Women of the Arts 2019: Some great “Shit” from Amanda Levie

23435068_10210153535138467_3512492459862456312_nNO PEEKING THEATRE is full of shit … and they’re taking it to L.A.!  “The Shit Show” By Leelee Jackson is an immersive restructuring of the theatrical experience. Feeling the show NOT seeing it as NO PEEKING restructures its productions to create a sightless theatre experience. A world of feelings, olfactory and audible storytelling, tangible and taste-able moments. Blindfolded, the audience is told the story with the help of rain, wind, sound, smells, taste and so much more. “We couple the audience’s imagination with literal 3D effects to create a sensory, immersive, and stimulating experience,” says Amanda Levie, artistic director of NO PEEKING. “We are planning on being bi-coastal and non-profit, but we need help!” she exclaimed.

Levie has created a truly unique theatrical experience. It hearkens back to the glory days of radio but applies a 21st century “human” touch. Now she is making this sensory experience bi-coastal and bringing this production to California, right in the playwright’s own backyard.

NO PEEKING is actively seeking donors and – if monetary gifts cannot be made – individuals willing to spread the word about No peeking, the Shit Show, and the L.A. Campaign. For more information on how you can help, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/no-peeking-in-los-angeles#/ or contact Jay Michaels at 347-497-4814 or jmae.events@gmail.com .

22730544_10155769865984344_8941348436290068283_n

  • Tell us more, Amanda! About you, your journey as an artistic director, and your concept-company. 
This idea actually came out of my final thesis for my undergrad degree in 2011-2012. I was chasing my degree in theatre production with a concentration in lighting design and although I wanted to take directing I’d been denied from the class three times.  Instead I was placed in theatre administration.  Feeling left out and marginalized in the department, when I started learning about Theater’s “attempt” at equity and accessibility, I realized our whole industry had a LOT of work to do, especially in terms of adhering to ADA.  For our thesis, we were charged with creating a concept that would change “the world of theatre”.  As someone going into theatre for lighting design, I essentially fired myself for this concept.  I think it was a scary concept for me but it seemed so much more worth it if we could include more of the world rather than the few stuffy elite, taking what has now become a luxury commodity for granted.  For our entire 4 years we’d been told that theatre was “dying” but the model we were using was set up to exist and cater to the lifespan or a few unchanging generations.  How was Visual Art able to move so quickly and sharply into these clear cut eras and that hasn’t seemed to happen for theatre?  Because we were accepting the structure and appeals of the wrong group.
62236496_10213854224573390_1396059010527920128_n.jpg
  • Tell us how you created this show and the company? 
This show, as many of our shows, was submitted to us, very grassroots style.  We post on facebook we share out website and we tell people if you have something written worth telling, lets read it and lets produce it.  The Shit Show was written by Leelee Jackson who is based in Los Angeles and when we received her work last fall, a new opportunity presented itself: the opportunity to bring a play across country.   This is the first full length show proposed that was so far away, so we thought, why not?
57852584_10213564476329865_7976293037959544832_n.jpg
  • Quite an ambitious move … taking the show to the West Coast. Difficult? Fun? Necessary? Desired? etc… 
All of the above.  Many people who attend our shows believe that No Peeking Theatre is doing well because they have heard of it.  The truth of the matter is that we are still really very grassroots.  When I tell others they are not only surprised but encouraging in the idea that it needs to going elsewhere and expand.  I agree but as a woman of color every move I seem to make is a modest and self negotiated move.   Much of that is because the budget has always derived from my paychecks and monthly saving goals.  How I pay our cast and crew is accumulated in the form of $5 and $10s in a small can that I have set aside over a number of months.  The other and I’d say primary reason my goals have been modest is trying to better my odds of hearing “yes”.  It’s very easy for someone with this kind of ambition to be denied based on the idea that I am out of my league or way ahead of myself or too big for my britches.  This is true for me in technical theatre, production, directing, etc.  So this year I did something I consider daring.  I set the biggest goal for the company to date.  And even now people have commented that this goal is not only totally realistic but reasonable.  I’ll get better at aiming higher.  It’s been a tough habit to break!   
  • As an artist, and a woman, how has “reality” of working in New York differed from your original expectations? 
I think people create a legitimacy around New York theatre that is extremely hard to dispel.  I think ‘d been disillusioned back in 2006 when i was living working and going to school at Marymount Manhattan College.  The idea of success in New York seemed to indicate inevitable victory and happiness.  But it’s not like that.  Much of New York life was suffering for me.  I wasn’t able to afford food, I walked around with holes in the bottoms of my shoes for months during the winter.  I wasn’t able to afford my books.  Nonetheless I made the Dean’s list had a 3.89, auditioned my butt off, increased my credits.  But i did look around and I  realized that much less determined, ambitious, intelligent, and hard working people were skating by effortlessly.  i had realized well before No Peeking who was getting the keys to access the world of theatre.  I don’t think I knew the full extent but I’d definitely witnessed it on a smaller scale.  Our industry was not searching for new innovative minds, especially those who were not only ambitious, but also in need.  I think it’d be even a bit erroneous for me to even call it “our industry” because people like me and much of the people who work with No Peeking, the world of theatre very much does not include them in any level or department of theatre.
My reality right now is to change it and although i know people want me to change it in NY, I want to do it everywhere.
  • What are future plans?
iconsquare110D2EFE-D9DB-4B92-9482C832137AFEFB.jpgThis year we are going non profit!  We are in transition from having fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas to having our very own 501c3.  This will open up so many opportunities for us to create the programming we’d like and make more theatre using new technology, concepts, stories, etc.  We have three works in development which is the most we’ve ever had at one time and we’re hoping to do at least one show out of the NY/NJ area at LEAST once a year.  In addition we’ve created a podcast to give perspective and insight to different disciplines of art and what its like to be an artist nowadays.  We did this to tear down stereotypes that are harmful to artists and the arts industry.  I don’t have any intentions of stopping that so I also hope that grows in the upcoming months and years. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s