Sunday, March 13, 2011

DALLAS at the Annenberg Center

On Saturday night, March 12th 2011, my collaboration with electronic music composer Mike Vernusky, DALLAS, took the stage of the Montgomery Theater in the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia.

Aaron Oster (Clinton Hill) and John VanZelst (Man Behind the Counter). Photo by Jules Victor.

As part of the MERGE program produced by the Annenberg, me and Mike's 10-minute electro-theater piece shared the stage with six other short works, most of them created by Philadelphia artists. The "merge" theme comes from producer Brian Grace-Duff's interest in creating an evening of theater that collides local professional work with student-driven work as well.

With DALLAS, we even "merged" within our project, as it was performed by a mix of Philadelphia-area professionals Darin J. Dunston, Haley McCormick, and Aaron Oster with Drexel University students Laurel Hostak and John VanZelst.

John VanZelst (Man Behind the Counter), Darin J. Dunston (John F. Kennedy) and Haley McCormick (Jacqueline Kennedy). Photo by Jules Victor.

The event as a whole was a success in many ways-- the performances played to a near sold-out house of 110 seats, with each of the 7 events showcasing strong, original work. The event was well organized, enthusiastically received, and offered the opportunity for new friendships among artists of the seven different groups who merged together for one night.

Aaron Oster (Clinton Hill), John VanZelst (Man Behind the Counter), and Laurel Hostak (Waitress). Photo by Jules Victor.

The DALLAS project itself was its own reward. This was the piece's first full-production, and it was, as always, a gift to see the work come to life through the creative choices made by brave, talented actors. This process, though a short one (we rehearsed for a total of 10 hours over 4 meetings), was committed, creative, and full of discovery. Also the director of the piece, it was completely satisfying to work with such a smart, thoughtful, and enjoyable group of artists.

Haley McCormick (Jacqueline Kennedy) and Darin J. Dunston (John F. Kennedy). Photo by Jules Victor.

Big thank yous to Brian Grace-Duff for organizing, producing, and inviting me to participate in this event; to Drexel University for its continued generosity (especially Nick Anselmo who picked up the tab for a caravan of supportive Drexel students to attend the performance and then helped me carry two 3 foot by 3 foot tables across West Philadelphia after the event!); to the Dragons who showed up to support their classmates; to Michael Kranes and Cody Kirk whose voices (as Arlen Specter and Clinton J. Hill) continue to come through the walls; and to Dianna Marino, for whom the play was originally written.

Aaron Oster (Clinton Hill), John VanZelst (Man Behind the Counter) and Laurel Hostak (Waitress)

HUGE thank yous as well to Jules Victor, for all of the amazing photographs.

rock on,