Becky Baumwoll & David Jenkins of “See Reverse”

Broken Box Mime Theater presents SEE REVERSEListen 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…”

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Alley Scott, Jean Ann Douglass, and Lori Parquet of “The Providence of Neighboring Bodies”

Dutch Kills Theater Company presents THE PROVIDENCE OF NEIGHBORING BODIES by Jean Ann DouglassListen in as Dutch Kills Theater Company Artistic Director Alley Scott, playwright Jean Ann Douglass, and actor Lori Parquet discuss The Providence of Neighboring Bodies, making work with your friends, inspiration from your hometown, how place informs character, different models for creating a production, and the magic & supportiveness of the indy theatre community.

“…the great thing about independent theatre is that the people who come to see independent theatre are very with you, and are willing to work with you…”

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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

Matt Steiner and Stan Richardson of “Private Manning Goes to Washington”

The Representatives present Private Manning Goes to WashingtonInformation is power. But information often comes with a price tag.

What do you do if you believe at your core that information must be made available to all who seek it?

And how do you mitigate the possible effects of opening up information, when it has the potential to cause harm—perhaps to a loved one, perhaps to the state? Maybe, through your efforts at sunlight, you could make the world a better place, but at what cost?

And, just what can theatre do about all of this?

These questions, and more, are at the heart of The RepresentativesPrivate Manning Goes to Washington, a play that opens with internet and political activist Aaron Swartz and a childhood friend, and eventually explores a secret meeting between whistle-blower Chelsea Manning and President Barack Obama on the last day of Obama’s presidency…

Listen in as the collaborators who form The Representatives, Stan Richardson and Matt Steiner (both co-direct, Richardson wrote the script, and Steiner plays Swartz), discuss the radical intimacy of producing in apartments, imagining how one activist could try to help another activist while actively under investigation, the benefits of getting the artists and audience in closer proximity, throwing post-show parties, and why we don’t need more martyrs: we need everyone.

“We have a strong sense of occasion. It’s enormously meaningful for a group of people to get together and sit and watch something. An so often in traditional theatre, there’s obviously a separation between the artist and the audience that becomes almost hierarchical…”

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Jake Lipman, Molly Ballerstein, and Brittany Anikka Liu of “Rapture, Blister, Burn”

Tongue in Cheek Theater presents Rapture Blister Burn by Gina GionfriddoWhen choosing the plays to be presented this season by Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions, artistic director Jake Lipman had remarkable foresight. The company’s mission is to produce thought-provoking comedies, and the shows usually have a woman at the center of the story. But they don’t always reflect a VERY current debate in American politics.

The company didn’t mean to produce a political play the week before the US presidential election. But because their current show, Rapture, Blister, Burn examines how women are often validated (or not) based solely on their societal roles as mother, wife or career-woman, one can’t help but see parallels in the current election. When Hillary Clinton is criticized for not baking cookies and also criticized for bragging about her grandchild, it’s easy to see that feminism still has a long hill to climb in America.

Rapture, Blister, Burn, written by Gina Gionfriddo (and a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Drama), is a deeply-moving story about feminism, choices, family, love and unfulfilled dreams. It also examines why people don’t always practice the beliefs and theories they say they support. Does the show “play the woman card?” If getting audiences to understand that women can be respected for whatever life choice they make is playing the woman card, then Tongue in Cheek has dealt a beautiful hand.

Listen in as GSAS! correspondent Tara Gadomski talks with Artistic Director and actor Jake Lipman, director Molly Ballerstein, and actor Brittany Anikka Liu to discuss diving deep into feminism to prepare for your show, the eerie prescience of the play, the role of music in TIC’s production, gendered and non-gendered audience responses to the show, actors’ perspectives between generations, what it means to make your own work, and shows that stay with you long after you’ve seen them.

“It’s extremely rare to find something that feels so topical and fresh that is a revival. All of it felt very close to the surface for me. And right now, we’re all on edge.”

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Jason Marr and David Mold of Hip to Hip’s “As You Like It”

Hip to Hip Theatre Company presents As You Like It and Julius CaesarFor the 10th year running, Hip to Hip Theatre Company brings free Shakespeare to Queens (and Harlem, and Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and Jersey City…check out the full schedule!).

In honor of the anniversary, they’re returning to the first show they ever produced, taking you to the Forest of Arden with As You Like It, before heading to Rome to bring the pain with the ever-so-appropriate-in-an-election-year Julius Caesar.

I won’t retread all the info about what they’re up to—instead, you should listen to last year’s episode with the fine gentlemen Jason Marr, Artistic Director and actor in the company, and David Mold, Associate Artistic Director and director of one of this year’s shows—then, come back and listen to this episode, where they expand on those ideas, and talk about this year’s productions.

Take a listen as Jason and David discuss the celebratory nature and notions of identity in As You Like It, why you should pay attention in your technical theatre classes, layers of performance, why actors are eager to work in random parks around the city, and what it takes to do what they do.

“Do it. That’s what we did…our first season we produced for $2,500. It was me with a big trunk full of the props, and I would wheel it on a little dolly into the park. If you’re heart’s in it, you’ll find a way.” 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…”

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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…

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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…”

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Lauren Swan-Potras, Jon Riddleberger, and John Kurzynowski of “Rhinbecca, NY”

Theater Reconstruction Ensemble presents Rhinbecca, NY at The BrickDark yet humorous, absurd but vaguely political, Theatre Reconstruction Ensemble‘s Rhinbecca, NY occupies a strange place between the source material of the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the plays of Eugene Ionesco, letting the audience draw their own conclusions from the action onstage.

GSAS! correspondent Tara Gadomski took a trip out to The Brick in Brooklyn to check out a performance; listen in as she and director John Kurzynowski, who also conceived the piece, and two members of the ensemble who performed and created the show, Lauren Swan-Potras and Jon Riddleberger, discuss TRE’s mode for devising, theatrical moments as questions, the balance between source material and the entirely new, and “the strange middle ground between suspense and the absurd.”

“…what we mean by reconstruction is that we take classic and canonical works and theatricalities, and we play with it, and we say, what does that mean to us now, and how do we interact with that? So when we investigate Hitchcock…it’s our idea of what Hitchcock means. It’s staying true to that, and not trying to recreate something perfectly, but say, ‘this thing exists here, we exist over here, what’s that middle ground?’ And that’s the playing space that we inhabit when we’re creating work…”

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