Daria Miyeko Marinelli and Elana McKelahan of “Untamable”

Highly Impractical Theatre and The Unsoft War present Untamable, written by Daria Miyeko Marinelli and directed by Elana McKelahanEver wanted to watch as a major heist unfolds in front of your eyes? Not on film, but actually happening right in front of you?

Thanks to the magic of immersive theatre, you can. Daria Miyeko Marinelli and Elana McKelahan, the playwright and directors of Untameable, respectively, give you that opportunity in a Brooklyn church they’ve converted for the occasion.

Plus, you can see it from both sides: those trying to steal the diamond, and those trying to protect it from the thieves. And while those multiple angles come with an opportunity cost—you’re definitely going to miss some action at some point—that just gives you a great reason to meet and compare notes with your fellow theatre-goers after the show.

Listen in as Daria and Elana discuss fascination with “illegal teamwork movies,” what it takes to act in an immersive show, the opportunities for connection that this style of theatre can provide, and how to invite the audience in by breaking all the rules.

“When people leave a show and they want to talk about it, and they’re really excited about it, it is exciting to me as a creator of the show…”

“…and I love theatre that makes people talk to each other. And it’s kind of impossible to see this show with someone else, and not talk about the experience you have, because you create your own experience…”

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Katie Melby, Eric Powell Holm, and Kelly Klein of “Rise and Fall”

BREAD presents Rise and Fall“From the first it has been the theatre’s business to entertain people, as it also has of all the other arts. It is this business which always gives it its particular dignity; it needs no other passport than fun, but this is has got to have. We should not by any means be giving it a higher status if we were to turn it e.g. into a purveyor of morality; it would on the contrary run the risk of being debased, and this would occur at once if it failed to make its moral lesson enjoyable, and enjoyable to the senses at that: a principle, admittedly, by which morality can only gain….The theatre must in fact remain something entirely superfluous, though this indeed means that it is the superfluous for which we live. Nothing needs less justification than pleasure.” —Bertolt Brecht, A Short Organum for the Theatre (trans. John Willett)

I love Brecht.

It felt appropriate to include the quote above in the blog post about this episode—an interview with directors Eric Powell Holm and Katie Melby (who also stars as Jimmy Gallagher in the show), and producer Kelly Klein (who portrays Willie) of BREAD Arts Collective‘s Rise and Fall, their take on Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny—because in my opinion, they’ve succeeded in getting to the heart of Brecht’s moral lesson, while at the same time making a highly pleasurable, superfluous piece of theatre that’s a great way to enjoy a Sunday night on a Lower East Side bar.

Listen in as Katie, Eric, and Kelly discuss creating their production with the people in the collective around them, why this is the perfect show to do in a bar, why you might want to under-rehearse, reading the room, and what to do if someone calls the bar-phone in the middle of your bar-show.

“This shit will live or die on its punk rock spirit. We have to go fast, and hard, and truthful, and we must not give a fuck—that’s the only way this play will work.”

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Daniel Adams, Jason Aguirre, Sarah Burkhalter, and Chef Rick Martinez of “krāv”

Daniel Adams directs krāv, an immersive supper-club theatre experienceLet’s face it, the thought of a dinner-party with strangers can be anxiety-inducing.

But while dinner with strangers is exactly what you’re signing up for with 5 Senses Theatre‘s krāv experience, let go of any trepidation. You’re going to have a blast, and a great dinner to boot.

Listen in as director Daniel Adams, co-creators/actors Jason Aguirre and Sarah Burkhalter, and Chef Rick Martinez discuss uniting theatre with a supper-club, identifying audience archetypes, how to use food to contribute to the story, and what happens when you put the audience in the driver’s seat.

…plus, be sure to listen in to the end for a special summer cocktail recipe, courtesy of Chef Rick!

“The food is also the safety net. Even though it can poke at you…it can challenge you…in this form, it’s the audience’s safety net. Sarah and I have always been fascinated with danger, how do we capture danger…in New York, it’s close to impossible to scare people, we’re so ready for whatever…”
“But are we prepped to be at a table with strangers?”
“That’s the thing!”

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TOWN HALL: Crisis to Creation

Martin E. Segal Theater Center hosts the Crisis to Creation Town HallTo celebrate this 150th Episode of the podcast—something a little different for Go See a Show!

Instead of interviewing theatre-makers about their work, the mic is in front of the advocates who are behind various independent theatre community initiatives to make the process of making things in this city a little bit easier.

The episode was recorded at Crisis to Creation, a Town Hall hosted by the Martin E. Segal Theater Center and co-curated by Brad Burgess in collaboration with Frank Hentschker. The event brought together representatives from some of the city’s most active & innovative arts advocacy organizations, as well as the Department of Cultural Affairs Chairman Tom Finkelpearl, and the City Council Majority Leader (and this podcaster’s local councilman!), arts-champion Jimmy Van Bramer, who was presented with a special award for Civic Engagement in the Arts.

I was able to catch Councilmember Van Bramer on the mic to talk about just what civic engagement in the arts means to him, as well as several others advocating on behalf of artists in New York; he closes the podcast, but in addition to his comments, listen in to hear from:

Chris Harcum, past podcast guest, the inspiration for this episode of GSAS!, former Managing Director of the League of Independent Theater, and fierce arts advocate

August Schulenburg, Vice President of the Network of Ensemble Theaters, an organization for companies that work and create as an ensemble (and, another multiple past podcast guest!)

Laura Caparrotti, head of the League of Independent Theater’s Foreign Language Working Group, working to enhance the visibility and overcome the unique challenges of producing foreign-language theatre in New York

Heather Woodfield, Executive Director of One Percent for Culture, who are advocating the city to make city funding for culture 1% of the city’s municipal expense budget (currently, it’s .21%)

Monica Valenzuela, Deputy Director of Staten Island Arts, the organization supporting the island’s independent artists

Tamara Greenfield, Executive Director of Fourth Arts Block, the organization advancing the East 4th Street Cultural District (where a lot of shows covered on this podcast take place!)

Listen in to all these great folks discuss the incredible work they’re doing on behalf of New York’s independent arts community; and, I would encourage you (as Chris does there at the start of the episode) to join the League of Independent Theater, our community’s political advocacy organization. Membership is free, and you’ll be adding your voice to a chorus of artists advocating for the interests of independent theatre; those would be your interests, too. Come join us—we are the 99 seats (or less!).

“I love this work, I love these people…the truth is, it’s a little bit of self-interest, in the sense that politics is a difficult business to be in, and it can wear you down…but I get a lot of energy when I am around people in the arts community, and I love the vibe and I love the energy…I get stronger every time I come to something like this…” —New York City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer

Lori Wolter Hudson, adapter/director, and David Hudson, actor, of “Drunkle Vanya”

Three Day Hangover presents Drunkle VanyaTake one part Chekhov, two parts drinking game, one part party, add a dash of improv, and you’ve got a recipe for fun, boozy theatre in a bar the way only Three Day Hangover can do it.

When you love Chekhov the way adapter/director Lori Wolter Hudson does, contemporizing Uncle Vanya for a New York bar audience must be equally thrilling and daunting; if the experience of this podcaster (who typically loathes Chekhov) is any indication, she’s got a hell of a lot to be proud of. The podcast doesn’t editorialize, as I always say — but you’d do well to take this episode at its word, and go see this show.

Listen in as Lori, along with fellow Hangover-er (and portrayer of Astrov in the show) David Hudson, discuss the element of randomness, playing games, the difference between original scripts and what actually ends up on stage, structure around improv, and how to make Chekhov fun (in a bar).

Будем здоровы!

“Hell yeah, I wanna do Chekhov in a bar on the Upper West Side!”

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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…'”

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Aimee Todoroff, director of “Brecht in the Park”

Elephant Run District presents "Brecht in the Park"Birds chirping. Children playing. Sun. Grass. Epic theatre?


In case you’ve never listened to the podcast (or met me), I love Brecht’s work. And I love performances that are out in the open, and free to the public.

In my humble opinion, today’s guest, director Aimee Todoroff, is right—Brecht is indeed perfect for being done outside. Free & open to the public.

…and no purchased seats posing as “subscriber tickets,” taking seats away from the actual “public” (yes, I’m looking at you, oh-other-producer-of-plays-in-Central-Park).

For their first ever Brecht in the Park performance, Elephant Run District presents three of the master’s short plays—The Elephant Calf, In Search of Justice, and The Exception and the Rule—all of which have very strong connections to our current state of affairs.

Listen in as Aimee talks about her inspiration—text-wise & space-wise—for bringing Brecht to Central Park, what’s next for Elephant Run District, and how these plays written in Weimar-era Germany are eerily resonant with New York, NY, USA in 2013.

“How can we put the audience’s experience first, and make them have an experience that they’re going to talk about for the rest of the day?”

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Neilson R. Jones, Lucy Breyer, and Vivian Hwang of Confetti Stage’s “The Lesson”

…and now for something a little different.

Summer’s coming on, and that generally means two things for off-off-Broadways theatre: breaks for some, and festivals for everyone else.

Your humble producer is taking a third path, and will be out on a regional theatre gig for five weeks. But never fear: Go See a Show! continues during my hiatus from the city, with a few episodes deviating from the podcast’s usual “here’s an off-off-Broadway show that’s happening, and an interview with the people behind said show” format. Here’s the first!

Confetti Stage presents Eugene Ionesco's "The Lesson"While we here in NYC might think of ourselves as the center of the theatre universe, there’s lots of great stuff happening outside of the five boroughs. When it’s not being done in a small house within the city limits, the kind of theatre that gets labelled “off-off-Broadway” here is often called “community theatre,” which all-too-often has negative connotations. An excellent example of why “community theatre” does not have to be deadly (in the Peter Brook sense) can be found just a short train ride from our fair city, in the state capital of Albany, with Confetti Stage.

Last year, Confetti produced one of Eugene Ionesco’s short plays, The Lesson, and on the merits of said production, Confetti has brought The Lesson to several festivals already, and are about to take the show to compete in the American Association of Community Theatre national conference. I spoke to the cast of Neilson R. Jones (also the director, and founder of Confetti), Lucy Breyer, and Vivian Hwang via Skype as they’re in the final days of their fundraising campaign to bring the show out to Indiana (help ’em out via IndieGoGo!).

Listen in as Neil, Lucy & Vivian discuss why they’re doing Ionesco’s 63-year-old play now, why Confetti’s tagline is “theatre without limits,” and what it’s like to live with a play for a year and bring it to festival competitions.

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Cynthia von Buhler and the cast of “Speakeasy Dollhouse”

Speakeasy DollhouseA murdered businessman. Illegal booze. Accusations of infidelity. Political intrigue. Family secrets. Baked goods.

All ingredients for an evening in Speakeasy Dollhouse.

The brainchild of artist Cynthia von Buhler, Speakeasy Dollhouse is an immersive theatre experience that takes place in a Lower East Side speakeasy, where the events leading up to the unsolved murder of Frank Spano in 1935 — the victim was von Buhler’s actual grandfather — are recreated amongst, and with, the audience. Also recreated are a morgue, a Bronx bakery, and a swingin’ Prohibition-era speakeasy, complete with live music and burlesque dancers.

Listen in as Cynthia (and an ever-growing group of the cast) discuss time travel, directing an unwitting cast of several hundred, multiple endings, and exploring history through performance.

“Try the cannolis.”

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Trav S.D., the M.C. of “Travesties of 2012” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival

Travesties of 2012

click to read the text!

If you’re like the rest of the Family Guy-watching generation, when you hear the word “Vaudeville” you probably think of the characters Vern & Johnny, who pop up every now and again on the sitcom to lament the fact that Vaudeville is dead.

But, like punk rock, Mark Twain in 1897, and that old guy from Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Vaudeville isn’t dead. For proof, look no further than Travesties of 2012, part of this year’s New York Musical Theatre Festival, curated & hosted by performer/writer/director/journalist/all-around-renaissance-man Trav S.D.

Listen in as Trav & I talk finding a niche, finding Vaudeville performers in 2012, and loving Woody Guthrie.

American Vaudeville Theatre presents

Travesties of 2012

Curated/Hosted by Trav S.D.
Directed by John Hurley
Musical Director/ accompanist: Sarah Malinda Engelke
Stage Manager: Audrey Marshall
Lighting Design: Olivia Harris
Costumes: Meryl Pressman and Holly Rihn

Thursday: 7/19: 9:30pm
Friday 7/20: 7pm & 930pm
Saturday: 7/21: 6pm
Thursday: 7/26: 9:30pm
Friday 7/27: 7pm & 9:30pm
Saturday 7/28: 6pm

Tickets available via the NYMF website