The Mighty Cuckoos!

Feb 2, 2010 by     No Comments    Posted under: Thousands of Stories

It’s one of Hollywood’s favorite formulas: Assemble a ragtag team of amateurs, give them seemingly impossible odds, and watch them triumph in the end.

I’ve been reminded of this formula in the past week as we prepare to open One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Granted, our talented cast isn’t exactly “ragtag,” but the “can-do” energy that pervades the theatre makes me feel like I’m part of a Disney sports movie every time we rehearse. That, and we’ve certainly faced more than our fair share of adversity.

See, the show is being produced by a brand-new theatre company, The Consortium Project. Headed by the incredibly talented Evan Absher, the group is dedicated to delivering socially poignant theatre and raising awareness of issues that effect our friends, families, and neighbors. 100% of ticket proceeds go towards related charitable organizations.

But even such honorable intentions can’t spare a fledgling theatre company from the difficult challenges facing every new outfit in Chicago. From double-booked spaces to marketing miscues, we’ve had more twists than a martini lounge.

I have learned so much over the past 4 months…

  1. Patience and Positivity are everything! Working with a brand-new theatre company going through its first production, there is absolutely no room for a poor attitude. Unexpected problems will undoubtedly arise (our very first rehearsal switched locations 3 times within a 24-hour period!), but being able to face them with an optimistic smile speaks volumes about you as a performer, and I guarantee your directors and stage managers will notice!
  2. Go the extra mile to help with any part of the process you can! The production team may need some extra hands painting the set or loading-in. Trust me, being known as a “go-to guy” is a very good thing. Producers crave reliability in this industry! I truly wish I had been able to help more this time around.
  3. Learn everyone’s name and offer a sincere, friendly greeting at the beginning of every rehearsal! This simple gesture will transform any working relationship into a friendship in no time. As Dale Carnegie puts it in his classic How To Win Friends and Influence People, “Remember that, to him or her, a person’s name is the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” I have made some downright amazing friends during this show, and it was much easier for me to open up to them once I made the effort to learn their names.

This early in the game, it’s all about creating a good name for yourself. We’re not getting paid yet. We’re not blessed with a cushy AEA contract. So, when you’re given the opportunity to “get in on the ground floor” with a new theatre company, make it count!

So here we are. Mere days away from opening night.

Quack! Quack! QUACK! QUACK! QUACK!

~JVB

P.S. – If you’re in the Chicago area, come check out the show! We play Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7pm and Sundays at 3pm at The Viaduct Theatre (near the corner of Belmont and Western). You can order your tickets here! :-)