Listen in as collaborators on The Assembly’sSEAGULLMACHINE—conceiver/co-director Nick Benacerraf, co-director Jess Chayes, dramaturg Steven Aubrey, and performer Jax Jackson—discuss layering multiple theatrical sources, permission to find points of resonance, turning on a dime, the company’s development process, finding new roles through that process, bringing an audience into a world “oozing word-slime,” different versions of ourselves, and the question of whether or not theatre can produce change.
“…every night, by a certain time in the play, it feels like we’re also just people, human beings in a room with our audience. And that has been one of the most special experiences of it, to me…”
Listen in as Retro Productions Producing Artistic Director (and “Joan” in the show) Heather E. Cunningham, along with fellow performers Chad Anthony Miller & Ben Schnickel and playwright Gina Femia of We Are a Masterpiece, discuss multiple lenses, levity in the midst of suffering, what makes a play “aggressively contemporary” (and where that fits into the “retro” of Retro Productions), “the cyclical nature of prejudice,” healing through art, universality through specificity, what we’re capable of, and making the choice of love.
“…there’s always hope. Hope is always the way through tragedy, and despair. Yes, this is a very sad story, and yes, you will cry, and we cry. But there are beautiful things that happen when people, in the face of adversity, step up to the plate and do what’s best for their fellow human beings…”
Listen in as Echo creator & sound sculptor Ran Xia, along with director Nicholas Orvis and performers Andrea Lopez & Max Henry, discuss inspiration from books about harmonicas, moving from sound collage to stage play, improvising to audio, physicality with constantly changing things, handling nakedly honest material, timelessness vs. time specificity, and the importance of simply listening.
“…when I was editing them, it’s like, I could cry, like every second, every other track, because everybody was just so open, and very real. You get real very fast…”
Listen in as playwright/performer Manning Jordan, director Alice Cash, and performers Ashley Underwood & Ellie MacPherson of Dooley, performed as part of FRIGID 2018, discuss inspiration from disturbing 1960s board games, plunging psychological depths, collaboratively re-writing, re-naming in the interest of financial considerations, “sneaking around outside of classrooms” to meet your new collaborators, the benefits of inconsistent performance times, and sharing your most vulnerable self onstage.
“…my friends wouldn’t play it, they said ‘it’s all too heavy, we don’t want to get into it.’ So then I went home, and I wrote the play as if we had played it…”
Listen in as Tessa Flannery, playwright/performer of the new play Tentacles in the 2018 FRIGID Festival, along with her director, Rebecca Cunningham, discuss naming your characters after your actors, keeping calm in the face of technical difficulties, “on-brand failure,” and how to layer difficult social issues into your show about hentai.
“…I love working on shows that have strong women as the leads, but I also really love when they’re flawed, and the character Tessa is not perfect, and is certainly privileged and is coming at it from that perspective, and so we throw that at her…”
Listen in as performer Mariah Freda & director/”script assembler” Melissa Moschitto of The Anthropologists‘ new show Artemisia’s Intent discuss the company’s approach to devising, the well-meaning wish of “break a frame,” skirts from tablecloths, working from found texts, activating original art, and the resonance of 17th Century baroque painting with #MeToo.
“…pressing up these two points in time, with 400 years in between them, there’s actually still a lot with us, and we’re trying to point that out, and be, like, ‘now what?’ Let’s move forward from that…”
Listen in as the team behind the world premiere of Pete Rex—playwright Alexander V. Thompson, director Brad Raimondo, and performers Greg Carere, Simon Winheld, and Rosie Sowa—discuss the uses & dangers of fantasy, making your hometown a central character in your script, eerie resonance with the political moment, fun actor challenges, familiarity with the characters and situations onstage, loving someone while hating their inaction, crossing Ionesco with Albee, and, of course, dinosaurs.
“…this place that had been something, and turned into kind of a ‘non-place’ through the loss of industry, and the loss of jobs, and the economy. And we were all, ‘that feels like it should be in here now’…I think that’s something that we really want people to take away…the experience of these places…that have gone from thriving, to nowhere, and what that does to people…”
Listen in as playwright Jennifer Fell Hayes and actor Kate Grimes of Rosemary and Time discuss beginning with a true story before letting the playwright’s imagination take over, mastering the Yorkshire accent, figuring out where in time your play begins, issues of class in the U.K. vs. the U.S., throwing in local turns of phrase, and dealing with issues of “shame and grief and connection and the past and guilt.”
“…having met the two women […] I really was very, very touched by what had happened to them, and promised them I would really try to do the best I could…a truthful play that might say something about the human condition, about love and loss and life, all those major, major themes that we try to wrestle with…”
Listen in as actor Peter Buck Dettmann (“Brody”), director Ben Liebert, and playwright/actor Larry Phillips (“Davey”) of Koalas are Dicks discuss turning a six-foot man into a koala, finding sight gags, inspiration from Charlie Sheen, writing to your actor’s Aussie accent, finding a balance between groan-worthy and intellectual humor, and using abstraction through the absurd to get closer to the ridiculous & terrible truth.
“…there’s a lovely irony that the koala is the only one who seems to understand how worthless what they’re doing is…it is very liberating, that fantasy element…being a six-foot-tall dude playing a tiny koala, if the audience follows you on that, they’re with you…”
Listen in as writer & performer Brett Evan Solomon, director & performer Kelsey Lurie, and performer Gabriel Vasquez of SOMEONEPLEASELISTENANDUNDERSTAND (they’re wiretapping our brains) discuss collaborative creation, mediatization, putting a podcast into the live theatre realm, “abstracting feelings,” how technology and the people around you can shape identity, surveillance, and developing a shared language with your close collaborators.
“…that screen is not a threat to me as a performer; that’s my friend…”