Margi Sharp Douglas, Rachel Murdy, Peter Szep, Joan Jubett, and Cynthia Croot of “The Millay Sisters”

Margi Sharp Douglas and Rachel Murdy of THE MILLAY SISTERS, presented by Vanderbilt RepublicIf you’ve ever wandered around Greenwich Village, you might have noticed a very tiny house at 75 1/2 Bedford Street, built on a former alley (it’s Manhattan, so if there’s land to be built on, someone’s going to try it). Stop and take a look at the facade, and you’ll notice a vermillion plaque, commemorating that this was once the home of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.

If she’s unfamiliar to you, you’re in the fortunate position of getting to explore her work for the first time. And a great place to start would be The Millay Sisters, a cabaret/performance/play about Vincent (as she liked to be called) and her life, currently running at Gowanus Loft in Brooklyn.

GSAS! correspondent Tara Gadomski is back on the mic! Listen in as she and The Millay Sisters co-creators and performers Margi Sharp-Douglas & Rachel Murdy, musical director/musician Peter Szep, and co-directors Joan Jubett and Cynthia Croot discuss their process of development, light and dark, dramaturgy in Maine, giving your audience the opportunity to sing, and the importance of a bar at your show.

“…people are going to hear this, and think, ‘oh, it’s some sort of biopic;’ and there are a lot of facts in it. But really it’s about the emotional truth of what’s going on with her. When you see the show, you feel like you’ve met the person, not just sort of received facts from on high, and a lot of the music sets this sort of emotional world against which the poetry is then put…”

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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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David Lawson, creator/performer of “Insomnia in Space”

David Lawson presents Insomnia in SpaceWhat do you do when you can’t fall asleep?

Performer David Lawson is an insomniac. He’s also a solo performer.

So it only makes sense that in his new show, Insomnia in Space, David shares with the audience his musings and discoveries from wakefulness in the wee small hours, reading, thinking, and fantasizing about outer space.

Listen in as David discusses the two-suit, amazing stories from the audience, Mike Daisey, “neutral-face,” and shared experiences.

(then, go and listen to David and I talk about Go See a Show!, the MTA, the League of Independent Theater, podcasts, and more on his podcast with Taylor Miller, Stipend)

“…I so much believe in one person onstage talking to many people…that medium elevates everyone’s life experience in the room…”

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Kiran Rikhye, playwright, and Jon Stancato, director, of “Potion: A Play in Three Cocktails”

Stolen Chair Theater Company presents "Potion: A Play in Three Cocktails"Regular listeners know very well by now that I love to enjoy a drink while I’m at a show. But I don’t think I’ve been to a performance that integrates imbibing as well as this one.

In Potion: A Play in Three Cocktails, playwright Kiran Rikhye, director Jon Stancato, and the lovely troupe at Stolen Chair Theatre Company have not only created a show in a bar with booze readily available for consumption, but they grab a big swizzle stick and mix the cocktails into the drama. The very act of drinking the custom “potions” served throughout the play serves the narrative, and its premise, in a brilliant and beautiful way.

This is a fun night at the theatre, y’all. A fun night of theatre at the bar. With delicious custom cocktails. What more could you want?

Listen in as Jon & Kiran discuss crazy ways to write plays, “potion” as metaphor for the transformation of the actor, how opera is like a great night out at a bar, and scratching your play like it’s on a turntable.

“…I think it was a series of remixes…”

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Liz Davito, Lucy Smith, Eamonn Farrell, & Jessica Weinstein of “I Land”

Anonymous Ensemble present "I Land," part of the Ice Factory festival 2013The Ice Factory festival of new works at The New Ohio comes to a close with Anonymous Ensemble‘s I Land, and while all the works have been creative & adventurous, this, in my humble opinion, might be the most innovative.

Because when you sit in this show, you’re co-creating the show with Anonymous. Despite their name, you, as an audience member, are not anonymous in this production; you help to write it, in a very real way. I’ll stop there, I don’t want to give too much away…but I think it helps to know at least that much about the show before listening to this episode.

On the mic are the performers: Liz Davito, Lucy Smith, Eamonn Farrell, and Jessica Weinstein. I’m going to let them carry this episode from here. To say any more here would take away from the experience you get when you walk into a performance of I Land, and I certainly wouldn’t want to do that.

Listen in as Liz, Lucy, Jessica & Eamonn discuss extraordinary stories, the fine line between “playing with” and “mocking,” theatre as an event, and what happens when the last element you add to your show is a script.

“I felt like I existed. And it was so fantastic.”

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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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Matthew Kreiner, Megan Lee, and Lawrence Lesher, directors of EndTimes Bunker’s “Zombie March Madness”

EndTimes Bunker Zombie March MadnessI love doing this podcast as a way to meet new people, and see cool shows that I might not otherwise have found about. And, of course, to share with you, dear listeners, these gems of the off-off-Broadway world, and the thoughts of the brilliant artists behind them.

It’s also fun, however, to do a little shameless self-promotion for shows I’ve made with friends now and again, too. Good things these friends happen to be brilliant artists as well.

On this episode of Go See a Show!, an interview with my fellow artists at EndTimes Productions, talking about the EndTimes Bunker’s current production, Zombie March Madness: four new zombie-themed plays, playing now at the 133rd Street Arts Center. That’s some of my original scoring for The Last Days that you hear at the top of the episode; your humble narrator sound-designed that show, as well as the “magnum opus” Zombie Frat House Bash.

Listen in as directors Matthew Kreiner, Megan Lee, and Lawrence Lesher talk about zombie classics vs. classics with zombies, doing the Harlem Shake live (and in Harlem), zombies as allegory for our reality-television-obsessed world, and theatre that goes for the jugular. Literally.

“Tennessee Williams, Schmennessee Williams.” Continue reading

Nick Benacerraf, Jess Chayes, Stephen Aubrey, and Edward Bauer of The Assembly’s “HOME/SICK”

HOME/SICK by The Assembly at The Living TheatreFor this 50th podcast of Go See a Show!, I present to you an episode recorded half a year ago, but that might be one of the most interesting interviews I’ve done.

As part of last summer’s Underground Zero Festival, The Assembly presented HOME/SICK, a brilliant, personal, beautiful, and exhaustively researched show dramatizing events in the history of the Weather Underground.

Though I knew when I recorded it that I wouldn’t be able to get this interview up before their show closed, my apologies to the good people at The Assembly for taking half a year to post this.

But it seems it was somewhat serendipitously timed, as the show was one of the last to occupy The Living Theatre’s space on Clinton Street, which was recently shuttered. Reports of the demise of The Living Theatre as a company have thankfully been greatly exaggerated (guilty as charged; see the GSAS! Facebook page for my mini-obit on the company), but whatever the current state and future of the company, here’s wishing all best to Judith, Brad, and everyone at The Living Theatre for this next chapter of the company’s long and amazing history.

Listen in as director Jess Chayes, dramaturg Stephen Aubrey, designer Nick Benacerraf, and actor Edward Bauer, all core members & artistic directors of The Assembly, discuss complicated empathy, theatre as a political act, and why the company looked to a radical political movement from over 40 years ago to create a play in the relatively peaceful U.S. of 2012.

“I don’t trust a mission statement that you can achieve on the first try.” Continue reading

FRIGID New York 2013

FRIGID New York 2013 A bit of a different podcast this time out: in this episode, GSAS! interviews artists from seven of the thirty — yes, 30 — plays that are part of this year’s FRIGID New York festival, presented by Horse Trade Theater Group.

It should be noted, FRIGID isn’t just another festival. The participants are chosen at random, so no silly politicking is involved; and, all participants keep 100% of the box office sales for their show. Try finding that kinda deal as a performer anywhere else in this town. Very cool format. Hats off to Horse Trade for making this happen every year since 2007.

Kicking off the marathon of mini-interviews is Erez Ziv, Executive Director of FRIGID and Managing Director of Horse Trade, followed by, in order:

— director Nikki DiLoreto & playwright/performer Antonia Lassar of The God Box
— co-director/producer/performer Bricken Sparacino of Sisters Grimm: Fables of the Stage
— director Christina Massie, performer Emily Tuckman, and performer Sarah Jacobs of Commencing
— playwright & performer Nikhil Tilwalli of A Panda Suit, Pythagorus, and Plenty of Puns
— playwright & performer Chris Harcum of Two Lovely Black Eyes
— playwright & performer Lucas Brooks of VGL 5′ 4″ Top
— playwright & performer D’yan Forest of My Pussy is Purrin’ Again Continue reading