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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Jeremy J. Kamps, playwright, Danny Sharron, director, and Lillian Rodriguez, actress, of “What It Means to Disappear Here”

Ugly Rhino's "What It Means to Disappear Here"For the second episode in a row, GSAS! heads to the nation of Colombia (via the magic of theatre, of course), this time with Ugly Rhino’s What It Means to Disappear Here.

Initially set in a café in Cartagena (where the audience sits, along with the actors), What It Means… is the story of Yulieth, a young Colombian woman who is meeting Mitch for the first time — the norteamericano man who wants to buy her as his wife. Through a series of flashbacks-and-forwards, along with some brilliant use of radio broadcasts, the audience follow the paths that brought Yulieth & Mitch to that initial meeting, and its aftermath.

Listen in as playwright Jeremy J. Kamps, director Danny Sharron, and actress Lillian Rodriguez discuss eavesdropping on a marriage deal and writing a play about it, focusing on the human story, and what makes somebody care.

“What is the role of theatre…in a drama bringing forth political issues…what is our role in the off-off-Broadway world, bringing a play like this?”

“To me, it is the role.”

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