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FluxBlog: Act II

Wednesday, December 7, 2011 9 comments

This blog has served us well. But with the new and gorgeous website up and running it was time to move on, and move in. The FluxBlog can now be found within the main Flux website at www.fluxtheatre.org/blog

Fear not; all the old posts, comments, pictures, and even tags have been ported over.

We'll keep this blog up for old links, but if you're interested to see what Flux is up to, the new blog will be the place you wanna go. There are already photos from the 2nd Annual Family Feud and a round-up of our most recent Flux Sunday, and many more posts to come.

Onward, and upward! Read the full story

Flux Family Feud On The Move

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 3 comments

Breaking news: the Flux Family Feud has moved locations, from our previous home at the Cabanas to the sweetly swank (and swankly sweet) Fonata's, located at 105 Eldridge Street (between Grand and Broome).

So see you at the new location - and don't forget to take the survey, buy some raffle tix and get your tix in advance for a discount!

So close to Feud time...we can't wait to see you there!
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Meet the Contestants of Flux Family Feud!

Thursday, November 10, 2011 0 comments

We are happy to announce an incredible lineup of contestants for our second Family Feud Benefit on Nov 21! We hope you can join us. Buy your tickets in advance for only $15 online. Tickets are $20 at the door. If you can't join us on Nov 21, you can still support Flux by purchasing a raffle ticket. You don't need to be at the event to win. We have some amazing prizes this year including a PAID walk-on role on Law & Order SVU, a themed illustrated portrait of your pet and an Anything Goes poster signed by Sutton Foster and members of the Tony Award winning cast! Get your raffle tickets here.

Now, without further ado, we announce this year's contestants for Flux Family Feud! See you on November 21 at Fontanas - 105 Eldridge Street (between Grand and Broome) ((and yup, this is a location change!))

Johnna is the 2011 recipient of the Princess Grace Award. On her wild ride as a playwright so far, she has mingled with an all inmate cast at the Mitchellville Theatre Project at the Iowa Women’s Correctional Institution In the Absence of Angels, 2006) and participated in a fully nude talkback in front of a nude audience at the Naturist Society’s Western Naturist Gathering at the Lupin Naturist Club (Nude on the Beach, 2002). Other plays include Gidion’s Knot; The Anguisher; Hripsime; Hued Moll; Lickspittles, Buttonholers and Damned Pernicious Go-Betweens; The Angel Eaters Trilogy (produced by Flux Theatre Ensemble); Sans Merci, Cockfighters and The Sacred Geometry of S&M Porn. She is a past Reva Shiner Award winner, winner of the OC Weekly’s Best Original Play award (twice), finalist for the Princess Grace Award, finalist for the Christopher Brian Wolk Award, finalist for the National Art’s Club’s Playwrights First Prize; finalist for the William Saroyan Prize and New York Innovative Theatre Award nominee. Her play Lickspittles, Buttonholers, and Damned Pernicious Go-Betweens will be produced by Impetuous Theatre in 2012. Johnna’s plays Angel Eaters, Rattlers, 8 Little Antichrists, Sans Merci, Cockfighters and The Sacred Geometry of S&M Porn are published by Original Works Publishing (originalworksonline.com)

Reed Birney just finished appearing in Adam Rapp's Dreams of Flying Dreams of Falling at The Atlantic. He received a Special Drama Desk Award last May in recognition of the three plays in which he appeared last season: A Small Fire at Playwrights Horizons and, at the Roundabout Underground, Tigers Be Still and The Dream of the Burning Boy. He was in Annie Baker’s hit, Circle Mirror Transformation at Playwrights Horizons. For the New York premiere of Sarah Kane’s Blasted at Soho Rep, he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. He was Dr. Sweet in the original New York cast of Bug and played Tony Blair in Stuff Happens at the Public. Next summer he will appear as Vanya in Annie Baker's translation of Uncle Vanya at Soho Rep, directed by Sam Gold. He has also received three OBIEs and a Drama Desk Award. On film, he can be seen in Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, Morning Glory with Harrison Ford and Jeff Lipsky’s Twelve Thirty. In August he filmed Imogene with Annette Benning and Kristin Wiig.

James Comtois is the co-founding co-artistic director of the New York-based theatre company Nosedive Productions, which was named a "Person of the Year" by nytheatre.com in 2009. He's written over 20 plays in the past 10 years, many of which have been staged by Nosedive. The New York Times recently compared him to Conor McPherson and Tracy Letts. Published plays include The Adventures of Nervous-Boy, Suburban Peepshow, and Infectious Opportunity. Other recently staged plays include Colorful World, The Little One, Otty and Captain Moonbeam. He lives in Brooklyn and has two cats. He thinks they're very cute.

Joshua Conkel is a playwright, culture vulture and Navy brat who hails from the pine forests of rural Washington State. He is the author of MilkMilkLemonade (Best Off Off Broadway Show of 2009-NY Press, published by Playscripts), The Chalk Boy (Published by Original Works Publishing), Lonesome Winter (co written with Megan Hill), The Sluts of Sutton Drive and I Wanna Destroy You as well as countless short plays, of which he is a prolific and enthusiastic writer. Conkel’s work has been seen all over the country as well as internationally and has been developed by The Management, Soho Rep, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Old Vic, Dixon Place, The Flea and more. He is the Co-Artistic Director of The Management, and a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Soho Rep Writers/Directors Lab, TOSOS and The Dramatists Guild. He is currently finishing a graphic novel adaptation of The Chalk Boy for First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan, and was recently named one of Next Magazine’s “Who’s Next 2011.” Alumnist of Youngblood and the TS Eliot Old Vic US/UK Exchange. BFA in theater, Cornish College of the Arts.

Shay is a founder and driving force of the New York Innovative Theatre Awards. She graduated from the Actors Training Program at the University of Utah with a dual degree in theatre and marketing. She then made the smartest decision of her life and (despite her father’s wishes) chose to pursue a career in theatre. Since then she has done everything from spackling walls at the Pasadena Playhouse and running follow-spot for the Pioneer Theatre Company to serving as the Artist in Residence for Touchstone Theatre. She has performed in theatres of all sizes from 30 seats to 1,000 across the country, from L.A. to NYC. She is an award winning producer whose Off and Off-Off-Broadway shows include: Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig, What the F**k?!, Hamlet and Muse of Fire. Shay was a Founding Member and the Producing Director for Esperance Theatre Company. She is currently one half of the producing team for Theatrical Fair, an active member of TOSOS II and of Emerging Artists Theatre Company where she also serves as an Associate Director.

Ellen McLaughlin is an actor (Angels in America) and playwright (Tongue of a Bird, Iphigenia and Other Daughters and Septimus and Clarissa among many others) who is delighted to have been produced by Flux Theatre Ensemble in the summer of 2011. (Ajax in Iraq.)

Broadway: The Motherf**ker With the Hat (LAByrinth/Public/Gerald Schoenfeld Theater), A Streetcar Named Desire (Roundabout/Studio 54) New York: After (Partial Comfort), Thinner Than Water (LAByrinth), Measure for Measure; Chair (TFANA), Safe (Studio Dante), Drunken City (Playwrights Horizons), Ivo Van Hove’s Misanthrope (New York Theater Workshop), Microcrisis (Ma-Yi), Edgewise (Play Company/Page 73), among others. Regional: ART (Elliot Norton/IRNE nominations), Huntington (IRNE nomination), Two River, Long Wharf, HBO Comedy Arts Festival, Sundance Theater Lab, among others. Film/TV: Elliot Loves, Living & Dining, The Guys, “Unforgettable”, “Person of Interest”, “Law & Order”, “L&O: CI”, “Ugly Betty”, “Third Watch”, “All My Children”, “Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn”, among others. Recipient of the Charles Bowden award and member of Ensemble Studio Theater and Partial Comfort Productions.

Blithe Spirit on Broadway (Theatre World Award, Dorothy Loudon Fellowship, Outer Critics Circle Nom. Other NYC credits include: Desperate Writers, Apostasy, Marion Bridge, Children at Play, Paper Cranes, What to Do When You Hate All Your Friends, Never Swim Alone, See Bob Run, Susan Gets Some Play and Nerve. Winner of the NYC Fringe Festival's best actor award, two-time Innovative Award nominee and winner for lead actress in Packawallop’s the silent concerto, a nytheatre.com’s ‘person of the year’ & recently named a ‘Best-Kept Theater Secret’ by Our Town NY. Film & television credits include: Flying Scissors, Coming Up Roses, Acts of Worship, The Moment, The Day My Towers Fell, The Poets, Parallel Passage and Law & Order: CI.

Lori E. Parquet is an actor and teaching artist from New Orleans, Louisiana. Like many of the students she teaches, her interest in theater began in high school in an after school program for acting. She went on to further her training by receiving a B.A. in Theater Arts from Cornell University. While a student there, she starred in plays such as Antigone, Metamorphoses, and A Midsummer's Night Dream. Upon graduating, Lori moved to New York City where she has performed with companies such as Flux Theatre Ensemble, The Drilling Company, and Freedom Train Productions. She has starred in various stage productions such as Dog Act, Murder in the Cathedral and Ajax in Iraq. Regionally, she has performed at The Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, NY and Peguin Repertory Theatre in Stony Point, NY. Lori also made her international debut recently with Epic Theatre Ensemble performing in Pillars of Society at Teater Ibsen in Skien, Norway. She is also an original member of the ensemble for Dispatches From (A)mended America, a new play taken from interviews conducted all over the South in the month leading up to the Obama Inauguration. Lori has starred in the short films A Love Grows in Brooklyn, Take One, and Keep the Change. When she is not acting or directing herself, she brings her love of theater to the New York City Public Schools as a teaching artist with Possible Arts, Epic Theater Ensemble, and Rising City Arts.

Adam's play Pretty Theft was produced by Flux Theater Ensemble in 2009. His plays have been produced throughout the U.S., and in Canada, England, The Netherlands, Germany and Lithuania. His work has been presented or developed at such places as MCC Theater, Ars Nova, South Coast Rep, Playwrights Horizons, LAByrinth Theater Company, Primary Stages, The New Group, Southern Rep, Rising Phoenix, The Lark, Kitchen Dog, Theatre of Note, Naked Stage, Azuka Theater and Studio Dante among others. Plays include Deflowering Waldo, Open Minds, Anne, The Art Machine, Pretty Theft, Food For Fish, Hearts Like Fists, My Base and Scurvy Heart, Herbie, Incendiary, Old Fashioned Cold Fusion, Bee Eater, Temporary Everything, Susan Gets Some Play, Clown Bar, Fat Cat Killers, The Why Overhead, Elsewhere, Where You Can’t Follow, The Artist and Nerve. His plays are published by Dramatists Play Service and Samuel French. Adam received a Playwright’s Diploma from The Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program and an MFA from Columbia University where he was the Dean’s Fellow. Szymkowicz is a two-time Lecomte du Nouy Prize winner, a member of the Dramatists Guild, Writer’s Guild of America, Primary Stages’ Dorothy Strelsin New American Writer’s Group, the MCC Playwright’s Coalition and was a founding member of the Ars Nova Play Group. He served as Playwright in Residence at the William Inge Center, received a grant from the CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, and was commissioned by South Coast Rep. He was the premiere Resident Playwright at The Chance Theater in Anaheim, CA and the first playwright to participate in Bloomington Playwrights Projects’ Square One Series. For more, go to adamszymkowicz.com

We look forward to seeing you at Flux Family Feud!
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Looking for MENDERS help

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 1 comments

We are on the hunt for a few more members of the Menders creative team. Please read the job descriptions below, and either forward this on to people who might be right, or apply yourself!

Assistant Director/Understudy

Flux Theatre Ensemble is seeking a young female Assistant Director/Understudy for the upcoming production of Erin Browne’s Menders, running from January 19 – February 11, 2012 at “The Gym at Judson” on Washington Square Park South. This person will work with director Heather Cohn and the creative team throughout the rehearsal process, and will serve as the understudy for the 3 female roles in the show (age range, 20-28). Detailed character descriptions available upon request. Rehearsals will begin mid-December and take place mostly on week nights and weekends. Small stipend available. If you're interested, please send your resume and schedule of availability to heather@fluxtheatre.org. Thank you!

Assistant Costume Designer
Flux Theatre Ensemble is seeking an Assistant Costumer for the upcoming production of Erin Browne’s Menders, running from January 19 – February 11, 2012 at “The Gym at Judson” on Washington Square Park South. This person will work with costume designer Will Lowry and the creative team in pre-production and throughout both the rehearsal process and tech of the production. Duties may include shopping/swatching, attending fittings, and performing minor alterations. Basic sewing skills and access to a sewing machine are preferable. Design meetings begin in early November, with rehearsals starting mid-December. Small stipend available. If you're interested, please send your resume and schedule of availability to will@fluxtheatre.org Thank you!

To learn more about Menders, click here.
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2nd Annual Flux Family Feud

The Flux Family feud is back!
Monday, November 21 · 7:00pm - 11:00pm
LOCATION CHANGE: Fontanas - 105 Eldridge Street (between Grand and Broome)
Doors open at 7:00pm, Feud starts at 8:00pm

Join us on Monday, Nov. 21 for a benefit to support our upcoming production of Menders by Erin Browne and our (soon to be announced!) 5th Season. Your host Matt Archambault returns (pictured left, portrait by Kristy Caldwell.)

Teams of select NYC theatre professionals will compete in a game of theatre-themed Family Feud at the beautiful North Cabana rooftop of the Maritime Hotel.

Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, so get your tickets now.

Just like the TV show the most important part of the game is the survey, so please take two minutes to answer the questions - your answers will be used at the Feud!

Can't make it but still want to support Flux?Enter our raffle to win all sorts of awesome prizes, including a paid walk-on role on Law and Order: SVU.

The Family Feud Benefit was one of our favorite nights of last year, so we very much hope you will join us on the 21st as we Feud again.

To see pictures of the good time from last year, click here.

To see the answers to last year's Feud questions, click here.
(THE TYRONES celebrate. Pictured: Debargo Senyal, Michael Roderick, Jason Paradine, Erica Livingston, Catherine Porter. Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum)

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Menders, by Erin Browne

A new play by Erin Browne
Directed by Heather Cohn
January 19 – February 11, 2012
At “The Gym at Judson” on Washington Square Park South

Creative Team includes:
Set Design by Cory Rodriguez; Costume Design by Will Lowry; Lighting Design by Kia Rogers; Sound Design by Asa Wember; Stage Management by Jodi Witherell

Corey and Aimes are new recruits mending the wall that guards their city from an unnamed threat. But as their teacher Drew tells them subversive tales of the world outside, they begin to wonder at the real purpose of the wall, until an unexpected act of passion tears the menders apart. Inspired by Robert Frost's poem, "Mending Wall", Menders is a hauntingly lyrical look at what we're walling out.

Stay tuned for more updates about the cast and creative team!
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2011 Flux Raffle!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 0 comments

We hope that you are able to attend our second Flux Family Feud Benefit Party on Monday, November 21. If you can't make it, that will make us sad, but you can still support Flux by participating in our annual raffle! This year's raffle is better than ever. As usual, the money raised from the raffle will help finance future productions so that Flux can continue to produce compelling and transformative theatre.

The drawing will take place at the Family Feud but you DO NOT have to be there to win!

Raffle ticket prices are as follows:

$3 gets you 1 ticket
$5 gets you 2 tickets
$10 gets you 5 ticket
$20 gets you 13 tickets (Wow! That really increases your chances of winning!)
and the ultimate deal: $40 gets you 30 tickets (insane!)

(want to buy more than 30 tickets? Just email kelly@fluxtheatre.org for more information.)

How it works: You can increase your chances of winning by CHOOSING which prizes you want to win. For example, if you buy 30 tickets, you can put 10 tickets into the Law & Order SVU Walk-on role, 10 tickets into the free headshots and 10 tickets into the custom-made bracelet. Or, you could put all 30 tickets into one prize.

Step-by-step directions to buying raffle tickets

1. Choose your prizes from the list below below

2. Purchase your tickets HERE

3. Send an email to kelly@fluxtheatre.org telling her how you would like your tickets allocated.

4. Wait for a confirmation email from Kelly and then hope you win! Winners will be announced on November 21.

Here Are The Prizes!

Two Tickets to Chicago on Broadway with a BACKSTAGE TOUR.

Winner gets two seats to the Tony award-winning Broadway musical, Chicago. To make this prize even better, it includes a backstage tour before the show!

Be a Star for the Day. Work as a background player and get paid!

Winner gets to be a walk-on role on Law & Order SVU!
(must be 18 years of age or older to win this prize)

An Anything Goes poster signed by Sutton Foster and members of the Tony Award winning cast!

Have your name written into an August Schulenburg play
If you win this prize, Gus will include your name in one of his next plays! Gus is the author of The Lesser Seductions of History, Jacob's House, Other Bodies, Riding the Bull and Rue. Have your name immortalized forever. Who knows, it may end up on the Flux stage!

A personal tour of Google NYC
Flux member Kelly O'Donnell takes you and a friend on a tour of the NYC Googleplex. Get a closeup tour of their inner world: the scooters, game rooms, their collection of old computers, amazing views of Manhattan and so much more. The tour finishes with a lunch in one of their famous cafeterias. Yum!

A 90-minute consultation with fundraising pro, Heather Cohn!
Trying to write a grant for a theatre company? Working on building your individual donor base? Need help? Heather Cohn has nearly 10 years of experience working as a professional development (fundraising) officer and is offering to share some of her knowledge. Win a 90-minute session with Heather to discuss and tackle your most pressing fundraising questions.

Two tickets to The Daily Show
One of the smartest and funniest shows on television. Past guests have included President Obama, Jerry Seinfeld and Jodie Foster! Date is TBD but will be sometime in early 2012.

Dinner with the Flux member of your choice
So many choices: Gus, Heather, Kelly, Matt, Isaiah or Will. Be taken out to dinner with one of us! Who could ask for a better date?

A Themed Illustrated Pet Portrait
Kristy Caldwell will create an original portrait of your pet in the theme of your choice! She is open to depicting your pet however you'd like: equestrian, pirate or even an astronaut. The choices are endless! She will create the drawing from a photograph of your pet. See Kristy's art here. (featured in image: Friend of Flux, Bachi)

An Archival Print of Flux's Season 4 Posters
Win an archival print of all three Season 4 images: Dog Act, Ajax in Iraq and Menders. Includes all three images together in a panoramic view on acid-free paper.

The Mystery Box Just what is inside this box? Shh... it is a secret but it is something really awesome and powerful. Buy some raffle tickets and you may find out.

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Headshot Session with Flux Member Isaiah Tanenbaum
Includes: A two-hour on-location photoshoot featuring as many looks and poses as you like. The best shots will be edited (so they are ready to print), burned to a disk for you to keep, and hosted online for easy access. Check out more of Isaiah's work Here

Press Photography with Flux member Isaiah Tanenbaum ($100+ value).
Let Isaiah help you promote your next show! Choose one of the following options: rehearsal room photos, special photo-shoot, tech/dress rehearsal, or performance (non-showcase code only). The best images will be edited, burned to a disk and hosted online for your convenience. Isaiah's photographs have been featured in The New York Times, Backstage, The Village Voice, and countless other blogs and theatre sites. At left is from Flux's production of Dog Act

Ryan Andes Handmade Pendant (includes chain)
Ryan has been making custom jewelry for years and we are excited to be offering such a quality necklace again this year. Check out Ryan's online store here

Ryan Andes Handmade Leather Bracelet.
Your very own Flux Leather Bracelet. Perhaps you have seen Flux member Gus Schulenburg and Friend of Flux Carissa Cordes, sporting their Flux bracelets? We know you are jealous! (Ryan will size the bracelet to the winner)

$50 Gift Certificate to the Ninth Ward.
An East Village bar that doesn't get hipper than this. Why? Because Creative Partner, Will Lowry helped build the interior!

Purchase raffle tickets HERE! Raffle drawing will take place on November 21. You DO NOT have to be there to win!

New raffle prizes may be added to the raffle. You can change your allocation anytime before Nov 21 by emailing kelly@fluxtheatre.org

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Cognitive Dissonance; or Art versus Entertainment

Monday, October 10, 2011 2 comments

by August Schulenburg

One of the moments I love in Dog Act is when Vera, pretending (or is she?) to be the deity Wendy, explains to her new Scavenger followers why the Vaudevillian has a protected status in the world of the play:

"You are treading on the hem of a great mystery. I will say this, my children, listen thou well. The vaudevillian is the repository of all that was and all that may be. She is the key. She is translator of our souls. More than this, more than all, listen thou, dear scavengers: she is that rare and precious pearl lying in this dark, drear, perilous sea: she is entertainment."
Note that Vera/Wendy climaxes with "entertainment", not "art." Yet in the usual ranks of righteousness, Art is seen blazing pure at the right hand of the deity, while Entertainment perniciously capers on more pandering planes below.

Wading into dangerously semantic estuaries, I think there is a useful event horizon to find between Art and Entertainment; a boundary that is fluid and dependent on context but real and important all the same.

This boundary emerges from the idea of cognitive dissonance, a theory discussed in depth in this excellent podcast interview with Carol Tavris, author of Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. I believe this idea of cognitive dissonance is at the center of the difference between art and entertainment.

The short version is that once the our brain believes something to be true, it has a profoundly difficult time in changing that belief. In fact, it actively curates experience to protect a pre-existing belief from any evidence that contradicts it, leading to the saying, "Believing is seeing."

As Tavris says, "Once we have a belief, we see the information that will confirm that belief, and we stop seeing what we don't want to see, don't expect to see, have no wish to see; that's the blind spot in how we perceive what other people say and do, (and) how we evaluate our own behavior." Our brain does this automatically, and it takes a great deal of mindfulness to even notice that it's happening.

This mindfulness, this deliberate courting of doubt and uncertainty, of trial and error, is best embodied in the scientific method; but as Tavris explains, the scientific method runs directly counter to the momentum of the brain, which prefers to simplify the complexity of experience through perceiving only that which reinforces pre-existing patterns of belief, even if those patterns are harmful.

I believe that the difference between art and entertainment is simply the amount of cognitive dissonance we are required to engage in by the work. When a play reinforces pre-existing patterns of thought, that comfortable feeling is called entertainment; but when we are forced to hold new, potentially uncomfortable truths in our minds - truths that may require us to change what we believe - that friction is called art.

With this definition, the boundary between art and entertainment is fluid and depends on social context. As accepted norms differ from culture to culture, a play may very well be entertainment in one culture and art in another. A production of A Midsummer Night's Dream can be entertainment but it can also be art, depending on how much cognitive dissonance the production decides to illuminate within that deceptively pleasing play.

It may be that what we recognize as genius is simply the manifestation of a cognitive dissonance that persists across time and culture. Certain works of art never lose the searching edge that destabilizes what we think we know, and creates within us the possibility for change.

In our mission, we talk about transformational theatre, and Isaiah recently wrote a powerful post of how that manifests itself in our staging choices. Our work explores how to harness that searching edge of cognitive dissonance, as dizzyingly uncomfortable as it can sometimes be.

I believe this frame also underscores the importance for funding the arts. It's natural that entertainment would be profitable: we love being told that our beliefs are right and just and we should keep on keeping on. But we need to be challenged, to court doubt and uncertainty, to look at belief as a process and not a destination, to value curiosity as deeply as faith. We need the searching edge of art to continue to evolve as social, moral creatures.

But, hey, that's just what I think right now. I'm not holding onto any idea too tightly. We never step in the same river twice. Doubt is my faith, so bring the change. Read the full story

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I AM THEATRE: August Schulenburg

By August Schulenburg

We're continuing our participation in the I AM THEATRE initiative launched by TCG with a story of my own. If you haven't already, be sure to also check out Isaiah Tanenbaum and Carissa Cordes' video.

The particular story that I share is inspired by the work of Bill George, the theatre artist who founded the Little Pond Arts Retreat. Those who read this blog may recognize Little Pond as the site where Flux holds our annual retreats; it is also the place where, less than a month ago, I was married to fellow Fluxer Heather Cohn.

As you will see, Bill's influence in my life and work stretches back a good distance, and this video is both a note of gratitude to him, and an encouragement to others to share their stories. The stories I share are from my memories of a production I saw fourteen or so years ago, so I hope any errors of memory will be forgiven. For those unfamiliar with the Bahá'í faith I reference in the video, you can learn more here and here.

Read the full story

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Food:Soul #9: WET or,
Isabella the Pirate Queen Enters the Horse Latitudes

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 0 comments

(Photo: Isaiah Tanenbaum. Pictured: Tiffany Clementi, August Schulenburg, Christina Shipp, Cotton Wright)
Post by August Schulenburg
Food:Soul is back this Wednesday, October 5th! And we are thrilled/ecstatic/super-psyched to be returning with Liz Duffy Adams' (of Dog Act glory) play Wet, or Isabella the Pirate Queen Enters the Horse Latitudes.

Not only does this Food:Soul features the return of Liz' mighty pen to Flux territory, but Dog Act-ers Becky Byers and Julian Stetkevych and director Kelly O'Donnell return, as well. Throw in Members Tiffany, Isaiah and Matt, Food:Soul veteran Elise Link and old friend Daren Taylor, and you have the recipe for a souffle of awesome. And as always, Food:Soul features free food and even freer theatre.

Here are the deets:
Wednesday, October 5th
Join us for our next Food:Soul (in partnership with Bailout Theatre)

by Liz Duffy Adams
Directed by Kelly O'Donnell

Doors Open at 7:00pm (people line up for the food around 7:15pm)
Food is Served at 7:30pm
Staged Reading Starts at 8:00pm (runs about 95 min, with no intermission)

Featuring Matthew Archambault, Becky Byers, Tiffany Clementi, Elise Link, Julian Stetkevych, Isaiah Tanenbaum, and Daren Taylor
Stage Directions: Will Lowry

In Wet or, Isabella the Pirate Queen Enters the Horse Latitudes, four survivors of a storm-sunken pirate ship — the legendary Isabella, Neptune’s bastard daughter; pirates Jenny (a runaway whore) and Sally (an electrified girl); and the Viscountess Marlene, a drag queen — seize a half-wrecked ship manned only by Captain Joppa and two sailors, young Jack and ex-slave Horatio. Joppa is determined to get back to the war. Isabella has other plans. Amidst time lurches, shifting loyalties, story-telling and sudden violence, hearts lost and secrets revealed, the seven souls find themselves without wind or current on a slowly sinking ship—until an unexpected event offers either hope or doom.

See you there, matey? Read the full story

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MENDERS Print Ad in Carrier Pigeon

(Print advertisement for Menders by Kristy Caldwell)

Post by August Schulenburg

There is nothing like returning from my (perfect, dazzling, exhausting) honeymoon to find this evocative image for our upcoming production of Menders in my inbox. Kristy Caldwell is the brilliant artist responsible for the Dog Act and Ajax in Iraq postcards, and she's working on an image for the the Menders postcard that will tie all three separate images into a single image - you can see what I mean here.

Other folks looking for illustrations, if the above doesn't convince you, working with Kristy is the best. You should do it, too.

The image above, which will appear as a print ad in Issue 5 of Carrier Pigeon, really strikes at the secret, walled heart of Erin's beautiful play - I'm so glad to return to the city and hit the ground running on Menders. Read the full story


The 2011 IT Awards

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 1 comments

By August Schulenburg

There is much to say about the 2011 IT Awards, and very little time for me to say it, leaving momentarily as I am (along with my beautiful new wife and Flux founder, Heather Cohn) on our honeymoon to Spain. However, I thought I would share the acceptance speech I gave, as much of it was directed to past Members and current Friends of Flux who may not haven been there (or watched the exciting live stream). For those who are curious, you can read the script for the play that we staged before the speech here.

Acceptance for the 2011 Caffé Cino Fellowship Award
Perhaps unsurprisingly, our play ran a little long, so I'll try to keep my speechifying tendencies under control, but...

We need to thank Shay, Nick, Jason, the IT Awards Staff and volunteers, and the Honorary Awards Committee; we are humbled and thankful for this award. And though I hold this award in my single hand, I call upon your imaginary powers to see in me the six current Flux members on stage; our past Members Joe, Candice, David, Felicia, Cotton, Michael, Angela, Jake, Christina and Jason; and the more than 100 strong core artists and audience that make up the Friends of Flux; our mission is to build a creative home, and so this award belongs to everyone in our family.

However! The spirit of this award is ours only on load, handed like a torch by previous winners and past generations of artists - some of whom we've honored tonight - whose work carved out the space we currently play in; a space not defined by theatre or neighborhood, but by daring and desire; and this award is a call to us to live up to and enlarge that legacy; to pass on a more imaginative and compassionate community to whoever comes next; because this award would mean nothing without the living legacy it represents; the crazy, cacophonous community of which we are but a small part; and to that community, so many of who we love and admire and are here tonight; we say thank you, and we can't wait to continue the great work together with you. Read the full story

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NYIT Awards tonight!

Monday, September 19, 2011 0 comments

A super-fast reminder that amidst the flurry of new membership, weddings, and the preparation for a fall chock-full of exciting projects (stay tuned!), Flux is attending tonight's New York Innovative Theatre Award ceremonies.

We'll be performing a short play and expressing our very humble thanks as we accept the Caffe Cino Fellowship Award, crossing our fingers for Becky Byers and Jason Paradine (nominated for their work in Dog Act as supporting actress and set designer, respectively), and just generally celebrating with the indie theatre community that we are both a part of, and love.

There are still tickets available online or at the door ($25). See you there!

PS: If you can't make it, no worries: they'll be streaming the whole thing here. Read the full story

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Introducing Flux's Newest Member, Will Lowry

Thursday, September 15, 2011 0 comments

Perhaps you remember this set from Ajax in Iraq:
there was a lot of sand, too. and a giant map.
 Or this set, from The Lesser Seductions of History:
Or this set and costumes from A Midsummer Night's Dream:
how young we all were!
What do all these things have in common? Their designer, Will Lowry, who despite his modest protestations to the contrary is also an excellent performer, as proven by his frequent work at Flux Sundays and our most recent retreat:
pictured: rocking it out
Why are we bringing all this up now? Because Will Lowry is Flux's newest member! So if you see him at a Flux Sunday, or just gallivanting about town, you should say hi. Perhaps buy him a beer.

We could tell you all about him, but rather than do that, we'll let Will tell you all about himself:
I'm absolutely excited to be welcomed into the fold as a Flux member. There are many great people to work with in the theatre community, but it's rare to find such a group where the members are dedicated to such high artistic integrity. Flux chooses challenging material, they have a network of active and supportive volunteers, and they are a pleasure to work with. You may heatedly debate the specific shade of a chair or cut of a dress for an hour, but you know it's because they truly care about each and every artistic choice. Their passion for theatre is inspiring, and I feel truly honored to join as an official member. 

I grew up in South Carolina with parents who were both educators and very supportive when I discovered theatre in high school and wanted to pursue it in college. A few years later, I graduated with a BA from Furman University with a double major in Theatre Arts and Computer Science. While I had started college intending on becoming an actor, after about halfway through I had fallen completely in love with the design side of theatre. I couldn't seem to choose a favorite between the different facets of design, so instead I embraced that indecision: I selected a graduate program focused on scenography where I could study set, costume, and lighting design. And, in 2006 I graduated from the University of North Carolina Greensboro with an MFA in Design. I spent a year as a resident designer for a children's theater near San Jose, CA before moving to New York, where I've now lived for just a couple weeks shy of four years. 

I work full-time in the city as a studio assistant for a Broadway costume designer. I also do freelance graphic work for costume designers in NYC and travel for my own designs in regional theaters. My recent projects include scene designs for Flux's very own Ajax in Iraq here in NYC, Birmingham Children Theater's Tuxedo Junction in Alabama, Celebration Music Theater's Superstarz! Live and The Palace Theater's Blithe Spirit-both in South Carolina; in addition to a lighting design for Playhouse on Park's Around the World in 80 Days in Connecticut (in previews now!), a costume design for Le Grand Cirque: Adrenaline for the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and graphic work for Broadway's Addams Family, Baby It's You, and Catch Me If You Can.

Kelly also suggested I write what I do for fun, so in my free moments away from theatre, I enjoy drinking with friends and talking about theatre anyway, playing board games that most people would consider incredibly geeky, reading about television shows, and dinosaurs.
-Will Lowry
Welcome aboard, Will! We are as thrilled to have you on board as we could possibly be, and hope you will protect us if and when the dinosaurs rise again. Here's to many more years of rubber sand, giant circles, PVC trees, and brilliantly executed hip-hop!

photos: Tyler G. Hicks-Wright (Lesser Seductions), Isaiah Tanenbaum (all others)
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I AM THEATRE: Isaiah Tanenbaum

Monday, September 12, 2011 0 comments

We're continuing our participation in the I AM THEATRE initiative launched by TCG with Member Isaiah Tanenbaum. If you haven't already, be sure to also check out Carissa Cordes' video.

Isaiah auspiciously began his time with Flux by playing Gutty, the obese, single-minded deposed despot of an imaginary country in Rue. How to top that? He's gone on to play roles like Clarin (Life is a Dream), Flute (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Enoch (Angel Eaters), Lee (The Lesser Seductions of History), The Messenger (Jacob's House) and Aimes in our upcoming production of Menders. Along the way, he's photographed almost everything that moves, designed postcards, written some plays, helped run Have Anothers and ForePlays, and been an engine of Flux Sundays.

In other words, he may very well be theatre, and he is certainly Flux. We're very happy we let him finish the joke...

(One thing Isaiah also does well is games...proof above from our 6th retreat.)
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Flux Sunday, September 4th

Sunday, September 11, 2011 0 comments

(What is Flux Sunday?)

If the previous Sunday was the Flux of the actors, this Sunday was the Flux of the playwrights - as many strong pages as we've seen in a long time, and despite my best attempts, we simply could not stage them all.

Playwrights: Johnna Adams (The Anguisher), Fengar Gael (The Cat Vandal), Larry Kunofsky (So Retarded), Kitty Lindsay (Life is a Dream House), Kristen Palmer (Bridgeport), Brian Pracht (Unplugged In), August Schulenburg (Jane the Plain), Adam Szymkowicz (The Note)

Directors: Pete Boisvert, Kristy Dodson, Heather Cohn

Actors: Isaiah Tanenbaum, Jason Howard, Alisha Spielmann, Melissa Herion, Drew Valins, Tiffany Clementi, Cotton Wright, Ken Glickfeld, Kersti Bryan, David Crommett

Highlights included:
-Well, it's not everyday one gets to play a fundamentalist possessed by the spirit of a cat - so that was certainly a personal highlight.
-Working on Brian's Unplugged In - we've seen many incarnations of this play (and first scene), and while Flux Sundays are used less frequently for longer term development, it's always exciting when it happens
-Cotton and Jason as the tormented Karbie and Ben dolls - they found the slightly askew physicality that made those parts pop
-Reading through So Retarded allowed us to do two big scenes that play off each other...and boy, did they ever, and the second scene really highlighted Kersti Bryan's Flux Sunday debut

Now I had to leave early, so...did I miss anything that should be forever recorded in the annals of time? Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, August 21st

(What is Flux Sunday?)

We had one of the biggest actor turn-outs ever for this Flux Sunday, and it was exciting!

Playwrights: Larry Kunofsky (So Retarded), EM Lewis (If I Did This), Kari Swenson Riely (The Bicycle), August Schulenburg (Jane the Plain)

Directors: Heather Cohn, Leigh Hile, Brian Pracht, Alisha Spielmann

Actors: Lynn Kenny, Jason Richards, Kitty Lindsay, Maiken Wise, David Crommett, Tiffany Clementi, Matthew Archambault, Isaiah Tanenbaum, Rob Maitner, Anna LaMadrid, Cotton Wright, Melissa Herion, Jen Kipley, Jane Taylor, Robb Martinez, Stephen Conrad Moore

Highlights included:
-The debut of Kari's writing! She's been an acting force at Flux Sundays for some time, and it's always exciting when we see a different side of a talented artist.
-The moment when Lynn as Lucy negotiated Jen as Jen's sudden arrival with the audience - pure natural comedy - in Larry's So Retarded
-Speaking of that play, the whole New Haven/ n sympathizer section was painfully funny.
-Watching Rob and Robb offer two different but equally compelling takes on Hal, the dissolute mystery writer of Ellen's If I Did This
-Cotton's lovely Jane in Jane the Plain somehow maintaining the honesty of the character in the face of a shirtless, gleeful Matt Archambault as Scotty

If you were there, what do you remember? Read the full story


I AM THEATRE: Carissa Cordes

Thursday, September 8, 2011 4 comments

Flux is thrilled to be participating in the I AM THEATRE initiative launched by Theatre Communications Group (the place where Tiffany and I spend our days). This is an amazing project that I'm thrilled to be working on, and so was eager to get Flux involved.

Kelly O'Donnell shot some videos after a recent Flux Sunday, and has been editing them over the past several weeks. I'm especially excited that the first video is Carissa Cordes - if anyone is theatre, it is this remarkable actor/designer/technician/hero that has touched more Indie Theatre shows than you can shake a 2x4 at.

Carissa is one of the most impactful Friends of Flux we have, most recently appearing in our Have Another of Projects and our ForePlay New World Iliads, as well as joining us for our Retreat. She is pure theatre, and a great way for us to kick-off our participation in this project. If you want to join in the action, let Kelly and I know, or shoot the video yourself - you can learn how here.
(Carissa Cordes in Viva Fidel at the Flux Retreat)
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Friday, August 26, 2011 0 comments

Isaiah here with yet another overly-long, thoughtful-to-the-point-of-pedantry post.

So, over at HowIRound there's a very interesting piece by Lydia Stryk about this "theatricality" thing. You should definitely read the whole thing (and the comments, and the response at Parabasis, and the comments there), but here's the money quote if you're pressed for time:

Theatricality in America today, I would argue, is an MFA-inspired phenomenon produced almost solely by playwrights and duly supported by directors. The resulting highly theatrical plays teeter on the edge of magical realism or plummet over the top with plot elements and stage directions that seem derived from a handbook on wizardry. It’s worth noting that this new theatricality is woven into the plot, making it impossible to ignore in the way the old stage directions (She stands, he sits) were and are ignored.
The implication here is that "stage directions that are woven into the plot," particularly whimsical ones, are (a) something unique to recent American theater, and, because they cannot be ignored, (b) bad.

In a comment on the original post, Taylor Mac has already made a case that realism is actually the recent trend, so I want to respond to the second implication. I want to ask this: what's wrong with stage directions out of a wizard's handbook? Yes, they can be used lazily. Yes, they can be spectacle. Yes, they feel contrived or out of place or distancing. When they do these things -- and I won't lie, they often do -- they fall on their face.

But they aren't necessarily so.

The image I used above is the last moment of The Lesser Seductions of History, Flux's most well-received show, and I believe its greatest artistic triumph (so far!). A brief overview: the play was set in the 60's, and each scene was a different year. With each new year, one of the 10 characters makes a choice between a life of personal fulfillment and a life devoted to a greater cause. Those 10 lightbulbs were in the ceiling the whole time, a new one lighting up as each character made that choice and a new year dawned. Then, in the final scene, they descended as eight of the characters, each for deeply personal reasons, danced, then slowly became the astronauts on the moon, before finally forming a circle looking in at the eleventh character, One, who is the force of History that "seduced" them (hence the title) and in her final monologue asks, "wasn't it worth it?"

The lightbulbs were the years, and the characters, and the choices, and the stars, and pretty, all at the same time. This is just the sort of thing that Lydia doesn't like. It's wizardy, and it's weird, and it's whimsical. It was also profoundly moving, BECAUSE it was those things, not in spite of them. That moment wouldn't have worked, or would have worked in a profoundly different and (I believe) less successful way, without those lightbulbs, or some other director-picked design element that ostensibly served the same purpose.

Flux has talked a lot about what we mean by "Transformative Theatre" (sometimes we've even used other words for it); it's so central to what we do that it's in our mission statement as well as our list of aesthetic values. One of several things you can't do in a film, but you can do on a stage -- and therefore seems like the best definition of a term ("theatricality") whose definition few can even agree on -- is make something be two or more things at the same time. In the film version of Lesser Seductions, if you wanted to see the moon landing you'd show the footage. You'd probably cross-cut that with the characters, and others around the world, watching it at home (that's what the very powerful HBO documentary From the Earth to the Moon did). Which works great for film.

But there's something amazing, and powerful, and theatrical about seeing the other actors, who you've spent the last two hours with, dance around the stage as though on the moon, and it spoke to the central idea of that moment: that on July 20, 1969, it was as though everyone in the world, no matter what they were doing, was bouncing about the lunar surface with Neil and Buzz. I've got to say, I'm just thinking about it and I'm still moved by the memory of creating that poetic moment on stage. And I wasn't even alive in 1969.

I guess what I'm saying is that there are plenty of highly theatrical moments out there that you can effectively create with a whimsical stage direction or two. Lydia talks about the process by which she arrived at her theatrical stage directions -- essentially shoehorning them into her play to make it more marketable -- and I agree that this is a lousy way to create art that you're proud of, and it's almost guaranteed to leave a bad taste in your mouth for the whole process, and make seeing other such attempts that much more grating. But I'd encourage her not to throw the theatricality baby out with the marketability bathwater.
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Flux Sunday, August 14th

Sunday, August 21, 2011 0 comments

(What is Flux Sunday?)

Our first Flux Sunday back from the retreat had a smaller turn out, but that allowed us to do an exciting thing. We staged and shared four plays: two in the first hour and a half, and two in the second. This led to a bunch of rushed choices, but all together the experience was, well, a rush. It's not everyday, after all, that one is able to play a rolling Oedipus, a cop fighting organ theft, and a political activist clown in three hours.

Playwrights: Larry Kunofsky (Tragedy on Ecstasy), Kristen Palmer (Bridgeport), August Schulenburg (Jane the Plain), Adam Szymkowicz (Market)

Directors: Heather Cohn, Marielle Duke, Leigh Hile

Actors: Carissa Cordes, Kitty Lindsay, Anna Lamadrid, Alisha Spielmann, Melissa Herion, Kathryn Lawson, Isaiah Tanenbaum

Highlights included:

-Anna tearing it up as Donna in Kristen's Bridgeport, not to mention the thrill of Larry's spellcasting. I'm very excited to see how these fanciful and gritty threads weave together.
-The whole Tragedy on Ecstasy cast, which embodied the Flux Sunday spirit of "let's just go for it."
-Melissa's chilling Clarissa, and Carissa as her hapless (puppet) victim in Adam's Market. I also loved Heather's use of the space (and Ann's scene changing shakers!)
-Kristen Palmer as Scotty the Hotty. 'Nuff said.

If you were there, what did you walk away with?

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Have Another #7 Pictures

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 2 comments

(Don't you want to Have Another with these peeps? Photo: Alisha Spielmann)
Our seventh Have Another was a particularly joyous affair, feeling as it did like an echo of the happiness of the Retreat. With our usual photographer Isaiah Tanenbaum unfortunately absent, we turned to the mighty lens of Alisha Spielmann, who also somehow found time to turn in a moving performance as Telly in Erin Browne's Projects.

If you were there, what are your favorite memories of the event?

(Photo: Alisha Spielmann. Pictured: David Crommett, Matthew Archambault, Marnie Schulenburg, Kari Swenson Riely)
Oh, Wendell of Brian Pracht's play, Wendell Wants. You want so much...money, Sadie, your parents to stop humiliating you at the dinner table...

(Photo: Alisha Spielmann. Pictured: Matthew Archambault, Marnie Schulenburg)
Happiness isn't always a warm gun. Sometimes, it's a narrow bed and a newfound love.
(Photo: Matthew Archambault, edited by Alisha Spielmann Pictured: Becky Byers, Tiffany Clementi, Alisha Spielmann, Kelly O'Donnell, Matthew Murumba, August Schulenburg, Will Lowry, Carissa Cordes)
I can only hope watching the dinner table scene from Projects by Erin Browne was as much fun as being in the scene. I could sit at the table with those people all night long.

(Photo: Alisha Spielmann. Pictured: Cotton Wright)
Should Cotton, playing Rene, tell the story of Justin and her honey hand?
(Photo: Alisha Spielmann. Pictured: Cotton Wright)
Yes, yes she should.
(Photo: Alisha Spielmann. Pictured: Lightbulb, Rainbow-Neck Deer)
What's that you say? Hankering for the picture of a rainbow-neck deer? Hanker no longer.

(Photo: Alisha Spielmann. Pictured: Marnie Schulenburg, August Schulenburg)
Sister, brother.

(Photo: Alisha Spielmann. Pictured: Larry Kunofsky, August Schulenburg, Alisha Spielnmann, Matthew Murumba, Christina Shipp, Will Lowry)
We smiled for the camera...and closed the party down.

For pics from past Have Anothers, click here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here. And if you were there, share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Have Another #7, the Retreat Harvest

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 2 comments

(Photo: Isaiah Tanenbaum. Pictured: Becky Byers, Candice Holdorf)

On Monday, August 15th, Have Another returns, and this time, we're bringing some of our favorites scenes from the Retreat! Come and find out what was going down at the Little Pond Arts Retreat, and share a drink or three with us.

We'll be returning to the friendly confines of Jimmy's #43, located downstairs at 43 East 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Ave. There is no cover, just some of our favorite scenes from the Flux Retreat shared over drinks with friends.

Here's the line-up:
Written by Erin Browne
Featuring and directed by Becky Byers, Tiffany Clementi, Carissa Cordes, Will Lowry, Mathew Murumba, Kelly O'Donnell, August Schulenburg, Alisha Spielmann

Honey Fist
Written by August Schulenburg
Directed by Heather Cohn
Featuring Cotton Wright

Wendell Wants
Written by Brian Pracht
Directed by Brian Pracht
Featuring by Matthew Archambault, David Crommett, Kari Swenson Riely, Marnie Schulenburg

On this coming Monday, 8/15, the doors open at 7PM, with scenes beginning at 7:30PM and running through 9PM, with hanging out to follow.

Why is this line up a must see? Because Have Another gives you a chance to see the plays that Flux is developing at Flux Sundays and our Annual Retreat, all the while tipping back a beer or two and enjoying Jimmy's great locally inspired food (local theatre pairs well with local food, no?) It's one of our ways of sharing our development process with you.

And this particular line up of scenes features pop star kidnapping, volatile dinner tables, and love at first Lady Gaga concert. It features Have Another veterans Brian Pracht and Erin Browne, and as many actors from the Retreat as possible.

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