Friday, December 28, 2012

Monthly Media Roundup December, 2012

Happy New Year! We hope you've had a great holiday season. Our office has been closed starting December 21, and will reopen January 2. We wanted to still keep you in the loop about what has been happening for us online this month, so here's the December Media Roundup. See you in 2013!

Blog:
R&D Group Post by Matt Dellapina about his R&D project

Podcast:
Occupy #S17, Part I featuring a performance by Tony Award-nominee Kathleen Chalfant, a monologue by our Associate Artist Colleen Werthmann, and a song by Jill Sobule

Subscribe on iTunes HERE!

Press:
Mr. Burns is the Washington Post's Best Show of the Year
Paris Commune in L Magazine's Best Shows of the Year
You Better Sit Down as a New York Times Best Unscripted Moment of the Year

Video:
Occupy #S17 Clip of Kathleen Chalfant performing at Joe's Pub
And we've got a bunch of video clips from our Education Program at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts, where students conducted interviews and created their own show about voting, civic responsibility, and voting. Here they are:
Why Do You Vote?
Voting is for Bigger People
Who's Bush?
Does Race Matter?

And here is video of the kids performing a song that Michael Friedman wrote, which they sang as part of the show!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Oh Jesus: A Story Of Barabbas

This post was written by our 2012-13 R&D Group Artist and Associate Artist, Matt Dellapina! Click HERE for info about the Group and Matt. Here's the description of his project from the site: "Barabbas was the criminal spared for Jesus in a violent public vote. This faithless man walked away from the pages of history to live a life racked with the personal cost of his freedom. Here's what might have happened, with songs." And now... here's Matt!

To look into the character of Barabbas is to look at a B story in society. Noted throughout the gospel as a “notable prisoner” and a “bandit”, he comes up from the ink due to his random, yet auspicious seating next to the title character in The Jesus Story. In keeping with a Passover tradition, each were wheeled out before a bloodlusting crowd where one would be granted a public pardon and set free. The other would stay the course towards execution. We know how this turned out. But the what-if of what happened to the other guy has always intrigued me and seemed ripe for drama. How could you live with the guilt of being at the hinge of the modern Western world?

Barabbas’ tale is told in the shadows of a hero legend. Like every supporting character arc, whether or not one’s journey is a success, the heart of every man self-narrates a hero’s journey. If told by Barabbas himself, his footnote would swell to a triumphant tale of padding through the muck to climb out and walk tall once more. Wiser, and with the bruises to prove it.

But whatever the wisdom received by the received wisdom, the refracted angle of a minor player’s part in a larger story feels an ideal subject for a mix of what-if imaginings and historical digging. This kind of social discussion is what drew me to this R & D Group. And in the first series of presentations and discussion (including my own), I’ve been awestruck to the degree with which each of the artists in the room has provided insight that could’ve spawned it’s own evening unto itself. It’s a satisfying thing to see the postmodern streak of Barabbas mirrored in such real-time lens-shifting among fresh eyes and generous trust.

And to reflect my own storytelling leanings, song provides a real opportunity to embody Barabbas’ itch to tell his side of things. He’s a downtrodden folk singer, weaving the folk tale of his own life. Upon approaching such an emotional story, there is for me always a tendency to send the thing up & satirize the pain involved. It’s a tendency of our age to wink through tales so ripe with pitfalls of potential bombast. My last solo show was essentially a one-hour exercise in self-effacement. And it was good fun. But out of both a personal need to challenge myself and to explore the possibilities in a stripped-down (maybe even solo) musical, I had to attack this story straight from the pain of a man who’s trying to set the record straight.

When the germ of the idea first hit, the songs were what came earliest and easiest. The challenge now is to chip at the body of the piece. My first thought was that it’d be just one man, one guitar, a soundscape, and nothing else. All well and good, but still not a true framework. Namely, where the hell is he? Is he speaking, in fact, from hell? Some kind of purgatory? A jail cell? A circus? A busking tour along the streets of the world, stubbornly crooning his story to anyone who’ll listen? Maybe not that, but something like that?

In chatting with a couple of theologians and historians on the topic, it seems like Barabbas was first and foremost a kind of insurgent. And in digging at the socio-political history of Rome and Jerusalem around the time of Christ, he was one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, who took a more aggressive, even violent stance against the occupation and infringement of Rome onto their land. Sound familiar? In my fictionalized vision, Barabbas is on the spiritual quest of an atheist. And as a counterpoint to Jesus, he constantly doubts the religious ceiling of his contemporaries and realizes that change can only come from clenched fists and inflaming the hearts and minds of a public already enraged towards an empire. Pacifism is not his way. His is the way of action.

Perhaps the most haunting spark for me comes down to the simplest thing - his name. When translated from Hebrew, bar means “son” and Abba means “father”, making Barabbas the “son of the father”. Now what kind of name is that? Isn’t every man a “son of the father”? It’s a bit like calling him Everyman, or John Doe. Other manuscripts even translate it to Jesus Barabbas, essentially naming him “Jesus, Son of the Father”. Sound familiar? With each of their lives inextricably linked as outcasts of Rome, each prisoners awaiting execution for rebellious activities, each with a hearty following, is it that absurd to think that Jesus Barabbas and Jesus of Nazareth may be the same person? Perhaps the other side of the story is simply the dark side of the man.

Thanks to Matt for writing this for us!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Occupy #S17, The Podcast, Part I

For the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, which was on September 17, we put together a really special cabaret of interviews with Occupy protesters focused on how the movement had transformed from its early days and what it's future might look like. This week's episode features Colleen Werthmann as Andrea, a protester; Tony-nominee Kathleen Chalfant as an actress and demonstrator; and Brad Heberlee as an anti-war activist, environmentalist, and participant in the movement; and we close out with Jill Sobule, Alex Nolan, Amanda Ruzza and Liz Kelly performing Jill's song "We Want our America Back." Interviews were conducted by Dan Domingues, Jackie Sibblies Drury, and Rachel Jablin. The evening was directed by Mia Rovegno. Thanks for listening - subscribe, rate, and review us!

Click HERE to watch videos from the event!


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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Monthly Media Roundup November, 2012

We know that November is the month of the Scorpio, but here at The Civilians, it's been a little bit of a Gemini month! We had the first public concert showing of Pretty Filthy at Joe's Pub; meanwhile, our Associate Artist Marsha Stephanie Blake has been hard at work with students at Brooklyn High School of the Arts on their new play (which has performances next Monday and Tuesday)! Plus, we actually had two different projects on television, one about Paris Commune and our environmental music videos were on 24 Hours of Reality on PBS featuring Al Gore! Anyway, lots going on this month; here's our media roundup for November:

Blog:
Featured Associate Artist: Bess Wohl, playwright of Pretty Filthy
Updates from the Brooklyn High School of the Arts: The students are getting ready for their performances of the brand-new play they created, Why We Vote next Monday and Tuesday!
Meet the R&D: A post from our R&D Coordinator, EllaRose Chary about this year's R&D Group participants and projects
Porn Parodies: Updates about Pretty Filthy
Why do you vote? Intro to our Brooklyn High School of the Arts Investigative Theater Education Program

Podcast:
Bogotá Prison Pageant, Part I: Interviews from our investigation in the national women's prison in Bogotá, Colombia, where they host an annual beauty pageant for the incarcerated.
Death, Part III: Another story from Bogotá about a woman who had a near-death experience, plus Michael Friedman's song "Stars" from Gone Missing

Subscribe on iTunes HERE!

Video
Paris Commune on TV: Here's an awesome feature about Paris Commune that was made for a CUNY TV show sponsored by the French Embassy! It's got interviews with Steve, Michael, and the performers, plus footage from the show!

The Great Immensity Blog
Feeling the Heat of Climate Change: about the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, happening right now!
Hurricane Sandy: exploring the conversations about climate change and the environmental crisis sparked by Sandy (plus ways to get involved in relief efforts)

Photos
Our super hottt cast for Pretty Filthy at Joe's Pub

Pretty Filthy at Joe's Pub

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bogotá Prison Pageant, Part I

The beauty pageant that takes place in the national women's prison in Bogotá, Colombia is the subject of this week's podcast episode. Steve Cosson spent a month visiting the prison during the lead up to the pageant, working with a group of Colombians, playwright José Rivera, and songwriter/musician Hector Buitrago of the Latin Grammy Award-winning band Aterciopelados. They interviewed the pageant's contestants, other inmates, and prison staff. In this podcast, you’ll get a chance to hear some of our raw interviews, which were translated into English and performed for the first time at the 92YTribeca in June of this year. Our first interview, performed by Vanessa Aspillaga, is with a woman serving time for being part of one of the various guerilla groups who are part of a long-standing armed conflict with right-wing paramilitaries. Next up is Carolina Ravassa playing an inmate who is incarcerated for her part in an attack on the presidential palace in Bogotá in 2002. The attack did not succeed in hitting then President Alvaro Uribe, though one missile overshot the palace and landed in the nearby neighborhood of El Cartucho, killing a number of people. To close this episode, our Associate Artist KJ Sanchez performs an inmate who, while she proclaims her innocence, was convicted of working for the paramilitaries through her political office. These interviews were conducted by Lorena Lopez and Alejandro Jaramillo. Thanks for listening - subscribe, rate, and review us!

Click HERE for our research photos from the pageant!


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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brooklyn High School of the Arts Performance Next Week!

The election is over, the votes have all been counted, and the presidential campaigns of Gov. Mitt Romney and Pres. Barack Obama have come to a halt. But in the auditorium of Brooklyn High School for the Arts, students are investigating peoples’ motivation for voting in a new performance created with Civilians teaching artist Marsha Stephanie Blake. Since the start of the school year, these high schoolers have been going around Brooklyn with cameras and audio recorders asking people, ‘why do you vote?’ and the answers they got back are now the fodder for a dynamic and probing show premiering December 3 and 4.

As the performance comes closer, Frank Proudfoot, the school’s drama teacher and the director of the show, instructs the students to project in the deep auditorium. Students hustle around as Proudfoot and Blake usher their actors stage left, and bring one ‘bored student’ character downstage to interrupt the action with his complaining. Those awaiting their turn on stage in the audience quickly finish their afternoon snacks and go over their lines to make sure they know them front to back. Others gather with their friends and scene partners to go over their bits in the hall, all while Blake talks to students onstage about developing characters. One sophomore asks Mr. Proudfoot, ‘Does my character have to be hoodish? My mom is going to be mad at me, even though I’m just acting.’ Mr. Proudfood laughs and says simply that she should try to stay truthful to the person she is portraying. The student thinks for a second and laughing, responds, ‘Ok. I’ll play her hoodish, but like, intelligent hoodish.’


With the expert teaching skills and care of Proudfoot and Blake, these students have risen to the occasion to put on an exciting and thought-provoking Civilians performance. With a song from Michael Friedman, this show on why people vote touches on themes of democracy, race, youth, and citizenship, and reminds us that not only is it important to be an informed voter, but it is equally important to understand our fellow Americans, and how we can work together to create a better world for all, especially our youngest.

Thanks to Adam Odsess-Rubin for writing this post for us. And we hope you'll join us next Monday or Tuesday for the show - $10 at the door! See you then!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Featured Associate Artist: Bess Wohl

Meet our Featured Associate Artist for November! Bess Wohl is the playwright of Pretty Filthy, which just had an incredible concert performance at Joe's Pub. Congrats to Bess on an awesome show! And without further ado... Bess Wohl!

Name: Bess Wohl
Year Joined The Civilians: 2009
Where you're from: Brooklyn, NY
What City You're Living In: New York, NY

How did you first get involved with The Civilians? 
Steve and I met at Williamstown Theatre Festival, where he was directing THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE by William Saroyan. I acted in the play, playing a hooker with a heart of gold. (Typecast!) Michael Friedman did the music for the play, and also played the piano onstage. For some reason I can't remember, he was painted orange from head to toe. Like Ernie.

What have you done with us, both in terms of investigating and performing? 
I spent time in California interviewing porn stars and visiting porn sets for the creation of our musical about the Adult Entertainment Industry, PRETTY FILTHY, for which I've also written the book. We also went to the AVN Awards in Las Vegas, and the Adult Expo there. We met porn stars, went to parties and saw a new prototype of a porn robot. Needless to say it was all very illuminating!

Tell us about something that surprised you, either in an interview, in using the investigative method, or in a rehearsal process. 
I was honestly surprised during our time interviewing people in the Adult Entertainment Industry at how friendly everyone was to us. I'm not sure what my expectations were-- but they didn't know us at all, and they warmly welcomed us onto their sets and into some very-- ahem-- intimate moments and situations. They were always lovely and helpful, much more so than lots of people I've encountered in other more "legit" businesses.

Why has it been interesting to work in this way?
As a writer, I find it very challenging to write about a world I don't know. The investigative process gives us a deep understanding of unfamiliar worlds, Also, truth is always stranger than fiction, and the real things people say have the most poetry to them. The challenge is to take that reality and craft it into something that also functions as a work of art.

What is the last project you worked on outside of The Civilians?
I've been working on a bunch of TV and film projects-- just wrote a movie for Paramount and am writing a TV pilot for USA. I also was just up at Hartford Stage for their BRAND: New festival with my new play, AMERICAN HERO.

What artist has had the biggest impact on you? 
There are so so so many, but to pick one.... I'd go with the poet, Frank O'Hara. I love the natural, improvised quality of his work. The musicality of his language. The freedom he found in the form. The feeling of spontaneity and life that infuses his poems. The humor and surprise of them. The honesty and open-heartedness. I'm always trying to capture those qualities in my own work. I just love love love Frank O'Hara.

What’s the last play you saw?
I saw David Henry Hwang's GOLDEN CHILD at the Signature. It was so theatrical and fascinating and beautifully done. Go see it!

What’s your favorite bad movie?
Top Gun! And it's not bad. It's awesome. My ego is still writing checks my body can't cash.

Do you like sports?
I'm obsessed with baseball. The 1986 Mets changed my life. Lenny Dykstra aka "Nails" was my first love. Keith Hernandez, Mookie, Gary Carter, Daryl, Doctor K... Those guys were rock stars.

Question from Last Month’s Featured Associate Artist, Marsha Stephanie Blake
How many times has Michael Friedman made you cry in rehearsal?
Michael has never made me cry! But give it time... I'm sure it will happen someday.

What question would you like us to ask our next Featured Associate Artist?
What's the meaning of life?

Bess Wohl with Michael Friedman

Friday, November 16, 2012

R&D Group: Meet the 2012-13 R&D Group

Here's a post from our R&D Group Coordinator, EllaRose Chary!

I’m very excited to be taking over as coordinator for this year’s R&D Group. We are including directors in the group again this year (a change from last year), so we have a dynamic assembly of 5 directors and 7 writers. The projects we have are incredibly diverse in scope and research method, but all hinge on the kind of questions that make Civilians style projects unique. We have two Civilians Associate Artists participating this year, writers Emily Ackerman and Matt Dellapina; writer Carly Mensch and director Jess Chayes also have long time connections to the organization. Mia Rovegno returns to the group with a new writing project, and we also have a number of talented artists we’re exciting to be working with for the first time. Another first is that we have two musical projects being developed in the R&D Group, César Alvarez’s musical The Universe is a Small Hat and Madeleine George’s play with music.

I want to take this opportunity on the blog to introduce the group members and their projects. Furthermore, I think these projects are all getting at similar ideas, in wholly unique ways.

Our five directors are Jess Chayes, Snehal Desai, David Mendizabal, Gina Rattan, and Mei Ann Teo. You can find their full bios on our website here. These directors are characterized by the fact that they do work that is often both investigative and collaborative. When we refer to work as investigative at The Civilians, we mean pieces that come from inquiries into the most vital questions of the present. R&D Group directors are often present in the room as our writers work out not only the writing of their plays, but also their methodologies of research. The experience these directors bring ranges from traditional Broadway to ensemble based companies. I’m looking forward to what they will bring to both the discussions throughout the year and to the readings next May.

Our seven writers come from many corners of the theater world and their projects utilize a variety of research and investigative techniques that they will use explore topics that include the scientific and the historical.

Emily Ackerman’s piece is exploring revenge, an emotion that is entirely based on perception, but which has very concrete applications in the world. Alvarez’s sci-fi musical deals with the sheer improbability of existence. Matt Dellapina is asking a historical question of what might have been, by looking into what followed in the life of the criminal Barabbas, after he was spared by public vote in place of Jesus. Madeleine George, a decorated playwright and founding member of 13P, is investigating a story based on a decades long-research project in Minnesota regarding a group of school teacher nuns and the onset of dementia – her play wonders about the distance between critical thinking and the mystery of the infinite. Carly Mensch is using interviews taken with a Tanzanian man whose larger than life story may or may not be too fascinating to be true. Mia Rovegno’s Afflicted is inspired by the mystery of the twitching girls of Le Roy, NY. A. Zell Williams’ piece explores how people’s views on racial identity impact their views of childrearing, and wonders about the line between punishment and abuse. To learn more about these fantastic artists and what they have to say about their pieces, visit our website here.

Despite the diversity of the subject matter our writers are tackling, I am struck by a similarity in the works.  All of our artists, in their own ways, are tackling themes of how we approach reality, and from that basis asking questions about the nature of truth. The nature of truth telling is not a new question for the Civilians, our critically acclaimed piece (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch dealt with that idea. However, as our cultural and political landscape evolve, it seems to be an evolving and central American tension – highlighted by this year’s election cycle – how do we sort reality from fantasy? What do we believe, both within ourselves and from the outside world?

I am looking forward to getting to know these pieces and these writers more as we head into this year of R&D. This is a very interesting group, and I can’t wait to see what they produce!

Many thanks to EllaRose Chary for this post. We'll have more updates for you from these fabulous Group members, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pretty Filthy: A Concert Performance at Joe's Pub

We're so excited for our concert performance of Pretty Filthy on Monday! We've been working on this show since 2009, when our artists first went out to the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles (sometimes referred to as "Porn Valley") and to the AVN Awards in Las Vegas (sometimes referred to as "The Oscars of Porn"). This presentation on Monday is of the fictional story written by Bess Wohl with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman. Keep in mind that the project is still in development, so the performers will be on-book, no sets, no costumes (well, they'll be wearing clothes! just not designed by a costume designer). The story is inspired by all the interviews that our artists were doing. Want to hear them? We've got recordings of performances of some of the verbatim material available on our podcast! Check out the PRETTY FILTHY EPISODES to take a listen! (And be sure to subscribe, rate, and review us!)

One thing that we've been thinking about is Porn Parodies. Our artists were on set to observe the filming of Star Trek XXX directed by Axel Braun (with the subtitle May the Farce be with You), and porn parodies are also a presence in the show.

We want to know: What do you think the next porn parody should be, and what should it be called? Here are a few to get you started: The XXXorcist, Call of Booty: Modern Whorefare... you get the idea. We know that there are already tons of parodies out there, so don't worry if it's already been done.

And get your tickets to PRETTY FILTHY at Joe's Pub HERE!


Star Trek XXX

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why do you vote?

Post by Artistic Intern Adam Odsess-Rubin

Why do people vote?  This is the subject of investigation for a group of roughly 30 high schoolers working with The Civilians at Brooklyn High School for the Arts in the middle of an important election season.  With actress and Civilians Associate Artist Marsha Stephanie Blake and drama teacher Frank Proudfoot at the helm, this theater class has become a hotbed of theatrical creation.  Over the past few months, students have been interviewing family, friends, and community members about the upcoming election, and discovering what electoral politics mean to them.  Casting is done, the script is almost finished, and the students are ready for their spotlight.  By stepping into the shoes of others, they are not only learning about politics, but coming to better understand the community around them.

I sat down for informal interviews with some of the students last week, where we discussed voting, the project, and what their vision would be if they were President of the United States.

When asked whether high schoolers should be able to vote, the responses were surprisingly split. For the affirmative one student eloquently said, “I think we should vote. I think we should be able to vote because we’re still humans. We’re still people, we have our say. Four years from now we gonna be in college, so I want to have my say on what goes on in four years.” Other students worried that teens weren’t responsible enough. “Even in my class, teenagers are too easily manipulated. In my drama class, once one person says something, it’s like ‘you’re right, you’re right, you’re right.’ They don’t have the mindset to vote.”

Despite reservations though, many seemed to know exactly what they would do if they were elected into the oval office.  Answers ranged from banning homework to increasing funding for special education programs, but most agreed with this student, who said, “My vision is that everyone would be an equal.  There’d be no need for no lower class, and middle class and higher class.  Everyone would be treated and handled the same.” Others took the duty of presidency more lightly, with one student declaring, “I’d put my feet up on the desk haha.”

Finally, I asked them how they felt about The Civilians and Marsha Stephanie Blake coming in to help them create this production , which is set to go up December 3 and 4 in their gymnasium. One student noted, “I just got interested in politics. Like in 2008, our teacher made us be interested in it. Now I’m starting to get interested again…. I think it’s good cause we get to show how others think. People in the audience get to see how others think …They can relate.” Another spoke to an interview she conducted, saying, “I’ve learned a lot more about voting and interviewing people. I saw a lot of new views on issues I never thought about before, and something that really stuck with me is that someone I interviewed, someone random, someone in the street- they said that sometimes when we think of the President, we think that they’re superheroes, that they’re Superman, that they can do whatever they want. They’re still human, and we all make mistakes.” One student spoke to the empowerment he felt, explaining, “I’m going to be honest, at first I did not like [the project]. But after I saw different interviews, and I saw things come together, and I saw how it was going to play out, I found it really interesting. In this school, we’re used to doing Shakespeare and classical plays, we never get a chance to actually speak our voice. So I think this is very interesting, cause we got aspects of our voice and adults’ voices. …. People are more active than they were when The Civilians wasn’t here.”

So we want to know: Why do you vote? Share with us in the comments!

And here's an awesome video from our program with the Brooklyn High School of the Arts last year, for which they conducted interviews about the 1960's!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Monthly Media Roundup October, 2012

A lot happened this month! Paris Commune had its sold-out run at BAM, and we are so proud of the show and the incredible artists who made it happen. Here's our recap of media that we posted this month; enjoy!

Blog
Featured Associate Artist: Marsha Stephanie Blake
Meet the R&D - A post by R&D Group artist Mia Rovegno about her experience in the 2011-12 Group!
Literary Corner: We Were There - A write-up about David Lawson's new piece of investigative theater that is based on interviews with veterans

Podcast
Paris Commune: A Podcast Discussion featuring NYU professor Kristin Ross discussing the actual Paris Commune and its relationship to social space
Occupy Your Mind, Part III The third part of our performance at Judson Church, including an interview with Reverend Billy and the guy who invented the Occupy Bat Signal

Death, Part III - An incredible monologue from an interview with a woman incarcerated in the national Colombian women's prison who had a near death experience performed by Jeanine Serralles 

Subscribe on iTunes HERE!

Video
Occupy Your Mind: Daniel as Billy at Sarah Lawrence College
Occupy Your Mind: Colleen Werthmann as Andrea at Joe's Pub
Occupy Your Mind: Laura as Andrea at Sarah Lawrence College
Occupy Your Mind: Matt sings "Down by the Riverside" at Sarah Lawrence College

Photos
Paris Commune Production Photos   
Occupy Your Mind Photo of the Occupy show at University of Cincinnati

Nina Hellman, Jeanine Serralles, Kate Buddeke, and Aysan Celik in Paris Commune at BAM

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Death, Part III

Here is our last episode about death, featuring an interview performed in a cabaret at Joe's Pub last season. Jeanine Serralles performs an incarcerated woman in the national women's prison in Bogotá, Colombia describing a near-death experience. This interview, conducted by Lorena Lopez, is part of a larger project about the annual beauty pageant that happens in the prison. We wrap up this week's episode with the song "Stars" by Michael Friedman from our show Gone Missing, performed by Matt Dellapina, Emily Ackerman, Daniel Jenkins, and Emily Rossell, accompanied by Kris Kukel. Thanks for listening - subscribe, rate, and review us!


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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

R&D Group: Don’t Mind The Gaps

This post is by R&D Group member, Mia Rovegno. The post is wrapping up her work in the Group from 2011-12. For a list of this year's participants and projects, please click HERE!

In this past year’s R&D Group, I wrote a play that attempted to capture the swiss cheese of life in all it’s hole-y elusiveness and eternal pining for answering the unanswerable. I was interested in creating a space where an audience could feel as if they were pouring over a collection of photographs, culling missing details from the incomplete snapshots of other people’s lives. The way they might feel if they listened to someone else’s record collection and stumbled upon some old song they’d forgotten they knew so well, that in hearing it again had the power to project them into the annals of their own cobwebbed histories.

The play would be a revolving door of disparate voices, offering fleeting glimpses into a slew of stories plucked from the American landscape. All the characters would set out to locate themselves as they struggled through love, loss or longing for something to make them feel at home inside the dissonant geographies and subcultures that ebb and flow around each other across this vast landscape. I wondered how an audience might fill in the gaps if only given a small window into each story. I hoped these brief encounters and unexpected absences would ask the audience to come to the play in a different way, and awaken a longing to smooth out the rough-edged unknown with the familiar roundness of their own rose-tinted glasses. In The Field Guide To Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit writes, “When someone doesn’t show up, the people who wait sometimes tell stories about what might have happened and come to half believe” in them. Without concrete details, the mind works hard to clear the haze between events, memories, and the misremembered facts of unreliable storytellers, in order to arrive at their own subjective sense of truth.

I think there’s an honesty in telling stories that still have holes in them. It evokes the kind of active listening music asks us to do. The joy of listening to music revolves around the glorious anticipation of a moment when one can slip inside a private, singular world of associations. Music jogs the memory, but leaves room for a fluid sense of freedom as the listener pursues those satisfying moments of recognition. A space of introspection springs from the heart and the gut of the listener, motivated by a desire to shape the unknown into the familiar. The brain instinctively works to recall some combination of recognizable sounds that hold the power to release a deluge of subterranean memories, and render us emotionally prostrate to that heartcrushing, soul-wringing deity we both love and hate to worship: Nostalgia.

Of course, language can open just as potent an emotional landscape, but I was curious about whether we listen to language the same way we listen to music. Conversations are driven by a musicality that expands and contracts, catapults and suspends, just as a piece of music might. But perhaps music, in its abstraction, offers a freer, more open space for an audience to truly interpret what they are listening to. I wondered if a play could offer such a space through an unexpected blending of voices, surprising rhythmic changes, and rapidly shifting progressions—a space that leaves the listener to check expectation at the door and connect the dots of a narrative in a motific, rather than linear way.

The play I was writing landed the audience in a new location with new characters every handful of pages. Many appeared briefly only to never resurface again. The interweaving stories defied a linear structure, their multiple voices washing over the listener in a kind of sprawling theatrical missive. I found myself questioning the logic of a narrative that could spiral out from theme and motif, rather than the architecture of plot and character. This line of questioning proved extremely useless to the associative theatrical experience I was attempting to create. So I turned to the act of listening, and let myself listen to the play in the same way I might get lost in listening to a piece of music.

A recurring voice revealed itself as a trusty bassline, subdued in its understated reliability. An exchange lingering only long enough to leave the faint odor of ennui wafting through an empty kitchen late at night was a saxophone taking an impromptu, contemplative solo. The voices of the 18 characters coalesced through variations on a series of repetitions that functioned like motifs in a piece of music. These motifs were a kind of percussion, prominent and driving, but still allowing for each character’s story to burst forward in harmony or dissonance before riding the current into the open landscape of the piece.

The play seemed to want to wind its way toward its elliptic end the way moving water finds its journey around the rock forms in a riverbed. So I let it do that. On such a journey, perhaps one has most enjoyable ride when the urge to control the experience gives way to tiny acts of letting go. Or the simple act of listening. You listen to the river so it can tell you when to slice a paddle through the water, when to hold and just glide, and when to move in a clear direction with your destination in mind. You ride the current with abandon and let the river take you. As I began to allow the piece to tell me how I should listen to it, I realized I could probably take some advice from Mel, one of the elder characters in my play. She says, “Sometimes it’s good to get lost for a while. And not try so hard to find your way back.”

Many thanks to Mia for writing this post! We'll have more to come about this year's R&D Group soon; they just had their first meeting. Click HERE for past posts!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Occupy Your Mind, The Podcast, Part III

Following the last two episodes focused on the French revolution of 1871, this week's episode finds us back with our local Occupy Wall Street protesters. Nina Hellman and Daniel Jenkins perform an interview with Savitri and Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping. To close out this podcast, we have Gibson Frazier performing Mark Read: the infamous "illuminator" behind the 99% "bat signal" on the Verizon Building last November. Interviews for this podcast were conducted by Steve Ginsberg and Quinlan Corbett, and are part of Occupy Your Mind, a program dedicated to documenting the living history of the Occupy movement. Find out how you can get involved HERE! And check out the videos of these performances on our Tumblr HERE!


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

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Literary Corner: We Were There by David Lawson


This post was written by Allison Hirschlag, staff member of The Civilians, who went to see We Were There by David Lawson, as part of an ongoing series of writings about artists working with the investigative method to create theater. Many thanks to Ally, and to David Lawson for so generously sharing this piece with us.

We Were There by David Lawson quite adeptly captures the fundamental tone of today’s veterans, and part of the reason why is because Lawson implemented investigatory theatre methods akin to those used by The Civilians to develop it.  He interviewed three veterans of the Iraq war with whom he happened to go to high school and wove their stories together to create this innovative theatrical piece.  Chris Croghan, Sameer Khan, and Ryan Groat had vastly different experiences in the army due to where they were stationed, what their jobs were, and why they joined up in the first place, hence their stories varied significantly from man to man.  However, one thing that resonated through each man’s account was how civil everything seemed to be for the most part in a technical wartime environment.  This is not how I ever envisioned a soldier’s life, especially during actual conflict, so it was an incredibly eye-opening experience for me.  I also really appreciated the actors’ portrayals of these men.  They kept their performances simple and matter-of-fact which in turn helped me see the veterans and not the actors.

The way in which Lawson put this piece together was particularly interesting.  He interviewed the veterans separately putting each one on tape, and then interlaced their stories to create a three person dialogue on stage.  Each man has moments where he breaks off and tells a personal story, but there is a palpable comradery among the characters that was created entirely by the playwright, and unless I had stayed for the talk back I would have thought the three men had been interviewed together.  This element really worked to enhance the concept of the piece.  You could almost see these men as they were with their unit; laid back, jokey, and totally on the level.  They had an undeniable connection between them that could only have come from a shared state of mind.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the evening was sticking around for the talkback and listening to actual veterans declare how accurate the play was in depicting what actually goes on in the lives of soldiers, both during active duty and after they’ve returned home.  It seems no matter when you served there is a great amount of routine drilled into you that is hard to let go even after you’ve been home for years.  The veterans commiserated over feeling the need to check for bombs in trash cans and roadways even though they realize they’re no longer in a war-torn country.  And while many people consider this an aspect of PTSD, the veterans both in the play and in the audience claim that it’s just part of what sticks from serving in the army.  Most declared they wouldn’t trade their experiences as soldiers for anything.

There are, however, a few things to consider when looking at this investigative play versus any other play about veterans.  Lawson interviewed men who enlisted voluntarily, and while they varied, they each had strong reasons for wanting to be soldiers.  They also joined up during a less active war time when infantry soldiers were mainly dealing with civilians and keeping an eye out for suspicious activity that might lead to IEDs.  So we are getting a somewhat skewed view in this play, but it’s a window into the lives of the soldiers of today which is an angle that absolutely should be explored.

We Were There is an incredibly topical, poignant piece about the current state of military service in Iraq.  It is a rare thing to hear such personal accounts of what it’s really like to serve in the army today, and this piece captures the mood so well that you can’t help getting engrossed.  I hope David continues developing it because the world is full of preconceived notions on this front, and his play delivers a large dose of clarity.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Featured Associate Artist: Marsha Stephanie Blake

Meet our October Featured Associate Artist, Marsha Stephanie Blake! She is working with us this month teaching a course about investigative theater at the Brooklyn High School for the Arts. The kids are conducting interviews around Brooklyn asking, Why do you vote? Marsha Stephanie has also performed with us in a few different projects... read on to hear from her!

Name: Marsha Stephanie Blake
Year Joined The Civilians: 2006/2007ish
Where you’re from: Clarendon, Jamaica
What City You’re Living In: Brooklyn, New York

How did you first get involved with The Civilians?
Coleman Domingo, an actor who has now faded off into obscurity and meaninglessness (just kidding, he's an award-winning superstar) had to drop out of The "Evangelical Project" which later became "This Beautiful City." I happened to already be in Colorado when they called in desperation for someone to go help interview people in Colorado Springs. So it was kismet.

What have you done with us, both in terms of investigating and performing?
"This Beautiful City" and the investigation and first version of what would later become "In The Footprint"

Tell us about something that surprised you, either in an interview, in using the investigative method, or in a rehearsal process.
I was accused of being a lesbian and also of coercing some teenagers into giving interviews. Neither was true. But it was surprising.

Why has it been interesting to work in this way?
It is always interesting to hear people's stories, no matter where they come from or what they believe. I love that people trust me with their lives and I'm honored to represent each and every one of them onstage.

What is the last project you worked on outside of The Civilians?
"Bullet for Adolf," a comedy co-written and directed by Woody Harrelson. Talk about interesting.

What artist has had the biggest impact on you?
Beyoncé.

What’s the last play you saw?
"Triassic Park," a musical about dinosaurs. Excellent entertainment.

What’s your favorite bad movie?
"The New Guy."

Do you like sports? (… which ones/what team?)
I like dominoes. Whatever team I'm on.

Question from Last Month’s Featured Associate Artist, Aysan Celik: What book do you re-read?
Angela's Ashes.

What question would you like us to ask our next Featured Associate Artist?
How many times has Michael Friedman made you cry in rehearsal?


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Paris Commune - A Podcast Discussion

A special guest joins us in this week's episode: Kristin Ross, Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University. She has written extensively about Paris Commune. Her book The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune was what inspired Steve Cosson and Michael Friedman to start working on Paris Commune, which premiered at ArtsEmerson last month and is running in BAM's 30th Next Wave Festival. The play investigates the Parisian working-class uprising in 1871, and we want to extend a special thanks to Kristin for talking with us and sharing her expertise on the subject with us in this podcast. This episode kicks off with Brian Sgambati performing Leur Bon Dieu, a nineteenth century song in the show originally from the Commune with Lyrics by Eugène Pottier, Music by Emile Bouillon. Wrapping up this week, we have Aysan Celik (our Featured Associate Artist for September), singing “Mon Homme” by Jean-Baptiste Clément, adapted and translated by Michael Friedman.


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

Friday, September 28, 2012

Monthly Media Roundup September, 2012

We have had an AWESOME start to our 2012-13 season here at The Civilians. We kicked off the year with a nearly sold-out cabaret at Joe's Pub, a national event about Occupy, and the wonderful world premiere of Paris Commune at ArtsEmerson in Boston! And here's a quick summary of all the new stuff we posted this month!

Blog:
Rehearsing the Revolution - A report from the Paris Commune rehearsal room
Occupy Wall Street #S17 Wrap Up - Tweets and pictures from our national performance event for the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street
Sneak-Peek of Occupy - Awesome excerpts from some of our recent interviews
The Commune on the Common - Description of rehearsals for Paris Commune up in Boston

Featured Associate Artist - Aysan Celik of Paris Commune

Podcast:
Paris Commune - Behind-the-scenes interviews with the artists working on Paris Commune
You Better Sit Down Salon Night, Part 3 - More from our post-show events at The Flea Theater following our run there in April

Subscribe on iTunes HERE!

Video
Animated Paris Commune Trailer

Photos
Check out photos from Sam Breslin Wright's Flickr account documenting Paris Commune rehearsals!

Stay tuned for lots of exciting stuff coming up in October - including the run of Paris Commune in the BAM 30th Next Wave Festival!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Enter to Win Two Tickets to the Paris Commune Invited Dress!

As you might know, our upcoming run of Paris Commune in the BAM 30th Next Wave Festival in the Fisher Building sold out in around 48 hours. But we really want you to see the show!

So leave us a comment answering our question and get entered into a raffle for two tickets to our Invited Dress Rehearsal on October 3 at 2:00pm. 

We want to know:

If you could change one thing in our country, what would it be?

In the actual Paris Commune, the citizens of Paris rethought lots of different elements of society, from free speech rights to women's rights to the practice of baking bread at night. So talk to us! What would you want to change if you could reimagine our society? More healthcare? Less healthcare? Campaign finance reform? Less regulations for businesses? Leave us a comment below, and get entered to win the tickets!

We're also running this contest on our Facebook and Twitter, so feel free to enter there, too!

Daniel Jenkins, Aysan Celik, Jeanine Serralles, and Nina Hellman in Paris Commune tech
Aysan Celik in Paris Commune tech
And thanks to Sam Breslin Wright for generously sharing photos with us!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rehearsing the Revolution

Here's a report from rehearsals of Paris Commune by Adam Odsess-Rubin! The show opened last night at ArtsEmerson - many congrats to all of the cast & crew! Grab a ticket to see the show in Boston HERE!

We are just days away from the beginning of tech here in Boston, as the room focuses in on Nina Hellman as she begins a rousing rendition of ‘The Internationale.’ As Hellman’s voice trembles with empowered indignation, the rest of the cast slowly joins in the final chorus.  With the end of the song, the rehearsal studio breaks into chaos as the actors/ communards prepare to defend the utopian socialist society they created, a new society that is tragically set up for defeat.

Nina Hellman
Late night rehearsals this past week have seen many laughs and frustrations, tensions and giggles, but what stays consistent is a unified drive to create a piece of art we can all be proud of come opening night.  As Assistant Director, I have the unique opportunity to sit back and observe the masterful focus this cast and crew puts into their work, and the rapid progress that comes of it.  Sam Breslin Wright infuses intense humor and passion into his performance of Pere Duchesne, the fictitious joker that provides commentary on the action, Jeanine Serralles glows with the light of the revolutionary as Louise Michel, the ‘red virgin of Montmarte,’ and Daniel Jenkins gives goosebumps as a poor incensed baker who joins the Commune.  The entire cast and crew turn history into a living, breathing experience from the first moments of rebellion, to the infamous ‘Bloody Week.’ With a healthy dose of tragedy and comedy, we are thrilled to bring this show to the public.

The show is certainly complex: Stage Manager Terri Kohler and ASM Lily Perlmutter as well as Director Steve Cosson have their hands full.  On the tables down in front of the stage, one might find hundreds of pages of blocking notes, floor plans, piles of gaffe tape, floor plans, aspirin, and sometimes grapes!  The crew is small, but dedicated.  Coming early and staying late, they work to support the actors and keep rehearsals running smoothly.  While Steve gives notes to an actor, stage management might be running around swiftly transforming the stage from one scene to another, while still composer Michael Friedman is in a corner with pianist Jonathan Mastro discussing ‘Yodeling Ducks,’ a song adapted from a 19th Century French tune to tell the story of a lonely duck who finds the virtue of socialist solidarity.    

Laughing over drinks at the Intermission Tavern after a late rehearsal, becoming short of breath as Aysan Celik (Seamstress) beautifully sings ‘Mon Homme,’ marveling at the majesty of Arts Emerson’s newly renovated Paramount Theater- these are the experiences that make up our time leading up to the world premiere of Paris Commune in Boston.  As earnest and wild as the commune itself, it will surely be an experience we will all never forget.  

Here are some photos from tech rehearsal generously shared with us by Sam Breslin Wright!

Nina Hellman and Jeanine Serralles - scandalous pose! 
Charlotte Dobbs as The Soprano
Aysan Celik and Daniel Jenkins working on "Yodeling Ducks"
Nina Hellman, Aysan Celik, Daniel Jenkins, and Kate Buddeke working with Director Steve Cosson

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Paris Commune - The Podcast

Our latest show, Paris Commune, will be having its world premiere run at ArtsEmerson in Boston followed by a run at BAM's Next Wave Festival this fall. The play is about the explosive Parisian uprising of the working class in 1871, in which French citizens launched an attempt to overthrow the government and reinvent society. We wanted to give you a look behind-the-scenes at our efforts to recreate these historic events for the stage. This episode features interviews with Paris Commune's director and co-author Steve Cosson; co-author and translator and adapter of the songs Michael Friedman; and actor Aysan Celik (who is also our Featured Associate Artist this month) who has been with the project throughout its development. The episode closes out with Quincy Tyler Bernstine singing "La Canaille," a song performed at the radical cabaret of the actual Commune in the nineteenth century.

Grab your tickets to ArtsEmerson HERE! (BAM is already sold out - keep your eyes on the blog for a special ticket offer next week, though!)


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

Occupy #S17 Occupies the Night


A special thanks to all of our participating artists, both in New York and across the country, as well as everyone who was able to come out and see the show!

Monday night, we packed Joe’s Pub for Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy #S17- a night of monologues, punk rock, and democracy in honor of the Occupy Movement’s one year anniversary.

Jill Sobule, one of our musical guests, takes the stage to perform “We Want Our America Back”.

The show was a lively and moving part of our Occupy Your Mind program, which seeks to archive the living history of the Occupy Movement. It tells the story of Occupy (thus far) through monologues derived from interviews with activists, occupiers, and many other people who have found themselves amid the Occupy Movement for one reason or another.  

But Monday night wasn’t just about our performance for #S17 - numerous other theatres and performers joined in the festivities in their own homages to the one year anniversary. Using the transcripts of interviews that we compiled, as well as their own original pieces, theatre groups and schools staged their own readings. 

Our participants were:

Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, TX
THE-TREE Institute in Portland, OR
HartBeat Ensemble in Hartford, CT
Theatre4 in New Haven, CT
Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, CT
Bated Breath Theatre Company in Hartford, CT
ARTFARM in Middletown, CT
Capital Classics Theatre Company in Hartford, CT
Jacques Lamarre in Hartford, CT
University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH
Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY
Emerson College in Boston, MA
Company One/Boston Center for the Arts in Boston, MA

Here are some pics from their performances:
University of Cincinnati students Garrett, Roderick and Trey read the parts of Will, Ian and Cliff in an original piece about three peers who got arrested the previous fall during Occupy Cincinnati.


Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, TX performing Maddy


From the event in Hartford, CT 
Tweeted by @lnlbee
The event flier for the Occupy #S17 festivities and performances in Hartford Connecticut.
Not only were shows happening all over the country, but we also had a live Twitter stream going during the event. Here are some of the awesome Tweets that were going out, which included descriptions of the events, plus quotes from the monologues:

From  in Dallas, TX:
Not just monologues - photos by Dylan Hollingsworth will be on display tonight. Sneak peek here: #S17Civs @Civilians

From 
.@Civilians #NoRoomForWishing contains >30 voices from Boston & NY- "Dennis"asks "Is this a movement about reform...or revolution?" #S17Civs
and  
"but you can't have free speech over there because you're gonna wreck the petunias!" #S17Civs @Civilians @company_one @centsqtheater

From  (Tweeting for the TREE-Institute in Portland):
"A VOTAR LATINO TE ESTOY LLAMANDO"     

From  (Tweeting for Kitchen Dog):
"Capitalism is a game. You have to buy your way out of it. You have to buy your freedom." #s17civs

From :
@Civilians "A corporation is not a person. A corporation can't bleed, but if it could it would bleed money" #S17Civs
and
@Civilians "It was a thrill to be in the safety of the movement itself" #S17Civs

From @FireZia (Tweeting for Kitchen Dog):
"The most precious comodity we have as a country is our children's minds." @Kitchen_Dog #s17civs

From  (Tweeting for University of Cincinnati):
@Civilians #S17Civs "the political climate in this country was 100% changed by Oct. 16 from where it was Sept. 16"

From  (Tweeting from the Hartford event):
"you're telling me that I can't occupy the park that you are occupying" #S17Civs

From  (Tweeting for University of Cincinnati):
@civilians Had an audience member ask us to perform our pieces at Piatt Park: the park of Occupy Cincinnati!                   

Plus LOTS more!

But what really made the night a success wasn’t just the awesome performers, or the killer bands- it was the sense of community and empowerment that the night created for all who were involved. We were so glad that people came together across the country to bring attention to the many issues that the Occupy Movement is all about.

All of our performers hit the stage for one last song- Neil Diamond’s classic, “America”- and encouraged the audience to join in and rock out with them.
CCM Drama tweeted at the end of the night, “What an amazing evening it was to be a part of #S17civs @civilians and share stories that effect and inform. #occupy.”


And if you’re bummed that you miss the show- not to worry! It will be up on The Civilians’ free podcast series Let Me Ascertain You on iTunes. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sneak-Peek of Occupy #S17

Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy #S17 is right around the corner! We have a really incredible lineup of performers and musicians for you (which you can see HERE). Our street team of interviewers has been hard at work talking to lots of new folks, and we can't wait to share their stories with you on Monday. Click HERE to get your tickets! And here is a sneak-peek of some of the interviews we'll be showcasing:

Brazilian theatre activist:
“On January 17th we started a campaign called Glamarchy. Which is Glamourous Anarchy. We, we love acronyms. And the whole idea was to experiment with, um, glitter bombing oppression… Glitter bombing is the art and science of (laughs) having a bunch of glitter in your hand or in a bag and when you see oppression, personal or impersonal, you just aim it and you glitter bomb.”

British former diplomat:
“When I went down to Zuccotti park I could almost feel the bankers looking down on us, laughing, thinking, you know, these guys are just, just, you know, they’re never going to change the way things are really done. So I always felt that Occupy needed to be about actually, practically, building better systems to replace what are very bad systems.”

Man from Shelter System:
“And I would see like, 5 million dollars in some sort of stock transfer and it just astounded me to think that I’m carrying all this money in my, you know, in this satchel and I was getting paid maybe $8.75 a hour to do it. ‘Why am I carrying this 5 million dollars and I’m, you know starving.’”

We have all our interviews available for you HERE (and we added a few more yesterday) if you want to read more! Plus, we have satellite shows of Occupy interviews happening across the country. Here's our list of incredible participants:

Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas, TX
THE-TREE Institute in Portland, OR
HartBeat Ensemble in Hartford, CT
Theatre4 in New Haven, CT
Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, CT
Bated Breath Theatre Company in Hartford, CT
ARTFARM in Middletown, CT
Capital Classics Theatre Company in Hartford, CT
Jacques Lamarre in Hartford, CT
University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, OH
Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY
Emerson College in Boston, MA

Follow #S17Civs for updates and conversation that day!

Lastly, this cabaret is launching what we're calling our Autumn of Revolution, which also includes Paris Commune at ArtsEmerson and BAM. We want to know:

If you could change one thing in our country, what would it be? 

Share your responses in the comments!


Friday, September 7, 2012

The Commune on The Common

Many thanks to Adam Odsess-Rubin for writing up this post, and to Sam Breslin Wright for the photos!!

"Welcome to Boston!” says Kate Buddeke, as the company of Paris Commune loses its place rehearsing a maniac can-can finale, with Michael Friedman on piano. The cast and crew arrived in Boston last week to begin rehearsals at ArtsEmerson. Buddeke plays La Bordas, a popular singer who performed at the Tuileries palace for the reign of the Commune in 1871. The mood of the room changes at the drop of a hat: one moment, Kate captivates the rehearsal room with her powerful raspy voice singing ‘The Cherries of Spring,’ and in another the cast will fall into laughter over Michael seguing into some music from the musical Annie
The cast in dance rehearsal in Brooklyn
Rehearsing in a large windowless room on the fourth floor of ArtsEmerson's Paramount Center, the cast and crew manage to entertain each other between running scenes. The other day, director Steve Cosson was working with Aysan Celik (read more about her HERE), who plays the Seamstress: a Parisian who moonlights as a prostitute. Fellow actress Nina Hellman off-handedly commented that the rehearsal room looked like the dance studio from the Natalie Portman movie Black Swan. Michael started to play some music from the movie on his piano and Steve took on the Vincent Cassel director role in talking to Aysan. Steve cried, “You can be the white seamstress, but I need to see the black one!” as the cast burst into laughter.

The cast in rehearsal in Boston
The first and only stop before Paris Commune’s run at the BAM Next Wave Festival in the new Fisher Space, ArtsEmerson and Boston have welcomed us with open arms. Most of the cast and crew are staying around the Boston Common, a landmark not far from where so many significant moments in the American revolution occurred. Mere minutes from the church where Paul Revere famously warned the colonists of the oncoming Red Coats, the city’s history lends fascinating layers to the play's text. Chronologically between the American Revolutionary War and the current Occupy movement, the Paris Commune lives in one of the most exhilarating and bloody chapters of the revolutionary history book, and we're looking forward to reflecting on all these themes with audiences in a few weeks.
The stage!
The cast on stage at ArtsEmerson
For tickets to the show at ArtsEmerson, click HERE!