Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FRIGID New York Interview - Lauren Rayner of "Mendacity"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Lauren Rayner
Show: Mendacity

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I started performing when I was 5 years old. When I was 15, I directed my first show (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, of course) and took it to the Mary Folger Shakespeare Festival in Washington D.C. The show won festival awards for “Best Actress”, “Best Ensemble” and the “Brian Cabe Award for Best Direction”. The magic of directing and producing that piece stuck with me and I have continued developing myself as a producer and director ever since.

Who are your biggest influences?

Tennessee Williams, Pina Bausch, Julie Taymor, Aaron Posner, and of course Shakespeare…

Tell me a little bit about your show.

MENDACITY is a solo word collage performance piece detailing a young woman’s harmful sexual experiences, mostly surrounding two rapes by close friends, and the aftermath that ensues with her friends, family, and fragmented/unsettled mentality. This young woman does not have a name or identity, which is explored as she realizes “I have been possessed for years years I have been possessed other people voices parts selves have lived inside me no wonder I don’t know who I am I don’t know who I am I have never known.” MENDACITY will use various performance mediums, such as vocal performance, experimental sound and visuals, and precise physical movement to relay her story.

What inspired you to write it?

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, about 80% of rape cases are women aged 24 and under, and that statistic becomes even more staggering when we realize that most rapes of young women go unreported out of fear, disgust, shame, and denial. This woman’s story was inspired by personal experiences and other stories shared by young women around the United States. I spoke to women at support groups, Take Back the Night, performances of The Vagina Monologues, etc., and their words unfolded into the word-collage that the piece is now.

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

I wrote and directed the piece, performed by Ali Kresch, produced by Lauren Rayner Productions in association with Rachel Kerry and Benjamin Mack. A major element of this piece will be movement-based with choreography by Shiloh Goodin, as well as an integrated video and sound design by Jay Kilachand and Jonathan Hull, respectively. Rachel Kerry is a stage director, writer, actor, and multimedia designer. In 2009, she staged a 175-person dance in Times Square for Guy Laliberte’s Moving Stars and Earth for Water Benefit Concert. She worked closely with Choreographer Sean Roschman, Cirque du Soleil Creative Director Fernand Rainville and Los Angeles-based production company Control Room to create a performance that was covered by the Associated Press and seen globally. Benjamin Mack is a creative consultant specializing in music, film, and video production based out of New York; since 2007 he has been a co-producer for RedLabelFilms production company.

For MENDACITY, due to the sensitive nature of the piece, it is imperative that all artists involved harbor a personal connection to the subject (either by proxy or first hand). All of the producers individually signed on to the project after a private reading with me. Many of the other artistic contributors are those that I have worked with before, for example, the sound designer Jonathan Hull and his band Momentary Prophets collaborated on a song for a flash-mob that I produced in Washington Square Park. However, producer Benjamin Mack recommended video designer Jay Kilachand from his work with Mr. Kilachand’s company RedLabelFilms. Jay Kilachand then recommended Luke Kanter, a recent graduate of Yale’s film department who has worked directly with Sarath Patel (the sound designer for Theatre C’s 3-time NY Innovative Theatre Award Winner ‘Jesse Zaritt’s BINDING’, which I associate produced). Producer Rachel Kerry brought on choreographer Shiloh Goodin, a passionate dancer who brings immeasurable life to the piece with movement. Ali Kresch is a performer that I have directed before in a movement-piece in Central Park. All of above are emerging New York City artists.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

I will be producing a performance art installation for Calla Videt (of PegLeg Productions) commissioned by The Culture Project. I have previously produced shows with Ms. Videt, including ONE ARM AND A LEG, which was presented at the HERE Arts Center and Theater for the New City.

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

It is important to note that this show is not about seeing someone get raped or re-living the sexual assaults in any way. The piece examines the reactions of friends, family, lovers and how the community views a victim of sexual assault. MENDACITY has moved from readings in Los Angeles to readings and a workshop in New York. At a reading in Los Angeles, we had two women stand up and share their stories for the first time. It was a moment that I will never forget – something that I thought could only occur at events like Take Back the Night or support groups. At every presentation of this piece, there has always been a strong sense of community and openness in the room. This piece has a jarring and painful way of opening up a dialogue about very uncomfortable topics and sends the audience a strong message that it is okay to talk about it. Plus, the integration of all of the multi-media components just makes it fascinating to watch this woman on her rebellious journey to finding hope.

Written & Directed by Lauren Rayner New York, NY

The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street)


Thu 2/24 @ 9pm, Sat 2/26 @ 8:30pm, Mon 2/28 @ 9pm, Thu 3/3 @ 6pm, & Sat 3/5 @ 5:30pm

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