Emily Owens, Hollis James, & Nat Cassidy of “Kyle”

Hot Tramp Productions presents KYLE by Hollis James, directed by Emily OwensListen in as Kyle playwright Hollis James and director Emily Owens—who are, combined, the newly-formed Hot Tramp Productions—along with actor Nat Cassidy discuss how a play can sneak up on you, overcoming the little demon inside of yourself, how to pronounce “publicist,” getting coaxed into the director’s chair, playing your playwright in his play (while he’s acting opposite you), and why you shouldn’t get a “Nat-Cassidy-type”—you should get Nat Cassidy.

“…I didn’t set out to write this story. I just sat down to try and write something, my writing partner and I…we were in a holding pattern, and we were sick of pitching, and going through all the rigamarole. So I just sat down to try to write something just for me, and I wrote this scene…and then I realized, ‘that’s me, back then…'”

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Hondo Weiss-Richmond, J. C. Ernst, Emily Kitchens, Natalie Hegg, Dan Morrison, and Patricia Lynn of “Messenger #1”

Hunger and Thirst Collective presents MESSENGER #1, written by Mark Jackson, directed by Hondo Weiss-RichmondListen in as Messenger #1 director Hondo Weiss-RichmondHunger & Thirst Collective Artistic Director Patricia Lynn, and actors J. C. Ernst, Emily Kitchens, Natalie Hegg, and Dan Morrison discuss class, intimate space (and the fun audience reactions it can provoke), “the swells,” the flow of information, telling the truth, and how this 17-year-old play feels like it was written for our present moment in the United States.

“…sometimes at the very end, you feel like…we’ve all been a part of this together. It’s like this shared experience that we’ve all had, and you feel that very palpably because it’s an intimate experience…”

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Greg Kotis and Ayun Halliday of “Lunchtime” & “Zamboni Godot”

Theater of the Apes presents LUNCHTIME, written and directed by Greg KotisTheater of the Apes presents ZAMBONI GODOT, written and directed by Ayun HallidayListen in as Lunchtime writer/director Greg Kotis and Zamboni Godot writer/director Ayun Halliday discuss what it’s like to direct your own writing, physical transformations, adventures in parenting, “director” as “general contractor,” casting drinking buddies, getting outside your comfort zone, and what it’s like making theatre when you have—and then later, with—a family.

“To me, the ideal artist life is that you can do something like this, this residency, where you do whatever you want…just for fun, it’s why we came to it in the first place…Of course you want to have those projects and those opportunities that make money, and that can reach broader audiences, and that can have a life beyond. To have a variety, a diversity of work that you do, in a diversity of spaces, is really the ideal, I think…”

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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

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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Marina Tempelsman, Niccolo Aeed, & Temesgen Tocruray of “Room 4”

Marina and Nicco present ROOM 4 at The PIT, graphic by Chris KalbWaiting in the room for your audition can be brutal—it can start to feel like you’re living in Groundhog Day, seeing the same folks who play the same types that you do, waiting for the same similar roles, on the same similar kinds of projects, audition after audition, day after day…

Marina & Nicco‘s new show Room 4 takes that familiar actor struggle and makes it an actor hell, creating a No Exit kind of scenario where four actors realize that, indeed, the same audition call is starting to repeat itself. But, what starts as a brilliant concept for a fun, funny show becomes an incredible commentary on the state of the entertainment business (and, by extension, the United States) by adding in the fact that these are four black actors, all vying for the same stereotypical role in a standard crime procedural.

Biting, incisive, wonderfully-performed, and tears-streaming-down-your-face funny, Room 4 is a show that, as I say at the top of this interview, anyone listening to this podcast should go and see. You’ll have a blast in the room—and then you should have a great conversation at The PIT‘s bar afterward about what you’ve seen.

Listen in as the creators, Marina Tempelsman and Niccolo Aeed, and actor Temesgen Tocruray, discuss what stories you’re telling (and who you’re telling them for), writing for and with the actors in the ensemble, performing race in the theatre and for the people around you, using specificity to talk about universal issues, and how the arts can spark conversation and, eventually, change.

“I don’t know if we have a direct solution, I mean, other than ‘hire more black actors, directors, and writers.’ Give stage time to more diverse things, and don’t write necessarily for a white audience, write for your truth and honesty. But other than than, I think we wanted to really live in the moment, more than necessarily provide an answer…”
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Jason Sofge, Dustin Charles, Kristin Wetherington, Dereks Thomas, and Tony Del Bono of “Anonymous, Anonymous”

Pogue Mahone Productions presents ANONYMOUS, ANONYMOUS by Jason Sofge, part of FringeNYC 2016This episode’s going up on a Saturday, which is a little weird, I know, but it’s Fringe-time, y’all, and I wanted to be sure you had a couple chances to catch this lovely show.

Jason Sofge, last heard on the podcast while performing in the excellent Fatty Fatty No Friends, presents his first full-length play, Anonymous, Anonymous, which he wrote, co-directed, and produced. Time in the play shifts a lot, and the structure is unusual (the playwright himself describes it as “metaphysical”), but as the story unfolds and reveals itself, there’s a ton of humor, heart, and truth to the piece.

Listen in as Jason and several members of the cast—Dustin Charles, Kristin Wetherington, Dereks Thomas, and Tony Del Bono—discuss developing your first play, “the one that got away,” breaking the rules to “defy the commercial construct of the modern theatre,” surprising your audience, and why we do this crazy theatre thing at all.

“…I think, as artists, when we have to deal with something that’s really painful, we have to use it, we have to make something productive out of it…”

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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…”

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