Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Hour of Merlin is at Hand

Jeffrey Scott Holland's stage adaptation of William Shakespeare's The Birth of Merlin, long promised since Catclaw's inception almost two years ago, is finally here! It opens TONIGHT in Brooklyn, NY for four shows only - don't miss it!

What can you expect from this production? Here's some clues (Note: Spoilers!):

The play concerns a clown named simply Clown, who is escorting his pregnant sister Joan through the wilderness searching for the child's mysterious father, who turns out to be Satan. As Joan gives birth to Merlin, Satan summons Lucina (the Roman goddess of childbirth) and the Greek Moirae (The Fates) to witness.

Meanwhile, King Vortigern is attempting to build a new castle but it keeps collapsing. The King is told by his spiritual advisor that a "fiend-begotten child" must be blood-sacrificed to purify the construction site. At just that moment, the kooky entourage with baby Merlin shows up and, well, hilarity or something like it ensues.

The play was credited to William Shakespeare and William Rowley in a 1662 quarto, and the play has many fervent supporters of the Bard's hand in it. It also has many ardent detractors - like a certain Louisville professor who actually became visibly angry when I mentioned my intent to stage this play one day!

(It's important to remember that some plays we regard as in canon today once were considered heretically apocryphal. Pericles was once considered to be total Fakespeare before it finally became accepted. The Two Noble Kinsmen and King Edward III are relatively recent newcomers to mainstream acceptance, and Sir Thomas More is making great inroads towards it.)

Assorted warnings, cautions and caveats:

  • Do not attend if you are offended by a play featuring Satan being staged at Christmastime.

  • Do not attend if you suffer from Coulrophobia (fear of clowns).

  • Do not attend if you are offended by full frontal puppet nudity.

  • Do not attend if you're scared of East Flatbush after dark.

    There are no strobe lights in any Catclaw shows (we hates 'em!), but there is smoke, and there is splattering fake blood.
  • Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Theatre Etiquette

    Audience members from hell. We've all seen them. Hopefully we haven't been them. Much.

    This week's installment of Suspension of Disbelief is about Theatregoer etiquette.

    Click here to read.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Merlinmania Starts Here!

    Just in time for the holidays: at long last, Catclaw's bringing a full-scale puppet version of William Shakespeare's (apocryphal) play The Birth of Merlin to the big rotten apple of New York City! The show opens on Christmas Eve; visit the JSHNYC blog for more info!

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009

    New Catclaw eBay Store!

    Catclaw's just opened up a new eBay store! Keep watching for more items to be added tonight, and beyond!

    Saturday, October 31, 2009

    Great Kentuckians, pt.2

    Suspension of Disbelief is back after a short hiatus! It's part two of the list of Kentuckians whose lives would make a great play: Alfred M. Hubbard, Kit Carson, Colonel Sanders, Beulah Annan, and Virgil Earp! Click here to read!

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    Kentuckian Plot Fodder

    This week's Suspension of Disbelief: Part one of a two-part list of Kentuckians whose stories would make a great play. Read it here.

    Saturday, October 3, 2009

    Mental Flexibility

    This week's Suspension of Disbelief: mental flexibility - it's a good thing. And it's an absolute must in the Theatre. Read it here.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009

    The Unsolvable Problem of Theatre Reviews

    In this week's Suspension of Disbelief, JSH pontificates on the relative futility of reviewing plays. Read it here.

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    JSH Reviews Rocky

    Catclaw's artistic director Jeffrey Scott Holland was sent by Theatre Louisville to review Pandora's latest production, Richard O' Brien's The Rocky Horror Show. Click here to read the review!

    Saturday, September 19, 2009

    Kabarett der Namenlosen

    Kabarett der Namenlosen, or Cabaret of the Nameless, is a key part of understanding the metachronistic aesthetic of Catclaw's Voraxium shows. This week's Suspension of Disbelief is all about this obscure Berlin theatre of cruelty. Read it here.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Disappointed by "Divas"

    This week's Suspension of Disbelief: why Barry Blaustein's documentary about the Southern Indiana school theatre scene was unfair, unflattering and unhelpful to the careers of everyone involved. Read it here.

    Saturday, September 5, 2009

    Before Theatre Was Theatre...

    This week's Suspension of Disbelief looks at theatre's formative years before the Greeks got ahold of it. Before the Greeks, there were the Egyptians. Before the Egyptians, there were cavemen. And before cavemen, there were insects.

    Read it here.

    Saturday, August 29, 2009

    Beyond Dracula

    There's a whole universe of horror out there, so why must Actors Theatre of Louisville keep trotting out Dracula again and again, year after year? That's the question JSH asks in this week's Suspension of Disbelief, and provides a list of suggestions for spooky shows that might be a lot more interesting than the played-out old Bram Stoker bloodsucker. Read it here.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    From Tumblety to Titus

    Erik DeCicco, who played Dr. Francis Tumblety in Toulouse-inations (see image below), has been touring throughout Florida with Skrank Tank's production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged.

    The show rushes through a whirlwind of comedic blink-renderings of the Bard's works, usually with rather warped twists - Titus Andronicus, for instance, is presented as a Food Network-style cooking show.

    Read more about it here and here.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    Reveling in the Obscure

    Old is the new New, indeed: JSH recycles his "Forgotten Scripts" rant from the Catclaw blog for his latest column on Theatre Louisville, albeit with extensive rewrites and additions. Read it here.

    Sunday, August 16, 2009

    Further Adventures in Retro Radio

    On the heels of JSH's column on old radio theatre yesterday, the Voraxical Theatre blog now has further ruminations on the subject, with lots of downloadable goodies! Click here to get with the program.

    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    Radio Drama

    Jeffrey Scott Holland's latest Suspension of Disbelief column for Theatre Louisville is about the nearly-deceased (in the USA, anyway) art of the radio play - or what they call in Germany, Hörspiel, the cinema of the ears. Read it here.

    Saturday, August 8, 2009

    The Shakespeare Apocrypha

    This week's Suspension of Disbelief column concerns those Shakespeare plays that academia refuses to accept.

    Read it here.

    Our favorite one of those, The Birth of Merlin, has been planned by Catclaw for over a year and is finally coming to fruition as a puppet show. Stay tuned for further details!

    Saturday, August 1, 2009

    Where the Rainbow Begins

    Like something from DC Comics' Bizarro World, the story of the 1902 stage musical of The Wizard of Oz sounds like an impossible parallel universe.

    Dorothy's pet is not Toto the Dog, but Imogene the Cow - both of whom are upstaged throughout the show by a waitress named Trixie. The Tin Man has a mentally deranged girlfriend. There is no Wicked Witch of the West. There are no Ruby Slippers. Up is down. Black is white. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of strangeness about the show. But for 40 years, this was the real Wizard of Oz, in canon, written by L. Frank Baum himself.

    This week's installment of JSH's Suspension of Disbelief column delves into the lost kookiness of this almost-forgotten Broadway musical. Read it here.

    Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    Sidney Hymson in "Mad Men" contest

    Sidney Hymson, who starred as Toulouse-Lautrec in our production of Jeffrey Scott Holland's Toulouse-inations and as Max in A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester, is taking part in the casting call contest for AMC's Mad Men television show - Click here to vote for Sidney!

    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    On Preachiness

    Tired of preachy socio-political plays that sound more like Christiane Amanpour than Aphra Behn? Read JSH's latest Suspension of Disbelief here.

    Saturday, July 18, 2009

    The Ultimate Puppet

    From Grand Guignol to the original Guignol - JSH's latest Suspension of Disbelief column for Theatre Louisville is all about the French marionette who rules the world of European puppetry and you can read it here.

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    Le Grand-Guignol n'est pas mort

    A key part of Catclaw and Voraxica's ancestral lineage comes from the French Théâtre du Grand Guignol, which you can read all about here on our Voraxica blog!

    Between 1897 and 1962, the Grand Guignol performed thousands of plays so shocking that a doctor was kept on staff to treat the many audience members who fainted during each performance. The Grand Guignol unflinchingly presented material that exposed society’s fears and taboos, and wrapped it in a thick fondant coating of erotic horror. Each night's show alternated back and forth between short comedic farces and horror-themed plays, which kept the crowd on a roller-coaster of "hot and cold showers", as they called the technique. The Grand Guignol was the inspiration for modern horror film and film noir.

    Saturday, July 11, 2009

    Slings & Arrows

    This week's installment of JSH's weekly column on Theatre Louisville is now up, all about the Canadian TV show Slings & Arrows.

    Saturday, July 4, 2009

    New Jeffrey Scott Holland Column

    Posted tonight to artistic director Jeffrey Scott Holland's Unusual Kentucky blog:

    I've been tapped to author a weekly column for Theatre Louisville, which I call Suspension of Disbelief - read this week's installment here.

    Though it's intended strictly for the theatre community, those of who don't give the slightest whit about theatre may nonetheless find nuggets of interest in the column from time to time. Theatre may be the tail that wags the dog, but I'm certain to touch upon the many other various subjects I obsess over, from The Pacific Ring of Fire to Anita Berber to Ventriloquism to Egg Tempera to Gribbles.

    Friday, June 26, 2009

    "Cheeseburger & Fries" Growing

    The bad news first: Jeffrey Scott Holland's original play Cheeseburger & Fries: The Musical, scheduled to make its world premiere at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in September 2009, has been postponed until 2010.

    Why? Well, that's the good news: the show was originally conceived as a very simple and primitive show with minimal sets and only a few actors, but it just keeps growing and growing and has morphed into something quite different. The complexity of the show has reached the point where a September opening just wasn't feasible. It now calls for:

  • a small ensemble orchestra fluent in classical, jazz and country

  • onstage video monitors and projectors

  • lookalike actors to portray William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and Robert Mitchum

    Furthermore, it will likely feature the largest cast ever beheld in a stage production in Louisville. It will also most likely require a much larger venue than the Kentucky Center's Mex Theatre.

    The word "pretentious" is grossly misused in our culture today, but the Catclaw Theatre Company nevertheless bravely and warmly embraces all it means, and all it can mean. And as Tony Kushner says:

    "People fundamentally lacking a sense of humor when confronted with pretentiousness miss the irony and the fun." - Tony Kushner

    We are still fully in pre-production for the show as much as ever, and welcome any inquiries. Casting is still ongoing.
  • Sunday, June 14, 2009

    Catclaw items on eBay

    Starting tonight and over the next few weeks, we'll be offering various interesting items for sale via eBay's online auctions. Keep checking this link regularly as we keep adding new collectibles through June and July!

    Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    Christina Ruplinger

    Catclaw salutes our Resident Assistant Stage Manager, Christina Ruplinger!

    With past experience from the University of Louisville theatre department as well as her high school theatre work, Christina is already making a name for herself. She made her stage management debut as the Assistant Stage Manager for our production of Toulouse-Inations at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, and can't wait to take on a show of her own.

    Aside from her go-getter spirit and determination to get the job done, what we like best about Christina is that she's truly a team player, she listens to what you tell her, and follows instructions. Those qualities are all too rare these days.

    Sunday, June 7, 2009

    Thursday meeting

    Catclaw's next Thursday planning meeting will be at The Bristol Downtown, 614 West Main Street in Louisville.

    Topics of discussion: Victoria's PR department report, our new legal team, our upcoming LLC filing, pre-production for Cheeseburger & Fries at the Kentucky Center, pre-production for taking Patrick Amsterdam to NYC, and the long-awaited resurrection of The Birth of Merlin in puppet theatre format.

    Oh yeah, and super-double-secret-probation Operation Plan X-714.

    Monday, June 1, 2009

    Beekeeping with Victoria

    Catclaw's own PR Director and prop-wrangler Victoria Lee will be co-hosting a class in "The Art of Apiculture" (beekeeping) at the Earth and Spirit Center, 1924 Newburg Road, Louisville.

    From their press release:

    The Art of Apiculture
    Doug Van Houten & Vicki Lee
    Sunday, June 28th, 3-5PM, at the BARN
    $15 (no one will be turned away from lack of funds)

    Bees are the true farmers of our lives; pollinating vegetables and fruit that help our gardens grow. Learn more about the lives of bees and how to establish your own hives.

    Friday, May 29, 2009

    "Eddie Jester" rehearsal photos

    Some images from last night's rehearsals of A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester. Josh Kroll as Eddie Jester, Adrielle Perkins as Susan, Jill-Marie Schierbaum as Jennifer, Sidney Hymson as Max, Todd Zeigler as Doctor Jimmy, Carolyn Purcell as Nurse Jayne, and director George Bailey.

    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester

    Catclaw's newest production, T. Gregory Argall's A Year In The Death Of Eddie Jester, opens Thursday, June 18th! It's at FUZION on 1335 Story Avenue in Beautiful downtown Butchertown, and starts at 7:30pm.

    It'll cost you a mere ten-spot to get in (25% student discount with ID) and see Toulouse-inations actors Sidney Hymson, Jill-Marie Schierbaum, and Carolyn Purcell; and Patrick Amsterdam's Todd Ziegler.

    And in the director's chair this time we have the great George Robert Bailey, star of Patrick Amsterdam and Clown #1 in Toulouse-inations.

    The play concerns Eddie Jester, a stand-up comedian who addresses an audience of the mind from inside his own head. In actual fact, Eddie is laying in a coma in the hospital surrounded by former friends and lovers, who think that Eddie can't hear the things they're saying.... but he can.

    Questions? Call 502.649.3378 or e-mail us.

    Saturday, May 9, 2009

    After the Auditions...

    I'm exhausted after a loooooooooooong day of auditions for Cheeseburger & Fries. We had more than twice as many people turn out for these TAL-sponsored auditions than last year when we were hiring for Toulouse-inations. We now have mountains of headshots and bios to sift through.

    I'd like to personally thank each and every actor who came out and endured the long lines, hours of waiting, confusion in the hallways. Not to mention the often-bewildering exercises I put the actors through that probably felt more like psychotherapy than direction.

    All of us at Catclaw also want to thank the tireless efforts of the TAL individually as well as collectively for providing everything. Special shout outs to Brian Walker and Kathi E.B. Ellis.

    - - JSH

    Wednesday, May 6, 2009

    "Cheeseburger & Fries" auditions

    Just a reminder that Catclaw Theatre Company will be conducting auditions for Cheeseburger & Fries: The Musical at the Theatre Alliance of Louisville's yearly cattle call on May 9, 2009.

    Auditions begin at 8:30am and run until 5:00pm, at the VTI Building, Jefferson Community College Campus. That's at the Southeast corner of 2nd and Chestnut in downtown Louisville.

    Cheeseburger & Fries: The Musical will open on Thursday, September 3, 2009 at The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts.

    Sunday, May 3, 2009

    Victoria Lee

    Today we salute Victoria Lee, Catclaw's propmonger and all-purpose interloper. Victoria's been a key presence behind the scenes in our doings, but she's also a talented performer and writer. Look upon her works, ye mighty, and despair!

    Victoria performed excerpts from her musical in progress, Justice Served, at the chaotic not-quite-Voraxium show for Theatre Hop last year. You can also see her on the Carl Brown's Reality TV show by clicking here.

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    TAL Auditions: May 9th!

    Theatre Alliance of Louisville's Annual Unified Auditions offer local actors a unique opportunity to audition for 17 theatres casting for multiple shows on the same day. Come participate in this fantastic opportunity!

    Saturday, May 9, 2009

    8:30am - 5:00pm

    VTI Building of the Jefferson Community College Campus, Southeast corner of 2nd and Chestnut

    Actors should prepare either two contrasting 60 second monologues or one 60 second monologue and 16 measures of a song and bring *20* copies of their photograph and resume. Accompanist will be provided.


    8:30am- 11:00am: ACTOR REGISTRATION - REQUIRED
    9:00am – 11:30am: Monologue and Song Session

    11:30am - noon: Movement Session (This is movement for non-dancers with representatives from most theatres present)

    Noon – 12:30pm: Dance Session (This is for actors who dance with representatives for most theatres present)

    1:00pm – 5:00pm: Individual Company Cold Readings (Actors will go room to room doing cold readings for individual companies.)


  • Once an actor registers, they may begin signing up for the afternoon Individual Company Cold Reading Sessions at any time.

  • Actors will be given a number and presented to room of representatives in groups of 5.

  • Actors are encouraged but not required to participate in each Session (Monologue and Song; Movement; Dance; Individual Company Cold Readings) of the day. Actors participating in any session throughout the day must register from 8:30-11:00AM.

  • All actors should bring 20 copies of their photograph (8X10 preferred) and resume.

  • For more information, please email:

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009