Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The High Line Podcast

This week's episode features the show about Robert Hammond and the High Line that we created for our Annual Spring Benefit this last spring! Robert is a co-founder of the High Line, the elevated public park in New York City built on old freight rail tracks. Interviewees performed include Robert, Robert's mom and dad, staff at Friends of the High Line, Bronson Van Wyck, 2005 NYC Democratic mayoral candidate Gifford Miller, Director of the Department of City Planning Amanda Burden, and Florent Morellet. It was written by Steve Cosson with songs by Michael Friedman, and performed at the Highline Ballroom in spring of 2012 by Associate Artists Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Matt Dellapina, Dan Domingues, Daoud Heidami, Nina Hellman, Daniel Jenkins, Kelly McCreary, Greg McFadden, Maria Elena Ramirez, Robbie Collier Sublett, and Sam Breslin Wright.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

You Better Sit Down Salon Night, Part I

You Better Sit Down: Tales from My Parents' Divorce recently had its world premiere at The Flea Theater in New York. After the performances, the company presented a series of Salon Nights, in which artists created new monologues or songs from audience responses, online comments, and interviews. This podcast features some of that material. First up, is a new monologue by New Yorker scribe Michael Schulman, performed by Michael and his sister Alyssa Schulman, for which he interviewed their grandmother about a divorce that they didn't know that she had. Then Kamara Thomas sings a song called "Onions" that she wrote about a break-up. Lastly, Jason Grote (one of our R&D Group writers and a staff writer on Smash) and his writing partner Marisa Michelson present an original song crafted from online responses performed by Marisa.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mr. Burns: The Podcast

Anne Wasburn's new play is currently receiving its world premiere at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in Washington, DC. Almost all of the recollection of the Cape Feare episode of The Simpsons that the characters do in the first act is from a Civilians workshop in 2008, in which a group of Associate Artists led by Anne Washburn and Steve Cosson attempted to recreate the Cape Feare episode of The Simpsons from memory. This podcast episode features some of the hilarious audio taken during that workshop. This episode also has an interview with playwright Anne Washburn, who discusses the role of the workshop in her creative process and her interest in this subject matter. Matt Maher, an actor in the original workshop and a Simpsons savant, then speaks about the exercises in the workshop and even tells us about his personal favorite Simpsons moments. Composer Michael Friedman talks about the music in the play and shares an excerpt of his post-Apocalyptic score of jumbled pop hits, as well as some of the music from the third act in which The Simpsons have spawned a whole new mythology and entertainment.

We're so excited to be able to bring you this behind the scenes look at this show, which has been called "kookily brilliant" and "inexhaustibly brilliant" in the Washington Post!

And don't miss the show's trailer:


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Glimpse Behind the Prison Wall

In a recent Let Me Ascertain You event, Jeanine Serralles gave an astonishing performance as a woman currently serving time in El Buen Pastor, the national women's prison in Bogota, Colombia.  This brilliant retelling is just a taste of what will be divulged tomorrow night, June 13th at 7:30pm at 92YTribeca.  Prepare for quite the comedic/dramatic ride...  


The upcoming event of which this clip is a taste is Let Me Ascertain You: Bogota.  It features never before seen material crafted by Civilians artists from interviews that were conducted on-site at the prison.  The evening will focus on the annual beauty pageant that takes place in El Buen Pastor.  Members conducted these interviews with paramilitary, guerrilla fighters, drug smugglers, and more.  The pageant itself is a relatively new development in the prison system and is comprised of everything from folk dancing, to floats built from recycled material, to an evening gown competition.  It is truly indicative of a shift in public policy towards better support and rehabilitation for the incarcerated.  The stories you will hear at this event are candid glimpses inside the walls of a woman's prison along with personal accounts of the political struggles and warfare that continue to threaten Colombia.  

We're all very excited to see what tomorrow evening brings!  If you're interested in getting a first-hand account of this prison beauty pageant and all that it entails, HERE is all the information you'll need to know.  Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Retelling The Simpsons for Mr. Burns

Mr. Burns, a post-electric play is up and running at the fantastic Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC, and it's going great! In case you haven't read about it yet, here's the description:
Armageddon has struck and the grid is down: no TV, no radio, no internet—how will life go on? For one group of tenacious survivors, sitting around a fire and reminiscing about The Simpsons proves to be the greatest escape from despair. Miraculously, from their collective memories, a new industry struggles to be born: a crude theatrical re-creation of the digital culture we can’t possibly live without.
What did this play's investigative process look like? We've got info about that on the Woolly Mammoth Blog HERE. The first act of the play is drawn from a workshop that playwright Anne Washburn and director Steve Cosson led in 2008, wherein our artists tried to recreate the Cape Feare episode of The Simpsons from memory. They also did improv exercises where they had to list names of people they were searching for in the aftermath of the apocalypse.

Another exercise that they did, following the recreation exercise, was that they had to retell the episode to each other. We've got a transcript from that exercise! It's fascinating to read through and see how it morphs in each different telling. Plus if you know the episode really well, you can go through to see which details stick through the retellings even though they weren't in the original episode (hint: was Sideshow Bob writing the notes in ketchup or blood?).

For example, here is a look at how even the description of a relatively small detail morphs in its retelling:

Matt Maher tells the episode with Jenny Morris and Maria Dizzia:
MM:  the second the Deniro  it’s a spoof of the Deniro so it’s like it’ll be he’ll open a letter and suddenly it’ll be like a smash cut on a letter like” I’m going to kill you Bart!” Oiiiing! and then like widen out and then at one point he’s got all of the letters on the kitchen table and it’s an overhead shot of all the letters and it’s like womp womp – well  yeah that’s the sound, that’s the -- whomp whomp wom wom wom -- and it’s all of them sitting around the kitchen table and it’s like  ‘die Bart die I’m going to kill you Bart dah dadh dah dah dah’ and then’s like one written in pen and he’s like this one is written in pen and  Homer’s like oh I wrote that one because when (laughs tumultuously)  when when ah Bart ‘oh I wrote that one because for that time when Bart tattooed this on my butt’ and he like pulls down his pants and his butt is tattooed with the word ‘wide load’ (laughter) and the whole family is like: ‘ahh!’ and starts laughing laughing for like a really weirdly long time Marge, Lisa, the baby are just like:  ha ha ha-ha-ha… it’s very…I just thought it was funny that they would  just take a break from the episode to laugh at Homer anyway...
Then Maria Dizzia and Jenny Morris tell the episode with help from Matt Maher:
MD:  so then he goes home, then he goes home and he puts them all on the kitchen table and they’re all in blood except for one is in pen and do they say who wrote this one?
MM:  this one’s written in different
MD:  this one’s written in different, this ones written in pen -- and Homer says ‘Oh I
wrote that one’ and they say ‘why’ – does he ask why?  Laughs assent Why
MD:  and he goes: oh that’s from when Bart tattooed this on my butt and he pulls his
pants down and it says ‘wide load’ and the family laughs for, 6 minutes
(laughs) MM:  for an inordinately long time
MD:  for an inordinately long time, um – and then from there?
Then Maria Dizzia and Jenny Morris tell the episode to Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Sam Breslin Wright, and Colleen Werthmann:
MD: and this one says die Bart die and Homer says oh, I wrote that one
MD: and they’re like why and he’s like oh I wrote this after Bart tattooed this on my butt and he pulls his pants down and it says Wide Load
JM: and the Simpsons the whole family is like laughing laughing laughing laughing and then
MD: for like a really really long time
JM: for a really long time
Take a look at more HERE!

And if you want to, record yourself trying to recreate the episode and send it over to us! No cheating - you can't watch the episode first!

Check out our amazing reviews!

"As inexhaustibly original as the animated series that inspired it, the kookily brilliant “Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play” is the sort of once-in-a-blue-moon show that stays stuck in your brain long after it has chilled you to the bone."

"It’s a witty, bizarre, thoroughly riveting inquiry into the comforting -- some might say confounding -- durability of pop culture, as well as a rather sweet exploration of storytelling and how our innocence as a species is rekindled every time we retell or revise an old tale."

- Peter Marks, The Washington Post

4.5 Stars of 5
- DC Metro Theater Arts

"Through a prism of pop culture references and Kelsey Grammer impressions, Washburn reveals our primal human need for entertainment, as well as the hope seemingly banal works can offer."
- Washingtonian

For tickets to the show running through July 1, CLICK HERE!