A Word From Audience Member Rita Rubin

COLOR (2).JPGIn his short lifetime—he died of tuberculosis at age 44—Anton Chekhov wrote more than 400 short stories and numerous plays (and all while practicing medicine, which helped to inform his writing).

As a writer myself (although, of course, one far less prolific, despite having lived more than a decade longer than Chekhov did), I can’t help but wonder whether Chekhov ever puzzled over which form, short story or play, best-served the tale he wanted to tell. Did he always know when he sat down to write that this one would work best as a play and that one as a short story? Or did he wait for his characters to direct him?

The Quotidian Theater Company’s adaptation of “The Lady with the Little Dog” demonstrates that some of Chekhov’s works could have gone either way.

In anticipation of seeing the play, I read the short story for the first time a few hours before Saturday’s performance. I was curious to see how the stage version would handle the exposition that makes up roughly half of the short story. Plus, how would a stage production, especially a production on QTC’s relatively small stage, convey a promenade along the sea along with multiple interior settings? Perhaps one factor Chekhov considered when deciding whether a tale was better suited for the page than the stage was the number of settings in which it took place. And finally, what about that titular dog? Would I see “animal trainer” listed among the production staff?

“I made up very little,” director and QTC co-founder Stephanie Mumford, who adapted the short story for the QTC production, told me before the performance began.

Stephanie incorporated much of the short story’s exposition as narration and dialog spoken by a character named Anton Pavlovich, a name that doesn’t appear in the short story. But, as in the play, the character Pavlovich is present throughout the short story. That’s because Pavlovich happens to be Chekhov’s middle name.

“In any story, the author is part of the story,” Stephanie noted. I loved that Pavlovich, played by QTC regular David Dubov, occasionally jotted notes in a small notebook, suggesting that the action on stage provided a glimpse into the writer’s imagination as he worked. Dmitri Dmitriyevich Gurov, played by Ian Blackwell Rogers, and Anna Sergeyevna, the lady with the little dog (I won’t spoil how Mumford handled that part of the story), played by Chelsea Mayo, sometimes finish Pavlovich’s sentences. Audience members also get to peer into Gurov’s head by way of recordings of Ian speaking the character’s thoughts, taken directly from the short story.

As for conveying the sea on stage, projections of images of the shore and the sound of the waves and seagulls left me feeling like I could almost smell the salt air.

“I think it will feel very much like you’re alive in the story,” Stephanie told me before the performance.

That was especially the case toward the play’s end, when Dmitri, hoping to run into Anna, travels to her hometown of Saratov and attends the opening night of an operetta. The QTC theater, of course, doubles for the Saratov theater. Four antique chairs placed in front of the Bethesda theater’s first row are reserved not for QTC subscribers but for the turn-of- the-20 the century Russian audience (the night I saw the play, Stephanie had to shoo a 21st -century audience member, obviously someone who wanted to get up close and personal with the action on stage, out of one of the antique chairs).

Dmitry, who turns to chase Anna up the stairs of the QTC/Russian theater, appears to be genuinely surprised and at least a little annoyed to see the audience. “Oh, heavens!” he exclaims. “Why are these people here?”

To see this fine adaptation of Chekhov’s love story, of course.

Rita Rubin, a Bethesda resident, is a long-time journalist who earned an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins in 2010. She earned a BS in journalism from Northwestern University. Rita has published several short stories and personal essays as well as thousands of news articles and features on websites and in publications ranging from Forbes.com to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

———————————-

The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Meet the Artists of THE LADY WITH THE LITTLE DOG: Zach Roberts

Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with Zach Roberts, who plays the Pianist, Anna’s husband, and many other roles.

IMG_5800

Zach Roberts (center) with Ian Blackwell Rogers (left) and David Dubov (right) in The Lady with the Little Dog.

What was your first theatrical experience? My mom is an opera director, so my first experience was as a shepherd in a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors when I was about 3 years old!

How did you begin performing in DC? After moving back from London in 2010 I began studying at the Studio Theatre Conservatory. I think my first official paid acting job in DC was understudying Edgar and Annabel at Studio 2nd Stage.

What’s your dream role/project? So many! I’m an artist of big dreams! A role that’s always been on my mind is Mozart in Amadeus. I would love to bring my own idiosyncratic take to that role!

What appeals to you about the DC theatre community? The DC theatre community is made up of some of the most passionate people I have ever met in any field.

How did you get involved with The Lady with the Little Dog? My career aspirations have been moving more towards music design rather than just acting, and it was an exciting proposal to get to play the piano in a production. I played a little bit in Madwoman of Chaillot at WSC Avant Bard and had a blast. I was eager to do it again!

How has the process been so far? Interesting and challenging. It’s a play in which the subtext and mood are key. It’s easy to mess up but satisfying when everything clicks.

What’s different about this role/project for you? I have never been in a show in which my back faces the audience for 99% of the show before!

What is most exciting about this play? The music, of course!

What is most challenging? I think anytime you need to rapidly shift characters it’s particularly challenging. That happens a few times in this play.

Why should audiences come to see this play? To feel fully immersed in an entirely different world.


The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Meet the Artists of THE LADY WITH THE LITTLE DOG: Ed Moser

Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with Ed Moser, Sound and Projections Designer.

What was your first theatrical experience? My first experiences performing were earlier than I can remember, actually. My mother was an award-winning documentarian who, among other things, played Norfolk’s first Romper Room hostess. I was on the show whenever the tv studio needed more kids to go to air. My father was Jackie Gleason’s deck manager in Miami, and I remember the week day rehearsals: a world premiere hour-long musical production for national air on a weekly basis. Since my parents were so active in that community, I saw a great deal of backstage production, from car commercials to puppet theatre.

How did you begin designing in DC? I’d been back to school in an attempt to keep up with youngsters breaking into industrial video and music production. Their fresh certifications with softwares were proving superior to my experience in the job market, so here I was, back at home looking to complete my required internship, when out of the blue an old mutual friend of Tim Thompson’s called me with a sound engineering question. Tim is the sound master at Arena and was then looking for some production help with Señor Discretion Himself. It was lucky timing.

What appeals to you about the DC theatre community? In film, when the project strikes, no one wants to go through that kind of work again anytime soon, so finding steady work with artistic satisfaction has become impossible since the Reagan era. In theatre, we’re nutty enough to move right on the the next show. The scale is small, but the community is large and active enough to keep you busy through the whole year, if you want it bad enough. Very few cities have that.

How did you get involved with The Lady with the Little DogI love working with Quotidian Theatre. It’s that simple; it’s my favorite company. The people here make Emma Peel look incompetent. The secret to the quality of shows you see here is that the artists get to work far in advance. For Lady, we’ve been actively designing since last fall. When you have that much lead time for revisions it pays dividends.

What’s different about this role/project for you? How does this rehearsal process differ from others? Most productions divide and conquer by department, then merge everything in the final week before opening. So the performers usually have weeks to get everything to a certain standard, and memorization, before adding costumes, lights, etc. But for this show, our director, Stephanie, knows that the key to achieving the tone that she’s so good at setting (marked by A Little Trick a couple of years ago) is to integrate early. In particular, the blocking is detailed to word by word, moment by moment, step by step blueprinting that amounts to choreography. Everything about this process has been so much more collaborative.

How has the process been so far? Rewarding. Being a small company in a small venue, our challenge is always to squeeze more than is possible out of our resources— or at least I’m one of those responsible for making sure we do— and on this show we’re really taking a home run swing. We’re adding a multi­-level set and projections, which invariably tax the ingenuity of production teams, but now comes the payoff on the investment, and I can’t wait for opening night. This is a good show.


The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet the Artists of THE LADY WITH THE LITTLE DOG: Ian Blackwell Rogers

Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with Ian Blackwell Rogers, who plays Dmitry Dmitriyevich Gurov. 

710597-250

Ian Blackwell Rogers

What was your first theatrical experience? Clowning, like literally trying to be a clown, under the awning at an aunt’s wedding, around age 6.

What appeals to you about the DC theatre community? What a great community! I’ve found it tremendously supportive, and friendly, and there’s a lot of spark to come up with good ideas. You work with people, and you want to work with them again, and you probably will. Fortunately, people seem to want to work with me again too!

How did you get involved with The Lady with the Little Dog? Chelsea recommended that I read for this project, and I liked it a lot. I felt it would be a good stretch for me. I could imagine the production, and I wanted to see how it would come together.

What’s different about this role/project for you? How does this rehearsal process differ from others? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of Shakespeare and other early modern verse plays, which demand a more presentational style. Lots of words; gestures and emotions are big; there’s a heightened quality. Here, we’re trying to say a lot while actually uttering a little less, if that makes sense.

What is most exciting about this play? What is most challenging? I think the answer is the same for both of these questions— the precision demanded as we use our words, our movements, our music, and the delicate interactions between people to create this world that we hope will be absolutely realistic, but not rigid in time and place. I love this style of work, but it is demanding!

Why should audiences come to see this play? 
I think there is a unique mood in the words, the Russian setting, and the music. The music! That’s probably the best short answer.


The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet the Artists of THE LADY WITH THE LITTLE DOG: Vanessa Bisbee

Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with choreographer, Vanessa Bisbee.

Headshot V Terzaghi

Vanessa Bisbee

What was your first theatrical experience? I was a “rotten little orphan” in a community theater production of Annie when I was 5, and I started taking ballet classes at 3. I’ve been dancing, choreographing and performing since then.

 
How did you begin performing/choreographing in DC? I acted in a couple short films and web series shortly after moving to DC. A year after moving to DC, I auditioned for a show at Silver Spring Stage – As Bees in Honey Drown. After that I choreographed several musicals for Kensington Arts Theatre. Since then I’ve choreographed for musicals and straight plays and worked with an educational dance company.
 
What’s your dream role/project? I’d love to choreograph the musical Contact or to perform in it. Choreographing A Chorus Line and Spring Awakening is also on on my list of dream projects.
 
What appeals to you about the DC theatre community? It’s a warm and welcoming crowd. I’ve been inspired by artistic collaborations, and I’ve had the chance to see people I’ve worked with go on to perform in New York. There are opportunities to grow professionally and to volunteer to teach young artists. That’s an impressive range of fascinating and fulfilling experiences.
How did you get involved with The Lady with the Little DogSeveral years ago, I choreographed Dancing at Lughnasa for Quotidian. Since then I’ve wanted to work with them again. When Stephanie asked if I would choreograph a waltz number, I was happy to say yes.
 
How has the process been so far? Relatively quick! Ian and Chelsea learned the dance in one rehearsal. It’s gratifying to work with performers who combine their dancing with strong acting and rich character experience. Ian and Chelsea did that immediately.
 
What’s different about this role/project for you? How does this rehearsal process differ from others? My last few choreography projects have been dance sequences for straight plays, so this has been similar to other projects.
 
What is most exciting about this play? What is most challenging? It’s always a challenge to combine dialogue and dance without losing one or the other. But I’m excited about using movement to tell the story of their turbulent affair.
 
Why should audiences come to see this play? The acting is superb. I’m a fan of Chekov, so I recommend seeing his work whenever possible.
The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Intimate Theater: What Supporting Quotidian Means

Steve LaRoque in QTC's production of "A Dublin Carol"

Steve LaRoque in QTC’s production of “A Dublin Carol”

by Steve LaRoque, Senior Quotidian Member

A few months ago, I was talking with a long-time Quotidian subscriber (in a situation far removed from any theater) about our then-upcoming production, A Lesson from Aloes. She told me that she had already made her reservation, and that she was looking forward to seeing “intimate theater” again.

Intimate theater. I had never thought about it much, but the Quotidian theater experience does indeed deserve to be called intimate. Our 99-seat performing space at the Writer’s Center brings you close to the play, no matter where your seat is. When I am in the audience, I usually sit no closer than the sixth row – a habit that comes from my days as a director, when I had to be sure that all my actors could make themselves heard. Even up there in the high places, I never feel that I am removed from the play – and, yes, I can hear every word.

But why is this kind of theater particularly desirable? Partly because it’s harder to find. Look almost everywhere, and you see theaters – along with everything else – getting bigger, more grandiose, with legions of lights, huge projections, and turntables that snap characters and sets into place from opposite ends of the stage. All of it clever, but does the wizardry make for a good play? Not necessarily.

In fact, in a lot of ways, low-tech, close-up shows like ours are more demanding, on both sides of the curtain. On the Quotidian stage, the audience can see just about everything, including the tiny details: the framed pictures of prize fighters on the walls of Harry Hope’s bar in The Iceman Cometh; the titles of Tesman’s beloved books on the shelves in Hedda Gabler; the football club banners on the walls of the chipper in This Lime Tree Bower. Heaven help you if you don’t get the details right; somebody will let you know. We make a point of getting them right.

David Dubov in QTC's production of "A Lesson From Aloes"

David Dubov in QTC’s production of “A Lesson From Aloes”

More importantly, an intimate setting helps the audience focus on what we all come to theater for: the characters, the lines, the story. In this respect, I will put Quotidian up against any other theater going. Think of David Dubov, as Piet Bezuidenhout in the opening scene of A Lesson from Aloes, holding an aloe plant in his hand, thumbing through his field- book, and contemplating the astounding possibility that he may have discovered a hitherto unknown species. In a scene like this, the smallest things are important: the turn of the head, a fugitive smile, the light irony in the voice as Piet tries out a Latin name for a hypothetical new species. You can savor every detail, because you are there; you could be a guest in the room. That’s intimate theater.

It’s the kind of theater that we have always tried to offer, and hope to be able to for a long time to come. No surprise, the economics of theater haven’t changed a bit: the ticket sales and subscriptions cover only a fraction of the operating expenses. And we try to keep the expenses about as low as possible. We continue to have zero – zero – full-time paid staff, so that the dollars go overwhelmingly into the productions themselves. Including every donation dollar. We only come to you once a year with our summer fundraising campaign, so please consider making a donation to Quotidian today – and be assured that you will see the results on stage, very close to wherever you happen to be sitting.


Your tax-deductible gift helps QTC give back to the DC-area community, by…

  • Offering free theater tickets to Veterans and their families via VetTix.
  • Providing discounted tickets to students, seniors, and others on fixed incomes.
  • Collaborating with Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, which has added QTC to its intern program.
  • Hiring established, outside-QTC directors Laura Giannarelli and Stevie Zimmerman.
  • Providing opportunities to rising local talents–director Michael Avolio and actors Sara Dabney Tisdale, Jenny Donovan, Jonathan Feuer, James Flanagan, Carolyn Kashner, David Mavricos, Chelsea Mayo, Zach Roberts, and Chris Stinson.
  • Enlightening patrons with free post-show discussions and dramaturg sessions for subscribers.

DC Theater Scene’s Roy Mauer in his review of The Veil honored QTC with these words about its role in the local theater community, “…distinction is due the modest playhouse on Walsh Street for arranging the U.S. premiere of The Veil right in our own Bethesda. Quotidian has now presented seven of Conor McPherson’s works, including three area premieres, a tremendous credit to the local theater scene.”

For those of you who feel the same, please help us bring affordable, downtown-quality theater to our neighborhood. We are profoundly grateful to ALL of our loyal patrons and donors. We wouldn’t be here without you!

Your tax-deductible investment in the arts also supports your community! Every Gift Makes a Difference!

Donation Levels

  • Major Stakeholder, gift of $5,000 plus
  • Angel, gift of $2,000-$4,999
  • Producer, gift of $1,000-$1,999
  • Director, gift of $500-$999
  • Star, gift of $250-$499
  • Lead Actor, gift of $150-$249
  • Featured Player, gift of $100-$149
  • Supporting Actor, gift of $25-$99

If you are interested in helping produce a show with your gift, for which you’ll be duly recognized in the program, lobby, and QTC’s social media, please contact quotidiantheatre@comcast.net.

QTC is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization. To donate a one-time OR recurring gift on line via PayPal, click on the “Donate” button above, and enter the amount you would like to invest. Checks made out to “Quotidian Theatre Company” may be mailed to QTC’s mailing address: 5705 Brewer House Circle, #202, Rockville, North Bethesda 20852.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet the Artists of THE LADY WITH THE LITTLE DOG: David Dubov

Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with the artists of the production. David Dubov plays Anton Pavlovich, the Narrator.

imgres

David Dubov

What was your first theatrical experience? I was a 16-year-old music student at the all-boys’ school in England where I spent my teenage years. The local girls’ school was putting on a production of The Merry Widow by Franz Lehar, and naturally they wanted boys to fill out some of the roles (and the deeper singing parts). Surprisingly, to my delight and horror, I was cast as Count Cascada, who has a solo right at the top of the show – a toast to the arriving widow. I nervously rehearsed my part for six weeks, and when the opening night came, there I was, holding a glass of “champagne” – and trembling so hard, most of it went down my sleeve!

 
I was hooked, and the last nearly 40 years have been spent regaling people with that story, on stage and off, while still feeling that first thrill every time I step out under the lights.
 
How did you begin performing in DC? I had taken a hiatus from acting after attempting to pursue my career in Los Angeles (ask me sometime about what you really have to do to get cast in movies), so I was primed to work again. But, it took sitting in the orchestra pit at the Victorian Lyric Opera Company in Rockville in 2008 to rekindle my passion. I’d been asked, ironically, to return to my roots playing the cello with VLOC, and, while watching HMS Pinafore and, later, The Mikado in performance, I thought to myself “I could do that again.” The next show VLOC was Ruddigore and I went for it, despite my continuing lack of singing skills, and the terror of having a solo.
And, it was such fun! Since then, much to my husband’s disappointment, I have never looked back, and have tried to stay busy ever since.
 
What’s your dream role/project? George in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I’ve seen the show many times, the most notable being the recent Steppenwolf production with Tracey Letts as George, and it is the role I was born to play.
 
What appeals to you about the DC theatre community? There is a sense of intimacy and interconnectedness in DC theater that doesn’t exist anywhere I else, I’ve found. Certainly not in the other cities I’ve been fortunate enough in which to work. Everyone knows everyone else, and there is a great deal of support for ventures both new and tried-and-true. I read somewhere that DC has the second-most active theater scene in the country, after New York, and I believe it. Such energy and vitality! I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
 
How did you get involved with The Lady with the Little Dog?  The director, Stephanie Mumford, offered me the role, and given my history with Quotidian and an innate sense that I should do more Chekhov, I couldn’t refuse!
 
How has the process been so far? I was coming directly off of QTC’s production of A Lesson From Aloes, so shifting gears from South Africa to Russia has been a challenge. Fortunately, I get to work with some very talented folks, so my transition has been smooth.
 
What’s different about this role/project for you? How does this rehearsal process differ from others? Being the Narrator, I get to take a 10,000-foot view of the proceedings, while simultaneously portraying a vibrant character in his own right. It’s the genius of the piece, and of our director, that allows that portrayal to unfold. The audience will go into the show thinking one thing about who I am, and, if I do my job right, leave with a completely different impression.

Why should audiences come to see this play? We don’t often get treated to a “new” Chekhov piece. People will get to see how timeless and important his writing is, especially when it is reframed in this manner. The short story form allows for a great deal of latitude in character development in time and space, while the form of a play is more narrow. Stephanie Mumford, in addition to directing the piece, carefully and skillfully made Chekhov’s words on the page come to life in well-drawn characters transcending the limitations of the stage. Everyone who comes to see it is in for a thrilling ride as we take on a complete world!

The Lady with the Little Dog runs July 8 – August 7, 2016 at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, where QTC is the Resident Theatre Company. Tickets are on sale now

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment