piz

Acting Up

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The last time I did any acting was 32 years ago, in a 9th grade play. One line. In 4th grade I got to play Stephen Douglas to my (very tall) best friend's Abe Lincoln, reenacting part of one of their famed debates.

A few weeks ago, at the urging of my boys (who think I have talent based on my "acting" around the house), I auditioned for a part in The Midsummer Renaissance Faire. Today I found out, to my great surprise, that I've been cast as the lead villain! The character is a minister - how much fun will that be, playing an evil religious guy! bouncy.gif

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Today I found out, to my great surprise, that I've been cast as the lead villain! The character is a minister - how much fun will that be, playing an evil religious guy! bouncy.gif

Very cool! Be sure to let us know how things go.

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Today I found out, to my great surprise, that I've been cast as the lead villain! The character is a minister - how much fun will that be, playing an evil religious guy! bouncy.gif

Very cool! Be sure to let us know how things go.

Post pictures!

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The last time I did any acting was 32 years ago, in a 9th grade play. One line. In 4th grade I got to play Stephen Douglas to my (very tall) best friend's Abe Lincoln, reenacting part of one of their famed debates.

A few weeks ago, at the urging of my boys (who think I have talent based on my "acting" around the house), I auditioned for a part in The Midsummer Renaissance Faire. Today I found out, to my great surprise, that I've been cast as the lead villain! The character is a minister - how much fun will that be, playing an evil religious guy! bouncy.gif

Cool! Maybe it'll be the start of a new career! Like the bouncy emoticon. :)

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The character is a minister - how much fun will that be, playing an evil religious guy!

Got my script tonight, and oops, wrong kind of minister. I'm an evil Lord Chancellor, trying to maintain and expand my power in the wake of the death of the ruling duke. I'm involved in intrigue with the widowed duchess, and even arrange the attempted assassination of a visiting dignitary! I get to be in a big stage fight, too! Sure, I lose, but hey, bad guys are supposed to lose.

Fun fun fun! Now I'm off to EvilOverlord.com for some research...

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The character is a minister - how much fun will that be, playing an evil religious guy!

Got my script tonight, and oops, wrong kind of minister. I'm an evil Lord Chancellor, trying to maintain and expand my power in the wake of the death of the ruling duke. I'm involved in intrigue with the widowed duchess, and even arrange the attempted assassination of a visiting dignitary! I get to be in a big stage fight, too! Sure, I lose, but hey, bad guys are supposed to lose.

Fun fun fun! Now I'm off to EvilOverlord.com for some research...

Sounds great! Have fun Piz. :)

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An update: rehearsals are in full swing, and nearly everything is on schedule. I'm very close to being "off book" (able to do my lines without looking at the script). We're beginning work on costuming - looks like I get a nice, long cloak to enable some seriously sinister billowing (think Darth Vader ;)). Stage combat is fun.

Here's the character bio I wrote for my part. For reference, Eleanor is the Duchess of Rostand* and widow of the late Duke Charles. Isabel is her daughter. She is to marry William, who will then become the next Duke of Rostand. All this has been orchestrated by my character, who intends to kill Isabel after the wedding and use William as a puppet to rule behind the scenes. James is a rival suitor for Isabel, brought to the city by Eleanor to disrupt Martin's plans.

Martin Goodwin, Lord Chancellor of Rostand

All his life, Martin has manipulated and used people to gain power. He sees the Duke’s death as his chance to take control of Rostand, ruling from behind the scenes with William as his puppet. Along with Eleanor (or so he thinks), he has thus far conned Isabel and William into the coming marriage, convincing them that it’s best for Rostand (when it’s really only best for Martin). He feels that only Eleanor, Isabel, and William are worthy of notice, though solely because they’re crucial to his plan. He credits Eleanor alone with any intelligence, so he is blind to Isabel’s and William’s potential to see through him.

Despite his grudging respect for Eleanor as a rival political force, because he is sure he can control anyone he believes he has successfully deluded her. Therefore, he has no idea that she has been planning all along to betray him. He even thinks he can bed Eleanor, though in truth he feels nothing for her – the only “pleasure” he would get from an affair would be the belief that he has once again tricked someone into doing as he wishes. (Or have they been together in the past – mutually using each other physically as well as politically? That would depend on the ultimate nature of Eleanor. Is she just like Martin or is she in her own way doing what she thinks is best for her daughter and Rostand? Their dynamic depends on the difference.)

Martin’s public face is charming, glib, and ingratiating, but he is actually ruthless, cunning, and arrogant. He will do anything to acquire and expand his power, even to the point of murder – he plans to kill Isabel after the wedding, arranges an assassination attempt on James, and it’s rumored that he may even have been responsible for the Duke’s death. He hates being challenged or disrespected and responds to such with anger and derision, due to fear arising from the subconscious knowledge that his position is precarious and his plan a great risk, as well as from the typical deep-seated insecurity of those who lust for power.

Basically, he’s a conniving, scurrilous mothercensored.gif. Don’t loan him money or let him near even a photo of your daughter.

Character Models

  1. Tim Curry as Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers (1993)
  2. Jonathan Freeman as Jafar in Aladdin (1992)
  3. Jeremy Irons as Scar in The Lion King (1994)

_____

*Rostand is the fictional city-state in which the faire takes place. It is independent of any country in medieval Europe and famous for its export of the rare "Purple-Faced Barramundi," a fictional fish that is a royal delicacy and happens to have no purple on it whatsoever (these renfaire people often have the same bizarre sense of humor that I do). Rostand is also known for its "liberal salvage laws" (i.e. a generally laissez-faire attitude toward trade, particularly involving ship captains who are, shall we say, independent contractors :)). This makes it enormously important to the rest of Europe, which has taken a keen interest in the transfer of power now occurring. Rostand is located roughly where France meets Belgium on the coast of the North Sea.

The period, by the way, is circa 1590.

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UPDATE! There are a few cast pictures now on the Midsummer Faire web site. I'm in two, both on the Contact Us page.

This one (I'm second from the left)

cast2008promo.jpg

is about 75% of the full cast, including both main cast (those of us with written parts) and crowdworkers. Sometimes I think the crowdworkers have the harder job - they have to ad lib all day between formal "acts" of the show, interacting with the main cast, vendors, side performers, and visitors to help hold the whole story together over the course of nine hours. We do that, too, but at least we get five "breaks" where everything's scripted.

This one

separateyou.jpg

is the herald stepping warily between my character and my primary adversary, the Duchess of Rostand. Unfortunately the picture turned out really, really dark, so it's hard to see. You can't even tell that I'd started growing a goatee for the role (it's come in pretty nicely). :)

I know I look rather like the emperor from the Star Wars films, but I had to wear a cloak to cover the fact that as of that time (maybe two months ago) I had no costume yet, so I had a t-shirt and jeans on under the cloak - not exactly "period." (Putting the cloak's hood up was the director's idea. :)) Now I have a "poet" shirt, doublet, "tights," and other Renaissancy stuff, plus an ornate walking stick which becomes an important part of the action at one point.

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That's great! Congratulations with it. I love the pictures by the way :)

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Here's our official press release:

For Immediate Release

“Cutthroat politics" is not just an expression!

Lehighton, PA –

Lords and Ladies, Squires and Maids, and Good Gentles All! Midsummer Productions LLC is proud to present the Midsummer Renaissance Faire to be held at the Ukrainian Homestead in Lehighton, PA.

The 200 wooded acres of the Ukrainian Homestead will be transformed into the 16th century Province of Rostand the first weekend in June. The Duke of Rostand has died, leaving no immediate heir, and two opposing parties battle to decide who will succeed him. The day will be filled with adventure, treachery, and intrigue! Forget twenty-four hour news services; this is how politics used to be settled.

Written and directed by Brian DiBonaventure, the battle of succession is played out through the entire faire day. Two suitors (Joshua Daniel Gieringer and Phillip Jones) fight for the hand of Lady Isabel (Allegra Billy) and the title of Duke of Rostand. Pulling the strings behind the scenes are the villainous Lord Chancellor (Yours Truly) and the Duchess Eleanor (Jennifer Chamberlain-Thomas).

Who will win the lady’s hand? Who will ascend as Duke? Will even the impartial ambassadors Jonathan of the Royal House of Stewart (Peter David Hughes) and Cardinal Stefan Colberto (Stephen Mazlum) be able to keep the proceedings fair and balanced? Welcome to Rostand, where cutthroat politics is not just an expression!

Walk through our gates and be transported into a world filled with magicians, middle-eastern belly dancers, fire breathers, wandering minstrels, and live combat. Stroll through our marketplace and enjoy a day of shopping or pull up a chair and feast like a king on a turkey leg or a hearty bowl of stew. A day at the faire includes grand adventure, enchanting entertainment, the finest artisans in the land, and a cast of motley characters who interact with the audience, making every trip a memorable one for all ages.

This year we are proud to feature Daniel Greenwolf—The Celtic Magician on our main stage. There is also a vast assortment of other performers throughout the fairegrounds, including the fire performance group Kaji-Da, the celtic ensemble Blackjacks and Blarney, period musket and cannon demonstrations by Lord Scrope of Bolten’s Retinue, and middle eastern belly dancing by Sephira Phaedra, to name just a few.

The Midsummer Renaissance Faire is open on June 7th and 8th from 10 am – 7 pm (rain or shine) just minutes off the Pennsylvania Turnpike in scenic Lehighton, PA. Admissions is $15 for adults; $7 for children ages five through twelve; free admission for children four and under; and $13.50 for senior citizens and military (with ID). Group rates (20 or more) available when ordered in advance.

More information and ticket reservations can be found at www. midsummerfaire. com or by calling 610.587.9778.

Media Requests for further information should be directed to:

Michael Kiefer

610.587.9778

press@midsummerfaire.com

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We're down to the wire - the show is this weekend! Here are a couple of pictures from our (semi-)dress rehearsal:

The evil Lord Chancellor Martin Goodwin (played by yours truly), spinning his web of deceit:

Martin01.jpg

Our esteemed ambassadors, here on behalf of the monarchs of Europe to witness the wedding and the transfer of power to the new Duke of Rosand (as well as providing comic relief), Jonathan of the Noble House of Stewart and Cardinal Stefan Colberto:

JonathanAndStefan01.jpg

(Yes, the inspiration for the plot is Election 2008. fool.gif)

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We're down to the wire - the show is this weekend! Here are a couple of pictures from our (semi-)dress rehearsal:

Like the garb, piz. Out of sheer curiosity, how comfortable are you acting a part? Suddenly you aren't you, but some other guy, with that other guy's mannerisms and beliefs.

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Like the garb, piz.

Thanks. It's all borrowed, since I've never done anything like this before. Doesn't look bad, though, does it? B)

Out of sheer curiosity, how comfortable are you acting a part? Suddenly you aren't you, but some other guy, with that other guy's mannerisms and beliefs.

I have no problem with it. Since I have no training in acting, I just model what I do on actors and characters I've observed. My acting for this is modeled primarily on Tim Curry as Richelieu in The Three Musketeers (1993). I wrote up a bio for the character so I could have motives and character traits, and just sort of say to myself "What would that guy be like? What would he do? How would he say this or that? What does he think of the other characters?" Then I do that. So far I've been told it's working very well. (I get very few "director's notes" at rehearsal, which I suppose is a good thing.)

Also, as shy as I am meeting people, I've never had anything resembling stage fright. Weird...

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Also, as shy as I am meeting people, I've never had anything resembling stage fright. Weird...

I don't think shyness has much, if anything to do with stage fright. I only have my adolescent experience to draw on as far as performing for audiences goes, but I played saxophone for quite a few years. Any nervousness before the performance was related to my confidence in how well I knew what I was playing. Even so, it was always overwhelmed by the excitement of playing. I was in the all-county jazz band in 8th grade, and was asked to improvise for the first time. And of course, here I was in a big auditorium in front of hundreds of people. When we performed, it was only my 3rd time trying it. I still remember the way it felt seconds before I stood up, my heart thumping through my chest and time slowing. Was my reed wet enough? Was it too wet? Do I understand the chord changes? What am I going to play?? When is this going to be over! B) Later, I played in my high school jazz bad and as I got a better grasp of how to improv, it wasn't as big of a deal.

Anyway I like your approach, I can see why you're confident. Break a leg! B)

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Last post before I leave for the faire. All my stuff is ready to go and I know my lines - I am ready to be the evil bastard I've been creating all these months!

I'll do my best to break a leg!

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Like the garb, piz.

Thanks. It's all borrowed, since I've never done anything like this before. Doesn't look bad, though, does it? B)

You look fabulous. I think if you would color your goatee black, you'd look more evil! It sounds like you're having a great time.

Shake a leg.

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It all looks very cool! I certainly would have liked to see that play...

Good Luck, Piz!

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Last post before I leave for the faire. All my stuff is ready to go and I know my lines - I am ready to be the evil bastard I've been creating all these months!

I'll do my best to break a leg!

To break with tradition---Good luck, good fortune, good confidence!

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Break a leg, Piz! Toi toi toi! Merde! In boca al lupo!

Have a ball!

post-47-1212725395.gif

Cheers!

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Well, I did it, and it was amazing! Despite two days of sweltering temperature and humidity, during which a street cast member was incapacitated due to heat stroke (she's fine) and to avoid the same I consumed at least four gallons of water and other liquids and became addicted to the shade like a politician to the spotlight, I remembered all my lines (if not every last word) and according to my fellow participants gave fine performances both days. Our assistant director/diction coach even told me that she wants to do Shakespeare with me; she thinks I'd make a good Iago. (One performance and I'm already typecast. B))

My character plotted and schemed, made snide comments, arranged an assassination attempt, wandered the grounds surrounded by four exceptionally large guards carrying halberds (which made me as nervous as anyone the guards might have used them against), had my schemes found out, was whacked over the head with a pewter tankard by the visiting cardinal, and finally got knocked out by a punch from our 92-pound herald (in the background of the picture above, to the left of Jonathan of the Royal House of Stewart).

Before we began I was disappointed because, as the bad guy, I thought I wouldn't get to interact with kids, something I love doing. However I found a way: I recruited them to fill the soon-to-be vacant position of sheriff by asking them to give their best renditions of phrases like "You're under arrest!" and "Off with his head!" and "Stand aside, peasant!" The kids threw themselves in to it with gusto, especially the little girls.

I also got to spend my first ever nights in a tent, learned just how important it is to align one's camp diet with the distance to the privy, discovered the joys of having no hot water in the shower, and found a hideous tie lying around somewhere which, until our harried, haggard, and perpetually red-faced director made me get rid of it just before we began the first day B), I integrated into my costume and which made me lobby to change the date of the faire from 1590 to 1974.

To give you an idea of how much I came out of myself, I actually sang in public for the first time EVER. I made up a verse to the traditional bawdy song "Roll Your Leg Over"* and got one of our minstrel acts to let me sing it when they did the song:

If all the young lasses were wenches and harlots,

I'd bring them to me and I'd turn them all scarlet!

It was the most fun I've had in years! Pictures will be forthcoming as soon as those taking them make them available; I didn't really have time for it.

_____

*That link doesn't have the chorus:

Roll your leg over

Oh roll your leg over

Roll your leg over

It's better that way

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That's fantastic, piz! Good job on the performance, and I'm glad you had so much fun. Looking forward to the pictures. B)

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Well, I did it, and it was amazing! [...] I remembered all my lines (if not every last word) and according to my fellow participants gave fine performances both days. Our assistant director/diction coach even told me that she wants to do Shakespeare with me; she thinks I'd make a good Iago. (One performance and I'm already typecast. B))

That's great!

Considering how much you enjoyed "acting up," maybe you should try other acting opportunities and see what you can do with them.

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