The Playwrights & Directors of “The Refugee Plays”

THE REFUGEE PLAYS in The Frigid Festival 2017Listen in as playwrights Charles Gershman (also the Artistic Director of the producing company, Snowy Owl), Callie KimballCarlos Castro, and Sean E. Cunningham, as well as directors Rachel Dart, Logan Reed, and Dan Dinero, discuss the influence of current events, tragedy in timeless stories, superficial logic, how the outside world seeps into the rehearsal room, ethical casting, how to unite a series of short plays, and what theatre is supposed to do in difficult times.

“…I don’t think any of us want to have to write plays about topics like these, but things are pretty bad right now, and so I think we all responded to the sort of global call to draw attention to an issue that we think is important right now…”

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Dan Bianchi and R. Patrick Alberty of RadioTheatre’s 8th Annual H. P. Lovecraft Festival

RadioTheatre presents The 8th Annual H. P. Lovecraft Festival at The Kraine TheaterThis is now the fourth time I’ve done a podcast about RadioTheatre‘s annual H. P. Lovecraft Festival (now in its 8th year!)—and as long as they keep doing Lovecraft, I’m going to keep going to see their shows.

Fans of radio drama and/or horror fiction will definitely find something to love, as creator/director Dan Bianchi dramatizes 8 different stories from Lovecraft’s deep catalogue of weird tales, enlisting the vocal talents of actors like R. Patrick Alberty to bring them to life for your ears, live, onstage.

Listen in as Dan and Patrick discuss the company’s adaptation process, how the festival has changed through 8 editions, what can happen when you exceed audience expectations, why we need horror tales, and how this is the kind of experience only RadioTheatre can bring you.

“…we’re asking the audience to participate, to use your imagination…back in the days of radio, everyone sat around the radio in the living room in the dark…and they had to use their imagination to provide the visuals. And here we are, going back to that, the simplest form of theatre there was, sitting around the campfire in the dark, telling stories…” Continue reading

Katie Palmer and Paul Bedard of “The Debates”

Theater in Asylum presents The DebatesTheater = Politics = Theater = Politics

If you’ve seen that equation on a t-shirt around the independent theatre world in NYC of late, then you’ve seen someone who’s worked on or seen Theater in Asylum‘s ever-changing The Debates.

It’s the perfect slogan for a project theatricalizing the Democratic Presidential Primary debates, with the intent to bring theatre people to the political process, and political people into the theater—and it sounds like the project is doing its intended work.

GSAS! sat down with the show’s director, Paul Bedard, and choreographer, Katie Palmer, to discuss how they trained their team, how to balance a scene, how to handle material that’s moving so quickly, why they’re focusing on only the Democratic Party, the actual differences between Hillary and Bernie (and how to present them fairly), and “who am I, who are you, who are we.”

I think one of the reasons people stay out is that it seems like such a big thing, that if, “I’m not in it already, it’s just too much to learn, and I don’t want to get involved.” And I think people stay away from theaters for the same reason…”I couldn’t possibly understand what’s happening in this theater”…and I think we’ve tried to take the fear and the elitism out of both of those avenues, saying that, “you can engage in both things, here’s some helpful tools…”

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RadioTheatre’s 6th Annual “H. P. Lovecraft Festival” — Part I

RadioTheatre presents the 6th Annual H. P. Lovecraft FestivalRadioTheatre was last on the podcast with their H. P. Lovecraft festival in 2012—and being a fan of the master’s fiction, the producer of GSAS! just had to get back to The Kraine to hear more of Dan Bianchi & Company’s adaptations of his classic stories.

After the first night of the festival, featuring The Moon Bog and The Shadow Over Innsmouth, I sat down with Bianchi again, as well as the three actors giving voice to the terror that evening—Frank Zilinyi, R.Patrick Alberty, and Joshua Nicholson.

Listen in as Dan, Frank, Patrick, Joshua & I discuss “Lovecraft” vs. “love craft” in the minds of unsuspecting patrons, performing at the new Lovecraft-themed bar (seriously, this is a thing), not looking at who you’re playing to, and how live radio drama differs from more “traditional” theatre.

…and yep, that “Part I” in the title means that there’ll be more aural cosmic horror discussed on the podcast soon!

“It’s more like a band, I always say…it’s kind of like doing sets in a band.”

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Ashley Jacobson, Elizabeth Sarkady, Ryan Guess, Dondrie Burnham, and Brett Epstein of “The Tunnel Play”

The Dirty Blondes present The Tunnel PlayWelcome back to The Dirty Blondes, playwright Ashley Jacobson and producer Elizabeth Sarkady, and to Mr. Brett Epstein (his third appearance on the podcast)! They’re joined by fellow actors Ryan Guess and Dondrie Burnham (both of whom I hope will also become repeat-guests here on the podcast) to talk about their new show, currently playing in The Fringe.

Around a moveable set of three trunks, The Tunnel Play follows a young woman who gave up her comfortable life to live in the tunnels, her older friend (and tunnel-life mentor) who landed in the tunnels through hardship, and a self-loathing yuppie copywriter, as their lives set on a collision course just ahead of a massive weather event to hit New York City. What do you do when faced with the possibility that everything could be washed away at any moment?

Listen in as Ashley, Ryan, Dondrie, Brett, and Elizabeth discuss that scary, difficult question, as well as having to answer to someone, taking inspiration from Superstorm Sandy, and the things we bottle up (until the lid blows off).

“…life is a storm, and storms affect everybody, and your actions also affect everybody…”

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Sean Patrick Monahan, James Presson, Charlie Polinger, and Tom Sanchez of “Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man!”

Less Than Rent presents Little Mac, Little Mac, You're the Very Man!It’s been a good few seasons for Bertolt Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera, his adaptation of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera — Martha Clarke’s version is currently running at The Atlantic, Marvel Rep’s production of Feingold’s translation was up for a Drama Desk in 2012, Robert Wilson’s stylized take was at BAM not long ago…now, add to that a truly American adaptation — Less Than Rent’s Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man!

In LTR’s freewheeling musical, the infamous Macheath chases the American dream through time and space, encountering everyone from Richard Nixon & Ronald Reagan, to Joe DiMaggio and Michael Jordan, to Bugs Bunny & Jessica Rabbit. It’s as wild as you think it is, and a lot of fun.

Listen in as playwrights Sean Patrick Monahan and James Presson, director Charlie Polinger, and Mac himself, Tom Sanchez, discuss free-association & post-it notes to write your play, how to make it in America, and what happens when your American History book throws up all over The Beggar’s Opera.

“They were sort of taking the audience on a ride and then kicking them out of the car…and so we started trying to find a way that we could do that…”

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RJ Vaillancourt, Jenna Grossano, James Presson, and Patrick Dooley of “How Less Than Rent Stole Christmas!”

How Less Than Rent Stole Christmas!Less Than Rent was last on the podcast with a provocative take on a theatre company’s provocative take on Beckett’s Endgame (listen to it here).

Now, the company sets their sights on the holidays, with three distinct evenings of theatrical cheer. The podcast was there on night one, when RJ Vaillancourt hosted a Christmas variety show a la his hero, Bing Crosby (see the photo below), under the direction of Jenna Grossano.

Listen in as Jenna & RJ, along with LTR members (and the masterminds of the series) James Presson and Patrick Dooley, discuss reflecting reality back from the stage, how you find the glue to hold a variety show together, and why the company would do not one, but three different holiday shows over three weeks. Continue reading

Ming Peiffer, playwright, and Kat Yen, director, of “Advance Guard”

Spookfish Theatre Company presents "Advance Guard"The term “avant-garde” gets thrown around a lot, but as you’ll hear playwright Ming Peiffer recount in this episode, it started as a military term before it was used to describe the artists changing forms, and pushing art forward.

And as you’ll hear director Kat Yen discuss, the co-Artistic Directors of Spookfish Theatre Company felt that the plays they’ve been seeing of late aren’t original, or pushing theatre forward.

That frustration is where the play, and the central conflict of, Advance Guard comes from.

Listen in as Ming & Kat discuss rebelling against post-impressionism & what other people want to see, the madness leading up to opening night, and why be an artist.

“What the hell are we doing here?”

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Anna Greenfield, playwright & actress, & Lee Sunday Evans, director, of “All Girls”

"All Girls," by Anna GreenfieldCollaboration Town was last on the podcast with the crazy epic The Deepest Play Ever: The Catharsis of Pathos. This time around, their show All Girls brings things to a much more personal level to great effect with this lovely, personal piece about three young girls on the verge of entering high school.

It may be “all girls,” but of course all are invited. And as you’ll hear in the interview, playwright/actress Anna Greenfield and director Lee Sunday Evans want to be sure this show is accessible to all (and they succeeded).

Listen in as Anna & Leigh talk about sensitivity to voices, “struggling with the process of becoming,” writing something so you can act in it, and being honest. Continue reading

FRIGID New York 2013

FRIGID New York 2013 A bit of a different podcast this time out: in this episode, GSAS! interviews artists from seven of the thirty — yes, 30 — plays that are part of this year’s FRIGID New York festival, presented by Horse Trade Theater Group.

It should be noted, FRIGID isn’t just another festival. The participants are chosen at random, so no silly politicking is involved; and, all participants keep 100% of the box office sales for their show. Try finding that kinda deal as a performer anywhere else in this town. Very cool format. Hats off to Horse Trade for making this happen every year since 2007.

Kicking off the marathon of mini-interviews is Erez Ziv, Executive Director of FRIGID and Managing Director of Horse Trade, followed by, in order:

— director Nikki DiLoreto & playwright/performer Antonia Lassar of The God Box
— co-director/producer/performer Bricken Sparacino of Sisters Grimm: Fables of the Stage
— director Christina Massie, performer Emily Tuckman, and performer Sarah Jacobs of Commencing
— playwright & performer Nikhil Tilwalli of A Panda Suit, Pythagorus, and Plenty of Puns
— playwright & performer Chris Harcum of Two Lovely Black Eyes
— playwright & performer Lucas Brooks of VGL 5′ 4″ Top
— playwright & performer D’yan Forest of My Pussy is Purrin’ Again Continue reading