Monday, April 30, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Lisa Mamazza, Actor

Lisa Mamazza is a proud member of Wide Eyed Productions and thrilled to be a part of A Girl Wrote It.  Past theatre credits include The Trojan Women, The Return of Toodles Von Flooz, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.  Past film credits include Cause of Death, Underneath, The Return of Toodles Von Flooz, and The One You Marry.  Check out her production company at www.riverwideproductions.com and view some of her work on her soon-to-be launched website, www.lisamamazza.com

  • You’re performing in Heather Lynn MacDonald’s Early Michigan as part of our production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us some of your thoughts about the piece? How do you feel the show is going? 

I loved Early Michigan the first time I read it. Here are real people with real issues trying to get through the here and now. It's such a great feeling every time we do the show. It's grown and changed so much since we first got in the theatre, even -- I can't wait to see how it and also we as actors all continue to grow in it. 

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

One of my earliest memories is when I was little, like 6 or 7, I would watch Mary Poppins on a loop, and every time the gang jumped into Burt's painting, I would pause the tape (yes, tape) and go get my pink umbrella so I could dance with them. Still waiting for Disney to call. 

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

I think inspiration comes from all around because entertainment is constantly happening every where. Especially here in NYC. Just look around the subway! 

  • 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? 

Before an audience gets there, I love it during the rehearsal process when all the actors are securely off book and we get to play and explore our characters fully. Pre-show rituals vary show to show. For this one, I go over my lines in my character, Mia's voice before I go onstage. 

  • You were in last year’s production of A Girl Wrote It, in The Return of Toodles Von Flooz by Lisa Ferber. How would you say this process differs from that experience? 

Oh, its a very different process. Toodles was a spoof on the film noir genre so it was very stylized physical comedy where Early Michigan is slice of life realism. It, too, has its funny moments, but an out and out comedy it is not so its much more subtle. 

  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us? 

Yes! My film production company, RiverWide Productions, is working with Wide Eyed; together, we're producing The Return of Toodles Von Flooz, the short film! Look for a trailer soon on both wideeyedproductions.com and riverwideproductions.com

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Patrick Bonck, Actor

Patrick Bonck is delighted to be working with the talented folks at Wide Eyed Productions. New York credits include: Hughie (Cart Before Horse Productions); Love in Transit (The Shop); adulteration (New Voices, New School for Drama); Warning: May Contain Nuts, CLAYscapes (The Collective), The Birds (9 Thirty Theatre Company); An Drochshaol, Julius Caesar (American Theatre of Actors). Regional: Mirabelle (Seattle International Children’s Festival); Twelfth Night, Four Christmases (Centerstage Theatre);The Woman in Black (Harlequin Productions); Coriolanus (Greenstage). Proud member of the permanent ensemble of The Collective (www.thecollective-ny.org). 
  • You’re performing in Heather Lynn MacDonald’s Early Michigan as part of our production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us some of your thoughts about the piece? How do you feel the show is going? 
Early Michigan deals with a very difficult and delicate subject: the aftermath of a miscarriage. Heather explores the very physical and physiological nature of a miscarriage, the hope and joy that are crushed, and, perhaps worst of all, the separation and isolation from your partner that can happen as a result. She gives us both sides of the coin in the play, and we get to see both Pam and Serge dealing with grief, for sure, but also the rift that has formed between them. We men might be able to understand what is happening in a pregnancy, but we cannot experience it, and when something goes wrong there is a profound sense of powerlessness. 

It has been such a pleasure working with Lisa, Judy and Sky, three superbly talented members of the Wide Eyed ensemble. I could sense a real ease of working together among them, which is both the benefit of an ensemble and a sign of a strong one. Paul, the director, and I have worked together twice in the past, and I simply cannot say enough good things about his process, vision and insights. He’s the best. I think we’re in a good place, one week in, and are still finding new things, which is my favorite part of live theatre.
  • When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? How did you get started? 
I was a shy and quiet kid (not much has changed, really), and when I discovered acting in high school it was a thrill to escape inside someone else, even if for a few hours. Though my view of acting has changed monumentally over the years, it is still that desire to escape and play that keeps bringing me back. 
  • Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why?
Rosa Joshi and Ki Gottberg, two of my teachers in college, still loom very large as creative influences. They are the Apollonian and Dionysian sides of a coin that I flip on any given day. Recently, my work with Karen Chamberlain and The Collective has helped me come to a deeper understanding of what it really means to “live truthfully under imaginary circumstances” and have pushed me to new horizons of imagination, prompting me to ask important creative questions of myself. 
  • 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? 
My pre-show ritual depends on the production. For this show, I begin with some simple yoga exercises to get the blood flowing and stretch out, then move on to an easy vocal warm up. In the minutes before I go on, I check in with myself, try to identify and release any tension in my body, prepare for the first moment, and then, ideally, let it go and see what happens. If it were Shakespeare, you’d probably find me buried in the words till the last minute. 
  • 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 what you like to do in your spare time? 
I’m an avid runner, and I try to get in 25 miles a week on average, though that has been slipping lately. As often as I can, I try to go for a hike and reconnect with nature, especially when the city is wearing me down. I’m a bit of a recluse, so I relish my alone time, which I spend reading and, occasionally, writing. Way too much of my spare time is spent on my phone. Sometimes I create funny little voices that I only use when I’m alone...and now I sound like a crazy person. Actors. 
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us? 
There is always something going with The Collective, a film and production company founded by a collective of actors, of which I am a member. There are other irons in the fire, but I’m a little superstitious, so that’s probably where they should stay for the time being.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Tim Butterfield, Director

Tim Butterfield, Artistic Director of Wide Eyed Productions, holds a BA in Theater from Brooklyn College and an MFA in Directing form The New School for Drama. Tim has studied with wide array of artists that include Doug Hughes, Jo Bonney, Kate Loewald, Lou Jacobs, Elinor Renfield, Bob LuPone, Casey Biggs, Austin Pendleton and Arthur Storch. Tim’s work has been seen Off-Broadway, Off-off Broadway and Regionally. Wide Eyed is the third company for which he has served as Artistic Director. Recent directing projects include the short films Underneath and Lesbianism, as well as This is My Gun, Don Juan Comes Back from the War, and Residue for the stage. Tim works as a writing coach and script-doctor. He teaches playwriting, directing and stage combat. Tim also has worked with Yale School of Drama faculty over the last few years in curriculum development. http://www.timbutterfield.net/
  • For our production of A Girl Wrote It, you are directing Laura Maria Censabella’s Posing. Can you tell us a little bit about what your process with this piece has been like?
My process with this piece has been quite involved. Laura had sent me four pieces to consider for AGWI. They all were so good and poignant that I seriously considered just doing an evening of her short plays. When I realized that idea was not as realistic as I would have liked it to be, I still could not shake Posing and Stones Fall, Birds Fly. The juxtaposition of people who believed they were worth very little versus a man who knew he could fly fascinated me and I knew they had to be on the same stage. I entrusted Stones Fall, Birds Fly to the absurdly capable Sherri Eden Barber and was able to focus on Posing. We found our Elaine and Pete in Dana and Nate, and we went into the rehearsal room to begin wrestling with the piece. I say wrestle because it is not an easy piece to direct or act. Laura has written two characters that have made some very questionable decisions in their lives, and are about to make more, but she was able to do so without judging them. For those of us who don’t live in despair, like Pete and Elaine do, it can be hard to understand the motivations in such a dark world. Laura has shown us a love story of two physically and emotionally damaged individuals and done so in way that we cheer for those we typically wouldn’t do so for. Nate and Dana have been fearless in their pursuit of these characters. They have also been incredibly trusting and supportive of each other which, I believe, is what has allowed them to go to the deepest parts of these characters. It has been inspiring for me to watch. It is a great example of what can be achieved when people give themselves fully to their work. Laura has worked with us closely on this piece which has been wonderful. It’s always such a blessing to have the playwright in the room and the four us developed a very strong working relationship which I would love to repeat in the future.
  • When did you know that you wanted to be involved in the theatre? How did you get started? What inspired you to direct?
When I was nine years old, I was the shortest boy in school and had injured my ankle, forcing me to use crutches for a few days. As the holidays neared and the school started to put together a production of A Christmas Carol; guess who was cast as Tiny Tim? I had seen plays before, but this was my first involvement in a production. For the next decade, I worked in every capacity in the theater. I like knowing a little something about everything, and I discovered I could do every job. Trouble was, I didn’t enjoy any of those jobs very much. In my early twenties, I began directing on a regular basis and I discovered that when I was directing, when I was in the rehearsal room, I was more of the person I wanted to be than at any other time in my life. I was at my best personally and artistically. That’s when I knew what was right for me.
  • Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why?
My mother; she’s always been everything I could hope for in a mom. Ann Tully and Lynda Goldsen were amazing influences in my teens. They were the Speech and Theater teachers in my high school, at a time when I was quite a f&*k up. They always knew that I was more than I would allow myself to believe and they didn’t take any sh*t from me at a time when I got away with a lot. They also taught me the joys of a well-placed curse word. Doug Hughes has had a huge impact on me in the last few years. I was fortunate to train with him during my graduate studies. He is a person you just want to be around and who inspires confidence in everyone around him. It’s not just a knack he has; it’s something he works at as a person and a director. He has taught me to always try to extract the negative from life, to see the best in others, and to try to help them achieve their best. Gordon Rogoff has been a mentor and friend for the last several years. He’s the kind of person that makes you feel like you’re getting smarter when you’re just standing next to him. He has such a wealth of knowledge and a sage-like understanding of this industry. Above all, my wife. She is the reason I always strive to be a better man. She is my everything.
  • You are currently serving as Wide Eyed’s Artistic Director. What upcoming projects for the company are you excited about? Where would you like to see the company in five years?
I have been working very closely with our Apprentice Playwrights Program over the last several months and it is something I am very excited about and proud of. They will be having staged readings of their plays in front of an industry invited audience at 6pm, May 16-19. They are not to be missed.

There are some exciting things in the works for next seasons, but I can’t announce anything yet. In five years I believe the company should be the Off-Broadway company to watch. With the caliber of talent in the company and the work that is being produced, there’s no excuse for that not to be the case.
  • Are you working on any additional projects outside of the company at the moment? Care to share with us?
I’m in post-production for a film I directed that company members Jake Paque and Trevor Dallier produced. Jake and Trevor are the featured actors in the piece, along with company member Lisa Mamazza and AGWI cast member Ali Scaramella. If you look real close, you can also see a mussy-haired Michael Komala tossed in to the fray.

I’m in pre-production for a project with company member Duane Ferguson. I’m really excited to finally work with Duane. I also work as a freelance writing coach and script-doctor. I usually have at least five scripts at a time that I am working on or coaching someone on. I guess what I’m saying is I never sleep. Ever.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Kristin Skye Hoffmann, Director


Kristin Skye Hoffmann holds a Bachelor's Degree in Performing Arts with a double Major in Acting and Directing and a Minor in Media Studies. She is the Founding Artistic Director of Wide Eyed Productions (2007-11.) Her most recent directing projects include Euripides’ The Trojan Women, Lisa Ferber’s The Return of Toodles von Flooz, Brian Watkins’ My Daughter Keeps Our Hammer, Dale Wasserman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and Euripides' The Medea for Wide Eyed Productions. Other New York credits include: Derek Ahonen’s The You Knows Know as part of Endtimes Productions’ Vignettes for the Apocalypse, A Midsummer Night's Dream for Jackson Rep, the award-winning production of Plays for the Sunni Triangle (Winner Best Comedy), In Sheep's Clothing (S.O.A.F. Best Director and Best Play Nominee), and The Accommodation by Paul Cohen. Favorite acting credits include: Mrs. Slater in A Devil Inside, Amy in First Base Coach, Lizzy in Noah's Arkansas, and many, many more! Currently she is a Directing MFA Candidate at The New School for Drama. Kristin is a part-time acting coach and full-time artist and lover of life. 

  • For our production of A Girl Wrote It, you are directing three monologues: JudithGoudsmit’s Being Late featuring Liz White; Erin Singleton’s Bologna Sandwiches featuring Amy Lee Pearsall; and Liz Magee’s Jeans featuring Carly Knight. Can you tell us a little bit about what your process with these pieces has been like? 

Absolutely! All three of these pieces are very different, so it makes sense that three very different actors were chosen to perform them. 

The moment I read Being Late, I thought of Liz White. I have known and worked with Liz since we met at our freshman orientation for undergrad in 2000. The quirky sensibility and moment-to-moment focus shifts are right up her alley. When she read it, she instantly loved it. Tim Butterfield and I also thought it was a great opener for the evening which sort of bridged last year’s monologues from A Girl Wrote It (all of which Liz performed and I directed) with this new incarnation. Any audience members from last year will recognize her in this immediately. Because Liz and I are so familiar with each other, our work sessions are always quick, efficient and TONS of fun. She knows what makes me laugh and is always receptive to my ideas. Frequently I find myself just helping her flesh out the bits she’s come up with on her own. I really think our audience will enjoy it. 

Carly Knight and I really worked well together, which was exciting since we had only worked together on the directing side of the table prior to this (she was my Assistant Director on Wide Eyed’s production of The Trojan Women last year.) When I first read Liz Magee’s script, I was reminded of Carly’s natural voice -- meaning dry, sharp, quick and somehow vulnerable at the same time. We broke the piece down into sections, and attacked it bit by bit. Carly and I worked hard to honor Ms. Magee’s ideas about what this piece was trying to say. I believe we were successful. 

If there is one actress I would be thrilled to direct in anything, it is Amy Lee Pearsall. She has tackled some pretty serious roles with me in the past (Medea, Nurse Ratched, Titania, and some original roles as well), and she has never let me down. Bologna Sandwiches is no different. Amy Lee brought in her own ideas as she was in the process of memorizing and we discussed who this person really was. We delved deeply into the text trying to bring out the real human who we might observe at “the yogurt shop” and thought about what would drive her. That’s what’s great about working with an actor you know so well; the shorthand is already there -- you can just dive right into the good stuff!  
  • When did you know that you wanted to be involved in the theatre? How did you get started? What inspired you to direct? 

I think an easier question would be “When did you learn to speak about wanting to be in theatre?” In other words, I can’t remember a time when I did not want to perform or tell stories. As a child, my like-minded friends and I would choreograph dances to the songs of the “Disney Afternoon” cartoon line-up and perform them for our parents. We acted out scenes from our favorite movies (can you say THE GOONIES?) and cast each other in our own original works. This love of theatre carried me all the way to university. It was pretty difficult for my mother to argue with me when I said I wanted to major in Performing Arts. There was no way for her to say, “Remember when you were interested in that other thing?” because there wasn’t “that other thing.” It was always theatre. 

It was at the University of Northern Colorado that I discovered directing. All acting majors were required to take an Intro to Directing class where we would direct Theatre Minors in a scene. I chose McNally’s Frankie and Johnny at the Clare de Lune and just had THE BEST TIME. I had never found anything that I enjoyed doing more than acting but directing tied that race up pretty quick. I loved helping the actors find the truth in the text and the position of director really suited my personality…which, for lack of a better term is rather bossy. From those presentations, a select few were invited to join the Directing program to double major. Eventually, I became one of those select few and the rest is history. 
  • Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why? 

This is always a difficult question for me to answer, because I feel so influenced by so many people and artists. I believe I am extremely lucky to have had (and currently have) such amazing teachers throughout my life who have all influenced me in their own ways but probably the people who influence my work most are the members of Wide Eyed Productions. The things that excite them excite me. I have never met more passionate, talented artists and I feel endlessly blessed by their enthusiasm confidence in me. I love hearing what they want to work on, which stories they want to tell and I’m always so thrilled to assist them in making that work a reality. The smartest thing I ever did was learn how to surround myself with smart, creative and dedicated artists. They are a bottomless well of inspiration. 
  • You are one of the founders of Wide Eyed Productions and served as the Artistic Director for four seasons. What compelled you to found the company? Where would you like to see the company in five years? 

This is a such a long story that I will try to “nutshell it” for you. When I moved to New York, I was planning on being an actor but the universe had a directing path planned out for me. Directing opportunity after directing opportunity kept falling into my lap and soon it was all I was doing. As this was going on, I was quickly developing a very talented acting pool with artists who, for whatever reason, wanted to continue to work with me. The one thing they all had in common was that they had a serious desire to do work they were proud of doing. They were tired of working endlessly on indie plays that they were embarrassed to invite their friends and colleagues to attend. At the same time, a large crop UNC alumni were pouring into the city, among them Sky Seals and Liz White. 

I was hired to direct Euripides’ The Medea for Hudson Shakespeare based out of New Jersey. Because I’m not foolish, I stocked the cast with my favorite actors and together, with the help of a pretty hefty (and timely) heartbreak in my personal life, we created a show that was possibly the most personal and beautiful piece I have ever worked on. The group truly taught me the meaning of “ensemble.” Sadly, we only received 4 performances and the cast agreed that we needed to restage this thing! Liz and Sky, who were both members of the cast, and I decided that we should make The Medea our inaugural performance for the theatre company that we all knew was just waiting to happen. We went back into rehearsal and, with the help of a lot of wonderful people, we did. Making this company happen is easily the best and most difficult thing I have ever done. In 5 years, I would love to see us with our own theatre space and working as a self-sustaining, reputable theatre company. It’s a big goal but not impossible for a group like this. 
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us? 

Me? Nah… Oh, wait, YES!  Right now, I’m earning my MFA in Directing at The New School for Drama. They keep us pretty busy over there. Currently, I’m directing my first musical titled Le Pond by Dan Kitrosser, which also happened to be a devised piece that the writer, cast and myself created together. For another one of my classes, I’m directing a slightly adapted version of David Ives’ Venus in Fur with a stellar cast of student actors including Aurea Tomeski and Jeffrey Adams, which I’m really loving. It’s so wonderful to sink my teeth into such involved work with talented and brave actors like these. I’m also lucky enough to be directing a play titled Take My Job as part of Writopia’s creative writing lab for kids ages 8-18. It will be going up at 59E59 in May, and I encourage everyone to attend. It is really amazing what these kids are doing! 

Last but not least, I’m directing a staged reading of a new play by playwright Sam Byron which will be going up as part of the Dark Nights series with Wide Eyed on May 6 at 6pm. It’s a really creepy and exciting look at a post-apocalyptic world and what the human mind can do when left in solitude for too long. It features one of Wide Eyed’s favorite company members, Neil Fennell, and a few NSD students as well! I hope people will come out and give us some feedback since it is still in the early stages of development. So…if you don’t see me around it is because I’m in rehearsal…right where I want to be. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Scenes from "A Girl Wrote It"

Wide Eyed Productions
Presents
An Evening of One Act Plays Written by Women

April 19th-May 13th 
Thursday-Saturday: 8pm 
Sunday Matinee: 3pm

Richmond Shepard Theatre
309 E. 26th Street (at 2nd Avenue)
NYC

Tickets are $18 ($10 for students/seniors Sunday matinees only)

BEING LATE by Judith Goudsmit
Directed by Kristin Hoffmann
Featuring Liz White


YES by Bekah Brunstetter
Directed by Brian Hanscom
Featuring Andrew Harriss and Sarah Cook


BOLOGNA SANDWICHES by Erin Singleton
Directed by Kristin Hoffmann
Featuring Amy Lee Pearsall


PENICILLIN by Deirdre O’Connor
Directed by Rebecca Hengstenberg
Featuring Michael Komala and Ali Scaramella


JEANS by Liz Magee
Directed by Kristin Hoffmann
Featuring Carly Knight


EARLY MICHIGAN by Heather Lynn MacDonald
Directed by Paul Takacs
Featuring Judy Merrick, Sky Seals, Lisa Mamazza and Patrick Bonck


ROBOT by Judith Goudsmit
Directed by Judy Merrick
Featuring Savvy Clement


POSING by Laura Maria Censabella
Directed by Tim Butterfield
Featuring Nate Faust and Dana Mazzenga


STONES FALL, BIRDS FLY by Laura Maria Censabella
Directed by Sherri Barber
Featuring Curzon Dobell

** All photos courtesy of Rebecca Hengstenberg

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Sarah Cook, Actor



Sarah Cook is an MFA graduate of the New School for Drama.  Having performed on both coasts, Sarah is pleased to be working with Wide Eyed for the first time.  Recent credits include NYFA film Rage 12 and The Country with Paul Takacs. She likes crosswords and rehearsal.

  • You’ll be performing in Bekah Brunstetter’s Yes as part of our upcoming production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece? How are rehearsals going? 

I have had the privilege of witnessing Bekah’s work through the New School for Drama collaboration classes, and my initial reaction was glee. She has such a witty voice, and an accessible vernacular, so it's easy to jump into the dialogue and make it your own.  Rehearsals have been a blast; working with Brian and Andrew has been great, and we've been enchanted by the studio spaces this city has to offer. 

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

I had a friend who was auditioning for a show, and I informed my mother that I wanted to audition as well. I auditioned with a song from "Annie" and forgot the words mid-way through the 1st verse. The director practically screamed the lines out to me while pounding out the tempo on his desk with his clenched fist.  After walking offstage, I was handed a slip of paper, congratulating me on being cast in the chorus. Upon receiving the news, I promptly burst into tears...because I did not understand why I had not been cast as a lead.  I figured it was some mistake on the part of the director.  Years later, I still think that was the moment I knew I wanted to be an actor. In any case, that show was called Dorothy meets Alice and I got to tromp about on stage in a foam sandwich board "ace of spades" get-up without pants. I was 8 years old, and I was hooked. 

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

I think inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere, so I count my whole life as one big creative influence. I moved around a lot as a kid, eventually settling in CA, but there were many disparate experiences from early on that still play a big part in my creative faculties. More specifically, I believe audio books from my childhood have really left a mark on my creative process. Sometimes just hearing a lyrical voice, or words intonated strangely can trigger all sorts of imaginings. I also have a very charismatic mother, who is an unknowingly charming storyteller. I learned the fine art of imitation from her nightly dinner-table conversations. I'd also say that the theatre I've seen, and the people I've worked with have all, in some way, contributed both consciously and unconsciously to my creative process. 

  • 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 adore rehearsal, and especially table work. It's often the only time I get to be really cerebral and geeky, putting on my critical thinking brain and talking about story arc and structure and objectives and motivations...all that actor-y stuff.  As far as pre-show rituals go, I often find that simply sitting in front of the mirror, and putting on makeup or getting the full costume zipped up really lands me in character.  Other times, listening to thematic music or doing a short physical warm-up will help me focus my energies. 

  • 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 what you like to do in your spare time? 

In my spare time, I love to read, sit in the sun (when it's available), or visit with friends.  Spontaneous adventures are always a go for me.  Being from California, I miss being outdoors year-round: I like running and swimming and...sorry, but I feel like this is a dating profile all of a sudden.  Um... in my spare time, I daydream a lot. I'm often caught off-guard meeting my friends in the street because I'll have a weird expression on my face, and then I'll have to try and explain that I was just contemplating what it would be like to have to hike a mountain in a corset. 

  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us? 

I'm currently working on finding an apartment since my lease is up.  If you have any leads, hit me up.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Nate Faust, Actor


Nate Faust is a graduate of the MFA Acting program at The New School for Drama.  His New School credits include:  Max, in Gabe McKinley’s Extinction; John Proctor, The Crucible; Johan Toennesen, The Pillars of Society; Man, The Blue Room (59E59).  NYC credits include: Nan, Punk Rock/Love Song (Horse Trade Theatre Group); Ferd, American RoyalJourneymen (Samuel French Play Festival); Jerry, (The Mekka Collective); and Ira, in Paul David Young’s David & Ira. Look for his latest project, 4 Faces, screening at film festivals this year.  www.natefaust.com   
  • You’ll be performing in Laura Maria Censabella’s Posing as part of our upcoming production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece? How are rehearsals going?  
I immediately fell in love with the story of Posing. It jumped out to me as a dark fairytale that occurs within the time and space of today and has real consequences for the characters involved. The character of Pete has so much depth and humanity that he feels bottomless at times. There is always another nook or cranny to explore as he finds new places to push his emotions. Rehearsals are amazing. Laura's dialogue is razor sharp and there isn't a wasted word or breath. It feels like every moment is about to burst into a million pieces. Working with Dana is always an honor and Tim has led us in all the right directions to explore these characters honestly and give them the dignity that they deserve.   
  • When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? How did you get started?  
I love film, especially the films from my childhood. Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters and Top Gun (yes, Top Gun) basically solidified my early childhood fascination with film. My interest (and taste) in film has broadened a bit since my childhood days, but those films always remain close to my heart.   
  • Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why?    
From the moment I started acting, I have been obsessed with the craft of acting. But since my childhood, I have been obsessed with the world around me (e.g. people, relationships, conversations). Everyone has a story and to me, that is fascinating. As far as direct creative influences, that would have to be the amazing group that I was lucky enough to study with at The New School for Drama. The list of faculty goes on and on, and each and every one of them influenced my craft and creativity. I can never thank them enough.  
  • 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 the work. Making choices and seeing what sticks. For me, it starts and ends with collaboration. It takes many talented people working together before we get to an audience. My pre-show ritual changes for every project usually evolving out of the specific rehearsal process. Coming out of rehearsal, I tend to be pretty methodical with my preparation for a particular performance. No shortcuts.    
  • 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 bit about what you like to do in your spare time?   
I spend most of my free time thinking of ways to occupy my free time. I don't like to sit too long without a project. Like I said, I love film. That's where my mind usually wanders. What's a good idea for a short film? Also music, video games and sports bars.   
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us?   
Hopefully.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Michael Komala, Actor


 Michael Komala has been professionally-trained and performed in theatre and film in New York for the last 5 years. Originally from South Jersey, Michael was one of the few who actually made it out alive. Now enjoying the splendors of the Greek ‘hood, ACToria, he finds his next path in life to the Richmond Shepard Theatre where he plans to woo those who surround him. If not, he hopes that $3 wine you’re sipping on helps. Roll recent credits...Pillow Talk (Brain Spunk Theater), Hit and Match (Cage Theatre Company at Manhattan Rep), and Gabriel (Redd Tale Theatre Company). 

  • You’ll be performing in Deirdre O’Connor’s Penicillin as part of our upcoming production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece? How are rehearsals going? 

I like the humor that O'Conner put in this. It has a real language in it that makes me believe that this ridiculous and awkward situation could and probably has happened. Although, I hope not because that would be awful. Given the short length of the play and having little knowledge of either characters history, this could go in almost any direction but I think we found a comedic rhythm and flow that fits well without making it look like a daytime drama. Oh, we could go there! But you'll just have to see what really happens.  

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

I unleashed this powerhouse acting machine from the deepest, darkest years of my life...high school. I was always the quiet, shy guy in most classes. Theatre arts classes and plays opened me up to a "Jekyll & Hyde-like" transformation. Sitting in English class as a fly on the wall to dancing, singing, and doing the most odd/outrageous characters I've ever done. My friends and teachers couldn't believe they were seeing the same guy on stage. I like it that way.  

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

As a kid, I always idolized Jim Carrey. No one can replicate what he brought to work everyday. Complete freedom without any consciousness of judgment. I just wanted to make people laugh all the time so I would try to imitate his variety of voices and movements. The man is made of rubber!  He created with only what he had, a mind and body of endless characters. From there, I made it my own because he had already introduced me to so many tools. I didn't even realize Jim was my first acting teacher. I was just having fun.  

  • 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? 

My favorite part is when I've convinced myself that I can relax a little bit more because all the time and work has been put in to what the final production will look like and now I can just have fun with it. All work and no play makes Komala a dull boy. As weird as I can seem, I really don't have an odd pre-show ritual. I do some stretches, vocal warm ups, and finish memorizing my lines. Actor stuff.  

  • You were in last year’s production of A Girl Wrote It, in Elizabeth Birkenmeier’s Plight of the Apothecary. How would you say this process differs from that experience? 

I said before that we could take this show in any direction, but "Apothecary" could be taken to any planet (and our dressing room still wouldn't be big enough). It was such a bizarre play...but through improvisation and great direction from Justin Ness, we pulled this thing out of our as…scending talent, and actually had a lot of fun with it...With Penicillin, I have a name, it's in the present time, and on Earth, I believe. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Dana Mazzenga, Actor


Dana Mazzenga received her M.F.A. from The New School for Drama. Some favorite past theatrical roles include Mary Jane in Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train at 59 E. 59th St Theatre, Dina Dorf in a New School production of The Pillars of Society directed by Johanna McKeon, and Deborah in Empire of the Trees at The Abingdon Theatre, directed by Sherri Eden Barber.  Look for her in the latest Rubbermaid "Reveal" commercial!  Dana is immensely grateful to Wide Eyed for the opportunity to work on such a beautiful piece in this inspiring endeavor to showcase work written by women. In addition to her dear director, playwright, and cast-mate, Dana thanks her husband and their cat for the home-base love and support without which a gal could be driven to madness.  

  • You’ll be performing in Laura Maria Censabella’s Posing as part of our upcoming production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece? How are rehearsals going? 

Sure!  Rehearsals are going wonderfully... I’ve worked with Nate many times over the past 6 years and we are good friends and really trust each other on stage.  That’s important especially when playing characters as vulnerable and, dare I say, damaged as these two.  And Tim, another New School grad, is so open and positive in the room.  All three of us have been trained at the same school and it just feels like family when we are working together.  When Laura comes into the room, she, too, is so warm and understanding.  An additional person in the room can sometimes throw me off my game.  And especially considering the fact that she was one of our teachers while we were in school, Laura’s presence really could be intimidating. Instead, however, she gives off an aura of trusting us.  What a huge sense of relief to feel THAT when the playwright is sitting and watching you mess with her words.  I really appreciate that kind of safe, familiar environment that Tim (and Laura) have given Nate and me.  My creativity flows more steadily when I don’t feel self-conscious or judged during the rehearsal process. 

My first impression upon reading this play was “Oh geez.... I’m in love.”  Both Elaine and Pete made me feel something upon just one reading of the piece.  I immediately was imagining where they both came from and how they got to this point - and where are their mothers?! - and what is going to happen to them after this night?  I wanted to protect and stick up for Elaine as I was filled with this weird sense of admiration and pity for her all at once.  I knew she didn’t have the same luck in life that I had - but what freaked me out a little was that, had I not been brought up in such a loving environment and told all my life that I was worth something, I might have found myself in the similar shoes as Elaine.  I think that goes for lots of people.  And I think there are a lot of Elaines out there and I’m sure I know a few.  I wanted to play her.  And I wanted to do her justice.  Laura has written such life in this piece!  Even in the face of all that is horrible, Elaine remains a dreamer.  That girl has hope.  And the fact that Pete is the one that could potentially shatter that hope that she’s managed to garner against all odds, makes him a very interesting, scary and desirable character to play against.  Plus she has a New York accent. Which is always fun to do for us non-native New Yorkers - and, truthfully, I think Elaine is funny as hell, which seals the deal for me.  After all, I’ve always believed that if we can’t laugh from time to time in spite of all the crap, then life just isn’t worth living.  Seeing as Elaine has come from a lot of crap, her laughter is all the more enticing to me.  I couldn’t wait to explore it!  And I crossed my fingers that I’d be cast!  

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

I knew I wanted to be an actor, like for real and not just for fun, when I was a sophomore in college playing Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie.  Rehearsals were different than what I’d originally experienced from doing plays in high school and my first year of college. These were so demanding - of my time and of my focus!  When it finally came together and it was opening night, my nerves were completely shot.  I was excited because I really felt “ready.”  But I was still scared because this was a long play (at least in my experience that far) and I was going to have to carry a good portion of it.  Sure enough, I get almost to the end of the first half and find myself completely stuck forgetting what I was supposed to say next.  I froze up.  As we were all amateur actors, the guy playing my son, Tom, just kept saying, “Cat got your tongue, mother?” over and over, rather than actually helping pull me back on track.  The theatre fell dead silent and it didn’t take long before I decided that I was either going to run off the stage screaming bloody murder, never to return, OR I was just going to have to come clean to the audience.  I chose the second one (though many might argue the first would have been better).  I turned directly to the audience and in my best Amanda Wingfield southern accent I simply announced, “I’m sorry everybody, but I seem to have forgotten my lines!”  I don’t know what I was hoping for - an understanding sort of giggle maybe from the audience... or someone off stage to whisper the next line to me...  Instead the audience let out this big gasp mixed with horror and cold air and it seemed to go right into me and SUDDENLY - I remembered my lines!  I finished out that first half filled with so much emotion and excitement that I felt almost like I was flying!

The second half went better than any rehearsal and people congratulated me like crazy afterward.  I think, in retrospect, they probably felt like I was such a ninny and felt bad for me and didn’t want to embarrass me for acknowledging my horrible mistake!  But, at the time, I just felt like something truly magical had happened.  And that that experience on stage was SO SCARY.  I’d never felt anything like it.  But I OVERCAME IT!  And when I did, I felt even more connected than ever before.  I guess it was then that I decided I wasn’t going to find any other job (other than maybe being an undercover drug dealer) that let me play dress-up and do funny accents and left me floating on such a delightful high...And so, I decided at the end of that run, that I was going to be an actor.  Like, for real.  Like, not just for fun.  Though, fortunately, it is often really fun. 

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

My greatest creative influences started with my mom and dad.  My mother is an amazing artist - writer, painter and jewelry designer.  She once single-handedly put together and designed our entire block party in the style and fashion of a medieval Renaissance gathering of games and foods and decor while the other local block parties were stupidly adorned with hot dogs, pin the tail on the donkey, and a soundtrack full of M.C. Hammer music... She is so driven and creative. It’s a truly amazing mix that I’ve never seen in anyone else.  And my dad - oh my dad!  He is quite possibly the goofiest man in the world with the biggest and most hilariously wonderful imagination.  He used to tell us stories that “really happened” (they didn’t, I’ve now come to realize) that made my younger brother and sister and I laugh so hard!  Or be filled with such amazement - or horror!  We had a really fun childhood, for sure.  I still look to them for inspiration as well as my siblings who have also grown to be artists in their own professions...but nowadays, I could never keep up without being constantly surrounded by my husband’s inquisitive and thoughtful approach to life, combined with his constant support of the arts.  We try to fill our lives with music and good company and love and books and movies and plays... He’s my creative partner for life. 

  • 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? 

My favorite part of the creative process is when we have finally gotten off-book in the rehearsal room and we are just playing and trying different and new things for the piece.  I love seeing what works as well as what doesn’t work and figuring out why.  I like to be surprised and that happens so much during those first couple of runs off-book.  My pre-show ritual is this - during the course of rehearsals I find some music that helps me relate to things I’m working on for the character and build a sort of soundtrack for myself.  I can’t always use that in the rehearsal room since there is more going on than just getting out and performing.  So, before I go on stage for an actual performance, I like to lay flat on the ground and imagine releasing all of the tension out of my body and doing so while listening to my soundtrack.  And that’s it.  Sometimes I do a little improv/running lines with other people in the piece too... but the relaxation and the music are what really help me focus.  

  • 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 bit about what you like to do in your spare time?  

I’m so grateful to be working with Wide Eyed - it’s been a really great time so far!  In my spare time though, lately, I’m addicted to reading The Hunger Games.  More generally speaking, however, I’ve just recently started a business with one of the other actors from the New School who also happens to one of my best friends.  It’s a film production company for children and we call it Fearless Me Films.  Both my business partner and I are nannies to help supplement our acting careers.  So, the mix of loving to play pretend and tell stories combined with our love and appreciation for what children bring to our lives, is what inspired us to put together our little film company.  And, really, that takes up the majority of my life outside of this production at the moment.  Starting a business is hard work!!!  Naturally, I love to hang out my with husband any chance we have as well as with our cat, Madame Devalier.  I’m a crazy cat lady... It’s official.  I also don’t like to exercise.  But I still do THAT too...  Sigh.  

  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us?

Fearless Me Films!  Fearless Me Films!  Fearless Me Films!!!  Help spread the word? www.fearlessmefilms.com

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Girl Wrote It: Liz White, Actor

Liz White is a proud co-founder of Wide Eyed Productions. She has her Master's in Public Administration from NYU Wagner and her Bachelor’s of Arts from University of Northern Colorado. She most recently performed in A Girl Wrote It with Wide Eyed in 2011 and is happy to be performing again in 2012. Other roles with Wide Eyed Productions include the Nurse in The Medea and Caitlin in A Devil Inside
  • You’ll be performing Judith Goudsmit’s monologue Being Late as part of our upcoming production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece? How are rehearsals going? 
I loved this piece from the minute I read it and immediately was determined to act in it. It is hilarious! Rehearsals have been interesting. A lot of running around my apartment repeating the same lines…my neighbors think I am crazy. 
  • When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? How did you get started? 
I have been acting since I was a kid. My grandparents put me in a theatre camp because, if you can believe it, I was shy. Shy, but always the first to make a joke and be in the principal’s office. My grandparents got me started really and ever since then it has always been something I have done…even if it hasn’t been full time it has been a big part of my life.
  • Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why?
 I had this amazing teacher named Mr. Callahan. He was my Latin teacher in middle school and he really believed in me. It makes me teary eyed to think of him. He made up things for “the class” to do so I could perform. Love him!
  • 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 recently developed stage fright…which is awesome. So for me it is a lot of meditating and talking softly and nicely to myself so I don’t run off stage to vomit. The best part of the creative process is seeing a piece come together. Seeing where it starts and where it ends up. It is so fun.
  • In addition to being an actor, you are also one of the founders of Wide Eyed and serve as the current chair for the company's Board of Directors. Can you tell us a little about what's going on behind the curtain that you're excited about?
I am learning something new every day. I am excited to learn things every day as the chair. I am really excited to take this company to places none of us had never even dreamed. Stay tuned!
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us?
Right now. I am working on White Liars with Andrew Harriss and others. Another funny and well written show. Cannot wait to start exploring the character of Vivian!