Sunday, February 28, 2010

FRIGID New York Interview - Mark Shyzer of Fishbowl

Name: Mark Shyzer (writer/performer)
Show: Fishbowl
Website: www.shyzer.ca/fishbowl

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I've been interested in writing as long as I can remember, but I was late in coming to theatre. It wasn't until a few years ago when I became involved with the Youth Program, and later the Young Creators' Unit, at Buddies in Bad Times in Toronto that I started seriously considering theatre.

Who are your biggest influences?

My biggest influences come from the comedy I loved as a kid - The Muppets, Monty Python, Ellen Degeneres' stand up, the Kids in the Hall - anything that was a little awkward and off-beat has always thrilled me. When I was first faced with the prospect of coming up with a solo show, it was Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner's The Search For Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe that really gave me an idea of what that format could deliver.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

Fishbowl is character comedy. The show is populated by five characters who are a little cartoonish, a little silly at times - which I think we all are, when we're viewed out of context. And, like everyone, they've all got their secret desires, and there's so much about the world and the way it all works that they'll never understand.

What inspired you to create it?

Fishbowl grew out of characters that I had written some one-off monologues for. Based on these, I was accepted into the Young Creators' Unit at Buddies in Bad Times - which required that I perform my own work. Before this I had no interest in performing, and was even reluctant to get on stage. And yet here I am.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

Evalyn Parry, my director, has been with the show since before the beginning. She's the one who suggested that I pull some of these characters together into something bigger, and has been along for the ride since then. Sarah Olmstead, my producer, has been a friend for a while, but this is her first run of the show as producer. It's been fantastic having her on board, as she's strong everywhere that I'm weak - planning, paperwork, finances. Working on FRIGID has brought us a lot closer together. We'll be sharing an air mattress in Brooklyn until the end of the festival. But it's not like that.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Fishbowl will be touring to Hamilton, London, and Minneapolis. As for me, I'll be working on a new play exploring gay nightlife and the book and lyrics for a film noir musical - both comedies, of course.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

I know sometimes it's hard to take a risk on theatre - you could end up spending an awkward hour sitting in the semi-dark, bored out of your mind and wishing you'd bought a movie ticket instead. But with Fishbowl I can promise that, even if you don't get enlightened, you'll at least laugh a lot. And if you don't, the FRIGID festival is small enough that you can always track me down and punch me in the stomach later. And that's worth the price of admission, isn't it?

Fishbowl
By Mark Shyzer

The Red Room
85 East 4th Street

Wed 2/24 - 9:30 PM
Fri 2/26 - 6:30 PM
Sat 2/27 - 3:30 PM
Tue 3/02 - 6:30 PM
Sat 3/06 - 9:30 PM
Sun 3/07 - 5:00 PM

Theatre Shorts

David Drake to direct Our Town at the Provincetown Theater. Auditions are March 6, 9 and 13.

Roundabout says ticket sales have improved their financial outlook.

Classic Stage Company will present two-time Academy Award-winner Dianne Wiest in The Forest, by Alexander Ostrovosky, translated by Kathleen Tolan, and directed by Brian Kulick, beginning performances Friday, April 23 at CSC (136 East 13th Street).

Andrew Lloyd Webber talks about Love Never Dies.

After good reviews, the Transport Group's production of The Boys in the Band extends to March 28th.

El Paso's Siglo de Oro Spanish Drama Festival celebrates its 35th year of bringing Spanish theatre to El Paso by presenting the works of the Golden Age of Spanish theatre.

Atlanta's Alliance Theatre announces 2010-2011 season.

Theater Breaking Through Barriers presents the world premiere of of Kate Moira Ryan's comedy, Bass for Picasso, directed by Ike Schambelan. The play opens at Theatre Row's Kirk Theatre on 2 May 2010, following previews from 17 Apr, and runs through to 23 May 2010.

Filmmaker Abel Ferrara, best known for his work on the films "Bad Lieutenant" and "King of New York," has signed on to direct the Broadway revival of the play, Short Eyes.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What to Do: March 1st - 7th

Monday, March 1st
As part of their Matt Crowley reading series, The Transport Group presents Avec Schmaltz.

Broadway Talks at the 92nd St. Y features Liev Schreiber in conversation with Jordan Roth, the President of Jujamcyn Theaters.

Raúl Esparza, Sutton Foster, Cheyenne Jackson, Aaron Tveit, Marin Mazzie and more will perform at MCC Theater's Miscast 2010 March 1 at The Hammerstein Ballroom. Mo Rocca will host the gala, which serves as the annual benefit of the not-for-profit Off-Broadway company.

Tuesday, March 2nd
Equivocation, Bill Cain's new play about William Shakespeare and the Gunpowder Plot opens on Broadway.

Wednesday, March 3rd
The Miracle Worker opens on Broadway.

Martin McDonagh's dark new play, A Behanding in Spokane, opens with Christopher Walken.

Friday, March 5th
The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov - A New Adaptation by Carol Rocamora (T. Schreiber Studio)

TerraNOVA Collective presents Subterranean, a monthly variety show celebrating music, spoken word, burlesque, magic, storytelling, short play readings, and vaudeville acts. Micia Mosely (Nursha Project) hosts the March party with performances by spoken word artist Roger Bonair-Agard (MASQUERADE: calypso and home), comedian Carolyn Castiglia (NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”, Brown Ambition) and performance artist Red Summer (Two Fingers Press, Nursha Project).

Saturday, March 6th
Red Fern Theatre Company presents +30NYC: New plays imagining the next New York. +30NYC features Rosa's Little Jar of Fear by Bekah Brunstetter, Dodo Solastalgia by Victor Ismael Cazares, Fish Bowl by Christine Evans, In The Zone by Michael John Garcés, Remembrancer Vessel by Ashlin Halfnight, Footprint by Mac Rogers, Thirty Story Masterpieces by Tommy Smith

Interview - Chelsea Silverman, Executive Director of 3Graces Theater Co.

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Alexandra Burt (Prescription Strength) and Rick Berube (The Power of Birds)


After spending five years litigating at one of New York's premiere law firms, Chelsea Silverman decided that "all the world's a stage" seemed a lot closer to her heart than "kill all the lawyers". She left the practice of law and started performing Off-Off Broadway. In 2004, she along with Elizabeth Bunnell, Annie McGovern and Kelli Lynn Harrision launched 3Graces Theater Co. Chelsea has served as the Executive Director of 3Graces Theater Co. since its inception. She has produced among others, the New York premiere of Nickel & Dimed based on the book by Barbara Ehrenreich, the world premiere of a Good Farmer by Sharyn Rothstein, and is currently producing the world premiere of The Power of Birds by Robin Rice Lichtig. She has also appeared in a Good Farmer, Flyer, Nickel & Dimed and is currently performing in Prescription Strength Theater -- the world premiere of two commissioned one acts on the subject of Healthcare. By day, Chelsea is the Director of National Staffing for Strategic Legal Solutions.

You have a rather unique resume. Which came first, an interest in theatre or in law? How did you come to both careers?

Theater. I was always interested in theater -- performing, watching and learning about the performing arts was a constant during my childhood. I grew up in New York City -- and to my parents' credit they fostered a love and appreciation for the arts in me. My mother took us to see everything -- not just Broadway plays (when you could afford to take your kids to see Broadway plays), but performances at temples, churches, downtown theaters. That became part of my fabric at an early age. That being said, my father was a lawyer -- and so family discussions became debates and were also a constant during my childhood. If I wanted something -- I needed to be able to construct a persuasive argument to get it... sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. But the approach always kept me and my sister on our toes!

After I graduated from Vassar, I knew that I wanted to get another degree. I was torn between the creative and the analytical. While I loved the theater -- I also wanted to sharpen my analytical and persuasion skill set. I remember sitting down in my parent's living room with a collection of applications and brochures from law schools and MFA programs and trying to decide between the two. My parents -- very wisely in my instance said "Why don't you go to law school -- and then act?" A light bulb went on -- and I thought -- that actually makes a lot of sense. I think the biggest surprise to anyone was that I actually did practice as a big firm litigator for 5 years. I really enjoyed it for a while, learned a ton and saved some money. When I decided to leave -- it was because I no longer had the time to do anything else -- everything was way out of balance. I was lucky to be able to find a way to use my law degree and experience to financially support my career in the arts. Now I work as the Director of National staffing for a temporary legal staffing company 3-4 days a week and spend the rest of my time working on 3Graces. Balance is hard to achieve -- and it has taken me a while... but I think I've almost got it!

What is your theatrical background?

Though I did do a lot of theater in college, when I graduated and started taking classes -- it became clear to me instantly that I preferred theater in the academic as opposed to the professional arena. I wasn't really interested in just auditioning for plays that came my way -- I wasn't sure exactly what was missing from the experience, but I was determined to find out. After I stopped practicing law - I started studying with Tim Phillips (who is now based in LA). His class was professional, his approach made sense to me, and the other members of the class were actors I respected and could learn from. One of the things that became clear to several women in the class was that there are more actors than opportunities to act in production -- so we decided to create opportunities for ourselves and we started our own theater company. It was the collaboration I had been missing -- and once we started producing plays that meant something to us -- all the pieces fell into place.

How did you become involved with 3Graces Theater?

3Graces was an off-shoot of the original company we started back in 1997. In 2004, a group of us realized that we were very interested in defining a process and producing plays that told universal stories from a woman's perspective. After much careful deliberation, we formed 3Graces. 3Graces mission is to tell these women's stories on stage -- and to immerse the cast crew and audience in the world of the play outside the script to provide a more comprehensive experience to the performers and audience. I have been the Executive Director since its inception and we have been evolving organically and continue to grow.

The latest 3Graces production, The Power of Birds, opened a week ago. Could you tell me a little bit about the play?

This play, by Robin Rice Lichtig, is a highly theatrical and sometimes magical family drama. It's the story of three generations of women all on the cusp of -- adolescence, middle age and old age -- and how they struggle to find their way during these critical life changes. At its heart is Zoe, a willful prepubescent 12-year-old girl dealing with her parents' recent separation and the uprooting of her family home. She's on a mission to bring her ornithologist father back to the family, while her mother Loretta tries to start anew, and her grandmother Lily longs to commune with her dead husband at sunset. It's a quirky, heartfelt play with a lot to say, and Lichtig's world is full of magic realism and metaphor. 3Graces wanted to take on a production where we could tell a meaningful story in a uniquely theatrical way and I think we've done just that.

Do you have any words of advice for people who are thinking of starting a second career in theatre?

I would tell them that they can do both -- it does not have to be all or nothing. Before quitting your non-theater job, take classes, get involved in productions, find out what area really speaks to your soul -- and do it. Not everyone gets their financial salary and emotional salary from the same place. I have found that I get so much more enjoyment out of my life in the theater because I don't have the added pressure to earn my living at it.

What else do you and 3Graces Theater have planned for 2010?

Well, in addition to The Power of Birds we are also producing two one-acts we commissioned on the subject of healthcare. It's called Prescription Strength Theater and runs Tues. and Wed. at 8 PM and Sat. at 3 PM until March 13 at the Milagro at CSV on the Lower East Side. I am actually performing in one of the pieces (see photo). We then have our Sips&Scripts reading series starting in April and we are continuing to develop BeautyQueen, a musical we commissioned based on the story of Queen Esther and addressing the teen obsession with celebrity.

To find out more about Chelsea and 3Graces Theater company, visit the 3Graces website. To purchase tickets to The Power of Birds, click here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

From the Blogosphere

Esther of Gratuitous Violins takes Bloomberg.com theatre critic John Simon to task for some homophobic comments in his review of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride.

Adam at Adaumbelle's Quest has new interviews with Jefferson Mays and Joanna Gleason.

Sarah B. experiences afterglow and visits the load-in for American Idiot.

Leonard Jacobs discusses the closing of the Ohio Theatre and TDF's plan to increase diversity in Broadway audiences.

Patrick Lee interviews Pat Kinevane of Forgotten, and attends Broadway by the Year.

Aaron Riccio reviews The Power of Birds.

Michael Roderick tells us to make the waters rise.

Ken Davenport asks 10 questions of a Broadway pro.

Jesse North interview Phantom understudy Jeremy Stolle.

Zach Calhoun says we should know Isaac Butler and tells the gospel truth.

FRIGID New York Interview - Kimleigh Smith of T-O-T-A-L-L-Y!

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Walter Tabayoyong


Name: Kimleigh Smith
Show: T-O-T-A-L-L-Y!
Website: totallykimleigh.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

It's funny, I never wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be a child psychologist and that is what I have a degree in. Then right before I graduated from college something inside of me changed and I realized I was an artist and that is what I have always wanted to be! So, I moved to Chicago to become a professional dancer and that wasn't enough and then someone encouraged me to audition for a play, I did and I booked it and from that day forth I knew what I was meant to do and I was going to do that forever! I have been acting since the day I was born, my mother knew it and it took me awhile to figure it out! Now, there is no turning back!

Who are your biggest influences?

It all starts with my mom...she is amazing and she taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to and I have! She is a real live superhero! From there the list is endless! Right now my big ones are Whoopi Goldberg - have you seen her one-woman show... mind blowing! - Oprah, Alicia Keys, Daniel Day-Lewis, Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Tyler Perry, Garry Marshall - he gave me my first big break - Sherri Shepherd, Keifer Sutherland, Gary Oldman, Quentin Tarantino and so many more!

Tell me a little bit about your show.

In this totally powerful theater piece you will witness me as a young cheerleader transforming into a woman who embraces her inner superhero as she reclaims her sexuality and lives as a whole, healthy woman!

What inspired you to write it?

Gosh, it all started when I donated my kidney to my cousin and I was on morphine for one day after the surgery and I talked and talked and talked, and my family was laughing so hard they were like you need to do a one-woman show, and I was like yeah right. Then everywhere I went, people were telling me to do a one-woman show and I was like no way... I was scared shitless! Then one day I woke up and I was like okay I am going to do it and I did! So here I am, after writing, directing, performing and producing my own show. I brought on a director and now it is in full form! I think it was always in me, I just needed to reach a place where I was ready to embrace it!

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with
them?


I started with the first draft working with my friend Seth Sultan. I had just taken a class with Paula Killen that was this 4-day intensive, where at the end of the 4 days you would put up a piece in front of an audience... in only 4 days mind you... from this, the second half of my show was created and I had a fit creating it. After this class I was psyched and so excited about the show and an old teacher of mine, Ruth Otero, kept saying rent the space and the show will come. So, I called Seth and we rented a space and both of us decided to do a 1-hour piece, and the night was fantastic! After that everyone kept telling me to keep on going and so I did! Then I called Paula and I knew she could be my eyes and help me take my show to the next level, and we did!

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Well, I just won The Actor's Group 3rd Annual Solo Festival... Yay! I am also doing the Fringe Circuit for the first time and it starts with FRIGID, and then I am off to Phoenix next, Orlando, KC, DC, SF, Hollywood, Cincinnati - not in that order - and I am hoping to go to Chicago and New Orleans and back to NYC for the NYC Fringe! I also just started the College Tour and I am going to Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA in April for their take back the night event! Yay! I am open to come to any college or university! My show is great for that audience!

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,
what would it be?


To live boldly! Embrace Your Cape and never stop flying! This is it, the Mega Most Awesomest Event of Your Entire Life... Life that is... always be all you!

T-O-T-A-L-L-Y!
By Kimleigh Smith

The Red Room
85 East 4th Street

Thu 2/25 - 6:30 PM
Sat 2/27 - 2:00 PM
Wed 3/03 - 9:30 PM
Fri 3/05 - 11:00 PM
Sat 3/06 - 5:00 PM
Sun 3/07 - 6:30 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Julie Congress of Medea

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Jen Neads


Name: Julie Congress
Show: Medea
Website: www.no11productions.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

The first parts I ever played were a Chipmunk, a Witch and, oddly enough for a 3rd grade girl, Oedipus. I became very involved in theatre, both acting and directing, in high school and have studied theatre at Skidmore College and the Moscow Art Theatre School.

Who are your biggest influences?

All of the amazing actors and designers my company, No.11 Productions, collaborates with. Also Michael Chekhov, the SITI Company and, for this show, Peter Hall.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

We are doing a beautiful, honest production of the Ancient Greek tragedy Medea complete with puppets, an original score, and a stellar ensemble of actors and designers.

What inspired you to work on it?

I am playing Medea, which is an amazing opportunity! I am indebted to Director Ryan Emmons for entrusting me with this part. It is an excitingly overwhelming challenge. I have come to see her not as a woman who murders her children, but as a woman who hopes and loves too much.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with
them?


Upon graduating from college, Ryan Emmons, Mitchell Conway, Jen Neads and I formed No.11 Productions, a non-profit, ensemble company dedicated to creating Theatre of the Unexpected. In just under two years, we have created 7 full-length productions and 10 staged readings.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Our next production will be Aristophanes' hysterical play Assemblywomen. It will be presented in both the SaratogaArtsFest and Capital Fringe Festival. Go to www.no11productions.com for more info!

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,
what would it be?


Watch our trailer for Medea!



And enjoy FRIGID New York!

Medea
By Euripides

The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street

Wed 2/24 - 6:00 PM
Sat 2/27 - 7:00 PM
Mon 3/01 - 7:30 PM
Thu 3/04 - 09:00PM
Sat 3/06 - 1:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - John Murdock of Ramblings of a Gentleman Scumbag

By Byrne Harrison

Name: John Murdock
Show: Ramblings of a Gentleman Scumbag
Website: www.godtasteslikechicken.com

How did you first get involved in theater?

I have been performing professionally for twelve years, however when I sobered up over three years ago Keisha Zollar, Joe Covino, and Penny Pollak led me to expand my horizons. Once I found Horse Trade Theater Co., they were so supportive of my weirdness, I never looked back. They are an East Village treasure.

Who are your biggest influences?

The Drag Queen Show Hostesses of Lucky Cheng's (most importantly Paulina Princess of Power) Keisha Zollar, Master Lee, Penny Pollak, and Killer Kelly Dwyer.


Tell me a little bit about your show.

Ramblings uses sketch, stand-up, story telling, and a snippet of video to illustrate my life as a dirty balloon man at a Drag Restaurant, a street artist, a man of no God or gurus, a raging drug addict/alcoholic now sober, working in the middle of the party, cursed to remember everything that now happens. It takes my personal experiences of decay and degradation and relates them to society at large. I am not the only Scumbag, we all have it, the inner Scumbag just manifests in different ways for different people. It takes a ridiculous man to point out how ridiculous we have become.

What inspired you to write it?

Penny Pollak inspired the original, and Joe Yoga has his fingerprints all over the latest incarnation. He is a performance beast.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

Joe Yoga is a musician, poet, comedian, and incorrigible force of nature based in New York City. We collaborate on his monthly show, Grudge Match-Music vs. Comedy, and mine, God Tastes Like Chicken. Joe Yoga lives and dies by the art. Scout Durwood is a brilliant actor, comic, and singer/songwriter, no really she can do all three at an absurdly high level. She is dangerously smart, and yet unafraid of looking silly. Which is awesome. She shares this trait with the entire cast. Sara Gaddis is a comedic force, and a provocative writer. Her improv chops are impeccable. Sherri Eldin is an actress, singer/songwriter, dancer, storyteller, and Jersey Girl (NOT the "Jersey Shore" kind). Sherri really has excelled at all of these pursuits. This rythymless comic bastard is insanely jealous their multiple avenues. Natalie Underwood is an artistic storm. Her writing makes me feel childish by comparison. She is a passionate performer who regularly stuns people with her monologues, acting, or (she is too proud admit it) comedy set. Paulina Princess of Power and I go back the longest. She is the main Show Ho at Lucky Cheng's. She can dance, she can sing, she is one of the quickest comedic minds in the world. She is also one the hardest working people in Show Biz. Everyone should get a chance to work with Paulina. She like the rest of the cast are regular performers on the monthly show - God Tastes Like Chicken, a mock religious service involving healthy doses of music and comedy.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

I am currently negotiating with a publisher on a how-to dirty balloon twisting book. I will continue to overload myself with shows. The Chicken will continue to rise, and so will I.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

Take it from a ridiculous man, the world is ridiculous, and in fact, YOU are ridiculous. If you deny this in a world where we give grown men cowboys access to nuclear weapons, Sarah Palin a book deal, and Paris Hilton a music CD, you might be dangerously ridiculous.

Ramblings of a Gentleman Scumbag
By John Murdock

UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place

Wed 2/24 - 7:30 PM
Sat 2/27 - 8:30 PM
Thu 3/04 - 6:00 PM
Fri 3/05 - 10:30 PM
Sun 3/07 - 7:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Stephanie Stephenson of My Life of Crime

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Martie Christian


Name: Stephanie Stephenson
Show: My Life of Crime
Website: www.stephaniestephenson.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

In my family, my brother Ron and I were always performing and putting on shows, holding our family members hostage. I loved theatre growing up, but first got involved in college. My roommate was a theatre major, and she inspired me to take some acting classes. Eventually I switched my major. If my roommate had been an accountant, things could have been very different for me.

Who are your biggest influences?

I've been influenced most by people that I've worked with, either directors or teachers. Steve Pearson, who headed my acting program at University of Washington, and Mary Joan Negro, who has directed me in many shows, including this one. They have set a very high standard to aspire to. I am also a fan of many talented actors in film and theatre, like Meryl Streep and Morgan Freeman. Lately, though, all I want to watch is Stephen Colbert and John Stewart.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

My Life of Crime is about a woman trying to break from her past, come clean and start a new life - or rather, an authentic life. Her crimes begin at 8 years old when she steals a pack of Trident gum from the Winn Dixie Supermarket. The crimes that follow aren't so obvious, but hold her hostage nonetheless. Sometimes being good isn't necessarily a good thing. And swallowing your gum, while not a great habit, is a lot better than swallowing your truth.

What inspired you to write it?

I am very interested in taking events from life and creating a story that will take the audience on a ride -- to make them laugh, and to reflect back to them their own stories. The play is fictionalized, but based on events from my life growing up. And the things that my mother says sometimes… they really NEED to be written down for posterity or no one would believe it.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

Mary Joan Negro (director), whom I mentioned earlier, has helped me adapt this play in previous versions, and has directed it as well. We've been working together since 2003. I'm very fortunate to know her and to be able to work with her. She's an incredible actress, director and teacher. In this version, I also worked closely on the script with Deb Theaker (dramaturge), a comedienne, actress, writer and director with roots in Second City. We've only just started working together, but I would love to work with her again -- anytime, anywhere. I am also forever indebted to Bixby Elliot, playwright and director here in NYC, who has helped me with every phase of prepping for FRIGID, from notes on early drafts of the script to doing press releases, to finding the best cupcakes in the city (Billy's, he says). He should get some kind of medal.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

I will head home to LA to perform the show for friends and family who couldn't make it out here to see this one. After that, I will produce it on the West Coast at the Elephant Theatre. I will take what I learn from the audiences at Frigid and bring it back to LA even better than it left!

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

Dear, sweet, audience… we would LOVE to see you at My Life of Crime! We are going to have a blast taking this ride, making fun of the ways we can trip ourselves up in this life. Come join us - and maybe even renounce your own life of crime!

My Life of Crime
By Stephanie Stephenson

The Red Room
85 East 4th Street

Thu 2/25 - 8:00 PM
Fri 2/26 - 11:00 PM
Sat 2/27 - 9:30 PM
Sun 2/28 - 12:30 PM
Wed 3/03 - 8:00 PM
Sat 3/06 - 11:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Jessi D. Hill and Brian McManamon of It or Her

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Jessi D. Hill


Name: Jessi D. Hill and Brian McManamon
Show: It or Her
Website: alenasmith.typepad.com and BrianMcManamon.com

Tell me a little bit about It or Her.

Jessi D. Hill: It or Her is black comedy about a man that meticulously creates an entire world of relationships with objects, in absence of the personal relationships that he has never experienced in his life. He vigorously and unapologetically imagines the greatest joys of life into existence and suffers the consequences of living out his artistic dreams and shunning, and ultimately destroying, his reality.

Brian McManamon: Somewhere between "Pee-Wee’s Adventure" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," Alena Smith’s provocative dark comedy It or Her explores the basement of a suburban home where Andrew has devoted himself unconditionally to his incredible collection of figurines. After suffering the loss of The Red One, he seeks to uncover “the ultimate arrangment” before his hideout is invaded and his dark secret is revealed.

What inspired you to work on it?

Jessi D. Hill: I am a director who has made a career of my passion for directing, developing and producing new work for the stage. Each day I commit myself to seeking out, creating and maintaining working relationships with talented playwrights, like Alena Smith, that seek to invigorate and renew the theatre with their unique voice. I continue to make theatre directing my life every day because of my deep love for live performance and am especially drawn to plays that allow talented actors, like Brian McManamon, to do their best possible work.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

Brian McManamon: Playwright, Alena Smith and director, Jessi D. Hill and I all met as students at the Yale School of Drama. Alena is a genius. Jessi is brilliant. I learned both of these things from watching their work at Yale but unfortunately I never had the chance to work with them while we were students. Three years passed since graduation and Alena asked Jessi to team up on a new production of It or Her, and together they approached me about working on the role of Andrew. I enthusiastically accepted and the three of us set out to work.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

The Director, Jessi Hill will be directing Thirty Story Masterpieces by Tommy Smith for Red Fern Theatre, and the U.S. Premiere of The Tender Mercies by Sladjana Vujovic for One Year Lease Theatre Company at Teatro Circulo.

The latest play by Alena Smith will be read at the Public Theater on March 1st.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

Though the subject matter seems atypical, the show has a broad reaching appeal - it will speak to everyone who has ever tried to be an artist in the world.

It or Her
By Alena Smith

The Red Room
85 East 4th Street

Wed 2/24 - 6:30 PM
Fri 2/26 - 8:00 PM
Sun 2/28 - 2:00 PM
Mon 3/01 - 6:30 PM
Thu 3/04 - 8:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - David Lawson of Floundering About (in an age of terror)

By Byrne Harrison

Name: David Lawson
Show: Floundering About (in an age of terror)
Website: Floundering About (in an age of terror) TICKETS

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I was a hyperactive, out-of-control kid. Really disruptive. My sixth grade teacher Mr. Heflin promised me if I would be on good behavior during class he'd let me have a few minutes each morning to do a little performance in front of the class. It was a masterstroke because it got me to shut up AND got me into performing. The next year I was one of the few 7th graders in the middle school play and I haven't stopped since then.

Who are your biggest influences?

Oh man...so many. But specifically in the world of solo performance: Anna Deavere Smith. I didn't even know that someone could get away with a one-person show until I read (and later saw) her. I think Mike Daisey might be the most exciting thing happening in American theatre right now. I love the way he blends autobiography and social/political commentary, as well as the things he chooses to do shows about. It's a great time for solo performance right now: Nilaja Sun, Jonathan Mirin, Lisa Ramirez, the Literature to Life shows at The American Place Theatre and so much more.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

It's a coming-of-age story about growing up in the D.C. area in the wake of 9/11. The whole area had a very particular paranoid, hyper-religious, saber-rattling vibe that made it a scary and hysterical place to be as a teenager and I got a lot of good stories out of that.

What inspired you to write it?

I couldn't find a lot of work about being a teenager in the early 2000s. So I thought I'd try to make one myself.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with
them?


I was very fortunate to have workshop sessions with the aforementioned Lisa Ramirez and with David Kener from the aforementioned American Place Theatre. I had previously interned for David at APT and he has been so helpful over the years. As for Lisa, I approached her after a performance of Exit Cuckoo at Working Theatre, and she was incredibly generous to give some of her time to the show.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Just before the new year I wrote the first drafts of two new full-length plays, I'll be rewriting those pretty extensively. Besides that, working, auditioning and submitting my work.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,
what would it be?


The best solo performance lights a spark in people and makes them want to tell THEIR own stories. So if what I say onstage makes you want to tell your own story, grab me after the show and tell me it!

Floundering About (in an age of terror)
By David Lawson

UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place

Thu 2/25 - 9:00 PM
Sat 2/27 - 2:30 PM
Sun 2/28 - 4:00 PM
Wed 3/03 - 6:00 PM
Sat 3/06 - 7:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Phillip Gerba of Onomatopoeia

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Shannon Haddock


Name: Phillip Gerba
Show: Onomatopoeia
Website: www.onomatopoeiatheshow.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I think my first taste of theater came in middle school with the Odyssey of the Mind where we made a sketch to go along with the action as we tried to stack as much weight as we could on a few bits of balsa wood glued together. I have to say that I didn't really consider it as a career choice until halfway through my college education when I changed my major from Political Science to Theater.

Who are your biggest influences?

My biggest influence has to be Jeff Raz and his Clown Conservatory in San Fransico, which I graduated from back in 2003. Other big influences are John Gilkey of Cirque fame, Dan Chumley with the San Fransisco Mime Troupe, and Ellen Stewart who willed La MaMa ETC into existence. Of course the great vaudevillians who went to film, like Buster Keaton, W. C. Fields, and Charlie Chaplin, are also constant sources of inspiration.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

Onomatopoeia presents clowning and juggling in a brand new light. Three characters present a collection of short scenes which explore a single idea through physical theater and object manipulation. As the title suggests the only spoken words in the piece will be Onomatopoeias!

What inspired Onomatopoeia?

I wanted to create a comic three-person juggling show that used juggling as a storytelling medium. Often in modern juggling shows the tricks are just punctuations to humorous patter, or based solely on the "wow" factor of amazing tricks, and the beauty of the craft. To ensure this I limited my words to onomatopoeias so that I wouldn't rely on patter. I based each act on a single simple concept to explore with juggling and clowning. With that concept holding the act together I was free to think of juggling tricks as a way to express an idea rather than something to impress the audience.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

Lisa Soverino and David Ellis are both joining me onstage for the FRIGID festival. I have juggled with them both casually for almost a year, and we have performed a short scene from Onomatopoeia at Bindelstiff's Open Stage Variety Show in February. Dave and I also were shot to be in a scene for an upcoming French film last fall. I would also like to give a special thanks to Dan Berkeley and Andrew Smerek who both helped me develop this act in its earliest stages.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

We will be creating an online club passing tutorial for IJA's first annual YouTube Juggling Tutorial Contest. I have also submitted Onomatopoeia to this year's Fringe festival in New York.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

We put the fun in funny, so get ready to laugh out loud.

Onomatopoeia
By Phillip Gerba

The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street

Thu 2/25 - 6:00 PM
Sat 2/27 - 5:30 PM
Wed 3/03 - 10:30 PM
Fri 3/05 - 8:30 PM
Sun 3/07 - 7:00 PM

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FRIGID New York Interview - Alison Lynne Ward of 1/4 Life Crisis

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Mark Kneeshaw


Name: Alison Lynne Ward
Show: 1/4 Life Crisis
Website: My Facebook group

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I started Highland Dancing when I was 3 years old! (my mom was a teacher) and I got onstage for competitions and show dancing through that. The Highland lead to Ballet, the ballet made me want to act - and I moved to Toronto at 18 years old to go to school and pursue the dream:)

Who are your biggest influences?

My mother is a big influence in how I set and work towards my goals. She's always owned her own business, and been a creative and proactive woman. Creative influences include Ellen Degeneres, Margret Cho, Steve Martin, Ronnie Burkett (Canadian Puppetteer and playwright), Jim Henson, movies and shows like "Sex and the City" and "When Harry Met Sally" (yes, I admit it, even if it is uncool). I don't really have one or two major influences... it's more of a mesh.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

1/4 Life Crisis is a semi-autobiographical, comedic, conversational/standup-esque type one-woman show. It's about the struggles and dilema's we face about 1/4 or 1/3 into our lives as we realize that reality doesn't quite meet up to our expectations. It's honest, endearing and quite funny - or so I'm told.

What inspired you to write it?

I wanted to write a one-person show - and there were many times that I would be in conversation with friends and they would say "you have to write that down!!" (in regards to some random rant I had just gone on). I had already written a couple of plays, but the themes of the 'quarter life crisis' were becoming more and more prevalent in my personal life, and was what was naturally coming out of me every time I sat down to write. The show started to materialize over three years ago, and has grown in fits and spurts since then!

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

My director, Robert Sterling, is actually the third director I've worked with for this show, which is amazing to have so many different perspectives to help guide me along the way. The first was Stephen Low and the second Geoff Kolomayz, both Toronto based actor/directors. Robert is from the States (some years in NYC) but is now living in Kelowna, B.C., where I recently moved back to. He and I met while I was on a search for experienced theatre types in my small city who would inspire me to keep creating - and he is just that! We've been working on the show together since the new year, and will continue to develop the show for the Toronto International Fringe Festival this summer.

Laura Ward is my cousin and stage manager/super fringe sidekick. She's joined me here in NY so that I don't have to go it alone! This is the second festival in which she's performed her amazing sidekick duties and hopefully not the last.
Of course, I've also had support from people back home helping with poster design, fundraisers and promotion.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

We're taking the show (but a longer version of it) to The Toronto International Fringe Festival in June/July of this year. After FRIGID I'll be back to writing, fundraising and promoting. I'd like to see this show go beyond fringe festivals and eventually produce it independantly, possibly tour. It's a great show (if any producers out there are interested).

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,
what would it be?


Come see the play. Bring your friends. You'll laugh. You'll see yourself, and your friends and your significant others in the character. You'll say "oh my god! that one part where (blah blah blah) is just like me!. Plus I take off some of my clothes... AND put them back on ... for only $12!! Now THAT'S value.

1/4 Life Crisis
By Alison Lynne Ward

UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place

Thu 2/25 - 6:00 PM
Fri 2/26 - 9:00 PM
Sun 2/28 - 2:30 PM
Mon 3/01 - 10:30 PM
Wed 3/03 - 9:00 PM
Sat 3/06 - 4:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Leslie Goshko of Vodka Shoes

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Craig Ruttle


Name: Leslie Goshko
Show: Vodka Shoes
Website: ohmygoshko.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I first got involved with theater the same way most Christian kids do... at church. Countless performances of bad church scripts and nativity plays. Then I did some more bad plays in high school and then finally got my degree in Drama/Television/Film in college. Then I did some bartending...

Who are your biggest influences?

My biggest influences would definitely have to be Gilda Radner, Steve Martin, and Johnny Carson. They're classics! Although I would like to have a word with Steve concerning "Bringing Down the House."

Tell me a little bit about Vodka Shoes.

Vodka Shoes delivers in one hour what it took years for my family to accomplish: 40 years of alcoholism, bankruptcy, emergency room tragedies, religious zealotry, and a little bit of jail time. But don't worry, it's funny. Honestly! It's a storytelling experience that thrusts the audience through the bizarre, extraordinary destruction of an American family that somehow manages to rise again from its ruins.

What inspired you to write it?

This piece actually started as a novel about my family. I wrote it several years ago and then didn't pick it up again. But as I got involved in the NY storytelling scene and heard about the FRIGID festival, I thought it would make a great one-person show; and here we are!

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

My two biggest collaborators and most trusted friends are my director, Kyle Erickson (who also happens to be my husband), and my friend and author, Dana Sterling. Kyle, Dana, and I met in Oklahoma and formed a writers group together. About 6 years later, we still bounce ideas off each other and collaborate via the web and phone calls. This will be Kyle and my second collaboration together (he directed my first NY one-woman show last year). His degrees in theater and writing make him an invaluable addition. And Dana's years of experience in the writing world have come in handy on more than one occasion. She's like a walking encyclopedia of writing/marketing information.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Well, I perform regularly around the city, so I'll continue with the NY storytelling scene (including hosting my own show, Sideshow Goshko and performing with "The BTK Band" @ Under St. Marks). I also have a web series that I want to start filming and I'll probably look for other venues and opportunities to present Vodka Shoes. Basically, anything and everything.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

"Let's make a baby!" Umm, and by that I mean... please come see the show. You'll enjoy it. I promise!

Vodka Shoes
By Leslie Goshko

UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place

Thu 2/25 - 7:30 PM
Sat 2/27 - 4:00 PM
Thu 3/04 - 9:00 PM
Fri 3/05 - 7:30 PM
Sun 3/07 - 1:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Penny Pollak of No Traveler

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Cathyrn Lynne


Name: Penny Pollak
Show: No Traveler
Website: Amusecollective.com and Pennysopenmic.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I brought my open mic to Horse Trade almost two years ago, and we've been doing it at UNDER St. Marks Theater every Tuesday since. From Penny's Open Mic (a)muse collective was born and this is our first year as residents of Horse Trade Theater Group. It's been the best experience with a theater company we could have asked for.

Who are your biggest influences?

Anything Vaudeville. Tom Waits.

Tell me a little bit about No Traveler.

There is a flashing razor blade, heaven, hell, musical dance numbers, a bucket and a body count of nine. No Traveler combines vaudevillian moments, original music, projection and the universal experience of the heartbreaking act of suicide with the one thing that helps us keep going... laughter. And there's a body count of nine.

What inspired you to write it?

I've been creating and workshopping different pieces from No Traveler at my open mic for the last year. The great thing about the open mic is that it gives a perfect opportunity to experiment several different ways with any kind of piece. Monologues that came from a very dark place I've gotten to try to perform it very light and funny and vice versa. It's been a really inspiring process.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with
them?


When I began to gather my creations into a solo show, I brought in award-winning solo performer Samantha Jones (Dora Mae Productions, Butterfly Suicide, Solo Nova, Wonder Women Festival) to create a perfectly edgy, creative duo. No Traveler also features the added artistic mastery of lighting designer LuckyDave, musical genius, Mike Milazzo, the resonate vocals of Lee Goffin-Bonenfant, and sound design by Nicole Yung. Of course nothing would get done without (a)muse collective's co-producer Marsha Brown.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

As well as continuing on with No Traveler whereever we can bring it, we start work right away on (a)muse collective's next two solo shows of the season, Sexyback at UNDER St. Marks on March 28th and Mike Milazzo's Acid Stories coming in May!

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

No Traveler is a trip down the rabbit hole. Both very dark and very funny, the audience will be brought to another place in time and space with the most beautiful and eerie soundtrack and of course the body count of nine.

No Traveler
By Penny Pollak

UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place

Thu 2/25 - 10:30 PM
Sat 2/27 - 10:00 PM
Sun 2/28 - 7:00 PM
Wed 3/03 - 10:30 PM
Sat 3/06 - 5:30 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Brianna Stark of Aurelia and Imago

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Duane Burnett


Name: Brianna Stark
Show: Aurelia and Imago
Website: www.briannastark.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

Performing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I first began dancing when I was 5 years old; I went to my neighbor's dance recital and decided to take dance lessons soon after that. Since then, my path and approach as a performer has been ever evolving, and so my experience of theatre has often become new again. A few years ago creating on my own was very unfamiliar and daunting, so was improvisation, and now I feel most comfortable in a theatrical approach which combines both of these aspects.

Who are your biggest influences?

I have had many great teachers over the years, which I am fortunate for from my early days as an aspiring dancer in Winnipeg, Canada at the School of Contemporary Dancers, to studying at the Tamalpa Institute, in California; while influenced by founder American Dance legend Anna Halprin who was revolutionary in connecting healing and the arts; during my years at the Tamalpa Institute, I was especially inspired by my teacher Daria Halprin a pioneer in the field of Movement-based Expressive Arts Therapy, and my experiences working one-on-one with mentor G. Hoffman Soto, who I hosted in my home Vancouver to work on improvisation and the creation of my solo "In Search Of...". I have also been privileged to study the creative process of the past Pina Bausch, which resonated with me as a genuine and intelligent way to creativity. But most of all, my biggest influences continue to be artists who truly speak from the heart through breathtaking performances, and those who rise above their circumstance to push the limit of what people may believe. Those are the kind of talents that are an anchor for me, bringing me back to the reason why performing can be worth the many challenges along the way.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

Aurelia and Imago is a energetic and visual work. The piece incorporates a video projection, which runs throughout the performance and is a stream of striking images. The movements range from raw to structured and are at times captured within the video projections. The piece touches on many themes from the relationship to the unknown, to the search for union, metamorphosis, and the relationship of essence to matter. The costuming is also key to the show; I designed a costume which could be used in many ways. It resembles a cocoon or snake skin and magnetically connects objects, which become props for the piece. For now, I will not say too much more, but it started with an idea of how these particular objects catch light with movement, which evolved into something more symbolic. An idea, which soon became an involved and time-consuming project for someone who does not know how to sew, but I couldnʼt imagine the piece without it.

What inspired you to create Aurelia and Imago?

I wanted to create a piece on myself and spend time simply exploring through improvisation. I began improvising with various combinations of movement tasks and it evolved from there. I also wanted to capture a feeling of excitement. I used to listen to trance techno when I was a teenager. And while I have grown out of this fascination, I still can get this feeling when I hear it that gives me energy, and I wanted to create something that contained that same kind of feeling.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

This has been mostly a solo production since the beginning. The solo was created over the period of a year. I worked on my own for the majority of that time. When it came close to production time, I began working with a costume designer, Katherine Soucie, who helped me with the design of one of the costumes - a dress, which is constructed from recycled hosiery and painted. I also had a lighting designer and stage manager, Heather Young, help me with the lighting design and technical aspects of bringing the work into the theatre. After I had conceptualized the video projection I hired Paul Verge and Jay Gavin to take on the editing. Jay later filmed the work and together we worked on creating the current video projection which incorporates the original projection and some of the footage from the dance.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

After FRIGID, I will be performing Aurelia and Imago in the Montreal Fringe festival in June. I have also been commissioned to create a solo for a dancer in Winnipeg, which will be a good opportunity to focus on creating, rather than wearing both hats as interpreter and choreographer as I have mostly been doing of late. I will also be writing my real estate exam in the next few months and am not quite sure yet where that will all take me.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,what would it be?

I do really hope that people will come to see this show. It has received a lot of very positive feedback in performances so far, and I believe it is an interesting and powerful piece that will be enjoyed. Most of all I have worked hard on creating this piece and would just really like to share it. The performances during the FRIGID Festival will be offered free of admission; this is kind of a one time special scenario for this place and time and hope that people will take up the opportunity.

Aurelia and Imago
By Brianna Stark

The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street

Thu 2/25 - 9:00 PM
Sun 2/28 - 4:00 PM
Mon 3/01 - 9:00 PM
Wed 3/03 - 7:30 PM
Fri 3/05 - 4:00 PM
Sat 3/06 - 7:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Maggie Nutall of Roll With It

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by George Courtney


Name: Maggie Nuttall
Show: Roll With It
Website: http://www.youtube.com/user/mznuttall
Here's where you can purchase tickets

How did you first get involved in theatre?

Many years ago in a land called Scranton, PA, I jumped in head first playing all the roles that most actors don't fight over, like elderly women, men, and animals. Then I moved on to playing raging alcoholics and severely fractured personalities. In NYC I did improv for a couple of years with Greg Sullivan's KLAATU, took Dunham classes at Alvin Ailey, acting classes with Charlie Katkasakis and saw a lot of Off Off Off Broadway shows. I stopped performing completely in 2000 due to a large ton of bricks that had the unmitigated gall to fall on me. Then in 2006 I started doing stand up comedy throughout Manhattan at places like NY Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, Ochi's Lounge at Comix. Throughout the last 4 years I've been telling true stories at The Moth Story Slams and at various venues throughout the city such as Sidewalk Cafe, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Under St Marks, and The Bitter End.

Who are your biggest influences?

As a performer it changes 'round the material I'm attacking. Currently it's people like Eric Bogosian, Henry Rollins, George Carlin, and Johnny Rotten, unrelenting slammers all that influence me. These are people I love: Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Bette Midler, Bill Irwin, Steve Martin, Joan Rivers, Eddie Izzard, and Billy Connelly

Tell me a little bit about Roll With It.

Roll With It comprises of a string of true stories of madness and random acts of violence told with wonder and amazement by a wide-eyed child. It is the continuous struggle between reality and fantasy, what we want life to be and how it actually is. It is a deadly hilarious comedy of errors that leads down the darkest path of our fears. Come with me, I'll take you by the hand and lead the way.

What inspired you to write it?

At first I thought I'd just knit a few stories together for an hour's worth of entertainment. Then as the stories started coming together, I found myself in the middle of a series of arguments about fantasy and reality, about stand up comedy versus storytelling, about the art of the story and it's origin, about paradise and hell. Now I have a show called Roll With It.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with
them?


Currently, I work by myself. I've collaborated with a number of theatre groups over the course of 15 years both in Scranton and New York. This particular project I've written and performed by myself as myself. This is my first solo theatrical project.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

I'm up for anything that comes my way.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,
what would it be?


Aren't you tired of listening to the incessant complaints of your clients, customers, coworkers, and boss? Come on out and escape your troubles for an hour, you're worth it.

Roll With It
By Maggie Nutall

The Red Room
85 East 4th Street

Fri 2/26 - 9:30 PM
Sat 2/27 - 5:00 PM
Tue 3/02 - 8:00 PM
Fri 3/05 - 8:00 PM
Sun 3/07 - 2:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Martin Dockery of The Bike Trip

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Kristen Hanshaw & khphotographics


Name: Martin Dockery
Show: The Bike Trip
Website: martindockery.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

For many years growing up, my brother and I and some friends would put together a New Years Eve play that we would perform for our parents.

Who are your biggest influences?

Author: Geoff DyerMusic: Sonic Youth, Shpongle, Duran Duran

Tell me a little bit about The Bike Trip.

It was the height of WWII, in the very heart of Europe, when Swiss pharmacologist Albert Hofmann found himself struggling through a most bizarre bicycle ride—one that would unexpectedly introduce the world to LSD and alter the way millions of people perceive the very nature of consciousness. 65 years later, in a quest to understand why acid so enthralls and terrifies, I set out to explore the psychedelic scenes of San Francisco, India, and Switzerland, before tapping into Hofmann's very first acid trip by, amongst other things, renting a bike.

What inspired you to write it?

The public perception of LSD is frozen in a 1960s tie-dyed haze, and yet its use is as prevalent - and as secretive - as ever. The Bike Trip tells a very personal tale as it attempts to look anew at this most powerful of all psychotropic substances.

Do you have any collaborators on this show?

On this particular project I’ve been working alone.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

I will be on the road for 4 and a half months this spring & summer, traveling to festivals in Fresno, Phoenix, Orlando, Charleston, London, Regina, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Victoria, & Vancouver.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,
what would it be?


Since I don’t work with a script, each night is slightly different. There’s an immediacy in the room, an energy that’s palpable, and which makes for, I hope, a thrilling experience.

The Bike Trip
By Martin Dockery

The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street

Thu 2/25 - 10:30 PM
Sat 2/27 - 4:00 PM
Wed 3/03 - 6:00 PM
Fri 3/05 - 7:00 PM
Sun 3/07 - 2:30 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Catherine Montgomery of Crack'd

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Samantha Madely


Name: Catherine Montgomery
Show: Crack'd
Website: www.crackdshow.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

A play in grade six.

Who are your biggest influences?

Denise Clarke. Lily Tomlin. Catherine O'Hara

Tell me a little bit about your show.

It is a woman's journey in the letting go of her mom. Playful and raw, dancing on the knife of comedy and tragedy.

What inspired you to write it?

These two characters, Trace and Joy came out of character mask. So they are big in both personality and heart. This piece has been evolving for almost two years.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with
them?


My director and dramaturg is Heather Davies. She is an amazing director, and I recently completed the MFA Acting program with her at York University, Toronto. We have are friends and collaborators.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Agents/ Future tours/ Grant writing / Babysitting / Bridesmaiding / Waitressing

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,
what would it be?


The material is raw and abrasive - but it is full of heart. It's an absolute emotional ride - highs and lows - and it is a show for anyone who wants that in their theatre.

Crack'd
Written by Catherine Montgomery

The Red Room
85 East 4th Street

Thu 2/25 - 9:30 PM
Sat 2/27 - 12:30 PM
Sun 2/28 - 3:30 PM
Tue 3/02 - 9:30 PM
Thu 3/04 - 6:30 PM
Sat 3/06 - 8:00 PM

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review - My AiDS (At Hand Theatre Company)

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Matthew Murphy


It seems everyone who moves to New York has a story to tell about it. They arrive, wide-eyed and naive, planning to take the city by storm. They usually get their asses handed to them, but in the process learn a lot about "Life" and "Themselves." At least that's what they think.

Every year or two, some fresh-faced, mid-to-late-twenty-something will put together a one-man show (or, God forbid, a cabaret), and pass along five or so years of collected wisdom - having to take a menial job so they can audition, not getting cast in Broadway plays even though they were way more talented than everyone else, hooking up with an endless list of Craiglist tricks, each of whom had a more unusual fetish than the last. At the end of the show, they act as though they've accomplished something amazing and unique by not having given up and moved back home.

Believe me, I've seen a lot of them. And being in my forties, I will admit to just a touch of schadenfreude, knowing what the next decade has in store for most of these kids.

That's why it's refreshing to hear someone a little older, just into his thirties, who actually has something interesting to say about his life in New York, and who is an apt enough writer to create stories that are more than just humorous and entertaining - they actually relate to one another and build a nice dramatic arc.

Dan Horrigan was a fresh-faced young man who moved to New York with the same dreams that many others had. He dealt with apartment snafus, had the requisite insufferable, depressing job, and discovered the anesthetizing comforts of drinking, drugs, and sex. The hook in Dan's story, as the title indicates, is when he finds out about "His AIDS." In fact, what he finds out is that he is HIV+, but he thinks of it and refers to it as a separate entity - his AIDS - an object like a shirt or chair that has a physical presence and influence.

My AiDS really isn't about AIDS, HIV, or living in New York, of course, it's about Horrigan's journey to adulthood. One of the strengths of this play, compared to so many similar ones, is that at the end, Horrigan doesn't claim to have figured everything out or to have learned "The Secret of Life." He's not the man he was. He's not the man he will be. But he's maturing and growing up. And sometimes that's enough.

While Horrigan is a good writer and an amusing and personable storyteller, he is a somewhat limited actor. At his best moments, it's easy to imagine that you're sitting in your friend Dan's living room, having a chat about his life. In these moments, Horrigan is open, relaxed, and fully at ease. The stories flow with a feeling of immediacy. Much of the play, however, Horrigan appears self-conscious and a bit too aware of the reaction he wants or expects from the audience. In fairness, this is Horrigan's first solo show, a difficult endeavor to begin with, and considering that he has spent most of his career as a producer and director, his lack of polish as an actor is forgivable.

One other note about this production of My AiDS, Lighting Designer Zach Blane has done an exemplary job. His lighting design is unobtrusive and nuanced, subtly reinforcing Horrigan's storytelling. Without question Blane is a talented designer worth keeping an eye on.

My AiDS
Written and performed by Dan Horrigan
Directed by Dave Solomon
Producer: Justin Scribner
Associate Producer: Laura A. Wright
Lighting Designer: Zach Blane
Set Designer: Shoko Kambara
Assistant Set Designer: Sam Froeschle
Press Representative: Shane Marshall Brown
Event Coordinator: T.J. Fix
Graphic Designer: Jeff Hardy

Urban Stages
259 West 30th Street

Saturdays at 10:30 PM
Sundays and Mondays at 7:00 PM

Through March 1st

Monday, February 22, 2010

FRIGID New York Interview - Kelly "Killy" Dwyer of Kill The Band

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Craig Schober


Name: Kelly "Killy" Dwyer
Show: Kill The Band
Website: www.KELLYBDWYER.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I saw my mom do community theater when I was very young ... I was sitting with my dad in the audience and when I saw my mom take the stage. I recognized her, but she had turned into an old, OLD WOMAN!! I was so freaked out! I started crying and yelling because I just couldn't wrap my 6-year-old brain around the fact that my mom was now older than my grandma. The actors stopped and everyone in the audience watched as my father carried his wailing 6-year-old out of the theater, screaming that "theeeeyyyy turrrrrned Mommmmmmmy into an ollllld ladyyyyyyyy!!". She had to physically come out to calm me at intermisson and show me that the "old" was all done with make-up and wigs and ACTING! It was a revelation for me. People can pretend to be somebody else and a lot of other people will come and watch and be entertained! I was fascinated and HOOKED. My first musical in gradeschool was You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I've never stopped performing since.

Who are your biggest influences?

My Mom and Dad. Lucille Ball. Andy Kaufman. Carol Burnett. Steve Martin. Spinal Tap. My dog.


Tell me a little bit about Kill The Band.

Coinciding with the release of our debut album, I wanted to have a bit of a unique "coming out party" for the band and our music. Kill The Band is THE original, rock and roll anti-cabaret. It is an unpredictable, outrageously funny musical experience of both the band’s breakdowns and breakthrough. It's high concept, comedy rock music experienced in a theatrical way. Kill The Band is all the drama and ego that every band experiences throughout their career, smooshed into an hour of hilarious power!

So it was the upcoming album that inspired you to write the show?

I was inspired to write the show from the music I was making over the last year and a half, and the band I was playing it with for the last 6 months. It's very dramatic working with other people in a creative setting ... and funny. I wanted to write about the experience artistic collaboration. It's a constant rotation of power struggles, fighting, falling in love, riding the highs and hating each other.

Who else is in the show with you?

My band (Mike Milazzo, Joe Yoga and Bamboo Silva) play themselves in this show ... well, themselves sort of. I took a lot of artistic license with their personalities and our creative and personal conflicts to up the stakes and add to the comedic value of the show.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

We have a lot of gigs booked as a "regular band" and we all have solo projects as well. I myself am overbooked until the 20th of March, and then I'm going to Belize with my husband for a week for some seriously needed R&R! I am headlining at Austin's LAFF Festival in May and then I'm taking my solo show "Hysteri-Killy"! A One Freak Show! international with a European Tour in August.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience what would it be?

See Kill The Band now while our egos and ticket prices are still reasonable, because we'll be rocketing into super stardom soon and you can say "I saw them back in the day!!"

Kill The Band

UNDER St. Marks
94 St. Marks Place

Wed. 2/24 - 10:30 PM
Fri. 2/26 - 10:30 PM
Tue. 3/02 - 7:30 PM
Sat. 3/06 - 10:00 PM
Sun. 3/07 - 4:00 PM

FRIGID New York Interview - Christopher Heath and the cast of Four Quarters

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Carl Zetterstrom


Name: Christopher Heath
Show: Four Quarters
Website: www.agonyproductions.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I started in theatre in high school, as an anti-war demonstrater in a production of Antigone set in the 1960s. Hooked.

Who are your biggest influences?

My biggest influences as a playwright are Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, Terrence McNally, and Donald Margulies.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

I'll let the cast tell you about it:

Margo Brooke Pellmar (Jo): Its a love story about chance and timing and defeat and struggle ... and that's just the love between you and you ... then when somebody new is added ... you get this play.

Solomon Shiv (Joe): Two Partners. Each with their own Civil war. That's four sides trying improbably to win. Trying to control the Perfect Mess. Relating to failure. Discovering what was lacking. Somewhere, Time may have figured into the equation and there were some transformative ramifications.

Tamar Pelzig (Teri): Four Quarters describes the journey of one to themselves through a not so simple love story.

Omer Barnea (Terry): The various parts of myself and ourselves are in constant movement with parts that are harmonious and merge well into the other parts, and parts that are kept private and rigid due to our fears. This play is about the fluctuation of love and all of it's inhibitions and a certain triumph of communication despite all fear.

What inspired you to write Four Quarters?

The initial concept of two actors portraying one character came from a friend of mine, Jim Williams. From that, I started exploring the times in my life when I have been two different versions of myself.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

This is the second production of Four Quarters, so the development was primarily done back in 2002 when we were at the Fringe. However, I met Margo at an audition for another show of mine in 2008, loved her work, and showed her this play. She brought in Tamar, Solomon, and Omer and the five of us took off on this incredible journey. The four of them have known each other variously for many years--they all studied at Circle in the Square and were friends prior, Solomon and Tamar live together, and Tamar and Omer have known each other since they were teenagers living in Israel. I'm actually the odd-man-out, which is fabulous.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Hopefully I'll have another show this year at the Midtown International Theatre Festival. I'm working on a series of three companion one-acts with an old friend who is a professor at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas. The plan is to develop the three pieces as a single show down there and bring the students up to NYC to perform in the festival.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?

Again, I'll let the cast respond:

Margo Brooke Pellmar (Jo): This is a touching show and we take off our clothes ... The play is open to discussion. Its thoughtful. The gender play is seamless.

Solomon Shiv (Joe): I can't think of any higher honor in theatre than to be part of the kind of play that confuses or engages the hearts 'n' heads of its audience.

Because each actor is playing a SIDE of a flawed human being, characters may be more intense within their opinions, seemingly flat or two-dimensional at the outset. As these 'Sides' or 'Quarters' begin to mingle and collide and affect, the identities begin reflecting our own familiar (and quite wonderous) confusion. Sure characters run an 'arc' in all kinds of stories but there aren't many that go at this way. It is unabashedly lost but not necessarily hopeless.

Tamar Pelzig (Teri): It will make you THINK -- Sometimes it's fun to expand your mind, and not just escape it. We all have conversations with ourselves ... and after watching this show, you might learn to speak to yourself in a much more loving way. The idea in the play is 'outside the box'. and too many shows out there are very much 'inside the box' ... besides, it will make an excellent conversation piece!

Omer Barnea (Terry): They should come if they feel like participating in a real process. It is not often, in my experience, that a true, exploring, curious, brave process is found in theatre. This is the real deal right here. Some guts and raw reality are thrown here in front of you -- some real hardcore unknowns. There are at least five individuals who are taking their sweet ass time to delve into a really good piece of writing and doubt every line of dialogue and syllable in it until life naturally occurs in the rehearsal room. Nothing ever gets done twice here, and this is what art (and life) is all about.

Christopher Heath (playwright, director): This cast. This cast. This cast is the most talented, fearless, raw, hilarious, exciting, open, interesting, hot, intelligent, and fun cast I've ever seen, let alone had the fortune to work with. Come to the show to see these amazing four future stars. You won't be sorry.

Four Quarters
Written and directed by Christopher Heath

The Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street

Wed. 2/24 - 10:30 PM
Fri. 2/26 - 7:00 PM
Tue. 3/02 - 9:00 PM
Thu. 3/04 - 7:30 PM
Sat. 3/06 - 2:30 PM

For tickets or more information, visit FRIGID New York.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

FRIGID New York 2010

By Byrne Harrison

Most of the New York theatre community knows the big festivals - FringeNYC, NYMF, MITF, Samuel French.

There are many smaller festivals, however, most of which get larger every year. One of my favorites among these is FRIGID New York. Part of this is because of the time of year - winter. It's one of the only festivals in the city at this time of year, a fact that no doubt helps them stand out. The second reason is that FRIGID New York brings in a diverse and interesting group of plays.

Founded by Horse Trade Theater Group in association with San Francisco's EXIT Theatre in 2007, FRIGID New York takes place in three venues (two of which are housed in the same building - the Kraine Theater and the Red Room - with the third, UNDER St. Marks, being a short walk away. The venues are rather small, and the audience has grown by 20% each year since its inception, so it pays to get tickets early.

Drawing on the Canadian Association of Fringe Festival's principle “to provide all artists, emerging and established, with the opportunity to produce their play no matter the content, form or style and to make the event as affordable and accessible as possible for the members of the community,” FRIGID New York is a mix of styles from traditional theatre to dance to improv to readings. While the phrase "something for everyone" gets bandied about a little too much, it is safe to say that the downtown theatre crowd will find plenty to see at this festival.

Here are a few of the shows that sound intriguing (descriptions provided by FRIGID New York). To see a full list, visit the FRIGID New York website.

The shows with the best titles:

Bonne Nuit Poo Poo - Max, Maxi and the Operator fight for their survival in this action-packed comic-erotic end times fantasy featuring live video stream, text, dance and spectacle. Created by Theatre Reverb with script, video and sound by Kristin Arnesen and Radoslaw Konopka.

Ramblings of a Gentleman Scumbag - Lucky Chengs Balloon man, delusional comic, and man of no God tries to justify 34 years of poor life choices and degeneracy. Profiled in Playgirl, FHM Magazine, Time-Out NY Magazine, John Murdock is not your Father’s balloon man. A straight man in a gay world, a feminist in the sex industry, a ridiculous man in a ridiculous world.

Interesting concepts:

Uncorseted - Destinies of a European countess and a humble American chambermaid collide at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Swords of steel penetrate gender norms, true identities are freely explored, and one man discovers it is better to receive than to give.

Green Man - Gavin, a wounded and delirious soldier is taken in by a mysterious stranger. Nursed by the three women of the household–mother, wife and daughter–Gavin becomes entangled in ancient and deadly game of seduction, transgression and vengeance.

Onomatopoeia! - Onomatopoeia! presents clowning and juggling in a brand new light. Three characters present a collection of short scenes, which explore a single idea through physical theater and object manipulation. As the title suggests the only spoken words in the piece will be onomatopoeias!

One-performer shows:

Fishbowl - Mark Shyzer’s Fishbowl slyly reveals the connections between five outrageously hilarious characters: a nerdy schoolgirl obsessed with physics, a nihilistic teenage hipster, a gin-soaked divorcee, a perky aerobics instructor and an octogenarian with an odd sense of humour… all played by Shyzer.

It or Her - Somewhere between "Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure" and "The Tell-Tale Heart," this provocative dark comedy explores the basement of a suburban home where Andrew has devoted himself unconditionally to his incredible collection of figurines. Suffering the loss of The Red One, he seeks to uncover The Ultimate Arrangement before his hideout is invaded, and his dark secret is revealed.

No Traveler - In a narcissistic attempt to win her family’s attention, Abigail decides to perform the greatest stunt of all- attempted suicide. When her childish venture turns into unexpected reality, Abigail finds herself trapped in purgatory – a warped version of her apartment with two exits. Heaven or Hell. As a result of her foolish mistake, there is atonement and penance to be paid… and time is running out.

Mixed media:

Kill the Band - Kill the Band is the original, comedy rock and roll, anti-cabaret! Coinciding with the release of their first concept album, Kill the Band takes you on a cleverly comedic, musically theatrical trip through the band’s breakdowns and breakthrough.

Medea - Medea, suddenly abandoned by her husband Jason, plots her bloody revenge. A beautiful and heartbreaking staging of Euripides’ 2,400-year-old play about love, broken expectations, passion, violence and what happens when we want too much. An original score and puppetry add an artistic twist to this vibrant translation.

Aurelia and Imago - Bombarded by striking images of outer-space, floating petals, racing cars, and many more; Stark takes us on a journey of birth, life and beyond through her signature movement language combining the genuine with the forced. High energy music sets the tone.

Artists we already like:

LATE NIGHTS WITH THE BOYS: confessions of a leather bar chanteuse - With delightful and poignant tales of a Southern Songstress and her gay family, Alex Bond and David Carson read selections from Ms. Bond’s novel and transport you to Dallas 1977, a magical time before HIV/AIDS, but not before ignorance and prejudice. Read the StageBuzz.com interview with Alex Bond here.

tenderpits - tenderpits tells the part-autobiographical, part-fictionalized story of a young man’s immigration from Canada to New York City- and of his realization that he is, in fact, a wizard. From the creators of ART’S HEART (Winner, Outstanding Solo Show FringeNYC 2009) comes a sick new show about identity, magic and armpits.

And don't forget to check out the latenight Canuck Cabaret hosted by Paul Hutcheson. With a tagline like "Canadians Are Warm, Canadians Are Great Guests, Canadians Are F*%#ing Entertaining," how can it not be good?