Checking out the Flea

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 3 comments

Hey everyone, it's Joe, your friendly neighborhood "that guy". I haven't blogged here before. Know why? Because I've been busy. But now here I am at work wondering why I didn't just take this week off.


Friday the 21st I was treated along with my ever lovin' and ever loved gal, Felicia Hudson to two tickets to Will Eno's"Oh the Humanity! and Other Exclamations" down at the Flea starring Brian Hutchison and Marissa Tomei.

The Flea and it's Bats by the way, are a righteous gang. Good on them. And good on Indie Theater. Though I don't know how Indie they still are... Brian Hutchison and Marissa Tomei dude. Really? Shoot. I'm gonna get Rutger Hauer to be in a Flux show. Anyway...

Let me start by saying these aren't tickets I can even really afford. But hey, it was a gift and far be it from me to pass up a show. Let me continue by saying that I would basically sit and watch Marissa Tomei read a phone book. Not particularly because it would be good drama, but because frankly, I love Marissa Tomei. I would however watch Brian Hutchison read sections from a phone book because I'm confident he'd find a way to make it compelling drama.

Wait. Let me qualify that statement, because from a rhetorical standpoint, it implies that Tomei can't act but is pretty, and Will Eno's writing is like a phone book. Both implications would be false. Marissa Tomei can act, and in this piece she shines, and with Will Eno's scripts for these five short plays, it's not something just a pretty face can do.

As an addendum to that, I confirm that Brian Hutchison is awesome, however I don't know if he's hot. I'm a terrible judge of that.

The piece is five short plays - some monologues - that deal with a very real sense of metaphysical discontent. At times, they are disturbing and at times they are simply amusing, but throughout both actors carry the weight of characters either lost and desperately searching or simply confused by the way the world has moved around them and what they are supposed to do about it.

The first piece features Hutchison as a coach at a press conference talking about what a bad year it was. It evolves into something far more gripping and human and we are given glimpses - startlingly deep ones at that - into the personal tragedy of a man who has lost everything (and not just the unnamed sporting events). He's come to a low point, and as he puts it "couldn't coach a gallon of water out of a paper bag." I found myself wondering if this is what those god awful "behind the scenes" documentaries about sports figures are trying to capture when they talk about a hard year. A building year. If only life was this compelling.

Next up are two people filming themselves for some sort of dating set up - and frankly, the prospect of dating either of them is staggeringly depressing. Again though, I felt that this is all the stuff we don't get to hear or see because of how people present themselves. It was honest instead. All of the insecurities and strangeness of the internal monologue are laid bare for us. Yeah. I'd date Marissa Tomei (assuming Felicia were to dump me of course) but I wouldn't go near the character she brought to vividly disorienting life. Yikes. Hutchison somehow seems more affably dispondent, but still sort of "off" and I'm glad that I'm off the dating scene if it has become that odd.

Tomei's following monologue seemed to follow on the theme of a metaphysical questioning about what "it" all means as she protrayed an airline spokeswoman having to break the news about a fatal jet liner crash. While struggling to impart sympathy and meaning to a senseless accident, she very expertly opens up vast territory that calls into question why an airplane crash might or might not be any less senseless tragic than say her father dying in his armchair one afternoon. Death, it seems is a massive mystery to many of us and the vehicle (no pun intended) might be really irrelevant. Unless of course, it was your loved one who was on the plance.

The next part was to me, the best. Two photographers discuss an old classic Spanish American war picture called the Bully Composition, I think, and address us directly as an audience as they question the thoughts behind each of the soldiers. We never see the photo, and as they speak with us, they are prepping to photograph the audience - in an effort to document a single instant of life and self reflection. I'm glad they didn't take a picture though. I look pasty when I contemplate my own mortality and my place in an infinite, chaotic universe.

That's why I study necromancy.

The last piece, well, I just didn't get it. If anyone has seen this piece and can explain it to me, please help. Meta-theater if it's not obvious to me, weirds me out. Or maybe it was the bearded hipster guy just sort of standing there weirding me out. I just didn't get it.

Hear me, Will Eno! The battle is yours, but I will comprehend your play yet! Read the full story

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Pictures from our first Food:Soul

Monday, December 17, 2007 1 comments

Here are some pictures from our first Food:Soul staged reading of Adam Syzmkowicz's Pretty Theft. See if you can spot a Stages on the Sound friend talking architecture with a Flux Associate Member; an NYTR friend moving towards what's left of my twice baked potatoes; and two Equalogy veterans and current Flux Sunday participants discussing something of great import. Also, I have no idea what that weird horse silhouette is in the back. Or is it a Sphinx? It has that weird Pharonic animal-god beard, so maybe someone brought a Sphinx.
Here's half the cast and most of Flux in just the most charming candid shot you've ever seen. What am I doing with my hands? I don't know. What I do know is Jake seems confident that he can bear the weight of Jason's elbow, but can he? Can he really???
Awwww...playwright...director....awwww. The golden halo was not intentional.
You may ask yourself, where is my glowing bar? And you may say to yourself, why am I ordering a Coke? And you may ask yourself, is Joe Mathers the pagan God of bartending? And you may say to yourself, my God, why haven't I donated? Same as it ever was... Read the full story

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Flux at Clubbed Thumb

On Saturday, in the afternoon I went to see a reading at Clubbed Thumb, an Obie-winning theatre that specializes in funny, strange and provocative plays. Years ago, I'd seen a reading of a play by fellow BAPF alum Kirsten Greenidge, and have heard great things about this organization. Also, my friend Eliza Bent was in the show, and she's not to be missed.

Well, funny and strange it was, and in all good ways. Dan LeFranc's Night Surf features lovers squirting each other with fish sperm, acne-ridden sexy alpha females, dangerous Wiccan spells, and one of the loveliest fantasia-denouements uttered by a homeless person I've ever heard (and a gold star to the blog-reader who can remember the other homeless person fantasia-denouement I might have heard.)

It is extremely difficult to sustain a play based almost entirely on whimsy, but this play did it, aided by direction from Adam Greenfield that stressed the urgency and stakes, and actors who grounded the flights of fancy in real human need. I was especially impressed by Marin Ireland's deadly serious and imperious Selene, Flora Diaz's insanely wicked Wiccan Treebs, the understated comic timing of Steven Levenson as Teague, and especially Tracee Chimo's work as Callie, the emotional center of this play. Tracee was able to match the frenetic comic energy of the play while always remaining startlingly present. And Eliza hilariously led a pack of girls obsessed with boys that channeled a Greek Chorus to very clever effect.

The play, by its end, feels almost like the greatest Scoobie Doo episode you ever saw, the one you watched when very high and maybe even shrooming but with just right group of friends so that the ludicrous plot twists were actually clues of a larger and stranger mystery; and even if the characters moved in only two dimensions, you traveled so far and fast in both dimensions you forgot all about the third, until the fourth dimension reminds you that you have another show to make today, and so you can't tell the actors, direct, playwright and producers how much you enjoyed the reading over wine, so you have to dash out and make a mental note to post a blog that can only ever capture a whisp of the good time you had; much like that old homeless man in that denouement, remembering longingly over all the girls in the play and beyond, keeping them safe.

Yeah, I'm not sure what that last paragraph meant either. But thanks to Clubbed Thumb for bringing me to such a wild, strange and funny play. Read the full story

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Flux at Prophecy Productions

Last Saturday, I checked out Prophecy Productions' show, Business as Usual. I was really looking forward to this play because Jason, Joe, and a lot of other Flux friends had been talking up Corey Ann Haydu as both an actor and a playwright, and this was an opportunity for me to see her work in a lead role. In addition, there seems to be as much cross over between Prophecy and Impetuous as there is Impetuous and Flux, so I was eager to learn more about this company.

So, on a bitter evening to the Access Theatre I trudged, and was treated to a Hollywood-skewering murder mystery; though in this play, the murder is not whodunnit but rather what to do after it's done.

The play, by Mark Souza (a fellow Swim Shorts alumn) deals with how far desperate people will go to feel alive. The two climatic moments of each act are mirror images of the other. In the first act, struggling-actor Steve (Steven Todd Smith) finds his first real dose of human connection through hooker-with-a-heart-of-knives Katherine (Corey Ann Haydu). Through her pre-sex patter, a connection is established that makes Steve aware of how far he's fallen, and that recognition spurs an act of violence that gets him shot.

The second act deals with his agent Alex's allegiances - will Alex (Michael Mraz) side with his bleeding client, or with Katherine? The climax suggests that once you've fallen low enough, the hope of human love, or the recognition of your distance from it, are both enough to kill for.

As an additional treat, I bumped into Lindsay Wolf, a current Flux Sunday participant who is one of the funniest actors I know (her zombie in 12th Night of the Living Dead had an eloquent vocabulary of grunts, moans and sounds there are no words for). And I briefly met one of Prophecy's artistic directors, the very amiable Nathaniel Kressen. After a chat over our upcoming seasons, I dashed off for some holiday parties.

It was great to meet a new company, and to deepen my knowledge of an exciting new(-to-me) actor/playwright. Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, December 16th

"And so I go on to suppose that the shock-receiving capacity is what makes me a writer.... I feel that I have had a blow; but it is not, as I thought as a child, simply a blow from an enemy hidden behind the cotton wool of daily life; it is or will become a revelation of some order; it is a token of some real thing behind appearances; and I make it real by putting it into words. It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power to hurt me; it gives me, perhaps because by doing so I take away the pain, a great delight to put the severed parts together. Perhaps this is the strongest pleasure known to me. It is the rapture I get when in writing I seem to be discovering what belongs to what; making a scene come right; making a character come together. From this I reach what I might call a philosophy; at any rate it is a constant idea of mine; that behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern; that we - I mean all human beings - are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. Hamlet or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words, we are the music, we are the thing itself. And I see this when I have a shock".

I read a shorter version of this at the beginning of our Flux Sunday yesterday not only because it seems to have wrestled into my breath, so that whenever I pause a phrase from the paragraph above will suddenly reveal itself to me completely; and the pattern and shock she describes become my own; but also because I wanted to begin our Sundays with some shared centering moment. Our Flux Sundays tend to end well, but they begin with me frantically trying to figure out how all the parts fit together, with unexpected actors arriving and last minutes pages from playwrights and only three hours to squeeze it all in.

So, I thought the idea of this shared centering moment would either work, or be completely pretentious and silly; thereby giving people an opportunity to tell me I'm pretentious and silly, which would itself be a kind of centering moment.

But now to the heart of it: it was another solid Flux in spite of the residual stress from our director vote earlier in the day (more on that anon) and my own scattered self. We began with a read-through of Melissa Fendell's newest play, a brooding mysterious stranger sand-storm a-comin' and Momma wants me to fix the fence kind of tale, with proper teen rebellion from Felicia Hudson and brooding mystery provided by Gregory Waller.

Then, we lightly staged scenes from Rob Ackerman's Icarus of Ohio, Katherine Burger's Ah, Batvia!, and David Ian lee's Sleeper.

I ended up directing Katherine's Batvia, and mostly just got in the way as Candice continued her tour de force as the were-panther Anthea and Zack added the stodgy Lord Roderick as a new quirky/creepy old man to his Flux resume. Joe returned to the Scottish Inspector Cottage as Jake challenged Jason for widest-ranging Eastern European accent ever. Yay, Batvia!

Then we jumped into David's Sleeper, which benefited from the clarity of Melissa Fendell's direction sorting out the various plot twists and industry jargon, as well as the strong gender-blind casting of Cotton Wright, Marnie Schulenburg and Elise Link as three swaggering Masters of the Universe. We're all looking forward to seeing how the separate plot strands will be joined together.

We ended on the 'up note' (sorry) of Angela Astle's direction of Rob's Icarus of Ohio. Our protagonist Jay flies in a wonderfully theatrical sequence that fully captures the shock, terror, joy and humor of not only flying, but also really kissing someone you love. Tom DelPizzo once again nailed Jay's vulnerability and comic energy, and Angela filled the stage with some theatrical flourishes that made Rob' story come to vivid life.

Thanks again to everyone for a great Sunday. We are away for the holiday, but return on the 30th to find again whatever shocks and patterns we can. Read the full story

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Flux and The Shalimar

Thursday, December 13, 2007 0 comments

Last Thursday the 6th Heather and I went to check out The Shalimar's latest offering, a collection of short plays called You People. We'd been smitten by The Shailmar's whale song contribution to the New York Theatre Review fundraiser, and wanted to see more of their work.

You People is a series of short plays wrestling with the theme of "The Other" in America, with songs by Tommy Smith and Davide Berardi. While I usually dislike short plays based on my bizarre affection for very long plays, both Heather and I enjoyed the great execution of these whimsical pieces.

Highlights included Michael John Garces Tostitos, a suddenly violent, suddenly comic look at disaffected kids given kinetic life by director May Adrales; and Hilly Hicks Jr.'s Blanco, a comic fantasia on longing centered by a radiant performance by Nina Freeman. There was also a charming song about plankton, furthering the whale theme of NYTR.

We also bumped into Alfredo Narciso, who this year acted in our staged reading of Ocatvio Solis' Dreamlandia and was excellent in NYTW's Misanthrope.

After that show, Shalimar featured Hamlet, the drinking game, which seemed to unite two of the passions of my life, but with too much to do the next day, I snuck away. Next up for Shalimar is an 80's hair band theme night of Tommy Smith's songs, which, whether or not they deal with whale or plankton, I very much hope to see. Read the full story

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Flux and Studio 42

After our Flux Sunday on the 9th, Jake and Adam and I went out to an event hosted by Studio 42 at a gourmet pizza place/wine bar near Art Bar. Studio 42 is run by our friend Devon Berkshire (pictured here to the left lying perilously yet comfortably in the road) who acted in Flux's Dream Chain (a reconstruction of Calderon's La Vida Es Sueno with 7 playwrights each writing 1 of the 7 scenes.) I admire Devon's work as an actress, and I've heard good things about Studio 42, so I was excited to swing on down and check it out.

The narrow bar was packed with Studio 42 people, many of whom went to Vassar, and as J and A and I downed half bottles of Echeveria Cabernet, I found myself in all sorts of interesting conversations, including meeting playwright Eric Sanders of The Thursday Problem, blogger/director Isaac Butler from Parabasis, and Melissa Miller, the actress who was so lovely in Ken Urban's Private Lives of Eskimos at the Committee. Jake was his usual social butterfly self, though I soon found myself alone w/relative strangers and lot of wine to finish. Through sheer will-power, I gave the Echeveria its due.

Devon gave a brief speech about the future of Studio 42, which sounds very exciting and full of potential collaborative possibilities. And I always appreciate a company that reaches out to the NYC indie theatre community, as Flux itself attempts to do. I'm looking forward to learning more about Studio 42, convincing Devon to eventually come to a Flux Sunday, and to polishing off more half bottles of wine with Jake and Adam. Theatre, huzzah. Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, December 9th

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 1 comments

After our hiatus for Pretty Theft and the holiday, it was great to return to our weekly workshop series, Flux Sunday. We ended up at Tiffany's Robin Reggi space, a hip architectural loft with lots of space for different scenes rehearsing simultaneously.

And that was a good thing, because we had a record 8 scripts to wrestle with! To accommodate the number of pages and some late arriving Fluxers, some were read at the table and the rest staged. While I had a few tense moments trying to pair the actors with parts, making sure everyone had something worth their time, it ended up being one of our more vibrant Sundays.

We began reading Jaime Robert Carrillo's Simple. Flux knows Jaime as a versatile actor and passionate director (as well as an associate producer at Classical Theatre of Harlem) so it was great to see this side of his talent. A lonely man and his unusual sexual encounter in a strange hotel had a cinematic fluidity that gave the enigmatic action some urgency.

We then moved onto Brian Pracht's now classic Flux Sunday play, The Misogynist, or No More Mr Nice Guy. We developed this play at our last Flux Retreat, and Brian has continued to fine tune this dark comedy of frustrated male desire. This particular scene reminded me of the balance Brian strikes throughout the play of good vs bad intentions - no action any of these characters take is ever just one or the other.

Then onto Rob Ackerman's Icarus of Ohio, an epic memory play of one genius teenager's creation of a human ornithopter, i.e. human-propelled wings. We're really getting into the heart of this play now, and Tom DelPizzo brought all the arrogance and vulnerability that lives in our protagonist Jay's heart. Rob has all of the balls in the air now- the bullies, Jay's girlfriend Maggie, his now-surpassed mentors the Salt Brothers, the manipulating Admiral Crane trying to get the secret out of Jay- and now it is a matter to see how everything, well, falls. Rob just wrote that this play is going to be a part of staged reading series called hotInk, and I can't wait to hear the play in full. And a scene from Icarus will be in our next Have Another bar series on the 7th!

We then split into five groups with an hour to rehearse each of the scenes: Kay Mitchell directing David Ian Lee's Sleeper, Jeremy Basescu self-directing his A Wonderful Wife, David Douglas Smith directing Adam Szymkowicz's Open Heart, Jaime directing Johnna Adam's 8 Little Antichrists, and Candice Holdorf directing herself in Katherine Burger's Ah, Batvia!

I am always amazed by how even an hour's rehearsal can snap a scene into near production quality level of heat. That is always true of anything Candice does - her legendary series of performances at Flux always seem to involve costumes, props, and of course, razor sharp acting choices. In Ah Batvia, she played Katherine's divine Anthea, a Batvian were-panther married to a doddering English lord for devious purposes. She, Ken Glickfeld, Joe Mathers and Katherine's delirious language made me laugh out loud numerous times.

My sister Marnie and I landed the first scenes of Johnna's 8 Little Antichrists, the final play in her Angel Eaters trilogy. All three plays will be discussed more in depth in later entries, but this first scene really heightened my expectations for where this play will go (Mason conspiracies!) and acting with Marn is always great; though because this was a brother-sister fight, I found myself shaking a little afterwards. I think we fought more in that scene than we have in years of sibling hood!

Part of the thrill of Flux Sundays is our actors learning how to work within the worlds of our playwrights. With Adam's Open Heart, the sheer delight Tiffany Clementi and Brian Pracht took in his lunatic lovers showed me we're getting closer to understanding how his plays work; especially gratifying after Tiffany and Brian did such fine work in his Pretty Theft. Not to mention its really fun anytime you have playwrights like Adam, Johnna, Brian and Katherine all acting together in a scene.

Jeremy's A Wonderful Wife has been a wonderful opportunity to watch Cotton Wright wring both venom and longing from the simplest statements; in this scene, she played a character new to the play, Cynthia; and clearly articulated this young woman's journey into understanding, and using, the power her beauty holds. A rapt Jake Alexander gave the scene a surprisingly potent chemistry for a mere hour's rehearsal.

We had run out of time, and the playwright of Sleeper David Ian Lee had not materialized, and so for a moment we debated holding the scene until the next Flux. But graciously the group decided to stay, and we were treated to a melancholy dream sequence between lost father and grieving daughter (Rob Ackerman and Hannah Wolfe respectively), and then to the treat of Jane Taylor ripping the roof off with her potently offensive right wing talk show host. Our collective jaws dropped.

Eight scenes, twenty artists and three hours (and change) later, we emerged from the day more or less in tact, and already thinking about the next one. Read the full story

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Our Inaugural Food:Soul "Pretty theft"

Tuesday, December 4, 2007 0 comments

This past Sunday the 2nd, Flux held our first Food:Soul, a potluck play reading series. The food was provided by Flux, and the play was Adam Szymkowicz's Pretty Theft (Adam's pic to the left.) Heather Cohn directed, and the cast featured Tiffany Clementi, Charlotte Graham, Elise Link, Kelly O ' Donnell, Brian Pracht, Zack Robidas, Jane Taylor and Greg Waller, with stage directions read by Felicia Hudson. It ended up being a truly satisfying evening of food, theatre, and community.

The rehearsal process, while short, had that rare energy where everyone believes in the play, trusts each other, and has a good (while focused) time. Part of it was Heather's smart use of time (and passion for the play), and part of it was just the luck that comes from the right group of actors in the room together.

And the process revealed more fully the deceptive structure and full texture of this beautiful play. Pretty Theft follows Allegra (Charlotte Graham), a high school girl with little self-confidence and a dying father, as she develops an unusual relationship with Joe (Brian Pracht), an autistic young man obsessed with ballerinas at the group home she works at. It also follows her road trip adventure with Suzy (Tiffany Clementi), the high school's bad girl, and their encounter with Marco (Greg Waller), a mysterious thief trying to retire.

The play is about how beauty is stolen, and what survives the theft. Adam begins with the characters stealing little things- Joe stealing a pencil from Allegra, the supervisor (Kelly O'Donnell) taking Joe's thefts back, Suzy shoplifting lipstick - and then the theft escalates, literally and metaphorically, with Suzy stealing Allegra's boyfriend Bobby (Zack Robidas), death stealing her father, and Allegra dealing with those losses by stealing Joe's peace of mind with a kiss. These events lead the girls to steal a car to run from the funeral and Allegra's bitter mother (Elise Link), which leads them to Marco, and the most horrific theft of the play.

Marco has spent much of the play seemingly in a another story, a charming tale of a rogue thief settling down with a salty diner waitress (Jane Taylor). His tales of how to steal and never be caught seem to be thematic counterpoint to the main story. But when Allegra and Suzy break up their romance by walking into the diner, Adam's clever structure reveals itself, as Marco charms the girls back to his room, gives them drugged drinks, and takes pictures of their naked bodies. As Marco tells Allegra, "when you look at something beautiful, it takes a little piece of your soul...and when it takes from you, you have to take back."

Beauty manifests itself throughout this play in surprising ways. Joe is obsessed with ballerinas (and believes the clumsy Allegra to be one), and ballerinas frame the story, assuming secondary roles, leading dream sequences, and telling Joe's back story. Marco tells the waitress how if the theft can't be beautiful, you shouldn't do it all, saying "If you do not hear the music, do not proceed." Suzy is convinced Allegra is beautiful, and so steals her man. Joe makes Allegra feel beautiful, so she uses him in spite of her good intentions. The waitress lets Marco take the girls unhindered, knowing they may never be seen again, because their youth made her feel less beautiful. Beauty takes something from all the characters, and so they, like Marco in kind if not degree, take something back.

But the play is not half so dark or cerebral as this outline makes it out to be. Antic humor and wit laces through all the scenes, and the best comedy in the play comes from the darkest moments. After the kidnapping and the rape, when Marco says "Would you like to come with me?" and Suzy lashes back "I'm not going anywhere with you", Marco replies simply, "Not you." And even though he is a terrible man, that 'not you' hurts Suzy so badly that she breaks down, asking Allegra, "What's wrong with me?" This moment, heart breakingly played by Tiffany, got one of the biggest laughs of the show; and to get a laugh in such a troubling place lets you know just how complex, difficult and human Adam's comedy and characters are capable of being.

But the play doesn't end in either darkness or laughter. Rather, Allegra gives two gifts in spite of what's been done to her, showing that she is possessed of a true and lasting beauty (and all the more ironic that only the thief Marco and the autistic Joe could see it). As the girls see the polaroids that terrible man took of their naked, drugged bodies, Allegra tells Suzy how beautiful she looks, and they survive that moment. Then, after a slow stage ritual of burning the pictures, the play ends with Allegra returning to Joe in the group home, apologizing for what she did, and after an entire play of not being able to dance beautifully like the ballerinas; Allegra dances like a ballerina for Joe, and tells him not to look away, saying, "It's not wrong". Pretty things can take something from you, but there are kinds of beauty that give.

And Adam's play gives that kind of beauty.

Highlights include the clarity of Heather's direction; Kelly's grinning supervisor; Elise's terrifying Mom; Charlotte slowly revealing Allergra's fury at the disappointments of the world, and her capacity to overcome them; Zack's deadpan comedy as the hilariously selfish Bobby; Tiffany's bubbling and vulnerable Suzy; Jane's twist of the knife as her Waitress' loneliness became something dangerous; Greg's calmly ecstatic "music!" at the capture of Allegra; and Brian capturing the layers of strength and love within the rhythms of Joe's autistic speech.

Thanks to all the Fluxers who made such glorious food, including Candice's congnac balls, Christina's eggplant parmesan and my own humble twice-baked potatoes. And a very special thanks to all the people who came out to share this inaugural Food:Soul, including representatives from the Old Vic, Stages on the Sound, New York Theatre Workshop, Wild Child Productions, Kaliyuga Arts, Oracle Theatre Inc., Working Man's Clothes, Playful Substance Fractured Atlas, CORE Theatre, and Packawallop Productions. Food:Soul was created to share plays Flux Theatre Ensemble cares about with the wider NYC theatre community, and on Sunday December 2nd, we did. So thanks again to everyone.

Read the full story

"Theatre People Are Cool!"

Monday, December 3, 2007 0 comments

Last night Flux hosted our inaugural Food:Soul. The food was provided by Flux members (as well as a Flux mother and some old and new Friends of Flux); the soul came from a reading of Adam Szymkowicz's beautiful play, Pretty Theft, directed by Heather Cohn. More on that and all the fantastic people that came out for the event in a later post, I'm sure.

But first - a story.

Today I was carrying some music stands used during the reading back up 7th Avenue. As I maneuvered through the crowd with my fairly awkward load, a man walking near me made the following observation:

"You must work in a restaurant."

Brief pause as I tried to follow his logic:


Failing, I told him that in fact I work in theatre.

"Awwww, man! Theatre people are cool!"

As I continued walking I thought about some of the fantastic theatre producers and various industry folk I had a chance to chat with last night. It was then I recognized the wisdom that had been passed my way from a man I had written off as crazy.

Theatre people are cool.

Thanks everyone for coming out.

And thank you slightly-less-crazy-than-I-initially-thought-man-on-the-street for pointing out this simple truth. Read the full story

Flux Theatre Ensemble's 2008 Season

Friday, November 30, 2007 0 comments

Flux Theatre Ensemble is pleased to announce our 2008 season!

We begin in the spring with Shakespeare's classic comedy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, followed in the summer by August Schulenburg's haunting tragedy, Other Bodies, and finish in the fall with Johnna Adams' divinely wild Angel Eaters trilogy.

Why these plays? Because they all wrestle in their own unique way with the mystery of how life transforms the body.

Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is rightfully considered one of his most warm and humorous plays, but it is also a subtly troubling exploration of the instability of our bodies. The characters find their hearts and bodies transformed against their will, and though in the end Jack will have Jill, no one walks away from this bottomless dream unchanged.

The warm-hearted vision of Midsummer becomes a fever dream in August Schulenburg's Other Bodies. The playwright of last year's FringeNYC Village Voice Audience Favorite, Riding the Bull, returns with the story of Terry, a notorious player whose pursuit of a mysterious woman leads to obsession and violence. What begins as a seductive battle of the sexes deepens into a haunting parable of the way our bodies betray us.

While Midsummer blurs the line between man and animal, and Other Bodies charts the distance between woman and man, Johnna Adams' Angel Eaters expands into more celestial transformations. Flux will develop this trilogy as it follows a family cursed through generations with the gift of raising the dead. The borders of Heaven and Hell are transgressed as demons masquerade as angels, angels pursue their own uncertain agendas, and even the sweetest mortals grow horns.

Join us in 2008 as Flux journeys through these deeply human and uniquely theatrical plays of transformation. Read the full story

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And Just What, Pray Tell, Is A Flux Sunday?

Monday, November 26, 2007 0 comments

Glad you asked, intrepid blog reader. Almost every Sunday, Flux Theatre Ensemble and our growing community of actors, playwrights and directors get together to workshop new scenes. Sometimes we'll do the traditional 'read a scene and then talk about it', but more often than not we get on our feet and mess around a little. The picture to the right shows the first attempting to morph into the second with regulars Gregory Waller, David Crommett and Jane Taylor in the frame.

Director get their scenes and actors at 4, and by 5:30, they've given the scenes enough shape to share with rest of the group. While that shape is by necessity rough, its amazing how often that little staging will reveal.

The purpose of Flux Sundays is to allow our membership to stretch as artists, to deepen and grow our relationship with theatre artists we respect, and to develop plays for future production. Our 2008 season will feature several plays that were primarily developed at Flux Sundays!

And the work at Flux Sundays also funnels into our bar series, Have Another, and our potluck play reading series, Food:Soul. We've played with scenes from Brian Pracht, Johnna Adams, Adam Szymkowicz, Erin Browne, Rob Ackerman, Katherine Burger, Melissa Fendell, Jeremy Bascescu and members Joe Mathers and myself; worked with directors like John Hurley, Kay Mitchell, Heidi Handelsman, Angela Aastle and Members Kelly O Donnell and Heather Cohn; and TONS of great actors, including regulars like Jane Taylor, Nancy Franklin, Michael Davis, Katie Hartke, Rebecca McHugh Ken Glickfeld, David Crommett, Greg Waller, Daren Taylor, Elise Link, Marnie Schulenburg, Zack Robidas and a whole bunch more.

Our most recent Flux on Sunday the 18th featured members Cotton Wright and Candice Holdorf having a contest of who could be more enigmatic and fierce in Jeremy's members Tiffany Clementi and Christina Shipp catching the manic comedy and longing of Adam's A Wonderful Wife; members Tiffany Clementi and Christina Shipp catching the manic comedy and longing of Adams Open Heart; member Jason Paradine once again bringing the funny hard as Frank in Rob' Icarus of Ohio and then even harder w/a pan European accent in Katherine's musical Batvia, and newcomer Keith Fasciani breathing a charming life into member Isaiah Tanenbaum's first Flux playwriting offering, Viva Fidel!

While we're off for next week because of our first Food:Soul with Adam's Pretty Theft (stay tuned for more info); I'll be updating this blog with more news regarding this weekly workshop thing of ours. And thanks to everyone listed above and beyond who make it so vital, surprising and fun, week in and week out. Read the full story

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Flux Gets Sticky

Friday, November 16, 2007 0 comments

Last Friday, Heather and I brought Dream Chain friend Jaime Robert Carrillo to see Blue Box's 'Sticky' series. (Here's a pic of Blue Box's Libby Emmons and David Marcus at our 1st Have Another, in the middle of making a Tanenbaumwich). Set at the Bowery Poetry Club, their Sticky series features short plays by some amazing playwrights set in and at the bar.

The night we went, Heather, Jaime and I ended up sitting at the stage, which meant we were in the spotlight every time cabaret star Jeffery Marsh was singing (beautifully). I tried to look as mysterious and wise as possible, stroking my enigmatic stubble and squinting my soul-searching stare at the performances.

And there were some great performances! Flux Sunday playwright Erin Browne featured a sassy NYTR-friend Jody Christopherson in a short that had the crowd hooting like Springer. Both Libby and Dave acquitted themselves as playwright and actor respectively. Chashama friend Risa Shoup's was the last play, a haunting short about death and the end of the world that bubbled to life on the whimsy of a bartender serving blood instead of booze.

We also bumped into new friends like Rachel Klein and Daniel Swern, making for a night of quirky theatre, lovely cabaret, and great craic. Be sure to check out the rest of the Sticky series! Read the full story

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Thursday, November 15, 2007 0 comments

I think it's important to challenge the choices you make in your life -- figure out why you've made the choices you have. I haven't always been good at that, although in the past few years I've been getting better. Here's a big one that I feel like I'm constantly closer being able to answer: Why did I choose theatre?

Tonight, Kelly and I went to go see Jason Grote's new play 1001. Without making this a review, I'll say that the play, produced by Page 73 Productions, reminded me of one of my reasons. It's something that's unique to theatre -- the ability to manipulate a space, and therefore an audience, over time in order to tell a story.

Photo Credit: Evan Sung for
Set Design: Rachel Hauck
Lighting Design: Tyler Micoleau
Costume Design: Murell Horton

If you've ever been to a performance by Cirque du Soleil, you know what I'm talking about. They consistently do it better than anyone I've seen. What was remarkable -- and inspiring -- is to see spectacle like that on the off-Broadway level. Let me clarify my use of the word 'spectacle' -- it wasn't about the money put into effects. It's a prime example of skilled theatre artists using simple tools to create something remarkable.

It's something to strive for.

I won't ever have an absolute answer to the question of why I'm in theatre... there will always be new plays, and new people, to inspire me that will no doubt keep my answer fluid. That's pretty awesome. One thing you will find is that I will always be willing to talk about it. So next time we're hanging out -- if you think of it -- tell me some of the reasons you chose theatre - assuming for a moment that's what you've chosen.

There's nothing I like better than sharing a beer and hearing a person's story.
Read the full story

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Pictures from the Bar Series, AKA "Have Another"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 0 comments

After a brainstorming session with the Jake Alexander, Flux Theatre Ensemble's Bar series has been renamed, "Have Another". Here are some pictures from the very first "Have Another", courtesy of Angel Juice star, Marnie Schulenburg.

Here's Jimmy #43 stuffed to the very gills. Can you spot Flux Sunday regulars Daren Taylor, Erin Browne and Elise Link?
5 points for spotting the rare Kelly O'Donnell.

Director Angela Astle explains the finer points of directing Narrator 1 to some rapt fans.

Opens Minds director John Hurley and Flux core member Tiffany Clementi plot to take over the world. In fact, look around you...they already have.

Flux member Felicia Hudson can't hide from the eager eyes of the paparazzi. Read the full story

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Inaugural Flux Bar Series A Success!

Saturday, November 10, 2007 0 comments

On Monday, November 5th, Flux launched our inaugural Bar Series, a monthly presentation of scenes from full-length plays we're developing. A crowd packed into Jimmy's #43 to hear scenes from Erin Browne, Adam Szymkowicz and August Schulenburg. This event was hosted by Flux's own intrepid and dashing Jake Alexander.

Highlights included Christina Shipp and Brian Pracht's longingly sad chemistry in Erin's Narrator 1, Candice Holdorf's blisteringly funny goth girl in Angel Juice, and Jason Paradine's blissfully earnest shooter in Adam's Open Minds.

Thanks to the rest of our actors and directors for making our first stab at this such fun. And thanks to everyone who came, including friends from theatre companies like Blue Box, Disgraced Productions, Stages on the Sound and a good third of the cast Impetuous Theater Group's 12th Night of the Living Dead. This Bar Series (potentially cooler name to come) is intended not only as a showcase of our growing community of actors, playwrights and directors; but also to serve as an oasis of beer, theatre and good company for Indie theatre artists.

Thanks again for a wonderful evening, and stay tuned for details regarding the next! Read the full story

Welcome to Flux Theatre Ensemble's Blog

Dear friends of Flux and the theatrosphere in general,

Welcome to Flux Theatre Ensemble's new blog! With our weekly Flux Sundays, monthly Bar Series, regular Potluck Play Series and a 2008 season with 5 (!) shows on the horizon, it was time for us to move to an online presence that could more quickly post the blizzard of things we are doing; and allow for a more informal interaction with the Indie online theatre community than the gorgeous architecture of our current website (thank you Dave Townsend!) will allow. Our website is the would-be e-Parthenon of Flux, and this blog, the dirty buzzing haggling wild town square.

Come here for updates on all of our activities, and for information on theatre companies and artists we support. Check us out regularly- we promise you'll never step in the same river twice. Read the full story