Guest Actor Blog: KYLE SECOR

The gods are merciful! They sent us Tim Crouch and this unbelievable experience of a play. Friends who saw it are still reeling from the effect it’s had on them. It had been years since I had been on stage, but, thanks to Tim the underlying reason of why I became an actor was unearthed, and unveiled; the desire to live moment to moment, not-knowing, breath to breath, up on a tight wire, the feeling of the audience right up there with you. My word, what a night! Tim is such a deeply generous, supportive and talented man. So masterful with his art. I’m still hearing those lovely, gentle words he whispered in my ears – “You’re doing just great, Kyle – you’re doing beautifully.” Thank you Tim and the amazing team at the Odyssey, for a dream evening and peak experience.

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Kyle Secor performed in AN OAK TREE at The Odyssey Theatre on February 6th.

Kyle was born in the theatrical hotbed of Federal Way, Washington. Fleeing a series of engagements at both community college and dinner theatre’s he ventured to Los Angeles for the promise of equity waiver. In the 80’s and 90’s he appeared in a number of said equity waiver productions. He was then fortunate enough to be in the re-opening season of the Pasadena Playhouse in a production of Look Homeward, Angel, and several productions at LATC including Tony Richardson’s Anthony and Cleopatra. He studied at BADA (British Academy of Dramatic Arts) in Oxford.

Notable television includes seven seasons as Tim Bayliss in Homicide: Life on the Street (where he also directed), City of Angels, Philly, Veronica Mars, and First Gentleman Rod Callaway on Commander In Chief with Geena Davis. Recent guest star appearances include The Deep End, White Collar, Boston Legal and Women’s Murder Club Film: Heart of Dixie, Delusion, The Doctor, City Slickers, Sleeping with the Enemy, Late for Dinner, Drop Zone, Inherit the Wind and A Wrinkle in Time.  He never returned to Federal Way, but currently resides in Los Angeles with his incredible wife, Kari, and two amazing daughters.

Posted: February 10, 2010 at 12:09 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL MOORE

It’s taken me forever to write a blog (my first ever!) about my experience working with Tim on An Oak Tree. I think part of the reason I haven’t been able to write for so long is that I am still processing the amazing theatrical experience I shared with Tim on January 27th. I have spoken with several actors/friends who have done the show and when they were asked, “Weren’t you nervous going into this production?” Several of them responded, “No why would I be?” Well I must be the exception, because I was a nervous wreck. I joke about my drive to the Odyssey Theater that night; driving through intersections I was, like a hypnotist, willing other drivers to drive through the intersection. Calling Dan, Michele, Will and Tim to let them know I was in a car accident on my way to the theater and couldn’t do the show was I thought, my only way out of the fearful commitment /promise I had made. How prophetic that a car accident would play such a large role in the play. I think the best part of my performance that night was unseen by the audiences as I tried my best to appear nonchalant meeting with Tim and the production team prior to the show. To be told you would be doing a play that was “improvisation, but not improvised with words…everything is scripted,” had me confused, excited and anxious. Adding to my unease going in was I knew that the house would be filled with my friends, (a couple of whom had performed in the play previously in the run) my high school theater students and their parents (both current and past,) colleagues from the school where I teach (Harvard-Westlake) members of the professional class I run, and my dear friends who were a part of the production team and of course Tim himself, whose stories I wanted so much to help share with our audience. I fed off the audience’s energy, support and love. When Tim introduced the play and then called me onto the stage, my nerves took a side-step and I just wanted to be a part of the world and the characters that Tim was creating for us all. And I do mean us all because I simply followed Tim’s incredibly gentle and oh-so-safe lead in this fantastic adventure. As a teacher it was incredible to really put what I preach day in and day out to my young theater students to the test. Stay completely open, be honest, be true, make your scene partner and the stories you are telling more important than your own self-interest and most important of all be an “active listener.”

I should have waited even longer to write this “blog” because I still cannot, hell, I may never be able to express just how incredible my experience being a small part of the An Oak Tree has meant to me. It was a magical event. It was a whirlwind of emotions and awe that I only wish every actor and student of theater could experience. I feel blessed. Thank you Tim for letting me share the stage with you. Thank you Dan, Michele, Will and Marc for thinking of me and affording me this wonderful opportunity.

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Christopher Michael Moore performed in AN OAK TREE on January 27th, 2010.

CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL MOORE is an actor who has appeared in numerous theater productions in Washington DC, Miami, New York, and Los Angeles. He holds degrees from Northwestern University’s School of Speech. Christopher was a member of the acting companies and served on the artistic board of both The Organic Theater in Chicago and Theatre Forty in Beverly Hills. He has appeared on television and film in over sixty productions and in over 125 national commercials. Christopher is proud to call himself a teacher. For the past fourteen years he has taught theater and currently serves as the Director of The Theater Program at Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood.

Posted: February 10, 2010 at 12:03 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: ALANIS MORISSETTE

Working with tim in an oak tree was like jumping into the sweetest unknown with a helmet on as tim exudes certainty, brilliance and trustworthiness at once. Any objectivity of this one of a kind unusual piece eluded me until I stepped away and caught my breath, upon which time I was bowled over by what had just happened. This lack of objectivity and required combination of both courage and surrender made the experience both exhilarating and transfixing. The nature of my having been in the dark before it happens (and it does exactly that, it “just happens”) made for the experience of watching the play AND participating in it at the same time. Being in tim’s presence is like being in the presence of a timeless and enigmatic playwright who is committed to urgent authentic immediacy. He artfully mixes profound humanity and comedy, while guiding you through choice-makings that require full throttle presence and bravery. I’ve never been a part of anything like it.

—alanis morissette

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Alanis Morissette performed in AN OAK TREE at The Odyssey Theatre on January 31st, 2010.

Alanis Morissette has released a series of groundbreaking albums that have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. She has won twelve Juno Awards, seven Grammy Awards, and has also received an additional fourteen Grammy nominations. Morissette’s international debut album, “Jagged Little Pill” remains the best-selling debut album by a female artist in the U.S. and is the highest selling debut album worldwide in music history. Morissette’s subsequent five studio albums have all included a series of chart-topping singles. Her most recent release, Flavors of Entanglement, was released in June 2008 and debuted in the U.S. in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. Achieving success as a recording and performing artist, Morissette has also lent her talents to other forums. Her television acting work includes roles on Weeds, Sex and the City and Curb Your Enthusiasm, along with a three-episode arc on Nip/Tuck.

Posted: February 10, 2010 at 8:42 am by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: PETER GALLAGHER

Thank you, Tim Crouch. I was happy to be there from the first moment I sat down and realized that I hadn’t been on stage in a black box theatre in a very, very long time. I was instantly reminded of the thrill and terror of not knowing what you’re going to do but also aware of all the promise that magic space can hold if you stumble along in the right direction. Tim provided that direction. I felt like I was part of French painting made up of little dots – like those by Georges Seurat. I was busy making little spots of color where directed and discovered what the bigger picture was about around the same time the audience did. We were surprised! Which is a rare and wonderful gift. So, thanks for that!

Cheers,
Peter Gallagher

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Peter Gallagher performed in AN OAK TREE at The Odyssey Theatre on Weds., January 6th

Broadway: The Country Girl, Noises Off, Guys and Dolls, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Tony Award Nomination), The Real Thing (Clarence Derwent Award), The Corn Is Green (Theatre World Award), A Doll’s Life, Grease, Hair. Regional and Off- Broadway Theatre include: The Exonerated, Another Country and Pal Joey. Films include: sex, lies & videotape, American Beauty (SAG Award), The Player, Short Cuts (Golden Globe), The Idolmaker, While You Were Sleeping, The Underneath, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, Dreamchild, Adam and many others. Upcoming films: Betty Ann Waters and Burlesque. Television work includes: Californication, The OC, The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, The Murder of Mary Phagan and many others as well as the upcoming season of Rescue Me. Recordings include: 7 Days in Memphis, Pal Joey and Guys and Dolls. Mr. Gallagher has worked extensively with directors Mike Nichols, Robert Altman and Steven Soderbergh and also
with Jonathan Miller, Nicholas Hytner, Hal Prince and many others.

Posted: February 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: KATHLEEN EARLY

Dear Oak Tree Blog,

I am writing to share with you what a singularly unique and sparkling experience it was working with your creator, Tim Crouch. As actors, we strive to find moments in which we can connect with another person, either on stage or within the audience. Tim has created a piece of theatre which is centered around a constant re-connecting. Like two pieces of flint striking together to make the spark that starts the fire that burns and generates energy, Tim guided me through a vacuum, a text that pulls you in and spins you around, and wherein the energy bounces off everything in the room to create focused moments of flashing light, revealing things about the characters and about us as people. It’s thrills me to think of everything I missed in the text, of which when I go watch someone else step into it for the first time, I know bit and pieces will fly out at me in bright revelatory flashes. I can’t wait to see this ever-changing and morphing piece of theatre, that by it’s very BEING a piece of theatre is never the same twice, but by being THIS piece of theatre is even MORE stretched and morphed by each new performer Tim brings onstage with him.

As with the end of each acting job, the days after found me a bit depressed, sad not to be returning to the theatre that night. As actors, we are perhaps most alive when we are onstage, with our love, the theatre. And then I thought of the quote, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” And truly, the experience was transforming and challenging and thrilling… how could I NOT be the better for it, even as it’s ephemeral nature insists we let go… again.

Thank you for the giving and taking. Thank you for making theatre NEW.

Fondly, Kathleen Early

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Kathleen Early was in AN OAK TREE at The Odyssey Theatre on February 4th

KATHLEEN EARLY has loved the theatre since she got on stage at age 6 to play Gretel in The Sound of Music at the local high school in Euless, TX. Since then she’s “branched out” and is excited to be a part of An Oak Tree. She was most recently seen getting a hand massage and biopsying Izzy’s mole as dermatologist Dr. Dasiy Pepman on Grey’s Anatomy. Broadway: National Tour of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Kathleen Turner & Bill Irwin (The Kennedy Center, Ahmanson), Steel Magnolias (Shelby U/S). Off-Broadway: Treason (Perry Street), Outward Bound (Keen Co.), Peg O’My Heart (Irish Rep), Edward Albee’s The Play About the Baby (Paul Green Foundation Award) with Marian Seldes & Brian Murray (Century Center). Regional: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Neighborhood Playhouse), The Blue Room (Hangar Theatre), Broadway (Pittsburgh Public), Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare Theatre & Hartford Stage), Pera Palas (Long Wharf), Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage (Actors Theatre of Louisville). Film & TV: The Assistants, Across the Universe, Trip in a Summer Dress (Beverly Hills Film Festival Outstanding Female Performance Award), Medium, Guiding Light, All My Children. Next up: Look for her as Nurse Kathy on the upcoming new Jerry Bruckheimer series Miami Medical on CBS.

Posted: February 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: ALAN CUMMING (video blog)

Posted: February 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: LAURYN CANTU

I did An Oak Tree just a few weeks into my final semester of conservatory-style Acting training, and it couldn’t have been timed better. Training has pushed me to my limits – it has destroyed and recreated my approach to the craft several times over. I always thought that by my fourth year I would feel completely prepared to go out into the world, but I found that in fact I had never felt further away from what I love to do. I felt like I had acquired every skill I came for, but somehow I lost the only thing I came in with – courage.

Tim changed that for me. The opportunity to do this play was a chance to face my biggest fear. As soon as I signed on, I had a thought that has become all too familiar to me, “What if it’s not good?” And for the first time it really occurred to me what an enormous waste of energy that thought is, and how much it costs me to have it. From that point on, the weirdest thing happened, it wasn’t the nerves that killed me, it was my curiosity in the story. That was the most amazing part for me, really. It was just how that shift of attention drove me, drove the show right into lights down.

I could reiterate everything the other actors on this page have to say about the experience. It’s liberating, beautiful, candid, poignantly written. I can’t get over how lucky I was to try my hand at it, really. Tim was my favorite kind of playmate -energetic and open, generous and committed; his script was my favorite kind of playground – the fun parts and the dangerous parts almost indistinguishable because it moves so fast there is no time to think or fear.
The paycheck I got for An Oak Tree was my first paycheck as a professional actor, and that check seems more a diploma to me than any piece of paper from my school, because it came from a project that gave me the secret ingredient to the completion of my training.

So thank you Tim, Dan, everyone at the Odyssey, it was really the best day of my life, and an experience that I will always carry with me.

——–

LAURYN CANTU performed in An Oak Tree at The Odyssey Theatre on Sunday, January 31st, 2010.

Lauryn Cantu is currently finishing up her fourth year in USC’s BFA Acting Program. Roles at USC include Diana in “Diana of Dobson’s”, Elizabeth in “Pride and Prejudice”, Alexa in “As Bees in Honey Drown”, Candy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Hecuba in “The Trojan Women 2.0”. Today she is grateful and thrilled to participate in such a wonderfully unique piece of theatre.

Posted: February 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: MIGUEL SANDOVAL

When I told a friend I was doing this production, he asked “Why would you do that?”. I replied “Why wouldn’t I do it?” He said, “Aren’t you nervous?” I replied, “No.” I was no more nervous than I am about what is going to happen every morning when I wake up. And I’m not by the way. I actually look forward to waking up every morning and I couldn’t wait to wake up on January 30th, when it was my turn to have a go at this intriguing turn of theatre. I knew it had to have merit as it has enjoyed a very long run in many different venues around the world. I showed up earlier than requested (a bad habit which Actor’s Equity instilled in me at a younger age) and knew from the moment I met Tim Crouch that a grand time was in store for me. In an instant, I could tell he had perspective; by way of humor and intelligence. I could tell I was in good hands. The deal was sealed. Now, all I had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride. And what a ride it was! I don’t know how much I should or should not give up in this blog, so I won’t get into specifics, in case some sneaky actor who is to do the play sees this (and we’re all horribly sneaky, don’t let anyone tell you different). But I will say: This is Theatre. This is what it’s all about, o readers of these words. The theatre is essentially and, at its best, a place of transformation. A black box can become whatever the performers and, perhaps more importantly, the audience wants it to become. An actor, again, hand-in-hand with the audience, can become whomever they want to become. And they don’t need any wardrobe or makeup or fancy lighting or props. Because if they are fully committed, they will succeed. And to say that Tim Crouch is fully committed, is an understatement. He has designed a piece that is so generous to his fellow actor and to the audience, that both want to thank him over and over again for their inclusion. I certainly feel that way and I observed my army of friends and family who saw the show, then retired to a bar where we closed down the joint, approach Tim one by one, sometimes in small groups, some shyly, some more forward. They all wanted to know where he got this idea, how he formed it into this piece, what else has he done, what’s next, when, will it be soon, can I come?, etc. etc. The space was transformed. The actors were transformed. The audience was transformed. The theatre was transforming. “When you open your eyes.”

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Miguel Sandoval appeared in AN OAK TREE at The Odyssey Theatre on Saturday, January 30th.

Miguel Sandoval has been acting professionally for over 30 years in film, television and theater. Favorite roles on the stage are Billy in THE COLLECTED WORKS OF BILLY THE KID, the title role in KASPAR, Eric von Stroheim in THE RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE, Skip in LUANN HAMPTON LAVERTY OBERLANDER, and Hoff in THE BIG KNIFE. Miguel has acted in over 50 feature films including REPO MAN, WALKER, JURASSIC PARK, THREE BUSINESSMEN, BLOW, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, GET SHORTY, UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL, STRAIGHT TO HELL, DO THE RIGHT THING, MRS. WINTERBOURNE, and the upcoming releases, SPOKEN WORD and REPO CHICK. Miguel has extensive television credits; among them are FRASIER, SEINFELD, HOME IMPROVEMENT, NYPD BLUE, LAW & ORDER, ER, THE WEST WING, THE X-FILES and ALIAS. Miguel portrays District Attorney Manuel Devalos on MEDIUM, currently in its sixth season.

Posted: February 1, 2010 at 4:01 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: DAN O’CONNOR

I have never listened to an actor as much as I listened to Tim Crouch during An Oak Tree. How can you not when you have no idea what comes next? When every moment is unknown? When your guide is such a warm and engaging artist? The show just flows from one moment to the next in a way that is exhilarating to performer and audience alike. Tim has manged to distill what every acting teacher has tried to convey to every student…be in the moment. I am an improviser and an actor and this play was a great harmonic convergence of both disciplines. Mind you, one need not be an improviser to enjoy the singular experience that is An Oak Tree. Every guest performer is going to bring something different to the show and that is an integral part of the evening. You could see it night after night and never see it twice. Thanks Tim for creating such unique and inspiring theatre!

DAN O’CONNOR was in An Oak Tree on Thursday, January 14th at The Odyssey Theatre.

DAN O’CONNOR is an actor, writer, director and improviser. He is the co-founder of Impro Theatre, just named in the top ten Best Theatre of 2009 by the LA Weekly. Theatre credits include the Improbable Theatre’s production of Lifegame (Off-Broadway), A Christmas Carol, Horatio, and Peer Gynt at the ACT in San Francisco, the world premiere of Making Noise Quietly at the Taper Too, Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at A Noise Within (Dramalogue Award for Best Actor), Ferdinand in The Tempest at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Joey in The Homecoming at The New Conservatory in San Francisco and many UnScripted shows with Impro Theatre. Television acting credits include Seinfeld, Campus Ladies, Malcolm In the Middle, The Newz and the upcoming Disney Channel movie Starstruck. He co-created the NBC/ION television improv comedy show World Cup Comedy. Television directing credits include Sons and Daughters and Campus Ladies. For Impro Theatre he is the co-director for Jane Austen UnScripted, Shakespeare UnScripted and Sondheim UnScripted. He is a graduate of the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Posted: January 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: STACIE CHAIKEN

I was the Guest Actor with Tim Crouch in An Oak Tree at the Odyssey Theatre on Sunday, January 24. Friends told me afterwards that they had been fearful for me: I was living the Actor’s Nightmare on stage with no idea what I was supposed to say or do. I’ve had those dreams all my life, have waked from them with palpitations, but that was nowhere near my experience on Sunday. Rather, I found the whole thing exhilarating.

I was careful not to read anything about the play before I arrived at the theatre. I didn’t even read the email I sent on from the producers to friends, inviting them to come. Somewhere in my peripheral mind, I had a sense that the story involved the death of a child, but I guess I decided not to consciously dwell on it, so I wouldn’t do what I would normally do: make it real for myself. I wanted to go in not knowing.

After the show, Tim reminded me that when they invite people to be Guest Actors, they suggest that if we have recently experienced anything like the loss of a child, we not accept, since grief tends to breathe all the air out of a room and it is difficult to create from recent, rampant trauma. That is, by the way, all I will say about the story of the play, as I encourage you to see it here in LA before they close on February 14, and I don’t want to ruin it for you. I’ll be seeing it myself on February 4th.

The whole thing was a blast. The bummer is that now that I’ve done the show, I can never do it again, ever.

Some thoughts:

The invitation for the Guest Actor in the play, I think, is to say “yes” to absolutely everything, and run with it.  The structure, as Tim and his cohorts have created it, is completely supportive for the Guest Actor. There were times when I wasn’t sure what exactly I’d been told to do, but I felt safe and very happy committing to doing whatever I thought I might have heard him ask me to do, completely trusting that if I were to veer off the road (and there is a road) I would be directed back on to it. The opportunity for the Guest Actor within that structure is complete freedom to follow one’s instinct. A rare joy, indeed.

It strikes me that it’s all about “suggestibility,” that earned gift of the actor and madman which allows thought to immediately become belief. Tell me that this ring I am wearing, which was actually purchased on 42nd street in June, was given to me by my beloved grandmother on her deathbed, and I will succumb to that suggestion, and “believe” it, exactly like the madman who believes himself to be Louis XIV. I am probably, ultimately, far more dangerous than the madman, but it’s a similar mechanism

I remember when I decided to do a two-year actor training program with Kathryn Gately <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JebMu7wbYXw> , a master teacher of the Meisner Technique <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meisner_technique> . I had considered myself a professional actor for several years, and Kathryn informed me that it would take 20 years for me to become an actor. I thought she was, well, exaggerating. Now, I think she was right. It takes that long to build those synapses that allow us to effortlessly transform thought to belief. That’s what Tim’s play not only depends on for the doing of it, but has as its theme: our human suggestibility and the power to create.

I could be wrong. After all, I haven’t seen it yet.

That’s all I have to say. Go see it.

STACIE CHAIKEN was in An Oak Tree on Sunday, January 24th at The Odyssey Theatre.

Writer-performer: The Dig: death, Genesis & the Double Helix (LA premiere in 2010); Looking for Louie, Sifting Thru Ashes, and State of the Art.

Representative roles: Los Angeles: Master of the House (title role: Laguna Playhouse); Otherwise Engaged (Pacific Resident Theatre); Oscar Wilde’s Wife (title role: Odyssey Theatre). New York & regional: David Greenspan’s Jack and Principia (Home for Contemporary Theatre & Art); Edith Stein (Jewish Rep); Abe Lincoln in Illinois (Lincoln Center Theatre); Mark Harelik’s The Immigrant (Pennsylvania Stage Company); and the US premiere of Michel Tremblay’s Albertine in Five Times (Lincoln Stage, Hartford).

Stacie is the founder and artistic director of “What’s the Story?” Los Angeles a workshop for writers and performers wrestling with personal story. whatsthestoryLA.com She is on the performance faculty of the USC School of Theatre, and has taught Master Classes on autobiographical story and performance at New York University, Bar Ilan, and Tel Aviv Universities, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. For her own work, she has received funding from the Durfee Foundation, Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Arts Council, USC Arts Initiative, and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.

www.staciechaiken.com

Posted: January 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: JOE ORRACH

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.

——

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..

Posted: January 23, 2010 at 11:56 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: PETER VAN NORDEN

“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.

Posted: January 21, 2010 at 11:15 am by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: BETH GRANT

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

——

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.

Posted: January 19, 2010 at 11:06 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: KURTWOOD SMITH

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.

Posted: January 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm by Guest Actor


Guest Actor Blog: JESSE BURCH

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.

Posted: January 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm by Dan Fishbach

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