Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Complete and Condensed ...

The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O'Neill Vol 2
Conceived and Directed by Christopher Loar
Produced by New York Neo-Futurists

Nominations The Ensemble (
Cecil Baldwin, Christopher Borg, Roberta Colindrez, Cara Francis, Dylan Marron, Martina Potratz) is nominated for Outstanding Ensemble; and The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O'Neill, Volume 2 is nominated for Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play

About this Production

Once confined only to heated discussions amongst doctoral students, the New York Neo-Futurists unleash O'Neill's stage directions from their dissertation prison, transforming O'Neill's eloquent yet obsessive and often controlling stage directions into rip-roaring physical comedy.

Now a Broadway mainstay, Eugene O'Neill was once considered an experimental, downtown playwright. His plays defied the melodramatic conventions of the day and much of his work premiered with the Provincetown Players on MacDougall Street. The New York Neo-Futurists return O'Neill to his experimental roots. "A stoner convention for scholars" (Time Out NY on O'Neill V. 1), The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O'Neill, Volume 2 spans the years 1913 - 1915, and includes his plays Recklessness, Warnings, Fog, Abortion, and The Sniper.

Director Christopher Loar and cast members (
Cecil Baldwin, Christopher Borg, Dylan Marron, and Martina Potratz) share their experience of creating an entirely new perspective of a classic American playwright.


What attracted you to this project/subject matter?

Cecil: It was a great honor working with the rest of the Neo-Futurists on such a fun, challenging and unique production.

Dylan: This is a show that grew out of the Neo-Futuristic aesthetic that found a great way to perform classic American theater pieces while still keeping true to our performance art roots. It was encouraging (and intimidating) that its predecessor was such a success. Big shoes to fill.

Martina: The show is physically quite challenging, which is something I love as a performer.

Borg: I've been a company member of the New York Neo-Futurists since 2006 because I am really charged by artists that explore new ways to create theatre and engage the audience. The Neos are the most innovative, daring group of hard-core art makers that I've ever worked with. As such, I've been integrally involved in the development of their work for many years and I watched and cheered Christopher Loar on as he took an idea for a 2-minute play and fleshed it out into one of the most ambitious projects I've ever seen, The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O'Neill.  I absolutely loved Volume 1 and I told him that I wanted to be a part of the project.

Loar: It was kind of an accident as a result of subconscious O'Nellian indoctrination from Drama School. I went to Circle In The Square Theater School and they were hugely responsible for O'Neill's revivification in the 60s and 70s. As a result, their actor training program is steeped in O'Neill. We were reading Boleslavsky's Acting: The first 6 lessons, and in it there is an exercise where you write out everything that your character does, all his actions. Some playwrights don't provide to much information in this department, so the list would be small or one would have to interpret actions. Working on O'Neill the list grew and grew. Some years later after being cast as a Neo, I wanted to adapt a play for Too Much Light . . . the idea do a stage direction version of Long Day's Journey just popped into my head, so I transcribed the stage directions and brought them into rehearsal. Somehow it worked, and that's when I feel down the rabbit hole and experimented with all of his plays. Somehow, they all work. O'Neill wanted to make sure his plays would still work even if people couldn't talk, or his audience couldn't hear.

What was your favorite part of working on this production?

Loar: The creative team. The absolute A game that this group brought to every single moment of every rehearsal was a true inspiration and reminder of why I do this thing called theater. Every rehearsal was fun for me. I believe in fun and this group are serious fun seekers.

Borg: This show was a BLAST. Rehearsals for Volume 2 were challenging, inspiring, strange and hilarious! I love being in a production where the entire artistic team is so brilliantly creative and funny. 

Martina: Working with such a talented ensemble, they are amazing!

Dylan: As a group of performers we've worked together so much in a weekly, short-form capacity that it was such a delight to explore how far that could go. The rapport we have with each other shows in our work, and is crucial to creating a strong, cohesive project.

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

Dylan: Almost the same as the above. When you're developing a longer piece with a company of people you have such a fun time with, and with whom you are used to performing in a shorter, more "late night" capacity it is a challenge to cross over into feature-length work.

Borg: It’s HARD! Especially physically – we do things with our bodies and our faces that normal people do not do on a day-to-day basis.  Plus I’ve never been in a play where I am onstage the entire time but almost never speak! We didn't use scripts and had to train ourselves to simply listen and follow directions.  It is very liberating - it frees a performer from any text or pages and you can see and touch and move without restrictions.

Martina: I was the understudy, so I had rehearsed to whole show with the ensemble and felt prepared. But before I went on I had to learn all the transitions, which include a lot of set-up and costume changes, within a few hours, which was definitely challenging.

Loar: Finding the right theater. Space is so hard in this city.

What was the craziest thing that happened during this production?

Loar: During final dress, the night before we were to do a special invite only performance for the Drama Desk Nominating Committee, a huge part of our set that involved hung boards and flats from a rope upstage, collapsed. It was during the quietest moment of the show. Total silence and then CRASH!!!! It was too perfect of a disaster. I was so tired from tech and so stressed about the next day that it was actually humorous in how absurd it was. I guess it's true what they say about having a bad dress . . .

Dylan: Backstage we recorded a song that we believe would be a huge hit in 1993.

Borg: The entire experience was kind of crazy, to be honest. It was like working in an insane asylum with a really loving bunch of loonies. We became obsessed with "S"-hooks because we used so many to hang props, we developed songs about them. They were really Hip-Hoperas.

What did you want the audience to come away with after watching your production?

Borg: I want them to have laughed heartily and cried a few times with no apparent reasonable explanation. I want them to feel like they have a deeper understanding of Eugene O'Neill and of why theatre in its most primitive form is interesting to watch.

Loar: I'd like them to have fun and get sucked into the kinetic world on stage. Fun is my goal, always.

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