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.”

Continue reading

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…”

Continue reading

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’…”

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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…”

Continue reading

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?”

Continue reading

Mike Inwood, lighting designer of “The Essential Straight & Narrow”

The Mad Ones present The Essential Straight and NarrowSo this is one of those episodes that got recorded when the show was (first) presented, but I missed my window to get the podcast up before closing.

Thankfully, though, it was a show in development by The Mad Ones, and the full production is set to open this weekend at The New Ohio.

When lighting designer Mike Inwood & I first chatted during its workshop run in The Ice Factory last summer, it was called the Untitled Biopic Project, a show that crosses the genres of film, theatre, and music — in this interview, we talk a bit about the development process that went into the project, which is now called The Essential Straight & Narrow.

Listen in as Mike and I discuss how a lighting designer can inform the development of work with a group like The Mad Ones, writing & working in layers, and how to properly pronounce the word “biopic.” Continue reading

Boo Killebrew & Geoffrey Decas O’Donnell, playwrights/performers of “Family Play (1979 to present)”

Collaboration Town presents Family Play (1979 to present)Over the past several decades, the fundamental definition of “family” has changed — and the collaborators of Collaboration Town have come of age through some 30-odd of those years.

In their new show Family Play (1979 to present), previously titled Help Me to Make It and part of their two-year participation in The Archive Alliance Residency, CTown co-artistic directors, actors, and playwrights on the project Boo Killebrew and Geoffrey Decas O’Donnell (fellow playwright Jordan Seavey spoke about the project on an earlier episode of the podcast, during the show’s workshop last summer) explore the changing nature of the family through a series of 116 moments — many of which will be familiar to…well, anyone who’s grown up.

Listen in as Boo and Geoffrey discuss what makes a family, “a lot of Google Docs,” the deconstruction of the traditional nuclear family in traditional American drama, and how you define a person based on moments.

“…if we’re going to explore how family is changing, then we need to explore traditional structure in plays…we wanted to just break everything down as much as possible…take away definitions of people…everyone is everyone is everyone…”

Continue reading

Meredith Burns, Carl Holder, and playwright Paul Cameron Hardy of “feeling.”

GB_feeling_FINAL_for_webJust what does a 20-something ABD PhD candidate with a broken heart have in common with a notorious serial killer?

According to Glass Bandits Theater Company‘s production of Paul Cameron Hardy‘s feeling. — a whole lot.

In this world premiere, the aforementioned student (played by Glass Bandits Managing Director Meredith Burns) falls into a deep depression when her 9-year relationship suddenly ends. And despite the encouragement and support of her enthusiastic younger brother (GB Producing Director Carl Holder) and her dissertation adviser’s push to focus on her work, she can’t seem to escape the darkness that she finds herself in. A darkness that manifests in a hallucination of Jeffrey Dahmer.

Listen in as Meredith, Carl, and Paul discuss the excitement of hearing “that play” for the first time, learning that your company would be producing “that play” via a nationally-circulated article, acting with mononucleosis, and exploring the lengths to which some people will go to keep a relationship.

“That’s why we need more companies doing what they love.”

“Preach. I’m here for the cookies.”

“…and the sword fights.”

Continue reading

Sanaz Ghajarrahimi, Ben Hobbs, and Vincent Van Santvoord of “Red Wednesday”

Built for Collapse 1-Red Wednesday-pThe Ice Factory festival continues, and Go See a Show! continues to follow the new work showcased at The New Ohio with this week’s production, Red Wednesday, by the Brooklyn collective Built for Collapse.

The Artistic Directors of Built for Collapse — Sanaz Ghajarrahimi, who directed the show, Ben Hobbs, who choreographed, and Vincent Van Santvoord, who is acting in the show — joined me after the first public presentation of Red Wednesday, which is still in development. Described by Sanaz as a “multimedia ballad about revolution, past, present, and future,” Red Wednesday grew from Sanaz’s personal connection to the overthrow of the Iranian shah in the 1970s, and starts to dig into the connections between family and politics, and past and present history.

Listen in as Sanaz, Vincent, and Ben discuss searching for structure, revolution & theatre’s role in it, creating movement from images, and personalizing politics by mixing world history with being a 20-something in 2013.

“A political family drama about the politics of family.”

Continue reading