Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wide Eyed's "Winks" series begins tonight @ 7pm!

Dec. 11 @ 7pm

Tickets are free, space is limited


All performances are at The Underground Lounge
955 West End Avenue @ 107th St
New York, NY 10025

 

This month's "Wink:"

FROZEN by Bryony Lavery

Directed by Jordana Williams


One evening ten-year-old Rhona goes missing. Her mother, Nancy, retreats into a state of frozen hope. Agnetha, an American academic, comes to England to research a thesis: "Serial Killing—A Forgivable Act?" Then there's Ralph, a loner who's looking for some distraction. Drawn together by horrific circumstances, these three embark on a long, dark journey which finally curves upward into the light. Angry, humane and compassionate, FROZEN is an extraordinary play that entwines the lives of a murderer, the mother of one of his victims and his psychologist to explore our capacity for forgiveness, remorse and change after an act that would seem to rule them out entirely.

Featuring Lisa Mamazza, Will Reid, Sky Seals, 
and Kristen Vaughan

 

      


ABOUT THE "WINKS" SERIES:

Dec 11, 2012- June 4, 2013
The second Tuesday of every month! 

Wide Eyed Productions is embarking on a season of development as they explore new works, revisit the classics, and reimagine some of the best plays in the contemporary canon. This season predicates future seasons by workshopping and reading plays to excite and invigorate  theatergoers and the production company alike. Through a series of readings open to the public, Wide Eyed Productions aims to strike a chord within ourselves and the community.

This season of “Winks” is intended to develop work that will further define Wide Eyed as a company, as well as its place in the New York arts world. Every reading will give the audience a chance to have a voice on what Wide Eyed produces in its seventh season, as well as build support for the company and all of its talented members. We’ve picked our favorite contenders, and by attending and giving your feedback, you can help shape the next season at Wide Eyed.

UPCOMING:

Jan. 8 - Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
Feb. 5 - Dead Special Crabs by Dan Kitrosser
Mar. 5 - The Miser by Moliere
Apr. 9 - Standard Aptitude by Sam Byron
May 7 - Proof by David Auburn
June 4 - Reborning by Zayd Dohrn

...and don't forget tonight's SECRET SANDY TOY DRIVE!

At tonight's reading, Wide Eyed will be accepting craft supply / toy donations - particularly those of *crayons, coloring books, paper, colored pencils and washable markers* - for The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation, which is participating in the Secret Sandy Toy Drive. So swing by a drugstore or dollar store on the way: You can help to bring the gift of holiday creativity to kids still very much affected by the storm.

Monday, December 10, 2012

comedy, catharsis, & a good cause: 12/10 @ 7pm


We hope you'll join us tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 10, for our *free* staged reading of Bryony Lavery's FROZEN as part of our "Winks" series at the Underground Lounge (955 West End Ave. @ 107th Street). The reading features the talents of company members Sky Seals, Lisa Mamazza,Will Farrell, and NY indie theatre veteran Kristen Vaughn. Nytheatre.com 2012 People of the Year recipient Jordana Williams directs.

At the reading, Wide Eyed will be accepting donations of *crayons, coloring books, paper, colored pencils and washable markers* for The New York Innovative Theatre Foundation, which is participating in the Secret Sandy Toy Drive. So swing by a drugstore or dollar store on the way: You can help to bring the gift of holiday creativity to kids still very much affected by the storm.

Comedian Kevin Downey, Jr. will kick things off with his good cheer at 7pm, and the reading begins at 7:30. Come a little early, drop off some art supplies for a good cause, grab a drink and a seat, and settle in for a fine night of storytelling. We'll see you there.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Wide Eyed WINKS!


presents


Wide Eyed Winks
A Season of Development at Wide Eyed Productions


Performances:
Dec 11, 2012- June 4, 2013
The second Tuesday of every month!

December 11 @ 7 pm
January 8 @ 7 pm
February 5 @ 7 pm
April 9 @ 7 pm
May 7 @ 7 pm
June 4 @ 7 pm


All performances are at The Underground Lounge
955 West End Avenue @ 107th Street
(1 train to 110th St / Cathedral Parkway)
New York, NY 10025

Tickets are Free, Space is Limited 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

WHITE LIARS Season 2 Launch & Premiere: Sat. 9/29, 9pm

White Liars – the web series written, directed, shot and starred in by Wide Eyed company and board members Andrew Harriss and Neil Fennell – launches its second season with a new episode on September 29. While not a direct project of Wide Eyed Productions, the web series has featured the talents of many of our company members. We caught up with Andrew and Neil to discuss their project. Be sure to check out the Season 2 trailer on youtube (you can also watch it below)!
  • Please tell us about how this project was conceived. What inspired you to create White Liars?
ANDREW: The seed of White Liars came from my cousin, Adam Harriss, who basically gave me a situation and a few lines of dialogue which I used as my starting point, and are the first lines of dialogue in the first episode. The idea of spending the amount of time and money that it would take to produce a web series was overwhelming to me at the time, so I put off writing the first episode for about eight months until I thought, why not? That’s when I approached Neil to direct and Justin Ness to play [the character of] Chet, and we finally sat down and talked about it about three months after that.

NEIL: Andrew brought the script to me and asked if I would direct it. We sat down for a production meeting and ended up mapping out all eight episodes of the first season. Then Andrew wrote script by script, and we shot as we went, episode by episode. We were pretty green in the beginning, and definitely picked up steam with more experience.

ANDREW: I had no idea what the show was going to be about other than con artists. I thought a lot about the concept of lies, and how easy they are to tell to ourselves and others, how comfortable we can be with lies, and how when we convince ourselves of a lie, sometimes we can just go ahead and proceed as if this fiction we’ve created for ourselves is true. There’s a lot of humor there and commentary, too. 

Adam wanted it to be a little more like the office. He comes from the corporate world, and I don’t even have a stamp on my passport for the corporate world, so making Tim (my character) an actor and keeping the corporate world vague was a product of my personal experience. That was pretty much the point we were at when Neil and I sat down and talked through the season. 
  • Can you give us a little summary of what happened in Season 1? 
ANDREW:  In a nutshell, White Liars follows the exploits of Tim, a down on his luck New York actor in need of a job and his friend Chet, who has lots of jobs. Their journey takes a satirical look at the world of business, non-paying theatre, and the little white lies that end up becoming much bigger down the road. 
  • How would you say Season 2 differs from the first? 
ANDREW:  Season 2 is a continuation of the narrative of Season 1. At the end of Season 1, we see Tim turn from a pawn to a player in the game. The game changes very quickly in Season 2 as the consequences of Tim and Chet’s actions start to catch up with them. There’s still plenty of lying, though…Lots of lying. That’s very important in our show. The quality is much better, too. The lessons we learned on Season 1 bear their fruit this time around. 

NEIL:  Season 2 is so much tighter. It’s fast-paced; it’s funnier; the performances are fantastic. Plus, we’ve just gotten better at it. The planning was far more extensive, the camera covers more, and it’s on a much grander scale. People will be very interested to see where the story goes. 
  • I’m sure you each have a couple of favorite shots from Season 2. Can you share with us some of the technicalities? 
NEIL:  Well, I can reveal that a good friend of ours is a Steadicam operator, and we got to utilize his talents for a shot in Season 2. That was an incredible experience, utilizing 15 people for one long moving shot. I had never got to direct something like that before - it was so much fun. Anything else, you’ll have to wait and see. 

ANDREW: I do love the Steadicam shot, but I have to say, even though I’ve only seen some of the raw footage, I think the finale has some of my favorite moments and shots of the entire series. They’re beautiful. 
  • White Liars has an original soundtrack. I believe that’s kind of unusual for an indie web series. Can you tell us how that came about? 
NEIL: I always hoped that we could do original music for the series, since I’m a musician. I also hoped that we didn’t have to use outside sources due to rights, etc. We wanted to create something original that had our own kind of feel. Luckily, we have fellow company member Sky Seals, who works wizardry. We have a lot of fun, the three of us in a room, coming up with original themes for the show. 

ANDREW: I’ll just say that when you have people who are willing and eager to help you out, you should make use of them. I didn’t even think about music until we’d started shooting, but when it came time to score the episodes it became very clear that the music had to tell as much of the story as the rest of the components. I think it’s wonderful and can’t sing Sky Seals’s praises enough for the work he did (and is continuing to do) to bring a musical life to our story. 
  • I understand that White Liars is now not only the name of this web series, but is also the name of your production company. What do you like most about working together? 
NEIL: I like that we’re friends first…We work together because we like each other. It’s hard enough to do this without an underlying friendship, and lord knows we can get stressed with/at each other at times. I’d hate to think what it was like working on a project of this scope with someone that I DIDN’T like. 

ANDREW: I like what Neil said. Same goes for me. 
  • Can you tell us about other projects you have in the hopper? 
NEIL: I’m currently editing Wide Eyed Productions’s short film The Return of Toodles Von Flooz. It’s been on the back burner far longer than I care to admit, but we have a timetable in place and people should keep an eye out for it soon. Other than that, I enjoy the few hours a week I get to sleep. 

ANDREW: Smaller, more sketch based videos in 2013! And maybe a nap.

Please join us this Saturday, Sept. 29, at 9:00 p.m. 
for the White Liars Season 2 premiere at
 Stone Creek Bar and Grill, 140 East 27th Street, NYC
(look for us in the back room) 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Seeking: Marketing Intern and Development Intern


JOB POSTING
MARKETING INTERN and DEVELOPMENT INTERN

Wide Eyed Productions (“WEP”) is a New York-based collective dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the creation of risk-taking, relevant theatre. Through a core ensemble and collaborative process it is our goal to create new theatre that stimulates the imagination and awakens the public’s passion for high standards in performing arts.

WEP is run completely by enthusiastic volunteers who are passionate about theatre arts. We are currently seeking two dedicated interns for 2012-2013. The roles and responsibilities of each intern are below.

  
Marketing Associate

Duties 
  • Works directly with the Communications Chair
  • Assists in developing HTML’s for productions and events
  • Assists in designing postcards and other print material
  • Updates the website and manages content
  • Supports the Communications Chair on media outreach
  • Monitors trends in non-profit theatre companies and proposes new marketing and communications strategies to management
  • Manages the company contact list and mailing list
  • Staffs WEP shows and events
  • Attends Communication Committee meetings


Required Skills and Training 
  • Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in communications, design, arts administration or other related field (could currently be in school)
  • Knowledge in marketing for a nonprofit theatre company 
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel 
  • Experience creating templates and designing postcards or other related material
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills 
  • Ability to present information concisely and effectively, both verbally and in writing 
  • Ability to organize and prioritize work Ability to work independently with little supervision 
  • Excellent interpersonal skills


Development Associate

      Duties

  • Works directly with the Fund Development Chair
  • Process donations and prepare acknowledgement letters and other correspondence
  • Maintain foundation, corporation and individual donor files
  • Create monthly fundraising reports
  • Conduct preliminary research on prospective corporate foundation and individual donors
  • Coordinate mailings for save-the-dates, invitation and appeal letters for WEP’s Gala
  • Maintain guest lists, gather and prepare registration materials and other duties as assigned for fund-raising events
  • Work with the Fund Development Chair on writing and tracking grant proposals
  • Staff WEP shows and events
  • Attend Fund Development Committee meetings

      Required Skills and Training

  • Associate's or bachelor's degree in nonprofit management, fundraising, arts administration or other related field (could currently be in school
  • Knowledge in fundraising for an arts organization
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Excellent verbal and written communications skills
  • Ability to present information concisely and effectively, both verbally and in writing
  • Ability to organize and prioritize work
  • Ability to work independently with little supervision
  • Excellent interpersonal skills

Additional details about both positions are below.
  • The internship will start in the Fall of 2012
  • This is a 15 hour a week position (some weeks may be less)
  • You will work primarily with the Committee Chairs and Artistic Director

Please send resume and cover letter to liz.wideeyednyc@gmail.com by October 30, 2012.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sam Byron's ANIMALS to be published by Indie Theater Now

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Wide Eyed Productions would like to extend hearty congratulations and a virtual high five to Animals playwright Sam Byron. nytheatre.com’s Indie Theater Now will be publishing Byron’s Animals as part of their Best of FringeNYC 2012 Collection, which will feature 27 plays produced at FringeNYC this year. Having seen many of these on stage over the last couple of weeks, we know he will be in great company. Congratulations, Sam, and to all of the other playwrights receiving this honor!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A FringeNYC Overall Excellence Winner for Direction!

Many happy congratulations to all of the FringeNYC Overall Excellence winners, including our very own Kristin Skye Hoffmann, who received a nod for Directing on our production of ANIMALS! We are absolutely delighted. High fives, all the way around.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Final performance of ANIMALS today, 7pm!


If, for some reason, you've missed our production of Animals at The Kraine Theater as part of the New York International Fringe Festival, you have exactly one more chance to see it. Curtain is at 7pm tonight, Thursday, August 23. There is no late seating. We'll see you at the theatre!

(Come on. Everybody's doing it.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Meet the Cast: Sky Seals (ANIMALS)

Sky Seals is a co-founder of Wide Eyed Productions. Company credits: The Medea (Jason), Much Ado About Nothing (Don Pedro), Jack and the Soy Beanstalk (Minstrel / Composer), Henry VI (Part III) (King Edward), and Goldilocks and the Three Polar Bears (Minstrel / Composer).  Sky has also directed, stage-managed, designed, composed and production-managed for Wide Eyed in its five seasons.  Sky appeared Off-Broadway in the Algonquin Theater’s Sessions: The Musical in the role of Dylan for the production’s entire 14-month run, and toured with Theaterworks’ The Mystery of King Tut last spring.  Sky’s score for Jack and the Soy Beanstalk has been published by Samuel French’s "Bakers Plays."  Sky is also exactly one-half of the acoustic comedy duo Neil and Sky, and has scored the web series White Liars. Currently seeking representation (and a sandwich). 
  • Sky, you were kind enough to interview with us during the run of A Girl Wrote It. Welcome back! You’ll be performing in our upcoming production of Animals for the New York International Fringe Festival. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece? Do you feel ready to open tonight? 
I remember when Kristin sent the play to the Wide Eyed board, asking what we thought and if we should produce it. I read two pages and wrote back that I loved it. I think it was the male chauvinism and sexism that hooked me. Just kidding. It was the honest and poetic way Sam had written conversations that had sickened me in the past with my redneck friends. Characters like these really do exist, in the MILLIONS, and it's important to hold the mirror up to this kind of nature. As far as feeling ready to open...well, we'll find out today! 
  • You'll be playing a pivotal character in Animals. Can you tell us some of your thoughts on the character? What drew you to want to play him? 
As I just said, I've met this guy. Dozens of times. I've sat silently, listening to his bullshit, mesmerized by his charm and ability to get away with saying awful, destructive things. Just because he's a funny guy. I've sat wanting to be a part of his energy, seduced by it, until I realized that he's the enemy of everything that I believe in! He may not have actually destroyed anything himself, but he's done such a great job of justifying ignorance and hate and sexism, that he's convinced other, weaker people to do the destroying. He's the snake in Eden. Never at fault. And I think it's important for art to show us the enemy in no uncertain terms, so we recognize him in life. And I like to talk about doin' it doggystyle. :-) 
  • As a founding member of Wide Eyed, you've appeared onstage with the company many times, often under the direction of Kristin Skye Hoffmann. Can you provide some insight as to how this project is different in terms of approach? 
What's wonderfully different about this production is the new blood that has not only gotten involved, but has thrown themselves, their immense talents, and their...ahem...youthful energy into a Wide Eyed Production (I'm a bit older, and just trying to keep up). Kristin's new circle of friends at the New School for Drama is so fresh and exciting that I hope to work with them and see them grow and become successful firsthand. 
  • Our last forays into Fringe have found you not only performing, but also composing. Can you tell us about any musical projects you are currently working on? 
Of course you're referring to Jack and the Soy Beanstalk and Goldilocks and the Three Polar Bears - two successful children's shows, written by Jerrod Bogard and composed by myself, that premiered as part of Fringe Jr. Currently, Jerrod and I are working on a full-length rock musical about soldiers in the Iraq war. A much more ambitious piece, “Grunts” (working title) is still in the development phase. We've had two public performances of some of the material, and found that there is a great hunger for this brand of relevant musical theater. We're continuing to workshop our new material in the next year, and hope to have support for a full production very soon. I'm also about to begin work on the score for the 2nd season of White Liars, a web series produced by Wide Eyed company members Andrew Harriss and Neil Fennell. Check out season 1 on youtube.com!
  • We know you like to stay busy. Are there any additional projects in the hopper for you that you would care to share with us? 
I'm currently working on a project that is very near and dear to my heart. It's called NEVER HAVING TO WAIT TABLES AGAIN! Maybe you've heard of it...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Meet the Cast: Jenna D'Angelo (ANIMALS)



Jenna D'Angelo is thrilled to be a part of Animals in FringeNYC.  Since moving to NYC two years ago Jenna has been working consistently in theatre and film.  Theatre: As You Like It (Rosalind), Dracula (Lucy), Thrill of the Chase (MadDog Theatre Co.), Still Jackie (Tiny Rhino), Almost, Maine (45th St. Theatre).  Film: Silent Wave (Best Actress in a Short nomination), Madeleine Zabel (Madeleine, Cambridge Film Festival), Kin, Bruiser, Hello My Name Is (CollegeHumor).  BA: Western Michigan University. www.jennadangelo.com 

  • You’ll be performing in our upcoming production of Animals for the New York International Fringe Festival. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece and your character? How are rehearsals going? 

I feel incredibly lucky to be working with Animals again.  I was part of a workshop / reading last year as the character Lisa. This go around I am playing Megan, which has been a blast so far because I get a chance to be in the skin of a different character and see the play in a new light through a new person's eyes.  

When I first read the play, I loved it. It has been great to continually work on the play and see how the characters and the story have developed and grown.  Rehearsals have been fantastic.  Kristin [Hoffmann] and Sam [Byron] are so great to work with; they play really well off of one another in the rehearsal room. This is a unique experience because we get to work with the director AND the playwright, which is pretty rare.  

  • When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? How did you get started? 

I have wanted to be an actor ever since I was a little kid.  I always loved being on stage, telling stories and making people laugh.  In elementary school, I started doing school plays and musicals, and everything sort of took off from there.  I studied Theatre Performance in undergrad at Western Michigan University and then moved to NYC after graduating. 

  • Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why? 

Wow.  That is a tough question.  I guess at this point in my life, two years out of undergrad, I would probably say that my professors are still some of the people who have influenced me and shaped the artist I am today the most.  I was really lucky to have just unbelievably talented and passionate professors who helped me to push the limits creatively and keep striving and trying  if you don't get there today, maybe you will get there tomorrow.   
  • What is your favorite part of the creative process before you perform for an audience? Do you have a particular pre-show ritual that you engage in before curtain? If so, can you share it with us? 
I love rehearsing.  I love what you find when you get to put a scene up on its feet once you are memorized, and really find what is underneath these words that you are saying.  There is nothing more exciting than discovering a moment in a scene that you never knew was there.  In terms of pre-show ritual, it changes from show to show.  Each show you're in places different demands on you and a different energy.  For example, when I do Shakespeare, my warm-ups tend to revolve more around vocals because you are dealing with some really tricky language so you want to be ready for it. Other times, I'll listen to music that helps me get in the right head space, stuff that pumps me up or centers me, I'll do yoga.  It all just depends. For this show?  I'm not 100% sure yet what will fall into place. 
  • I believe this is your first time working with Wide Eyed. We’d like to get to know you a little better. Could you tell us a little bit about your last project? Is there something cool that you like to do in your spare time? 
My last project was a short film called Kin about a brother and sister who haven't spoken in years and are forced together by the death of their father. The project was wonderful and incredibly challenging the sister is bi-polar and incredibly reclusive, and I had a great time working to figure her out. 

Cool things in my spare time?  I just bought a bike!  And a really goofy helmet!  So now I ride my bike around in my spare time....is that cool? Oh!  And I just hiked the Inca Trail in Peru last month.  That's counts as cool.   
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us? 
I am in a web series called The Fastest that starts filming right around when Animals opens, so I'll be shooting that on my off days.  I play this badass girl-next-door, so that will be fun. I get to use a knife to protect myself from a bad guy.  You can check out some info at http://thefastestseries.tumblr.com/. And I have to finish up some ADR stuff for a film I shot a few months ago called Bruiser with director Mattson Tomlin, who is one of the most talented guys I know.  And then it's time to get back in the saddle again and hit the ground running auditioning.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Meet the Cast: Sarah Jadin (ANIMALS)




Sarah Jadin New York theater: Edward, My Son, The Late George Apley, The Actor’s Company Theatre; As You Like It, The Midtown Theater Festival. Regional theater: Alice vs. Wonderland, The Donkey Show, American Repertory Theater. London theater: A Winter’s Tale, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, The Way of the World, The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. MFA in Acting from The ART/MXAT Institute at Harvard University. www.sarahjadin.com 

  • You’ll be performing in our upcoming production of Animals for the New York International Fringe Festival. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece and your character? How are rehearsals going? 

I’m really enjoying working on Animals; Sam [Byron] and Kristin [Hoffmann] are doing such a lovely job with the show, and the cast has proven to be incredibly talented. 

  • When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? How did you get started? 

I’ve always wanted to be an actor, with the exception of a brief infatuation with Marine Biology in second grade; every girl goes through a dolphin phase, right? So after I lost interest in dolphins, I started acting at Stages Theater Company in my hometown of Minneapolis, and have been ever since.

  • Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why? 

My biggest creative influences have been my professors and classmates at the ART Institute at Harvard, which is where I went to graduate school for my MFA in acting. Grad school is a fabulous incubator, and Scott Zigler, Marcus Stern, and Nancy Houfek are just brilliant teachers.

  • What is your favorite part of the creative process before you perform for an audience? Do you have a particular pre-show ritual that you engage in before curtain? If so, can you share it with us? 

Every show is different, but I almost always really love the rehearsal process, by that I mean the time spent in the room with my scene partners and the director. 

  • I believe this is your first time working with Wide Eyed. We’d like to get to know you a little better. Could you tell us a little bit about your last project? Is there something cool that you like to do in your spare time? 

My last play was my final show at ART, which was a devised piece inspired by the human voice and directed by John Tiffany.  My last “project” was a hair show for the stylist Oribe. I had to wear a huge green wig and matching leotard; it was amazing! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Meet the Designer: Catherine DiGirolamo (ANIMALS)


Catherine DiGirolamo A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Cate is a Production Manager and Lighting/Scenic Designer who has worked for Gate Theatre Notting Hill, Royal Court Theatre, Almeida Theatre, Hightide Festival Theatre, and Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, and more recently CAP21 in New York. She is currently the Production Manager for UglyRhino Productions.
  • You’ll be designing both lights and set for our upcoming production of Animals for the New York International Fringe Festival. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece? 
What was great about the first table read was getting an idea how fast paced and intense a lot of the play is. It poses a lot of interesting moral questions, bit is also quite funny. These characters and the situations they deal with are very real. Because of that, the set needed to be something that could function for the action but not take anything away from, or interfere with, what is happening in the story. 

  • Due to the nature of Fringe (multiple plays performing in a single theatre; a fast turn around time between each production; etc.), there are some constraints in terms of what a designer can accomplish with lights and set. How do you like to approach challenges such as these?
I try not to think about it at first and focus on what I want to achieve creatively and what the play requires. Once I have a clear concept, it’s just a matter of making it work within the constraints, which is equally challenging and fun. There are several locations and transitions in the play, so the design already had to be versatile and easy to transition. Lighting will play a larger role in the overall design, though I won’t get a chance to really see what lighting is available before tech. That is the biggest challenge. It’s important to go in with clear ideas and several options for how to accomplish them. 
  • When did you know that you wanted to be a designer? Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why? 
I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and being close friends with, many talented designers, directors, actors, filmmakers, and artists who have all been great influences. I have also worked on many different projects in a variety of roles and just like being involved in the process in any way. I can’t say for sure when I decided that I wanted to design, but I trained in London and that was the first time I felt that it was something I could pursue. 

  • What is your favorite part of the creative process? 
I don’t know that I really have a favorite part. Each project is so unique. I love seeing the progression from the first read through to the stage. Working on Animals, in particular, has been great being able to sit in rehearsals and work closely with the director and playwright, and see how the actors take on these roles. I guess the most fun really comes at tech and seeing everything come together in the space. And I love playing around with lights. 
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us? 
I production manage for UglyRhino Productions in Brooklyn. We’re currently working on our Micro-Season, opening mid-August, which features two new musical plays, parties, and live bands. One play is an adaptation of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, which I’m also lighting, and the other play is a rock concert/theatrical experience called Glamdromeda. See uglyrhinonyc.com for more information.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Meet the Playwright: Sam Byron (ANIMALS)


Sam Byron is a playwright based in New York. His plays include A Substitute for Margo (Out of the Ashes Theatre Co., Chicago, IL), The Rock and the Bird (NoBucks Theater, Ithaca, NY), Debt (Horse Trade Theater, New York City, and Dillingham Center for Performing Arts, Ithaca, NY), Brooklyn Vacancies (finalist, New Works Program at T. Schreiber Studio, New York City), Static (finalist, HotCity Theater’s Greenhouse Festival, St. Louis), and Animals (Manhattan Repertory Theatre, New York City). He has written numerous short plays, including 529 (Manhattan Theatre Source), Famous Dick (UglyRhino Productions), and How to Field Dress a Unicorn (Billy & Co.). He has worked in the literary offices of both the Atlantic Theater Company and the Public Theater, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Playwriting from The New School in New York City. He is the 2012 recipient of the New School for Drama’s Steinberg New Playwrights Fellowship.
  • We are so very excited to be staging your play Animals for the New York International Fringe Festival this year. Can you give us a bit of a synopsis of the play and provide some insight in terms of what inspired it?
A group of twenty-somethings attend an unofficial high school reunion. The house party, thrown by a former member of the “popular crowd,” becomes the backdrop for a myriad of sexual encounters both pleasurable and violent.

The inspiration for the play came from a break-up I went through about four years ago. I wanted to write about the frustrating chasm that exists between men and women when it comes to love and sex. As I explored this idea—and aged four years, loving and losing more along the way—the play found its way into more complex territory. The piece became about growing older, about realizing who your true friends are, and about the fallibility of your emotions when you are “in love.”
  • When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? What made you start writing plays?
I believe that all writers have some thing, some secret they hope to uncover, recover, understand, ignore, or some such thing. I certainly have one or two internal wounds that I think compel me to write, but the answer to the question “why?” is much simpler than some heartbreaking account of my personal life. I write because I have to. I know this because sometimes I don’t want to. Sometimes writing feels like the hardest thing I could do, but I do it anyway. I write because I have to understand what goes on around me and what goes on within me.

Playwriting, more than novel-writing or poetry, is the art of communication. A play does not exist without collaboration and compromise. A novel falls in the forest and makes a noise whether someone hears it or not, but a play is a citizen of the world around us. It demands to be acknowledged because, without its fellow citizens, it is nothing. I write plays because I am most interested in participating in that citizenship.
  • Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer? What inspires you to get to the page?
Those are two very different questions. What gets me to the page are the every day idiosyncracies of human existence. I read recently about an actress rescued from the Titanic who then went off right away and starred in a movie about her experiences. She knew immediately that her trauma was marketable. I read that and I think, “That’s the world’s first reality TV star! There’s a play in there!”

In terms of influences, it’s hard to really say. I read all the time and feel like I take something from all of it. Sam Shepard taught me that I can do whatever I want on stage. He was really the first playwright I read and thought, “Wow. I want to do that.”
  • In terms of your creative process, do you have a particular ritual when it comes to writing? If so, can you share it with us?
I can’t wear shoes and write at the same time. I will if I have to, but God help the poor soul that has to decipher the scribbles that come from that.
  • I believe you obtained your MFA in Playwrighting from The New School. Is this also where you met Kristin Skye Hoffmann, the director for this production? Can you tell us a bit about that working relationship?
Kristin and I just completed the first third of our MFA track at the New School. She directed the first piece I wrote, which was a three-page site-specific play called SVP. We had known each other for about two months, and we set out around the West Village scouting locations with Kristin feeding me ideas to keep my brain storming. My name is on that script, but I couldn’t have done it without her.

The final scene of that play took place in the courtyard of a building on the corner of Charles St.and the West Side Highway. We were rehearsing there one day when this big black SUV pulled up and Martha Stewart got out. Stunned, we watched her breeze by us and into the building. Two seconds later we were ejected from the premises and I was rewriting the scene for a stoop up the block. I thought, if Martha Stewart wants to stop us, Kristin and I must be doing something right.
  • Can you tell us about any additional projects you are working on right now?
I have a few projects in the works. The first is the next Halloween, site-specific experience for UglyRhino Productions at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Following the success of last year’s CENTRALIA, I am developing a pseudo-murder mystery involving crazy occult ritual suicide in 1970s Gowanus.

I will also be developing a play under the tutelage of Jon Robin Baitz over the coming year about a congregation of Jews in search of a Rabbi and a young woman who is forced to rediscover her faith when she’s called upon to help in place of her dying father.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meet the Cast: Leif Steinert (ANIMALS)



Leif Steinert (Robby) moved from Massachusetts to New York after graduating high school in 2004. Passing on college, he opted to take some acting classes in Manhattan and get a job (there have, in fact, been several jobs: a clerk in a laundry center, a U.S. census taker, a Central Park tour guide, a bartender, and a doorman dressed as a toy soldier in front F.A.O. Schwarz, just to name just a few). Over the years, he has learned countless lessons and had countless experiences that are of the kind that only New York can offer.
  • You’ll be performing in our upcoming production of Animals for the New York International Fringe Festival. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece and your character? How are rehearsals going?
I play a guy named Robby who's just moved back home after being away for five years. He's a pleasure seeker who's trying cope with the many changes that are happening in his life. Rehearsals are going very well.
  • When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? How did you get started?
I didn't get good grades in high school, so my father gave me an ultimatum in my junior year: either to be locked in my room for 3 hours a night to make a desperate push for college or to join my school's production of West Side Story. I chose the latter, and fell in love with the sensation of being on stage in front of an audience.
  • Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why?
I am influenced by my day-to-day life as it plays itself out. The basic human responses that life provokes inside of everyone on earth is what I go fishing for whenever I play a role.
  • What is your favorite part of the creative process before you perform for an audience? Do you have a particular pre-show ritual that you engage in before curtain? If so, can you share it with us?
The pre-show stuff depends on the part, and I guess my ritual is that I like to hug or connect with everybody in the cast before the stage manager calls for us to take our places. It's an expression of support, unity and gratitude for sharing the experience.The table work is my favorite part of the process because it's like preparing for a bank heist.
  • I believe this is your first time working with Wide Eyed. We’d like to get to know you a little better. Could you tell us a little bit about your last project? Is there something cool that you like to do in your spare time?
I’ve been enrolled at the New School for Drama's M.F.A program for the last year, which is where I’ve worked with Kristin [Hoffmann] and Sam [Byron] a couple of times. I just did a reading at M.C.C. for a play they are considering to produce. I love to ride my bicycle around the city.
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us?
The other day, I got cast in a short film called Life in a Box. It's a great script, and I believe it will turn out to be something quite special.