Tag Archives: lather rinse repeat

#Selfie 4.1 Meet Our New Members! Gina Femia (w/ Questions from Amanda Keating)

It’s the return of the #Selfie!  We are so excited to bring you three new #selfie interviews featuring our three new members!  First up we’ve got Amanda Keating interviewing Gina Femia.

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for when Gina turns the tables on Amanda and an interview with Matt Barbot by the illustrious Lauren Ferebee.

Aaanndd here we go!

Amanda Keating: What’s your favorite place to write?

Gina Femia: I’m partial to writing anywhere I can be curled up, my laptop or notebook balanced on my knees.  Preferably wearing sweats with an oversized sweater that covers a graphic tee.  This usually means writing on my couch or on my bed, but I like writing on the subway, too.

AK: Do you write on a computer? Pen to paper? On a typewriter? In the air?

GF: On my laptop, work computer or pen to paper – anything that gets the words out!  I’ve never tried typewriters, they look frustrating.  In the air sounds awesome but I think I’d have a hard time sharing it with actors.

Writing on my laptop is usually the best.  I close my eyes and just write.  It feels like a different kind of instrument, or like an extension of my hands.  I feel the most Me when I’m doing that.

AK: What time of day do you like to write? Why?

GF: I used to only like writing at night but now I prefer writing when there’s light outside.  I think I’m part plant and the sun energizes my brain, lights it on fire like kindle.  There’s more possibility in the beginning of the day, or even at the beginning of the afternoon.  I’m freer, I can practically smell the words in the air, practically see them darting around like butterflies that I can’t wait to capture in my hands.

But I’ll write whenever I can.

AK: Do you share your work with anyone while you’re writing it? Or do you prefer to wait til it’s done? If the former, who do you show it to?

GF: It depends on the piece.  Usually I want to get a draft out as soon as possible and will force myself to write it fast and then I’ll want to hear it just as fast, if not faster.  I’ll show it to whoever will listen, whoever will read it out loud with me.  My boyfriend is especially supportive and has read many-a-play out loud with me, from multiple characters to 2 sisters in a kitchen.  He says he’s not an actor but he does a great job impersonating one!

AK: What’s the first story (not necessarily in play form) you ever wrote?

GF: I wrote an instant classic when I was in Kindergarten called “The Very Blind Whale”.  I still have the original manuscript, it begins “One day a whale looked up at the sun. ‘Ahh, I am now blinded!’ screamed the whale.”  The rest you can buy at your local indie bookshop, I’m sure.

AK: What are some things that inform/inspire your writing? Music? Images? Other writing? The universe?

GF: Brooklyn and magic inspire and inform my writing the most.  I can’t escape Brooklyn – it’s where I grew up and where I continue to live.  All of my stories started here and they continue to bloom here.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written plays that don’t take place in Brooklyn, but the characters are still very much from Brooklyn in some way.  Not literally but still, in some way.

Somebody once challenged me to define magic, saying that when they thought of it, they thought of magic as tricks.  And I think that’s what people tend to think of when they hear the word magic, they think of clowns at kid’s birthday parties, folding balloons into shapes and pulling cards out their asses, a reason for everything, a sly hand movement here and a distraction there.  But my definition of magic is simply this: When something that shouldn’t happen, happens.  Which sounds a lot like the definition of a miracle.  But I never really saw a difference between the two.

AK: Fill in the blank: On Saturday mornings, you can find me _______ .

GF: Making breakfast, making lists, making plans!  And drinking coffee.  Copious amounts of coffee, always.

gina Thank you Gina and Amanda!!

 

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. 

 

#selfies 2.9 ACTOR EDITION Isaiah Tanenbaum. (with questions by Jeremy W.)

Isaiah Tanenbaum

On the heels of our psychotically successful night of shorts, Mistakes Were Made: An Evening of Rom-Com and Political Shorts, Jeremy W. gathered mega-talent Isaiah Tanenbaum for a virtual coffee-side firechat.  And thus Selfies 2.9 was borne.

#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.

Jeremy W.:  Cyberstalking you has given me the impression you have a solidly developed nerd side.  We’re seeing a embrace of nerdness in our culture; do you think the theatre will sufficiently nerd out?

Isaiah T.: Ack! You’ve discovered my shameful secret! Yes, I’m a huge nerd. I was the kid reading Star Trek books on the school bus, the kid who went to science camp to shoot off rockets, the kid who raced home from his job at the Renaissance Faire to make his weekly online Star Trek roleplaying IRC group (I was a pirate cabin boy and a Betazoid science officer, respectively).

I’m still that nerdy kid, really, so I question whether anything can “sufficiently” nerd out. Nerds are inherent collectors and puzzle-solvers – facts, comics, board games – so there is always an opportunity for more stuff to collect and more puzzles to solve, and that includes theatrical experiences.

I do think, though, that a lot of writers and directors confuse the ephemera of nerd culture – spaceships or robots or comic book action or scientist characters or whatever – for true nerdiness, and it’s totally possible to overdose on that kind of “surface” nerdiness. True nerdy theatre uses these trappings to give the audience a puzzle, an idea, something to chew on. That’s harder than just setting Three Sisters on Mars, but it’s a question of craft, and the end result is simply a Good Play, which there is always, ALWAYS room for. Plenty of playwrights are up to the challenge – Mac Rogers and August Schulenburg come to mind, of course – but I’ve seen more than a few make the “spaceships=nerdy play” mistake. You can do the same with a love story or a crime drama or any other subgenre of narrative, really; just sprinkling a few familiar conventions on top of dull characters and calling it a day. It’s just particularly obvious with “nerdy” plays because the conventions are so in-your-face; when that’s all your play has, it all falls apart pretty quickly.

Jeremy W.:  I’m only just getting to know your acting work, but from what I’ve seen in the readings, from role to role, you innately bring to each character that universal need to be an engaged part of proceedings.  It’s very compelling.  Is that Isaiah coming out or is it a part of your craft?

Isaiah T: That’s really kind of you to say. If there’s anything of Isaiah in there, it’s my kind-of overwhelming personal need to be loved at all times by everyone around me. It’s probably pretty annoying in person but on stage I guess it reads as compelling, so hooray! YOU LOVE ME MY JOB IS DONE.

But seriously, I think it’s back to that nerdy puzzle thing I was talking about before. Why is my character doing X? Solving for X is part of the fun of performing a role. I’ve found that the answer is almost always something like “because another character just did or said Y, for which X is the only response my guy could have in that moment, because he wants Z to happen.” Then of course the director wants something else so I get to decide that, in fact, Q is really the thing I ought to do. But it’s always in response to the other person on the stage, and in the hopes of creating a change in them. This automatically engages me because I’m necessarily aware of what they are doing, and adjusting my responses accordingly. I even do that for monologues; the “other person” is either the audience or some future version of my character, which is to say, me.

This is all probably familiar to other actors who have read Declan Donnellan’s frankly amazing The Actor and the Target. That book was a godsend for me, because I never connected with the emotional sense-memory stuff that my college professor loved. I totally recognize it’s catnip for plenty of amazingly talented actors, but for me, it’s all about objectives and goals and tactics and DOING things. That’s where I live. So The Actor and the Target, combined with Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus (which is basically a cross-referenced and organized-by-category list of highly specific, active verbs for actors to attach to lines), has formed the core of what I do on stage.

And when all that doesn’t work I just make funny faces.

Jeremy W.:  What is your dream hairstyle?

Isaiah T.: Anything. Literally anything. I like to say that my hair has exactly two styles: short, and jewfro. Mine just grows straight out and I look like The Wolfman, so basically it’s been variations of the Ceasar Cut since high school, and will remain as such forever. I am insanely jealous of people who actually have hair they can do anything with. I would kill for something like David Tenant’s infinitely styleable hair. It can do fun hedgehog! It can do long and mopey! It can get pushed back into a mohawk if for some reason he wants that! It can do whatever he wants! DAMN YOU TENANT.

Jeremy W.:  For those of us who live under rocks, what is it about your company Flux Theatre Ensemble that keeps you guys trucking along?

Isaiah T: Flux is just amazing. I don’t know what my life as a performer would look like if I hadn’t stumbled in on that group of people in 2006 off of a Craigslist ad (no joke, a Craigslist ad). We’ve been around for eight years now, which in Indie Theatre Years is two eternities and a forever. I think that longevity comes down to three highly-interconnected factors:

1) A tight focus on central operating principles we chose for ourselves that we call our Core Values (Joy, Compassion, Collaboration, Creativity, Excellence). We try to hold ourselves to these values in all things we touch, both in our artistic choices and in our producing choices. After everything we do, from full productions to casting calls to e-blasts, we ask ourselves “now, that thing we did, was it Compassionate? If not, how could it be more so?” And so on, down the list. It’s pretty easy to get lost in the day-to-day of making theatre, and even easier to make expedient choices, but having those five touchpoints to come back to keeps you focused and honest, and in the end a process that is more Joyful/Creative/etc is simply going to be more inspiring, rewarding, and enduring.

2) Our incredible community of fellow artists, collaborators, and audience members (many of whom, including more than a few Rinsers, are officially-designated Friends of Flux). Whether serving as box office volunteers, or running a fundraising committee, or offering props and costumes and expertise and shop-space, or just showing up again and again, the community that has grown up around us has helped us punch well above our weight for years. At this point, most of my personal friends are also Friends of Flux (or just lower-case-f friends of Flux), because that’s how close-knit this community is. When you develop that kind of long-term partnership, you don’t ever want to let anyone down.

3) We do a lot of stuff. Like, a lot. This semester, in fact (yes, I still think of my life in semesters), we’ve had or are having a major Flux event every month: The Annual Retreat, Have Another (our readings-in-a-bar series), a SpeakEasy (a kind of townhall for FoFs), next week’s Food:Soul (more staged readings, but with food), the upcoming Family Feud Benefit Party (please come!), and then another Have Another in December. And of course Flux Sundays nearly every week, which is like actor/playwright gym and just loads of fun. It’s kind of impossible not to keep going when there are so many things happening; there’s simply no chance to let the momentum falter.

And these are all related: our Core Values have attracted that community and kept it tight; the community, in turn, helps us run all these events; the events reward the community by giving them chances to perform and enjoy theatre; when we hew to our values they and we are doubly-rewarded, and we’re all moved to create more stuff to share. It’s like a triple-positive feedback loop and it’s kind of stupidly inspiring to be at the center of it.

Jeremy W.:  You seem terribly at home in the theatre in almost every way.  Are you as comfortable doing this work as you appear to be?

Isaiah T.: You are like the sweetest interviewer ever.

On the one hand, yes, I’ve always liked it when people listen to me, and it turns out there’s a whole career where actual adults pay real, actual money to buy a ticket where they just sit and listen to me for an hour or two at a time. That’s crazy!

On the other, though, I’m still a little terrified whenever I get up to do it. What if my fly is undone? What if I flub a line? What if I fuck up my blocking? What if I’m thinking about all that so I’m too in my head and they can see that OH GOD THE EYES THEY SEE EVERYTHING THEY CAN SEE MY SOUL HEEEEEELP.

Living somewhere between that pure joy of attention, and the cold, shivering terror of same, is why I keep coming back even when the rational part of my brain says “you know what, maybe you should get a real job or something.” It’s like the best high ever.

To catch Isaiah and all the #LRRit gang in action you’re too late.  Don’t miss the next one.  Seriously.

#selfies 2.8 ACTOR EDITION Jacob H. (with questions by Tim E.)

Tim E. got  chance to connect with actor Jacob Horstmeier recently,  and all of Jacob’s deepest secrets are revealed in this week’s episode of SELFIES 2.0.

#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.

Tim E: Where were you born and raised? What’d you like to do as a kid?

Jacob H: I was born in Madison, WI and raised in Random Lake, WI, a town of about 1500 people.  I have three siblings, two older brothers and one younger sister, and while growing up our favorite pastime was breaking any and all rules our parents left us with for the day.

Tim E: Nice. And how’d that lead into you get into theater and acting?

Jacob H: I was introduced to acting by our local community theatre’s summer production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I was a part of the children’s chorus and after finishing that experience I thought maybe this was how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

Tim E: As you’re a native to Madison, I need to know: Favorite picnic salad: Potato, Macaroni, or other?

Jacob H: At the moment, my gut’s telling me potato salad.

Tim E: How did you get connected to LRR? Thru a particular playwright, or thru actor friends?

Jacob H: I got connected to LRR through the lovely Brandon Marianne Lee.  She wrote a short adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus for the school at Primary Stages’ Detention Series, and I was lucky enough to be a part of her very funny script.

Tim E: And finally, If you could invite any 5 people (living or dead) to a party, who would you invite?

Jacob H: My dinner party: Abraham Lincoln, Bill “The Butcher” Cutting, Christy Brown, Nathaniel Poe and Daniel Day-Lewis

To catch Jacob 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

HAPPILY EVER ROBOTS: A Night of Short Plays

happilyeverafterrobots
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 – 7:00pm until 9:30p
TheatreLab, 357 W 36th Street, 3rd floor (btwn 8th and 9th Aves)
Join playwright collective Lather, Rinse, Repeat for a night of new short works. We’ll be covering hot topics like mermaids, robots for hire, true love and everything in between.

Good John Red 
by MARIAH MACCARTHY

Sweet Sixteen 
by NATALIE WILSON

Lavinia
by TIM DUNCHEON

Hack Lock
by LAUREN FEREBEE

I Hate the Scar
by BRANDON MARIANNE LEE

Dudes and Shoes
by TIM ERRICKSON

Little Sacrifices 
by JEN BROWNE

This, That and Other Holes 
by MILA GOLUBOV

Directors: John Hurley and Sara Lyons

Tickets are $5 and seats are limited. Reserve early!

To rsvp e-mail: Jen Browne at lather.rinse.repeat.boxoffice@gmail.com