Nick Benacerraf, Jess Chayes, Stephen Aubrey, and Jax Jackson of “SEAGULLMACHINE”

La Mama E.T.C., in association with The Assembly, presents SEAGULLMACHINE, created by The Assembly, conceived by Nick Benacerraf, co-directed by Jess Chayes & Nick BenacerrafListen in as collaborators on The Assembly’s SEAGULLMACHINE—conceiver/co-director Nick Benacerraf, co-director Jess Chayes, dramaturg Steven Aubrey, and performer Jax Jackson—discuss layering multiple theatrical sources, permission to find points of resonance, turning on a dime, the company’s development process, finding new roles through that process, bringing an audience into a world “oozing word-slime,” different versions of ourselves, and the question of whether or not theatre can produce change.

“…every night, by a certain time in the play, it feels like we’re also just people, human beings in a room with our audience. And that has been one of the most special experiences of it, to me…”

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Heather E. Cunningham, Gina Femia, Chad Anthony Miller, & Ben Schnickel of “We Are a Masterpiece”

Retro Productions presents WE ARE A MASTERPIECE, written by Gina Femia, directed by DeLisa M. WhiteListen in as Retro Productions Producing Artistic Director (and “Joan” in the show) Heather E. Cunningham, along with fellow performers Chad Anthony Miller & Ben Schnickel and playwright Gina Femia of We Are a Masterpiece, discuss multiple lenses, levity in the midst of suffering, what makes a play “aggressively contemporary” (and where that fits into the “retro” of Retro Productions), “the cyclical nature of prejudice,” healing through art, universality through specificity, what we’re capable of, and making the choice of love.

“…there’s always hope. Hope is always the way through tragedy, and despair. Yes, this is a very sad story, and yes, you will cry, and we cry. But there are beautiful things that happen when people, in the face of adversity, step up to the plate and do what’s best for their fellow human beings…”

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Ran Xia, Nicholas Orvis, Andrea Lopez, and Max Henry of “Echo”

The Tank presents ECHO, written by Ran Xia, directed by Nicholas OrvisListen in as Echo creator & sound sculptor Ran Xia, along with director Nicholas Orvis and performers Andrea Lopez & Max Henry, discuss inspiration from books about harmonicas, moving from sound collage to stage play, improvising to audio, physicality with constantly changing things, handling nakedly honest material, timelessness vs. time specificity, and the importance of simply listening.

“…when I was editing them, it’s like, I could cry, like every second, every other track, because everybody was just so open, and very real. You get real very fast…”

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Elizabeth Hess, Katie Palmer, and Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed of “Love Trade”

La Mama and The Hess Collective present LOVE TRADE, written and directed by Elizabeth HessListen in as Love Trade writer/director/performer Elizabeth Hess, along with collaborators/performers Katie Palmer and Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed, discuss their collaborative process, feminist revenge fantasies, integrating and playing with the audience, fetishization of race, balloons, lived text, and performance poetry.

“…it’s a very hybrid approach to performance, and I am a magpie. I am thrilled that Lucas is foremost a musician…Katie is also herself an artistic director, and she’s got an incredibly strong dance background. I beg, borrow, and steal from that […] create [your] own hybrid approach that really resonates with [your] own voice and vision…”

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Jessica Burr of “Platonov, or, A Play with No Name”

Blessed Unrest presents PLATONOV, or, A Play with No Name, translated and adapted by Laura Wickens from the play by Anton Chekhov, directed by Jessica BurrListen in as Blessed Unrest Artistic Director and director of Platanov, or, A Play with No NameJessica Burr, discusses the company’s staging process for the round, adapting early Chekhov, finding the humanity in “dreadful” people, putting the audience in the world of the characters, sleepless nights thanks to blocking, and the similarities between this 140-year-old play and our current world.

“…I guess for me, ultimately, I don’t go to the theatre to see Platonov, or to see Hamlet. I go to the theatre to see actors, to see human beings being exposed…that’s really what I want to see. Of course it’s story, it’s narrative, it’s context, but it’s really about the humans, we put these humans in this situation, and we watch and see what they do. And hopefully we learn from them.”

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Emma Miller, Abby Awe, Julia Greer, & Eva Ravenal of “Athena”

The Hearth presents ATHENA, written by Gracie Gardner, directed by Emma Miller, at JACKListen in as director Emma Miller and the full cast of AthenaAbby Awe, Julia Greer, and Eva Ravenal—discuss learning how to fence for the show, script development in the room, “navigating how to be a person,” shocking rarity, working from the inside out, tapping into the extremities of being a teenager, and the simply radical.

“…we are enthusiastic about plays that take seriously what it feels like to grow up in a female body. I think this play takes really seriously what it feels like to make friends, and what it feels like to navigate the world as a young woman…”

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Alexander V. Thompson, Brad Raimondo, Greg Carere, Simon Winheld, & Rosie Sowa of “Pete Rex”

The Dreamscape Theatre presents PETE REX, written by Alexander V. Thompson, directed by Brad RaimondoListen in as the team behind the world premiere of Pete Rex—playwright Alexander V. Thompson, director Brad Raimondo, and performers Greg Carere, Simon Winheld, and Rosie Sowa—discuss the uses & dangers of fantasy, making your hometown a central character in your script, eerie resonance with the political moment, fun actor challenges, familiarity with the characters and situations onstage, loving someone while hating their inaction, crossing Ionesco with Albee, and, of course, dinosaurs.

“…this place that had been something, and turned into kind of a ‘non-place’ through the loss of industry, and the loss of jobs, and the economy. And we were all, ‘that feels like it should be in here now’…I think that’s something that we really want people to take away…the experience of these places…that have gone from thriving, to nowhere, and what that does to people…”

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Lynnea Benson, Marcus Watson, Amy Frances Quint, Erick Gonzalez, Kyle Primack, and Kevin Hauver of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Frog and Peach Theatre Company presents William Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, directed by Lynnea BensonListen in as director Lynnea Benson and performers Marcus Watson, Amy Frances Quint, Erick Gonzalez, Kyle Primack, and Kevin Hauver of Frog & Peach Theatre Company‘s new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, discuss why the company returned to the forest outside of Athens, bucket-list roles, the politics of Midsummer, playing different roles in the same play after six years, trusting collaborators to push you in new and exciting directions, and how to not only give the audience what they want, but what you think they might need.

“…we wanted something that could also reach out to families with children, and younger people, people who think they know Midsummer but maybe don’t know it the Frog & Peach way. Also, we never miss an opportunity with the present company to do a comedy…”

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Hannah Sloat, Jack Sochet, Noelle Franco, and Ted Caine of “Jericho”

Attic Theater Company presents JERICHO, written by Michael Weller, directed by Laura BrazaListen in as Attic Theater Company‘s executive director Ted Caine, and cast members Hannah Sloat, Jack Sochet, and Noelle Franco of the company’s world premiere production of Jericho by Michael Weller, discuss working with the playwright in the room, loving and hating your protagonist, “having the conversation,” perspective from present day vs. the time of the play’s action, “doing the do of the play,” complicating the motives of your characters, and the importance of presenting hits that absolutely do not feel like kisses.

“…the only person that can change is you […] Just as he has to figure out how he’s going to change, the audience has to figure out how they’re going to change…”

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Craig Smith, Lori Parquet, Ariel Estrada, Elise Stone, Stacey Raymond, and Layan Elwazani of “The Cult Play”

Phoenix Theatre Ensemble presents THE CULT PLAY, written by Topher Cusumano and directed by Irene LazaridisListen in as Phoenix Theatre Ensemble‘s producing artistic director Craig Smith, along with performers Lori Parquet, Ariel Estrada, Elise Stone, Stacey Raymond, and Layan Elwazani of the company’s world premiere production of Topher Cusumano’s The Cult Play, discuss the play’s resonance with the current zeitgeist, how defense of one’s identity can put others in harm’s way, technology’s place in telling a story in the theatre, killing different characters in different drafts, surviving cults, what we believe and why we believe it, “truth” vs. “certainty,” and the responsibility of not just the leader, but of those who choose to follow them.

“…2.5 million Americans have been in cults in the past 30 or 40 years. It’s pretty widespread, and I think cults are enormously interesting. I think all of us, on some level, feel wounded, and maybe a bit fragile, and I think we’re more fragile than we think that we are, and we come under the spell of these folks like Mama Pearl […]”
“You don’t have to go political with this play. If you’re on Instagram, or Twitter, or whatever, you already follow someone…”

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