Monday, August 27, 2012

Hello. Today. August 25, 2012.

Hello. Today. August 25, 2012. There were so many planes earlier.  We only rode on one of them, though.  Not anymore!  Tomorrow we will go on a great adventure back to the Americas and fly on a different plane!  Bangarang!

Except that plane meant they had to wake up at 5:30am.....

Today’s show was an excellent way to end this marvelous trip abroad.  So much energy and the audience laughed at just about anything we said, except Pat because he smelled and the audience knew it.  It was appropriate for his character I suppose.

He doesn't seem to mind Pat's smell here

On a more serious note, I could not have asked for a better first trip outside the states.  Despite my rather tragic and failed attempts to hand out flyers for our show (I’m really bad at publicity), I enjoyed every moment of this ‘ssassins Tour!  The people, the culture, the kilts, everything was inspiring and refreshing.  I was also happy to learn that the color purple is the pride of Scotland.  By the way, Starbucks still accepted my Gold card overseas.  Win!

Casey's version of publicity (with Pat and Brian)

Aside from the myriad of fun touristy things we did, the most invaluable experience was simply sightseeing.  A group of us climbed to the highest point we could find in a park where we could see the entire city of Edinburgh.  Looking out, we could see for miles and miles, all the way to Arthur’s Seat, a mountain towering over Edinburgh.  I was even more fascinated to discover that Edinburgh is built on a dormant volcano.  In those moments, I’ll truly began to appreciate the rich history and land of Scotland. 

Goodbye Scotland!  It’s been fun!  Fringe for the win!

~Casey Kolb

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Someone’s Gotta’ Buy Toilet Paper

In all of the excitement of performing three sold-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, it’s easy to forget that we live in a house.

Let me rephrase that.

It’s easy to forget that we have to actually keep our living space stocked with basic necessities like toilet paper, soap, and even Evan’s beloved bran cereal (although it’s really his own fault that it’s gone, because he consumed 5 bowls of it yesterday before watching the opening 10 minutes of Pixar’s Up only to make himself cry, probably to teach himself regret and human emotion once again after abandoning it in his heartless, robotic, rampage through our communal bran flake supply).

Evan Thompson, a heartless robot of a man

So I bought toilet paper. And soap. Now I don’t have to keep secretly stealing what I can only assume is Matt or Adam’s soap and disguising my treachery by any means possible (sorry guys!).  

And I just found out that Pat also bought toilet paper, so now we have plentiful reserves of toilet paper.  

And lo, the bathroom tissue was plentiful

I bet this is all very interesting to our readers out there, but there is a point here.

I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the wonderful, frantic whirlwind of the fringe and forget to take a good look around at this beautiful city and all the people around you (or your obvious lack of bathroom tissue products).

Luke and I took this idea to heart today when we walked down the cobbled streets of Edinburgh all the way to the parliament building, sitting under the gaze of Arthur’s seat, a famous peak in Holyrood park. On our way back, we peeked into a small garden off of the main street. It was a serene little place, nothing like the raucous bustle of High Street. Then we jumped right back into the swing of things, seeing the fabulous rock concert musical The 27 Club, exploring the mysterious phenomenon of rock stars dying at the age of 27.

All in all, we didn’t escape the Fringe for long, and tomorrow morning will come with its routine but electric rush of set up, performance, strike and publicity.

But the thing I need and want to keep reminding myself is that our trip here is much more than hurdling to the finish through our early-afternoon performances. I want to be sure I realize that I am actually living through this

We need toilet paper to live, and, maybe in buying that, or in living through one terrifying night without it, 

Absolute, abject terror

we can step off our happy little cloud (where I still sit quite contentedly nearly all the time on this trip) and really take in all the little details that I hope I will never forget. 

-Mark Watter aka John Hinckley

(Our scribe less than 5 minutes after finishing this post)

Opening, Instagram and Friendship


I’m Brian, I play the Proprietor and I’m taking a break from live-instagramming the trip to belatedly blog about Monday, a.k.a ~*~OPENING DAY!*~~

My photo map is blowing up! Clockwise from Brian: Alex, Maeve, Lily
How it works is basically we split up into publicity groups with different shifts; Pat, Casey, Matt, Ari and I comprise the 9:30am team, which I LOVE because I can wake up and vocalize a bit after my morning tea in the garden.  Handing out flyers is at once interesting and dehumanizing—Scottish people are not so into my casual Uncle Sam outfit at 9:30am even though it’s surprisingly classy and velvety to the touch. 

Evan and Adam flyering!

My current publicity strategy is just to walk up to either extremely old people who physically can’t run away from me OR young people that accidentally make eye contact with me. I’m too terrified of rejection to go for anyone else ever.

At 12:30pm we all met up outside the venue, which casually overlooks a cliff and a castle. 

View from our venue. Casual.
Chris was about to PEE himself from excitement—as were we all—and we kept being shushed by the production lad.  He then sent us to the “green room” which is really just a fun bar upstairs!  We double-checked props, did a hands-in-hail-to-the-bang and headed downstairs, nervously atwitter.

When 1pm hit, we were let into the space and we sprinted to load our set in.  Both Maeve and I made the huge mistake of doing this in our respectively leather and velvet costumes and thus we were literally sweating our faces off before the show even started.  Since load-in already kind of feels like that scene from Miracle in which that grumpy coach keeps telling the hockey players to sprint “again!” (for the two of you that get that) constrictive clothing didn’t really help things.

HOWEVER despite a few quick change hiccups our opening performance went really well!  I was pretty nervous for the show—partly because I’m onstage 95% of the time and partly because one guy sat in the front row with his arms crossed and a super dubious look on his face—but thankfully we got a really nice audience review by our new mate Gary Stark (we don’t actually know him so it counts)!

After the performance we all split up—some to afternoon publicity slots and others (like me) to relax and unwind at home and listen to Chris and my favorite belting video of Stephanie J. Block ("an E doesn't scare me"). My family came into town in the afternoon so I went up to get some really yummy Thai food around the corner. I literally wanted to bathe in the sauciness of my Panang chicken.  

Me & my dad at the Tattoo (explained later)
A cute side-bar: my parents have used my being in this production as an excuse to tour Europe, and they just got back from Paris where they met up with very old friends, the Momonts.  Context: 20 years ago my parents went to Europe and left their car parked.  When they returned some terrible person had thrown a rock through their car window and stolen their passports and credit cards—that whole smorgasbord of things you are not supposed to lose.  Even as they proceeded to freak out, this random French couple—the Momonts—walked by and despite not speaking any English invited my parents to their home for dinner and put them up in a hotel for a week while my parents figured out how to get back to the US.  Since, my family and the Momonts have exchanged Xmas cards and kept correspondence, and so they met up now.  Needless to say everyone was crying and when the Momonts were sending my parents off at the train station, Mr. Momont had learned one English phrase—"we hold you in our hearts."  Literal tears.

The Momonts

Also of huge note was that Emily Whitaker—our beloved Assistant Musical Director—came to visit for two days! She arrived ~5pm and was attacked with hugs. She is so talented. I hear she does car commercials in Japan.

I'm being rushed to finish this, but other things that happened:
—Some of the cast went to a late-night Shakespeare production of Midsummer, which they apparently liked!
—My family and I went to see the Tattoo, a kind of military display that included both a performance of "Highway to Hell" and a royal crown processional in only 90 min. Great stuff.  There was a moment when I thought the Queen was at that evening's performance and I lost my mind for a bit.
—We met up later at the house and took a series of pictures called "Things Casey and Pat Can Do In Their Kilts."

Another instagram!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Epitome of "Guerilla Theatre"

Why hello there! I’m Izzy Kasdin, a rising junior history major at Princeton and I am one of the co-directors of Assassins. I’m finally having a moment to sit down and write a blog post about this experience so far (I’m also finding I’ve been a big fan of the progressive as of late, according to Luke). But the trouble is putting all of that into words. I’m afraid I’ll have to rely on some stream of consciousness prose in order to describe exactly how this first whirlwind week has been for me.

It was a year and a half ago when Lily and I first decided it would be a good idea to take a show to the Fringe. I mean, you just buy some plane tickets, fill out a registration form, master the dollars to pounds exchange rate, and be sure to pack a rain coat, right? Not exactly. Especially since we learned today that the trickiest part is remembering to bring the rain coat with you when you leave the house. It’s been a wild ride preparing for these two weeks over the past year and I’ve done and learned things I’ve never expected, like reading UK firearms and customs legislation (who knew there could be a crucial difference between realistic imitation firearms and imitation firearms), filing for taxes (we’re now on the books with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs!), buying insurance, and building an entire set that folds up to fit in a standard suitcase (and keeping all of the suitcases to under 50 pounds. Victory #1). But not for a second in the whole grueling preparation process, even when I woke up early to have enough time to call the UK with the time difference, did I ever think it wouldn’t be worth it. And the last few days, watching everything unfold, have been truly spectacular. Seeing the smiles on all of the company members’ faces is really the best feeling in the world.

As a tech person who finds solving last-minute tech problems exhilarating, I’ve thrived off of the adrenaline of the past couple of days. We officially open tomorrow and the past few days have been spent pulling together the final props, building the rest of our set, and planning for tech without even having seen our theater and without even knowing what the Home Depot or Staples equivalents are called here. At least we could assure the tech manager in our venue that we brought a “torch!” My proudest accomplishment over the past few days was making a period microphone from the 1930s out of a McDonald’s Happy Meal box and black gaff tape. Ari did the honors of eating the miniature chicken mcnuggets and itty bitty bag of fries beforehand.


And after all of the preparation, today came the moment of truth – our technical rehearsal in the venue. We had three hours to load in all of our props and set, explore the space, get a safety briefing, and go through the moves of what would ordinarily happen in an entire tech week. It was truly a herculean task. Ari (our tech director) especially deserves a pat on the back for hanging, focusing, designing, and programming the lights for the entire show in two hours. As soon as the door to the theater opened, Ari bolted for the tech table and got started; my favorite part of the rehearsal was when, as Lily was coordinating a scene change about two and a half hours into the rehearsal, Ari just stood up and shouted in victory, “Done!” and we all cheered.

The most difficult part of the rehearsal was coordinating what the Fringe calls “get in/get out.” We have a two-hour slot time in our venue and our show is one hour and 50 minutes long. So we have five minutes to set up our entire set and five minutes to take it down every day. Once we arrived at our rehearsal, and lugged in all of our set, props, and instruments, the tech team at the venue was pretty much convinced we wouldn’t be able to load in and out so quickly. In order to practice, we literally lined up at the entrance to the venue, practically stretching and jogging in place, until Lily, armed with a stopwatch, yelled go and we ran into the venue, grabbed our stuff and went through the motions as quickly as we could. After two tries, we managed to set up in three and a half minutes and strike in two minutes and fifty seconds. It was like a beautiful tech ballet. When we were cutting our rehearsal close to the end of our slot, the venue manager became worried about how we would clean up in time and the supervisor just whispered to him, “I know it sounds daft, but they can get this all down in under three minutes.” Champs. We are absolutely champs.

Brian during our technical rehearsal. 

After the tech rehearsal, we had our first street performance on one of the Fringe stages on the Royal Mile. Brian (the Proprietor of the shooting range in Assassins) adorably led a little girl in competing in our water gun shooting range game and our hardy cast of actors sung through four songs a cappella in the rain (“pants” weather).

We’re now having a leisurely evening at home in our townhouse. There’s always someone playing the piano and earlier “Suddenly Seymour” is floating down the stairs to where I’m typing. Right now we're doing a full cast reading of the play that Mark wrote -- funny how this house is just bursting with SO MUCH THEATRE.

As a final tidbit, yesterday we picked up our Edinburgh bus passes and we happened to all be in costume because we had just been doing some publicity. So the actors decided to pose in character. Here’s John Wilkes Booth’s (aka Evan Thompson's) dignified bus pass.

Our flyers on a table in our venue with a bunch of other Fringe flyers!


Ta ta for now! Wish us luck tomorrow!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hello, Edinburgh!

Some of us woke up earlier than others to begin rehearsal for our first full day, but we all woke up to a cloudy sky and a chilly morning. Apparently, this is considered pants weather. I still enjoyed waking up to this :). The night before we spent exploring Scotland via a scavenger hunt and enjoying our new town house!

Before I get ahead of myself, let me introduce myself! I’m Ariceli Alfaro, the stage manager and techy for this awesome cast. Technically this is a  one woman crew, but directors and actors are helping out with whatever needs to get done for the production and tech side.

We have blocking rehearsals downstairs in the dining hall and music rehearsals upstairs in the common room. There’s a lot to do, but I can’t help stopping and appreciating this beautiful house. With huge windows and beautiful singing, things feel surreal in this house. It might just be “Unworthy of Your Love” tugging at my heart strings but I feel very warm and fuzzy with everything going on in this house.

Despite these pleasant distractions, yesterday was filled with endless productive hours of rehearsal, a dinner break, and a stumble through that night. We didn’t end until midnight and then tech continued after that. I never thought I’d make a noose but I successfully learned how to make a noose for Guiteau’s scene.

Alas, I have to get back to finishing tech sheets and light designing.  Also I need to fix our mic that just broke! Until next time, here’s a picture of Izzy during rehearsal.

Oh, and for those who don’t know, Nessy is our traveling Lock Ness Monster. It was essential to bring him to his homelands.

Questions, comments,  haikus?


Friday, August 17, 2012


We were off!  With the beautiful English countryside flying past our train windows, we pushed onward towards the holy grail of our trip, Edinburgh and the Fringe!  While on the train, we all got some desperately needed sleep and checked out the dining cart.  Mark Watter was adopted by the family he was sitting with, and we would often catch glimpses of him drawing, playing cards, and eating candy with his brand new family.  We soon arrived at our destination, and proceeded to catch the most styling taxis ever to take us to our new home.  We met up with Peter Henderson, the owner of the house we are staying at, who gave us a grand tour of the house.  It was built in the 1860’s, but still is considered part of the “new” section of town.  So yeah, the buildings here are as ancient as they are gorgeous.  Soon, the cast was reunited and completed with the addition of Matt Prast and Alex Morton, who had arrived in Scotland previously.  We proceeded to go grocery shopping (what what Team Breakfast) and cook our first cast dinner together.  Of course, the only acceptable first meal was fish, chips, and mushy peas, made primarily by the master chef Maeve Brady.

After throwing on our awesome new Limbros shirts, we hit the town for a huge surprise.  In roommate pairs, we began an Amazing Race-esque Scavenger Hunt through the streets of Edinburgh.  Unfortunately, we had many obstacles in our way, as we started at 9 PM and most of the parks and gardens we were to go through were closed.  Part of our route was also blocked off for a military tattoo.  However, as thespians, we proceeded to improvise.  A note to add here: through asking many people for directions during the race, it is apparent that the people of Scotland are extremely friendly.  Like, hey, I just met you, and this is crazy.  With varying levels of success and frustrations, we were reunited at the start, with Casey and Chris having picked up some extremely tacky souvenirs.  Soon, we returned to our humble abode, figured out our rooms, and turned in for the night.

Still upset over the hamburgers,

Pat Rounds ‘15
Sam Byck

Thursday, August 16, 2012

There’s No Place Like London

It's my turn.

After six hours of flight through the night, the assassins finally made it to LONDONTOWN, a little exhausted and dehydrated but a lot ready to take advantage of our one day in England. We arrived at the wonderfully posh Meininger Hostel bright and early, locked up our luggage, and headed out to explore the city. We broke up into two separate groups and hit the town.  My group decided to grab a quick bite at The Zetland Arms (established in 1740!) and rode the tube to Waterloo station to ride the London Eye. There Lily, Brian, and I took copious amounts of adorable pictures one of which is featured below.

Though jetlag reared its ugly head, the assassins persevered and visited the following locations in a single afternoon: Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, St. James Garden (where some serious duck feeding action went down), Queen Park, The V and A, The London Eye, The Globe, Horse Guards Parade, and the West End among other historic and (beautiful) places. We all met up for dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant called Wildwood, where four people ordered the mushroom ravioli and all twelve us had at great time trading stories about the day.

After Wildwood, the assassins ventured into London for a little exploring and found themselves wearing parkas at a restaurant entirely made of ice. Then something incredible happened.  I spotted the UK’s favorite bronze medal winning Olympic diver Tom Daley out of the corner of my (completely star-struck) eye. Brian and I proceeded to complete lose our minds, while the rest of the assassins blankly stared at us, confused as to why we had turned into thirteen year old fan-girls. We proceeded to track down the extremely friendly Tom Daley and take what will hence be known as “THE. BEST. PICTURE. EVER.” featured below.  A truly amazing time was had by all.

Satisfied and sleepy the assassins returned to their hostel, getting a well deserved night’s rest before heading to Edinburgh via a train taken from King’s Cross station (yes, that King’s Cross).

Fun facts about London:
New York, take note: There are basically no trashcans in site but, amazingly, there is no trash.
You don’t get food “to go”, you get food to “take away”.
No matter what he says, Casey Kolb almost got detained at the airport… but it wasn’t his fault.
Pat Rounds is awesome at reading maps.
Shifty Londoners with small children will attempt to steal the seats you reserved on the train to Edinburgh, only to be thwarted by friendly train conductors and their own stupidity.
Platform 9 and ¾ is not all that. Really… it’s actually pretty disappointing.
I’m obsessed with everything british.

Until we meet again,

Lee Harvey Oswald