Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mona's Arrangements on stage now!

Mona's Arrangements - our World Premiere Musical Comedy runs through April 5, 2009 at Hanover Tavern.
More information | Tickets | (804) 282-2620

Book by Bo Wilson
Music by Steve Liebman
Lyrics by Steve Liebman and Bo Wilson

Starring Jan Guarino, Scott Wichmann and Audra Honaker
Photos by Jay Paul

See the full photo album on our Facebook page.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Two Lydias

Michelle Schaefer (left) who portrays Lydia in Barksdale Theatre’s production of Children of a Lesser God is pictured here with Allison Gompf Clark (right) who played Lydia in the film version of the acclaimed play.

Over the years, the two ladies have become good friends – never dreaming they would have this particular role in common!

We're thrilled that Allison will be attending our ASL Sign Interpreted performance of Children of a Lesser God at Willow Lawn on Sunday, March 8 at 2 PM along with another cast member from the film, Georgia Ann Cline. She will be staying after the performance to meet informally with audience members who would like to say hello.

Tickets for March 8 are available online at these links:
South & West SectionTickets | East Section Tickets for the Hearing Impaired

Allison Gompf Clark

Allison Gompf Clark portrayed ‘Lydia’ in the film version of Children of a Lesser God opposite Marlee Matlin and William Hurt. Allison was born deaf, attending the Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) and graduating from Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) in 1985. The acting bug bit Allison when she was just four years old -- while acting in school and at the Temple, the blue eyed actress was hooked the minute she heard those audiences applaud.

In 1985, while a senior at MSSD, Allison was “discovered” by two casting directors searching for a young actress to play Lydia in a groundbreaking film featuring the deaf and hard of hearing community. A few months later, Allison felt like she was in a dream and couldn’t believe that she went to New Brunswick, Canada to join the movie cast of
Children of a Lesser God. To coax the desired performance out of her new young actress, Director Randa Haines told Allison that ”Lydia has to be energetic, wears no makeup, and is the star!”

Allison portrayed Lydia again, in 1988 on stage at Haunted Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, Pennsylvania . Nowadays Allison still gets recognized, especially around hearing people who recollect Lydia’s voice.

Allison attended Gallaudet University for two years. She is married to Jamie Clark and has two beautiful teenage daughters, Clarissa and Samara. Currently living in Maryland, Allison continues to show her love of theatre by supporting fellow deaf performers. Her best advice is to “Sign Big and Sign Slow!”

Michelle Schaefer with Landon Nagel in Barksdale's Children of a Lesser God
Photo by Jay Paul

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Video Interview - Bo Wilson & Jan Guarino of Mona's Arrangements

Mona's Arrangements - our World Premiere Musical Comedy - opens this Friday, Feb. 27 at Hanover Tavern.
More information | Tickets

Visit the set of Mona as playwright Bo Wilson and actress Jan Guarino discuss the inspiration behind the show and the role the audience plays in tweaking a new production.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Video Interview - Landon Nagel from Children of a Lesser God

Judi Crenshaw interviews actor Landon Nagel about using ASL (American Sign Language) and Signed English as the lead role of James in Barksdale's Children of a Lesser God, on stage at Willow Lawn through March 22, 2009.
More information | Tickets

Our ASL sign interpreted performance for the hearing impaired will be Sunday, March 8 at 2PM. Tickets

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another Rave for "Children of a Lesser God"

Posted by Bruce Miller
John Porter, theatre critic for WCVE-FM, has written a glowing review of Children of a Lesser God. You can hear the review by visiting our Signature Season page, or you can read the transcription right here:
John Porter's Review of Children of a Lesser God

"Few pieces of theatre history have had the lasting impact that Children of a Lesser God has had on mainstream America. When it first premiered in the mid-80s, and when the film version was released, it had a profound effect on raising the consciousness of audiences worldwide towards the issue of deaf rights. You would have to look back to the efforts of Helen Keller to find someone who had more of an impact.

So I was curious to see how the play had held up. I had not seen it since maybe the late 80s, and I was wondering if it would appear dated and didactic. I am delighted to say that it is neither. Children of a Lesser God, now playing at Barksdale Theatre at Willow Lawn, is powerful beyond words, shattering with emotion, the kind of play that holds you in its powerful grip long after the show has ended.

Erica Siegel as the deaf and hard-to-reach Sarah Norman runs her emotions back and forth at full breakneck speed. One minute hostile, the next curious and loving, she is impossible to predict, and as such remains a powder keg waiting to explode. Some actors get into a comfortable rhythm during a performance, but Siegel never settles down, even when you think she has. Siegel delivers a bravura performance that leaves you breathless.

Landon Nagel as James Leeds has the difficult role of portraying a man falling in love while also serving as Siegel’s interpreter for the audience. He sails through these tricky waters easily, and carries much of the emotions of the show on his shoulders. Nagel is a powerful performer, and has blossomed by constant work in the area, and shows a great deal of promise for roles to come.

Other standout performances include Richard Gregory as Orin, the rabble-rouser who fights for deaf rights, Linda Poser as Mrs. Norman, Sarah’s mother, who has been hurt by her daughter and lives mostly in isolation, unsure how to support her daughter and never stopping loving her. Also Kenneth Waller as Mr. Franklin, the man in charge of the school who strives to make life better for his staff and students, but doesn’t deny the difficulty each will face in the world.

On the technical side, director Bruce Miller has chosen very strong artists. Katie Fry’s set is workable, Sarah Grady’s costumes are solid, and Lynne Hartman’s lights are perfect mood setters. At once introspective, other times straightforward, they play through the characters’ memories and evoke the proper moods at every turn.

Over the years I have been accused of only loving so-called serious plays and nothing is further from the truth. I enjoy a light evening’s entertainment as much as the next person. But when offered a deeply satisfying adult evening of theatre that makes you ask questions about the world around you, well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Children of a Lesser God is a rare play that offers satisfying entertainment, and helps you examine lives you may not otherwise have experienced.

That's a rare evening indeed.

For WCVE Public Radio, I'm John Porter."

Jonathan Sale Forges a Career in NYC

Posted by Bruce Miller
Back in the mid-90s when Theatre IV was still in the theatre-for-adult-audiences business, we produced what I thought was a wonderful production of a play called Stand Up Tragedy (pictured below). John Moon directed. Rusty Wilson, Ben Hersey, Rick Brandt, Richard Travis, Tye Heckman and others co-starred with several talented young teens who played New York gangbangers. One of the teens (maybe he was in his early 20s by then) was a young Richmonder named Jonathan Sale (pictured as he looks today above and to the right). Although he was a clean cut student at the University of Richmond, he had a great urban vibe that served him well in the show.

After graduating from U of R with a double major in theatre and Spanish, Jonathan toured for a year or so with Theatre IV, and then headed to San Francisco where he earned his MFA in acting from the prestigious professional theatre grad program at American Conservatory Theatre. He moved to NYC, married in 2003, and for the last several years has been building an impressive career Off Broadway and in television and film, finding work both as an actor and director.

Recently Jonathan made a fun national spot for Holiday Inn Express, using the rap skills he first honed as a street punk in our fondly remembered production of Stand Up Tragedy. You can catch his commerical star turn at Jonathan's the white guy, and this credit sits proudly on his resume alongside several gigs on Law and Order, Ed, Guiding Light, As the World Turns, a growing list of independent films, some Off Broadway plays, and numerous other TV commercials.

Most recently, Jonathan directed and produced the short film Sovereignty (, written by Rolin Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and producer of Showtime's Weeds. Sovereignty began its life as a short play in the Humana Festival at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, starring Jonathan’s wife, Heather Dilly (pictured to the right, and below and to the left). Sovereignty the film just won Best Short Film at the 2008 Artivist Film Festival, the 2008 Peace on Earth Film Festival, and the 2008 Non Violence International Film Festival. Heather Dilly, star of the film as well as the play, won Best Actress for her work in Sovereignty at the 2008 Long Island International Film Festival.

As Jonathan’s career becomes more impressive year by year, it was interesting to find on the www this interesting coverage of an acting project a few years back. Prior to devoting his time to becoming an award-winning filmmaker, Jonathan made his mark on the world of video games. He was the “motion-capture” actor for the main character of Tommy Vercetti, the antihero of the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The character's snarling voice is provided by well known film actor Ray Liotta, but the body and movement are all computer generated on top of the actual movement provided by Jonathan Sale.

When asked by a video game reporter to describe the experience, Jonathan said, “I wore a Spandex/Velcro body suit that included hats and shoe wraps with 33 balls covering the suit. Each of the white spheres was a little smaller than a ping-pong ball. About 20 feet off the ground there was a grid of 14 cameras that read only the light reflected back to them from the balls. The cameras compiled this info in the computer and made a moving model that they later put the skins over for the game. They also filmed all of the scenes with two digital video cameras and later cut that footage together for the voice actors to work with. Ray Liotta spent a week in the booth matching my performance. I always thought that was pretty cool.

We filmed the project six to eight hours a day, five days a week, with two weeks of rehearsal and one week shooting . After rehearsing for two weeks we all knew each other pretty well. We were in this terrific studio in Brooklyn in which every room is decorated as a different set. And I don't mean the rooms that we shot in; I mean every room. The room where the staff would meet looked like a spaceship boardroom. The hallway looked like the inside of an Egyptian tomb; the lunchroom looked like a tropical forest. It was really cool.

The studio where we shot was a huge concrete room with a big square taped off on the floor. That was the playing area. Outside of the taped area, some of the cameras couldn't see us and therefore the computer couldn't calculate us fully and we would disappear.

When we showed up and donned the spandex for the first time, we were all a bit shy, but it wasn't nearly as embarrassing as we thought it would be. We kind of looked like blue/black or red/black superheroes. Everyone was creative and great to work with.”

Asked for any advice he could offer to future motion capture actors, Jonathan wisely offered this: “The more I treated it like a regular acting job, the better. When I was really acting well, it showed through the motion capture. Also, stuff your Spandex mo-cap suit. That's the key.”

There you have it, my friends. And all this time we thought cod pieces were only for Shakespeare.

--Bruce Miller

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What would make you flip?

Barksdale and Theatre IV have recently acquired the flip ultra video camera which makes it easier to share short clips online.

We'll be interviewing cast members, taking a look behind the scenes at costumes and sets, and generally poking our camera wherever production staff, running crew, designers, actors and directors are working to bring a new production to the stage. We hope to offer short clips of performances to give you a clearer picture of what's on stage whenever it's within our right to do so.

But enough about our plans... what would you like to see? If there's anything in particular you think we should be filming, please let us know in the comments here. Or write to us.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Children of a Lesser God Article & Photos

Photos by Jay Paul

The last tech rehearsals are underway for Children of a Lesser God this evening. Earlier in the week, actress Erica Siegel talked with Celia Wren at the Richmond Times-Dispatch about her hearing loss, about acting and about her experience performing in the lead role in Children.

"I'm not going to let things stop me because I'm losing my hearing," actress Erica Siegel said as she sits in the Barksdale Theatre, where she has been spending many hours of late. "It's just not worth it. So many people tell you that you can't do something, and when you hear that enough, you do it, just to spite them!"

Humor tinges her words, but the 31-year-old performer's resolution is real enough -- and she will need every ounce of it as she gears up for her turn in "Children of a Lesser God," running at the Barksdale Friday through March 22.

You can read the full article at the Times-Dispatch.

Actress, Erica Siegel

Children of a Lesser God
opens this Friday, Feb. 6
at Barksdale at Willow Lawn
Tickets are available online and by calling (804) 282-2620