Monday, February 1, 2010

Conservatory 2B

Childsplay's Academy Conservatory class is back in session for the spring semester and I am very excited to be working with an incredible group of students.

This semester I will be focusing on styles of theatre from realism and naturalism to more anti-realism theatre including expressionism and Theatre of the Absurd suited to this group of student's age and level of experience. My goal is to not only introduce the students to various styles of theatre, but to create an entirely new piece of drama that incorporates elements from the styles learned in class.

Last semester students in Conservatory 2A had the privilege of working with Yolanda on self-exploration and improvisation as they devised a piece based on very personal experiences and views. This semester I want to continue that process and also add the element of theatrical style to the work.

After evaluating the student's level of work so far, I am excited at how ready they are to take on this challenge. This course will require a great amount of work from the students and a willingness to step out of the box as they expand their creativity and take their performance skills to a new level.


In our adventure to explore anti-realism in theatre this semester, my Conservatory 2B students are discovering expressionist theatre in which we attempt to express what we see as the inner reality of a drama. Expressionism was used as a protest against the parameters of naturalistic/realistic theatre and allowed for more experimental drama. I personally love expressionalist theatre since it allows for the freest possible form of style and opens a world of possibilities for our class ensemble exploration and theatre exercises.

One of the elements we'll be exploring is speech. Expressionism allows us to shift between prose and verse and from realistic dialogue to monosyllable or telegraphic speech. The broken dialogue gives the impression that only the essentials of human speech remain, revealing more of the subconscious. So we get to focus more on what a piece is really about and encourages us to dig deep into the material.

Expressionism shifts the focus from objective realism to subjective monologue. This style of theatre creates a more abstract form. In class, this presents us with an exciting challenge to step out of the conventional theatre course to a more advance exploration of the student's creativity.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Theatre of the Absurd

This semester of Childsplay's Academy, the Conservatory 2B students are being introduced to styles of theatre including Theatre of the Absurd, an unconventional form of drama that tends to be repetitious, purposeless, with meaningless dialogue and confusing and unrealistic situations in order to emphasize a statement. Today we talked about Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, as an example of this style of theatre. Enjoy this clip of Sesame Street's rendition of Theatre of the Absurd:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Captain Louie!

Captain Louie, the musical based on "The Trip" by Ezra Jack Keats runs from Jan 28 - Feb 12 @ the Mesa Arts Center. The book is by Anthony Stein and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Here is are some press shots of the show opening this weekend.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Time to get FESTIVE!

It was hard to say goodbye to such an awesome run of Honus and Me. It was so exciting to be a part of such a great production...oh, you don't believe it was that amazing? Check out the rave reviews! See?! I told you.

What was even more amazing was meeting some of the awesome audience members (and stoshack blog followers!) that went to see the play. There were a lot of little league players who went to the show- some in full baseball gear- and who taught me some pretty cool things about the sport and about their favorite teams and players.

But with the holidays (almost) right around the corner, it's time to get festive! Rehearsals for the World Premier of Childsplay's Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! start next week and you better believe we're gearing up for another exciting adventure. Time to crack open the Junie B. box sets. We better prepare if we want to be fully ready for our first day of first grade!

Which Junie B. Jones books have you read?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fan-O-Meter Update

All right, all right!

My dearest Follower,

I have received the multitude of letters and emails. The phones have been ringing off the hook and the childsplayaz dot blogspot dot com receptionist is having a nervous breakdown. The bombardment of your inquisitive requests has not been in vain. I am here to tell you: I am listening. For you and you and you and you…and you who have been asking repeatedly, “Izzy, it’s been over a month now! Are you a fan of baseball yet?” To you, I write-

I have carefully assembled a list of 10 aspects of baseball I have learned to appreciate in the last month or so. And here they are:

  • 10. Cheese fries at a baseball game.
  • 9. Baseball reminds us of a much more innocent time when the simple pleasure of a ballgame was a top priority.
  • 8. Its theme makes for an amazing blog.
  • 7. Old pieces of cardboard with a picture of a guy in a baseball uniform can make you very rich.
  • 6. Batting practice = good exercise.
  • 5. The cheese fries.
  • 4. Baseball is a lot like good theatre: it gets people out and allows them to escape to the game's drama.
  • 3. The fine art of the sport. It's clean and strategic. An amazing combination of technique and strength. Have you seen videos of Ichiro hitting baseballs into the outfield?
  • 2. The funny looking, fuzzy mascots.
And my top favorite aspect of baseball:
  • 1. You need to be a kid to play baseball, no matter how old you are.

…and the cheese fries at a baseball game are good too.

What do you like about baseball?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baseball Gets Buggy

Monday, September 28, 2009

Who makes all the stuff?!

Where do we get the Honus Wagner T-206 card Joey finds in Miss Young's attic in Honus and Me? After every performance, the cast has a question and answer session with the audience. I've noticed that a large portion of the questions asked are about the things we hold on stage. These props are all created or acquired by our very own Childsplay's Property Master, Jim Luther. Recently I had the pleasure of chatting with Jim as he shared with me his process on making the show as authentic as possible.

The first thing Jim showed me was the thickest binder I have ever seen! A big part of Jim's job is research. He spends endless hours just looking things up: from how a baseball mitt looked different in 1909 than in 2009 to Honus Wagner's autograph and places he attended. He finds all this information through the internet, books, and other sources, and collects the information on his incredibly huge folder.

A lot of detail goes into his work. Jim showed me a variety of baseball cards he purchased from thrift stores and local sports shops, pointing out their strategic placement in the show's card shop and their specific order in Joey's card collection in his room. He showed me the Cracker Jack box which my character uses in the World Series of 1909 (which looks very different than a box you'd buy today) and he told me about the bidding war he fought on eBay to find just the right replica.

Jim also creates a lot of the props from scratch. From making imitations of the famous Honus Wagner T-206 card to the period bunting (pictured above) of the dead ball era.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Did you know?

Did you know that in 2000, when the Los Angeles Angels MLB team were trailing the San Francisco Giants 5-4 in the bottom of the inning, the video board operators decided it was time to monkey around?

They took a clip of the monkey from the 1994 Jim Carrey movie, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, added the words "RALLY MONKEY!" on top of it and showed it at the game.

The Angels then scored two runs and won the game!

The video became so popular that the team hired their own monkey (Katie) to star in the new rally videos. Katie, the white haired capuchin monkey, stills jumps around with her "Rally Time" sign at every Angels' game.

It's Showtime!

Today is the official opening of Honus and Me and we are all super excited. We are stocked up on peanuts and Cracker Jacks backstage and we are ready for SHOWTIME!

Did you know that Little League and Fall Ball players can see the show for free?

For more info on this and more offers contact Childsplay:

Tempe Center of the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe. Box office 480-350-2822 -

Check out more pics from the show below!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Show Pics!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Batting Cages!

This is a picture of Miss Debra K. Stevens, who plays the Bluebird's best hitter (Andy Noland) in Honus and Me, making it look easy in the batting cage.

The cast of Honus and Me recently took an exciting field trip to the Kiwanis Park Batting Range. It was a hot day, but not as hot as our mighty swings!

It was my first time in a batting cage and I have to admit I was a little scared of the crazy machine throwing fast baseballs at me. I put on my helmet, my tough face, got a piece of Bubble Tape Gum and hoped I would come out of the cage alive. It was actually a lot of fun. We tried swinging at both softballs and baseballs and hit at different speeds.

Check out footage of my Mom (Katie McFadzen) filming us right before our batting session.

Here I am at the batting cage right before I got SUPER good as soon as Mom stopped filming:

Can't wait to do it again! Have you been to the batting cages yet?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Preview Weekend!

Today is the Target Storybook Preview for Honus and Me. I have to say that all the catch practice and baseball watching has paid off.
Check it out for yourselves!

Honus and Me

By Steven DietzAdapted from the book by Dan GutmanThe discovery of a rare Honus Wagner baseball card presents 12-year-old Joe Stoshack with a moral dilemma - and a magical opportunity to gain confidence and determination from one of baseball's finest.

  • Target Storybook Preview: Sun., Sept. 20 at 4:00 p.m. ($12 discounted tickets)
  • Opening: Sat., Sept. 26 at 4:00 p.m.
  • ASL interpreted performance: Sun., Sept 27 at 1:00 p.m.
  • Tempe Center for the Arts -- Theater
  • PRP Aug. 3, On Sale Aug. 10 (10:00 a.m.)
  • Recommended for age six and older.
Performance Schedule:
  • Sat., Sept. 19 4:00 p.m. Preview
  • Sun., Sept. 20 4:00 p.m. Target Storybook Preview
  • Sept 26. - Oct. 11
    • Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
    • Sundays at 1:00 p.m.
When are you going to see Honus and Me at the Tempe Center for the Arts?

Monday, September 7, 2009

How to Play Baseball

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Player Spotlight

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with one of the newest members of Childsplay's acting company. Actor and writer, Louis Farber, shares with us some of his favorite baseball memories, inspirations and how he went from being a "spec of dust" to playing the fierce bully, Birdie in Childsplay's Honus and Me.

What made you interested in Childsplay and the script, Honus and Me?

The thing that interested me the most was an opportunity to work. I had never worked with Childsplay before and I had no knowledge of the show. I received a phone call from my friend Jeremiah Clay Neal who was contacted by Dwayne Hartford at the suggestion of David Saar. David had seen me in The Water Dog, an original show Jeremiah and I developed for our company Word Of Mouth Tour Company, and he thought I would be good for the role that had been vacated by whoever dropped out or whatever, so then I called Dwayne and said "I hear you're looking for me" and he said "You are a spec of dust, on a piece of whale poop at the bottom of the ocean. Now like the wind." So I did. At this point I should say that I was excited about the idea of working with Childsplay on their season opener. So I came in and read for Dwayne and that was the first exposure I had to the script and the story of the play.

What is your favorite baseball childhood memory?

When I caught my first fly ball. I was in the sixth grade and I was in center field and the ball was hit hard and it flew out and up and over my head and I jumped and somehow caught the ball. I was so surprised that I actually stopped and looked at the ball in my glove. I finally came to when I heard my team and the bench screaming "Throw it!" As I was checking out the ball runners were tagging up and scoring. Oops. I will never forget that catch though, and how accomplished I felt seeing that baseball in my glove.

What baseball team do you root for?

The defending world champions of baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies.

What baseball player inspires you and why?

Cole Hamels. He's a left handed pitcher for the Phillies. He inspires me because at 27 years of age, he has not only led his team to a World Series, but he was voted the series MVP.

If you were an MLB player, what would be your nickname and theme song?

My nickname would be "Farbertron" and my theme song would be "Looking Good" from a little movie called "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training".

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Out at the Ball Game

This weekend our director took us out to the ball game! Here is what happened:

Friday, August 28, 2009

This cracks me up!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Equipment

Day 4-

Let's talk gear.

I'm starting to break into my baseball shoes/cleats, which is great. They felt strange at first since I've never worn shoes with plastic spikes underneath. They were a little too snug on the first day and now that I've been rehearsing in them, they have become super comfy. So comfy that I accidentally forgot I had them on and forgot to put my regular shoes on after rehearsal!

I am also now very attached to my baseball mitt. When searching for a good fit it was important to take some things into consideration including my hand size, age, and field position. My character's position is shortstop (the fielding position between second and third base) so that meant my baseball mitt needed to be a little smaller than an outfield mitt and with a closed web.

And my favorite so far: my batting helmet. It's nice and snug and not only does it make me feel safe but it also makes me look like a pro!

I'm super stoked about the Diamondbacks game tomorrow night! Hopefully we'll win.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I love this!