Regeneration Theatre chooses one of the first works exploring AIDS from a personal point of view to open its 2018 season. AS IS asked the question … Imagine being ill with a strange unknown disease … and nobody cared?
presents AS IS by William M. Hoffman
February 1-11 (Feb. 1-3, 5, 8-10 @7:30 p.m.;
Feb 4 & 11 @ 2:30 p.m.)
Workshop Theatre, 312 West 36th Street, NYC
Tickets are $18 and available at regeneration.brownpapertickets.com.
In 1985, when As Is first appeared at the Circle Theatre, AIDS was a new moment in time. A pandemic with no cure or reason. AS IS was one of the first plays, and subsequent teleplay, depicting how AIDS was affecting the LGBT Community. Its power was also in that it focused on a small group of friends – and what it did to them. It proceeded Larry Kramer‘s The Normal Heart by about a month.
THE PLOT: Saul and Rich are breaking up… but not for long. Rich has contracted the disease ravaging the gay community. Seeking safety back in Saul’s arms, the two stage a play showing how family, doctors, and friends treat those with the disease. The play’s parable shows how important it is to have someone you love by your side – especially in trying times … as that is when you feel most alone.
Featuring Brian Alford, Robert Maisonett, Aury Krebs,* Daniel Colón, Colin Chapin,* Sara Minisquero, Jenne Vath,* Rick Calvo, Mario Claudio
(*Appears courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association)
Directed B. Marcus Gualberto
We spoke with members of the company and their fearless leader, Barnaby Edwards. Knowing what a Doctor Who fan he is, calling his company, Regeneration, has two meanings.
Your company is growing in leaps and bounds. What are some constant hurdles and how do you conquer them?
Barnaby Edwards – As a small theatre company the biggest challenges are always getting the word out about the work we are doing and getting audiences into the theatre, so we rely on word on mouth. Constant changes in how posts show up on Social Media make it constantly harder to get the word out. Things like Show-Score are helping a lot in this area.
Other challenges that come up is the contraction of real estate in Manhattan that affects rehearsal space and find spaces, but there are also some great partners, and with their support we can get creative around finding the right place for the right show.
How do you choose the works for your seasons?
Barnaby Edwards – Regeneration Theatre’s mission is to look at plays which have not had enough attention over the years, with a particular focus American playwrights in the decades following the “golden age” of the 1950s, and early 1960s, which has not yet been examined by commercial theatre or non-profits to date. In 2017-18 this has become every more relevant as a result of the parallels with the political situation in which America currently finds itself. And so we have focused on the need for acceptance and the need to not sit still or keep quiet when important things are happening around us. Kennedy’s Children focused on the reasons we cannot keep quiet, and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean showed that even in the 1970s our need to connect as humans can overcome the fear of being different. As Is deals with fear as well, in the early stages of the AIDS crisis in New York City, and, more importantly, the need for a healthcare system to support the love and family support that anyone in a terminal and life threatening situation needs.
How do you prepare for your roles?
Daniel Colon – There’s a lot to take into consideration when preparing for a role and there’s no right or wrong way. Diving head first into documentaries and learning about the major events of the time is always fascinating. Research is fun! Later on in the process, I like to imagine the type of music the character listens to and create a playlist for them. It makes it more personal.
Sara Minisquero – I prepare for new roles with a thorough examination of the script, looking for textural details about my character’s(‘) background and status. Then I get heavy into dramaturgy, immersing myself in the world as the director sees it- sometimes it’s a pure history lesson, other times I focus on mood, environment and themes within the work. I finish the preparation with physicality- costumes and props give me an anchor, something to play with- a “fidget” mechanism when my character needs to breathe but not necessarily have anything to say in the space.