Monday, August 14, 2017

For Annie

Written by Beth Hyland
Directed by Emma Miller
Produced by The Hearth 

Nominations: Outstanding Director, Emma Miller; Outstanding Choreography/Movement, Lucia Knell

About the Company: The Hearth's mission to tell the stories of women by developing and producing plays that represent the complex and vast spectrum of womanhood. We nurture and celebrate female and non-binary artists.

About the Production: Annie Lambert was murdered in the middle of her senior year. So her sisters of the Beta Tau Alpha sorority at SUNY Onondaga are memorializing her in the best way they know how: They're putting on a play. For Annie uses Greek chorus, pop music, dance, and a lot of glitter to explore grief, guilt, sisterhood, and what it means to remember.

Director Emma Miller and Producer Julia Greer share their thoughts on mounting The Hearth's inaugural production.


What first attracted you to For Annie?

Emma: The first time I read For Annie, I was struck by the way it explores grief and by its depiction of what loss does to a community, to memory, and to friendships. It tackles such an important topic deftly and with so much dignity. It's about girlhood, family, and how we move on when the unthinkable happens.

Julia: We felt that Beth Hyland so beautifully captured the complexity of sisterhood and wrote exciting and dynamic female characters. It felt like an important story that was wonderfully told, and we couldn't wait to bring it to life.

What was your favorite part of working on this production?

Emma: The cast and crew! Making For Annie was collaborative, messy, and fun, and the people who acted in and worked on it are some of my all-time favorites.

Julia: The ensemble of people working on this piece was truly remarkable. They worked tirelessly to make it happen and do justice to the story. Working with them was the best part.

What was the most challenging part of working on this production? 
Emma: It's a cast of 11 people and the show has a lot of moving parts, so finding ways to bring it all together was challenging. Ultimately, I think that's a large part of what made the process so rewarding.

Julia: It's hard to do big plays on small budgets!

What did you want the audience to walk away with after watching For Annie?

Julia: We hoped people would come away from our production thinking about how complicated young womanhood is and questioning what they believed about blame, loss, and the way we grieve.

What will you take away from your experience working on For Annie?

Emma: For Annie was the inaugural production of The Hearth, the company I co-founded with Julia Greer, so getting to direct something through my own company was very meaningful.

What was it like working with Emma and Lucia?

Julia: Emma Miller has a unique ability to lead confidently and take the best idea in the room. She has an unbelievable vision and cares for each and every person in the room. Lucia Knell was an awesome collaborator, had such fun ideas, and made all the non-dancers in the room excited about and comfortable with dancing.

Be sure to follow The Hearth on Twitter & Instagram @thehearthco


Friday, August 11, 2017

The Dudleys!

Written by Leegrid Stevens
Directed by Jacob Titus & Leegrid Stevens
Produced by Loading Dock Theatre Company

Nominations: Outstanding Innovative Design for Video Design & Animation: David Bengali, John Erickson, Reid Farrington, Jorge Garcia-Spitz, David Mauro, Dan Monceaux, Leegrid Stevens

About the Company: The primary focus of Loading Dock is to create original plays that explore extremes in human behavior. We produce emotional, character driven plays with an experimental edge.

About the Production: Family memories are brought to life as a malfunctioning 8-bit video game. By dodging ghosts, zombies and evil Aunts, Vic tries to win a game he lost a long time ago.


What first attracted you to this project?

Leegrid: I became interested in the chiptune scene when I was at grad school for playwriting. I was working on a series of writing exercises in class when I started combining the two forms (chiptune & theatre). It was a fun way to explore some darker themes in my writing.

Dan: My common interests in vintage computers, computer games, pixel art, animation and independent theatre. At the time I was doing some work as a video technician on a children's theatre production that was touring in South Australia, and developing my own multimedia performances, with an audio-visual focus, rather than a theatrical one. I met Steven Gridley in an online forum and went on to produce character art and animation (including the title screen of the game/play). I worked on my contributions from my home in Adelaide, South Australia, without ever meeting the crew face-to-face. I'm yet to see the show in its entirity myself!

What was your favorite part of working on this production?

Leegrid: Seeing the video design come together with the actors.

Dan: Steven's direction was very clear, yet he also allowed me plenty of freedom to work creatively to meet the production's needs. I was familiar with the Nintendo games of his childhood that he wanted to suggest in his work, and he was very encouraging throughout the process of making and revising it. He took a gamble on me, as I hadn't made much pixel art at that time. I've since gone on to draw and animate an entire retro computer game called Cuttle Scuttle. Working on The Dudleys! helped me build the confidence I needed to take on this recent project.

What was the most challenging
part of working on this production?
Leegrid: Learning photoshop and drawing everything pixel by pixel.

Dan: There were some technical hurdles encountered along the way, as the production grew from its original showing. The screen format changed, which led to my contributions being revised and updated several years after the original work was undertaken.

What did you want the audience to walk away with after seeing The Dudleys!?
Leegrid: A sense of regret and a renewed appreciation for the present.

What was one of the most unique things about working on this production?

Leegrid: One animation of a living room shifting color during a sunset had two hundred and forty frames, each being hand drawn. I'm not a pro in photoshop and there was probably a quicker way to complete that animation but it took me two weeks of evenings and weekends to finish that one.

Dan: It was a pleasure working in the rarely-explored middleground between the worlds of theatre and retro gaming. It was really neat to see the actors onstage, interacting with the scenery and animated characters I had drawn.

What did you learn from your time working on The Dudleys!?
Leegrid: I learned that a bad power cable on a single projector can inexplicably short circuit the video stream of a completely separate and unrelated projector (presumably conducted somehow through the grid??). I also learned that not having the video design work consistently until THE DAY WE OPEN will cause me to lose 15 pounds, give me PTSD, and lodge a knot in my stomach that took about 5 months to finally subside. I still don't like thinking about it.

Dan: I learned that I was capable of bringing a world of pixels to life, and that directors with imagination could marry that with the world of live theatre. What a kick! 

What was it like working with these artists?
Leegrid: The nominees have incredible visual skill and creativity. They took flat animations and made them live on a three dimensional stage.

Dan: Their raw creativity and enthusiasm are palpable.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth!

Written, Performed, & Produced by Dandy Darkly

Nominations: Outstanding Performance Art Production; Outstanding Solo Performance, Dandy Darkly; Outstanding Original Music: Rachel Blumberg, Dandy Darkly, Bryce Edwards, Adam Tendler

About the Company: Dandy Darkly is a critically acclaimed, alt-cabaret satirist and storyteller. His work skewers traditional Southern gothic storytelling with a decidedly non-traditional style. His exquisite corpse of eccentric recitations examine the timeless themes of sex and death, how the two mingle together -- origin and ending, creation and destruction -- and, in particular, how these themes informed Dandy, and a generation of queer people, who came of sexual age during the AIDS epidemic. Dandy further focuses each solo show he crafts on a selection of secondary themes that allow the storyteller to compare and contrast additional elements through his gloriously ghoulish, surprisingly poignant, allegorical tales. 

About the Production: Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth! is a spoken word show that begins and ends with the tale of Cha-Cha the Caveman, humanity's premier popinjay and a drug addled con artist ultimately corrupted by his own fame. Along the way there's tales of Persephone, the goddess of Spring cast as a woke party princess, Laika the Russian Cosmopup who is Mankind's only defense against a fleet of Martian space cats and the harrowing tale of Professor Gif Jeffries, a virtual reality addict who travels the darkest corners of the web in search of virtual love. 


What first attracted you to this project?

Dandy: Whereas past shows have focused on more specific subject matter (for example, 2015's Dandy Darkly's Trigger Happy! examined gun violence and emotional triggering) with Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth! I wanted to broaden my scope and examine storytelling itself -- mythology, tall tales and the very nature of belief. I've long been obsessed with myth, in particular Greek myth and the academic writings of Joseph Campbell on the subject. This show represents my most personal work to date as I also explored many of my own personal vices (sex, drugs and rock and roll) by considering the similarities of chemical highs and religious ecstasy. Faith can be as addictive as any intoxicant. Finally, I was most excited to explore the very nature of creativity itself and to consider our cherished pantheon of queer artists as pop culture gods and goddesses who resonate and inspire long after they've left the mortal world.

Bryce: I love making soundtrack music and I love working with Dandy Darkly because I think he's brilliant.

What was your favorite part of working on this production?

Dandy: My most favorite part of the process is undoubtedly the writing of the stories. At the heart of any Dandy Darkly show are the words -- the rapid fire alliteration, breathless run on sentences and poetic profanity are the hallmark of every show I produce and easily the aspect I'm most proud of.

Bryce: The collaboration aspect. I love hearing the words and being challenged to come up with sounds and leitmotifs that work within the context of the show.

What was the most challenging
part of working on this production?
Bryce: The main challenge was working within the confines of structure of the pieces. The time restraints inherent in scoring a 55 minute show.

What did you want the audience to take away from their experience with Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth!?

Dandy: The highest compliment ever paid following a Dandy Darkly show is when an audience member approaches me and offers, "I had no idea that's what you do!" Too often the image of a leering drag clown understandably sets an expectation of what's to be seen, but the poetry and power of the storytelling really amazes those who see my work. I want audience members to leave Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth! with a desire to set expectations aside and simply see art to experience the absolutely unexpected.

What is one of the most noteworthy aspects of this production?

Dandy: Past shows have often been written in response to current events, but funny enough, one of the tales in Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth! has become more and more relevant as revelations of our President's possible collusion with Russia are revealed. "True Story" focuses on Laika, the first dog in space, and her actual mission as a combat space puppy sent to stave off a hoard of marauding Martian cats. The story examines faith and the power of indoctrination, but also skews Cold War era Russian/American relations, fake news and believing in something despite factual evidence to the contrary. It has proved resoundingly popular the more we learn about the 2016 election.

What is it like working with the nominees of Dandy Darkly's Myth Mouth!?

Dandy: It's been my honor to collaborate with three astounding musicians, Adam Tendler, Rachel Blumberg and Bryce Edwards, for Dandy Darkly's past four shows. While the words I write initially inform the sound we improvise together, its the music that eventually becomes the backbone of the piece, allowing me freedom to pace the tales and uncover unexpected moments in which to play with the text. They are world class, professional musicians in their own right and the generosity of their talent and eagerness to collaborate with whatever project Dandy's working on, year after year, really blows me away.

Bryce: Dandy Darkly is brilliant!

Rachel: I am always delighted to work along side these wonderfully talented folks!

Make sure to follow Dandy Darkly on Twitter & Instagram @dandydarkly

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sweeney Todd

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Directed and Choreographed by Judith Jarosz
Produced by Theater 2020

Nominees: Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role, Zack Krajnyak; Outstanding Ensemble: Adam Baritot, Jefferson Behan, Amber Dewey, Samuel Floyd, David Fuller, John Jeffords, Zack Krajnyak, Samantha Kronenfeld, Lorinne Lampert, Tom McDonough, James Neufeld, Chrysten Peddie, Catherine Purcell, Mary Thorne, Tyler Whitaker


About the Company:  Theater 2020, Inc., Visions for a New Millennium is dedicated to producing classic and contemporary plays and musicals for a 21st Century audience and to providing a nurturing atmosphere for both emerging artists and seasoned professionals. We are dedicated to reaching out to the community and to producing quality theater at affordable prices, utilizing established professionals and fostering young artists as they emerge into the theatrical mainstream, with a particular emphasis on providing more opportunities for women in theater.

About the Production: Originally done in 1979 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet
is a musical thriller with music by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler. The musical was based on the 1973 play by Christopher Bond. There have been numerous revivals and a film adaptation.


What first attracted you to this project?
Baritot: I worked with this company the previous year and had a wonderful time!
I am a great lover of Sondheim's works, and I always jump at a chance to do

Purcell: I am a huge Stephen Sondheim fan and I have never had the chance to
work on one of his shows, so when this presented itself I jumped.
Fuller: The show itself. Stephen Sondheim.

Jarosz: Sondeim is brilliant.

Peddie: Sweeney Todd has been one of those bucket list shows for me since I
first got into theater as a young person. I was also drawn to the idea of gender-
blind casting the role of Pirelli, as if it were a pants-role in an opera. It can often
feel like there are not nearly enough opportunities for women in musical theater,
so creating one by making this role available to women, I thought, was so cool. It
was so much fun to be able to swagger around like a true lothario, while singing
high C's in the process!

Lampert: That's easy! Mrs. Lovett has been a dream role of mine since I was in
high school, and Sweeney Todd is my favorite show.

Thorne: I love singing Sondheim!

Behan: This score is a masterpiece, it is a dream to sing.

Krajnyak: Sweeney Todd has always been one of my all-time favorite pieces and I jumped at the chance to work on it.

What was your favorite part of working on this production?
Baritot: The opportunity to work with such a talented group of actors and producers. I feel blessed to have been a part of such a production!
Purcell: I fell in love with the show itself; every night something new revealed
itself to me in the script or the score, it's a real treasure trove.

Fuller: Working with the great people involved.
Jarosz: The staff, the cast, the crew, and ... did we mention SONDHEIM?

Singing Sondheim's glorious score. That music is unparalleled and it was a joy to come to rehearsals and performances and get to sing it for hours!
Lampert: As a self-proclaimed Sondheim freak, it's always amazing noticing new internal rhymes and really analyzing the lyrics. It's difficult material musically, and - and this is going to seem overly obvious , but - it's always fun hunkering down and really learning all the notes! Mrs. Lovett has a lot of patter that the ear glosses over, and it was great nailing those notes down.

Behan: Working with this incredible cast. Some of the best voices I have ever
worked with.

Krajnyak: The score is masterful in every way and I loved being in the room with
such talented artist who really breathed life into the piece. It was also thrilling to work and tell this story in such and intimate space.

What was the biggest challenge of working on this production?

Purcell: Stepping into the role of Johanna with only 3 days of rehearsal provided
a unique challenge; it was certainly thrilling but lots of memorizing and blocking
crammed into that period.

Learning the tricky parts of Sondheim's music.

The staging (it's a small venue, so we "wrapped" the audience) and the music, it's very challenging, but it pays off, big time.

Peddie: Singing Sondheim's glorious score! Haha! The man is revered in this
business for a reason. The way he writes isn't for the feint of heart. It challenges
you as a musician and you really have to work hard at it, because you want to do
it perfectly.

Did anything unique or memorable happen during this production?

Purcell: We only had one piano to play that entire score; our music director
handled it wonderfully.

Jarosz: was funny when audience members jumped up and down or shrieked with delight when caught off guard by some the the staging...hee, hee, hee.....

Peddie: The gender-bending was a fun addition, although it is certainly not the
first time Pirelli has been played by a woman. I thought our costumes, with their
steam punk/goth influence, were particularly cool. Performing such a dark piece
in a church also added a funereal element to it.

What was it like working with Theater 2020?

Purcell: The cast was so perfectly assembled; they were a really lovely group.
Peddie: The incredibly talented, supportive and wonderful cast. They made it a
pleasure to come to the show every day.

Did you learn anything from your time working on Sweeney Todd?
Purcell: Of course! Always be prepared for what seems very unlikely was
probably my biggest takeaway.

Peddie: It was a pleasure to re-discover my soprano voice in this show! I
typically get cast in roles where I am required to belt or mix. This was the first
real, high soprano role I have gotten to sing and it was such a joy to get to
reconnect with that part of my voice.

Make sure to follow Theater 2020 on Twitter @theater2020

Contributed by Victoria Muzzio


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Tempest

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Beth Ann Hopkins
Produced by Smith Street Stage

Outstanding Revival of a Play; Outstanding Original Music, Clara Strauch; Outstanding Ensemble: Raquel Chavez, Shannon Condon, Kate Eastman, Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy, John Hardin, Patrick Harvey, Brian Demar Jones, Joe Jung, Peter Molesworth, Catherine Mullins, Andrew L. Ricci, Sam Richardson, Nora Rickey, Kate Ross, Will Sarratt, Caroline Smith, JT Stocks, Corey Whelihan


About the Production: A revival of the classic Shakespearean play that mirrors the company's commitment to telling classic stories in exciting and imaginative ways.

The team behind The Tempest discusses their journey and process with this classic work.


What attracted you to this project?

Caroline: The wonderful group that is Smith Street Stage

Catherine: The incredible director and artistic team.

Clara: The Tempest is probably my favorite Shakespeare play. I have a weakness for ethereal spirits, tragicomedy, magic, romance, and obviously music. I also love Smith Street Stage's work, and have previously been a part of their "Christmas Carol." When Beth Ann asked if I wanted to compose the music for The Tempest, I was honored and psyched!

Joe: I've been a fan of Smith Street Stage for a long time. Any chance to work with them would be thoroughly worthwhile.

John: Word of mouth praise for the company.

Kate: Smith Street Stage is an amazing company doing inventive, top caliber work. And the role of Prospero was a dream come true!

Patrick: I've loved working with Smith Street Stage since 2011, and the role of Caliban in The Tempest has long been a dream role of mine.

Peter: Smith Street Stage is a company made up of wonderful people. They are interested in the work and have serious grit and integrity. The park we performed in was also a real bonus.

Raquel: Free & accessible opportunity for audiences of all ages to connect with Shakespeare in their neighborhood -- what a fantastically enriching gift for any community.

Shannon: The company, Smith Street Stage, has a great reputation.

Shaun: I have great respect for the company and I love working on Shakespeare.

What was your favorite part of working on this production?

Caroline: The incredible cast and the amazing, imaginative direction that Beth Ann Hopkins brought to the production

Catherine: The cast! We became a true team and works so well together.

Clara: Composing the music and soundscape was such a joy. Since I'm also an actor (NYU Tisch), a natural first step was to do my usual work on the play as if the music was my character. But then I found myself creating and acting out whichever character sang each song, and that's how the melodies were born. So my little secret is that in this creative process I got to play Prospero, Caliban, Ariel, and all the others. I found how I imagined each character's voice, instrument, sound, and theme, and expanded from there.

And then it was incredible to work with Beth Ann, the team, all the actors and the band, and to hear each song come alive.

Corey: The outdoor environment felt particularly appropriate for this show. Nothing like doing The Tempest under threat of actual storm clouds!

Joe: There's nothing like performing Shakespeare outside. It's a mystical experience.

John: Getting to perform with such wonderful people.

Kate: The cast and the entire team was just a joy.

Patrick: Working with this cast was a truly unique experience. In particular, my comedic co-stars, Kate Eastman (Stephano) and Will Sarratt (Trinculo) were unforgettable scene partners. We recently got together to reminisce about that time last summer where we just goofed around like drunk idiots in front of audiences of strangers. Yeah, that was fun.

Peter: Speaking with people from the neighborhood. It showed that the company makes an impact and has started a beloved tradition.

Raquel: The rest of the cast made the experience so magical and illuminating -- it was a fantastic reminder of the community-building power of theater, both on the stage and off.

Sam: This was my first time working with professional actors outside of a school environment, and it was wonderful to see everyone's process (and how the work is no different once you're out of school).

Shannon: The cast because it was filled of good hearted, fun people that quickly formed a tight bond.

Shaun: Our director, Beth Ann Hopkins, is clear eyed, imaginative, and generously collaborative, which made the rehearsal room a joy to be in. Smith Street Stage also has a great deal of respect for the work they do and the artists they hire and it showed in how we were treated. Lastly, performing outdoors for a wonderfully supportive community was an unbelievable experience.

What was the most challenging aspect of this production for you?

Caroline: Mastering the puppetry of the "spirit orbs."

Catherine: This was the first production I had done in a park. It took some time to adapt to the wildness and unpredictability of the park and how the affects a performance.

Clara: The weather. Outdoor theatre, you know.

Corey: The outdoor environment. You have to compete with a lot of ambient sound. So many environmental factors are outside of your control and you have to do your best to work around it, while maintaining your focus and the focus of the audience.

Joe: Performing outside - the ice cream trucks, car horns, ambient noise.

John: Getting myself to leave at night! I was having so much fun.

Patrick: I had the personal performative challenge of playing the most physically demanding role of my career on a concrete stage.

Peter: Filling the space with all the existing distractions.

Raquel: Because all Smith Street Stage shows go up in a non-theater space, we sometimes found ourselves competing with sirens, playground-shrieking, and ice cream trucks for control of the soundscape. During a few performances, the big crowd of the audience was so alluring to the ice cream truck drivers that the producers had to persuade them to turn off their music. But in the end, it made our resolve to maintain the audience's attention and sense of wonder that much stronger and creative.

Sam: The outdoor space was very challenging because it was difficult to feel truthful and also be loud enough that I wouldn't have to worry about being heard/seen all the way at the back of the crowd

Shannon: Being outdoors for rehearsals and shows made a lot of the work unpredictable.

Shaun: Working out of doors at the mercy of the elements. Also, since we were in a park we had to project quite a bit more than I was used to. However, the challenges made me a stronger actor.

Did anything unique or memorable happen during production?

Catherine: The cast became a family.

Clara: I wrote all the music over the winter and spring on a little Swedish island in the Baltic Sea, called Gotland.

Joe: It was nothing but a delight. I guess that's an oddity. Most of the times when working on a production, something gets under your skin. SSS allows its actors an open space to explore, experiment, fail, and create. That's incredibly special.

Peter: When we staged Ariel's confrontation of Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio-- I told Beth Ann that I really wanted wings.... so she and Sherry Martinez (our costume designer) made these awesome black wings that moved during the speech that we blocked at the back of the theater on a picnic table.

Shaun: One day, as I was putting on makeup before the show, a sparrow flew into my lap. It scared the living daylights out of me. Our director came in, chased the bird down, and lovingly escorted it out of the dressing room in her cupped hands. I was hugely impressed. It was a Disney moment.

What did you learn from your time working on The Tempest?

Catherine: I learned how to amplify a smaller role and be present even when you are in the background.

Clara: I learned the accordion.

Joe: 6 year olds are great at interpreting Shakespeare!

John: I learned more about how to play a romantic lead -- I had to play simply and be emotionally open. It was a welcome challenge!

Patrick: I'd worked on Shakespeare quite a lot before beginning this process, but I'd never fully appreciated just how playful you can be with his language before beginning rehearsals on the comic scenes in this play.

Shannon: I learned of how taxing it can be working with an ensemble and exactly what it takes to put on a show without the safety or background provided by a university. I was surprised at how hard working the team was and truly had to be to pull it off.

Peter: Dive in first, then think/talk about it... not the other way around.

Contributed by Victoria Fernandes 

Monday, August 7, 2017


Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Monique Holt
Produced by New York Deaf Theatre

Nominations: Outstanding Original Music: Daniel Steffey; Outstanding Sound Design: Daniel Steffey; Outstanding Lighting Design: Luther Frank, Russ Bockemhuel; Outstanding Innovative Design: Luther Frank, Russ Bockemhuel

About the Company: New York Deaf Theatre (NYTD) is a not‐for‐profit, professional theatre organization that gives Deaf and hard-of-hearing-artists in the New York City area a creative and artistic home where they are the number one priority. We believe in using theatre to break down cultural barriers for the Deaf and provide equal access to all of our artists and audiences, to give them the positive and enriching theatrical experience they deserve. We are a cultural home for the Deaf community to see their own lives and experiences reflected on stage, and we prove that there is a place for Deaf actors, creators, and designers in the vibrant fabric of New York City’s theatre community. 

Our productions vary in degrees of accessibility for our patrons, including language access in ASL and incorporating spoken English or projected subtitles for either language. In providing a variety of language access, we experiment with the level of access a patron might receive so that people of all abilities can understand the experiences of one another.

About the Production: TITUS reimagines Shakespeare’s original work as a whole in a new physical and visual world, needless of spoken English or ASL. A sharp talented cast of eight actors, four Deaf and four Hearing, use non-verbal elements such as Mime, Visual Gesture Communication and Visual Vernacular to tell the story. The unique manipulation of light, shadow, and projections presents all audience with a widely accessible experience of Shakespeare’s first tragedy, through a new visual language.

Artistic Director JW Guido talks about the unique and innovative qualities of his company's production of TITUS.

What attracted you to this project?

JW: As the Artistic Director, I’m searching for a new way to present a story onstage that gives a FULLY accessible experience for our audience, without the need of interpreters or voice work overlapping with American Sign Language (ASL). As Shakespeare’s work is heavily visual, NYDT chose to experiment with the classic play Titus Andronicus, our goal being to create a visual-experimental theatre work titled TITUS, helmed by Director Monique Holt. It was clear to me of this play’s thematic timely relevance, and for our team, essential to translate the play onstage in a new innovative way, challenging our audiences while providing access, and presenting a less frequently-produced Shakespeare play.

What was your favorite part of working on this production?

JW: Since this was our new, experimental work, it presented big challenges for us to explore and discover a new method of communication, without spoken English and ASL. It required a lot of teamwork. It was really amazing to see all of the cast and crew working together, in this new unique way, to make the production possible.

What was the most challenging part of working on this production?

JW: The whole concept of the production was entirely new. We heavily relied on non-verbal communication and projections/lighting. We were not able to bring all of the technology together until weeks before the opening night, so the cast/crew needed to work together throughout rehearsals to understand the story and how the show would be running. With design elements that included original video content, projection, and even shadow puppetry, this all had to come together quickly in tech!

What was the audiences' reaction to the work?

JW: I wanted audiences to understand how a story can be presented in any type of language, including non-verbal languages! Also, I want them to know that anyone, Deaf or Hearing, can create a story onstage without specifically mentioning or addressing our Deaf culture or common issues about Deaf people. No matter who they are or where they came from, everyone should able to create stories about anything, without changing audiences’ perspective but challenging audiences to see theatre in new ways.

What insight did you gain while working on this production?

JW: As the Artistic Director for NYDT for 5 years, this is our first time to get nominated for our work! This is also the first time NYDT has worked with both designers who are nominated!