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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Kayla Jackmon, Meredith Owens, Kara Ayn Napolitano, and Rosie Kolbo of “Rubbermatch”

Red Caravan presents Paz Pardo's RUBBERMATCH, directed by Andrew Willis-WoodwardWhen an old friend from college arrives to visit after so many years apart, what do you want to do? Maybe get drunk, have a dance party to records you both used to love, reminisce about friends and that crazy party…

That’s just what happens for Nina and Ceci in Red Caravan‘s Rubbermatch—but through those moments of reconnection, wounds from the past are re-opened, and new truths behind a tragedy are revealed.

Listen in as actors Kayla Jackmon (Ceci) and Meredith Owens (Nina), along with producers/Red Caravan company members Kara Ayn Napolitano and Rosie Kolbo, discuss trusting the awkward pauses, how to name your new company, gauging how drunk you should be through your show, and how you can do more stuff with your run (and do it for a good cause).

“Our tag line is, ‘when can a friend’s help become an act of violence?’…it’s hard to describe what the show is, because there is a story that is told, but it’s more feelings, experience and feelings…”

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Allyson Morgan and Mara Kassin of “The Spring Fling: Crush”

F*It Club presents Spring Fling: CrushLooking for your big break? Auditioning over and over again? Sending out tons of feeler e-mails? Feel like you’re spinning your wheels, waiting for someone to notice your talent?

F*** it. Go out and make something yourself.

That’s the motto, and of course the inspiration for the name, of F*It Club. And it’s the kind of motto that GSAS! can get behind. The company is currently producing their annual Spring Fling of new short plays, this year around the theme of Crush.

Listen in as the company’s Executive Director and festival producer (as well as actor in the show) Allyson Morgan and Associate Producer/fellow actor Mara Kassin discuss audacity, finding themes, finding collaborators, finding solutions to last-minute casting issues, and treating short form work with respect.

“…what F*It Club was founded on is this idea of, ‘why are we waiting for people to give us work? Eff it, let’s make our own work,’ of being audacious and asking people whose work we really admired, whose work we really wanted to be a part of, to work with us…”

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Cave Theatre Company’s “Gruesome Playground Injuries”

Cave Theatre Company presents Rajiv Joseph's GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIESLove hurts.

In Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries, it hurts a whole lot. Like face-split-open, teeth-knocked-out, razor-blade-cut, horrible-fireworks-accident maims. And the scars it leaves aren’t only on the bodies of protagonists Doug & Kayleen.

Cave Theatre Company, rounding out their first year of productions, is staging Joseph’s dark relationship dramedy at Under St. Mark’s as part of their residency with Frigid New York; listen in as director James Masciovecchio, actors Kiley Caughey and Alex Etling, and their fellow Cave crew, co-producers Josh Triplett and Cassie Wood, discuss getting rights to your favorite play in a nail-biting photo-finish, inspiration from podcasts (really!), leaning into theatricality, making bad Tinder dating stories into theatre, and why you should just get your friends together and make something.

…we want to see real stories on stage. We want to see honest stories, and try not to sugar-coat things, and try not to show things for what they aren’t…

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Recent Cutbacks’ “Fly, You Fools!”

Recent Cutbacks presents FLY, YOU FOOLS! at The PITThe brilliant comedic team of Recent Cutbacks didn’t exist, at least not in name, when they were last on the podcast with their incredible Hold on to Your Butts.

But luckily for all of us, they’re back, and this time, instead of dinosaurs, they’re taking on elves, dwarves, orcs, wizards, eagles, and, of course, hobbits, with Fly, You Fools!

On the mic are the show’s producer Allyson Morgan, as well as returning guests, director Kristin McCarthy Parker and performers Nick Abeel and Kyle Schaefer; and now, added to the team are performer Matt Zambrano, and foley artist Blair Busbee, all of whom sat in for a chat about their wonderful new show.

Listen in as the Recent Cutbacks team discusses why they moved to The Fellowship of the Ring from Jurassic Park, dancey, movementy, mimey things, the danger of inciting a nerd riot, finding the sound of your show as it continues to change, and how to deal with prop mishaps in real time.

“…in the rehearsal process, we sort of found that the more epic the film was, the less props we needed. We could get away with more, with less…actually, we don’t need these hundred wigs, or these extra props, when we can tell the story just through physicality. Which I think is actually more joyful for the audience…” Continue reading

Patricia Lynn, Annie Branson, and Lauren Lubow of “Fen”

Red Garnet Theater Company presents Caryl Churchill's FEN, directed by Patricia Lynn

“…it’s become about women, and the role that we play in what we want, and what we do to go after it. What do we feel that we’re entitled to, what are our aspirations, and what are the obstacles getting in our way?”

Caryl Churchill’s Fen follows the lives/stories/desires of several women working in the drained marshland of Fenland, England—and for the artists at Red Garnet Theater Company, it’s about that quote above, an exploration that continues now in 2016, despite the play being written over 30 years ago.

GSAS! corespondent Tara Gadomski takes you underground at IATI Theater’s Black Box for a conversation with director Patricia Lynn, associate producer/actor Annie Branson, and Red Garnet Artistic Director Lauren Lubow; listen in as they discuss why Fen now, finding performance opportunities for your company members, how to get the rights to a play by a notable living playwright, UK pop references of the ’80s, getting creative to prop your show, and why it’s so important to just be cool when you’re in this industry.

“…the imbalance that you have between men and women in this industry is huge. And I think there are so many women out there that have so much to say, and we haven’t heard it. And I think that the idea of light, which I found so fitting that Patty found that theme throughout this play, is, where can we shine the light, and what can we uncover and unearth..?”

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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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DeLisa M. White, Heather E. Cunningham, Ryan Pater, and Rebecca Gray Davis of “Good Boys and True”

Retro Productions presents Good Boys and True, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, directed by DeLisa M. WhiteRetro Productions is back with another revival of a 20th Century play, directly in line with their mission “to broaden our own understanding of the world we live in.” Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Good Boys and True may be set in 1988, but the issues of class, privilege, sexuality, and violence feel uncomfortably current.

Listen in as director DeLisa M. White and Producing Artistic Director of Retro Productions and actor Heather E. Cunningham, as well as fellow actors Ryan Pater and Rebecca Gray Davis, discuss high school flashbacks, the importance of punctuation, laughter from struck nerves, what happens when your mom’s in the audience, pulling from personal experience, and how this “retro” play resonates into the past, our present, and, sadly, probably into the future.

“One of the lines in the play is, ‘Everything is broken.’ That’s what happens…when you hear that headline in the news, the tentacles and roots of that problem expand far beyond what you see in the news, or even in the situation if you’re in it…”

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Lizzie Vieh, Aleisha Force, Russell Jonas, and Donny Repsher of “Barrier Islands”

Barrier Islands, written by Lizzie Vieh, directed by Zi Alikhan, featuring Aleisha Force and Russell Jonas, produced by Donny Repsher“Do your own work.”

As one of the guests on this episode notes, that’s a common suggestion to independent theatre practitioners—and the thought of it can exhaust even the most ambitious of artists.

But sometimes, you discover that the people immediately around you—classmates, coworkers, colleagues—can come together to make something awesome.

As you’ll hear in this episode, that impulse to make something brought together the collaborators of Barrier Islands, a brilliant play written by Lizzie Vieh, directed by Zi Alikhan, produced by Donny Repsher, and beautifully acted by Aleisha Force and Russell Jonas. Inspired by true crime, Barrier Islands appears at first to be a crime procedural or whodunnit, that as it unfolds actually becomes an exploration into various modes of violence against women.

Listen in as Lizzie, Aleisha, Russell, and Donny discuss the parts of ourselves that we’re hiding, dialogue that just rolls off the tongue, finding distinct characters, imposing deadlines, disovering collaborators at your day-job, and how having one more beer might make you a producer.

“…the style of restaurant in which we work has a style of service that makes us depend on one another quite frequently, so I knew that I could trust her as a person. And then I went to see her as a playwright, and you put those two things together, and you go, ‘oh!’…”
“She can write a play, and she will get that ketchup to my table.”
“She will! She won’t forget that ketchup, and she can write a play. Winner, winner.”

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Jake Lipman and Molly Ballerstein of “The Inn at Lake Devine”

Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions presents The Inn at Lake Devine, adapted for the stage by Jake Lipman from the novel by Elinor LipmanAt the age of 14, if someone told me I couldn’t do something, I might get pretty righteously indignant, but likely would have felt powerless to do something about it, and then moved on to the next thing to be righteously indignant about.

In Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions‘ The Inn at Lake Devine, at age 14, protagonist Natalie is so affronted when her mother receives a letter suggesting, essentially, that there are “no Jews allowed” at the titular inn…well, she finagles a way to get there herself, to see just what’s up with that. That’s the inciting incident for a pretty epic memory play of love, loss, discrimination, and acceptance between three families through the ’60s and ’70s.

Listen in as Jake Lipman, TIC Producing Artistic Director/adaptor of the play/”Natalie” and fellow metaphorical multi-hat-wearer (but literally often sporting a fedora) Associate Producer/Assistant Director/Stage Manager Molly Ballerstein discuss how personal experiences helped to bring TIC to adapting this play, what it’s like to adapt a novel to a play, teaching/practicing space work, the importance of great designers, and what’s next for Tongue in Cheek.

“…there’s that element of my experiencing something [like this] at a similar age to Natalie, and then I just love her chutzpah and her moxie…she has a flair for the dramatic which I really enjoy.”

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