Author Archives: benjrowne

#Selfie Pussyfest III The Reckoning

Lucky, lucky me I get to interview Mariah MacCarthy about Caps Lock Theatre’s upcoming fundraising event Pussyfest III The Reckoning.   I’m happy to say that my Pussyfest shirt arrived in the mail today and I am wearing it as we speak.  Y’all prepare to break the 11th commandant, thou shall not covet thy neighbors t-shirt.

 

Mariah, Pussyfest is upon us.  Can you talk us through the festival and just how exactly it works, how it all comes together? Why is a show like this important both to your company Caps Lock Theatre but also the great indie community?

MM: Basically, Leta (my co-artistic director) and I pick out 60 playwrights we like and 60 actresses we like and pair them together randomly. Then the playwright writes a custom-made monologue about the body for that actress. We give four-five monologues at a time to directors, then the pieces get rehearsed and are performed, script-in-hand, one time only, over the course of three entirely different nights. (We also have musical guests opening the show each night, so come early!) It comes together through endless, endless email. Seriously. If I earned a penny for every email message labeled “Pfest” in Gmail, we wouldn’t even need to do the fundraiser because I’d be rich rich rich.

Pussyfest is one of my favorite things to happen all year. It ends up being magnificently empowering almost by accident. We tell playwrights up front, look, this isn’t The Vagina Monologues, your piece does NOT have to be about vaginas or women’s empowerment. But because the monologues are so diverse, we get to see a huge range of what women can do onstage, which sadly isn’t the case at most plays. It brings together a huge number of people (one hundred and forty artists!) in the name of playing and kickass actresses.
Not only that, but the monologues are so good. SO good. I can be impartial because I didn’t write one this year. They’re funny and sad and sexy and silly and poetic and guttural and just brilliant across the board. You WILL be entertained.
Pussyfest is my Christmas. Ho ho ho, mother fuckers.

This will be my first Pussyfest can you fill me in on what I’ve missed in years past and tell the world why,aside from the full force of the Lather Rinse Repeat playwrights behind you,  The Reckoning will be the best yet?

The Reckoning is the biggest Pussyfest we’ve had. Last year we only did 40 monologues. This year it’s up to 60. I also was somehow able to convince brilliant writers like Jose Rivera, Mike Daisey, Sheila Callaghan, and Winter Miller to write for us this year, so I’m totally starstruck.

This year’s Pussyfest is bigger, badder, and it’s like a well-oiled machine at this point – in past years I’ve done Pussyfest all by my lonesome; this year I have not only Leta, I also have two Associate Producers, Sarah Matteucci and Daniel John Kelley (who are also Pussyfest artists and alumni!), and they are just God damn wonderful. They’re the bees’ knees. They’re the meatballs to my spaghetti.

Not that you would ever play favorites but are there any playwright/actor/combos you’re most excited about?

It’s an embarrassment of riches, really. Playing favorites is nearly impossible. But indie geek theater demigod Mac Rogers wrote a monologue for Cathy Curtin of Orange Is the New Black involving a whip, and it’s delicious. Our own Isaac Rathbone wrote a monologue for Lilli Stein involving a violin solo, which I can’t wait to hear. Diana Oh is performing an absolutely filthy monologue by Don Nguyen called STANLEY MOTHERFUCKING KOWALSKI and I can’t wait to hear that either. If you get me started on this game I’ll never be able to stop so I might as well stop now, because they are ALL so damn exciting.
If you had access to every playwright, actor, and director in the world what’s the greatest combo you could ever imagine?
Oh man, and I can only choose one of each? I’d write a monologue for Greta Gerwig and have Sam Gold direct it. Somebody make this happen.

What does the future hold for Pussyfest and Caps Lock?

Everything raised at Pussyfest goes to the remount of my immersive site-specific apartment party play, Mrs. Mayfield’s Fifth-Grade Class of ’93 20-Year Reunion! It’s happening in Williamsburg in January 2015; make sure you’re signed up for our mailing list to get all the Caps Lock updates!
As for Pussyfest: There will soon be a Pussyfest CHANNEL! If you become a member of the Caps Lock Treehouse, you’ll have access to this channel, get free tickets to all our shows and fundraisers, and much, much more. More deets on that here.

MEGA ROUND UP!!!

You’ve read our weekly rounds ups and they were of course entertaining and now we bring you (in a booming echoing voice) MEGA ROUND UP!!!!!!

MEGA ROUND UP!!!!! compiles an entire summer’s worth of happenings, two weeks of long form adventures, and a whole lot of madcapperie in one concise post.  It’s MEGA ROUND UP!!!!

THE BEGINNING:

It all started in June 2014 when Filling the Well: An Artists Retreat took the Lather, Rinse, Repeat playwrights by the hand and led them on an amazing journey at the Dragon’s Egg Studio in Ledyard, CT.   Gorging on healthy, hearty food, sunshine, and inspiration everybody left very full indeed.

SUMMER: A SEASON OF DOING AND THEN DOING MORE

Moving ever deeper into summer, a time when many New Yorkers escape the city, travel, maybe even rest or “chill-out” as the kids sometimes say, but not our LRR playwrights, not at all.   LRR playwrights do not believe in taking it easy.  They laugh at summer vacations.  Their work is their vacation.  When asked what they did on their “summer vacation” here is what some of our playwrights had to say:

Tim Errickson: For my summer vacation I’ve directed the New York premiere of John Patrick Bray’s DONKEY in the Planet Connections Festival, which was nominated for 13 Festival awards, followed by producing A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM in Central Park and LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST in Bryant Park. I also returned to serve on the New York Innovative Theatre Awards Honorary Awards Committee, and am leading NYIT through a six month Board refresh process. Plus I’m getting married at some point.  (and he did, just last week)

Isaac Rathbone: For my summer vacation my play “The Gnome” received a staged reading at Barter Theater’s Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights in Abingdon, VA on 7/8. I attended the festival and met some wonderful people, including the other amazing playwrights associated with the festival. (he also just remounted an amazing play called March of the Bonus Army, if you missed it, well, you missed out, didn’t you)

Lauren Ferebee: For my summer vacation I finished up a six-month residency in South Carolina with a workshop production of my play The Reckless Season (my first round Lather, Rinse, Repeat play).  In July,  I was a juried fellow at the Saltonstall Arts Colony, where I wrote, read and ate delicious food in Ithaca, NY. My play Sexual Geography (third round play for LRR) was selected for March Forth Productions’ Summer Salon in August. As the summer wraps up, I’ll be spending time with family in Dallas and bringing pages in for the brand new Dallas play incubator The Aviary.

Amanda Keating: For my summer vacation I spent a few wonderful weeks out of town workshopping my play GO THAT WAY with the Williams College Summer Theater Lab. Highlights include a) kicking it all day every day with smart, cool, seriously talented students and fellow artists, b) seeing the play on its feet for the first time, and c) eating, hiking, and biking my way through the pastures, farms, and fields of Williamstown MA. Aside from these glorious days of writing and drinking copious amounts of beer in the great outdoors, I sweated my way around the city working my myriad jobs and lamenting my lack of air conditioning. It was a killer summer.

Who’s That Girl?:

Woah, Amanda Keating, who is that?  WELL, if you haven’t been paying attention, Amanda Keating is our newest, shiniest member.  LRR member Lauren Ferebee is off sowing artistic seeds south of the Mason Dixon line and will remain a member at large (#lrr4eva) so we needed another amazing playwright to round out the team.  We held an open call and received an astonishing amount of submissions all of which were really, really fantastic.  So after reading loads of plays and talking it through all signs pointed to Amanda and we couldn’t be more excited to have her!  Keep an out for more from Amanda, a #selfie interview could be on the horizon…..

ALMOST DONE:

Now, to round off this, our first ever MEGA ROUND UP!!! (don’t forget the voice) Let us reflect on the last two weeks of long form plays.

Kicking this cycle off was none other than Mariah MacCarthy, she brought us the beginnings of what will no doubt be an amazeballs play filled with plotting teen girls, a dead dog, magical You Tube videos and thousands and thousands of dollars.  Week two Jen Browne brought in an updated version of a play we’ve seen before that may or may not be about a mermaid, the jury is still out but let’s just say there were a lot of questions about mermaid rules and habits.

THE FUTURE:

The future, oh yes the future holds many things, eight more weeks of brand new plays, new LRR workshops, parties, adventures, and more, literally more and more.   Check in and often, you never know what we’ll be throwing down.  You don’t, you just never know, there may even be another MEGA ROUND UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guest Star Selfie #3

On March 4th, Lather, Rinse, Repeat had the ultimate luck to snag the delightful and talented Kevin R. Free to join the feedback fray for LRR playwright Jeremy Wine’s new play.   Despite being knee deep in a production of a new concert version of The Music Man, Kevin took the time to answer a few questions from Jen Browne.

1. Jen Browne: Last week you spoke briefly about working with the New York Neo-Futurists and on your website you credit them as “the people who helped me find my voice.”  Can you talk a bit about your time with them and how it’s shaped you as a theater maker?

Kevin R. Free: Being a Neo-Futurist was the most amazing challenge! It’s a grind – from writing all the plays, learning the plays, running the whole organization administratively, and navigating being in an ensemble in which we are all artistic directors. It made me a better theatre-maker. I make my own sound cues now; I know more about how to make or procure my own props; I am generally much better at making a way out of no way when there isn’t budget to do all the things I want. As the only writer of color in the company for a while, I had race and identity on my mind a lot, and I learned how to write about it. Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind  is still the item on my resume that gets the most comments when I audition. I am so grateful to have done the show.

2. JB: Trolling through your website I also found an amazing list of books that you recorded as audio books.   Are there types of books that are more fun to record?  Is there a book out there new or old that you would love to add your vocal talents to?  Do you listen to audio books or are you more of a book in hand type of guy? (If it’s against the law to say you prefer to read a book over listening to it if you record them, don’t answer!)

KF: Thanks for trolling my website! I really love my job, though sometimes it is harder than I expect it to be. I love a good story, so it’s hard to say which kinds of stories are my favorites. I can say that my favorite book I’ve ever recorded was a book called The Mushroom Hunters. It’s a non-fiction book about people who forage for mushrooms. There are restaurants in Seattle mentioned in the book that I cannot wait to visit. There’s an author named Mat Johnson whose books I LOVE, and I want to be his narrator. Really bad. Mat, hit me up. I generally don’t listen to audiobooks, but that’s only because I have a short attention span. My mind wanders easily…

3. JB: You also mentioned your work as the producing artistic director  for The Fire This Time Festival can you speak more about the festival, where you’ve been and where you’re going?

 KF: The Festival provides a platform for early career playwrights of African and African-American descent for two years. The first year, we produce 10-minute world premiere plays of the playwrights we’ve chosen; the second year, we produce readings of full-length plays written by those playwrights. I was a playwright in Season 3 and 4, and I became the Producing Artistic Director of the Festival in Season 4. At the end of March, we are taking 6 plays to Boston to Hibernian Hall, and we hired a company of four kick-ass actors (Chris Michael Burke, Tracey Conyer Lee, Sara Thigpen, and Chinaza Uche) to play the roles, all directed by Nicole A. Watson! I really love the work we do, and I love cultivating and working with this community of artists, and I am excited about the way the festival is growing!

4. JB: You are an actor, writer, director, and a producer.  What challenges, if any do you find wearing all of these hats?  Do you think your work in any of these roles is mirrored or reflected in any of the others?  Is producer Kevin different from actor Kevin who is different from writer Kevin?

KF: I think Writer Kevin reflects actor Kevin pretty well. I like to make broad choices as an actor until I am reined in by a director, and my plays tend to be a little larger than life. Producer Kevin is much more tired than any of the other Kevins, and doesn’t like the fighting involved with Producing.

5. JB: You seem to be a snappy dresser and I appreciate your use of the bowtie.  Do you have a go-to bowtie shop?  When it comes to personal style, is there a word that best describes you?

KF: YES. Thank you! I love shopping at Beau Ties Limited. beautiesltd.com. They are the best!

Kevin R. Free

After a great run at Two River Theater Company in Red Bank, NJ, The Music Man, featuring an all-African-American cast can also be seen this weekend at NJPAC.   Get your tickets here: http://www.njpac.org/events/detail/the-music-man.  And for more from Kevin R. Free visit his website kevinrfree.com. 

 

Weekly Round-Up 3.2

Here we are a week after our last gathering and I have to say it was a cock-knocker of a night (Tim E. please confirm proper usage of cock-knocker, can it be used positively, I mean it positively).

Feb 11 marked the 2nd week in our newest lather round and featured Tim Errickson’s lovely play Warm Roses and special guest Leta Tremblay, yep THE Leta Tremblay. Hot night.

This week we learned many things:

1) Epiphany #1: The secret to life’s happiness is becoming a pharmacist. Too bad none of us went to pharmaceutical school. (I do have two in my family so maybe they’ll have some happiness to share.)

2) According to playwright Mariah MacCarthy plays are allowed to be cockteases, they don’t owe you a damned thing. So just keep that in mind and you might be almost as happy as a pharmacist.

3) We all know that Lather, Rinse, Repeat is full of talented playwrights but for the record we are also all ruggedly handsome and last week Isaac Rathbone was voted most rugged.  Congratulations Isaac your certificate is in the mail!

4) Thanks to Tim’s play and Brandon we all know a lot more about probate. Don’t leave your family homes in purgatory folks.

5) According to 30 year olds, 40 is the new 30.

6) We may have established this last week but Local 138 is a great place to read plays and enjoy a sweet happy hour.  Let’s hear it for the bars!

A Moment to Remember:

The moment you’re waiting for an uptown F train just so you can catch a train to Brooklyn and you make eye contact with a tiny black rat drinking track water three feet beneath you. #preciousmomentsindeed

Tonight Lather, Rinse, Repeat meets once again as  it’s Mr. Rathbone’s turn to unveil his new work, we’ll have yet another special guest and of course hold our weekly walk-off for the title of most rugged.   Keep an eye out for next week’s Weekly Round-Up for all of the juicy details.

 

Leta and Tim discuss Tim's play Warm Roses.

Leta and Tim discuss Tim’s play Warm Roses.

Ike celebrates his win as most rugged.

Ike celebrates his win as most rugged.

#selfie 2.5 ACTOR EDITION Nick N. (with questions by Jen B.)

Lather, Rinse Repeat is blessed to have actor, yoga teacher and all around lovable guy, Nick Neglia on-board for the upcoming shorts series, Mistakes Were Made: A Night of Rom-Com and Political Shorts.  For this round of questions playwright Jen Browne tapped into Nick’s twitter account for inspiration.  Be sure to read the whole thing!

#selfie 2.0  is an interview series where Lather, Rinse, Repeat playwrights interview the actor ensemble for their next night of short plays.  Playwrights have free reign over the questions. The interviewee must then post an actual selfie, because we told them to.

JEN B.    Based on several tweets I think it would be safe to say you really liked Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.  What was it about this show and perhaps other recent pieces of theater that really get you excited?  What do you look for in a potential project or character?

NICK N.     I love long, Russian Novels.  Natasha, Pierre… is based off of War & Piece so it is pretty much right up my alley.  I would say that new ways to approach old stories always get me really excited about theater.  You can only get so much out of reading something.  When looking at characters or potential projects, obviously I go where the work is, but also, once cast, I really do try and take time to figure out what it is that I and nobody else can bring to the production or the character.

JEN B.    It seems we have both at one time or another absorbed some of the “Poetry in Motion” entries on the subway.  Do you have a favorite mass transit poem or otherwise?  Do you think public art initiatives like this are important?  If you received a large grant to create a public work of art what would you do?

NICK N.     Yes for all things public art!  I forget what the poem was, but they always remind me of reading poetry out loud to my class mates during first year at drama school.  Anything E.E. Cummings can make me feel all emotions.  I spent my summer working with the New York Restoration Project performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  It was bilingual and was performed in public parks all over the Bronx, Brooklyn and Harlem.  Each performance, we had audience members tell us that it was their first experience with Shakespeare.  It was a fantastic production, but it was also fantastic to be involved in something that wasn’t just for a specific group of people to appreciate.  With a large grant of money, immediately I would send it to public schools that are losing funding for the arts.  It is so much easier to get people when they are young to realize how important art can be for your soul.

 JEN B.    If your uncle paid your rent how would you live your life differently?

NICK N.    Haha.  If my uncle paid for my rent, I would be famous because I wouldn’t be spending all my damn money on rent!  I would have time to do other things that could further my career.

JEN B.    Let’s talk about Nashville, you seem to be a fan of this prime time drama, I am too.  Why do you think this show works?  If you could create a role for yourself on the show who would you be, where would you go and what fires might you cook up?

NICK N.    Love Nashville.  Love country music.  I think the show works because it is just equal parts everything (including trashy).  It is pretty much my guilty pleasure that I can not stop talking about.  I would definitely be cast as someone who would be able to say bitchy things with Juliette, sing beautiful duets with Scarlett, and then make out with Gunner.  I would be that guy who goes around saying, “I don’t want drama” and then pisses everyone off.

JEN B.    Aside from the public’s inability to maneuver umbrellas and of course the onslaught of tourists you claim to still love New York.  Why?  What keeps your heart beating for this crazy city?

NICK N.     I will always love New York.  I think it is pretty fashionable for people to go around saying otherwise.  Most of my NY friends have moved to LA where they claim to be “happier.”  I don’t know what that is all about.  I think other cities make it really easy for you to be focused on one thing.  New York is constantly grabbing your attention and putting it elsewhere.  It takes you one place and then throws you somewhere else.  When dealing with New York, I just accept what is happening, where I am at, and then find the positive of the situation.  I am definitely an optimist, so that helps.  Plus, I just would not be able to see incredible pieces of theater like Natasha Pierre… anywhere else

To catch Nick and all the #LRRit gang in action be sure to keep November 2nd free and clear and Buy tickets for Mistakes Were Made: An Evening of Rom-Com and Political Shorts

Nick and his pooch!

Nick and his pooch!