Chris Harcum, Lillian Rodriguez, Jason Brown, & Tammy McNeill of “East Side Stories: The Indelible”

Metropolitan Playhouse presents East Side Stories 2015Like New York City itself, the East Village is one of those places that seems mythical to anyone who’s never been there—less a location, and more an idea shaped by popular media. It could be easy to forget that people actually live & work there.

Metropolitan Playhouse is in the neighborhood, and for years they’ve been presenting the series East Side Stories, sharing tales that get at the truth of the place that inspired them, whether they be fictional or factual. Included in 2015’s series are two collections of monologues created from interviews with East Village residents, and GSAS! got out to see the evening entitled The Indelible.

Actors Lillian Rodriguez, Jason Brown, and Tammy McNeill went out and found locals whose stories intrigued them, then, under the direction of Chris Harcum, shaped those interviews into monologues: Lillian as Jonas Mekas, a filmmaker, poet, and artist who founded the Film-Makers’ Cooperative and the Film-Makers’ Cinematheque (now known as Anthology Film Archives), Jason as Jeanise Aviles, hair artist / color specialist / wigmaker / performance artist / KnitBomber, and Tammy as Jimmy Webb, manager and buyer at Trash and Vaudeville.

I sat down with the actors and director after a performance; listen in as Chris, Lillian, Jason, and Tammy discuss their relationships with their subjects, prisms, tensions, and what it means to change while maintaining authenticity.

“…there are different elements of what you get with the interview from the person, what you get from the spirit of the person, what you bring to it, because it is your body, your voice, your everything that you tweak and do different things with to be that person, and then what you’re doing in giving to the audience. So there are four or five different elements that I feel are always kind of changing, and being part of this…”

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Aimee Todoroff, director of “Brecht in the Park”

Elephant Run District presents "Brecht in the Park"Birds chirping. Children playing. Sun. Grass. Epic theatre?

Yep.

In case you’ve never listened to the podcast (or met me), I love Brecht’s work. And I love performances that are out in the open, and free to the public.

In my humble opinion, today’s guest, director Aimee Todoroff, is right—Brecht is indeed perfect for being done outside. Free & open to the public.

…and no purchased seats posing as “subscriber tickets,” taking seats away from the actual “public” (yes, I’m looking at you, oh-other-producer-of-plays-in-Central-Park).

For their first ever Brecht in the Park performance, Elephant Run District presents three of the master’s short plays—The Elephant Calf, In Search of Justice, and The Exception and the Rule—all of which have very strong connections to our current state of affairs.

Listen in as Aimee talks about her inspiration—text-wise & space-wise—for bringing Brecht to Central Park, what’s next for Elephant Run District, and how these plays written in Weimar-era Germany are eerily resonant with New York, NY, USA in 2013.

“How can we put the audience’s experience first, and make them have an experience that they’re going to talk about for the rest of the day?”

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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