Kevin R. Free, Matthew Trumbull, and Rocío Mendez of “Marian, or, The True Tale of Robin Hood”

Flux Theatre Ensemble presents MARIAN, OR, THE TRUE TALE OF ROBIN HOOD by Adam Szymkowicz, directed by Kelly O'Donnell, at The New OhioListen in as actors Kevin R. Free and Matthew Trumbull, along with fight choreographer Rocío Mendez of Flux Theatre Ensemble‘s new show, Marian, or, The True Tale of Robin Hood discuss exploring the binary, realizing you’re on the wrong team, conformity vs. finding your tribe, cuckoo-birds in power, not working so hard to make yourself irresistible, and being in a room together through the dark times.

“Even joy these days seems somewhat defiant…the joy of the show is a statement, too. We live in times where allowing yourself to laugh is a political act, because it feels like we’re not supposed to…it feels like a bit of a revelation when people come here, and realize, ‘oh, I forgot about comedy…I forgot about what it’s like to release in that way…'”

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Erika Phoebus and Isaac Byrne of “Kiss It, Make It Better”

Theatre 4the People presents KISS IT, MAKE IT BETTER at The New OhioWho really gets you? How well do you actually know yourself? And when your innocence is shattered, what can you do, who can you turn to, and where can you go?

For the characters in actress Erika Phoebus‘s Kiss It, Make It Better, the place to run away to is an abandoned roller coaster—but the real world has a way of encroaching in on the planned utopia of two runaway kids.

Starting with a bit of old slam poetry, Erika worked with director Isaac Byrne (whom you might remember from the second go-round of The Other Mozart) to develop the play, currently receiving its world premiere as produced by Theatre 4the People at The New Ohio.

Listen in as Erika and Isaac discuss lost innocence, being both playwright and actor in the rehearsal room, creating your own Neverland, why you shouldn’t rely on your box office, and why you should go wait in Central Park for “Shakespeare in the Park” tickets (hint: you might start a collaboration with others in the queue).

“I just kind of came to the realization that…you can’t really make money off theatre until it reaches a certain level…”
“…and even then…”
“…and even then! So unless you’re really coming in with a lot of capital, what’s the point? […] I just wanted people to come. […] And it’s actually been great…”
“I think it’s also really important to respect the community of artists that we’re a part of…and recognize that it’s our job to see theatre, and it’s our job to be a part of the theatre. It’s an exchange…”

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Emily Louise Perkins, Ben Beckley, Jess Chayes, Stephen Aubrey, and Nick Benacerraf of “I Will Look Forward to This Later”

The Assembly presents I Will Look Forward to This LaterEpisodes featuring The Assembly have been some of my favorite episodes of this podcast.

Add this one to that list.

The company’s new show, I Will Look Forward to This Later, is currently running at The New Ohio. Make sure you get over to check it out, and definitely take a listen to this episode either on your way there, or on your way back. And, even better, hang out and chat with the company after the show, and dig into these issues with them yourself. They’d like to chat with you.

But at the very least, listen in to this episode as several Assembly members—director Jess Chayes, actor Ben Beckley, actor/writer Emily Louise Perkins, dramaturg Stephen Aubrey, and production designer Nick Benacerraf—discuss the Assembly process, inspiration from kabuki, choices/actions/consequences, conversations with your collaborators, your audience, & Judith Malina, and loss, legacy, & time.

“I think it’s important that we are in the process of figuring things out, that we don’t know the answers…and we’re excited about that.” Continue reading

Jeremy Bloom, Brian Rady, & Catherine Brookman of “The Upper Room”

Rady & Bloom present The Upper Room at The New OhioStart creating a new work of theatre from a classic fairy tale, and you might find yourself taking a detour through the “back to the land” movement, and wind up with a movement play full of original music, lovely light projections, and a manatee mask.

That’s an oversimplified way to describe Rady & Bloom‘s The Upper Room, currently playing at The New Ohio—but it’s a whole lot more than that.

Listen in as the Rady & Bloom, Brian Rady and Jeremy Bloom, along with composer/performer Catherine Brookman, discuss collaboration between song-writer and directors/creators, post-show parties, The Little Mermaid, working with your spouse, and the long haul.

“…there’s a thrust, there is a story, but we’re trying to express the inexpressible, we’re trying to express the feeling of, ‘what will happen next to me,’ or ‘what will happen to US…'”

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Melody Bates & J. Stephen Brantley of “R & J & Z,” in conversation with Mariah MacCarthy

Hard Sparks presents R & J & Z at The New Ohio, written by Melody Bates and directed by Joan JubettIf you stop and think about it, of all the classics being overrun by zombies these days, Romeo & Juliet is kind of the most logical to receive the undead treatment.

Playwright Melody Bates was struck with just such a notion after seeing the Met’s opera of Roméo et Juliette, and the result, R & J & Z, is now playing at The New Ohio. Picking up Shakespeare’s story in Act V, Bates keeps the action going long after the dagger through her heart has turned Juliet’s white dress to crimson—and you might be surprised who the villain of the story is…

GSAS! sat down to chat with Melody (who also plays Juliet) after a performance of the show, and thanks to the brilliant suggestion of Hard Sparks Artistic Director J. Stephen Brantley (Mercutio in this production, and past podcast guest), we were joined by playwright Mariah MacCarthy, who’s also adapted Romeo & Juliet with her musical Ampersand.

Listen in as Melody, J. Stephen, and Mariah discuss their respective adaptations of Shakespeare, gender-swapping & cross-dressing, low opinions of Paris, upending the power structure of the world, and how death changes everything.

“…so frequently you have scenes in Shakespeare where the women just stop talking, and the scene continues for several more pages and the men do the talking. And that’s an interesting challenge as an actress because you’re like, ‘well, I have to figure out why I’m not talking—”

“—right, and why I’m still here, not talking—”

“—exactly. So I pointedly wanted to write a scene where that happened to a man.”

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Jeremy Duncan Pape, Megan Lee, and Matthew Kreiner of No Win Productions’ “Woyzeck, FJF”

No Win Productions presents Woyzeck, FJF at The New OhioEver come across a script that speaks to you so strongly, you just have to produce it?

I know that sort of thing has certainly happened to me (you’ll be among the first to know when I actually produce it, dear listeners), and it’s pretty-much what happened to director Jeremy Duncan Pape with Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck.

After a university production, Pape wanted to get his adaptation, Woyzeck, FJF, out to the world—so he formed a company with collaborators Megan Lee and Matthew Kreiner. The three of them are the beating heart of No Win Productions, and their premiere production is currently running at The New Ohio.

Listen in as Jeremy, Megan, and Matthew discuss moving chronologies, understanding a piece of art’s history, insanity, making the transition to producing, and why these cats founded a new company.

“Part of our mission statement is looking at people, and humanity in general, in circumstances that cannot be overcome…”

“I hope that our audience members are given the opportunity to look at these things and relate to an impossible situation…’what if I were in that kind of situation?’…and hopefully, dare I say it, we can all be a little more compassionate through that kind of understanding…”

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Brad Raimondo, director, and Spencer Davis Milford, actor, of “In Fields Where They Lay”

The Dreamscape Theatre presents In Fields Where They Lay at The New OhioAs director Brad Raimondo notes at the top of this interview, there are stories from history that just seem to stick with you. It was because the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 wouldn’t leave him or playwright Ricardo Pérez González alone that The Dreamscape Theatre developed In Fields Where They Lay, currently playing at The New Ohio.

But you’re definitely not going to the theatre for a history lesson—this is a beautifully-told story that resonates in a powerful way, especially at the holiday season of this particular moment in time (one hundred years on from the Christmas depicted in the play).

Listen in as Brad & actor Spencer Davis Milford discuss starting at the ending and building the play from there, propaganda, a long incubation, and how to tell an epic story on a human scale.

Oh, and your interviewer has a moment of realization about the origin of Tom & Jerry.

“I think all of us have, at one point or another, had a moment where we’ve really felt like ‘this is the right time to be working on telling a story about a group of armed men in uniforms, deciding to put their guns down for a little while, and think about who the people are on the other side’…”

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Josh Luxenberg, Jon Levin, Erik Lochtefeld, and Eric Wright of “Powerhouse”

Sinking Ship Productions presents PowerhouseChances are, you’re like me—you won’t immediately recognize the name Raymond Scott, but once you realize who he was, you also realize you’ve had his music stuck in your head at some point in time. Maybe even many points in time.

Director Jon Levin was once on the same page as you & I, casually humming Scott’s iconic melody from Powerhouse, when a friend introduced him to the story of this music pioneer. From there, he and playwright Josh Luxenberg, along with their collaborators in Sinking Ship Ensemble, began to devise this vibrant, imaginative piece of theatre, named for that very composition.

Listen in as Jon & Josh, joined by actors Erik Lochtefeld, who portrays Scott, & Eric Wright, one of the puppet-geniuses behind Puppet Kitchen (who provide, you might have surmised, puppets for the show), discuss faith in the post-atomic future, the difference between what you set out to do and what actually happens, and discovering your play in front of an audience.

“There’s something really compelling to me about the idea of something trying to do one thing, very specifically, and being undermined by a bunch of cartoons.”

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Members of The Assembly, presenting “That Poor Dream”

The AssemblyThe Assembly was last on the podcast with an episode that, sadly, went live long after the show had closed (and damn, you should have seen that show…Home/Sick remains one of the best productions I’ve seen—take a listen to the episode about it, it’s well worth your time).

The company’s back with their devised adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, entitled That Poor Dream, bringing the story of Pip to the island of Manhattan via Connecticut, and this time I’m actually posting this with time for you to catch the show, so get out to The New Ohio if you can!

Joining me on the mic are actors Edward Bauer (Pip), Ben Beckley (Drummel), & Emily Louise Perkins (Jaggers), along with Production & Scenic Designer Nick Benacerraf and Dramaturg Stephen Aubrey—listen in as we discuss giving voice to a voiceless issue, capitalism, vulnerability, being content with your lot in life, and privilege, beauty, & money.

“…we encounter people with radically and contradictory visions of what class means, and how to behave in this world, and that’s, I think, the most interesting thing for us—to put all these contradictory ideas together, because that’s how the world is, so that we can look at them together, and try to hold more of it at the same time…”

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Ari Laura Kreith, J. Stephen Brantley, & Jerreme Rodriguez of “I Like To Be Here…”

I Like To Be Here: Jackson Heights Revisited, or, This Is A MangoTheatre 167‘s I Like To Be Here: Jackson Heights Revisited, or, This Is A Mango is part four of a trilogy—yes, you read that right—looking at one of the most diverse neighborhoods not just in New York, but in the world. Through inter-connected stories taking place over one night, the play weaves a tapestry of this unique community and its residents.

Director Ari Laura Kreith, playwright J. Stephen Brantley, and actor Jerreme Rodriguez join me on the mic to explain how one play about Ari’s neighborhood turned into four; listen in as they discuss what happens when you write a role that your director decides only you can play, getting inspiration from your neighborhood, and Ari & J. Stephen share their choices for best Indian restaurants (and Indian sweets) in Jackson Heights.

“…about the connections between really different cultures and communities, and what they have in common…with the Jackson Heights trilogy, it’s about all of these different cultures coming together in one place…that’s Queens, right?”

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