Before the show but after life with Olivia Reevell

One Life at a Time by Olivia Reevell, directed by Olivia Reevell; starring Gabrielle Adkins, Colin York, Tom O’Boyle, and featuring Arlo and Jules Bernstein. What happens after death? Where do we go? Do we simply return to the earth that made us? Or maybe there is something bigger than that, something that keeps us driving forward in life.

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

People inspire me. Living in New York there is an endless supply of people to watch, which means an endless supply of inspiration. People say that you should write what you know, so I also draw inspiration from my life and experiences of being British living in New York. 

Tell us about why you wrote this and why it’s important enough to become a film? 

I think the visual aspects of this play are extremely interesting, and because of its unique nature it would have its own life as a film. I think this play is important because it explores people’s beliefs, beliefs on how the world keeps spinning. It is all about human connection and finding that the only way to move on is through human contact. 

In also directing this play, I found that because it is something that is so other worldly, I wanted to let my actors really be heard and let the words do the work. All of the staging, lighting, and sound are all very simple allowing the actors to really shine on stage. 

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

Honestly, it drives me to make people think, make them have a conversation about themselves and the choices they’ve made in their lives. Money and fame are always something that people want in life. However, I would be ecstatic to simply make a living off of my plays. 

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

Yes. This is all I can do. I am so incredibly happy to have finally found what I can do with my life. I started as an actor and now looking back I can safely say that writing is the thing that makes my soul sing, it is all I think about, it is everything that makes me human.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

If I couldn’t write, I wouldn’t be anything. This is exactly where I am meant to be. This is exactly what I am meant to be. 

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

I want history to remember me as someone who managed to change the way we saw the world. I feel like this might be a large goal, but if I can influence even two people to just start a conversation that they never thought to have, then I would have done my job.

Last words? 

I am incredibly grateful to be apart of this festival! It’s exciting that I’ve produced something that I am truly proud of, and I think people will really enjoy watching. 

autumn-2016-mitf

The Firm of Brel, Weill, Aznavour, and PHILLIPS

vickie-phillipsVICKIE PHILLIPS RETURNS TO MITF: Keeping Alive the Great Music and Vibe of Brel, Weill, and Aznavour by Bob Ost and Vickie Phillips, directed by Bob Ost. With New York Bistro Award winners Vickie Phillips and music director Gerry Dieffenbach who explore the human fragilities of life and sweep their audience on a rapturous carousel ride as they keep alive all the magic of these composers. Encore! (Cabaret) . Performance Dates: Sat 11/05, 2:45pm.

Lounging with a frilly cocktail in her sultry negligee … or is it a sultry cocktail and frilly negligee… with chatted with Vickie Phillips

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

LIFE INSPIRES ME.  TRAVEL INSPIRED ME. FINDING THE SYNAGOGUES IN EASTERN EUROPE. WHAT STOOD AND WHAT WAS DESTROYED. VISITING THE DEATH CAMP IN PRAGUE.

What is your vision and process for the play/part

FIND LIVE THEATER/MUSIC MORE EXCITING IN ART OF CABARET.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.” 

TO CONNECT WITH LIVE AUDIENCES ……HUMAN AND SADNESS….SONGS THAT HAVE UNFORGETTABLE MEANING TO THE SOUL. WHAT I CAN & DO, IS A NEVER ENDING PROCESS OF CREATIVITY!

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

die

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

with love

Last words? 

return again return again

return to the  land of your soul

return to who you are

return to what you are

return to where you are born

and reborn again!

 

autumn-2016-mitf

ATALANTA makes a CASE … Actually Case makes one for ATALANTA

atalantaATALANTA by Case Watson, fight choreographer Rocio Mendez, directed by Courtney Self; starring Laurel Andersen, Grace Bernardo, Zelda Gay, Al Patrick Jo, Rocio Mendez, Lynett Vallejo, Blanca Vivancos, and Case Watson. Ovid tells us that Atalanta was the most skillful hunter in all of ancient Greece, until social pressure and a devious plot forced her to accept a husband. By all accounts, her story ends there. But what if this ending were a lie? What if, instead of accepting her fate, she had panicked and fled?  Performance Schedule: Tues 11/01, 7:00pm; Sat 11/05, 5:30pm; Sun 11/06, 4:30pm

Words of Wisdom from Case Watson

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

Lesser known stories inspire me. There’s a way to make the cliché truth of there being no more original stories work in your favor, and I love the creative challenge of breathing new life into an old, forgotten tale. Discovering the adventures of someone history books have neglected is an extremely rewarding source of inspiration.

Tell us about why you wrote this. 

I’ve wondered to myself whether Atalanta would make a good film. I wrote the story as a play because I love the way theater demands the coexistence of 2 worlds. But I would love to see such a women-centric story made exponentially accessible through film, especially now that there is such demand and need for complex women in movies.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

The ultimate goal is to make a living at what I do while making the work I love. At this point, I’d rather be a face you can’t quite place. God knows what I’d do or say if I were famous. I have to censor myself enough just for a written interview.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

I think there are many things I could do, and I think to suggest otherwise would be a romanticization and a limitation. I don’t believe in putting a limit on one’s potential, but that is a large part of why I love my chosen profession. I can be an actor who goes on to write and produce, and from there moves on to direct and design. I can even do something unrelated to the arts and use it as inspiration later. Unlike other professions I might have chosen, though, the arts afford me the opportunity for an unending exploration of myself and my place in the world around me. I love that with the life I’ve chosen, I’ll never be done uncovering new leaves of my potential.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

Travel. And then do it anyway.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

I’d love to be remembered for reminding people of those history has chosen to forget. I’d love to leave a legacy of having helped give complexity back to women who have been historically oversimplified. I still have a lot more I’d like to say, and so do they.

Last words? 

Not if I can help it.

autumn-2016-mitf

Auteur Renee McNeil presents another deep exploration on stage

renee-mcneil-new-headshotThe Double Heart by Renee McNeil, directed by Renee McNeil; starring Robert Bryson and Chelsea Clark. A man receives another part of a heart, but is he capable of living with it?

Renee McNeil digs deep in her writing, here’s why…

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you? 

Change, discovery, the need to create.

What is your vision and process for the play/part

Always finding the clarity of the story and characters. Am I communicating what I would like to show and say.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

Consistently working and a professional at it.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

No…I don’t believe that. I believe you can do many things but what are the God given gifts, talents skills you already have and also you keep growing in other areas and so you can produce in those also. And what is the God given desire in you already and desires can grow and change.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

Many other things.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

A loving, giving person. To help make a difference, to be a need in this world.

Last words? 

God is the ultimate creator and we are in the image of God. So, we are vessels of God and can create many things also. Don’t limit yourself and what God can do through you.

autumn-2016-mitf

MITF has Katrin’s Barbarians

elbisnopsers

THE ELBISNOPSERS written by Katrin Arefy, directed by Tana Sirois; starring Ann Herberger, Patrick Hamilton, and Shelley Valfer. It’s about Barbarians and it’s about you! A true story! Performance Schedule: Wed 11/16, 7:45pm; Fri 11/18, 6:00pm; Sun 11/20, 12:30pm

Sounds surreal… because it is. Katrin Arefy elaborates

1. We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

People inspire me. Observing how they live their everyday lives inspires me. I can hear a phrase from a random person, store it in my inspiration box, and a piece of writing can grow out of that phrase, sometimes years later.

Tell us about why you wrote this.  

I wrote The Elbisnopsers because I was struggling with the question what is the answer to Islamic extremism. But then when I started to write, the play turned in a different direction, and I followed it. The play ended up questioning whether we care about anything that’s even a little beyond our noses and If we even know much about that “other” that we are so scared of.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

I want it to make a difference in the world, and I want it to touch generations. My goal is to create something that is timeless, and my dream is that one day, our great-grandchildren will look at the art and literature of our time and say, “Wow, people had to struggle with strange problems in the twenty-first century!” My dream is that what we are suffering from today becomes impossible for children of the future to even imagine. But that might require some GMO work on human genes! 

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

I can relate to that answer because for years I used to say, “Yes, this is all I can do” when people asked me if I still taught piano. It feels really good to see that I can do more than one thing. I am a classically trained piano teacher. That is my profession. Writing is my vocation.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

Hmm…I don’t know. This talent was given to me. If I couldn’t do this, I would have probably been given another talent to pursue, and I might have loved that. But writing is my gift, and I am grateful for what I was given.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

I am still at the beginning of my writing career, but if I live long enough to achieve what I wish to achieve, I want to be remembered as a writer whose work is timeless.

Last words?

I want to thank Tana Sirois the talented director who is working on my play THE ELBISNOPSERS. She made it so easy for me to produce the play for the festival, and I am looking forward to seeing how she interprets my work.

autumn-2016-mitf

teatro eccellente @ MITF

ciaoCIAO BAMBINO Music, lyrics and book by Elizabeth Turner, directed by Eizabeth Turner. Piano and Musical Arrangements by Andreas Häberlin; starring Tia Andriani, Ari Axelrod, Moriel Behar, Ashley Brooke,Gianmarco Colucci, Morgan Daniels, Anna DeBlasio, Lisa Franklin, Andrea Galata, Taylor Johnson, Bob Long, Trevor Nalepka, Liz Pegg, Juliana Phillipi, Elizabeth Turner, Kasey Yeargain, Mijon Zulu. An Italian-American musical filled with love, passion, and laughter that the entire family can enjoy. (Musical)

Performance Schedule: Fri 11/11, 3-5:00pm

We chatted with Elizabeth Turner about her new musical…

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

For me personally, I think both come hand in hand. Personal experiences from the past, and from aspirations and dreams of the future is what drives me in my writing and story telling. However, many of the characters and music I have written have come from several different, and eccentric muses.

Tell us about why you wrote this.

As a performer going on auditions, I was always told “Great voice, but we’re looking for 6 ft tall, blonde dancers”. I wanted to create a piece, in which showcases my strengths as a writer, and performer. To create my own opportunities, and for other actors/musicians that are in the same boat as I am in. In 2016, there are few musicals that address the culture, and heritage of Italian-Americans and that embrace the style of language and music. I wanted to create a new work of art that addresses all of this, that myself, and fellow actors and musicians can portray accurately. In 2016, there are few musicals that address the culture, and heritage of Italian-Americans and that embrace the style of language and music. I wanted to create a new work of art that addresses all of this, that myself, and fellow actors and musicians can portray accurately. I think this story and music would work very well on screen.

What is your vision and process for the play/part

Elizabetta, the main role that I will also play is a young woman from Italy, that moves to Nyc in 1965. She deals with social, cultural and language barriers of being an Italian woman in Nyc in 1965. Having a passion for music, romance and adventure she is optimistic, and faithful while going through challenges. To portray this character accurately, a lot of research was conducted of the 1960’s, and Italian-American culture in Nyc to really nail down the part.

 

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

For audiences across the globe to hear and see my storytelling and music!

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

I would agree! I eat, sleep, and breathe acting/music and writing. Nursing school or Insurance doesn’t look bright in my future.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

I try and be diverse with my strengths in this business, not only as a performer, but also a writer, producer, director, choreographer and composer. At any given moment in my career, I may pick up one of these hats! So, I try and stay well-rounded within the industry. However, if Entertainment could not be an option, I would secretly love to work for the FBI!

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

As a passionate, romantic, adventurous, creative young woman and story teller.

Last words? 

La Vita Bella!

autumn-2016-mitf

Bridget Dennin shares some thoughts on SHIELDS OF BLUE @MITF

shield

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

I like to draw from real life experiences and morph them with current topics I find interesting.

Tell us about why you wrote this. 

I don’t think they’re topics that have been talked about enough in this format. I think it’s very rare a play becomes more relevant as time passes, not less. And over the past year, I hate to say it but this topic just keeps coming up more and more.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

I want to give everyone the chance to tell their side of the story.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

I think anyone can do anything they set their mind to. But while I’m sure there are other things I could do, this is all I want to do.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

I’m not sure. I honestly can’t imagine my life without theater.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

I want them to remember me for my ambition and professionalism. And hopefully success.

Last words?

Come see Shields of Blue!

autumn-2016-mitf

Diana Rissetto talks WARMTH and the Holocaust @ MITF

dianaheadshot-1MITF presents WARMTH by Diana Rissetto, directed by Lionel Ruland; starring Diana DiCostanzo, Lev Harvey, Matthew Dean Wood, Stacey Lightman, and Taylor Henkin. Quirky comedy about a young woman who volunteers at an offbeat Holocaust charity. (Comedy-Drama)

Performance Schedule: Wed 10/26, 7:00pm; Thurs 10/27, 6:00pm; Fri 10/28, 7:30pm; Thurs 11/03, 8:30pm

 

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

New York City! You can’t help but be inspired every single day living here and taking a long walk and observing the city and people watching doesn’t cost a thing. I also have been blessed with hilariously funny friends who are always giving me material.

Tell us about why you wrote this and why it’s important enough to become a film? 

Holocaust movies and plays are constantly being released, and I think it is so important that we keep telling these stories, especially since we are sadly losing these survivors and rescuers. My story takes a different approach, focusing on a young woman who knows we can’t know for sure how we would have acted during the Holocaust, but we are responsible for our actions now.

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

When I think about the writers who have inspired me the most—Wendy Wasserstein, Michael Landon, Edward Burns—I would love to know that other people thought of me with such love and respect as I do them. And if I ever get to the point where I am legitimately “NYC theatre famous”, I want to be one of those theatre people who are also known for being nice to everybody.

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

Day job: publicist. I particularly like working with writers. I know what they feel like.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

Probably teach the second grade. I used to teach CCD to second graders and kids are so fun at that age.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

She made people laugh and she was okay laughing at herself.

Last words?

Thank you for supporting new plays!

autumn-2016-mitf

 

BREASTLESS, at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, written [because she had to] by Laurel Turk

 Breastless is a play about the impact of double mastectomy on body image and sexuality.  Intimate monologues are interspersed with satirical song and parody.  The main character is lesbian, feminist, and chooses not to have breast reconstruction surgery.  She struggles with her political ideals about not wanting to hide the reality of breast cancer versus the fact that she no longer feels beautiful.  She also struggles with the effects of cancer treatment on her sex life.  The main character is supported by three women actors who take on other characters as needed.  They also serve as a chorus of “voices” in group scenes and songs, which broaden the discussion and highlight that this is not just one woman’s story.

I have passions for singing, writing, environmental activism, and for laughing as much as possible.

I am is a first time playwright.  A lifelong journal writer, I began writing the pieces that became “Breastless” when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.  Having a love of musical theater, my first impulse was to write  “Breast Cancer:  The Musical,”  but as I lived through the trauma of treatment, my sense of humor was seriously challenged, and the writing evolved into a more serious and vulnerable piece.

My writing has always been very personal, and so my Muse tends to be those parts of myself that are either clamoring to be expressed, or the parts that are hidden away and silently waiting for me to notice them. Sure, I’d like Breastless to be famous.  I want is for a lot of people to see it, and for it to be part of changing breast cancer culture. I think if more of us told the truth about the realities of breast cancer, everyone would have to take this epidemic much more seriously.

I wrote this because I had to.  . I want to find  different way to be involved in breast cancer activism.  And I would want to be involved with helping other women express their authentic voices in one way or another. Going through breast cancer is an intense experience, and I kept sane by writing.  And I couldn’t find much written about the effects of cancer AFTER treatment––no one was talking about the struggles with body image, sexuality, and intimacy.   I also noticed there was a lot of pressure in cancer culture to be positive, strong, or courageous, and that many women weren’t giving themselves permission to say and feel what was really true for them.  The importance of this piece is in its honesty.  It’s also important because its rare to see a woman who has had a double mastectomy without reconstruction show her body onstage.  (There’s no nudity, but just the shape of my body in a leotard is a key part of the experience.)  I also noticed that women often choose breast reconstruction surgery without being fully aware of what it involves. Although many women love their reconstructions, some have regrets about the multiple surgeries and aren’t happy with the results.  (I respect all the choices women make around reconstruction, I just feel like we should have a truly informed choice.) It’s also a lesbian story, and a feminist story, and I’ve been amazed how little feminism there is in the current mainstream breast cancer culture.  And even thought the story is personal and specific, everyone can relate to it.  We’ve all felt uncomfortable in the locker room at the Y.  We’ve all had moments when our partner wants to make love and we don’t.  Most of us struggle with how we feel about our bodies in one way or another.

I would want to be remembered as someone who created and honest piece of writing, who had a sense of fun and humor, and who made it easier for women to talk about the not so pink-happy-and-hopeful aspects of breast cancer.

Witches, Magicians, and Trump: Scary Offerings at The Midtown International Theatre Festival’s Short Play Lab

in-world happyhallo hazelbertDrama-Queens chatted with three of the playwrights part of MITF’s Short Play Lab about their scary offerings: Matt Sanders’ Happy Halloween, Harry Houdini by Matt Sanders, directed by Liana Afuni; starring Eric Leeb and Jesica Levi. On Halloween, two amateur magicians, Wendell and Mimi, meet at Houdini’s grave: will it be trick or treat? Witchhazel by Leonard D. Goodisman, directed by Kristofer Kauff; starring Paige Taylor and Jay Cobian. She says the place is haunted; and then he “knows” it is, very haunted.

And the scariest of them all…

In a World … Where Donald Trump is President by Lisa L. Kirchner, directed by Charles Sanchez; starring Rosa Chapa, Roberto Tolentino, and Jorge Chapa. In A World… Where Donald Trump is President takes place in a so-called camp along TexMex border, where the Residents have just learned the promise of citizenship has been denied.

 

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you? 

Kirchner: I am inspired by people, places and things every day.

Goodisman: People confronting the world and feeling strong emotions corralled or not corralled by their awareness and understanding of the world.

Sanders: Awe for what words can do.

 

Tell us about why you wrote this?

Kirchner: There is nothing more important than doing anything I can to point out the kind of world that Donald Trump sees, and what horror it truly would be.

Goodisman: I wrote it to explore how we doubt the supernatural but can’t help believing in it if we can control it. The play will leave the audience wondering about this for themselves and their own experience.

Sanders: The world needs more funny plays about magicians.

 

What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.” 

Kirchner: I want to see [my play] “Utopia” open on Broadway and tour theater companies across the nation.

Goodisman: My plays to make a difference in the direction theater takes.

Sanders: Wealth.

 

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do? 

Kirchner: Yes. And I love it so it’s not really work.

Goodisman: No Never. More to come. This is a step.

Sanders: No, I can also teach, do office work, and wiggle my ears.

 

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do? 

Kirchner: Well I guess then nothing.

Goodisman: I don’t know.

Sanders: My day job.

 

How do you want [legit] history to remember you? 

Kirchner: There is no such thing as legit history; that’s my whole point! 😉

Goodisman: As someone who contributed to theater.

Sanders: As a mentsch.

 

Last words? 

Kirchner: Perfect is the enemy of done.

Goodisman: This play will challenges and entertain and leave a tickle and a thought in people’s minds.

Sanders: I’m glad this is over.

autumn-2016-mitf