Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Morning shows?

So, this idea is probably crazy and actors (not being morning people) would probably hate it, but...

Would it work for a professional theater to have a morning matinee on either Wednesdays or Thursdays? It would be a show that would be specifically targeted at seniors, though anyone would be welcome. It could either start at 10 a.m., or, if you need to be kind to your actors, at 11 am. with a 30-minute intermission in which a light lunch was served (and extra would be charged for it, of course).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I have held in my hands the pre-publication copy of Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction.

We still have some work to do to prepare it for final publication next week, but I will soon be able to start writing about other things. There's certainly no lack of things to write about. I saw Julius Caesar and All's Well That Ends Well again last weekend at the Michigan Shakespeare Festival and will be going to see Talley's Folly at Williamston Theatre this weekend.

I've also been reading two great theater books that I'd like to write about along with an entry about a group called Oberon Shakespeare Group.

So tune in, I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and will soon begin writing again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Package Idea

One of the things I love about this time of year is the chance to be in the audience for the Michigan Shakespeare Festival. While I see many shows throughout the year, rarely do I get a chance to see a single production more than once. This makes me doubly cherish the opportunity that I have at MSF to see the shows multiple times. It gives me a chance to see how they evolve and change--the way the actors grow into their parts. It also lets me get something different out of each show and absorb the different ways that different audiences respond to a show.

All of which got me thinking. I'm betting there are other people out there that would be interested in seeing how a show grows. I wonder whether a package deal could be put together that could further engage audiences--especially those audiences whose only theatrical participation is as an audience member.

The package deal I was thinking of would look something like:

  • A ticket to attend the show's read-through at the beginning of the rehearsal process. Ideally the read-through would include presentations by the technical staff on the show concept.
  • A ticket to opening night.
  • A ticket to closing night.
  • A roundtable with the actors and director following closing night where people could discuss how things changed from start to finish and why.
Likely this would have to be sold in limited quantities, but that in itself could increase its attractiveness.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Is she talking about spas again?

While I’ve wanted to write about Number the Stars and Ballyhoo, there simply hasn’t been the time to do so. It’s crunch time for the book that I’ve spent the past year working on. While I took off Independence Day to spend with friends, that and yesterday were the only days in the past 14 that I haven’t put in a 12-hour workday. I’ve even taken chapters to bed with me to try to squeeze in a little more editing before dropping off to sleep.

Thankfully, I have a husband who does insist on dragging me away from work after twelve hours, even when I plead that if I put in just one more hour I’ll be able to finish a chapter or sort out the endnotes.

So with all that, I must confess that I haven’t been thinking much about theater and thinking about theater is a prerequisite for writing about theater. There have been times, though, when my brain-weary mind has started to wander away from its work and indulge in silly fantasies to keep itself entertained. Some of those wanderings have attempted to drag the spa world into the realms of theater (or perhaps theater into the spa world--who knows?).

Two of those fantasies involved what sort of enterprise I would start if I had far more money than I do now. (Granted, I like what I do now, so it isn’t as though I’m actively searching for a new career. I consider myself quite blessed to do what I love doing.)

Here they are:


In the ancient world, particularly in Greece and Rome, it was common for spas to have a theater. One would go to the baths and take in a theatrical performance while there. What would that look like today? The friend with whom I’m writing this book suggested that we could open a spa in which my son performed shiminyara (a form of pseudo-yoga/mind-body movement therapy he created while in third grade), my husband acted, and I managed/marketed.

So my brain began to play with the idea—not in any sort of practical terms, but purely as a flight of fancy.

The spa would contain a large wet lounge with a pool of warm water infused with sea salts or other minerals. It would be a crescent-shaped pool with benches in it. At the end of the room (opposite the benches) would be a stage on which there would be daily performances of shows that encouraged contemplation, laughter, healing, and esthetically pleasing thoughts. Audiences would probably have to be limited to 50 to 70 people.

During intermission, we could offer chromtherapy for the guests who wanted to stay put. Or guests could visit the sauna or steam room followed by a cold plunge (if they wished). For the second half of the show, they could wear plush robes and sit in lounge chairs with a rose petal foot bath. Spring water infused with cucumber and fresh fruit would be served.

Special VIP packages would be available for each show (for a higher cost, of course). Up to six people could receive pre-show chair massages, a mini-facial at intermission (possibly with a masque being left on during the second half of the show), and a spa service before or after the show.

While there could be daily shows, the spa would also have rooms for classes and spa treatments. There would be yoga and Alexander Technique classes and Rolfing services would be offered as well.

(Note: The Alexander Technique is used by musicians, singers, and actors to increase awareness of their posture and movement. It’s a form of movement education that teaches people to become more conscious of how they stand and move. Frederick Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor, developed it in response to coming down with chronic laryngitis while performing. He watched himself in the mirror and was able to see that he was tensing the muscles in his neck while speaking. He began teaching his technique around 1910 and his students included George Bernard Shaw. And yes, you can read about this and more in a soon-to-be published textbook on spas…)

We could create an indoor/outdoor garden where a chamber orchestra could play and people could meditate. There would be an art gallery in the lounge and check-out area. Retail products would include scripts and recordings.

We could create package deals named after playwrights and invite the living ones in for a free day of treatments and to give classes.

This has gotten long and somewhat silly. I’ll save my other enterprise fantasy for another day.

Instead, I’ll end with this quote from the book:

My background is in theater and I began working in a day spa right after college in order to save up money before moving on to New York to become a famous actress. After working in the spa for about a year at the desk, I realized how similar the spa employees were to the "theater people" I was used to working with. I had an easy, comfortable connection with them and also with the way that they could "communicate" to their guests through touch and movement. It all felt very similar to theater or art and I believe that is why I felt that connection.

–Sara Cruncleton, Ihloff Salon & Spa