Monday, June 21, 2010

Too Soon Festival Interview - Kasia Nikhamina of Redbeard & Domicella

By Byrne Harrison
Postcard by Ilya Nikhamin
Photo by Kat Cheng

Name: Kasia Nikhamina
Play: Redbeard & Domicella
Relationship to production: Playwright (and producer)

How long have you been involved in theatre?

This is my first play!

What play had the biggest influence on your life?

La casa de Bernarda Alba and Bodas de Sangre by Federico Garcia Lorca, which we read in high school - I have always been obsessed with forbidden love. In more recent years, Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl at Second Stage. I also love Tchaikovsky's opera, Evgenii Onegin, which has such thrilling lines as, "Hush now, or I'll kill you!" (and no one shuts up), and "I've been given to another," when Onegin returns to find Tatiana married and he spectacularly tries to convince her to run away with him.

What is your show about?

In Redbeard & Domicella, two high school sweethearts deliver a bold retrospective of their young marriage in “he said, she said” fashion. The witty, irrepressible Redbeard works in a bicycle shop near Brighton Beach; the slightly-built, titanic-hearted Domicella splits her time between a desk at the District Attorney’s Office, and the kitchen table where she writes. The play speaks (too soon?) about instances of loss as disparate as September 11th and Michael Jackson’s death, as well as Domicella’s own close scrape on the wild streets of New York.

Redbeard & Domicella is a true story. “If I were to write a book about us,” the real Redbeard told the real Domicella, “I would call it, The Old Man and the Noise.” And so the noise set out to write the story of the old man and the noise, using things they said and things they overheard. This is an ode between man and wife, a collage of quotes, iconic objects and memories. It is also a celebration of the bicycle, a symbol of survival in a city that suffers hard but laughs harder.

What led you to create it?

There's this crazy wonderful reading series called Hearth Gods, run by Michael Yates Crowley and Michael Rau, at Jimmy's No. 43 in the East Village, where actors first read my prose at Crowley's suggestion. Once I'd decided to experiment with performance, the play came together quite naturally. It was born out of the episodes or aphorisms which - since graduating from college in 2007 - I've been crafting in the small hours between office and sleep and posting on my blog, The Mayor's Hotel. I deal in quotes: I collect and arrange, fatten and pare.

What inspired you to apply for the Too Soon Festival?

So I had this play clamoring for an audience - an early version had been well-received at Hearth Gods. Michael Rau (who directs Redbeard & Domicella) told me about the Brick Theater. When I saw the Too Soon Festival advertised on their website, I knew it could not be more perfect.

What's next for you after Too Soon?

For those of you who have been reading The Mayor's Hotel, there's a gent named Nixon who works in an office - he's the hero of my next work, which may or may not be a play. Keep your eye on the Hotel!

And finally, if you could slow the world down and get two more hours out of every day, what would you do with them?

I would probably sleep a bit more and then ride my bike to work so that I wouldn't have to be pent up in the subway. I would linger in Prospect Park longer - eat my dinner there every night with friends.

Redbeard & Domicella
Written by Kasia Nikhamina
Directed by Michael Rau
60 minutes

Sat 6/5, 6pm
Tue 6/8, 7pm
Sat 6/12, 7pm
Sun 6/13, 4:30pm
Wed 6/16, 9pm

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