BIRDS OF PARADISE, 2015 FringeNYC participant

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Production Diary #5 -- Alas Hiatus, You Hardly Knew Us

It's OPENING WEEK and we couldn't be more excited to bring you Birds of Paradise, our loving contribution to this year's FringeNYC festival.

"What has happened to the right side of my face?" Selfies by Adam
The cast and crew returned from a brief hiatus last night and hit the ground running for an excellent rehearsal leading into our opening night. Patrick and Hallie, our two actors, showed remarkable poise and diligence during our downtime, and at our first run featuring ALL set pieces and props, the show grew little baby bird legs and was hopping around before our eyes. We can't wait to finish out the week of rehearsals, move into tech, panic briefly because we're moving into tech, reach a state of calm, reassure each other that the "show must go on," then remember why we chose to do theater in the first place and put on a hell of a show for y'all.

Meanwhile I've been schlepping the city with my lovely wife (and company photographer) Lizzie, putting up posters and setting out postcards at countless cafes, coffee shops, and nail salons; as well as checking in the show at FringeCENTRAL and taking terrible selfies with the postcards on FringeNYC's big board. Additionally:

We loaded shared set pieces into our venue, 64E4 Underground, and finalized the layout of everything.

Susannah Baron, our lighting designer, got to take a peek at the venue and adjust our lighting scheme.

Programs have been printed and are ready to go.

We got our super-sweet official FringeNYC Participant's badges:
Yeah, that badge is LAMINATED. Kind of a big deal, but whatever.
We're heading back to rehearsal every night this week to work out the final kinks, dry tech the show, actually tech the show, then hit the floorboards THIS FRIDAY, AUGUST 21st at 5PM for our first performance! Here are some helpful tips for you:

Buy tickets here by clicking on the time and date of the show you wish to attend. Or direct your mobile device to Or make your way to FringeCENTRAL at City Lore to buy in person and avoid the convenience charge. If all else fails buy them at the door! You have so many options!

Interested in seeing other shows? With over 200 to chose from in this year's festival, of course you are! Find out what's a good fit with FringeNYC's handy quiz app!

There is ABSOLUTELY NO LATE SEATING for ALL FringeNYC shows, so plan ahead!

Speaking of which, have you never used Uber? First-time Uber users can get $25 off the ride to the show by using the coupon code FRINGENYC25

We have an opening night get-together that you're all invited to! Join us after the Friday 8/21 performance (around 6:10pm) at Stillwater Bar & Grill, just a quick walk up the block from our venue, to meet the cast, meet the crew, and engage in revelry and spirits. We can't wait to see you!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Production Diary #4 -- Posters and Postcards

August is upon us, which means the FringeNYC Festival is almost upon us, which means we open in three weeks, and the theater elves here at Cardinal Productions are busy busy busy taking the final preparations behind the scenes on a wonderful rehearsal process.

The play is becoming more real by the minute, and in that vein I wanted to take a minute to recognize our supremely talented graphic designer, Jackie Connolly, who just recently turned in our final poster art:

Not to be outdone, she created some amazing postcard art featuring our two amazing actors:

We're excited to finally have official postcards to hand out, and we're thrilled to bring you Birds of Paradise! If you're in the NYC area, you can stop by FringeCENTRAL at City Lore starting August 7 to pick up your own copy of the postcard, as well as peruse postcards from all the other shows at FringeNYC this year and buy tickets while you're at it!

Until next time, we can't wait to see you!

You can find Jackie at

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Production Diary #3 -- Getting Into Character

Rehearsals started in earnest this week, and as we get into full swing we’re making big strides toward putting this whole shebang together. 

BIRDS OF PARADISE is what we call a “two-hander” in the biz, since it only features two actors. I’ve always thought a more anatomically correct term would be “four-hander,” but what do I know? At any rate, directing is considerably more fun when you can focus all your time on getting to know two characters, as opposed to some sprawling Russian epic with a cast of thousands, for example, with apologies to Chekhov, Tolstoy, Gogol, and THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (love that play). 

Hallie Schwartz and Patrick Truhler rehearse the final scene of the play, book in hand

But this stage of development is for Hallie and Patrick to really sink their teeth into these characters, find out who they are in terms of real people, and drill, drill, drill the lines and blocking until it becomes second nature. We call this “knocking the acting out of the actors.” Yes, they are “actors”, but at the end of the day we don’t want them to “act” like the characters they’re portraying; we want them to inhabit them, become them, (as corny as that sounds), thus making them real to the audience. 

Actors make different choices everywhere during rehearsals, being big and creative and bold as they should be, trying to align themselves to the truth of the situations on the page. It’s an artistic process, so it’s more about feelings than milestones, but the one thing that seems to hold true is the more chances an actor gets to practice a play, and the more used to it they get, the more they will cease to “act” and just be on stage, and that’s when the real drama happens -- when they are fully in the moment, simply doing and reacting.

The only way to do that is through sheer repetition, focus, and relentlessly pursuing the truth of the characters. It also takes a steady supply of bottled water and various baked goods and pastries, as well as a stage manager you can set your watch to. Fortunately we’ve got it all covered! My job as director is to mostly stay out of the actors’ way, offering guidance where I see things going off track, providing insights to the world, defining tangible actions and objectives for the scenes, and generally telling them to “Do it again, only faster this time.” 

Hallie and Patrick bring the real magic however. Our story is a love story, and all of their past relationships and histories come to bear on their characters. Hallie has the advantage of playing the role a second time (in the original Colorado production), and she’s relishing it. Patrick could not look more like an ornithologist if he tried. Hallie and Patrick are also good friends offstage and acted in high school together, giving us a wonderful built-in chemistry to play around with. All of these real world influences give them excellent performance fodder, and on a side note, talk about professional – Hallie relocated to New York for the summer just to do this show, and Patrick is rehearsing while performing Shakespeare in Annapolis, taking an hour bus ride three times a week to join us. You could do a hell of a lot worse than these two kids, and I’m in playwright heaven

Lots of exciting things coming up – completing the set, getting our publicity materials finalized, and sorting out lights and sound. To paraphrase our heroine Emma, that perfect version of the play is out there – it’s only a matter of time! In the meantime, TICKETS to FringeNYC go on sale this FRIDAY, JULY 17th. We have a limited run of 5 shows, and a space with 45 seats, so be sure to reserve them early. We can’t wait to see you, and thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Huzzah! We know where and when we're performing for FringeNYC, so set your calendars:

VENUE #12 - 64E4 Underground
FRI 8/21 @ 5; SAT 8/22 @ 9:15; TUE 8/25 @ 9; THU 8/27 @ 2:30; SAT 8/29 @ 2:30

Did you know tickets to FringeNYC are only $18? It's only the best deal of the summer! Tickets go on sale July 17th, read here for more info!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Production Diary #2 - A Blocking Good Time

First rehearsals are always a special day in any production, when the cast and director sit around a table and read the play aloud, then talk about it. Because of scheduling we eschewed tradition a bit and jumped right into blocking, but it was no less special.

Yes, blocking. The time-honored theater practice of telling actors when to move around and do things on stage. At this point you would normally see pictures of Hallie Schwartz (Emma) and Patrick Truhler (Archie) at our rehearsal, furiously jotting down notes in their scripts with number 2 pencils while I have my "far-off visionary" look on my face pointing at things to illustrate the above comment, but in my zeal about finally being at our first rehearsal, I neglected to take them. Irony, it seems, can be a cruel mistress.

However, here's another publicity photo to tide you over:

Photo Credit: Lizzie Harrell
Don't they look adorable all confused and in love and whatnot? That's from the first scene of the play, where we started blocking last night. We used Shetler Studios, a wonderful rehearsal complex in the heart of Broadway, where my last play BUFFALO HEIGHTS was performed.

(A computer simulation of me falling on the subway.)
For three hours we toiled over the blocking for scenes 1-6 in a small 9' x 11' studio at Shetler. The air conditioning was a welcome relief (it was still a humid 84 degrees when we left around 10pm), and on the way home I lost my balance on the subway and fell into a stranger's lap. 

But amazing work was done! I left filled with pride and confidence that I had the right cast in the right place at the right time. Like the 18 or so percent of bird species that migrate each year, we too are embarking on a journey that will take us to a warm, wonderful paradise. 

Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Production Diary #1 - Press Photos and Bar Trivia

L to R: Patrick Truhler (Archie); Adam Harrell (Director); Lizzie Bell (Photographer)

Actors Hallie Schwartz and Patrick Truhler paid a visit to our makeshift studios this week to begin production on BIRDS OF PARADISE. Since no production photos of the show exists (video only), the first step was staging some photos that could be used to promote it.

Trivia selfie! Hallie Schwartz (Emma) on the far right!
Hallie and Patrick braved the awkwardness of striking a pose over several hours, and over the course of our discussions it was decided that all superstar pop singers will eventually reach a phase in their careers where they do a music video that is simply them standing in front of the camera singing. It's science.

After we burned through some digital film it was off to the local watering hole to get some primo bonding
time in with the cast and crew, and as luck would have it, it was trivia night. Our team name was "Birds of Paradise", naturally, and although we were riding high in first place at halftime, the spirits snuck in our heads and stole our brains, leaving us in 3rd place when it was all said and done. Word of advice: the country whose name literally means "Nation of Bengals" is Bangladesh, not Bangalore (I bring shame to bar trivia).

Any-hoosiers, we got some great production photos, all of which will be made available on the website soon as soon as the digital photo elves spread their retouching pixie dust. And we've got show dates, more production diaries, logos, posters, and more in the works. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Full Sail Ahead!

Hello, friends! We're excited to share our inaugural production with you all -- BIRDS OF PARADISE by Adam Harrell, a charming romantic comedy that follows a lovelorn ornithologist as he tries to understand his relationship issues through bird behaviors. It will be produced this August 14-30 at the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival after an award-winning west coast run, directed by the playwright.

More details, including ticket reservations, performance dates, and cast/crew bios will follow as the plans for FringeNYC solidify, but in the meantime fill out the contact form on the right with "subscribe" in the message text to get updates.

We'll see you when the curtain rises!