William Steinberger, Marisa Brau, Andreas Damm, Michael Calciano, and Melissa Cesarano of “Gregor”

InVersion Theatre Company presents Gregor, freely adapted from Kafka's The Metamorphosis, directed by William SteinbergerWe’ve all felt like an outsider at some point. But imagine how much more divorced from the world you’d feel if you woke up one day to discover you’ve turned into an insect.

That is, of course, the premise of Franz Kafka’s century-old absurd novella on alienation, The Metamorphosis. For GregorInVersion Theatre‘s stage adaptation of the story, the company adds theatrical movement and storytelling to give it a contemporary spin.

Plus, they add inter-dimensional actor-bureaucrats to tell us the story. And it totally works.

Listen in as director William Steinberger, along with the full cast, Marisa Brau, Andreas Damm, Michael Calciano, and Melissa Cesarano, discuss hearing Bond villains in your head, the inability to speak linearly, what happens when you lose language, and Kafka’s character of Gregor as a “proto-millennial.”

“…there’s this really fascinating triad: there’s Kafka who wrote it, there’s the speaker of The Metamorphosis, and then there’s Gregor…and I felt as though the novella was incredibly ripe for theatrical adaptation, because…a good way to [recreate that triad] was through breaking the fourth wall…I thought theatre could do it really well.”

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Emily Claire Schmitt, Ria T. DiLullo, Miranda Poett, Claire Buckingham, Charlotte Pines, and Courtney McClellan of “Whatchamacallit: A Play About Jesus”

Whatchamacallit A Play About Jesus, written by Emily Claire Schmitt, directed by Ria T. DiLulloNuns & prophets. Lost faith & lost love. A virgin conception & a horde of condoms.

And, observing it all, a bemused Jesus.

If that doesn’t intrigue you to check out Emily Claire Schmitt‘s excellent play Whatchamacallit: A Play About Jesus, then this interview certainly will.

Listen in as Emily, along with director Ria T. DiLullo, and cast members Miranda Poett, Claire Buckingham, Charlotte Pines, and Courtney McClellan, discuss the hero’s journey, embodying third wave feminism, Catholic education, a play and rehearsal process mostly free from the male gaze, and how songs can sometimes sing you.

“…when I wrote the script, one of the intentions was, ‘how are we going to deal with issues that people don’t like talking about, but in a way that’s fun and comfortable…can we talk about religion, and can we talk about women, without judging religion…can we actually deal with these things in a human way, without destroying ourselves…”

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Stephanie C. Cunningham, Madison Comerzan, Jenna D’Angelo, Kim Krane, and Leslie Marseglia of “Keep”

KEEP by Francesca Pazniokas, directed by Stephanie C. CunninghamWhat do we hold on to? And why?

In Francesca Pazniokas’ play Keep, currently being co-produced by Wide Eyed Productions and Mastodon Theatre Company, Naomi is holding on to a lot of things—and her sisters Jane and Kara want to help her get rid of them. But as they dig through her hoarded possessions, they dredge up a lot more than just the artifacts Naomi’s hoarded in her home.

Listen in as the actors playing the four sisters of the play, Madison Comerzan, Jenna D’Angelo, Kim Krane, and Leslie Marseglia, along with director Stephanie C. Cunningham, discuss uncomfortable laughter, co-producing, getting kicked out of load-in, working with your chosen sisters, reading plays to your cat, and connecting with your audience’s hoarding tendencies.

“…together we thought, if our powers unite, awesome things exponentially will happen…”

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Heather Litteer and Elena Heyman of “Lemonade”

LEMONADE by Heather Litteer at La MaMaWhat to do when you’ve been typecast by the film and TV industry?

If you are actor, poet, writer and performance artist Heather Litteer, you embrace it, work it, and try to enjoy the process, no matter how difficult…AND you continue to make theatre that explores ALL the complex layers of your humanity—not just the ones that Hollywood knows you for.

This journey has culminated in Lemonade, a one-woman autobiographical show, by and about Heather Litteer, currently playing in The Club at La Mama. In the show, she explores her screen career, playing prostitutes, junkies and strippers, her real life in New York as an independent woman in the 1990’s downtown theatre scene and her relationship with her traditional, “Steel Magnolia” mother in the South.

GSAS! correspondent Tara Gadomski went downtown to see the show, which she called “a really cool party.” Listen in as she talks with Heather and director Elena Heyman about the conception of the show, how it became possible through a fellowship at La Mama from The William & Eva Fox Foundation and Theatre Communications Group, the current state of “downtown theatre,” the importance of wafting glitter on stage, and advice for young female actors.

“Work extremely hard. I think that young actresses could benefit from understanding how hard you have to work to make what you want happen.”

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Emily Louise Perkins, Ben Beckley, Jess Chayes, Stephen Aubrey, and Nick Benacerraf of “I Will Look Forward to This Later”

The Assembly presents I Will Look Forward to This LaterEpisodes featuring The Assembly have been some of my favorite episodes of this podcast.

Add this one to that list.

The company’s new show, I Will Look Forward to This Later, is currently running at The New Ohio. Make sure you get over to check it out, and definitely take a listen to this episode either on your way there, or on your way back. And, even better, hang out and chat with the company after the show, and dig into these issues with them yourself. They’d like to chat with you.

But at the very least, listen in to this episode as several Assembly members—director Jess Chayes, actor Ben Beckley, actor/writer Emily Louise Perkins, dramaturg Stephen Aubrey, and production designer Nick Benacerraf—discuss the Assembly process, inspiration from kabuki, choices/actions/consequences, conversations with your collaborators, your audience, & Judith Malina, and loss, legacy, & time.

“I think it’s important that we are in the process of figuring things out, that we don’t know the answers…and we’re excited about that.” Continue reading

Cave Theatre Company’s “Gruesome Playground Injuries”

Cave Theatre Company presents Rajiv Joseph's GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIESLove hurts.

In Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries, it hurts a whole lot. Like face-split-open, teeth-knocked-out, razor-blade-cut, horrible-fireworks-accident maims. And the scars it leaves aren’t only on the bodies of protagonists Doug & Kayleen.

Cave Theatre Company, rounding out their first year of productions, is staging Joseph’s dark relationship dramedy at Under St. Mark’s as part of their residency with Frigid New York; listen in as director James Masciovecchio, actors Kiley Caughey and Alex Etling, and their fellow Cave crew, co-producers Josh Triplett and Cassie Wood, discuss getting rights to your favorite play in a nail-biting photo-finish, inspiration from podcasts (really!), leaning into theatricality, making bad Tinder dating stories into theatre, and why you should just get your friends together and make something.

…we want to see real stories on stage. We want to see honest stories, and try not to sugar-coat things, and try not to show things for what they aren’t…

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Katie Palmer and Paul Bedard of “The Debates”

Theater in Asylum presents The DebatesTheater = Politics = Theater = Politics

If you’ve seen that equation on a t-shirt around the independent theatre world in NYC of late, then you’ve seen someone who’s worked on or seen Theater in Asylum‘s ever-changing The Debates.

It’s the perfect slogan for a project theatricalizing the Democratic Presidential Primary debates, with the intent to bring theatre people to the political process, and political people into the theater—and it sounds like the project is doing its intended work.

GSAS! sat down with the show’s director, Paul Bedard, and choreographer, Katie Palmer, to discuss how they trained their team, how to balance a scene, how to handle material that’s moving so quickly, why they’re focusing on only the Democratic Party, the actual differences between Hillary and Bernie (and how to present them fairly), and “who am I, who are you, who are we.”

I think one of the reasons people stay out is that it seems like such a big thing, that if, “I’m not in it already, it’s just too much to learn, and I don’t want to get involved.” And I think people stay away from theaters for the same reason…”I couldn’t possibly understand what’s happening in this theater”…and I think we’ve tried to take the fear and the elitism out of both of those avenues, saying that, “you can engage in both things, here’s some helpful tools…”

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Danielle Trzcinski, writer of “Non-Equity The Musical!”

Non-Equity The Musical, book and lyrics by Danielle Trzcinski, music by Paul D. MillsIf you are, or have ever been an actor, how many times have you heard someone say something to the effect of, “oh, acting! that must be so much fun!”—and had to fight a visceral reaction to respond along the lines of, “yeah, but you have NO idea what we go through…”

Because while it is fun, of course, and those of us lucky enough to work in the theatre feel our jobs are indeed the best in the world, the fun part of acting comes after a lot of trials, heartache, early mornings, degrading calls, blood, sweat, and tears.

It comes…after the casting process.

Playwright Danielle Trzcinski and composer Paul D. Mills have taken the unique experience of being at a casting call and put it onstage, with music, like you do. Their show Non-Equity The Musical!, after a sold-out run at the NY Fringe in 2012, has recorded a cast album, and GSAS! recently sat down with Danielle to talk about the show.

Listen in as she discusses the virtues and values of making your own work, playing to and fighting against type (and typing yourself out of your own musical), and following your dream even through the mess that is our business.

“I think it’s pretty awesome, like your podcast, that all these people are out there…it is so much work to do all these things, but there’s only so long we can wait around for an opportunity to be given to us…”
“…or so many 5 a.m. calls…”
“Exactly! Honestly, doing this show…that opened up so many more doors for me than when I was getting up and busting my ass at 5 in the morning…”

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Recent Cutbacks’ “Fly, You Fools!”

Recent Cutbacks presents FLY, YOU FOOLS! at The PITThe brilliant comedic team of Recent Cutbacks didn’t exist, at least not in name, when they were last on the podcast with their incredible Hold on to Your Butts.

But luckily for all of us, they’re back, and this time, instead of dinosaurs, they’re taking on elves, dwarves, orcs, wizards, eagles, and, of course, hobbits, with Fly, You Fools!

On the mic are the show’s producer Allyson Morgan, as well as returning guests, director Kristin McCarthy Parker and performers Nick Abeel and Kyle Schaefer; and now, added to the team are performer Matt Zambrano, and foley artist Blair Busbee, all of whom sat in for a chat about their wonderful new show.

Listen in as the Recent Cutbacks team discusses why they moved to The Fellowship of the Ring from Jurassic Park, dancey, movementy, mimey things, the danger of inciting a nerd riot, finding the sound of your show as it continues to change, and how to deal with prop mishaps in real time.

“…in the rehearsal process, we sort of found that the more epic the film was, the less props we needed. We could get away with more, with less…actually, we don’t need these hundred wigs, or these extra props, when we can tell the story just through physicality. Which I think is actually more joyful for the audience…” Continue reading

Andrew Schneider of “YOUARENOWHERE”

Andrew Schneider's YOUARENOWHERE, photo by Maria BaranovaYou might have heard of Andrew Schneider‘s YOUARENOWHERE if you listen to theatre podcasts that aren’t this one (thanks for the recommendation, Maxamoo!), because the Obie-award winning piece has been on the lips of anyone who’s seen it.

Rightfully so.

But if you have heard the title, I hope you haven’t heard much else, other than, “go see this.” Because that’s how I experienced it, and I must say, it made for an incredible theatrical experience. So that’s all I’m going to give you: go see this show.

…but first, listen in to this (spoiler-free!) episode, as Andrew and I discuss the performer/audience contract, regional theatre gigs, frames, frustration with the traditional infrastructure, and destroying expectations.

“…what I wanted to do was just communicate in a room with a person […] what I’m fascinated by is moments, and experience, and curating emotion without narrative. So we’re all experiencing the same thing at the same time…”

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