I run a nonprofit theater organization. I am the writer/director of a new play, Journey to the Center of the Earth, based on the Jules Verne novel. We are currently in rehearsals. It's a comedy. Ask Me Anything.

Little Revolt
Jan 12, 2018

Join Me On A Journey

I am Sam, Artistic Director at Little Revolt, a nonprofit theater organization. I am the writer/director of a new play, Journey to the Center of the Earth. We are currently in rehearsals. The play is a one-act comedy based on the classic Jules Verne scifi novel. I am happy to discuss our work, including my writing of the play and directing of the show. Ask me anything.

Our Kickstarter . . .

We are currently running a small Kickstarter to help us with additional funding for the show. Consider helping us out. Here's a link to our Kickstarter.

Conversation (71)

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How does the current trends affect your scheme of leadership as a Director?

Jan 17, 6:07AM EST0 Reply

What is your take on the aspect of casting a play using a television? Is it a bad thing or competition?

Jan 16, 5:27AM EST0 Reply

Name an incidence when your advice to one of your actors resulted to an improvement in your team.

Jan 15, 3:01PM EST0 Reply

Is there a time you’ve spotted weaknesses and strengths of alternative solutions to problems in coming up with this play?

Jan 15, 12:30PM EST0 Reply

What is the difference between the role played by an understudy and the way a real actor performs on the same part of the play?

Jan 13, 1:00PM EST0 Reply

Out theater is small, so we're different than Broadway and large theaters.  But generally, understudies are backup performers in case the primary actor cannot perform (in emergencies, etc.).  Understudies are often great actors, but typically, they do not rehearse/perform the role as much as the primary actor. Also, each actor brings their own strengths to a role, so performances will vary by actor.

Jan 13, 7:05PM EST0 Reply

Have you ever had a top-notch big screen actor coming to your play? If yes, did they have a challenge getting used on the stage?

Jan 13, 12:35PM EST0 Reply

I've never had  big screen actor attend anything that I've done, not that I'm aware of. =) 

Jan 13, 7:06PM EST0 Reply

In a rehearsal, what things do you do to prepare an understudy for a production?

Jan 12, 12:26PM EST0 Reply

For this show, there are no specific understudies, but in theater, the show must always go on.  In the event that an actor has an emergency and cannot perform, our backup plan is for either the stage manager or for me to fill-in (since we will be familiar with all of the blocking, etc.). In that case, we would probably read the lines. Audiences are generally forgiving in situations like that. In other productions, there may be specific understudies for various roles, or sometimes one understudy for all roles (in which case that person would memorize all of the lines).

Jan 12, 1:13PM EST0 Reply

What are you doing to make sure you keep up with the latest technologies and creative tools?

Jan 12, 10:20AM EST0 Reply

By reading and by experimenting. Also, by following several blogs which specialize in trends and technology in the arts. I think because of our small size, we are forced to be creative all the time, lol. We can't afford a lot of new technology, but I do like learning about it, because sometimes it inspires us to create our own solutions.

Since you brought up the topic of technology, I also want to put in a little plug for traditional arts. Sometimes, the best experiences in life are the simpler ones, sans devices. There's often talk about new types of storytelling using technology. That's great, and I support it. But in the end, I think the best type of storytelling will always be the original type of storytelling, person to person. For example, we perform our shows without special lighting, by choice. We want the audience to be in the same light as our actors so that everyone can see each other. We believe it makes for a richer experience.

Jan 12, 10:37AM EST0 Reply
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Where do you find the actors for your shows/events?

Also, how do you decide on an event venue/location

Jan 12, 9:11AM EST0 Reply

Little Revolt is a participatory theater group, meaning, we *want* average, every-day people to act in our shows. That being said, this show with a cast of 7 people features more experienced actors who have worked with Little Revolt before, and who have worked with our friends at another local thater (Pelican Playhouse).  We do have one new cast member who will make his debut in this play as the little "Italian boy".

As for venues, there are many factors that go into that, including cost, parking, etc.  We have a great local partner venue (Curtiss Mansion) which sees the value in offering theater to the community. This show will also be performed at a local organization for the poor and homeless. We haven't announced them yet, but we may perform this show at more local venues.

Jan 12, 10:11AM EST0 Reply

Are you able to reflect on a time when you took control to change a negative situation into a positive situation? What did you do to carry that out?

Jan 12, 8:55AM EST0 Reply

Sure. I've been around the block once or twice, and I've had negative situations in my life. Age gives one perspective, and you learn not to get worked up over minor things.  If I keep this related to theater, let me just say this, sometimes mistakes are the best part of doing theater. One, you often remember those stressful mistakes afterwards with laughter, which is great. But also, mistakes help us grow. Sometimes a mistake on stage turns out to be better than what is scripted. =)

Jan 12, 9:16AM EST0 Reply

If you would be working with high profile actors, how will you arrange the many activities you need to work on together for a show?

Jan 12, 8:10AM EST0 Reply

Out theater is small, and we do this because we love it.  I don't think you would call our actors "high profile", but to me they're better than high profile. I've worked with professional actors, amateur actors, and there are good and bad in both groups. I love our cast, and I couldn't ask for a better one.  But . . . to better answer your question, one part of directing is lining up the right cast, and then trying to align everything so that the rehearsals work. It can be a little challenging to get everyone on the same page. Our first rehearsal is usually a read-through, then we typically do blocking (entrances, exits, big movements on stage).  Then the magic starts happening when we get the show up on its feet and people are moving about saying their lines. The key is being organized, trying not to waste people's time, and making sure you have a committment from the actors up front.

Jan 12, 9:12AM EST0 Reply

What is the contribution of your artistic direction to solving issues affecting the team you are leading?

Jan 12, 5:19AM EST0 Reply

I think your question gets to the heart of what directing is. I'm still figuring this out, but in the end, it's the actors who will be on stage performing, not the director. So the actors very much have to be confident and take ownership and enjoy it for the show to be successful. A director can make decisions that guide a show. I do and will.  But I believe the show can be richer, and the cast have a better experience, if there is room for them to participate in decisions. I want the cast to know that our rehearsals are a safe place to experiment and try new ideas.

Jan 12, 9:22AM EST0 Reply

Is the government supposed to subsidize on show in times of financial crisis?

Jan 12, 5:19AM EST0 Reply

In the U.S. there are a variety of ways that theaters can raise funds for shows. For example: earned income (i.e. ticket sales, workshop fees, etc.), grants (either from private or public/government sources), partnerships and sponsorships (corporations, etc.), and donations from individuals (small or large). I'm not an expert on other countries, but it's possible that other places depend more or less on public funds. Public funds can come from local, state or federal sources -- and the process to obtain those funds can often be time consuming and labor intensive. Is the governtment supposed to subsidize theater? Not technically. However, as a practicioner in theater, I believe we should allocate more public funds towards the arts. Of course that's open for debate.

Jan 12, 9:32AM EST0 Reply

Can you name some of the ways by which you’ve mentored or trained colleagues?

Jan 12, 4:45AM EST0 Reply

I suppose I have over the years, but It's hard for me to say, because I still very much like to learn from others myself. I will say this: in rehearsals, whether working with kids or adults, I do try to make those experiences meaningful so that the actors learn. In other words, not just me dictating, but actors taking ownership. I love when a light bulb goes off in an actors head and they "get" something. =)

Jan 12, 9:38AM EST0 Reply

As an Artistic Director, tell me how you prioritize, plan and organize work.

Jan 12, 4:36AM EST0 Reply

Lists. Thinking ahead. Starting with an end date in mind and working backwards. Identifying what is mission critical and what might take the most lead time to finish. Not waiting to get something done (if you wait, the deadline will sneak up on you). Collaborate and communicate with the folks on your team so that they can get done what they need.

Last edited @ Jan 13, 7:25PM EST.
Jan 12, 9:34AM EST0 Reply

What is the risk of an audience that comes to see you at an event yet not interested in "The Journey To The Center of The Earth"?

Jan 11, 7:02PM EST0 Reply

It is certainly possible that someone, somewhere will not be interested. This is why we try to let people know ahead of time what to expect. For example, we wrote a blog post about the show here. That being said, if people like to laugh, if they like a little adventure, or if they enjoy watching two actors play-fight using giant inflatable dinosaurs, then they will probably like our show.  ;-)

Jan 11, 7:33PM EST0 Reply

How bad will the theater suffer in a recession?

Jan 11, 4:13PM EST0 Reply

Theater is not easy. It's a lot of work, and it takes money. Little Revolt runs on a small budget. We like being small, but we are continually seeking funding. Fundraising is a big part of the nonprofit arts word. In a recession, theoretically, people may spend less on entertainment and theater, and they might be less willing to support theater with donations, so the economy is definitely a factor. Many of our shows are free to the community, and we try to fund them with donations, sponsorhips, and grants. If our funding dried up totally, I believe we would still find a way to make theater. It's in our blood, and we believe in it.  Incidentally, we are currently running a small Kickstarter for this show, so if anyone would like to make a donation, you can do so here.

Last edited @ Jan 12, 9:55AM EST.
Jan 11, 6:40PM EST0 Reply

When did you complete the full works of this project?

Jan 11, 2:54PM EST0 Reply

Beginning at the end of last summer, I thought a lot about the play for two months, then wrote it in less than a month, and then immediately began casting and planning for the show. Rehearsals started in early January, and the first performances will be in mid-February.

Jan 11, 6:30PM EST0 Reply

As an artistic director, whose work do you admire most?

Jan 11, 10:52AM EST0 Reply

First, there's Shakespeare in terms of writing and being a maker of theater.  Also, my friend Julie P. who has directed middle and high-schoolers (performing Shakespeare) for many years. She is an awesome person. Also, I admire the work of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va.

Last edited @ Jan 12, 9:56AM EST.
Jan 11, 11:12AM EST0 Reply

Which is your most favorite part of "The Journey To The Center of The Earth"?

Jan 11, 6:48AM EST0 Reply

In our version, I really like the scenes when the two sea dinos fight around the raft, and I like when our giant prehistoric man shepherds the mastodons.  Our Journey is a comedy, so both of those encounters are fun.  In the original Jules Verne novel, there's also a scary section that I like which involves Axel getting lost in the darkness of a cave. But that's not in our show.

Jan 11, 11:09AM EST0 Reply
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What is the most unforgettable production you ever worked on?

Jan 10, 5:36PM EST0 Reply

A show which my friends and I remember most often is a Pelican Playhouse production of You Can't Take It with You written by George Kaufman and Moss Hart. It's a classic. It was one of those shows that came together nicely with good acting, directing, set, costumes, etc. (I was an actor.)

Last edited @ Jan 12, 9:57AM EST.
Jan 10, 11:13PM EST0 Reply

Can you tell us about that most challenging play you had?

Jan 10, 6:21AM EST0 Reply

This show (Journey) is challenging in terms of the movement and physical comedy required by the actors. I've also adapted and directed middle school students in Shakespeare performances. That's challenging, but also very rewarding.  As an actor, the most challenging shows have been the ones where I need to memorize the most lines, lol.

Last edited @ Jan 12, 9:58AM EST.
Jan 10, 2:14PM EST0 Reply

Do you have any other creative projects you do in your free time?

Jan 10, 5:46AM EST0 Reply

Most of my projects relate to theater or reading or writing. I'm a Shakespeare geek.  I'm also an amateur history buff regarding early aviation.

Jan 10, 2:17PM EST0 Reply

Can you cite an example in which you were forced to gather information from different sources ? What trick did you use to determine the most relevant information?

Jan 10, 1:03AM EST0 Reply

My apologies: I don't recall an instance of being forced to gather info from different sources. Thank you for the question. If I think of something later, I will edit this reponse.

Last edited @ Jan 10, 2:27PM EST.
Jan 10, 2:25PM EST1 Reply
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Can you name 3 factors that will help ensure compliance of your company to the standards, regulations and policies concerning your field of business?

Jan 10, 12:46AM EST0 Reply

I've studied nonprofit management (arts and culture sector executive studies).  I have taken multiple courses over the years which relate to business management and legal issues. I read needed documentation, such as IRS rules, which relate to nonprofits, etc.

Last edited @ Jan 10, 2:27PM EST.
Jan 10, 2:22PM EST0 Reply

What was the experience like every time you effectively write and publish a play?

Jan 9, 11:02PM EST0 Reply

Technically, I have not published a play (yet). Instead, I've focused on "making theater" using the scripts that I've written.  I have written / adapted five plays which have been performed. This has been VERY satisfying. However, I don't usually get a lot of time to savor it because I'm on to the next thing. It's a lot of work to write a play (sometimes grueling), and it's a lot of work to direct a play (also grueling). But I love it. I think sometimes if you work hard for something, it makes the personal payoff better.

Jan 10, 12:03AM EST0 Reply
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How does your attention to thoroughness and detail had an influence on your actors.

Jan 9, 12:37PM EST0 Reply

I think our whole troupe cares about the details. We have a great cast, and they want to do their best. It seems there are a million details when you do a play. We try to get most of them right, but we don't sweat the small ones. That being said, attention to details can make a show richer for the audience, as well as more relevant for the actors.

Last edited @ Jan 10, 2:28PM EST.
Jan 9, 12:44PM EST0 Reply

Could you please share an experience when you implemented new information or technology in your area of work . How did it benefit your team?

Jan 9, 11:54AM EST0 Reply

At Little Revolt we are always learning and growing. For example, in this show,  the team has to learn special types of movement. It's a very physically active play, with the actors moving as if they are in a carriage, on a boat, on a raft, etc. It's a lot of fun, but can be challenging. With practice and experimentation, the team will master it, and it will help make the play richer and funnier.

Jan 9, 12:15PM EST0 Reply

What tools do you depend on for your everyday work?

Jan 9, 9:25AM EST0 Reply

For writing, it's my laptop, plus whatever inspirational material I might need around , i.e. music, additional text on my tablet, or images. I also pace quite a bit as I practice dialogue out loud. For directing the show, again, laptop and phone are important, but theater is like a full-contact sport. It's a lot of work coordinating everything, actors, props, costumes, technical issues, marketing, etc. It's nice to have specialists/volunteers who can assist with those things. For example, I have a great costumer who loves her work.

Last edited @ Jan 10, 2:29PM EST.
Jan 9, 9:37AM EST0 Reply
In the creation of your new play, what problems did you have to solve using data gathering and analysis techniques?
Jan 9, 9:04AM EST0 Reply

Hi. Hmmm, data gathering and analysis, not so much. I did have to do research on the original Jules Verne novel, outline the script, compare the original French with English, etc. In addition, we utilize a bit of data for our marketing efforts for the show. But I don't think we've used data gathering and analysis in the sense that you mean. Thank you for the question.

Jan 9, 9:28AM EST0 Reply
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