Exploring Abdication with Janet and Amanda

The tongue-in-cheek anthology, Abdication!, a multi-cultural, multi-media dark comedy more than reminiscent of Black Mirror, The Handmaid’s Tale, and VR, will be a featured event for the 10th anniversary THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY DREAM UP FESTIVAL 2019. Performances will be at the Johnson Theater Space at 155 First Avenue (between 9th and 10th Streets), New York City on 09/03: Tuesday, 9pm; 09/04: Wednesday, 6:30pm; 09/05: Thursday, 9pm; 09/06: Friday, 6:30pm; and 09/07: Saturday, 8pm. https://abdication.brownpapertickets.com/

The Night Gallery of three tales are
STUCK: a close-knit Italian-American family grapples with the idea that one of its family members plans to remove from society by hooking up full-time to a virtual reality network.

LOVE LOBOTOMY relates the story of two hapless souls deciding to undergo Amigdalar Resurfacing, (a “Love Lobotomy”) making them immune to romantic feelings and more productive… maybe.

And finally, COLOR SCHEME takes us to a society where everyone has been classified into a specific color-red, green, blue, etc., and the implementation of this system has ostensibly led to perfect harmony. Until someone mixes and matches.

Filled with gallows-humor, song, dance, and multi-media, each episode shows how abdication of a portion of human existence pulls a piece out of the house of cards that we call our lives.

Appearing in this triumvirate of techno-tales is Amanda Cannon, Trenton Clark, Alan Cordoba, Janet Donofrio, Naya James, Stephen Keyes, Cesar Lozada, Mike Ivers, Sid Ross, Meredith Rust, Tony Scheer, and Topher Wallace.

We caught up with two of the denizens of this Twilight Zone for a few words

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Janet Donofrio

“I don’t think of myself as an artist. I just like to hang out with the cool kids.”

 

 

 

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Amanda Cannon

“I knew I wanted to be an actor when I performed in a play with my high school speech class. I have primarily focused on theatre as opposed to film because I love the collaboration that goes into creating a play, the connection that is developed with the audience, and the way a show is slightly different every single night. 

 

 

What’s your creative process and how do you make the fantasy elements real?

Donofrio: I look to be true to the character I’m playing, with no judgment. Characters don’t know the difference between genres, so every element and circumstance is real for them.

Cannon: To make fantasy elements real, it’s important to stay grounded in the truth. Even though we’re existing in an alternate universe, or a future version of our own universe, we’re still telling the stories of human beings. It’s necessary to really get in touch with who these people are and what they want.

 

How do you inject humor without losing the message?

Donofrio: When a script is well written, the intended humor will shine through with the message intact.

Cannon: I think we use humor in a lot of ways and for many different purposes–sometimes to cover up hurt feelings or sadness, sometimes because we feel uncomfortable or awkward, for example. Understanding why a character is doing or saying something humorous instead of just trying to be funny keeps the message from being lost.

 

I’ve always felt that anything fantasy sci-fi or horror are cautionary tales. What’s your opinion?

Donofrio: Well, I never go down into the basement when I hear a strange noise!

Cannon: I would agree with that, and Abdication! is no exception. I think there’s a warning throughout the play about losing your identity and giving up individuality to fit in with society.

 

They came together with the same answer for “What next?”

“We’ll see.”

Student body … and mind.

Review by Rachel Meza

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I attended A Therapy Session with Myself by Anthony J. Piccione. In this play, we see the main character Alex, suffering from anxiety, depression, among other obstacles, finds himself lonely with no friends and addicted to caffeine and alcohol to assuage – or at least drown – his loneliness and stress he faces in college. At his desk, procrastinating, he receives a visit from the “future him,” coming to help. Throughout this play, they interact with each other, and “older Alex” tries to explain to the current Alex that his life isn’t as bad as it seems and he actually has a lot to be grateful and even happy for. They talk about painful moments in his life, including the ones he wanted to forget like being bullied and breaking up with girlfriend. The underlying meaning to these conversations denote that everything happens for a reason and maybe Alex should simply get out of his own way.

This truly was a great experience. Mental health is something that I believe is important and should be talked about more. The ensemble of spot-on actors were able to display how sad Alex was feeling and how his mistaken opinion that he is uncared-for. The Alex of his memories was a really good actor – he showed how everything affected him and he was able to depict what having anxiety looks like. There was a scene where he was in class and he was talking to his classmates and it was so realistic to something that I have seen or gone through myself.

This play was totally relatable. I think all college students can relate to the stress of school, making friends, and the loneliness that we have to face due to the high school-to-college transition. This effects us mentally with ease. I think this play is authentic in that it shows how exactly how a lot of people — and students — feel.

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Mesmerizing Mary

Melissa Smith reviews Mary’s Little Monster by Thomas Kee

 

Written by Thomas Kee, Mary’s Little Monster, performed by Spit & Vigor, Mary’s Little Monster is heaped in melodrama depicting an evening shared by Mary Shelley and her opium-addicted, sex-craved friends where stories and indiscretions are shared. It is this dark party that allows Mary to indulge in the aforementioned fun and create something that effected the world and made her a stronger, more confident woman.

The unique location of the performance, a room within the old home of the lates, Rip Torn and Geraldine Page aptly named Torn Page, allowed the audience the feeling of being a part of the group’s drama.

During an opening moment depicting Mary’s nightmare, actress and director, Sara Fellini (as Mary), used a plasma bulb to imitate that she was instilling life using electric currents (a nod to her famed work) into her overdosed friends. Her performance was mesmerizing.

I felt the music, mood, and body language of she, and actor/producer, Adam Belvo (as Polidori), allowing me the sensation of the electric shock that never existed. While the entire company was top-notch, it was Fellini that created a feeling of being connected to the story as if we were in the room part of the party.

Delightful, atmospheric, and entertaining all around.

Dates and Nuts

Lystra Besson reviews Date me, Do me, Dump me 

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Four drunken women walk into a bar … and begin a tirade of experiences in the dating world.

Sharing the odd but interesting (wild) dating stories from a series of partners all set to music, the audience was invited to their gab-session and interact.

 

They encouraged the crowd to share their own “fucked up” personal dating stories and to drink after telling them. Each of the four women had very distinct personalities – interesting in their keen observations brought to a froth in stereotype. Steven Mitchell cleverly took the average failed dating experiences that we all face and made them communal and uproarious.

Each of the characters stories matched their personalities. Each more desperate than the previous. There was the gabber; the sex-crazed goth (my personal favorite); and two more a bit more “real.” For them, the failed attempts hit home harder to us. Mitchell gave us women – all women – of different shapes and sizes get rejected or used and have weird experiences with guys and take it. Stereotyping and musicalizing made it palatable as a lesson and not a cautionary tale.

The Broadway Comedy Club lent a comfortable atmosphere for this musical gabfest.

Women in the Arts 2019: Amy Losi – a member of Laurie Rae Waugh’s “rep”

The wit of playwright Shirley Beth Newbery coupled with the steady hand of director Laurie Rae Waugh will make even the saddest occasion a joy in AFTER THE WAKE, running Wednesday – Sundays, August 7 – 18 at the Serene Sargent Theatre – part of the American Theatre of Actors complex of arthouses. Wednesday – Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and matinees on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Tickets $20 at the door. 

American Theatre of Actors is located at 314 W. 54th Street
New York City, 212.581.3044

Laurie Rae Waugh has become the leading interpreter of works by such playwrights as James Crafford, Irving Greenfield, and the late Steve Silver. She is a multi-award-winning director and resident stage director at the legendary American Theatre of Actors. Her name is oft-mentioned in praise at the first award for independent theater – the Jean Dalrymple Award.

Waugh has created an unofficial rep for her shows in terms of stage artists. She spent years building an army of fine character actors who can bring to life myriad characters on the legendary ATA stages.

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Amy Losi – center, seated

Amy Losi is a leader in that army. The comic character actress who can turn to drama on-a-dime, didn’t begin her now-successful acting career until her mid-forties. Now she is a staple member of the ATA. We spoke with Ms. Losi about her current role and play.

Interesting subject matter. Where do you find the humor?

There are dark moments and lighter ones and both contribute to making the story interesting and unpredictable. Some of the characters are humorous. They say and do things that add levity to the play. There’s a lot of humor in the dialogue itself and there are also funny sides to our characters. For example, I play Joyce, the nosy neighbor. Not only does she accidentally reveal secrets about herself and others, she does quirky things. After the funeral she notices some sandwiches left over and asks if she can take them home “for her boys.” Another time she sees a partially full liquor bottle and leaves with it.

What’s your creative process? Does it change from show to show or do you have “a plan.”

I like to visualize my character as a real person. I find it helps to figure out what clothes she will wear—styles and colors—and a possible hairstyle. I look for details like jewelry that symbolize the character and props that she might use. Before we started the rehearsal process, I saw a dress on sale and thought that is something Joyce would wear. So I bought it. It just felt right.

The ATA has been opening the door to plays for over 40 years. How do you feel working [again] there?

It’s like a second home for me—I’ve been acting in shows here for the past 9 years. “After the Wake” is my 12th play here, and the 8th time I’ve been directed by Laurie Rae Waugh.

What’s next for you?

I wrote a short comedy that will be part of the Strawberry One Act Festival in September. I’m acting in it and also directing it. I’m enjoying the creative process! After that I will be in a play at Hudson Guild in October.

You walk into a rehearsal with Laurie Rae Waugh … what do you expect?

A warm and nurturing environment and a director who guides but doesn’t lead. She allows you to discover your own truths about your character.

Shirley Beth Newbery: DQ’s first International Woman of the Arts

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“Having spent 25 years working as an actress in the UK, mainly in theatre, I had grown to love plays which provide me and others with a message. I trained in a great school which gave touring productions during our training, and this is pretty unique. Having had several great roles I decided to move into cultural theatre and learn the art of directing. It was after attending TED in Arusha, Tanzania, that I set up my own company – Infusionarts. Taking community theatre to villages and locations all over. I love exploring theatre to enhance life in general or to at least show it. Since then I have grown to love writing and taking on producing shows that can take some risk. What do I mean by that? Well , for me its about not making judgments or keeping to the traditional styles of directing  but to engage in what really happens in life. Exposing some awkward and sometimes offensive graphic acting to create real stories. As an artist, for me, its about stretching and developing. This leads to further ones understanding and acknowledgement to our surroundings indirectly and directly.”
IMG_6339.JPGThis is the opening remarks of the inspiring Shirley Beth Newbery.
This bubbly presence, calling everyone “babes,” is the candy-coating to an open heart, benevolent spirit, and expansive mind. Her latest play, AFTER THE WAKE, takes a new direction in discussing the “after life” – that is the life of loved ones after one’s passing. In this case, a surprise decision regarding the bequeathing of effects, lands on the family of a deceased mother in all too different ways. Directed by Laurie Rae Waugh, Newbery’s clever verbiage and thoughtful and thought-provoking plot will do the same for the audience – land on each in different and palpable ways.

“I am blessed to know those who work with me

and thank Laurie ]Rae Waugh]

for showing me this production in full.”

Currently back home in the U.K. Newbery sent us a few thoughts for printing.
You seem to enjoy plays are clever twists on relationships. is this sort of your “scheme’ or “mission”? 
With regards to two clever twists on relationships, and if its a theme, well, I think that many relationships have issues and secrets. I like to explore those, when people- watching in cafes, or simply listening to conversations that are clearly dealing with some personal stuff or things that create tension, I use what I can. This particular play is based on real people from my home town in the South of Devon, UK. Harry is a person who would buy up property and exploit individuals from their homes.  If you use theatre to create life situations in any style then I do believe you are demonstrating life, and if this is a theme for me then so be it!
I’ve seen your name associated with acting, directing, playwriting, and producing … do you feel being a Jill of all trades is necessary in the 21st century? And – just between us – what’s your favorite? 
I am associated with having experience in Acting, directing , producing and now writing but this provides me with an opportunity to create and work on what I enjoy. There does seem to be a tendency for those in the arts to have more then one option now but I think this assists with gaining consistency in working  with in the arts and so having a skill in more then one can help. Personally I like to move forward from acting and so have been aiming to focus on directing which is my passion and love. I get rewarded watching actors create and work together and grow. I also do tend to coach whilst I am directing, and give many new comers to the industry a chance to grow and gain confidence. I have been blessed to have worked with some amazing skilled talented people, and I thank Mark Travis for my directing skills and passion. 
What’s it like being a woman in the arts in New York in the 21st century? Are you from here? Let’s add that into it. What’s next?   
What’s it like being a woman in the arts in New York in the 21st century? This is a very interesting and important question for me. I think that New York is a little shy and nervous overall to embark on , shall I say, a more real, non concerned approach with all that is happening in the world many want to keep their eyes shut, and not upset or offend anyone.  I remember doing an audition for a agent, manager and asked if he would like to have this addressed to him during the very engaging monologue. He said , certainly’ but once finished he said that is was very offensive and  not appropriate. I used the word ‘ cock’ ! I thought that if a well known play from the West End is offensive for using this word then I have my work cut out for me.  oops, I used it again! I do not wish to offend but I believe that theatre is a part of life and wish to expand that life awareness using theatre. Being a woman, well, I never have or used this to stop me but I am writing more and more about life which tends to include woman. I like this play as it has tension but so much unsaid love. That holding back is the route of many problems in relationships. Being from the UK I wish to explore what I can do in New York.  It is slightly different but again we have traditional performances all around us, weddings , funerals  etc.
What’s next?   
Whats next for me, is to complete a play called , Divided or fall, a play which explores the young woman trapped in a sex slaved market with the Officers in Germany during World War 2. A great play for woman but again a little risk and realness in places! I am also looking to develop my company and of course work. 

AFTER THE WAKE
Wednesday – Sundays, August 7 – 18
Serene Sargent Theatre
part of the American Theatre of Actors complex of arthouses

Wednesday – Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
matinees on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets $20 at the door

314 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019

Miriam Dauom discusses A THERAPY SESSION WITH MYSELF

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Miriam Dauom discusses A THERAPY SESSION WITH MYSELF from the point of view of a fellow millennial weaving through life. 

A THERAPY SESSION WITH MYSELF is a play written by Anthony Piccione and directed by Holly Payne-Strange.

A THEARPY SESSION WITH MYSELF is about a boy named Alex. Alex is a teenager and a college student who deals with issues such as depression, social anxiety, and Asperger’s Syndrome. The audience was taken on a roller-coaster journey with Alex to gain a better understanding of his state of mind, his emotions and how to go about them. Alex deals with the stress of becoming a successful writer, loneliness, his past of being bullied, and in most cases, pushing loved ones away, due to his fears of rejection.

The story of Alex unfolded well. The beginning and end of the play started and ended with the same monologue — solidifying the message of the play beautifully. Even though Alex had many life obstacles and felt like there was no reason to continue, he found reasons to continue. In spite of all the darkness in  his life, Alex found light. Which is something we should all take the time to learn.

On stage there were three actors who play “Alex.” Alex starts on stage alone but is visited by “YOU” Alex. You Alex is Alex’s thoughts, almost his voice of reason. “Me” Alex is his flashback-memories. “Alex” played by Nick Roy did an excellent job of showing the audience of what a struggling college student in need of coffee and advice looks like. “You” played by Shane Zimmerman sounded like the thoughts in my head, when I am trying to figure stressful events of life out. “Me” played by Nathan Cusson gave a chilling ending to the story. I felt his passion and pain. It was a strong ending of the character’s journey. Who discovers he is not ready to give up on himself.

All the Alexes and everyone around them all worked amazingly together.

 

 

Women in the Arts 2019: Haley Ostir, The Newest Jersey Girl

Canadian-born Haley Ostir is beyond thrilled.

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Taking the plunge and coming to the United States seemed almost out-of-reach … until she gave it a try. In no time she was performing in myriad productions showing off her range of abilities for prominent names then Frankie Valli himself watched her audition for the show about his career.

Today she is working with the original Broadway team to be a part of national tours, cruise lines … and the current Off-Broadway run!

Another victory for the Alliance of Alien Artists.

Haley had only a few minutes to speak, we grabbed her fast! No kidding … she literally had to hang up and dance!

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What made you decide to brave the USA for your career?

Broadway has always been the dream since day one. I knew to have a shot in the states and legally work for a year, I needed to attend a US College. When you participate in a BFA program, you have the opportunity to work during the summers through CPT and one full year after college called OPT. I remember googling Singing/Dancing/Acting Schools and Boston Conservatory came up. I wanted to school that would focus on all three aspects of performing. It was important to me to continue my dance training at a high level. After several auditions, BostonConservatory by far was my favorite dance call. The language Michelle Chasse used and her dance audition… was exactly what I wanted. I felt Boston Conservatory would give me the training I wanted. In the end, I felt like I got a triple major. Now that I’m here, I don’t want to leave. The connections I have made are invaluable and I only want to expend on them and see where my career can take me!

 

 

IMG_1027.JPGHow helpful has the Alliance of Alien Artists been to you?

Its honestly nice to be apart of a community of artists like me, dealing with the same things. The process can feel lonely at times and can be very isolating. It’s nice to have a community who knows exactly how you feel. It’s a place for me to go for advice, questions that need answers, a support system or seek out other performance opportunities. I think its a brilliant company. 

What were some of the difficulties in working here. 

The toughest thing about being a Canadian, trying to perform in the states is the constant feeling of the future and how much time I have left. I’m always on a time limit. It’s already tough enough, feeling the pressures of getting a job. Most of my friends have time on their side. I know Careers take time to build and that everyone has their own journey. However, as a Canadian…. my visa status doesn’t always allow me time. It’s got its positives though. It forces me to go all in and not waste any time! I don’t allow myself any slack. I do get frustrated occasionally. Sometimes I feel it’s unfair that I have to do all this extra work to stay here. However, it’s only taught me to work harder and manage my time better. It can be hard being away from home at time. I was ready to leave home, and pursue my dreams. I think that’s why I am able to handle it. I’m lucky to have a supportive family and we make sure we see each other for Christmas and other important events. I do miss my grandparents and feel guilty at times. I haven’t been home in 2 years and They are unable to visit due to health reasons. I think that’s the hardest part. 

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You’re a triple threat… tell us about your training. 

I grew up in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada. I starting acting lessons at 5 at Manitoba Theatre For Young People. I then started taking Musical Theatre classes at a dance studio, 5 minutes from my house. The studio was called Shelley Shearer School of Dance and from there on I was hooked. I eventually was taking 13 classes a week (Tap/Ballet/Jazz/Hip Hop/Tap/Lyrical/ModernMusical Theatre etc.), competing at high level dance competitions as a soloist and in group numbers. I began taking voice lessons on the side, as well as acting lessons (For both Film and TV and the Stage) and piano lessons. I played Snow White in middle school and realized “I could do this”. I think my mom was the most stunned. I remember her saying to me a few weeks prior to my audition “Sorry Haley, I’m afraid you got my bad singing voice”. Needless to say she was stunned when I got the lead and then even more when she heard me in the dress rehearsal for the first time. 

I was in my first professional show when I was 14 years old. I was in Beauty and The Beast and that gave my the first taste of professional theatre. I was working with incredibly talented people and I learned at a very young age, proper rehearsal etiquette. I did a few more shows after that and eventually applied for colleges in the states. I was accepted to my top school choice in Canada and the US. I ended up picking The Boston Conservatory. We were in classes 9am-6:50 and then if you were in a show you had rehearsals 7pm and on. They were long long days. I wouldn’t trade my training for anything. I can truly say I grew so much during those four years and wouldn’t be the individual or performer I am today with out it. I think I learned the most from my voice teacher- Lisa Sheldon. That woman was with me all four years and was a miracle worker. 

IMG_0504_Facetune_16-12-2017-23-51-36.jpgYou’ve lucked out – you’re in one of the touring casts of JERSEY BOYS. Tell us about it. Are you working with the Broadway people? 

I saw The US Jersey Boys Tour when I was going to school in Boston and I absolutely adored it. Dance shows are usually my cup of tea. Yet, Jersey Boys may be my favorite musical and that says a lot… since it is a JukeBox Musical! I knew after I had seen it that I wanted to be in it someday. I remember heading to my voice coach and asking for material that would be good to bring into auditions, should I have the chance. Sure enough, shortly after graduation I had the opportunity to audition. After many callbacks, I didn’t end up getting it. Flash forward 5-6 months. I’m back in the room and make it to finals. It’s between me and one other girl. I don’t get it. Flash forward 5 more months. I get the email asking me to join in! My point being, things take time! It’s awesome because half the cast has done the show before, whether it be in the Australian Tour, NCL, OffBroadway, US/UK Tour etc. the cast is filled with people from all over, which has been a really cool experience. I’m fortunate to be working with a creative team, who has been with the show since it’s successful run on Broadway. (Danny Austin, Richard Hester, Des Mcanuff, Bryan Hindle, Jenn Rapp). I feel incredibly lucky to be learning from the best and on such an incredible show. 

You heard the Frankie Valli himself viewed your audition… how does that feel? 

Proud. That’s not a word I use to often and I think when I found our this news, I finally took that info in and gave myself credit. 

What does the future hold for you now? 

After this gig is done, I am on call for the next 6 months In case they need me to jump in. I’m currently waiting on my visa applications status of whether I’m approved or denied. More than anything, I hope to be approved. But, I know everything happens for a reason and I will make whatever the outcome is, work. My hope is to get my O-1B Visa approved and then book that Jersey Boys US Tour shortly after!

Women in the Arts 2019: Terra Mackintosh looks forward to BACK

A featured event in Ken Davenport’s inaugural Rave Theater Festival is BACK, a new play written by and featuring Matt Webster with Terra Mackintosh and directed by David Perlow

This 90-minute drama will perform on Saturday 8/10 @ 2:15pm; Tuesday 8/13 @ 8:45pm; Friday 8/16 @ 7pm; Sunday 8/18 @ 4pm; Friday 8/23 @ 9:15pm with tickets being available at http://www.BackThePlay.com (further info at @BackThePlay)

Leah travels to New York City to reconnect with her best friend Derek. Their undeniable chemistry and inherent trust would otherwise make these two a perfect match, if it weren’t for something in the past keeping them apart. Leah tells Derek about an incredible opportunity: a chance to go back in time and change the course of their lives. But there are rules about altering the past that could have devastating effects on the present. Will they risk everything in search of a second chance at life?

 

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Creating the role of Leah is TERRA MACKINTOSH. a veteran on indie art with credits at the New York International Fringe Festival; the Triad; and ATTENTIONTheatre. We said indie art and not just theatre as she also has film/TV credits that include ‘The Ordained’ (CBS pilot), ‘Keep Me Posted’ (Web series) and film-work including ‘A Good Marriage’ by Stephen King, ‘Back Home,’ ‘Reasonable Suspicion’, ‘In Defense of Wonder’ and ‘The Homecoming.’

We wanted to speak with her on the new work about a new kind of love story at the new festival.
Tell us about yourself as an artist?
I see myself as a storyteller, and that can take on many forms. I’m a very curious person and I was lucky I found my way into acting because as much as we are ever-evolving as humans, we are ever-evolving as actors. There is always something to be learned. Being an artist is a tremendous responsibility and one that I take very seriously. Theatre has the ability to synchronize the heartbeats of those in the audience — now THAT is power! So I am extremely selective of the kinds of roles I play and the stories I tell understanding that historically artists not only sustain communities but are catalysts for great change in the world.
This is an impossible tale … at least right now. How do you create the rationale to make it real?
Is it impossible? Yes, the technology that exists in the play does not exist in our world but we can’t know what we don’t know. There is so much to the universe that is beyond our comprehension, even the smartest among us. But the tale, the root of the story, is human connection and love. And maybe love as we know it doesn’t look the way it looks in the play, but who’s to say that magic you feel when you meet someone who instantly feels familiar isn’t a result of having interacted with their atoms during another cycle of life? I don’t have to work very hard to create a rationale to make this story real for myself. It is a love story, two people who need each other, trying to find a way to be together. All the technology that has been developed and all that has yet to be developed will never be able to touch the power of human connection.
What is your creative process and did you need to alter that due to the unique plot line?
My creative process doesn’t follow a specific method or technique. I do the work I need to do in order to be present in the room so I can find the answers in collaboration with the other actors and creative team. For this piece, since I’ve been working on the play with Matt for the past 2 years, part of my process is focused on stripping away any old ideas about the characters and being true to who we are now. That shared and present discovery is essential to giving life to this unique story. But as far as altering my approach, I’m not changing anything about the way I work. Leah is still a human being with needs and desires, all I am is a vessel for her to go after what she wants. My job is just to breathe and get out of the way.
What do you think the audience will take away from this piece?
What I love about this play is that it strikes people in such unique ways. I think each person’s experience will be so radically different, which is a testament to Matt’s phenomenal writing. I can only hope that the audience walks away from this piece asking themselves about love, about their life and the choices they’ve made. Maybe they’ll leave feeling a little more brave. Maybe they’ll choose to be more courageous in their lives and go after what they want, even if it is scary and unknown. And maybe they’ll feel a certain pride in being a part of the human species seeing what we are capable of.
What’s next?
I am currently shooting a feature film in Montana through January 2020, so I will be returning to Montana in the fall. I am also an associate producer on an upcoming original movie musical called “Ready to Ride,” which is the first SAG-registered feature film with an entirely integrated cast and crew of disabled talent. Beyond that, I will be heading out West for a bit — making some movies, spending time in the desert and cuddling with my parents’ dogs.
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REVIEW: Lovebirds singing sweetly

REVIEW:  Lovebird Jamboree by L.A. Henderson

Lovebird Jamboree is a poignant exploration of the lives and experiences that fueled the 1969 revolution remembered in this year’s Stonewall 50 celebrations.  Playwright Sarah Elizabeth Brown’s eight monologues based on interviews with members of the LGBTQI community, three of them intertwining, give us an idea of the joyous and painful paths walked in less enlightened times, monologues that show how far society has come and how far we have yet to go.

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Arlin (Andy Reiff) is a young man who comes out and moves to New York, enthralled by the promise of a new city and his first love.  Reiff plays Arlin with the sweetness of a teenager discovering love, and the show begins with a lovely “happily ever after.”  Sadie (Margo Sinalese, appearing courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association) is an older woman who moves from a heterosexual marriage to realizing her true sexuality with wonderful Midwestern matter-of-factness as she sorts her way through her life, and Sinalese plays her with simplicity and a spot on accent.  Plum (Alana Jessica) is a transgender woman yet to complete her physical transformation who is still working through her feelings about herself, her body and how to relate to her lovers, and Jessica beautifully walks a touching tightrope between bravado and insecurity.  Monty (Justin Bennett, appearing courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association) is a gay man who has agreed to be a sperm donor for his lesbian friends Abby and Leslie (Averie Bueller and Catherine Rogala, respectively) who wrestles with his role and degree of involvement in the baby’s life.  Bennett has just the right degree of mild hysteria and self-doubt that morphs into a determination to do his best for his child and friends.  Eden (Imana Breaux) is a young woman who falls for a rich classmate who has no clue about Eden’s feeling for her, causing Eden much frustrated longing and heartache.  Breaux is touching as she embodies Eden’s feelings of otherness and bittersweet looking in from the outside.  Baseball-loving Abby is in the throes of planning her wedding to Leslie, agonizing over her family’s feelings as well as wedding arrangements.  Steve (Meaghan J. Johnson) is a young transgender man also working his way through his and other’s feelings as he moves from female to male, and Johnson brings an analysis wise beyond the character’s years.  Leslie working through her feelings as she packs up her office, having been fired from her job at a nursing home after management learns of her pregnancy as well as sexuality.  Rogala, appearing courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association, embodies Leslie’s fierce love, which fuels her anger as well as her planning for her life with Abby and their child.

Although an amalgam of different people, each monologue gives us an idea of the deep emotional sturm und drang experienced when realizing “who” we truly are is sometimes not what anyone—sometimes even ourselves—thought at first, and then trying to be true in living that life.  Yes, the stories certainly remind us how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go when “the love that dared not speak its name” began to unapologetically speak up for itself.  But more importantly, the stories and actors show us the underlying longing we all share regardless of our physical or emotional gender or sexual preferences—the longing for love from and acceptance of who we truly are by our families, friends, lovers and the world, even if we may not easily love and accept ourselves sometimes.