After a powerful run at Planet Connections 2018 Theatre Festivity, spit&vigor – helmed by a genuine theatre professional, Adam Belvo, revives THE BRUTES, a gripping piece of history and drama written by Casey Wimpee. The new production will be at the New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street. If that address rings a bell, it is the old haunt of the legendary Wings Theatre, now in another pair of capable hands.
Sara Fellini returns as director bringing Mr. Belvo, and other members of the original cast with her. Performances are November 23 — December 9 (Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm). Tickets are $30. For reservations, please visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/999133.
We get a tour of the backstage (literally) goings-on of an historic performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar featuring the renowned Booth theatrical family – brothers, Edwin, Junius Jr. and John Wilkes, Booth. There’s another familiar name.
This was the first and only time the three brothers shared a stage together. Events that shaped the world prohibited them from a return engagement. The backstage drama becomes the focus of this portrait of a tempestuous relationship fraught with political conflict ending in an American tragedy.
Fellini stages THE BRUTES in-the-round with a minimalist set pieces that transforms into a theatre, a dinner table, and a nation on the brink of sweeping change. Civil strife, family devolution, and a country sharply divided – 150 years ago or right now – the parable of this drama remains strong.
Ai and other sites under the Five Star Arts banner will discuss the play and the players.
So let’s start with the brother that stayed in the theatre and not in the President’s box …
Adam Belvo, who plays EDWIN BOOTH.
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
I am an actor/producer who has been working in the NY Indie theater scene for the past 13 years. As a performer, I began my NY career as more of a character actor, but as I get older I am finding myself rooted more in straight-man/leading roles. As a producer, I like to choose projects that have unique stories and interesting, complicated human relationships with untidy resolutions. I like plays and productions that start passionate conversations that continue late into the night, conversations that water thoughts and grow you as a person and an artist.
Tell us about your role in The Brutes
I am playing Edwin Booth, with a twist; I get to portray him as he is rehearsing for and playing both Brutus in Julius Caesar & Hamlet, so Hamlet and Brutus via Edwin. Edwin’s drama is the struggle to overcome his father’s legacy, survive being besieged by the tensions and fallout that arise over political and familial grudges during his family’s Thanksgiving dinner and benefit performance, and trying to keep his mind (and sanity) intact all the while. It’s an elegantly written role, and the challenge is to simultaneously portray extreme confidence and control onstage while also showing that internally, he’s cracking under the weight of enormous psychological pressure.
I am also a producer on this project, and that poses an entirely different set of challenges. However, by assembling an incredibly talented and dedicated cast and crew, our burden has been made light and the process has been a lot of fun thus far. We’re skin of yr teeth in some ways, but that’s my preference. I started out with small companies where everyone pulled their weight and wore multiple hats (design/direction/costuming/etc.); in these circumstances, everyone pulls together to make something good absolutely incredible. I feel like we continue to foster that philosophy and work ethic with our current company, spit&vigor.
Share with us your thoughts on independent theater. What is its significance to the skyline of entertainment in NYC?
Indie theater in NYC is the flower growing up through the sidewalk pavement; hardy, resilient, economical and creative. I feel that while we may not have the commercial backing or space opportunities that larger productions uptown might, we make up for that in creative solutions, ingenuity, and pluckiness. I’ve seen brilliant stagings in the backs of bars, kitchens & churches, and new companies rise up from the ashes of old ones like the phoenix. We represent the heart and soul of this city; we rise to meet its challenges every day, regardless of the hardships that might be posed, and we’ll continue doing so as long as we draw breath.