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We’re up on the schedule at the Watch City Steampunk Festival!

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The Watch City Steampunk Festival has now posted its complete schedule of events!  

The Festival takes place from the evening of Friday, May 8th to the evening of Saturday, May 9th. The opening night kickoff on Friday will consist of two parties! The first one at Global Thrift on Moody Street in Waltham, from 7PM to 9PM, where you can purchase items to make yourself a proper steampunk costume. The second one is at the Center for Digital Arts, also on Moody Street, from 8PM to 10PM while light refreshments are served while you wander through a steampunk art exhibit. You may even have a chance to glimpse the set for Mrs. Hawking up close and in person, as it will already be in our CDA performance space. 

Saturday, May 9th is the full day of free steampunk events! The complete schedule of events is now available from viewing, jam-packed with interesting art, performance, music, and exhibition. There is also a list of vendors who will be selling their various steampunk-related crafts, wares, and art pieces on Waltham Common. And of course, Mrs. Hawking is proud to be featured among them! As you can see, there will be two chances to see us, one at 2PM and one at 6PM in the Center for Digital Arts. As our new trailer for the show demonstrates, you won’t want to miss it.

So as if our grand adventure weren’t enough to draw you to the Festival, the myriad of other excellent events for adults and families, steampunks and casual fans, will make for an excellent time. Come for the badass Victorian lady Batman, stay for the rest of the steampunk music, art, and performance!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.

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Theatrical trailer for Mrs. Hawking!

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Curious for a sneak peek of our upcoming production of Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival? Well, check out our offical theatrical trailer to get a glimpse of the play!

Many thanks to Bernie Gabin and Joe Gabin for putting this together! We hope to capture the high action, high intensity ride of our steampunk superhero story, so as to intrigue both fans of the genre and casual viewers alike. So if that looks exciting to you, please be sure to join us for our two performances this coming May!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.

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Reviewers wanted for Mrs. Hawking at WCSF!

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Are you the kind of person who thinks deeply about media, forms opinions, and wants to talk about them?

Do you write for a publication or platform that could provide a forum for an arts and culture review?

Do you have a space to reach people of the artistic, social, or most particularly, nerdy persuasion?

I’ve always believe that art should stand up to critique and analysis, and thoughtful examinations can generate interest and investment in a piece. So for our upcoming production of Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival, we’re putting out a call for anyone who would be interested in seeing the show and writing a review. 

We’re fortunate in that we have one reviewer having already agreed to come, but it would be great to have more perspectives and more voices out there. If we do well in your eyes, outside voices talking about us could be a great help, and if we don’t, it will be very useful information to know where we need to improve. Let us know you’ll be coming, and we’ll reserve you a seat. And afterward, let us know where we can find your writeup, so we can see how we did. 

So if you or anyone you know has a platform for the arts, steampunk, or general geekery, please come on out and give us the chance to impress you!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.

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Nathaniel’s atypical role in defining the three-man team

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A major goal of the plot in “Mrs. Hawking” is the establishment of the three-man superhero team of Mrs. Hawking, Mary, and Nathaniel. It takes a little working out to nail down everyone’s role, carrying over into the interpersonal conflict in the next story “Vivat Regina,” but by the end of this first play, we see a clear example of how they might fit together. But forming the team is not just for the sake of their superheroing work. It’s also for building a compelling social dynamic that we can explore over the course of their adventures.

I’m hoping to find ways to distinguish this team from other examples in the genre. Just fact that the women take the foremost roles, and actually outnumber the male members, is a good start— and way rarer than it should be. But more than that, I’m recasting the traditional roles characters like that fit into. Mrs. Hawking is the mastermind who runs point on all their operations. Mary is the man on the ground, ready to create a distraction or throw a punch. Still, occasionally you do see women in physical or leadership roles nowadays. So perhaps most unusual at all is Nathaniel, whose role on the team is probably what most people would consider to be the most traditionally feminine.

We learn quickly in “Mrs. Hawking” that Nathaniel is a talker and a people person, able to gain information and advantage through interaction with others and improvising conversation on the spot. He is good-looking, well-connected, and has obvious charisma, which makes him an easy candidate for their faceman. The team charmer, however, is a role usually played by a team’s female member. Additionally, from an interpersonal perspective, Nathaniel is their peacemaker. It is important to him that those close to him are getting along, and he is the one who takes steps to defuse tension and see that relationships are repaired. This is even more striking than the faceman position, as the job of tending to the emotional health of relationships is even more rarely placed on male characters.

I like this because it makes Nathaniel fairly unique in this respect. Also it makes for an interesting juxtaposition with his process of unlearning the standards of patriarchal society that is a big part of his character journey. That’s something I enjoy doing, casting conventionally masculine characters in lights considered to be traditionally feminine, because it upends expectations and widens the variety of portrayals we see in literature. Undermining the rigid definition of gender roles is a worthy goal, but more than that, it serves to define Nathaniel as an individual, giving more dimension to a character I hope to make interesting, unusual, and worth following.

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.

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Reimagining a production the second time around

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Theater is an interesting, possibly unique art form in that because you produce it live, every time you mount a new production you have the option to change things about it. You can use new actors, new costumes, new blocking, new interpretation of the characters, all of which can make the end product feel like a different story. I tend to encourage people, especially when they’re putting on classic plays that people have seen many times, to put a new and different spin on things to excite the audience. Otherwise, what’s the point of doing yet another Hamlet, Earnest, or Streetcar when we’ve seen it a hundred times?

It makes an interesting question while putting together this next production of Mrs. Hawking. This is a new play that I’m trying to get out in the public conscious, rather than a well-known classic. I’m still working to create an image of what the story and characters are in people’s minds. That means I’m inclined to portray it according to the vision of it I’m hoping to establish. I’m not sure it’s ready to dilute its identity while still in its infancy out in the world.

However, the circumstances of this production are a bit different than the original. We have about half the cast played by new actors, who will necessarily have different capabilities, weaknesses, and affects. In some cases it will be necessary to amend things for that, and it only makes sense to take advantage of different talents. For example, Circe Rowan, our Mary this time around, has a remarkable knowledge and facility for accents, and her ability makes it possible to give Mary a very distinct and accurate working-class lilt.

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Of course, when something needs to change, because it’s my play, I have the right to change anything I need to about it in order to make it work. As written, Sir Walter Grainger has a Yorkshire brogue, specified by the words he uses that are particular to that dialect. However, this time around our Sir Walter is played by Jordan Greeley, and he may feel like he can do a better job with a different accent. In that case, maybe it makes sense to change the script to suit that. As long as the spirit of the piece is captured— that he has a particular country accent, and Mrs. Hawking can determine it by his linguistic quirks —it doesn’t really matter what the particulars are. Flexibility may serve the performance best, and it’s one of the advantages of doing living theater.

We’ll be feeling out what the best choices are as we go. Of course the biggest priority is making sure we make the best production we can. A second run is a chance to bring things to an even higher level of polish, and maybe even correct some mistakes along the way.

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.

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Cast list for Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival ’15!

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We have assembled our cast list for the encore production of Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival in Waltham this May!

Cast

Mrs. Victoria Hawking – Frances Kimpel
Miss Mary Stone – Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking – Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Celeste Fairmont – Sarah Jenkins
Lord Cedric Brockton – Francis Hauert
Sir Walter Grainger – Jordan Greeley
Mr. John Colchester – Brian Dorfman
Miss Grace Monroe – Jennifer Giorno
Ensemble – Andrew Prentice, Morgan Ong

Crew

Director – Phoebe Roberts
Stage Manager – Eboracum Richter-Dahl
Technical Director – Bernie Gabin
Costume Designer – Jennifer Giorno
Sound Designer – Neil Marsh
Makeup Artist – Indigo Darling
Violence Designer – Arielle Kaplan

As you can see, it’s a mix of old and new hands from our previous production. While we are sorry to see so many of our talented original cast depart, I’m extremely excited to work with the fabulous new people we’ve found. I look forward to seeing what new and different dimensions they will bring out of the play, and the freshness that their personal intepretations will bring.

So be sure to join at the Watch City Steampunk Festival this May to see how things shape up!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.

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TONIGHT Like a Loss staged reading with Bare Bones!

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Join us this evening for the staged reading of our ten-minute installment “Like a Loss” with Bare Bones!

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Last night we had our dress rehearsal, where Eboracum Richter-Dahl and Brad Smith practiced their performance where faithful batman Henry Chapman tried to reach out to his longtime employer Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking in a difficult time.

I really love this piece because it is the most subtle of the Mrs. Hawking stories, being an exploration of people who must find ways to connect and express themselves without doing it overtly. It was an excellent challenge for me to rise to as a writer. And I love allowing the audience to have a glimpse of the Colonel, who we’ve heard so much about from other characters, and that many people have been wondering.

So please join us at 8pm tonight at Unity Somerville at 8 William Street, Somerville, MA. We will be opening for a reading of The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator.

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REMINDERS – Auditions for Mrs. Hawking; Like a Loss staged reading

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Two reminders, dear Hawks! 

 

Auditions for the encore performance of Mrs. Hawking at the Watch City Steampunk Festival are TONIGHT and TOMORROW NIGHT, March 23rd and 24th, at the Watertown Public Library from 7PM to 9PM. Signups are preferred, so e-mail us at mrshawkingweb@gmail.com to reserve a timeslot, but walk-ins are also welcome.

 



 

Also our staged reading of Like a Loss will be going up this Thursday night as part of Bare Bones 16: At War!

Like a Loss, the ten minute play featuring Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking, will be read as the opener for The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator, at 8pm on March 26th at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA

“Faithful batman Henry Chapman does not often pry into the personal matters of his employer, the decorated Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking. But when some of his master’s burdens seem to grow too great, Chapman attempts to understand why Colonel Hawking has chosen to endure conditions as they are.

As those familiar with the Mrs. Hawking play series know, one of its most intriguing mysteries is the figure of the Colonel, the late husband of our hero about whom she still harbors so much resentment and complicated feeling. In this ten-minute play, set seventeen years before Mrs. Hawking and Mary ever meet, we at last get to meet this much-discussed man, and gain some insight into the nature of his strange, tragic marriage to our hero.”

Hope to see you are both or either of these!

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Our performance space at the Watch City Steampunk Festival

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We now have a performance space settled for our production at the Watch City Steampunk Festival!

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The Festival will be centered around Waltham Commons and the nearby blocks of Moody Street, which make up an important center of activity in town. Our shows will be going up at the Center for Digital Arts, the education institution at 274 Moody devoted to 3D animation, audio production, filmmaking, graphic design, photography, and web development. We will have use of the sizable back room, which is used for the development of all manner of visual art projects.

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This space is very different than the one we performed in at Arisia 2015. Each one, due to its design, had its own advantages and disadvantages. Arisia takes place in the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel, which meant we were given a function hall with a raised stage meant to be disassembled when not in use. The elevation above the audience was good for the sight lines, but made entrances and exits more difficult because of the need for the step up. Also, we were inflexibly limited by the dimensions of that stage, which at twelve by sixteen feet were pretty damn tight. Our fairly sizable set took up a chunk of that, meaning the action had to stay very compact, making the moments like the fight scene a challenge.

The CDA, first of all, has the distinct advantage for me of being in Waltham. That will make it so much easier and cheaper to transport pieces to the space, as it’s a much shorter trip from where I live. There we will be on a lovely wood floor the ability to spread out the “stage space” if we need to. This makes the blocking considerably easier, and we’ll still have plenty of room for audience chairs. The room will hold fewer people than the functional hall in the hotel, but not by too much, and this time around we’ll have two shows. Likely we’ll be able to seat even more people in total! I would love to have an even bigger audience this time around.

At Arisia, they also provided large curtains to create wing space on either side, which proved surprisingly ample. This time around, however, I’m not sure if our space will be able to provide anything like that. If that’s the case, we’ll have to figure out a way to get them ourselves. That could get expensive, and though many expenses of the last production won’t need to be repeated this time around, I’m concerned it will be made up by new costs like having to get curtains.

The trick, as always, is to embrace the features and limitations of any space you’re in. We’ve done it once, and we’ll do it again. Particularly since this space is lovely in so many ways, and will make many aspects of productions so much easier. I’m excited to take advantage of them!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed on Saturday, May 9th at 2PM and 6PM at the Center for Digital Arts at 274 Moody Street, Waltham as part of the 2015 Watch City Steampunk Festival.

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Rehearsing “Like a Loss” for staged reading with Bare Bones

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This Sunday we had rehearsal for the staged reading of the ten-minute play Like a Loss at Bare Bones 16: At War. As I’ve mentioned, Like a Loss is unique in that it’s the only time up to this point in the story that the Colonel Reginald Prescott Hawking ever actually appears onstage. I like the opportunity this gives for the audience to fill in certain blanks, to compare what they observe of the man themselves to the disparate viewpoints taken of him by other characters.

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This piece stars the Colonel as well his longtime personal valet Henry Chapman, who in having served him for so many years through so many adventures has become his good friend. What makes the piece interesting is that it depicts a rare moment of emotional exploration between two gentlemen who do not often discuss such things under any context. They are Victorian gentlemen, of a culture that keeps these things to themselves. They are master and servant, and while closer than many, there is a level of formality and distance that makes such things off-limits. And finally, the Colonel is in the very delicate position of having pretty much every single person he’s close to in a total state of confusion as to why he married such a difficult, disagreeable woman. His family hates her, and Chapman thinks she’s unforgivably cruel to him; none of them see in her what the Colonel sees. Even among all the other factors, that in particular makes it so the Colonel has no one safe to talk to about what he’s currently struggling with. But Chapman cares about his master a great deal, and is taking this opportunity to try and address the pain that the Colonel is so clearly in.

This was a great opportunity for me as a writer, as it demanded effective use of subtext, which is always hard for me. It also presents a particular challenge to our actors, Brad Smith as the Colonel and Eboracum Richter-Dahl as Henry Chapman, his faithful batman and valet. They must convey to the audience just the depth and significance of the emotional moments while maintaining that superficial even keel. It was fascinating to watch them manage those moments, to bring levels that required a huge amount of nuance to read through their guarded, civil attitudes. Like Nathaniel, I always pictured the Colonel to maintain that particular variety of never-say-die British cheer, which is strongly at odds with the difficulty he’s going through in this piece– and Chapman is seeing right through it while politely pretending he isn’t. Brad and Eboracum did a beautiful job illustrating what is actually an extremely tragic story, that of a man who loved of a woman who utterly lacked the capacity to love him back, and of how completely without meaning to they ended up ruining each other’s lives.

The moment depicted in this particular piece alludes to lots of story we’ve yet to see. One thing we do know for sure is that the marriage of Colonel and Mrs. Hawking was extremely fraught. But there’s a great deal of lead-up before it reaches the state it was in when the Colonel died, one year before “Mrs. Hawking” opens. This piece hits at some of those stages it passed through, how they may not always have been as completely at odds as they ended up, how their conflict evolved from friendly opposition to directionless anger and ultimately to the chilly distance that was the final straw in breaking Reginald’s heart.

Someday we’ll tell that whole story. In fact, I’d like to detail the journey of how Victoria and Reginald met and married in what I’m planning to be the fourth full-length installment, after the upcoming Base Instruments. But for now, we only get a glimpse at another point in that timeline, here right after a major downward turn, in the the tragedy of the man who had the terrible misfortune to fall in love with our distant, damaged hero.

Come join us for our one-night only performance as the opener of Bare Bones 16: At War for piece, The Wheel, written by Zinnie Harris and directed by Jess Viator, on Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at 8pm at Unity Somerville, at 6 William Street, Somerville, MA.

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