Chesney Snow & Rebecca Arends of “The Unwritten Law”

THE UNWRITTEN LAW, created and performed by Chesney Snow with direction and choreography by Rebecca Arends, at Dixon PlaceListen in as The Unwritten Law co-creator & performer Chesney Snow, along with co-creator, director, performer & choreographer Rebecca Arends, discuss working with collaborators who can help turn your story into art, making “something different,” microphones and music, “the magic that happens between people onstage,” American issues, and how sound and movement come together to tell this very personal story.

“…I tell people, they’re coming to see a story of America…we’re looking at black life, and I’m hoping they’ll be able to follow the journey of where we’ve come from…I don’t want to preach at people, but I would love for people to hear the story, and maybe they’ll have a different perspective on some of the things that are happening today…”

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Kevin R. Free, Matthew Trumbull, and Rocío Mendez of “Marian, or, The True Tale of Robin Hood”

Flux Theatre Ensemble presents MARIAN, OR, THE TRUE TALE OF ROBIN HOOD by Adam Szymkowicz, directed by Kelly O'Donnell, at The New OhioListen in as actors Kevin R. Free and Matthew Trumbull, along with fight choreographer Rocío Mendez of Flux Theatre Ensemble‘s new show, Marian, or, The True Tale of Robin Hood discuss exploring the binary, realizing you’re on the wrong team, conformity vs. finding your tribe, cuckoo-birds in power, not working so hard to make yourself irresistible, and being in a room together through the dark times.

“Even joy these days seems somewhat defiant…the joy of the show is a statement, too. We live in times where allowing yourself to laugh is a political act, because it feels like we’re not supposed to…it feels like a bit of a revelation when people come here, and realize, ‘oh, I forgot about comedy…I forgot about what it’s like to release in that way…'”

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Yuriy Pavlish and Mitch McCoy of “Coriolanus: From Man to Dragon”

Coriolanus: From Man to Dragon, adapted from William Shakespeare by Omri Kadim, presented by Combative Theatre Company and Shakespeare in the SquareThere’s some pretty intense fighting in many of Shakespeare’s works—intense fighting that, in most productions, gets pared down to a couple of sword-clinks in the absence of a skilled fight choreographer, actors prepared to follow said choreography, and the budget and space to make that choreography come to life. Sadly, this is especially true in the independent theatre…

In the case of Combative Theatre, and their partners in Shakespeare in the Square, however, the fight is put front and center. For their show Coriolanus: From Man to Dragon, Omri Kadim adapts the tragedy to really get to its combative core. And as you’ll hear from the background noise in this interview, there’s more than just a few sword-and-shield hits to be seen…

Listen in as director Yuriy Pavlish and fight director Mitch McCoy discuss how they fill in what’s missing from most productions of Coriolanus, finding the right actors for your fight-heavy show, bringing together theatre companies, resonance with current events, and when you should hold on to a production.

“…my belief is that if you just tell the story that Shakespeare put down, and not try to twist it to an agenda, and really ask yourself, ‘what was Shakespeare trying to say?’ and just do it, you will find all of the connections you need to current events, and a thousand years ago, and a thousand years from now…”

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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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Ben Schnickel, Alisha Spielmann, Heather E. Cunningham, and Ricardo Rust of “The Butter and Egg Man”

Retro Productions presents The Butter and Egg Man, written by George S. Kaufman, directed by Ricardo RustProducing independent theatre is a difficult game.

So a play about producing theatre, where the title is slang for a sucker who puts a lot of money into a theatrical venture he doesn’t truly understand…it might hit a little too close to home.

But Retro Productions is always a safe bet, which is what brought this microphone & podcast man to see their production of George S. Kaufman’s The Butter and Egg Man—and I found out that it did hit, in all the right places.

Listen in as director Ricardo Rust and cast members Ben Schnickel, Alisha Spielmann, and Heather E. Cunningham (Retro’s Producing Artistic Director, and past podcast guest!) discuss going back to the 1920s, choreographing your scene changes, how to deal with the unexpected onstage, and producing plays about producing plays.

“‘…it’s so fun to watch what’s happening onstage just like I’m the audience, and laugh at it…whether it be the actual play I’m laughing at, or whether it be scenery falling down, it’s funny, and you get to laugh at it…’
‘That’s kind of what’s so great about theatre…'”

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Edward Einhorn, Patrice Miller, and Gyda Arber of “Money Lab”

Untitled Theater Company #61 presents MONEY LAB at HERE Arts CenterIf you’re listening to this podcast, then it’s very likely you’re all-too-familiar with the sometimes-insurmountable-seeming economic barriers to creating independent theatre in New York (for info on some of the groups that are working to make it better, go back and listen to GSAS! Episode 150, on the Crisis to Creation Town Hall event).

But what about actively exploring economic realities on stage, as part of your theatre? How would you do that?

Economists said it wouldn’t be possible, but Untitled Theater Company #61‘s Edward Einhorn has proven them wrong with Money Lab. Billed as “an economic vaudeville,” you’re in for a night of scenes, music, dance, and performance around economic themes, running in a repertory style with different bills each night, all while two economies are created for (and by) the audience, and tracked in real-time.

Listen in as Edward, along with choreographer & assistant producer Patrice Miller and co-creator of the economic game performance Gyda Arber, discuss how you find an economist to perform in your independent theatre piece, finding the meaning of abstract economic terms through dance, determining the value of an artist’s time, and bailouts after bad bets by audience-members. Continue reading

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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