Monday, February 8, 2016

Getting back on the blog horse...

Hi, everyone!

Megan Buckley-Ball here to apologize for the radio silence of the past <<gulp>> 2 1/2 years.  It's been a really busy time here at Matrix Theatre Company, but I'm here to tell you that we are getting this backstage blog back on track!  We're going to change things up a bit, though - instead of this blog serving just the production branch of the organization, you'll be hearing from our education department here, too, as well as a couple of guest bloggers from different projects we have running.

We would love to hear from our readers, supporters, and participants - what would you like to read about?  Matrix runs so many fantastic programs for all ages, and we can't wait to tell you all about them.  If you're feeling impatient, though, you can always find out how to get involved by visiting our website at!

This very moment is a particularly busy time for the organization.  We're getting ready to mount our WORLD PREMIERE of agua de luna (psalms for the rouge) by Caridad Svich.  Sherrine Azab (from local theatre company A Host of People) is directing and, after seeing the cast's very first run of the entire show last week, I can confidently say that she's doing a great job!

This production is a little bit different from the shows we've offered recently.  First off, nobody has ever seen it before.  With funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Michigan Humanities Council, we commissioned bilingual playwright Caridad Svich to write a brand new play that was inspired by the spirit of Southwest Detroit.  She visited Detroit back in April of last year and met with many people from the community in a range of settings.  Shaun Nethercott (a Matrix co-founder and CEO at the time) toured Caridad around our neighborhood and introduced her to many of the wonderful and influential people that call Southwest home.  She visited Western International High School,  attended mass at Holy Redeemer, spent an afternoon at Clark Park, and, well, you get the idea.  She also met with the Matrix Teen Company and the Writer's Circle. From there, she began to develop a script for us.

Caridad came back in October to workshop the new script.  We called in some actors to read for each of the eight(!!) roles, then hunkered down in the theatre to do a couple of read-throughs, some Q&A sessions, and some character development.  Here's Caridad at one of those sessions with director Sherrine Azab, costume designer Dorothy Melander-Dayton, sound designer Billy Mark (who was doubling as a reader on this particular day), and workshop actors Eleni Zaharopoulos, Samer Ajluni, Katie Galazka, Torri Lynn Ashford, Bethany Hedden, Amy Choudhury Martin, and Chris Jakob.  Can anybody tell what show we had running when we gathered for the workshop?  ;)  Once our week of workshopping was complete, Caridad took the script back home with her to start working on little changes and cuts here and there to give us a tight, 90-minute, intermission-free play,

Fast forward from October to January 5th - we've hired designers, held the necessary auditions, chosen the cast, and prepared the space.  On January 5th, everyone came together for the very first read-through of the updated script. (I won't say final script here because it still had almost two months of rehearsals to go through.  It's not final until the show is open!)  It was a great first read, and everyone left excited for the show.

Sherrine and the cast have been hard at work ever since, and the play is taking shape really nicely.  It'll be the first show we've done in the round (with seating on all four sides) in all of my 7 years here.  While that kind of staging certainly has a very specific set of challenges, it can also offer a really beautiful result. Remember when I said that this production is a little bit different than our past shows?  Well, the differences don't stop there.  Caridad has worked in a certain element of magic and mystique that takes us away from the realism that you've seen in our recent productions. There will also be live music and singing to help tell the story, and a fantastic dog puppet built by costume designer Dorothy Melander-Dayton.  Take a look at our promo shot - beautiful, right?

From left to right (back row first), we have Bethany Hedden, Justino Solis, Candace P. Hale, Chris Jakob, Torri Lynn Ashford, Myrna Segura, Samer Ajluni, and Amy Choudhury Martin.  I absolutely LOVE how this shot turned out!  Unfortunately, Candace had to step down from her role shortly after we took this picture, so you won't see her in the show.  We certainly wish her all the best, though!  Luckily, we were able to find a woman by the name of Aja Dier to play that role and get caught up with the blocking fairly quickly.  Such is life in the theatre, I suppose.  Sometimes it doesn't play out as smoothly as you'd like.  (But it certainly keeps it from getting boring!)

So, here we are, 18 days out from opening.  I'm planning the menu for the opening night reception already.  We have plans for Sherrine and Caridad to do a talkback session with the audience after the second performance.  Detroit Performs will be interviewing them as well as a couple of the actors, then taking some b-roll of the performance to do a feature on us (how exciting!).  Model D Media is running a feature article on our 25th Anniversary and the creation of the play.  It's a great time for Matrix Theatre Company, and we're so lucky to have all of you along for the ride!

We anticipate high ticket sales for this production. so we strongly suggest that you purchase or reserve your tickets very soon!  You can do so by clicking either of those links or by calling the box office at 313-967-0599.  We can't wait to see you at the theatre!

Also, here's the obligatory fine print:
With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Michigan Humanities Council, Matrix Theatre Company has partnered with internationally renowned playwright, Caridad Svich, and commissioned her to create a new full-length theatre piece inspired by the spirit of southwest Detroit. Svich's work explores themes of biculturalism and construction of identity. agua de luna (psalms for the rouge) is a part of Matrix Theatre Company's D*Versity initiative. D*Versity is made possible in part by a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities of Michigan Humanities Council. 

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