Melissa Moschitto, Malini Singh McDonald, Alex Randrup, Brian Demar Jones, Jean Goto, Mariah Freda, and Michael Ables of “No Man’s Land”

The Anthropologists present NO MAN'S LAND, photo by Victoria Medina PhotographyWhat do you do if your daughter wants to be a real-life princess?

If you’re Jeremiah Heaton, you buy a plot of land in Africa, call it North Sudan, and make your little girl’s dream come true.

But as the poster, at left, for The Anthropologists’ No Man’s Land attests, fantasy endings like this can become something else entirely once your eyes are opened to the realities of life in the 21st Century. The very real, very complicated issues of colonialism, racism, capitalism, gender, and more come to the fore of the fairy tale in this devised show, currently playing at TheaterLab in Manhattan.

Listen in as director/writer Melissa Moschitto, assistant director/assistant producer Alex Randrup, producer Malini Singh McDonald, and actors Brian Demar Jones, Jean Goto, Mariah Freda, and Michael Ables discuss their devising process, a nice suit that doesn’t quite fit you, finding a way to get 99.9% of what you want while producing without an off-Broadway budget, and finding the play through failing to find the way to tell the story.

“…those are the parts that resonate the most, when suddenly we’re just having a conversation. And it allows you to kind of have those thoughts performed for you by people…I feel like a lot of people, when it comes to the issues of this country […] you start just echoing the same thoughts, the first round of arguments. And I think what’s so great about this show is that it lets you kind of get past that…”

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Jason Sofge, Dustin Charles, Kristin Wetherington, Dereks Thomas, and Tony Del Bono of “Anonymous, Anonymous”

Pogue Mahone Productions presents ANONYMOUS, ANONYMOUS by Jason Sofge, part of FringeNYC 2016This episode’s going up on a Saturday, which is a little weird, I know, but it’s Fringe-time, y’all, and I wanted to be sure you had a couple chances to catch this lovely show.

Jason Sofge, last heard on the podcast while performing in the excellent Fatty Fatty No Friends, presents his first full-length play, Anonymous, Anonymous, which he wrote, co-directed, and produced. Time in the play shifts a lot, and the structure is unusual (the playwright himself describes it as “metaphysical”), but as the story unfolds and reveals itself, there’s a ton of humor, heart, and truth to the piece.

Listen in as Jason and several members of the cast—Dustin Charles, Kristin Wetherington, Dereks Thomas, and Tony Del Bono—discuss developing your first play, “the one that got away,” breaking the rules to “defy the commercial construct of the modern theatre,” surprising your audience, and why we do this crazy theatre thing at all.

“…I think, as artists, when we have to deal with something that’s really painful, we have to use it, we have to make something productive out of it…”

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Jake Lipman, Molly Ballerstein, and Jennifer Teska of “Women Playing Hamlet”

Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions presents Women Playing Hamlet, written by William Missouri Downs and directed by Molly BallersteinTheatre in the United States is in the midst of a deep, important and ground-breaking conversation about gender and racial equality on stage. Can actors play historical figures of a different race? (Answer: YES.) Can women play roles originally written for men (Answer: YES.) And while this evolution in the theatre is a positive step, it’s curious to think about how an individual actor might process being cast in a non-traditional way.

In Women Playing Hamlet, a young female actor, Jessica, is cast as Hamlet. The rehearsal process leads to a breakdown of sorts with a brutal and and hysterically funny examination of Jessica’s life as Midwestern Millennial woman who shed her accent during her MFA training and now survives in New York as a barista and occasional soap-opera star. Jessica, with the help of a rotating cast of outrageous characters from her life, try to figure out if the iconic Shakespearean role can be played by a young woman, and, if indeed, Hamlet might actually be female.

Literature scholars will appreciate the sharp debate in the script, but you really don’t have to know anything about the Bard to laugh out loud at this Mel Brooks-esque comedy, presented by Tongue in Cheek Theatre Productions.

Go See a Show! correspondent Tara Gadomski sat down with TIC Artistic Director & actor Jake Lipman, the show’d director Molly Ballerstein, and actor Jen Teska—listen in as they discuss the progression of their own thinking on Shakespeare, where to source six prop skulls, why Tongue in Cheek has thrived for the past eleven years, and the central question of the play: can a woman play Hamlet?

“Hamlet is one of those iconic roles. I’ve heard—usually ac-TORS—say that there is ‘before Hamlet’ and ‘after Hamlet’ in their career…When I was younger I struggled with the idea of a female Hamlet because I was trying to figure out how it would work in the context of the rest of the play. Gender politics are such a part of the play that when I was younger I couldn’t wrap my head around how it would work. But the more I’ve studied the play, and looked at the role, the more interested I am in seeing a female Hamlet…Hamlet as a woman. I think with the right director and right actress, I would love to see that.”

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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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