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Cast lists for Watch City Steampunk Festival ’17 shows!

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Categories: base instruments, performance, vivat regina, Tags: ,

We have our current casts for our next round of shows at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2017, Mrs. Hawking parts 2 and 3, Vivat Regina and Base Instruments!

Vivat Regina by Phoebe Roberts

Mrs. Victoria Hawking: Cari Keebaugh
Miss Mary Stone: Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking: Christian Krenek
Mrs. Johanna Braun: Remony Perlman
Mrs. Clara Hawking: Morgan Capodilupo
Officer Arthur Swann: Matthew Kamm
Frau Kirsten Gerhard: Sara Dion
Herr Christoph Austerlitz: Andrew Prentice
Ensemble: Travis Ellis, Ryan McClair

Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts

Mrs. Victoria Hawking: Cari Keebaugh
Miss Mary Stone: Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking: Christian Krenek
Mrs. Clara Hawking: Morgan Capodilupo
Sergeant Arthur Swann: Matthew Kamm
Mr. Justin Hawking: Eric Cheung
Miss Elena Zakharova: Arielle Kaplan
Henry Cavil, Lord Seacourse: Andrew Prentice
Mr. Kiril Chernovsky: Lucas Commons-Miller
Miss Yulia Sherba: Ava Maag
Ensemble: Sara Dion, Travis Ellis, Ryan McClair

As always, I am so grateful for the cast members who are returning to their roles. Their talent and dedication has done so much to make these productions great. But it’s also an honor to welcome our new cast members, Christian Krenek as Nathaniel, Remony Perlman as Mrs. Braun, Lucas Commons-Miller as Kiril Chernovsky, and Ryan McClair in the ensemble. It’s always fascinating to see how different actors portray the same roles, and a show needs to be able to stand up to multiple interpretations to prove the strength of the script. And new perspectives will always bring freshness and originality to any endeavor. So I can’t wait to see what our new castmembers bring to our process– wish us all luck!

Vivat Regina and Base Instruments by Phoebe Roberts will be performed by the Chameleon’s Dish Theater at 2pm and 6pm respectively as part of the in Waltham, MA.

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Performances at Arisia 2017 accomplished!

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Categories: performance, Tags: , ,

At Arisia 2017 this past weekend, Mrs. Hawking brought its two most recent shows, part 2: Vivat Regina, and the world premiere of part 3: Base Instruments. And I am so delighted to report that the performances went great.

Base Instruments represents a real achievement and step forward for the series. It’s the most technically demanding piece on all fronts. The piece is the longest with the most complex of all the plots and character arcs, requiring more from the writing and acting than any previous. Its production needs were on a bigger scale, requiring more sets and the accompanying set pieces.

And to my great pleasure and pride, Team Hawking conquered all those challenges. Our actors’ heartfelt performances brought the cast of characters believably and compellingly into the stage stage of their journeys. Our tech crew took phenomenal charge of all the many moving parts needed to fully flesh out this world. And I was deeply honored to hear from many people what I’d begun to suspect through this process— that part III: Base Instruments truly is the best installment yet. All the varied effort and craft that goes into the making of the show, from the design to the building to the portrayals to the execution to the writing, all came together to bring our storytelling to the next level.

I am intensely grateful to everyone who made that possible. My brilliant crew of designers and volunteers who physically made the show happen. The talented, dedicated actors who brought the characters to life. The enthusiastic audience who showed up to support our art. The staff of Arisia, particularly Persis Thorndike, for believing in us enough to give us the time and the resources to perform at the convention. And of course my technical director Bernie Gabin, without whose expertise, work, and passion none of this would be possible. Thank you all, for every moment we’re in your thoughts and all the time you’ve devoted.

Soon we’ll be displaying the excellent pictures taken by Anna Munch, our official photographer to the event. And we’ll have video to post taken of Base Instruments at the convention performance. But in the meantime, please enjoy the videos of our previous shows, and see the steps taken in the journey to get where we are today.

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

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Categories: base instruments, performance, vivat regina, Tags: ,

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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Welcoming Cari Keebaugh to the role of Mrs. Hawking

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Categories: performance, Tags: , ,

In our previous four production cycles of the Mrs. Hawking plays, our eponymous lead has been played by Frances Kimpel, the talented actor and artist who was one of the founding members of the Chameleon’s Dish Theatre. Frances is an old and dear friend of mine who I have worked with on many projects since our days in the Hold Thy Peace Shakespearean theater group at Brandeis University. My admiration for her as an actor is so much that she was one of the original inspirations for how the character of Mrs. Hawking looked and moved.

Frances Kimpel as Mrs. Hawking

Frances Kimpel as Mrs. Hawking

This summer, however, Frances, along with our beloved stage manager Eboracum Richter-Dahl, has moved across the country to Washington state, meaning they can no longer perform their previous roles. But sad as I am to lose the chance to work with such great friends and collaborators, the show must go on. Which means I had to search for another person who could perform this unique and challenging central role. It’s not a choice I could make lightly, as the whole productions rest on the charisma, believability, and fascination of this character. I had to find somebody right.

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It’s been my very good fortune that I had the chance to meet the very talented Cari Keebaugh and find she was interested in auditioning. She was introduced to me in person by Circe Rowan, who plays the role of Mary, but I actually first encountered her in The Post Meridian Radio Players’ The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, adapted for performance by another Hawking collaborator Tegan Kehoe. Not only is that one of my all-time favorite stories, which helped inspire my love of Victorian literature and storytelling, but Cari performed the title dual roles. Her performance as a gender-flipped interpretation of the counterparts showcased her versatility and expression, as well as raised familiar issues of a woman being trapped by the conventions of her Victorian world.

As much as I’ll miss Frances, I’m really excited to work with Cari and see what she brings to the role. It’s going to be a transition for me in my vision of the character, but I think that’s a good thing. One of the brilliant features of theater is its potential for endless reinterpretations. If these stories are truly strong, they should welcome that variety. And if the character of Mrs. Hawking, possibly the proudest and most important creation of my life, can stand up to the interpretations of many actors, then I know I’ll have made something with true staying power.

So please join me in welcome Cari to Team Hawking! I can’t wait to see her bring our hero to life.

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Cast for Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina at Watch City Steampunk Festival ’16

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Categories: mrs. hawking, performance, vivat regina, Tags: ,

We now have casts set down for our upcoming performances of Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina at the Watch City Steampunk Festival of 2016!

2016 WCSF logo with Day

This will be our second time performing both of our first two shows in sequence, after a successful turnout this past January at Arisia 2016. We are very blessed to have much of our last cast returning to their roles, but we are also excited to welcome some newcomers to round out our shows.

In part I, Mrs. Hawking

Mrs. Victoria Hawking – Frances Kimpel
Miss Mary Stone – Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking – Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Celeste Fairmont – Amanda Hurley
Lord Cedric Brockton – Francis Hauert
Sir Walter Grainger – Jordan Greeley
Mr. John Colchester – Andrew Prentice
Miss Grace Monroe – Sara Dion
Ensemble – Radha Shukla, Joye Thaller

And for part II, Vivat Regina

Mrs. Victoria Hawking – Frances Kimpel
Miss Mary Stone – Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking – Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Johanna Braun – Joye Thaller
Mrs. Clara Hawking – Sara Smith
Constable Arthur Swann – Eric Cheung
Frau Kirsten Gerhard – Kitty Drexler
Ensemble – Sara Dion, Travis Ellis, Radha Shukla

We are so excited to work with this group, both those actors who have proven themselves with excellent performances as their characters in the past, and those who came out to join our ensemble for the first time.

Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina will be performed on May 7th as part of the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016 in Waltham, MA.

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The Team Hawking promise

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Categories: performance, Tags: , ,

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As anyone who does theater knows, the process is a serious undertaking, with a significant investment of time and resources asked of anyone who chooses to be involved. With all the things that can go wrong and the wildcard personalities it can involve, it can be tough to find a production that you can trust to work responsibly AND be fun to take part in.

But know that if you’re considering being part of a Mrs. Hawking play, we’re dedicated to making sure we conduct ourselves in a manner we can be proud of. So if you’re on the team, you can expect a level of competence and respect for your abilities and contributions in order to thank you for lending them.

Here is the Team Hawking promise:

– A focused, professional, and enjoyable process

When you’re part of the Hawking crew, you can count on the process being run responsibly and effectively. We know what we’re doing, and everyone will be there with the intention of making the best possible piece of work we can with focus, dedication, and planning. There will be no scrambling at the last minute, and even when unexpected difficulties arise, we will handle them with determination and grace. At the same time, we’re going to enjoy ourselves, never becoming so serious that we forget we do this for fun and personal enrichment. We’re here to put on a good show while making the process as smooth and pleasant as possible.

– Respect for your time

We know that your agreeing to be part of the shows is a great expression of confidence and a generous offering of your time and effort. We will do everything in our power to show respect for that gift. You will be scheduled for rehearsals in as efficient a manner as possible, and when you are at rehearsals, we will make sure to work productively while we have you. We will never waste your time due to poor planning nor taking your presence for granted.

– Respect for your contributions as an artist

If you’re on the team, it means we have enormous respect for your abilities as a performer. Because of that, it’s important that you feel you are an active, valued part of the process of creating the story. You can feel free to offer your thoughts, and though the director has the final say, your input is welcome as a collaborator. Also, we want you to feel comfortable, so if something about your blocking or performance is causing a problem for you, we’ll make every effort to work out a way that works for both you and the needs of the show.

– The resources needed for the best show possible

Theater has many moving parts that must work together to make the show great. Our crew is made up of talented, responsible individuals who do their best to see that all the required resources are in place to show our work to the best possible advantage. If issues arise, which they often do despite even the best of efforts, they will be managed with cool heads dedicated to seeing the task through to the best possible ending.

– Appropriate gratitude

Your hard work, talent, and dedication will not be taken for granted as part of the Hawking crew. We will take the time to make our acknowledgement and respect clear, and the actors we select will receive a small gift at the end of the process. It’s a token to tangibly represent how truly appreciative we are of those people who help make our shows great.

– A product you can be proud of

We aren’t messing around here. Make no mistake, we want these shows to come out good. We want every aspect, from the script to the performances to the sets to the sound to the costuming to the fight choreography, to be the best it possibly can be. And we’re willing to work until it is. Trust me. You’ll be proud of having been a part of it.

Does that sound good to you? If so, sign up to audition for our upcoming performances this May!

Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina will be performed on May 7th as part of the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016 in Waltham, MA.

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Meet Circe Rowan, the actress playing Mary Stone

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Categories: character, performance, Tags: , ,

For a show, the playwright isn’t the only one with a responsibility to bring the characters to life. The actors who portray them have a great deal of power to make you invest emotionally, to fall in love with the people you’re watching. A story like this lives and dies on the strength of the characters, so to a large degree, your ability to connect rests on the strength of our cast. We’ve worked hard to get the right people together to make you believe in the story we’re telling, such as Circe Rowan, the actor portraying Mary, one of our heroes and the beating human heart of the story.

Circe Rowan as Mary

Circe Rowan as Mary

To give you a glimpse inside the process of making these characters real, I asked Circe a series of questions about how she goes about playing Mary. Here’s what she had to say about taking on the role.

What’s your theater background?

Circe: “I got my start early. Back in the mid-80s, my mother taught at a dance studio. A lot of the other instructors had older kids who were involved in community theater, and one year they put on a production of Alice In Wonderland, for which they needed a Dormouse. I was four, I could follow instructions, and standing up in front of a bajillion people didn’t scare me, so they put me in a mouse-eared onesie and plunked me down on stage to snooze through the tea party. I think I had two or three lines, even. Naturally, I was also in dance classes— one of the perks of Mom working for the studio! —and around the time I got to junior high, I also discovered I could sing. I’ve done all kinds of performance, off and on, ever since.”

How do you see the role of Mary and how do you approach playing the character?

Circe: “How do I approach the character? With a great deal of glee! I’m not a very big person, so I’m almost never cast as the party tank. Usually I’m the femme fatale or the detective. This time, I get to beat up my very own goon! It’s exciting.

“With Mary, I’m in the unusual position of playing a character who has to learn guile. I get to do a lot of comedy in the “undercover” scenes, as Mary is thrown into the spy game head-first by Mrs. Hawking, and a lot of pathos in the parlor scenes, where Mary learns how to best handle her employer. As an actor, any role where you play someone who’s learning to stop fooling themselves and start fooling other people is fascinatingly multi-layered.

“Some of Mary’s subtleties are not spelled out, but are pointers that, as an actor, I can hang bits of backstory on. The script makes it clear that, due to her background, Mary’s had more education that one might expect from a mere servant girl— she handles Mrs. Hawking’s appointment book and mail at various points, so she’s literate, and she ran her family household, so she would have to have basic arithmetic and the like. The second play also makes it clear that she has at least a smattering of British history. Her life was also rather lonely before she came to London and was hired on by the Hawking household, so I’ve put it all together and decided she got a lot of her ideas about being a hero from innumerable penny dreadfuls and adventure serials, which would have come over to India by boat, and which she probably cadged from the housewives and soldiers she grew up with.”

Circe Rowan as Mary

Circe Rowan as Mary

What do you find most interesting about her?

Circe: “Mary is oblivious to her own best qualities. There are lots of unusual things about her that she doesn’t seem to realize will be interesting, even valuable, to other people. Some of the things are explicit in the script. Mary has a forthrightness unusual for the time and her position, for example. She’s stubborn and stalwart, but still innocent enough to throw herself into the fray without hesitation, believing she can win.

“The way Mary sees herself is often very different than how the other characters see her, and it throws her off-balance when people react to what they see in her, rather than what she’s aware of. How other people see her is also colored by their own preconceptions, which only makes things more complicated. All her life, Mary has based her self-image on others’ assessments of her character, and back in India, all of those people were conventional, and wanted her to be conventional, too. In London, from the moment Nathaniel takes her coat and offers her a seat in the parlour, treating her like a guest instead of like a servant girl, she’s bombarded with new and sometimes very strange reflections of herself in the eyes of other people.

“Out here in real life, my field is somewhere in the vicinity of sociology and cognitive science, so trying to bring things like Johari windows to the stage is always interesting to me.”

What do you hope the audience takes away from your performance?

Circe: “Enjoyment! Mary is in many ways the audience stand-in. She’s an ordinary person who gets mixed up with superheroes. It’s strange and confusing to her at first, but she grows into it, and becomes a useful part of the team. I hope there’s a little something in her character that makes everyone in the audience say, “Yeah! If she could become a hero, maybe I could, too.””

And that is the person behind our hero Mary! Check us out at our upcoming performances to see the final result.

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 15th at 8PM and January 16th at 4PM and Vivat Regina by Phoebe Roberts January 17th at 1PM at the Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2016.

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Greater scope of character development across two shows

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Categories: character, mrs. hawking, performance, vivat regina, Tags: , , ,

The most exciting thing about doing serial theater at Arisia 2016 is the ability to show the characters grow and change over the course of multiple stories. This development is one of the most engaging things to present for an audience. When we develop an interest in and an affection for characters, we love to track the progress of their personal journeys. Narrative demands growth and change, which of course we’re familiar with seeing over the course of a single play, but with our attempt at serial theater, we’ve got the chance to give the audience a greater scope of character growth then they’ve ever seen onstage before.

This presents an interesting, and in many cases unique, challenge for our actors. With the lion’s share of their experience being in theater, they have not had the chance to play the same character in more than one story. When they reprise Mrs. Hawking, the first play, they recreate the characters’ original journeys that they are already familiar with. However, at the same time, they must start Vivat Regina’s rehearsal process from the place their character ended in Mrs. Hawking.

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Early rehearsal for Vivat Regina at Arisia 2016, with Jeremiah O’Sullivan as Nathaniel and Isabel Dollar as Frau Gerhard.

So, for example, Jeremiah O’Sullivan, our returning actor playing Nathaniel, must recall where the character begins at the start of Mrs. Hawking, and show him develop into the man he is changed into by the events of that play— with a growing awareness of the ways the world fails people less privileged than he, and a determination to do better. Then, going into Vivat Regina, Jeremiah must incorporate those changes as his starting point for Nathaniel for the next play— and then grow further from there!

It’s imperative that the audience is able to see the characters progress every time we see them. This is how we will engage people for the long haul. We’re hoping to not only tell two Mrs. Hawking stories, but three and four and more– an entire series! It is investment in the characters that will keep people along for the ride— that desire to see where they’re going.

And I love the artistic opportunity it presents for us. Serial theater is something that is rarely attempted, so it’s an experience that few theater actors ever get to take on. I can’t wait to see how our fabulous cast is going to tackle it.

Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina will be performed on May 7th as part of the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016 in Waltham, MA.

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Cast and crew for Mrs. Hawking and Vivat Regina at Arisia 2016

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Categories: mrs. hawking, performance, vivat regina, Tags: , , ,

For our double-header performance at Arisia 2016, we needed a serious cast and crew! I’m happy to say we’ve found them. For the two plays, we are very lucky to have many actors returning from previous performances and iterations of the Mrs. Hawking stories.

1.1. "I would not have left England for this dreary place, but I suppose there are some circumstances that can't be helped."

For Mrs. Hawking, our first installment, the majority of the cast is a veteran from a previous full production, whether our original at Arisia 2015 or the encore at the Watch City Steampunk Festival later that year. This gives us a great advantage in producing this time around, as most of the cast already know their roles well and won’t require a ton of work to whip the show into shape.

Mrs. Hawking
Cast

Mrs. Victoria Hawking – Frances Kimpel
Miss Mary Stone – Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking – Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Celeste Fairmont – Arielle Kaplan
Lord Cedric Brockton – Francis Hauert
Sir Walter Grainger – Jordan Greeley
Mr. John Colchester – Andrew Prentice
Miss Grace Monroe – Jennifer Giorno
Ensemble – Joye Thaller, Chris Denmead

As for Vivat Regina, we have of course our three leads played by the same actors as they will be in Mrs. Hawking– Frances Kimpel, Circe Rowan, and Jeremiah O’Sullivan. But much of the additional cast are veterans of the Vivat Regina staged reading, with Joye Thaller, Samantha LeVangie, and Matthew Kamm all reprising the roles they read. While this will be an entirely new rehearsal process, it’s a great blessing to work with actors who know their characters so well.

Vivat Regina
Cast

Mrs. Victoria Hawking – Frances Kimpel
Miss Mary Stone – Circe Rowan
Mr. Nathaniel Hawking – Jeremiah O’Sullivan
Mrs. Johanna Braun – Joye Thaller
Mrs. Clara Hawking – Samantha LeVangie
Constable Arthur Swann – Matthew Kamm
Frau Kirsten Gerhard – Isabella Dollar
Ensemble – Chris Denmead, Tegan Kehoe, Sara Dion

And of course there’d be no show without the crew. The talented technical artists who helped bring Mrs. Hawking to life previously will be returning to bring the same magic to Vivat Regina.

Crew

Director – Phoebe Roberts
Technical Director – Bernie Gabin
Costume Designer – Jennifer Giorno
Sound Designer – Neil Marsh
Violence Designer – Arielle Kaplan
Run Crew – Eboracum Richter-Dahl

We are becoming quite the little troupe! Any theater project, not to mention any one so large and experimental as serialized live shows, requires a lot of great people to bring together. I am so honored to have so many talented people signing onto the project. Watch this space to see everything they bring to the process!

Mrs. Hawking by Phoebe Roberts will be performed January 15th at 8PM and January 16th at 4PM and Vivat Regina by Phoebe Roberts January 17th at 1PM at the Westin Waterfront Hotel as part of Arisia 2016.

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Gallery of character portraits from Mrs. Hawking at WCSF ’15!

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Categories: mrs. hawking, performance, Tags: , , ,

Thanks to Damian Hickey, the CDA photographer at the Watch City Steampunk Festival, we now have a beautiful gallery of in-character portraits from our most recent performance of Mrs. Hawking!

Francis Hauert as Lord Brockton

Francis Hauert as Lord Brockton

Brian Dorfman as Colchester

Brian Dorfman as Colchester

Circe Rowan as Mary

Circe Rowan as Mary

These shots are really gorgeous, and I’m very proud of the cast for their ability to evoke their characters in their modeling. Not to mention Jennifer Giorno’s lovely costume design! This is the first section of our new Gallery page, which will be soon followed by shots from the performance itself. But for now, enjoy these gorgeous portraits by Damian Hickey, and see how a combination of good photography, talented actors, and beautiful costuming can capture the spirit of these characters.

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