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selfie #2.1 ACTOR EDITION: adriana d. (questions by lauren f.)

Adriana DeGirolami first came to LRR as a cast member of Lauren’s play Somewhere Safer, and hung around to be a part of our acting ensemble for our Fall Shorts Series.  In our first night, she brought some serious game to Rom-Com Night as a superhero, a cater-waiter, and a preying mantis.  Check out more of her work at www.adrianadegirolami.com.

#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.

LAUREN F. So, I’ve worked with you before and I know you’re a kickass artist who has done lots of impressive things. What are the highlights?

ADRIANA D. The projects I’ve been lucky enough to work on are impressive mostly because of the incredible people I’ve gotten to work with! But some of the highlights include the two unbelievable Fringe shows I’ve been a part of – the 2011 Winner for Best Play, “The More Loving One” and of course this past summer’s epic triumph “Somewhere Safer”. I was blessed to work with some of my closest friends on the films Drinking Games andProposals. And most recently I was on “The Late Show with David Letterman” singing and dancing around in a crop top. And you know that’s got to be a highlight.

LAUREN F. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done as an artist?

ADRIANA D. I was cast in a play that was largely made up of a collection of slam poetry. The play itself was beautiful; what’s weird is that I was cast in the first place. But if I’m ever asked to do slam poetry again, I’ll be, like, ready.

LAUREN F. What kind of projects really get you excited?

ADRIANA D. I love smart, witty, sharp work that entertains but also ignites conversation!

LAUREN F. I know you love to karaoke.  Tell me about your favorite karaoke songs.

ADRIANA D. [Don’t act like you know me, Lauren Ferebee!] My all-time best, most favorite karaoke song to crush is “Total Eclipse of the Heart”- the extended Bonnie Tyler version. Hands down, best song to get the crowd going. And I should know… I’ve seen them all.

LAUREN F. And finally, what are you working on now/next? Where can we see more of you?

ADRIANA D. In addition to being a part of this incredible collection of short plays brought to you by the masterminds behind Lather, Rinse, Repeat, you can catch me in the feature film, Drinking Games, out on iTunes. You can also check out my cameo as a loud-mouth lesbian on “The Better Half” series.

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selfie #10: brandon l. (with questions by jen b.)

Rounding out our #selfie series is the amazing Brandon L. (also one of the creators of podcast Her Fantasy Football) who brought in the firecracker play AMERICAN FOOTBALL. Jen B., like a cub reporter, fired off a few fast ones, and Brandon talked her love of football.

(Stay tuned for the next few weeks, when we’ll start bringing you interviews with our Acting Ensemble for our Fall Shorts Series!).

#selfies are an ongoing interview series where Lather, Rinse, Repeat playwrights interview one another. They have free reign over the questions. The interviewee must then post an actual selfie, for the sake of being meta.

JEN B. So we just heard your new play American Football: A Play.  If I were to write a play about this particular sport I’d need to spend a year, maybe two, researching it before I could even start but it appears that football is in your blood.  Growing up in a football family, how could you not write a play about America’s favorite past time (or is that baseball)?  Anyway, football aside can you speak to the influence your family has had on your writing and your development as an artist?

BRANDON L. My father played football for the University of Colorado in the late 70’s. He has an Orange Bowl ring, and a ton of scars to prove it. He injured both his shoulders and his knee, so the going pro was not an option. And yes, he had three daughters. Our gender never really mattered in my house. Everyone was a woman, and then there was Dad, but we did everything together. We had just as many HotWheels as we had Barbies. I didn’t know there were girl or boy toys until I went to preschool.  And football was our Sunday family time. My mother is still just as crazy about football as my Dad. You’d almost think she played college ball. We’d make a ton of food, watch all of the pre-game programming. We’d go crazy for our team (the Broncos) and then we’d watch the commentary afterwards and debate each play and whether or not the game was won or lost at that moment. Frankly, I’m a very analytical person and pretty decent at games because of this tradition.

My play is about the underbelly of the game intersecting with the insatiable hunger of the American media. American football is entirely an American sport (they play a couple games in London, which is ridiculous, but that’s a different topic) and the American media is a very specific byproduct of our American culture. On one hand we root for the underdog, and on the other we want to be on top. On one hand we claim to be inclusive and on another we make snap judgements based on bias. According to the FBI’s national arrest rates, NFL Players have a lower arrest rate (2.2%) than the general American population (4.2%). The NFL has a lower arrest rate than both baseball and basketball. Basketball has the highest with 5.1% of its players arrested. But over the summer Aaron Hernandez, Tight End for the New England Patriots, was arrested for murdering a man in Bristol, CT and is now being investigated for a double homicide a year prior. After spending a chunk of my time reading about that crime, I started looking into the variety of other big-time NFL arrests and the cover ups by coaches and other mentors. The whole secret society aspect of it all intrigued me. Almost 70% of NFL players are African-American, while only 13% of the coaches are of the same race. The NFL actually instigated the Rooney Rule requiring that each team must interview one minority candidate whenever a head coaching job is up for grabs and still of the 8 head coaching jobs available during the 2012 NFL season, none of the new hires were minorities. Of the 32 teams, 3 have African American coaches and one has a Hispanic coach.  There seemed to be much deeper issues and stories within those percentages. This particular first draft- written in less than 48 hours – was really about my fleshing out this crime and the levels of deceit  throughout the player and coach timeline in college and how that trickled over to the pros. Draft 2 will be about the characters and providing the motivations for those events. I look forward to delving into everything more fully.

Sorry, long answer. But it was the question about the play. I’ll keep the other answers short. Ha!

JEN B. Still on the football train here and the family train, I knew that you were starting a fantasy football podcast and website called Her Fantasy Football, what I did not realize was that you were running it with your two sisters which I think is amazing.  As one of three girls myself can you talk about your relationship with your sisters and what it’s been like taking on such a grand endeavor with them?

BRANDON L. It’s been crazy. To be honest, it’s hard to even put into words. Building a website, creating profiles for the millions of social media sites, providing content and ideas… The list goes on and on. Luckily, my two sisters are amazing women because I could never do any of this without them. It’s been pretty great, but sometimes one or more of us will be tapped out for the week, completely overwhelmed.  Then we just say, “Okay, let’s get off this call and move this conversation to email.” That usually works.

JEN B. I was on the Her Fantasy Football Facebook page earlier and saw that somebody had said they “admired your initiative.”  I would also say that I admire your initiative but I would like to add that I equally admire your drive.   Where does this fire come from, the desire to do and how do you sustain all of the many projects you’re involved in with such grace and humor?

BRANDON L. That’s kind of you. I’m not a fan of working full time at an investment bank, but that is my lot in life. I might as well do a good job. I’ve been an performer and/or playwright my whole existence, so I’m not even sure if that’s a choice. I just do. This lovely collective was born out of the idea that we needed to be a safe place to try out new work before submitting the play. It’s also a free way to provide deadlines for the generating of said work. And the podcast was a fun idea that turned into a side job, but I love it.

For those not familiar with fantasy football, it is basically the greatest role playing game of all time. We’ve met and been interviewed by a variety of fantasy football experts, and they are the same guys who had Dungeon and Dragons parties when we were kids. I went to those parties, so it all makes sense.   You pick real players from real NFL teams to play on your fake team. You “manage” that team throughout the season by creating starting lineups that compete against other managers’ starting lineups and the goal is to have more points than the other person. Each week you face-off against another opponent. Then there is a playoff situation. It’s super intense, and so much fun! Even before this podcast I would create spreadsheets and graphs to better predict certain players’ performances. It’s the dorkiest thing ever.

JEN B. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do but have never done?

BRANDON L. Travel. I’ve been to France and Mexico, once each. Other than that, I’ve never been in a financial situation where that was an option. If I bumped into money, that would be my first move. Specifically, Egypt. I loved ancient Egyptian culture as a child.

JEN B. You’ve lived in several cities and have been in New York for a good many years now, are there other places that you might find yourself in down the road or is New York the final frontier?

BRANDON L. I have no idea. I lived in Colorado for 9 years, Nebraska for 9 years and Minnesota for 9 years. I’ve been in New York for 4 years, so we’ll see if I get kicked out five years from now. Anything is possible.

JEN B. What do you love most about being a playwright?  How has it changed your life and the way you see yourself?

BRANDON L. I love that when something strikes me in a particular way I want to write about it. Sometimes I don’t even know how I feel about what I’m writing, or who the people are in the story. But as I write, certain aspects come to life and I learn. I’m a better editor than an initial writer. My first draft and my last draft are always very, very different. I have to get everything out before I can make any sense of it. As a performer, I would do the same. I would try everything at rehearsal. I’d be terrible, but I would discover every nook and cranny along the way, and in the end (most of the time) there would be so many extra layers that I never would have found if I had been too inhibited by what was “right.” That’s how I am as a person. I think outloud and I put it all out there. Then I reassess.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

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the glamorous football ladies 

selfie #9: jen b. (with questions by tim e.)

The  delectably awesome Jen B. brought in an excellent play, IONA MEANS ISLAND, about flowers and weirdos in love for our perusal. Tim E. chimed in to ask her a few questions.

#selfies are an ongoing interview series where Lather, Rinse, Repeat playwrights interview one another. They have free reign over the questions. The interviewee must then post an actual selfie, for the sake of being meta.

TIM E. Hello Jen Browne! What’s new? Having a good summer?

JEN B. Hello to you too Tim!  I feel like I haven’t seen you in a very long time.   Summer has been pretty good, very busy, so much so that I find myself wondering when summer will actually begin; though summer hasn’t really been summer since finishing school and entering the working world.  Aside from enjoying all of the extremely fruitful Lather, Rinse, Repeat Tuesdays,   I’ve continued work on a new play with Purple Threads Ensemble, smuggled delicious dumplings from Toronto (my boyfriend and I have a major hook up with a noodle factory), pulled off some awesome kids programming at the ol’ day job, visited Woodstock, NY where I ate the best lamb chops of my life and found the greatest jar of classic dill pickles.  (I love pickles, especially when they’re crisp and fresh and essentially a vehicle for transferring vinegar into my body.  I also love vinegar. ) 2013 is also the “The Year of the Wedding” as many of my close friends have decided to get married and turn 30 all in the same year so lots of energy has gone into planning bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and organizing wedding things .  I’ve also squeezed in two baby showers, so while busy, VERY busy, this summer has been overflowing with happiness celebrating lots of life sized milestones.

TIM E. I loved the first draft of your play IONA MEANS ISLAND. What made you center a play around such a simple beautiful gesture as a girl getting a flower from a stranger?    

JEN B. Thank you!  Well, the actual image of the gift of a flower came from an afternoon many years ago when I was people watching and writing little stories and end up with a tiny paragraph about a girl crossing the street, a seed if you will, that grew into the image of a stranger giving another stranger a flower.  I’ve carried the image in my head for a while rolling it around and over time it became a metaphor for love and its ability to surprise us or show up when we least expect it and the full story will hopefully ask, well, what do you do with it, once you’ve got love in your hands, do you nurture it and let it grow or do you put it on a shelf and let it wilt and dry up?  I believe in the presence of choice in matters of love and the need to actively cultivate and care for relationships.

TIM E. And can you tell me a little more about the male characters in IONA, they seem to be romantic  types we’ve seen before, but yet they seem to have something internally fragile about them too.

JEN B. Jason and Mike are both amalgamations of guys that I have met or know and they’re also a little bit of me.   I think that they’re a little bit of an odd couple but I also think that’s why they work.  My hope is for both of them to be vulnerable.  I just came back from a staff retreat in the Catskills where a major thread was vulnerability in the work place and the retreat leader said something that I think will be extremely applicable as I continue with these characters and that is that vulnerability is and I’m actually going to have to paraphrase but, that vulnerability is not a down fall but just hard honesty, it’s being truthful.   Vulnerability is something I struggle with myself both in my writing and in my life so as I continue with this play and these two characters I hope they will be honest and that there might be some conflict in the struggle with the decision to do so.

TIM E. You seem to have a very relaxed, naturalist voice in your writing, your dialogue rings really true to me. Is that something you’ve worked on in classes? Have people mentioned that before?

JEN B. It is something that I have worked at and am still trying to hone.  When I first started writing plays my writing was very flowery and almost narrative, I got a note from a teacher saying it was too much like something you’d read in a novel, so then I went in the complete opposite direction and was writing very short clipped lines and now I think I’m starting to settle somewhere in the middle.   I try to listen to people around me and I do a much better job of listening to the characters in my head.  Usually, I’m just the fly on the wall of my brain, typing everything the characters are saying as quickly as I can on a very tiny, fly sized laptop.   Where I am currently is very much due to my time working with teachers at ESPA and with the LRR gang.

TIM E.   In all honesty, in a group of funny playwrights, you might be the funniest. You’ve been known to walk into a room with all of us and just have everyone in hysterics. Were you always a funny person?

JEN B. I love laughing; nothing is more fun than laughing and nothing is more gratifying than making people laugh.  The laugh I have now, which is very big and witch like is the same laugh I had when I was a baby and coming from a very funny family where I’m maybe only like the 7th or 8th funniest person in the room (and that’s only if half the family doesn’t show up) I used it a lot.   I grew up listening to hysterical happenings from my mother’s childhood and getting the dining room to laugh after a holiday dinner was a sign of major storytelling skills and also proof of one’s own comedic prowess.  I’m actually terrible at telling funny stories they always end somewhat anticlimactically, like— and then we left….silence.  Really I’m not funny at all I’m just smart.  I surround myself with people who are weird like me and who will laugh at all the weird things I do or let fall out of my mouth.   I make lots of jokes that people do not laugh at or I’ll make jokes at work or some other inappropriate time or worse start laughing in the middle of an argument, a lovely defense mechanism passed down the family tree, but even laughing during an argument is fun, terrible but fun.

TIM E. I know you and Lauren Ferebee mentioned to me that you occasionally work on devised performances and improvised dance projects. Can you tell me a little more about that?

JEN B. First, I just want to say that Lauren Ferebee is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world and that is because she says things to me like, hey my apartment is currently a construction site, do you want to get some paint and make a dance video?   She is also full of ideas and lucky for me she shares them with me and then even better invites me to work with her on making them happen.  Lauren and I have known each other for a good long while now; I was Olga to her Masha in her company’s production of Three Sisters.  I honestly don’t know how we got from Olga and Masha to making dance pieces and artsy videos but we did and I’m very glad.  The first dance piece we worked on together was called Maps and featured a lovely man named Ben,  that piece was then adapted into a new piece about Ben being gone, as he was out of town for a scheduled performance.   Over the past year we started gathering footage for a project called Painted Creature which is focused on the idea of women as objects and has been extremely educational both from a technical and artistic point of view.  We also have some exciting plans for future endeavors and collaborations as well.  This type of work also really appeals to my devising background which is something that I love to do, playing makey-uppey is the best.

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Jen’s selfie, which reminds her of her grandfather.

selfie #8: tim e. (with questions by mila g.)

The awesome Tim E. brought in FIREBIRD this go-round, a gritty and beautiful slice of life play about Brooklyn. Mila, a native Brooklynite herself, questioned him closely in this week’s episode of SELFIES.

#selfies are an ongoing interview series where Lather, Rinse, Repeat playwrights interview one another. They have free reign over the questions. The interviewee must then post an actual selfie, for the sake of being meta.

MILA G. As an original Tim, what is your opinion on all other Tims? Tiny Tim? Tim The Tool Man Taylor?  Tim D.?

TIM E. I love all the other Tims. Tim Curry, Tim Olyphant, Tim Tebow, Tim McGraw, Tim Burton, Tim Robbins, Tim Conway, Tim Duncan, the late Tim Russert, Tim Gunn, and especially Tim D, fellow playwright and scribe of Pirate Musicals. My faves are probably Olyphant, Conway and Tim D. But like the Highlander…there can be only one. So I accept the mantle respectfully.

MILA G. In addition to writing you also direct. What’s transitioning between the two like? When do you take the director’s hat off and when do you leave it on? What does your director’s hat look like?

TIM E.  It’s an interesting thing for me. I trained as a director, and have been directing plays for 20 years. I had done some writing early on and been successful with it, but for some reason it took a backseat to directing and producing. I’ve now found the discipline (hardly a word I associate with myself, but for the context of this idea) to finish writing something, to write the whole play instead of the outline only or the first scene only. In terms of the writing itself, I think I can visualize things as I write them, almost direct them as I write them, which helps me. I also have a network of director peers that I like and trust, and I can hand plays off to them knowing they will be taken care of, as I would when I direct. And for you, my director hat can be a fez or maybe a sombrero, you can choose. I have a distrust of people who wear non-functional hats.

MILA G. Speaking of clothing, I’ve noticed an ongoing fashion motif in many of your plays. From dress shirts and guinea tees to missing shoes, what’s the connective thread?

TIM E. You love this question, Mila. You were the one who mentioned this, and now when I write something or hear something out loud and there’s a clothing item mentioned, I do think “Mila’s going to tell me I’m a fashionista!” Now that you’ve brought it to my attention, I know when I feel like I look nice, or I’m dressed well that I have confidence, and so I think I apply that to my characters too. Clothing both as an outward symbol of how a person thinks of themselves (Flannel Shirts vs. Silk Shirts in my play MEGA) or as a detail that reminds them of a moment (wearing the black guinea tee while not being able to rest with a new lover in The Firebird), I find it all interesting. Not to mention clothes as pieces of art.

MILA G. Your last play examined the impact of returning home to the place you grew up. What made you write that story at this point in your life? Where are you from? Where are you going next?

TIM E. I was thinking about this recently. We had a moment during our last retreat in Greenpoint, and I was just spitballing ideas and I came to the thought that all of my plays are about freedom. Which was really funny, because so much of my directing work is about loss (Boy gets girl, boy loses girl, how do Boy and girl handle it). But the writing, while still dipped in the waters of loss, has this idea of freedom…from parents, from societal norms and politenesses, from geographic places like neighborhoods, from relationships. So I think I’m always going to be the guy who wants to shed everything and begin new. Just a car,  the road, no maps and no destinations. It’s one of the reasons long term travel interests me so much and why marriage to this point has not (but that’s changing rapidly). I grew up in southern New Jersey, which was a great place to grow up although we didn’t know it at the time. Very iconic American safe neighborhoods and working families and farms. So many of my friends wanted to either get out of there for cities and excitement, or embrace it and become small town cornerstones. I got away, and now find myself recognizing the immense impression that small town life had and still has on me. And so I still look for a way to be “big town” and “small town” and free at the same time. And I think that conflict comes thru in my work.

MILA G. You’ve been doing this theater thing for quite a few years now.  How has theater changed since you started in this kooky business? What does the future hold?

TIM E. I came to New York in the late 1990s, probably before Tim D was born. And the entire nature of Indie Theatre has changed, mostly for the better. Much more of a community feeling, started by people like Martin and Rochelle Denton, and continuing thru the various festivals like Fringe and Frigid and onto places like ESPA and to the New York Innovative Theatre Awards. Stringberg has the quote “Prospects, brilliant; Situation, desperate as usual” and I always think of the majority of theater in NYC like that. And while I’d love more money and security for my art and for my friends, I like the idea of the risk of taking on a production. Will we have the money? Will people come? Will anyone review it at all? Maybe the situation should always be a little desperate and uncomfortable.

For me personally, I am directing a production of Shaw’s CANDIDA for my own theatre company Boomerang Theatre Company opening on Sept 15th, as part of our 15th Anniversay season. I’m also producing three other plays in Boomerang’s season as well as our new play festival in November. You, lovely Mila, can find more details about these things at www.boomerangtheatre.org. I’m following that up with new drafts of The Firebird and MEGA and beginning my new play.

 tim

selfie #7: mila g. (with questions by jeremy w.)

The brilliant Mila G. brought her new play A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO CORPORATE SABOTAGE, to the LRR gathering last week, a superhuman feat given that she was also about to open NOVAYA ZEMLYA OR A STRANGE NEW LAND at FringeNYC.  She and Jeremy even managed to find some time to put this little interview together.

#selfies are an ongoing interview series where Lather, Rinse, Repeat playwrights interview one another. They have free reign over the questions. The interviewee must then post an actual selfie, for the sake of being meta.

JEREMY W. I’m just getting to know your work and I’m wild about it.  First pirates squabbling in hyper-piratese over a manipulative mermaid, now a verse satire of an ad agency where the upper side of the glass ceiling is possibly worse than below.  How did this very contemporary play shape up like 119 perverse haikus?

MILA G. Before playwriting, I had an unsuccessful turn at spoken word. I quickly realized I loathed being on stage, performing for others and the sound of my own voice. However, I did enjoy short sentences, poetic turns of phrase and words that sound different then they read. This play utilizes some of those devices. Also, as a play about advertising, it seemed a natural fit for people to speak in taglines, catchphrase and jargon, rather than espousing deep thoughts.

As for the perverseness, corporate drudgery just asks for highly inappropriate behavior under conference room tables.

JEREMY W. You’ve said you write plays about people warped by technology.  What are you watching happen right now in the tech world?

MILA G. I think technology fundamentally changes the way we interact with others, often for the worse. For example, in a given day you’ll tweet your lunch to thousands of followers, ‘like’ the status of a near stranger, snapchat with god knows who while googling an ex, check into somewhere you think is cool, and then Instagram the one moment in the night that makes you look care-free or physically appealing, all be it with the aid of a flattering filter. It’s an extremely self-conscious way to live.  So much so, that when having one-on-one human interactions in real life you’re still eye-balling your iPhone. And that’s just the regular every day tech, not getting into drones, cyberattacks, supercomputers, genetically engineered robobabies and those highly disturbing Google glasses enthusiasts.

JEREMY W. Whatever the opposite of pretentious is, I think you and your work are it.  Where do you get that sensibility?

MILA G. As someone with no formal theater education, other then the catch up reading I do on my own time, I often don’t know enough to say pretentious things. I could say my plays are Chekhovian, Brechtian commentaries on the state of modern society with a hint of Pinteresque dialogue, blah blah blah early Shakespeare, but I wouldn’t even know what any of that means.

JEREMY W. What makes a hero heroic?

MILA G. I’ve always been a bit of an antihero girl myself. Since I was a child, the bad guys always intrigued me more than the good guys. I found their backstories murkier, their ticks fascinating. As a generally anxious, occasionally self-loathing individual, I find people who are unabashedly selfish with no care for public scrutiny or outward approval oddly sexy. Lex Luther is my superman.

JEREMY W. To the untrained eye, you don’t seem like the scented candle type.  Explain.

MILA G. Not big on scented candles and Barry White during sexy time, but I must admit candlelight is universally flattering. Also, scented candle makes me feel psuedo French. As does eating large loafs of breads daintily, buying fresh flowers from farmer markets and wearing twirly patterned skirts.

JEREMY W. Do you depend upon a writing routine to work creatively?

MILA W. Last night, my fiancé told me that he imagines my mind as a cavernous netherworld filled with endless staircases that just turn into other staircases, keeping me from sticking to any one direction or thought for more then two minutes.

Hence, the idea of a daily routine with allotted schedules and goals is pretty impossible. I do try to write in the mornings rather then night, which is a time I reserve for gorging myself on bad reality tv and complex carbohydrates.

JEREMY W. Is there one dream opportunity in the theatre you have in mind?  A certain theatre produces your work, residency, fellowship, or award?

MILA G. I think I’m still discovering my aesthetic and where I belong in this crazy industry, so it’s hard to pinpoint a theater or award. In a dream scenario, I’d be a resident playwright within a like-minded collective of talented actors and directors, all available on a whim to play around with a new work. A producer with deep pockets to fund all this rampant experimentation would be nice too.

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