The Parallel Nightmare

by Gabriel Graetz, dramaturg

Nick Sulfaro, who plays George Spelvin in The Actor’s Nightmare, found this fascinating passage in the autobiographical introduction to Christopher Durang Explains It All For You. It parallels George’s story to an uncanny degree:

“I was taught by nuns until seventh grade, when I switched to an all-boys Catholic prep school taught by very  intelligent and nice Benedictine priests. I briefly attempted to be a juvenile delinquent and smoked Marlboros for about a month but stopped, as I was very short and looked silly.
“The school was on the grounds of a monastery, and my junior and senior years I spent a few weekends joining in the daily routine of the monastery. Prayers, then breakfast, then prayers, then lunch, then prayers, then dinner, then  prayers, then sleep. I found the predictability quite attractive. I was going to join the monastery right after high  school, but they said I should wait. And then I just stopped believing in all those things, and I never did join the  monastery. I became a depressed undergraduate.”

Compare this to George’s monologue (p. 21):

“Line. Nunnery. As a child, I was taught by nuns, and then in high school I was taught by Benedictine priests. I really rather liked the nuns, they were sort of warm, though they were fairly crazy too.”


“I liked the priests also. The school was on the grounds of the monastery, and my junior and senior years I spent a  few weekends joining in the daily routine of the monastery- prayers,then breakfast, then prayers, then lunch, then  prayers, then dinner, then prayers, then sleep. I found the predictability quite attractive. And the food was good.  And if there is a God, and an afterlife, and an inner life of the soul, then the monastery had everything in the proper order. And if there isn’t all those things, it’s still a very restful way to live.”

“I was going to join the monastery after high school, but they said I was too young and should wait. And then I just stopped believing in all those things, so I never did join the monastery.”


The Actor’s Nightmare will be performed in the Greene Theater from November 4-7

Art is Thriving in Mass.

By Tyler York

Emerson was recently visited by Rocco Landesman, the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Rocco is on a nationwide tour for an NEA initiative called Art Works. The tour is designed to highlight the great work taking place in the arts all around the country. I have no doubt that Rocco was impressed with what he heard and saw while in Massachusetts because the arts are thriving here!

During his visit to Emerson, he received a tour of our fantastic theatre venues and met with artistic directors from around the state. Emerson students, staff, and faculty were invited to observe the meeting and had the opportunity to ask questions of these great artistic minds. I’ll share my thoughts on the meeting later… for now, read what Rocco had to say of his visit on the Art Works blog.


Tyler York is the Assistant to the General Manager of Emerson Stage and an alum of Emerson’s BFA Stage/Production Management program.

The Student’s POV: Alexandra Hsie

by Alexandra Hsie

Alexandra Hsie

Bud, Not Buddy is flowing smoothly and we’re working hard through the play. We have a real live jazz band and one of the actors learned the harmonica specifically for this play – I love listening to the harmonica and the live music during this show.

In other news, I’m producing a BA Film titled “Unacceptable” and I’ve learned that my skills as a Stage Manager transfer really well over to Producer. All in all, staying busy!

Alexandra Hsie is a senior BFA Stage/Production Management major and is the Assistant Stage Manager on BUD, NOT BUDDY.

State of the Season – Oct 15

By Tyler York

LIGHT UP THE SKY opens in less than a week! Can you believe it? The Paramount is clearly one very busy place during this final push to opening night. This past weekend was spent by the production team loading in the scenic, lighting, sound, and projection elements. Work continues and will continue until it becomes the show the audience (you!) will see starting next Thursday. From all accounts that reach my ears, all is going well with the production and those involved are feeling good about the progress being made.

Tomorrow and Sunday is Tech, two l-o-o-o-o-n-g days during which much is accomplished – lighting cues are built and tested, scenery gets its first real test as performers and crew become acquainted with what is suddenly on stage, and sound and projections are tested and adjusted. It will be a magical experience. Exhausting. But magical.

We were treated to design presentations during the NINE production meeting today. Hooray! I was awed by the cohesive vision that director Bill Fennelly and the remarkably talented student designers have created for the look and feel of the show. It is an impressive design that seeks to represent the character Guido’s struggle to break through his past and come up with a new story to tell through film. I cannot wait to see what this show will become by the end of the process. And the first rehearsal is this Monday! I have so long to wait, until December, yet the time will fly by before you know it.


Tyler York is the Assistant to the General Manager of Emerson Stage and an alum of Emerson’s BFA Stage/Production Management program.

Circle Mirror Transformation

By Lindsay Eberly

I am currently working on Circle Mirror Transformation by Annie Baker at the Huntington Theatre Company. It will be familiar to Emerson students because our very own Chair of the Performing Arts Department Melia Bensussen is directing! It’s part of the Shirley, VT Play Festival being put on by three theatres in Boston. Circle Mirror is the story of five people in a Adult Creative Drama class in a community center in Shirley, VT. Shirley, VT is a fictional town where three of her plays take place – Circle Mirror Transformation, Body Awareness and Aliens. The Huntington is producing Circle Mirror, Speakeasy Stage Company is producing Body Awareness, and Company One is producing Aliens. It’s actually a really amazing showcase for such a young talent, especially when you know Annie. She was in our rehearsal room for the first week of rehearsals and she is such an intelligent, insightful artist. It was such a great opportunity to pick her brain about her work.

In Circle Mirror land we are actually finishing up our second 10/12 today and gearing up for our first preview tomorrow night. It’s been a very interesting process so far. It’s obviously a different experience than working on an Emerson Stage show. It is a great hands-on learning experience to work with professional Equity actors under a LORT contract as well as all the contracted technicians backstage. Emerson Stage does a very good job of emulating the Equity rules and process but it’s always more informative to deal with the real deal.

Our biggest challenge right now is the quickchanges that happen between each of the six acts. Not only was I the production assistant for the rehearsal process, I am staying on as a member of the run crew for the run of the show. So right now we are rehearsing the quickchanges like crazy and staying atop of all the changes. I do have to say, I personally would love to own all of the female characters’ costume pieces in the show! They’re so cute!

So come see the show!! We start previews tomorrow and officially open October 20th. See for show times and to get tickets!


Lindsay is a junior BFA Stage/Production Management major in the Department of Performing Arts at Emerson College.

Dancers Audition for Emerson Stage

By Marlena Yannetti

Just held auditions for X-Dance. It went so smoothly, thanks to stage management, choreographers, and last, but by no means least, all who auditioned! The casting was completed in world-record time, at least by X-Dance standards, and we’re all excited for company building evening…and then, rehearsals! I am so impressed by the proposals submitted by our choreographers, who have been so committed to making this process easy with no “wrinkles”. We’ve always been blessed with great stage management, and this year is no exception.


Marlena Yannetti, Dancer-In-Residence for the Department of Performing Arts at Emerson College, is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association and has appeared in the Broadway and national touring companies of The Unsinkable Molly Brown and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and at New York’s Shubert Theatre in Talent ’61. Yannetti was an original tribe member and dance captain of Hair at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. She also appeared in the first touring company of West Side Story and in several seasons of summer stock. In addition, Yannetti was a member of the Matt Mattox Concert Dance Company.