Matt Cox of “Kapow-i GoGo”

The PIT presents Kapow-i GoGo, written by Matt CoxA theatre-artist’s day-job can be…well, it can be soul-sucking.

But, if you look at it right, it can instead be a source of material for your creative projects.

At his day-job in a certain New York City comic-book landmark, Matt Cox found the inspiration for Kapow-i GoGo, the most epic fun you can have in a manga-and-video-game-inspired episodic comedy series, now running over several weeks at The PIT.

Listen in as Matt, as the show’s creator and writer (and portrayer of Mr. Snuggles), discusses how he came up with his blue-haired heroine, playing in your own piece, costuming on a budget, and working on a deadline.

“…sometimes I find I make funnier things up in the moment than I did when I was staring at my computer for ten hours…”

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Karim Muasher, Carrie Brown, Becca Bernard, and Melinda Jean Ferraraccio of “Dog Show”

Animal Engine presents Dog Show at FRIGID NEW YORKEveryone loves dogs.

And theatre-goers love a good farce.

So, why not do a show with dogs acting out a farce?

It may sound like a unique starting place—but you’d be surprised how many points of contact there are. Animal Engine is the company making those connections in their new, appropriately titled Dog Show, based on Sauce for the Goose by Georges Feydeau, and running as part of Frigid New York.

Come dressed as a dog, and your ticket’s just $10. Seriously.

Listen in as the team behind Animal Engine, director Karim Muasher & Carrie Brown, and their fabulous collaborators Becca Bernard and Melinda Jean Ferraraccio, discuss base instincts, refining a comedy, working from disparate source material, and, of course, dogs.

“The idea with farce is that the characters are all really led by their base instincts…sex, hunger, lust, all of those things…and that’s sort kind of like the dog brain, they don’t really stop to think, they just kinda go for it…that’s sort of the idea of using dogs…”

“We’re trying to find those meeting points…where do the dogs and the humans intersect in a way that’s funny and interesting…”

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Nat Cassidy, Matthew Trumbull, and Arthur Aulisi of “The Temple, or, Lebensraum”

The Temple, or, Lebensraum, written and directed by Nat Cassidy, at The Brick TheaterIt surprised me to hear that Nat Cassidy‘s new work The Temple, or, Lebensraum, currently running at The Brick, was based on a story by godfather of horror H. P. Lovecraft, because in all my collections of the man’s writings, I hadn’t read it.

It’s an early piece of his, available for free online, so I breezed through it on my way to the theatre. But where the original is a small (and, truth be told, somewhat weak) tale from 1920 set on a German submarine in World War I, Cassidy’s adaptation moves that submarine to 1943 (and is anything but weak).

While it’s completely unnecessary to read the story in advance, if you’re familiar with it, you’ll see a lot that’s familiar (dolphins!); but you’ll also quickly realize this isn’t just a stage adaptation. This is full adaptation, pulling the undersea dread of Lovecraft’s short story from simply a fear of the unknown into a complex play simultaneously weaving in fear of a well-known terror that humanity constantly struggles with: the fight amongst ourselves for power, and self-preservation.

Now that’s horror.

Listen in as Nat, along with two of the show’s actors, Arthur Aulisi and Matthew Trumbull, discuss why this particular Lovecraft story and why it’s set in WWII, “terrible things,” finding authentic costumes for your show, I am Providence, and dealing with things that are way too huge for the human mind.

“I try to parse out what it is in our souls, or in our psyches…why it is that we find chaos so terrifying. What does it make us ask, what does it force us to confront about ourselves…to find the humanity in horror…”

“There’s a very strong…you can’t even call it an undercurrent, it’s the main current of the show, is joking, and humor…one of the many reasons for that is horror and humor are hand in hand, they’re so intricately related…”

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Maurice Decaul, Alex Mallory, and the cast of “Dijla Wal Furat: Between the Tigris and the Euphrates”

Poetic Theater Productions presents Dijla Wal Furat: Between the Tigris and the Euphrates, by Maurice Decaul, irected by Alex MalloryPoetic License is back—GSAS! was there for the first installment way back in 2012, and though sadly I’ve missed the last two, Poetic Theater ProductionsAlex Mallory and Jeffrey Karafin are now presenting their fourth year of new poetic theater.

One of the two full-length plays anchoring this year’s festival is Dijla Wal Furat: Between the Tigris and the Euphrates, directed by Mallory and written by Maurice Decaul, who has the unique perspective to write about the early days of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, because he was actually there, serving in the Marine Corps. The play follows four distinct perspectives over a couple weeks in 2003, weaving a tale that shows not just the hell of war, but also the humanity of each person involved.

The festival only has a couple more days from the posting of this episode, so head on over to the Poetic Theater Productions’ website to check out what you can still see; it’ll be worth it.

And, be sure to listen in to this episode as Alex, Maurice, and cast members Ali Andre Ali, Katie Zaffrann, Victory Chappotin, Nabil Viñas, Ankur Rathee, Fahim Hamid, and Perri Yaniv discuss drawing upon personal experience, drawing a diverse audience, learning about and seeing the Iraqi perspective, and bringing humanity to all sides of a conflict.

“For me, the reason I act in anything is to try to bring humanity to a story, and I feel like war is the kind of thing that happens when you forget about the humanity of people. So it’s an honor to be able to get onstage and help tell a story that’s written by a Marine, and tell these stories that we won’t hear, we won’t see the humanity of unless we get it on a stage…”

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Matthew Freeman, playwright of “The Listeners”

The Brick Theater presents The Listeners, by Matthew FreemanWhen you walk in to The Brick to see Matthew Freeman‘s play The Listeners, directed by Michael Gardner, you’re seeing the back of scenic flats—you might think you came in the stage door.

But you didn’t. Follow those flats around, and you won’t get to your seat “in front of” the set. Your seat is right there at the back of those flats; you’re intentionally on the outside, looking in on a lovely set through a small slit in the wall (or through a one-way mirror, if you’re lucky).

It’s a unique way to see a unique play, and, as the title would suggest, this restriction on your sight highlights the sounds. Listening to those sounds, along with your own private window into the world, you follow the story of a man and a woman who’ve arrived to a house, and the people who were already there—and all the while, time seems to be running out, for something, as an unknowable sound bears down on the people in the box you’re peering into.

This is quite a different show from what we discussed last time Matt was on the podcast, but he’s just as awesome to talk to as last time. Listen in as he discusses the translation from improvisation to page to stage, the sound of his play, creating nameless fear, and letting your influences be what you are.

“It wears all its influences on its sleeve; I think if you just don’t fight that stuff…the piece of it that is uniquely me will come through anyway…” Continue reading

William Glenn and Trish Parry, creators & performers of “A Brief History of Beer”

Horse Trade Theater Group presents A Brief History of Beer“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is strength, in water there is bacteria.”—A quote often misattributed to Benjamin Franklin, but with no clear source as far as my half-assed Googling can discern.

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”—Also misattributed to Mr. Franklin.

“Beer & theatre are a match made in heaven.”—I said that. Just now.

No matter who said which when, I firmly believe that all three of those quotes are true. And if you like your theatre fun, educational (in the best of ways, because it’s about something awesome: beer), and interactive—or, as they like to say, “drinkeractive”—you should check out one of Wish Experience‘s upcoming performances of A Brief History of Beer.

I sat down for a post-show drink with the shows creators & performers, William Glenn and Trish Parry, after the first show in their year-long monthly residency at UNDER St. Marks; listen in as Will & Trish discuss becoming unwitting beer judges, knowing where your beer comes from, Peter Brook’s idea of “deadly theatre” (you didn’t think this was all about alcohol, did you?), and the “secret mission” of their show.

“Beer is the drumbeat of life.”

“That’s it…in all of our veins, the rivers of Babylon flow. These ancient waters flow in all of our veins, and that’s what’s in this glass…”

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James Rutherford, Laura Butler Rivera, and Jon Froehlich of “All That Dies and Rises”

M-34 and Cloud of Fools present All That Dies and RisesWhat do you do when, almost a year into development of a play, the play disappears?

You could cut and run. Or, you could rally the team you’ve assembled, and make something else. Something grounded in the work you’ve done up to that point—but also, something beautifully unique.

That’s just what happened to the team behind M-34 and Cloud of Fools Theater Company‘s All That Dies and Rises; listen in as director James Rutherford, choreographer Laura Butler Rivera, and performer Jon Froehlich discuss making rorschach blots, why we’re here, focusing on the excitement, and the wisdom of Peter Brook.

“…if it’s too abstract, it doesn’t work. It needs to look enough like something that your mind tries to figure it out, but not enough like anything that your mind is able to succeed…”

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Heather Cohn, Rachel Hip-Flores, and Brian Silliman of “Once Upon a Bride There Was a Forest”

Flux Theatre Ensemble presents Once Upon a Bride There Was a ForestRegular listeners to the podcast have probably noticed that, if Flux Theatre Ensemble is presenting a show, GSAS! is going to be there. Great people, great productions, and great conversation always ensues.

In this episode, about Flux’s new show Once Upon a Bride There Was a Forest, the conversation isn’t just about the work onstage; it takes a turn toward how the artists were able to get that work onstage.

See, the show’s director (and Flux Producing Director) Heather Cohn, and Flux Artistic Director August Schulenburg, are partners in life as well as in art—and they recently welcomed a daughter into the world, which is certainly a big (and wonderful!) change in their lives. It doesn’t, however, have to keep them from making theatre; in fact, it can inform the process in a lovely way, as it sounds like it did here.

Listen in as Heather, along with actors Rachel Hip-Flores and Brian Silliman, discuss balancing parenthood with your theatre career, how you get both a house and a forest onstage at the same time, and when you know the play is the right one.

 “…those are the only two things you ever, ever need to do: look at babies and learn the lines.”

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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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