Brad Raimondo, director, and Spencer Davis Milford, actor, of “In Fields Where They Lay”

The Dreamscape Theatre presents In Fields Where They Lay at The New OhioAs director Brad Raimondo notes at the top of this interview, there are stories from history that just seem to stick with you. It was because the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 wouldn’t leave him or playwright Ricardo Pérez González alone that The Dreamscape Theatre developed In Fields Where They Lay, currently playing at The New Ohio.

But you’re definitely not going to the theatre for a history lesson—this is a beautifully-told story that resonates in a powerful way, especially at the holiday season of this particular moment in time (one hundred years on from the Christmas depicted in the play).

Listen in as Brad & actor Spencer Davis Milford discuss starting at the ending and building the play from there, propaganda, a long incubation, and how to tell an epic story on a human scale.

Oh, and your interviewer has a moment of realization about the origin of Tom & Jerry.

“I think all of us have, at one point or another, had a moment where we’ve really felt like ‘this is the right time to be working on telling a story about a group of armed men in uniforms, deciding to put their guns down for a little while, and think about who the people are on the other side’…”

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Nolan Kennedy, Scarlet Maressa Rivera, & Welland H. Scripps of “Gifts”

Letter of Marque presents Gifts, written and directed by Nolan KennedyRemember O. Henry’s lovely tale The Gift of the Magi, about the poor young couple at Christmastime, who each sacrifice their most precious possession to buy something special for the other’s most precious possession, so in the end they’re both left with a nice accessory for something they no longer have?

Letter of Marque‘s Nolan Kennedy decided to follow that couple, here played by his fellow LOM co-founders Scarlet Maressa Rivera and Welland H. Scripps, into the future, from year to year, as their relationship grows and changes, exploring the meaning of giving, receiving, and what they each really want.

And you can see this lovely, theatrical holiday gem for free, because it’s Letter of Marque, and that’s how they do.

Listen in as Nolan, Scarlet & Welland discuss how & why they built upon O. Henry’s classic, how & why live music and theatrical snow-fall was brought in to the show, and how & why they don’t charge admission.

“The capitalization of theatre minimizes the importance of theatre, not only in history, but in what its potential is now. It severely reduces the potential of how theatre can change…”

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Brian Gillespie, David Andrew Laws, Jane May, Robin Rightmyer, and Amanda Tudor of “Twelve Nights”

Pull Together Productions presents Twelve Nights, written by Sean Graney and directed by Brian GillespieIn case the title, coupled with the poster art to the left, doesn’t make it obvious enough, Twelve Nights is Sean Graney’s adaptation of Twelfth Night; or, What You Will, set in the 1980s.

Gimmick? If you’re cynical, I suppose. Awesome? Indisputably, hell yeah.

I say that, and personally, I kinda hate ’80s nostalgia. This show, and production, just makes it irresistibly fun.

All the essential ingredients are there: bright polo shirts, mix-tapes on cassettes, brilliant Peter Gabriel and Say Anything and Bill & Ted and Poison references, the whole nine. And the whole story is told by only four actors rollicking thru it at full-tilt. And, as if that weren’t enough, there’s the goofing on the twelve nights of Christmas, very apropos for a show running the first couple weeks of December.

If you want some fun theatrical holiday cheer, but without all the, y’know, holiday-malarky, check this show out. Pull Together Productions is killin’ this one, y’all.

Listen in as director & Pull Together Artistic Director Brian Gillespie, along with the full cast of David Andrew Laws, Jane May, Robin Rightmyer, and Amanda Tudor discuss the benefits of forgetting, putting ’80s pop culture onto Shakespeare, joke science, She’s the Man, and acknowledging where we are and what we’re doing—even when it goes a little askew.

“…to see the audience having fun with you…they’re just so on our side from the very beginning, it’s so good to see that…’”

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Mac Rogers, Kate Middleton, & Sean Williams of “Asymmetric”

Asymmetric by Mac Rogers at 59E59, directed by Jordana WilliamsSome things just go great together. Turkey & stuffing. Pumpkin pie & whipped cream. Calvin & Hobbes.

Add to that list the theatre companies Gideon & Ground UP, who have teamed up to present Mac Rogers‘s Asymmetric at 59E59.

Listen in as Mac, along with the show’s co-stars Kate Middleton and Sean Williams, Artistic Director of Ground UP and Producer/Founding Member of Gideon, respectively, discuss working with your friends, bringing downtown to 59th Street, inspiration from The Cure, and why we need a spy thriller set in 2015, in 2014.

As with my last interviews with these cats — Mac & Sean’s episode with Rebecca Comtois, for Gideon’s show Ligature Marks, and Kate’s episode with Catya McMullen and Scott Klopfenstein for Ground UP’s Rubber Ducks and Sunsets — this is a great, in-depth interview, so it’s worth the slightly longer run-time. I do hope you’ll take a listen.

“…and it’s incredibly exciting—it’s like you get to have your smartest friend debating himself, and spinning the chess board and playing black as hard as he’s playing white. And that’s really cool…” Continue reading

Kristin Skye Hoffmann, Greg Carere, and Samantha Cooper of “Dead Special Crabs”

Wide Eyed Productions presents Dead Special CrabsMaine to Florida is a long way to drive in a tan Toyota Corolla.

And who knows what kind of people you might run into along the way—like light-worshipping cultists, overly-emotional poets, highway-trotting serial killers, hunch-less detectives, Edgar Allen Poe impersonators…

All these strange characters (and more) come together in the gloriously weird and funny Dead Special Crabs, written by Dan Kitrosser and directed by Wide Eyed Productions‘ Artistic Director Kristin Skye Hoffmann, who joined me for an interview after a preview performance of the show.

Listen in as Kristin, along with actors Samantha Cooper (June) and Greg Carere (Virgil), discuss writing like jazz, crying in hysterical laughter through rehearsals, working with everyone’s comedic strengths, and why produce this crazy play at this crazy time in U.S. history.

“‘…it has a bit of sentiment, in a way that doesn’t make me want to barf, which I am always excited about…’

‘…also, cults…’”

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TALKBACK: Astoria Performing Arts Center’s “In the Bones”

Astoria Performing Arts Center presents In the Bones by Cody DaigleHow are we transformed by the death of a loved one? And, what is left behind?

Those questions seem to be at the heart of Cody Daigle‘s play In the Bones, in which a family navigates the aftermath of a young man’s suicide. Through four scenes, and flashbacks presented through his own cell-phone-shot home videos, Luke’s lover, his sister, his mother, his aunt, and his friend struggle with their responses to the abrupt end of his life after two tours of Afghanistan.

It just so happens that I was at a performance of the play featuring a talkback with the playwright, director, and the entire cast, moderated by APAC’s Executive Director Erin Moore — and because everything was covered that I would have asked in a more traditional GSAS! interview, instead of making everyone repeat themselves, here’s that talkback, in full.

Listen in as the cast & crew of In the Bones discuss inspiration from Spanish Civil War poetry, grief, and struggling with larger world issues in the context of a family story.

“I’m actually a very happy person…”

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Josh Luxenberg, Jon Levin, Erik Lochtefeld, and Eric Wright of “Powerhouse”

Sinking Ship Productions presents PowerhouseChances are, you’re like me—you won’t immediately recognize the name Raymond Scott, but once you realize who he was, you also realize you’ve had his music stuck in your head at some point in time. Maybe even many points in time.

Director Jon Levin was once on the same page as you & I, casually humming Scott’s iconic melody from Powerhouse, when a friend introduced him to the story of this music pioneer. From there, he and playwright Josh Luxenberg, along with their collaborators in Sinking Ship Ensemble, began to devise this vibrant, imaginative piece of theatre, named for that very composition.

Listen in as Jon & Josh, joined by actors Erik Lochtefeld, who portrays Scott, & Eric Wright, one of the puppet-geniuses behind Puppet Kitchen (who provide, you might have surmised, puppets for the show), discuss faith in the post-atomic future, the difference between what you set out to do and what actually happens, and discovering your play in front of an audience.

“There’s something really compelling to me about the idea of something trying to do one thing, very specifically, and being undermined by a bunch of cartoons.”

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Tyler Grimes, Victoria Flores, Christian Daly, and Chloé Malaisé of “Stripped”

Distilled Theatre Company presents Stripped by Tyler GrimesBaseball. War. Strippers.

Distilled Theatre Company‘s resident playwright Tyler Grimes locates the cross-points of these disparate elements of Americana in his new play Stripped, presented by Distilled & directed by Victoria Flores.

Listen in as Tyler, Victoria, Christian, and Chloé discuss trauma, naming characters after the narrator’s favorite cartoon, language, and telling stories about the time we’re in now. And yes, there are a few baseball metaphors.

“Baseball is this metaphor for having to own up to things. When the spotlight is on you, it’s on you. More than any other sport, it’s the team sport where the individual can really change something, really affect something.”

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RadioTheatre’s 6th Annual “H. P. Lovecraft Festival” — Part II

RadioTheatre presents the 6th Annual H. P. Lovecraft FestivalAs promised two episodes back, GSAS! continues the seasonally-appropriate fare with another conversation with the vocal acrobats behind RadioTheatre‘s 6th Annual H. P. Lovecraft Festival.

Back on the mic are the excellent R. Patrick Alberty & Joshua Nicholson, along with RadioTheatre newcomer (& equally excellent voice-talent) Danielle Adams.

Listen in as Patrick, Danielle, Joshua & I discuss what it’s like to jump in and work with the RadioTheatre team for the first time, converting new theatre-goers into RadioTheatre groupies, the “theatre of the mind,” and what you can hear (& see!) next from their personal projects & RadioTheatre.

“You see the name ‘RadioTheatre,’ and immediately what comes to mind is the old ’40s, ’50s style, you see people dressed up, men in fedoras, you got the foley artist in the background…but this form of theatre that we do is completely unique…”

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Members of The Assembly, presenting “That Poor Dream”

The AssemblyThe Assembly was last on the podcast with an episode that, sadly, went live long after the show had closed (and damn, you should have seen that show…Home/Sick remains one of the best productions I’ve seen—take a listen to the episode about it, it’s well worth your time).

The company’s back with their devised adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, entitled That Poor Dream, bringing the story of Pip to the island of Manhattan via Connecticut, and this time I’m actually posting this with time for you to catch the show, so get out to The New Ohio if you can!

Joining me on the mic are actors Edward Bauer (Pip), Ben Beckley (Drummel), & Emily Louise Perkins (Jaggers), along with Production & Scenic Designer Nick Benacerraf and Dramaturg Stephen Aubrey—listen in as we discuss giving voice to a voiceless issue, capitalism, vulnerability, being content with your lot in life, and privilege, beauty, & money.

“…we encounter people with radically and contradictory visions of what class means, and how to behave in this world, and that’s, I think, the most interesting thing for us—to put all these contradictory ideas together, because that’s how the world is, so that we can look at them together, and try to hold more of it at the same time…”

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