Fringe 2016

The Minnesota Fringe Festival is upon us once again! 11 days of 169 shows throughout the Twin Cities. It’s a magical smorgasbord of theatre, storytelling and dance. With so many options, you’re probably wondering where to start. We’re here to help with some suggestions – shows featuring artists we’ve enjoyed working with in the past.


(Dis)connect
Featuring Duck Washington (Snowflakes, TEASE)

Windy moved to Texas but convinced her cast she could direct a show from 1172 miles away. The topic? Distance & communication. A rotating cabaret of storytelling, dance, games, and even a professorial lecture.

Break Your Heart Featuring Scot Moore (TEASE)

Stranded, heartbroken, and sleepless in an airport halfway around the world, a hapless guy decides to just keep flying until something, anything makes sense, resulting in a heartbreaking journey of a lifetime.

Caucasian Aggressive Pandas and Other Mulatto Tales Featuring Duck Washington (Snowflakes, TEASE), Suzanne Cross (Raise Your Voice)

Mixing story-telling and sketch comedy in a blend of black-and-white concepts, Pandas is a humorous exploration of what it’s like to be mixed raced, handle stereotypes, and find your place in the world.

Celebrity Book Club Featuring Sarah Broude (TEASE)

Need advice? Celebrities have all the answers. Join our hosts and local celebrity guests as they bring you advice from the world’s leading experts on everything, celebrities.

Circus McGurkus Featuring Clara Costello (Company Member)

Dr. Seuss’ ‘If I Ran The Circus’ comes to life through live music and dance. Set to Camille Saint-Saëns’ ‘Carnival of the Animals,’ this high flying story about the power of imagination will delight all ages.

Good Friday with Dillinger Featuring Shalee Coleman (TEASE)

John Dillinger and Billie Frechette bring chow mein — and danger — as they drop in on friends in spring, 1934. Can Minneapolis hustlers Bess and Eddie survive a visit from Public Enemy No. 1?

It Came From UUFO Featuring Erin Denman (Company Member)

25 yrs ago, aliens abducted 5 West Winsomites. Will this year’s UFO festival bring back the aliens and the missing townspeople? 4 actors play 20+ characters, populating the town and all its strange visitors.

Mead Hall Featuring David Schlosser (TEASE), Clara Costello (Company Member)

A one-man production of Beowulf and a wild adaptation of Road House find their Fringe venue double-booked. They come to realize that a 5th century monster-slayer has a lot in common with a Missouri bar bouncer.

Penelope Featuring Alana Horton (Butter Princess)

Odysseus is famously slow, but Penny doesn’t sit on her hands for a decade. This spin on the classic finds more than matronly virtue in the enigmatic best-wife-ever. BBQ, murder, yarn. Well, not that much yarn.

So Bright the Night Featuring Duck Washington (Snowflakes, TEASE)

A hard-boiled historical drama about the Mexican-American experience in the 1930’s. A woman boards a train in hopes to rescue her husband from deportation (or worse) before they reach the Mexican boarder.

The Abortion Chronicles Featuring Scot Moore (TEASE)

Stories gathered from women and men all around you. Because abortion is more terrifying, funny, sad, complicated and necessary than you might expect. No more silence.

The Gun Show  Featuring Aaron Konigsmark (Raise Your Voice)

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy telling stories about guns. Guns are either fun or terrifying; tools or weapons; safe or deadly; necessary or useless. Can we please just talk about guns?

The Last Red Shirt Featuring William Marth (TEASE)

Set in The Original Series (TOS) Star Trek universe we follow “the last red shirt” while he travels through time and space as he tries to avoid becoming the final casualty of a famous sci-fi trope.

the place between Rob Ward (TEASE)

While your body sleeps, thoughts wake and drift deep into your subconscious. Fall into a dreamscape of physical theatre and experience dreams outside the confines of your mind.

The Real World Fringe Festival Featuring Sarah Broude (TEASE), Rob Ward (TEASE)

Find out what happens when people stop being polite in this absurdist reality TV satire from the writer of “I Make No Promises, But Someone’s Probably Going to Die.” There’s a hot tub.

Trump’s America (It’s Hell) Featuring Denzel Belin (TEASE)

250 years after a complete global collapse, the unlikely combination of a tender young caregiver and his warrior companion go on a search through hell to find the man he loves before it’s too late.

Writer’s Block Featuring Andrew Rosdail (TEASE)

An author finds herself held prisoner in an undisclosed location by unknown captors, forced to write a book by an unspecified deadline or else be shot. As time ticks by, her grip on reality starts to slip away.

Little Lifeboats at the Fringe

Fringe FestivalBesides the Little Lifeboats’ show opening on Friday, there is a strong presence of folks that have worked with us this past year!

 

Baby Carrot Featuring Robb Krueger (TEASE)

The tale of childless carrot farmers who teach their newfound baby – an actual carrot – about the world. A witch may throw a wrench in their plans by casting a spell on the carrot. Who will save Baby Carrot?

The Consolation Featuring Robb Krueger (TEASE)

War criminal Adolf Eichmann, on trial in Israel in 1961, attempts to make sense of what brought him there, while at the same time evaluating his own sense of what is true and what isn’t.

Everywhere You Look Featuring Andrew Rosdail (TEASE) and Jeff Nichols (TEASE 2014)

Muslims are persecuted in a dystopian future America where fear and freedom walk hand in hand. In the search for truth, a lawyer, a detective, and an imam are driven to a tragically violent confrontation.

Ferguson, USA Featuring Lucas Skjaret (TEASE)

Citizens unite amidst tragedy to repair a broken justice system funded by poverty. Interviews, media coverage, and the department of justice report inspire this collage of stories and spoken word.

Getting to Ellen Featuring Catherine Hansen (TEASE)

Adapted from local transgender activist Ellen Krug’s autobiography. A story about love and self-discovery. Ellen must find her authentic self in order to become who she really is on the inside.

Hank & Jesus Featuring Janet Preus (TEASE)

Finally sober, Hank is adrift with only his kind heart and bad country songs for navigation. A helpful visitor nudges him on a new path, home for a family Christmas, and closer to the miracle he really needs.

A House Has Many Dreams Featuring Suzanne Victoria Cross (Raise Your Voice, TEASE)

A house dreams of a family’s evolution, focusing on the moments encircling change and tragedy, when normalcy has just returned.

Leaving St. Paul Featuring Sarah Broude (TEASE)

A family is forced from their home during the 1960’s for opposing practices of racial segregation in Twin Cities neighborhoods. Inspired by a true, but seldom-told, slice of Minnesota history.

Madam Executioner Featuring James and Farrah Buffington (Board Members)

Botching the last execution, the executioner is ordered by the Prince to find an heir, or face the axe himself. Childless, he turns to the only one willing to do the job no man in England wants, his niece.

Medacity Featuring Comfort Dolo (Raise Your Voice)

Come trap yourself in a warehouse with two strangers: the unstable Gene and the mysterious Mindy. As they look for an escape they realize the danger is not what’s outside but what’s been waiting inside.

Mrs. Mortimer’s Xenophobic Travel Guide Featuring Sarah Broude (TEASE)

A Victorian-era Englishwoman teaches children about the nasty habits of foreigners. Some of her prejudices are what you’d expect; others are surprising. They’re all hilarious! And she was a real person.

Shelly Bachberg Presents: Orange is the New POTUS Featuring Joy Dolo (Company Member)

Minnesota’s wackiest politician is running for president again, this time from prison! Can she convince her suspicious cellmates that she’s the right woman for the job? A sequel to 2013’s smash hit musical!

The Sound of Footloose, The Not Musical Featuring Duck Washington (TEASE)

Maria is a novice living in Bomont, Vienna. Her heart wants to sing and dance but the town council, guided by her Mother Superior, has banned dancing in the city limits. What’s a novice to do but raise hell?

Trans Families Featuring Janet Preus (TEASE)

What happens to the children of transgender parents? Probably not what you think. In this heartwarming story, multiple families reinvent themselves, for when parents transition, families transform.

Two Jokes, One Act: The Boar and the Proposal Featuring Laura Delventhal (TEASE), Zac Delventhal (Friend of the Lifeboats), Aaron Konigsmark (Raise Your Voice, TEASE), Victoria Pyan (Company Member)

Popova mourns her lost loser. Smirnov can’t keep his pistol in his pants. Lomov has a heart attack. You’ve never seen two of Chekhov’s hilarious “jokes in one act” spliced into a single farce quite like this!

Last but not least, you should definitely come see our very own:

Confessions of a Butter Princess

Confessions of a Butter Princess or Why the Cow Jumped Over the Moon Featuring Erin Denman (Company Member), Chris Garza (Raise Your Voice, TEASE), Abby Swafford (Company Member), Victoria Pyan (Company Member), Clara Costello (Company Member)

On the planet Ceres,  a Cow and a Queen are trying to escape the wrath of the Princess Kay Chorus. Butter means life or death – okay, mostly death, in this comedy full eccentric characters and dairy art.

Rising Tides: Clara Costello

We are extra excited about the person featured in this post: Clara Costello is our newest company member! Clara is a hot commodity in town; in addition to jumping in our boat, Clara has also recently joined the company over at Theatre Pro Rata and is currently working on their production of The Illusion. Clara is an incredible stage manager with great attention to detail. We can say from experience that Clara always brings detailed research, insight and ideas to the table.  Her answers to our questions were just as delightful as the energy she’s brought to rehearsals and reports over the years.

Clara HeadshotThe Illusion by Tony Kushner is the tale of a  father and his wayward son and is adapted from the 17th Century play L’illusion Comique by Pierre Cornielle in which Pridamante seeks out the help of an illusionist, Alcandre, to help find his son. While this The Illusion marks Theatre Pro Rata’s debut in their partnership with Park Square at the new Any Boss Stage, Theatre Pro Rata has a history of churning out deep and complex work. The Illusion runs through June 28th.

Tickets available at Park Square.

 

Since some people might not know, could you tell us the  duties of stage manager? 

A stage manager’s duties will vary by company, show and director. It usually boils down to handling communication and coordination- figuring out schedules, making sure the cast and crew are all on the same page, and running the show’s technical elements. I’ve also done a lot of floor maintenance, prop tracking, and miscellaneous things that pop up unexpectedly.

What’s your favorite part about stage managing?

I like helping build tiny worlds. A play is something that is large enough to be deeply complex and fascinating, but small enough to keep a handle on, unlike real life. Watching the practical and artistic aspects of a show work together is pretty cool as well, especially when you can find ways to make the constraints of one improve the other.

What has been the best part about the process working on The Illusion?
Getting to laugh through every stage of putting it together in a roomful of amazing people. This one has been a lot of fun.
 
 This show is about a magician; did anyone learn close up magic? Disappearing bunnies? Sawing ladies in half?
Sadly, no one learned any sleight of hand- this show features a different type of magic. The actor playing the magician did look to stage magic for movement inspiration though, and I learned that the first ever sawing in half trick was performed by P.T Selbit in 1921, and that Alexander Hermann (1844-1896) was one of the very few magicians to actually produce rabbits from hats.
 
What do you hope audiences will walk away talking about?
The power of all different kinds of magic.
 
A show like this has a ton of moving parts: effects, actors, lights and sound in addition to the new space.  How does one prepare for this kind of experience?
Take time early on to earn everything you can about the things that aren’t going to change, so that you don’t have to worry about them when things get crazy. I made sure I was familiar with the script before rehearsals started, and took the opportunity to walk around the space a little when I went to events there. Other than that, keep up with everything that’s going on, and trust your team.

What’s one thing you wish more actors/directors knew to make you use your poking stick less?

Lately I’ve been working with some lovely people, so I haven’t had to use the poking stick too much. But in general, everyone should always remember that they are a small but important part of something larger and more wonderful than they are, and trying to make it all about you might make you more impressive, but the project as a whole is going to be smaller and dimmer. Also no one can read minds, so please find more transparent forms of communication.

What has been influential to your artistic path over the years?

People being willing to give me a chance.

What draws you to work on certain projects?

Getting the chance to work with talented people, do interesting research, and being excited about what I think the final product could be.

Where do you want to be a fly on the wall?

I think I would be entirely too busy testing my new found powers of flight to hang out on any walls.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?

Hmm, I’m not much for spontaneity, unless I’m inadvertently blurting stupid things. Maybe immediately agreeing to be an ASM in college when I had no idea what that meant?

What’s your theatre horror story? (the one you take out at parties when swapping war stories)

During a scene change, a stagehand started pulling a scrim down instead of up. Fortunately, he quickly realized his mistake and switched directions. Unfortunately, there was a wagon on top of it at the time. We hastily sorted everything out, but not before there was a yards long tear in the scrim. When the lights went up on the next scene, there were shredded pieces of netting dangling halfway down the back wall, even though the batten was all the way up. We had to lower it back down next scene change so we could tie it up.

Somehow, these stories never seem as awful when they’re written down.

What have you seen in the past year that has inspired you?

I liked Love and Information- I was impressed by how much story they built with so little dialogue, and by the amount of furniture tetris that must have been going on backstage. The rehearsal process is usually inspiring to me- being in it from the very first production meeting to the final curtain, you really get to see that it is a process, for everyone, no matter how talented, and that you really can work wonders in just a few weeks.

If you could go back and give your younger self a piece of advice what would it be?

Get out of your box more often. Yes, there be monsters out there, but there are some pretty amazing people, places and opportunities as well.

If you were stuck in a lifeboat what would you have with you?  (you’ve got food and fresh water)

All the sunscreen. My pile of unfinished craft projects, a nice stack of books, and, eventually, a motor.

Performances of The Illusion are June 12-28, Thursday-Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2:00pm. Tickets available at Park Square. 

illusion_press2

Photo Courtesy of Theatre Pro Rata Actor Pictured: Charles Hubbell Photo Credit: Charles Gorrill

Rising Tides: Zac Delventhal

You might recognize Zac Delventhal’s name from Parhelion; he was the genius who choreographed our stage fights. Genius is not used lightly – he managed to have a bench thrown safely in a very small space.  You might recognize his face; he’s been on stages all over the Twin Cities from Six Elements to the Flower Shop Project.   He’s a regular renaissance man: writer, actor, fight choreographer, lobbyist.  He’s teamed up with his wife, Laura (who has directed at TEASE since 2012) to create a new youtube channel, Cinescrubs.
Zac and laura

Zac and Laura, creators of CineScrubs

These two are wonderful supporters of new work all over town and lend their time and talent to the stage. Now, they’ve turned their gaze toward film in an effort to help promote diversity.  Youtube is more than a place for cat videos – it is a wonderful platform to for important dialogue like those the Delventhals are starting with Cinescrubs.
Can you give the Cinescrubs elevator speech for us? 
CineScrubs is a data-driven time machine examining the history of cinema and comparing it to today. Both Laura and I have noticed how almost every story in every medium stars a white guy, with white guy supporting roles, and white guy villains. Women and people of color are typically marginalized as token characters with little control over their own destiny: the princess to be rescued, the encouraging mother, the tragic victim who motivates the (white male) hero to do great things. There are exceptions of course, but they are vanishingly rare.
We started to wonder, has it always been like this? Have stories always been so homogenous? The common refrain from Hollywood is that only movies about white guys make money, but thinking back to classic films like the Wizard of Oz, there were a ton of female characters that drove the plot forward and it was a huge success. So was there a time when things were less refined, when a movie about women, or people of color, could get made without fear of losing profits? This is a question we are very interested in answering, but I quickly discovered there is no data on the subject. Studies about diversity in film don’t go further back than the last decade or so. So CineScrubs tries to find that data, and in doing so maybe answer some questions about how we tell stories in general.
You and Laura addressed that you noticed the “samey white dudes” syndrome over time – was there a specific incident/moment that made you think “we should study this?”

Well, it’s something that’s pretty obvious just looking at what’s playing at the box office, but the big realization came after watching Oz The Great and Powerful. We talk about this in the first episode of CineScrubs a bit, but that movie just floored me. It’s the prequel to a film full of powerful women, but the plot centers around how these three witches are completely helpless since their dad died and need a man to come and set things right. Not only that, Oz is a promiscuous cad who sleeps with everyone, something represented as endearing, but the women who sleep with him are shown as dirty, undesirable, tainted, and idiots for believing his lies. The Witch of the West is literally turned permanently evil and ugly because she was a slut. I walked away of that movie amazed and disgusted. Not only did they go with yet another white male hero, they built their entire plot around some of the worst sexist elements of our culture. Laura and I talked a lot about that movie, and it was during those conversations that we started asking, “Was it always this bad?”
What do you hope watchers of Cinescrubs will walk away with?  What kind of conversations do you think are going to happen going forward? 
Well first, I hope viewers are entertained, we are trying to create a show here. But after that, what I really want folks to walk away with is good data. I find it very hard to talk about issues without having the numbers, so hopefully I can provide that for other people’s discussions. Obviously I have a bit of a pro-diversity axe to grind myself, and I’m not trying to hide that, but as much as possible I want to step back and let people draw their own conclusions.
How do you envision the google doc being used?
Well, there are a few layers to it. I imagine most people will just take a peek at the breakdown, look at some graphs, and get a gist of where the data is falling. We’ll cover a lot of that information in the episodes as well, so if that’s as far as most viewers go, that’s great. It’s really important to us to make the raw data available too though. We want to compile something robust and complete enough that folks smarter than us can use it to draw interesting conclusions we would never have thought of.
Is there a movie/decade you’re looking forward to reviewing and why?
I’m not going to lie, a big part of this is just having an excuse to watch a lot of old movies. So far I’ve already seen most of the films we’ve watched, but I’m looking forward to getting back to the “Golden Age” of Hollywood, which is a period I basically know nothing about. I’m very curious to find out what it’s like.
Since you both come from a theatre background why did you choose movies versus plays/stage work?
Ultimately we hope to reveal something about how we tell stories and our culture in general. Since I’m not sure on a good way to systematically look at all stories, Hollywood seemed like a decent canary in the coal mine. It’s been the most popular form of storytelling for almost a century, so I think it can reveal a lot about our tastes in general. Plus it’s something most people can readily identify with, unlike theatre which has become pretty esoteric for the population at large.
Who would you say does a great job at integrating diversity in casting/storytelling around town? (local filmmakers, theatres, arts organization, etc)
Well, I definitely want to shout out groups like Theatre Unbound, Mixed Blood, Penumbra, Mu. Not only is diversity a part of their mission statement, but they are out there doing good work, proving you don’t need a white guy in the lead to be successful. In a way though, these groups really illustrate the larger problem too. You shouldn’t need to have a specific focus on diversity to have a non-white non-male show every so often. I’m not saying every show or anything, I still want to get cast sometimes, but you look around at most theatre in the Twin Cities (and elsewhere) and as much as they’ll pay lip service to diversity, time and time again casts get filled with white men.
What is your favorite movie?  Is it on your list of movies to include?
Such a tough question. I love movies, and it is very hard to pick favorites. American Beauty and Big Fish are both films that I love which have had a huge impact on me artistically. Pacific Rim had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, an absolutely spectacular action flick. Gone Girl floored me and may be the best film I’ve seen in years. I don’t think any of those were top grossing films, so we won’t be analyzing them anytime soon, but it’s possible we’ll look at Best Picture winners later, so that would put American Beauty in there. So far though we’ve gotten to watch Toy Story, Back to the Future and Jaws, which are all pretty great, so our initial sample is not without gems.
What have you seen in the past year that’s inspired you?  (seen on stage, screen, read etc)
Gone Girl, which I mentioned, was just fantastically written, directed, and acted, top to bottom. Some of the twists it took . . . like I said, I was floored. Similarly, I absolutely love the dialogue from the TV show The Blacklist. I’ve been working on my own writing a lot lately, and both have really inspired me to do better. I still write very on-the-nose, without a lot of subtext, but characters in The Blacklist can have an entire conversations where both of them are lying to each other, and they both know it, but they both have to keep up the charade anyway . . . I love it every time.
What is the question I didn’t ask you but should have? 
I guess you could have asked why diversity in storytelling is important to me.
What is the answer to that question?
Well, since you asked, I obviously have an interest in basic fairness, like most people, but I think in the end it comes down to entirely selfish reasons. I want better, less paint-by-numbers films and I also want to be able to share the stories I love with my wife and with the daughters I may have someday. There are some video games, for example, that have had a huge influence on me and I can’t wait to share them with my children, but what if I have a daughter and she can’t get into them because there is no characters she can identify with? Maybe that is a little forward thinking, but it’s honestly something I worry about.
If you were stuck in a lifeboat, what would you need to have with you? (you’ve got food and water)
A pad and pen. I’m very easily distracted, but I’m always trying to get more ideas on the page. Being stranded in a lifeboat might be a great opportunity to get some work done.
You can follow the Cinescrubs channel on YouTube to hear more from Zac and Laura.

Rising Tides: Matt Wall

We knew pretty quickly when Matt Wall walked into our lives that he was a keeper.  Matt is a kind and gentle man but he scared quite a few audience members with his honest and violent performance in Parhelion. We’ve found him to be a great voice to have in the rehearsal room and a wonderful supporter of local theatre.  We will happily cross the river to St. Paul to see him in God Girl at the History Theatre.
Hall-310 CeN
What drew you to the theatre? (origin story)
It all began in Kindergarten, when I was cast as Head of Lettuce in my elementary school’s production of “Peter Rabbit.” I remember silently lip-singing the songs and thinking, “This kid playing Peter Rabbit is a hack. I wanna be a STAR!” Then, when I was 7, my mother made me choose between taking violin lessons or piano lessons. I grew up 10 minutes from the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, but I couldn’t ice skate if I were being chased by a bear. Shooting anything with a heartbeat was another pastime of many of my fellow Iron Range youngsters, but my mom banned guns from our house. Even those toy guns that have the flag that pops out with the word BANG! on it were forbidden. Those two limitations in extra-curricular activities were going to leave me with too much time on my hands, so my mom made me do something. I picked violin lessons. That led to participation in children’s theater programs. And my life in the performing arts was born.
Without spoiling any plot twists – can you tell us what character you’re playing in God Girl?
I play Rocky Calhoun in God Girl. I tend to think of Rocky as a bit of a lovable lug-head. He really, truly cannot comprehend that most of the opportunities he’s had in his life can be credited to the simple fact that he’s a man. Ability and hard work have precious little to do with his success. An entire gender of people were prohibited from challenging young men like him for opportunities and places at the proverbial table, and men like Rocky don’t equate that with a word like “sexism.” I imagine many of us have had an experience in life where it’s been brought to our attention that our behavior, in some way, has been offensive, hurtful, or even damaging to someone else. In many ways, Rocky epitomizes how many of us react when faced with that idea. Which is to say, we don’t react particularly admirably.
Kristine Holmgren is the author of God Girl. The play has had a handful of workshops over the past few years, and she’s been a huge part of those from what I understand. I came on board for this production at the History Theater. She was at a couple of our early rehearsals, and she was very open about her experiences and answering questions about life in Seminary in the 70s. Most notably, her vast experience as a journalist has made her into a ruthless playwright unafraid of editing. It makes me think playwrights should be required to take journalism classes.
God Girl is about breaking glass ceilings. Has it opened your eyes up to problems or reinforced ideas you already had?
There are inequities in every aspect of our lives. Work, entertainment, religion, you name it. There’s not a single activity or situation where, somewhere along the line, some person or group of people is limited from full and equal participation. So, while this is not necessarily a “new” concept to which I am just now awakening, it’s always a sobering reminder of just how profoundly easy it is in this world to be a (relatively) young, white, straight male living above the poverty line. I have so little to complain about, it’s amazing. Working on this play has been a great reminder of that. Also, language matters. The words I choose to use say so much about who I am as a person. One of the great benefits of this being a play is that it shines extra light on the role of language in the oppression of people.
How are you approaching “Rocky” for this show? 
My approach to Rocky has been to focus on the sincerity of his cluelessness. He really doesn’t grasp that he’s part of the problem. So, with guidance and reminders from director Ron Peluso, I’ve tried not to allow any of the “ridiculousness” that contemporary audiences might assign to Rocky to inform my acting of the part. Rocky’s life has been relatively easy, and his theology is immovable. So, when a group of women comes along and shatters all of the ideas Rocky bases his entire existence on, it’s fairly easy to imagine some guys might be reluctant to that kind of change. This is playwright Kristine Holmgren’s story. These things happened. They’re happening right now. Nothing anyone does in the play is hyperbole. And so none of the characters are a stereotype of anything. Our contemporary inclinations can be to write off male characters in a play about sexism. But I can’t act Rocky that way.
What have you seen/read in the past year that’s inspired you artistically?
In all honesty, I get most of my artistic inspiration from being aware of/working with so many theater artists in the Cities who do everything they do for free. You know, they lose money by being in a show. Parking, gas, meals, childcare, buying their own props and costumes. To me, that’s the great equalizer. It raises the bar. I want to be off-book for the first rehearsal, be on-time, every time, and act the shit out of my scenes. Because no one is in it for the money. It makes we want to be better, because I have no idea what you’ve had to sacrifice to do this play, at your own expense. If you tell me you’re working on a play, I love you. Because I know you’re probably gonna be a couple hundred bucks in the hole when it’s all over.
What draws you to audition for certain projects?
I’m most likely to audition for something if: it’s a play I love by a playwright I respect in a part that would be in some way challenging produced by a company that would seem to have a likelihood of drawing an audience (and press). And, if we’re being honest here, I’d love to be paid more than a “stipend” and if I could get weeks toward my Equity card, that’d be great. Seriously, though, I go with my gut most of the time. We’re all going to sacrifice something to work on this thing for several weeks, and so it should be something that, on an instinctual level, cries out for me to try and be a part of. Play, playwright, part, company, pay, Equity. These are on my mental checklist, and not necessarily in that order.
What have you spent too much money on over the years but don’t regret? (ex. I buy lots of books but I don’t feel like it was a waste of my money, I still value those purchases)
I have a 4 1/2 year old daughter. I’ve spent a bit on her over the past few years. And I don’t regret a penny. Because the more I spend, the more I love. Right? That’s right, isn’t it?
What surprises you most about the twin cities theatre community?
A couple of things consistently surprise me about the Twin Cities theater scene. First off, I think the wide variety of theater styles that achieve consistent success in this community is remarkable. From straight plays with 2 characters to musicals offering garish spectacle to plays featuring puppets making love in a pool of actual chicken blood (I’m not certain about that last one, but I’m willing to bet it’s opening somewhere in Fridley in the next 12 months) there is an impressive depth of styles that theater audiences in the Cities have to choose from – and choose to go and see – from week to week. The second thing is a bit of a criticism. (Pun intended.) I don’t entirely understand why artists, audiences, and critics categorize certain things as “community theater” and other things “professional.” Community theater is almost always a derogatory term, and it usually suggests that it’ll be bad (re. corny, cheesy, melodramatic, poorly acted) and that no one is getting paid. It should be noted that many Community theaters in the Cities pay their actors more than theaters that have had significant success over a period of years and are probably just assumed to be Professional. It also seems to me that critics assign that term to any theater being produced in certain directions relative to the Mississippi River. Some of the best theater in the Twin Cities seems to be branded Community theater because of this mind-boggling and clannish mentality many people seem to have about zip codes and good theater.  And it won’t get the attention and accolades it deserves until critics, specifically, start to accept the fact that most of the work they give attention to isn’t Professional by many industry standards, and that a production doesn’t magically become super awesome if you move it northwest of the Mississippi.
What do you hate most about the acting process?
What do you love the most about the acting process?
I thought about this next one. A lot. And it might sound Pollyanna-ish, but I really just love acting. Everything about the process is invigorating, and every specific role and production has its own particular challenges and rewards that result in acting being the only thing I’ve ever wanted to try and be better at. The parts I hate have to do with things that are often called Rehearsal, but would be better termed Pub Talk. For instance, spending valuable rehearsal time talking about things that won’t actually help me act my part. That’s obnoxious. And it’s usually called Table Work. I also hate it when technical aspirations (sets, props, costumes, laser shows . . .) get more rehearsal time than the acting part. That’s something that happens, and it bums me out. Because I love that moment (and it’s occurred in every play I’ve ever been in) where each actor looks at the other and you see this thought in their eyes: “None of that other nonsense matters. All I have are my lines, my blocking, and these other human beings onstage. We should have spent more time rehearsing with that knowledge.” I love acting, and I love actors. We all are striving to recreate some basic human truths onstage, ultimately trying to show that we’re all in this together.
If you were stuck in a lifeboat – what do you need to have with you?  (you’ve got water and food)
I’m always moved by stories of people who make one last phone call to a loved one before some horrible tragedy takes their life. So, if I were in a lifeboat, I’d love to tell somebody I love them. I’d also hope to have a picture of those people. I wouldn’t want to just go out with my memories. I’m answering this question during tech, however, so being alone in a lifeboat with nothing extraneous seems pretty attractive right about now.
God Girl, playing  through March 1st at the History Theatre in St Paul. Ticket information can be found at historytheatre.com.

Rising Tides: Elohim Peña

We first met Elohim when he signed up to participate in TEASE 2014.  In less than a year, we’ve seen him on stages all over the Twin Cities –  from Freshwater Theatre and Candid to Coup D’Etat and Forgotten Goddess. We’re pretty sure with his talent and captivating personality, it will only be a matter of time before you can’t swing a stick in this town without hitting Elohim.  This time he’s working with Frank Theatre on Love and Information.  You can catch his performance at the Ritz Theatre in Northeast Minneapolis now through February 22nd.

Elohim Peña

 

What drew you to theatre? 
I auditioned for one acts on a whim my senior year of high school, I had a great time, then did the spring play that same year. Then I drifted for a bit through my first couple of years until I took an elective acting class with Kurt Schweickhardt and I fell in love with acting. I started looking for schools and ended training at The William Esper Studio in New York. That was the first time in my life I felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
Love and Information has a really interesting structure from a script stand point – there are no delineated characters etc.  How was the process to create a story (or not create a story) from the text been?
Working on Love and Information has been an interesting project to say the least. At the audition – which I got thanks Joy Dolo – I was asked to do scenes with really funky, fun, and crazy direction. I was asked to do some scenes as a preacher, or a cheerleader, I walked out of the room feeling like I made a total fool of myself, which is always a good thing. Then when we started the rehearsal process we basically spent the first week at the table essentially re-auditioning. We read through it many times playing different scenes, or reversing scene rolls, then Wendy Knox our slick director began to incorporate circumstances and relationships and then we played around with those until we hit something that felt right for each scene.
Were there common themes the cast kept coming back to? 
We talked a BUNCH about the play trying to figure out if there were threads within each section, eventually we ended up deciding as a group what each sections theme was.
What has been the biggest challenge of Love and Information?
The technical part of this show has been the biggest challenge; because of costume changes, scene changes, and the brevity of the scenes we as actors have to be ready to go at the top of the scene. It’s also challenging to have to prepare for your “moment before” when you have seconds between changing costume and getting back out on stage.
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Elohim flashing a smile at the initial read through. Photo courtesy of Frank Theatre.

What have you found inspiring lately?  What have you seen/heard/read that made you want to go out and create art?
I saw Rehearsing Failure at the Southern Theatre and I was taken aback at how amazing non-traditional theatre can be. The cast was incredibly talented, mixing, live music, performance art, with theatre. That performance really made me want to go out and make something.

What prompts you to audition for someone/something?
To be honest just auditioning to audition is something I find really important. The truth about being an actor is that auditioning is the job. I mean I still look for projects that I feel would have a part for me, but as an actor you have so little control over what you’re cast in that you have to put yourself out there constantly. Look at Chris Hemsworth; this guy is Thor, but he had to go out and actively seek Ron Howard to audition for Rush. There are very few actors that have the luxury of waiting for the work to come them.  For this project I was lucky enough that Joy reached out to me and through her I reached out to Wendy to audition for this play. I was just happy that someone thought I could be part of this.
What do you hate most about the (audition, rehearsal) process?
Callbacks
What do you like the most about (audition, rehearsal) process?
Callbacks
Where do you want to be a fly on the wall? 
At the pentagon or in the oval office, I want to know all of America’s dirty laundry.

If you were stuck in a Lifeboat what would you need to have with you? 
Someone to spend the time with, preferably someone I can discuss time travel paradoxes with.
Performances of Love and Information are January 30 – February 22, Thurs-Sat at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There is one matinee on Wednesday, Feb 11 at noon. Tickets are $22-25 and can be purchased now at www.franktheatre.org or (612) 724 3760.

Rising Tides: Suzanne Victoria Cross

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Suzanne Victoria Cross Photo Credit: Sarah Morriem

Last fall, Suzanne Victoria Cross was treading our boards and now she’s back on stage with Walking Shadow in their production of The Coward running through the 28th.  Suzanne has a lot of energy: she managed to finish planning her wedding which happened just two weeks after we closed Raise Your Voice(Suzanne Cross): That F—king Harriet Tubman Play.  

Walking Shadow is well known for their fine production of period pieces. This time, they’ve chosen to do a gender swap the cast, enabling them to take advantage of some serious female talent here in the Twin Cities.  Ladies can duel with the best of them; we’re looking forward to see what other fresh perspectives this choice lends to the text. Their first weekend of shows sold out, so buy your tickets early!

What drew you to theatre, acting specifically?

AHH! Well, my mom started to bring me to shows since I was able to sit still for an hour at a time. I just loved it. Wanted to be a part of it. I just always knew I wanted to be an actor. I knew that was the service I wanted to provide. Over the last 5 years, I have also had a calling for theatre for social change and theatre as a form of therapy and healing. I have worked with many organizations helping individuals explore their lives and issues in their community and country through theatrical exercises and expressions.

Why do certain projects jump out as something you want to say yes to?  What prompts you to audition for someone/something?

I would be lying if I didn’t say the first thing I actually look for is “Black female needed.” When you can work in this field, it’s a good day. Your eye has to be on booking the next job. In the beginning, focusing on quantity versus your own idea of quality can be necessary for survival as an actor. The goal and magic of this field comes when you book a job so you can eat and that job aligns with your skills, desires and passion as an actor. Then that’s a great day. I love roles that are thought-provoking and challenge the audience and myself to look at the world in a new way.

The Coward is a period piece that features an almost all male cast, but Walking Shadow has chosen to do a gender flip, how has it been rehearsing with a cast of almost exclusively women ?

Sorry to report no catfights in this cast. I get the pleasure of working with talented individuals who are taking names and risks left and right. This show has allowed me to become a sponge soaking up talent wherever I can. I am very lucky to be working with such a talented group of people. I also know this is said often when actors talk about cast members. In this case, Amy has done such a great job of casting. We all get to work and expand our wheelhouse, each character is evolving into (in my opinion) exactly who they are supposed to be. These actors, who happen to be women, have been great teachers.

Suzanne at rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Walking Shadow

Suzanne at rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Walking Shadow

Without spoilers, What character are you playing? What are the challenges of the role?

No spoilers? Ummmmmshoot. Ok. I am playing Egbert the Bartender and Sir Derek Lanley. My biggest challenge has been the accent. As my ex cast members from “Raise Your Voice” know, being British ain’t my thing.  Until now! Ha! We have a fantastic dialect coach Keely Wolter, who is so much fun to work with. I have spent many nights falling asleep listening to her voice on my iPod.

Is there sword fighting? Please say there is. Does stage combat get you excited or nervous?

I can’t give any spoilers! But i can say we do have a great choreographer, the lovely Meredith Larson. This play is a beautiful balance of honor, nobility and grace juxtaposed with bloody, bloody violence. I do love doing fight scenes! But unfortunately, I will not be participating in any of them for this show.

Anything coming up after The Coward? Future projects?

I am currently the Operations Manager of Teatro del Pueblo, a non-profit Latino theatre located in St. Paul.  I will be joining Penumbra’s Education & Outreach team as a Teaching Artist this spring.

You’re fairly new to the Twin Cities theatre community- what has surprised you about it?

I was born and raised in North Minneapolis and have been seeing theatre in this city since I was little. I love the wide range of theatre in this town. The most surprising thing to me is those wonderful fellowships that can take place between actors, if you’re open to it. The fellowship in the waiting room going into an audition, in the waiting room going into callbacks, coffee dates when you’re not cast and drinks at the bar when you are (sometimes that’s reversed) We all want the part! But when you find a great support group of actors, like I have found, we also all want each other to succeed. Both of these facts can exist in the same space. I love the friends I have made in the Twin Cities theatre community and the support they keep giving me.

If you could go back and give your younger self or someone else just starting out in theatre (specifically acting) some advice what would you tell them/yourself?

Do, see, read and breathe! Do! take any training, classes and workshops you can afford. use opportunities to work on your craft, even if it’s working on monologues in your living room in front of fellow performers. You’ll never be done learning and growing. This field isn’t finite.  It’s constantly changing, and so should you. See! Support the theatre scene you love and want to be a part of so badly. Don’t just audition for a part and then never see a show from that theatre company if you did not get cast. You auditioned for a reason. Support them.  Read! Keep expanding your knowledge of this art form and that includes new commentary, plays, poetry, novels, history, different genres of performance and films. Be a sponge!   Breathe! if you’re not cast, it’s not personal! Walk into that audition room take a deep breath and know after you leave it’s not in your hands. They choose. If they didn’t choose you, someone will. It’s about who was best for that show determined by that director. Theatre is subjective…Also clean your room, it’s gross.

If you were stuck in a lifeboat what would you need to have with you? (you’ve got food and water)

AHHHH! Ummm my husband Zach, plays (Stoppard, Ionesco, Wilson, Ruhl) all of the Frasier episode scripts, ice cream (you said food but I was worried ice cream wouldn’t count), flare gun, Radio/Cd player with lots of batteries. NOW 90s Dance CD!

 

 

Performances at the Red Eye Theatre (15 West 14th Street, Minneapolis MN 55403)  Febraury 6th- Febraury 28.  Evening performances at 7:30pm and Sunday matinees at 3:00pm.  For more ticket information visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/835993

Rising Tides: Erin Denman

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Erin Denman Photo Credit: Dani Werner

We’re delighted to highlight Erin Denman.  Not only has she been a driving force behind many of our artistic endeavors, but she’s currently  working on a show with nimbus theatre. While rehearsing for several weeks with nimbus, she has also done so many Lifeboat activities – reading new scripts, baking delicious cannoli cupcakes and building a website to name a few.  We seriously wonder when she has time to do all of these things.

This isn’t Erin’s first time with nimbus; she has previously worked with them on Emerald and the Love Song of the Dead Fisherman, The Balcony and The Golden Ass.  The Balcony  was the first show nimbus had in their space on Central Ave, which has since become a staple in the theatre community. Over the years, nimbus has tackled story telling from many different perspectives; company created devised pieces, published scripts, new translations of classics, and new works.  We’re excited to see them tackle the intersection of art, expression, pre-history and storytelling in the devised work In the Age of Paint and Bone.

What drew you to acting (What’s your origin story)?

When I was in high school, I’d been doing tech for shows and I got recruited for the speech team by a teacher. Suddenly, I found myself onstage. I got to run off crying as the kid who doesn’t get into Fame in one show (FAME, obviously) and play a magical rhyming pirate in another. One of my first shows, Susan Lori-Parks’ Venus, exposed me to what theatre could do for me and how I could change an audience. I’ve never stopped seeking that feeling. Fun fact: Tim Daly, a fellow actor in In the Age of Paint and Bone, was also in FAME and Venus with me at DeLaSalle. Go Islanders?

This is the second devised piece you’ve worked on with nimbus and Liz Neerland.  How has the process changed from the first one to the second piece?

This show involves a focus on movement that is entirely different from what we did for The Golden Ass. That show was riffing on tales similar to Aesop’s fables that form  the basis of fairy tales we all know. In the Age of Paint and Bone features historical moments as well as speculation about why prehistoric people created art- the basis for the wordless movement pieces. It’s been a very different but rewarding process. The tech is going to be incredible. Brian Hesser deserves a lot of props for creating such integral character in the cave itself.

What gets you excited about creating devised work?

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Photo Credit Mathieu Lindquist

I love playing with other actors and discovering a story rather than being handed the story. There is a sense of comfort and danger about it: you take risks knowing that you’ve built a support structure with the artists you’re working with. You really get the chance to explore what interests the group before settling on a finished product.

What have you seen/read in the past year (or so) that’s inspired you?


I’ve been particularly artistically inspired by not theatrey things this year. Books, mostly.  I’ve been reading a lot of feminist memoirs. Caitlin Moran inspires me quite a bit. Aimee Bender’s short stories. A book called Ask Me Why I Hurt about providing medical care to homeless youth. Julianne Moore in Still Alice and the National Theatre Live’s broadcast of Coriolanus both shook me. The Dick Van Dyke Show. Seriously. It’s on Netflix, watch it. The actors are so committed to the absurd happenings that it is all entirely grounded. It’s sort of a joy to watch.

After In the Age of Paint and Bone, is there anything you’ve got lined up?

Little Lifeboats business. TEASE takes up a good chunk of my spring. I’m excited to really get to work. This is the time of year I get ideas, so watch out Lifeboats! I may have some tricks up my sleeve yet!

What role have you been particularly proud of over the years?  

That’s a difficult question. Each show/role teaches you so much about yourself and your art. There are a couple more I’d like another crack at though. I’d like to play Evelyn in The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute again. I was proud of what I did there, but I think I was too young to really do it justice. I’d love to play Titania and Emelia again. I’m pretty happy any time I get to do new work.  How’s that for a non-answer?

Not a role, but I’m very proud of TEASE. I’m happy that a little idea became something people enjoy doing and that helps artists connect.

What question should I have asked you but didn’t?

Ahhh…. I don’t know. My favorite beverage is unsweetened ice tea. But not iced green tea. Because that’s super gross.

If you were stuck in a Lifeboat what do you need to have?  (you’ve got water and food)

Oars.
My kindle loaded with books (new overly complicated fiction to take up a lot of time, poetry, autobiographies of comedians, and dumb fantasy novels) and a solar powered charger. And an unlimited supply of sunscreen.

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Performances of In the Age of Paint and Bone will be at the nimbus space (1517 Central Ave) February 7th, 2015- March 1 2015. Matinees at 3pm, Weekend evening at 8pm weeknight evening at 7:30pm.  tickets and more information at www.nimbustheatre.com

Rising Tides: Joy Dolo

This Friday, January 30th, Frank Theatre opens Love and Information, the newest work by Caryl Churchill, at the Ritz Theatre.  Churchill is a playwright that has greatly influenced Frank Theatre’s work, as well as many of the playwrights that the theatre has presented. Frank presented a highly acclaimed production of Top Girls in 1990, followed by Mad Forest in 1993 and Vinegar Tom in 2008.

Love and Information is composed of 57 micro scenes – each with their own story to tell. They explore the rapidly changing world we live in, our search for meaning and our quest for connection.  The ensemble includes company member Joy Dolo; who has been seen on numerous stages throughout the Twin Cities.

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Joy Dolo Photo Credit: Bonnie Allen

 

What drew you to theatre? 

Local Music Director, Actor, and all around amazing human being Kevin Dutcher asked me to audition for a show called Snowy Off-White and the 8 Little Dudes. I played the character of “Itchy” and that spiraled me into theater. I was incredibly shy and had difficulty communicating with anyone. I found my voice in theater.

What prompts you to audition for someone/something?

I guess the first thing I look for is the story. That is one of the reasons I love Frank Theatre because they always stick to productions that highlight social issues or social justice. Also, if something seems challenging, I’ll usually try it out. And of course, comedy.

Love and Information has a really interesting structure – there are no delineated characters etc.  How was the process to create a story (or not create a story) from the text?   Did you all try to stay away from that kind of thinking?

Love and Information has been a great collaborative process. One of the goals was to make each scene individualistic to the situation. Audience members will try to create a story for the entire play, but there isn’t one. It is as if you get a glimpse of several different people, in different situations in their lives. So we took each scene with several people reading and swapping in and out to see which sounded true. Then you figure out the relationship and the setting.

Were there common themes the cast kept coming back to?

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Cast of Love and Information at tech courtesy of Frank Theatre

The common themes that we ran into were how people give, receive, process, interpret, and judge information and where love comes into play within it.

What have you found inspiring lately?  What have you seen/heard/read that made you want to go out and create art?

Love and Information has made me really look at the everyday conversations between people. We all have overheard a conversation on the bus, in the office, over the phone, in line at a movie: Person A says something Person B replies appropriately. I’ve been studying the dialogue of the people around me. That has given me a bunch of inspiration for different characters in this show. I’ve also been stretching my improv and sketch comedy muscles as of late. Not sure where that came from, but it’s been fun.

What has been the biggest challenge of Love and Information?

The biggest challenge would be jumping into the scene. There are over 50 scenes, with hundreds of characters with different contexts and situations. To add to the insanity, some scenes are 4 lines and some are several pages. Jumping into the scene with the appropriate energy and focus has been challenging and incredibly rewarding.

If you were stuck in a Lifeboat what would you need to have with you?  (you’ve got food and water)

Probably my dragons or bubbles game I play on my phone. It’s just the appropriate amount of mind numbing good fun to relax at the end of the day. Or to avoid realizing I’m stuck on a life boat.

 

Performances of Love and Information are January 30 – February 22, Thurs-Sat at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There is one matinee on Wednesday, Feb 11 at noon. Tickets are $22-25 and can be purchased now at www.franktheatre.org or (612) 724 3760.

Rising Tides: Playwright Claudia Inglis Haas

Welcome to our Rising Tides series! Here, we will take the opportunity to interview some of our favorite collaborators about what makes them tick, what they are up to, and where to catch them next.

On January 18th, 2015,  we hosted a reading of the play  The Caruso Sisters by Claudia Inglis Haas at the Phoenix Theater in Minneapolis.  We first met Claudia through TEASE – The Easy Access Script Experience, our event that takes local playwrights and gets excerpts from their work in front of local theatre companies.  Over the years, TEASE has lead to several full productions as well as readings for the writers.  For the past two years, we’ve asked the audience to vote on their favorite scene of the evening; TEASE 2014 selected The Caruso Sisters as their favorite.   The feedback from the audience at this reading was phenomenal, proving once again that women’s stories are as powerful and moving as the men’s stories we so often see on stage.  In this interview, we find out more about the woman behind the words.

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Claudia Inglis Haas

 

Looking back over your work do you find there is a theme in your writing?

I go through stages. In the last five years, I’ve been playing a lot with magical realism. I have had a lot of losses during the last few years so exploring the world through different lenses has been a way of coping. It’s also a jumping off point into the unknown – and I look at ways to solve the unknown. I never will which keeps me on my toes.

You’ve mentioned you’re a native of NY – but have lived in MN for many years.  What keeps you here artistically?

My plan – many decades ago – was to stop here, mooch off of my parents (father moved here for a job at Ecolab) and continue to California. I stopped here – and lo and behold – found a thriving theatre community. It was a wee bit kinder than New York and in many ways took more chances with programming. What’s not to like? I acted, directed, taught and wrote plays. Then, I went and met my husband and had kids. They are all determined to stay here despite the polar vortexes so I’m not going anywhere.

What have you seen on stage in the past year that was inspiring? 

Steerage Song by Theater Latte Da kept me riveted. I’ve always wanted to write about the immigrant experience. I have so many stories from my grandmother’s past that would work on the stage. I haven’t figured out how to make it a cohesive experience – yet.

After Life by Brandon Taitt at the Fringe left me and my family with much discussion – which is good theatre.  And it’s a discussion I entered into (and will continue to discuss in other plays) with And the Universe Didn’t Blink. Brandon’s exploration is very close to my exploration – of the universe, of the after life, of the unknown and I realized after seeing it that I was not close to being done with that theme. Of course, it’s a huge theme! One is never done.

Panties on My Head by Kari Steinbach at the Fringe introduced me to the world of Roller Derby and turned over my preconceived notions – always a good thing. I did one play based on the dialogue/commentary of others (By Candlelight) and love docu-drama. It had me revisiting my play Riders of the Orphan Storm about the Orphan Train Movement.

What kind of challenges do you think a playwright starting out today has versus when you started writing?

The MFA has become more important. The debate as to whether or not to go into debt to go into a field that does not earn a viable living is discussed everywhere. There are theatres that will not look at a playwright without an MFA. So the discussion continues.

As someone who writes predominantly for youth theatre, “the gate-keepers” have intensified. Subjects that I could write freely about 10-15 years ago – are scrutinized. I did have a commission for a middle school – so yes, more tender than older teens. I knew the language had to be G-rated but I was told by the principal to avoid: (of course) sex, drugs, rock and roll, drugs, drinking and also: cutting, any mention of being or discovering one was gay, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, politics, religion – in short – just about anything a 13-year-old would be curious about. And probably already knows. I did sneak a few of those subjects through the back door….

If you could give young you (or a new young writer) one piece of advice, what would it be?

I’m going to go with the obvious: read. Read widely, read everything – just read. I cannot tell you how many wonderful plays are out there because a playwright saw a blurb in a newspaper and said, “Wait! I want to know more.” Plays start from moments in history, a line in a poem, a photograph, a signpost, a fairy tale, a look at the night sky. If you observe and read – you will always have something to write about.

A lot of your work features a female actors and plays for youth, what draws you to these stories?

I wrote The Caruso Sisters for two reasons: absolute love for my slightly nutso (maybe full-blown nutso) Italian family that had a huge hand in shaping my being. And to address the “disappearance” of actresses over forty – indeed actresses over fifty and sixty who are at the peak of their powers but lacking in available roles.

My stories are all personal – they’re not necessarily true but they come from an inner part of me that includes a truth and a question.

Writing for young audiences sings! Whether you’re onstage with nothing but a cardboard moon or surrounded by imagination-on-steroids, a riveted young audience will still your heart. There is an openness with young audiences. Respect them and they will follow you anywhere.

What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects/readings/productions? Did you submit for fringe again?

I did Fringe twice and had a wonderful experience both times. The summer of 2014 was my first summer in 23 years where I didn’t have a play in production and I found I liked my summer – spent in the garden and writing.

I have two shorts coming up in Spokane, WA and Mankato, MN in February 2015. I am also a “semi” at three places that I won’t go into because I am superstitious (it’s an Italian thing). The Caruso Sisters is being considered elsewhere.** As is And the Universe Didn’t Blink (both showcased at TEASE). There’s a 6 month to one year waiting time after a script is sent and/or requested.

I am included in an anthology for plays for young people due out in 2015 and have a new publication coming out with YouthPLAYS in 2015. It’s all gratifying.

If you were trapped in a lifeboat on the ocean what would you most like to have with you? (basic provisions are provided- water/food)

I will assume basic provisions include cheese, chocolate and suntan lotion.

I would need a never-ending pile of page-turning books. I love the ocean but the scenery stays the same for a long time. Trips into other worlds would be good for my morale. As I look back, books have always been my lifeline.

 

 

** Since this interview it has become known that The Caruso Sisters was selected for a staged reading at the Houston Family Arts Center on Jan 22nd.