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. 
 
 
 
Advertisements

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. 

download (1)

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.

download (1)

#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

pregnant-pause-ts-2-of-2-1.jpg

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.

 

island-of-no-time-2-color (2).jpg

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.

#TenthPlanet: Yokko of SHINKA

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.

workshop-ad-2018_orig (1).jpgMulti-Awards winning choreographer YOKKO comes to the 10th anniversary season of Planet Connections Theatre Festivity with SHINKA

Part of the 10th anniversary season of Planet Connections Theatre Festivity at the Theaters at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street, New York City, this visiually stunning event runs Tuesday 7/17 @9pm-10:15pm, Friday 7/20 @ 8pm-9:15pm, Sunday 7/22 @1:15pm-2:30pm, Friday 7/27 @9:45pm-11pm, Sunday 7/29 @1pm-2:15pm, Saturday 8/4 @7:45pm-9pm.

shinka-5.jpgThrough stunning movement, SHINKA explores the mystery of living beings. Mankind has developed a complicated mechanized and sprawling society … rapidly. We have been destroying it and developing it repeatedly throughout history. What do we really want? And where are we going? Can we create a world that we want to live? Without destroying one another? SHINKA explains that we are all part of this eco-system and one with conscious energy, evolving every single day, every single moment… together. By using Japanese Butoh, Trish Arnold Movement, contemporary dance, and other theatrical elements, SHINKA explores and expresses life itself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Yokko is an actress, Butoh & Theatre Artist, Movement & yoga instructor from Nagoya, Japan. She has acted in, devised and choreographed a variety of local and international shows, having won several awards, including “Best One-Woman Show” for her Butoh Medea (United Solo 2014 at Theatre Row). Butoh Medea was selected to perform at *United Solo Europe in Warsaw, Poland in June, 2015, then toured to Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015, and selected for the short list of The Asian Arts Award. Butoh Medea has been touring USA & Europe since 2015.

shinka-4.jpgYour work truly plugs into the futuristic and is so powerful. Tell us about yourself as an artist:

I am interested in being a cultural bridge. I- myself am Japanese, and come from a different culture. And I am always interested in collaborating with other artists who come from a different background (culture, age, gender, race) and creating new work together. It is very exciting to see and discover something I had not expected. Also I have been focusing on creating an increased awareness of ecology through performing arts these past few years. I have been producing with other artists an annual festival called ‘UNFIX NYC’ since 2016. Also I have been doing workshops of “Social Action Project” in NYC and Turin, Italy to bring an awareness of social issues, and I would like to continue this. Also, I am passionately interested in bringing forward hidden voices from society and our history. I would like to carry these into  my work. I have been blessed to work with many amazing artists each with their own hidden voice.

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

“We — all of us — can stand and think about the society we live [in] and not repeat the same thing in the past,” she says.’ -Sadie Dingfelder (The Washington Post)


shinka-11.jpgFuture-Shock is omnipresent. Looking at today’s climate. How does your play resonate now? Feel free to be blunt.

The world is collapsing. Many people do not care about the result of what we are doing. We use plastic bags regularly. But plastic is made of oil. Countries fight for oil. When we love someone, we do nice thing for them. Why don’t we take care of the world? Why do we just see the now and own selfish needs, egos? If we think of our future generation, will we do the same thing we do now? I can not speak for all countries, but modern societies are made of capitalism and materialism in order to fulfill own desires. We do not realize the precious things we receive from nature until we lose them. If every country, which holds nuclear weapons, pushed the button to use them, the earth would be destroyed 5 times. It is meaningless to have them. But still they do. And they do not want to release the nuclear weapon technology. Why? they want to keep their power over others?  I understand they have a responsibility to protect their countries and people. But is it really necessary to have nuclear weapons to accomplish this?

In modern society, we want to have the things we desire. Sometimes ego drives us. We somehow think others will take care of our mistakes. We see over use of plastic bags everywhere (except for some European countries).  Many of us just follow what we want and so do not care that someone will get damaged- in this case the earth.

When we turn off the TV or Radio or Computer, we can forget there are wars in other areas in this planet. But the reality is that there are wars. There are issues. Some children are crying because of their suffering. Some children in the world never have a roof to sleep under. It is real. Mountains are destroyed, fishes are poisoned. Many of us do not recycle- but the earth, this planet is not just for humans. There are more living beings on this planet. I think this play is very related to today. (especially when we can see who the world leaders are today- people chose them- )

Well, that’s blunt! Do you think Planet Connections is a venue to do your work justice?  

Ecology, social action and connections are my center theme as an artist. And I am so excited to participate this festival!

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

I would like to bring this show to schools in the USA. So if I can do a school tour, it would be wonderful. Also If I can bring this outside of the USA, that would be great!

Final thoughts?

I would like to share this show  as much as possible, and would like to have more discussion about this theme.

Dorian Palumbo reviews “The Lady in Black”

35076939_2096548753949590_2851906474077061120_n.jpg

“I Remember You” – Reverend Mary and Granny’s Blue-Mers present “The Lady in Black”

New York musical theatre has a ton of traditions.  One of my favorites goes something like this; a great diva takes time out from her other work, think Lupone or Midler, and crafts a cabaret act dear to her enormous heart, which she then uses to belt out across a range of emotions to create an unforgettable experience for the audience.  Following this tradition to the letter is Mary Elizabeth Micari, or Reverend Mary as she’s known to her fans. 

 

As you might be able to glean from the title, the new show is really kind of a memory play with music, but unlike other cabaret acts who may approach the past with nostalgia and wistfulness, Mary carves up her memory book, quite literally, with a sharp wit, dozens of post-its, and an “oh, screw it”, attitude that causes the audience to laugh, sigh, and nod with recognition at each resurrected tale.  Yes, our stories make us who we are.  Yes, life sometimes sucks.  And, no, we don’t enjoy taking the hits, but we learn how to bounce back from them, and maybe even belt our brains out in the recollection.

 

34963121_2096549370616195_1904255664297869312_n.jpgThe first thing you need in putting together a show like this one is a star with an amazing voice, and Mary does not disappoint.  The strength and control she demonstrates allows the audience to sit back and relax, while the lyrics of the songs she chooses to sing are put over with care, finesse, and, when necessary, a good hearty holler and a wry smile.

Song choice is the second most important factor here, and though a good chunk of the dozen or so songs Mary presents have to do with longing, which young folk often confuse with love, the songs of near-miss and missing old loves give way eventually to songs of “Oh, well”, and “moving on”, and the themes a more mature lover uses to approach romance.  Not satisfied to limit herself by sticking to old standards, Mary brings out of the past (the 1910’s to the 1950’s, to be precise), incredible blues songs like the Stept and Castle “Comes Love”, sung famously by Billie Holiday, and Elmore James’ “The Sky is Crying.”

35071151_2096549573949508_6726096266469572608_n.jpg

A cabaret act can also rise or fall on the efforts of its backup band.  Granny’s Blue-Mers, aka Dan Furman (piano/musical direction), John Dinello (bass/percussion), and Alan Lighty (guitar), are with Reverend Mary, and the audience, every step of the way, synching seamlessly with the patter, the stories, and even providing the occasional well-placed rimshot.  As is often the case when musicians add their professionalism and vibrancy to a singer they know and obviously love, this band is tightly coordinated and right on point, using their snap, crackle and pop and taking what was already an enjoyable evening straight up to the next level.

The evening ends on an upbeat of course, with the Lady in Black celebrating with a bit of lady happy – finding her good man, though he was hard to find, and zipping out into the audience for a little roving mic celebration (one wishes that the room at DTM had a follow-spot, but you can’t have, and sometimes you don’t need, everything).  At under an hour, Reverend Mary left the audience absolutely wanting more.

At this point, I would normally cite the next scheduled performance, but the next performance hasn’t been scheduled yet, so what I will do is provide the website address (https://grannysbluemers.com), and let you know that the show will likely be done at Don’t Tell Mama Cabaret a few more times in preparation for an album Reverend Mary and the group are working on.  Keep an eye on the website, sign up for their mailing list, and take the opportunity to have yourself a good time.

And of course you can visit Don’t Tell Mama (https://www.donttellmamanyc.com/) piano bar, cabaret and restaurant, any time, which is located at 343 West 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, NYC.