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Volleygirls, the day after

Monday, August 10, 2009 Leave a Comment

The event went really well! Thanks to everyone who made the trek on a grey day to support our work and share in Rob Ackerman's Volleygirls. Our extreme staged reading was a whirlwind process, but we landed in a good place, and thanks to the commitment of the cast, the reading captured a little of the kinetic thrill of Rob's play.

We'll be posting pictures and a deeper round-up, but I wanted to try something new on the blog by first directly soliciting feedback from the audience and artists who were there in the comments section: what did you like? Any performances or moments you thought were particularly successful? Any sets you weren't quite able to spike? Any thing we could've done to make the event run more smoothly? PLEASE post your responses in the comments.

As for me, I'm remembering many things fondly, but here's a few specifics:

1. Tiffany's Jess chastizing Isaiah's Xavier immediately after kissing him.
2. DeWanda's 'nice' face as Ingrid - it still makes me laugh when I think about it.
3. David's Phil and Jane's Carla rocking out to the Ladyhawk's cheers.
4. Jessica's delivery of "passing" as Marisol - a little detail that probably no one noticed but me - but she captured Marisol's conflict of needing to lead but being afraid of the consequences in that one moment (and throughout).
5. Cotton's "And I am by myself. All alone. Do you get that?" as Katie, the girl who has dominated everyone she meets, and by doing so, made herself entirely alone - in that moment, Cotton showed us the cost.

As for things we could have done better, I wish I'd taken Rob's suggestion for Jocelyn's entrance - she rocks out privately to some MJ before realizing she's being watched, then runs from embarassment - and I chose to have her notice the audience watching her. Despite Caitlin's hilarious and heartfelt cut-loose dancing, I think Rob's suggestion of having Katie (another character) walk by and notice her might have played more clearly - I had thought the convention of the audience being an equal partner in the play would carry the discovery, but I think Rob was right.

SO how about you? What do you think worked? What didn't? And THANK YOU again for everyone who showed their support!


  • almondtree said:   This comment has been removed by the author.
  • TMC said:  

    Tiffany here:
    Gus, I loved your vision and your direction on this project, it was clear and full of life. Working with everyone was FANTASTIC. Everyone had such a great spirit and was ready to work and give it thier all and to go with the process. Favorite moments... The Whole damn thing! Seriously. Thanks again to Rob for sharing his work with us, thanks to everyone who came out to support. Another favorite was the live music of Matthew Crosby with Christina Cone and Ward Williams they really rocked it!

  • Matthew Archambault said:  

    I had a great time playing with the cast on Rob's fantastic play. I realized in post-play conversation that I don't know of any other play quite like Volleygirls...not even in the same category!

    Here are some of my favorite moments of the night:

    Tiffany's raffle presentation chatter
    An amazing audience that played right along with us (Flux has the best audiences)
    The peanut butter balls
    Rob's (and his wife's) awesome enthusiasm for the reading
    The bartenders, who remembered names and were really, really cool
    The thrill of short, fast lines, with tons of action

    Thanks everyone!

  • Catherine said:  

    It was SO fun to do! I enjoyed playing a very different mom from Angel Eaters. I loved the energy everyone brought to the process. Yes, I loved the peanut butter balls, too. And the bar staff (and the Guiness they comp'd me!). I'd worried that it was being over-staged, but it worked really well. Kudos to all for the reading, and for the event as a whole.

  • Isaiah Tanenbaum said:  

    I loved so many of the one and two word deliveries. Particular standouts: Kelly's "Lo. Ser." Elise's "Depth." Jessica's "Secret." And especially Candice's "Soviet Union."

    And getting an affirming nod when I asked "is it wrong to notice girls?" Thank you for playing with me, random audience member!

  • Catherine said:  

    oh, yeah, one complaint: why didn't I win any of the raffle prizes!? Hmmph. I wuz robbed...

  • rob said:  

    Gus set the tone, carefully and lovingly, and this company ran with it, just made the play its own. You're all terrific actors, and wonderful listeners and watchers too. There's something about the earnest and flailing attempts of young people to do better, to come together, to get beyond themselves, and the inevitable pain and loss that inflicts upon parents and mentors, that made this rendition both hilarious and poignant. You guys weren't playing that, you were living it, feeling it, and we felt it too.

    Yes, the action accelerates to the ending, Gus was absolutely right about that, but there's a paradox. In performance, I could sense the audience asking the players to slow down to savor micro-moments, because everyone in the room had finally become fluent in volleyball, had learned this new language, and they didn't want the experience to end. Or that's how it seemed to me. Call me crazy.

    Flux is amazing.

  • Carissa Cordes said:  

    I had a great time. The reading was so much fun to watch!

  • Unknown said:  

    It's a couple of days later...What a great party! You guys rocked the reading:everyone fully committed to the hugely ambitious theater-in-the-round blocking, the actors working without a net in every sense, Jane's rant, Matt's keen sense of reality,Isaiah's hat--the whole cast jumping in as if the game was risking life itself. I was entertained,I learned something,and yes the peanut butter balls and oh those 3 dollar Guinnesses. I could go on and on. Great work by all and for all. Flux did itself proud!

  • Isaiah Tanenbaum said:  

    Gus, I told you that hat was key. Thanks for finding it, Tiff!

  • August Schulenburg said:  

    Thanks everyone for writing these responses! Catherine, I was SO worried about over staging it - and with different actors, I think I WOULD have over staged it. But every one just jumped on board and committed to it, and I think it worked. Something about the play - all that kinetic excitement - made me think it was worth the risk.

    Where I dropped the ball (teehee) was not being more informed about the rules of the sport itself - I could have saved a lot of time if I'd known line by line how each event would look in the real world. An extreme staged reading like this demands a level of prep that approaches a production, not a reading. Lesson learned!

  • Anonymous said:  

    Gus, I've been playing the sport for almost two decades and I'm still learning its alignments. You could not possibly be fully prepared and I don't think the reading could have gone better. You have such a sure hand and your ensemble is so right to trust you. I'm still flashing back to moments of the action (yes, partly thanks to Isaiah's great snaps) and that's a huge credit to your leadership and commitment.