Rising Tides: Clara Costello

We are extra excited about the person featured in this post: Clara Costello is our newest company member! Clara is a hot commodity in town; in addition to jumping in our boat, Clara has also recently joined the company over at Theatre Pro Rata and is currently working on their production of The Illusion. Clara is an incredible stage manager with great attention to detail. We can say from experience that Clara always brings detailed research, insight and ideas to the table.  Her answers to our questions were just as delightful as the energy she’s brought to rehearsals and reports over the years.

Clara HeadshotThe Illusion by Tony Kushner is the tale of a  father and his wayward son and is adapted from the 17th Century play L’illusion Comique by Pierre Cornielle in which Pridamante seeks out the help of an illusionist, Alcandre, to help find his son. While this The Illusion marks Theatre Pro Rata’s debut in their partnership with Park Square at the new Any Boss Stage, Theatre Pro Rata has a history of churning out deep and complex work. The Illusion runs through June 28th.

Tickets available at Park Square.


Since some people might not know, could you tell us the  duties of stage manager? 

A stage manager’s duties will vary by company, show and director. It usually boils down to handling communication and coordination- figuring out schedules, making sure the cast and crew are all on the same page, and running the show’s technical elements. I’ve also done a lot of floor maintenance, prop tracking, and miscellaneous things that pop up unexpectedly.

What’s your favorite part about stage managing?

I like helping build tiny worlds. A play is something that is large enough to be deeply complex and fascinating, but small enough to keep a handle on, unlike real life. Watching the practical and artistic aspects of a show work together is pretty cool as well, especially when you can find ways to make the constraints of one improve the other.

What has been the best part about the process working on The Illusion?
Getting to laugh through every stage of putting it together in a roomful of amazing people. This one has been a lot of fun.
 This show is about a magician; did anyone learn close up magic? Disappearing bunnies? Sawing ladies in half?
Sadly, no one learned any sleight of hand- this show features a different type of magic. The actor playing the magician did look to stage magic for movement inspiration though, and I learned that the first ever sawing in half trick was performed by P.T Selbit in 1921, and that Alexander Hermann (1844-1896) was one of the very few magicians to actually produce rabbits from hats.
What do you hope audiences will walk away talking about?
The power of all different kinds of magic.
A show like this has a ton of moving parts: effects, actors, lights and sound in addition to the new space.  How does one prepare for this kind of experience?
Take time early on to earn everything you can about the things that aren’t going to change, so that you don’t have to worry about them when things get crazy. I made sure I was familiar with the script before rehearsals started, and took the opportunity to walk around the space a little when I went to events there. Other than that, keep up with everything that’s going on, and trust your team.

What’s one thing you wish more actors/directors knew to make you use your poking stick less?

Lately I’ve been working with some lovely people, so I haven’t had to use the poking stick too much. But in general, everyone should always remember that they are a small but important part of something larger and more wonderful than they are, and trying to make it all about you might make you more impressive, but the project as a whole is going to be smaller and dimmer. Also no one can read minds, so please find more transparent forms of communication.

What has been influential to your artistic path over the years?

People being willing to give me a chance.

What draws you to work on certain projects?

Getting the chance to work with talented people, do interesting research, and being excited about what I think the final product could be.

Where do you want to be a fly on the wall?

I think I would be entirely too busy testing my new found powers of flight to hang out on any walls.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

Hmm, I’m not much for spontaneity, unless I’m inadvertently blurting stupid things. Maybe immediately agreeing to be an ASM in college when I had no idea what that meant?

What’s your theatre horror story? (the one you take out at parties when swapping war stories)

During a scene change, a stagehand started pulling a scrim down instead of up. Fortunately, he quickly realized his mistake and switched directions. Unfortunately, there was a wagon on top of it at the time. We hastily sorted everything out, but not before there was a yards long tear in the scrim. When the lights went up on the next scene, there were shredded pieces of netting dangling halfway down the back wall, even though the batten was all the way up. We had to lower it back down next scene change so we could tie it up.

Somehow, these stories never seem as awful when they’re written down.

What have you seen in the past year that has inspired you?

I liked Love and Information- I was impressed by how much story they built with so little dialogue, and by the amount of furniture tetris that must have been going on backstage. The rehearsal process is usually inspiring to me- being in it from the very first production meeting to the final curtain, you really get to see that it is a process, for everyone, no matter how talented, and that you really can work wonders in just a few weeks.

If you could go back and give your younger self a piece of advice what would it be?

Get out of your box more often. Yes, there be monsters out there, but there are some pretty amazing people, places and opportunities as well.

If you were stuck in a lifeboat what would you have with you?  (you’ve got food and fresh water)

All the sunscreen. My pile of unfinished craft projects, a nice stack of books, and, eventually, a motor.

Performances of The Illusion are June 12-28, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:00pm. Tickets available at Park Square. 


Photo Courtesy of Theatre Pro Rata Actor Pictured: Charles Hubbell Photo Credit: Charles Gorrill

Rising Tides: Joy Dolo

This Friday, January 30th, Frank Theatre opens Love and Information, the newest work by Caryl Churchill, at the Ritz Theatre.  Churchill is a playwright that has greatly influenced Frank Theatre’s work, as well as many of the playwrights that the theatre has presented. Frank presented a highly acclaimed production of Top Girls in 1990, followed by Mad Forest in 1993 and Vinegar Tom in 2008.

Love and Information is composed of 57 micro scenes – each with their own story to tell. They explore the rapidly changing world we live in, our search for meaning and our quest for connection.  The ensemble includes company member Joy Dolo; who has been seen on numerous stages throughout the Twin Cities.


Joy Dolo Photo Credit: Bonnie Allen


What drew you to theatre? 

Local Music Director, Actor, and all around amazing human being Kevin Dutcher asked me to audition for a show called Snowy Off-White and the 8 Little Dudes. I played the character of “Itchy” and that spiraled me into theater. I was incredibly shy and had difficulty communicating with anyone. I found my voice in theater.

What prompts you to audition for someone/something?

I guess the first thing I look for is the story. That is one of the reasons I love Frank Theatre because they always stick to productions that highlight social issues or social justice. Also, if something seems challenging, I’ll usually try it out. And of course, comedy.

Love and Information has a really interesting structure – there are no delineated characters etc.  How was the process to create a story (or not create a story) from the text?   Did you all try to stay away from that kind of thinking?

Love and Information has been a great collaborative process. One of the goals was to make each scene individualistic to the situation. Audience members will try to create a story for the entire play, but there isn’t one. It is as if you get a glimpse of several different people, in different situations in their lives. So we took each scene with several people reading and swapping in and out to see which sounded true. Then you figure out the relationship and the setting.

Were there common themes the cast kept coming back to?


Cast of Love and Information at tech courtesy of Frank Theatre

The common themes that we ran into were how people give, receive, process, interpret, and judge information and where love comes into play within it.

What have you found inspiring lately?  What have you seen/heard/read that made you want to go out and create art?

Love and Information has made me really look at the everyday conversations between people. We all have overheard a conversation on the bus, in the office, over the phone, in line at a movie: Person A says something Person B replies appropriately. I’ve been studying the dialogue of the people around me. That has given me a bunch of inspiration for different characters in this show. I’ve also been stretching my improv and sketch comedy muscles as of late. Not sure where that came from, but it’s been fun.

What has been the biggest challenge of Love and Information?

The biggest challenge would be jumping into the scene. There are over 50 scenes, with hundreds of characters with different contexts and situations. To add to the insanity, some scenes are 4 lines and some are several pages. Jumping into the scene with the appropriate energy and focus has been challenging and incredibly rewarding.

If you were stuck in a Lifeboat what would you need to have with you?  (you’ve got food and water)

Probably my dragons or bubbles game I play on my phone. It’s just the appropriate amount of mind numbing good fun to relax at the end of the day. Or to avoid realizing I’m stuck on a life boat.


Performances of Love and Information are January 30 – February 22, Thurs-Sat at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There is one matinee on Wednesday, Feb 11 at noon. Tickets are $22-25 and can be purchased now at www.franktheatre.org or (612) 724 3760.