Redwood Live Sketches from Portland Center Stage

Every so often the cartoonists of Portland get an open invite to a local theatrical production. Sometimes it’s the children’s theater, other times the opera. Occasionally it’s something with extravagant puppets. We get free tickets to whatever’s on in exchange for producing a batch of frantic live sketches, which  then get used to promote the production. 

This month the call was for a world premier play called Redwood, a story about race and heritage and relationships, intergenerational and otherwise. I’d gotten a mailer for it a few days earlier and really wanted to go, so when the invite to live sketch a dress rehearsal came in I was all over it.

Lucy holding a pair of clip lights up to her head like a pair of antennae.
Thank you JJ for this very good photo.

They issue all the cartoonists with these goofy clip lights and send them to sit in a row towards the back of the theater. We then have to do our darndest to draw like the wind throughout the entire show, capturing gestures, faces, moments, scenery—whatever we like. Here’s what I came up with! These sketches were all done straight to ink with a Pilot Carbon Desk Fountain Pen (the least well-named implement in my arsenal).

It’s a challenge for sure, but one I always come away from feeling surprisingly accomplished. It’s also nice to be drawing for folks who aren’t visual artists themselves, because anything you produce seems like wizardry.

I’m really glad I made time to go see this production—it was powerful and moving and laugh-out-loud funny. You can catch it at The Armory here in Portland through November 17th!

Zombie in Love at Oregon Children’s Theater

Last weekend I was super thrilled to visit the Oregon Children’s Theater to live sketch their production of Zombie in Love — a world premier musical based on the children’s book written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Scott Campbell.

OCT invited Mike Russell and I to come draw one of the performances, and it turns out they also invited Scott Cambell himself to visit and see the show! Watching all the kids in the audience just mob him to get autographs in their zombie books after the show was super cool, as was watching their eyes widen while Mike drew for them.

I also got to show my sketches to Scott, which was a big thrill considering I’ve been reading his stuff since I was in middle school. The first time I met Scott I was a little babby comics fan at the Stumptown Comics Fest in 2009, and somehow here I am five years later introducing myself as a cartoonist. It is unreal.

So not only did I get to say hello to Scott, but he also brought Graham Annable (another longtime inspiration) along for the ride, so I got to meet him and hear about his upcoming feature with LAIKA (The Boxtrolls!) and see his beautiful live sketches as well. You can see Pat Moran’s lovely photos from the meet and greet after the show right here, and Mike Russell’s hilarious live sketches right here.

Aaand here are mine!

The show was totally charming — I even enjoyed the musical numbers, which usually aren’t my thing — and the actors were all astonishingly good. Also: so many groaner puns. It was great!

Thanks to OCT for inviting us. I look forward to seeing more of their productions this season!

 

 

Don Giovanni: Boners Ahoy

So, as some of you may know, I attended a rehearsal of Don Giovanni earlier this week, courtesy of the Portland Opera. The company runs this great outreach program where cartoonists come and live sketch rehearsals in the days leading up to the show. I’m no opera buff, but the experience was fantastic. Stellar cast, dramatic staging, and no shortage of saucy thrills. If you’ve been wanting more bang for your operatic buck, this is the show for you.

Unfortunately, these sketches fail to capture the pathos and emotional torment of the show itself. I have, instead, chosen to focus mainly on the boning. There’s a lot of that.

Don Giovanni, his peasant rival, Masetto, and Masetto’s ridiculous hat.

Leporello, unwilling servant to Don Giovanni. This was the happiest I saw him in the entire production.

Most of the time he looked like this.

With good reason.

Giovanni spends a fair amount of time attempting to blame Leporello for his own sexual dalliances.

Masetto is rarely pleased with Giovanni’s party tactics.

Frustrated by his master’s shenanigans, Leporello threatens to leave Giovanni’s service.

Giovanni, however, convinces him to stay and switch clothes with his master, in order to go seduce some more babes. The disguise is somewhat lacking.

Meanwhile, Giovanni completely fails to impersonate Leporello.

Leporello learns that being Don Giovanni has its upsides.

Meanwhile, the grisly evidence of Giovanni’s murderous tendencies (displayed to their fullest at the very top of the show), continues to slide down the set.

Don Ottavio, fiance to the ravishing Donna Anna, is shocked when his beloved expresses her attraction to Don Giovanni.

At Giovanni’s party, he tries a new tactic.

Donna Anna, however, is too busy belting it like a rockstar to notice her fiancé’s change of attire. (Seriously. The women in this show fucking KILLED IT.)

In the process of lamenting her father’s murder at the hands of Don Giovanni, she makes an alarming discovery.

The Commendatore sings accusingly at Don Giovanni from beyond the grave! (Or does he?)

Leporello fears the Commendatore’s fiery gaze, but Giovanni knows the truth.

Don Ottavio makes a last ditch effort to grab the attentions of his beloved.

The Commendatore rises from the grave to deliver a striking revelation! (Also Giovanni gets whisked away to eternal damnation and there’s a big moralistic finale or something I wasn’t really paying attention to anything but the Merkin Mystery at this point.)

And they all lived happily every after!

***

Seriously, folks, with the flippancy of my goofy sketches aside, I suggest you all go check out this show. I had a wonderful time. To sweeten the deal, those of you in the know (i.e. everyone reading this blog) can get your tickets for the Thursday (11/8) show at 50% off! Head over here and enter the password MOZART to get in on the action.

If you enjoyed this you can find other excellent commentary, artwork, and cheap gags from the evening’s cartoonists and live bloggers on Twitter under the hashtag #pdxgiovanni.

Live Wire! Radio & Other Escapades

Busy times, everyone! I’ve got a recap of the last couple weeks (including the awesomeness that was VanCAF) up over on the Kickstarter blog, and since I’ll be bum deep in fulfilling rewards for the next lifetime I’m going to let that speak for itself for now.

In the meantime I’ve been buzzing around Portland getting my draw on — most recently with the excellent folks at Live Wire! Radio, who were kind enough to invite me over to live sketch one of their shows. For those of you unfamiliar with Live Wire!, they make audio-based delights to enrich the mind and tickle the fancy of any discerning radio listener. I strongly suggest you check them out. This particular taping featured rock star guests like Lizz Winstead, Ted Rall, Daniel H. Wilson, Mike Russell, Star Anna, and Kasey Anderson, as well as Faces For Radio Theater, the house team of actors and entertainers responsible for keeping things real on stage. And here, in all their messy glory from my much-the-worse-for-wear sketchbook, they are!

Sadly, this was the last show of the season, but I’m looking forward to more of these in September. Keep an eye out!

I’ll leave you all with a couple Vancouver-themed pages from my sketchbook…

Until next time!