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Kadigan & King

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Glory Kadigan – a power-player in the indie arts community recently joined forces with a rising star – Kailah S. King.

Their first project, Vivian’s Music 1969, exploded at Edinburg Fringe before a resounding off-Broadway run last July, which became the springboard \for a multi-starte tour. Now the two have come together again at the “home” of another powerful woman of the arts – Ellen Stewart’s legendary incubator for quality art from the soul – LaMaMa – for a full-scale run of a show that premiered as a reading at Kadigan’s own incubator of the arts – Planet Connections. The Floor Is Lava, one of the more visible works exploring the world of the Millennial, premiere in May.

The Floor is Lava, May 09 – May 19, 2019 – Downstairs | 66 East 4th Street
Thursday to Saturday at 8PM; Sunday at 5PM Tickets: Lamama.org

Written by Alex Riad and Directed by Glory Kadigan

Luckily, they were both at the same rehearsal so ArtsIndependent grabbed them for an interview.  

 

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How did you two meet – and decide to collaborate? 

Kailah: Glory and I were introduced to each other through playwright Monica Bauer in 2017 while working on a staged reading version of Vivian’s Music, 1969.

Glory: Yes we were introduced to each other through Monica Bauer the playwright of Vivian’s Music 1969. We were both asked to be involved in a reading of the play and about a year later, Monica contacted me to ask if I would direct a production of it that was going to Edinburgh Scotland.

Tell us about Vivian’s Music and its run?  

Kailah: Vivian’s Music, 1969 is a fictional story based on a real-life event of Vivian Strong, a 14 year old black girl who was wrongfully shot and killed by a white police officer, which ignited the Omaha riots in 1969. A little less than a year later, Vivian’s made its way to The Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland where it received 5-star reviews. Vivian’s Music was then extended from 55-min to 85-min and performed a 3-week at the Off-Broadway venue 59E59 Theaters. Since the new year, Vivians has toured to the East Hamptons and to Connecticut!

Glory: Yes, and now it’s going to run in DC and we might have another production of it in NYC next year.

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Did “Lava” naturally flow? 

Kailah: I always have a great time working alongside Glory. We get along well and understand each other, so moving forward with her to the new production of The Floor is Lava felt very natural.

Glory: The Floor Is Lava had been presented as a workshop production at Planet Connections Festivity by The Farm Theater Company lead by a long time friend of mine Padraic Lillis.  La Mama was interested in supporting writers in their twenties who were writing about issues that 20-somethings are challenged with today. So I created a short list of writers, which Alex’s name was on. I’ve been with La Mama for about five years and consider them to be one of the most outstanding communities you can be a part of in the theater world. Alex eventually met with Mia (Artistic Director of La Mama) and The Floor of Lava was offered a slot with me as director. Luckily Padraic gave us the green light. Alex (the playwright) and I then had several closed readings of the script and heard many great actors on roles. But I always knew in my heart that I wanted Kailah and that she would be brilliant. Our collaboration on Vivian’s Music 1969, meant that we had a shared mutual respect for each other and for each other’s process.

Two different plays, themes, schedules, and, I’m sure, many other things. How does that change the way you work together? 

Kailah: Well, our rehearsal process is definitely very different. With Vivian’s, both my costar and I perform alternating monologues, so I had to rely a lot on storytelling, playing multiple characters, and since we were on a bare stage, it’s really the actors job to create this world in which the audience can see exactly where it is you want to take them. With Lava, I have scene partners I need to play off of and connect with, and a stage filled to the brim with scenery.

Glory: Well Vivian’s Music 1969, is a play about one of the worst race riots in United States history, sparked by the shooting of a 14 year old black girl by a white police officer. Floor Is Lava is partially about the unconscious bias in todays time, regarding race and gender. I knew from the beginning that these topics were part of what I was interested in exploring with my own interpretation of the play. So I intentionally sought a diverse cast of performers which has cracked open the plays accessibility. In terms of our collaboration, Kailah is someone who always wants to do the work.  So am I. Having the trust in each other that we’re going to put in the time, and deliver, goes a long way. Also we both love Game of Thrones so….there’s that.

Do you foresee a grander scale to your working relationship (partnerships, writing, producing together, etc.)

Kailah: Although it isn’t something we’ve personally talked about I do foresee us working together of future projects. We get along great, and I’m constantly learning new things about Glory as a director and about myself as a performer.

Glory: We haven’t talked about that yet but anything is possible. In terms of process, there are adjustments made to different companies.  La Mama gives us all room to “explore” and “experiment” with the rehearsal process.  In commercial theater, you aren’t allowed to “explore”. You just have to do it the way that it’s always been done before. Both Kailah and I are flexible at adapting to a theater company, and delivering what commercial theater producers need.  But, sometimes it’s just fun to be “experimenting” down at La Mama. So that’s what were doing with the process this time around.

Speaking philosophically and specifically, what makes a good team in the arts? 

Kailah: What makes a good team in the arts is just always being ready to put in the work. Putting together a show of any size requires a lot of hard work, and when everyone is willing to make choices and be flexible to change, I think a lot of greatness can follow.

Glory:  Trust. But also…being met by your collaborators in terms of work ethic and intelligence.  The entire cast of Floor Is Lava are people who really want to be doing the work. It’s the first time in a long time that the entire cast “met” me on day one with ideas, thoughts, and creativity. I love going to rehearsal to see them because all four of them are great collaborators. They’re smart and talented but also flexible and easy to get along with. We’ve been having a great time collaborating.

OK, team… what’s next? 

Kailah: Next up, I will be revisiting Vivian’s Music as we head down to Washington DC for a 16-show run this July!

Glory: We’re looking forward to Vivian’s Music 1969 running in Washington DC in July.  Kailah and I will be going into rehearsals with Russell Jordan (another brilliant actor) at the end of June.  I’m also working on two new Erik Ehn plays, one in June at the Sheen and another on Governors Island in early August with Rising Sun Theatre Company.

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Do you hear the people sing …

The Art of Protest

Playlets by J.B. Alexander, Jaisey Bates, Thomas C. Dunn, Jeff Dunne, Elizabeth Gordon, Liv Matthews, Robin Rice, Scott C. Sickles, Judd Lear Silverman, andBara Swain

Reviewed by Robert Viagas

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The many personalities of political dissent in the U.S.A. are explored in The Art of Protest, ten playlets exploring different sides of various American protest movements going back to the Vietnam era.

Some dramatic, some comedic, each of the ten plays (staged by ten directors and performed by members of a 22-actor ensemble) strive to give a human face to the subjects of picket lines, marches and sit-ins.  In Robin Rice’s Before Yesterday, a man (Michael Gnat) discovers that he had sold the gun that was used in a murder. In J.B. Alexander’s Melting the ICE, a desperate lawyer (J. Dolan Byrnes) deploys every trick he knows to get a stubborn ICE bureaucrat (Mireya Rios) to reveal the whereabouts of an illegal immigrant’s child who was forcibly separated from his parents.

In Elizabeth Gordon’s Perversity, a now-elderly artist (Laurence Cantor) remembers the battle to get timid fellow protestors in the 1960s to take a chance on a vivid antiwar poster he had drawn, which later became a classic image of the era.

To leaven the earnestness of most of the contributions, The Art of Protest also includes some comedic pieces, including Scott C. Sickles’ #Bastille, about an eager young firebrand who finally meets her blogger hero—only to find him more practical about starting a revolution than she imagined.

The title of Bara Swain’s Yearning for Peace doesn’t refer to Vietnam or Iraq, it’s about an expectant couple arguing over which protest standard-bearer to name their baby after. The evening’s weakest link is Jeffrey Dunne’s This Is Bull, a lame skit about auditioning matadors that lobs soggy sponges at political correctness.

The two best of the plays come in Act II.

Judd Lear Silverman’s Consequences imagines a taut confrontation between the principal (Sarah Babb) of a private school a parent (Valerie David) whose child refuses to stand for the playing of the national anthem. The fact that the two women are longtime friends greatly raises the stakes during the clash.

Gun violence is again the subject of Thomas C. Dunne’s Triggered, a dark revenge fantasy in which the parents of a child killed in a mass shooting take a U.S. Senator (Denise Pence) and her husband hostage and announce plans to kill their children as payback for the 18 gun-control bills she voted down, including one that would have denied guns to the mentally ill. “You made us crazy,” one of the hostage-takers says, “and you gave us guns.”

Considering its sharp-toothed subject matter, this collection rarely bites too hard or too deeply. Oddly, there’s nothing on current movements lighting up Twitter like Black Lives Matter or #MeToo. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s nothing from the newly disturbing red side of the political spectrum.

Even so, the best of these stories linger like the images of classic protest posters arranged on the stage by designer George Allison.

Produced by the Articulate Theatre Company as part of its Articulating the Arts festival, The Art of Protest played a limited run through April 6 at Tada! Theatre Off-Broadway.

Rev[erend] Mary and Rev[iewer] Robert

mary.jpgI’m SOOOO High: Rev. Mary’s Reefer Revue

Music & lyrics by various composers
Reviewed by
Robert Viagas

With all the recent debate and action on legalizing recreational use of marijuana, it’s hard to believe that until the 1930s it was completely legal to own, buy or sell the mildly hallucinogenic drug almost anywhere in the U.S.

Pot was adopted as the stimulant of choice among jazz musicians, who celebrated (and sometimes bemoaned) its effects in a surprising variety of (mainly) blues songs composed and performed 1910-1950 by artists including Cab Calloway, Stuff Smith, Marion Sunshine, Lil Green, Trixie Smith, and Fats Waller.

Those songs have been lovingly gathered and packed into the bowl of Pangea in the East Village, and lit up by Rev. Mary Whitebush (Mary Elizabeth Micari) and the band Granny’s Blue-Mers in a pleasantly baked nightclub show titled I’m SOOOO High: Rev. Mary’s Reefer Revue.

56393241_849998152008800_4570185080886001664_nThe broad-beamed brunette Rev. Mary gives off a bawdy Belle Barth vibe, perhaps left over from her previous revue of naughty ditties, Red Hot Mama. She spends the show performed with a heavy-lidded, knowing expression while a small smile plays across her brightly lipsticked mouth. She often accompanies her piano, bass and drum backup with stints on the washboard and kazoo trumpet.

In between songs like “That Cat Is High,” “Are You Hep to the Jive?,” “I Didn’t Like It the First Time,” “When I Get Low, I Get High,” “When You’re a Viper,” “Knocking Myself Out,” the worshipful “Sweet Marijuana Brown,” and the broken-hearted “All the Jive Is Gone,” Rev. Mary shares some of the history of the writers and their creations, and acts as the Urban Dictionary of jazz-based pot code words like jive, gate, mezzroll, tea, and viper.

Rev. Mary is supported by a swinging mix of singers and musicians including Mario Claudio, George Dixon, Dan Furman, Nori Naroka, & John Dinello.

Interestingly, the show stops short of the explosion of pot songs that accompanied the 1960s counter-culture embrace of the drug, and continued with R&B, rap, and on into our own Juul-fueled age. Sister Mary prefers her mellow weed lullabyes from the bittersweet jazz age.

I’m SOOO High: Rev. Mary’s Reefer Revue played a limited run through April 6 at Pangea in the East Village.

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Alex Riad and “Floor Is Lava:” A Parable of the Next Generation

We always hear about this playwright or that author as being the voice of a particular generation. Sounds so definitive a title? Well, as new works appear, new playwrights can join that “voice of a particular generation.” Now we have turned tabled: Alex Riad is now a voice of a new generation – the Millennials.

As this post-911/21st Century generation takes its place in society, artists are beginning to cover them in film, artwork, fashion … and now theater. Possibly the first play on the plight (if you will) of the Millennial, The Floor Is Lava premieres at a space that was once the voice of the Off-Off Broadway Movement (and in many ways, still is), LaMaMa, ETC.

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The Floor is Lava, May 09 – May 19, 2019, Downstairs | 66 East 4th Street, Thursday to Saturday at 8PM; Sunday at 5PM; $25 Tickets; $20 Student/Senior Tickets [+$1 Facility Fee]. Written by Alex Riad and Directed by Glory Kadigan

THE STORY: In high school, Sean was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” Ten years later, and not where he expected to be in life, he reunites with his high-school buddies at the launch party of their friend’s hugely successful app. Set in a world consumed by social media, The Floor Is Lava follows a group of Millennials struggling with success, jealously, and the true meaning of connection.

LAVA began its life as part of the Planet Connections Reading Series where OuterStage said: “The Floor is Lava is a masterfully written play by Alex Riad;” and Culture Catch shouted “Not just for coders and PR flacks.” 

Riad, a Millennial himself, shares some thoughts on putting his people on paper.

1525132_10205295542289115_7617680694949047894_n.jpgTell us about yourself as an artist? 

Well I’m a writer originally from the Silicon Valley where the play takes place, but I moved away about a decade ago. Playwriting is my primary art form because I’m drawn to conversations and characters. When people ask me what I write about, I joke and say, “Not musicals.” However. to be more specific, I write plays about millennials and for millennials. Maybe I’m bias because I am one, but I’ve never felt like pop culture gives Millennials a fair shake and I want to give integrity to a generation that’s constantly mocked and misunderstood. That’s not to say let them off the hook, but to depict them through an empathetic lens that reveals their imperfections, strengths, and most importantly their struggles. The Floor is Lava is definitely a great example of the kinds of Millennial stories I’m trying to capture.
What drew you to write about such a topic? Autobiographical? Observational?  
As I’m sure many New Yorkers can relate, being a transplant in this city there’s this pressure to justify the move with success. When ever I’m back home at family event or social gathering everyone’s always asking me, “How are you doing?”, which really means, “Are you happy and successful?” My answer has always seesawed somewhere between yes and I’m drowning, but when I wrote Lava success and happiness seemed especially far away. I felt stuck and started to lose faith, but I still had to go home and answer that fucking question: “How are you doing?” It just felt easier to lie and pretend. Hold it all in. Put on a happy face. Friends won’t notice if there’s enough scotch at the bar. I started writing Lava to start trying to tell the truth. Explore what it’s like to come home and hide amongst friends instead of actually connecting to them.
 
What do you – the author – experience when writing characters? Do you live through them in some way? 
I wish I could say something that hasn’t been said before, but I’m going to have to go with that answer so many dialogue writers give: I hear their voices and write down what they say. I don’t try and plan much. I generally go into a play completely blind. All I know is I have these specific characters in a specific setting, in a specific situation, and then I let them go at it. I know as much as the audience and the characters when I’m writing a first draft. All I really know is that every time I write a play I’m writing about what keeps me up at night and the characters help me work that out. 
 
What do you hope the audience will take away from this piece? What have you done to make it as universal as possible? Or have you? 
That’s a tough question for me to answer. I never want to tell my audience what to think or what to feel. My main problem with theatre I’ve seen about millennials is it often seeks to make a statement about the experience instead of actually recreating it. With this play, I want to take the audience along for the ride, so they can see the world through these twenty-somethings’ eyes, not for sympathy, but for understanding and authenticity.
 
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Playwright Riad and director, Glory Kadigan analyzing the script at the first rehearsal of The Floor Is Lava

What’s next for you?

Couple pretty cool projects on the horizon for sure. First, I have a web series I co-created and worked as showrunner for called What Am I Doing Here? about all the terrible survival jobs artists try to juggle in the city. That’s going to premiering at HollyWeb in LA at the end of March and hopefully be available to stream shortly thereafter. Second, my latest play The Wild Parrots of Campbell is going to be getting a run by NOW Collective in December. Funny enough, in many ways it is spiritual sequel to Lava. Where as Lava is about the successful tech people from my hometown, Parrots is about the people who never made it.

Allison & Arthur

Hunger Theatre fills up on American classics! Hunger Theatre, a NYC-based theatre company, described as “small but relentless in their pursuit of excellent storytelling,” will honor one the 20th Century’s greatest storytellers, Arthur Miller, with a new production of The Crucible. The Access Gallery Space, 380 Broadway, New York City. Opening May 2; Running Thursday-Sunday @ 8pm through May 18. Special matinee performance, Saturday, May 11 @ 3pm.

Co-founded by Allison Wick and Luke Wehner, alumni of Circle in the Square Theatre School and students of prominent acting coach, Ken Schatz, Hunger Theatre began in 2016 with a series of new one-act plays and later, a contract production of Mark Schultz’ Everything Will Be Different. Show-Score gave this production a plethora of accolades, including “First off, the entire cast deserves a standing ovation for their performance. Allison Wick (Charlotte) laid it all on the stage and it was magnificent. Ms. Wick handles the emotional weight brilliantly.” “The lead actress is so brilliant that it’s worth seeing just for that… The story is powerful, well written and leaves you truly impacted. This is the kind of theater that makes me love living in New York.”

photo:  David NolesMs. Wick will direct and appear in Crucible. Casting will be like the company itself: experimental, non-traditional, unique. “I want to combine the emotion and urgency of the piece with the experimentation that comes from a smaller ensemble and pared-down production.” Ms. Wick remarked with auditions about two weeks away. “This play is a masterpiece. It doesn’t need to be ‘reimagined’ to make it compelling or relevant. That being said, our production won’t be stuffy or strictly by-the-book,” she said emphatically.

Allison shared some clever and deep insights into theater, Miller, and her own mission.


Tell us about yourself as an artist? Tell us about your company? 

I started Hunger Theatre in 2016 with my partner, Luke Wehner. We have a closely shared artistic vocabulary and way of thinking about acting, and we wanted a way put that to use, doing projects we love and creating theater on our own terms. What began as the two of us putting up one-act plays with our friends on a little stage in Brooklyn led to our first fully-produced, full-length play in Manhattan last year, and now The Crucible this May. I am an actor first and foremost, but as the company has grown, I’ve come to love producing and directing as well. In addition to directing The Crucible, I’ll be playing Abigail, which of course is a huge undertaking, but one I’m relishing.

What drew you to tackle a legend like Miller and why that piece? Do you find it topical … again? 
Like a lot of people, my first experience with it was in high school, when I played Elizabeth Proctor at the age of fourteen. It’s stuck with me since then, and when thinking about roles I wanted to play and stories I had a strong vision for, I was really inspired by the possibility of directing it. I think the play’s current relevance is undeniable – it deals very powerfully with the topic of threats against democratic rights and freedoms. We face such threats more intensely each day in this society, although they originate long before our current administration (and are far bigger than the Republican Party, for that matter). If you want a direct connection between the play and our current political situation, consider that Joe McCarthy’s righthand man, Roy Cohn, was Donald Trump’s close friend and mentor (and as writer and theatre critic Frank Rich points out in his recent piece on this subject for New York Magazine, both were given copious help from Democrats as well as Republicans in their wheeling and dealing from the 70s onwards).

What innovation or personalizing (if you will) do you plan to bring to the production? 

What I’m most excited about with this production is our ensemble. We have a cast of fifteen, and five of those actors will be portraying eleven characters, which accounts for half of the roles in the entire play. This gives us some opportunities to explore the text in ways that are a little non-traditional, and, I hope, exciting and dynamic. That being said, my primary goal is to honor Miller’s story. I think that sometimes with “innovative” or “experimental” productions of the classics, there’s a danger in distracting from or missing the true substance of the play, and I’m very mindful of that. 

What do you hope the audience will take away from this piece? What have you done to make it as universal as possible? Or Have you? 

While reading about the Salem witch trials and McCarthyism in preparation for this production, I kept finding myself fascinated by the driving forces behind both events. Interestingly, there’s a theory that the Salem witch trials were caused by a poisoned food supply that caused people to hallucinate. I can understand the appeal of explaining the events away like that – what else could cause the disturbing fits that so utterly convinced the court (and perhaps the accusers themselves) that they were being physically attacked by spirits? The play only gives a small taste of the real testimony given by those in Salem who cried “witch”…but I’m very dubious of that explanation. I think it’s much more likely that scarcity, wealth, politics, and power were the real motive forces behind the Salem witch trials, just as they were with McCarthy’s witch hunts. Another interesting factor which is woven into the play very vividly is the repressive sexual norms of Puritan New England, which I think are not dissimilar from those of the United States generally in the 1950s. In any case, I think the actions of the characters in the play and the real people they represent have much less to do with insanity or deep-seated evil, and much more to do with the conditions of their lives and their personal interests. For me, these events are a testament to the way that external pressures and material conditions mold what people believe and do, even to these terrifying extremes, and so I suppose I hope the audience leaves with a sense of that. As far as universality goes, I think Miller has already taken care of that for us!

What’s next for you?

We are brewing up plans to produce something by Chekhov and something by Camus in the near future – can’t announce details yet, but stay tuned! You can follow us on social media @hungertheatre, or sign up for our mailing list at hungertheatre.com for updates.

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War of Words Part I

Art is more than imitating life – as the expression goes – it facilities; it communicates, it combats it. Articulate Theatre Company explores the role of the artist’s role in activism with the Art of Protest.

ArtsIndependent joins all the sites of Five Star Arts Journals in sharing the thoughts of the soldiers of Articulate Theatre as they declare war…

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Articulating The Arts: The Art of Protest: April 3 – 6 (April 3 – 5 @ 8pm; April 6 @ 7pm) at TADA Theatre 15 W. 28th St, NYC, 2nd Floor. Tkts: http://www.articulatetheatre.com/ata-5-the-art-of-protest.html

We asked the entire company one question:

Why are you doing this? 

Articulate will team playwrights with visual artists to create a signature benefit event examining other art forms through the lens of theatre. It brings together the ATC ensemble and guest artists with unique works of art to use as a springboard and source of inspiration for new theatre works.

Participating Playwrights: J. B. Alexander, Jaisey Bates, Thomas C. Dunn, Jeff Dunne, Elizabeth Gordon, Liv Matthews, Robin Rice, Scott C. Sickles, Judd Lear Silverman, and Bara Swain

Bara Swain – Playwright (Yearning for Peace)

14606442_10155334069777782_799681378722348948_n.jpgWhy am I doing this project?  Like all of Articulating the Arts (AtA) programming, the call for submissions on a specific theme is simply too challenging to ignore. I enjoy finding inspiration from a topic that isn’t in my comfort zone, and then finding a way to be true to my voice as I craft a response.

 

Elizabeth Gordon – Playwright (Perversity)

I’m doing this project because it honors two of the noblest activities humans can perform: protesting and art-making. And when those two passions come together, the result can change people’s minds, and as such, the world. As a playwright, I’m interested in telling stories about people who are moved to take action, to question authority and tradition, to act according to their deepest beliefs. Protest artists do that. They wake us up to our better selves. We damn well ought to listen.

Scott C. Sickles – Playwright (#Bastille)

53868136_10161713277165434_1519549327561719808_nI am doing this project because I’m pissed off. I’m pissed off at the government for taking corruption to such great new heights that people on the far left are not only looking back wistfully at Bush/Cheney, but they’re also longing for the halcyon days of Richard Nixon! I’m pissed off that on the opposite end of that archconservative white supremacist blight, people on the left are driven by a crippling misguided idealism and an absence of pragmatism. In the middle of all that, I’m pissed off that over the past two and a half centuries (almost) we’ve created a technological arsenal so powerful that, in the wrong hands, it could make 1984 look like a Peanuts cartoon… all of which only feeds the power, corruption and lies on one end and the half-assed idealism on the other. I AM PISSED OFF! That said, I also wanted to work more closely with Articulate after being a member for over a year and, like all playwrights, crave attention and applause. I mean at this point, why lie?

Jaisey Bates – Playwright (Eenie Meenie Miney NO)

21730848_10155025974182896_4454614160725627811_n.jpgIt is Wednesday – response deadline day – and I am writing a paragraph about why I wrote. Idk how I learned of the submission but it caught my eye with its specificity and as an eternal student wired to meet assignment deadlines with my utmost effort but at the final possible moment the structure and limited time spoke to me and it was the day before the deadline I think so I studied each image carefully held it up to my words’ heart and said See this art – does it speak to me – does it speak to we who walk through words and worlds so differently?  And each image spoke stories but then last on the list was if we wished to suggest other protest art and our shared heart leapt with sudden fevered hope wanting and unleashed oceans of pleas and prayers: There. That image. That image that haunts us still with hope grief horror wonder awe: The Grim Reaper. The children. A warrior child between them – she stands rooted ready. She looks up. She says No. Even now, to write of this image I weep.  And so I wrote to ATC and they (rapidly thank goodness) responded to me Yes. And my words and I on fire wrote. We made the deadline. Barely, if I recall. Why are we – my words and me – doing this project?  Because children in school are writing last wills and I love you goodbyes during lockdowns cowering in closets and corners crying. Because children are dying. Because we’ve written a world where children are unwritten – it’s all in the language of our lives – how we learn to read our world. Because if we wish our children and ourselves and our world to survive we have to open our language’s eyes and so we — my words and me — shared words in response to protest art and said Here, our heart. The place where our heart beats. We hold this space for you. “Why are you doing this project?” Because ATC read these words and found them worthy, and we are so grateful our heart – our grief hope faith and fire – will have a chance to speak to others.

Robin Rice – Playwright (Before Yesterday Was Better)

35270257_10156508730536018_2287150413893337088_n.jpgWhy am I doing this project?

*Because Articulate Theatre Company productions are creative, exciting, and beautifully executed.

*Because Articulate Theatre Company’s Articulating the Arts productions are unlike any other productions of short plays inspired by a theme. Their themes are meaningful. They challenge playwrights (that’s me), designers, directors and actors to rise to material that has heft and depth. And audiences are left with something to think about.

*Because decisions must be made. Thousands of theater companies and competitions are soliciting short plays and there’s only one of me with only so much time. I have to pick and choose how to use my time and where to direct my energy. Although I mostly write full-length plays, the Articulate theme of Protest Art is right in my wheelhouse. I was a visual artist before I began writing plays, and I’ve been an activist all my life. Clearly, this is a project I needed to tackle. I’m very grateful that my play, which examines some of the many ramifications of gun ownership, was chosen for ATA.

Judd Lear Silverman – Playwright (Consequences)

14222263_10154482820034282_8780771029043822327_nIn an age where public action seems legislated by politics and the almighty dollar versus the will of the people, it is vital that artists stand up for human values, leading the way to a finer, more inclusive and considered society.  Art is the surest form of protest, for it awakens an emotional response and encourages a change in the status quo.  It is our job to get people to think and to feel, to recognize our common humanity—and to help that humanity lead us to respond with compassion.  Playwrights in particular can lead, not only by dramatizing a specific incident (or in this case a particular image), but by showing how the reflection of a public statement has a ripple effect, stretching out in unexpected and unanticipated ways.  Articulating the Arts:  The Art of Protest examines how both graphic art and theatrical art can make people pause and think, to guide how they react to an issue, perhaps, but more importantly to make sure that they are stirred to participate, to get involved on a personal level.  Art stirs emotion, which in turn produces action.

Thomas C. Dunn – Playwright (Triggered)

13103416_1693428890908927_5789640255524980016_n.jpgEvery day, the citizens of the United States play Russian Roulette. Approximately 100 people die each day from gun violence. Annually, we average 12,830 homicides. 487 accidental deaths. 22,274 suicides – all of which are exponentially more likely with a gun in the house. So we know today in the U.S, there were 100 gun deaths. Tomorrow there will be 100 more. And the next day… But we, as a society, are still willing to let the triggers be  pulled, simply hoping the gun barrel is not aimed at someone we love. Rather than pass sensible gun legislation, we roll the dice. And there is nothing that seems to be able to change us from this course. Mass shootings with high-powered rifles? No. Kindergartners gunned down in classrooms? No.The deaths of Abraham Lincoln, JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King Jr,, Marvin Gaye, Tupac Shakur, John Lennon? No. Is there anyone we love enough where our overwhelming grief would actually foster change? There is. And that is why I wrote my short play TRIGGERED. When it is a gun supporter’s child, one they are raising and love and would sacrifice their life for who is directly in the line of fire, I think they would want change at that moment. They would trade their gun for their son or daughter. Just not for yours.

 

Room for Improv-ment

Tammy’s Bachelorette 

Conceived by Nannette Deasy
Reviewed by Robert Viagas

53698500_2330744320298802_3752028398369636352_nThe Improvisational Repertory Theatre Ensemble opened its 2019 season Off-Off-Broadway with a new show, Tammy’s Bachelorette, which aspires to be the latest in the semi-scripted, largely improvised, mock ethnic-family event, audience-immersive shows in the style of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding and Grandma Sylvia’s Funeral.

 

The company has some work to do.

Tammy’s Bachelorette introduces Nannette Deasy (also credited as conceiver of the show) as working-class New Jersey girl Tammy, who is engaged to one man while secretly still carrying a torch for another. Her sister Becky (Claire Kraus) is the sexy (and tipsy) maid of honor who has organized the whole event featuring a meddlesome bridesmaid (Izzy Church), a not-very-helpful waitress (Evie Aronson), plus the groom (in disguise), the groom’s disapproving mom, and a dubious male stripper. The audience is sometimes called upon to participate in the roles of guests and friends who call out suggestions for the improvisational segments that are performed in the party framework.

On the performance caught, the cast seemed at a loss when trying to improvise such target-rich scenarios as why the bachelorette and her intended would wind up in a bathroom together, or when the waitress became upset that she was working at an event where she felt she should have been a guest. Considering that there were only eight members of the cast, several were given very little to do.

The cast was at its best when riffing on characters suggested by the audience taking part in a naughty party version of “The Dating Game.”

David Jay played the sepulchral male stripper as a lounge singer equivalent of Florence Foster Jenkins. It wasn’t clear why a bachelorette party stripper would do so much singing and so little actual stripping, but, small blessings. He was actually more scary than funny.

Directed by Randy Baumgardner, Tammy’s Bachelorette ran through March 16 at The Producers Club on West 44th Street in Manhattan, where its season will continue with other improv shows in the coming months.