The Immortal Jellyfish Opens this weekend!

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Tonight at 6:30 and tomorrow at 1:00pm, you can catch my latest play, The Immortal Jellyfish, presented by Avalanche Theatre Company as part of the FallFRINGE!

Starring Mary Myers, Alex Alferov, and Johnny, this sci-fi take on an ancient epic combines romance, madness, humor and horror in a 75 minute thrill ride through the human genome… and beyond! Directed by the illustrious Kristen Pilgrim and Stage Managed by the incredible Kathryn Dooley, this piece is the culmination of nearly a year and a half of work and revision.

We hope to see many familiar faces tonight and tomorrow!

Jellyfish and e-Book-ery

art, Plans, Theatre Business

So, the fun thing about publicizing my own show and book is what happens when I look at making an e-book…   ebook image     And what I’ve found from several sources is that you can make really interesting productions out of these things!  Now, I’m used to an ‘e-book’ being a digital rendition of  a book, but I was definitely wrong! “More Movie Than Book” In her 2011 article, “Are e-Books Any Good?” Lisa Guernsey discusses the impact of e-books on children’s learning, and while I ignored the quagmire of benefit versus bane to education, I just kept getting increasingly fascinated by the descriptions of what e-books could do! “huge, easily readable words, brilliant graphics, and an engaging recorded-voice narrator.” Uh. Please and thank you. I was already planning on making DVDs of my show.  I was also planning on publishing hard copies of my play.  But if I could make a published DVD-audio-book of my play?  How cool would that be?! Snap Back to Reality Now, the world premiere of The Immortal Jellyfish opens in just 7 days, so I have a lot of work on my plate already.  We’ve got lights, projections, sound, a set, some props, costumes, and actors to work with in our upcoming tech week.  Holy hannah. All that said, as appealing as an e-book is, I don’t think I’ll have it ready for the run of the show.  But something tells me that after show, after the DVDs are made and the scripts are delivered to Kickstarter backers, there may well be an e-book in the works. The Immortal Jellyfish will premiere Nov. 1 at 607 New York Ave NW, Washington DC at Fort Fringe – The Shop as part of the fallFRINGE.

Immortal Jellyfish at the FallFRINGE!

art, Theatre Business

Hello Interwebs!

It’s Keegan Cassady, your friendly neighborhood playwright.  I wanted to let you know that I’m producing my second self-written work, The Immortal Jellyfish through Avalanche Theatre Company as part of the FallFRINGE.

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Having lost his closest friend, Will is obsessed with finding a cure for death, and the answer just might lie in the genes of the immortal jellyfish.  But his fellow scientists have other ideas….

The show performs at:

Fort Fringe – The Shop

607 New York Ave NW

Washington, DC 20001

During the Festival, the Box Office at Fort Fringe will be open starting one hour before each day’s first performance – times are available below and at: https://www.capitalfringe.org/fallfringe-2013/box-office

Friday, November 1, 6:30-7:45

Saturday, Nov 2, 1:00pm to 2:15pm

Friday, Nov 8, 6:30pm to 7:45pm

Saturday, Nov 9, 3:30 to 4:45pm

Saturday, Nov 16, 10:00PM to 11:15 PM

Sunday, Nov 17, 1:00PM too 2:15PM

Under the direction of Kristen Pilgrim and featuring Alex Alferov, Johnny Day, and Mary Myers, this sci-fi thriller explores the epic of Gilgamesh through the lens of modern genetics.  With Kate Lee designing our costumes, Tim Nielsen developing our soundscape, and Kathryn Dooley stage managing, our production is attempting to create a clean, clear and complete world meshing science and myth.

We’d like to invite you to take part in our latest adventure, starting this November in Washington, DC.

Tickets are $15 with a $5 fringe button, and are currently available at the Capital Fringe site; https://www.capitalfringe.org/fallfringe-2013/shows/265-the-immortal-jellyfish

Tickets are also available by phone, calling 866.811.4111.

Thank you all for your support – I look forward to seeing you at the show!

-Keegan Cassady

Playwright, The Immortal Jellyfish

B: Bloom

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

In preparation for The Immortal Jellyfish at the Capital Fringe, The Jellyfish alphabet continues!

Bloom:

Drifters-in-the-sea: salps bloom off the coast of New Zealand. Credit: Seacology

Drifters-in-the-sea: salps bloom off the coast of New Zealand. Credit: Seacology

A flock of seagulls.  A bunch of bananas.  A parliament of rooks.

Groups of animals have curious names.  Some make a pack, some a pride, but Jellyfish bloom.   Like a cherry blossom festival, but with carnivorous, occasionally immortal, hydrozoans.

While a flock or a bunch might contain some tens of members, jellyfish blooms number in the thousands and millions.

To be fair, jellyfish are much smaller than other species, and blooms form only on a seasonal basis.

As discussed in the Anatomy post, jellyfish are more stomach than brain.  Some contend that jellyfish lack the sentience to intentional cluster into groups, so the size of blooms depends on water temperature, salinity of water, and ocean currents.   Because jellyfish are more adaptable to salinity and temperature than many of their competitors and predators, the sizes of their blooms may only grow larger, season by season.

Tomorrow’s post will be on C: Cytosine.

For more on The Immortal Jellyfish premiering as part of the FallFRINGE, check out our show page!

Thanks for reading!

-K

A: Anatomy

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

A: Anatomy

What is the anatomy of an immortal jellyfish?

As a multi-stage organism, the jellyfish’s anatomy changes through its life cycle.
Beginning as a polyp, the immortal jellyfish is formed as a polyp in a colony of such forms, called hydroids. These hydroids have stolons to connect them to their resident surface, and upright branches which bloom medusa buds, which eventually are released from the main colony.
The immortal jellyfish’s medusa form can reach an even 4.5 millimeter diameter, making a circular bell shape. This bell is made of a jelly, or mesoglea, covered by two layers of epidermis (like a peanut-butter jelly sandwich, minus the peanut butter). This mesoglea is somewhat thicker at its topmost part, and replaces a respiratory system in that the ‘skin’ of the jellyfish is thin enough for diffusion to deliver oxygen to the body. Also contained in the skin of the jellyfish is its nervous system, a kind of ‘nerve-net’ starting at the ‘rophalial lappet,’ the ring around the base of the jellyfish’s bell. This jelly-skin encapsulates a bright red, cross-shaped organ called a manubrium. The manubrium is a mixture of stomach and mouth, where a stalk protruding from the bell’s interior dangles down to a mouth at its base. The mouth opens into a gastrovascular cavity, which digests nutrients for the rest of the body. The smaller renditions of this creature have but eight tentacles, whereas the larger, older specimens have ten times that number.

Mead Theatre Program Round II!

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

March 4 is a pretty exciting day.  Nerve wracking, marvelous, exciting, horrifying.  Kind of like an avalanche.  It’s beautiful from far away, but the closer it gets, the more you realize, ‘man, this thing is a huge.’  And then it hits you.

as subtle as

an avalanche. serene. majestic. cataclysmic.

Now, for a while, March 4 meant the end of our Kickstarter.  It still does, but that’s not all it means anymore.

Because as of two days ago, March 4 also meant my interview with the Mead Theatre Lab Program (aaaagh wahoo excitement blaarggh)

The long and short of it is, Jellyfish has a shot at performing at the Mead Theatre Lab’s space for a few weekends next fall, and in order to secure that spot, I have to have made it past round I and II.  So.  Very exciting.  And a little bit scary…

Here’s the deal.  Even if this project takes off at the Mead, I’m going to need $3k to finance it, most of which will go to actors and artists.  So, if you want to see what the big deal is, help me get to $4000 raised on Kickstarter by Saturday at 5:oopm.

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If you’ve already donated, thank you!  You’re already helping.  Tell your friends.  Tell your families. Facebook it and twitter it.  Pin our video, what have you.  Because if we can get to $4000 by Saturday, I will make an openly viewable and comment-friendly google doc of the Immortal Jellyfish so you can all see just what is getting me so excited.

 

-K

Jellyfest Begins!

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

Working on taking my play back to the polyp stage!

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Jellyfish lifecycle from the Baltimore Aquarium

Immortal Jellyfish is a work about the ancient theme of fearing death, and everything that entails.  I was basing it off of the myth of Gilgamesh at first, and wanted the characters to run parallel to the characters from that story.  That said, I didn’t want the piece to feel ‘grand’ or ‘sweeping,’ this was intended to be maybe an hour long play about people, not Kings or Gods.  The work is about real people doing real human things in an implausible time.

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Jellyfish at the Baltimore Aquarium

So far, Jellyfest has kind of reflected that.  I got together with four very real people last night and sat down for what wound up being about two hours of reading.  I am immensely grateful to Randy Snight, Elizabeth Hansen, Robert Bouwmeester, and Kristen Pilgrim.  Randy and Elizabeth get extra snaps and the special mystery prize box because they were there on time, waited for like half an hour, and didn’t even know each other.

Granted, we met at the marvelous Soho Tea and Coffee shop on 2150 P St NW – a little hub which has basically become Avalanche’s unofficial incubator space – so you really couldn’t have picked a better place to have to wait.

Meanwhile, the rest of us got wonderfully lost.  Kristen was taking a car through rush hour, and Rob and I took the metro in to Dupont and then made like Alice in Wonderland going the wrong way down P street.  The numbers should be going up to get to 2150, just you remember that.  Because I didn’t.  And it was COLD.  Like, NASSA cold.  That cold.

So we wound up starting around 7:30pm and got to reading around 7:45pm, armed with tea and food and brilliant people.  I do believe Randy’s Torry voice may be one of the strongest choices I have ever heard for Tara.  Really entertaining stuff.

Now you may not know this, but Randy and Rob are both working actors, meaning that they both act for work and make it work.  There is one kind of person I admire most in this world, and that is the working actor.  Kudos to both of you gentlemen and my thanks for joining me on this largely social outing.   Randy was able to fit in my reading between choreographing FOUR SHOWS and I caught Rob just before he left to start in a Main Role in an Off Broadway show.  I count myself blessed to have gotten such brilliant men to read for me, and more so for getting a chance to see them in the mad dash that is our lifestyle.

Kristen, Liz, and I are in this Jellyfest bash for the long haul, so we’ll see plenty more talented readers together.  Liz, as you all know, is a co-Company Director with Jon Jon Johnson and myself, and Kristen is my director for Jellyfish next fall.  Liz is the fuel behind the fire of Avalanche, to put a phrase ironic on it, and Kristen is one my favorite directors.  She can fight, she can build props, she can get results out of her actors.  You go girl.  I couldn’t ask for better pair to have joined me on this first night out the gate, either.  Both Kristen and Liz have keen critical eyes and solidly grounded personalities, so they give excellent constructive criticism while still making me feel like I’m Neil Labute.

Liz read for Tara, Rob read for Will, and Randy read for Kid.  The work ran about an hour and a half, thanks to a few starts and stops for notes, and one vital phone interruption from the inimitable Mary Myers in Italy (joy, and sadness).

In the script, we found places of repetition, snipped at the odd phrase, jumped on a few lines that could definitely become pregnant pauses, and discussed areas that could be more fleshed out.  Randy helped me keep on where and when the scenes were occurring, and I’ll be adding those notes into later drafts.  We all had a good discussion on the world of the play and its myths, as well as places where I could build character development to make the choices have a greater contrast.  We had a good look at what’s eating Will, being as his character is like, the supreme jerk overlord.  We decided to flesh out Tara’s past a bit, and to give Kid a bit more backstory, while cutting some scenes which really repeatedly get into ‘sex versus death.’  It’s a heavyweight match that really doesn’t need to go longer than three rounds in the ring.

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Jellyfish at the Baltimore Aquarium

In other words, we made The Immortal Jellyfish act like its namesake, taking it from the adult stage, putting it under stress, and reverting it back to infancy.  Kind of fun, really.  I found a good number of places to expand the world I’m making while getting rid of repeated themes and lines (i.e. the phrase ‘speaking of…’  swear to God, that was said four times in the span of two minutes, and both Liz and I just looked at each other and wrote it down as a note).

What I liked about the reading was that despite all the corrections we had for the work, people still seemed to really like it.  I am definitely looking forward to retooling this number and getting more readers exposed to the work.

Thanks again, Randy and Rob, and to Kristen and Liz – cheers!

Those of you who like the sound of this Jellyfish thing, support us on Kickstarter!

-K