Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Ghost

Produced by Bottoms Dream
Directed by Nat Angstrom

What happens when you take two of Shakespeare’s best known tragedies and weave their plots and characters together? As a part of their “Weaving Series” the theatre company Bottoms Dream explores this intricate and intriguing process.

“Beginning with lines ‘to die, to sleep no more’ (from Hamlet) and ‘methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more!' (from Macbeth), we wove the two plays into a single storyline, allowing characters and plots from each world to reflect and affect one another,” explains producer and actress Caitlin White. “Through this process, each play's story and relationships took on new depth and complexity.” In The Ghost, King Duncan Macduff's country is at war. While leading his brother's army in battle, Claudius Macbeth experiences a supernatural event that promises his ascension to the throne. He and his brother's wife, Gertrude, plot to murder the king and marry each other. Disenfranchised, Prince Hamlet and his wife Ophelia work together to uncover the truth, unaware that their friends, soldiers Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, have sworn service to the new king, Macbeth.
“Our hope was to present two of Shakespeare's best-known works in an original format, with his lines woven together in an unfamiliar way. We wanted the audience to hear and see these characters as if for the first time and to imagine a brand-new way of revisiting Shakespeare's canon,” explains White.

Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role nominee, John Hardin, who played Rosencratz was enthusiastic about the experiment. “I love the text of Hamlet, so I was excited to get an opportunity to work on some of my favorite material with some of my favorite people in a totally new way.”
The project also reunited old friends “I have been friends with Nat and Caitlin, the creators of the show, for quite a while. And my favorite part was being paired with Matt Castleman as Guildenstern. He's an old and great friend, and we had a fantastic time playing off each other,” says Hardin.

Because the story and characters were shaped specifically for the actors portraying them, Hardin found himself utilizing new skills. “This show was the first time I've ever played the harmonica onstage,” says Hardin. “It was also the first time I ever pretended to drown someone in a bathtub. I'm curious to see which one happens again first.”

Weaving two such epic stories requires a great deal of editing and discipline. It is not surprising that new dimensions or character facets would be discovered through the process. “As we revealed more of Claudius Macbeth's choices, the character began to skew towards the sympathetic. Inversely, Rosencrantz became more embittered and disillusioned after returning from war and failing to reintegrate into his old life. The character surprised us in its complexity and we are so glad that actor John Hardin has been nominated for his dark and haunting portrayal,” say White.

Congratulations to John Hardin and the cast and crew of The Ghost for your bravery to tackle such an complex concept in the endeavor of creating something new and exciting.

Follow this blog to learn more about other innovative Off-Off Broadway productions! Join us as we celebrate all the dynamic and unique voices of the 2015 season!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Breathing New Life: Outstanding Revival of A Play

Contributed by Conor O'Brien

To breathe new life into an established script comes with its own set of unique challenges. While upholding the text of the playwright, an artist must allow their creativity to operate outside of the set parameters previous productions have set. To accomplish this with outstanding results truly shows an innovative approach to theater! The IT Awards are proud to recongize the 2015 Nominees for Oustanding Revival of a Play:

The Butter and Egg Man, Retro Productions
Fiction, Play.Sing.Give.

Much Ado About Nothing, Smith Street Stage, Inc.

R & J & Z, Hard Sparks

Talk Radio, Variations Theatre Group

Within the Law
, Metropolitan Playhouse

Before these outstanding revivals were staged brave artistic souls had to decide to offer their talents to give new life to established scripts.

We asked each of the nominated shows producers what attracted them to the productions?

J.Stephen Brantley (of R & J & Z)

Melody Bates' new play is both a love letter to the Bard and a fierce rebuke to all that is wrong with Shakespeare. In her supernatural sequel to Romeo And Juliet, the women are warriors. It's not the men who ultimately save Verona from the zombie apocalypse. For all the blood - and there was loads of blood in this show - the piece is ultimately about personal freedom, cultural transformation, and love so true that even death falls down before it. Melody has some magic, and director Joan Jubett is one of the most sensitive and incisive directors I've ever known.                                   

Alex Roe (of Within The Law)
Exploring questions of justice and criminal process through a year old play is a remarkable opportunity to cast a new light on a system we criticize, fear, or take for granted and question its inequities from a distance that helps us see them more clearly.  Plus it's a great melodramatic nailbiter.


Stacy Lynn Gould (of Fiction)
We are interested in pieces that require very little other than the connection between people and fantastic writing. Fiction was so clever and the chemistry was practically built in between the characters. We wanted to do a piece that was intimate and made the audience unsure as to who to root for. It was a piece involving beautifully flaw filled people.


Heather Cunningham (of The Butter & Egg Man
Since we produce 20th Century period work I'd been looking for a 1920's set play for some time. When it was time to chose a production for our 10th Anniversary season I thought of this play, set in the 20's, about producing a play and thought that it would be a wonderful way to celebrate our 10th year of producing plays.


Greg Cicchino (of Talk Radio)
It's a 90 minute nonstop rollercoaster that drills deep into a man's place in society and the universe.

For more coverage of the 2015 IT awards season be sure to follow this blog!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Miss Julie

Produced by August Strindberg Repertory Theatre
Directed by Robert Greer

In Ed Chishom’s adaption of Miss Julie, director Robert Greer moves the classic from Midsummer in Sweden to Mardi Gras in Louisiana. Miss Julie (a countess or in this case the planation owner’s daughter) and her father's butler John engage in a mutual seduction. However, John's fiancée Christine (the cook) finds out their plans to flee. 

Transporting the play to a post-civil war South creates a charged environment of class relations and seduction. “The sheer intensity that the actors created in all three relationships, Reginald Wilson and Eboni Flowers as an engaged couple, Ivette Dumeng and Reggie as master and servant as well as lovers, and not least Eboni and Ivette as servant and mistress, made for an intense rehearsal process. All three were always ready to raise the stakes,” says Greer.

“I've always been a huge fan of classics, re-imagined, so I naturally connected with this adaptation of Miss Julie, set in Antebellum Louisiana. It's a very different exploration of the story,” said Eboni Flowers who is nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role for her portrayal of Christine.

We asked Eboni about preparing for the role:
“After reading the Ed Chisholm's adaptation of the play, I felt I knew who she was: a person, a woman, with wants, needs, dreams & hopes...and obstacles. The play was set just about 20 years after slavery was abolished, so Christine was not only dealing with being Black in that in that place and time, but also, with being a woman, and in that sense, she was like a 3rd class citizen. She witnessed a lot that she didn't approve of, and which she was unable to express with a certain candor, to either Miss Julie or John. She had to use the Bible as her weapon and her solace. And yet, I didn't want to make the easy choice and sanitize her, just because she's a Christian. I wanted her to have something to repent for at night when she got on her knees to pray. I wanted to show her as Strindberg wrote her: a sinner saved by GRACE. A real person, not a walking Bible.

I most enjoyed turning a conceivably ‘small’ role into a MASSIVE person with intricate feelings. Christine is woman who has a huge spiritual foundation, but is also, naturally, flawed. I was very interested in showing both sides of her, and making sure she was just as full and fleshed-out a character as John and Julie were.”

Eboni’s work resonated with theatre goers. “She built Christine with incredible attention to detail and a magnificent arc to the character,” says Greer.

Congratulations to Eboni Flowers and the entire cast and crew of Miss Julie for creating such an engaging and beautiful work.

Follow this blog to learn more about other innovative Off-Off Broadway productions! Join us as we celebrate all the dynamic and unique voices of the 2015 season!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Donkey Punch

Contributed by Conor O'Brien

Sexually adventurous Kareena delves into monogamy with her boyfriend Teddy, while her inhibited best friend, Sam, starts dating Kyle, a pornographer. After a makeover, a scandal, and a documentary; the real question is, who is the donkey?

This is the description offered by The Ivy Theater Company, for their three-time 2015 IT Award nominated production, Donkey Punch - previously titled The Feminism of a Soft Merlot or (How The Donkey Got Punched). Donkey Punch was written by Micheline Auger and Directed by Audrey Alford. The production was presented at the SOHO Playhouse. This production is nominated for Outstanding Original Full Length Script, Premier Production and Actress in a Lead Role (Diana Oh).

The mission statement of Ivy Theater Company states: Ivy Theatre Company is dedicated to dynamic storytelling that explores the human condition in a visceral way in order to provoke thought and challenge both the artist and the audience. Our work climbs inside, up and over the walls that have confined and silenced the voices of the few and the oppressed.

Director Audrey Alford stated what attracted her the production: “Micheline has such a distinct voice and I was so excited to read a play about two complex female characters struggling with their respective roles in their friendship and romantic relationships. We have Kareena struggling to keep her agency in a monogamous relationship and Sam testing her boundaries with sex. I have been both of these women and I thought it was so important to see women with depth, flaws, and unique senses of humor on stage.”
Audrey added a quirky (and innovative) note on her reflections of this piece. She
stated that “the funniest part of the production was definitely the donkey mask. He took on a life of his own. We took it everywhere and got some amazing pictures with it on. Donkey had his picture made with Lea DeLaria, Jenny McCarthy, Constantine Maroulis, and lots of tourists. He also had us cracking up in rehearsal.”

Diana Oh portrayed Kareena and is nominated for the 2015 IT Award for Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role. An innovative and layered role as Kareena would undoubtedly come with challenges. Diana stated that the most challenging aspect(s) of playing Kareena was, “Diving deep into a character who seemingly has everything together but is afraid to admit out loud that she was afraid of commitment, of love, of being loved, of showing love....(it) made me question and realize people's tendencies to self-preserve and irrationally protect and judge their "soft" feelings. And by people's, I'm pretty sure I mean my own.”

Follow this blog to learn more about other innovative Off-Off Broadway productions! Join us as we celebrate all the dynamic and unique voices of the 2015 season!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Run for Your Wife

Contributed by Conor O'Brien

Written in 1983 (by Roy Cooney) Run For Your Wife concerns London cab driver John Smith, with two spouses, two lives and a very precise schedule for juggling them both and what occurs when his two very separate worlds collide. In January 2015 TheGallery Players mounted their own 1970’s stylized production of this comedic gem! The Gallery Players’ mission is to provide the Brooklyn Community with professional-quality theater at an affordable cost, to nurture and support theater artists, and to cultivate an appreciation of theater in future generations.

We asked producer Sidney Fortner what particularly attracted her to the production? Sidney stated that, “I enjoy the British farce form” to which Sidney also added “...and I'm always happy to work with Director Mark Harborth.” Sidney stated that her favorite part of working on Run For Your Wife was “observing the process of crafting the difficult timing, as the excellent cast brought the play into focus step by step under the collaborative direction of Mr. Harborth."

Nominated for the 2015 NYIT Award for Outstanding Ensemble, we asked Emily Hooper (who portrayed the role of Barbara Smith) what attracted her to this particular production. Emily elaborated that, "After living in the city for almost a year now and having worked on several different projects, I know that the camaraderie our cast shared was truly special. I feel so grateful that this show was my very first New York production, and I think I lucked out with the kind of people I got to work with. Not only was everyone incredibly professional...but I never felt alone for a single second on that stage.”

The outstanding nominees from the entire ensemble are: Emily Hooper, Graciany Miranda, James Swanson, Joseph Cassese, Joshua Nicholson, Maria Silverman, Michael Hardart and Timothy Park.

Follow us to learn more about all the 2015 nominees and help us celebrate Off-Off Broadway!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Temple of The Souls

Contributed by Conor O'Brien

Temple of The Souls is a forbidden tale of secrets, loves and lies of what might have happened in 16th Century Puerto Rico when a chance meeting changed the world forever.   This is a time when women were chaperoned, marriages arranged, and social classes never mixed. A time when Spaniards enslaved thousands of indigenous Taínos, stole their women, their land, their lives. A time when Taínos jumped from the highest cliff in the El Yunque rain forest ... jumped to their deaths to escape the white man. This is the time where it all begins, on the eve of the great fiesta, when a Taíno boy and a Spanish girl fall in love.

Temple of the Souls (a musical drama) was developed and directed by Lorca Peress, with story by Anita Velez-Mitchell, music by Dean Landon and Anika Paris and book by Anita Velez-Mitchell, Lorca Peress and Anika Paris. Temple of The Souls was produced by MultiStages, which was founded in 1997 with the mission of developing multicultural and multidisciplinary new works through collaborations between playwrights and artists (within and outside the theatre arena) that celebrate a fusion of art forms rarely found in today’s theatre.

Temple of The Souls is nominated for a total of nine 2015 IT Awards, including Outstanding Production of a Musical.

From its inception, collaborative development and final product - Temple of The Souls captures so much of what true innovative theater is!  Lorca Peress provided some unique insight when asked what she found to be the most enjoyable part of the entire process:

"Combining all of the various elements and being graced with a fabulous artistic team was a favorite part of working on this production. Finding a terrific venue at Theater for the New City with its 20' plus foot ceiling that made the audience and actors feel like we were in the rain forest and seeing the result of our work and the development of our show since our first workshop in 2011."

Be sure to continue following the NYIT blog for highlights and fantastic insights into our 2015 awards season!