Saturday, August 8, 2009

War of the Worlds - The Green Room

A green room is a room in a theater, for the accommodation of performers when not required on the stage. Its function is as a lounge so that performers do not have to go back to dressing rooms and are still easily accessible for their call. For the Sunday performance I finally ventured back to the green room to see the performers before they went on stage. I held off going earlier because I was concerned the actors might feel uncomfortable with me sketching them as they got into costumes. There are three sets of dressing rooms and they all open into the green room. There was a plate of cookies on the table and several actors joked about not being able to stop eating them, "This is my last cookie, honest".
Cohen asked everyone including myself to pose for a group photo. She coached us all telling everyone "You just found out Thomas Thorspecken painted you naked". I smiled broadly, perhaps to broadly and after inspecting the Digital shot Linsay was disappointed that none of the actors had shown disgust or dismay. Kelly - Ann Salazar was on hand in case any costuming alterations were needed. Everyone was energetic and excited. I realized I couldn't catch all the actors so I simply locked down the few who sat down and relaxed prior to the performance. This left the actors I did sketch sort of isolated as if in an Edward Hopper painting. Perhaps that is why Edward Hoppers paintings seem so lonely, it is simply because he couldn't sketch the joyous activity fast enough!
When the play started the green room lights were turned off since the light would bleed onto the stage. I was concerned since I hadn't started adding watercolor washes yet. I considered doing another sketch of the actors waiting in the wings, since there was some light to be found there, but finally I returned to the green room with the stubborn intent that I always finish a sketch once it is started. Painting in the dark was actually easy once my eyes adjusted. I kept the washes fairly light so the room feels light filled.
I worked on the sketch for the entire duration of the show, about 50 minutes. This left me to experience the action on stage strictly with my ears. The performance thus had the impact of the original radio broadcast. All the visceral panic and terror could still be felt just from my listening to the play. When the applause died down, the actors poured back into the green room and there was a blur of activity as they returned to this century. The cast went out to Stardust Video and Coffee for drinks after wards, but for once I returned home to watch a movie with Terry.
You can still see War of the Worlds tonight at 8 PM at the Shakespeare Theater and tomorrow night at 7 PM. Don't miss it! Time is running out!

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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