Tag Archives: Guest Stars

Guest Star Selfie #4

Julie Gomez Selfie

On April 8th, we welcomed the indubitable Julie Gomez as our honored guest, as we read the equally indubitable Tim Duncheon’s latest work-in-progress.  As part of my long con to make Tim Duncheon my new and very bestest friend, I took some time to interview Julie about her love of improv, contested archipelagos, and antipathy for creepy crawlies.

Jeremy Wine: Are you really from San Andres y Providencia?  I’ve never met anyone from there. Do you consider yourself American, Colombian, Nicaraguan, Caribbean, or something I can’t get my ignorant head around?

Julie Gomez: I am! It’s a beautiful little island in the Caribbean that belonged completely to Colombia, until recent legal battles that resulted in Nicaragua owning the waters that surround the land. It’s a strange and long history. I moved away when I was about 4 to Louisiana then to Texas later on in life, so the question about what I consider myself to be is one I love to contemplate. I became a naturalized citizen 3 years ago, which I am very honored and proud of, and I have a very strong tie to my family and Colombian culture as well as southern culture… so I like to think of myself as a cultural mutt. So D, all of the above, is my answer. I love all my frankenstein parts.

Jeremy Wine: With your background in improv, how does that influence what appeals to you in the scripted theatre world?

Julie Gomez: I studied theater in college and it’s been fascinating to see the world of theater and improv merge at UCB. I still deal with scripted material since I produce comedy web videos and UCB also teaches sketch writing in addition to improv.

We have made successful videos in the past that have had hilarious and well produced scripts, as well as videos that have had much of the script improvised. In both cases I’ve seen the writers and directors give freedom to the performers we cast, who are talented improvisers, to work with the dialogue or premise given.

Of course this doesn’t happen all the time, there is a great value to the writer and the work she has written, but I enjoy seeing an on-going process with scripted material with a creative team that includes the director, writer, and performer. I think that aspect of theater appeals to me as a producer (and perhaps why I enjoyed Lather, Rinse, Repeat so much!) to see creative minds nurturing an idea.

Jeremy Wine: You’re a producer at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Please pardon the unmotivated exposition.  That sounds like an impossible job to me.  Please explain.

Julie Gomez: HA! Makes me feel like a super hero. I am the producer for the Video/Film Department of UCB called Don’t Think Productions. I’ve produced many of the comedic web videos you will see on our site and Youtube channel. We are currently producing a feature length documentary on the Del Close Marathon and I also produce branded content videos and commercials for our company.

Jeremy Wine: If, to save a million lives, you had to punch one animal in the face, what animal would you punch?

Julie Gomez: Maggots. I would punch so many of their stupid chubby no-faces.

Jeremy Wine: Mike Nichols once said “Because it’s funny.” is a pretty good answer to the question, “Why are you telling me this?”  What do you think?

Julie Gomez: Oh yeah, I agree. Give me funny and I will laugh everyday all the time.

 

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. 

 

Guest Star Selfie #2 – Jennifer Conley Darling

On Tuesday Feb 18th, Artistic Director/Actor/Producer Jennifer Conley Darling joined us as a GUEST STAR for Isaac Rathbone’s play CHUB. LRR playwright Brandon Marianne Lee sat down with her after — electronically-speaking — to learn more about her and make some selfie magic.

1. Inspired by Ike’s piece this week, where did you grow up and what was your favorite toy?

I grew up in a small town in Michigan. I was an only child, so I found myself creating imaginary worlds with my toys. I had a pretty large Barbie collection. Some of them I kept in pristine condition and others I would ‘punk rock’ out. I’d cut their hair like Pat Benatar or remove an arm to give a more realistic world to live in. Looking back, the world I created was pretty twisted – – probably what led me to theater 🙂

2. How did you fall in love with theatre? How has that love changed over the years? Basically, we want to hear a love story…

When I was five years old, my mother got cast as Vera in ‘Mame’ at the local community theater. She took me to a rehearsal and I fell in love immediately. I loved seeing her transform into someone else. I loved the freedom theater seemed to allow – – freedom to be someone else, freedom to be silly and sexy all at the same time. I went to every subsequent rehearsal and sat quietly in the house for the entire process and attended every single performance. Riveted throughout. My first love. This love will never change.

3. Google tells me you are a woman of many trades. You’re an accomplished actress, production manager, producer and the Producing Artistic Director of terraNOVA. And congrats on terraNOVA winning the Caffe Cino Fellowship Award as part of the NYIT Awards! How do you choose your projects and prioritize? What are your career goals and goals for terraNOVA? You know, an easy question.

Well thanks for Google stalking me! You know you’re doing something right if you are Google stalk worthy 😉

As far as how I choose the projects I get involved in, particularly with terraNOVA, I try to choose those shows that scare me. I believe theater should challenge us so I look for the plays that scare me through their form or their content or their unproducability. These are the things I look for.

Career goals – I’d say my career goals are very much aligned with the goals for terraNOVA. We’ve begun expanding terraNOVA in every way. Our largest objective is to create offices in cities beyond NYC. We just launched our Chicago office and held a reading earlier this week to introduce us to the industry and general audience, so off we go! I’d like to see us in Detroit, LA, San Fran, Boston and beyond.

4. terraNOVA has a playwright group called Groundbreakers. Could you tell us more about that? How do writers get involved? How is it similar and differs from what we do here at Lather Rinse Repeat?

Groundbreakers Playwrights Group is part of our overall new play development process called Groundworks. Groundbreakers focuses on early drafts of scripts. We invite six playwrights to be part of the group each season through an open submission process. We form a review committee made up of alumni, producers, dramaturgs, directors, and terraNOVA’s artistic staff. Once selected, we hold 18 sessions where each playwright brings in one script three separate times and hears it read aloud with professional actors. We hold a feedback session tailored by the playwright facilitated by Associate Artistic Director, Jessi D. Hill. We also ask our writers to get heavily involved in the casting process. We believe writers should hone in on the qualities each of their characters need to possess and after each reading, a casting discussion is held on what worked and what didn’t.

5. Pimp your wares. Where can we learn more about you, terraNOVA, future projects?

You can check out terraNOVA at www.terranovacollective.org. We’re opening a co-production with Baruch Performing Arts Center in March of a gorgeous show called HUMAN FRUIT BOWL.

Guest Star Selfie #1: Leta Tremblay

On Tuesday Feb 11th, Director/Producer Leta Tremblay joined us as a GUEST STAR for Tim Errickson’s play Warm Roses. LRR playwright Natalie Wilson sat down with her after — electronically-speaking — to learn more about her and share some of her fabulousness with y’all.

1) What is your role in this crazy world of theater, and what first inspired you to pursue that role?

I am a director and producer in the New York Indie Theater scene. I started down that path when I first moved to NYC in 2007 and founded my theater company, FullStop Collective, with a group of my peers from the Eugene O’Neill National Theater Institute. We began as a group of artists just trying to get our work produced and seen so we came together to support each other in that endeavor. I have a stage management background so I organically came into the role of Producing Director and have really found my way by doing. Producing the work, making mistakes and learning from them. Directing though is my true love. I love finding those magical moments with collaborators when something just fits. A line spoken with grace, a gesture that surprises, music that weaves into a lit stage scape. I love sitting in an empty theater before something is about to happen. The promise of those opportunities inspires me.

2) From your resume, you clearly love working on new plays.  What do you love about the new play development process?

I love the possibility that a new play holds and the excitement of actively working with a living playwright. I love to collaborate with other artists over this new living, breathing thing and helping it to grow into something that none of us ever expected when we started. For me, a new play comes to life when we put it on it’s feet. It might stumble in the beginning but hearing the words come out of actors mouths is the only way to see what you’ve really got. And who doesn’t love a world premier, am I right?

3) What is a favorite new play you’ve helped bring to life, and why?

Wow, that’s a tough one. There are so many! Most recently, Mariah MacCarthy’s MRS. MAYFIELD’S FIFTH GRADE CLASS OF ’93 20 YEAR REUNION (production June 2013) is a favorite and a totally unique process. We didn’t start with a script but rather an idea and a bunch of actors who we both wanted to work with. From inception to closing night the whole process was only about five months long and a whirlwind of improvisation, writing, rehearsing, and performing. It was so alive and invigorating! On the other side of the spectrum, I engaged in a nearly 7 year long collaboration with FullStop company member Megan Weaver on her play, CAUSE OF FAILURE, which we mounted at FringeNYC in 2012. Both projects are very near to my heart because if the characters that emerged and the tremendous artists that I had the pleasure to work with. Both are funny, heartbreaking, and epic in their own ways.

4) Let’s get serious for a moment. What is the hardest thing about getting new works developed currently in the US? Any brilliant ideas for how that could be fixed/changed?

Space and money. That’s really what it all boils down to. And that applies not only to actually producing new work but also for individual artists to be able to live. Playwrights can write, they can collaborate with directors, they can have informal readings with actors, and they can take classes and receive feedback from peers, but only if they have a space to work in and money to feed/cloth/house themselves. I am very much of the opinion that an artist doesn’t need to wait for opportunities to develop they work. Residencies and festivals are great but you can also self produce and create an environment where work can thrive as long as you are willing to raise the money to acquire the space to do so. Brilliant ideas? Affordable space for artists? More monetary support that’s not so difficult to access? A government that supports and appreciates artists and their importance in society. All big goals. I’m still working out the details.

5) Enough about you. How about us? How was your experience being a guest star with Lather Rinse Repeat? What did you enjoy? What do you think we could do better?

I loved spending an evening with the Lather Rinse Repeat crew! I could tell right away that you all are a close knit group and you were so welcoming that I felt at home right away. In our talk back session, after reading the great Tim Errickson’s delicious new play, I enjoyed the structured candor of the discussion and feedback. There was no ego which was a huge plus for me. Really, the only thing that could make it better would be if there were snacks. Although I did get some french fries out of the deal… 😉

 

3.1 Weekly Roundup – Natalie Wilson, The Innkeeper (L’Aubergiste)

We’re back!!!

We started another “Lather” round on Tuesday, February 4. Natalie Wilson presenter her newest full length play, The Inkeeper (L’Aubergiste) and it was a blast.

Here are some observations from the week:

1. #gueststar – One of our lovely members, Lauren Ferebee, was awarded an amazing opportunity to be a artist in residence at Hub-Bub in South Carolina. We already miss her like crazy. But to keep the bed warm (as they say) we came up with a “guest star” spot. Each week we invite an artist we respect and admire to join the group and help provide feedback. Our first guest star, Sergei Burbank, was a total delight. Please check him out at boisterour-eremite.com

Caitlin McEwan and Carolyn Popp star in The Inkeeper

Caitlin McEwan and Carolyn Popp star in The Inkeeper

2. #whysocold – Seriously. What the hell is going on? This winter is unreasonable.

3. #aplacetohangyourhat – All of the members of Lather, Rinse, Repeat rejoiced once we found our new artistic home, Local 138! Each week we get to meet in a cozy back room of a bar with a $3 drink happy hour and a rockin’ fish sandwich & fries next door. It’s an unhealthy heaven, the type of heaven we could all get used to.

Tim Duncheon, Jeremy Wine and Mariah MacCarthy focus on Natalie Wilson's play

Tim Duncheon, Jeremy Wine and Mariah MacCarthy focus on Natalie Wilson’s play

4. #aboyhousewouldmakefartnoises – Natalie wrote the most charming, mystical play about a house with a mind of its own. No one wants to give away the story, but there was a heated debate about the gender, temperament,and ulterior motives of said house. The play also aroused our curiosity regarding ogres, gypsies and whether or not people in small towns have passports. You had to be there. But if this play will only get better from here… trust me, you will see it soon enough.

5. #actorfriends – Thank you to all of the actors who came in to read on a cold winter night: Caitlin McEwan, Carolyn Popp, Ryan George, Cathy Curtin, David Sitler, and Yea Bin Diana Oh.

6. #photos – We decided as a group that we really needed to take photos of each reading. So luckily Tim Errickson followed through. Also, the image at the top is the ACTUAL house that inspired this great play. You can see Natalie and her trusty iPad in the foreground. Ah, the romance of France.

Until next week… keep up the good work!