Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Shermia Love sings "Nothing Is Ever Really What It Seems"

Another excerpt from Toulouse-inations at the Kentucky Center. Shermia Love plays Marie, and sings this song in Madame Doucet's run-down, ragged, low-budget cabaret and brothel.

Be sure and click the link that says "watch in high quality".

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Catclaw 2009 Planning Meeting

WHAT: Catclaw 2009 Planning Meeting, in which we'll attempt to determine the gameplan for the 2009-2010 season.

WHERE: The Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center, 1860 Mellwood Avenue, Butchertown, Louisville. View map here.

WHEN: Sunday, January 4th, 2:00pm.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Toulouse-inations" clip now on YouTube

Hy Stein plays art dealer George Luntsen, who drops in to pay Toulouse-Lautrec a visit while in Paris.

Be sure and click the link that says "watch in high quality" for maximum aesthetic duplication.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Catclaw goes to Washington

If, by chance, you're an actor/writer/theatre tech person and reading this from the MD/VA/DE/DC area, check in with our Washington DC bureau. We're looking for fresh faces and talent for upcoming productions there, and would love to talk to you!

For more information contact Strother at

(pictured above: Gateway to Washington D.C.'s Chinatown, H Street.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Appalachian Voodoo Fibers!

Our artistic director Jeffrey Scott Holland has yet another new enterprise: Appalachian Voodoo Fibers, in which he takes on the traditionally female-dominated realm of yarn.

"I've always been big on fabrics, sewing, yarn, and such", said JSH in a press release. "To me, it's no different from carpentry or bricklaying, or sculpture, in that you're taking raw materials and smushing them together by any means necessary. As with my painting, my music, and practically everything else I've ever done in life, my fiber-art pursuits are raw, primitive, expressionist, and more about immediacy and results than the sort of finesse and grace one normally expects from the genre".

One of the hottest fiber items these days with the Etsy-Craftster-Ravelry crowd is the fiber "Batt", which JSH describes as "a big loaf of assorted fiber strands, spun like cotton candy on a medieval torture device called a drum carder. The resultant loaf is a favored way for people to spin their own handmade yarn from."

These batts and other handmade JSH retro-primitivo outsider-folk-art goodies will soon be made available on Catclaw's very own Etsy store, which acts as a fundraiser for the cause to which we are all so devoted. Check these links out:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

First Annual Catclaw MVP Awards!

The Catclaw Theatre Company proudly announces our "Most Valuable Player" awards for 2008!

The Most Valuable Player award goes to actors we've worked with over the course of the year who have exemplified these qualities:

  • Outstanding performance
  • Positive, go-getter attitude
  • Kept the drama onstage and not backstage!

    This year, awards go to Shermia Love and Carolyn Purcell. Both appeared in our August 2008 production of Toulouse-inations, and Shermia was also a founding Catclaw member, having attended our very first formative meeting at Ditto's in January 2008.

    Above: Shermia Love as Marie the Cabaret singer in Toulouse-inations. Below: Carolyn Purcell as the Fortune Teller in Toulouse-inations.

    Honorable mention/runners-up: Erin Mann and Jill-Marie Schierbaum.
  • Monday, November 17, 2008

    Help Support the Republic of Lakotah

    Catclaw Theatre Company supports the independent Native American Republic of Lakotah, and this winter is already a very hard one for them - hundreds are currently snowbound and without electrical power. We ask anyone reading this blog to send something, anything, to them to help them out. Food and clothing can be sent to this address:

    P.O. BOX 99
    444 Crazy Horse Drive
    Porcupine, SD 57772

    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Baer's Last Gasp

    We were dumbfounded when Baer's Fabrics abruptly announced its immediate closing earlier this summer, and were pleasantly amazed when they temporarily resurrected themselves a couple of weeks ago with a 50-percent-off sale.

    Then it became 60 percent, and now, this evening, we just received an email notice from Baer's that they're upping the stakes to a 70 percent off everything sale for one more week only.

    Catclaw staffers have already plucked everything we could get our hands on while fighting off the insane crowds, but I'm sure I'll spend some time lingering down at Baer's this week. Not to buy anything but just to stroll around the old building one last time, while I still can. I'll miss the building itself just as much as its wares, and even if someone puts it on the market for sale or rent later, it's probably a safe bet that they'll remodel it and ruin its anachronistic charm.

    Tuesday, September 9, 2008

    Will you help Catclaw?

    Catclaw Theatre Company depends on the vital contributions and support from donors. Our work is aimed directly at benefitting the community by bringing new quality and variety to the theatre scene in Kentucky and surrounding areas. Furthermore, for our traveling productions, we intend to promote Kentucky actors and give them new opportunities to make their talents known to a national (and even international) audience.

    We have a goal of setting up our own theatre space in Louisville by this time next year. Help us reach that goal!

    No donation is too small, and all donors will receive acknowledgement in our playbills and newsletters, plus receive special discounts and thank-you gifts. For supporters giving over $500, your donation will include exclusive VIP invitations to upcoming special events, as well as other benefits we haven't even thought of yet. Contact us for details on how superdonors will get free tickets for life, and/or free advertising in our playbills for life!

    You can also support us by purchasing items from our eBay auctions, and if there's anything else we can do for you, just let us know. Seriously. We'll come over and cook you dinner and paint your fence and shovel the snow from your driveway for a donation. You tell us what you need.

    Catclaw Theatre Company is not a 501(c)(3) entity at this time and gifts to us are not tax-deductible at present.

    Our Paypal account address is To donate, click the Paypal button below:

    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Shermia Love in LEO!

    Catclaw's very own Shermia Love has a great writeup in this week's special Arts & Entertainment issue of LEO Magazine, by theatre critic Sherry Deatrick! An excerpt:

    A member of the Catclaw Theatre Company, she just finished performing in "Toulouse-inations". Playing Marie, one of the ladies of the night, was her favorite role so far, she says, because it showcased all her talents. Yes, she’s one of those triple-threats: dancer/actor/singer.

    We're thrilled to be working with Shermia, and note proudly that her stunning rendition of Jeffrey Scott Holland's song "Nothing Is Ever Really What It Seems" was the centerpiece of Toulouse-inations and was the most highly praised aspect of the show by audience members.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Karissa Singleton

    We salute Karissa Singleton, Catclaw's resident Stage Manager, who literally was the backbone of Toulouse-inations!

    From day one, Karissa immersed herself into the play and ran rings around the rest of us with her "get the job done" can-do attitude. With Catclaw, "Stage Manager" tends to have the broadest possible definition, and Karissa was doing everything from helping Terry with costumes to helping Vanessa run lights (she did it completely solo on closing night) to bringing me McDonald's fries when I was hung over. She also ran the entire prop department herself, and even handled some Assistant Director duties.

    Karissa will be in the Director's chair herself when the JSH DC offices bring Catclaw and Toulouse-inations to our nation's capitol, Washington, D.C., in a few months.

    - - JSH

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Backstage photos

    Some photos taken backstage during Toulouse-inations:

    1. Erik DiCicco (Tumblety), Jennifer Thompson (The Green Fairy), costume designer Terry, and Justin Rich (Clown #3) having a handheld device party in the Green Room.
    2. The disturbingly Gacy-esque Clown #1 (George Bailey) conferring with Carolyn Purcell (The Fortune Teller).
    3. Ashley Rose Stallings, Andrena Senola Johnson, Shermia Love and Erin Mann primping to get that Catclaw look just right.

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Cheeseburger and Fries : The Musical

    Jeffrey Scott Holland, author of Toulouse-inations, is now working on a new play entitled Cheeseburger and Fries, concerning a pair of minimal-talent street-busking musicians struggling to ply their trade on the sidewalks of Kentucky.

    In fact, the play is a true story of sorts, since it's based on an actual busking duo called Cheeseburger and Fries (JSH was "Cheeseburger", and J.T. Dockery was "Fries") that frightened tourists and pedestrians for years on the streets of Lexington and in surrounding counties.

    Says JSH: "Together, they learn to face the opaque amorphous horror that is modern humanity, via confrontationally atonal bluesmanship. Along the way we also meet their mysterious friend Ed, who has a penchant for making surreal and oracular pronouncements, often at the most socially inopportune times".

    Cheeseburger and Fries is expected to have a Louisville opening, probably in Spring 2009.

    (Photo: Cheeseburger and Fries before a performance in Georgetown, KY, circa 1997.)

    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Last chance for Toulouse-inations

    The final show in this production of Toulouse-inations comes today, in the form of a 2pm matinee. Don't miss this last historic chance to see the show in its earliest embryonic form!

    We'd like to thank everyone who turned out to see the play so far, and the overwhelmingly positive response we've received. If you saw the show and would like to be added to our mailing list, just drop us a line!

    Extra special thanks goes out to Noelle Shotwell at the MEX Theatre for making our Kentucky Center experience a very warm and pleasant one at the end of the day!

    Thursday, August 7, 2008

    Toulouse-inations opens tonight!

    And so, dear readers, the time has come in which the juggernaut that is Toulouse-inations shall be unleashed, like Frankenstein's monster, out into the world. It's too late to stop it now and the world will, quite literally in a quantum sense, never be the same.

    We apologize in advance for nightmares, behavioral changes, paranormal manifestations, existential anxiety, sexual arousal, confusion, past-life regression, spiritual transcendence, intrinsic aesthetic alterations, awakened kundalini, retrocognition, midlife crises, migraine headaches or poltergeists that occur due to viewing women in anachronistic underwear discussing things like the smell of Vincent Van Gogh's beard.

    See you at the Kentucky Center at 8pm.

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    The Sudden Death of Baer Fabrics

    Everyone was stunned to hear that Baer Fabrics made an abrupt announcement that they were closing their doors forever, effective immediately at 5pm yesterday.

    The announcement came with zero warning, and gave little or no heads-up to even their own employees. No "going out of business" sale was held. One day the store was there, and then suddenly it just wasn't.

    I think that's really, really, really odd. And troubling.

    Baer's had been in continuous business for over a century, and Catclaw had come to depend highly on them for their astonishingly deep selection of everything fabric-related. Their button department alone boggled the mind with its tens of thousands of incredible buttons of all conceivable varities. Much of our supplies for Toulouse-inations comes from their wonderful costuming department.

    Baer's always referred to themselves as "The world's largest button and fabric store", and though this probably wasn't quite true - I feel certain that it must be dwarfed by someplace in NYC, Europe, India or China - it's nevertheless a great loss for the entire world of fabrics, textiles and fiber. Not to mention us.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    Toulouse-inations tickets now on sale!

    That's right, you heard right, a truly historic once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has arrived - your chance to score tickets to the first-ever production of Jeffrey Scott Holland's Toulouse-inations at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Louisville!

    After its run in Louisville, the show will go on to play in other cities and will set its sights on an Off-Off-Broadway production in NYC in 2009. Says JSH:

    "By sheer persistence, stubbornness, and plugging away, this play will eke out a reputation for itself, for better or for worse, by hook or by crook, a bis ou a blanc".
    Someday you'll kick yourself for not having jumped on this chance to see the show in its very first raw incarnation with its original cast, so save your future self the anguish of hindsight, and purchase tickets NOW!

    Consult the Kentucky Center's schedule here, select "August", and click on "Toulouse-inations" to peruse and purchase. The show opens August 7 and runs for FOUR DAYS ONLY.

    Questions? Call the Kentucky Center at 502.562.0100 or Catclaw Theatre Company at 502.649.3378.

    Saturday, July 12, 2008

    JSH book signing in Lexington, KY

    Catclaw's artistic director, Jeffrey Scott Holland, will be on hand at the grand opening of Morris Book Shop in Lexington, KY today at 2pm to sign copies of his new best-selling book Weird Kentucky!

    Morris Book Shop is located at 408 Southland Drive in Lexington.

    Monday, June 30, 2008

    Kate Holland

    Catclaw Theatre is very excited to have Kate Holland playing the part of Madame Doucet in Toulouse-inations, opening at the Kentucky Center For The Performing Arts on August 7th. Madame Doucet is the stern, dictatorial overseer of a brothel/bar in Paris where Toulouse-Lautrec sometimes stays for long periods of time.

    Kate has most recently been seen in Broadway at Iroquois' production of Willy Wonka, as Grandma Josephina. Other notable roles include Joanna in Stephen Sondheim's Company, Little Sally in Urinetown, Princess Escalus in Romeo and Juliet, and multiple roles in PEACC's production of The Vagina Monologues. She's studied under luminaries such as Dennis Krausnick, Rinda Frye, Jim Hesselman, and Nefertiti Burton, and simply radiates talent.

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Catclaw Theatre goes Brick-and-mortar in 2009!

    It's our intent that by this time next year, we at Catclaw will have our own autonomous theatre space. This will enable us to put on high-frequency high-quality shows completely under our own control, free from the many random terrestrial variables that can be a pitfall for fledging companies.

    Would you like to help us achieve this noble goal, dear reader, and thus help better serve the cause to which we are all so devoted? Please contact us and let's figure out ways we can work together to make this happen. We welcome donations of any size, and will do our best to insure that your money was well spent. (Note: Catclaw is a new company and donations to us are not tax-deductible at this time.)

    Saturday, June 21, 2008

    Forgotten Scripts

    It's a pet peeve of mine that so many theatre companies tend to put on the same three dozen plays, over and over, eternally. In fact, it seems like theatre nowadays is split into two camps: one that fetishizes newness for its own sake and puts on "new plays" regardless if they're any good or not; and the other side obsesses on well-worn familiar plays that everyone knows and has already seen multiple times.

    But what about the vast untapped ocean of plays that aren't new, but have rarely been seen in years, perhaps decades and even centuries?

    I have a copy of the 1953-1960 edition of Wilson's Play Index and it never fails to fascinate me, reading the short and bewildering plot summaries of scores of obscure plays that have probably never been staged in my lifetime. Reading these summaries for prolonged periods of time has a very surreal effect on my consciousness. Here's just a smattering of examples:

    He Said He Was Santa by Edith Quick and James O. Fluckey, 1953. "When Santa gets lost in Swiss Alps he is rescued by gnomes who decide to cut off his hair and give him a shave while he is asleep." Three acts.

    My Bus is Always Late by James Gibson, 1955. "Old lady waiting for bus in suburban bus station befriends a vagrant and reconciles a young couple." One act.

    The Prescott Proposals by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. "Charming American woman finds her work on United Nations committee jeopardized by Communist intrigue." (I was surprised to learn that this play actually opened on Broadway in 1953 for a short run. I bet it's hardly been done since then, though.)

    The Pastor's Guiding Hand by Lois M. Sandberg. "One day in the life of New England clergyman in 1872 as he settles quarrels and problems, and is mainstay of his parish". Two acts.

    Out of the Mist by Olive Price. "Mysterious space man figures in young man's plot to win back his girlfriend from her absorption in astronomy". Three acts.

    Paper Foxhole by James Elward. "In order to speed up return home at end of World War II, American soldiers in non-combat zone of Pacific stage fake attack by Japanese guerillas." (This one was actually staged on live television in 1956, on Kraft Television Theatre, and it was Rance Howard's second-ever role.)

    Crispin the Tailor by Lillian Douglas. "A tailor and a magic bird drive away some witches and restore the count's lost daughter". One act.

    Many of the fascinating entries don't even include these meager descriptions, and we can only speculate on their content from their enigmatic titles, like N. McCaslin's "The Gift of Corn", and S. Sakanishi's "Plop! Click!".

    Okay, well, so maybe these aren't the best examples to prove my point.

    But nevertheless, there is a vast treasure trove of plays out there that have been long forgotten and deserve dusting off, waiting for some unthinkably horrible hand to rescue them from the memory hole.

    I am that unthinkably horrible hand.

    - - JSH

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Pianist needed for "Toulouse-inations"

    To whom it may concern:

    We're looking for a pianist who can accompany cabaret singers for four very simple, bluesy (I-IV-V changes) musical numbers in Catclaw Theatre's "Toulouse-inations" for five performances.

    Ability to play "head arrangements" without sheet music is a plus. So is some familiarity with jazz.

    Pianist will be compensated. Contact us for details.

    The performance schedule is:

    Thu, August 7 - 8pm
    Fri, August 8 - 8pm
    Sat, August 9 - 8pm
    Sun August 10 - 2pm

    The show is at the Mex Theatre, Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.


    Stage Manager Karissa Singleton at or 593-7948, or:

    Artistic Director Jeffrey Scott Holland at or 649-3378.

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008

    Be a Catclaw Volunteer!

    Now that rehearsals are underway for Toulouse-inations, we're scouting for reliable volunteers to help out in all departments: costumes, props, sets, gophering, transportation, moving, and front-of-house staff.

    There's no direct pay involved but we do throw some pretty decent parties. Front-of-house staff volunteers also get to see the play for free.

    To help, contact Stage Manager Karissa Singleton at

    Monday, June 16, 2008

    Voraxical disclaimer and consumer warning

    In case we weren't clear previously, what took place at the BBC Taproom as part of the Louisville Theatre Hop was most assuredly not a Voraxium show, despite having originally been billed as such.

    Hostess and emcee Jennifer Ray announced at the very outset that due to certain factors that would not be named, there'd been a change of plans and the program for the evening would now instead be "Friends of the Voraxium", and would essentially be a stripped-down minimalist performance art piece in which mostly nothing happens. And oh my goodness, darling, did we ever deliver.

    It's come to our attention that some folks were confuzzled by what they saw. Good. Some complained that it "wasn't burlesque". Yes, we know. Voraxica is not burlesque. Voraxica is to the 21st century what burlesque was to the 19th and 20th. But you know, even having said that, some people need to be reminded that if what they saw at the BBC that didn't fit their idea of what "burlesque" is, then they need to re-educate themselves. Here, let us help:

    The original true Burlesque shows, way back in the day, like before your parents were born, literally meant a deliberately lame hodgepodge variety show, usually held in a crappy venue, usually consisting of bad songs by inept performers, and jokes from comedians who weren't very funny. Originally it had very little to do with striptease and "hot chicks" dancing for your pleasure. If you walked away from the BBC show disappointed that you didn't see strippers, well, hey, sorry about your luck, Jack.

    Does this mean there's no nudity in Voraxium shows? Oh, heck no, we run around stark naked at the drop of a hat when we're feelin' it. But if we show up and decide that our performance for the evening will be to play Scrabble in Aunt Bee hats while you get the privilege of watching us exclaim "triple word score!", then like it or lump it, buster.

    To be fair, we certainly understand that the mass-market pop-culture appropriation of the "burlesque" meme has led many to the popular misconception that a burlesque event is supposed to consist of women in faux-retro Betty Page haircuts, either flouncing around with a feather boa and high heels, or looking like a Suicide Girls wanna-be goth dominatrix reject, or both; either doing some sort of weak "trying to be old school" boop-boop-a-doop striptease or trying for modern hipster shock value like cutting into your flesh with huge hooks as a burlesque act, or both.

    We ain't really into any of that, honey-bunny. Sorry. I said it before but I guess nobody heard me.

    Anyway, it doesn't matter, because I must strenuously repeat, this was not a burlesque show, and it most certainly was not, not, NOT a Voraxium show. (But you may not like an actual Voraxium show either. We're not for everyone. Certainly not for the faint of heart or short of sight.)

    At the recent controversial show in question, however, you got skits and snappy repartee with a crossdresser and a peculiar eccentric woman dressed like Uncle Sam's stepdaughter. You got amazing leftist-Ayn Rand-inspired songs from said woman, giving you a rare sneak preview of what one day will be her very successful musical. You got the amazing and mysterious winged dancer Ten - her name is just "Ten", like, nine plus one, dig? - who gave the public far more dancing than they deserved. And most important of all, you got the marathon live art-modeling session with Terry showing much skin and spinning tasty yarn, and for that alone, we rule. Yes we do.

    I think Jennifer Ray summed it up best when she declared to the crowd (after her third Altbier): "We're not here for your amusement! You're here for ours!"

    Even funnier, the real striptease show took place outside, around the corner, in Nanny Goat Strut, just minutes after almost everyone left, for those in the know. If you weren't there, then you missed it. Those that were are now die-hard fans!

    Sunday, June 15, 2008

    Vanessa Ferguson

    Meet Catclaw's new lighting design/tech person for Toulouse-inations, Vanessa Ferguson!

    In addition to being a skilled lighting director in shows such as the ST@B Festival of Shorts and David Lindsay-Abaire's Snow Angel, Vanessa is also an actor well respected for her roles in Beyond Therapy, Dead Man Walking, Wild in the Streets and Finnigan Productions' original play My Daddy's Name is Big Oil.

    Saturday, June 14, 2008

    Call for Plays for 2009!

    Catclaw is making a call (but not a catcall) for playwrights to submit new plays, especially from Kentucky but also from anywhere else in the solar system.

    Short plays, one-acts, children's plays, musicals and full-length productions are all being sought for 2009. Don't try to predict or second-guess what we might like - it can't be done. We're completely omnivorous and polyamorous. So contact us!

    The call is ongoing and currently without deadline.

    A cover letter should include the title of the play, the playwright's name, address, telephone numbers, e-mail address, and a brief bio. Multiple submissions are welcomed.

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    Reminder: Theatre Hop

    Final reminder: the first-ever Louisville Theatre Hop is approaching, and Catclaw will be taking part with a Voraxium show at Bluegrass Brewing Company on Main Street. The performances begin at 7pm and go till 9:30pm, then the action moves to Primo.

    Because of the unconventional venue (a taproom) for Voraxium, we'll be doing a very stripped-down (no pun intended) minimalistic event that will actually probably be more in the realm of avant-garde performance art. Approach our levee at your peril.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008

    Carolyn Purcell

    We're proud to announce that Carolyn Purcell has signed on board for our production of Toulouse-inations in August! Carolyn plays a mysterious gypsy fortune teller who affects a change over Toulouse-Lautrec's way of looking at life, the universe, and everything.

    Previously, Carolyn played Lavinia in Lady Anderly's Rose for WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theater, Miss Harrigan in Classic Melodies' Annie Jr., a Lost Boy in Music Theatre Louisville's Peter Pan, and Rachel in the film Overnight Book for Smithy Productions in NYC. She's also been a spokesperson for the Gorilla Rainforest exhibit at Louisville Zoological Gardens and played Tweety Bird in full mascot costume at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom! She's also studied with some of the best - Peter Sklar, Dru Pilmer, and Zan Sawyer-Dailey.

    We look forward to working with Carolyn!

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    "Weird Kentucky" book signings!

    Just a reminder that Catclaw's Jeffrey Scott Holland, author of the new book Weird Kentucky, will be making book-signing appearances at:

  • June 12 - Barnes & Noble at The Summit, Louisville, KY. 7:00pm.
  • June 28 - A Reader's Corner, Louisville, KY. 1:00pm.
  • July 12 - Morris Book Shop grand opening, Lexington, KY. TBA.

  • But if you're impatient and just can't wait till these events to obtain the book, the obsessive-compulsive folks over at Telecrylic International have compiled a price-comparison chart for online sources of Weird Kentucky.

    Saturday, June 7, 2008

    Jo Self's Top Five Plays

    We asked our good friend Jo Self, creative mastermind behind the Louisville Theatre Hop and Bon Vivant Savant, to name her top five plays, and this is the response we received:

    1. The House of Blue Leaves: I love this one because it's zany and complex all at the same time. The characters are so flawed, but sweet. Artie, a zookeeper who wants to become a composer, his crazy (literally) wife, Bananas and his mistress, Bunny Flingus who will sleep with anyone, but won't cook for them as it the only thing she does well. Bunny was absolutely one of my favorite characters ever to play in a show. Though my grandmother was a bit upset that my underwear was showing.

    2. Avenue Q: I loved it. Unexpected, cute, heart-warming and dirty, dirty dirty. How could you not love it?

    3. Brighton Beach Memoirs: This may have something to do with the fact that I saw Jonathan Silverman in the lead role and it was the first play on Broadway that I saw when I was 12. But I remember laughing so much and just really enjoying the lines.

    4. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead: Great twist on a Shakespeare classic - and a bit more entertaining in my mind. I always enjoy seeing Shakespeare pushed to the limits, updated and all around messed with, most especially when it's done well.

    5. Arsenic and Old Lace: Classic. Great lines, interesting characters and keeps you giggling. What more can I say?

    Wednesday, June 4, 2008

    Theatre Hop

    Just another reminder that the first-ever Louisville Theatre Hop is approaching! Catclaw will be taking part with a sort-of Voraxium show at Bluegrass Brewing Company on Main Street.

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    JSH's Top Five Plays

    We asked artistic director Jeffrey Scott Holland to name his top five plays, and this is the response we received:

    Should I separate them into musicals and non-musicals? I love a lot of different kinds of theater. If you ever watch the TV show Slings and Arrows, the three main male characters are always very combative towards each other because one's obsessed with Shakespeare, one's all about musicals, and the other's strictly into pretentious avant-garde spectacles. I always have a very schizophrenic feeling watching the show, because I can relate to all three characters. I like everything they like - combined - and more.

    Anyway, in no particular order, at this moment, I think my top five is:

    1. Sweeney Todd. My favorite version ever was the traveling version that just came to Louisville, with Judy Kaye as Mrs.Lovett. After that, I love the original Hearn-Lansbury version best. The movie's fun too. Not so crazy about any of the Patti LuPone incarnations.

    2. The Producers. Say what you will about Mel Brooks - and there's a lot to be said about him - the original Broadway cast and the subsequent movie were a pinnacle in 20th century theater. Says me.

    3. Last Summer At Bluefish Cove. I'm specifically speaking here of the recent one that Pandora Productions did in Louisville, but I'm sure I'd love to see it again done by anyone. The way the set is laid out in two separate parts that connect in real time (thus eliminating the need for pauses to change scenery) directly inspired the way I'm going to have the set broken into two parts in Toulouse-inations. I also love the play's style, its sense of characterization, and flow of dialogue. The play is so well crafted that you don't have to be able to relate to its core issues (lesbianism, cervical cancer, 1970s feminism) to be moved by it.

    4. Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. Brecht and Weill have always been HUGE influences on me, in ways even I'm probably not aware. I've never seen or heard a bad version of this. I'm especially fond, however, of John Doyle 's recent version that aired on PBS. Patti LuPone redeems herself here, and does a stellar job.

    5. Twelfth Night. Despite its high stature among scholars, this is probably Shakespeare's cheesiest work in the canon, seeing as it basically set the meta-template for every episode of Three's Company that dealt with accidents of chance, misunderstoods, and sexual ambiguity. And I love it anyway. Someday Catclaw will put it on. Someday.

    Sunday, June 1, 2008

    Ashley Rose Stallings

    Prepare to be dazzled by Ashley Rose Stallings, who plays Eugenie (Jenny) in Toulouse-inations. Eugenie, a Parisian prostitute, has dreams of becoming a playwright and getting out of the brothel/nightclub in which the story is set.

    Ashley has also appeared in the Warehouse Theatre's production of The Vagina Monologues, Stickler Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Okoboji Summer Theatre's The Butler Did It Again.

    Saturday, May 31, 2008

    Catclaw's Hipster Yard Sale!

    The "Hipster Yard Sale", an event started by Catclaw's artistic director Jeffrey Scott Holland during his 2006 tenure as curator at the Cinderblock Gallery on Louisville's Main Street, is back! There will be two Hipster Yard Sales this summer, with the exact dates to be announced here very soon!

    The concept of the Hipster Yard Sale is to have a multi-person yard sale in which all the stuff is GOOD stuff, cool stuff, weird stuff, useful stuff, the kind that appeals to youth as well as pop-culture-addicted oldsters like ourselves. In other words, no baby clothes, no Debbie Macomber books, and no exercise workout VHS tapes.

    Want to take part, and help fundraise for Catclaw? Basically anyone can set up, and on the 'honor system', at the end of the day, you give us 20 percent of whatever you made, (unless you hardly made anything). Now you can unload those DVDs that you're too lazy to put on eBay, and those CDs that you've already ripped to your Zune or iPod, and help support one of the most ambitiously kooky theatre companies on the planet!

    Email Karissa Singleton if you want to take part!

    Friday, May 30, 2008

    Theatre Alliance of Louisville

    Catclaw Theatre Company is a proud member of the TAL (Theatre Alliance of Louisville), an organization dedicated to fostering greater unity and efficiency among the many talented companies in the area!

    We meet monthly to discuss topics of interest, share knowledge and resources, and promote the ongoing success of live theatre. Theatres, theatre professionals and active supporters are welcome.

    The next TAL meeting will be on June 7, from 10am to noon, at the Metropolitan Community Church of Louisville (corner of Highland and Rubel).

    Interested in joining the Theatre Alliance of Louisville? Please come to the meeting, or contact

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Joyce Lynette Thompson

    Joyce Lynette Thompson is on board for Toulouse-inations! She plays Coriandre, one of several important women who befriend Toulouse-Lautrec in the course of the story - which takes place in a Parisian nightclub with an adjacent bordello.

    An exceptional actor, Thompson has previously worked with Specific Gravity Ensemble in their acclaimed Elevator Plays 2, played "Little Red" in Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods for Hayswood Theatre, and the Evil Stepmother in the Chicago Windy City Players production of Cinderella.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Voraxica Versus Voraxium

    So what's the difference between the Catclaw Theatre Company, the Voraxium and Voraxica anyway? Admittedly, even we tend to use the terms interchangeably, which has been the source of some confusion.

    In a nutshell:

  • Voraxica is a new, 21st century form of edgy entertaiment that is very much like burlesque and vaudeville, but it's not. Most people think they know what those terms mean, and they've become co-opted and homogenized to the point where the only sensible thing for a free-thinking autonomist to do is to jettison those concepts completely and go start something entirely new. To put it into a massive oversimplification, Voraxica is the new burlesque.

  • The Voraxium is a specific troupe dedicated to performing in the new genre of Voraxica. The name refers also to a sort of conceptual location that the troupe carries with them everywhere they go. In other words, wherever the Voraxium troupe performs, that place becomes "The Voraxium" during that time, a mythical Mahagonny-like location where literally anything can happen.

  • The Catclaw Theatre Company is the parent theatre company behind The Voraxium. Because of this nested-Matryoshka-doll relationship, sometimes we will seem to be saying that the two are one and the same, while at other times we will seemingly be stating that they are distinctly separate entities. It just be's like that.
  • Monday, May 26, 2008

    "Toulouse-inations" details revealed

    Up to now, not much has been known about the content of the new play Toulouse-inations. People have been inquiring for more details, so here goes:

    Toulouse-inations is about the declining fin de siecle days of Parisian nightlife in the 1880s and 1890s, as seen through the green absinthe-drenched visions of painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (played by Sidney Hymson).

    The play takes place on two separate sets: one is a nightclub where T-L spends much of his days propping up the bar, and the other is an adjacent brothel where he spends his nights consorting with prostitutes - but as a friend and lover, not a client.

    In addition to the fascinating women in his life, a number of other peculiar characters weave their way through the woof and the warp of T-L's struggling art career. That career is imperiled continously by his bohemian lifestyle and alcoholism, which threatens his health and his sanity as his absinthe hallucinations increase in severity.

    (photo above: Laundryman at the Brothel by Toulouse-Lautrec, 1894.)

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    The Birth of Merlin

    After Toulouse-inations finishes its run in August, we're immediately going right into production of The Birth of Merlin, an "apocryphal" Shakespeare play whose authorship has been contested by various scholars and know-it-alls.

    Here's what that sporadically truthy "encyclopedia" called Wikipedia has to say about The Birth of Merlin:

    "The Birth of Merlin" possesses a three-level plot, a structure common in plays of its era. On the first level, the main plot, the characters are royal and their concerns are those of statecraft and national welfare; in the second-level plot, the characters are aristocratic and genteel and their concerns are those of personal values and personal fulfillment; and on the level of the comic subplot, the characters are common and their concerns are largely sensual.

    Unusually, the play begins on its second level: the opening scene introduces the nobleman Donobert, his daughters Constantia and Modestia, and their suitors Cador and Edwin, and begins the story of Modestia's conflict between her desire for a religious vocation versus social pressures to marry. The famous characters of Arthurian romance do not appear until the second scene, which introduces King Aurelius and his royal court.

    The first scene in Act II introduces the otherwise-unnamed Clown and his very pregnant sister, Joan Go-to't. References through the play identify the Clown a typical Rowleian fat clown, the type of role that Rowley repeatedly wrote for himself to play. The Clown's sister has gotten herself pregnant by yielding to the advances of a mysterious stranger; she and the Clown are now wandering through the forest, searching for the father of the child, or at least a father for the child.

    In a cave in a forest, the Devil summons Lucina and the Fates to attend Joan as she gives birth to Merlin. The Clown catches up, to meet his sister and his new-born nephew, a fully-grown Merlin the Magician. Merlin introduces his Clown-uncle to his Devil-father; the Devil predicts a dramatic future for his newborn son.

    The play is rich with visual effects of varying types, including devils and magic and masque-like spectacles. It was clearly designed to provide broad, colorful, fast-paced entertainment.

    Further details about Catclaw's production of The Birth of Merlin, which is possibly the first full-scale production of the play in the last 200 years, will be announced soon.

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    First meeting and rehearsal announced for "Toulouse-inations"

    Our first cast meeting for Toulouse-inations will take place on Sunday, June 15th, 3:00pm, at our workshop at the Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center. The Center is located at 1860 Mellwood Avenue.

    The meeting will consist of basic introductions, handouts of info packets, and a read-through of the script. And snacks.

    "Toulouse-inations" opens August 7th at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts' MEX Theatre in downtown Louisville.

    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Andrena Johnson

    Catclaw Theatre Company is thrilled to be working with Andrena S. Johnson for our August production of Jeffrey Scott Holland's play Toulouse-inations. Andrena is cast as Roseline, one of several women in the life of painter Toulouse-Lautrec in this highly fictionalized story.

    In addition to her success in theatre after being trained in Hollywood, Andrena has also done films, modeling, and marketing promo.

    Andrena's natural talent and qualifications made her an instant choice for us when she arrived at our Birth of Merlin auditions in April. Look for Andrena to appear in that production, scheduled for this Fall, as well!