Greg Kotis and Ayun Halliday of “Lunchtime” & “Zamboni Godot”

Theater of the Apes presents LUNCHTIME, written and directed by Greg KotisTheater of the Apes presents ZAMBONI GODOT, written and directed by Ayun HallidayListen in as Lunchtime writer/director Greg Kotis and Zamboni Godot writer/director Ayun Halliday discuss what it’s like to direct your own writing, physical transformations, adventures in parenting, “director” as “general contractor,” casting drinking buddies, getting outside your comfort zone, and what it’s like making theatre when you have—and then later, with—a family.

“To me, the ideal artist life is that you can do something like this, this residency, where you do whatever you want…just for fun, it’s why we came to it in the first place…Of course you want to have those projects and those opportunities that make money, and that can reach broader audiences, and that can have a life beyond. To have a variety, a diversity of work that you do, in a diversity of spaces, is really the ideal, I think…”

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Matthew Freeman, Kyle Ancowitz, Moira Stone, David DelGrosso, and Mick O’Brien of “That Which Isn’t”

Theater Accident presents Matthew Freeman's THAT WHICH ISN'T at The Brick, directed by Kyle AncowitzThat Which Isn’t is not an easy play to describe—but it is one that will make you lean forward in your chair. Through two acts, each featuring just two characters, mostly only talking, this brilliant production will draw you in with it’s beautiful simplicity.

Playwright Matthew Freeman and director Kyle Ancowitz, last heard together on GSAS! when they discussed their collaboration on Why We Left Brooklyn, provide all the tools needed for the wonderful actors Moira Stone, David DelGrosso, and Mick O’Brien to take you on a journey that I think will get you the way it got me. Or, as David says in the interview, they will “catch you feeling,” like they did me.

Listen in as the team discusses misdirection vs. tricks, the feeling of being cast out into space while onstage, individualized receptions by the audience, helpful stage directions, and “the distance between what we hope is true and what is true.”

“…as conventional of a structure as the play has…what to me is exciting about it is that it’s not a play that tells you what to feel about people. It leaves a lot of room for people to be inconsistent within their own characters, to have moments that are out of character for them, to do things that surprise themselves. It doesn’t make it easy on the audience to always know if there’s a side, or what side to pick, or…how to judge someone moment to moment…”

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Lauren Swan-Potras, Jon Riddleberger, and John Kurzynowski of “Rhinbecca, NY”

Theater Reconstruction Ensemble presents Rhinbecca, NY at The BrickDark yet humorous, absurd but vaguely political, Theatre Reconstruction Ensemble‘s Rhinbecca, NY occupies a strange place between the source material of the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the plays of Eugene Ionesco, letting the audience draw their own conclusions from the action onstage.

GSAS! correspondent Tara Gadomski took a trip out to The Brick in Brooklyn to check out a performance; listen in as she and director John Kurzynowski, who also conceived the piece, and two members of the ensemble who performed and created the show, Lauren Swan-Potras and Jon Riddleberger, discuss TRE’s mode for devising, theatrical moments as questions, the balance between source material and the entirely new, and “the strange middle ground between suspense and the absurd.”

“…what we mean by reconstruction is that we take classic and canonical works and theatricalities, and we play with it, and we say, what does that mean to us now, and how do we interact with that? So when we investigate Hitchcock…it’s our idea of what Hitchcock means. It’s staying true to that, and not trying to recreate something perfectly, but say, ‘this thing exists here, we exist over here, what’s that middle ground?’ And that’s the playing space that we inhabit when we’re creating work…”

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Trish Harnetiaux, Katherine Brook, and Jess Barbagallo of “How to Get Into Buildings”

New Georges presents How to Get Into Buildings, a new play by Trish Harnetiaux, directed by Katherine BrookConvention halls, brunch, fish all over the highway, shoot-outs—they all come together in New Georges’ world premiere of How to Get Into Buildings, currently playing at The Brick.

Working with the structure of an “exploded view,” playwright Trish Harnetiaux has built a dark, playful, at times absurd love-story, directed by Katherine Brook and featuring Jess Barbagallo as Ethan Cambabert.

Listen in as Trish, Katherine, and Jess discuss inspiration from installation art, slippage, dialogue in the rehearsal room, and how “dark rom-com” needs to be its own genre.

“Do you know what an exploded view is?…all these parts are going to come together and form a thing, but the really cool thing is the diagram that you see that shows you each tiny bit. This play is like all those tiny bits that form a larger picture…”

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Liz Thaler and Lauren Miller of “Happy”

In Extremis Theater Company presents Happy, written by Liz Thaler and directed by Lauren MillerYour ever-humble GSAS! producer is sound designing a great play that’s being produced as part of F*ckFest at The Brick in Williamsburg—and because I have editorial control over this here podcast, well, this is an episode about it.

Even if I weren’t working on the show, I’d still be excited to have playwright Liz Thaler and director Lauren Miller join me on the mic to talk about this “love story with a few kinks,” Happy. That’s because I’m extremely proud of the work everyone’s done on the show, and I think you’ll enjoy it, too. Go see this one, y’all.

Listen in as Liz and Lauren discuss how this “Shotz” piece proved itself to be the germ of a larger play, personal vs. professional BDSM, status, power, mystery, and what really makes us happy.

“…nobody’s left out of the story. Nobody has to come in and be, like, ‘oh, that’s not my kink,’ because some of the fantasies aren’t ever said out loud—so they get to fill it in with whatever’s scariest. Or whatever’s sexiest. So I think that allows the audience to identify with something that sometimes people are terrified to identify with, which is their own raw human sexuality.”

Quick point of order: the play and this podcast episode acknowledge the existence of sexual behavior among human beings, and some of that behavior might be outside the realm of what you’re used to seeing depicted in pop music videos and teen comedies; no discretion advised, but you’ve been notified.

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Nat Cassidy, Matthew Trumbull, and Arthur Aulisi of “The Temple, or, Lebensraum”

The Temple, or, Lebensraum, written and directed by Nat Cassidy, at The Brick TheaterIt surprised me to hear that Nat Cassidy‘s new work The Temple, or, Lebensraum, currently running at The Brick, was based on a story by godfather of horror H. P. Lovecraft, because in all my collections of the man’s writings, I hadn’t read it.

It’s an early piece of his, available for free online, so I breezed through it on my way to the theatre. But where the original is a small (and, truth be told, somewhat weak) tale from 1920 set on a German submarine in World War I, Cassidy’s adaptation moves that submarine to 1943 (and is anything but weak).

While it’s completely unnecessary to read the story in advance, if you’re familiar with it, you’ll see a lot that’s familiar (dolphins!); but you’ll also quickly realize this isn’t just a stage adaptation. This is full adaptation, pulling the undersea dread of Lovecraft’s short story from simply a fear of the unknown into a complex play simultaneously weaving in fear of a well-known terror that humanity constantly struggles with: the fight amongst ourselves for power, and self-preservation.

Now that’s horror.

Listen in as Nat, along with two of the show’s actors, Arthur Aulisi and Matthew Trumbull, discuss why this particular Lovecraft story and why it’s set in WWII, “terrible things,” finding authentic costumes for your show, I am Providence, and dealing with things that are way too huge for the human mind.

“I try to parse out what it is in our souls, or in our psyches…why it is that we find chaos so terrifying. What does it make us ask, what does it force us to confront about ourselves…to find the humanity in horror…”

“There’s a very strong…you can’t even call it an undercurrent, it’s the main current of the show, is joking, and humor…one of the many reasons for that is horror and humor are hand in hand, they’re so intricately related…”

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Matthew Freeman, playwright of “The Listeners”

The Brick Theater presents The Listeners, by Matthew FreemanWhen you walk in to The Brick to see Matthew Freeman‘s play The Listeners, directed by Michael Gardner, you’re seeing the back of scenic flats—you might think you came in the stage door.

But you didn’t. Follow those flats around, and you won’t get to your seat “in front of” the set. Your seat is right there at the back of those flats; you’re intentionally on the outside, looking in on a lovely set through a small slit in the wall (or through a one-way mirror, if you’re lucky).

It’s a unique way to see a unique play, and, as the title would suggest, this restriction on your sight highlights the sounds. Listening to those sounds, along with your own private window into the world, you follow the story of a man and a woman who’ve arrived to a house, and the people who were already there—and all the while, time seems to be running out, for something, as an unknowable sound bears down on the people in the box you’re peering into.

This is quite a different show from what we discussed last time Matt was on the podcast, but he’s just as awesome to talk to as last time. Listen in as he discusses the translation from improvisation to page to stage, the sound of his play, creating nameless fear, and letting your influences be what you are.

“It wears all its influences on its sleeve; I think if you just don’t fight that stuff…the piece of it that is uniquely me will come through anyway…” Continue reading

Robert Honeywell, actor, and David Cote, director of “Something Something Über Alles (Das Jackpot)”

"Something Something Über Alles (Das Jackpot)" by Assurbanipal Babilla, performed by Robert Honeywell, directed by David Cote We all want to belong.

And, as the great poet Zimmerman has said, you gotta serve somebody.

Something Something Über Alles (Das Jackpot) is a complex & horrifying exploration into those very basic human needs, told through the recounting of a tale of a man who looks a lot like Adolf Hitler that becomes the center of a secret cult. While there’s only one actor onstage for this 90-minute piece, it’s a thrill-ride of a show.

Listen in as director David Cote and the sole actor, Robert Honeywell, recount the history of their relationship with the playwright, their friend Assurbanipal’s (Bani’s) work, herd mentality, feedback, how sex, politics, and religion collide in celebrity, and the leap from there to our social media obsession.

…oh, and happy 15th birthday, Horse Trade!

“Bani’s text has it’s own velocity somehow…it just moves, and it’s beautiful text, and the emotions and the imagery that he paints just surges. It’s really just full of life…”

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Justin Plowman, Nicole Lee Aiossa, and Amy Overman of “Final Defenders”

Dysfunctional Theatre Company presents "Final Defenders"I love returning guests. The conversation can be nice and free and candid, and it’s just plain fun — but then again, all of my experiences with the good folks at Dysfunctional Theatre Company have been fun. Maybe it just gets fun-ner?

That’s not a word.

Either way, welcome, Justin Plowman & Amy Overman, back to the podcast — and welcome Nicole Lee Aiossa for the first time. Nicole & Justin co-directed, and Nicole & Amy co-star in this new play by Patrick Storck (writer of the Brew of the Dead plays, featured on one of the earliest GSAS! episodes with Amy & Justin), about a team of time-traveling game-masters who battle an evil interstellar queen, playing now as part of The Brick Theater‘s Game Play Festival.

Listen in as Justin, Nicole, and Amy discuss Google Doc dramaturgy, 1980s montage-style dance-breaks, letting the audience in on the joke, and the cup-and-ball.

“You don’t know who Karnov is? Fire-breathing communist from 1980? Ok. All right. That’s fine.”

Dysfunctional Theatre Company presents

Final Defenders

by Patrick Storck
directed by Nicole Lee Aiossa & Justin Plowman

part of Game Play, at The Brick
thru July 26, 2013

tickets & showtimes available via OvationTix

Dysfunctional Theatre Company presents "Final Defenders," photo by Flaviu NasarimbaDysfunctional Theatre Company presents "Final Defenders," photo by Flaviu NasarimbaDysfunctional Theatre Company presents "Final Defenders," photo by Justin Plowman

photos 1 & 2 by Flaviu Nasarimba; final image by Justin Plowman

Robert Honeywell, playwright, and Leah Bonvissuto, director, of “Mass”

"Mass" by Robert Honeywell, photos by Joe KolbowVan Gogh. Gauguin. Duchamp.

Add to that list Pablo. Not Picasso. Just Pablo.

If that makes no sense to you, then you need to travel from New York to Vancouver to Shanghai along with Robert Honeywell‘s new musical Mass, as it follows the story of the troubled young artist Mary, her girlfriend Françoise (who becomes the aforementioned Pablo, an internationally-celebrated artist), and Mary’s art-dealer sister Kate, exploring the limits of art, commerce, love, and family.

Listen in as Robert and director Leah Bonvissuto discuss breaking the boundaries of art, the arc of study needed to write a musical about the art-world, and the struggle between different visions of what art can be — including the art of theatre.

“Art, love, & blood.”

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