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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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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