently be seen in Her Story Theater’s Money Make Em Smile at the Greenhouse Theater. This piece is theater about youth for youth. Money Make Em Smile tackles the subject of sex trafficking. The average age of a child sold into the world is twelve years old. The average number of years a young person lives this nightmare is seven years. Her Story Theater shines a light on this dark subject while educating young people. One may think sex trafficking happens to other kids in other countries. Chicago is the third largest hub for buyers and sellers.

Money Make Em Smile is must see social justice theater. Katie Bellantone is a must see beautiful, talented, magnificent actress!

Money Make Em Smile
The Greenhouse Theater Main Stage
2257 N. Lincoln Ave
Chicago, Il 60614
Tuesday, February 14 to Saturday, March 10
10:00A.M.

For more information and to buy tickets:

Money Make Em Smile

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Freedom: Is This A Thing?

On Monday, February 13, 2017 the monthly live lit show, Is This A Thing returns to Chicago's O'Shaughnessy's Public House. Storytellers write and perform a piece based on the assigned theme for that month's show. For February, the theme is Freedom. The piece can be comedy or drama. It can be whatever the storyteller wishes. Mainly, it should entertain.

I will be one of the performers at this Is This A Thing event. You should come. Whether by yourself, with a date, or group of friends, you will have a splendid time. Here is the information.

Is This A Thing
O'Shaughnessy's Public House
4557 N. Ravenswood Ave.
7:00p.m.
FREE

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Serving The Sentence At Fillet Of Solo

I am excited that later today I will perform in Serving The Sentence at Fillet Of Solo. Serving The Sentence is a monthly live lit event where performers are given one sentence with which they must begin their stories. The stories can be funny, dramatic, fiction, nonfiction, read, memorized. Fillet Of Solo is a long running festival celebrating storytellers. This is the first time I have been selected to participate. I am thrilled that so many of my friends are performing throughout the three week event.

The word is that today's event is sold out, however some limited standing room only tickets remain. Serving The Sentence begins at 5:30p at Heartland Studio 7016 N. Glenwood in Chicago. For more information or to reserve some tickets at the last minute, please visit:

Fillet Of Solo

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Kimberly's The Selfless Mile

In 2010, I ran my first ever marathon. The Chicago Marathon. Not knowing what to expect and not having proper training, I gutted out 26.2 miles in five and a half hours. I ran the final twenty-two miles with a severely sprained ankle. In 2011, I registered for Chicago again. Surely, I could run faster. It had special significance as I dedicated my race to dear friend, Michelle. I met her while in college. At such a young age, she lost her life to cancer. Through the power of Twitter, several women who worked for Imerman Angels One-On-One Cancer Support introduced themselves and encouraged me to run on Team Imerman. As a result of being a runner and fundraiser for IA, I had access to training with NJOY Racing. Owner, pro Ironman triathlete, Kimberly Shah, welcomed me with open arms. After only twenty minutes of knowing me, she offered to guide me for the marathon.

This is Kimberly's story of that experience. Thank you, Kimberly!

The Selfless Mile

Monday, January 9, 2017

Laura Sturm Movement

After writing several short films and a full length screenplay, I felt it was best to register for acting classes. I researched various schools reading about courses, instructors, and techniques. I researched experiences and biographies of instructors, administrators, and board of directors. Eventually, I came across Laura Sturm. Almost instantly, I knew I had to meet her. I made an appointment to meet with the school’s Artistic Director. A few days later, I attended a party where one of the co-CEOs of the acting school introduced himself to me. After we spoke for a bit, he suggested I meet with Laura Sturm. He felt Laura and I would connect. Sure enough, within minutes of meeting her, I knew I needed to study with her. She felt similarly.

I struggled mightily. Laura could not get through to me. Years later, I learned she contacted mentors, teachers, and colleagues for guidance in how to best help me. All agreed that Laura had to realize there was a reason blind people did not study the Sanford Meisner Technique nor Lloyd Williamson Movement. There was not a way to accommodate the requirements to fit a blind person. Laura insisted on creating a way. Eventually, she realized that life caused me to build walls to protect myself from pain, injury, and heartbreak. To successfully connect with me, she would have to remove my wall one brick at a time. We were in this together and we would succeed together. one week, I would take one giant leap forward. The next week, I would regress. I was frustrated and angry. If she was, she never displayed it. Laura was always positive. She encouraged me placing her arm around me knowing I was emotionally fragile. She believed that one day it would fall into place and I would make my much anticipated break-through. It took much longer than I expected, but Laura did it! She broke down my walls, reached inside of me, and pulled out the artist. Artistic Director, Ted Hoerl noticed that Laura’s efforts took me from nothing and going nowhere fast to placing me on the edge of being an artist. Ted said, “Laura brought you to the edge. Now it’s up to you to believe in yourself and leap!”

I always feel so touched when Laura Sturm attends a performance of any show I do. I continue to be grateful for all her effort and belief. To this day, I live to make her proud each time I am on stage. To learn about the type of work Laura did with me, I point you to an article PerformInk published. Laura Sturm wrote the piece. This is the movement class I took with Laura.

Laura Sturm PerformInk