Monday, November 23, 2009

One Question

When I was interviewed for the position of administrative intern at A Red Orchid, I only remember being asked one question: What brings you to A Red Orchid? The conversation went on from there, with my future boss telling me what I might do here and me rambling on about my past experience but that was the question that started the interview and was and is the most important one.

At the end of this past summer, having finished one internship at another mid-sized theater company, I was looking for another. Working for a mid-sized theater company meant that I got to do a lot more than photocopying, which is a real boon to an intern. I saw an ad on that described an administrative internship for a mid-sized equity theater that could include doing work in marketing, development and operations. Being a huge arts administrator dork, I am fascinated by all three whenever it has to do with theater. So I sent in my resume and cover letter. But that’s only part of why I came here and it’s certainly not why I am happy here and why I regret that December and the end of my internship are fast approaching.

Buried beneath the practicalities of building a career in arts administration is the deeper reason: the art here is wonderful. This is one of if not the best ensemble theatres in Chicago which says something powerful when you consider the vibrant, talented theater scene in this city. They do old and new plays, everything from Jacobean drama to a musical performed by children to world premieres written by a HBO screenwriter. It’s a breathtaking breadth of work that astonishes in its innovation and excellence. They make great art here and do so every day. And by interning here, whether I’m tracking down more funding or brainstorming marketing ideas or, yes, photocopying, I get to help make that art happen. When I go and see “Abigail’s Party” this February, a play that promises to be one of the best of the year, I’ll go knowing that I had a hand in getting it up there on that stage, even if all I did was make spreadsheets. And that right there, the opportunity that I’m so fortunate to have, the chance to be a quiet, small part of the achievement of great art, is the reason why I came here and why I stay and why I will be sad to go.

-Alice Magelssen

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Intern's Backstory: Josh Sobel

(Note: The author has taken liberties with embellishment; points may be exaggerated for - most likely unsuccessful - comedic effect)

Josh grew up in a quaint and lethargic little area of Rochester, New York. After discovering the magic and wonder of THE THEATRE and a failed career in professional wrestling, he grew tired of the lack of anything to do and the smell of Kodak coming off of Lake Ontario, and decided to follow his artsy disposition to a small hippie college in rural Ohio known to those who fear it simply as... Oberlin. (FUN FACT: Neo-Futurist Founder Greg Allen is an Oberlin alum.)

Oberlin nurtured his spirit, what with its flower-child airs, near-riot of joy when Obama won, hipster tendencies, and crazy people playing with fireballs on the quad. He will never forget his professor, the respected theatre historian and writer Roger Copeland, once relating Euripides' The Bacchae to Samuel L. Jackson's famous quote from "Snakes On A Plane" (CENSORED FOR PUBLICATION). But alas, all good things must come to an end, and he was booted out of Oberlin after four years with a piece of paper with a stamp on it and a heart full of dreams.

It was at this point that he was visited in a dream by none other than Surfjan Stevens. Think the David Bowie episode of "Flight of the Conchords", except more Biblical. He knew immediately what he must do: drive to Chicago (all things know, all things know) and pursue his career in THE THEATRE.
He ended up flying, since having a car in Chicago at this point in his life just seemed silly.
Over the summer, he had heard about the infamous A RED ORCHID THEATRE, known for its intimate venue, jarring productions, and Oscar-nominated co-founder. This seemed like the ideal place to enter the world of Chicago THE THEATRE. He applied to be an intern, and was lucky enough to be accepted for the Fall term. His duties have been a joy, an ever-evolving journey of intrigue and negotiation in the treacherous arena of mid-size theatre growth.
He also helped Brando paint the bathrooms.

2-For-1 Ticket Special THIS WEEKEND!

Answer L. Ron's Challenge, and score 2-for-1 tickets for this weekend's performances of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant at A Red Orchid Theatre!

L. Ron's Challenge Question: What is the term in Scientology for the immortal, spiritual being that exists within each and every one of us?

Call (312)-943-8722 with the correct answer to get your 2-for-1 deal on tickets for this weekend! Happy Hunting!
Time is running out to get your discount tickets for the rest of the run!
Call to order your tickets before Thanksgiving and mention "Xenu," and receive a $5 discount on all tickets!
Reserve your seats today!

Friday, November 13, 2009

DIRECTOR'S NOTE - "Scientology Pageant"

This show premiered Off-Broadway in 2003. A Red Orchid Theatre did the Chicago premiere just last year, but could we sustain another year? Tom Cruise and other noted Scientologists like John Travolta and Kirstie Alley curbed their behavior, and the spotlight Scientology held for so long seemed to be dimming.
Then about a week ago, it happened. Scientology returned to the headlines. Just in time for the holidays!

Noted filmmaker Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) submitted his letter of resignation from The Church of Scientology over a litany of concerns. A day after Haggis’ letter went public, a Paris court found The Church of Scientology guilty of fraud and fined it over $900,000 and just stopped short of a full ban.

23 years after his death, L. Ron Hubbard and his Church of Scientology continue to have a very strong presence in the world.

We are not delivering the exact same show as last year. To do that would be doing a disservice to A Red Orchid Theatre, its audience and to these amazingly talented actors. We’ve challenged ourselves to revisit, reinterpret, and re-imagine this show for a new year!

Thank you to Kirsten and everyone at A Red Orchid Theatre for trusting me with this project. Thank you to the amazing support staff that worked so hard to get this show realized. Thank you to the actors and their very patient and supportive parents.
I am happy that this play exists. It allows young actors and only young actors to be showcased in such a unique and fun way.

Thank you for coming to see it.

Steve Wilson



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Backstage with the Children

Hi.  My name is Rachael and I work as one of the children's company managers.  We are now in crunch time and there is an excited buzz in the air.  Tonight is our second night of rehearsal with costumes, the set is almost done, the sound and lights are all there and there is much anticipation over getting an audience to share this show with.  The children have worked hard with director Steve, Music Director Brandon, and Choreographer Ann with help from AD Jack, company manager Amanda, and myself to make this show bigger and better than last years success.  The kids and everyone cannot wait to show you the new and improved production of the Scientology Pageant at A Red Orchid Theatre.  Artistic director Kirsten along with the Red Orchid ensemble have been a great support throughout the whole process.
Get ready to roll with laughter in your seats!
Until later,

Monday, November 9, 2009

An Interview with Chaz Allen - SCIENTOLOGY PAGEANT

With the 2nd Annual Scientology Pageant soon approaching, A Red Orchid Theatre intern Josh Sobel sat down with cast member and returning "L. Ron Hubbard" Chaz Allen to get his thoughts on returning, Scientology and the show itself:


JS: So how does it feel to be back doing the Scientology Pageant at the home of its Chicago premiere, A Red Orchid Theatre?

CA: I like doing it again, because you can always change what you did last year, and make it better… We know how to make it better. You know, with the help of the director and everybody, we will take it to the next level. And it’s better to do it the second time, so you can improve.

JS: It was such a hit last season, and now here it is again, and [A Red Orchid Theatre wants] to keep it going - how does that feel?

CA: It’s a big shadow to live up to, because it did so well last year… It’s a lot of pressure to live up to what happened last year. So we’re trying to make it better. And I think it’s going to be better.

JS: So you play L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

CA: The prophet.

JS: (laughs) Okay, maybe that will be one of these: Your own three words to describe L. Ron Hubbard.

CA: Master-manipulator… that’s one, I hyphenated it. Ungenuine. And prophetic, actually. Because what’s the difference between prophet L. Ron, and any other prophet, you know? He’s conveying a good message.

JS: That’s true. I mean, a lot of his stuff is like self-help, betterment…

CA: It’s made to make you feel better, or made to make you a better person, and that’s what religion is, really. It’s a set of rules to live by to make you a better person. And it doesn’t matter if you believe in a Virgin Mary or, uh, Xenu, you know?

JS: That was actually my next question… what’s the deal with Xenu? In your own words?

CA: It’s the satan-figure… well, it’s the god and satan figure, you know, because he’s bad, he’s a bad guy, but he’s also “creator,” you know, a little bit – creator of how we are today.

JS: So who is he, in the Scientology story? What’s his background, I guess?

CA: Come see the show! (laughs) You know, millions and millions of years ago, he was on a space ship, and he decided to, (makes laser-ish noises), and it’s sort of the Adam and Eve story, because it’s like the first thing that happened, that created how we are today. So you can call him the god-figure… But he’s bad, because he put emotion in people. But god did that too, in the Genesis story.

JS: So it’s all kind of anti-emotion, then? Like “emotions are bad” sort of feeling?

CA: Scientology? Yes. But not Xenu… He put emotions into people. Bad emotions AND good emotions, but mostly… well, you know, people get happy, people get sad, but really, Scientology is like to make you happy, but actually not to make you “happy,” just to eliminate all emotion, so you’re just, nothing.

JS: So doesn’t that seem like a bit of a contradiction? Like, it wants you to be happy, or wants you to be better, but to not have emotions?

CA: Well, it completely makes sense, because how can you have badness in you if you don’t have emotion in you? How can you have sadness…

JS: That’s kind of profound.

CA: (laughs) I mean I guess so, it is. It’s a really good story.

JS: Who is your favorite celebrity Scientolog…

CA: Beck.

JS: Beck?

CA: Beck! Straight up.

JS: Good answer... Well, this has been a funny and yet really profound interview… I guess the last question I would have is like, what do you think – as the L. Ron Hubbard, prophet character – what do you think the audience should take away from the show?

CA: I think when you watch this show you shouldn’t just see it as a bash on Scientology. You should actually see it as just complete satire. Right, because if we were just going out and bashing somebody’s beliefs, that’s not good. I would never sign up for something like that. I think that’s wrong. I think they should have the freedom to believe what they believe. So I think what you should take away from the show is that you need to laugh at yourself. And you need to understand the weaknesses of yourself. And you know strengths too, because Scientology has a lot of strengths in their beliefs, but they have a lot of weaknesses too. But it’s the same thing with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, everything. Every belief has weaknesses. Plot holes. So you have to learn to look at yourself and pick out those weaknesses… that’s what I think you should get out of the show.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First Post: SCIENTOLOGY PAGEANT Tickets On Sale NOW!

We've decided to kick-off our brand-spanking-new BLOG with an exciting announcement!

After an acclaimed run last season here at A Red Orchid Theatre, A VERY MERRY UNAUTHORIZED CHILDREN'S SCIENTOLOGY PAGEANT returns to 1531 N Wells, directed by Steve Wilson and featuring the A Red Orchid Theatre Youth Ensemble. The musical, written by Kyle Jarrow based on a concept by Alex Timbers, the SCIENTOLOGY PAGEANT has been hailed as "hilariously entertaining, surprisingly enlightening, profound and just a bit disturbing" - What more could you ask for from a show about L. Ron Hubbard?

The PAGEANT returns to become an annual holiday project at A Red Orchid Theatre. RESERVE YOUR TICKETS NOW!

The show runs from November 15th - January 3rd, 2010 (with previews on 11/12 & 11/13)

Friday @ 8pm
Saturday @ 5pm & 8pm
Sunday @ 3pm

Tickets are $25 each (previews are $15)

Call the box office at (312)-943-8722 or visit to purchase tickets!