Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Phase

          Though I finished at the Rep at the end of March, theatre was not finished with me. In April, I rehearsed and appeared in the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center's 2010 presentation of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. We rehearsed for two weeks and our perfomances raised over $1,000 for organizations that work to reduce violence against women, both in Milwaukee and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

           This production was a blast to work on because it afforded me the chance to meet so many lovely, strong women (as well as Alan and James). I am looking forward to the remount production we will begin rehearsing for PrideFest. We take the stage June 13.

       In the meantime, I'm working three jobs, apartment hunting, and finding time for my people.
I'm either all buzzing industriousness or running in circles; time will tell...

Ellen Marie

Belated Promise Fulfilled

Pictures of the finished set finally delivered:


Seven Keys To Slaughter Peak
Milwaukee Repertory Theater
 Set Design: Michael Ganio

Don't you want to vacation there? Too bad Slaughter Peak is rife with corrupt officials, backwater types, and zombies.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cape Cod

Thanks for the good times,
Ellen Marie

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Use Both Hands

I have one week left as an intern at the Rep. I can't believe it's almost over. I can't believe I'm going to have to PAY to see shows now. I will miss the strenuousness and messiness of the work, the blare and thud of the music, and, of course, the fabulous people I have had the honor of getting to know during these nine months.

I am trying to cram seeing the final three shows of the season into my packed schedule. Nell and I attended Route 66 in the Stackner Cabaret last night. It was exhilarating and nostalgic and is bound to be a subscriber favorite (again). Everyone was particularly taken when ensemble member Adam Estes donned a waitress uniform, red wig and lipstick and sang in a falsetto while tap-dancing in high heels. Is cross-dressing really the trump card in comedy?

The Route 66 map drop I was sort of thrown into finishing (due to sickness) was on stage for most of the show, which was a little excruciating for me. I kept scrutinizing it and wishing I had pulled off this or that part just a little better. See previous post for images.

I found the darkened interludes between numbers, when the audience was dimly illumined by the orange glow cast by an oversize radio as we all sat listening to old automobile jingles, to be oddly exciting and definitely unnerving. It also made me wonder if people ever used to sit in dark rooms with strangers simply to listen to a radio program. A radio party? Does anyone know?

I still have no word from theatres, but I have some service work to keep me afloat. I recently started another cocktail/food service job. I hope it doesn't end up like the other with me having to quit halfway through my second shift. Everyone seems really nice and laid-back.

Tomorrow I will attend an audition and spend the evening wearing a false mustache and an ugly sweater in honor of Nell Ra's 24th birthday.

Here are some pictures from our promotional photo shoot:

I've been hard at work this week finishing up a painting for Nell's birthday, which I should be able to show you just as soon as she sees it.

I have made a date with myself to see August Wilson's Radio Golf in the Stiemke Theatre. One of the desks from the paint shop -- the one on the right, I believe -- made it into the show.

Here are some shots of the finished set:

Radio Golf
Set Design: Junghyn Georgia Lee 

Seven Keys to Slaughter Peak (it is my understanding that the play involves many guns and of course gun shots, so I simply cannot wait to go see it Thursday night) was loaded into the Quadracci Powerhouse last Tuesday and we had one paint call on it Monday. We have a final paint call this upcoming Monday and then the massive set, which was wheeled from shop to shop to stage, will be ready to meet its public!

On wheels!

Here is one of my Slaughter Peak projects:

I was to grid out the ground row and then draw it on the wood, so the carpenters could cut it out.

Jim caught me as he was coming out of Slaughter Peak tech and told me that the designer, Michael Ganio, wanted to know how we had projected the ground row and said "It's exactly what I drew!".  Jim then told him that we had not, in fact, projected it at all, but that I had simply gridded it out and drawn it (sometimes free hand). This both surprised me and made me feel really good. I was able to give the designer just what he had wanted and he had appreciated it!

I hope to post some photos of the finished set for Seven Keys to Slaughter Peak after open and other side of my Rep contract.

The world is mine. And yours.
Ellen Marie

Monday, March 1, 2010

I could cut a straighter line...

Well, people, I was just informed today by our receptionist that The Seafarer closes this week.
I responded to the news with open-mouthed disbelief. It has run for just under a month, which I should have known well enough, however check out how damn big and intense it is and understand my dismay:

The Seafarer
Scenic Design: Todd Rosenthal

Jim contemplating stuff on set (like he do)

Now the play itself: if you like Irish accents, binge-drinking, Christian dilemmas and playing games of chance with your soul -- this show is for you and it only runs through Friday, so get on that. The Rep touts it as a whiskey soaked comedy, but I think it's a little more complex than that.

There was, however, so much drinking in this play that I spent the entire time vacillating between dying of thirst for 7Up and dying of thirst for whiskey. The five men of the ensemble each gave excellent performances, but I often had to tear my eyes away from Jonathan Smoots as Mr. Lockheart. I was just so fascinated and anxious to see how he would react to each line or action.

Best line: "There goes one maudlin fucker."

Now there are only three shows left in the 2009/2010 season: Radio Golf (which opens this Friday), Route 66, and Seven Keys to Slaughter Peak. Wha-wha. I'm quite sad to see my season at the Rep is drawing to a close. 

Incidentally, I'm also in quite the panic as to what to do with my life after that. After attending Statewide Auditions and Technical Interviews in Madison a few weekends back, I was cautiously optimistic about my prospects for scene painting this summer. As the days and weeks stretch with no word, though, it does make one wonder. It also makes one regret all the money, time and anxiety that went into preparing for the day.

Returning to the happy present, here are some of the things I've been working on for the last few shows:

Our shop filled with tiles and walls for Radio Golf.
(If you look closely you can Susannah's head peaking out)
Fence for Route 66 I got to paint all by my lonesome:



And the drop for Route 66
(Yes, I got to spend a day and a half sniffing markers)

In other news: I was witness to the alarming occurrence of one woman with an oh-so-trendy bag taking the recently vacated bus seat of another woman with the same oh-so-trendy bag. Conclusion: society is terrifying.

Ellen Marie

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sky So Big I Can't See Where It Ends

Hey all,

I apologize for my extended absence from the blog-o-sphere.
I've been distracted. I've been consumed with the quest for further employment.
My gig as an intern with the Milwaukee Rep come to a close in mid-March, so I must find a way to soldier on (and, above all, make rent).

This means a lot of the pictures I've posted here have now made their way into a portfolio, of the cut-out-and-glue-stick variety. (Portfolios! I was instantly transported back to the drafting craze which set in, last year, after hours spent measuring and drawing in the basement of Rodman.)

We'll see how the gamble turns out; I have technical interviews and auditions this weekend in Madison. Very gung-ho for a day spent trying to please everyone and a night spent trying to forget it!

Also, in preparation for Statewide, I have been mining various playwrights' works in search of suitable monologues, but I'm having trouble finding characters. You would think there would be someone between crusty crone and empty ingenue, but I'm not finding her. I have had the opportunity to read loads of interesting plays (A Flea in Her Ear, Private Lives, The Real Thing, Artist Descending a Staircase, etc), though, so it's not a total loss.

The Seafarer opens this week in the Quadracci Powerhouse and I couldn't be more pleased. It's a gigantic show and extremely filthy and decrepit; just the sort of thing a scenic artist wants to sink her teeth into. If you go, do as I'll be doing for the preview on Thursday; sit in the balcony. There is a suite of rooms off the main room, which is best viewed from above. This way you can see more of our work, too!

If you just can't make it, here is a behind-the-scenes peek at designer Todd Rosenthal's set:

More to come after opening.

Ellen Marie

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I have just been having a fabulous and busy week.

Here is a list of all the gorgeous people I got to see again/meet this week:

Alicia, Lindzy, Danielle, Amy, Celena, Steph, Jared (New!) and Rob (Also New!)

I've also been busy with:

painting, making coffee, taking pictures, making lists (as you can see), going to show openings (and after parties), filling out applications, mailing, walking, typing, and, of course, holding my head.

Really what I'm driving at is, though I'd like to say something really insightful about my week, I just haven't the energy or motivation at the moment. However, I do want to show you all these pictures!!!!


Almost, Maine
Milwaukee Repertory Theater
Set Design: Susannah M. Barnes
(It was so beautiful in production, by the way. And the aurora borealis? Magnifique!) 

The stars!

Pearl Bailey . . . By Request
Milwaukee Repertory Theater
Set Design: Steve Barnes

Yankee Tavern
Milwaukee Repertory Theater
Associate Set Designers: Susannah Barnes and Steve Barnes


This is what our shop looked like on Friday morning.

Do be sure, there is more excitement to come this week.

Signing out,
Ellen Marie