Wednesday, August 21, 2019


By Rodrigo Nogueira
Directed by Erin Ortman
Presented by Rodrigo Nogueira in association with The Tank with support from Torn Page and Group.Br

NOMINATED FOR: Outstanding Lighting Design - Kia Rogers

Kia Rogers | Photo: Xanthe Elbrick

Starring Darwin Del Fabro, Gabriela Garcia*, Rebecca Gibel*, Sarah Naughton*, Charlie Pollock*, Keith Reddin*.
* Denotes member of Actors' Equity Association


What attracted you to working on this project?
The story was intriguing and i love working with Rodrigo Nogueira, the playwright. I love the playwright, and it was fascinating to light the story like a piece of music,

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
The collaborative process between the whole team from director, playwright to all the designers and production staff. The cast and crew, the whole team was wonderful to work with.

Photo: Miguel de Oliveira
What was the most challenging part of working on this production? And why?
Always not enough time! We would have done more technical support if we could have had previews.

Was there anything odd, quirky, innovative, funny or otherwise noteworthy about your experience with this production?
We decided after one quick pass at tech to drop all the front light and really push angles and shadows to tell the story. We wanted to create an environment where two worlds could exist and then smash into each other.

Photo: Miguel de Oliveira

What is the best thing about working with this company and/or these artists?
Everyone really listened to each other and having the playwright in the room to clarify or be the voice when things weren't landing made making decisions faster. Everyone was very collaborative, and respectful.

Did you learn anything or discover anything new while working on this project? If so, what?
Always try new things, even if something doesn't quite land the experience of seeing it happen, then moving on from there always. I discovered how to trust side light! brought us closer to what the play needed

What does this nomination mean to you?
It's always a good feeling being nominated, knowing folx appreciate your work! It is an honor to be mentioned, I'm grateful for all the work that goes into building a creative community and it means so much to be recognized.

Photo: Miguel de Oliveira

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

MEET THE 2019 NOMINEES: Red Emma and the Mad Monk

Red Emma and the Mad Monk
Created by Katie Lindsay & Alexis Roblan
Written by Alexis Roblan
Directed by Katie Lindsay
Music by Teresa Lotz
Produced by Emma Orme, The Tank, Alexis Roblan, Katie Lindsay Productions, and Teresa Lotz


Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role: Maybe Burke

Outstanding Director: Katie Lindsay

Outstanding Sound Design: John Salutz

 Outstanding Original Music: Teresa Lotz

Outstanding Original Full-Length Script: Alexis Roblan

Outstanding Production of a Musical: Red Emma and the Mad Monk
Photo: JJ Darling

Starring Maybe Burke, Fernando Gonzalez*, Drita Kabashi, Imani Pearl Williams, Jonathan Randell Silver*
Assistant Director: Liza Couser
Musical Director: Cassie Willson
Music Supervisor & Arranger: Isaac Alter
Sound Design: John Salutz
Costume Design: Glenna Ryer
Wardrobe Supervisor: Shannon O'Donnell
Lighting Design: Luther Frank
Scenic Design: Diggle
Associate Scenic Design: Jocelyn Girgorie
Props Master: Alex Wylie
Choreography: Yael Nachajon
Production Manager: Mac Whiting
Production Stage Manager: Dara Swisher
Graphic Design: Jonny Ag Design
*Denotes member of Actors' Equity Association


What attracted you to working on this project?
Alexis Roblan: In the lead-up to the 2016 election, director Katie Lindsay and I were in conversation about the work we wanted to make together, and we kept coming back to the idea of political action -- what is it, exactly? Is a Facebook post a political action? Is attendance at a protest? What makes action effective and how far should it go? As we were circling these questions, a history-buff friend told me a story about Emma Goldman running an ice cream shop in Massachusetts while plotting to assassinate a Pennsylvania robber baron, and I instantly knew this had to be in our piece. I also wanted to include Rasputin, who I'd been obsessed with when I was 12. Katie insisted that if Rasputin was in the piece, the 12 year old me who was obsessed with him probably needed to be as well.

Maybe Burke: From the first scene I read for my audition, I was in love with this character and this show. Addison is quirky, smart, funny, and just starting to figure things out. She is an anxious and curious 12 year old anarchist ready to take on the world. Add in Rasputin as her imaginary best friend, what could be more enticing for an actor?

Katie Lindsay: Alexis Roblan, the playwright, and I sat down together in the spring of 2016 and started talking about making a show together. This was, of course, during the lead up to the 2016 when all of our friends were channelling their political rage into posting on Facebook. We wanted to investigate the meaning of political action, from a Facebook post, to a protest, to the other end of the extreme-- assassination. RED EMMA & THE MAD MONK came out of our need to understand our changing political landscape and what, if anything, we could possibly do about it.

Teresa Lotz: When I was twelve I was obsessed with the kind of things I wasn't supposed to be into... just like Addison. So I felt an immediate connection. Plus, I loved Alexis' and Katie's work and wanted to jump on that bandwagon as soon as possible.

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
Maybe Burke: The heart that every single person working on this show brought to the production. The collaboration started with me and Alexis, saying yes to each other's crazy ideas and building off of each other to create the container for this story. The production was scrappy, and everyone went above and beyond to bring our collective vision to life. From producing team, to our lighting designer who begged and borrowed to get the instruments we needed, to our friends who showed up to help build the set at midnight because the shop had built the wrong measurements, to our actors who really shone in their roles. There's nothing like leading a team who so deeply believes in the vision that they will do whatever it takes to make the show what we all dream it can be.

Alexis Roblan: The team, the team, the team. From each of our designers to each member of the cast, our producer Emma Orme, and the amazing collaborative relationships I found with director Katie Lindsay and composer Teresa Lotz -- this was hands down the best experience of collaboration I have experienced thus far. And that experience felt important to the thematic content of the show as well. RED EMMA AND THE MAD MONK is very much about the inability to create cohesive narratives, and the struggle to make the world you want, in the face of forces that are constantly derailing it. But the joy that we were all able to consistently find in creating this world together was the clearest and most hopeful counterpoint possible.

Teresa Lotz: The community and energy we crafted within and around this piece. It was extremely vibrant and positive. It was clear that we all had tremendous creative respect for one another and wanted to make the piece the best it could be.

What was the most challenging part of working on this production? And why?
Maybe Burke: Playing a preteen in my 20s was for sure challenging. I mean, energy and personality wise, Addison and I are not all that different. But for me, as a baritone, to play a pre-pubescent cis girl in a musical was at times rather dysphoric. I would get in my head about certain ways that I looked or sounded and had a hard time focusing. Luckily I could confide in our director, Katie Lindsay, who talked things out with me and helped me work towards comfort.

Alexis Roblan: It was my very first experience writing lyrics for musical theatre, and while that was incredibly exciting and I found an insanely generous collaborator in my composer, Teresa Lotz, there were also quite a few challenging moments, trying to restructure songs in the middle of rehearsal or find the dramaturgical purpose for song choices that were initially made on impulse.

Katie Lindsay: I've never seen a show like Red Emma and the Mad Monk -- we were creating our own framework, our own aesthetic, our own world in making this show. We had to go on instinct that all the pieces would fit together. That is terrifying!! It wasn't until a run just before tech that we really cracked the heart of what the play wanted to be, which was absolutely thrilling.

Teresa Lotz: It was a very ambitious production! Especially scenically, especially at a place like The Tank, that is accustomed to a set that can be struck every night after the show. We upped the ante on what could live in that space and it was totally thrilling but also a massive undertaking.

What is the best thing about working with this company and/or these artists?

Maybe Burke: As Addison sings, "You have to surround yourself with people like the person that you want to be." All of the people on this team pushed me and inspired me to be the best version of myself at every step of this process. All of my struggles to bring this character to life were coming from me. Never did any of my dysphoria or doubt come from something that was said or done in the room. It was really very beautiful to have a room full of people see me and believe me to be playing a 12-year old girl without question. It really made me think, if more trans and non-binary people got to play roles that were right for them and didn't have to make excuses or explanations for their identities, maybe people would be able to see us more.

Teresa Lotz: Everyone gave 150% at all times. I've never worked with a harder working or more dedicated team. I was inspired every day to work harder.

Katie Lindsay: The willingness of our team to take on such an ambitious project, how deeply collaborative every person was in creating the show, their belief in the importance of what we were trying to say even when we were in the complicated muck of trying to figure out how all the pieces would come together. We built a community-- diverse, loving, investigative, passionate-- that stands in opposition to the politics of rendering truth meaningless.

Alexis Roblan: This entire process was so infused with fun and joy, in the midst of a high level of artistic commitment. That's a credit to the talents and personalities of the entire team, but also the tone set by Katie Lindsay as an intensely collaborative director who allows for and actively cultivates that joy.

Was there anything odd, quirky, innovative, funny or otherwise noteworthy about your experience with this production?

Maybe Burke: Did you see the show? Every step of Red Emma and the Mad Monk can be described as odd, quirky, innovative, funny, and noteworthy.

Katie Lindsay: The show is prescient. Alexis wrote the play in 2017, before we really understood the depths of Russian interference in the 2016 election. No one understood the Surkov character and what he was doing in the play when we did a workshop production at Ars Nova in 2017. By the time we did the show in 2018, Russian interference was widely known. The Surkov through line took on new depths and made complete sense in the world of the play. Also, our set came built with the wrong dimensions, so that was a hilarious late night call to my friend who is a set designer and former carp, who worked all hours of the morning to get the set built. That the show went up was in so many ways a miracle.

Alexis Roblan: As a playwright working primarily in downtown indie theatre, this was the first time I got to see something I'd written fully designed. I'm pretty sure I started crying the first time I saw a rendering of Diggle's set design. I cannot express how fortunate I feel to have worked with him, Luther Frank (lights / projections), John Salutz (sound), and Glenna Ryer (costumes). These designers brought a level of creativity, vision, and totally insane execution to this production that awed me every single day.

Teresa Lotz: Most musicals take 5-8 years. We worked on this guy for about 2. Many songs were written in the room and we still haven't had the time to fully flesh out how music works in the show. Regardless, I'm pumped about how it turned out and excited for the future of the show.

Did you learn anything or discover anything new while working on this project? If so, what?

Alexis Roblan: I had an incredible time collaborating with composer Teresa Lotz on the songs. As a playwright, I am always looking for new ways to theatricalize moments and ideas on stage, and it turns out a song is a hell of a way to do that. Shout out to our crazy talented choreographer Yael Nachajon for finding the exact levels of dance and stylized movement needed for those moments as well.

What does this nomination mean to you?

Maybe Burke: Red Emma and the Mad Monk was such a pivotal show for my career. I didn't pursue acting for a long time, and even then didn't take it very seriously until this production. To see myself be cast and celebrated in a role like Addison really gave me a reason to claim space as an actor. To be nominated for this award, that is complete validation of the space I am holding. As a non-binary trans feminine person, to be nominated in a category for actresses is not being taken lightly. I am honored and touched to be seen by this opportunity, and hope it can be part of a larger conversation about representation and accountability for actors outside of the binary.

Katie Lindsay: It's an honor to be recognized. This play was such a labor of love and was completely out of my comfort zone. We created it out of a real need to make sense of the chaos around us. To know that our play was meaningful to others makes my heart so incredibly full. To know that I did justice to Alexis's words, and was able to create a meaningful container for her play, means the world to me.

Teresa Lotz: I haven't been nominated for an award in NYC before... so this is really exciting for me to be recognized for my work as a composer!

Alexis Roblan: One of the most fulfilling aspects of this production was the community it built while we were doing it -- including every single member of the cast and production team, and eventually including the audience. So it's remarkably nourishing to receive recognition from the larger New York indie theatre community, which feels like a continuation of what we got to make together.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Catch the Sparrow

Produced by Isle of Shoals Productions, Inc.
Written & Directed by Alex Mace

Nominated for: Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role, Meredith M. Sweeney

 About Isleof Shoals
The Isle of Shoals motto is “Theatre for Discovery.” Since its founding, Isle of Shoals has maintained a commitment to developing and producing pieces (from brand new to ancient), which might otherwise never or seldom get to see the light of day in our present theater ecosystem. The works Isle of Shoals gravitates towards are those which celebrate the human spirit and enrich the artistry of early and mid-career theater professionals of every stripe and creed. We pride ourselves on being the inclusive theater company that says “yes” to brilliant new ideas that are elsewhere met with echoing “no”s.

About Catch the Sparrow
A gripping drama about a rebellious son and his dying father trying to reach out to each other before it's too late. In this powerful and resonant new play, written and directed by Alex Mace, a family, torn apart by grief and blame, is forced to settle their differences and learn the true worth of family and, whats more, what it means to forgive and let go.

Photos by @Studio5Q

 Meredith Sweeney and producer Bryan Williams shared some insights into the process of presenting this new script.

What first attracted you to this project?
Meredith: Based on the audition notice, I knew it was an original work that seemed to be a small but mighty character-driven family drama in an intimate setting. And who wouldn't want to do that?

Bryan: The complexity of the family situation is both universal and specific.

What was your favorite part of working on this production?
Meredith: I loved being a part of the first production of an original play. The script shines light on the tough and ugly parts of being a family (of being a human) and I got to work with a company of humans who jumped fully into this challenge with such joy and love. Together, we created something brand new and moving that had never been done before and I will always carry that with me.

Bryan:  Watching the growth of the actors as they took the naturalistic dialogue and elevated it to the realm of poetry. Also when the audience learns at the end of the first act that one of the characters died years ago, I loved listening to them explaining to each other their own interpretations of what it mean.

What was the biggest challenged you faced while working on Catch the Sparrow?
Meredith: I found the most challenging part to be the same as the most exciting part- bringing this character to life for the first time with the writer always in the room. I have a profound respect for writers and felt a great responsibility to honor his story. It's exciting to be able to collaborate with a director/writer who is so giving of his time and open to other perspectives... But it's challenging because there are no rules or guidelines to creating something new and you don't want to get carried away and step on toes, cross a line, or completely miss the mark and disappoint the person who is there with you at rehearsals, trusting you with these words.

Bryan: As in any new production, there are changes to the text and these, particularly if they come late in the game, created challenges for some of the actors.

What did you want the audience to walk away with after watching Catch the Sparrow?
Bryan: How richly complex and happy-sad is the story of any family.

What was it like to work with Meredith?
Bryan: Meredith lit up the stage whenever she came on. She is not just a wondrous actor, but a joy to work with. Though she had fewer scenes than the others, her patience and enthusiasm never failed.

What was it like to work with this company of artists?
Meredith: We became our own little dysfunctional/functional family unit during this process. For example, my birthday fell on one of the tech rehearsals. Earlier that morning, I had totally bombed an audition and had just had kind of a rough day, so I wasn't feeling great when the Stage Manager called the cast to the stage for last minute notes. To my complete surprise, the "notes" turned out to be the cast and crew singing happy birthday to me while the director held a candle-lit birthday pie (who needs cake??) Because of the kindness of that group of people, I was able to reboot, refocus, and feel loved in the process. And that's pretty noteworthy.

What does receiving this nomination mean to you?
Bryan: Giving a young playwright a chance he might otherwise not have had in the immediate future.

Meredith: You know the expression "It's an honor just to be nominated"? Well it is. I mean, I was completely floored. It's very easy to feel disconnected and alone as an artist and actor in this city. For me, receiving this nomination is a reminder that there is a greater and great community out there, that we're all apart of it, that I am a part it. And that is truly an honor.
Check out Isle of Shoals on Instagram @isleofshoalsproductions

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Plan G

Produced by Randomly Specific Theatre Written by Larry Philips
Directed by Graydon Gund

Nominated for: Outstanding Ensemble: Allan Hayhurst, Lauren LeBeouf, Tiffany May McRae, Sarah Misch, Larry Phillips, Forrest Weber

About Plan G:
Life has beaten Christopher Abandonato down. He’s got a dead-end construction job, a wife who puts him in his place, and an out of work brother-in-law living in his basement. But he’s a dreamer, and he’s convinced buying abandoned storage units is his ticket to becoming rich. He just needs to find that special something that will change his life forever. Plan G is a DARK comedy about seeing an opportunity when its starring at you.

What first attracted you to this project?

Lauren: A script about an eyeball. Truly original!

Tiffany: It was such a wild, dark comedy about a freak discovery that forces a family to grapple with fame, greed, classism and doing the right thing

Sarah: I saw a friend in Larry's play The Weekend Will End, and I loved his writing so much that I reached out to him afterward. I love working on new plays, and Larry sure can write a good one.

Forrest: It’s very well written and made me laugh out loud time and time again, even while reading it.

Larry: I wrote it, so narcissism at it's finest.

What was your favorite part of working on Plan G?

Lauren: My favorite part was the conderful cast and team, which you need for an ensemble piece.

Tiffany: Duking it out with Larry Phillips (who plays my husband) every night onstage. I always enjoy a good row with Mr. Phillips!

Sarah: Honestly, the cast made the whole experience. Everyone was equal parts fun and professional!

Larry: The calibration of working with a mixture of friends that I've worked with prior, and brand new friends.

Forrest: Actually performing the show had to be my favorite part. Between hearing and feeling how much the audience was along for the ride and finding a groove with my nothing beat the actual moments where we were on stage.

What was the most challenging part of this production?
Lauren: Fighting (combat) in heels!

Tiffany: Maintaining my New Jersey accent once the character Shannon (Lauren LeBeouf) gets on stage! Her character was from the south and once she started that drawl my native Texas twang would just try to slip in there and join her.

Sarah: I loved my character, Elizabeth, but she's could be really cold and self-serving. It was a fun challenge to balance the aspects of her that were sympathetic and likable without trying too hard to redeem her less... desirable traits.

Forrest: The most challenging part for me was dealing with the fact that I wished more people knew about this production while it was happening.

What was the silliest part of this production for you?
Sarah: My character was only in the second half of the show, so I had about 45 minutes of downtown backstage before I made my first entrance. I'd like to say I was diligently studying my script, but mostly, I was surfing Twitter.

Forrest: My cast mates were so damn funny, in the early rehearsals I would miss my lines because I’d just get caught up laughing and watching them!

Did you gain any insight or learn anything new while working on this show?
Lauren: Talking in a Southern accent came very naturally, even though I had never performed with the accent before. Playing a dumb character takes a smart and clever actor!

What was it like working with Randomly Specific Theatre?
Lauren: Larry Phillips is an experienced writer who writes truly original scripts. Full of comedy and heart.

Tiffany: This cast was a hoot to share the stage with! Always bringing in ideas, listening, and willing to adapt and just play.

Sarah: Everyone treated their character and the show with so much respect throughout the process, and everyone was so funny!

Forrest: Developing lasting quality relationships was the best part of work with this company.

Why is the Ensemble of Plan G so awesome?
Larry:  A lovely group of people both inside and outside of the process.

Forrest: I genuinely believe my cast mates deserve this award and I am lucky to have worked with them. This show itself deserves another run, in a larger spotlight, truth be told.

What does this nomination mean to you?

Lauren: The world! This was my first play in NYC (outside of my acting school). Such an honor!!

Tiffany: I was so proud of this cast and crew that receiving a nomination for ensemble work is just so exciting! We worked hard and had so much fun making this piece of theatre, the nomination truly touching.

Sarah: Lately, I'm trying to lean into making theatre I like, so it always means a lot when other people like it, too.

Larry: An Ensemble nomination means everything clicked. The Director and producer's work in casting. The writers vision as the play. And obviously the actors sold the story. I love ensemble comedies, this means we did something right.

Forrest: It’s like a little dose of chicken soup for the actor’s soul to find out months later that all the hard work we put in didn’t go unnoticed.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

MEET THE 2019 NOMINEES: A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jonathan Hopkins
Presented by Smith Street Stage

NOMINATED FOR: Outstanding Original Music - Joe Jung

Joe Jung

What attracted you to working on this project?
I've been a big fan of Smith Street Stage since its founding. I acted in their previous production of The Tempest and jump at any chance to work with them in whatever capacity I am able.

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
SSS is all about collaboration and creativity, as well as treating the plays of Shakespeare with the respect and energy that is required of them. Music is a big part of ...Dream, so to be so intimately involved with how music influences the world of the play was incredibly fulfilling.

What was the most challenging part of working on this production? And why?
Live music in an outdoor space is always tricky. How can the actors be heard when an ice cream truck is blaring right down the road? What kind of music can evoke a courtly or mystical environment in the middle of a city park? How can we use the environment we have to inform the music and vice versa? These questions led to a lot of really creative conversations.

What do you want the audience to come away with after watching your production?
Taking a cab, loaded with weird musical instruments, into Manhattan on a weekend morning for our first music rehearsal, getting stuck in a traffic jam, then walking a few blocks loaded down with guitars, amps, a cajon, a few crowbars, and a bunch of other bells and whistles will always be etched in my mind. But getting into the room and asking the cast what they play, what they would be willing to bang on - challenging "non-singers" to sing, and "non-musicians" to play - is always a joy. Likewise, we found a great way to mix electric and acoustic music to the mix, to define the human world with acoustic sounds and the fairy world with more electric music was a nice little shift.

What is the best thing about working with this company and/or these artists?

Trust. Jonathan and Beth Ann are incredibly trusting producers. The cast was trusting in my notion that they all could contribute to the soundscape. And I trusted everyone involved to execute what ended up being the music for the show. When a trusting environment is established, lovely art is made.

Did you learn anything or discover anything new while working on this project? If so, what?
Music and theatre go hand in hand, always. They are best friends. They tell each other secrets and bring out the best in each other.

What does this nomination mean to you?
It always means a lot to be acknowledged by your peers and the audiences you serve.

Friday, August 16, 2019


Radiotheatre's 10th Annual H.P.Lovecraft Festival: Arkham
Written, directed, and sound designed by Dan Bianchi
Presented by Radiotheatre in association with Theatre At St.John's

Starring Frank Zilinyi, R. Patrick Alberty, Alejandro L. Cardozo, Sarah Gwynne Walker, Joshua Nicholson.

Pastor Mark Erson (Theatre At St.John's, Co-producer)
Dan Bianchi (Radiotheatre, Artistic Director/Co-producer)

Wes Shippee (Tech Director)

NOMINATED FOR: Outstanding Performance Art Production

PHOTO: Cynthia Bianchi

About the Show
Each year Radiotheatre presents a festival of their own adaptations of terror tales by H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) whom Stephen King calls "the Grand Master of 20th Century American Horror" and whose works have gone on to inspire hundreds of artists, writers, filmmakers, game makers around the world to this day (2018's Best Picture and Best Director Oscars went to THE SHAPE OF WATER - a direct descendant of Lovecraftian Horror by Guillermo Del Toro, a Lovecraft fanatic).

What attracted you to working on this project?
Radiotheatre , a unique live audio theater complete with great storytellers, original orchestral scores using Hollywood software and award winning sound design is unlike any other theater company in NYC. It is perhaps best suited to present the weird works of H.P.Lovecraft in its unique format than any other medium...including $200 mil movies.

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
Challenging the audience to use their own imaginations to provide the visuals rather than offer them whatever the director decides is best to view. RT is as simple as sitting around a campfire in the dark telling tales...yet, in today's world of expensive theater and films, it offers something none of those can deliver...asking the audience itself to participate. So, when the audience stands and cheers at each curtain and remains for a half-hour praising the work of the actors and crew, it is unlike most other low budget productions I've seen.

What do you want the audience to come away with after watching your production?
The audience left each evening smiling and cheering and thanking the artists for allowing them this unique experience they don't get at other shows.

PHOTO: Cynthia Bianchi

Why are the nominees from this production awesome?
The core group at Radiotheatre has been together for 15 yrs and the rest have been here for 4-5 yrs. Everything works like clockwork, new or old works. Truly a family atmosphere.

Was there anything odd, quirky, innovative, funny or otherwise noteworthy about your experience with this production?
We are often asked to perform at the big H.P.Lovecraft NECRONOMICON in Providence RI (His hometown) and the attendees over the week cannot believe our shows. However, our fog set off the alarms last year and the whole audience was asked to stand in the rain while the FD cleared the space. Yet, all 400 people re-entered to see the show afterwards.

What does this nomination mean to you?
NYIT is our awards for our work in OFF OFF Broadway which is our home for those of us who don't intend to bring our unique artistry to Broadway and Beyond, etc. Radiotheatre began when NYIT Awards began and has received many noms and awards and recognition and we are always grateful to them!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

MEET THE 2019 NOMINEES: Befuddled 101

Befuddled! Or, 101 Reasons to Thank Your God for Donald J Trump, Vladimir J Putin, and My Dad Who's a Dick!
Written and Directed by Rob Reese

Rodney Umble as The Monologist
Lexi Orphanos as The Stage Manager
Monica Furman as The Russian Translator

NOMINATED FOR: Outstanding Performance Art Production
Photos by Rob Reese

L-R: Monica Forman, Rodney Umble, Lexi Orphanos


Monologist Max Silver is jolted from his mundane existence into a schizophrenic Max Headroom style dystopia. An immediate intersection of his parental resentments, his painful breakup, a deficient understanding of American politics, Russian history, artistic manifestos, and every bit of media he’s ever consumed result in a hilariously failed journey of self-discovery.

A manic, multi-media event featuring vodka shots, vaudeville dance, slapstick and wholesale theft from established artists.

Join Max as he endures breakneck cue-calling and biting criticism by his antagonistic Stage Manager Laventry Beria, and incomprehensible heckling by Ivan The Translator.


What attracted you to working on this project?
After touring through much of eastern Europe with The Wooster Group, Piloblous Dance, and other companies I became fascinated with the effects of Communism and dictatorships on peoples' lives. The piece that resulted is an expression of those ideas through my own biographical filter.

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
The incredibly creative collaboration from the performers is what made this piece stand out. Their individual artistic visions and playful professionalism were fundamental to this process.

What was the most challenging part of working on this production? And why?
The performer (Lexi Orhpanos) embodying the 'role' of the Stage Manager was not only performing her character, but was actually firing the tech of the exhibition as a real Stage Manager would. This is >100 cues on several different machines interactively displaying video, audio, and lighting cues.

What do you want the audience to come away with after watching your production?
Confusion! Any entrenched opinion an audience member has about any of the topics addressed in our exhibition should have at least been shaken.

Why are the nominees from this production awesome?
They are talented, engaging artists who also couldn't be nicer, smarter, or easier to work with.

Was there anything odd, quirky, innovative, funny or otherwise noteworthy about your experience with this production?
Almost nothing about this show wasn't odd, quirky, innovative, or funny. I'm sorry the honest answer is the least press-worthy.

What does this nomination mean to you?
Amnesia Wars has been doing Comedy and Theater for >20 years and Performance art for merely 3. This nomination gives us some level of "credential" in performance art.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Duke Oldřich & Washerwoman Božena, the True Story

Produced by GOH Productions in association with Czechoslovak American Marionette Theatre (CAMT)
Created & Directed by Vít Hořejš

Nominations: Outstanding Costume Design - Michelle Beshaw, Outstanding Sound Design - Beata Bocek, Outstanding Original Music - Beata Bocek

About GOH Productions:
GOH' mission is embodied in their logo, which is the Japanese character meaning “working together under one roof.” That definition informs their collaborative and expansive work. Founded in 1979 as 7 Loaves, Inc, GOH Productions received its new name in 1988. GOH embraces the challenge of nurturing artworks and artistic collaboration, testing the boundaries and borders of all categories. Their primary goal is to work with experimental and interdisciplinary artists to develop a variety of genres. Bonnie Stien is the Artistic Director of GOH Productions.

About Duke Oldřich & Washerwoman Božena, the True Story
This non-traditional staging of a 374 year-old marionette play is based on the story of love at first sight of the 11th century. Duke Oldrich braved stout opposition from friend and foe alike to marry the exquisitely fair washerwoman Bozena. However, he forgot to mention some details of his own marital status to his beloved. The two legendary lovers were truthfully represented by fine hand-carved marionettes and life-like mechanicals fashioned expertly two centuries ago from the choicest linden wood; their manipulators in period costumes were artfully composed in flesh and blood.

What first attracted you to the subject of this production?
Bonnie: The subject matter and the fact that 2018 was the Centennial founding of the Czechoslovakia. We created a festival to celebrate two auspicious anniversaries: the Centennial Anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia (1918) and the Millennial Anniversary of the unification of the Lands of the Czech Crown, under Duke Oldrich (1018). The play was proposed by Director and Marionette Master puppeteer Vit Horejs, and was created by the company with his direction. As a producer of many of the company's productions, I was particularly attracted to the stellar creative team including Beata Bocek (music/vocals) who we worked with for the first time; and brought over from the Czech Republic; and Michelle Beshaw a wonderful costume designer and performer who has worked with the company for a while; and Federico Restrepo, lighting designer.

Michelle: I have been working with CAMT for 20 years as a performer and designer.

What was your favorite part of working on Oldřich & Washerwoman Božena?
Bonnie: I loved watching the play unfold.. as the characters developed; and casting took on many exciting twists; like Bozena being portrayed by a man. The set elements were great too. Ben Watts is a wonderful physical actor. The whole company was fun to watch as the play took form. It was a tough script, and when it was finally done, I wish it had run longer. The music was one of my most favorite elements; Beata Bocek is a genius!

Michelle: Our process was organic and left room for everyone's creativity.

What was the biggest challenge of this production?
Bonnie: Creating a new play from a story; with no existing script, which is not a new process for this company, but presents challenges in terms of knowing when it is ready for the audience. The space was gorgeous at Jan Hus Church House, but we had to transform the space from a church to a theater and back again, after many of the shows. The company most often works in theater venues, but because the antique marionettes originally came from the Jan Hus Church collection, it was important to perform in their space. So in short the space was a gift and a challenge.

Michelle: Time. I was scheduled for a trade trip to Japan just before tech rehearsals so had to be completely finished before I might normally be. It left too little room for final fiddling.

What did you want the audience to walk away with after watching Oldřich & Washerwoman Božena?
Bonnie: A bit of history that they might not know; a bit of the Czech sense of humor and musical traditions, with some twists. I would like the audience to enjoy and consider how the company presents traditional aspects of marionette theatre with contemporary texts. I also would like them to recognize the complexities of the actors/puppeteers presenting characters that both as puppets and as themselves. This process has been developed by director Vit Horejs with his company members in a very unusual way, that is not often seen in the puppetry world. Horejs is a leader of innovative puppet / marionette techniques and his company are great at performing this style. Also, it would be great if they are stimulated to study a bit of Czech history.

Did you gain any insight or learn anything new throughout this process?
Michelle: Always. I learned a good deal about Duke Oldrich and Washerwoman Bozena.

What would you say is the quirkiest part of working on this production?
Bonnie: Actually the set was comprised of mannequins which we got from Materials for the Arts, painted and repurposed by designer Roman Hladik, in a creatively wonderful way; expressing the forest setting of the play. I was a bit skeptical about this set idea, until I saw what was created and how well it worked onstage.

Michelle: I built costumes for the puppets for this production as well as the cast. I love costuming puppets -- if things don't fit or lay exactly right, you have the option of fixing it with a hammer and tack. Not something live performers take kindly to.

Why are Beata and Michelle so awesome?
Bonnie: Beata Bocek is one of the most unique young voices in the field of a style of folk music that both relies on tradition and is contemporary. She makes her own music as well as singing old songs in a new way. Her voice is mesmerizing and magical. She was the perfect choice for our production. And a total pro to work with. Michelle Beshaw is one of the most under-stated smart costume designers I have ever met. She is fearless, creative and always coming up with great ideas within a minimal budget, by combining found pieces with her own touches. I always enjoy watching Michelle develop her ideas as the play unfolds; and she is not afraid to change things when they don't work well seeking the best of all possible costumes for each character, including the puppets!

What is it like working with this company of artists?
Michelle: We've built up a lot of trust as a company over the years which frees us to try new things, take risks and challenge ourselves and each other.

What does this nomination mean to you?
Bonnie: The nomination is very very important to our company. Creating and producing marionette and innovative puppet theater is a really growing field. We have been around for over 20 years; and Vit Horejs is a leader in the field, always bringing on great collaborators. For Beata Bocek it is a recognition in the USA, since it was her first trip here and she and her music were so well received. Michelle has one IT Award, but I feel like she deserves as many as there are to give. She always hits the mark in the costume design area. This means the world to her and to all of us.

Michelle: I think of the downtown theatre community as my home planet. It means so much to me to be part of this community and I'm glad and grateful to the New York Innovative Theatre Awards for their continued commitment to and recognition of the work we all do, often with so little. I'm honored and delighted to be included in this year's nominees.

Monday, August 12, 2019

MEET THE 2019 NOMINEES: And Then There Were None

Annie Garrett-Larsen, nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design
And Then There Were None
By Agatha Christie
Directed by Christopher Noffke
Produced by The Secret Theatre

Outstanding Lighting Design - Annie Garrett-Larsen
Outstanding Revival of a Play

Before CLUE! Before Murder, She Wrote! One writer penned the mother of all murder mystery whodunits, with an ending that still shocks readers today!

PHOTO: Reiko Yanagi

Produced by: Richard Mazda (The Secret Theatre)
Stage Managed by: Kat Vaccaro
Assistant Directed by: Ethan Henry
Set Design by: Brice Corder
Lighting Design by: Annie Garrett-Larsen
Original Music Composed by: Zev Burrows
Costume Design by: Ethan Henry
Special Props Designed by: Sarah Pencheff

Vera Claythorne - Zoe Abuyuan
Phillip Lombard - Dan Fenaughty*
William Blore - Adolpho Blaire*
Dr. Armstrong - David Engel*
Sir Lawrence Wargrave - Richard Mazda
Emily Brent - Peggy Lewis*
Rogers - Richard Iverson*
General Mackenzie - Albert Baker
Mrs. Rogers - Kelsey Sheppard
Nathaniel Ansbach - Anthony Marston
Fred Narracott - Aaron D. Van Skyoc

*Denotes member of Actors' Equity Association

PHOTO: Reiko Yanagi

PHOTO: Reiko Yanagi

PHOTO: Reiko Yanagi

Sunday, August 11, 2019

MEET THE 2019 NOMINEES: Dad in a Box

Kim Katzberg
Dad in a Box
By Kim Katzberg
Directed by Raquel Cion
Produced by Eat a Radish Productions

Nominated for:
Outstanding Solo Performance: Kim Katzberg
Outstanding Short Script: Kim Katzberg
Outstanding Innovative Design: Raquel Cion, Maia Cruz Palileo, Jacqueline Reed, Kim Katzberg

About the Show

When your father’s death explodes the cracked myth of a loving family—in improv comedy class.

Acclaimed artist Kim Katzberg (Darkling, Strays) most revealing—and hilarious—work. A prestigious improv comedy workshop seems like an ideal career boost for Katzberg, until she finds her fervid imagination hamstrung by generic critiques. ‘…Suicidal girl on a date? I’m not sure it’s a network thing.’ But the real improvisation starts when Katzberg’s emotionally distant father dies, paralyzing her psyche and forcing her to confront her California-cool brother and erratic prodigal sister. Katzberg, playing a plethora of characters, struggles to become more real onstage, be truthful to her father, and express her inexplicable love for him.

Photographer: Maria Baranova

About Eat a Radish Productions and Kim Katzberg
My voice, as a queer female theater artist, uses comedy to address disturbing problems common to the female experience, through heightened, tragicomic characters with unconventional physicalities, imaginations, voices, and rhythms. I want to arouse, frustrate, and re-educate the male gaze. Owning my experience with trauma empowers me. I mix uncertainty with irreverent humor to create discomfort, instigating a challenging emotional experience. Comedy provides relief and breaks down walls around provocative issues. The more I risk uncovering the unbounded core of my soul, the more effective I am in neutralizing shame and finding celebration.

What attracted you to working on this project?
I made this play to connect with my Dad, something I struggled to do when he was alive. It wasn’t until after the first three performances, when I got a 24 hr stomach bug and had to just be home with myself, that I felt acute grief as a result of the subject matter of the show. Reliving his death opened me up and connected me to my Dad. Reflecting back, I think I initially wrote the show to avoid the grief, but of course because of the show, I am now feeling the grief. The structure of the show gives a form to explore the grief safely, and my director Raquel helps me with that.

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
I make theater to communicate what I can’t express in my everyday life. Characters have always been a safe container for me to go wild, be bold and explore what’s underneath the surface. I feel most in my body when I’m in character. The direct address was scariest for me because I’ve never been just myself onstage. I was worried that I would disassociate and I wouldn’t be interesting to watch. This play is my attempt at expressing what is real for me around my father’s death. When I’m talking about what’s real, I’m not dissociated, and that's when I feel most connected to the audience. My favorite part of working on this production was feeling deeply and profoundly connected to the audience.

What was the most challenging part of working on this production? And why?
I have issues to confront with my Dad, within myself, and the final scene of "Dad in a Box" is about how much work I still need to do. I was in the process of facing some of those things, like his alcoholism, my codependency and my fear of him. But he had to go and die on me! (I’m joking.) I have a long way to go until I come to terms with my troubled relationship with him, and I wanted the final speech to be both a release for “Kim” and portray how disturbed the relationship still is for me even though he’s gone. The most challenging part of working on this production was getting in touch with my vulnerability around my complicated relationship with my Dad.

Photographer: Marina Zamalin
What do you want the audience to come away with after watching your production?
I want the audience to feel less alone in their complicated feelings around dysfunctional familial relationships. I also want the audience to feel less alone in having irreverent and inappropriate feelings around death.

Why are the nominees from this production awesome?
Raquel Cion, my director, is nominated for Outstanding Innovative Design for her work on the commercial parody videos in the show. She took my ideas for the videos and made them outrageous! We had so much crazy fun shooting the videos in rehearsal spaces around Brooklyn. Raquel fiercely committed herself to this production in a way that gave me permission to be vulnerable in the work.

Was there anything odd, quirky, innovative, funny or otherwise noteworthy about your experience with this production?
Maia Cruz Palileo (Outstanding Innovative Design Nominee and my wife!) and I shot one of the show videos in her studio building in Sunset Park, Brooklyn around the Christmas holiday. Because there was no one around at that time, I was able to be bottomless and rocking back and forth holding myself out in the open! I was Donald Ducking it!

What does this nomination mean to you?
I had been feeling so despondent about "Dad in a Box" over the past few months. I felt like I had poured my heart and soul into the production, that it was my best work, and yet it wasn't getting any recognition and had no future. Now that it has been nominated for 3 NYIT Awards I feel validated and reinvigorated to continue to develop and deepen it for a future run. It can be challenging to keep making work without external validation, so being nominated for Outstanding Solo Performance, Short Script and Innovative Design puts much needed wind in my sails!

MEET THE 2019 NOMINEES: Cannibal Galaxy: A Love Story

Cannibal Galaxy: A Love Story
A New Play by Charise Greene
Directed by Jenn Haltman
Produced by Between Two Boroughs Productions

Nominated for:
Outstanding Sound Design - Fan Zhang
Outstanding Set Design - Tim McMath
Outstanding Innovative Design - Yana Birÿkova

About the Show
It’s business as usual at the Washington D.C. Science Museum where the employees’ personal lives keep getting in the way. Jo wants a child but is unable to secure an inseminator. Chet longs to make love, but dating kinda sucks and gaming is way more awesome. Claire searches for purpose by digging directly toward the center of the earth. Vadim prioritizes the needs of others but wouldn’t know his own if they crawled into bed with him. Eloise lives in a treehouse and brushes her teeth with space particles. When chaos ravages a perfectly average day, these co-workers are flung into a cosmic galactic shift, rearranging their internal cartography. In these desperate times, Cannibal Galaxy: a love story is a new play about how we keep breathing as America eats itself alive.

What first attracted you to working on this show?
The driving idea behind our company mission statement is to choose projects that scare us. We knew we wanted to produce this play immediately upon reading it. Cannibal Galaxy: a love story is an incredibly ambitious, scary, “impossible play” – the subject matter, the stage directions, the sheer size of the piece (21 scenes in 90 minutes). And it was like nothing we had worked on before.

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
After working on this production for over two years with only our imaginations of what it could look like staged, being in tech and seeing all of the design elements come together to create a beautiful, ethereal, magical world was absolutely thrilling. Finally seeing it all come to fruition was overwhelming, to say the least. It was also the first time our company produced a new play. Having the playwright in the room and working with the cast on a “living” piece was exciting new territory.

What was the most challenging part of working on this production? And why?
This play is a jam-packed 90 minutes with many moving pieces, and there is a lot of magical realism in the script, so we needed to find practical, creative ways to stage those moments. For example, with a stage direction like “Eloise explodes into stars,” we had to figure out how to make that happen through design. We also brought a vending machine to life!

Was there anything odd, quirky, innovative, funny or otherwise noteworthy about your experience with this production?
This play is a jam-packed 90 minutes with many moving pieces, and there is a lot of magical realism in the script, so we needed to find practical, creative ways to stage those moments. For example, with a stage direction like “Eloise explodes into stars,” we had to figure out how to make that happen through design. We also brought a vending machine to life!

What do you want the audience to come away with after watching your production?
We believe that art is a powerful tool for change, and given our country’s current climate of violence, we were eager to bring people together to reflect upon what has become a national epidemic. The play is ultimately about connection and how our own personal worlds – and the world at large – shift when something terrible happens. We wanted our audience to walk away knowing that they might share more with the people around them than they might have initially thought. We also partnered with two advocacy organizations during the run (Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and No Stigmas), collecting donations after each performance and hosting talkbacks. In addition to the cathartic experience that we hope audience members had during the play, we were also eager to create a space in which we could talk about how to be proactive in today’s gun culture.

What is the best thing about working with this company and/or these artists?
The design for this play was vitally important to the storytelling. Our designers brought unique ideas to the table, ready to problem-solve and tackle all the challenges that came our way. All three elevated the work to something we couldn’t have ever envisioned on the page. They transformed the New Ohio Theatre in ways we’ve never seen before!

Did you learn anything or discover anything new while working on this project? If so, what?
We were able to incorporate into our projection design actual models of cannibal galaxies which we received from a NASA scientist! Also, sticking to the science theme, we had a talkback with a Professor of Astronomy from Columbia University all about galactic cannibalism.

What does receiving this nomination mean to you?
It is an incredible affirmation of the years of work we put into bringing this play to life and telling this important story.

Photos: Maria Baranova Photography

Friday, August 9, 2019

MEET THE 2019 NOMINEES: 36 Juniper

Produced by Wrong House Productions
By Jessika McQueen, Shannon McInally, and Alyssa Abraham (The Women of Wrong House)
Directed by Greg Pragel
Nominated for Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play

It's been a decade since high school, so it's probably about time to get the gang back together at their old stomping grounds, right? But as the liquor flows and the weather goes from bad to worse, secrets start to unravel and everyone is forced to confront a shared trauma from their past that most would rather forget. A dark comedy about nostalgia, friendship, and grief.

Starring Brendan Byrne, Shannon McInally, Joe Reece,  Jacob Dabby, Alyssa Abraham, Jessika McQueen, and Luke Joyce

Zach Weeks - Lighting Designer
Alex Duckner - Sound Designer
Kelsey Vivian - Production Stage Manager
Claudia Smith - Rehearsal Stage Manager
Jack Creaghan - Executive Producer

Photographers: AK47 Division (for all production images), Wrong House Productions (for promo image)

What attracted you to working on this project?
Jessika: Written by the Wrong House Women (myself along with my partners in crime Shannon McInally and Alyssa Abraham). We wrote 36 Juniper to tell the story of the aftermath of trauma. What happens when the cameras turn off and reporters are gone? When people stop checking in, aren't wondering anymore how you're holding up? When the world moves on to the next tragedy? When the next school shooting happens, and then the next and then the next, and what you lived through is for you to live with, because the world has moved on? We also set out to: 1) Write a play that catered exclusively to a millennial-aged cast with strong roles for young women; 2) Engage our generation and get them out to the theatre; and 3) Explore the state of said generation. This is a show by millennials about millennials. It is about how we handle our grief. It is about how we deal with our trauma. It is about the way the world tends to look at grief as if it were the flu: intense and awful, but short-lived and full recovery expected.

What was your favorite part of working on this production? And why?
Jessika:Creating the world of this project from the ground up is the most rewarding thing we have ever done. We came to the table with an inkling of an idea, went on a retreat to build that idea, built it into a story, spent months working and workshopping and shifting, and rebuilding, and then we brought in some of our favourite artists to be part of bringing it to life with us. We were the creators behind every element at every step, and building that was so rewarding.

What was the most challenging part of working on this production? And why?
Jessika:The content of this play was devastating at times. The production focuses on the aftermath of trauma, and investigating that trauma took a personal toll on many of the artists involved. Particularly as it centers on a trauma that is so prevalent in the world we are living in right now. It was important, necessary work, but it was challenging to say the least.

Shannon: The most challenging part of working on this production was the editing and rewriting process. I think this script went through about 7 or so drafts from conception to the final production, including cutting an entire character and redistributing their track among the others. The rewriting was particularly touchy since we wanted to leave as much open-ended as possible. We love a morally ambiguous story (who's the protagonist/who's the antagonist--in life it's not always so cut and dry, and we like when this is reflected in art), so we had to be really careful about what information we revealed, and when, and this sort of delicate chemistry turned out to be both a nightmare, and a really exciting challenge for us as playwrights. 

What was the most striking characteristic of the production for you?
Shannon: 36 Juniper is the first full length script that we've written! As a company we also produce a lot of original sketch comedy content, so we have experience in writing short comedic scenes, but this was our first foray into an entire world that the audience is invited into for 90 minutes.

What do you want the audience to come away with after watching your production?
Jessika:Ten years after high school, in a flyover state in the Midwest, Theo invites his old friends over for a night of drinking and catching up, with an ulterior motive of addressing some of the skeletons they’ve each locked up over the past decade. But not everybody is on board with bringing things out in the open, and there are some events that most would rather forget. As the night devolves, and a raging snowstorm traps them all in this house for the foreseeable future, everyone is forced to confront each other - and themselves - about the deadly shooting at their school that changed everyone’s life back when they were friends. Dealing with the decade long aftermath of that day has brought each of them to where they stand now in very different ways, yet the people they have become are still bound to one another by their shared past - and it’s usually the people closest to you that can damage you the most. A new millennial tragic-comedy about the wounds time could not heal.

Shannon: We want the audience to come away questioning; 1) What does it mean to be the survivor of a tragedy?;  2) What does it mean to be an "antagonist"? Can they be redeemed?; 3) Is there a correct/incorrect way to deal with trauma?

Why are the nominees from this production awesome?
Jessika:This nomination belongs to everyone involved with the production. We have a small, tight-knit team who did everything. It's incredible when your colleagues become your family because of a project that connects you all in a powerful, life-changing way.

What does this nomination mean to you?
Jessika:It is an incredible honor for us to be recognized for this production. We are a young company, very new to the Off-Off-Broadway scene, and for us to receive this nomination for a work that we fully wrote, produced, designed, and acted in means the world to us.

Shannon: This nomination has been such a whirlwind of nostalgia and emotion for us! We've always known that this play was special (and trust me, I know that NOT ALL PLAYS ARE SPECIAL). Everyone involved in this production put their whole beings into it--baggage, guts, and all--and it's incredible to hear that it's been as affecting to others as It's been to us. We know that this play has a future beyond this production, and this nomination has been a nice bit of validation of that, and is sort of motivating us to start pushing a little harder for the next step!