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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Adam Scott Mazer and Philip Gates of “The Tower”

AntiMatter Collective presents The Tower, written by Adam Scott Mazer, directed by Philip GatesWhat does it take to survive?

In AntiMatter Collective‘s show The Tower, that question, in the context of the winter in the mountains for the Donner Party in 1846-47, becomes an allegory for American individualism & imperialism. And it’s done through an immersive staging, complete with a guide, edibles, gore, and dance numbers.

It’s quite a trip, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Listen in as producer/playwright Adam Scott Mazer and producer/director Philip Gates discuss accepting offers from the performers, making assumptions, psychedelic breaks in your play, and how knowing where you’re headed can help you build your show.

“It’s like the dark side of the American Dream…what is the sacrifice that America is making, to be America?”

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Nick Abeel and Becky Baumwoll of “Above/Below”

Broken Box Mime Theater presents ABOVE/BELOW at HERE Arts CenterThink of a mime.

Now go see Broken Box Mime Theater, and let them explode whatever preconceived notions you have.

Their new show is called Above/Below, a series of vignettes about what’s on the surface, and what’s hidden underneath, all done in mime.

Listen in as troupe members Nick Abeel and Becky Baumwoll discuss how mimes mess around, mime-versity, and what they’re keeping in their hearts.

…and even theatre-people [think] it’s boxes and ropes, ‘stop being stuck in a box, and climbing a rope.’ But in that way, we are able to really blow peoples’ minds, because we take it so much farther than that. People are surprised to find how playful, and profound, and accessible, and funny, and deep the form can be…”

“…we all happen to come to this medium because we love theatre, and mime is the most distilled version of theatre, in our opinion. It lets us get at the heart of the work the most efficiently and effectively…”

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J. Alphonse Nicholson, Howard L. Craft, and Joseph Megel of “Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green”

Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green, written by Howard L. Craft, directed by Joseph Megel, and featuring J. Alphonse NicholsonPlaywright Howard L. Craft was tasked with creating a 10-minute play based on a work of art from the Ackland Art Museum’s permanent collection, and he chose Slow Down Freight Train, a painting by Rose Piper.

Actor J. Alphonse Nicholson tore into the script with the help of director Joseph Megel—and when it was over, they all wanted more.

So Craft when back to the page, and expanded a short play about a minstrel into an epic of the African American male across the 20th Century in America. That’s all I can really say to describe it: you’ve just got to see it. Seriously, you really should go see this one. It’s powerful, original theatre, and incredibly performed.

And before you go, listen in to this episode of the podcast as Alphonse, Howard, and Joseph discuss finding connections with characters across a century, old souls, chemistry with your collaborators, basketball metaphors for your team, and finding new things with every new incarnation of your production.

“…you live them. You don’t act them. You live them. And this is a piece that allows me to do that. I tell people all the time, ‘I hate acting. But I love living.'”

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Edward Einhorn, Patrice Miller, and Gyda Arber of “Money Lab”

Untitled Theater Company #61 presents MONEY LAB at HERE Arts CenterIf you’re listening to this podcast, then it’s very likely you’re all-too-familiar with the sometimes-insurmountable-seeming economic barriers to creating independent theatre in New York (for info on some of the groups that are working to make it better, go back and listen to GSAS! Episode 150, on the Crisis to Creation Town Hall event).

But what about actively exploring economic realities on stage, as part of your theatre? How would you do that?

Economists said it wouldn’t be possible, but Untitled Theater Company #61‘s Edward Einhorn has proven them wrong with Money Lab. Billed as “an economic vaudeville,” you’re in for a night of scenes, music, dance, and performance around economic themes, running in a repertory style with different bills each night, all while two economies are created for (and by) the audience, and tracked in real-time.

Listen in as Edward, along with choreographer & assistant producer Patrice Miller and co-creator of the economic game performance Gyda Arber, discuss how you find an economist to perform in your independent theatre piece, finding the meaning of abstract economic terms through dance, determining the value of an artist’s time, and bailouts after bad bets by audience-members. Continue reading

Sylvia Milo, playwright & performer, & Nathan Davis, composer, of “The Other Mozart”

The Other Mozart by Sylvia MiloHistory, as we know, is always changing—it’s written by those in power, but power shifts. So as some of the bullshit of European patriarchy is shoveled away, it’s amazing what can be learned; for example, did you know that none of Mozart’s music survived?

…no, not Wolfgang Amadeus, we’ve got tons of his music, catalogued with it’s own fancy system. Here, we’re talking of The Other Mozart, his sister, Nannerl, who by all accounts played & composed as brilliantly as her brother, though most people don’t know her story.

As a regular listener to Go See a Show! however, you may remember this story, because performer Sylvia Milo (now the show’s playwright as well) was first on the podcast way back on episode #10 with the first iteration of this project, then called Mozart’s Sister. This new piece presents the story in a brilliant new way (though that fabulous dress remains), and features more incredible music from composers Phyllis Chen and Nathan Davis, the later of whom joins Sylvia on the mic for this episode.

Plus, the new title feels like it puts Nannerl on equal footing with Wolfie. Where she rightfully belongs.

Listen in as Sylvia & Nathan discuss finding the right teacups, why it’s likely Nannerl called Wolfgang a “shit-eater,” and creating the music inside a 18th-century composer’s head. Continue reading

Jonathan Draxton, playwright & performer, and Kevin O’Rourke, director, of “Soldier”

Soldier by Jonathan DraxtonThe theatre is “a place for seeing;” a place where we can ask the big difficult questions about what it means to be a human being in the world we’ve collectively made.

Soldier, written & performed by Jonathan Draxton and directed by Kevin O’Rourke, isn’t afraid to ask one of those very difficult questions: can we understand, and possibly forgive, someone who participated in some of the most appalling crimes in recorded human history? The play unfolds as a Nazi SS officer, waiting on the banks of the river Styx, recounts stories from his family & military life, all the while asking members of the audience for coins to pay for passage across the river for his men & himself.

Listen in as Jonathan, Kevin & I talk about provoking & inviting the audience into the performance, attempting to get at the humanity of a soldier, and “going through the fire.”

The Plowmen present
Soldier

Directed by Kevin O’Rourke
Written, performed and produced by Jonathan Draxton

December 11–22, 2012
HERE Arts Center
145 Sixth Avenue
Tickets available from the HERE website

Soldier by Jonathan Draxton, photo by Kenna Draxton