Tag Archives: Selfies

#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. 

 

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… 😉

 

#selfie 2.7 ACTOR EDITION Heather LR. (with questions by Natalie W.)

Heather Lee Rogers comes to us by way of Flux Theatre Ensemble (where Lauren F. first met her and brought her in!). She was excellent in Jen’s play Iona Means Island, and we’re glad to have her back. You can find out more at http://www.heatherogers.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.

NATALIE W. What is your earliest memory of a compelling moment of theater, and how did it influence your path to becoming an actress?

HEATHER LR.  I grew up in rural Massachusetts, so I didn’t see a whole lot of theater when I was growing up.  But we had class plays in school.  The first play I was ever in (that had actual blocking, and wasn’t just a line of little kids picking noses adorably) was a play version of The Nutcracker.  I was just a cousin in the first scene and had helped paint the big paper birch trees that represented the forest of the Sugarplum Fairy.  Anyway, after the play was done and people applauded I had my first RUSH.  It felt like there was this whole world of pretend we had created together and I had just felt it palpably slip away.  Total magic. Playing pretend but with a whole cafeteria full of people. That’s when I decided this was what I wanted to do.

NATALIE W.  On your website, you wrote that you want to “speak text and ideas that make rooms gasp”. What is your favorite gasp so far that you’ve provoked?

HEATHER LR.   It’s funny.  I’ve done a lot of theater with beautiful, strong language (and seek that out always), but the real live gasps I’ve experienced have been more about moments of human connection, not so much about the lines.  I think my favorite reaction ever was when I was playing Emilia in Othello for a bunch of 9th graders.  They were a terrible, rowdy audience; it was hell.  But they really connected with our Desdemona.  There is the scene where Othello is calling her a “whore”, and in our production he was just about to smack her, when Emilia interrupts by entering.  So I entered.  There was a real gasp.  And then some kid, not sure if it was a boy or girl, in a deep-dead-serious voice said “GET HIM.”  AND NO ONE LAUGHED.  It taught me that Emilia’s really the only person in that play that CAN save Desdemona, she’s the only one with enough brains and guts, and the tragedy is that in the last scene she just gets there a little too late.  I learned so much about my character from that kid!

NATALIE W.    You also mention you want to play villains and kings. What is your dream not-usually-performed-by-a-woman role and why?

HEATHER LR.   Oh man.  I’m terrible at answering “dream role” questions!!  I want to play Richard III, Claudius in Hamlet, Henry V (in Henry V)… huh. Why is it easier to imagine with classical roles?  Is it the distance or, the precedent of gross-gender casting throughout history?  But when I’ve seen theater that casts adults as kids or women as men or mixes up race roles it can be really profound.  You listen differently to what these characters say and what they’re about when you are forced to get rid of the short-cut conclusions you can make when actors are cast WITHIN type. Theater is kind of about the universality of the human condition, and acting by definition is taking on a character OUTSIDE of yourself… I’m rambling.

NATALIE W. What keeps you sane in this crazy business? (or are you not sane?)

HEATHER LR.  I have two keys to staying sane:  The first is to see as much theater as I can so that I stay inspired and excited about making theater. Then all the masochistic horribleness of this business keeps making sense somehow. The second is to surround myself with supportive, theater-making friends who hustle hard and work all the time. We inspire each other and we believe in each other which is everything.

NATALIE W.  Let’s take a moment to brag about you. Why do you think LRR asked you to be part of our awesome evening of short plays? What sets you apart as an actress?

HEATHER LR.     I think Lauren asked me to be part of this because she’s seen me play around at Flux Sundays (with Flux Theatre Ensemble) where the name of the game is making big, strong, choices and running with them. I’m good at working that way.  ALSO I was so enamored with her play Somewhere Safer, which she partly developed at Flux Sundays, that I approached stalker status… perhaps throwing me a casting bone was her alternative to getting a restraining order.  Yeah, seriously, I do think that’s why I’m here:  When I see work I like and connect with I’m very forward about introducing myself and saying point blank “I would love to work with you.”  There’s this weird conceit among actors that we need to wait around to be invited to the party, nonchalantly hope to be noticed, and be all cool and aloof about it. It’s a strategy I don’t have patience for or understand. Psyched to work with all of you!

To catch Heather, Natalie 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