Martin Denton, Martin Denton in July

MDMD postcard

I’m so excited this show is happening in July at the Kraine Theatre! I got to work directly with Martin on creating this piece. You can read a bit about the process on Adam Szymkowicz’s excellent blog. Martin gives his thoughts on being the subject of this on his blog. I am so glad he has trusted me with his story.

I’m getting to work with some of my favorite people. My partner in life and art Aimee Todoroff is directing. The very wonderful clown Marisol Rosa-Shapiro will join me onstage to bring all the characters to life. Matthew Fischer will be doing our sound and lighting designs. Frequent ERD collaborator Barbara Davidson will be doing the costumes and Manny Rivera will be the stage manager. I’m so happy to work again with Emily Owens as our press rep.

What will the show be like? Well, I like to describe it as what might happen when a comedy double act does a storytelling slam. Marisol and I will be playing Martin Denton and Rochelle Denton, who are going to be playing the other characters. (I once worked with a lighting designer who said he stopped counting the levels of reality in something I wrote when he got to five before the end of the first page. I think I keep this one down to only three or four.) It is set the week when they moved out to New Jersey in the fall of 2014.

It won’t be a documentary of theater in the last 20 years, though some of that will be covered in this. The good people at Decades Out have already been working on the definitive doc on downtown NYC theater. It also won’t be an evening of impersonations.

This will be a piece of theater that tells Martin’s story. There will be some allusions to Thornton Wilder’s Our Town for reasons that are explained in the show as well as some inside jokes and a few indie theater tropes layered throughout.

My 15th anniversary in NYC is coming up this August. It is amazing to me how much the city has changed in that time. That’s the length of five generations in theater years! One thing that remained reliable through most of that time was Martin Denton. For people who know him, I hope this will bring up good memories. For those who don’t, I hope this will give you an idea of the impact of his work.

It runs July 6 to 23. Tickets are $20 and $25. You can get more details on the Elephant Run District website. Or, you can go ahead and order your tickets here.

Circling Back with LIT

Guy Yedwab and I were invited to talk about the League of Independent Theater at Articulate Theatre Company‘s event at the The Theater Center to honor the impact and many contributions made by Circle Rep. and its members. So many incredible people were there. It was a real honor getting to share with them what the League does. Our complete speech is below the picture. I was happy with how we could earn so many laughs and applause breaks talking about arts advocacy!

Big thanks to Cat Parker for having us there with Jeff Daniels, William Mastrosimone, William Hoffman, A.R. Gurney, Marshall W. Mason, Lou Liberatore, Glenn Alterman, Dennis Parichy, John Lee Beatty, Chuck London, Jennifer von Mayrhauser, Tanya Berezin, Setphanie Gordon, Burke Pearson, Shay Gines, Cyndi Coyne, Jeffrey Sweet, William Carden, Robert Askins, Leonard Jacobs, Richard Frankel and many others. 

LIT Circling Back

Guy Yedwab and I have quite a good double act for advocacy.

 

Chris: Our thanks to Cat Parker for having us be part of this incredible night.

Guy: One of the lasting legacies of Circle Rep was defining the Off Off Broadway scene. Out of that legacy, the League of Independent Theater grew out of a gathering of theater artists in 2008 in response to a crisis created by the significant loss of Off Off Broadway spaces and the constraints of the Equity showcase code. We wanted to give a voice to that collection of artists that the Circle Rep brought together.

Chris: From this, a 501c6 non-profit was born. 501c6 because this allows us to endorse in political races.

Guy: In 2013, we created a Performing Arts Platform, which you can read about on our website litny.org, and endorsed in 18 city-wide races and over 50% percent made it into office. We also made a beautiful voting guide of arts-friendly candidates.

Chris: And we got a candidate for Mayor to use the term “independent theater” on TV!

Guy: This process let us tell the story of the cultural and economic impact of independent theater in New York City. We transform neighborhoods because we make more than 3,000 productions a year in all of the 5 boroughs.

Chris: To those in politics and business who do not think arts are important, we simply ask if they are for small business. Usually they will say, “well, of course, I’m for small business.” “Then you should be for independent theater because we are an important economic driver of the city, to the tune of several million dollars annually.”

Guy: We’re now a part of the conversation; we’ve seen new tracts of affordable housing for artists, increases to the cultural budget, and other gains — because we have a voice, stay engaged and active, and bring our independent passion to city politics.

Chris: Since LIT started, we’ve lost 72 performance spaces. To counteract this trend, we developed a heavily subsidized rehearsal space program that has helped over 20 companies be able to take residence in unused commercial spaces to rehearse for long stretches of time without interruption or having to lug their props and costumes on the subway. More about this can also be found on our website, litny.org.

Guy: As codes and agreements began changing at Actors’ Equity, LIT has worked to establish communications with Equity to find common ground in treating actors well but also allowing independent theater to be developed and not have such a huge financial leap between levels of production.

Chris: We also are bringing artists together with our Green Practices working group and other initiatives to come. We continue to seek creative ways of addressing issues facing the independent territory, and we do everything on less than $200 a year.

Guy: If you want to get involved, please join us at litny.org.

Chris: Membership is free.

Guy: Long live Circle Rep.

Chris: And long live independent theater in New York!

Ah, Wilderness!

Had the pleasure of playing Uncle Sid in Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! for American Bard Theater Company this week at one of the studios at Playwrights Horizons.  Some people like Long Day’s Journey Into Night or A Moon for the Misbegotten more but I think this was his finest play.

I used to do one of Richard’s monologues back when I was a freshman in college and got to see it performed when I worked one summer at the Monomoy Theatre in scenic Cape Cod. While this play is quite delightful, there is a subversive quality to the nostalgia.

Because the cast of this play is so big, it is rare that it gets performed. One of the great things about this staged reading was Daria DeGaetano’s exceptional reading of the stage directions. O’Neill gives certain insights with them and I think something is missed without them. This was a really great cast. Not included in the picture below were Michael Birch, Holleye Gilbert, Lincoln Hayes, and Helen Herbert. It was directed quite impeccably by Aimee Todoroff.

Special doff of the cap to Michael Heitzler, Jack Herholdt, and the rest of American Bard. It was a really fun evening!

ah wilderness

With some of the cast: Lisa Barnes, Rachel Cora Wood, Glenn Provost, Steven Hauck, Deven Anderson, and Cheri Wicks.

East Side Stories: The Indelible and The Vanguard

The casts of The Indelible and The Vanguard.

The casts of The Indelible and The Vanguard. From left: Jody Christopherson, Tammy McNeill, Brigitte Barnett, Lillian Rodriguez, Jason C. Brown, and Randy Lee outside the Metropolitan Playhouse.

I directed the six brave actors pictured here on break from rehearsal. They went into the East Village and found six people to interview. They transcribed those interviews and created humorous, haunting, and inspiring monologues, which they perform as their subjects, using the actual words of the people they are portraying. Each of the subjects have incredible stories and I’m very proud of my casts and the creative team for making such enjoyable evenings of performance. You can read more about the project and our process on NYTHEATER NOW. Performances will take place at the Obie Award-winning Metropolitan Playhouse, 220 East 4th Street between Avenues A and B.

The Indelible:

That’s How Angels Arranged written and performed by Lillian Rodriguez* as Jonas Mekas
Filmmaker, poet, and artist. Founder the Film-Makers’ Cooperative and the Film-Makers’
Cinematheque, now the Anthology Film Archives http://www.jonasmekas.com

¡COLORBOMB! written and performed by Jason Brown* as Jeanise Aviles
Hair Artist/Color Specialist/WigMaker/PerformanceArtist/KnitBomber

Gimmee Life written and performed by Tammy McNeill* as Jimmy Webb
Manager and buyer at Trash and Vaudeville (A.K.A. the punk Peter Pan)

For tickets, click on the dates below:

Wednesday, April 15 at 7pm. Saturday, April 18 at 4pm. Monday, April 20 at 7pm.
Friday, April 24 at 7pm. Sunday, April 26 at 4pm. Tuesday, April 28 at 7pm.
Saturday, May 2 at 7pm. Sunday, May 3 at 1pm.

********************************

The Vanguard:

Not to Judge written and performed by Randy Lee* as Corlie Ohl
Your friendly, bossy, sassy, and giving real estate agent

Negative Processing written and performed by Brigitte Barnett* as Alex Harsley
Media Artist, Founder and Director of the 4th Street Photo Gallery located in the Lower East Side.

Because You Are Good written and performed by Jody Christopherson* as Clove Galilee
Experimental Theater Artist, Choreographer, and Mabou Mines Artistic Associate

For tickets, click on the dates below:

Friday, April 17 at 7pm. Sunday, April 19 at 1pm. Tuesday, April 21 at 7pm.
Saturday, April 25 at 1pm. Sunday, April 26 at 7pm. Thursday, April 30 at 7pm.
Saturday, May 2 at 1pm. Sunday, May 3 at 4pm.

Alphabet City Audition Notice

Alphabet City
Theatre
The Metropolitan Playhouse
AEA Seasonal Showcase-NYC
Salary: $250 stipend

Producer: The Metropolitan Playhouse
Director: Chris Harcum
Casting Director: Alex Roe

Playwriting period: Feb. 18 to March 23
First rehearsal: March 24
First performance: April 14
Closes: May 3

Submission deadline: Thursday, Feb. 12 at noon

The Obie Award-winning Metropolitan Playhouse is casting six Equity actors, with writing skills, of all ages and types who are interested in developing and performing solo work. All ethnicities are encouraged to apply. Performances will be based on interviews conducted with residents of the East Village/Lower East Side. Performers will seek a resident in the neighborhood whose life story will be a subject of the performance. Performers will then interview the resident, and, using his/her own words, create and perform a twenty-minute monologue. Performers will work with the director Chris Harcum but must work well independently. The developed scripts for these monologues must be ready by the first rehearsal on March 24. This is the 11th annual installment of this interview/performance series and will be presented as a part of Metropolitan Playhouse’s East Side Theater Festival in April 14 to May 3, 2015.

To be considered for this project, applicants must participate in an audition workshop on either Saturday, Feb. 14 from noon to 3 p.m. or Tuesday, Feb. 17 from 7 to 10 p.m. You will be requested to stay the full time. Please only submit if you are able to make one of these appointments and will have enough time to work on this project as an interviewer/playwright from Feb. 18 to March 24 and handle the rehearsal and performance schedules.

Please submit via Actors Access or send a .pdf of your acting resume and a jpeg of your headshot to casting (at) metropolitanplayhouse.org, along with your preference of audition date and any experience you might have with solo performance, storytelling, or creating work. While not necessary to be considered for this project, it will help us get to know you better.

End of 2014

Aimee made this nice image for the holidays. She took the picture of the Little Red Lighthouse during one of our long walks. (It’s about 70 blocks north of our abode.)

I admit I am in a place of deconstructing what I want to do to celebrate the holidays and create new traditions, rather than being locked in doing things just because that’s what’s always been done.

Whatever you believe or don’t believe, I hope your holidays are a time of good feelings. It’s a real shitty time for a lot of people. There is a lot of needless pressure and unrealistic expectations to have a good time that’s put on people by society. If that’s how you feel, I hope you can draw a line in the snow and make your own traditions too.

I look forward to the possibilities of 2015. Thanks for being part of my life, even if it’s only on the web.

holiday 2014 image