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.

The Best Job Ever

By Jason Allen-Forrest, Assistant to the Chair

When Melia Bensussen and Rob Orchard met to discuss commissioning local playwrights for a short play festival as part of the Paramount’s opening weekend festivities, I knew that something exciting was happening.  Even more exciting was the knowledge that I was going to help organize the initial events for the playwrights.

Getting to meet with these talented artists, was one of the highlights of my own theatrical journey.  Chatting with them at the initial event, working with them on research for their pieces, helping to connect them to the directors all conspired to make a busy and exciting summer.

An even greater thrill was the opportunity to be in one of the pieces!  I was lucky enough to be working on a piece that allowed me the opportunity to watch and learn from five extraordinary women.

My piece was Jack Neary’s Casting Amanda and I had the joy of watching director, Kristen van Ginhoven (Emerson Alum and Adjunct Faculty) and Stage Manager, Marissa Robinson (Emerson Undergrad) move us through rehearsals and guiding the creation of our little family.

It was a hoot working on this riotous piece and a master class getting to watch Faculty members Amelia Broome and Kathleen Donohue and Undergrad Lindsey Hamby-Real create their characters and play with each other to bring this delightful play to life.  I felt truly blessed being part of this talented group.

I had no idea that my blessings were soon to increase. As we drew closer to the opening weekend, I ended up being cast in two additional pieces. John AEkoje’s Auditioning for Mary (directed by Staff member SiouxSanna Ramirez-Cruz) and Larry Coen’s 9 Circles of the Inferno (directed by Faculty member Maureen Shea).  I was now popping up in 3 Pop-Ups.

It was a gloriously busy week of rehearsals, technical rehearsals and performances.  I had the pleasure of working with my amazing colleagues, the talented students (both on and back stage), the folks in ArtsEmerson and the joy of the community’s response to this wonderful event.

I am truly grateful that I have a job that I enjoy. I mean, where else would I get the opportunity to perform and be intimately involved with the production of a short play festival in a newly renovated theatrical institution?! I’m blessed everyday that I have a job that allows me the opportunity to learn and grow as an artist.  Working in the Performing Arts Department at Emerson is truly the best job ever!

Stardate 10/12/10

Howdy Partners!   Today I am going to tell you about the magical world of the Shriner Fez.   Thanks to Scott Pinkney, I have an actual Shriner hat to use as a model.  Want to see it?  Of course you do!!

Original Fez from the Pickney Family Archives.

So that’s the look I am going for.  This is what I am starting with:

Isn't it lovely?

Since I can’t embroider directly onto the Fez,  well I could but I might have to overcome a law of physics or two.  I am using our lovely machine to embroider on a matching felt, then I will stitch it onto the Fezzes.  (Is that the plural of Fez? Would they be Fezi?)

Here’s the template which I am using to line up the stitching:


And here’s the start of the process with the logo:

It's getting Shriner-y!!

Now I have been looking at fonts to find the perfect letters.  Luckily I have an embroidery program that can turn TrueType Fonts into embroiderable letters.    Did you want to see the finished product?   Well then you are just going to have to see Light up the Sky.

Here’s our lovely embroidery machine,  I call her Novi.  The shot was photobombed by Mr. Pricklepants.  He’s such a ham. Tune in next week to see what havoc Mr. Pricklepants causes when he attempts to tie dye his leiderhosen!

The Director’s POV: Bill Fennelly

By Bill Fennelly

What a week! I am just back home in NYC after an incredible week at Emerson. Casting and Meetings, Meetings, Meetings: Design meetings, Creative Concept meetings, Casting Meetings and Dramaturgy meetings! It was exhilarating!!!

First of all we have just announced an amazing cast. I was blown away by the level of talent and preparedness of the Emerson students and in particular the Music Theater majors. NINE deals with very sophisticated issues of identity, relationships and sexuality but it also has a real sense of humor. The students did incredible work in the auditions and I watched so many of them have astonishing discoveries and make big fearless choices (and I wish you all could have been in the room with Jon Goldberg, our fabulous Music Director and me as all 10 Women called back for Carla, Guido’s mistress, came in and one by one sang the delicious and naughty “Call From the Vatican” each one giving a brilliant sexy-comic performance that had me regularly blushing and laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face).

I also could not be happier or more proud of the design team. I am so impressed with their level of taste and sophistication. I am also thrilled at how well they communicate with each other and understand the importance and cross-pollination effect of collaboration. I will be back in Boston next week for two marathon days of “formatting.” Formatting is a process I learned while assisting Des McAnuff on the creation of JERSEY BOYS. It is a process of putting the creative team in the room together prior to rehearsals to collaboratively work through the production moment by moment. This becomes especially important with a show like NINE where the approach is highly conceptual and takes place “in the mid of the artist.”  I will share more design information once it is final….but I am very excited about where we are.

The dramaturgy discussion are off to an exciting start. I spent two days with Dramaturg Gina Le Donne discussing Freud, Jung and Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development. I shared with Gina my strong belief that dramaturgy needs to empower the acting company and creative team with “playable” information; theory, ideas and facts that can produce action and behavior. I have also shared with her my process of for text analysis and Liz Lerman’s process called TOWARDS A PROCESS FOR CRITICAL RESPONSE (if you don’t know what this is check it out it will change your life…I’m not kidding)

Finally, I want to thank Stage Manager Cait Powers and Assistant Director Michael Bello for their amazing support and organization this week!!!

Here we go……………………..!!!