Experiments in mind, body, and art this summer


The (Last) Station is written in the avant-garde style of Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, complete with the unlying yearning for a different reality. The distracted and neurotic characters have one objective: to go to the sea. But this turns out to be a mission impossible. Matters complicate even more because of the mysterious radio announcements in which a menacing Orwellian voice of “Mister Tenant” constantly makes vague threats. How much of their lives are governed by fear?

THE (LAST) STATION by Eugene Muzica performs June 15 @ 9:30 PM; June 18 @ 4:30 PM; June 19 @ 7:00 PM; June 29 @ 5:00 PM; and July 6 @ 7:00 PM. For tickets, visit PlanetConnections.org.


Planet Connections Theatre Festivity are multiple theater, film and music festivals. Planet Connections’ artists use their work to shed light on causes that matter and inspire audiences to get involved. All of PCTF’s artists raise awareness for an organization or topic of their own selection.

14612610_1791302147826116_1219186621758224804_o (1)What does innovative producer, Irina Abraham, thinks of the art and the industry…

What inspires you as an artist?

An artist is like a restless hunter. Sometimes we have to sit quietly for hours, other times run around like mad men. All of it is for this precious encounter with Her Majesty Inspiration. Muses are rather unforgiving capricious things. You can’t ignore them, because they will never forgive that, you have to work hard for them to pay attention to you and sometimes you do nothing at all and they grant you an audience.

An artist has to be always alert and always active. The mind has to be open and ready, senses sharp. Paying attention to everything is important: a lady on the subway with a peach in her hand, a man walking down 14th street wearing a cape, a piece of music that suddenly opens a whole Universe to you, a line you accidentally overheard, a poem you read over someone’s shoulder, a crack on a wall that looks like a strange creature… Inspiration is everywhere.

Why independent theater?

This is a place where we can create freely without restrictions or, ironically, financial concerns. I find it ironic because we have no money in independent theatre, and strangely that is what sets us free from it. We constantly have to find creative solutions to our financial restrictions and yet – we do not owe anything to anyone, there is no one to please. Of course, we treasure and respect our audience, but in this case we are not on stage to please it, but to bring our artistic truth, to share generously our most treasured thoughts and ideas. We constantly hope and search for connection and an honest dialogue with our audience members.

Another thing is the industry. Actors and directors alike are constantly concerned with the industry rules, standards, networking, fundraising, pleasing, pleading, seducing, convincing, etc. When we get together for a rehearsal, all of that stays out. We talk about art, we focus on art and all the talk about headshots, producers, making it, finding money, losing money  – all of that stays outside and is none of our concern. The spirit of experimentation, creative search and love for what we do are the most important things in independent theatre. I hope it will stay this way.


Here is where you goon an adventure into the unknown: 


Two Queens of Drama

shirleyAfter achieving great acclaim with this one-woman show at Florida’s Sarasolo Festival in Sarasota, Jan Wallace reprises her role in Shirley and Me at this summer’s Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. SHIRLEY AND ME is about Jan Wallace‘s relationship with the character “Shirley Valentine” (a not so young working class Liverpool lady who just takes off on holiday to Greece sans husband). Inspired from Jan Wallace‘s years of performing the award winning 1986 Willy Russell play, SHIRLEY VALENTINE, to theater audiences in Connecticut and the New York area. SHIRLEY AND ME allows Wallace to relive her experience of performing SHIRLEY VALENTINE with humor and honesty, exploring how it affected her then and how the character of “Shirley” inspires her now.

Jan Wallace Writer and Performer (1)Unlike Shirley Valentine, Jan did not leave her husband, he, sadly, left her. Michael Wallace passed away from a brain tumor and Jan dedicates this series of performances to his memory. She has joined forces with the The National Brain Tumor Society to honor him with a specific donation site: www.nbtsevents.braintumor.org/JanWallaceDonations.

Performances are June 17 @ 5:15 p.m.; June 19 @ 7:30 p.m.; June 23 @ 5:30 p.m.;
June 25 @ 8:00 p.m.; July 2 @ 3:45 p.m.; and July 7 @ 7:00 p.m. For tickets, visit PlanetConnections.org. https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/27385

This is a deeply moving piece for you. But what inspires you as an artist?

Communicating and telling my story to an audience is what really inspires me.    When I can reach out and make them laugh or cry, inspire them, or educate them – then I am doing my job.

Why do it “here;” why independent theater?

Independent theatre gives actors the opportunity to perform in small venues, often in a black box to an educated and intelligent audience.  Actors are encouraged to perform their own work, either as a solo artist or with a small cast.  The opportunities are endless.


occasionforsinA Jewish saint battles the Spanish Inquisition over the conquest of Peru in the new musical Occasion for Sin by Grammy Award winning composer Oriente Lopez, coming to The 2017 Planet Connection Theatre Festivity, which runs June 12 – July 9 at The Clemente, Flamboyan Theatre, 107 Suffolk Street, NYC.

A Jewish saint battles the Spanish Inquisition over the conquest of Peru in a new musical by Grammy Award winning composer Oriente Lopez, Occasion for Sin. In war for power, is God the most powerful player, or just a card you play?

This sweeping musical portrait of the quest for gold, God and glory brings the conquest of the New World to life. Filled with swordfights, faith and broken promises, Occasion for Sin weaves together the lives of the royal Incas; the court of Spain, where 13-year old Prince Felipe is torn between a bastard Priest and the corrupt Regent of Spain; and the woman whose determination to demonstrate God’s power in the world led her to become the Patron Saint of Spain, Teresa of Avila. Together, these passionate adversaries confront the timeless conflict of waging war for peace.


Let’s hear from book and lyric writer, Katherine Brann Fredricks…

270809_110431629099234_744657901_nKatherine Brann Fredricks (Writer/Producer) NIX (Hamlet adaptation, composer Massimo Malavasi) 8 Outstanding Noms, Planet Connections Fest 2016. Black Hole Wedding (Ramayana adaptation, composer Paul Nelson) Outstanding Music & Lyrics Award, 10 Outstanding Noms, Planet Connections 2015. Walden (Thoreau adaptation, composer Bert Draesel) Planet Connections 2013. Past President, Flagstaff Light Opera, dir. Sound of Music, FLOC’s 20th Anniversary Celebration & Brigadoon. Documentaries: The Price of the Pines & The Yavapai Story (aired on Cinemax, Bronze Apple at Nat’l Educational Video & Film Festival, screened NY MOMA.) BA Dance ASU. MA Musical Theatre Writing, NYU. Professional Filmmaking Certificate, NYU SCPS. katherine-b-fredricks.squarespace.com

What inspires you as an artist?

As a musical theatre librettist, I usually write adaptations.  I’m inspired by conflict, a strong story with unexpected twists and turns, and characters who reach deep to face their challenges.  And of course, awesome music!

Why independent theater?

I ask myself that frequently, because it’s hard work & it doesn’t pay the rent.  But a script that sits on your shelf isn’t theatre – it’s just paper.


Writer/Producer: Katherine Brann Fredricks
Adapted from St. Teresa of Avila & Garcilaso de la Vega
Director: Jessica Bashline
Composer: Oriente Lopez

Performing June 23 @ 9:30 p.m.; June 25 @ 12:30 p.m.; June 27 @ 9:15 p.m.; July 1 @ 5:45 p.m.; July 2 @ 9:15 p.m.; July 8 @ 3:15 p.m.

For tickets, visit PlanetConnections.orghttps://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/27385




Engaging tale of a star that reached for the stars

Heather Massie as Hedy Lamarr - by Al Foote III (1)Silver screen siren Hedy Lamarr was proclaimed by Hollywood as the most beautiful woman in the world, but did you know she invented frequency hopping and spread spectrum technology? Her invention is used today in cell phones, WiFi, CDMA, GPS, Bluetooth, military satellites, and a myriad of other wireless systems! Her adventures from Austria to Hollywood tell an amazing story!
HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr explores the life, inventions and person of Hedy Lamarr, Viennese-born Hollywood film star of the 1930s-1950s. Known as “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World”, Hedy Lamarr stored away knowledge of munitions while married to Austrian arms dealer, Fritz Mandl. She employed this knowledge to support the US Navy’s war effort during WWII by inventing The Secret Communication System with composer George Antheil, to make torpedoes more accurate; this was referred to as Frequency Hopping or Spread Spectrum Technology. Today that technology helps fuel the ever-growing world of wireless communications technology.  
 “In Lily Tomlin-esque fashion … Massie channels the iconic star … vividly yet matter-of-factly, and often very humorously … In a balance of high energy and poise, Heather Massie is no less than captivating.” – Jed Ryan, The Huffington Post
“Richly realized … Both convincingly real and larger than life … she has us thoroughly swept up.” – Jon Sobel, Blogcritics Magazine

Ms. Massie has recently announced that a portion of the proceeds for her production will be donated to Intrepid Museum’s GOAL for Girls https://www.intrepidmuseum.org/GOALSforGirls

Heather Massie headshotMs. Massie received the Outstanding Actress in a Staged Reading Award at last year’s Planet Connections Theatre Festivity in New York City for HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, which was the springboard to an illustrious national tour. The premiere was on Hedy Lamarr’s 102nd birthday in the United Solo Festival in NYC, and was named a Festival Bestseller. Ms. Massie was also Best Actress in the 2017 SaraSolo Festival in Sarasota, FL, and the Audience Choice Award for the 2017 Shenandoah Fringe in Staunton, VA. It was developed in the Artist-in-Residence program in 2016 at the Grange Hall Cultural Center in Waterbury Center, VT, and performed there in March 2017. It was presented in DivaFest 2017 in Indianapolis in March 2017; and is slated to perform at Gamut Classic Theatre in Harrisburg, PA July 7-9; in a special invited performance in Dublin, Ireland on July 17; in the 2017 Galway Fringe in Galway Ireland, July 21-29; and in IndyFringe 2017 in Indianapolis, IN, Aug 23-27. Plans are underway for further production in international festivals, regional theatres, universities, museums, libraries, schools, and scientific and cultural organizations. This project is recommended, and supported in part, by the Austrian Cultural Forum New York.

Let’s hear what Heather thinks of the art and the industry!

What inspires you as an artist?

I am inspired by genius, by the unexpected, and by science. That is why Hedy Lamarr is a perfect subject. I was looking for a woman in science to feature theatrically and found Hedy, an actress with a secret penchant for inventing in her spare time. She enjoyed evenings sitting at her drafting table inventing things to make the world a better place, more than she enjoyed spending time at fancy Hollywood parties. She was disturbed by children being killed by torpedoes while being shipped to safety during WWII, and decided to do something about it. She drew on knowledge she had gleaned while married to an Austrian arms dealer to design a foolproof communication system for torpedoes. This technology is used in the majority of our wireless systems today – cell phones, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, military satellite systems, barcode scanning, mobile health care systems, CDMA and more. The world of today would not be as we know it without Hedy Lamarr having dreamed it. It is exactly because her genius is so unexpected, that her story is so compelling.

… and why independent theater?

Indie theatre gives artists the freedom to create art as they want it to be. As an artist I am not held to anyone else’s idea of what my art should be. This has given me the gift of finding my voice and finding Hedy’s voice. Such that I can celebrate her story and bring it to audiences which may never have learned about her otherwise. It is a great joy to discover that audiences are enamored by Hedy’s mind and by her sly humor. In creating this piece I am able to highlight the areas of her life which fascinate me, and to give voice to her and to the many characters in her life. I have such joy in stepping into her life and into the many other voices in the play to illuminate the story of this incredibly talented woman. She calls us all to find ways each day to make the world a better place. And through this, I wish to inspire young female scientists and artists to dream big and become all that they desire.

Heather Massie as Hedy Lamarr - by Monica Callan

WHERE TO GET TICKETS? RIGHT HERE: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/27385

New HEIGHTS with Jake Lipman

Interview with Jake Lipman, producing artistic director of Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions (info@tictheater.com and www.tictheater.com)

Buffalo Heights presented by Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions

Deported from France, expatriate Fran, a lesbian, attempts to start a new life in the land of opportunity, Buffalo, NY. Her new career as a high school French teacher, gets sidetracked after getting on the bad side of a congresswoman’s power-hungry daughter.

BUFFALO_HEIGHTS_3627Born of a idea producing artistic director Jake Lipman had  to combine comedy with the dark conflicts in the classic plays, The Children’s Hour and Rhinoceros, Buffalo Heights explores – through absurdist comedy – the ultimate victories of pride and justice. The play received a Puffin Foundation grant in 2014. www.tictheater.com

June 15 @ 7:00 PM; June 17 @ 1:15 PM; June 19 @ 9:00 PM; June 24 @ 3:30 PM; June 25 @ 9:30 PM; June 30 @ 7:15 PM; LATEA Theater, 107 Suffolk Street, 2nd Floor, LES

 We asked the lady with the guy’s name our favorite two questions: 

What inspires you as an artist?

So many people inspire me as an artist. I can’t really quantify or qualify why they inspire me, except to say that I am riveted by their work, and yearn to work with them.

BUFFALO_HEIGHTS_3918I have a lot of creative heroes, from actors whose work touches me and makes me laugh (Laurie Metcalf, Shirley McLaine, Cynthia Nixon, Allison Janey), directors whose shows make me think (Trip Cullman, Rachel Chavkin), to theaters putting on shows I want to see, be in, and produce myself (Playwrights Horizons, Rattlestick, Huntington Theatre).

I am also inspired as an artist by my parents. My mother was a travel writer, who found her voice later in life, and tackled new stories and traveled to new places even when she wasn’t entirely confident she could do it. My father is a lawyer by profession, and now an amateur painter, but the reason why he inspires me is his avid appreciation of the arts. He’s an avid reader, music lover, museum goer, and who took me to see just about every movie that came out when I was a kid. I learned so much about storytelling from their love of it, and its many forms.



BUFFALO_HEIGHTS_3920 (1)… and why independent theater?

For me, indie theater is synonymous with ingenuity, telling the best story you can with modest production values, yet making a huge impact as a result.

In 2006, I founded Tongue in Cheek Theater, my production company, to produce and create thought-provoking comedies. Our goal in creating Buffalo Heights was to do just that – infuse serious themes (political scandal, isolation, misunderstanding) with humor. I’m so excited to have the Planet Connections Theatre Fest’s audiences see our show and connect to our production.









TICKETS: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/27385

Rising Sun Company supplies Glorious Words from Glory of Living

Rising Sun Performance Company is pure power. Founder Akia Squitieri and her team provide New York with some of the most envelope-pushing and daring pieces of live theatre seen. Like this one:
Rising Sun-The Glory of Living Publicity-_T4A6457.1The Glory of Living tells the story of Lisa, a 15-year-old girl, and her marriage to Clint, an ex-con twice her age. Lisa is systematically abused by Clint; coerced into helping him commit crimes; and is basically morally deconstructed.  This is an exploration of the human condition in our society today.
Featuring: Sophie Gagnon, John Hart, William Serri, Eric Parness, Nora Kaye, Julia Geromin, Kate Lynn Esswein, Hayden Field, Elizabeth Burke, Michael Pierce, Michael Pichardo & Desiree Pinol with a creative team including Jak Prince, Chrstina Tang, Ian Wehrle, Maggie Kissinger, Monica Blaze Leavitt, Emily Hart, Allison Crutchfield, Ben Lefkowitz, Ceila Castro, Elizabeth Rose Wilkins, Jane Bertelsen, and Miranda Cueller
They are partnering with the National Network to End Domestic Violence
to raise funds and awareness for and about their programs.

We spoke with Sophie Gagnon (“Lisa”); John Hart (“Clint”); and Anna Hogan, assistant director.

Rising Sun-The Glory of Living Publicity-_T4A6497.1What inspires you as an artist?
Sophie Gagnon: What inspires me as an artist is witnessing the journey the audience goes on with the characters in a play and the profound effect a piece of theater can have on them. Whenever I watch a play or a musical, I see myself get engrossed in the world of the piece, rooting for the protagonist, becoming invested in their success and sympathetic of their failures. As an actor, there is no greater feeling than when someone comes up to you after the show and tells you how much your performance meant to them, or made them question something in their life, or moved them, or made them laugh – because after all, that is our goal – to enchant, to scare, to call attention to, to move, and getting to see the outcome of that is really rewarding.

John Hart: I’d have to say, other artists who dare to create something new and original. When I see another artist: daring to push themselves, daring to be more truthful or more open or more original, daring to go beyond the ordinary surface value of what something is or what it might “appear to be” (whether it’s in: Acting, Music, Writing, Painting, Photography, whatever – all the Arts!) I feel challenged (and inspired) to push myself that much harder. To look deeper into myself and deeper into the craft for what originality or truth or insight I can bring out of a piece.

Anna Hogan: Collaboration inspires me as an artist. One of the most beautiful and efficient forms of collaboration comes to life in the arts. We have so many moving elements, so many dedicated and professional artists, and all of it centers on sharing some universal truth with our audience. Truth and empathy being the cornerstone of collaboration in a professional environment is what inspires me. I am inspired to share stories with the audience that speak of resilience, goodness, struggle, social issues, women’s issues, minority struggles. These all inspire me.

… and why independent theater?

Sophie Gagnon: Independent theater provides artists with the opportunity to create without boundaries, to produce shows that they otherwise would not have opportunity to work on – and likewise, gives audiences the chance to see important pieces of theater for an accessible cost.

John Hart: Because that’s where the risks are taken. That’s where the growth is. That’s where the truth is. And because of that, that’s where provocative new theater is.

Anna Hogan: Independent theater is a place where a lot of these socially-driven pieces are born. It’s a place where work is created. I think that is the most exciting part about working in independent theater.