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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment November 16, 2018


6/24/2014 10:57:00 AM
'The Barista Times' to premier
Actors and crew at work shooting “The Barista Times.” photo by Diane Goble
+ click to enlarge
Actors and crew at work shooting “The Barista Times.” photo by Diane Goble

By Diane Goble


You may never look at the barista behind the counter of your favorite coffee shop the same way again after watching any episode of "The Barista Times." This quirky short-sketch comedy series, which is set to premiere on July 5 at the Volcanic Theatre Pub in Bend and on YouTube, was filmed entirely inside Sisters Coffee Co. at night using local talent and resources.

It all started because the two Sisters Coffee baristas and siblings Nathan and Emily Woodworth were looking for their next big challenge.

Nathan, 23, has spent 10 years doing stand-up comedy all along the West Coast and two years training in improv and sketch comedy through The Groundlings Theatre & School and The Second City. He wanted to shift away from stand-up and do more comedy writing.

Emily, who is 19, and has been a featured dancer at Sisters Dance Academy for many years, will be continuing her education through Pacific University studying English literature. She looks for ways to combine her dance, music and writing talents.

The two baristas were kicking around ideas as they worked behind the counter, - filling orders while having to deal with strange customers and bizarre situations - when they suddenly saw the humor in it all.

Once they started writing, Nathan and Emily realized they had so many story ideas that this could become a comedy series about the absurdities of the coffee industry. One thing led to another and now they are announcing the premiere of the first season of "The Barista Times."

Nathan met with Sam Pyke, with his own production company Hill Shadow Pictures based in Sisters, and pitched his idea. Pyke was excited about the concept and when Nathan actually handed him a completed script, he was on board. The two worked well together almost reading each other's minds about shots and angles as they were filming and editing the shows.

Pyke said, "It's fun working with people who are passionate about what they are doing, can express their ideas, and have it all together."

"We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into when we started," said Emily, "but thanks to all the support we got from parents, friends, and the people in Sisters, we pulled it off."

Garth Tosello, general manager, and Justin Durham, owner of Sisters Coffee, were generous in their support of the brother-sister team giving them access to the business after hours for a week of shooting in May.

Sedona Baer, Madison Slicker, and Nina Horner from The Americana Project recorded two original songs with the help of recording engineer Brent Alan. Baer wrote "Caffeine," and Slicker and Horner wrote "The Place That We All Know." Their music will be heard throughout the episodes, along with background music from pianist Kerry Borsch.

A call for open auditions for both speaking and non-speaking roles, drew more than 30 locals, from kids to grandparents, who were anxious to be part of the project. Most had never done anything like this before and were fascinated watching the process unfold on the set each night.

The Woodworth kids dragged their parents (Fred and Lisa) into it, kicking and screaming, but they were a huge help behind the scenes. Lisa wrangled the extras and actors, and kept track of the details. Fred's character got knocked out in a fight scene (over bags of coffee) with stunt man McKibben Womack's martial arts character and other customers, then 20-some customers had to step over Fred's body to get out the door after a fed-up barista with a bullhorn yelled "Fire!"

Several baristas from Sisters Coffee had roles as baristas. Direction: Just be yourselves. Which was actually Nathan's direction for all the actors - don't act, just be yourself.

Taya Newton, a co-barista, said about her big scene, "I'm so happy I got to throw a bag of coffee at Nathan."

Three professional actors from Bend offered their talents to the production. Derek Sitter (The Actor's Studio grad with a successful 13-year acting career in Los Angeles) displayed his comedic improv skills as a sleepy customer in one episode and in another as a blind customer intent on messing with a well-meaning, yet awkward, barista. Sitter is also Nathan's acting coach.

Gavin Douglas, (Oregon Shakespeare Festival and many stage productions in Ashland and Portland), plays an outrageous customer, who likes to annoy baristas who can't seem to do anything right.

Chris Sulak (The Second City in Chicago) is the middle-aged barista who hates his life, who jumps up on the counter with a bullhorn to clear the store because he wants to go home.

Known since childhood as Buddy and the Professor, Nathan and Emily plan to use that as the name of their business as they continue to hone their skills with new challenges. They will be exploring online marketing strategies to gather "likes" on their Facebook page, YouTube subscriptions to gain followers, and tags to be able to earn paid ads on their channel so they can continue to pursue their passion for comedy.

Sisters Coffee will carry "The Barista Times" bumper stickers and wrist-bands, and will be installing a monitor, which will loop the current episodes so customers can watch while waiting for their coffee... although it may make them reluctant to approach the barista behind the counter!

The premiere of Season 1 of "The Barista Times" will be held at Derek Sitter's Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 S.W. Century Dr. in Bend on Saturday, July 5. Doors open at 6 p.m. for food and drink. Nathan Woodworth and Chris Sulak will open at 7 p.m. with some live comedy (clean show, all ages welcome) and "The Barista Times" will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the premiere are $5 online at www.facebook.com/thebarista

times or $7 at the door.

This will be the only opportunity to see all nine episodes (27 minutes total) at one time. Look for two new episodes a week on Mondays and Fridays until August 1 on www.youtube.com/baristatimes.





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