KENNEDY’S CHILDREN presented by Barnaby Edwards and Regeneration: Have we listened? Are we listening? ARE YOU LISTENING!

KENNEDY’S CHILDREN Starting Performances Next Week

Regeneration Theatre is really smart!

They look behind us first, to get a glimpse of what’s ahead.

It’s a new company dedicated to plays that NEED TO BE SEEN … AGAIN.

Their inaugural production is KENNEDY’S CHILDREN by Robert Patrick, who like Israel Horovitz, is one of the founders of the off-Off Broadway movement. With lines like “The people are hungry and tired and weak and disillusioned, but isn’t that a sure sign that something’s crumbling?” or “I could be wrong; they may be in the pay of the Soviet Russians.”… and “the world is just a swamp of violence and crooked politics”

Maybe we should pay attention.

http://regeneration.brownpapertickets.com

Performances begin tomorrow for this rare revival of Robert Patrick’s Kennedy’s Children, at UNDER St Mark’s in the East Village presented by Regeneration Theatre. And with only six chances to see it, RARE is getting rarer.

“November 22, 1963. The day optimism died for a generation. November 8, 2016. Is history repeating itself? Do we ever learn from the lessons of the past or are we destined to grow up like those who were left behind in Dallas… Kennedy’s Children” says producer Barnaby Edwards, producer and founder of Regeneration. Drama Queens got a chance to meet with several cast and company members so they might share some of their own philosophies with us.

What’s it like to be a woman in indie arts today?

Sara Minisquero (Rona): I’m very very lucky to be immersed in an outstanding network of women in indie theatre whom I admire and never take for granted the work they do and the works I’m collaborating in. Of course there is still a resounding misogyny and inequity in the industry but it’s been a constant push for women to get the recognition they deserve, particularly in the underground scene. We have a fabulous female powerhouse of a director, and an outstanding female stage manager (another often overlooked and underpraised member of the team)- who are both so nurturing, thoughtful and incredibly thorough and organized I feel they command more respect than the men I’ve worked with in the past, for doing the work despite the lack of recognition. I’m not too worried about my fate as a female artist, it’s an uphill struggle but I’m in very good company on the mountain. 

What inspires you as an artist?

Sara Miniquero (Rona): I’m very much inspired today by the arts community at large. The theatrical process has always been cathartic and therapeutic for me, whether I’m an active participant or an audience memeber, live theatre is the medium that touches me most profoundly- sharing breath between the text lines, making connections with a web of actors and designers and technicians. My most sincere take away from each performance I give or contribute to is honoring the strangers who have agreed to sit and listen to me talk in the dark for an hour or two- and bend time that magical way between the curtain rising and falling.

Nicole Greevy (Wanda): Getting to share something universal about the human condition.  That sounds pretentious, but I don’t mean it that way- I mean that there’s such a thrill in being able to make a connection with an audience member- good works of theater, I think, give an audience that moment of, “Oh, me too!” and in that moment of connection you get a chance to shift how a person sees the world and their own place in it.  I’m always so happy when I hear from someone, “I’m still thinking about that play…” because it’s a gift to know your work resonated. Also, making people laugh doesn’t suck.

 

 

 

 

Erin Solér (Director):  I couldn’t pinpoint any one thing. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Art begets art. Sometimes a tiny moment, like early afternoon summer sun streaming through glass bottles, the smell of jasmine and old books, or the sound of a friend’s laugh, can ignite an entire story. Other times, you simply need to dive into the work headfirst, and the art reveals itself. The desire is always there, but sometimes it needs a prod or a kick-start. I’m drawn to theatre largely because it is a collaborative art from. I love creating together; working with other artists inspires me.  

 

 

 

Why independent theater?

Sara Minisquero (Rona): This community, and the kind of art I’m very interested in making lives and breathes and learns to crawl on indie stages. Where the budget is shoestring, or the venue in the middle of nowhere- that’s where an artist can test their metal and focus on what’s most important to the storytelling. Big budget blockbusters do not happen overnight- they cannot exist without experimentation and trial and error, indie theatre is vital to the larger process of creating the commercial works we love and adore down the road. 

Nicole Greevy (Wanda): While we all would like to make lots of money doing this entertainment thing, I think when the objective becomes making a profit, the work has to be done in a way that will, pardon my quoting Kennedy’s Children, “appeal to people in the mass.”  And you lose the chance to take certain risks.  It’s just how things go.  One of the things I loved most about rehearsing this show is knowing it’s going to be a very small space, and the audience will, by necessity of proximity, become a part of it each night.  It’s such a lovely homage to the beginnings of Off-off Broadway theater, which is part of the play.  There would be no way to do that in commercial theater, where the show would have to be directed to work in a large house.  Even if we sell out every night, in the end, it will be a small number of people who have seen the show, but I think that those people will have a theatrical experience that lets them, for a moment, touch the past and link it to the present, not just in a “oh my God, that line still applies to today!” but in the actual execution of the play.  I think the play works fine in a larger space, of course, it’s just it’s a different experience.  I’m really excited about the creative challenge and adventure that doing it in an environmental space affords, and you can’t have that without independent theater to do it.

Erin Solér (Director): Independent theatre allows a lot of space for creativity and experimentation. It’s a fabulous way to learn, grow, and polish. I also like to work! All disciplines in the arts are very competitive! We’re very lucky to live in a city full of fantastic artists. I’ve found the most committed, intelligent, exciting collaborators in independent theatre. The love for the craft really shines. It also tends to be more accessible for audiences; one can choose to see a film, or go see an independent theatre production for about the same cost. Commercial theatre is financially inaccessible to many. I believe that theatre is for everyone. We’re living in an age where Broadway productions are surveying preview audiences about their thoughts on their shows, and making changes based on the results. I’m interested in artist-driven work. The roots of independent theatre in New York city are firmly in places like the Caffe Cino, La Mama, and Theatre For the New City. They gave birth to artists like Lanford Wilson, Robert Patrick, Sam Shepard, John Guare, Moises Kauffman, Ellen Stewart, Elizabeth Swados,  Maria Irene Fornes, Charles Busch, Harvey Fierstein, and Amy Sedaris – pretty great company to be in! 

 

A Rotating Roster hands us quality Without a Net

Mario Claudio reviews
A play written for five characters, with five different teams went into rehearsal for Kristine Niven’s “Buried In Time“. The only difference was for one actor from each group would perform together and not with those in their rehearsal groups. This may seem like a recipe for disaster but actually becomes an endearing performance that is unique and crackling with potential.
Not since the current run of Israel Horowitz “Line” on 13th Street Rep, had I the opportunity to experience this type of rotating roster ensemble. Thankfully on May 6, I was able to experience a Without-A-Net production of “Buried In Time“. Set during current times at a Funeral Parlor where siblings Rusty and Charlotte (Josh Marcantel and Jennifer Laine Williams, respectfully) are in the middle of setting up the hall for their fathers service. They are accompanied by Bernie (Anna Ewing Bull), an eccentric former English Teacher and neighbor to Rusty and Charlotte, and the Funeral Parlor owner and former boyfriend of Charlotte, Zach (Travis Mitchell) with his niece, an upcoming Snap-chat phenom, Cassidy (Michelle Conti) rounded out the 7pm production. Where as the 9pm performance I sat in had Emmanuel Elpenord as “Rusty”, Irene Carroll as “Charlotte”, Liz Parish as “Bernie”, Jared Wilder as “Zach” with Michelle Conti pulling a double as “Cassidy” again.
Each actor was from a different team (summarily: Team Tetzlaff, Team Kane, Team Hilbe, Team Goldberg and Team Watson) for the 7pm production, but all the actors in the 9 pm were all from the Watson Team. The juxtaposition of these two performances was very evident during the course of their runs. While the 9pm group would be what anyone is accustomed to when seeing a standard play, with steady pacing and rehearsed precise movements. It’s the 7pm performance that intrigued me more, the uncertainty of what the other actors would do since they have not rehearsed with each other, helped the chaotic nervousness that would come in the given situation of a funeral.
The dynamic between Charlotte and Zach was more frayed and at times emotionally abrasive with more sense of loss between Josh and Jennifer. One can really feel the divide of the business woman/prodigal daughter against the attentive doting son. While the dynamic portrayed by Emmanuel and Irene was more subdued as if there was not as great of a divide. This gave the appearance that Charlotte visited and communicated much more then the context of the play conveys while Rusty appeared as a milquetoast with a sunny disposition. The same can be said with Anna and Liz as “Bernie”, both had the same eccentric aloofness with bouts of aspiration and musicality, but Anna was a bit motherly in her deliver, where as Liz was more of a quirky jovial Aunt. Just as well with Travis and Jared as “Zach”, Travis appeared apprehensive to go all the way in his characters emotional journey when seeing his High School love, Charlotte which could be the result of the randomizing nature of the performances.Where as Jared had the emotional gravitas that fit his characters story and the situation of the play. The only person that had little difference was Michelle Conti as “Cassidy”, her portrayal was the same for both performances which could be a testament to how grounded she was in who her character was and it worked very well.

Sing It, Sexy Sister!

11-IMG_2075Review by Amy M. Frateo

You might think that a show with women talking dirty is not empowering but you’d be incorrect. Rev. Mary and Granny’s Blue-Mers turned out to be witty, enjoyable, and ground-breaking.

Rev. Mary is singer/producer Mary Elizabeth Micari and Granny’s Blue-Mers is a group of talented individuals all set on providing more than just songs with dirty words but a fascinating piece of history.

The premise of the show is the presentation of songs – ranging from the turn of the 20th century to WWII – in which clever lyrics and brilliant double-entendres are employed to tell the stories of some really ballsy women. Some of these women are known to us today due to their transcendence into mainstream culture, like Mae West and Bessie Smith, but there are others that, due to race and social status, have all but disappeared, like Lil Johnson and Barrel House Annie.

What they all have in common was a knack for a clever turn-of-phrase that would make Cole Porter take notice.

04-IMG_2065The rollicking hour plus showing at New York’s definitive cabaret, The Duplex, started with a national anthem of sorts called “Wild Women Never Get The Blues.” Right from the start, we could see that the titular Rev. Mary will be a joy to behold. Visually and vocally, she was a grand, sexy siren with a pair of lungs to die for. Then the fun began lyrically. With a wink, she extolled her man and how he “stands out” and how her chauffer “rides” her and, of course, exactly where her “king-sized papa” was king-sized. Rev. Mary gave us sultry with the flirty passive-aggressive “Don’t You Feel My Leg” and the winking-admonishment, “Don’t Come Too Soon.”

02-IMG_2062She was joined by a straight-faced ukulele and harmonica playing Liz Rabson, whose deep tones created guffaws from the crowd on tunes like “Keep Your Hand Off It,” “You Stole My Cherry,” and the really clever “Mr. Insurance Man.”

16-IMG_2080Powerful ladies such as these need backup boys and Mario Claudio fit the bill well. He had his own moment in the spotlight with a crowd-pleasing “Pete The Butcher,” in which meat and knives all got REALLY phallic.

32-IMG_2110A really clever device used in the show came later on when a woman seemed to jump onto the stage to offer to join the band. What we got was Emmy Pai singing “Wild About That Thing.”  This old-fashioned red-herring let the audience sing vicariously with the comedic Ms. Pai, as if we are all permitted to talk-or- sing dirty.

Rev. Mary’s band was top-notch: Dan Furman on piano and Nori Naraoka on Bass, both playing like they were oblivious to the sexual innuendos, adding even more reason to feel part of the private club that Granny’s Blue-Mers created.

The night ended where it all began, with a national anthem. This one, bluntly called, “Do Your Duty,” could very well have been a shot-heard-round-the-world for the sexual revolution of the 60s.

Rev. Mary and her troupe, when the laughter dies down, should be commended for presenting a show about strong women in a time when there were too many reasons to be weak; singing of their desires when there were too many reason to not have any.

Next time I attend, I’ll sing along!