Blog #6: Eclectic

Welcome back folks, to my blog episode 6 out of 10!

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I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to chat with Ron Sossi, The Odyssey Theatre’s Artistic Director. My first question for him- “How have you managed to keep a small theatre company running for forty-five years?” I was delighted to listen to stories that ranged from the inception of the Odyssey to present day. Two things really stuck with me. The first: Eclecticism. Ron has made a point to keep audiences on its toes by exploring a wide range of shows and genres. A guest will never know what to expect – an escapist musical one month and the next, an expressionistic Polish play. It’s quite a risk to have such variety in a season. Being on the forefront of theatre requires bold, edgy choices, so naturally there is sometimes no telling whether a show will be a success, or flop miserably. As Ron stated, some audiences really appreciate the randomness, while others would rather have consistency. That… is what sets the Odyssey apart, and is part of its charm as well. I greatly respect the choice to always be changing, growing and ultimately, eclectic.

The second thing that I found interesting was the choice to ditch the format of a member dues-paying company, which is popular in Los Angeles. By keeping The Odyssey private and season play selections curated completely from within, the quality of work completely rests on the staff. Ron Sossi & Beth Hogan have made a commitment to make sure actors are well-rehearsed, sets have been fully fleshed out and directors/designers/actors are at the top of their game. I also received a plethora of good advice and information from Ron during our conversation, which I am extremely grateful for. The passion that this company has really shows and I am lucky to be a part of it; even if it is for a short ten-week stint. Until next time! Be creative!

Blog #5: Time

Week #5/10: The halfway mark!

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I remember my Grandpa explaining to me when I was a youngster about the way that time moves. He wasn’t trying to educate me in the ways of horology or any kind of Stephen Hawkins theories. No, the concept wasn’t that grandiose; especially for a ten year old. That might make a funny YouTube video though (kids reacting to quantum physics facts). Anyways, my gramps simply stated that the farther my life moves forward, the faster time will go. A month will feel like a week. A year will turn into a month. I took in the information, but never fully understood what it meant until years later. My point in all this? Well, normally I would say that this past month has been flying by and I can’t believe that we’re here already, etc. But for some reason, it doesn’t feel that way. Maybe I can attribute that to the amount of projects, shows, group meetings and events that I have been bombarded with, or it could be that I’ve been actively trying to take away a bit of wisdom from every single thing I’ve done here. So even though it has been a short time, it just doesn’t feel that way. It could be the same effect that school has. Anyways, I don’t have time to blab about this anymore. There are hundreds of envelopes that need to be stuffed, twitter posts that need to be tweeted and well, plenty of things to do. Let me quickly recap the last week:

I was able to help out with the set for Broadway Bound a bit more. It’s really looking good and I am excited for our theatregoers to come and see it. The interns from LACC in my area had two events: touring The Broad Stage and having a chat with some of the staff that makes that place tick. We also went to a performance at The Annenberg Beach House… It was a show by Four Clowns entitled “Jonah”. It was entertaining, featured dedicated performers and offered a satirical, contemporary look on the parable. I also saw “The Mother Ship” @ Sacred Fools – clever & funny. “We Will Rock You” @ The Ahmanson… no comment. “Paternus” @ Rogue Machine – a “chilling” tale :). Also went to a friend’s outdoor performance of “Cabaret” which was charming. It has been a busy week. Until next time & have a great week!

Ben’s Odyssey #4

Welcome back! Hard to believe that I am already in my fourth week here at The Odyssey. To stick with the tradition, here’s a picture with me and the Annapurna poster. Really wish I could have seen this show when it was here. My sister saw it Off-Broadway and had nothing but praise for it. Plus, I love Nick Offerman.

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The biggest learning experience from the past couple days came from helping build the set of our next production, Broadway Bound. My dad is a contractor and owns his own tile company so I am familiar with the work that goes into construction, but I couldn’t say that I was ever really enthusiastic about helping my dad with work in past. Needless to say, I have had very little experience using tools or building for that matter. So when I stepped in to help build the set I was a bit naïve about the entire process of starting and the framework that goes behind it all. Luckily, our Technical Director, Joe Behm, was kind enough to teach me the basics as well as delegating tasks to others with confidence. I can’t wait to see the finished product, considering that it is certainly a challenge erecting a two-story set in an intimate 99-seat performance space.

I was fortunate enough to watch a designer run-through of the show and I am equally as excited to watch the finished project. The characters are clearly defined and executed by seasoned actors. Also, the choices that Jason (Alexander) makes as a director really brings life to the script. It is equally parts laughter and touching moments, with quite a few lines of dialogue that really showcase why the play was nominated for a Pulitzer.

Until next week! – Benjamin

Ben’s Odyssey #3: Art

Another week and another blog post from yours truly, Benjamin Schwartz, the intern this summer for The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble. This time I decided to take a picture in front of our past production, “Ivanov” by Anton Chekov. The play was written on a commission to Chekov as he was asked to write a comedy. Instead, came this four act drama. LOL

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This past week has been busy. It has ranged from keeping up on the social media sites, marketing strategies, filming and editing a video tour of the theatre to breaking down a bunch of wood from a previous production. This Saturday I am excited to help build the set for our next show, Broadway Bound. It is hard to believe that I am almost already done with my third week. The days go by so fast and I am making sure to soak in every bit of information that I can.

I haven’t been able to go see any theatre this week, and I think I’m starting to have some withdrawls from the lack of live performance. But yesterday, all of the LA County Arts interns attended a seminar/networking/museum visit to MOLAA in Long Beach. My favorite part of the day (other than incessantly re-filling my cup of coffee) was visiting the museum and exploring the fantastic art exhibits that they are currently hosting. If you haven’t visited the Museum Of Latin American Art, I would highly recommend it. I really enjoyed the work and style of Roberto Fabelo’s art. He would often rip out pages from books and then furiously draw with a pen over the literature. Sometimes text would be exposed and other works were completely drawn over. The creatures that he created were dark, unique and sometimes grotesque, but engaging at the same time. Here’s a link to the exhibit via the MOLAA website:

http://www.molaa.com/Art/Exhibitions/Fabelos-Anatomy.aspx

I was surprised to find out that many of the 120ish interns that were hired this summer did not come from a theatre or arts background. It was a melting pot of majors ranging from Anthropology, Economics, Marketing, Business, etc. I am all about educating on the importance of the arts and bringing in groups that would not normally have the opportunity, so it was good to see an organization like the LA County Arts Commission fulfilling this vision and mission. I am blessed to be given the chance to help here at The Odyssey and a program like this really also helps with the chances of finding a job after college.