Monday, October 31, 2011

Watch the Occupy Wall Street Cabaret!

The Civilians' Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy Wall Street Cabaret was last Friday, and it went great! We couldn't be prouder of our fantastic artists for pulling together to create such a wonderful show (and so quickly - interviews began just a few weeks ago)!

We got a great write-up from The Faster Times, who said that "The 80-minute show was the most moving work of theater I have seen all season." Read the whole article here!

We are so happy to announce that the entire show is available! Watch the videos posted here, or check out a snapshot from an interview posted below!

Watch live streaming video from joespub at

Watch live streaming video from joespub at

Watch live streaming video from joespub at

Fate is a 19 year old in youthful, punkish clothing. She tells us what brings her to OWS and what it's like living there:

“I came out here with my boyfriend and my friends? But um…all I really love about this is …we’re making a point. We’re standing up for what we believe in and at the end of the day, you know, we still have our heads up…we still have hope. Hopefully none of these freaking PIGS (gestures to police) mess it up.
Well, being here my day is…is peaceful. Yeah, it is hard to sleep …early...but you know, everyone’s like, “Yeah come on,” everyone’s like rowdy, like “Yeah protestors” and it’s like, you gotta be up. We clean up, we put the blankets back so other people can use them. We eat. Uh. Our spots change all the time. There are people that are coming in from different states and different countries, so we have to make a little bit more room for them. And. That’s basically like…it’s like guests, coming into our home. This is our home. And we’re trying to make it look suitable…to people.”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

TALES FROM MY PARENTS' DIVORCE Apprentice Show: Cake on Passover?!

Tales from My Parents' Divorce is going strong at ArtsEmerson! The show is getting some fantastic feedback. Check out this awesome video of audience responses, plus a few snippets from the show! For tickets to the remaining shows, click HERE!

Plus, here's another clip from the Apprentice Show made this summer by apprentices at Williamstown Theater Festival when the show was there. The apprentices conducted their own interviews about home and holidays: this one is about what can happen when a cake comes into the house on Passover - probably not what you'd expect!


With The Civilians' Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy Wall Street cabaret at Joe's Pub only a few days away, we're giving you a sneak preview of some of the interviews featured in the show. To hear more from this story and many others, come to the cabaret!

The cabaret is on October 28 at 7:30PM at Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan). To purchase tickets, click HERE!

Omar is a Teamster from New York who came out for the rally on October 5th. 

It feels good that we’re seeing other people with the same plight. We’re all here to support each other and it makes it feel good that everybody’s willing to speak up and say something against corporate America, you know what I’m saying? Because pretty soon if it wasn’t for the union what would it be like? It would be like Thailand where you have an 8-year-old,you know, doing the job of his father or mother instead of going to school, you see what I’m saying?  If we don’t speak up, nobody’s going to listen. Politicians won’t listen. It’s like when you vote, if people don’t vote, nothing happens, nothing changes, it’s just going to be the same old good old boys controlling the reins, you know? Hopefully this protest we have going here, will – will affect, um, the politicians to make some changes, you know, let – let the big guys pay some of the tax bill for bailing out the banks and Wall Street , you know? Why should it always be the middle and lower class paying for everything? You know, they stay with the money in their pockets and we lose ours, you know, that’s just not fair. It’s not fair.

Miss the snapshots from earlier in the week? Click here to check out some of the other preview posts!

Be sure to check out our features about the interview process and the role of art in the movement in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal!

And if you can't make the cabaret on Friday, it'll be streaming live online! HERE is the link that will allow you to watch the performance at 7:30PM EST!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


The latest installment of our quarterly cabaret series Let Me Ascertain You is getting closer! For this one, The Civilians have been out doing interviews at Occupy Wall Street. Here on the blog we've been posting some sneak peak preview material from interviews the artists have been doing. To hear the rest of this story, and many more come to the cabaret at Joe's Pub on October 28th! More info and tickets HERE!

Maddy is a young woman with dyed candy apple red hair. We caught up with her while she was painting a coffee-house art style painting in Zuccotti Park.


“But, yeah I feel like these people are my family. We share - my mother thinks I'm crazy when I talk about my political views, and when I'm here everyone's like, 'Yeah, that makes perfect sense, yeah,' and that's great to feel like people, that I'm not crazy. And school, I go to like a small Catholic school, I proposed the idea of not using money in society and some girl freaked out and went 'But I need to pay my bills.' She failed to recognize that if we lived in a society without money there wouldn't be bills, but I don't know, maybe I'm not crazy, I'm just smarter than her, I don't know.”

Be sure to check out our features about the interview process and the role of art in the movement in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal!

And if you can't make the cabaret on Friday, it'll be streaming live online! HERE is the link that will allow you to watch the performance at 7:30PM EST! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


In anticipation of our upcoming cabaret, Let Me Ascertain You:Occupy Wall Street, we're posting some sneak peak previews of material from interviews used for the cabaret. This is an excerpt from an interview with Wezel, a farmer in his 70s with some interesting thoughts on the situation. To get the rest of his story and many others, come to the cabaret at Joe's Pub on October 28th! More info and tickets HERE!

“I’ve got a sixth grade education. You’re talkin’ to the wrong man. We need to reform our judicial system, our penal system - the whole medical thing is a disaster.  My wife and I, we’re in our sixties and seventies, ah, we’re fucked. No, we can’t, how could we, you know? We live on a thousand dollars a month, we couldn’t afford insurance.  So I get social security, my wife is 63, so we’re still waiting, and she lost her job. Her school closed down. She’s an art teacher. They completely shut the school down, she lost her insurance, and then she had a heart attack. So, so we have-  we don’t owe any money to anybody in the world except the hospital, about 50,000 dollars.  Well, when you live on a thousand dollars a month, that’s a lot of money for us.  And, uh, we thought Obama was gonna fix it-but…
A little bit at a time.  We go an’ dive dumpsters, an’ grow most of our own food, but it puttin’ us in a bind - but we still love it. We love (smiling) our country livin’, an’ we have a good life. We-look at our children, ya know? An’ our - one of our daughters is- is pretty well - doing a big thing in North Carolina. She’s had meetings with the police chief and the county commissioners, so we can occupy a park there. She also has a vegan restaurant, so she is feeding everybody, hundreds of people a day.  So yeah it’s- it’s a- life’s good."  

For more information about the investigative method and occupy wall street, check out our feature in the Washington Post HERE and the Wall Street Journal HERE!

Plus, we're working on bringing some of our interviewees to the theater! A donation of $15 buys one ticket for a protester. Click HERE

Friday, October 21, 2011


Last week, we introduced you to some of the people interviewed by Civilians' Artists at the Occupy Wall Street Protest. This week, as Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy Wall Street draws nearer, we're going to give you a sneak peak at some of the characters who you'll find at Joe's Pub on the 28th, here on the blog!

The cabaret is on October 28 at 7:30PM at Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan). To purchase tickets, click HERE!

Michele is a longtime New York activist who has been going to the protest since day 3. She was arrested in the Brooklyn Bridge march. Here's a preview from her interview:

“I just decided, you know, the Brooklyn Bridge is a big monument; everybody across the country is going to know what the Brooklyn Bridge is. And, I didn’t want to get arrested, like I promised my partner I wasn’t going to get arrested. From the beginning, the second I went down to Wall Street, “Oh, don’t worry I’ve been doing this forever, I don’t want – I’m tired of getting arrested,” but I’m telling you, the energy at that moment - and people started saying, “Let’s take the bridge,” and then people started singing and dancing, you know? That chant that says you know, “Go up, go down there is revolution in this town”, and we literally just like started dancing out on the bridge and it was just – it was impossible to not do it, you know? And it just- it just- it was like, okay, maybe this is going to get the media’s attention, because up until that point there really hadn’t been anything except, I think it was the Daily News that had the cover of that woman’s cleavage, you know, with the police holding the woman down, you know? That unfortunate photo. Um, so anyways, uh, you know, we went out onto the bridge and I just accepted it and I was like okay, we’re going to get arrested and – and this – I hope it’s worth it, and, uh, and it was.” 

Stay tuned to the blog for more interview excerpts coming next week!

And to check out our awesome feature in The Washington Post, click HERE! The reporter, Peter Marks, talked to Steve and to our Associate Artist Greg McFadden about the creative process, investigative theater, and conducting interviews for our Occupy Wall Street cabaret. He even spent some time with Greg out at Zuccotti Park while he talked to some of the protesters! Check it out!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TALES FROM MY PARENTS' DIVORCE Actors Working with Students

Get ready! TALES FROM MY PARENTS' DIVORCE is heading up to Boston for a run at ArtsEmerson next week. Jenny Morris and Robbie Collier Sublett (actors in and writers of the play) are there now leading a workshop for some students at Emerson College, who will be creating their own piece from interviews that they are conducting. Check out this great article in the Emerson's newspaper The Berkeley Beacon HERE to find out more about what the students are up to! And for tickets to the show at ArtsEmerson, click HERE!

While the show was up at Williamstown for its very successful run, Jenny and Robbie led a workshop for the apprentices. They conducted some of their own interviews about family and the holidays, and they made a lovely piece about it that they performed as a coda to The Civilians' show (which is what the Emerson students will be doing, too). Here's a clip featuring a hilarious song (that I think one could call Michael Friedman-esque at points)! Congrats to these talented youngsters!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Unity Within Diversity - R&D Group 2011-12!

Post by Annah Feinberg, R&D Group Coordinator 

What excites me most about this year’s crop of investigative theater projects being cultivated in the Civilians’ R&D writers group are the threads that link the wide range of projects together. During our first meeting of the year this past Monday, topics of conversation ranged between Stalin’s love of tractor musicals, Radical Faeries in Tennessee, historic accuracy, the Landmark Forum, suicide girls, nail polish, crime, Internet addiction, Occupy Wall Street, high school prom, and many more. While these all seem to come from vastly different corners of our contemporary consciousness, they are all strung together by projects that are questioning social perception of sanity and what has changed or is changing in our world that has lead or is leading to these changes in sociological awareness.

The R&D group is an incubator for the bouncing of ideas among investigative theater artist; it is a collective creative exploration of investigation. The artists range from first time playwrights who are well versed in Civilians methodology to seasoned playwrights in search of a new way of working and connecting to the world around them. By creating a conversation around these new projects, we hope to spark conversation within the projects; ideas of the artists in the group will inform and fertilize the projects of the other artists in the group.

I’m thrilled to find the unity within the diversity of projects being created this year, both artistically and tactically. Perhaps one writer will discover a new avenue for research and investigation that will open up a creative door for another. Perhaps one writer’s discoveries about the Landmark Forum will influence another’s project about the American Rehabilitation System, which will influence another’s project about Internet addition, and so on. The potential artistic links in this year’s group seem infinite, and I cannot wait to watch them connect.

In Monday’s meeting, Civilians Artistic Director Steve Cosson said something that really stuck with me: He remarked that partaking in the investigative process, and unlocking an underexplored corner of society “makes the world bigger”. I hope that’s what we will do this year in the R&D group—make the world bigger, one meeting at a time. 

For more info about the artists (pictured above) or their projects, click HERE!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kevin Kline, Liev Schreiber, José Rivera y Otros Apoyan A Grupos de Teatro Amenazados en Bogotá

Esta mañana envíamos la siguiente carta a los periódicos y a los medios de comunicación en Estados Unidos. Se trata de las amenazas de muerte contra compañías de teatro en Bogotá. Para más información, haga click ACA para el artículo de Steve Cosson sobre las amenazas y la respuesta, y qué puede usted hacer para ayudar.

Lo que usted puede hacer:
Por favor, escriba a cualquiera de los siguientes contactos para hacerles saber que usted está preocupado por la seguridad del teatro y los grupos artísticos en Bogotá. Dígale al gobierno colombiano y a la policía que haga todo lo posible para proteger a los grupos e investigar la amenaza.

Volmar Antonio Perez
Defensoria del pueblo
Calle 55 No 10- 32
Bogota, Colombia

Hernan Jaime Ulloa
Programa presidencial de derechos humanos
presidencia de la república
carrera 7 No 6 – 54
Bogota, Colombia

Mariella Barragán
Secretaria de Gobierno Bogota

For this post in English, please click here!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Civilians Occupy Wall Street

Over the past few weeks, Civilians' artists have been downtown talking to the 99% about the current demonstrations, our government, the economy, and the future. The company's next cabaret evening in its Let Me Ascertain You series will take this interview material and reveal the thought-provoking and unexpected, the infuriating and hilarious, the communal and the personal stories of the large and ongoing display of discontent that is Occupy Wall Street. Don't miss this one-night-only performance of monologues and songs by Michael Friedman crafted from interviews in The Civilians' unique style, giving voice to the people and examining the current exercise of democracy that will leave its mark our nation's history.

The cabaret is on October 28 at 7:30PM at Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan). To purchase tickets, click HERE!

Here are some excerpts from the interviews we've done so far:

"We, the 99%, that’s who, you know everyone who isn’t putting in these policies and – and benefitting from them... the federal reserve for instance [is a] privatized bank which we’re not allowed, uh, even to audit, you know, our government, yet they print our money. But they have no resources and they’re not federal, they’re privatized, and we have to borrow that money from them on loan when section – Article 1, Section 8 of The Constitution, uh, prohibits anyone else from coining money except for Congress, so, you know in that way the wealth would stay with the nation, but what happens is the wealth gets siphoned out of the nation and all the resources get siphoned out of the relation and a few bankers are – are pocketing that money." 

"I hitchhiked here all the way from California to get out here for this protest...Um, so what you do, is a lot of people use a cardboard sign, uh white cardboard if you can get it, because it stands out more, but my friend got me a wonderful gift years ago, which was a white, a white – like a dry erase board so that way I could express myself at any given moment or if I wanted to take a new route, I could change it or I could just like write funny shit on there and try to get a laugh out of people . Um, and I – I used that, I have a backpacking backpack that I loaded up with all of my gear, and I carried with me a lawn gnome on the back, which is an unnecessary 10 pounds, but my friend gave it to me and was like take this with you on your journey this time and we named him “Gnome Chomsky” and currently he’s sleeping over there on my bed..."

"I said I would've been arrested, I would've done it just just to a say wait a second this is what democracy's supposed to be about you know we're supposed to do this, that's what brought this country together, you know, and then you got people, that's what I'm saying, the news people really disappoint.  I even heard O'Reilly, I haven't heard O'Reilly say What are we going to do about these people, you know, I thought O'Reilly at least was going to say Hey, this is what America is all about, but he's a punk, he keeps talking telling everybody how tough he is, you know?  I'm Bill O'Reilly and I'm a I'm a tough guy. No he's not.  He's a sissy. He ran away from Vietnam, too. Tell him that if you ever see him."

Donate $15 to send one demonstrator to the show
Please click the link below to make a donation of $15 or more and we’ll invite actively protesting members of the 99% to witness their stories being told. 


Kevin Kline, Liev Schreiber, José Rivera, and Others Support Threatened Bogotá Theater Groups

We released the following letter to the national media this morning in regards to the death threats issued against theater companies in Bogotá. For more information, please click HERE for Steve Cosson's post about the threats and the response, and what you can do to help.

What you can do:
Please help by writing any or all of the contacts below to let them know that you are concerned for the safety of the theater and artistic groups in Bogotá and that you urge the Colombian government and police to do everything it can to protect the  groups and to investigate the threat. 

Volmar Antonio Perez
Defensoria del pueblo
Calle 55 No 10- 32
Bogota, Colombia

Hernan Jaime Ulloa
Programa presidencial de derechos humanos
presidencia de la república
carrera 7 No 6 – 54
Bogota, Colombia

Mariella Barragán
Secretaria de Gobierno Bogota

Para esta entrada en español, por favor haga clic ACA.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Current Investigative Theater: BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND by The Artful Conspirators

Hi, I’m EllaRose Chary, and I’ll be with The Civilians this year as the Literary Associate. One of my jobs is going out and seeing shows put on by other companies that are in the same genre as what we’re doing. It’s always exciting for us here at The Civilians to see the ways that other groups find to make theater with an investigative approach. When I see things of note, I’ll be reporting back here on the blog, so stay tuned for future updates! 

This past weekend I got the chance to see BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND: THEATRICAL STORIES FROM GREENWOOD CEMETERY. This site-specific piece was created by the Artful Conspirators, a Brooklyn-based theatrical collective, from a mixture of sources including historical events, community interviews, and the rules and regulations from the cemetery itself. BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND weaves fictional and factual material together to bring audiences a new perspective on Brooklyn’s historic Greenwood Cemetery.One of the most exciting elements of the piece was not only learning about the people who are buried in the cemetery, but also discovering events that occurred on the grounds. Who would have guessed that a cemetery is a common place for people to commit suicide?

A wonderful component of the show was the fact that I had to walk through the cemetery at night to get to and from the chapel where the show was being performed. The spookiness of wandering past mausoleums in the moonlight on an October night definitely contributed to the impact of the information I received during the play. One of my favorite things about investigative theater is the way that research and interviews help you contextualize the world in a way you weren’t previously. This contextualizing is one of the biggest successes of BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND. Audience members will never look at Greenwood Cemetery the same.

Though the show’s no longer running, you can still check it out online at the Artful Conspirators BROOKLYN UNDERGROUND website