TALKBACK: David Stallings & Heather Cohn of “Dark Water,” with Robin Madel & Kyle Rabin

Manhattan Theatre Works presents "Dark Water" by David Stallings, directed by Heather CohnDavid Stallings‘s play Dark Water is the tale of a mother turtle as she and her son negotiate the sea along with a host of other animals — like a land-loving dolphin, a vain heron, and a gluttonous gull — to save her daughters, who have been trapped by the titular menace. Director Heather Cohn‘s production features a colorful (and largely recycled!) set, music, puppets, and inventive projections to tell the moving tale of these animals.

Don’t let that description fool you — this isn’t a kids show.

Rather, it’s a righteous statement about the damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon blowout, the largest off-shore oil spill in US history. And sadly, although it comes almost four years after the initial tragedy, it can still be considered timely, because the environment is still dealing with the fallout.

At the performance on March 20, Robin Madel and Kyle Rabin of Grace Communications Foundation were on hand to lead a talkback on the environmental issues of the show. It was a great way to follow up the performance, and GSAS! was there to record it — it’s presented here in its entirety.

Don’t worry if you don’t remember just what happened in the Gulf in April of 2010; a brave audience member sums it up nicely in the discussion, before Robin & Kyle discuss the effects of this and other oil spills, what prompted David to write the play, and Heather’s fear (and ultimate triumph) of directing this “impossible to direct” play.

“Don’t eat bluefin tuna…BLACKOUT.”

Manhattan Theatre Works presents

Dark Water

by David Stallings
directed by Heather Cohn

3 remaining performances
Thursday, March 27 @ 8PM
Friday, March 28 @ 8PM
Saturday, March 29 @ 8PM

The 14th Street Y
344 E. 14th Street
Manhattan

tickets: $18 ($15 students/$12 seniors) available via OvationTix

Manhattan Theatre Works presents "Dark Water" by David Stallings, directed by Heather CohnManhattan Theatre Works presents "Dark Water" by David Stallings, directed by Heather CohnManhattan Theatre Works presents "Dark Water" by David Stallings, directed by Heather CohnManhattan Theatre Works presents "Dark Water" by David Stallings, directed by Heather CohnManhattan Theatre Works presents "Dark Water" by David Stallings, directed by Heather Cohn

Emily Schwend, Jay Stull, and Boo Killebrew of “Take Me Back”

The Kindling Theatre Company presents Take Me BackWe all make terrible decisions at some point. With any luck, those terrible decisions only lead to some heartache, or maybe just some slight lingering shame, perhaps a small scar or two.

But for some terrible decisions, the consequences are a bit more dire — like a four-year stint in federal prison, which is what happens to the character of Bill in Emily Schwend‘s excellent new play directed by Jay Stull for The Kindling Theatre Company, Take Me Back. A short time after Bill’s release, he’s back living with his Mom, trying to help her take care of herself, trying to get his life back on track, trying to settle his relationship with old flame Julie (played by Boo Killebrew), and trying to get his truck running again. But opportunities don’t come easy for an ex-con in Muskogee, OK (yes, that Muskogee).

This play succeeds, as I point out in the interview, in marrying the political and personal — it’s one that kept me thinking after I left the room, which is one of the best compliments I can pay to a theatrical production. Go see this show.

Listen in as Emily, Jay, Boo, and I discuss writing close to home, systematic inequality vs. flawed character, paying for bad decisions, and why this very American play is important for New York City right now.

“Is it possible to be good as a person in places where there is no opportunity for improvement, or employment…?”

The Kindling Theatre Company presents

Take Me Back

by Emily Schwend
directed by Jay Stull

February 28–March 22
three remaining performances!
Thursday, March 20 @ 8pm
Friday, March 21 @ 8pm
Saturday, March 22 @ 8pm

Walkerspace
46 Walker Street
Manhattan

tickets available via SmartTix

The Kindling Theatre Company presents Take Me Back The Kindling Theatre Company presents Take Me Back The Kindling Theatre Company presents Take Me Back The Kindling Theatre Company presents Take Me Back The Kindling Theatre Company presents Take Me Back

photos by Russ Rowland

Katharine McLeod, writer/performer of “My High-Heeled Life: Or, How I Learned to Keep Worrying and Love My Stilettos”

Katharine McLeod in "My High-Heeled Life: Or, How I Learned to Keep Worrying and Love My Stilettos"You probably remember that old saying, “The clothes make the man.”

And while you might want to dispute it, or actively fight it (my stint as a goody-two-shoes honors student male with long hair in high school was my small form of personal resistance), it wouldn’t be an idiom if a good number of people along the way didn’t find some ring of truth to it.

The performativity of what we prefer to wear — in her case, specifically, stilettos — intrigued actress Katherine McLeod to the point she had to write a show about it, appropriately titled My High-Heeled Life: Or, How I Learned to Keep Worrying and Love My Stilettos, which is currently running as part of the Frigid New York festival at Under St. Marks.

Listen in as Katharine and I discuss shoes as battleground, the long (and proper) title of her piece, and not having to apologize for those things that bring you joy.

“…what assumptions do you make about me based on what I wear? And, should I stop because you’re making those assumptions? Or, should I push back, and show my true colors, should I show all parts of me…”

Sparking Fuse presents

My High-Heeled Life: Or, How I Learned to Keep Worrying and Love My Stilettos

written and performed by Katharine McLeod
directed by Rod Ceballos

part of the Frigid New York festival

two remaining performances!
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 5:30pm
Friday, March 7, 2014, 7:05pm

Under St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place
Manhattan

tickets available via SmartTix

Katharine McLeod in "My High-Heeled Life: Or, How I Learned to Keep Worrying and Love My Stilettos" Katharine McLeod in "My High-Heeled Life: Or, How I Learned to Keep Worrying and Love My Stilettos"

Cristina Lundy of NY Shakespeare Exchange, on “Othello” and the upcoming ShakesBEER

The New York Shakespeare Exchange recently presented Othello, setting the play’s Venice in a contemporary urban setting, with the Bard’s military officers becoming ranking police officers.

For adapter/director Cristina Lundy, the analogues between Shakespeare’s tragedy set amidst the jealousies of military officers, and the contemporary world of police work—especially in “stop & frisk”-era NYC, where those who are trusted to protect, can be the ones most feared—made this production all the more urgent to present.

While the production has closed from the posting of this episode, I’d highly recommend a listen to this interview, because NY Shakespeare Exchange has got some really interesting stuff going on—like The Sonnet Project, featuring video adaptations of all 154 sonnets, and the upcoming ShakesBEER, which…well, listen to the episode for Christina to explain it. It sounds amazing, and it’s coming up very soon…

Listen in as Cristina and I discuss hidden off-off-Broadway gems, drinking with the Bard, and how Shakespeare can be for everyone.

“The people we most want, in a way, are the people who don’t think they like Shakespeare, and let us convince them otherwise…”

Next up from New York Shakespeare Exchange: ShakesBEER!

New York Shakespeare Exchange ShakesBEER

Clay Edmonds, Janet Jenness, and Aurora Heimbach of “OCD: or, The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson”

Gobsmacked Productions presents "OCD: The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson"I think of Hedda Gabler as one of those Mount Everest sort of shows; “exciting and daunting,” as one of the guests on today’s episode puts it.

The ideas and challenges of Ibsen’s classic are brought smack-dab between the play’s original 1890 setting and the modern day, in Gobsmacked! Productions’ 1950s-set re-telling entitled OCD: or, The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson. Gobsmacked producers Clay Edmonds and Janet Jenness share directing duties with Clay’s original script, and the (fabulous) actress Aurora Heimbach takes on the tragic heroine, known here as Henrietta Henderson; that’s her with the rifle in the photos below.

Listen in as Clay, Janet, Aurora and I discuss setting Clay’s favorite play in the 1950s, their personal relationships with that archetypical era in their choice of location (the American South), and what it’s like to take on the challenge of one of theatre’s most iconic roles.

“…I thought translating this piece into the ’50s was totally genius…that veneer of the ’50s, that painted on, plastic, ‘everything’s great’ was this even more concrete obstacle that I think helped with the claustrophobia of this woman who is trying to reconcile her own aspirations with the reality of the hand that she’s dealt…”

Gobsmacked Productions presents

OCD: or, The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson

by Clay Edmonds
directed by Clay Edmonds and Janet Jenness

February 4–16, 2014
only 3 shows remaining!
February 15 @ 8PM
February 16 @ 1PM
February 16 @ 8PM

Walkerspace
46 Walker Street
Manhattan

tickets available via Brown Paper Tickets

Gobsmacked Productions presents "OCD: The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson"Gobsmacked Productions presents "OCD: The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson" Gobsmacked Productions presents "OCD: The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson"Gobsmacked Productions presents "OCD: The Trouble with Mrs. Henderson"

Tara Gadomski, playwright, Illana Stein, director, and Robert A. K. Gonyo, actor, of “The Offering”

Tara Gadomski, Illana Stein, and Robert A. K. Gonyo of The Offering

I make this podcast because I love sound, and I love theatre; Go See a Show! is a great way to unite the two.

And I’m an amateur sound-designer, and make radio dramas, for much the same reason.

For this episode of the podcast, those two worlds — sound about theatre, and sound in the theatre — collide. My guests are playwright Tara Gadomski and director Illana Stein, with whom I have a conversation about our production of The Offering.

For a bit of context: the play was originally written & recorded for Radio COTE, the radio-play festival I produce with my company Co-Op Theatre East — you can check out the original performance on iTunes. We all loved the play so much that Tara adapted it into a stage version, which is currently running in The Network One-Act Festival (with your humble GSAS! narrator doing live foley onstage). And in this shameless-self-promotion episode, we talk about this great little one-act, which to me is about the power of art, that we’d all love for you to come see.

Listen in as Tara, Illana, and I discuss making a radio play into a stage play, the beauty of language, “the question,” and getting (and keeping) power.

“…you just got compared to Shakespeare…”
“…let’s not go so far…”

The Offering

by Tara Gadomski*
directed by Illana Stein

featuring Alex Alcheh*, Jennifer Tsay, Anni Rebecca Weisband, and Robert A. K. Gonyo

*member Actors Equity Association

The Network One-Act Festival
The Network
242 W. 36th Street, 3rd Floor
Manhattan

performances:
Saturday, February 8 at 6pm
Sunday, February 9 at 8:30pm

Tickets available via SmartTIx

More info on the Facebook event page

Elly Smokler, Emilie Soffe, actors, and director Lisa Szolovits of “We Were Nothing!”

We Were Nothing! featuring Elly Smokler & Emilie Soffe Photo by Crystal ArnetteIf you’ve seen any press about We Were Nothing!, the first thing you probably noticed was that you don’t know where you can see it. The play, written by Will Arbery, is being performed in an undisclosed location of a private home.

…well, maybe that’s the second thing you noticed. According to the interviewees of this episode, actors Elly Smokler and Emilie Soffe and director Lisa Szolovits, the title has been the first thing that’s caught most people’s attention, because of its embarrassment factor. Maybe it speaks to my awkwardness that I didn’t think anything of the title until they brought it up…

Regardless, the unique qualities of the show don’t end there. For example, the two characters spend most of the show occupying the same physical space during the show, but not in the world of the play. They also don’t really talk about much of anything; however, that doesn’t mean their relationship isn’t lovingly fleshed out by the excellent actors portraying them.

What else? Listen to the episode to find out, as Elly, Emilie, Lisa and I discuss how to pronounce the title of your show when it ends in an exclamation point, vapid language as masking among intelligent people, why you should make theatre in a home, and pilfering actors’ real-life dialogue to create a script.

“…really what we’ve done in this space is we’ve created a theatre space in a home…I always really like when I go to see a play and I feel like I’ve been part of a community of some kind…there’s sort of a sense of, ‘we’re here to share this experience…’”

We Were Nothing!

written by Will Arbery
directed by Lisa Szolovits

thru February 9, 2014
Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM
Sundays at 5PM

Tickets: $20, available via artful.ly

We Were Nothing! featuring Elly Smokler & Emilie Soffe Photo by Crystal Arnette We Were Nothing! featuring Elly Smokler & Emilie Soffe Photo by Crystal Arnette We Were Nothing! featuring Elly Smokler & Emilie Soffe Photo by Crystal Arnette We Were Nothing! featuring Elly Smokler & Emilie Soffe Photo by Crystal Arnettephotos by Crystal Arnette

 

Chris Van Strander and David Koteles, playwrights of “Edison’s Elephant”

"Edison's Elephant," by Chris Van Strander and David KotelesIn 1903, Thomas Edison publicly electrocuted Topsy the elephant at Coney Island, in a demonstration of the “dangers” of alternating current. The event was filmed by Edison, later becoming a huge hit as the new ‘moving pictures’ were shown across the country.

So, how does one dramatize such a sad, momentous, and gruesome story from last century for the modern stage? In the case of Edison’s Elephant, playing as part of the Gilded Stage Festival at the Metropolitan Playhouse, you start with not one, but two talented playwrights — Chris Van Strander, and David Koteles.

Listen in as Chris and David discuss the circumstances that led them to join forces to write the play, the tension between exploitation and enjoying the fruits of that exploitation, and the similarities between Gilded Age and modern-day America.

“…everybody for the past few months has been asking me, ‘what’s your new play about?’ and I said, ‘it’s about Thomas Edison executing an elephant,’ and everybody sort of looks at me like, ‘what in the name of God are you talking about?’ And so if that piques your curiosity at all, you should definitely come down and see the show…”

Metropolitan Playhouse presents

Edison’s Elephant

by Chris Van Strander and David Koteles

part of the Gilded Stage Festival

Metropolitan Playhouse
220 E. 4th Street
Manhattan

2 remaining performances!
Friday, January 24 @ 9PM
Saturday, January 25 at 1PM

Tickets: $10.99, available via BrownPaperTickets

"Edison's Elephant," by Chris Van Strander and David Koteles "Edison's Elephant," by Chris Van Strander and David Koteles "Edison's Elephant," by Chris Van Strander and David Koteles "Edison's Elephant," by Chris Van Strander and David Koteles "Edison's Elephant," by Chris Van Strander and David Kotelesphotos from BroadwayWorld.com

 

Liz Muller, Collin Simon, and the cast of “Columbia: The Life and Death of Rospo D. Oro”

Pipe Dream Theatre presents "Columbia: The Life & Death of Rospo D. Oro"I’ll admit, I’m not much of a musical guy.

But if anyone’s going to convince me otherwise, Pipe Dream Theatre has got a great shot at it.

After two new Christmas musicals based on classic tales — The Nutcracker in 2012, and 3 Ghosts in 2011 (listen to the company’s first GSAS! appearance here) — the steam-punk geniuses behind Pipe Dream, Liz Muller (lyrics & direction) and Collin Simon (book and music) return with a new musical based on Kenneth Grahame’s classic The Wind in the Willows called Columbia: The Life and Death of Rospo D. Oro.

Listen in as Liz, Colin, and the cast discuss playing in a dentist’s chair, in a driveway, in 40-degree weather; drawing inspiration from Pink Floyd’s The Wall; and what it’s like putting together an original musical on such a large scale.

“…what she created was so much better than what I had in my brain…I love when they come with ideas…”

Pipe Dream Theatre presents

Columbia: The Life and Death of Rospo D. Oro

music and book by Collin Simon
lyrics by Liz Muller
inspired by Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows

directed & musical directed by Liz Muller

3 performances left!
Friday, January 24 @ 8PM
Saturday, January 25 @ 2PM
Saturday, January 25 @ 8PM

The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row
410 W. 42nd Street
Manhattan

Tickets available via TeleCharge

Pipe Dream Theatre presents "Columbia: The Life & Death of Rospo D. Oro" Pipe Dream Theatre presents "Columbia: The Life & Death of Rospo D. Oro" Pipe Dream Theatre presents "Columbia: The Life & Death of Rospo D. Oro" Pipe Dream Theatre presents "Columbia: The Life & Death of Rospo D. Oro" Pipe Dream Theatre presents "Columbia: The Life & Death of Rospo D. Oro" Pipe Dream Theatre presents "Columbia: The Life & Death of Rospo D. Oro"

Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSane, writers of “Island Girls”

"Island Girls" by Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSaneHow does one go from writing contemporary comedies to writing historically-based musicals, reintroducing certain figures who popular culture have largely forgotten?

As Island Girls director/co-author Barbara Kahn notes in our conversation, she made that transition out of a desire to make social change. And although this play is set in 1927 at the women’s prison on Welfare Island, it’s surprising (and, I’m this case, sad) just how much things stay the same, no matter how much they change — the social change needed in the 1920′s is pretty similar to change we need now, in 2014.

Listen in as Barbara and co-author/composer Noelle LuSane discuss their “fluid, organic process,” why you should speak up for your artistic talents, and how you turn the history of a women’s prison into a musical.

“I think artistic talent is transferable….when somebody offers something like that, I usually jump on it.”

Theater for the New City presents

Island Girls

written by Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSane
directed by Barbara Kahn and Robert Gonzales, Jr.

Theater for the New City’s Cino Theater
155 First Avenue
Manhattan

January 9–26, 2014
Thursdays–Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm

Tickets: $12, available via SmartTix

"Island Girls" by Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSane "Island Girls" by Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSane "Island Girls" by Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSane "Island Girls" by Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSane