Meet the Actors: Jillian Landolina

Last, but not least, in our “Meet the Actors” series is Jillian Landolina!  Jillian played Hnossa in Mythology Project II (Norse myths) and plays several roles in Myth Project 3!

Jillian Landolina, on bench, rehearses with the cast of Myth Project 3.

Name: Jillian Landolina

How did you get started in theatre?  An ensemble role in a town production of High School Musical at age eight.

Favorite theatre memory (if you care to share!): Directing my first show, Proof by David Auburn, in my junior year of high school.

Number of years acting: Ten.

Number of Mythology Projects you’ve participated in: Including this one, two!

How is this project different from past projects? I feel that we as a cast have taken more risks and have an even more fully-explored show because of it! I think also the acknowledgement of us being a troupe of actors assuming roles adds to the show.

Favorite myth or fairytale (of all time) and why is it your favorite? Any story about humans becoming trapped in a fairy ring or in the faywild. It serves as a reminder that even things that seem innocent, innocuous, or even cute and charming can have a darker edge to them, and on the flip side, empowers innocence and charm.

Favorite mythological creature/character of all time and why is it your favorite? The goddess Artemis! No matter who is telling the story, she is universally recognized as free, powerful, and capable. I find her greatly inspiring.

Favorite myth in Myth Project 3 and why: The story of Inek and the North Wind– I appreciate the message that spunk and resourcefulness will lead to triumph!

What’s your super power? Recalling useless and obscure facts. Possums rarely get rabies because their body temperature is too low for the disease to incubate.

Why should audiences come to see the show?  For the perfect blend of comedy and information, and for a surprise at the end!

One image that really captures the essence of Myth Project 3 for you:

One song/sound that captures the essence of Myth Project 3 for you: Hungry Like the Wolf– Duran Duran

Devising is ________: Devising is theater in its purest form- creative energy flowing between actors and directors until it takes form.

Thank you, Jillian!  The Mythology Project III will be performed August 16-18 (Thursday-Saturday), 2018 at 8PM at the Windsor Art Center, 40 Mechanic St. Windsor, CT!

Meet the Actors: Michael Daly

Up next in our “Meet the Actors” series is Michael Daly.  Michael has been with the Myth Project since the very beginning!

Michael Daly as Father Time in the first Mythology Project.

Name: Michael Daly

How did you get started in theatre?  Windsor summer theater when I was 10 years old. I was cast in a speaking role and got bitten by the theater bug.

Number of years acting: Since I was 10….sooo….30 years.

Number of Mythology Projects you’ve participated in: All of them!

How is this project different from past projects? Past Myth Projects saw the gods and characters interacting with the audience themselves. This year, being a “junk trunk” style show, the interaction with the audience is being done by the troupe (players). It seems minor, but it changes the dynamic of the ensemble quite a bit.

Favorite myth or fairytale (of all time) and why is it your favorite?  Too many favorites. I shall pick one. The Pygmalion myth from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. I have always loved the idea that Pygmalion knew what he wanted despite being told to “settle” on something lesser. He did not waver and sought his ideal. His passion was so moving that Aphrodite herself granted his wish. Which, ironically, also makes Pygmalion a complete hypocrite about renouncing women!

Favorite mythological creature/character of all time and why is it your favorite? The Baba Yaga is a new favorite. Riding a mortar and pestle through the sky while sweeping a broom behind her is a visual I will always love.

Favorite myth in Myth Project 3 and why: Vassilissa.  Unlike Cinderella, Vassilissa truly gets her revenge on the evils of her step-family and the catharsis winds up being much greater.

What’s your super power? Every moment of my life has an associated movie quote, whether people around me understand or not!

Why should audiences come to see the show?  These myths are very human and very dark. They don’t wear kid gloves when making warnings or showing the moral. The darkness of the mythology mixed with the light-heartedness of a troupe of storytellers seemingly “messing around” is a lot of fun and I think audiences will be taken up in that feeling.

One song/sound that captures the essence of Myth Project 3 for you:  Doll Parts by Hole.

Devising is _____: Devising is improvisation inside of a structured idea. To devise, you’re looking for the essence of the story or the point you’re making and wrapping words and actions around getting to that point. Improvisation begins this process, but doesn’t require that there be structure at the end. Devising is the track that keeps improvisation headed toward the common goal of the story structure and doesn’t just result in a punch line.

Thank you, Michael!  The Mythology Project III will be performed August 16-18 (Thursday-Saturday), 2018 at 8PM at the Windsor Art Center, 40 Mechanic St. Windsor, CT!

Meet the Actors: Nicole Morin

Up next in our Meet the Actors series is Nicole Morin!  Nicole joined the second Mythology Project halfway through rehearsals to fill in for another actor and was amazing! She has been with the Mythology Project ever since!

Nicole Morin (right) plays stepsister Daria with Mason Beiter in Myth Project 3.

Name: Nicole Morin

How you got started acting: Kennedy Jr. High School’s production of You’re Only Young Once

Favorite theatre memory: Playing Susan in Ira Levin’s Veronica’s Room

Number of years acting: 25

Number of Mythology Projects: 2

How is this project different from past projects? I got to participate in the devising process this time!

Favorite myth or fairy tale and why: The She-Wolf, because she plays the long con.

Favorite mythological creature: The Phoenix, because it always comes back.

Favorite myth in Myth Project 3 and why: The Vampire, Marusia has a really good support system (when they don’t die).

What’s your super power: I am a cat whisperer

Why should audiences come see the show: It’s a great chance to learn about mythology they may not be familiar with in a fun way!

Image that captures the essence of Myth Project 3:

Song that captures the Myth Project: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NmCCQxVBfyM

Devising is: So fun and such a great opportunity for improv!

Thank you, Nicole!  The Mythology Project III will be performed August 16-18 (Thursday-Saturday), 2018 at 8PM at the Windsor Art Center, 40 Mechanic St. Windsor, CT!

 

Meet the Actors: Lisa Ives

In the days leading up to opening night, we’ll be taking some time to introduce you to the Myth Project actors!  Next up is Lisa Ives!

Lisa Ives plays the Baba Yaga in Mythology Project III.

Name: Lisa Ives

How did you get started in theatre?  Bucket list item, I am a late starter

Favorite theatre memory: The feelings I had after my very first show.

Number of years acting: 5

Number of Mythology Projects You’ve Participated In:2

How is this project different from past projects? The format is one of an acting troupe putting on a show, with much breaking of the third wall!

Favorite myth or fairytale (of all time)? Hansel and Gretel

Favorite mythological creature/character of all time and why is it your favorite? The Baba Yaga! A powerful, and wise woman who can be both evil and good.

Favorite myth in Myth Project 3 and why: Sadko, it’s a story of rags to riches love and loss, and you aren’t sure how it ends…

What’s your super power? The willingness to act or appear ridiculous.

Why should audiences come to see the show?  Great actors, some laughs, some tears, pancakes!

One image that really captures the essence of Myth Project 3 for you?

Woodcut style image of the hut of the russian witch Baba Yaga standing on chicken feet

One song/sound that captures the essence of Myth Project 3 for you: The Song of Sadko

Devising is ________: like being a kid ,dreaming up anything and everything!

Thank you, Lisa!  The Mythology Project III will be performed August 16-18 (Thursday-Saturday), 2018 at 8PM at the Windsor Art Center, 40 Mechanic St. Windsor, CT!

Meet the Actors: John “Mason” Beiter

In the days leading up to opening night, we’ll be taking some time to introduce you to the Myth Project actors!  First up is Mason Beiter!

Mason and Jillian Rehearsal
Mason Beiter (right) does a scene with Jillian Landolina.

Name: John “Mason” Beiter

How did you get started in theatre? Grade school needed more guys in the drama department. I fit the bill and I enjoyed it ever since.

Favorite theatre memory: My most memorable moment in theatre is falling off of the balcony in Romeo and Juliet.

Number of years acting: 8 years, I think.

Number of Mythology Projects you’ve participated in: First one #newblood

Favorite myth or fairytale (of all time) and why is it your favorite? The Odyssey, it’s a large epic with elements of Greek myths in there.

Favorite mythological creature/character of all time and why is it your favorite? Cerberus because it’s a three headed doggo.

Favorite myth in Myth Project 3 and why: I really enjoy the story of Vassilissa. It’s kinda like the Slavic version of Cinderella. I had the most fun portraying that particular story.

What’s your super power? High anxiety levels and occasionally funny.

Why should audiences come to see the show?  It’s a very different show which has you expand your suspension of disbelief. Five actors are playing around fifty different characters! These range from humans, creatures, animals, objects, and many more so we’re breaking the rules a bit here. We were forced to get creative and have fun, which we hope the audience will enjoy.

One image that really captures the essence of Myth Project 3 for you: That’s a tough one. I’d say anything with all five of us on stage. We all bring something different to the table and we use it. We build on each other’s strengths which is what the show’s all about.

One song/sound that captures the essence of Myth Project 3 for you: Come Together by the Beatles, Aerosmith, or Gary Clark Jr. (Take your pick they’re all awesome)

How would you define devising? Divide and create. Bringing together many small ideas to form one big one.

Anything else you want to share? Stay away from the Baba Yaga

Thank you Mason!  The Mythology Project III will be performed August 16-18 (Thursday-Saturday), 2018 at 8PM at the Windsor Art Center, 40 Mechanic St. Windsor, CT!

Weeks 2 and 3: Putting It All Together

The past two weeks have flown by!  In week 2, we focused on blocking (staging) the show.  Blocking is always fun because the actors finally get to be on their feet and try out their characters’ physicality. Blocking can also be one of the most challenging times because we are figuring out the logistics of entrances and exits.  Often, we’ll try a moment several different ways.  Just like a writer has a first draft, blocking can have a first draft too. In this process, our draft keeps getting refined right up until opening night!

Blocking rehearsals.

Week 3 was all about editing -both the script and our staging. Thanks to the generosity of Hampstead Stage Company, we were able to borrow some beautiful costume pieces.  Just like with past projects, the actors will be wearing all black and adding simple costume pieces for each of their characters.  In this show, the actors play upwards of 50 characters in an hour!  So, as you can imagine, staring to incorporate the costumes into our run-throughs involved even more logistics.  As we worked through each of the scenes, we also started to realize lines that could be cut or trimmed, as well as props that could simply be mimed.  There were details that we realized were better to leave to the audience’s imagination.

We ended the week with a stumble-through of the show -the first time we ran the entire show start to finish. Stumble-throughs always have their “stumbles”, but it always feels so good to see an outline of what the entire show will be like.  Now our job going into Week 4 and performances is to run the show as much as possible and continue to refine.  We are so excited to see how the show grows in the next week!

Week 1: We Have a Script!

It’s been a fun three weeks between those first few rehearsals.  I left Windsor with a notebook full of ideas, video clips from rehearsal, and copies of our favorite myths for reference.  Armed with all this, I wrote down a first draft of a script for us. The script is a living, breathing thing that will change as we go, but there is something grounding about seeing it all down on paper, almost like we’ve written a map, so we don’t get lost in the “creepy, dark forest” on our way to staging the show.  We may still decide to follow the handsome woodsman (or any shiny object really!) off the path but that’s our choice and at least we have an idea of where we are going.

My favorite development from Week 1 is that we created a song for the show!  One of the stories, Sadko and the Kingdom Under the Sea, is about a musician, so we thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could sing his story instead of tell it?”

The cast devising the “Song of Sadko”

Well, one of our actors, Michael, who is also a talented musician, told me if I wrote lyrics, he could help us figure out the music.  So, we did it!  The process of creating the song was really fun!  Michael played a bunch of different styles and then we all tried to improvise melodies/ways to fit in the lyrics to the melody, some of the lyrics changed and adapted on the way.  The result is a blast, complete with a catchy chorus if I do say so myself.  There is still definitely work to be done, but we are so excited to have a myth project first: a song!

Stay tuned for next week when we begin staging!

Taking Shape

The show is starting to take shape! Here’s what we’ve been up to at our three “planning” rehearsals.

I assembled a list of about ten Slavic myths, which we read through during our first rehearsal.  The reading rehearsal is always a blast because there are moments that stand out way more when read aloud then when read on your own.  It’s also fun to hear the actors’ first reactions if they have not read the stories before.  Usually these rehearsals involve coffee and/or yummy treats from Get Baked, the coffee shop right across from the Windsor Art Center, which makes this rehearsal extra fun in my book.

After reading through all the myths -which took the first rehearsal and some outside time, we narrowed down our favorite myths to the ones we would ultimately weave into the show.  When deciding which stories to pick, we thought about the myths that would be the most fun to perform, including which had the most interesting characters. We also looked at which stories might “go” together -for instance, many of our favorite stories were set in forests (of the menacing fairytale variety), which we knew might help to tie the story together later.  We also thought about characters/themes that were specific to Slavic mythology that we just HAD to have in the show.  For us, this was the Baba Yaga -we knew we wanted to do a story that involved her because she is so interesting! We also knew that we didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to weave in some of the Slavic folklore about vampires and werewolves.

The stories we chose are as follows with a brief synopsis (without giving too much away!).

Vassilissa 3
Vassilissa the Beautiful by artist Jan Pienkowski

Vassilissa the Beautiful: A Cinderella story.  A young girl is sent into the forest to get light from the Baba Yaga, a witch said to eat children.  She is sent by her cruel stepmother and stepsisters who are jealous of her beauty.  Luckily, she is armed with her mother’s blessing, in the form of a magic doll.

The Vampire: A mysterious young man appears at a town dance and sweeps a beautiful maiden off her feet, until she learns the truth of his identity…

The She-Wolf: A werewolf variation that begins at midnight in an abandoned mill…

The North Wind:  A young girl, Inek, is abandoned by her father in the woods on a cold, snowy night when she meets the North Wind, the King of Winter himself!

Sadko
Sadko and the Tsar of the Sea by artist Evgeny Bashmakov

Sadko and the Kingdom Under the Sea: Sadko is a talented young musician who, though he is poor in wealth is rich in heart.  He plays his music for his one love, the River Volkhov, until one night his music is heard by the Tsar of the Sea…

During our two remaining planning rehearsals, we began devising and creating possible scenes for the show.  Now, armed with a notebook full of ideas, video clips from rehearsals, and copies of our chosen myths for reference, I have the fun job of writing out a first draft of a script!  Wish me luck!

It begins!

Welcome!  And thank you so much for stopping by!  This behind-the-scenes blog is supported by a grant from the NewAlliance Foundation.  Our goal in writing it is to share our process in creating the third installment of the Mythology Project, share some more information about “devising”, and hopefully allow anyone who visits the blog the chance to enjoy the work we are doing, even if they cannot physically make it to the Windsor Art Center for the show (though I hope you will join us!).

The Mythology Project (Myth Project for short) has a rich history, which I encourage you to read more about here.  For a quick crash course: Each installment has focused on creating a new short play inspired by a different mythology.  In 2015, we focused on Greek mythology.  In 2016, we focused on Norse mythology.  This third installment will focus on Slavic mythology. The plays are created from scratch through a process called “devising”, a creative collaboration which we hope to go into more detail about on this blog.  Mark you calendars: the performances will be Thursday-Saturday, August 16-18 at 8PM.

This project is done in collaboration with the Windsor Art Center, a gallery and performance space housed in an 1800’s freight house in downtown Windsor, CT.

Before we dive full into our rehearsals, I wanted to take a moment and introduce some of our key players: Our actors! I am happy to announce that we had a successful round of auditions in May and June and I am delighted to share that the cast for the third installment of the Mythology Project is as follows:

John “Mason” Beiter (Suffield)

Michael C. Daly (Windsor)

Lisa Ives (Bristol)

Jillian Landolina (East Granby)

Nicole Morin (Middletown)

I’ll be directing this awesome group and inviting you along for the ride on this blog.  Stay tuned!

Mythology Project III

Myth Project 2 FB Event
Photos from the second Mythology Project, which explored Norse mythology.   Photo credit: Michael C. Daly

I am so excited to share the creative process of the third Mythology Project in the coming months!  Stay tuned to this blog for all the behind the scenes details about the making of this new short play inspired by Slavic mythology!

In the meantime…

Information about the history of the project can be found here.

Thanks so much for visiting!

Amanda P.