Friday, August 26, 2016

The Golfer

Written by Brian Parks
Directed by Ian W. Hill
Produced by Gemini CollisionWorks

Nominated for: Outstanding Original Music, Anna Stefanic; Outstanding Innovative Design, Berit Johnson; Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role, Fred Backus; Outstanding Sound Design, Ian W. Hill; Outstanding Costume Design, Kaitlyn Elizabeth Day; Outstanding Actor in a Featured Role, Timothy McCown Reynolds; and Outstanding Ensemble: Fred Backus, Broderick Ballantyne, Rebecca Gray Davis, Lex Friedman, Ian W. Hill, Bob Laine, Matthew Napoli, Timothy McCown Reynolds, Alyssa Simon, Anna Stefanic

About the Production
As their name may suggest, Gemini CollisionWorks “examines the world and the mind through collisions of unlikely ideas, media, art forms and techniques.” Such is the case with their production of The Golfer. This absurd comedy follows a golfer who is struck by lightning through the surreal world that he is thrust into as a result of the trama. 

Director & designer Ian W. Hill, Costume Designer, Kaitlyn Day, and ensemble members: Anna Stefanic, Bob Laine, Fred Backus, Broderick Ballantyne, Rebecca Gray Davis, Lex Friedman and Timothy McCown Reynolds talk about working on this crazy, mad-cap, break-neck production.


What attracted you to this production?

Anna: I was excited about this production because I've worked on a few of Ian's shows, and they're always a lot of fun, and I'd heard great things about Brian Parks from another company I'd recently worked with!

Bob: I have worked with Ian several times, and remember the author's plays from back in the Toda Con Nada days-- loved them then and loved his working with many of my good friends who are also in the cast was a plus!

Broderick: This show was completely zany and quirky.

Fred: I've been a fan of Brian Parks since seeing his work at the old Present Company Theatorium back in the 90s, so I was thrilled to get an opportunity to finally work on one of his plays, and particularly at the Brick. The Brink was founded by so many groups that got washed up there from the Theatorium and the Lower East Side scene. In some ways Brian Parks' work feels like the artistic forerunner to the Brick Theater in terms of style. Working on his play at the Brick really felt like things were coming full circle.

Ian: The Golfer is one of the most hysterically funny scripts I'd read in a long time by one of my favorite comedic writers, and it had never been done before. Plus I saw in it some incredible possibilities for some of my favorite actors.

Kaitlyn: I was recommended by a friend who was asked but wasn't available. I read the play and was hooked.

Lex: I was excited to work on many different roles at once. Plus, my god, the cast! I mean, have you seen it?

Rebecca: The talent attached to it. I knew this cast would kill it with their character work, and they did.

Timothy: Brian Parks' wondrously funny script was a big attraction for me. I also have a long history of working with the director and many of the ensemble members.

What was your favorite part of working on this production?

Fred: I've worked with most of the cast before, and with many of them multiple times, some relationships going back ten years or more. These are some of my favorite people to work with, and to have so many of us working on the same production was a real treat. There was such an energy and yet ease working on this show - it's an amazing ensemble of actors. It was an honor to be a part of it.

Broderick: My favorite part was watching all my colleagues bring this amazing script to life. The things that came out of rehearsal would split my sides.

Anna: The cast was so much fun, and we all developed a great camaraderie.

Bob: I had a blast playing multiple characters at break neck speed. Plus the script was so funny- it was endlessly entertaining to perform!

Kaitlyn: Figuring out the best way to differentiate each character with minimal quick changes, because I like a challenge.

Lex: We really had to choreograph the labyrinthian and split-second backstage action as well as the work onstage. It could have been a whole other show, just watching what went on back there. It was a unique and necessary symbiosis in which it was lovely to participate.

Rebecca: The quirky darkness of the piece itself really took audiences for a ride, and us as well, and the jokes were so precise, one really had to surrender to the text and work to find Brian Parks' complicated rhythms.

Timothy: Performing this intricate, profound, and deeply nonsensical work with a crackerjack ensemble. Why? It is satisfying to make Art with Artists and find flow and spontaneity in performance.

Ian: Directing the incredible ensemble cast. Laughing constantly and very hard as a funny script was made even better by a terrific cast with great ideas.


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

Ian: Taking over a part from a sick actor on opening night. Keeping all those good ideas organized and focused so that the backbone of the script wasn't lost in the insanity we were placing around it.

Broderick: Not breaking character. When another actor would do something hilarious it took strength not to bust out laughing.

Fred: Brian's work requires making big bold choices and delivering lines a breakneck pace with razor precision. And Ian's directorial concepts are big, bold, and ambitious, and require a great deal of commitment of everyone behind the scenes to make it all work. For The Golfer, when you're not onstage, your frantically changing costumes, helping someone else change theirs, paging curtains, striking and setting scenery, etc. No one was walking their way through this thing for even a moment.

Bob: The costume changes-- I exited as one character and seconds later entered as another on at least one occasion, and had several quick changes throughout.

Anna: I had to be out of the country for a chunk of the rehearsal process...I actually wrote most of the songs from an Airbnb in Amsterdam on a tiny borrowed keyboard, and sent them as voice memos to Ian. By the time I got back, Berit had notated a choral arrangement for one, and the cast had already done a great job of learning them!

Lex: Lots going on. Something like 55 scenes. Everything had to be just so or it all would come off the rails. I'm lucky to have participated in this madness with this spectacular group of people.

Timothy: Split-second shape-shifting. Why? It requires intense precision and wild abandon, both.

Rebecca: The most challenging part of this production was landing and maintaining the razor sharpness of the timing and rhythm of the piece. We were changing characters and costumes and props on a dime, and we had to be a very fast moving, and focused machine to pull it off, on and off the stage.

What was the oddest part of working on this production.

Bob: It was my first show after having lost 70 pounds, having been the 'fat' actor for the last two decades, it was a new experience, and a joy to tell the costumer my measurements....of course, one of the characters I played was Santa Clause so I had to wear a fat suit, which was a little ironic!

Kaitlyn: Attempting to search for a Santa suit to rent/ buy but then remembering that my best friend's dad dresses as him every year so I took advantage of that very quickly.

Lex: Right before our first preview, we lost an actor to an illness. (he's ok now)

Ian: An actor became sick during tech week, and wound up having to drop out of the show at the critics' preview, so I (as director/producer) had to step in for him with script in hand and minimal costumes, and still wound up with the show (and myself) getting great reviews.

Rebecca: What other playwright would put a choir of singing gonads in their show? Brian did, and people loved it.

Timothy: There were many oddities. There were many many many many laughs in the rehearsal room.

Broderick: it was so fun and funny yet the point of the story was really poignant, at least for me. Here's this guy who lives a normal life yet when lightning strikes and he goes to another world he's changed to appreciate the unexpected and challenges. When he wakes up and goes back to his normal life it's no longer enough.

Fred: In many ways it was another day at the office at the Brick - but the whole experience really encapsulated so much about what makes the Indie Theater scene so alive.

What did you want the audience to come away with after watching The Golfer?

Ian: When we do farces at GCW, as opposed to our more frequent semi-abstract work, we focus mainly on creating a "machine to make people laugh," but at their best, as in this play, there are a lot more levels to be touched and moved by among all the jokes.

What was it like working with Gemini CollisionWorks?

Kaitlyn: You can feel the passion vibrating in the room around you when you're with this group of people. Everyone is there because they love what they do, but they also know when to get silly and have a good time, after all this is theatre right?

Bob: The best part of this experience was working with extremely talented actors and crew who are also happened to be long-time friends.

Broderick: Berit and Ian are an amazing duo. They are a lovely two-headed theatrical beast.

Rebecca: Performing wildly different characters back-to-back is a difficult feat, and everyone made such specific and interesting choices for each character, I felt like I was in ten plays with them instead of one.

Fred: I think this is my fourth or fifth time working with GeminiCollisionWorks - I think it's the sheer audacity of their vision that is most impressive. Ian and Berit work on a shoestring budget not just as a matter of practicality, but as a real aesthetic, and yet their aesthetic is not barebones in any way. They do some seriously high-concept work on a level where most companies wouldn't even attempt it. As an artist and audience member, their work is often challenging, and always arresting. I've never come away from one of their shows on either side of the stage, bored.

Lex: I've worked on quite a few Gemini CollisionWorks shows in the past few years. My favorite part is always coming to the theater early before a show and spending time with Ian and Berit. They know almost everything and are always working on some little (or great) improvement. Ian likes to say that he knows "what makes actors move" and for this show in particular, we had a tiny dance party each night before places.

Timothy: What sets this company apart is the inherent trust that no matter what happens, the Work will germinate, grow, and flower as it must.

What was it like working with these nominees?

Ian: These nominees are amazing because they were all devoted to working at the top of their game. Each of them being individually awesome to start with, when they realized that was true of everyone else in the company, they all became determined to always bring their A game.

You can follow Gemini CollisionWorks on Twitter - @geminicollision

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