MESHELLE goes PUBLIC

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MESHELLE affectionately called “The Indie-Mom of Comedy” returns to New York in a big way after a whirlwind tour of her one-woman show, Diary Of A MILF” (Mom I’d Love to FOLLOW).

Meshelle will be at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater for one-night-only, July 26.

Meshelle’s brand of wild but family-style humor has brought her praise and accolades. From New York’s Midtown Festival to the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, Diary of a MILF has racked up laughs and lauds.

Winning awards at the Midtown International Theatre Festival some years ago, propelled Meshelle to now being on the marquee at The Pubic Theater’s ultra-trendy night spot.

Her show is phenomenal … but it’s she who is the REAL success story.

Her days are way-booked but she squeezed a few minutes for her fans at Drama-Queens.

 

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OK, Indie Mom, tell us about yourself as an artist

I started off singing in my church , the perfect place for little brown girls to gain confidence in world that didn’t always celebrate us.   Musical Theater became my passion in college.  I was Dorothy in the THE WIZ, Deena Jones in DREAMGIRLS and in Ain’t Misbehavin.  I loved the energy of singing and acting and seemed to naturally get a laugh or two without great effort.  I always admired and adored the bold brilliance of Stand Up comedy.  I was dared by co-workers out  of college to share the stories that I shared at lunch, urged to go on stage at Mo’Niques Comedy Club in my hometown, Baltimore; for an open mic and reluctantly with my hand written quirky stories, I did.  It’s been the biggest love affair of my lifetime.  I never knew that I would break up with a PhD program, get married, have three kids and still be sitting at Stand Up’s door.  I am smitten.

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Brilliant idea, this show … so share with us … what was the inspiration behind the Indie Mom of Comedy?

I was now a graduate school dropout, married with three kids and couldn’t wrap my mind around “my” truth.  I wasn’t the sassy, single professional student living in Philadelphia with my  faux Sex In The City meets Insecure tales anymore.  I was a long way from there, but wasn’t willing to let the “fearless girl” in me go quietly into the night.  She still had much to see and say, she just had a family in tow.  Yet, I never saw myself as those “helicopter moms” whose entire lives existed in motherhood and marriage.  I was independent, innovative and had my own “swag” aka individuality.  How could I communicate that motherhood didn’t translate to a loss of self, sexuality and sensuality? Not to mention, a thirst for adventure and growth.  I said, “ I am Indie”, like SUNDANCE but not a festival, just an Indie-Mom who is a Stand Up Comic.  Thus, the birth of the Indie-Mom of Comedy.

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How does your family feel about “the indie mom?” 

They see me “live it”. It’s not just a moniker, it’s a lifestyle, a truth I stand on. It’s definitely not for the thin-skinned who need constant coddling and attention.  While I am unashamedly nurturing, domestic and all things mom; I am very much a vivacious GAWD (Grown Ass Woman…Darling) . Seriously, I believe women are overly sacrificial and it has been embedded in our culture that a good woman, good mom; makes herself “last”. Bull$hytt!  I am a better person, better human, better mom and partner when “self-love” and “self-care” are the new normal. It’s been a paradigm shift for sure, because I also drank the “kool-aide” for a long stint and then life showed up and I realized that this self-sacrifice stuff for everybody else is madness.  Quite frankly, I think my kids admire my relentless pursuit of all things Indie-Mom of Comedy.

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Is there a defining moment in your life/career that you can say still fuels you?

When I wrote my first one woman show (Nervosis) after giving birth to my second daughter.  I was nursing her between shows, with matinee and nightly performances.   My co-writer shared my premise with a seasoned  sit-com writer and her agent, they loved it and it landed me in LA, pitching my concept on 5 lots, Paramount being one of them.  At the time, I had no idea the magnitude of what was happening. I was a part of a triad; and “my life” was the backdrop.  It was overly rehearsed and I was lactating like crazy with my 6 month old in tow at a friends while I was sitting in front of development executives whose credits read like a TV Guide magazine editorial, Moesha, Girlfriends, etc.  So while it was colossal, I wasn’t all there, but it was simply a foretaste of what is to come! I know that for sure.  I am much keener and have lived through more adventure.  It assured me that I have much to offer as a performance artist, just stay on stage, hone my craft, write, and with persistence, and a work ethic that it insatiable, the door will open.   

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Public Theater … how does that feel?

All I can say is…Hamilton.  Really.  I mean some of the most amazing BROADWAY Productions have come by way of THE PUBLIC THEATER and to just walk through the doors and make that sharp left turn into one of the most lauded performance spaces in the world is jarring.  Joe’s Pub was where Adele and Amy Winehouse made their US debuts.  Not to mention the likes of Alicia Keys, BONO, Mos Def, Janelle Monae, John Mayer, Al Franken and Sarah Silverman, just to name a few.  It’s a dream to be performing my one-woman show there!  I am so grateful.

What’s next?

Picture-1-1.pngEVERYTHING!  I am so excited.  I will be performing my Diary…on September 22 (wait for it) on 42nd Street, theater row in the United Solo Festival.  It is one of the best dreams that I hope to never wake up from!  I am also very excited about my writing projects.  My writing partner and I have some amazing content to share, so let’s just say that crash course many years ago in Los Angeles was a great boot camp.  Stay tuned!

MESHELLE “The Indie-Mom of Comedy “

www.meshelle.net

Purchase MESHELLE’s Comedy Album “Funny As A Mother…”   iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify

Listen on PANDORA Radio “MESHELLE Radio”

Author, “101 Things Every Girl/Young Woman of Color Should Know” (Duafe Press, 2010) Available online: AMAZON and www.meshelle.net

 Booking Inquries: Shawn M. Mason, shawn@meshelle.net, 917.676.7559 (direct)

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Nicoletta’s “Mirror”

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The subconscious is a mysterious place: to submerge is to discover our lights and shadows, our true and complex selves. GIRL INSIDE THE MIRROR is a short dance/movement-based Surrealist piece that dives into the subconscious of a Latin-American character, the Girl, who emerges into a parallel world; the core of her most vulnerable side, where all her ghosts and shadows from her past remain, and where she can either face them or through the voice/presence of her inner child, or let them disappear her.

WOW! That’s intense!

Girl Inside the Mirror, written and directed by the equally intense Nicoletta Mandriotti, performs at Teatro LATEA @ The Clemente as part of Planet Connections’ AMAZING Tenth Anniversary Season (why is it amazing? Check out the articles running on all of Five-Star’s sites) Friday 7/20 @7:30pm-9:00pm, Sunday 7/22 @9:30pm-11:00pm, Saturday 7/28 @11:15am-12:45pm, Wednesday 8/1 @9:15pm-10:45pm, Saturday 8/4 @2:30pm-4:00pm.

Nicoletta started with a quote: “Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.” JORGE LUIS BORGES, “A New Refutation of Time,” Other Inquisitions

 

Are you ready to be enthralled?

Tell us about yourself as an artist:

I started getting engaged with art when I was 4 years old. I started doing ballet, piano and tap classes. I connect immediately with these art forms and ways of expressing myself. Years later I got more engaged with reading as well as going to Museums with my mother. I let myself drive into these different qualities of art, and let my senses to open.

It was at the age of 14 that I got engaged with Theater in particular; it was during a summer workshop I did with the Company Yuyachkani, in Lima-Perú. It was there when I first met the Physical Theater approach, and I immediately fell in love with it. After finishing high school I did my BFA in Theater and Communications and I worked as a Freelance Director and Producer in Lima. I decided to come to NY to do my MFA in Theater at Sarah Lawrence College after getting half of my scholarship. I recently graduate.

I have also been a fellow of Companies like SITI Company here in NY. I train with them every time I can. I think they are wonderful and I also feel very identified with their philosophy, with their ritualistic approach and respect to Theater.

I feel that as an artist, my style and way of expressing myself has been changing. Nowadays I feel more connected with my true essence, and I do combine all the techniques I’ve received since I was a child. I feel I’m more attached to my sensorial world, to my own senses. For me, everything what surrounds us is sound. Everything can be touched or feel. The world is composed by music; it is just that we don´t listen to it.

I used to write poems when I was younger, so I am glad to start doing it again, in a different and more intimate way. Nowadays my approach to Theater is Physical mostly and very sensorial. I usually combine poetry with movement, as well as the inner body´s music, the one I perceive from each one of the Performers I have on stage while I am directing.

IMG_7907I am REALLY impressed. Share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.

This is a piece I wrote last year and that it´s changing more and more in terms of adaptation. I am keeping the text as it is, but having these 10 Performers has been a luxury to me. They not only come from different backgrounds, experiences; but also from different parts of the world. It is the energy, passion and commitment they are bringing to the table what drives me to keep adapting this piece and enhancing it. We have 10 women from Turkey, Bolivia, Italy, China, Colombia, Venezuela, America and Germany.

Makes sense – sensorial as the case might be – that it evolves as you did. How does your play resonate today? 

I feel that even if this is a piece dedicated to women, it is also a piece that asks for honesty: how can we find a way to be more mindful, conscious of who we are, as well as more kind to ourselves. One of the characters, the inner child, is the one that tries to bring light and hope to the GIRL (main character). Her entire action on the piece is to try to re-connect her to her true essence, to her spirit. This becomes difficult since she has lost it after a traumatic event she passed.

The piece drives into a very deep and dangerous part of all human beings, which is our psyche, and I feel that nowadays more than ever, we are diving more towards our psyche rather than towards our spirit. ¡ For me, it is the unhealthy relationship between psyche and spirit what makes us feel unbalanced, lost. If we can´t control our psyche, then we are lost. Any trauma, or issue we don´t want to face will return over and over again. The mirror is a metaphor of looking into us in the most honest way, accepting our lights and shadows and getting out from stereotypes.

The Ensemble plays the role of society, and Women in Black Dresses represent the most castrating aspect; related to guilt, religion and pressure.

IMG_7913 (1)Why did you choose Planet Connections for your work?  

It was while I was finishing my Master degree where I received a suggestion to apply to the Festival. I am pretty new in NY so I wasn’t that aware of the Festivals that were running in the city. After looking up their website and seeing their concern/involvement with Charities and Green I fell in love and identified with it automatically. I can say that this has increased now, after meeting the wonderful artists that are behind of it. I had the pleasure to work with one of them recently in a project at Governors Island.

Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?  

I will continue creating, writing and directing; as well as growing as an artist. For me, this is a career that never stops. I am a very curious artist and human being, so I have a strong appetite for learning and making. I think that´s what keeps me creating.

 Final thoughts? 

Join us this upcoming July 20, 22, 28, August 1st and 4th at LATEA Theater! We will love to have you there and meet you.

 

Trans-lating & Trans-porting: One of the Brick’s Trans-leaders chats with Drama-Queens

Screen+Shot+2016-11-25+at+11.34.27+PM.pngKit Yan, a playwright, poet, performer, lyricist, is a Yellow-American, New York based artist, born in Enping, China, and raised in the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Now, THAT’s an Opening!

Kit’s work is “a dreamspace where queer and transgender folx time-travel in order to witness, remember, and heal our herstories,” says one of the leaders of The Brick’s Trans Theatre Festival. “I am a self-taught writer learning my craft by talking story with elders/family/friends, kanikapilas (backyard/beachside jam sessions,) collaborations, and by watching queer/trans/poc art in bars, lounges, poetry readings, subways, sidewalks, living rooms, and secret places where queer artistic magic & power exists.”

This is a REAL Student of Life.

Busy on projects including INTERSTATE: a new musical with Melissa Li; NEXT STEP 2018 Village Theater At the Table residency; MR. TRANSMAN 2018 Trans Lab Fellowship supported by the Women’s Project and the Public Theater, BONUS HOLE 2018 (American Repertory Theater developmental residency), and ANCHOR BABY all the way in 2019, we were luck enough to grab a few seconds to grab a few more brilliant words from this auteur’s mouth and brain.

Kit_3.jpgTell us about yourself as an artist. 

I’m a trans identified artist who centers TGNC queer and poc voices. I love my communities and I love writing about them. 

 
What is it like being Trans in the 21st Century and in this (…) administration? 
I’ve seen things change a lot since I first shared my trans identities over the past decade, but our folx and specially black and pos trans women of color face disproportionate discrimination in the fight for basic needs like food, shelter, and jobs. 
What the mission of the festival? What should the audience take-away when attending a show? 
The mission of the festival is to create a space for TGNC voices to be heard on our own terms. Our audiences who are a part of this community hopefully will feel seen, uplifted, heard, and inspired to share their own stories. For folx who are outside our of communities we ask that you be respectful witnesses and then advocates for the rights we deserve. 
 
kityan.jpgThe Trans Community is a powerful one. Am I right? … and why? 
Yes. We are a powerful, talented, strong, and beautiful community of artists, activists, and people who just want to live our best lives on our own terms in a safe world. 
 
What are your hopes for the Trans Community in the Arts in the future?  
I hope in the future there are more TGNC voices in the arts, that we create a critical mass of voices that are as diverse and gorgeous as our community is. 
 
 
 

RED – handed with Ingrid Oslund

The 16th Season of the Fresh Fruit Festival promises to be a great one and already began at the top of the year! Powerful nights of staged readings, discussions, and poetry events have been added to All-Out Arts’ Festival of works celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ Community through live performance. All tickets $18 unless otherwise stated and available at OvationTix https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/527

Mind the Gap: An Evening of Short Plays: Three one-act plays about bridging gulfs–gulfs between people, and within them.

July 18 at 6:30 pm and July 21 at 7 pm on
The 2018 Fresh Fruit Festival MainStage
The 16th Season at The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street

FEATURED ONE ACT: Red and the Wolf – by Ingrid Oslund

A kinky encounter between strangers makes both women question who is predator and who is prey.

Little red riding hood … kinky? Yeah, i guess it can work. But just to be sure, let’s chat with playwright, Ingrid Oslund.

Tell us about yourself as an artist.

26171351_10214525738512586_3704040341000448357_o-2_0 (1).jpgIngrid Oslund is a queer, feminist theater maker with the goal of creating bold, innovative experiences that excite and challenge audiences. As a playwright, director, choreographer and teaching artist in the Boston area, she has worked with many demographics making theater in unique settings, such as an abandoned City Sports and a corporate office mid-construction. With a career that primarily focuses on the development of new plays and radically inclusive interpretations of classic texts, her work has been featured at Short Play NYC, Company One’s PlabLab, The Twin Cities Horror Festival, Seacoast Fringe Festival, Theatre on Fire’s Cabinet of Curiosities, Theater at First and Boston Community Collaborative.

 

Impressive. So, share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.

While this piece has moments that utilize stereotype, in fact the entire premise relies on the audience understanding the implication of and connection to the story of Little Red Riding Hood, this play is structured this way in order to subvert itself. This play aims to illustrate complicated and complex dynamics that exist between two women, in relation to sex. This play does not grace over the nuances of new sexual relationships where kink must be negotiated. This play also begs the question; What roles are queer women asked to play by our society and what are those limitations and benefits?

 

NOW you really got my attention. As a fellow queer woman, I’ve formulated such thoughts. With that in mind, how does your play resonate today? Feel free to be blunt. 

This play is about today. It is about how young people communicate, particularly online and how to reconcile those relationships in real life. It is about how queer women form relationships, express their desires and explore themselves in contemporary America. It looks at sex between queer women in a way that I hope resonates as blunt, realistic and an acknowledgment awkwardness with characters who are allowed to be sexual, without being sexualized.

 

Do you feel that Fresh Fruit is the best venue?

I feel so incredibly honored to have my work featured in a festival that champions the narratives of LGBTQ experiences. As a queer theater maker, it is awesome to be able to create a night of performances with other artists who share similar goals and challenges. I am so proud to be apart of the beautiful, diverse queer community and this festival affirms our identity as both creators and people. This festival is a way to get the people who this show is written for into the theater and have them see themselves in more then one play that evening.

 

Glad to hear it! Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?  

 This show is an excerpt of a full length piece entitled Red and the Wolf; A Lesbian Werewolf Revenge Tale. The play is still deep into development and changing as it grows, but is a project that I am passionate about as it combines intimate scenes and social commentary with horror imagery, something I would love to see more of onstage.

 

Final thoughts? 

If you are looking for a play that is unexpected, suspenseful and a little sexy, Red and the Wolf is your show!

I’m sold. See you at the show! 

 

Blood, Swetz, and Tears

5aa1adf28e138.imageMeet Abigail Swetz, shepherding her 8th grade students safely through a heartbreaking year. Racism, police brutality, homophobic violence: all processed and exorcised by the magic and power of her students’ in-class poetry. Featuring poems written by the students themselves, this solo show embodies a sensitivity and raw honesty that will cut you to the quick—and give you hope for the future.

An UnCommon Core, written and performed by Abigail Swetz running at the 2018 Fresh Fruit Festival MainStage at The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street on 7/11 @ 8:30 pm, 7/15 @  1:30 pm makes its New York premiere. More like HER NY premiere … this is a one-woman show.

The 16th Season of the Fresh Fruit Festival promises to be a great one and already began at the top of the year! Powerful nights of staged readings, discussions, and poetry events have been added to All-Out Arts’ Festival of works celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ Community through live performance.

Here we have art not so much imitating life but sharing it.

14680652_588558591269237_943467997499380686_nYour show is real, so let’s get real. Tell us about yourself as an artist

I believe in the power of stories to change the world.  As a public school teacher and an artist, I bring the story of my classroom and the voices of my students to the rest of the world.

Whenever I used to tell friends about my students, they couldn’t believe the stories were real, that 8th graders could be that insightful.  So I wrote this play.  It may seem unbelievable, but it all really happened, and these students really do exists.  And they are still learning and writing.

So am I.  I’m part student, part playwright, part spoken word poet, part actor, and at heart, I will always be a teacher.

You’re also a hero for bringing such learning to us all. So now, let’s be kids and gossip … share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.

These students are already changing the world with their voices.  Four spoke at the Women’s March on Madison before a crowd of 100,000.  One organized her high school’s walk out for A Day Without Women.  Another serves on GLSEN’s National Student Council.  Another is competing in her fourth Brave New Voices competition later this summer.  Three organized the city-wide high school walkout to protest gun violence.  And all of them will vote within two years.

Kids are far more courageous than I remember when I was one. You’re seeing and telling the story of America through their eyes and thoughts. How does your play resonate today with others? 

Most days, I wake up to feel like our country is falling apart at the seams.  And it’s terrifying.  Then I walk into my classroom and remember that these kids are going to vote one day.  And I know we’re going to be ok.

This play was written about the 2014-2015 school year.  Police brutality, school shootings, campus sexual assault… that was a hard year for hope.  2018 is a harder year  Our country is in crisis.  That’s why we need this play and the hope these students bring me every day even more than ever before.

This play covers a lot of bases. Why did you choose Fresh Fruit for your work?  

 As a queer artist writing a play about a classroom with queer students, I knew Fresh Fruit would be a welcoming place for this story and these students.

Good point. Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?  

The next step will be informed by the play’s reception at Fresh Fruit.  To me, this play resonates today even more than it did when it was originally written, but my audience will tell me what they think come July.  I hope to explore other festivals and the potential for publication, but most of all, I want to produce a performance in Madison so my students can see themselves on stage.

Final thoughts?

I know it’s cliche to say that the children are our future.

It’s also true. And let me just say, the future is bright.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and this show. You are yours students are true inspirations. 

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Half Me, Half You … All the way with Liane Grant

The 16th Season of the Fresh Fruit Festival promises to be a great one and already began at the top of the year! Powerful nights of staged readings, discussions, and poetry events have been added to All-Out Arts’ Festival of works celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ Community through live performance.

A recent rousing awards night complete with Lifetime Achievement awards set the stage for the following new array of empowering works set to run – once again – at The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street. All tickets $18 unless otherwise stated and available at OvationTix https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/527

35264937_10155241070736567_8326177102709653504_nAn international entry in the festival is Half Me, Half You by Liane Grant, running 
7/11 6 pm, 7/12 8 pm, 7/14 2 pm and is a World Premiere. 

The play takes place in 2033 – in a world Trumpled. Ironically, Matt Spangler’s comedy, 2034, (opening in Fall 2018) looks at the world through the same broken glasses. Here, Ms. Grant starts us in 2017, with Jess and Meredith, the picture-perfect interracial lesbian power couple.

But what does America look like in the aftermath of the current situation in just a decade and a half? What happens to our country, and our relationships, when their very foundations get tested? In this tale of fractured love and civil war, IVF becomes a platform for a broader discussion about parenthood, fascism, and anyone forced to fight just to be valued as people.

© Michael Wharley Photography 2014OK, Liane, speaking of being valued … tell us about yourself … as an artist.

I knew I was an actor from an early age. I studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, before attending Cambridge University in England to study English and Drama. While there I performed in over 30 plays and musicals, including a tour of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in Japan, dabbled with directing and producing, before moving to London to continue my performing career. I’ve worked on stage and screen since, performed, directed and produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and started my own production company which aims to provide more opportunities for women…every kind of woman! Half me, Half You is my first venture as a playwright.

 

Brava! A renaissance woman! So share with us a little something about your play … that we WON’T see in the press release.

I came up with the idea for the play while lying on an inflatable pool float on vacation in the Florida sun.

After all those marvelous creds, you create this masterpiece in a pool. Wow! You look at the future with this piece, but how does your play resonate today? Feel free to be blunt. 

Liane Grant rehearsalWe are living through a terrifying time in American, British, and world history. We cannot stay silent about the atrocities and injustices running rife in our communities. I believe we have a moral imperative to face the ugliness head on and that starts with calling things out for what they are, so we can hopefully move on to productive dialogues and find solutions. This play calls out racism in America. It’s real. So disgustingly real. It’s not as bad in Britain, but it’s there; hatred and intolerance gradually seeping into the consciousness of even the youngest children, and extending beyond skin colour to gender, sexual orientation and religion. I think, I hope, that audiences will recognise the ugliness but see that the people suffering these various forms of repression, are just like us; searching for love and acceptance, trying their best to be good people. And there’s a great deal of hope in that.

I agree. We can’t be quiet, we can’t be PC. Lately, it’s getting surreal! Why Fresh Fruit Festival for your work? Do you think they will give it the right platform?   

The Fresh Fruit Festival has been championing LGBTQ stories for many years now, and the LGBTQ community has suffered, and continues to suffer tremendously. Bigotry and repression, perhaps in different forms, are sad realities they share with the black community. This play explores racism and womanhood through a same-sex relationship, so a festival that focuses on the reality of LGBTQ lives is the perfect place for its debut.

True, they provide a powerful stage and opportunities. Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?  

Quite literally, our next step is London, UK! The play will play at two London theatres in July, after the Fresh Fruit Festival. Beyond this, we’d love to take it further afield in both the USA and the UK, and perhaps get it published so that artists anywhere and everywhere can explore the lives of these characters in their own ways.

That’s great. Please keep us posted! Final thoughts? 

Don’t underestimate the power of the arts. Right now, in the current social climate, it is easy to feel helpless; like there’s little we can do as individuals to stop the hate, stop the intolerance and the injustice, and make positive change. Even our politicians, the people we rely on to lead, are struggling. So, it would be easy to give up and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel hopeless at times. Maybe this play is only a tiny contribution, perhaps it will only create the tiniest ripple in the ocean. But if we all make tiny ripples together, we create waves.

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#Tenth Planet: Alexandra Siladi’s TWO SIDES – ONE Great Playwright

This summer, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (PCTF), the brainchild of arts professional Glory Kadigan, turns 10 years old. In that decade, PCTF has successfully changed the landscape of the theatre festival and all of New York independent theatre. The multi-award-winning theatre festival will celebrate in a big way by premiering more than 50 timely and topical plays and musicals written by the next generation of playwrights. Each play contains a powerful message serving as a parable of various world themes. The Tenth Planet: Planet Connections Theatre Festivity will run fromJuly 9 through August 5, 2018 at The Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, NYC.www.planetconnections.org. Artists presenting works from all across America, including Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Providence and New York City; and from all over the planet, including Japan, Yugoslavia, Russia, Peru, France, Belarus, & Haiti are part of this years festivity.

Two Sides promo photos_SOCIAL_110_preview.jpegTwo Sides written and directed by Alexandra Siladi

Part of the 10th anniversary season of Planet Connections Theatre Festivity at the Theaters at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, New York City, (btw Rivington & Delancey)
Friday 7/13 @7:30pm-9:00pm; Sunday 7/15 @11:45am-1:00pm; Tuesday 7/17 @9:30pm-11pm; Tuesday 7/24 @5:30pm-7:00pm; Saturday 7/28 @9:15pm-10:45pm; Sunday 7/29 @9:30pm-11pm

Alexandra Siladi weaves a powerful tale concerning a grieving woman at an impasse. Set in New York City in 1999, the end of the millennium and the loss of her mother forces Mimi, a young woman, to examine her life and purpose. Her reawakening puts her on a journey involving a dangerous love triangle. “Two Sides” and its modern noir setting offers up the question… can two sides ever tell the whole story?

Award-winning director Alexandra Siladi and Black Lodge Theater have a long and storied history in the arts. “Two Sides” epitomizes their canon of character-driven works.

Lost Love … Lost Life … Lost Identity

Tell us about yourself as an artist.

I strive to keep dramatic interpretation in line with the current human condition: to create productions that are relevant to rapid fluctuations in self-perception and inventions of identity. The work I produce falls in the cracks between waking and dreaming, rooted in ideals of surrealism with a minimalist “empty space” aesthetic focusing on the performer.  My passion is to find a new context for recognizable stories. In retelling myths there is fluidity and evolution. My mission is to expand and enhance the sacred aspects of performance while exploiting the absurdities of reality.

Share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.

The main character of “Two Sides” is a trained hunter, does ecstacy at 2pm in the afternoon, and has an international model as a best friend — all while living the dream of the 90s in New York City.

How does your play resonate today? Feel free to be blunt.

“Two Sides” resonates today even though it’s set in 1999 because it’s a piece about a woman realizing what she’s capable of. We are now in an era when women are rising up, we want equality, and we aren’t afraid of fighting for it anymore. While the darkness and evil in the world is becoming more apparent, so is the light and the truth. Both sides have waged war since the dawn of existence. My play illuminates the ways in which past trauma informs our future vengeance. It shows that even though things are constantly changing, they also remain the same. Columbine happened in April 1999, Y2K was looming, people thought it was the end of days then, the same way we see marks of the apocalypse now.

Why did you choose Planet Connections for your work?  

I chose Planet Connections as the place to showcase my work because, as winner of Outstanding New Production and Outstanding Director in 2012, I knew that the mission of Planet Connections speaks to something that I’ve found is otherwise missing in the theatre community at large — a mission to keep the greater good of the world in mind. Through having each show align with a charity (“Two Sides” having proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood), there is a focus on ways to give back to the society that exists beyond the proscenium. With all the scary stuff happening in America right now, the goals of Planet Connections have only grown more important over time. This is my first time ever working as both writer and director, and I wanted a safe space to present the play.

Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?  

I see “Two Sides” being performed on Mars once we get enough people over there.

Two Sides promo photos_SOCIAL_79_preview.jpegFinal thoughts?

If you’ve ever wanted to see the theatre version of a film noir, “Two Sides” gives you that opportunity and more.

 

#TenthPlanet: Pregnant Pause

This summer, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (PCTF), the brainchild of arts professional Glory Kadigan, turns 10 years old. In that decade, PCTF has successfully changed the landscape of the theatre festival and all of New York independent theatre. The multi-award-winning theatre festival will celebrate in a big way by premiering more than 50 timely and topical plays and musicals written by the next generation of playwrights. Each play contains a powerful message serving as a parable of various world themes. The Tenth Planet: Planet Connections Theatre Festivity will run fromJuly 9 through August 5, 2018 at The Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, NYC.www.planetconnections.org. Artists presenting works from all across America, including Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Providence and New York City; and from all over the planet, including Japan, Yugoslavia, Russia, Peru, France, Belarus, & Haiti are part of this years festivity.

Good Pilgrim presents Kathleen Jones’ one-woman exploration featuring Amie Cazel

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Pregnant Pause – It’s not always a “blessed event.”

Part of the 10th anniversary season of Planet Connections Theatre Festivity at the Theaters at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, New York City, running
Friday 7/20 @7:30pm-9:00pm, Sunday 7/22 @9:30pm-11:00pm, Saturday 7/28 @11:15am-12:45pm, Wednesday 8/1 @9:15pm-10:45pm, and Saturday 8/4 @2:30pm-4pm

Playwright Kathleen Jones has woven a fascinating one-woman show featuring her college-pal, Amie Cazel:

Essie has two due dates on the horizon: opening her first Broadway show, and the birth of her first baby. Her complicated decision is made more so by the news that her baby has a genetic disorder. Haunted by her past, Essie stands at a crossroads between her life’s work and the future of her family. Pregnant Pause premiered at United Solo Theatre Festival in 2016.

Follow playwright Kathleen Jones on her blog: www.hellokathleenjones.com and Good Pilgrim @goodpilgrimnyc.

OK, so for those who are not ardent followers of your blog (www.hellokathleenjones.com), tell us about yourself as an artist

Amie (Cazel) and I met in grad school at Catholic University– I was an MFA playwright, she was an MFA actor. I’ve basically been writing plays for her since day one when Professor Gary Sloan assigned us together! 

That’s great. I love hearing things like that. Thank you for sharing, now share with us a little something about the play that we WON’T see in the press release.

This play is about women in theatre who get pregnant and deal with that situation– and about this one actress in particular, Essie, and her decision between a disabled pregnancy or a career on Broadway. I wrote this play specifically for Amie. Essie’s story is not my story or Amie’s story (it’s not biographical!). But it is “our story” in the sense that we’re women with children (in Amie’s case) or thinking about children (in my case) and we have an equal, burning desire for professional creative fulfillment. Where do you go with that? Who lets you have both? Also, our director is currently seven months pregnant. 

WOW! OK, talk about art imitating life – or maybe life intimidating art. I think you answered this already but how does your play resonate today? Feel free to be blunt. 

At one moment, Essie laments in the play to her husband: “You know, if you had a job offer on Broadway… You could… send your understudy on when I go into labor and be back the next day. But that’s not the way it is for women. And you say we’ll split care, but we can’t, like, split my body.” As much as things change for women and equality (and we hope they keep doing so!), pregnancy remains the same. It’s the woman’s body that goes through the pain, the joy, the abortion, the labor, the suffering, the nourishing. The journey happens in and through and with her body and that doesn’t change, no matter what her journey is. And I want to talk about it. 

I’m learning that Planet Connections Theatre Festivity is -like- the BEST place to tell such a story. Right?   

We loved that Planet Connections cares deeply about the community coming to see the plays, as well as the community that each play addresses (in our case, women in theatre). 

Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?  

I’d love for communities (colleges, community centers, churches, women’s groups) to use this play as a jumping off point for hard discussions about working women and the challenges we face. I would love for actresses in their thirties and forties all over the country to just pick up this play, memorize it and self-produce it as a showcase piece for themselves. I’d love this play to become something people turn to when they think of handling tough topics onstage with grace, and I hope lots of people want to produce it after us! 

 Final thoughts? 

We produced Pregnant Pause in 2016 and it’s a privilege to be back with the same team now. With all the changes we’ve been through since then in our personal and professional lives, the joy of being in the room with these smart, talented, courageous women never goes away! 

#TenthPlanet: The Year of the Solar Eclipse

Wanna see a great Poster? here it is…

mainposterTYOTSE.jpgWanna meet an interesting playwright …Aileen Kyoko

Tell us about yourself as an artist

As a half-Japanese and half-American artist, it is a priority for me to tell stories that reflect the diverse world we live in. I also find myself constantly exploring human relationships and dynamics – the messy and beautiful. I’m interested in asking the big questions through art and looking at why we behave the way we do. Art is so much about empathy and–especially as a writer, director and actor – you need to be able to see all sides to a story. I have to work with empathy for all my characters and ignore the labels of “good” and “bad”. I see each character as a full human coming into this imaginary world with their unique perspective. I am naturally drawn towards working in dramedy because to me, that’s what life is. I love going into the depth of life challenges but also being able to see it through the lens of comedy. Because trust me, there’s always something to laugh at. 

Share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.

There’s a text message conversation in there from a man named “River” that’s going to make your jaw drop. And I will just add- it’s based on a true story. I think there’s going to be a lot of scenes where the audience is going to be like “Oh I’ve been there”. You’ll be able to see parts of yourself in most characters. 

How does your play resonate today? Feel free to be blunt. 

This is a story about heartbreak, self-discovery and dating in our modern age. Society places pressure and expectations on where we are meant to be in our lives at a certain point. But what if our lives aren’t aligned with that? How do we listen to what is true for us? We have been taught from the beginning that one day we will find our life partner and then commit to them for forever. How realistic is that actually for humans?  

This play is about the truth and what lives underneath our lies and secrets. It also explores heartbreak and how we approach new relationships. We all do so much to protect our hearts, especially when our past wounds are still healing. We can all relate to the beauty as well as the noise and confusion that takes over when we fall in love. 

Why did you choose Planet Connections for your work?  

Art has the power to create change. It opens our eyes to different stories and ways of life. I felt completely aligned with Planet Connection’s mission to support non-profits. They are the only festival I know that really bridges philanthropy and performance art. In The Year of the Solar Eclipse I am spotlighting modern day women navigating relationships and dating. I am thrilled to be working with Planned Parenthood, an essential non-profit that is supporting women and girls. What is more important than taking care of our bodies and sexual health? Planned Parenthood’s affordable and quality services have changed women’s lives across the nation and I will always do what I can to support them. 

Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?  

We are aiming high! The dream is for The Year of the Solar Eclipse to be picked up for production at a major theatre. We are also open to producing versions of this play in other cities. We know there is so much potential for growth for this story. 

Final thoughts? 

We have cast an unbelievably talented group of actors who bring so much to their characters every rehearsal. All of them are special, brilliant and going places! They are so much fun to watch and we know people are going to be so moved and entertained by them! Please visit www.theyearofthesolareclipse.com for tickets and more information.

This summer, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (PCTF), the brainchild of arts professional Glory Kadigan, turns 10 years old. In that decade, PCTF has successfully changed the landscape of the theatre festival and all of New York independent theatre. The multi-award-winning theatre festival will celebrate in a big way by premiering more than 50 timely and topical plays and musicals written by the next generation of playwrights. Each play contains a powerful message serving as a parable of various world themes. The Tenth Planet: Planet Connections Theatre Festivity will run fromJuly 9 through August 5, 2018 at The Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, NYC.www.planetconnections.org. Artists presenting works from all across America, including Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Providence and New York City; and from all over the planet, including Japan, Yugoslavia, Russia, Peru, France, Belarus, & Haiti are part of this years festivity.

A defining facet of PCTF is its truly tangible connection to the world. Each artist within each season uses their work to shed light on causes that matter and inspire audiences to get involved. PCTF’s artists raise awareness – and funds – for a charity of their own selection. Furthering its message, PCTF is the country’s first eco-friendly arts festivity, providing green marketing and promotional materials and supporting sustainable design production practices.

#TenthPlanet: The Island of NO Time

This summer, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (PCTF), the brainchild of arts professional Glory Kadigan, turns 10 years old. In that decade, PCTF has successfully changed the landscape of the theatre festival and all of New York independent theatre. The multi-award-winning theatre festival will celebrate in a big way by premiering more than 50 timely and topical plays and musicals written by the next generation of playwrights. Each play contains a powerful message serving as a parable of various world themes. The Tenth Planet: Planet Connections Theatre Festivity will run fromJuly 9 through August 5, 2018 at The Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, NYC.www.planetconnections.org. Artists presenting works from all across America, including Denver, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Providence and New York City; and from all over the planet, including Japan, Yugoslavia, Russia, Peru, France, Belarus, & Haiti are part of this years festivity.

A defining facet of PCTF is its truly tangible connection to the world. Each artist within each season uses their work to shed light on causes that matter and inspire audiences to get involved. PCTF’s artists raise awareness – and funds – for a charity of their own selection. Furthering its message, PCTF is the country’s first eco-friendly arts festivity, providing green marketing and promotional materials and supporting sustainable design production practices.

 

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The Island of No Time (A Timeless Tale) by Kristen Lowman, directed by Sara Ravid

Part of the 10th anniversary season of Planet Connections Theatre Festivity at the Theaters of the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, New York City will have a Special Presentation: Thursday 7/19 @3pm-5:15pm.

A little Lewis Carroll, a lotta David Lynch, and just a hint of George Lucas … Mother Time has stormed off leaving Father Time to his technology. Time has stopped on the Island. Hour, Minute & Second are unemployed. With time to control them, Deliadeath and Adamort – two Macbeth-style witches – can now wreak havoc for all eternity. But just in case, they are now trying to inhabit the souls of two shipwrecked children in case Mom & pop Time patch things up. With help from Badass, Natterjack, Nutty Tree, and the Queen of Stink, the race is on. Will the children be saved, along with mankind and the planet? Will Father Time and Mother Time be reunited? Only Time will tell.

You have an amazing back story, Kristen, tell us a little something about yourself as an artist.

I trained at the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and then went to NYC, where I became a touring member of John Houseman’s The Acting Company.  I u/s and performed on Broadway, did a National Tour, worked at The Barter, Geva, Cleveland Play House, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, South Coast Repertory Theatre (9 plays), Pasadena Playhouse, The Cast, The Odyssey…    And the John Drew theatre at The Guild Hall in East Hampton, EST NYC.  And I performed on TV, mostly sitcoms – Frasier (2 episodes), Murphy Brown, 227, Hearts Afire, Designing Women, Picket Fences (5 episodes), Angel, Nancy and Tonya (MOW). A few films – Problem Child , Don’t Mess with the Zohan, iMurders, and recently in Wanderland, written and directed by Josh Klausner.
But, it’s been writing that has preoccupied me for some years. My short story Sadiki was published last year in the thirtieth anniversary issue of Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts.  I have finished a novel, Arabian Eve.  My play Where We Are was one of ten semi-finalists at the Gulfshore Playhouse in Florida.  My play Time Will Tell had a concert reading at the John Drew Theatre in East Hampton with Cynthia Nixon, Elizabeth Wilson, Judith Ivey, Anna Reeder.  And its companion piece, Time on His Hands, has had two reading, one with Arliss Howard, Harris Yulin and Stephen Lang (playing two roles each) and another with Harris Yulin, Arliss Howard,David Rasche, Stacy Keach, Gordon Weiss and David Bischems.
I have also taught playwriting in middle and high schools through the East Los Angeles Classic Theatre and Stony Brook’s YAWP (Young American Writers Program).
Share with us a little something about the you or the play that we won’t be in the releases.
Hmm, well, it started when I was teaching drama to kids in Maui.  It came to the final presentation and I thought I’d go nuts if I had to do The Three Little Pigs…  So I wrote a scene with two witches.  And I had the kids do Shakespeare.  I had no idea I would drag scene out and turn it into a play. Also, I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia and have always felt a bit ,well, out of it in the States.  But that has served me with the play; I think, I hope, I have an aerial view of our glorious planet and the many cultures inhabiting Mother Earth.
How does this fractured fairy tale resonate today?
Well, hmm, I feel I deliver, through character,  the politics of the United States and around the globe.  I address the destruction of the planet – and the destruction of people .  And the many ills of our western culture.  But – that is almost secondary – because there is fantasy and humor and a mix of the familiar within an unfamiliar world – a cast of characters with their relationships. It’s very funny (if I do say so myself).  So even if you don’t get some of the references, eh, the situations and characters are hilarious – and there is the balance of darkness.
Today’s politics huh? Do you feel Planet Connections is the right venue for it?
I had, as an actress, performed last summer in a fundraiser for the Neo-Political Cowgirls and I met Glory.  I then invited her to a reading of this play in February that had Kathy Chalfont, Harris Yulin.  She was unable to attend but kindly read the play and suggested I submit it – and I did!
What’s the wish for the future of the play? 
I know what I would like.  But where it goes…??  I’d love to see a production – it is very visual.  That said, it could be an animated film.  But who knows anything.  I’ll just keep on keepin’ on – as Bob Dylan sings.
Final Thought …  
Jeez, I hope I’m not kicking the bucket.  But final thoughts – I welcome this experience and dig that whatever proceeds made will go to a charity, the Retreat.  I’m really pleased, grateful.  And I hope people have a good time.