Rebecca Benedict takes “The Long Rail Home”

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The Soho play house was buzzing with excitement when I arrived, clearly I was not the only person excited to see this play.

Thomas Morgan (Xavier Rodney) Is a Soldier who has saved a little white girl from a burning plantation home in a time where there was more risk and kindness in his action then there was rational sense.

 

 

As an audience we were taken through the scary and violent world of what it was to be a black man during the civil war and showered with realities of emasculation, violence, families turned against each other and taken apart.

We also learned of the social construct set up with in families to perpetuate racism and white supremacy as the young 12 year old Molly Barnes (Jordyn Morgan) finds herself with a Black Soldier who saved her life more then once yet facing her Daddy’s life long racist teachings that equate him to being less then human even though Private Morgan is all she has, even though he keeps risking himself for her safety.

I was so very impacted by the story Mr Morgan and Mrs Barns Share and how we slowly come to understand all the ways they are connected and how much love and guilt is behind the risks that are taken. I was also very effected by the character Coal Car Casey (Anna Hogan) who was an example of how even though it was a war on slavery if you could not align your beliefs with white supremacy you were an enemy to both sides.

This show was such an outstanding experience it educated us, it went to the insides of our humanity and shook us, it asked us to just know the truth. The story was crafted with detailed thought to every characters perspective of life in South Carolina During the Civil war and racial violence and degradation also in the glorified North. Our country needs this play, our history needs this play it is exactly who and what we come from that wont be explored openly even as we still live with in the mess it has made and continues to make. I cannot imagine how it must have felt to work through this script as actors and unpack the emotions living in these characters, living in all of us, complicated and silenced. The director (Brock H. Hill) did an outstanding job with a remarkable cast.

I was in love with this show, I was so thankful for it and upon leaving had to hold back from hugging the writer (Michael Hagins) for making something so outstanding and instead I awkwardly squeezed his shoulder not having words for all of the emotions I was experiencing (sorry again about that Mr. Hagins). Bravo to everyone involved and thank you so much for your contribution and for using the power of theater to effect us so deeply Michael Hagins you deserve every accolade.

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Rebecca Benedict at “Two Faces One Mirror”

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“Two Faces, One Mirror” began heavy and intense exposing a mother and daughter’s personal wounded relationship.

It was visceral and full of truth.

The acting was so connecting and emotional thanks both to the actors and the outstanding writing.

The warmth and love of the cast and crew was so strongly experienced in all of the scene changing and timing hiccups that came up during the show, nobody ever let the audience fall on their face.

 

Actors came out and did stand up to help pass time and the director even did some magic for us!  And while I laughed and enjoyed myself, unfortunately with such a heavy and dramatic subject matter it took us all far from the story mid scene and the impact of the end was understood but lost its emotional bang.

Sadly I have to say the show did not seem ready for the Audience and came across as though we were at a more of a friends and family preview. There was a Q&A at the end and we learned there would be a part two to the story, which I am excited to hear about because this story deserves a solid end and deeper character exploration for both the mother and daughter characters. This has some very good bones and once fleshed out, it will also have solid impressive potential when the subject of the play itself is allowed to live and breath for all of the dramatic weight that it holds. I love what this story strives to be and it seems like it is in good hands if its not rushed. I look forward to seeing the final product in the future!

Women in the Arts 2019

SPOTLIGHT: LAURIE RAE WAUGH

CURRENT PROJECT: A world premiere of The Bare Truth by H.G. Brown

15370200_10211988876785853_7437592849087067899_oLaurie’s entrance in the arts was quite auspicious: she served as stage manager for the Broadway Cares July 4, 1987 performance benefiting STAMP OUT AIDS dedicated to Michael Bennett. She has since directed for stage and screen; won multiple awards including several of off-off Broadway’s prestigious Jean Dalrymple honors. She was the repertory director for the late playwright and filmmaker, Steve Silver and is one of the flagship directors of the legendary American Theatre of Actors – one of the last theaters of the original off-off Broadway movement.

Tell us about the play and why you chose to do it.

The play is called THE BARE TRUTH by H. G. Brown.  The play is about a retired couple who moves to Florida to be close to their children and grandchildren and they got a little more than they bargained for.    The reason I chose the play is that is a comedy and most of the plays that I direct are dramas.  So this a change of pace for me.

 

 

You’re at the start of rehearsal….what is your process?

The process for each play is different.  Usually we spent time reading through the play scene by scene and not always in order.  I give the actors the ability to move around the rehearsal space until I feel it’s time to put blocking in place.  We spend time discussing the characters and looking for similarities between role and actor.  When we find them, it adds another layer to the character as to enrich the relationships between each other.

What’s the message of the piece?

When you move closer to your children and grandchildren, there has to be boundaries.    Its okay to look into new adventures whether you partake in them or not.

What sensibilities do YOU bring to the piece?

When working on a play, I always look back into my life and relationships to see it there is a story that I can share with the cast.  The story might have them look into their own lives and find something that they can relate to which will enhance their characters.  I ask the actors questions as it pertains to their roles and see how we can add layers to their characters that will add value to their role and the play as a whole.

Your career puts you in indie theater AND film…What’s it like being a woman in the 21st century theater scene?  How has the scene changed for you?

Well, I like having opportunities to direct and work with some really talented actors.  For me, It’s all about finding the right script that touches, moves, and inspires me.  It is about have fun and creating great theatre.  I have found a niche working at American Theatre of Actors directing original plays.  I also have the opportunity to work with other theatre companies as well.  What has changed for me is that I am now getting to know more playwrights.  Before I would just direct the original pieces without any input from the writers.  I have become close to several of the playwrights and have gotten insights from them about why they wrote the play in the first place.  The great thing about that is they continue to hand me scripts to direct.  I have a deeper appreciation of the many playwrights I work with.

What’s next?

I several full length plays and a couple of one-act in the pipe line and I haven’t nailed down any time as of yet.

 

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Women in the Arts 2019

DRAMA QUEENS NEW SERIES: WOMEN IN THE ARTS 2019

SPOTLIGHT: TONYA PINKINS & GLORY KADIGAN

Tonya Pinkins.jpgTONYA PINKINS directed Paul Robeson :The Opera at TRILOGY OPERA Company
in 2018. BRING IT ON at Black Spectrum Theater in 2018. Tonya’s short film “WHAT
CAME AFTER which she produced, directed and adapted with Christopher Oscar
Pena’s from his play by the same name at the 2016 at Eclectic Festival. Tonya Directed
EXIT: An Illusion by Marita Bonner in American Bard Theater’s “Visionary Voices” She
Directed “Miss Roj” from THE COLORED MUSEUM for Project One Voice at The
Kimble Theater.She directed A Visit Home by Jeffrey Sweet in 2013. Tonya co-directed
by EASY TO LOVE by Larry Powell in the Fire This Time Festival.FOR COLORED
BOYS by Jesse Alick in 48 Hours in Harlem. She has been developing Blaine Teamer’s
# BoxSeats at NYTW and in National Black Theater’s Monday Night Reading series.

She has directed V-Day the Vagina Monologues at The World Health Ministry
Conference in Mexico. The Klucking of Hens by Carol Lockwood at New Professional
Theater., Camille Darby’s LORD’S RESISTANCE at. And at The National Black
Theater Festival in Winston Salem. DEAD PEOPLE’s THINGS by Patricia Ione Lloyd at
Red Circle Rising. Tonya is a Tony, Obie Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Lortel
Award winning actor, She teaches privately.. Tonya is the author of Get OVER
YOURSELF : How to Drop The Drama and ClaimThe Life You Deserve (Hyperion
Books), Tonya is the Producer, Director and a Co-writer of the TRUTH and
RECONCILIATION OF WOMYN Plays which will be presented at The Commons in
Brooklyn on February 4, 2019 and excerpted on WBAI Radio produced by EnGarde
Arts, #HealMeTooFestival March 28-April 14, 2019 at IRT Theaters and at The 14th
Street Y in July 2019. To make donations to this empowering social justice project by
and about womyn visit https://thefield.org/sa/620277.

Your career tells us a great story – tell us about yourself as an artist

I am a life long learner. I believe that every experience I have and every thing I learn expands my capacity to express creatively.  I have had the privilege to work in many aspects of entertainment; nine broadway shows, two day time Soap Operas, Off-Broadway, regional, Cabaret, down town performance art, teaching, writing, composing and directing. I’ve won or been nominated for most of the awards in the Theater; Tony, Olivier, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Clarence Derwent, Lortel, Drama League, Helen Hayes, Joseph Jefferson, Noel, Ovation, Garland, La Drama Critics, Whats On Stage, SAW, Ovation, NAACP Theater, Soap Opera Digest to name a few. I have collaborated with the greatest creative artists of my time. It is a joy and a privilege to still be making theater 40 years after I received my Actor’s Equity card in Chicago at The Goodman theater in the World Premiere of Wole Soyinka;s DEATH AND THE KING’S HORSEMAN.

Tell us about the play 

I love Glory [Kadigan]’s writing. It is always whimsical, topical, relevant, historical, musical, funny and suspenseful. Till We meet Again is the story of a child, Helen’s  experience  of the war’s within her family, while she studies war for a school assignment and ultimately finds herself in a personal war.

What do you want the audience to come away with from this piece.

I want the audience to lean forward and laugh and be surprised and moved and walk out of the theater questioning their own convictions.

You walk with one foot in the commercial world and one in the indie world. Tell us the differences to you.

My creative fire burns high. I have a lot of energy for creative expression. Commercial Theater is how you play the bills by fulfilling expectations, indie theater is where you express your creative dreams and visions and challenge every expectation.

AND What’s it like being a woman in the 21st Century theatre scene?

Womyn in American theater are still behind in opportunities compared with the contributions that we make. I hope to contribute to changing those statistics.

What’s next?

I am shadowing on television shows moving into directing for TV.  I am writing several pieces for stage, film and novel forms. am Producer, Director and a Co-writer of the TRUTH and RECONCILIATION OF WOMYN Plays which will be presented at The Commons in Brooklyn on February 4, 2019 and excerpted on WBAI Radio produced by EnGarde Arts, #HealMeTooFestival March 28-April 14, 2019 at IRT Theaters and at The 14th Street Y in July 2019. To make donations to this empowering social justice project by and about womyn visit https://thefield.org/sa/620277.

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12119979_10156097922250203_6730800919075672787_o-2 (1).jpgGlory Kadigan (playwright) founded Planet Connections Theatre Festivity and served as the Producing Artistic Director for six seasons. Her work as a playwright has been presented in Singapore, London and New Zealand. Her plays have received staged
readings at La Mama, The Actors Studio, TADA,and Dixon Place. She is also a director who recently directed Vivian’s Music 1969 at 59E59, Clover by Erik Ehn at La Mama, Bank by Lucy Thurber, Mean Girls by Lyle Kessler (World Premiere), Biting the Bullet by Regina Taylor (World Premiere). Ms. Kadigan is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women which looks to promote the viability of women in the arts.

CURRENT PROJECT: Till We Meet Again at the Theater of the 14th Street Y

Tell us about the play and why you wrote it.

This is a play about a man who was a surgeon in Guadalcanal in World War Two. With the help of his grand-daughter he faces the regrets of his youth.

You’re at the start of rehearsal… what is your process?

Listening to the script, discussing it with the actors and director, and doing rewrites as needed.

What the message of the piece?

Love one another. 🙂

What sensibilities do YOU bring to the piece?

The play has four amazing roles for women and I believe their accomplishments during the war, and after it are highlighted alongside those of the men.

Your festival is one of the leaders in the field and YOU are one of the ore recognizable names in Indie Theater … what’s it like being a woman in the 21st Century theatre scene?

Interesting…. 
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