Theatre & Film Festivals
by JEFF SPRY Cascade A&E Feature Writer
Capitalizing on the coffee-crazed culture of Central Oregon, local actor and comedian Nathan Woodworth has just completed work on The Barista Times, a humorous web-series filmed entirely at Sisters Coffee Company in downtown Sisters. Woodworth has teamed up with filmmaker Sam Pyke to create this caffeinated cup-of-life dramedy at a bustling java joint and plans to broadcast it on YouTube starting in July.
“It’s an online sketch comedy series that takes place only at a coffee shop,” said Woodworth. “It satirizes the crazy life of hardworking baristas and their loyal coffee-loving customers. Most of the sketches are based on true stories that have been slightly altered and we make a point of keeping our personal views balanced by poking fun at employees and customers with equal opportunity.”
Woodworth started writing this percolating project after he finished assignments for The Second City’s celebrated online comedy writing courses while waiting to get into the next level at Los Angeles’ The Groundlings school and theater, where stars like Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig and Jimmy Fallon got their start.
“I went down to Southern California in 2012 to begin training in improvisation at The Groundlings and had to audition,” he said. “I made it through all the improv levels really fast. We watched classic Monty Python, Laurel and Hardy, Malcolm in the Middle and Saturday Night Live. For Barista Times I wanted to challenge myself by seeing how many sketch ideas I could come up with in one location. My sister, Emily, who is a professional writer, and I both decided to set it at a coffee shop where we work. Confining it to one location actually gave us more ideas, and doing it at a coffee house allowed us access to the full spectrum of humanity.
“Everybody will be able to relate to the material. It’s not just about coffee or baristas, it’s about humans and the everyday errors we make and particular quirks we carry.”
This intriguing new web-series is highly influenced by the manic works of Monty Python, especially the antics of legendary cast members John Cleese and Graham Chapman.
“What we write is socially satirical but we didn’t set out to write it that way,” he explains. “We filmed nine episodes that each average three minutes. Five of the episodes are titled, Things Baristas Shouldn’t Do and those are what I like to call Scatter Sketches, basically brief bits featuring rapid-fire one-liners all having to do with one topic. A lot of it is centered on miscommunication, eccentric characters and rude customers.”
The Barista Times was filmed over the course of several weeks during off-hours in May by Sam Pyke at Hill Shadow Pictures.
“Sam and I co-directed it and my sister and I co-wrote and co-produced it. We used only professional actors and comedians in the lead roles, including myself and Emily, Derek Sitter, Gavin Douglas from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Chris Sulak, who spent six years at Second City in Chicago with Steve Carell. The show turned out to be really hilarious and we had an amazing improvisational cast that brought it to life.”
The premier of The Barista Times screens on July 5 at the Volcanic Theatre Pub in Bend. Doors open at 6pm. Live comedy starts at 7:30pm before showing all nine episodes. Derek Sitter will also be showing an enlightening documentary called Happy included with admission. Advanced tickets are $5 per person or $7 at the door.
Stage Right Productions, the company that brought the hit sold-out show, Spamalot to the Tower Theatre, presents Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. Performances will be June 13-29 at 2nd Street Theater.
“I am thrilled by the talent that abounds in our local theater community,” says Managing Director of Stage Right Productions, Sandy Klein. “Just when I thought we’ve done the best show we’ve ever done, along comes Sweeney Todd. I have been wanting to bring this show to 2nd Street Theater for years, and its finally become a reality. The audience will definitely be talking about this one for a long time.”
Sweeney Todd is a chilling, suspenseful, heart-pounding masterpiece of revenge, murderous barber-ism and culinary crime. Sophisticated, macabre, visceral and uncompromising, Sweeney Todd nevertheless has a great sense of fun, mixing intense drama with howlingly funny moments of dark humor; audiences find themselves laughing hysterically one moment and gasping in surprise the next.
Sweeney Todd features some of Central Oregon’s finest talent, including David DaCosta as Sweeney Todd, Lilli Ann Linford-Foreman as Mrs. Lovett and an ensemble that sounds like they just came off the Broadway stage. Sweeney Todd is directed by Juliah Rae (Dixie Swim Club, Distracted) with musical direction by Scott Michaelsen (Spamalot, Company).
This chilling and frighteningly humorous musical will kick off with a champagne reception on Friday the 13 of June from 6:30-7:30pm. Shows start at 7:30pm with the exception of Sunday Matinees at 3pm.
$22 for adults, $19 student/seniors
by JEFF SPRY Cascade A&E Feature Writer
This summer, director David DaCosta’s Thoroughly Modern Productions will tackle one of the great pieces of American literature in their micro-budget feature adaptation of Stephen Crane’s 1895 classic, Red Badge of Courage.
The project is currently in pre-production, aligning schedules and scouting area locations for the start of filming later this year.
DaCosta can frequently be seen in productions at 2nd Street Theater in Bend as an actor, producer and director. Originally from Massachusetts, he moved to Bend back in 2011, when he hooked up with artistic partners Neil Costello and Gary Fulkerson.
“It’s a feature-length film, and the script comes in at 87 pages so by all standards it’s an actual movie,” DaCosta said. “This goes back 20 years as an unrealized dream of mine, something I’ve always wanted to do. Originally I tried to adapt this into a stage version after graduating from college, but everything about it speaks that it’s a film. It took moving to Central Oregon to get it going.
“When I relocated here I was taken by the landscape of Central Oregon and realized it could be filmed here, with the open landscape and rolling fields and rocky outposts. When I traveled over the passes into Eugene I saw that the green valleys were just like the places in Western Virginia and the Carolinas.”
Crane’s book is based on the Battle of Chancellorsville, but it’s never mentioned specifically, so there’s the ability to tell this story anywhere, regardless of the locale.
“What’s important about the story is the psychological journey this individual takes and how this is everyman’s journey. We have to demonstrate the ultimate form of courage in battle, when death is imminent but we all must face battles in life where we must demonstrate courage.”
For DaCosta it comes down to a maturity process, in this case for a young man in the poignant grip of war. Henry, the pivotal character, goes through a journey of self-centeredness to one of extreme self-sacrifice.
“Everything in my life has been steered to this moment. My love of Civil War history and trips to Gettysburg when I was six or seven years old, my reverence for the period, the spirit of the soldier and the grandness of what was sacrificed on a personal and moral level.”
His love of old things and military history made this project a perfect fit for his creative sensibilities.
“I went to school at the Virginia Military Institute with its old traditions and it has directly influenced everything. I have an accumulation of materials from over the years. Six months ago I got together with Gary and we got that material out and pulled the book dialog and incorporated it into the first draft of a script. Then we started to conceptualize the film but didn’t want to follow the linear story that the book tells. I felt we could discover a better convention to make the story more compelling.”
DaCosta auditioned everyone back in February and has chosen his principal characters already, recruiting all local talent.
“It’s a mixture of people I’ve worked with and haven’t worked with,” he said. “The lead role of Henry Fleming is a kid named Neal London. The John Huston film is very much from his point of view I want the audience to be Henry. It really is this core group of seven soldiers that is the main character of the film.”
To aid in the production, DaCosta has established a relationship with the Cascade Civil War Society, a small reenactment group based out of Klamath Falls.
“They primarily run skirmish action and travel over to California and join up to the larger groups for bigger staged events. The battles in the story are mostly skirmish action so that works perfectly for us. Our plan is to attend the event that the bigger group, the Northwest Civil War Council, is holding in May in Camp Sherman. We’ll take some stock footage we need to marry along with our story, and they’ll help choreograph some of our fight scenes for the movie. All these groups are going back East this year for the big 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg.”
During this pre-production period ending August 1, the crew will be getting their funding into place to start filming this September through November.
“I think we’re at a precipice here and it’s still touch and go,” he said. “We have a lot of money yet to raise but I feel confident we’ll get it done. I’ve always kept it alive over the years and trusted that it will happen. It’s all coming together now and I’m really excited. This is a local production and under $150,000. We’re building up steam. It’s a big family and it’s ready to be bigger.”
DaCosta is in the process of creating a website for the film and fundraising purposes. Indiegogo will be the fundraising site via Thoroughly Modern Productions or on Facebook at Red Badge of Courage Bend. 541-678-0313.