By:Brittany Ann Meister
Jake Thompson went to Chapman University and focused on theatre studies, and in addition to being one of the founders of VFR, wears many other hats. Jake is a board member, actor, director, graphic designer, and sound designer for the company.
What do you do at VFR?
Lately, not much, which is cool. Now I don’t have to do as many things since we’ve stretched
the leadership board out.
Lately I’ve been doing composition for Hamlet and graphic design. I trust everyone to get things
done so it’s nice to take a breather.
How did you start working in graphic design? How about sound design?
When Joss Whedon released "Much Ado About Nothing" they had a contest to design a poster and submit it through
twitter. I didn’t win, but I didn’t know anything about photoshop, I made this 1960’s style thing,
which when I look at it now makes me cringe, but I entered this contest and it went from there.
A theatre company from my hometown needed help with their glass menagerie poster.
In high school and middle school I did a lot of video editing and I wanted to focus on editing
videos to music. In college it was about putting music to a play. More of a playlist.
During VFR I started exploring the design of it more. “Transition” music etc.
Can you tell us about the sound design for "Hamlet?"
I'm composing a bunch of original music for Hamlet. The concept is to write all of the music with the
play specifically in mind. More specifically than that, moments of the play, and how the actor’s
beats can influence the sound.
The song is tailored to the action. A lot like live scoring. An actor’s cue will prompt the stage
manager to give a sound cue to coincide with the action.
Can you give us some insight into the company's designs for this seasons?
I think it’s indicative of where we’re going as a company. Every poster was different, even the
paper dimensions. Every poster was it’s unique thing. It was a show by show basis, we did a lot
of shows. I wanted to see what worked the best. Taming of the Shrew and Richard posters were
long and skinny, I thought it would be eye catching and easier to hang on crowded bulletin
boards. I think they looked cool ,but ultimately it was too different.
Same thing for the text layout, which is arguably one of the most important part of the posters. I
was trying to find a way for it to work well, which was coherent.
This season, we got our stuff together a lot more. The posters represent that too. Each show
has it’s own color. Simple colors. 8 ½ by 14 paper, so it’s familiar but not too familiar. The font is
the same, the logos are in the same place. I wanted to have a sense of cohesion. I think we
found what sticks and I wanted to roll with that graphically speaking.
I was personally resistant to the idea of a cohesive theme and that’s a silly thing to be resistant
to. You want everything to look similar, you want brand recognition. Even if you don’t
consciously say, hey that looks like the poster I saw a couple months ago, maybe there’s a
As a preview of what to expect from "Hamlet" sound-wise next month, we've included a link (below) to something that Jake's been working on for the show! Check it out, enjoy, and keep your eyes open for more Hamlet fun coming your way soon!
By: Brittany Ann Meister
We are one week into Hamlet rehearsals!
This week, I wanted to ask our VFR family about their thoughts on VFR. I wanted to know what they thought set us apart. Here's what some of them had to say:
Kira Renkas (Actor): I do have a real soft spot for this theater company. I’ve performed in two of their shows now, and everyone is so young and optimistic that it is a lovely breath of fresh air. For a group containing many young folk in their early twenties, they are exceptionally bright and smart, so I can’t help but admire them. They had a vision, saw something they were truly passionate about and believed in, and they ran with it full speed ahead. They already display a good sense of “the business”, so it’s quite inspiring.
Claire Tidwell (Community Liaison and Actor))We are young people. We are a place for young people made by young people.
Alexis Furseth (Social Media Master, Actor):The people. The generous, caring, inclusive, brilliant people.
Sarah Zapiain (Board Member, Actor, and Director): What I love about VFR, and what separates us from other companies is that we're not doing this for any other reason other than we can't live without it. Why do we spend our precious little free time in a rehearsal room in the basement of a mall? Because
not only are we young, hard working, passionate millenials, but we are artists. A mentor of mine once told the founders of VFR and myself 2 years ago,"We put on clothes that aren't ours and shout into the dark. That's what we do." Why do we need theatre? Because it's what we do.
Alec Lachman (HR, Actor, Director): The people. Doing theatre for no other reason than to do it and doing it our way. Dusting shakespeare off and making it relevant to modern audiences. Giving artists, young and old opportunities that they wouldn't normally get
Brittany Meister (Blogger, Actor): I like VFR because it's a group of people that has certain rituals and procedures just like any theatre company, but they are very open to other ideas and interpretations. It's truly an open playing space fueled by the passion of the artists who occupy it.
Keep your eyes peeled for more info on Hamlet coming up, as well as some exciting new projects from VFR!
By: Sarah Zapiain
"Hamlet" has been cast and rehearsal begins in just a few weeks. In anticipation of this upcoming production, I asked the director, Sarah Zapiain, to share some of her thoughts.
What do you think of when you hear, “Hamlet”?
Some people think of school and being forced to read something you didn’t care for in the first place, or writing a paper on Iambic Pentameter. Or maybe you think Shakespeare and see people proclaiming, “Indeed, he doth, mayhaps perchance” and “my Lord saith whosoever thou art” and “doth mother kno thou wearest her drapes?” Middle-aged white men sulking around the stage in tights, talking to a skull may flash through your mind. Or perhaps you see a dusty Shakespearean actor shaking his fist at the sky saying “To BE. or NOT .TO. BE!!?”
But that’s not what I think of. When I think of Hamlet, I see a confused collection of people. I see hopeful young people fresh out of college trying to make sense of the world their parents have given them. I see parents who regret not being there for their children. I see hearts being broken by casual, rash judgments. I see my own mother and father, my own sister and brother, my best friends from college, my teachers and coworkers. This is a play about people and their problems—It’s that simple.
I think the audiences of today are not just ready, but eager to engage in the big questions this play confronts. Things like identity, emotional vulnerability, toxic masculinity, domestic abuse, heartbreak; it’s all in there. After all, Shakespeare was writing for everyone—from the Queen and her court, to the groundlings who could only pay a penny for standing room. This play is for us. All of us. Sons and their fathers, sister and brothers, Mothers, friends, millennials, academics, lovers, fighters, artists and dreamers—this play is about people like us.
Allow yourself to take Hamlet off its lofty pedestal, and I invite you to blow away the dust. You might be surprised how much you already know about this twenty-something everyone’s been talking about.
Hamlet opens October 11 and runs through the 15th, and the 18th through the 22nd. Keep your eyes on our website and Facebook for when tickets go on sale, and for more updates over the course of rehearsals!
By: Jake Russell Thompson
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