Joshua Young, Lucia Bellini, Phillip Christian, Alex Teachey, and John Carhart of “Who Mourns for Bob the Goon?”

The Playwrighting Collective presents Who Mourns for Bob the Goon at HERE Arts CenterLook, I’m just going to come out and say it: I love Batman. I have since I was a kid, and nothing—not adulthood, not weird story arcs in the comics, not even Zack Snyder’s terrible Batman V Superman—can diminish my love for the stories surrounding this brilliant modern myth.

So even though GSAS! has been on a little hiatus due to the pre-Fringe summertime lull, when I got a press release for a play about a man convinced that he was The Joker’s right-hand man from Tim Burton’s seminal 1989 film Batman, you better believe I figured out a way to get over to HERE Arts Center to see this show.

But this isn’t just a fanboy pastiche (though it’s got those elements). The Playwrighting Collective‘s Who Mourns for Bob the Goon? follows a series of group chats, dream sequences, and strange private therapy sessions in a magical world (with phenomenal puppets!), as we discover not only the identities of Bob and his fellow third-tier comic book characters, but also that all those characters actually suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after military service, and this is a coping mechanism. As it unfolds, the play becomes about PTSD, how some people deal with it, and the civilian relationship to the people who suffer from it—and hence, the title of the show.

Listen in as playwright Joshua Young, director Lucia Bellini, and actors Phillip Christian, Alex Teachey, and John Carhart discuss playing in and shifting between multiple worlds, what The Playwrighting Collective is all about, coming back to indie theatre (even from astrophysics), and how Batman inspired so many of us.

“We just really are interested in telling stories that have not been told…there seems to be not an interest in hearing stories of people who are not at the country club, or are not living this middle class life, this Desperate Housewives life. There are dramatic stories and there are funny stories of people who are living dollar to dollar, and paycheck to paycheck…”

Continue reading

Jake Lipman, Molly Ballerstein, and Jennifer Teska of “Women Playing Hamlet”

Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions presents Women Playing Hamlet, written by William Missouri Downs and directed by Molly BallersteinTheatre in the United States is in the midst of a deep, important and ground-breaking conversation about gender and racial equality on stage. Can actors play historical figures of a different race? (Answer: YES.) Can women play roles originally written for men (Answer: YES.) And while this evolution in the theatre is a positive step, it’s curious to think about how an individual actor might process being cast in a non-traditional way.

In Women Playing Hamlet, a young female actor, Jessica, is cast as Hamlet. The rehearsal process leads to a breakdown of sorts with a brutal and and hysterically funny examination of Jessica’s life as Midwestern Millennial woman who shed her accent during her MFA training and now survives in New York as a barista and occasional soap-opera star. Jessica, with the help of a rotating cast of outrageous characters from her life, try to figure out if the iconic Shakespearean role can be played by a young woman, and, if indeed, Hamlet might actually be female.

Literature scholars will appreciate the sharp debate in the script, but you really don’t have to know anything about the Bard to laugh out loud at this Mel Brooks-esque comedy, presented by Tongue in Cheek Theatre Productions.

Go See a Show! correspondent Tara Gadomski sat down with TIC Artistic Director & actor Jake Lipman, the show’d director Molly Ballerstein, and actor Jen Teska—listen in as they discuss the progression of their own thinking on Shakespeare, where to source six prop skulls, why Tongue in Cheek has thrived for the past eleven years, and the central question of the play: can a woman play Hamlet?

“Hamlet is one of those iconic roles. I’ve heard—usually ac-TORS—say that there is ‘before Hamlet’ and ‘after Hamlet’ in their career…When I was younger I struggled with the idea of a female Hamlet because I was trying to figure out how it would work in the context of the rest of the play. Gender politics are such a part of the play that when I was younger I couldn’t wrap my head around how it would work. But the more I’ve studied the play, and looked at the role, the more interested I am in seeing a female Hamlet…Hamlet as a woman. I think with the right director and right actress, I would love to see that.”

Continue reading

Kayla Jackmon, Meredith Owens, Kara Ayn Napolitano, and Rosie Kolbo of “Rubbermatch”

Red Caravan presents Paz Pardo's RUBBERMATCH, directed by Andrew Willis-WoodwardWhen an old friend from college arrives to visit after so many years apart, what do you want to do? Maybe get drunk, have a dance party to records you both used to love, reminisce about friends and that crazy party…

That’s just what happens for Nina and Ceci in Red Caravan‘s Rubbermatch—but through those moments of reconnection, wounds from the past are re-opened, and new truths behind a tragedy are revealed.

Listen in as actors Kayla Jackmon (Ceci) and Meredith Owens (Nina), along with producers/Red Caravan company members Kara Ayn Napolitano and Rosie Kolbo, discuss trusting the awkward pauses, how to name your new company, gauging how drunk you should be through your show, and how you can do more stuff with your run (and do it for a good cause).

“Our tag line is, ‘when can a friend’s help become an act of violence?’…it’s hard to describe what the show is, because there is a story that is told, but it’s more feelings, experience and feelings…”

Continue reading

Allyson Morgan and Mara Kassin of “The Spring Fling: Crush”

F*It Club presents Spring Fling: CrushLooking for your big break? Auditioning over and over again? Sending out tons of feeler e-mails? Feel like you’re spinning your wheels, waiting for someone to notice your talent?

F*** it. Go out and make something yourself.

That’s the motto, and of course the inspiration for the name, of F*It Club. And it’s the kind of motto that GSAS! can get behind. The company is currently producing their annual Spring Fling of new short plays, this year around the theme of Crush.

Listen in as the company’s Executive Director and festival producer (as well as actor in the show) Allyson Morgan and Associate Producer/fellow actor Mara Kassin discuss audacity, finding themes, finding collaborators, finding solutions to last-minute casting issues, and treating short form work with respect.

“…what F*It Club was founded on is this idea of, ‘why are we waiting for people to give us work? Eff it, let’s make our own work,’ of being audacious and asking people whose work we really admired, whose work we really wanted to be a part of, to work with us…”

Continue reading

William Steinberger, Marisa Brau, Andreas Damm, Michael Calciano, and Melissa Cesarano of “Gregor”

InVersion Theatre Company presents Gregor, freely adapted from Kafka's The Metamorphosis, directed by William SteinbergerWe’ve all felt like an outsider at some point. But imagine how much more divorced from the world you’d feel if you woke up one day to discover you’ve turned into an insect.

That is, of course, the premise of Franz Kafka’s century-old absurd novella on alienation, The Metamorphosis. For GregorInVersion Theatre‘s stage adaptation of the story, the company adds theatrical movement and storytelling to give it a contemporary spin.

Plus, they add inter-dimensional actor-bureaucrats to tell us the story. And it totally works.

Listen in as director William Steinberger, along with the full cast, Marisa Brau, Andreas Damm, Michael Calciano, and Melissa Cesarano, discuss hearing Bond villains in your head, the inability to speak linearly, what happens when you lose language, and Kafka’s character of Gregor as a “proto-millennial.”

“…there’s this really fascinating triad: there’s Kafka who wrote it, there’s the speaker of The Metamorphosis, and then there’s Gregor…and I felt as though the novella was incredibly ripe for theatrical adaptation, because…a good way to [recreate that triad] was through breaking the fourth wall…I thought theatre could do it really well.”

Continue reading

Cave Theatre Company’s “Gruesome Playground Injuries”

Cave Theatre Company presents Rajiv Joseph's GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIESLove hurts.

In Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries, it hurts a whole lot. Like face-split-open, teeth-knocked-out, razor-blade-cut, horrible-fireworks-accident maims. And the scars it leaves aren’t only on the bodies of protagonists Doug & Kayleen.

Cave Theatre Company, rounding out their first year of productions, is staging Joseph’s dark relationship dramedy at Under St. Mark’s as part of their residency with Frigid New York; listen in as director James Masciovecchio, actors Kiley Caughey and Alex Etling, and their fellow Cave crew, co-producers Josh Triplett and Cassie Wood, discuss getting rights to your favorite play in a nail-biting photo-finish, inspiration from podcasts (really!), leaning into theatricality, making bad Tinder dating stories into theatre, and why you should just get your friends together and make something.

…we want to see real stories on stage. We want to see honest stories, and try not to sugar-coat things, and try not to show things for what they aren’t…

Continue reading

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…”

Continue reading

Danielle Trzcinski, writer of “Non-Equity The Musical!”

Non-Equity The Musical, book and lyrics by Danielle Trzcinski, music by Paul D. MillsIf you are, or have ever been an actor, how many times have you heard someone say something to the effect of, “oh, acting! that must be so much fun!”—and had to fight a visceral reaction to respond along the lines of, “yeah, but you have NO idea what we go through…”

Because while it is fun, of course, and those of us lucky enough to work in the theatre feel our jobs are indeed the best in the world, the fun part of acting comes after a lot of trials, heartache, early mornings, degrading calls, blood, sweat, and tears.

It comes…after the casting process.

Playwright Danielle Trzcinski and composer Paul D. Mills have taken the unique experience of being at a casting call and put it onstage, with music, like you do. Their show Non-Equity The Musical!, after a sold-out run at the NY Fringe in 2012, has recorded a cast album, and GSAS! recently sat down with Danielle to talk about the show.

Listen in as she discusses the virtues and values of making your own work, playing to and fighting against type (and typing yourself out of your own musical), and following your dream even through the mess that is our business.

“I think it’s pretty awesome, like your podcast, that all these people are out there…it is so much work to do all these things, but there’s only so long we can wait around for an opportunity to be given to us…”
“…or so many 5 a.m. calls…”
“Exactly! Honestly, doing this show…that opened up so many more doors for me than when I was getting up and busting my ass at 5 in the morning…”

Continue reading

Recent Cutbacks’ “Fly, You Fools!”

Recent Cutbacks presents FLY, YOU FOOLS! at The PITThe brilliant comedic team of Recent Cutbacks didn’t exist, at least not in name, when they were last on the podcast with their incredible Hold on to Your Butts.

But luckily for all of us, they’re back, and this time, instead of dinosaurs, they’re taking on elves, dwarves, orcs, wizards, eagles, and, of course, hobbits, with Fly, You Fools!

On the mic are the show’s producer Allyson Morgan, as well as returning guests, director Kristin McCarthy Parker and performers Nick Abeel and Kyle Schaefer; and now, added to the team are performer Matt Zambrano, and foley artist Blair Busbee, all of whom sat in for a chat about their wonderful new show.

Listen in as the Recent Cutbacks team discusses why they moved to The Fellowship of the Ring from Jurassic Park, dancey, movementy, mimey things, the danger of inciting a nerd riot, finding the sound of your show as it continues to change, and how to deal with prop mishaps in real time.

“…in the rehearsal process, we sort of found that the more epic the film was, the less props we needed. We could get away with more, with less…actually, we don’t need these hundred wigs, or these extra props, when we can tell the story just through physicality. Which I think is actually more joyful for the audience…” Continue reading

Patricia Lynn, Annie Branson, and Lauren Lubow of “Fen”

Red Garnet Theater Company presents Caryl Churchill's FEN, directed by Patricia Lynn

“…it’s become about women, and the role that we play in what we want, and what we do to go after it. What do we feel that we’re entitled to, what are our aspirations, and what are the obstacles getting in our way?”

Caryl Churchill’s Fen follows the lives/stories/desires of several women working in the drained marshland of Fenland, England—and for the artists at Red Garnet Theater Company, it’s about that quote above, an exploration that continues now in 2016, despite the play being written over 30 years ago.

GSAS! corespondent Tara Gadomski takes you underground at IATI Theater’s Black Box for a conversation with director Patricia Lynn, associate producer/actor Annie Branson, and Red Garnet Artistic Director Lauren Lubow; listen in as they discuss why Fen now, finding performance opportunities for your company members, how to get the rights to a play by a notable living playwright, UK pop references of the ’80s, getting creative to prop your show, and why it’s so important to just be cool when you’re in this industry.

“…the imbalance that you have between men and women in this industry is huge. And I think there are so many women out there that have so much to say, and we haven’t heard it. And I think that the idea of light, which I found so fitting that Patty found that theme throughout this play, is, where can we shine the light, and what can we uncover and unearth..?”

Continue reading