Archive for the Indie Theatre Category

Penny Arcade/ Tammy Faye Starlite in “The Anarchist”

Posted in Art Stars, Indie Theatre, PLUGS with tags , , , , , , , on February 16, 2017 by travsd

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Tomorrow: Rally To Revive CHARAS

Posted in CULTURE & POLITICS, Indie Theatre, Protests, Valentine's Day with tags , , , on February 13, 2017 by travsd

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Tonight: Leah, the Forsaken

Posted in Indie Theatre, Melodrama and Master Thespians, PLUGS with tags , , , on February 10, 2017 by travsd

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At Travalanche we are of the opinion that all who were once household words…should always be so. My friends at the Metropolitan Playhouse share a similar mission, making the works of pivotal theatremakers from earlier times live and breathe today. One of these is Master of Melodrama Augustin Daly, and their present offering of his play Leah the Forsaken (opening tonight) couldn’t be more timely: it’s all about a persecuted refugee. The more things change, the more they stay the same! The Metropolitan’s work is always top-notch, educational, and thought-provoking. Get your tickets for Leah the Forsaken here.

The Perfect Way To Spend (Not My) President’s Day!

Posted in Indie Theatre, PLUGS with tags , , , , , on February 4, 2017 by travsd

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Tomorrow at Dixon Place: A Great Free Opera

Posted in Classical, Indie Theatre, LEGIT, EXPERIMENTAL & MUSICAL THEATRE, Music, PLUGS with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2017 by travsd

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A couple of years ago we waxed enthusiastic about the samples we heard of The Hat, an opera-in-progress by Karen Siegel and Zsuzsanna Ardo at Opera on Tap’s New Brew series (same folks presenting our opera section tonight). Now Siegel and Ardo’s show is more topical than ever. It’s about the affair between a young Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger. It’s been both heartening and dismaying to know that sales of Ardent’s books have gone up the past few weeks (she’s the person who coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe the rise of the Nazis). And Heidegger of course, though one of the most brilliant existentialist philosophers of the 20th century, actually became a Nazi apologist! The romance sounded do distant and faraway the last time I heard it. Now it’s hitting terrifyingly close to home.

They’re presenting the whole thing tomorrow night at Dixon Place in the Lounge — admission is free. An edifying way and place in which to spend a winter evening.

Author Directing Author: Out-Takes

Posted in Indie Theatre, ME, Playwrights, PLUGS with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2017 by travsd
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Photo by Theo Cote

Just hitting the stands now in the Villager/ Downtown Express/ Chelsea Now, my feature on AdA: Author Directing Author, opening at La Mama later this week. Read the article here.  For this piece I interviewed the three principle artists, director/playwrights Neil LaBute, Marco Calvani and Marta Buchaca (the latter two in person, the former by phone). After you read the article at the link, please come back here and read these additional out-takes from the interview, with Marco and Marta and check out Cashel Stewart’s great photos, below. I’ve done hundreds of interviews over the last 20 years, but I believe these are the first still photos ever to catch me in the act of interviewing. But really, read the feature first, these out-takes won’t make any sense unless you do.

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MARTA, on the transfer from Barcelona to New York:

Barcelona was a big success. Now we are here doing the same plays with different actors, in a different language and that’s good for me. I can improve my English! (laughs) There are a lot of things that changed and I think its really interesting as a playwright and director. Now I see parts of the play that I didn’t see in Barleona, more levels. You’re discovering another way because you have different actors and different approaches. I love the actors they have, they are amazing, they are really really good. In general you have amazing actors here in America.

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MARCO, on the methodology:

We pick a theme and then we share it and each of us wrote a piece separately. We didn’t get in touch and tell each other what we’re writing about. Of course we set up some rules. We say it needs to be two characters, that’s the main thing, it needs to relate to the designated theme, and shouldn’t require a complicated, elaborate set, not just for the financial aspect but also because the three plays have to be part of one show, so the setting needs to change easily. Or, at least, if you write a play that has specifies five floors or something be ready for the director to have to throw that out. But the biggest rules are the theme, the number of characters, and the length, which were set at 30-35 minutes.

MARCO, on writing female characters:

For reasons that are spontaneous I like writing female characters in general. Especially in terms of speaking of the struggle of aging, which is more traumatic for women unfortunately. Sometimes. Not all the time. At least in my story, in my situation, it is. It’s a woman alone. She’s been left alone by her man and is at the end, probably, of her professional career. So it was dramatic as a choice for me.

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MARTA, on her play Summit, which is based on real-life Barcelona mayoress Ada Colau

“Power” [the theme of this year’s production] for me means politics. I had never written a play about politics. And this was great, because after the Barcelona production I got the opportunity to to talk with [Colau], and could add some new things. She was really interesting to write about. When she was in the campaign, all of the other candidates were men, and she was of a lower [economic] class than the other politicians in Barcelona. And she semmed really “apart” from them. They were doing a tv show and she was alone with her cell phone, because no one wanted to introduce her to that world. Now she’s in that world and doing an amazing job. But you know, like Colau, I’m a mother. When I wrote this play I had just had a baby. For me it was really important, to talk about having a professional career and having a baby. I just spent 10 days alone with without my child. For men, that’s not even a topic of conversation. If my husband had to come here to New York as I did, no one would say anything. But when I say to my family, “OK, I’m going to New York, I’m spending 10 days alone, everyone was like, ‘OK we will come and help your husband!'”. Well, yeah! But I mean, he will be fine! But you know we’re still at that point. If you are a mayor you work from 7 in the morning to 1 the next morning. All day. I talked to her about this. She was kind of unhappy about being separated from her child. She said, “It’s hard but I;m doing very important things for the city.” She made her decision. For me as a woman, that’s important. And I love these men telling her that she has to be a mother. Just a mother. We can do both. I can be a playwright and a director and a mother.

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MARCO, on the process

When you write it’s a very lonely activity and when you are director you are called to also be a leader. In the way we are collaborating it feels more like a friendship than a responsibility. It’s always shared. That doesn’t mean you get to do less, but its about sharing. It’s a good fit. Wherever we are going to, we are having a very good experience….I have learned so much from AdA, by allowing somebody to work through your plays and being responsible for another play by another playwright, who is working on the other playwright’s play. I’ve learned a lot not just about theatre and writing and directing but about collaboration and trust .

 

MARTA, on working with actors Gabby Beans and Margaret Colin: 

Maggie and Gabby are open to do anything and they want to … they are really free and they have their own proposals. And they listen to me and I listen to them and its really a collaboration. I have no friends here in New York. My cast are my friends and family. I think they know this. I think it was quite the “mom” thing in this case. Gabby is newer and brings the energy. Maggie has the experience. They are nice people. I think it is more important to me when I cast someone that they nice than they be perfect. He might be the most perfect actor in the world but if he is an asshole I don’t want to work with him! Because you work together for many days, all day, and it’s so intimate and it’s so hard, you want to be with people who have humor and are nice and have fun,

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Sometimes I have to stop my actors (Richard Kind and Gia Crovatin) from having fun and say let’s be serious! We’ve done a lot in a very few days and that makes me feel very good.

 

 

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Run to the box office and see it! It’s going to be amazing!

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The True Story of “The Tempest”

Posted in Indie Theatre, LEGIT, EXPERIMENTAL & MUSICAL THEATRE, My Family History, PLUGS with tags , , , , , , on January 13, 2017 by travsd
"Wreck of the Sea Venture" by Bermuda artist Christopher Grimes

“Wreck of the Sea Venture” by Bermuda artist Christopher Grimes

Tonight St. Anne’s Warehouse opens its new all-female production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by The Donmar Warehouse. Not only that, but it’s Friday the 13th. A suitable time, I adjudge, to spill a few words on the true story on which most scholars believe Shakespeare based his play, one that is particularly interesting in that it is a rare instance of a Shakespearean reference to America.

In 1609 the London Company launched its Third Supply to the struggling Jamestown Colony, for once acceding to the colonists’ requests to send substantial resources. The company sent 5-600 people on a fleet of seven ships, plus two smaller towed vessels. The flagship was the state-of-the-art, 300-ton Sea Venture. On July 24, 1609, when close to the Americas, the fleet encountered a hurricane. The Sea Venture was separated from the fleet, and took on a disastrous amount of water. The next day, land was sighted, and Admiral Sir George Somers beached the ship, saving the 150 people aboard. It turned out to be the island of Bermuda, where Somers and his people were to be stranded for the next nine months. Unlike the island in Shakespeare’s play, Bermuda at the time had no indigenous population, no Caliban for the colonists to lord it over. And between the ship’s stores and the natural resources of the island, there was no threat of starvation. One might be tempted to call the ordeal an extended holiday, but for the fact that there was much work to be done in converting the remains of the Sea Venture into two new, smaller vessels, called Patience and Deliverance which were to carry the survivors to Jamestown in May, 1610. Among the passengers were two of my ancestors Samuel Jordan and Stephen Hopkins, the latter of whom also had the distinction of also being one of the Mayflower passengers a decade later. Now that is a remarkable life. Two of the other survivors, Silvester Jourdaine (possibly Samuel’s cousin, but unconfirmed) and William Strachey, published their account of the adventure as soon as they returned to England in 1610, one of whose avid readers, most scholars believe, was Shakespeare. Everything about this is modern, relatively speaking: a corporation outfits the journey, the ship was a technological marvel for its day, and then the public gets to read about it. As an inadvertent result of the accident, English colonization of Bermuda commenced almost immediately (1612).

Obviously, as he usually did, Shakespeare drew from multiple sources for The Tempest, but accounts of the wreck of the Sea Venture appear to be among them.

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