Tuesday, October 09, 2007

8 Views Towards Center

Integrity Productions
October 6, 2007; closes November 3, 2007

Posted by Anton Ego

You'll think about this one for days. Fascinating, excellently drawn characters, played to perfection by magnificent ensemble (Kim Bogus the one painful exception). Funny and poignant. No plot or "story," more an exploration of women's role in society - if that's not your bag, stay home. Viewpoints "poses" distracting and unnecessary.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Followspot, as this is a premiere, can you comment more on the script? Is this a play you think can go the distance?

Anonymous said...

According to the Integrity Productions website (the link is above for the lazy or uninformed) it is a world premiere by Portland's own Francesca Sanders.

Anonymous said...

I think the question was to the actual script...as a premiere, is it good enough to stand the test of time? I think it is an interesting piece on many levels, and it definitely leaves you ruminating as you leave the theatre. I think that the actual characters are quite interesting. Some of the meat of the "plot" seems a little vague, like it could be fleshed out more. The one male character, Matt, seems to have the most "arc" to his character...if the rest of the piece were more like his journey, with more purpose and closure, I think it would be more effective. Lovely use of language, though.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on the costumes, lights, sound, set?

Anonymous said...

The atmosphere of this play is pretty unique for the Arena Stage space. Levels, a sand pit and a "shadow" tent make up most of the set. Lighting is phenomenal. I understand the original designer disappeared prior to tech, so they brought in someone who designed and hung the lights quickly; you'd never know it. The sound design is very impressive and unique, and is "performed" by the designer. The combination of the technical aspects with the "mysterious" setting and use of pauses and movement make this evening of theatre unusual, beautiful and at times mesmerizing.

Anonymous said...

What was wrong with Kim Bogus?

Anonymous said...

Those actors worked their butts off. Some to a better end than others, but damn. that was a lot to take in and spit out. I'd like to hear from the cast!

Anonymous said...

Well, since ya asked. It was a TON of info to take in and spit out. Some of it was beautiful, and some I wanted to throw on the ground and be like, hold up! I have no IDEA why I'm saying this? I kept trying to find things in the "architecture", and I know for one, I SUCKED at that. I wanted to connect with my peeps onstage, and it was so hard, even though I know they were giving their all. I can only say I respected it, and my fellow actors.
we played. And I think we got the true mANASS out of all of it. I love you all. Damn, beautiful babies. This was hard. But I have learned from all of you beautiful people.

Let us laugh. Let them laugh. Let them not come. Every night we grow..and that HAS to be our payment. Every cent.

MUAH!

Chris said...

What the hell?

Anonymous said...

This was the first time a couple of us had used the Viewpoints technique to put a performance together. It was a very interesting experience, to say the least. So many thought-provoking ideas to juggle at one time. I'm glad it opened up discussions for audience members.
On the subject of audience members, where the hell are they ??? We've had more people on stage than in the seats. And two of those were the playwright and her husband. It is SOOOO discouraging to put in all the time and effort we do and not have anyone show up. I personally benefit a lot from the energy of the audience, but when they are practically non-existent,well, you know what I'm saying.
The publicity has been terrible. Someone from the Snoregonian reviewed us, but it only appeared online. Never made it to the A&E yesterday. Why's that ? Integrity can't afford to purchase ads, so we're dependent on the local press to "sell" our production. Not very reliable at all.
Any others feel this way ?

Anonymous said...

Yeah...an audience would be nice. Maybe if the sand aspect were more hyped?? (-;

Anonymous said...

Ok, the sound design on this show was annoying, distracting and pretentous.

Breathing? Gimme a freaking break. Oh no, the evil breath monster is coming for me.

Dude. Chill your pretentous ass out and try to actually give us something appropriate to the show.

If I notice the sound design, it sucks. Try integrating with the show.

Don't quit your day job.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you didn't notice the set, light, costume, makeup/hair or prop design either then.

Of course you're entitled to your opinion, and thank you for coming to the show.

Anonymous said...

How arrogant -- or naive -- to assume the responsibility of the press is to sell your show for you .... That's what you rely on?

Also, reviews hardly ever appear in the A&E -- it's almost always the Monday edition.

mik said...

Why is one actor being singled out by name, no less, as being less than magnificent? doesn't seem very constructive criticism to not even say what the problem was.

Kim, we love you no matter what.

Anonymous said...

THis is anon 10:21 again...

My mistake about A&E -- upon re-reading your comment, I see now that you were saying that even your calendar listing (not your full review) was missing from the most recent A&E

I've been noticing this myself -- the Oregonian doesn't seem to be running a comprehensive list of what's out there anymore

Has the theatre community grown too big for the biggest paper in town to actually cover?

Hmmmmm.............

Anonymous said...

Curious about some of negative comments here, and Followspot in general. It's easy to hide behind anonymity when you're criticizing, or in my case, bashing an element.

As sound designer, I was singled out for having my work be, well... You can read it for yourself. My design fit the show, because the director (and in this case, the playwright) said it does. I work for them, as well as my audience, and if a few people don't like it, I won't lose any sleep. That's the nature of theatre. If you notice my design, it means you're supposed to. That's one of the elemental principles of design. Any sound you heard was intended for you to hear. There were quite a few cues that you (and other audiences) did not consciously hear, because you were not supposed to. I'm nothing if not meticulous.

If you don't have the courage to identify yourself with a hostile criticism, I guess it would be better for you remain hidden and anonymous. Some people have real problems with new works, because they're accustomed to easy, linear plays. "8 Views Towards Center" is anything but, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

- Gordon

Joel said...

Hi there. I play Matt in 8 Views and just wanted to chime in with a few thoughts. First of all, the play has been a joy to work on. I am proud to be a part of such a talented ensemble and I can honestly say that with each performance I am surprised, excited and stimulated by what they bring onstage. In my opinion, seeing this group of diverse and talented women working together is alone worth the price of admission, but hey I'm biased. Just the smitten guy fortunate enough to have been selected to work with them.

While I sympathize with some of my castmates' frustrations in regards to working on a new play, I would hope that they would also consider the amount of dedication and courage required for Integrity to open up their season with a weird, non-linear original work. While I myself have some issues with Viewpoints as a method of creating performance, I found many new acting tools through the process of putting the play together ... many new ways of thinking about creating a world and a character. Kerry Sorci's direction has, in my opinion, been clear, thoughtful and patient. I found that my questions were always met with a respectful and helpful response.

I too have had difficulties at times navigating Francesca's writing. Her characters often jump around with what they are communicating/feeling at any given time, making it difficult for actors to follow a throughline. But I think that in these cases, it is helpful to consider how your character is contributing to the whole. Sometimes the words you have simply 'smear' the scene with an idea, coloring it in a certain way. You're being used as a color in an artist's palatte ... and not always as a three-dimensional human being. Some actors don't enjoy that, and I get it, but I think there's legitimacy to it. Francesca and I have had several email exchanges and 'battles' over words my character said. I have found her to be open to new ideas and (somewhat) flexible with syntax.

Anyway, it's a play that is still growing. We all know that. And I'm sure Francesca will take what she's learned and continue to improve the play. But sometimes you don't know if something works until you try it out. It takes a special kind of theatre artist to be involved with something this risky and a special kind of theatregoer to be willing to support the process. I think the play is filled with provocative ideas and electric moments. I hope that more people will come to experience those ideas and moments and enter into a conversation with us about the rough spots. That's what it's all about, right?

Anonymous said...

Its interesting that there is so much chatter on here about this show, but yet it also sounds like they are suffering from a lack of audience.

Anonymous said...

This play has been quite an interesting experiment on a lot of different levels, and I definitely respect everyone involved with it on each one. I would love to hear some feedback from someone who isn't in the cast..I don't know if there are many other companies doing Viewpoints "type" productions...how does this one compare? How could it grow? What are the things that worked and the things that didn't? Inquiring minds...

Jill

BJ said...

Gordon,

While it goes without saying that the criticism of your sound design could have been more tactful, I'd hardly say that it's a commentary of the non-linear structure of the play or the fact that it's an original script. He or she simply didn't like your sound design. Regardless of whether or not they gave you their name, that fact remains unchanged.

While I applaud your adamant faith in your work and the production, as an average audience member, I must say that I'm not at all impressed by the behavior of this company overall in this forum. It is embarrassing to a painful degree to witness the cast and crew (yourself included) indulge in defensive posturing over petty criticisms and public whining over low attendance.

Every theatre company in town should and does take pride in their work. And while it would be ideal to have sold-out performances and universal acclaim, that's not usually ever the case. The very least you could do as a professional is to take these bumps in stride and present yourself in a graceful manner.

This production lost my interest the moment I noticed the behavior of the company in this forum; I am not even slightly interested in spending my hard-earned money in attending your production as a result. And I know from conversations with many others that I'm not alone.

I'm not saying any of this to be a jerk. I actually love supporting the work of local theatres. I would just like you to be aware of the effect that this company and its graceless behavior has had on potential audiences.

Anonymous said...

BJ...

Thank you for your reasonable response. There are actually few company members involved on this thread, and much of the criticism we've heard has in fact been because of the style of play. That is, non-linear and to quote one person "too experimental." It's one thing to discuss or criticize aspects of the show and its presentation, but direct personal criticisms invite those criticized to respond.

Your decision not to attend, for whatever reason, is of course your right. A ticket is not free, and I fully understand spending that money elsewhere. However, I do believe we have as a company presented ourselves in quite a graceful manner overall.

Thank you again for your response.

- G

Anonymous said...

Most audience members I've heard from say the show is "interesting" immediately after seeing it. After some time has passed, when it has sunk in or they've had a chance to talk about or sleep on it, they are quoting it. It IS a challenging piece; shouldn't Theatre challenge? Seems like it challenged some company members who have contributed to this string as well. I think most theatre artists like to be challenged...

Anonymous said...

HEY BJ !

i believe this company has
"pay what you will" thursdays, so money should not keep you from going.

if its your time you are resisting investing, then i understand.

however, to deprive yourself of a potentially compelling evening over your feelings about blogs, well that just plain SILLY.

anonymistress said...

To anonymous 06:55:00 --> It's not silly to choose not to patronize a company because of their public behavior. We're all making art, but we're also running businesses here. Raising the bar of professional behavior extends beyond the rehearsal room and performance space.

rufus said...

So. Saw the show. Liked it. Not naturally inclined to this type of show (light on plot, heavier on exposition), but still was engaged, interested, and entertained. Particularly enjoyed the direction. Viewpoints usage did not strike an emotional chord, but still enjoyed its presence because it contributed an uncommon theatrical element. Really love that Integrity is showcasing a local playwright.

Anonymous said...

Anonymistress and BJ: are you certain the comments you refer to as unprofessional have in fact come from members of the company? It wouldn't be the first time I've seen (on Followspot specifically) comments making a show or company look bad posted by someone with a beef against one of the individuals involved.

"I'm the chancellor! No, I'M the chancellor!" (V For Vendetta)


Tim

Josie said...

This is minutiae, but I've always wondered what it says when an author chooses "towards" instead of "toward" (or vice-versa) ...

Is there a nuanced cultural implication?

The devil is in the details....

Anonymous said...

i think it bears pointing out:
haters want to hate. you can do something perfectly and they are absolutely going to hate you.

the trick i guess is not to let their toxicity touch you.

Anonymous said...

I'm going again tonight after first seeing the show opening night... liked the show very much and am interested in how it's grown over the last two weeks. The fact that it's 'non-linear' is a joy - why must B always follow A? And what's wrong with something NOT plot-driven? Men - Go see this if you'd like to understand some of the many competing voices that strive for primacy inside women. There's something here for everyone, if you're willing to take the time, make the effort, and leave your suppositions about what makes a 'good' play at the door.

~ Benedict

la foi said...

Toward and towards are used interchangeably and neither is considered more correct than the other, though people in the U.S. tend to use toward, and people in the U.K. tend to say towards.

So you can free yourself from that particular nit-pick.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting. I would have thought it was the other way around (UK versus US). But I have to say I rarely see or hear "toward" anywhere. Everybody seems to add the "s," from my experience. Sounds cleaner without, to my ear.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmmmmm... another week, another blank spot in A&E Theatre listings for this show............. hmmmmmm....................

alex said...

honestly, theatre coverage in this town among the oregonian, ww, and merc are atrocious. both in terms of press releases and reviews. the oregonian's new theatre blog is the worst of the lot, as it does nothing to promote the running and upcoming productions. really, how is a boring diatribe about the rehearsal process at miracle or the definition of "hell week" going to bring in audiences to our shows? people outside of the industry, that is? how many smaller theatres' productions had their promotional materials tossed aside so that the rags could gush over the tba festival or storm large? pcs, by the way, is not hurting for publicity or the means to pay for it...so why give them more for free at the expense of the smaller theatres that really could have used the help? it'd be really nice if some of the folks who work for the three main papers who do read this could actually address those issues.

Anonymous said...

and how is a whiney complaint on an industry blog ever going to do more than make the author feel (mistakenly) as if he made some meaningful gesture to help fix the issue?

if you want to promote the biz, get out there and do something!

have you talked to those three papers directly, instead of leaving some random post here?

I mean, forgive me, alex, maybe you have been doing just that before coming here to comiserate ... in which case, you should be applauded

but otherwise, I'm just tired of the "why don't they pay more attention to me, we are so worthy" attitude; promotion is hard work and you have to have your butt out there all the time. like it or not, you have to fight for it. and you will, if you believe in it.

there is no single magic bullet, not even the Oregonian.

what there is, is a lot of work to be done.

alison said...

I'm not gonna debate the Mercury's "atrocious" theater coverage at this juncture, but I do want to reiterate this about listings: I rarely have the space to list every show in town in the print version of our paper. However, the only excuse I can offer for not listing a show in FoundIt!, our very well-trafficked online events database, is that I get a huge amount of press material every day, and sometimes things get lost in the shuffle.

As the previous commentor noted, if you are affiliated with a show, it's your job to make sure that it doesn't go overlooked. Do this by harrassing me until I pay attention to you: E-mail ahallett@portlandmercury.com, or call 503-294-0840. I will then do MY job and list you.

Anonymous said...

Marketing and promotion are arts unto themselves, and drawing attention to the performing arts in particular is that much more difficult. I've worked in advertising and marketing for a few years, and am lending my experience to one local theatre company. This is on a volunteer basis, because as amply noted, few companies can afford a dedicated publicist. There is a difference between, say PCS and Integrity (since this thread refers to their current production): PCS has regular staff and funding. Of course, that's oversimplifying, but I hope you get my point.

Still, there's a lot that can be done, and I strongly urge those of you who are involved with any company to get busy. Word-of-mouth is always the best, because people who enjoy a show are more likely to tell friends of theirs with similar tastes. The lovely thing about this new-fangled thing called "the net" is instant access: post blogs, email your friends, contribute to threads such as this, and especially take advantage of community sites such as Myspace. I know that Stumptown, Milagro, ART, Third Rail and others have Myspace presences, and their friend lists keep growing. ALL those people are potential audience members. I'll be starting one for Integrity in the next week or three because I love their work. 'Course, I'm sort of the "resident" sound designer, but still... :)

Any show you like, no matter if it's your company or not, you should help get the word out for. Craigslist is also a great place. I wouldn't be surprised if people sold tickets or collateral on Ebay or similar sites. Viral marketing is easy and effective. I know there are those that have the impression that "if it's not in print, it doesn't exist," but that's going by the wayside.

So if you haven't already, please come see "8 Views Towards Center." It is a powerful play, and a new work is always a unique experience, especially for the audiences. If you're familiar with the playwright's work, that's one thing, but coming in with no expectations of subject matter, plot, themes, or any traditional guidepoints is a risk. Theatre is magic, and it works for some people and not for others. "8 Views" will likely seduce you from your comfort zone into another realm entirely, and some audiences will be entranced by it. Some won't. That's the reality. But either way, come out, experience the show and find out for yourself...

- G

Anonymous said...

Is it possible there are too many theatre shows on in Portland these days?

There is so much going on now, it can be very hard to rise above the din.

Ben Waterhouse said...

Unlike Alison, I am fortunate enough to have about a full page of listings every week, and I try to include everything in the paper. We do have a few requirements of a show to get listed:
1. We don't list productions connected to academic programs, so most high school and college theater is out. I didn't make the rule, but I'm compelled to follow it.
2. We don't list shows by companies that exist primarily for the recreation of their members. I won't name them, but you won't see them mentioned on followspot, either.
3. We don't list shows when we don't get a press release. This happens all the time, and then people get angry. If you never told me about it, I can't go. I even check PATA's calendar every week to make sure I've got everything.
4. We don't list shows outside of our distribution area. I wish I had the space to include Longview Stageworks and the like, but I don't. We're working on an online solution.
5. We don't list shows for which we receive press releases that lack important information like ticket prices, venue location, showtimes, etc. I try to follow up when something's missing, but I don't always have time, and I can't run a listing for "The Odd Couple, VenueTK." Again, this happens more often than you would think.

Of course, sometimes I manage to completely miss a show even when I've been sent a press release, thanks to my own ineptitude or our spam filter. If you don't see your show listed, give me a call, and I'll get it listed.

I choose shows to review based on my past experiences with the company, my interest in the script, my ability to get to the venue, and my need for an occasional weekend off. Between the Drammy Committee and my newspaper reviews, I see 2-3 shows every weekend. Again, feel free to call me and let me know why I should make it to yours. I like talking to people. Also, if you have ideas about what would make our coverage less atrocious in your opinion, I'd love to hear them.

Anonymous hate-mail is not a good way to get my attention, though. We just tack it up on the wall 'o flame.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Waterhouse? Can I toss some darts at this mythical wall? If not, how about marshmallows? It sounds positively *lovely*. :D

- G

alex said...

alison, when and where would you debate the issue of the mercury's coverage? because, even though the issue was brought up by integrity on this thread, i promise you that it is on the minds of theatres all over town. my hat does go off to ben for sort of answering the question without skirting around the issue with online resources and how excuses about how much promotional material he receives in the mail. i don't especially agree with his answers, but at least he had the dignity to answer them. the question is why do you have only a limited amount of space? why is the priority for theatre so very low for the mercury? is it an advertisement revenue issue? is it a reflection of your readership's tastes based on surveys? is it that the editors just don't like theatre? whatever the reason, i do know that many of us would appreciate an honest answer. even if it's hurtful.

Anonymous said...

Just a guess...

It's possible that the Mercury has tighter deadlines or other constraints that prohibit it from listing every show in the community. I think we all know there is a LOT of theatre happening in Portland, which whether it's reviewed or not, is a good thing. I know little about the paper, but having worked in the field, there are times when things do fall through the proverbial cracks.

I'm certain that the Mercury and other media outlets aren't refusing to list and publicize shows out of spite. I think it's more an issue of available column space and the timeliness of press releases. I'd hazard a guess that there are anywhere from (at least) 20-30 plays running at any given time in the PDX metro area, and giving all equal coverage would be a daunting task.

Ultimately, this is a business. I've worked with a wide variety of professionalism over my twenty year theatre career, and some groups simply don't understand or follow the conventions. Alison and Ben make a solid point in that even if they're aware of a show, it's not their responsibility to write a press release.

Alex? It's entirely likely that the Mercury simply doesn't have available column space to list or review the wide variety of shows in the PDX area. Unfortunate, yes, but realistic. I highly doubt it's because of lack of interest. It's in their interest to review and list shows, but there's only so much news/info one can fit into a weekly...

- G

Ben Waterhouse said...

Oops! One more thing: to guarantee a listing, I really need to know about a show two weeks before opening. That gives me time to make a proper space request, etc.

We actually have two separate walls for interesting hate mail at the office. The music staff need their own.

Anonymous said...

> We actually have two separate
> walls for interesting hate mail
> at the office. The music staff
> need their own.

You mean there are people out there who are actually more petty and defensive than actors?

Anonymous said...

The two weeks notice point is very well taken for all the papers, in my experience. They have to know about your show in enough time to allocate space to it.

I like to sync my press deadlines with the rehearsal deadlines, and think of them as just part of the rehearsal process.

First Read, First press release. Stumble through before tech, get photos sent, along with an opening invite. day after first dress, email reviewers who haven't rsvp'd and remind actors about their comps.

I've been shocked at going to opening nights in this town where there are not even actor's friends in the audience- there's no one. That just seems like an extraordinary waste of everyone's effort to me. Makes me think the actors and directors are not proud enough of their work to invite people to it. And if that's the case, then maybe its best the reviewers DON'T see it, you know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

"Is it possible there are too many theatre shows on in Portland these days?"

WHAT?!?!?! TOO MANY?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

"Is it possible there are too many theatre shows on in Portland these days?"

I like to think the problem is much bigger than that: we live in a society that has not been supporting the arts as much as those overseas or (perhaps) as much as it used to. With arts education way down, you get

-- actors underpaid (so we can't afford to see all of one another's shows)
-- short runs (within a week as well as across a month, so opportunities are brief)
-- insufficient space and coverage by papers
-- etc.

Anonymous said...

So, Benedict 10/19 -- did you go back? What did you think? I'm fascinated that you went twice, especially in light of the discussion about too many shows in Portland...

Tim Krause said...

As some of you know, I organize a quarterly PATA-endorsed Portland theatre marketers roundtable.

I'm pleased to tell you that our next meeting will feature the arts editors/journalists from many of the leading Portland publications mentioned here, including the Oregonian, Willamette Week, Mercury, Tribune, Just Out, and Followspot among others.

Hopefully this will be a positive step in creating or strengthening our ties with the local print media by breaking the ice, putting faces to press releases, and generally getting to know each other's wants and needs and limitations.

If you do hands-on marketing for a local theatre and didn’t receive an e-vite, please contact me at timkra (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Thanks.

alison said...

>>Alex? It's entirely likely that the Mercury simply doesn't have available column space to list or review the wide variety of shows in the PDX area. Unfortunate, yes, but realistic. I highly doubt it's because of lack of interest. It's in their interest to review and list shows, but there's only so much news/info one can fit into a weekly...<<

Yep.

Alex, if you have any further questions about how newspapers work, I'd be happy to answer them via e-mail.