<![CDATA[PENGUIN PRODUCTIONS - Our Blog]]>Sat, 07 Dec 2019 23:47:00 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Penguin GiveBIG Video!]]>Fri, 11 May 2018 16:13:41 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/penguin-givebig-video
<![CDATA[A director's note to young artists, from Shana]]>Fri, 11 May 2018 16:07:24 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/a-directors-note-to-young-artists-from-shanaA Director's Note
To Penguin Artists Past, Present, and Future
Dear Young Artists,

Some very special people donated yesterday so that you can make theater. 

60 donors ages 18-80 gave a total of $8,600 – a breathtaking sum representing stability and a bright future ahead for Penguin Productions.

No pressure, no expectations (well, ok – maybe some but only the good kind), but I would like you to know – if only in the back of your minds as you memorize lines and laugh in the wings with your friends and pour your souls into characters near and far from your own experience – there is a community looking out for you. Cheering for you. Supporting you. You are not alone. 

Some donated because they know you and how incredible you are and can see your potential first-hand. Some donated because they were you once, and remember with pain and pride those volatile years of becoming. Some donated because they can imagine you, which is the behavior known as empathy, and the glue that keeps humanity from falling off a cliff. 

We support you, because your creativity is our hope. So take a risk, do your thing, pick up the pace, and remember to have fun – and know that we are applauding you each step of the way.

Here's to making lots more theater with you. Thank you for inspiring us all to act with generosity and empathy. I'm honored to be your director. 

Producing Artistic Director
Penguin Productions

<![CDATA[Penguin Productions Year-in-Review]]>Sun, 31 Dec 2017 00:59:00 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/penguin-productions-year-in-reviewI'm so glad we have a place to make this stuff happen!
Penguin Productions participant

Dear Friends,

Welcome to a 2017 Penguin Production Holiday Letter! Here is some of what we've been up to this year!

July: Penguin Productions launches with Operation 1600, a commissioned work from Frank Garland (Harvard, '20) that plays to sold-out houses at West of Lenin and will have a remount at Harvard next year. 

July: Playing Around, a unique class brings a cohort of 10 teen artists into theater spaces all around Seattle, discussing budgets and artistic choices and the way different spaces and organizations impact the work. The class culminates with a performance of student-directed work at West of Lenin, along with “artistic credos” that are deeply moving and profoundly inspirational.

September: Kyna Shilling designs a website, and Kayla Brooks takes on the role of Marketing Manager, coordinating social media, outreach, and marketing materials.

Fall: The Hamlet Project, an ambitious adventure with 18 young artists, mashes up Shakespeare and Stoppard culminating in a final performance at Taproot's Isaac Studio. Also, Scripts for Living, a homeschool class where we read something like 20 classic and contemporary plays and have fantastic discussions about art and life. 

Winter: The Princess Bride does what a great break camp should do – provides tons of laughter and learning throughout a whirlwind week, involves advanced students in leadership positions, integrates new students and families, and culminates in a full house of family and friends at West of Lenin in a nearly flawless (and entirely off-book!) performance.

Also Winter: The Best Shakespeare Pageant Ever brings together over 20 performers ages 10-50 and a full house of family and friends ages 8-78 in a lovely neighborhood church for a day of theater-making, socializing, and holiday celebration.

Looking Ahead: Shana collaborates with student Tyler Wood on directing The Tempest, a project conceived, pitched, and envisioned by Tyler. We go further into student-driven exploration with Penguin Projects, a chance to work on exciting scenes, develop complex character, and grow ensemble and independent artistic vision. And we all go see some theater
 together and talk about it, with Penguins on the Town! It's not too late to get involved! Click HERE for more info! 

Also Looking Ahead: there are 2018 seniors (that is, class of '18, not 2018 of them) who want a show, and some juniors and recent grads who want to help them. We have many partnership possibilities on the horizon, including sharing space at 12th Avenue Arts with the G&S Society, touring productions with the Seattle Public Library, co-producing with members of the former Bathhouse Ensemble, and class collaborations with Foundry10.

All of this is happening without demanding tuition – financial participation in all Penguin activities is purely voluntary. So far this is working - we end this year in a stable financial position, and we look forward to expanding and deepening our reach in 2018.

All this is possible because of the authentic, rigorous, and beautiful support of this amazing community. This is been a tough year all around, and I think many of us have wanted to throw in the towel and leave the planet at one point or another. But the bonds that we make working together on a project, sharing an evening of theater, talking about plays and life and growing up and moving forward – these are tenacious tethers, reminding us that this world is worth fighting for, that stories are worth telling, that there are trustworthy, compassionate, interesting people in our midst who enrich and give meaning to the whole shebang.

With gratitude,

Shana Bestock
Producing Artistic Director

Support Penguin with your tax-deductible donation! ]]>
<![CDATA[Desperately in love with Hamlet]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 15:54:42 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/desperately-in-love-with-hamletI wrote a love letter to Hamlet, and I hoped it was a little like a group of teenagers performing it at twilight.

Once upon a time, a kid went to see Hamlet performed by a group of teenagers at twilight. They understood just enough of it that it seeped comfortably into them and they fell madly and recklessly in love with it. (Later, their mom drove them home in the thick orange dark and they were quiet and smiling.)
It was the dark purple of the play matching the dark purple of my insides. The unsettling magic of twilight set against the settling of meeting words you know you're going to fall in love with.
Hamlet took root in my chest, it planted its ink-dark self in my curious purple heart and I grew up around it. To me, Hamlet isn't so much a thing to play as a thing to live in. Not a play so much as a place. Not words so much as a world. Familiar like a grand wild fairytale made of kings and bones and velvet.
There are stories that live in you and then there are stories to live in and then there are stories to wrap around you like a cloak.
I love it because it's such an enormous emotional thing. Such an expansive thing. There is a place in it for almost every story in them.
It feels like a love story, though I'm not sure why. It feels like when you wake up and can't remember what you dreamt except that it left a gaping hole in your lungs. I love it with my throat and my thighs and every finger and it hurts.
It felt like something I needed more than anything to write.
There was this kid who read and watched Hamlet after Hamlet and let it build up inside them until one day the restless expanse of it spilled over their edges.
I took this story that felt like a home, I took those words that settled me into myself, I took that negative space between characters that hurt me like a dream, and I built something a little bit beautiful.
(I wrote my story at night because words and ghosts are sharper after dark.)
I tried to find words that felt like the way your wrists ache in the cold. How it is to miss these characters you've never met and never will. The desperate tumbling gasping way it felt to fall for a four hundred-year-old story.
There is your Hamlet and then there is my Hamlet and maybe if we're lucky our lenses will overlap.

I wrote a love letter to Hamlet, and I hoped it was a little like a group of teenagers performing it at twilight.

- Lark Abbott]]>
<![CDATA["Why Hamlet?"]]>Sun, 22 Oct 2017 17:00:00 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/why-hamlet
We asked our Hamlet/Rosencrantz & Gildenstern Are Dead actors "What brings you to The Hamlet Project? What themes do you find most compelling, what characters most intriguing, what actions most worth pursuing?"
​Here's what they told us:

  • What we want/should want/think we want
  • Philosophy
  • Ophelia
  • Find beautiful words to love
  • Horatio
  • Dig into to monologue work
  • As a HS Senior, I relate to R&G – life is uncertain, let's party.....but also, what's next?
  • Unreliable narrator
  • New relationship with self
  • Witty wordplay
  • Laertes-Hamlet relationship.
  • Be in someone else's shoes
  • Relate to not understanding what's going on
  • As a Freshman – trying to navigate which relationships are important
  • Let's get rid of “Angsty Hamlet”
  • Insanity
  • Surrealism
  • Theater, and what it's about

How about you? What are your "access points" into the story of Hamlet? What draws you in... or what keeps you out? What themes/characters/actions resonate for you? Answer in the comments:
<![CDATA[gladys herdman changed my life]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/gladys-herdman-changed-my-life
We asked Shana to share with us her experience of playing "Gladys" in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and the impact of that opportunity. We know many of you have stories and memories of this show too! We hope you'll join us December 29th for a Community Theatre Celebration that will include some favorite scenes and moments from BXPE.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
was the first professional show I was ever in. I was nine years old and played Gladys. This was the Seattle Children's Theater production, the first year they moved to the vast Meany Hall. Our tech was a nightmare of slide malfunctions (perhaps influencing my later career distrust of projections) and we never had a full run before opening night. From my perspective, the slides were unnecessary. To me, the show was about silent thumb-wrestling backstage, and warm-ups so that our small voices could carry through that huge theater, and the hot smells of pancake foundation in the dressing room. And of course onstage, the lights and those layers of (horribly wonderful) 1980s costumes, and the energy of my fellow actors, the electricity of looking an adult in the eye as an equal, the bodies scattering out of my way as I shazamed up on a bench and up higher as I was born aloft on the shoulders of my childhood hero who was playing Leroy.

For the final moment, I got to run downstairs, go into the dark, cavernous orchestra pit, and climb up on a ladder. I'd huddle on top until the last possible moment, then spring up waving my star-on-a-stick yelling “hey, hey, unto you a child a born!” The independence of running through that vast theater by myself, the ownership of that pit, the power of that moment - it was all completely terrific.

My dad's mom, Grandma Rose, came to see a mid-run performance. That night some adult somewhere forgot to unlock the orchestra pit. I ran to the far door. Locked. I tried again. Locked. I tried to take the elevator upstairs to the main stage, forgetting the elevator was bizarrely broken (it only went down). I ran up the stairs, adrenaline bringing tears to my eyes. I careened into the stage manager, on headset backstage right. She held a finger up as I started to pant-whisper the situation. The light had already come on for my moment on the ladder, and I could see from backstage the terribly empty spot. She shoved me out onstage – and she must have stayed backstage but it felt like she pushed me all the way out because my whole body felt like lead. I did the line from centerstage, tears streaming down my face, feeling more heroic, noble, and tragic than St. Joan at the stake. And then it was curtain call as normal, and life went on.

Dad was up in the first row of the balcony, whispering to his mom to watch for the moment that never came. Grandma Rose thought it was all wonderful, of course, regardless - but I was devastated that she didn’t properly see my amazing ladder reveal. Grandma Rose got Alzheimer’s shortly thereafter and the next play she saw me in, she didn't really know who I was. Which sounds heartbreaking, but the point of this story is that I was given at a very early age a tremendous, precious, resilient gift. An understanding that theater is never just about the star-on-a-stick moment, but about sharing that moment with those we cherish. The opportunity not only to direct the play year after year for other Gladyses, but a deep, deep layer of quiet joy when I welcomed their grandparents to the theater.

Shows come and go, and last a lifetime. And sometimes the stories we tell about them are just as important as the theatrical moment itself.

-Shana Bestock, Penguin Producing Artistic Director

Shana Bestock, age 9. Photo by Paul Bestock.
Do you have a "Gladys story," either about BXPE or another show that changed your life? ​Share in the comments, and be sure to join us for a Community Theater Celebration on December 29th for your chance to Shazam!
<![CDATA[friday interview: nora]]>Sat, 30 Sep 2017 03:57:10 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/friday-interview-nora
photo by Charlie Tadlock
How old are you?

What’s your favorite rehearsal snack?


​What are you hoping to see from Penguin in the future?

Opportunities for people of all ages to act in, or do tech, for a play that has a performance!
<![CDATA[Friday Interview: Gabriel]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/friday-interview-gabriel
How old are you?

What was the most recent Penguin Production you were a part of?
I was the stage manager for Operation 1600!

What you want to see from Penguin in the future?
Work that originates in the minds of young and developing artists.

What are you currently working on? 
I am directing and designing The Fever by Wallace Shawn at the Pocket Theater!

What is your favorite rehearsal snack?
Soy-based meal replacement drinks. [SOYLENT!]

What would you say is the best thing you've had to learn to do for a show?
Definitely a 32-inch standing high jump.
<![CDATA[Friday interview: Annika]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/friday-interview-annika
Meet Annika! Recent graduate of Roosevelt High School, actor, and freshman at Temple University.

How old are you?

What was your most recent Penguin Production?
Operation 1600!

What you want to see from Penguin in the future?
Unique new shows and creative versions of classics with women in strong roles!

What is your current favorite movie?

What's the best thing you've had to learn do for a show?
Swing from a chandelier or juggle five walkie-talkies!

<![CDATA[Friday interview: Alister]]>Fri, 08 Sep 2017 04:00:00 GMThttp://penguinproductionsseattle.org/our-blog/friday-interview-alister
Meet Alister! An actor, recent high school graduate, and much more:

How old are you?

What was your most recent Penguin Production?
Operation 1600!

What do you want to see from Penguin in the future?
More music.  

What are you currently working on?
Writing my own shows and expanding my repertoire.

What's your favorite rehearsal snack?
Sour Patch Kids!