Mac Rogers and Sean Williams of “Universal Robots”

Gideon Productions and The Sheen Center present Universal Robots, written by Mac Rogers, directed by Jordana WilliamsGideon Productions has been on the podcast before with the excellent shows Ligature Marks and Asymmetric, and the company’s continually been on the rise since I’ve met them, garnering more well-deserved press and accolades.

Now, playwright Mac Rogers is being featured in The New York Times, and the company is collaborating with larger venues to bring past-produced epics like The Honeycomb Trilogy and the now-running Universal Robots back to New York audiences.

But these aren’t simple re-mounts—as producer Sean Williams notes in the interview, the world has changed since the first production of the show. By bringing back hits from their catalogue, not only is Gideon giving audiences what they’ve been asking for (in Mac’s words, “You have to have a good reason to think it’s a show anybody wants to come back…There are some plays people have never stopped talking to me about…”), the company can also bring them to more audiences, do them on the grand scale they deserve, and the plays can now talk to a different world.

Listen in as Mac and Sean discuss how Universal Robots isn’t an adaptation of R.U.R., the freedom of now vs. even just ten years ago, life imitating art imitating life, the end of a play’s natural life, and the next steps for the evolution of a highly-successful indy theatre company.

“One of the characters sort of sneers at the idea that theater’s supposed to be fun. [Another] says, ‘Of course theatre’s supposed to be fun! Why have rigging above the stage if you’re not going to dangle a god?’

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Mac Rogers, Kate Middleton, & Sean Williams of “Asymmetric”

Asymmetric by Mac Rogers at 59E59, directed by Jordana WilliamsSome things just go great together. Turkey & stuffing. Pumpkin pie & whipped cream. Calvin & Hobbes.

Add to that list the theatre companies Gideon & Ground UP, who have teamed up to present Mac Rogers‘s Asymmetric at 59E59.

Listen in as Mac, along with the show’s co-stars Kate Middleton and Sean Williams, Artistic Director of Ground UP and Producer/Founding Member of Gideon, respectively, discuss working with your friends, bringing downtown to 59th Street, inspiration from The Cure, and why we need a spy thriller set in 2015, in 2014.

As with my last interviews with these cats — Mac & Sean’s episode with Rebecca Comtois, for Gideon’s show Ligature Marks, and Kate’s episode with Catya McMullen and Scott Klopfenstein for Ground UP’s Rubber Ducks and Sunsets — this is a great, in-depth interview, so it’s worth the slightly longer run-time. I do hope you’ll take a listen.

“…and it’s incredibly exciting—it’s like you get to have your smartest friend debating himself, and spinning the chess board and playing black as hard as he’s playing white. And that’s really cool…” Continue reading

Mariah MacCarthy, playwright and producer of “Sex With Robots”

Mariah MacCarthy, playwright and producer of Caps Lock Theatre's "Sex With Robots" festival88 episodes from the launch of this little podcast, we come full circle, with the return of playwright (and guest on the inaugural episode of the show) Mariah MacCarthy to the mic.

The company she artistic directs, CAPS LOCK THEATRE, is currently running a festival at The Secret Theater in Queens called Sex With Robots, with eight brand new short plays (and a song cycle) all featuring — appropriately enough — sex with robots.

Listen in as Mariah and I discuss the sharing of internet scraps involving robot sex, our real world selves vs. our data doubles, how much we both love Gus Schulenburg, and why the artists of this festival are bringing sex with robots to the stage.

“Why sex with robots?”
“Why not?”

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Mac Rogers, Rebecca Comtois, and Sean Williams of “Ligature Marks”

"Game Play" festival at The Brick TheaterMac Rogers is a playwright I seemed to keep missing — for example, I got back into town just late enough to miss the last performance of Advance Man, for which I had a ticket, and I was completely out of town for the entire run of Frankenstein Upstairs. And yet, I kept hearing great things about his work.

Turns out those things were dead on. Now I’m even more disappointed I missed those previous two shows.

His latest play, which he also stars in, is Ligature Marks, a noir story embedded in a domestic drama with an MMORPG backdrop. It’s not as confusing as I just made it sound. And it’s well-worth your 75 minutes in the theater.

Mac and his co-star Rebecca Comtois, along with Gideon Productions producer Sean Williams, sat down with me after a performance last weekend over a beer in the Alligator Lounge for a long conversation that covered a whole lot of super-interesting ground — and, included a beautifully-worded segment about why and how one can become an effective producer. Essential listening for those of you who want to make your own work.

Listen in as Mac, Rebecca, and Sean discuss playing damaged people onstage, stage names vs. who we actually are, why one shouldn’t hate on what other people like (even if it’s the Twilight series), how to talk down playwrights & directors when they’re freaking out, and creating theatre (and podcasts) as part of the long-term cultural conversation.

“…as a producer…your whole life is storytelling. Your whole life is inventing narratives, your whole life is acting, your whole life is playing characters, so I think for people who don’t like producing, but do like to act and do like to write, I think it’s possible that they’re looking at producing the wrong way…”

(seriously, one of the coolest pieces of advice we’ve gotten on the podcast) Continue reading