The Playwrights & Directors of “The Refugee Plays”

THE REFUGEE PLAYS in The Frigid Festival 2017Listen in as playwrights Charles Gershman (also the Artistic Director of the producing company, Snowy Owl), Callie KimballCarlos Castro, and Sean E. Cunningham, as well as directors Rachel Dart, Logan Reed, and Dan Dinero, discuss the influence of current events, tragedy in timeless stories, superficial logic, how the outside world seeps into the rehearsal room, ethical casting, how to unite a series of short plays, and what theatre is supposed to do in difficult times.

“…I don’t think any of us want to have to write plays about topics like these, but things are pretty bad right now, and so I think we all responded to the sort of global call to draw attention to an issue that we think is important right now…”

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Kristin Heckler, Sarah Raimondi, Jacob-Sebastian Phillips, & Pauline Sherrow of “Exposed”

Recognize Theatre presents EXPOSEDListen in as Exposed creator and director Kristin Heckler, along with the cast & co-creators, Sarah Raimondi, Jacob-Sebastian Phillips, and Pauline Sherrow, discuss getting over your prejudices, development with your actors, becoming friends with your show’s real-life protagonist, audience reactions to a show about porn (like recognizing the entire porn soundtrack…), playing depravity with humanity, and why porn isn’t something that just exists behind a screen.

“…the subject matter is intense, and I’ve been very pleased that we’re getting audiences that are having authentic reactions, and allowing themselves to feel it…I think we’ve created a safe space for people to experience all of those emotions…everybody is allowed to have their own experience, and it seems to be leaving a message.”

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Jeff Wise and David Kenner of “DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA”

Wheelhouse Theater Company presents DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICAListen in as DANNYKRISDONNAVERONICA director Jeff Wise, along with fellow company member David Kenner, discuss the approaching mid-life crisis, describing your play like an iceberg, heavy rooms, the future of Wheelhouse Theater Company, searching for technical interns, and finding your personal joy.

“…we’re really just honing in on who we are. Rather than talking about it, and saying ‘this is who we wanna be, now let’s do that,’ we’re just throwing it against the wall, and being, like, ‘what do we like? what do we not like?’ and we’re continuing to refine ourselves vis a vis the work…”

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Skylar Fox & Simon Henriques of “Providence, RI”

Nightdrive presents PROVIDENCE, RI at The TankListen in as the co-creators of Providence, RI, Skylar Fox (who directs) and Simon Henriques (who performs in the show) discuss their company Nightdrive‘s process, why they used Providence as their subject (and what it was like to explain the place to someone who’s never been there), misdirecting your audience, and where their piece fits in the world in January 2017.

“…we’re actually trying to do new things to communicate in uniquely effective ways with an audience…”

“Yeah, we’re trying to do experimental theatre that’s FUN…” Continue reading

Charlotte Ahlin, Emily Lyon, Danielle Cohn, and Jacque Emord-Netzley of “The Summoning”

Fat Knight Theatre presents THE SUMMONING, written by Charlotte Ahlin, part of Winterfest 2017Listen in as The Summoning playwright & actor Charlotte Ahlin and director Emily Lyon, later joined by the rest of the cast, Danielle Cohn and Jacque Emord-Netzley, discuss inspiration from college issues, finding the rhythm of the play, feeling the pull of the dark forces of the occult, the benefit of working with friends when you’re working with constraints, and why you gotta make ’em laugh.

“…I think a lot of those insecurities that everyone feels go into this…and then, of course, the natural extension of that is, when you’re afraid of the unknown of the future…you’re going to want to summon some demon-spawn from hell to protect you…” Continue reading

Kristin McCarthy Parker, Nick Abeel, and Kyle Schaefer of “KEVIN!!!!!”

Recent Cutbacks presents KEVIN!!!!! at The PITThe mad comedic & theatrical geniuses of Recent Cutbacks are back with a holiday show—and given the title of KEVIN!!!!!, you can probably figure out which Chris Columbus classic they’re covering this time around.

As with their wonderful past shows covered by GSAS!—Hold on to Your Butts and Fly, You Fools!—the team has made something at once instantly recognizable and wonderfully original that had the audience on the night I attended rapt, awestruck, laughing hysterically, and yet still touched by heartwarming holiday feels.

Listen in as the core company of director Kristin McCarthy Parker and actors Nick Abeel & Kyle Schaefer discuss the process of making this wonderfully creative piece, nostalgia, “making your stuff and putting it out there,” creating an experience that’s a shared communal joy among audience and performer, and why the world might need this kind of show right now.

“…we’re not giving you all of the pieces. We’re giving you 5 out of 10, or 8 out of 10, maybe sometimes, of the pieces. But you’re doing the last little bit to realize it in your mind. And I think that level of engagement with the piece…is such an enjoyable way to watch theatre…”

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Therese Plaehn and Peter Richards of “Anna Christie”

Working Barn Productions presents Eugene O'Neill's ANNA CHRISTIE, directed by Peter RichardsIn the landscape of independent theatre in New York, classical theatre can sometimes get lost. Our efforts to create something new, to challenge the status quo and stand out are laudable. But sometimes, we forget that a century-old play can still do that work—a good story, well-told, can often challenge and move audiences just as much, if not more, than newly devised work.

That’s certainly the case this month at The Wild Project, where Working Barn Productions is presenting Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Anna Christie. It’s a story about an independent woman, searching for her place in a world run by men.

Go See A Show! correspondent Tara Gadomski recently saw the show and sat down with director Peter Richards and actor Therese Plaehn to talk about how O’Neill “directs from afar” by writing his character’s dialects phonetically, the benefits of producing works in the public domain, and the fact that O’Neill’s plays can time travel very well.

“It was written almost 100 years ago but it features a lead protagonist who has a very feminist point of view and says things you’d find in contemporary drama, so it’s kind of eye-opening for me to to realize, ‘oh my god this is Eugene O’Neill, early O’Neill, and it feels pretty contemporary’…”

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Matt Steiner and Stan Richardson of “Private Manning Goes to Washington”

The Representatives present Private Manning Goes to WashingtonInformation is power. But information often comes with a price tag.

What do you do if you believe at your core that information must be made available to all who seek it?

And how do you mitigate the possible effects of opening up information, when it has the potential to cause harm—perhaps to a loved one, perhaps to the state? Maybe, through your efforts at sunlight, you could make the world a better place, but at what cost?

And, just what can theatre do about all of this?

These questions, and more, are at the heart of The RepresentativesPrivate Manning Goes to Washington, a play that opens with internet and political activist Aaron Swartz and a childhood friend, and eventually explores a secret meeting between whistle-blower Chelsea Manning and President Barack Obama on the last day of Obama’s presidency…

Listen in as the collaborators who form The Representatives, Stan Richardson and Matt Steiner (both co-direct, Richardson wrote the script, and Steiner plays Swartz), discuss the radical intimacy of producing in apartments, imagining how one activist could try to help another activist while actively under investigation, the benefits of getting the artists and audience in closer proximity, throwing post-show parties, and why we don’t need more martyrs: we need everyone.

“We have a strong sense of occasion. It’s enormously meaningful for a group of people to get together and sit and watch something. An so often in traditional theatre, there’s obviously a separation between the artist and the audience that becomes almost hierarchical…”

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Melissa Moschitto, Malini Singh McDonald, Alex Randrup, Brian Demar Jones, Jean Goto, Mariah Freda, and Michael Ables of “No Man’s Land”

The Anthropologists present NO MAN'S LAND, photo by Victoria Medina PhotographyWhat do you do if your daughter wants to be a real-life princess?

If you’re Jeremiah Heaton, you buy a plot of land in Africa, call it North Sudan, and make your little girl’s dream come true.

But as the poster, at left, for The Anthropologists’ No Man’s Land attests, fantasy endings like this can become something else entirely once your eyes are opened to the realities of life in the 21st Century. The very real, very complicated issues of colonialism, racism, capitalism, gender, and more come to the fore of the fairy tale in this devised show, currently playing at TheaterLab in Manhattan.

Listen in as director/writer Melissa Moschitto, assistant director/assistant producer Alex Randrup, producer Malini Singh McDonald, and actors Brian Demar Jones, Jean Goto, Mariah Freda, and Michael Ables discuss their devising process, a nice suit that doesn’t quite fit you, finding a way to get 99.9% of what you want while producing without an off-Broadway budget, and finding the play through failing to find the way to tell the story.

“…those are the parts that resonate the most, when suddenly we’re just having a conversation. And it allows you to kind of have those thoughts performed for you by people…I feel like a lot of people, when it comes to the issues of this country […] you start just echoing the same thoughts, the first round of arguments. And I think what’s so great about this show is that it lets you kind of get past that…”

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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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