Monday, September 29, 2014

6 QUESTIONS: Sorab Wadia

Actor Sorab Wadia plays Sebastian in the Karin Coonrod/Elizabeth Swadow production of TEMPEST opening this week at The Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa.  Sorab took a break from rehearsals to answer our 6 Questions.

1. What about TEMPEST speaks to an audience today?
What speaks to me about The Tempest in general, and our production in particular, is Prospero's humanness, his struggle with acceptance and forgiveness. This man has been deeply wronged and spends twelve years of his life honing his craft, plotting and orchestrating his revenge, and yet when all is said and done [spoiler alert!] he accepts the flawed world in which he lives and chooses to forgive even those who have wronged him most terribly.

2. What other roles in Shakespeare’s canon would you like to play? 
 I would love to sink my teeth into Iago (Othello), Lady M (Macbeth) and Malvolio (Twelfth Night) to name only three of many. I'm also in love with the sonnets and have committed over 30 to, only about 120 to go!

3. How is doing a play by Shakespeare different than a contemporary role? 
The deliciousness of the language, both how it feels in the mouth and how it resonates in the heart and mind.

4. Tell us about the last great book you read? 
Going to pass on telling you what the last great book I read was and deflect to plugging one of my favorite novels of all time: Vikram Seth's A Golden Gate. It is a novel set in California in the 1980s written entirely in sonnets, 590 of them...more if you factor in that the index, vote of thanks and the like are all in sonnet form as well . Seth uses iambic tetrameter rather than pentameter and sticks to this rhyme scheme throughout: ABAB CCDD EFFE GG. "While the idea of a novel in verse may be initially off-putting, readers of this tour de force are in for a treat," said a review in Publishers Weekly and I couldn't agree more heartily. The man is a genius.

5. Who or what has influenced your work as an actor? 
Certainly my work as a musician (pianist and singer) play a big role in how I approach text, form, structure and sonority, especially with a writer like Shakespeare. The teacher to whom I am indebted most is Maggie Flanigan. I am also very grateful to have friends and coaches like Charles Tuthill and Alberto Bonilla in my life who keep me truthful. And a shout-out to Andrew Wade whose workshop in Bombay way back in 1996 ignited my passion for Shakespeare and his language.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 
It means having a safe haven to experiment and create alongside some amazingly talented and wonderful artists. Thank you!

La MaMa presents


directed by Karin Coonrod
music composed by Elizabeth Swados 

October 2nd - November 2nd, 2014

The Ellen Stewart Theater
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $40 Adults; $30 Students/Seniors; 10@$10 Tickets are sold out!

See all three Tempest productions this fall for only $75  
Click Here for TEMPEST 3 Packages.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

6 QUESTIONS: Kel Haney

1. How did THE ELEPHANT IN EVERY ROOM I ENTER come about? 
Last fall, Gardiner [Comfort] hired me to direct a remounting of his first solo show, YOU'RE NOT NOT at Dixon Place. I immediately loved working with him--he's a phenomenal performer, generous collaborator, and he's got a brain full of beautiful, abstract, chaotic creativity that works very differently than mine. YOU'RE NOT TOUGH is a series of non-biographical monologues, in which Gardiner plays characters he's observed in NYC, but (in the version we presented last December) there was also a highly personal "Tourette's Dance," which Gardiner created with his mother, Jane Comfort. For me, the "Tourette's Dance" was a personal exploration that felt like a departure from the rest of the piece and deserved to be developed more fully. When Gardiner received a Mabou Mines residency in January and asked me to come onboard as his collaborator, I suggested we use the time/resources to generate autobiographical material for him to perform and he was totally game. When Gardiner went to the National Tourette's Syndrome Association conference in DC last April, we were actually working on the structural skeleton of a different piece--but when he came back and started sharing with me his experiences of that week, we very quickly recognized that his 'week away at the conference' would be the framework for our piece. Our experience with Mabou Mines was exceptionally positive and fruitful--and we received extremely useful feedback from our showing in May. Within a week, Nicky Paraiso contacted Gardiner about performing at La MaMa and gave him the option to perform either YOU'RE NOT TOUGH or THE ELEPHANT IN EVERY ROOM I ENTER--we chose to keep developing the later.

2. What have you learned during the making of this show? 
I've learned that that the reverence I've always had for playwrights was totally spot on--I've never created a piece from scratch before and it's just as crazy-making and isolating as I thought it would be. The way we've created this piece is by me interviewing Gardiner-- first jotting down stories/ideas on index cards, then storyboarding. We also record our conversations, and our stellar assistant Nora Ives transcribes it all. Then, I go through the transcriptions, cutting and pasting (and altering Gardiner's words as little as possible), then handing him a a text to read aloud and we edit together. Through my collaboration with Gardiner, I've learned to function on a higher, more intimate level of collaboration than I've ever worked on before--it requires a specific brand of trust, patience, compassion and humor from both of us.

3. What would you like audience to take away from the show? 
First and foremost, I want the audience to take a way a bit of awareness--this will totally sound trite, but I've found that even just a tiny bit of understanding of someone's differentness can go along way. Yes, this pertains specifically to Tourette's Syndrome, and even more specifically to Gardiner's individual experience living with Tourette's, but I believe it's larger than that. In the piece, Gardiner very aptly articulates how he analyzes and judges the appearance and actions of the other people at the Tourette's conference--we all do this, all the time. Maybe, after spending time with Gardiner, as he describes what it's like to live with an neurological disorder, we'll all be a bit kinder/more aware, less likely to stare/judge when we encounter someone who appears to be differently-abled. Also, I hope that we dispel some of the stereotypes about Tourette's and that people walk away understanding that Gardiner's relationship to TS is extremely complicated and that his brilliant, energetically electric, artistic sensibilities are intricately connected to how his mind works.

4. What was the last good book you read? 
I took ten days away in Maine last month and decided it was apropos for me to read Elizabeth Stout's OLIVE KITTERIDGE (which takes place in a Maine coastal town). I'd randomly picked up in Charlottesville, VA thrift shop the month before. I'm a totally sucker for fiction where the narrative point of view shifts from character--and the more more quotidian, the better. These connected short stories really swept me up--I was simultaneously moved and disturbed...the people in that small town (above all, the title character), do some pretty amazing and pretty f-ed up things. I enjoyed it a whole lot.

5. Who or what inspires you? 
Agh, everything and everyone with whom I come into contact?! That little girl I observed in the park this afternoon who I overheard lecturing her dad about how she hates losing control on her scooter and he shouldn't let go, the young woman who was so excited when I agreed to try her own concoction at at the bagel shop this morning, the music I'm listening to right now, from our ELEPHANT sound designer, Elisheba Ittoop (I wish I knew what this track is called, because I want to marry it). I feel most inspired when I am exposed to the largest variety of experience: taking in high and low (and everything in between) culture, creating my own work, and having free time to be a real person.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 
Working at La Mama means having the freedom and space to create what Gardiner & I feel compelled to create, right now. We've been greeted by nothing but support from Nicky, Bev and everyone at La MaMa--it's like they've been saying "We trust you--go make what you need to make." And that feels awesome and rare and necessary. It's also quite an honor for me--I remember first reading about La MaMa in college--it's a wonderful feeling to be embraced by such a storied and beloved institution.

La MaMa presents

Created by Gardiner Comfort & Kel Haney
Performed by Gardiner Comfort
Directed by Kel Haney

October 3, 2014 - October 19, 2014 
Friday & Saturday at 10pm / Sunday at 6pm 

The Club @ La MaMa
74 A East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $18 Adults/$13 Students/Seniors; Ten tickets priced at $10 are available in advance only on a first come first served basis.  Not available day of show.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Friday, September 26, 2014

Special One-Night-Only Event: ONE VOICE

The legendary Spiderwoman Theater presents a staged reading of ONE VOICE written and performed by Gloria Miguel and directed by Muriel Miguel.  The reading will be followed by a talkback and in the La MaMa tradition, admission is by donation.

La MaMa in association with 
Spiderwoman Theater presents
A Staged Reading of
written and performed by Gloria Miguel
directed by Muriel Miguel

Monday, September 29th @ 7pm

47 Great Jones Street
(between Bowery and Lafayette Street)
New York, NY 10003

Admission by donation

Thursday, September 25, 2014

La MaMa Cantata Rocks Macedonia

La MaMa Cantata has just returned from a sold-out European tour, visiting Macedonia and Turkey.
(All photos by Ana Lazarevska)

Nova Makedonija newspaper [23.09.2014]:

"Each of the 10 young actors brought a different aspect of the Ellen Stewart’s character: her joy, her passion, her cheerful humor, her fight against the racial discrimination, everything for the purpose of creating a world of theater, which continues to be a lighthouse of the artists throughout the world. That’s how, in the overcrowded hall of the cinema “Frosina”, the present audience met the eternal spirit of Ellen Stewart."

Full Review: HERE [20.09.2014] written by Toni Dimkov:

"The young actors from New York, easily won the sympathies of the audience. Their wonderful voices, the simplicity in their approach, the unpretentious compositions, the recorded videos of Ellen Stewart, the countless photos and historical facts of the theater La MaMa create a musical performance that is based on the spirit of the theater, and yet it reveals the fantastic qualities of the young performers. It would be pretentious to say that this performance is a spectacle – because it is one of the most subtle and spiritual performances ever played on this stage."

Full Review: HERE

Globus Magazine [23.09.2014] written by Ljiljana Mazova:

"La MaMa and Ellen Stewart I’ve seen many times. In different destinations. Always as a form of attraction which presents the power of the theater to change the world… This time, in “Cantata” it is wrapped, armed, sang and danced as a story that vividly, through words, photos and music, and an excellent group of actors/singers takes us on a trip inside our souls, in the past times as well as the times that come. They bring out views that we recognize, with well-known characters that on this or that way – triggered the need in Ellen to bring changes."

Full Review: HERE

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 NY IT Awards: THE GOD PROJEKT Wins!

Last night the New York Innovative Theatre Awards were handed out at Baruch Performing Arts Center and La MaMa in association with Lone Wolf Tribe won in the category Outstanding Performance Art Production for The God Projekt.   

We congratulate Kevin Augustine, Edward Einhorn and all the artists involved with The God Projekt which performed as part of the 2013 La MaMa Puppet Series, curated by Denise Greber.

Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 - 2015 Season Officially Begins This Week

The 2014 - 2015 Season at La MaMa officially begins this week with new shows in The First Floor Theater and The Club!

First up is SELMA '65, Catherine Filloux’s one-woman, two character play. Actress Marietta Hedges plays both Viola Liuzzo, a white civil rights activist shot dead after the Selma Voting March, and Tommy Rowe, an informant for the FBI who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.

SELMA '65 begins performances on Thursday, September 26th and runs through Sunday October 12th.  There are numerous post show panel discussions and Q&As scheduled - CLICK HERE for a full list of events.

La MaMa presents
A New Play by Catherine Filloux
Starring Marietta Hedges 
Director by Eleanor Holdridge 

September 26, 2014 - October 12, 2014 

Thursday & Friday at 7:30pm
Saturday at 2 & 7:30pm
Sunday at 2pm 

Tickets: $18 for Adults; $13 for students and seniors.  A limited number of 10@$10 tickets are still available for some performances - in advance only.

First Floor Theatre @ La MaMa
74A East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE


Also this week at The Club @ La MaMa is DUOS! part of the Queer New York International Art Festival. This series features nightly pairings of Queer performers: DARKMATTER (Janani Balasubramanian & Alok Vaid‐Menon), Merrie Cherrie & Untitled Queen and SHOW SHOW SHOW (with Peter Cramer & Jack Waters).

La MaMa presents

DUOS @ La MaMa

Friday Sept. 26 @ 10pm
DARKMATTER: Janani Balasubramanian & Alok Vaid‐Menon

Saturday Sept 27 @ 10pm
Merrie Cherrie & Untitled Queen

Sunday Sept. 28 @ 6pm
SHOW SHOW SHOW: Perter Cramer & Jack Waters 

Part of DUOS at La MaMa presented as part of 
in partnership with Helix Queer Performance Network

The Club @ La MaMa
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
74A East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003 

Tickets: $18 Adults/$13 Students/Seniors; Ten tickets priced at $10 are available in advance only on a first come first served basis.  Not available day of show. All 10@$10 Tickets are SOLD OUT.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Saturday, September 20, 2014

#mamaearth video project

In conjunction with TEMPEST 3: The Tide Is Rising and the La MaMa Earth Season, we have launched the #mamaearth video project to spotlight how environmental and social justice issues are both local and global and how these issues are all interconnected. 

Beginning with the three companies involved with TEMPEST 3 from the US, Korea and Italy, we are inviting everyone to create 30 - 60 second videos that put a spotlight on local issues in their community and upload them to social media with the hashtag: #mamaearth. 

The first of the #mamaearth videos can be seen: HERE