John Bell, of Bread & Puppet Theater

Bread and Puppet Theater presents Aeschylus' THE PERSIANS and the 2021 iteration of OUR DOMESTIC RESURRECTION CIRCUS at Theater for the New City, December 2021Listen in as longtime Bread & Puppet Theater collaborator John Bell discusses the history and activism of the company, bringing together collaborators from disparate locations, an “accessible and unpretentious” style of theater,” the use and meaning of different kinds of chairs, survival & mutual support, and the magical precarity of live performance.

“…it’s a different type of theater work than what I think of as ‘straight theater’…it’s different, it’s looking around and making due with what’s there…creating from your own experience, using what you’ve got, not being hampered or set back by the challenges, but just sort of making it happen with whatever you have with you…”

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Christopher Loar, adaptor/director of “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Volume 2”

The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O'Neill, Volume 2, directed/adapted by Christopher LoarA few years back, director, accidental Eugene O’Neill enthusiast, and TMLMTBGB actor Christopher Loar thought up a fun little sketch for that long-running, long-titled New York Neo-Futurists show (if you don’t know it from the acronym, click this link, then go see the show this weekend, or any weekend!) — strip away O’Neill’s dialogue, brilliant as it is, and just say and perform what was meant to be performed and not said: the stage directions.

If you’ve ever read an O’Neill, you probably know that such a drastic cut would still leave you with a whole lot of text. The exercise of turning that text into a staged event unto itself proved successful in TMLMTBGB, so Loar’s next step? Make an evening out of it with The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Volume 1: Early Plays/Lost Plays, which received a Drama Desk nomination for “Unique Theatrical Experience.”

Now Loar and the Neo-Futurists are back with The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill, Volume 2 — because why mess with a good thing, right?

Listen in as Christopher and I discuss the utility of stage directions, staying out of the way of your performers/collaborators/interpreters, and O’Neill’s moment vs. this 2014 moment in downtown theatre.

“I think in the stage directions there’s the intention of what the writer wants to happen onstage or happen with that character…but I guess that’s what I like so much about this…I too come from a background where I was trained to ignore all of the stage directions…”

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Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSane, writers of “Island Girls”

"Island Girls" by Barbara Kahn and Noelle LuSaneHow does one go from writing contemporary comedies to writing historically-based musicals, reintroducing certain figures who popular culture have largely forgotten?

As Island Girls director/co-author Barbara Kahn notes in our conversation, she made that transition out of a desire to make social change. And although this play is set in 1927 at the women’s prison on Welfare Island, it’s surprising (and, I’m this case, sad) just how much things stay the same, no matter how much they change — the social change needed in the 1920’s is pretty similar to change we need now, in 2014.

Listen in as Barbara and co-author/composer Noelle LuSane discuss their “fluid, organic process,” why you should speak up for your artistic talents, and how you turn the history of a women’s prison into a musical.

“I think artistic talent is transferable….when somebody offers something like that, I usually jump on it.”

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