Writer, Theater Artist, Veteran - John Meyer
Writer, Theater Artist, Veteran - John Meyer

A Veteran Voice

Howard Sherman

Theater Artist John Meyer’s odyssey in service and on stage

'In one version of the story, Odysseus is wrong, because war strips pieces of you away, so everything you feel is raw. In another version, war adds more to you, like layers of paint, so that you cannot be seen anymore. In yet another, you are not a human being at all, but a house that looks strong and independent, and gets a new coat of paint each year, but is also drafty and ill-made, and, you suspect, worthless in terms of resale value.'

John Meyer’s multifaceted, metaphorical view of the ancient text of The Odyssey forms the prologue to the Aquila Theatre Company’s production of Our Trojan War, adapted and co-written by Desiree Sanchez & Peter Meineck, a modern-day reflection on classic texts set in an unnamed Middle Eastern country during combat. Developed out of the company’s ongoing Warrior Chorus project, it is a collage of ancient stories and modern speeches, performed and written in part by a company that includes military veterans. Meyer is one of those veterans.

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Our Trojan War at Aquila Theatre with the Warrior Chorus
Our Trojan War at Aquila Theatre with the Warrior Chorus

A Warrior Chorus

Howard Sherman

Aquila Theatre, Veterans, and Our Trojan War

A group of American soldiers storm the sparsely furnished home of a Middle Eastern couple in an unnamed country. Securing the location, they whisk shrouds off covered objects on the floor, only to find… books. Discovering that these texts are not radical handbooks but rather classics of world literature, the soldiers and their—hosts? captives?—proceed to tell stories from Homer, Sophocles, Plato, and Virgil.

That, in the most rudimentary description, is the outline of the Aquila Theatre Company’s Our Trojan War, which has begun touring in the U.S., including a weeklong stop at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in April. Adapted and co-written by Aquila’s Desiree Sanchez and Peter Meineck, and directed by Sanchez, Our Trojan War emerged from Aquila’s Warrior Chorus initiative, begun in 2008, which has gathered military veterans together in Los Angeles, Austin, TX, and New York for ongoing programs rooted in classic literature.

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I Would Like to Thank....

Stage Directions

From Regional Theatre to TONY Nominee

More than a few of this season’s TONY® Award nominees for Best Play and Best Musical started with productions at regional or not-for-profit theaters. We thought a little credit was due and a Thank You for supporting the development of innovative new works throughout the regional theater community! Here are the TONY nominated productions that were developed on stages across the country before they hit Broadway.

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Other Than Honorable at Geva Theatre Center
Other Than Honorable at Geva Theatre Center

Visualizing Aggressive Precision

The World Premiere of Other Than Honorable at Geva Theatre Center

In the opening moments of Other Than Honorable, a new work by playwright Jamie Pachino, we learn that attorney Grace Rattigan not only suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has a husband deployed in the Middle East, but that she garnered respect for her own military career—enough that a young woman has sought her out to represent her in a difficult trial. The fast pace of these first few scenes of exposition sets the tone for a production that delivers sharply clipped dialogue, bursts of emotion, and riveting dramatic tension with what director Kimberly Senior calls “aggressive precision.”
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Bandstand
Bandstand

Quick Change

Michael S. Eddy

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Costume Designer Paloma Young takes us back to the 1940s

I recently caught up with the Tony-winning costume designer Paloma Young to talk about how she brought the cast back to post-WWll Cleveland for the new musical Bandstand. The plot follows a returning vet, a musician who pulls together a band of fellow vets that join a national competion and end up finding thier ways home. It should be noted that Bandstand is also the first Broadway musical to be '6 Certified' by Got Your Six, a non-profit that works with entertainment partners to normalize the depictions of veterans to dispel common misconceptions about the veteran experience.

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Courtland Trapp is a black Stage/Film Technician
Courtland Trapp is a black Stage/Film Technician

Patience is Proven - An Illuminations Blog

An Interview with Courtland Trapp, Technician

Courtland Trapp is an African American Freelance Technician who has worn multiple hats since the age of 17. His first introduction to theater came as an actor in a stage play. During that process he took notice of the techs behind the scenes and their problem solving skills. Realizing he was up for the challenge he changed his position the following show. Since then, he has been a Stage Manager, Set Designer, Master Flyman/Rigger, and also a Teacher teaching kids set design at multiple performing arts centers in and out of the Los Angeles area. In Los Angeles he has recently focused on conquering the television and film world. He has worked on stage at Ebony Repertory Theater for multiple shows and events and has been a technician backstage for multiple television shows such as Insecure and Key & Peele.

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Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

The Sound of Imagination

Bryan Reesman

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Andrew Keister’s Sound Design for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Broadway’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a visual feast and fast-paced musical featuring a cast of nearly 40 performers, an orchestra pit with 18 musicians, and a plethora of set pieces. Beyond the scenic magic that the production pulls off, the sound design of Andrew Keister (whose Broadway credits include On Your Feet, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Jersey Boys) is an integral part of the show. In creating the sonic architecture run through a surround system of approximately 260 speakers, he juggled 133 inputs on a DiGiCo SD7 (with some spillover into an SD8 backstage) and nearly 120 more on a Meyer Sound D-Mitri system. “Yes, it was a little busy,” Keister acknowledges of working on the production, which allowed him to stretch his wings artistically.

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Ford's Theater
Ford's Theater

Historic and Thriving

Lisa Mulcahy

Ford’s Theatre: A hallowed past meets a modern aesthetic

As we all learned in grade school, Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC was the unfortunate site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865. Lincoln was attending the comedy Our American Cousin in a box about 12 feet over the stage when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a supporter of the Confederacy. What even lots of history buffs don’t know, though, is that the theatre itself has an interesting history.

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Broadway's Hudson Theatre
Broadway's Hudson Theatre

Another Opening Finally!

Michael S. Eddy

Broadway’s Oldest Theater, The Hudson, Returns as Broadway’s Newest Space

Opened in 1903, the Hudson Theatre is Broadway’s oldest space, but has had many different incarnations over its life. It was considered by many as a theatrical and architectural masterpiece and loved by both performers and audiences. The space is distinctive with its unusually large lobby, a triple-domed ceiling, and a system of diffused house lighting. It was transformed into a radio studio in the ‘30s, then a TV studio in the ‘50s, becoming the home for the original Tonight Show in 1954 with Steve Allen. Later, the space was turned into a theatre again, then a club and concert venue, and more recently an event space as a part of the Millennium Hotel. Today it is once more a Broadway theater.

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