Guest Actor Blog: JOE ORRACH

January 23, 2010

Thank you, Tim, for letting me be a part of your show. I had a great experience being out there without a net. Not once did I feel unsafe, even though the roadmap you laid down had all kinds of bumps and turns. You were always there, and your presence made the experience at once a very powerful one and safe for me. Playing the father in AN OAK TREE allowed me to go deep inside myself, explore, and at the same time to be fully present, giving the audience an almost voyeuristic experience while I, too, went through something new. The experience that the second actor both makes and feels, with the lead actor and the audience, is the result of a fantastic piece of theatrical art crafted by Tim Crouch. I urge you to go see this piece. I think you will come away as did I, profoundly moved.

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JOE ORRACH performed in An Oak Tree at The Odyssey Theatre on January 17, 2010.

JOE ORRACH, actor, dancer, singer and solo artist, performs worldwide on stage, television and in motion pictures. Joe’s performing career started as a boxer. He was Welterweight Champion of the US Air Force. He started tap dancing on the streets of NYC, where in 1987 Gregory Hines discovered his duo, HOT FOOT, and brought it into venues. On stage, Joe has performed with Joan Baez, Bob Hope, the Smothers Brothers, Michael Davis, Liliane Montevechi, Bill Irwin, David Shiner, Melissa Manchester, and the Cookie Monster, among others. He has tap danced with such greats as Gregory Hines, Jimmy Slyde and Savion Glover, and the late masters including the Nicholas Brothers, Honi Coles, Charles “Cookie” Cook, Chuck Green and Lon Cheney. He tours Europe and Asia, as well as the US. He has been directed by Woody Allen (Everyone Says I Love You), James Mangold (Copland), Patrick Dempsey (White Elephant), Tim Boxell (Valley of the Heart’s Delight) and David Shiner (Nacht Mund). CNN International profiled Joe on “People in the Arts.” Joe’s solo show IN MY CORNER has been nominated for an Izzy award and has received critical acclaim with funding from the Zellerbach Foundation and Dance Creation to Performance Grant from the James Irvine Dance Foundation. Joe is a graduate student at USC in the MFA program for theatre..

Guest Actor Blog: PETER VAN NORDEN

January 21, 2010

“Listen. And respond.” “Work off what your acting partner gives you.” “Get out of your head…leave yourself alone…live in the moment.” Phrases that actors hear, learn and try to live by all their lives. We spend weeks of rehearsals trying to recapture and relive our first impulses to written scenes and situations. Not always as easy as you’d think.

Last night I was privileged to take part in this truly remarkable event — AN OAK TREE — an event where those catch-phrases and acting ideas were brought home in a shattering clarity, ending in an emotional fulfillment that never felt anything less than truthful and honest. And that’s a performing artists’ ultimate goal, isn’t it? Truth shown through honest emotions and reactions.

Tim Crouch has given his own enormously loving gift to the acting and theatre-going community — one that requires complete trust – a trust that Tim makes so easy and pleasurable to join in on – a give-and-take that becomes it’s own spiritual journey — reflected brilliantly in the spiritual journey of the two characters. The constant layering of ideas and realities seem to have a profound resonance with the audience, the guest actor and, I suspect, with Tim himself. Every performance a new journey. As Tim so keenly observes: “The skeleton remains the same; the skin changes each night.”

AN OAK TREE has an enormous heart at its core. As does Tim. As do his producers and his crew. I now feel I might be lucky enough to carry a small part of that heart within me. And I’m honored to do so.

Peter Van Norden

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PETER VAN NORDEN appeared in An Oak Tree at The Odyssey Theatre on Weds., January 20th, 2010.

Peter’s most recent appearances: at San Jose Rep. in the new South African play, GROUNDSWELL. In L.A., Aristophanes’ THE WASPS at the Lost Studio Thr. in Hollywood, and as ‘Ben Franklin’ in the Mark Taper Forum workshop of the new musical, POST OFFICE. Also, as ‘The Lawyer’ in AMERICAN TALES (Antaeus); TOP SECRET: BATTLE FOR THE PENTAGON PAPERS (LA Theatre Works and National Tour and soon to be seen at the NY Theatre Workshop in NYC); TUG OF WAR and THE WASPS (Getty Villa); THE WILD PARTY, LOOT (Garland Award) for the Blank Thr. Co. Peter also recently voiced the entire audio book version of John Updike’s collection of short stories entitled THE MAPLES STORIES for the BBC America.

In his native NYC: LITTLE JOHNNY JONES (with Donny Osmond); HAMLET (with both Kevin Kline and Sam Waterston); HENRY V (with Meryl Streep); JUNGLE OF CITIES (with Al Pacino); and SAINT JOAN (with Lynn Redgrave).

Regional Thr.: Has appeared at most of the regional reps throughout the country, including The Old Globe in San Diego, San Diego Rep, The Guthrie, Center Stage (Baltimore), Seattle Rep., Intiman Thr.; San Jose Rep (San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award as Best Actor in Shaw’s MAJOR BARBARA); Laguna Playhouse; Arizona Thr. Co.

Film and TV roles include leads opposite Oscar winner Jodie Foster in THE ACCUSED, as Steve Guttenberg’s inept partner in POLICE ACADEMY 2, and as ‘Ralph Brentner’ in the Stephen King mini-series, THE STAND. He has appeared in dozens of other films and TV shows, most of which he has forgotten. If you remember any of them, he is both amazed and grateful.

Guest Actor Blog: BETH GRANT

January 19, 2010

Thank you for including me in your wild adventure in theatre.  It was quite exhilarating; from the moment you invited me to appear with Tim Crouch in An Oak Tree, I was titillated by the suspense of what would happen, the fun of inviting game friends who were willing to take a chance, and finally, the actual experience of doing the play.

I am still shocked that I allowed myself to be so vulnerable.  There were times that were very uncomfortable and, I must admit a few moments I did not care for.  At those times I was really afraid of what was going to happen next.  But I trusted Tim and was mesmerized by him, so I continued to go with it. I liked the feeling of Tim being in control and my having to squeeze my life force up through the cracks.  I found the most fulfilling, poetic part to be one particular long monologue when Tim whispered my lines through the earphones.  It was as though we were one.  I was particularly reaching out to the audience for understanding in a way that was quite freeing and uplifting.

I have a personal understanding of the material, it may not be what anyone else feels but to me the play is quite spiritual.  It is about life in this universe and we humans reaching out to each other for some understanding, some assurances, some confirmation of our existence.  On we go.

Warmest regards to all, Beth

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BETH GRANT performed in An Oak Tree at The Odyssey Theatre on Friday, January 15th, 2010.

One of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces, Grant has starred in over seventy feature films including two Best Picture Academy Award winners, No Country For Old Men, and Rain Man.

Popular films include Little Miss Sunshine, Factory Girl, Flags of Our Fathers, Donnie Darko, Sordid Lives, Rock Star, The Rookie, Matchstick Men, Speed, Child’s Play II, City Slickers ii, To Wong Foo, Dance With Me, and A Time To Kill. This year’s releases included Mike Judge’s Extract; All About Steve starring Sandra Bullock, Rogue’s Gallery from Darko Productions, Suzy Yoonessi’s Dear Lemon Lima, and Herpes Boy, which Grant co-produced, winner of the Comedy Vanguard Award at the Austin Film Festival.

On television Grant has starred and recurred on many television shows including Pushing Daisies, The Office, Sordid Lives, Jericho, Six Feet Under, My Name is Earl, Malcolm in the Middle, King of the Hill, Yes, Dear, Everwood, Coach, Delta, Wonderfalls, Friends, The X Files, Angel, Medium and CSI.
Grant has appeared in over thirty plays from The Ahmanson in Los Angeles to the Garrick Theatre and Town Hall in New York City including Picnic, Summer and Smoke, directed by Marshall Mason; world premieres by Maya Angelou, Romulus Linney, Horton Foote, Del Shores and most recently San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre world premiere of Cornelia by HBO’s Big Love co-creator Mark V. Olsen.

Grant is a recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, the L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Award, and The Backstage West Garland Award for best actress in a leading role for The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife; and the Screen Actors Guild Ensemble Award for Little Miss Sunshine and No Country For Old Men.

Guest Actor Blog: KURTWOOD SMITH

January 18, 2010

Doing An Oak Tree with Tim Crouch was probably one of the most exciting events I have participated in as an actor. It’s a bit like a magical mystery tour through a fun house of emotions. Things are popping up all around both inside and outside you. At first I thought it might be like the actor’s “nightmare” where you find yourself onstage unprepared and unable to connect with what is going on. Instead I found it quite liberating and really a “dream”. I Just kept myself open to Tim’s instruction and guidance, relied on my instincts, and had a wonderful time and a gratifying experience.

Thanks again, so much .. Kurtwood Smith

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KURTWOOD SMITH performed in AN OAK TREE at The Odyssey Theatre on Sunday, January 10th, 2010.

Kurtwood Smith most notably portrayed the father role of Red Forman on the Fox sitcom That ’70s Show, which ran from 1998 to 2006. Coincidentally, Smith later guest starred on an episode of the FOX show House which features a character named Eric Foreman. On that 70s Show, Smith’s character’s son’s name was Eric Forman. After That ’70s Show, Smith played Senator Blaine Mayer in the seventh season of the action thriller 24, and portrayed Dick Clayton in the CBS series Worst Week.

Before That ’70s Show his other roles included playing Clarence Boddicker, the villain in Paul Verhoeven’s influential science fiction action movie RoboCop, and Mr. Sue on Fox’s “espionage comedy” The New Adventures of Beans Baxter from 1987-89. He also co-starred as the strict father of Robert Sean Leonard’s Neil in 1989′s Dead Poets Society. He also made a number of appearances in the Star Trek franchise, playing the President of the Federation in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a Cardassian named Thrax in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Things Past”, and a Krenim scientist named Annorax in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Year of Hell”.

He also has an extensive voice acting résumé, appearing in computer games such as Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, and FreeSpace 2, and on a number of animated series. He played a recurring role on the claymation series Gary & Mike as the vengeful Officer Dick and voiced the Dinosaur military commander character General Galapagos in the Savage Steve Holland produced Fox animated series Terrible Thunderlizards. He played the voice of Bob Johnson on Squirrel Boy and provided the voice of Kanjar Ro in Green Lantern: First Flight.

Guest Actor Blog: JESSE BURCH

January 14, 2010

Last night, I had the best experience of my life as an actor. An Oak Tree was that experience — a strange combination of tightrope walk and trust fall. The only rules given were to do as one should ideally always do as an actor: to be open and to listen. (After all, whether the playwright is communicating with the actor from the page or standing there next to you communicating the material as it comes, the effect should always be the same.) In last night’s case, I had the rare and wonderful opportunity to experience the latter.

Under the brilliant creator Mr. Crouch’s gentle and nurturing guidance, I had the experience of being safely led through an ordeal of discovery and somehow came out on the other end transformed. I look forward to completing the process by witnessing the show from the audience, with a new and utterly different participant — as each human being cannot help but bring his/her own whole self to each and every new performance, such is Mr. Crouch’s able stewardship.

Thank you again for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Jesse Burch

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JESSE BURCH performed in An Oak Tree at The Odyssey Theatre on Weds., January 13th.

Jesse’s film credits include Evan Almighty, Flightplan, The Ring 2, Shopgirl with Claire Danes, The Last Shot with Alec Baldwin, Undiscovered with Peter Weller, The Making of Daniel Boone with Clancy Brown, A Question of Loyalty, and the upcoming short Not Your Time alongside Jason Alexander.

Television credits include over 30 national commercials and many television shows, including: The Mentalist, Nip/Tuck, The OC, The King of Queens, CSI: Miami, Las Vegas, Carnivàle, Judging Amy, The West Wing, Grounded for Life, The District, Joan of Arcadia, Vanished, and The Practice.

Stage credits include Hush at The Actors’ Gang, Sea Marks at the Court Theatre, The Gingham Dog at Actors Circle Theatre, and Cabaret at the Ventura Court Theatre.  Comedy credits include writing and performing as a member of ACME Comedy Theatre’s Bravo company, as well as stand-up performances at The Improv, the Comedy Store, and Room 5.  Voiceover credits include several video games and commercials for television and radio.

Jesse was born in Virginia and moved to Los Angeles when he was four. He graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in Theater. Jesse is married to his college sweetheart with whom he has two delightful children. For some (almost) inexplicable reason, he is a big fan of English Premier League football team Sunderland.

Guest Actor Blog: LISA WOLPE

January 12, 2010

What a treat it was to flow through Tim Crouch’s fascinating new performance/form as his special guest star! Curiously, my only complaint is that I am the only one who didn’t see the play – and will definitely have to come back and see the Big Picture from the Audience’s POV! His script provided me with opportunities to enjoy some very beautiful moments of creativity, while my job was simplified by the love and support Tim was constantly funneling to me. There was the unique relief of being excused from carrying any burden of helping the audience understand anything about the script – they got it seconds after I got it, and other than trusting the moment and doing my best to receive and give my own interpretation of what I understood in the moment as my role,  my only responsibilities were to become as conscious as possible, and to enjoy the ride (like bobbing on the swells of the ocean atop a colorful, man-made float). Tim is a great gentleman, a lovely well-intentioned man of the theater looking for a new nexus of experience and presentation, and he made me feel elegant and appreciated and successful. A very memorable evening, and an honor to take part in! Thank you! – Lisa Wolpe

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Lisa Wolpe performed in AN OAK TREE on Friday, January 8th, 2010

Lisa Wolpe is an actress, director, educator, playwright and producer. She is the Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, an award-winning all-female, multi-cultural theater company that she founded in 1993. Her company has been featured on CNN, PBS, CBS, ABC, and NBC news. She directed “Othello” and played Iago in the 2008 LAWSC/Theatre @ Boston Court production, and has received numerous awards for directing and acting including L. A. Drama Critic’s Circle’s 2008 “Sustained Excellence’ Award. She is well known for her love of Shakespeare, and has directed 29 productions of his plays and performed 20 of his leading roles.

Guest Actor Blog: CLANCY BROWN

January 11, 2010

To all of my fellow actors, intrepid enough to take this journey with  Tim:

You are safe. You may explore with confidence and whimsy this singular  creation.  The hardest part is getting to the theatre.   Jettison fear and embrace the potential for emotional honesty and tight-rope technique.  Tim has written a treasure map and is there to navigate it with you or for you, whichever you choose.  But the treasure is only revealed when you return as a member of the audience.

See the play after you have performed it to appreciate that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and that, no matter what you may do or see or think, the story is served and you have contributed mightily but not solely.  See it to appreciate your guide and colleague, Tim. His mastery of our discipline, generosity of spirit, and cleverness as a creator.  Marvel at the fluidity within the form of the play itself. And the complex beauty of the story.  But mostly see it after you have performed it to be at ease and revel   in another actor’s journey.  That’s when “X marks the spot”!

or

It’s like childbirth, or death, or orgasm…Everyone goes through essentially the same thing yet the experience is as individual and intimate as it can be. No matter how impossibly similar, never the same.  Shared details but private experience.

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CLANCY BROWN PERFORMED IN AN OAK TREE AT THE ODYSSEY THEATRE ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 7TH.

Clancy Brown has portrayed characters such as Lex Luthor in Superman The Animated Series (as well as Justice League and The Batman), Long Feng in Avatar The Last Airbender, Alexander Payne in Alpha Teens On Machines, Cataclysm in the revival of Biker Mice From Mars, and Siege in The Mighty Ducks. Also notable for his more comedic roles as Mr. Krabs in Spongebob Squarepants and Otto in Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go as well as Captain Black, Ratso, Melvin the Moose and assorted others in Jackie Chan Adventures. In live action and the animated series, he was Sgt. Zim in Starship Troopers. In what might have been a casting Shout Out, he voiced Raiden in Mortal Kombat Defenders Of The Realm, a role originated by Christopher Lambert in the Mortal Kombat film. His most famous on-camera roles are as the Kurgan in Highlander and Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption, as well as Brother Justin Crowe in Carnivale.

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