Tag Archives: “Book of Days

Inside The Actors Studio

Audiences at “Book of Days” — Staples Players’ Black Box Theater production that opens tonight and runs through Sunday — will see a complex show.  Part murder mystery, part family saga, part comedy, it’s an intriguing, contemporary piece set in a small, present-day Midwestern town.

Part of the plot involves a play within a play.  It’s challenging to the actors — but that’s been the hallmark of Players since their founding 51 years ago.

And — as this cast proves — acting is not simply an after-school activity at Staples.  It’s a way of life — an all-consuming passion that often extends into college, and beyond.

In fact, of the 12 actors in “Book of Days,” nearly all will continue their theater education once they leave Westport.

Glenn Leo explains a crucial idea, as Shannon Walsh and Dan Shure listen. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Shannon Walsh, for example, will study acting next year at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.  A gymnast nearly full time until junior year, she leaped into acting full time.  She took classes in New York, joined Players — and less than 2 years later was accepted into a very competitive acting program.

Maya Hubbard will also got to NYU for acting — at the same Stella Adler Studio as Shannon.

Dan Shure will study theater directing at Skidmore College.

Max Stampa-Brown, whose “Book of Days” character speaks in tongues — talk about a challenge! — is headed to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, for acting.

The passion for theater extends to the tech crew too.  Sound technician Robinson Batteau will study audio production next year at SUNY-Purchase.

Jake Yarmoff -- the sheriff -- is engrossed in the action with Maya Hubbard and Alison Manning. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Current juniors are burnishing their resume this summer. Max Samuels will attend a summer acting program at Yale, while Matt Van Gessel, Whitney Andrews and Glenn Leo all plan to audition for college acting or directing programs.

(Matt might want to show colleges the trailer he made for the show — click here for a great YouTube clip.)

The cast and crew has had just 5 weeks to prepare for “Book of Days” — a compressed time frame that’s given them a taste of the real theater world.  They developed characters, memorized lines and blocked scenes with the seriousness this show demands.

“They’ve been an inspiration to us as directors,” said directors David Roth and Kerry Long.  “The way they’ve risen to the challenge has made us even more confident of their success at their college programs.”

Which is where so many Players end up, when their Staples days are done.

(“Book of Days” will be presented tonight, tomorrow and Saturday (May 13-15,  7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (May 16, 3 p.m.) in the Black Box Theater.  Click here to order tickets.)

Facebook Characters

After Staples Players director David Roth casts a show, he makes sure his actors understand their characters.  Last fall, for example, everyone in “Guys and Dolls” wrote biographies, describing their character’s parents, hometown, childhood, economic status and other “personal” details.

Sounds like info you’d find on Facebook? Adam Mirkine thought the same thing.

Adam Mirkine (right) directs Max Samuels. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Adam is just a 9th grader, but this spring he’s co-assistant director of “Book of Days.”  The production — which opens next week — is a challenging look at the clash between theater and religion.  “Getting each person to actually be his character is key,” Adam says.

To help the process along, Adam asked each actor to create a Facebook account for his character — including information like marital status, interests and favorites.

Now anyone on Facebook can find — and friend — people like “Boyd Middleton,” “Ruth Hoch” and “Walt Bates.”

“The script has nothing about their favorite quotations, books, music, movies and TV shows,” Adam says.  “But they know their characters so well, they fill in what they like.”

"Boyd Middleton"'s Facebook photo.

Some actors did even more.  Matt Van Gessel plays director Boyd Middleton, so he took a professional-type picture for his profile.  Jake Yarmoff’s photo of Conroy Atkins — a small-town sheriff — sports a cowboy hat.

“Sheriff Atkins” is particularly good at updating his status.  The other day he wrote:  “Conroy Atkins is alerting the residents of his hometown about the presence of a sex offender in the community.”

The fun project has helped bring the cast together, Adam says.

There’s only 1 problem:  Staples’ internet filter blocks Facebook access.  So any “Book of Days” cast member wishing to add a friend, change a relationship status or post a photo must do it at home.

(“The Book of Days” will be performed in the Staples Black Box Theater on May 13, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m., and May 16 at 3 p.m.  Tickets are available at www.StaplesPlayers.com, or at the door 30 minutes before curtain.  For more information, call 203-341-1310.)