Tag Archives: New Plays

Weekly Round-Up 3.6

Mila

Yes.  That’s right.  It’s Mila Golubov week.  It’s March 11th and I found myself skipping down Ludlow St. like a Sochi ice dancer.  I’M THAT EXCITED.  Word on the street was shadow puppetry might be involved.  Do you know what?  It was.

With well-coiffed director Brian Gillespie as our special guest, Mila took us down a dark, robotic noir turn where shadow wolves and bears spoke for the inner nature of the denizens of a kind-of-future.  The play–a kiss before dying battery: a shadow play.  I never thought of androids and film noir together.  Now they’re motherfucking inextricable.  It was future-tastic, con-or-be-conned, and downright stichomythic (Look it up, people).

Notes of note:

  1. Dicks should be Private Dicks
  2. In the continuing, yet unplanned Lather, Rinse, Repeat Continuity Project 2.0, this week’s play was once again linked by total happenstance to the play before it.  This time, by virtue of the delicious and fruity mai tai.
  3. “Then what are we doing here.” “Rubbing parts.”  Didn’t I tell you?  Robosapiens and film noir!  Like Peaches and Herb!
  4. Mike Pitsikoulis basically is a robotic bartender.
  5. Carson Lee basically is the most handsome Dick in every room.

Stay tuned for the next Weekly Round-Up; a very special homecoming for our very own Lauren Ferebee, playing hookey from her residency in South Carolina, to treat us to her newest stack of tremendous.  That puts the happy in a 5:00pm – 9:00m $3 pint happy hour(s) at Local 138.

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.

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… 😉

 

#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.