Jonathan Emerson, Chris Rivera, Serena E. Miller, Christina Sheehan, and V. Orion Delwaterman of “Julius Caesar”

What Dreams May Co and Queens Shakespeare present William Shakespeare's Julius CaesarQuestion 1: In a fallen, dangerous, post-apocalyptic world, what would you do to preserve the state from tyranny?

Question 2: In a difficult independent theatre landscape, what do you do to get a production of a Shakespeare classic mounted, and available to the broadest audience you can?

Answers: If you’re setting William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in that theoretical post-apocalyptic world…well, if you’re reading this blog and listening to this podcast, you probably have a good idea of what happens…

…and why not bring together two Shakespeare-focused companies, What Dreams May Co and Queens Shakespeare Inc., to answer the second posited query, joining forces to bring this new and unique take on the classic to audiences.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears and listen in as director Chris Rivera, along with actors Jonathan Emerson (Mark Antony), Christina Sheehan (Caius Cassius), Serena E. Miller (Julius Caesar), and V. Orion Delwaterman (Marcus Brutus) discuss sangria, imagining New York City as the only place in the world, talking with your young fans after the show, keeping up your stamina for a longer indy theatre run, and where this play meets Highlander (hint: there can be only one).

“When we set these pieces in a modern world, sometimes there’s a lot of creative work we have to do to make it fit. Not in this case. If you look at the political landscape that we’re in, these sort of things happen all the time…”

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Marina Tempelsman and Niccolo Aeed of “MURDER!”

Marina and Nicco present MURDER! at The PITThis podcast’s affection for all things “radio drama” has been well-documented (see past episodes on All That Fall, three episodes on RadioTheatre’s Lovecraft series, and The Offering for a few examples).

But what we haven’t yet heard on the podcast is a show in that most classic of classic radio genres: the murder-mystery.

Long-time comedy-and-sketch-writing duo Marina & Nicco remedy that, as they bring their comedic sensibilities to the old “group of strangers meet at a strange house for a party, and bodies start to drop” setup—but they’ve got a lot of twists, turns, and laughs for you along the way that are anything but formulaic.

It’s written in a serial format, so there are four different nights of live radio fun, each with two episodes, but never fear if you can’t catch them all: they’re podcasting the episodes, so you can catch up on prior plot-points on your way to The PIT to see future episodes!

(and yes, you are hearing the Jurassic Park theme in the background of this episode—which means you’ve got more chances to catch Hold On to Your Butts, which is back at The PIT, so listen to the episode on that one here, and try to catch a Murder!/HOTYB double-header!)

Listen in to this episode as the Marina & Nicco themselves, Marina Tempelsman and Niccolo Aeed, discuss answering sketchy Craigslist ads, writing to the form, and exploring foley by hitting everything in the hardware store with a hammer.

“…it just lends itself so well to being serialized…”
“…it’s funny and screw-bally, but we also got excited about making people get that feeling of, ‘what comes next?!?'”

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Daniel Adams, Jason Aguirre, Sarah Burkhalter, and Chef Rick Martinez of “krāv”

Daniel Adams directs krāv, an immersive supper-club theatre experienceLet’s face it, the thought of a dinner-party with strangers can be anxiety-inducing.

But while dinner with strangers is exactly what you’re signing up for with 5 Senses Theatre‘s krāv experience, let go of any trepidation. You’re going to have a blast, and a great dinner to boot.

Listen in as director Daniel Adams, co-creators/actors Jason Aguirre and Sarah Burkhalter, and Chef Rick Martinez discuss uniting theatre with a supper-club, identifying audience archetypes, how to use food to contribute to the story, and what happens when you put the audience in the driver’s seat.

…plus, be sure to listen in to the end for a special summer cocktail recipe, courtesy of Chef Rick!

“The food is also the safety net. Even though it can poke at you…it can challenge you…in this form, it’s the audience’s safety net. Sarah and I have always been fascinated with danger, how do we capture danger…in New York, it’s close to impossible to scare people, we’re so ready for whatever…”
“But are we prepped to be at a table with strangers?”
“That’s the thing!”

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Alex Roe, Kendall Rileigh, Cliff Miller, Perri Yaniv, and Lorinne Lampert of “Injunction Granted”

Metropolitan Playhouse presents Injunction Granted, a living newspaperIt would be easy to say, “this play is important to your understanding of U.S. theatre history, and therefore you should see it”—but that sounds lame and boring.

And Metropolitan Playhouse‘s production of the Federal Theater Project’s Living Newspaper Unit‘s Injunction Granted is anything but.

Six actors take on a script originally performed by a cast of a whole lot more than that, built from primary sources to give the history of the struggle between labor and capital in the U.S. up to 1936…all while making it relevant to the U.S. of 2015.

It’s a neat trick, and great fun. And there’s a lot of hats.

Listen in as director/performer Alex Roe and actors Kendall Rileigh, Cliff Miller, Perri Yaniv, and Lorinne Lampert discuss creating your production like a sculpture, making sense of dense legalese from the 1930s, the importance of unions today, and why it might be time for a fight again.

“…this play, by touching on all those issues so strongly, so very very clearly, and coming from 80 years ago, I think is incredibly refreshing. It gives us a chance to look at it, not through the headlines that we’re almost inured to now, but through a very unusual and unfamiliar history…as well as an unfamiliar staging technique that makes it seem new…”

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Liz Thaler and Lauren Miller of “Happy”

In Extremis Theater Company presents Happy, written by Liz Thaler and directed by Lauren MillerYour ever-humble GSAS! producer is sound designing a great play that’s being produced as part of F*ckFest at The Brick in Williamsburg—and because I have editorial control over this here podcast, well, this is an episode about it.

Even if I weren’t working on the show, I’d still be excited to have playwright Liz Thaler and director Lauren Miller join me on the mic to talk about this “love story with a few kinks,” Happy. That’s because I’m extremely proud of the work everyone’s done on the show, and I think you’ll enjoy it, too. Go see this one, y’all.

Listen in as Liz and Lauren discuss how this “Shotz” piece proved itself to be the germ of a larger play, personal vs. professional BDSM, status, power, mystery, and what really makes us happy.

“…nobody’s left out of the story. Nobody has to come in and be, like, ‘oh, that’s not my kink,’ because some of the fantasies aren’t ever said out loud—so they get to fill it in with whatever’s scariest. Or whatever’s sexiest. So I think that allows the audience to identify with something that sometimes people are terrified to identify with, which is their own raw human sexuality.”

Quick point of order: the play and this podcast episode acknowledge the existence of sexual behavior among human beings, and some of that behavior might be outside the realm of what you’re used to seeing depicted in pop music videos and teen comedies; no discretion advised, but you’ve been notified.

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Katherine Sommer, Russell Sperberg, Kisky Holwerda, and Quinn Wise of “Punk as Fuck”

Everyday Inferno presents Punk as Fuck, written by Michael K. White & Dianna StarkHearing the synopsis of Everyday Inferno‘s Punk as Fuck, with its references to angry young people and garage bands, it certainly sounds like a play for anyone who secretly longs for their glory days of playing music with friends in a dirty basement or garage.

That’s what caught my attention to go see this show, currently running in rep with The Roaring Girl at Access Theater. But seeing Punk as Fuck, it’s not just about the rock—it’s a story of youthful idealism, angst, and yearning that anyone can identify with.

Listen in as director Katherine Sommer and actors Russell Sperberg, Kisky Holwerda, and Quinn Wise discuss suburban sensibilities, playing live music as part of your show, echoing consciousness, and telling a love story through a band rehearsal.

“…doing it in the space is so different because you have to be so conscious of people talking—”
“Especially playing drums, you’re playing an actual kit onstage.”
“It’s loud.”
“There was a lot of ‘Can you be a little bit quieter, just a little bit quieter…'”
“I feel like every band ever has that conversation with the drummer, right?”

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Jeremy Bloom, Brian Rady, & Catherine Brookman of “The Upper Room”

Rady & Bloom present The Upper Room at The New OhioStart creating a new work of theatre from a classic fairy tale, and you might find yourself taking a detour through the “back to the land” movement, and wind up with a movement play full of original music, lovely light projections, and a manatee mask.

That’s an oversimplified way to describe Rady & Bloom‘s The Upper Room, currently playing at The New Ohio—but it’s a whole lot more than that.

Listen in as the Rady & Bloom, Brian Rady and Jeremy Bloom, along with composer/performer Catherine Brookman, discuss collaboration between song-writer and directors/creators, post-show parties, The Little Mermaid, working with your spouse, and the long haul.

“…there’s a thrust, there is a story, but we’re trying to express the inexpressible, we’re trying to express the feeling of, ‘what will happen next to me,’ or ‘what will happen to US…'”

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Ben Schnickel, Alisha Spielmann, Heather E. Cunningham, and Ricardo Rust of “The Butter and Egg Man”

Retro Productions presents The Butter and Egg Man, written by George S. Kaufman, directed by Ricardo RustProducing independent theatre is a difficult game.

So a play about producing theatre, where the title is slang for a sucker who puts a lot of money into a theatrical venture he doesn’t truly understand…it might hit a little too close to home.

But Retro Productions is always a safe bet, which is what brought this microphone & podcast man to see their production of George S. Kaufman’s The Butter and Egg Man—and I found out that it did hit, in all the right places.

Listen in as director Ricardo Rust and cast members Ben Schnickel, Alisha Spielmann, and Heather E. Cunningham (Retro’s Producing Artistic Director, and past podcast guest!) discuss going back to the 1920s, choreographing your scene changes, how to deal with the unexpected onstage, and producing plays about producing plays.

“‘…it’s so fun to watch what’s happening onstage just like I’m the audience, and laugh at it…whether it be the actual play I’m laughing at, or whether it be scenery falling down, it’s funny, and you get to laugh at it…’
‘That’s kind of what’s so great about theatre…'”

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Gretchen Van Lente & Meghan Williams of “Blood Red Roses”

Drama of Works presents Blood Red Roses, The Female Pirate ProjectHow do you tell a tale about famous female pirates through the ages?

Obviously, for starters, you’ve gotta do it on a boat.

Not so obviously, you make the stories of high adventure come alive with creative & fun shadow puppets on said boat while singing modified sea shanties—and that’s just what Drama of Works does with their new show Blood Red Roses: The Female Pirate Project.

Listen in as Gretchen Van Lente, the show’s director and lead deviser, and collaborator/performer Meghan Williams, discuss collaborative dramaturgy, shadow puppets, using your rehearsal studio, how to get your show on a boat, and all the lady pirates.

“…people always wanted to come backstage and see the show…we started thinking, what if we took that, and brought it in front…there are no real secrets…we’re just trying to make simple, elegant solutions to storytelling problems…”

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Don Nguyen, Kim Wong, Nancy Sun, and Criena House of “Red Flamboyant”

Firebone Theatre presents Red Flamboyant, written by Don NguyenFirebone Theatre wants to tell you a story.

Weaving the tale of the Trung Sisters, who led the first national uprising of the Vietnamese against the Chinese in 40 A.D., and the modern history of Pham Thi Hue, who started the first support group for people with HIV/AIDS in Vietnam, playwright Don Nguyen‘s Red Flamboyant is a play about struggle and defiance in the face of terrible circumstances, beautifully performed and produced.

Plus: they fly.

Listen in as Don, along with actors Kim Wong, Nancy Sun, and Criena House discuss epic stage directions, playing real people onstage, and working through the pain to look awesome while flying.

“…so Don has the most epic stage direction I have ever read in my life…it’s like this living room drama…you’re going along, realism, realism…then all of a sudden it says,
‘…the ceiling cracks open and the mountains of Vietnam appear. The Trung Sisters fly down the mountain. Enter. Yes, they fly…’
…I read that and I was just like, “ok, yeah, let’s do this.”

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