Dark Planet shines!

DARK PLANET

REVIEW by ZARA ZEIDMAN

DARK PLANET: Not Your Mother’s Valentines Day is a series of short plays that explores love, betrayal, sexual orientation and communication. The festival is divided into two parts, the first part is titled THE X’s and includes four short plays, the second is THE O’s and features six short plays. The plays were a charming combination of humor and sincerity whilst exploring many dynamic characters.

Each play required a set change and the sets were minimal but provided more than enough to establish the world the characters lived in. The sound design was also really effective at creating the environment, though it was subtle.

The opening play was a very candid look at online dating and the excitement and discomfort it brings. The connection between the actors was believable, the nervousness paired with false confidence was gripping and, it was the perfect opener and set the right tension for the show

Shadow Dance really stood out amongst the other plays in THE X’s. The surreal writing combined with the strong performances from each of the actresses. Joyce Miller’s performance was particularly memorable because she delivered each line with a mystical sincerity, not a child nor an adult, not human but not alien, capturing the confusion that love creates.

Bank was also a memorable piece, it explored the frustration the LGBTQ community faces when dealing with the ignorant, and the confusion the ignorant must overcome to adapt to this modern environment. This was a really beautiful scene, a young banker (Ashleen Rowan) attempts to help a man (Michael Gnat) deposit a check but when she is informed that he is married to a man, she becomes hesitant and uncomfortable. The tension builds as the man explains his impatience with the banker and everyone like her that he has had to accommodate for and she begs for his patience, for this is her first experience with a a person who is gay. There is not an animosity between the two characters but rather a genuine connection as they learn to understand one another. The actors, Michael Gnat and Ashleen Rowan, truly did a beautiful job of creating tension and sympathy in this scene. Both of these actors appeared in other scenes and proved themselves as versatile and talented actors.

A Day At The Beach was a hilarious conclusion to the set of plays. The ridiculousness of the play and the genuine cluelessness of the younger brother, (Ali Arkane) who has impregnated his mother (Madalyn McKay) offset by the older brother’s (John Fico) perfectly comedic irritation with them,created a bizarre dynamic that addressed disjointed families that lacked true connection or good communication. The father (Micheal Gnat) is unconcerned with the development of his younger sons relationship with his mother, instead focusing on his own affair and the state of his boat, meanwhile the mother lays sunbathing in a beach chair, oblivious to the chaos around her.

The other pieces throughout the festival were not as provocative and felt a bit familiar, they still explored interesting themes about power and communication, but each other piece had prominent flaws that distracted from those themes. There was a lack of believability and connection between the actors on stage, though the performances independently were fine. Each play did have an element of intrigue they just weren’t as strong as the previously mentioned pieces.

I had the privilege of seeing it on Valentine’s Day and it truly made the night, it was an overall, funny, sincere, and wonderful experience and I would recommend seeing it and interpreting each piece for yourself.

2020 Visionaries: Sara Koviak

Sara Koviak is right at home in the magical realism of a Jose Rivera play.

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While studying to be a surgeon, she danced ballet in high school and college. The joy dance brought her eventually won-out and she changed direction – now making dance and theatre her prime focus. “I studied theatre and dance and ended up moving to NYC.  I originally planned to have my own dance company then I was cast in the National Tour of Pippin. I became a full-time performer at that point, in musicals, dance concerts, and eventually dancing at The Metropolitan Opera for many years until I changed careers entirely and focused solely on acting,” said Koviak.  “I think my classical dance training has helped me tremendously become a more well-rounded multi-faceted actor.  I bring a great deal of physicality to my roles.  I’ve also had improv training most of my life which allows me to create in the rehearsal room easily and live moment to moment as the character,” she concluded, sharing with us how she masters a role – inside and out. 

Drama-Queens asked a few quick questions, as she was in-tech for her latest production LOVESIONG (IMPEFECT) another stunning world premiere by Obie-winner, Jose Rivera. 

Tell us about your role and the play.

I love this role!  I have a lot of freedom in this role to be myself and add my own nuances and quirkiness to it.  I love the heightened language – I live for it!  In this role of Delilah, I am able to explore an entire color palette of emotions – everything imaginable happens to this very determined and eternally (literally) romantic gal.  The play is a marathon and a true test of stamina.  The play itself is beautiful and heart-warming and funny and disturbing and terrifying and magical and whimsical and sad and joyful.  We’ve got it all. Even fencing and bicycle riding….and maybe a few tutus….

 

What’s your criteria on choosing a role? 

Good writing, well-developed character with strong point of view.  Something I know I can make my own and have a ton of fun developing and exploring.  Something where I can truly showcase my unique skills.

 

How do you go about creating a character in the realm of magical realism

Truth and normalcy.  They don’t know the world being any other way.  They see it as commonplace.    Its easy for me as a person to accept fanciful or extravagant worlds.  My imagination is always open to new ideas so nothing ever seems too outlandish or improbable.

 

What’s next for you? 

Two different projects I worked on last year will be premiering: a new series on HBO with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, “The Undoing”, and a short suspense/horror film written/directed by Jose Rivera, “The Fall of a Sparrow”.  I’m looking forward to finally seeing both!!!

Our last question, as this is a site for women in the arts, was about how the #MeToo movement has influenced change in commercial theatre and film but how has it affected off-off Broadway? Ms. Koviak gave us one dance move that told a whole story:

“Some things change. Some things don’t.”

Ms. Koviak begins her run at the 14th Street Y in Jose Rivera’s LOVESONG (IMPERFECT) IN A FEW DAYS. TICKET AVAILABLE AT 

https://14streety.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0S1R000009tBDZUA2

 

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