Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An Obsession Realized....

Contributed by Sara Catheryn Wolf
Director of Henry V

It all begins with a thought that becomes an idea.  That idea quickly becomes obsession, and then you have to find a way to realize it.  When that germ of a thought became an idea which morphed into an obsession to direct this play, I was enormously fortunate when I met with Ed Nahhat at that coffee shop in downtown Royal Oak to pitch it.
Fast forward about a half a year later, and that dream has been realized. I’m back home with Water Works Theatre, watching record crowds watch my obsession, being completely realized by talented local artists. Actors with such heart and determination, they rehearsed six out of seven days, learned the choreography to two major battle scenes, studied and worked the language- and some learned it in two languages- all since July 5. We have local designers, technicians, fight choreographers and prop masters who have fleshed out a great story and made it even greater. We have volunteers who work the shows for free- in marketing, PR, box office, hospitality, concessions, ushering- all out of love for the theater. I might also add that these designers, technicians, prop masters, interns and volunteers are working all three shows of our season (Henry V, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Summer Sonnets). Yet, of course, the most important part of Water Works is the audience. Imagine having a story to tell if there is no one there to tell it to? And what a story to tell...

Henry V  is a play for under dogs; it asks us to find our own greatness, to rise above the people we were, or how others may have viewed us.  "Harry" certainly does that- he goes through doubt, worry, loneliness, judgment and overwhelming odds. He shows us that WE are warriors for the working day, and that there is greatness in us all. In working through and rediscovering this play, the most striking thing was its honesty. Henry wears his heart on his sleeve, at least to the audience. He takes us on that journey with him, through his darkest hours to his incredible victory that surprises even him.  The story is an inspiration told by a mosaic of memorable characters.

All of this began from an obsession that was once an idea that started as a thought that was nourished by an Executive Director and a theater that believed in it.  How can I keep from singing?  I invite everyone to come and enjoy this truly wonderful production!

Please visit for more information on scheduling and tickets.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Masks are Back at The Park!

Contributed by Holly Conroy
House Manager, Board Member and Mask Designer

Last summer, for the Water Works production of The Tempest, I apprenticed with uber-talented Nina Barlow, to learn the lengthy processes for creating masks from paper pulp, papier mâché, and thermalplastics. It was a blast! Nina was so generous with her time, talent, and materials…and the woman is SO MUCH FUN!!! I became obsessed with mask-making. Everyone in my family, including my 97-year-old mother-in-law, submitted to having their faces cast in plaster gauze—the first step in creating perfectly-fitting custom-made masks. Since then, they’ve received all sorts of masks, from tree-faces to zombies to Elvis.
Masks are creeping into my other theatrical endeavors,too. A production of The Fantasticks I directed in June featured several, and I plan to make a set for Morgan Le Fey’s magical creatures in Camelot at Village Players in 2013.

So imagine my delight when I learned I would be given the opportunity to collaborate with Bart Bund on masks for A Midsummer Night’s Dream this summer! Woohooo! Bart’s imaginative staging is leading me in new directions and, once again, I’m having a blast! In addition to some very silly masks for the “mechanicals,” I’m stretching my skills on a couple of over-the-top fairies and a changeling boy. I hope they turn out as snazzy in reality as they are in my mind! Come and see!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rewriting Shakespeare

By Audra Lord
WWT Administrative Manager and Resident Playwright

The great thing about working for Water Works Theatre Company is that they truly recognize and honor the varied skills of their team; in fact, so many of us wear different hats that it's not at all uncommon to see the bookkeeper making masks or the office wench writing a play! 

Last season, Executive Director Ed Nahhat wanted to offer a new event: afternoon performances of Shakespeare's sonnets in Starr Jaycee Park. Ed was familiar with my successes as a local playwright and suggested that I be involved.  I got to work and cobbled together a script from Shakespeare's sonnets, creating a theatrical event which would ultimately become the one-act play, Summer Sonnets. To give it narrative structure, I set it in the Classic Hollywood era, using the basic bones of All About Eve, a classic Bette Davis film that explores the rivalry between an aging stage diva and a much younger newcomer. Throw in some wacky film fans, a tuneless minstrel, a violent death, and...wham! It was a play. The staged reading was well received (and well-executed by Director Holly Conroy and her talented cast) that we decided that Summer Sonnets should have an encore.

Flash forward to this year's Version 2.0. The rewrite is complete, and currently in rehearsals under the able direction of JM Ethridge, a woman whose comic instincts are impeccable. If I die before she does, I'd like her to write the eulogy. I would probably laugh myself back to life. The new script has been contemporized, sexied-up and moved to contemporary Hollywood. We've added more music and amped up the wackiness, celebrity, bitchiness and sleaze. It's fantastic, unique and hilarious, and I am very proud of the part I played in making this happen. When I began to write plays, I never dreamed I would end up rewriting Shakespeare, but again this summer, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Please join us for this FREE show Saturdays and Sundays August 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 3:00pm. No tickets necessary, just come as you are. We look forward to seeing you at the park!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What Will You Do With YOUR Kids This Summer???

KidsAct! Rehearsal

By Jennifer Clark, WWT Marketing Director & KidsAct! Mom

School lets out in 2 weeks. In my mind, as a working parent, is the ever-present Summer Vacation Question: What am I going to do with my kids?

Seven years ago, I stumbled upon an answer that has kept my children enthralled and excited every summer. KidsAct!When my son was six years old, he was interested in typical boy stuff, including sword-fighting pirates and heroes. As I researched camps, it won’t surprise you that I didn’t find many that offered sword-fighting as an option. One did … KidsAct! (grades 1-8).

Now, seven years later, my son is ready to embark upon his “Senior Year” in KidsAct!-- he can hardly wait to start the program August! He’s enjoyed the benefits with opportunities few kids can boast about. He’s handled a sword every summer and fought choreographed swordfights. Plus, he’s performed one of these fights while reciting lines from Macbeth. During his seven years in the KidsAct! program, Jarod has done scenework from Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet (yes, he performed the Balcony Scene at 8 years old), Macbeth, Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Tempest. Plus, he’s the only kid from the program who can say he PERFORMED in the Main Production. At only 9 years old, he auditioned and was cast in Macbeth, giving him the unique opportunity to perform in THREE fight scenes, including a death scene, in a professional theater production.

As a mom, I can tell you that his KidsAct! experience transfers to his school life. He’s a confident 13 year old who can speak well in front of others, participating in the Optimist Club Speech Competition these past few years. Plus, he’s become a key volunteer for the Water Works Theatre Company – but that’s another blog.

Swordfighting isn’t the only draw. And now my daughter, only a baby when her brother began his experience with KidsAct!, is in her second summer with the program. The big attraction for her isn’t swords … it’s the unique dancing and improvisation she learns and performs. Her enthusiasm drew two of her best friends into the program – one of them even drives from Grosse Pointe to come to Starr-Jaycee Park ! A chance to learn Shakespeare, act, do improvisational exercises and even work with swords is unique for any child. Each of these girls has acquired a level of confidence while enjoying the opportunity to perform on the Water Works Theatre stage in the park.

I can tell you that Water Works, first a special experience for my kids, has given me my own unique challenges and memories as a member of the Water Works Theatre Company Staff. I’ve met so many people, faced my own challenges and had such fun as the Events & Community Marketing Director and Park Hospitality Manager. But wait … that’s even a different blog … J

Next year, Jarod has a new Water Works challenge to look forward to … He will make the transition and graduate to the Water Works Academy (grades 9-12) . He can hardly wait to experience this next level of theatrical education. More scenework … more one-on-one training … more opportunities to learn and grow and become more confident. Shakespeare shaped by the hands of high school students. Even I’m excited to see where he goes as his Water Works education continues!

So, what are you going to do with YOUR kids this summer? Both my kids are going to KidsAct!

To learn more about KidsAct! (grades 1-8) and Water Works Academy (grades 9-12) please  visit

Water Works Academy Student Actors