Friday, December 31, 2010

Center Stage Needs Your Help


Contributed by Guest Blogger of the Week, Shay Gines.

As some of you know Center Stage is facing eviction on January 3rd if they do not raise $17,000. They have raised $6,000 in the last 2 days and need to come up with another $11,000 in the next 72 hours to avoid having the doors pad locked on Monday morning.

This would be a significant loss to OOB especially on the heels of the closer of the Ohio Theatre and news that after 86 years the Cherry Lane Theatre will be sold and it is another indication that our community is in crisis. 

 Center Stage Theatre has been the home for many OOB companies over the last 11 years including; Boomerang Theatre, terraNOVA, The Vampire Cowboys, Impetuous Theatre Group and Partial Comfort Productions to mention a few. 

According to Jill DeArmon, Artistic Director for Center Stage, the rent has risen dramatically over the last few years and is now "too high for the theater to survive here." Their goal is to raise the money for back rent so that they can finish out their season and honor the rental agreements that have already been made through May and of course avoid litigation.

Financial problems for Center Stage started in 2008 when sponsors, corporate funding and donations to companies throughout our community started to be reduced. "Many companies that had rented from us for years all of a sudden weren't able to put money up front for their seasonal space needs, which of course put a lot of gaps in our calendar when we ourselves were bringing in less" explains former Office Manager, James David Jackson. "The major clientele we were bringing in (Indie/Off-Off-B'way) really couldn't pay the hourly and weekly rates that we would have needed to rise the rent to. Plus the space needed some major renovations to justify the new price we would need to charge. So we've come to a cash flow problem."

If you can spare a few dollars this weekend, please consider making a donation to Developing Artists Theater Company ( the not-for-profit arm of Center Stage.

UPDATE: Monday, January 3, 2011 1:30PM
Center Stage is within $4,000 of their goal. They have 12 hours to raise the remaining money.

UPDATE: Monday, January 10, 2011   10:30AM
Center Stage did receive the money it needed to keep its doors open until May. It will now be able to honor the remaining rental agreements and close its season as they had intended. So while they were able to meet their goal, it is only a temporary stay. We will update you with future plans for the company and for the space as soon as we can.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My favorite things about OOB


Contributed by Guest Blogger of the Week, Shay Gines.

There are so many things I love about OOB. Here are some of my faves.

Kick Ass Parties
We all work so incredibly hard. We make miracles happen with every production. So when the pressure is off and we are able to party, look out! OOB knows how to throw an awesome party. Live bands, burlesque performances, free booze! Come on! Plus, let’s just admit it, we are the cool kids. We are the hip, free spirited NYC artists that the Wall Streeters wish they were.

When I first got to the city, there was no “community” in the OOB community. It was actually that fact that inspired the IT Awards. Everyone was working so hard and was so focused on their own things that they couldn’t see what an amazing network of artists were right there in the trenches with them. I am so very proud of our community that we are reaching out to one another. We are building strong ties and are becoming a force to be recognized. Organizations such as The Community Dish, LIT, TRU and ART/NY (and I’d like to think that the IT Foundation also played its part) have all contributed to helping us create these bonds. More importantly however, it is the individuals who made it a priority to get more involved. On top of day jobs, personal relationships and artistic endeavors, you have made time in your already ridiculously busy schedule to attend meetings, write letters, make donations, get informed and make a consorted effort to contribute to and strengthen this community. And that is truly inspiring.

Do you watch Project Runway? I do. I even DVR it just-in-case I am not available to catch an episode. My favorite challenges are when the designers are taken to the recycling center or the carpet remnants store or given a bin of used computer parts and expected to “create fashion.” Why? Why are these episodes so much more fun and interesting and exciting? Because the challenge is so much bigger. The designers have to be MORE creative, MORE ingenious and the risk of failure is so much more possible. However the end results are often the most amazing because they had to stretch their imaginations and be so much more creative with the resources that they were given. That is one of the most exciting elements of OOB to me. I love to see shows where the set is a series of huge flipcharts; where the costumer has created 6 distinct character looks using a reversible jacket, a hat and a pair of glasses; where the director has cleverly created a huge advancing army using shadow puppets. Our shoe-string budgets often force us to be more innovative and theatrical. I love that we accept that challenge with such enthusiasm and joy.

You don’t do OOB theatre for the money. You don’t do it for the prestige. You don’t do it for your parents. You don’t do it because it’s easy. If you are working Off-Off-Broadway, it is because you love theatre, because you want to have some control over your artistic endeavors and some ownership over the work you do. You do OOB theatre because that’s what you do.

There are some amazing people in the OOB community that selflessly give so much to our community. We all have our angles. Here are some of the people whose generosity I am profoundly grateful for and who I think are truly champions for our community: the ladies at FAB, Jonathan and Ian at United Stages, Paul Adams, Nick Micozzi, Akia, the entire IT Staff, Roman Feeser, David Pincus, Tim Errickson, Amanda Feldman, Abby Marcus, Katie Rosin, Jenn Darling, Judith Malina & Brad Burgess, David Anthony, Patrick Shearer, Erez Ziv, Ben Hodges, Robert Zuckerman, Martin Denton & Rochelle Denton. I could go on and on and on and there is a beauty in that too.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If I Won the Lottery

Contributed by Guest Blogger of the Week, Shay Gines.

I have spent so many millions of dollars in my mind. I know that we’ve all done it.  We’ve dreamt about everything we could do if we won the lottery.

Of course I’d do all the obligatory personal stuff; pay off the credit cards and my mortgage, go on a fabulous world tour, make some luxury purchases that I’ve always dreamed about and maybe have a visit with the plastic surgeon. Once all that nonsense was over, this is what I’d do if I suddenly found myself with millions of dollars:

1.  I’d hire a personal assistant.

2.  I’d set up a not-for-profit organization and donate enough seed money to it to buy and renovate a building in Manhattan and provide funds to maintain it for the first 5 years. It would include theatres, rehearsal rooms, meeting rooms, offices and a for-profit coffee shop/bar (similar to the Des Moines Social Club  that Zachary Mannheimer has set up).  The idea is that the coffee shop/bar would rent space from the non-profit organization and help offset costs. Plus it would provide employment for artists.

3. I’d set up an endowment that would annually provide grants to OOB companies.

4. I’d make lots of donations to OOB companies – and a few other non-profits that are close to my heart.

5. I’d set up a marketing fund that would, among many other things, purchase bulk advertising in local and national newspapers, magazines and websites which would be divvied up and used to market current OOB shows. It would also produce a monthly booklet of OOB show listings that would be placed in hotels and at tourist spots around the city.

6. I’d set up a show swap with cities around the country – and around the world for that matter. Whole productions would be sent to other cities so that we could share our work outside of NYC. Likewise we could provide a venue for independent theatre artists from across the country to perform here in the city.

7.  I’d get a large storage facility that OOB companies could share. It might also include a costume/props/set exchange.

8.  I’d set up a company that recorded and archived all of the OOB productions… I mean of course only those OOB productions that we are allowed to record.

9.  I’d fund an OOB Cheer Squad that would perform customized cheers for productions on opening night and more generalized OOB cheers at events and locations throughout the city.

10. I’d buy several vans that could be signed out, like library books, to companies during load-in and load-out.

11. I’d buy us all a subscription to American Theatre Magazine. Maybe I’d buy us all a Coke.

12. I’d host an ice-cream social and invite lots of big Fortune 500 companies and figure out how to get them to give OOB money. Maybe I’d also invite or William Shatner or Oprah or Johnny Depp. What am I saying? Or? And! William Shatner AND Oprah AND Johnny Depp. And Eddie Izzard and Michelle Pfeiffer …. and Giovanni Ribisi … oh, and Annie Lennox.

So here’s my question for you… If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money and who would you invite to your ice-cream social?


Monday, December 27, 2010

Unique Challenges


Contributed by Guest Blogger of the Week, Shay Gines.

We all have a unique set of challenges that shape our artistic abilities and choices. We learn to work around them when we need to and sometimes use them to propel us further or focus our efforts.

I have a disability.  It is true. People who have worked with me or know me have seen its effects and know my limitations. People walking down the street would have no idea. You yourself may have noticed something weird but couldn’t put your finger on it.

I have chronic joint disease. It is a very tenacious form of rheumatoid arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease, which means that my body is basically attacking itself. I was diagnosed with it almost 15 years ago. It is also a degenerative disease, which means that it could (probably will) get worse over time. 

I have not always had this disability. I was already well on my path to working in and completely being in love with the theatre before I was diagnosed. I was trained as an actress. I attended a rather rigorous four-year program that emphasized character development/embodiment including a lot of physical work and years of dance classes to boot. I’m not sure if the disease had manifested itself earlier in my life if I would have made the same choices that I did, but it has certainly changed my work in and my outlook of the theatre.
In the beginning, there was a lot of pain and I was completely unprepared to deal with what was happening to me both physically and psychologically. Within a matter of months, I went from being a strong, healthy, confident young woman to not being able to get in or out of the shower by myself or button my own shirt or turn a doorknob. I had trouble spraying hair spray and standing up from a chair. It also took almost a year to figure out what was wrong with me. Maybe it was Lyme Disease. Maybe it was Lupus. Maybe it was something else. They didn’t know.

Once I was finally diagnosed, there was another year of experimenting to find the proper “cocktail” of medications to help manage it. Since everyone’s body reacts differently to medications, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another. I was on steroids for a while and, oh boy was I a bitch to be around. I gained 20lbs and was completely at the mercy of my emotions. Looking back, I feel terrible for my friends who had to deal with me during that time. At one point I was prescribed a drug that I discovered I was allergic to and ended up in the emergency room with a 104 degree temperature. It was definitely a trying experience.

The most significant challenge, however, was that I had an identity crisis… I’m not going to say it was an identity “change,” I think of it more as a “shift.” I was no longer the person that I had been. I couldn’t climb the ladder to get to the lightboard at the Charnuchin Theatre. I couldn’t help move set pieces up and down the stairs to the Red Room. I couldn’t get up from the floor easily, gracefully, swiftly – sometimes not even at all. I couldn’t jump or dance or climb. Sometimes I could fake it… sometimes not. I was depressed, in a bad mood and sleep deprived most of the time because in addition, the disease tends to deplete your energy. So while friends would go out for drinks after a show, I could barely get myself home. I couldn't be social in the way I used to or wanted to be. I resented that and it made me bitter.

As an actress, I had always been athletic and energetic. I loved stage combat and physically inhabiting a character, but now I have to approach characters differently, and of course I have to carefully consider the types of characters and productions that I go out for. And there is, what I consider to be, a moral dilemma when auditioning for someone who does not know I have these… limitations. When should I inform them of it? I don’t want these limitations to stand in the way of me being cast. If I tell them at the audition, it might count against me. However, it is also not fair not to tell them. So this is what I decided; I tell them when they call to offer me the part. If they think they can work around the limitations and with me to find different options, great, I get the part. However if they feel they really need someone who can do physical stuff, then they have not lost any rehearsal time and they can still offer the part to someone else. It has gone both ways. Some directors/producers are fine with it and even excited by the challenge. Others decided to go with someone else and some have even felt like I deceived them and shouldn’t have auditioned in the first place. (By the way, if I know in advance that a production has physical requirements that I am not capable of, I don’t audition.)

As a director and a producer, the long hours are usually the most challenging element for me. I use to be able to work my day job, then go to a four hour rehearsal then come home and work for another hour or two preparing for the next day, get up and do it all over again, seven days a week until we opened. Boy are those days over! Now, I can work my day job, have a two or three hour rehearsal and go straight home and go to bed. I’ll have to sneak prep time in where I can and I have to have at least 2 days off each week to recuperate. 

Can I still make it work? Yes. I just have to be cleverer about it – and in that respect, what a glorious thing age and experience can be. I have also had to learn to recognize the signs that I am pushing myself too hard. Remember when you were in college and you drank too much and you woke up the next morning a little sick, but you were still able to make it to your 9:20AM class and by noon you were totally fine? And now when you drink too much you can’t get out of bed and have to call in sick for 3 days? It is sort of like that. I use to be able to push myself very very hard and recuperate very very quickly. Now days if I push myself too hard there are substantial repercussions that can take days or weeks to recover from and if I’m not careful I could do serious long term damage. So, I have to make sure I’m getting plenty of rest, eat when I should, build downtime into my schedule, take my medication regularly (carry some around with me in my purse, just in case) and not beat myself up for not being able to do what I use to do, or what other people can do.

This disease is sometimes unpredictable. I can be fine and then something will get set off and it could be weeks or months of being in pain and trying to get everything back under control. Sometimes medications stop working and you have to try something new. Sometimes the rigorous schedule of being in production is too much. My disease changes and has to be managed on a daily basis. I have to go to the hospital once a month and get an infusion which knocks me out for that whole day. I have had two surgeries, including a shoulder replacement. I will eventually need to have both of knees replaced and that will create all new challenges. It is a process.

I do have challenges (and half of the trouble is figuring out how to deal with the challenge) however, they are minor in comparison to other theatre friends that I know and that fact is never lost on me. 

This disability is not my only challenge, but it is my most significant challenge. Ultimately, it has made me more patient and accepting. More importantly, it forced me to deal with my own human vulnerability and because of that I think it made me a better artist. There were (and will be again I’m sure) days filled with tears and frustration and self pity, but it has taught me so much about myself and what my limitations and my strengths are. It has helped me gain a perspective that I otherwise wouldn’t have – about the theatre, our community, myself.  It has humbled me, but it has also made me so proud of my accomplishments and appreciative of the opportunities that have been offered to me.

What are the challenges you face as an artist and how have you dealt with them?


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guest Blogger of the Week: Shay Gines


We would like to thank Saviana Stanescu for her very engaging post last week.

We are excited that this week's guest blogger is our very own Shay Gines.

Shay Gines graduated from the Actors Training Program at the University of Utah with a dual degree in theatre and marketing. She then made the smartest decision of her life and (despite her father’s wishes) choose to pursue a career in theatre. Since then she has done everything from spackling walls at the Pasadena Playhouse and running follow-spot for the Pioneer Theatre Company to serving as the Artist in Residence for Touchstone Theatre. She has performed in theatres of all sizes from 30 seats to 1,000 across the country, from L.A. to NYC. She is an award winning producer, actress and director. Shay was a Founding Member and the Producing Director for Esperance Theatre Company, one half of the producing team for Theatrical Fair and one of the Executive Directors for The Innovative Theatre Foundation. 


Monday, December 20, 2010

Cocktails (all except Molotov…) for everyday heroes

Contributed by Guest Blogger of the Week, Saviana Stanescu.

Natalya Kalyada, co-director of the Free Theatre of Belarus was arrested today in the Independency Square (!) in Minsk “during a peaceful demonstration against the falsification of the Presidential Election” - read more about it. 

The news is extremely troubling even as we know FTB’s history of fighting bravely against censorship and dictatorship through - yes – THEATRE. Mixed with smart and consistent activism, able to reach the international theatre communities and spread the word about the totalitarian regime in their country, a former Soviet republic still struggling to achieve normalcy and democracy. I must add: good and imaginative theatre, meant not only for subversive and educational purposes, but enhanced artistic bliss.

Some people familiar with the recent history of Eastern Europe know that most of the countries over there – including mine, Romania – still struggle with the transition towards democracy and stability, even if more than 20 years have passed since the fall of the Iron Curtain. Corruption, economical problems, violence, a gap between generations and mentalities, periodic political chaos, lack of (trust in) a solid legal system and reliable state institutions, etc are still present, in various degrees, in all Eastern European and Balkan countries. But people over there are still making vibrant, engaging, sophisticated, diverse theatre worth of a global audience.

Of course, extreme situations are generally the ones bringing that region (and others) to the world’s attention, in theatre and otherwise. That’s when we remember and invest in the word “solidarity”. And indeed international pressure DOES WORK. So please spread the word about Natalya being arrested, it’s crucial that the leaders of Belarus are being made aware of the fact that their actions can’t be hidden. They will be held responsible by the global consciousness/community, they can’t just play their brutal power game the way that other dictators did (still do?) when the Western eyes weren’t on them…

Yes, let’s abandon ourselves to SOLIDARITY. A beautiful concept. Our dear daily individualism can give some room to idealism and mutual trust. We care, we can make a difference.  We can feel a little heroic caring for those heroes from afar. We can help. And that help won’t be a hidden act, it will be on lists, emails and maybe even make the news. Our generosity will be visible, our solidarity will achieve something.

Well, yes, we can’t care about ALL the people who live and work in difficult conditions, we can’t see all the everyday heroes on this planet of course. At least, we see those who are brave, talented, consistent, fighting political pressures and totalitarian regimes. We can’t oppose all the totalitarian regimes, we can’t fight all the dictators, we can’t eradicate poverty everywhere in the world, we can’t do everything. We do something.

I agree, we do, but these days when we talk about dictatorships and death, catastrophes and poverty, solidarity and charity, with a Cosmo cocktail at a Holiday Party, maybe we can just look around for a moment and see a colleague we haven’t talked with in a while because we don’t need anything from him/her, because we are busy looking over his/her shoulder and rush to the producer/boss/celebrity in the room… Maybe that “invisible” colleague is not that important, maybe s/he has just been laid off and we don’t want the boss to put our image in that company, maybe s/he has asked us for money or a promotion that we can’t offer even if we know they deserve it. But we gotta keep things light, it’s a Holiday Party after all. Yet we are still concerned with the problems of the world. “Oh, remember the Chilean miners? What a story. They are now on a tour in London, they’re so jovial and their public speaking is really good. They’re even flirting with the ladies!”

Cool people say those things while the “invisible” Chilean cleaning lady wipes the wine spilled in a corner of the floor… Then they take a cab to a charity event where millions are thrown in various directions (and who knows, maybe some cool dictators get the hold of them…) and the cab driver chatters annoyingly about a Dream Act for his children…

So my question is why the hero inside us is not automatically activated when we pass by homeless people, when we can help a poor neighbor, when we talk with a colleague lower in status than us, when some indie artists make a political piece in a small theatre on our block? Why don’t influential artistic directors and producers commission more diverse political works, why don’t they encourage artists from here and abroad to speak about global problems (reminder: abroad doesn’t mean only the UK…)? Why don’t they support immigrant artists - people who escaped oppressive political regimes and are here now? Or just people who escaped something and want to move on, to create beauty out of their traumatic memories? Why don’t they encourage young American artists to create more globally aware pieces? Why the same people are supported over and over again? Why didn’t Ruined move to Broadway? Why aren’t more “Under the Radar” festivals? Why don’t more producers dig under the radar to find the next big thing? No, not the one who brings more money, but the one who has something important to say to the world.

I know, I know, they are rhetorical questions. But maybe it’s worth throwing them in our IT party cocktail… Cheers!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guest Blogger of the Week: Saviana Stanescu


We would like to thank Greg Walloch for his great blog last week.

We are very excited to announce this week's guest blogger  Saviana Stanescu

Saviana Stanescu ( is a Romanian-born multi-award-winning playwright. Her work has been widely presented internationally and in the US. Recent New York productions include “Aliens with extraordinary skills” off-Broadway at Women’s Project (published by Samuel French), "Waxing West" (2007 New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Full-length Script) and "YokastaS Redux'’ at La MaMa Theatre, "Suspendida" and “Vicious Dogs on Premises” (with Witness Relocation) at the Ontological Theatre, “Polanski Polanski” and “Aurolac Blues” at HERE Arts Center, “The E-Dating Project” at Strasberg Institute for Theatre&Film, and the site-specific "I want what you have" at the World Financial Center.

In 2010 “Aliens with extraordinary skills” (Inmigrantes con Habilidades Extraordinarias) was produced in Mexico City at Teatro La Capilla, while “Final Countdown” (Cuenta Regresiva) ran at Teatro El Milagro. “Bucharest Underground” won the 2007 Marulic Prize for Best European Radio-Drama. In Stockholm, Sweden, Saviana’s play “White Embers” produced by Dramalabbet made it in the TOP 3 of Best Plays in 2008, and in NYC is published by Samuel French as one of their 2010 OOB festival winners. Ms Stanescu has published books of poetry and drama including “The New York Plays”, “Aliens With Extraordinary Skills”, “Waxing West”, "Google me!", "Black Milk", and "The Inflatable Apocalypse” (Best Play of the Year UNITER Award in 2000). She co-edited the anthology of plays “Global Foreigners” (with NYU professor Carol Martin) and “roMANIA after 2000” (with CUNY professor Daniel Gerould). Her plays have received readings and workshops at The Lark, Long Wharf Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, New York Stage&Film, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Playwrights' Foundation, Traveling Jewish Theatre, Immigrants Theatre Project, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, Origin Theatre Company, PS122, HERE, etc. Saviana is a new member of EST (Ensemble Studio Theatre) and a Usual Suspect with NYTW. She was a 2005-2007 TCG fellow with the Lark Play Development Center, where her plays “Waxing West” and “Lenin’s Shoe” had barebones productions. She also was a 2007-2008 NYSCA playwright-in-residence with Women’s Project and writer-in-residence for Richard Schechner’s East Coast Artists. Saviana holds an MA in Performance Studies (Fulbright fellow) and an MFA in Dramatic Writing (John Golden Award for excellence in playwriting) from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts where she has been teaching in the Drama Department for the last 7 years. She also teaches playwriting at Primary Stages – ESPA. Ms Stanescu is the Director of Eastern European Exchange for The Lark Play Development Center and the Curator of playgroundzero – the works-in-progress series of undergroundzero festival of experimental theatre at PS122.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When You Wish Upon A Star


Contributed by Guest Blogger of the Week, Greg Walloch.

Bells are ringing in the heads of most New Yorkers this time of year as they shake off their holiday cocktail party hangovers to brave the rush manic shoppers and bitter chill that cuts through the wintery city air. Come inside, warm up and spend some time with some of the brightest stars of New York independent theater as we ask them: What is your holiday wish this season?

Justin Bond: (singer-songwriter and performance artist)
Photo by Lance Horne

What is your holiday wish this season?
My holiday wish this season, aside from my show, Christmas Spells at the Abrons Arts Center, December 9-18 being sold out, because this tranny needs some coins; aside from a sold out Christmas show and money, my fondest wish, the thing I want the most, is about a week surrounded by nature and sunshine with my beloved and a couple of good books. Selfish, I know, BUT if I could trade all of the above for lasting peace in the Middle-East, I would do it. But, in order to do my part and to signal my sincerity, I have placed a moratorium on building developments on the West Banks of Manhattan. Happy Holidays to All.   XOX Justin Vivian Bond

Justin Bond: Christmas Spells, December 9-18, 8 pm at Abrons Art Center.

Michael Arthur: (Balthrop, Alabama’s town-drawer Toxey Goodwater and the official Archival Artist for Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater)
Photo by Bernie DeChant

What is your holiday wish this season?
I wish more folks would blow up their TV and try to find Jesus on their own. It's sort of a Spanish Pipe-dream (and John Prine's idea).

Michael Arthur and the rest of Balthrop, Alabama will be performing Chritmas in Balthrop, Alabama at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center on December 16 and Joe's Pub on December 17. and


Taylor Mac
(playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, and director)

Photo by Drew Geraci

What is your holiday wish this season?
...more verbs and less nouns.

Taylor Mac will be performing in The Walk Across America For Mother Earth in the Under The Radar Festival at La Mama Etc. January 15th - 30th.

Tanya O'Debora
(actress, writer, and comedian)
Photo by by Molly Peck

What is your holiday wish this season?
It's the same as every year.  I wish for my art to pay me a living wage.  But I would not turn down a tiny pet giraffe that loves hugs.
Tanya O’Debora performs in Beaches 2 Every second Thursday of the month at Under St Marks Theater. Next Show: 1/13

Sxip Shirey
(circus performer and composer)

What is your holiday wish this season?
I want the love of my life to say she'll marry me. I am going to London to win her hand. It's all very old school romance. I expect there to be some sort of man to man battle on a draw bridge or high castle wall. Then we will all sit down for ale and meat pies.

Sxip Shirey will perform in Sxip's Hour of Charm at the Atrium at Lincoln Center on Jan 6th with storyteller Greg Walloch, singer Dayna Kurtz, butoh-contortionist Johnathan Nosan, choreographed fight troup Samuri Sword Soul, and clowns Butt Kapinski Private EYE and Snaps!

Bridget Everett (singer and performer)
Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein

What is your holiday wish this season?
Growing up, we spent every x-mas around the piano singing and laughing and drinking. Since I can't get home this year, I want to make as much music with my friends as possible. Right down to last call at sing sing karaoke Christmas night.  
Bridget Everett performs in Our Hit Parade starring Bridget Everett, Kenny Mellman and Neal Medlyn at Joe’s Pub on Jan 26.


Chris Wells (writer and performer)

What is your holiday wish this season?
I wish New York was closer to LA.

I wish people would stop fucking up their faces with plastic surgery, although then I probably wouldn't spend so much time on

I wish I lived somewhere with sunlight pouring in the windows and a garden right outside ... giverny, perhaps?

It's so dull, but I wish I had more money. but I know that I am far better off than most of the rest of the world. so maybe I wish I felt richer.

I wish I could take a year off and travel the world. I wish my dog would live forever. I wish I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight. Sometimes I wish I still had a big, thick full head of hair.

And I wish we'd leave this combative/aggressive/mean-spirited time in human history and enter a period of tolerance and goodwill and music and sparkles and love and beauty and fellowship and equality and enlightenment and spiritual evolution.

In the meantime, I can't wait to see the holiday windows at Bergdorf's.

Chris Wells hosts the next gathering of the Obie award winning Secret City (the theme will be darkness) at Dixon Place on December 19th.

Travis Chamberlain (director and curator)

Photo by Galya Kovalyova

What is your holiday wish this season?
My holiday theater wish is that everyone who reads this will see at least one new Tennessee Williams production in 2011.  Williams, if he were still alive, would be turning 100 next year, and he deserves to be celebrated! There are so many exciting productions of his work happening in the next year, many of texts that are still relatively unknown. I don't care if you go see the blockbuster production of Sweet Bird of Youth with Kidman and Franco on Broadway, or The Wooster Group's radical deconstruction of Vieux Carre at the Baryshnikov Art Center, or Moises Kaufman's stage adaptation of One Arm with Labyrinth Theater Company, or, if I may be so bold, my own site-specific production of the erotic thriller Green Eyes at the Hudson Hotel this January. Just go, revel in the melodrama, the sensuality, the satire...the hot, sweaty, surreal Southern gothic-ness of it all! And remember the man as the revolutionary, boundary-pushing queer artist that he was and continues to be.

Travis Chamberlain’s production of Tennessee Williams' Green Eyes, starring Erin Markey and Adam Couperthwaite, will run as site-specific event in a suite at the Hudson Hotel from January 5th to 23rd. Chamberlain is simultaneously producing a series of public programs entitled The Kindness of Strangeness at the Museum of Art and Design, recognizing and reclaiming Williams as a pivotal member of the queer avant garde.

You can find out more about Green Eyes and purchase tickets here:
For information about The Kindness of Strangeness programs at MAD (100% free to the public), please visit:

Lady Rizo, aka Amelia Zirin-Brown (comedienne and chanteuse)

Photo by Kevin Kauer
What is your holiday wish this season?
I wish to have more moments when I can sit back in a room full of friends, artists, family-- those that inspire me and make me laugh that special way where my head flies back and you can see my molars.  I will turn off my blackberry.  I will sit with a cup of nog in front of a fireplace and soak it in.  Oh, and we will sing together, perhaps carols because this half-jewish blonde loves Christmas carols in 4 part harmony.

Lady Rizo performs at Joe's Pub on December 17, and at Le Poisson Rouge on January 19th.

Desiree Burch (writer and performer)

Photo by Edmond Song

What is your holiday wish this season?
I wish for space.  Somehow.  Magically.  Gut the dead stuff, NYC.  We all need a little more space, a little more air, a little more light for all the good stuff to breathe and get really good.  Whoever took all the space away, stop being so sad and greedy in the corner.  We are going to need some of that back.

I wish for more of us to spread our art and discovery into other spaces--so we don't feel the need to defend our crummy NYC art capital of the world title, which limits all of us anyway.

I wish for greatness to take a break from being humble and hard-working.  It's time to play the brass and collect our coins. 

I wish for more celebration for its own sake.

I wish everyone would just move to the center of the car for a change.  Yes, I know you want to be close to the door for the next stop.  We all want to be close to the door for the next stop.  Just for once, think, "I'm going to help someone else have a good day rather than the same shitty one over and over." 

I wish people would stop putting ALL their pictures on Facebook.  Just the good stuff, please.

I wish for more energy to see shows when I am not doing shows. 

I wish for Mr. Big (mysterious magical entity or band) to show up at my door with the contract and the sweepstakes-sized check already. 

I wish for less drunken wishing and kvetching. 

I wish for all of us to receive something this season that we truly feel is a gift. 

PS: I wish we were all getting laid more.  seriously.  it would help.  so much.

Desiree Burch, New York Neo-Futurist performs in Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind --THE BEST OF 2010! at The Kraine Theater on December 17th & 18th.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Guest Blogger of the Week: Greg Walloch

We would like to thank Robin Rothstein for her thought provoking blog last week.

We are so excited to announce that this week's guest blogger is Greg Walloch.

Like the best transgressive artists Greg uses humor to expose cultural and social fault lines. His acclaimed solo show has played everywhere from the Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia to Castle of Imagination, a performance festival in Poland. He has appeared on everything from The Howard Stern Show to Kurt Andersen's Studio 360 on Public Radio International. He stars in the concert film "F**K The Disabled," with a cast that includes Stephen Baldwin, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.

Greg Walloch recently opened for '60's icon Janis Ian at the World Institute On Disability conference in Oakland, CA. He also appeared in The Moth: West Village Stories with Amy Sedaris and Andy Borowitz in New York. Greg is a regular performer in Sxip's Hour of Charm, a long-time staple at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater. Greg has toured in Moscow, Toronto, Vancouver, London, Ireland, Germany, Tel Aviv, and across the United States.


Monday, December 6, 2010

To OOB or Not to OOB


 Contributed by Guest Blogger of the Week, Robin Rothstein

As a longtime playwright, Off-Off-Broadway theatre reviewer and recent co-producer of a FringeNYC play, OOB, or the indie theatre sector, has always held a meaningful place in my life. I would not have reached certain milestones in my writing career, or have gotten to know so many creative, insightful, passionate writers, actors, directors, designers and producers were it not for the existence of OOB. OOB has been so important to me that, as of last year, I became involved with my local community board to do what I could to help raise awareness of the current crisis facing small theaters throughout New York City as more and more are forced to close their doors. As a member of Community Board 2, Manhattan, I co-authored a resolution that was eventually ratified by all 12 Manhattan community boards. In broad strokes, the resolution proposes a real-estate tax abatement initiative that would ultimately benefit small to mid-size non-profit theatres and performing arts organizations. Along with others (including Shay Gines and Nick Micozzi of this very organization!) I continue to work on next steps to bolster this resolution in ways that it can eventually become legislation.
In concurrence with my participation in the OOB sector, I also work full-time in the commercial part of the theatre industry here in New York. I’ve worked on the business side of theatre in various capacities over the years, but most recently on the commercial touring side. Similarly to how I feel about the assets I’ve garnered from participating in the OOB sector, I am also so grateful for being able to work in the commercial sector of the theatre industry. I have acquired such amazing skills and have become a member of a wonderful community of smart, exuberant, hard-working administrators and commercial producers and tour presenters. While working in commercial theatre, I have also inevitably picked up a lot of hard-core knowledge and awareness with regard to show costs, ticket pricing, marketing challenges, the tastes of the larger mainstream audience, and have regularly had drilled into my head the singular measurement of what ultimately makes a successful show – making a profit. With that, I have also developed a keen sense as to which shows being produced on Broadway or Off-Broadway will likely work (Read: which shows will sell tickets and make money!) and which shows likely won’t, both in New York, and on the road.

It is all this knowledge and awareness, now permanently wired into my cerebral cortex, which has recently begun to present a dilemma for me as it relates to my relationship with OOB.

OOB has so many challenges – from showcase code limitations, to a lack of adequate funding and a lack of broad enough support, to the small size of the theaters and their dispersed, sometimes out of the way locations, to an absence of consistent branding due to the vast spectrum of unique work being produced across the sector’s many OOB companies. It’s nearly impossible for any producer, theatre company, or artist working in OOB to make a profit, let alone earn a living. Also, while so many of the shows are excellent and well-received by audiences, I can now usually tell that OOB is often the end of the road for many of these pieces, at least as far as New York is concerned, despite whatever hopes, aspirations and good intentions there may be to move them on to the next level. To move from the showcase code to a mini-contract is a huge financial leap, and one that may not always be a financially sound one to take for an OOB show, despite the level of critical acclaim and strong audience reception. Also, once produced, it can sometimes be hard to get another producer or theatre company interested in the work since it has now had a world premiere.

So, now that I have this knowledge and awareness scorched into my brain, I find myself somewhat stymied about how to balance (and separate?) the commercial and OOB sectors in a way that allows me to remain enthusiastic about, and emotionally invested in, my own dramatic writing and nascent producing aspirations. Knowing what I know about the challenges, the long odds, the time commitment, and the inevitable financial investment with the likelihood of little, if any, financial return, I sometimes find myself asking, “Why commit to OOB? What’s the point?”

And yet, even knowing all the aforementioned liabilities, I find myself imagining how empty I would feel if I did not participate in the OOB sector, or if, God forbid, the OOB sector disappeared! Not having a community where people are free to take spectacular artistic risks and express themselves in ways that they likely couldn’t in more “mainstream” arenas (Read: the commercial theatre sector), would indeed make New York City, a sad, sad place, not to mention leave a hole in my own life and heart.

And therein, perhaps, lies my answer?


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Guest Blogger of the Week: Robin Rothstein


We would like to thank Patrick Shearer for his insightful blogs last week.

We are excited to announce this week's guest blogger is Robin Rothstein.

Robin Rothstein is an award-winning playwright and commercial theatre industry professional. Her plays have been produced in NYC and around the country, and her writing can be found in "Best Of" anthologies published by Samuel French, Inc., Heinemann, and Smith and Kraus. Robin has also been a contributing reviewer for Time Out New York and, and this past summer co-produced the critically-acclaimed, when last we flew by Harrison David Rivers as part of The New York International Fringe Festival. Robin is a member of The Dramatists Guild, Inc., Actors' Equity Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women, and The Broadway League, and is an appointed member of Council Member Christine Quinn’s to Community Board 2, Manhattan where she serves on the Arts & Institutions and Social Services Committees. Robin is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated with honors in English.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An interlude: Horror vs. Terror


 Contributed by Guest Blogger of the Week, Patrick Shearer.

Although horror and terror commonly are employed synonymously, the dictionary unmistakably links the former term with that of revulsion experienced upon witnessing something ugly, disgusting, shocking, etc.  Terror carries no such connotation.  Its meaning is cleaner, more profound, deriving as it does from the Latin terrere, to frighten.
    -- Afterword, Marvin Kaye. Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural (1)

Well, as I always say: “When in doubt, whip some Latin out.”  That turns every point made into a slam dunk, right?  (For me, it just gets my hackles up.)

But I think he’s got it backwards on which is more profound.  Not that Marvin Kaye cares what I think.  Who am I, anyway?  “Assholes & opinions”, am I right? 

H.P. Lovecraft wisely stepped around the whole horror/terror kerfuffle and called his stories “Weird”, but he still wrote an entire essay on the subject. (2)  The problem being that Lovecraft defines the terms one way, and Marvin Kaye defines them exactly the opposite (but at least he admits as much), and thus the debate has gone since 1764 or so.  (It’s probably been going on longer, but I think I’m pretty safe with the publication of The Castle of Otranto.) 

I’m siding with Lovecraft on this one because it jibes with my experience (“what the thinker thinks, the prover proves” as a wise man once said) and because there’s been a lot of discussion about terror ever since we declared war on it almost a decade ago.

Ultimately, it’s more constructive to think of these things on a scale of horror on one end, terror on the other.  They’re inextricably linked, but such stories tend to be further toward one end of the scale or the other (and because fear is such a personal thing, rarely would two people’s scales be the same, even for the same story.)

BECAUSE Kaye goes back to the Latin root to show that terror means very simply “to frighten”, I can’t help but equate it with what happens when the tension is building and building, and then a cat jumps out of the dark, and everybody in the theatre screams.  Kaye cites such an easy scare as being Horror (which I've taken the liberty of changing in the below quotes.]   We react to such things because our central nervous system is programmed to do just that. 

Horror is a much more complex reaction. 

I should be clear, though: as a practitioner I see nothing at all wrong with making an audience jump.  It should be a part of your toolbox, and you should use it when opportunity presents itself.  It’s just that it gets boring if that’s all you’re trying to achieve, over and over again, time after time.  Or as Kaye says:
 “I’m not suggesting that horror should be divorced from terror and exiled from the kingdom of night. That would be both foolish and impractical. When you romp through graveyards or play Peeping Tom to a sociopath, you must expect to feel the impact in the pit of your stomach at the same time those icy glissandos xylophone their way along your spine.” 
 -- Afteword, ibid

Maybe Marvin and I can work it out, after all.
Even at its crudest, most melodramatic level, [horror] has the ability to stir up the secret dreads embedded in our individual and collective imaginations.  By recognizing our worst nightmares, we are capable of exorcising them, at least temporarily.  When a great artist turns to the genre, he or she elevates the exorcism process to the level of catharsis: that working-out of pity commingled with terror that the Greeks experienced at the close of the Sophoclean trilogy -- a massive cultural/spiritual purging that permitted the participants to leave the sacred theatre uplifted and better equipped to deal with the everyday fears of life itself.  Thus it is, in its most noble incarnation, a vital component of the art of tragedy.
 -- Afterword, ibid
It therefore follows that great works of [horror] depend largely for their power upon characterization.  By their very nature, the related genres of fantasy, the supernatural, mystery, science fiction and suspense -- all of them capable of producing tales of [horror] tend to stress concept, i.e., the plot gimmick, the vampire, the animated flayed hand, the sadist with the eternal smile on his face.  Because concept is so striking, too many writers and film directors become enamored of the device to the detriment of character...

Character is more important than plot every time.  Without it, a writer might just as well hide in a closet and yell “Boo!” at passersby.  That, in essence, is what most modern [terror] literature and cinema amounts to.  But when the reader begins to believe in and care about a fictional protagonist, he or she becomes susceptible to those calculated manipulations that a masterful fabulist must devise in order to invoke a sense of wonder and horror (the two often go hand in hand)."
 -- Afterword, ibid.

And here’s where I think we can begin to talk about horror onstage, and bring in all of the terrific comments from last week.  Because theatre, let’s face it, does “character” very well.  As well, if not better, than any other medium.

So thus far, what do you think?  Do you entirely disagree with these horror/terror definitions?  (usually people do)

Was the ending of Agamemnon the Psycho of Greek Tragedy? 

Is there even a connection between Horror and Tragedy, and is it any different than the connection between Horror and Comedy?  (I think similar arguments can be made about the horror/terror dichotomy as can be argued between styles of comedy.  A cheap scare gets almost the same reaction as a cheap laugh). 

(1)  Many years ago I picked up this collection of short stories, and I’ve been grateful for it ever since.  Sometimes these totems just tumble into your life, and you don’t recognize their significance until much much later.  I can’t even rightly remember whether I picked it up off the sale rack at my local bookstore, or whether I got it as part of the start-up batch of ten or so books they used to give you for signing up as a member of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Book Club (think Columbia House, only for nerds.)  Not only is it the best anthology of scary stories I’ve ever seen, it also has an “afterword” to die for.  
(2)  If these posts are of any interest to you, and you haven’t already read Lovecraft’s “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, then you really should do yourself a favor and do so.  It can be found online (