Category Archives: Production Blog

The Making of ‘A Man with No Opinion’

Meet the cast and playwright/director behind Theatre Nebula’s World Premiere production of A Man with No Opinion (opens February 14, closes March 9).  The cast talks about the importance of trust on stage with a small ensemble when doing a fast-paced comedy, as well as the need and desire for new, original plays.

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Original Play Origin: ‘A Man with No Opinion’

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I am thrilled that Theatre Nebula chose to produce my play A Man With No Opinion. I created the show back in 2006 and it had successful staged readings at Harper College back in 2007. During three staged readings done over the course of three days, I received a lot of amazing feedback from the audiences (who were asked to fill out questionnaires after the show). From those readings, the play had gone through numerous surgeries and face lifts to get it to where the show is today.

Interestingly enough, the farce was originally called “The Dog Park” and that title stayed the same for seven years. However, the title of the show always bugged me a bit and I had no clue what I could or would change it to. On the way home from the auditions this January 2014, the new title A Man With No Opinion popped into my head and I immediately called producer, Jeff Greene, with the exciting news. I’m surprised this title never popped into my head because the phrase “a man with no opinion” is used several times throughout the play. Once this title was set in place, I did a complete rewrite of the show that night and sent the new script very early that morning.

The farce will also be enhanced by the original incidental music that is being created by friend, Jeff Poindexter. I had worked with Jeff on a number of shows including: Scrooge: The Musical, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: The Broadway Musical and Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Kevin Wiczer
Playwright & Director of A Man with No Opinion

Scaring the Normals #22: Maintaining Le Normal

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It has been a true pleasure to get to know Katherine Conick throughout this production.  I couldn’t ask for greater enthusiasm, flexibility and commitment to this show.  Kat brings a spirit and an energy that any show would profit from and makes sure ALL the pieces are in place.  In particular, she’s coordinated and funneled redrafts to the cast and crew with great efficiency.

Kat’s also brought a sense of optimism and fun, which can be difficult to maintain when we’re in the sprint of tech week.  I’ve learned a lot about what it takes when you get your hands dirty making a play actually happen.

STN Blog #15: A Director Made for Scaring

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I love, love, love working with Kristen Foley.  I was thrilled when the production team chose her.  From the first table read of Crazy Love (as it was known then) in October 2010, Kristen has gotten every line and all the meaning between the words.  It helps that we share a devious sense of humor, enjoy farces, and love playing on stage.

I always enjoy seeing a director elevate script (a great example is Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris on Little Miss Sunshine).  Kristen blocked a difficult script seamlessly.  She has added accents and touches throughout that only she could invent.  Believe it or not, it takes a lot to make me laugh, but she seems to find a way.  She’s also very open to ideas and has a collaborative approach.

I’ve learned a lot about directing by watching her work with the actors, corral the production team and keep forward momentum.

Thank you, Kristen.  You are  gift to the Normals.

STN Blog #14: A Home on Stage.

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Production Designer (and Producer Extraordinaire) J. Spencer Greene is bringing his 35+ years of theatre experience to our set design. His design solved a lot of problems the script presented, put some of the action right next to the audience and brings a concurrency to events that wasn’t scripted. He thankfully solved a BIG blocking problem that was slogging the end of Act I. Overall, he’s given the piece a visual cohesion.

Visuals are not my strengths. That’s the beauty (and fun!) of collaborating with so many talented artists. I’m excited for you to see his design.

Chris

STN Blog #13: That Scene

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I’ve spent the last month re-drafting Act II. I thought it would be simpler than Act I because everyone’s established, I know the arcs, etc. Wrong.

It was harder because while the elements were there, the rhythm was not nor a balance in our dénouement. We have a large cast (18) and a good many of them contribute to where this story ends. The last draft was windy, clunky and a bit forced.

The hardest part, though, was a scene at the heart of the story. The reason is it’s an important scene but probably a scene you’ve seen before. The challenge was to make it unique, realistic, and have some flow. The characters need to say certain things, but they can’t be set up or you’ll know what they’re going to say before the even start. The key was adding an existential edge.

STN Blog #12: Never a Deadline.

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I wrote last Friday that I would have a re-draft completed by Monday. That didn’t happen. In fact, nine days later, I’m through the first Act. Most of the tweeks have to do with the dialogue of the “heavier” scenes, trying to strike a balance between the action and doing it in a way that hasn’t been seen before. I’m feeling good about it. STN is really starting to tighten up.

Something that’s been a hard lesson learned (and re-learned) is that my creativity and creative works come when they’re ready. And not a minute before. As much as I worry about my ever-upward age and the window of time I have to contribute, I can write (mostly) only when I’m in a zone for it (and in between being a husband, father, full-time psychologist, and relaxation). The words almost have to be busting at my mental-seams before they can be transcribed. This makes for less prolific output, but hopefully improves the quality of what manages to get out.

STN Blog #11: Rehearsal

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Rehearsal last night was intense. Amongst some great ensemble pieces, we worked on an critical dramatic scene that’s essentially the impetus to change for one of our characters. If it doesn’t work or isn’t convincing, you won’t buy the rest of the show. I re-wrote this scene after the read-through because it was actually a little too harsh (and abrupt). Now that it’s a little smoothed it’s, ironically, more uncomfortable to watch. As always, our actors are doing fine work, finding things between the words.

STN Blog #10: Saying Something, Part Two

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Jokes! I forgot to mention jokes. This is a comedy, after all.

Okay, back to that blog about balancing all those disparate pieces into something tasty. I’ve written jokes or scenes that crack me up, but just don’t fit in a play. They wind up feeling staged or out of place.

The difficult trick is weaving humor seamlessly into an intriguing story with fleshy characters. As much as I like all-out absurdist comedies, that is not this play (though one scene from the “silly draft” is still in). Sean Patrick Hargadon, who directed me in Twelfth Night (2011, Janus Theatre) taught me that humor is at its best when rooted in reality.

STN Blog #9: The Best Part?

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Rehearsals have to be a main reason most of us do shows: a chance to meet new people, explore new characters and situations, create something unique together, and hopefully have some fun.

Last night’s rehearsal was a kick. The focus was the finale, blocking starting to take shape, actors trying out different choices, and steadily finding our rhythm. I can see glimpses of the show this will become. If you like farces (that say a little something), witty banter and physical humor, you’ve come to right place.