Theater For The Future

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The Man Who Was Thursday: Web Edition

November 10, 2009 By: Nick Keenan Category: Collaboration, projects, Shows

On Nov. 7, Bilal Dardai and I had some fun live-tweeting THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY at New Leaf. Bilal provided the commentary, and I backed him up with a live stream of media – video, audio, and static images.

This is our first crack at packaging the byproducts of theatre – the DVD extras, so to speak – to maximize our creative exposure to an online audience. I’m interested to know what you think of the results. Obviously we didn’t publicize this event very much… it was more a proof of concept. The question is: are there pieces here that hook you to see the show, or that hook you to delve further into what we do at New Leaf, and what are they?

You can check out the full broadcast (with some additional commentary!) on Bilal’s blog.

Here’s some highlights:

New Leaf, 8:03pm: Brian Rooney prepares for his role as the Marquis RT @bilaldWill be updating from dressing room.

Bilal, 8:04pm: Sean Fawcett (Sunday) threatened to spend the first 30 minutes of this show staring at me blankly.

New Leaf: Sean Fawcett will eat your soul.

Bilal, 8:30pm: Tidbit: the secret knock Gregory uses to access the anarchists’ chamber is that 10-note royalty phrase you always hear to signify “England.” First time I heard it, I thought it was the opening beat to the Rose Royce disco classic “Car Wash.”

New Leaf:

Bilal, 8:37pm: @jesshutchinson‘s short-hand for this underground anarchists’ meeting is “JV (Junior Varsity) Council.”

Bilal, 8:41pm: The line “Order! Order, anarchists, order!” is one of the funniest lines in the play. And I wish I’d been the one who’d written it.

Bilal, 9:11pm: Just walked into side hallway and saw Ted Evans (Saturday) rocking from side to side, reciting his lines next to the ghost light. Creepy.

New Leaf: This album just rocks for Spy intrigue.

Bilal, 9:24pm: Meanwhile, Nick Mikula is setting up a lot of very large dominoes in front of the dressing room door.

New Leaf: We were going to ask what Nick Mikula was up to right about now.

Bilal, 10:00pm: I recently described @nhburger’s “Monday” voice as being that of the curator of the snootiest art gallery in hell.

New Leaf: Right about now, it is necessary for Monday and Tuesday to form an alliance. This is how they do it.

New Leaf, 10:14pm: Lyrics get progressively more tongue in cheek as show goes on: THURSDAY is @nickkeenan’s tribute to Baz Luhrman. ♫

Bilal, 10:15pm: Tidbit: One of the lines in the picnic monologues about Sunday is scavenged from a college poem I wrote about a girl who broke my heart.

Bilal, 10:32 pm: Two of the lines in this rewritten final scene are deliberate and snarky jabs at Chesterton’s actual ending. I’m a baaaaad boy. End of Play, Great Job, All!

New Leaf:

The Man Who Was Thursday is now running through November 21st, Thursday – Saturday at 8pm. I mention that because: We are very close to selling out the rest of the run. I’m looking forward to discussing why we think that happened. If you’re a regular reader of this blog and you haven’t seen it and you still want to, reserve your tickets now, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Speaking of theatrical byproducts that are worth another look, have you heard our Treehouse podcasts at New Leaf? We’re finding and commissioning new plays, and recording podcasts of them. You can download them. On iTunes. For Free. Or join us at New Leaf every month for another live reading. For Free. Let me know what you think.

This post brought to you by Ana Lucia Novak, who bought me some coffee. Actually, do you know where that coffee money really goes? Paypal. Which means I use it to buy speakers. Like the two beautiful JF60s I bought for New Leaf that are used in Thursday. So thanks: Your donations make my own sticker shock greatly diminished.

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4 Comments to “The Man Who Was Thursday: Web Edition”

  1. This is just stupidy fantastic, Nick. To be able to keep up with the show LIVE, when I’m thousands of miles away ??? Amazing. Thank you.

  2. What can I say? You had me at “live tweeting backstage”.

    Seriously, though, speaking as someone who knows you almost entirely from your online presence, I can confirm that my mental “map” of New Leaf and this particular show has evolved considerably just from this one exercise. Things that were affected:

    – who are the people involved?
    – what is their style and personality?
    – um, what the hell kind of parade of badassery goes with that music, and can I please see it?
    – etc

    I mean, obviously only the tickets will do the final talking, but my personal reaction is that this kind of stuff absolutely lures me closer to New Leaf and a desire to experience what you’re making. I’m looking forward to how you increase your surface area on future shows.

    God, man, you’re getting me excited about this. Watching people experiment with the forms of packaging and exposure? Equally importantly, watching a young company that has almost complete freedom to try anything their creativity might suggest? Color me totally stoked.

    I’m so freaking jealous of you guys and gals. You actually have an experimental laboratory to try these ideas. I’ve got a laboratory for software ideas, but not for theater company ideas. I’m jealous.

  3. It’s that mental map that I’d like to see as well. Because with this show, we’re definitely showing a side of New Leaf, not the whole thing. For anyone who has seen us do both Touch and The Man Who Was Thursday, you know what I’m talking about.

    The tricky thing is that if New Leaf is doing its job, all our shows are a little different from the last one because we’re a process-based theatre. The process leads the strategic decision making. Our shtick is re-imagining what is possible in weird historical buildings like this and stretching our artistic reach with each project. Touch was a heart-smashing tragedy set in the infinite void of outer space. Thursday is a Chestertonian Theme Park Ride.

    There are problems – legal problems – with packaging projects like Six Years, the Dining Room or Touch (Humana Festival play, we’re now good friends with the playwright but the rights are tied with Dramatists). Which means you, Cashworth as web patron, don’t get to see that significant side of New Leaf. But we want to show that side as well. Chesterton is public domain, and Bilal, being our friend, is able to personally negotiate the complex intellectual property minefield that is involved in doing something like this. But this would be valuable with nearly any show, done properly, wouldn’t it? Backstage tours don’t have to be invasive and awkward and god help us unsafe. They can be revealing without being spoilers or turnoffs.

    I wonder what kind of intellectual property structure would support collective artistry like this – support the playwright, support the performers, support the producing companies. And the easiest answer on the table may be: be a company that can write it all from scratch. Daunting, but promising.

    To answer your badassery question: An over-the-top comic one. I got to use KMFDM in 2 shows this month. Legitimately. Me = Happy Boy.

  4. Turns out I did watch what I think must have been the trailer for Touch, so the map includes at least some of those other facets.

    Sidenote: I saw the first staging of Touch at Humana, and I really wish I could have seen yours. ATL chose to put it on their largest stage. I can see an argument for that in terms of, as you say, setting it in a huge lonely void, but for me it didn’t generate a sense of void so much as a sense of separation from this extremely intimate, vulnerable story. Based on watching Dan in the trailer, and based on my desire for that intimacy, I’d bet I would have enjoyed your production more.

    Anyway, yeah, the legal issues of packaging projects are definitely a big hurdle even (especially?) for small, young companies. As you say, creating your own stuff from scratch certainly does give you a lot of power in that regard. At the obvious expense of effort, and at the potential (though less obvious) expense of more risk.

    This is a great example of what frustrates me hugely about the current approach to intellectual property. The restrictions are in place to protect value and the power of a creative worker to make a living from their hard work. I get that and appreciate it. But what value exactly is being protected, and what is the opportunity cost? I think the definition of that “protected value” is tragically fuzzy, whereas the opportunity cost is much easier to define: “here are the things intellectual property restrictions prevent me from doing in my attempt to support your intellectual property financially by getting BUTTS IN THE SEATS.” All I want to do is get more bread on the table for everyone, not steal from the mouths of other hardworking artists.


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