Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why Indie Theatre?: Hope Cartelli

 In celebration of Indie Theatre Week (July 23 - August 1, 2011),
we asked members of the OOB community to answer this question, "Why Indie Theatre?"

Alright, get ready for the cheez – my answer to the question “Why Indie Theater?” is quite simply “It’s my family.” The one I wasn’t born into nor married into.  From my theater company, Piper McKenzie, which I run with my husband Jeff Lewonczyk to The Brick Theater, which Piper McK has called home for almost 10 years to all of the people I’ve had the pleasure of working with over that time, this is the family that I’ve just managed to have the majorly awesome luck to fall into.   It's become even more apparent how lucky I am now that I've got a baby boy to whom I want to introduce these amazing people.  Let me be quite honest, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't have cool places to go with this baby (like rehearsals for my next show, Theater of the Arcade, coming up in FringeNYC and performances of friends' pieces, like BrainExplode! and Red Cloud Rising, both part of the Game Play Festival right now) and wonderful people to hang out with him that I know I will want him to look up to over the years.  It is extremely important to me that this baby boy find this adopted family just as important as his birth one.

I, personally, need to be constantly inspired and challenged. And I need friendship.  And criticism.  Over a beer.  Or a margarita.  Maybe pie.  I need not one, but many people to tell me the last show was worth it and the next one will be too.  Not necessarily that the show was great (though I love to hear that and, again, from many - MANY -  people) but that it was a worthy step.  I like to be useful for people right on back too - share resources, come up with any and every opportunity to work with them, be they actors, designers, producers, etc.

This is (more cheez) the family I was hoping to find when Jeff and I, back at the end of our college years were pretty much told there was this weird "other" choice we could make - we could get headshots and head down to NYC and start auditioning and apprenticing and assisting and lord knows there is nothing wrong with that at all, but dammit there was this bizarre other thing we could do: we could make our own work.  And supposedly it would be possible that people would come out and see it and it was even possible that some of those people would stick around and say they wanted to be part of the next thing we would be working on.  That's a "choice" we were given.  And then we got down here and arrived just in time for the deadline for that year's Fringe fest and we got in and we met Elena Holy and The Present Company and a whole slew of folks we'd work with again and again, which led to us saying to two of those people, Robert Honeywell and Michael Gardner, that we couldn't see a day going by at this new space they'd founded (The Brick Theater in Williamsburg) that we didn't want to be part of.  And we got brazen over the ensuing years, approaching folks right after a show we'd see their work in to say, hey, we want you on board for our next piece and not acting remotely surprised when they agreed and then going home later that night and gushing about this awesome person said yes to us.  

We actually cited this family as a big, fat reason to have a kid.

Piper McKenzie has had a ridiculously successful run of things in NYC over these past 13 years (okay, that's a big number, I need to breathe for a sec... whew, okay...  did I mention I just had a baby, another constant reminder of time and mortality and... okay, I'm just going to breathe again... okay!) and it is in no small part due to what has become such a thriving network of companies all under the title "Indie Theater".  Long may this family live.  And if my child doesn't want to really be a part of it, if he wants to instead become, say, an accountant, I will make damn sure he gets well versed in doing artists' tax returns.  It's the least he can do for the family who raised him.

Hope Cartelli is an actor, director and producer, and Co-Artistic Director of Piper McKenzie Productions, which calls The Brick Theater, where she's an Associate Director, home. Recent acting and directing credits include: the 2010 Fight Fest hit Bethlehem or Bust by Jeff Lewonczyk, Crystal Skillman's Killer High for the 2010 Vampire Cowboys Saturday Night Saloon Series, Eric Bland's play Jeannine's Abortion for the Too Soon Festival, 2009 Fight Fest's Craven Monkey and the Mountain of Fury, and the Trav S.D. musical Willy Nilly, a hit at the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival.  She is a Graduate of Bard College. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes. Indie Theatre is about the DIY. About not needing anyone else to give you permission to Work. You give yourself permission. You Work. There is nothing more empowering nor challenging.