Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meet the 2014-2015 R&D!

Meet the 2014-2015 R&D Group! The group was chosen from over 130 applicants and features an unprecedented number of musical projects. This year we are also introducing the newly-created "Alumni Spot," going to Juliana Francis-Kelly, a member of last year's R&D Group. Read below to learn more about this wildly talented group of writers, composers, and directors and their projects!


Andrew Neisler is a Georgia-raised, now Brooklyn-based theatre artist and director. Recent directing credits include NY Times’ Critics Pick Clown Bar at The Box and Drama Desk nominated Charlatan at Ars Nova. Other projects include Game Play (Ars Nova), Byuioo (Pipeline Theatre Company, Gym at Judson), The Gray Man (HERE), Shoot the Freak (Not Just 3 New Plays, Paradise Factory), Tape (Strasberg Institute), Folk Wandering (Ars Nova/Joe’s Pub), and Bebe Zahara Benet’s Creature (XL Cabaret). He is currently developing a new piece, Bull’s Hollow, with frequent collaborators playwright Jaclyn Backhaus and composer Mike Brun. He has worked on new plays with Naked Angels, Primary Stages, New York Theatre Workshop, Ars Nova, Smith+Tinker Writers’ Group, The Lark, and Ensemble Studio Theatre. Andrew is the 2014 Director- in-Residence at Ars Nova. He is a co-Founder/co-Director of Fresh Ground Pepper (fgpnyc.com) and a Teaching Artist at Playwrights Horizons Theatre School/NYU. 

Jaclyn Backhaus is a Brooklyn-based playwright & performer hailing from Phoenix, Arizona. She is the resident playwright of Theater Reconstruction Ensemble. Plays for TRE: SET IN THE LIVING ROOM OF A SMALL TOWN AMERICAN PLAY, THREE SEAGULLS OR MASHAMASHAMASHA!, and the upcoming YOU ON THE MOORS NOW (HERE, February 2015). Other recent credits include the Playwrights Horizons/Clubbed Thumb SuperLab of MEN ON BOATS, THE INCREDIBLE FOX SISTERS at the 2014 Ice Factory Festival, and SHOOT THE FREAK at (not just) 3 new plays. She frequently collaborates with director Andrew Neisler and composer Mike Brun on musicals including FOLK WANDERING and BULL’S HOLLOW. Her plays have been developed by or presented at HERE, WalkerSpace, The New York Performing Arts Library, Clubbed Thumb, Ars Nova, Joe’s Pub, Naked Angels, and the Bushwick Starr. Jaclyn is one of Clubbed Thumb's inaugural Falcons and co-founder of Fresh Ground Pepper, an incubation system for new artistic work. When she is not writing, she works at a wine store. BFA: NYU.

Mike Brun is a composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist known for the wide range of his projects. In 2011, he moved to New York City for the music, and has since stayed for the people-watching. Recent theater credits include: Music Director and onstage musician for Mr. Burns at Playwrights Horizons; Music Director and onstage musician for Gameplay at Ars Nova; and onstage musician for The Tempest at ART. Mike is Lead Composer of the musical Folk Wandering, most recently performed at Joe’s Pub in New York. As a composer for theatre, his work has been performed at Ars Nova, Joe’s Pub, Soho Rep, HERE Arts Center, and lots of his friends’ apartments. Brun is one third of the Shaina Taub Trio, as well as a frequent sideman to Jacob Snider, Leigh Jones, and Nicole Weiss. He has appeared on such podcasts as Emma Koenig’s Fuck! I’m in my Twenties, and The Civilians’ cabaret series Let Me Ascertain You, and Ear Candy. When performing and recording under his own name, Mike is a composer-crooner who strives for an intelligent, catchy sound.


Project Description: Bull’s Hollow: The Four Fathers 
by Jaclyn Backhaus, with music by Mike Brun
Attached Director: Andrew Neisler
Bull’s Hollow Part 1: The Four Fathers is the first part of a new trilogy that chronicles four musicians who are tasked with founding a new society. Themes of class, religion, history, biology, nationalism, mythmaking, the Titanic, and soggy musical instruments come together to weave an intimate portrait of what it takes to survive in the world, when your world is inside a whale.


Caroline V. McGraw's plays include Ultimate Beauty Bible, The Bachelors, Tall Skinny Cruel Cruel Boys, The Vaults, Debut Track One Chord One Verse One (or, The Shed), and The King is Dead. Her work has been produced and developed all around the country, including the Cherry Lane Theatre by Young Playwrights Inc., the Abingdon by Highwire Theatre, the Yale Cabaret, Washington Ensemble Theatre, New Georges, WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory, AracaWorks, New Georges, The Intiman Theatre Festival/One Coast Collaboration, Naked Angels, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Washington National Opera/The Kennedy Center, Second Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Studio 42, Page 73, and the Yale School of Drama, among others. She has been in residence at Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival, Wordbridge Playwrights’ Lab, and SPACE on Ryder Farm. Her feminist pop spectacular …baby no more times, co-created with Melissa Lusk and Mary Birnbaum, was seen at New George’s Jam on Toast and Ars Nova’s ANT Fest, and will pop up again in late 2014. She is an alum of the New George’s Jam and Interstate 73. Caroline was the 2013 Page 73 Playwriting Fellow. Caroline currently teaches playwriting at Marymount Manhattan College, her alma mater. She is a graduate of the Playwriting MFA program at the Yale School of Drama, where she studied under Paula Vogel. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she lives in Brooklyn.  

Project Description: Believeland by Caroline V. McGraw
“I am looking for a comet on a shelf full of quarters.” So writes d.a. levy, the unofficial poet laureate of Cleveland, Ohio. More than four decades later, a playwright named Caroline struggles to conjure d.a.’s Cleveland—a landscape of promise, disappointment, and mystery. Weaving interviews and texts with fantasy and metatheatrics, Believeland explores literary inheritance in a city famous for its river catching on fire.

Donnetta Lavinia Grays is Brooklyn based actor and playwright. Her plays include SAM (2014 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Semifinalist), THE REVIEW OR HOW TO EAT YOUR OPPOSITION (2013 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference Finalist) THE NEW NORMAL, THE  COWBOY IS DYING, THE B FACTOR and ABSENCE OF FAITH and a short story entitled PEACHES WITH KING. She is the inaugural recipient of the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award, a member of the Actors Studio Playwright/Directors Unit, a 2013-14 Women’s Project Playwrights Lab Semifinalist and is a terraNova Collective Groundbreakers Playwright group alum. Her work has been produced or developed by [the claque], Naked Angels, Classical Theater of Harlem, Slant TheatervProject, terraNova Collective, Theatre 4 the People, TOSOS and Coyote REP with upcoming work for Pure Theatre Company in Charleston, SC and The Group Lab. Acting credits include Broadway’s IN THE NEXT ROOM OR THE VIBRATOR PLAY and WELL. NY performance credits with Clubbed Thumb, Primary Stages, Ars Nova and The Civilians as an Associate Artist. Regionally she is a 2-time Connecticut Critics Circle Award recipient and Helen Hayes Award nominee. Film/TV credits include WILDCANARIES, THE ENGLISH TEACHER, THE WRESTLER, BLUE BLOODS, THE BLACKLIST, all LAW & ORDERS, MERCY, RUBICON, THE SOPRANOS and A GIFTED MAN. www.donnettagrays.com 


Project Description: Laid to Rest  by Donnetta Lavinia Grays
The years have past, the outrage has eased, the cameras have left and the verdict handed down. In a real life encounter, an armchair activist fails to recognize the woman she so passionately supported online and it alters her definition of true social engagement. 

Tim Rosser and Charlie Sohne have been finalists for the Fred Ebb Award, the Ed Kleban Award and the Jonathan Larson Grant. Together, they have written: The Boy Who Danced on Air (2013 NAMT Festival of New Works and 2014 Writers Residency Grant, 2013 Rodgers Award Finalist, 2013 ART/NY and NYTB Workshop, The Lark Play Development Center’s Monthly Meeting of the Minds), The Profit of Creation (2011 Yale Institute for Musical Theater, one of ten finalists for the O’Neill Music Theater Conference 2011 and 2012, developed at The Lark and through ASCAP’s 2010 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Program) and the short musical Political Speeches (The Culture Project’s IMPACT Series). Their work has been seen in a sold-out 54 Below show, at Birdland, Cutting Edge Composers at Joe’s Pub and 54 Below, NYTB at the D-Lounge, NEXT’s Emerging Composers Series, and The Holiday Concert at the Lincoln Center Library. They were members of the Advanced Class of the BMI Workshop. 


Separately, Charlie has developed work at New York Stage and Film, the O’Neill National Music Theater Conference, The Lark and the Cherry Lane Theater – and has had his work sung in concert at Second Stage (DCMTW’s “The Concert”) and through BMI’s Smoker and Showcase. His song “I’m Just Glad You’re Here” (music by David Gaines) was named one of the Top 25 Songs in the Directory of Contemporary Musical Theater Writers. 



Tim has music directed the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefit BROADWAY BACKWARDS at the Palace and Al Hirschfeld Theaters. He has played keyboards for ROCKY and THE ADDAMS FAMILY on Broadway and CARRIE at the Lucille Lortel, and he's played rehearsals for A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE... on Broadway, City Center's ENCORES series and THE BLUE HILL TROUPE. 


Project Description: For Your Sins
Book/Lyrics – Charlie Sohne
Music – Tim Rosser
A group of prisoners in a Louisiana maximum security penitentiary participate in the production of a passion play. As rehearsals progress and they dive deeper into the story of Jesus Christ, each character must confront past demons and an uncertain future. "For Your Sins" uses song, fantasy, and the passion play itself to explore the system of incarceration in this country and to ask the questions of whether redemption is every truly possible.

Alex Keegan’s directing includes Bekah Brunstetter’s Drunk, Kara Lee Corthron’s Mercury Is Perpetually in Retrograde…, and Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost  (Williamstown), Kim Davies’ Miss Authenticity (Stable Cable), Jessica Dickey’s The Amish Project (Circuit Theatre), and new plays with the O’Neill Theater Center YPF, Abingdon Theatre Company, UglyRhino Productions, Writopia Lab Worldwide Plays Festival, Primary Stages ESPA, and Manhattan Theatre Source Estrogenius. Recent assistant directing – Broadway: 24 Hour Plays; Williamstown: A Great Wilderness 
(dir. Eric Ting), The Dixon Family Album (dir. Jordan Fein); O’Neill NMTC: The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes (dir. Gabriel Barre); La Mama: Burnt Umber (dir. Mia Rovegno). An alum of the Williamstown Theatre Festival Directing Corps and the O’Neill’s National Theater Institute, Alex has worked with Women’s Project, New Dramatists, and The Civilians. She is currently developing a project that explores anxiety disorder and depression in young women, and received her B.A. from Brown University where she studied mental illness’ portrayal in contemporary theatre. *Unattached to a project


Winter Miller is an award-winning playwright and founding member of 13Playwrights. Her play In Darfur premiered at The Public Theater for a sold-out run, followed by a standing room only performance at their 1800-seat venue in Central Park, a first for a play by a woman. She travelled to the Sudan border with Pulitzer-winning Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Full-length plays include: Seed, Paternity, The Arrival, Amandine, The Penetration Play and Conspicuous and have been produced regionally and in Canada and Uganda. 

Winter has been a fellow here: Sundance Institute, Hedgebrook, Blue Mountain Center, The Lark, Orchard Project, Voice&Vision and a member of the Cherry Lane Mentor Project and the Playwrights Center’s Core Writers. Winter has created theater with youth in war-torn areas of Northern Uganda and Palestine as well as marginalized populations in New York City. She currently mentors young women through Girl Be Heard and has worked with LGBTQ youth via Theatre Askew and underserved youth with Stella Adler Outreach. Winter teaches playwriting at Primary Stages’ ESPA, teaches theater criticism to urban high school kids and leads a bi-monthly Weekend Warrior Writing Intensive.

Winter is a certified Core Energetics Practitioner working with artists to identify and release blocks in mind and body to create the freedom and space to write the story waiting within. She has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe and other publications and was once an NBC Page. MFA Columbia University, BA Smith College.

Project Description: Untitled Abortion Play by Winter Miller

If there is no question, there is no art. 
            What is the cost of silence?  
        Who provided the first abortions? When did abortion become a stigma? When did women fully lose control over a decision about our own bodies? Will access to legal abortion vanish? What are the underground and aboveground groups procuring abortions? How do people really feel about abortion—it is so stigmatized, most people don’t know which of our closest friends, siblings and parents have had an abortion but statistics say in the U.S. 1 in 3 women have had an one. For the providers of abortions, who can they talk to about their work? It’s a stigmatized and often dangerous profession, many people opt to hide what they do. The debate over reproductive freedom is nuts; the semantics of language about when life begins has confounded an entire populace and led to the murder of doctors and the growth of extremist movements in the United States, of which the Tea Party is the least overtly violent. Expect a non-linear madhouse of a play that criss-crosses the time and space continuum of the dead and the living—whatever that really means.
            Let’s make some art.

Rob Handel is a resident playwright at New Dramatists and heads the dramatic writing program at Carnegie Mellon University. He was a founding member of the playwrights’ collective 13P, which won four Obie Awards. His latest play, A MAZE, has been produced by New York Stage and Film, Rorschach Theatre (D.C.), and Just Theater/Shotgun Players (Berkeley). Other productions include Long Wharf, SPF, Target Margin, City Lights (San Jose), Curious Theatre (Denver), Theater Ninjas (Cleveland), Half Moon (Poughkeepsie), and 99 Stock (San Francisco). His opera libretti have been produced and developed by NYU School of Music, Opera on Tap at Barbès, North American New Opera Workshop, American Lyric Theatre, and Opera Theater of Pittsburgh. Residencies include The Royal Court Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, The O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Soho Rep, Portland Center Stage, Todd Mountain Theater Project, and a 'pataphysics retreat. Honors include the Helen Merrill Award and the Whitfield Cook Award. MILLICENT SCOWLWORTHY and APHRODISIAC are published by Samuel French. Rob studied at Williams College and with Paula Vogel at Brown University. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, poet Joy Katz, and their son.

Praised as “strikingly original” (NY Times), Kamala Sankaram has received commissions from Beth Morrison Projects, HERE Arts Center, and Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Orchestra, among others. She is the recipient of a Jonathan Larson Award from the American Theater Wing, and has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, MAP Fund, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Meet the Composer, and the Asian Women’s Giving Circle, as well as residencies from the MacDowell Colony, the Watermill Center, Con Edison/Exploring the Metropolis, the Hermitage, and the American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program. As a resident artist at HERE Arts Center, Kamala created MIRANDA, a steampunk murder mystery, which was the winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Production of a Musical. Her second opera, THUMBPRINT, premiered in the 2014 PROTOTYPE Festival, and was featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, as well as media outlets around the world.

As a performer, Kamala has been hailed as "an impassioned soprano with blazing high notes" (Wall Street Journal). She has performed with and premiered pieces by Anthony Braxton, Beth Morrison Projects, the Philip Glass Ensemble, the Wooster Group, and John Zorn, among others. She is the frontwoman of world music ensemble Bombay Rickey, and appears regularly with Opera on Tap’s New Brew.

In addition to her musical pursuits, Kamala has been a voice actor on Comedy Central’s Superjail and Cartoon Network’s Golden Age, and holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the New School for Social Research.


Project Description: Private Manning 
by Rob Handel / Kamala Sankaram
By clicking this button I agree to the terms and conditions. I agree to let my email be used to search for personal information about me. I understand that this information may be used in song lyrics in tonight’s performance. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, Chelsea Manning walks into mine. 


Ilana Becker is a NYC based director. She has developed new work at Lark Play Development Center, Dixon Place, 54 Below, The Flea Theater, TinyRhino, Communal Spaces: garden plays, Theater for the New City with Piper Theatre, O’Neill Theater Center’s Young Playwrights Festival and National Theatre Institute, Disney/ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, Samuel French Festival, FringeNYC, Pittsburgh Fringe, Galapagos Art Space, Hunter College, and NYU’s Dramatic Writing MFA program. She is developing Argument Sessions, an ongoing series of immersive events taken from SCOTUS transcripts. Other projects as co-producer and director include a site-specific production of Waiting for Lefty at the Hartley House; Beer Plays, an evening of craft beers paired with short plays; and Around the Block, a roaming collection of investigative short pieces about and performed in New York neighborhoods. Ilana is a member of Bastard Playground, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Directors Lab Chicago, and was the ’11-‘12 Playwrights Horizons Robert Moss Directing Resident. *Unattached to a project

Described by the New Yorker as “equal parts bohemia and Broadway,” Max Vernon is a songwriter/performer, playwright, and visual artist based out of New York City. His work has been performed and developed at places such as Ars Nova, New Dramatists, Two River Theater, Dixon Place, LaMaMa, Pride Films and Plays, Goodspeed Opera House, and Joe's Pub (Public Theatre). His music can be heard on the TV-series EastSiders (Logo). This past year he was a Dramatist Guild Theatre Fellow and an artist in residence at Rhinebeck Writer's Retreat. He also recently finished his first commission for Disney Creative Entertainment.

His full length pieces include The View UpStairs (NYU-Tisch, Two River Theater, Pride Films and Plays, 2014 Eugene O'Neill Conference finalist, 2014 Jonathan Larson Grant finalist, ASCAP musical theatre festival finalist), WIRED (Ars Nova, 2013 NAMT finalist), and Who is Rhonda Rwanda? He is also the composer for the film musical, State Debate, which won the best original score award at the 2012 First Run Film Festival.

He hopes to one day dismantle patriarchy and steal yr grandma's sequin blazer. MFA: NYU- Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. www.maxvernon.com 

Project Description: The Mecca Flats by Max Vernon
The Mecca Flats was an infamous apartment complex that existed between the years of 1893 and 1952. Originally built for the Chicago World's Fair to be the most luxurious hotel in the city, it quickly turned into one of the worst slums after the economy went bust. The Mecca became a continual source of gossip in the papers as people were murdered in violent love affairs, jazz musicians and eccentric artists took up residence in the building, and the population swelled to nearly two thousand (from a max capacity of 400). Inside Mecca Flats, is a song-cycle chronicling the tenants' shifting social & political dynamic within the building over a 60 year period. 


Krista Knight's work includes PRIMAL PLAY (New Georges, Playwrights Center of MN), SALAMANDER LEVIATHAN (Joe's Pub, Ars Nova, Fingerlakes Musical Theatre Festival, Inkwell, KCACTF Musical Theatre Award from the Kennedy Center), CLEMENTINE AND THE CYBER DUCKS (Ontological Hysteric Incubator, Hangar Theatre, Inkwell), PHANTOM BAND (The Claque, Walden Theatre, Voice and Vision, Dixon Place), ANAEROBIC RESPIRATION (Playwrights Center of SF, NYC Fringe Festival), and UN-HINGED (Wily West, Playhouse Creatures, WordBRIDGE), among others.  

Commissions include The Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, Case Western Reserve University Biomedical Engineering Department, The Assembly, Live Girls!, Class Act, SF Friends School, and a new musical with composer Dave Malloy for YMTC. Krista has been in Residence at La Napoule Art Foundation, UCROSS, Yaddo, and MacDowell. 

BA: Brown University. MA: Performance Studies from NYU. MFA Playwriting: UC San Diego. Page 73 Playwriting Fellow (2007). Shank Playwriting Fellow at the Vineyard Theatre (2011-2012). Member of Youngblood and New Georges JAM. Krista teaches playwriting, screenwriting, and digital storytelling at St. Mary’s College and SUNY Oswego. www.KristaKnight.com

Project Description: Hotel Apocalypse by Krista Knight.
My handicap father lives in the San Francisco Airport Hyatt with his Ethiopian nurse/girlfriend. He can’t afford to live in a hotel but he’s had a theory for the last 29 years that he is not going to live much longer. The catch is that he continues to. He lives every day, in his joyous broken body, like he is going to die tomorrow. At his behest, I am writing a play in which my father is giving the audience a tour of the hotel on his–and the hotel’s—last night on earth. In the morning, like Brigadoon, it will take flight with the jets that parallel it.

Jay Stull is a Brooklyn-based director and playwright.  Recent New York directing credits include Mark Roberts’ Enter at Forest Lawn (The Amoralists), Emily Schwend’s Take Me Back (Kindling), Mark Roberts’ Rantoul and Die at The Cherry Lane (The Amoralists), Fever! Three Plays by Tennessee Williams (Girl In Red Productions), and Michael Rabe's The Future Is Not What It Was (Kindling).  His play, The Capables, was produced in 2013 by Neighborhood Productions and the GYM at Judson and will be produced by the Bloomington Playwrights Project in 2015. The first episode in his cycle of STREEPSHOW! plays was produced this past summer as part of ANT Fest 2014.  His written and directing work has been seen at or developed by the Lark Play Development Center, Ars Nova, Fresh Ground Pepper, Ugly Rhino, The Culture Project, and Joe’s Pub with The Civilians.  He is the former Literary Manager of The Amoralists, where he curated the Amoralab and Amoralfest seasons between 2012 and 2014.  He is a member of the performance collective Bastard Playground at The Drama League. *Unattached to a project


Juliana Francis-Kelly is an actor and a writer. She has originated roles for many great directors, including Reza Abdoh (as a founding member of the internationally renowned Dar A Luz Company); Richard Foreman (in “Paradise Hotel;” “Bad Boy Nietzsche;” “King Cowboy Rufus Rules the Universe” and “Maria Del Bosco” – for which she received an OBIE Award) and for Anne Bogart, Karin Coonrod, Young Jean Lee, Pavol Liska and Kelly Copper, Lear DeBessonet, Normandy Sherwood, Charlotte Braithwaite, Hal Hartley, Meredith Drum, Mary Billyou, Marie Losier in collaboration with Guy Maddin, and David Michalek (for the 2011 Lincoln Center Festival’s “Portraits in Dramatic Time.”) Ms. Kelly also writes, performs and directs her own work, has written for several film companies, and has received project support from the N.E.A., NYSCA, The Durst Foundation and The Jerome Foundation.  Her plays include: “Go Go Go”, directed by Anne Bogart at PS 122, reprised at The Institute of Contemporary Art for London International Festival of Theater; “Box”, directed by Tony Torn and performed at The Women’s Project, PS 122; and The Fontanon Festival in Italy; “The Baddest Natashas”, performed at The Ontological Theater and published by Open City Magazine; “Saint Latrice”, at PS 122 (for which she received a Sundance Screenwriters Fellowship for the film script adaptation.)  Recent performances include ”Feather Gatherers” for the Drunkard’s Wife, “Woman Bomb” by Ivana Sajko, directed by Charlotte Brathwaite at Baryshnikov Arts Center, and “Ajax” for Theater of War (outsidethewirellc.com). Ms. Kelly also builds dolls, and one of her dolls is installed at the American Museum of Natural History’s Interactive Educational Wing. Julianafranciskelly.com

Project Description: The Antigones by Juliana Francis-Kelly
The Antigones will seek out a unique web of collaborators - from prison inmates to migrant farm worker activists to radical nuns - to rewrite Sophocles iconic dialog between Antigone and Creon from their own perspectives.


For other posts about our R&D Group artists, please click HERE!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

F*ing & Dying: Sex/Love/Reproduction

Welcome to the final episode of our Let Me Ascertain You series on sex and death. According to Freud, the death drive is the drive towards self-destruction and the return to the "inorganic." Eros on the other hand is the drive to create and be productive. This episode explores these often competing drives. 


César Alvarez


First up we have the original song “We Could Always Try Counting Sheep!” written and performed by Andrea Grody based on an interview about “sexomina.” Then Cindy Cheung performs an interview we did with Doan about sex and love addiction. And to close this episode out we have César Alvarez performing a lullaby he wrote for his daughter called “The Year of Dying.” 

We want to thank all of the interviewees, and the actors and composers who worked very hard to bring these stories to life. Many thanks to the Civilians' team of interviewers: Quinlan Corbett, Ian Daniel, Amina Henry, Michelle Jalowski, Leicester Landon, Gina Ratton, and Benjamin Viertel. Michael Liebenluft was our project director, and the live show was directed by Mia Rovegno. 


TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE LET ME ASCERTAIN YOU PODCAST SERIES ON ITUNES, PLEASE CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

F*ing & Dying: The Brink

Let Me Ascertain You is back with the third episode in our series about all things sex and death related. In this episode we are leaning towards the sex side of the sex and death equation, looking at those elements of life that in one context might seem unpleasant or downright awful, but in another context can be well, kind of sexy. 

First, Dan Domingues performs an interview we did with Peter, a man who recounts how bondage became a path to self-discovery, and then Rebecca Hart performs Emily, a woman who dated a sometimes hitman who taught her her how to strangle people without leaving any marks. To close out this episode we have special guest Adam Cochran accompanying himself on guitar with a song by writing team Erato Kremmyda and Maggie-Kate Coleman. Erato and Maggie-Kate are both members in our R&D Group for writers, directors and composers. “I Don’t Want To Know Your Name” is based on interviews about “terror and catastrophe sex,” a phenomenon where cataclysmic events drive you into the bed of a stranger.




TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE LET ME ASCERTAIN YOU PODCAST SERIES ON ITUNES, PLEASE CLICK HERE!



Civilians at The Met: Micharne Cloughley


Image from Daily Review
A graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Australian playwright Micharne Cloughley previously worked with The Civilians on Be the Death of Me. Now, as part of our residency with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Micharne is returning to New York to serve as resident writer on our investigation into the American Wing, titled The Way They Live.



A recent article from Daily News features Micharne's array of impressive accomplishments, her thoughts on the differences in theatrical cultures between Australia and New York, and her excitement in this rare "moment of opportunity" to work on an original project in conjunction with a globally recognized museum. 
“We’re asking the question of what it is to be an American,” Cloughley says. “The Wing has work from the 1700s through to the early 1900s, so it’s very exciting with that broad a scope to look at — particularly the divisions and the idea of ‘how the other side’ lives, whether that be the wealthy and the laborers, the colonizers and the native people, or the free and the slaves.”
We're so looking forward to having Micharne back at The Civilians! Check out the full article from the Daily Review HERE.

To get tickets to all of The Civilians' programming at The Met go HERE

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

F*cking & Dying: The White Light

We are in the thick of exploring our competing sex and death drives, and that interesting space where the two overlap and even coalesce.

In this episode, we are searching for the "white light," that surreal experience that can really open happen in sex or death, when we glimpse the soul. First up is actor Parker Drown performing Trevor, an NYC “rent boy,” followed by Jeanine Serralles performing Kelli Dunham, a writer/performer with the tag line “Everyone’s Favorite Ex-Nun, Genderqueer, Nerd Comic.” Learn more about Kelli’s fascinating story at kellidunham.com. To close out this podcast, we welcome back Grace McLean, whose layered vocals you may remember from our Sex Variants series. Grace’s original song, “Where is the White Light,” was inspired by an interview we did with Veronica, an energy healer.



TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE LET ME ASCERTAIN YOU PODCAST SERIES ON ITUNES, PLEASE CLICK HERE!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

F*cking & Dying: Turned On

Let Me Ascertain You is back with a new series examining two of The Civilians’ favorite fixations: sex and death.



This first podcast in the series focuses on death as the ultimate turn-on. To start us off, we have Stephen Plunkett performing a monologue from an interview we did with famed porn director Craven Moorehead. Then we have Sam Breslin Wright performing an interview with Johannes, an Austrian who runs an arts/technology festival that buries people alive, aptly named, “The Six Feet Under Club.” Following that, cabaret superstar Lady Rizo performs her original song “Under” which she wrote with Yair Evnine. This song is based on our interview with Kitty, a “Six Feet Under Club” participant who got buried alive with her lover.



TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE LET ME ASCERTAIN YOU PODCAST SERIES ON ITUNES, PLEASE CLICK HERE!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Meet the R&D: Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith, an artist in this year's R&D group, blogs about his decision to delay development of his NFL project and shares his short play based on his investigation.

Sometimes plays don’t work out.
I had been developing a piece called NFL with Woodshed Collective's Teddy Bergman via The Civilians R&D Group. It was going to be a document-based play about football players who go haywire and murder their loved ones. After working on the draft for a couple months, I found out that Ridley Scott is planning a movie about the same subject. Then Berkeley Rep announced their season with a play about the same subjectInstead of pulling a Dante's Peak, Teddy and I decided to shelve developing the project until it seems relevant to dust it off.
NFL would have been presented during the R&D Reading Series, May 21-30. In lieu of this, please read this short play, The Death of Justin Strzelczyk, based on a section of NFL, about the demise of Steelers' player Justin Strzelczyk.



Thanks for sharing, Tommy. For other posts about our R&D Group artists, please click HERE!