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Winner of the Arisia 2017 membership raffle!

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Circe Rowan (Mary Stone) and Cari Keebaugh (Mrs. Hawking)

This December, we’ve been offering a chance to enter a raffle to win a two full weekend memberships to Arisia 2017. All you had to do was repost our show information page on social media with the hashtag #mrshawkingatarisia.

Today we’ve randomly drawn the winner! The recipient of our prize is:

Dave Maddaluno!

We’ll be in contact today, but feel free to reach out about how you’d like us to transfer the memberships. Thank you so much to everyone who entered!

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Can’t wait to see you at our shows!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.

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Hawking Arisia membership raffle 2017

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Want to catch our shows at Arisia 2016, but the cost of membership is a little too high for you? Well, here’s your chance to win two full weekend memberships for FREE in Mrs. Hawking’s Arisia membership raffle!

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For the next two weeks, we are raffling off not one but TWO passes to the Arisia 2017 convention! This will give you complete access to all hours and events of the con in the Westin Waterfront Boston hotel January 13th through 16th.

To enter:

– Share the show information page or our 2017 poster on social media— Facebook, Twitter, Gogle+, Instagram
– Tag us in the post! You can use @mrshawkingweb for Twitter and Instagram, or tag our Facebook page, or use the hashtag #mrshawkingatarisia
– Each share across the platforms counts as one entry
– Share across as many platforms as you like for additional entries

Entries will close on Wednesday, December 21st at 12AM. A winner will be drawn at random and announced at 12PM on the 21st. The selected person will provide us with their contact information so that we can transfer the Arisia memberships into whatever names they choose. We shall be pleased to have you as our guests at our performances!

Happy sharing!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.

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Show times at Arisia 2017!

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We are officially on the schedule at Arisia 2017!

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The MRS HAWKING shows
By Phoebe Roberts

VIVAT REGINA
Friday, January 13th at 7:30PM

and

BASE INSTRUMENTS
Saturday, January 14th at 4PM
Sunday, January 15th at 12PM

In Grand Ballroom B

At the Westin Boston Waterfront
425 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210

Please come join as at Arisia 2017 this January and come see our shows, including the debut performance of Base Instruments!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.

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Vivat Regina and Base Instruments at Arisia 2017

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MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Arisia 2017 Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention

presented by The Chameleon’s Dish Theatre

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts
Friday, January 13th at 7:30PM

and

Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts
Saturday, January 14th at 4PM
Sunday, January 15th at 12PM

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In Grand Ballroom B

January 13th – 17th
in the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel
at 425 Summer Street, Boston, MA

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“True Gentleman” – a scene of Nathaniel and Clara in back story

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I have a pretty good idea of the shape of the Hawking stories to come, most of which will be about exploring how our heroes grow and develop into the future of their team. Every now and then, though, I find myself imaging how things went in their back stories, moments that probably won’t feature in the plays but helped shaped the characters that we know them as today.

This scene written during my completion of 31 Plays in 31 Days 2016 deals with an idea I’m surprised I’ve never noodled with before. One little character bit in the Hawking stories that I enjoy is the fact that Clara and Nathaniel met through Nathaniel’s older brother Justin, because Clara dated Justin before she and Nathaniel got together. Their mild romantic history is alluded to in Base Instruments; it was Bernie’s idea and he pushed to include it. Basically, as they are the same age (three years older than Nathaniel) they came out in the same year, and so met while attending the same parties. They courted for a little while, until Clara got fed up with his interest in other girls and broke it off. She and Nathaniel got together gradually after that.

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This little scene is from five or so years before the first Mrs. Hawking play, and depicts how their relationship began to change into something that would lead to falling in love, getting married, and having a couple of babies.

“True Gentleman”
By Phoebe Roberts

NATHANIEL HAWKING, a young gentleman, early twenties
CLARA PARTRIDGE, a lady his brother courted, mid twenties

London, England, 1875
~~~
(A twenty-three-year-old CLARA PARTRIDGE dashes in and paces, fuming with the beginnings of tears in her eyes. After her comes a twenty-year-old NATHANIEL HAWKING. Both are in evening wear.)

NATHANIEL: I say, Clara! Are you— are you all right?

CLARA: Why, Nathaniel! What are you doing here?

NATHANIEL: Pardon me, but I saw you dash out of the ballroom, and worried something might wrong. When Justin didn’t go after you, I thought someone ought to.

CLARA: Well! That’s very kind of you. Justin shan’t be following after me, not if he knows what’s good for him.

NATHANIEL: Whatever do you mean?

CLARA: I mean I don’t think I shall be seeing so very much of Justin anymore.

NATHANIEL: You mean— oh!

CLARA: Yes, well.

NATHANIEL: I— I’m quite sorry. He hasn’t— done anything ungentlemanly, has he?

CLARA: He’s Justin, isn’t he?

NATHANIEL: That prat. What’s he done?

CLARA: Oh, never you mind.

NATHANIEL: If he’s hurt you, miss—

CLARA: Oh, you know him! It’s only that he has a wandering eye. One grows weary of feeling like the plainest girl in the room.

NATHANIEL: Goodness, Clara, you could never be that!

CLARA: Oh, my.

NATHANIEL: I mean— forgive me, but— as you said, that’s his way. It’s no fault of yours that he’s an absolute rake.

CLARA: Perhaps not. But I’ve no patience for it any more.

NATHANIEL: Nor should you.

CLARA: I only hope I haven’t made a perfect fool of myself. Losing my calm with him and dashing out of the ballroom for everyone to see. Certainly I’ve ruined the last dance.

NATHANIEL: Not at all. I’m sure no one paid it any mind.

CLARA: You did. You had to run out here after to me.

NATHANIEL: Well— I hated the thought that you might be alone in your distress.

CLARA: Thank you for that. It’s quite kind.

NATHANIEL: Think nothing of it, miss. And, please… never think that my blasted brother’s conduct means you’re not beautiful. If I may say so… I don’t know how any man courting you could look away from you.

CLARA: Why, Nathaniel…

NATHANIEL: Oh, that was dreadfully impertinent. Now you think I’m just as much a rake as he is.

CLARA: Not at all. Quite the contrary… you are a true gentleman, Nathaniel Hawking.

NATHANIEL: It means a great deal that you’d think so. Is there anything else I can do?

CLARA: You’ve been a great comfort to me tonight. Indeed, I think I shall be presentable to return. You ought to go out and enjoy the rest of the ball. You’re shipping out soon for your tour of service, aren’t you?

NATHANIEL: If you can call it that. They’re sending me to Newcastle, of all places.

CLARA: Sounds as though you’re in for an adventure.

NATHANIEL: Indeed, fighting off boredom as I keep the logbooks.

CLARA: They’ll make a soldier of you yet. Well, if you’ll excuse me, I had best find a place to freshen up. I’d like to make my return more dignified than my exit.

NATHANIEL: Certainly, miss.

(He bows and turns to go. Just before he exits, he turns back around.)

NATHANIEL: Miss, since it will be so dreadfully dull away in the armory, it would be very cheering to hear a word from home now and again. When I have a moment, might I write you? Some letters might be just the way to pass the time.

CLARA: I would like that, Nathaniel.

(He smiles, then bows again and exits. She watches him go with a new interest.)

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.

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The challenges of plotting Mrs. Hawking part 4

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Bernie and I have begun work on Mrs. Hawking part four, tentatively titled Gilded Cages, and we’re running into some challenges. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as we’ve had this happen with each subsequent installment, but this one has presented some difficulties that are thus far unique.

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The biggest thing to deal with is the fact that we’re writing a colonial story. Part four is going to be split into a present day case in 1885, and a flashback story to Mrs. Hawking’s youth in the colonies. We haven’t decided WHICH colony, though, as we are still doing research to figure out if there are any historical features that would serve our turn. What I’d really like to display is that some terrible event that happened during Victoria’s childhood demonstrated to her how corrupt and broken the system is, which helped to shape her worldview in the present. A natural possibility is witnessing something of the horrors of Victorian colonialism. But I really don’t want to just turn the suffering of the local people to be just a lesson for my white hero, or make her into a white savior for those same. And I definitely don’t want to sidestep the issue and just end up tell a story set in a colony that’s only about the white invaders.

What I’ve got here is a Problem of the Protagonist, to use my own theory– when the need to centralize a particular character ends up objectifying or dehumanizing other characters. Because my hero is white, it runs the risk of turning any characters I include of the local people into objects who exist only to facilitate my protagonist’s story. And I definitely do not want to do that with characters of color.

I’m going to put in the work on this. I’ve got a lot of researching and developing to do yet. But I do know a good way to keep a character human is to give them their own arc, demonstrating that their story is one worth following, and affording them agency in the story, making them take actions in the service of achieving their goals and needs. So, while I’m by no means certain yet, my current idea I’m exploring involves having a local character whose personal mission is the central arc of the flashback’s story. This character, who’d probably be female, could have the protagonistic qualities of wanting something, taking actions to pursue it, and driving the plot with their efforts. Perhaps if she drives the story, and other characters are in the position of being reactive to that, I can avoid making any such person being subservient to Victoria’s development.

I’m not sure yet. I’ll have to do more work. But I’m resolved to figure out how to do this in a respectful, conscientious way.

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.

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THE BALLROOM SCENE: Arisia production showcase party 11/5

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Ever notice how every Mrs. Hawking show has a scene at a ball? Well, here’s your invitation to the party— and we hope you’ll dress the part!

This November, the team behind the Mrs. Hawking play series is putting on a showcase gala to whet your appetite for our upcoming productions!

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Mrs. Hawking Part 2: Vivat Regina and Part 3: Base Instruments will be performed as part of the Arisia 2017 convention in downtown Boston this January. Before we go up, we’d like to invite you to this free promotional event to eat, dance, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how these stories come together. We’ll even show you a few scenes from the performances to give you an early glimpse at our shows.

There will be fall foods served buffet style. All guests will be given a ticket for a free raffle of door prizes, including a weekend membership to Arisia 2017. We welcome you to come in steampunk costume, and have your picture taken by a photographer to be posted to our Facebook page. Entrance is FREE, but donations toward the show are gladly accepted.

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So put on your finest evening attire and join us at this free event to promote and celebrate our Mrs. Hawking productions, Part 2: Vivat Regina and Part 3: Base Instruments, at Arisia 2017!

THE BALLROOM SCENE:
Saturday, November 5th
8pm-11pm at the Democracy Center at 45 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA

Featuring:
– Food and beverages
– Music
– Door prizes in a free raffle
– Displays of the specially designed properties from the shows
– Sneak peeks into behind the scenes info
– Scenes from our Arisia 2017 shows

More info to come, but mark your calendars now and RSVP on the Facebook event!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.

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Cast lists for Vivat Regina and Base Instruments at Arisia 2017!

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We have finalized our casts for our shows at Arisia 2017, Mrs. Hawking parts 2 and 3, Vivat Regina and Base Instruments!

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Vivat Regina by Phoebe Roberts

Mrs. Victoria Hawking: Cari Keebaugh
Miss Mary Stone: Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking: Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Johanna Braun: Joye Thaller
Mrs. Clara Hawking: Sara Smith
Officer Arthur Swann: Matthew Kamm
Frau Kirsten Gerhard: Kitty Drexel
Herr Christoph Austerlitz: Andrew Prentice
Ensemble: Sara Dion, Travis Ellis

Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts

Mrs. Victoria Hawking: Cari Keebaugh
Miss Mary Stone: Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking: Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Clara Hawking: Sara Smith
Sergeant Arthur Swann: Matthew Kamm
Mr. Justin Hawking: Eric Cheung
Miss Elena Zakharova: Arielle Kaplan
Henry Cavil, Lord Seacourse: Andrew Prentice
Mr. Kyril Chernovsky: Isaiah Plovnick
Miss Yulia Sherba: Ava Maag
Ensemble: Sara Dion, Travis Ellis

And of course, our amazing crew:

Technical Director, Set Designer: Bernie Gabin
Costume Designer, Wardrobe Mistress: Jennifer Giorno
Violence Designer: Arielle Kaplan
Additional Sound Design: Neil Marsh

As always, I am honored when collaborators have a good enough time working with us that they want to come back, and we have a large number of actors who are gracing us with their talents again. It’s so great to have the chance to watch them build their performances over multiple arcs, and she how they interpret that character’s continuing journey.

I’m also really excited about our new collaborators! As I’ve mentioned, my longtime friend and theater partner Frances Kimpel has moved on, but I’m delighted to welcome Cari Keebaugh to the role. Additionally, a fellow committee member from the Watch City Steampunk Festival, Isaiah Plovnick, will be taking on his first role with us.

It’s a wonderful group, and I can’t wait to see how they continue the Mrs. Hawking story as an ensemble.

But in addition to this cast, we’re looking for a few additional crew members. If anyone is interested in being our stage manager, we could very much use the help. We wouldn’t need you for every rehearsal, and though it would be great to start having you when the actors get off-book, but the only time absolutely necessary is tech week and the shows, starting January 8th going through Arisia weekend, the 13th through 15th. There is a small stipend available, plus free admission to the Arisia convention. If you’re interested in joining Team Hawking, send us an email at mrshawkingweb@gmail.com!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.

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Building a prop Victorian gramophone

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People who have experience in the field of properties for the stage may be familiar with a dilemma I’ve run into in producing the Mrs. Hawking plays. Sometimes, your script will call for a specific prop that expensive or difficult to acquire that is needed for only a scene or two, but is integral enough to the plot that it can’t be changed or cut. That means you’re stuck investing in getting or making the damn thing, even though it’s going to be a lot of effort for not a ton of use.

In Vivat Regina, that one prop was the service trolley. It was called for only once in the opening scene, but the action of the scene absolutely depended on it to unfold. Unfortunately, a trolley with the right look for a fancy Victorian party was a pretty specific order, and even at the low end those things don’t come cheap. After a lot of research, the most affordable appropriate one we could find ended up being the single most expensive piece bought for that play.

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For Base Instruments, we’ve talked about the challenges of one specific setting. But the showpiece prop in that one will be the gramophone. The device is important in two scenes, the first when listening to the score of La Bayadere helps Mrs. Hawking determine where certain players would have been at a specific time, and the second when it is used to keep the pace of events during the reconstruction of the crime scene.

Invented in 1877, the phonograph would be a pretty hot new piece of technology for our gang in 1883. At that time, only wealthy households might own one. It may be that Mrs. Hawking went out and bought one specifically in the process of working this case. At the time the device operated not with vinyl discs like later models, but instead with the needle running along the grooves in wax cylinders. There’s a brief reference to one in Vivat Regina when Frau Gerhard offers to play Nathaniel the music from Die Fledermaus.

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Actual antique phonographs are pretty far out of our budget, we are forced to get creative and build a prop version! The important features are the wooden cabinet, the horn, the crank, and the mechanism with the cylinders. We may be able to get away with obscuring the mechanism by implying that it’s hidden inside a lid, but the others are pretty essential. The current plan is to get a lidded wooden box that can be stained to look fancy, an ornate funnel-shaped piece to stand for the horn, and a brass crack to attach to the side. If need be, the carriage of a typewriter might be made to look like the needle mechanism, but that might be difficult and expensive to get a hold of. In that case, a candle could easily stand in for the wax cylinder.

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This will probably be an pricey and perhaps even technically challenging project, but if made correctly it has the potential to be a beautiful and unique piece of stagecraft. Wish me luck putting one together!

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Challenges of staging Base Instruments

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This fall we’re going to be going into rehearsals for Base Instruments, the third installment of the Hawking series. I’m extremely excited. Not only is Base Instruments the first true mystery of the series, in my opinion, each installment is better than the last, and so this most recent one is the best story yet. I can’t wait to bring that our audiences at Arisia 2017 next winter. But in moving on to this show, we’re definitely inviting new challenges in the staging process!

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First of all, Base Instruments is longer than either of the previous stories. It’s a result of having built up a cast of recurring characters, including not just our three heroes, but also the return of Clara Hawking and Arthur Swann, on top of all the new cast. That will require more rehearsal time, and a different use of our performance time slot. Do we need an intermission this time, for example? But the advantage is that now we can tell multiple story threads at once, switching between the various journeys. It’s actually easier on the cast to have entire scenes to execute their costume changes and other transitions.

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There’s also some new design and technical demands. We’re lucky in that we can reuse much of the set and costuming that we’ve put together up to this point, but Base Instruments needs a few new properties in addition. With the Victorian convention of changing for dinner, most of our new characters need a day and an evening look. Here’s hoping I can pull together enough gowns and tuxedo jackets! The great challenge will be in the scenic department— the scene where Mary and Mrs. Hawking investigate the scene of the crime takes place in a dressing room devastated by a fire. We’re still figuring out what the best way to convey that onstage is. Ideally we’ll come across something representational that can be quick and easy to switch on and offstage, but that will take some creativity and engineering to put together.

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Lastly, there’s the question of how to block the climax. Unlike the previous two installments, Base Instruments does not have an “action climax,” but instead a scene where the heroes reenact the crime in order to solve it. It’s an information-heavy scene, without some of the flashy action of the highest points of the previous pieces that involved showy fight choreography. The challenge there is to block the reenactment in such a way as to convey the urgency of all the pieces of the puzzle falling into place, so that the audience is on the edge of their seat to finally reach the solution. It is a scene that might benefit from some higher theatricality, which is not always the typical style of our shows. But figuring out exactly how to make it look right, exciting but not over the top, and consistent with the tone of the rest of the show, could have some awesome results.

I’m really excited to get going. I love that the stories have only gotten stronger as they’ve gone on, and that we have the opportunity to bring the third part to life. Wish us luck navigating our way through!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 13th-15th at the Boston Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2017.

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