Howdy, folks! My name is Anthony Williams. I’m a company member here at BrickaBrack.
It has been about a month since our first, big, party! And let me just tell you. As a new company, we do not quite have a “home” outside of the general city of Oakland, California. But ask the company members and many would respond that the Temescal Art Center is about the closest place to home we have found in our less-than-two-years as BrickaBrack. The 23’ x 38’ x 10’ space with a fantastic energy was not only the home of Duck Duck Octopus, but also that of Never Fall So Heavily Again auditions, and The BrickaBrack Benefit Bash! On the evening of September 28th, 2013, we welcomed guests into our home to show them what we are all about.
There were definitely some nerves among the company, though. We started planning for the event about three months beforehand. But with a new, small company, and with people working full-time, there was a lot to organize! Who is going to do what, when are we going to get it done, and possibly most importantly: who is going to show up? We have friends, people like what we produce, but who is going to show up?! We were in the fourth grade again, wondering if any of the people we invited would show up to our party, and if they did, when would they? Flash forward to the day of the event, which started at 3pm for us, the company members. From that time on you could see us adjusting lights, lighting candles, arranging chairs, rehearsing, and many other tasks! We had a lot to do and we accomplished it in a short amount of time. Those fearful feelings quickly dissolved as we took a step back to look at our work right before our guests arrived.
Our ticket prices were reasonable, the cause was good, the food was delicious, the drinks were plentiful, and the prizes were excellent, to say the least. To start, advance tickets sales received a discount and all proceeds went to our current production of Never Fall So Heavily Again. The dinner selection included delectable beef, sliders, lentil sliders, and those tots from Phil’s; homemade items from company members such as jalapeñopoppers; cookies from Luisa Frasconi; and fruits/veggies aplenty! And with sponsors like Aurora Theatre, Simple Green Smoothies, Sugar Knife Artisan Sweets, Shotgun Players, Pat Paulsen Vineyards, and many others, the raffle prizes were definitely fought over! Not only did each raffle prize stand alone in it’s fabulosity, many were paired with a lovely bottle of wine. Let us not forget Shoot the Wheel, the popular party game for those risk takers with some extra money to donate! The night began with just company members shouting the lovely phrase, but by the tenth time someone paid their money to see how many raffle tickets they would end up with, the whole party would chant “SHOOT. THE. WHEEL!” in unison!
Now if you’re still not feeling envious of those who were able to make the event, this should definitely do the trick. Maura Tang created beautiful art on patrons thanks to her face painting kit and immense skill. Adriel Socrates photographed anyone who wanted to feel fancy for the night in our lovely frame.Throughout the evening the company performed a selection of pieces from our Spring hit, Duck Duck Octopus. Later in the evening we reprised the famous dance from Stalking Christopher Walken, including company member Lindsey Cook. We ended with an inspirational speech from Artistic Director Gabriel Grilli, who talked about the purpose of BrickaBrack and how it came about. The glint in his eyes as he spoken transferred over to some of the cast and some company members reading and dancing their asses off in the first public preview of Never Fall. The party continued on late into the evening with a little bit of dancing, a lotta bit of talking, and a wonderful sense of community.
Despite all of the stress that came come with planning, this event was well worth it for us as company members and our donors as guests. Thank you to everyone who attended, donated and helped! I can’t wait to see you all at our workshop in December and next year at the next Benefit Bash!
A bittle from company member Maura Tang about the never fall so heavily again audition process…
Everyone who could be there from the core BrickaBrack company was in the room with the auditionees --- some of us in work clothes, some of us in glittery make-up from a show, and some of us in audition clothes. We all gathered at the Temescal Arts Center to create an event; floating in from our hectic days and lives to meet some new faces and new bodies and engage with the craft we love.
As a company we have been meeting on Gabriel’s tiny studio floor --- also known as his bedroom/office/dining room --- so it was exciting to be back in the old Duck Duck Octopus space where many of us had last performed, danced, pizza-ed, and celebrated BrickaBrack. The energy of the space was buzzing! Gabriel did his intro to the company and our work — which I LOVE every time I hear it because he reminds all of us, old and new, why we are there and what we are about and besides…who can resist such charm? Our assistant choreographer jumped right in, leading everyone in a loose, languid, flowing warm-up which drifted easefully into learning a part of the dance. The movement was gestural and crafted, moving organically into broader strokes of lines and leaps. Meanwhile the rest of the team sorted through headshots and conflict sheets and watched bodies moving like traffic lights at night…shifting all around this beloved space. Glo ran the music in the corner. Lindsey was paperworking in an opposite corner. We were a new machine at work.
Callbacks! We saw the auditionees move in the space and dance the dance again; same song, different day. We watched their bodies closely. We read between the joints, looking for a story and it’s storytellers. We cold read some scenes…till late into the evening. Some of those words I had not yet heard aloud, but had only sped-read swiftly on a google doc. We laughed. Nervous energy bounced around the room as we put people on the spot…and asked players to sing and to feel free to make mistakes. It was one big room with everyone watching, and yet somehow the group automatically created an audience on the far wall of the room, and a set designed of bodies in the shape of preparing sides behind the person/s auditioning.
These two nights were such a different experience for me, as a performer, to be on the other side of the table, so to speak. (We didn’t have any tables at the Temescal Arts Center.) An opportunity for me to see what the “other people” see. The thoughts that pop up in your head as you’re deciding whether this is a person you want to work with or whether this is a person who would fit the general role, knowing that the script is flexible and open to change. We were really looking for an ensemble: people who could work together and easily jump in with any of their many skills and voices. Every typical actor's thoughts about what the auditor thinks was pouncing through my head, starting with outside appearances: “They're hot” “I like her hair” “Wow, they have a great smile” and working my way more inward as I saw more… “He has real spirit” “Her laugh could carry a show…” etc.
One of the challenges here was casting with a group of people — there were seven of us casting: artistic director, choreographer, assistant choreographer, production manager, and three additional company members. We were all behind the same curtain but each of us was looking for something slightly different. Some a heart, some a brain, some courage, and some home. Oh wait, that’s the Wizard of Oz. I think you catch my drift. However, it was brilliant when opinions aligned, which they often did. The moment when we all got into a huddle and with only a few words, head nods and finger points everyone came to the same conclusion. Now this machine is oiled and ready to jump into the rehearsal process!
(never fall so heavily again workshop began rehearsals this week...)
Our Benefit Bash on Saturday night was a huge success! Thank you to everyone who came out to support the company and see fragments of our past work and a preview of NEVER FALL SO HEAVILY AGAIN - it was such a delightful night. So much Shooting the Wheel! We'll have more photos and stories from the festivities to come...
Musings by the BrickaBrack Ensemble