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

RadioTheatre presents the 6th Annual H. P. Lovecraft FestivalRadioTheatre was last on the podcast with their H. P. Lovecraft festival in 2012—and being a fan of the master’s fiction, the producer of GSAS! just had to get back to The Kraine to hear more of Dan Bianchi & Company’s adaptations of his classic stories.

After the first night of the festival, featuring The Moon Bog and The Shadow Over Innsmouth, I sat down with Bianchi again, as well as the three actors giving voice to the terror that evening—Frank Zilinyi, R.Patrick Alberty, and Joshua Nicholson.

Listen in as Dan, Frank, Patrick, Joshua & I discuss “Lovecraft” vs. “love craft” in the minds of unsuspecting patrons, performing at the new Lovecraft-themed bar (seriously, this is a thing), not looking at who you’re playing to, and how live radio drama differs from more “traditional” theatre.

…and yep, that “Part I” in the title means that there’ll be more aural cosmic horror discussed on the podcast soon!

“It’s more like a band, I always say…it’s kind of like doing sets in a band.”

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David Haan, playwright of “The President Plays”

playwright David HaanGSAS! Producer’s Note: playwright David Haan is writing things you should read, produce, and/or go and see.

Case-in-point: his 42-play cycle The President Plays re-imagines the death of every U.S. president from Washington to G.W. Bush, a series so epic that the reading of it had to be spread over three consecutive Tuesdays. The intrepid folks at Blowout Theatre are kindly hosting the readings on off-nights from their new show, Jona Tarlin’s In Antarctica, Where it is Very Warm (which, though the podcast wasn’t able to get out to cover it, looks super-cool, pun intended—remaining dates are Thursday thru Saturday, October 9, 10, & 11, nightly at 8PM!).

There’s only one more night from the posting of this episode to catch the remaining plays in the cycle (Tuesday, October 7 @ 7:30PM!), and it’s well-worth seeing thanks to the wonderful actors you’ll see (including members of Amios and The Assembly), excellent direction from Liz Thaler, and, of course, David’s imaginative, intriguing, insightful scripts.

I sat down with David over a beer after Part II of the cycle last Tuesday — listen in as we discuss getting history wrong, collaboration, our love of Amios, dreams of marathon theatre, and writing the impossible.

“…I’m very interested in the theatre as a collaborative enterprise…it’s kind of a conveyor belt, in which each part is kind of it’s own fully formed thing, but then becomes something greater…”

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Kimball B. Allen & Emma Hassett of “Be Happy Be Mormon”

Kimball B. Allen's Be Happy Be MormonIt’s time once again for the world’s largest solo theatre festival, United Solo (the last time GSAS! was there was in 2011, for the first iteration of Sylvia Milo’s The Other Mozart!).

This time out, the podcast takes in a very different, very personal show, brought to New York’s off-off-Broadway from Seattle—Be Happy Be Mormon, written and performed by Kimball B. Allen & directed by Emma Hassett. Kimball grew up gay & Mormon in rural Idaho—and given that combination, his life didn’t exactly go according to the plan his parents had in mind for him. A letter his mother wrote to him while he was still a baby provides the spark for this auto-biographical exploration through Kimball’s childhood, to his coming out.

Listen in as Kimball & Emma discuss the boxes that others set up for us check (and what happens when you don’t check off any of them), the changes a director can pull out of a solo performer, dinner-table collaboration, and how you travel across the country to present your solo piece (hint: minimal props).

“I just got to sort of hear the stories, and say, ‘hey, what about this, or what about that?’…it was a great collaboration.”
“Yeah, we can’t wait for the next one!”

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The Cast & Director of “The Drunken City”

Battalion Theatre presents The Drunken CityNew on the scene Battalion Theatre presents their second production, where a night of excessive partying and drunken carousing with handsome strangers leads to unavoidable confrontations with the realities of the relationships between a young bachelorette and her circle of friends—Adam Bock’s The Drunken City. It’s a premise that could easily devolve into cliche, but wisely starts at cliche before delving into the humanity underneath.

Listen in as director Emma Johnson, and actors Christine Spang, Conrad LeBron, Dan Gonon, Elena Kritter, Gadi Rubin, and Kullan Sinclair Edberg, discuss starting your theatre company at CraftBar, how your interviewer looks like Rocket Raccoon, love & magic, and taking a cold hard look at your own relationships. Oh, and there’s an on-air selfie.

“The play is a comedy on the surface, but for me it’s a tragedy, it’s about the lies that we call truths in the battle against loneliness…those lies, when called truths, build up and become the foundations upon which we build our lives…”

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