Listen in as Wheelhouse Theater Company founders Jeff Wise, who also directs the show, and actors David Kenner and Michael Schantz, discuss the company’s production of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, rebuttal plays, parallels to today (the phrase “drain the swamp” is in the text—seriously), reactions to overtly political plays that aren’t political screeds, the toxicity of forced conformity, and letting the audience draw their own conclusions.
“…the thing that really motivated me to do this play, the theme that I think stands out the most, is this idea of what it takes to step outside the collective, and have a new idea. And that is something that I think Ibsen was directly pointing at…”
Listen in as And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little director Shay Gines, performers Sara Thigpen and Christopher Borg, along with returning guest, Retro Productions Artistic Director and “Miss Reardon” herself, Heather E. Cunningham, discuss absence, finding yourself right in the middle of incredible social change, loving (and fearing) vintage props, finding characters from 50 years ago, teasing your play with wonderful photos (see above), who’s left behind, getting to the right time to produce that play you’ve always wanted to produce, sexual repression in a time of sexual freedom, and how the more things change, the more they stay the same.
“…it’s sort of a subtle thing, but so many of the characters make references to the fact that this outside world is encroaching on their lives…everybody’s afraid, we don’t know how to conduct ourselves so we can’t blame ourselves for not having a footing in this ever-changing landscape…”
Listen in as Boomerang Artistic Director Tim Errickson, along with the full cast of their current production of The Reckless Season—Chase Burnett, Brian Morvant, Trace Pope, and Amanda Tudor—discuss balancing the heavy with the comedic, what the room was like putting this show together, researching what it’s like to be on some crazy drugs, when a character won’t leave a play alone, finding salvation in a video game, and trying to create a family with the very different, very broken people around you.
“…if The Deer Hunter met, like, Silver Linings Playbook…there’s a lot of dark humor in it, there’s an undercurrent of sexuality to it, there’s relationship stuff, there’s brothers against brothers, there’s a lot of comedy…”
Listen in as playwright Daniel John Kelley and director Christopher Diercksen of That True Phoenix discuss opera nerdiness, self-mythologizing, producing (and living) with limited resources, repeatedly turning down your future collaborator (then, working in the same office with your collaborator), cutting down your 290-page autobiographical play, “why we do any of this,” taking the time to do it right, and the most interesting man you’ve (probably) never heard of: Lorenzo Da Ponte.
“…they were like, ‘Daniel, you’ve written crazy plays before; I trust that you will write a crazy play again, let’s do this play.’ And I was like, ‘ok, sure, 10 years of this idea, maybe it’ll do…’ But they were 100% committed, even if I didn’t believe it, from the beginning, to say, ‘we trust you, we’re going to build this play…we’re going to figure out why we do this as we go along’…”
Listen in as Athena Theatre Artistic Director (and actor in the show) Veronique Ory, along with Sub-Basement writer Tom Block and director Hunter Bird, discuss eschewing the Mad Men path, writing to a company’s mission statement, the importance of absurdity in the theatre at the present moment, where to find the best poutine in the city, and the “absurdist odyssey to find your life’s purpose.”
“The entry point was really wanting to address the homeless in our city, and to find a way…[to] address it in a way that wasn’t stereotypical…in other cultures, this idea of how homeless people are thought to be mystics, they’ve come to an enlightened point in their life…that if they can have peace and clarity in their mind, then that’s all that they need. And part of representing them in this way is hopefully taking a small step to giving face and voice to our homeless population…”
Listen in as Messenger #1 director Hondo Weiss-Richmond, Hunger & 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…”
Listen in as Nibbler playwright Ken Urban, director Benjamin Kamine, Artistic Director of The Amoralists (and actor in the show) James Kautz, and fellow actor Sean Patrick Monahan discuss expanding your one-act, vulnerability, meeting the challenges of a show, looking for hope in dark times, getting “nauseatingly close” with your collaborators, songwriting for your script, just how autobiographical this dark comedy gets, and “pulling it off.”
“…I’m going to paraphrase you, but I think it was something like, ‘can’t they just sit there and sing?'”
“I think that is what I said, ‘Can’t they just be still?’…”
Listen in as actors Tony Torn and Will Dagger of Ben Beckley’s Latter Days, along with Artistic Director of Dutch Kills Theater CompanyAlley Scott, discuss makeup mishaps, referencing Beckett & Don Quixote, finding the perfect prop toilet when you’re out with friends, creating an original theology for your show, and belief, expectation, fantasy, reality, and father figures.
“…finding yourself somebody who’s desperate to believe in transcendence of sorts, and also, coming up against your own inherent skepticism…”
Listen in as New York Shakespeare Exchange Artistic Director and director of Much Ado About Nothing, Ross Williams, discusses finding resonance with the “fake news” of today in Shakespeare, getting rid of unnecessary jokes, blending characters (and why you might want to), achieving a sense of inclusion with your audience, and getting around having all those pesky messengers in Much Ado.
…and, after the brief interview with Ross, stay tuned for a recording of the post-show talkback between him, Dr. Jaime Wright, Associate Professor at St. Johns University, and the show’s dramaturg Shane Breaux.
“…Shakespeare was all about the exchange between the audience and the players, and I think all too often, Shakespeare done contemporarily is done with our contemporary understanding of the fourth wall…what I really like to encourage is a sense of exchange between the audience and the actors…”
Listen in as performers Becky Baumwoll and David Jenkins of Broken Box Mime Theater discuss working in the brand-new Gural Theatre in midtown, starting from naturalistic acting, how the company makes an evening from a series of smaller pieces, mime as free jazz, paring down your gestures to streamline a story through movement, wearing matching shoes, when giving line readings is ok (and preferred), and why you might want to rehearse with an audience.
“…something about the efficiency unlocks a huge amount of possibility for us as storytellers…there’s something about not having words that invites the audience to really immerse themselves in what’s happening. And, when you are building invisible objects, or interacting with an invisible costume, or a prop, the audience, in order to understand, has to fill in that blank…We’re using your imagination as our palette to create the story…”