Saturday, September 7, 2019

Experimenting with Katz

Produced by New Ambassadors Theatre Company in association with Julia Botero
Written by David Adam Gill
Directed by John Robert Tillotson

Nominations: Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role - Jacob Lovendahl; Outstanding Costume Design - Julia Kuliya

About New Ambassadors Theatre Company
New Ambassadors Theatre Company is a not-for-profit collective of professional theater artists of diverse and varied backgrounds and life experiences. Through collaboration we aim to empower artists to do their finest work in an environment that fosters inclusion and honesty. A production focused company that inspires, entertains, educates, and ultimately challenges audiences through new works created by company members to celebrate and to illuminate our common humanity.

Photos by Priyanka Krishnan
About Experimenting with Katz
Michael Katz has a problem: he’s just come out of the closet (again), and it’s not going particularly well. First, his mother shows up unexpectedly in the midst of a snowstorm to ambush him with (among other things) the daughter-in-law of her dreams. Then his best friend selfishly decides to start putting her own life above his (and it’s still snowing)! On top of everything, the one person who’s willing to put up with him is the only person he doesn’t want anything to do with (at least that’s what he keeps telling himself), leaving Michael to wonder, is this really the course of true love, or is it some social experiment gone horribly wrong? And why won’t it stop snowing?!!

What first attracted you to working on this show?
Jacob: I absolutely loved the character. From her very first words. Broccoli/Ella is funny, brutally honest, and yet also really loving, and kind. She is confident in herself, and went beyond just being the typical sassy funny drag queen or as she likes to call herself "gender illusionist", to also showing great kindness and compassion and understanding. David, in my opinion, is a brilliant playwright and I remember reading the very first full version of the play, and laughing hysterically, and then crying, and then laughing again, and saying to myself, I am so so grateful to be a part of this, because its pure magic.

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
Jacob:I absolutely love the rehearsal process. The cast had been together through many many readings together, and it was just beautiful to watch us all put the characters fully on their feet. Our director John Robert Tillotson and playwright David Gill, gave us such freedom to play, discover, and try new things, and through that were able to give our most authentic characters, and performances and I am so grateful for that! Also we had the MOST supportive and amazing crew... I just adore them all so much!
David Adam Gill: Watching the actors bring the characters to life. It was a gift.


What was the most challenging part of working on this production? And why?
Jacob: My Wig. hahah. She actually had a mind of her own. You know the saying some girls just can't be tamed? Well, neither could my wig. But in all seriousness, the entire experience from start to finish was really really amazing, and every time we were together it was beyond fun.

David: It was the first production I fully produced, so all the things that come more easily with subsequent productions I was learning for the first time. It was daunting.

What was the funniest part of your experience with this production?
Jacob: Three of us shared a very very very small dressing room. And Ella had a fabulous, gorgeous extensive wardrobe including tulle, and a fur coat... and tons of makeup... and tons of jewelry, and hair, and shoes... we basically had to choreograph our changes, it was hysterical.

David: We'd mostly visualized the production as proscenium presented, and had to re-visualize the entire thing once we'd settled on TheaterLab which is (or can be) has audience on two sides of the playing area. That was a challenge we had to rise too.


What is the best thing about working with this company of artists?
Jacob: I absolutely loved this cast. I was so unbelievably fortunate to work with such talented, kind, amazing actors. Supportive, encouraging, open, and the trust and safety we all had in one another was really wonderful.

David: Jacob Lovendahl was the first person ever to read for Ella and I fell in love then and there. He is so talented, and really cared to bring Ella's humanity to the forefront. Julia was a recommendation from my Costumer Shop professor at college and at our first meeting (again) I knew she would see the characters through that special lens that would enable her to dress them - not as characters, but as people. We really lucked out with Julia.
Did you learn anything or discover anything new while working on this project? If so, what?
Jacob: I learned so much from Ellas character. The biggest thing she taught me though was self love, and strength.
What did you want the audience to come away with after watching Experimenting with Katz?
David: That once you get to know someone, you'll realize you have more in common with them than not, and that fear can only thrive in an atmosphere of ignorance.
What does receiving this nomination mean to you?
Jacob: I am just beyond grateful. There are so many incredible actors and shows out there, and I am honored and humbled to be a part of the theater family, and to have shared this experience with some really incredible, amazing actors and crew. Very very humbled and grateful.
David: I'm thrilled. Again, for Jacob, I never saw anyone else playing Ella. He gave so much love and care to the character - to a character very close to my heart - I think this nomination is so deserved. And as for Julia, she just got it right away, and a good costumer can enhance or really add to the production without pulling focus away from the action, which she 100% did.


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