Great River Guys: Design Conference

Lee: So hello and happy holidays, this is Lee Gundersheimer- one half of the Great River Guys. I’m starting alone because Doug, the other Great River Guy is in St. Louis at our first design conference of the season, and he is going to report and share with you what our talented designers are creating for you for this season.

But first we wanted to thank all those who turned out this Thursday at MMAM for our Holiday Season Pass Kickoff Party. It was a wonderful night, and the two hottest holiday gifts, our pay-for-two-plays-and-get-three Season Pass and our beautiful Get Carried Away, Julia Crozier designed poster were snatched up by over a hundred forty GRSF supporters. Both of these deals are still available and will be on sale at this Saturday’s Live @the Levee and from our website:

Doug: And now it’s my turn Lee. Hi, it’s Doug Scholz-Carlson, Artistic Director and what a wild weekend it has been. Company Manager Rob Thomas and I drove down to St Louis this weekend to meet the rest of our creative team for the first┬áround of design meetings for the 2014 season.

Lee: What’s in St Louis that we don’t have here?

Doug: Well, much of the creative team was there already. Paul Barnes just finished directing The Mousetrap with Tarah Flanagan in the cast. The show is a big hit – it’s approaching the all time box office record at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis. Our new-to-GRSF costume designer for Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Lou Bird lives in St Louis as does costume shop manager Marci Franklin. Set designer Eric Stone drove in from Iowa City, Merry Wives costume designer Meg Weedon flew in from New York and lighting designer Lonnie Alcaraz joined us via Skype from California.

Lee: Sounds like you had quite a crew assembled.

Doug: It’s amazing how many people it takes behind the scenes to create the

productions every summer. When we assemble for our second design conference in March, we’ll add a sound designer, props designer, production manager, design assistants and several other creative people who help make the productions possible.

Lee: So what did you talk about?

Doug: The plays, mostly. When we return to this column in January, I’ll talk in more depth about the plays and what we can expect from the productions this summer. For now, I’ll tell you that Merry Wives will be set in a town like Winona in the summer of 1908. The set will feature a whimsical take on some buildings in downtown Winona. We also know we will need some local young people to appear in the production. If you know any aspiring young actors who might like to get on stage at the GRSF, send them our way. We’ll announce auditions sometime this winter.

Jim Edmondson, the director of Hamlet, was struck by the fact that Hamlet breaks out of his grief at the arrival of the Players – a group of actors. The one thing that can draw Hamlet out of his depression is art. We’ll talk much more about these plays in this column, but this is the kind of conversation we have at a design conferences. The designers take abstract ideas and turn them into something visual. In this case, the costumes and lighting may use muted colors until the arrival of the players who enter brightly clad, bringing color into in the visual world of the play.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead will use elements of both of the other sets to put us in an indeterminate local where our two characters are waiting, unable to change their own fate. Again, much more to come on this modern masterpiece.

Lee: Alright, more to come, but you might want to tell anyone who didn’t make it to the Holiday Party who will playing Hamlet this summer.

Doug: That’s right. I saved the best for last. Thursday night at the 12/12 Party, we announced that long time company member Andrew Carlson will play Hamlet this summer. Andrew came to GRSF originally as part of our Apprentice Actor Training Program and has since played everything from Edmund in King Lear to Orlando in As You Like It.

Lee: I can’t wait to see his Hamlet.

Doug: Nor I. I guess that about does it for us this week.

Lee: We’ll sign off from GRSF headquarters. Stay warm and Happy Holidays.

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