Wednesday, April 30, 2014

6 Questions: Shlomi Tuizer - La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival

Shlomi Tuizer (left) and Edmond Russo / photo by Agathe Poupeny


Shlomi Tuizer, of Compagnie Affari-Esteri, was kind enough to answer 6 Questions for our blog in advance of his show EMBRACE in the La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival, co-presented as part of DANSE: A French American Festival of Performance and Ideas. 


1. What were your inspirations while creating Embrace?
One of our main preoccupations has always been the idea of relation. How do we relate to one another as social human beings and how does the individual situate himself as part of a group? We developed these notions in different ways through group pieces, and through our collaboration. We had not created a duet until embrace. We began by simply facing each other and from there finding variations in the way we embrace the other became essential. It’s not easy to summarize because we were inspired by many things on an every day basis, it could be something we saw on the street or an exhibition, a movie, a song…

2. Is your work influenced by a particular school, genre or teacher of dance?
We carry our personal history with us whether we create raptures or affiliations.
We both have a rather academic education and we both began our careers in big repertoire companies. After that we made particular choices that led us to focus on what kind of performers we wanted to be. We are always curious about new ways to explore and consider the body and movement so the influences are numerous. They pass through us and become a part of who we are.

3. What was it like collaborating with musician Oren Bloedow and poet Christina Clark?
Absolutely wonderful! Extremely rich and inspiring. They were the main sources of inspiration for the whole creative process. Oren is a very talented and sensitive musician with a great capacity to listen, to watch and to understand the profound sense of movement. Christina’s writing is personal and intelligent and she’s a sensitive performer as well. She recites her poetry throughout the piece. They collaborated beautifully with us and with each other and are in many ways the real voices of embrace.

4. Do international audiences receive your work differently than audiences in France?
The question or idea of sense is very much present in our work. A spectator’s point of view is very personal. There might be slight differences between audiences here or there because of the poems present in the piece are in English. This brings up variations on the great question of language and of what forms a full image of something in our perception – in our case. Is it the movement, the sense of the words, the lights, the sounds… or a combination of parts or all of these elements?

5. Which artist(s) in the DANSE festival are you most excited to see?
Even though they are all French, there are actually some that we never got to see in the past. There are many different propositions, different identities to explore- The intensity in D. Wampach’s work, the exciting and hip work of Chaignaud-Bengolea, the sheer beauty and sensitivity in the work of C. Rizzo to name but a few.

6. What does performing at La MaMa mean to you? 
It means a great deal for us. On the one hand, it is a wonderful opportunity for us to present our work in NYC in a place such as La MaMa with so much heritage and history - a place in constant movement through time. On the other hand, we are very excited because the very first steps of the creative process of embrace took place here in NYC, so in a way we have a feeling of bringing it back home. 


La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival presents

Embrace 

By Compagnie Affari-Esteri
May 2 – May 4, 2014
Fri & Sat: 10pm / Sun: 5:30pm

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; ten tickets prices at $10 are available for each performance, in advance only via phone, web or box office. 10 @ $10 not available day of show.

The Club at La MaMa
74 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and 2nd Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets and Info: Click Here

Monday, April 28, 2014

Special Guest Marilyn Sokol Joins Richard Stein at CUT + PASTE


Actress and comedian, Marilyn Sokol, will join Richard Stein in CUT + PASTE: A Musical Memoir this Sunday, May 3rd at 5pm at The Ellen Stewart Theatre. Andrei Serban directs this cabaret evening that takes the audience on a journey through the mirror of life from a man who has spent his in front of the looking glass.

La MaMa Presents
CUT + PASTE: 
A Musical Memoir

by Richard Stein

CUT + PASTE: A Musical Memoir is cabaret evening replete with refreshments and ample lunacy, heart warming tales, songs, a dance or two and some well timed improvisation,that  takes the audience on a journey through the mirror of life from a man who has spent his in front of the looking glass. From London’s down and out East End to New York’s swanky Upper East Side Richard Stein cuts and pastes an evening you will not soon forget. 

One Performance Only!
Sunday, May 4th at 5pm

Tickets: $100 cabaret seating, including wine; $25 Adult/$20 Student/Senior.  Ten tickets priced at $10 are available, in advance only, via web, phone or box office as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing program.  10@$10 tickets are not available day of show.

For tickets and info: CLICK HERE

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Front Row Center on Pagbabalik



George Crowley of Front Row Center gives Kinding Sindaw's Pagbabalik 5-STARS:
"LaMaMa is the most extraordinary place. Our country may have no Ministry of Culture (except, unofficially, for ITI and the NEA) and no ongoing governmental commitment to the arts, but we have and have, for some time, had LaMama, where international boundaries of culture and tradition vanish, where the late Ellen Stewart was historically able to bring all manner of extraordinarily financed and visa’d artists to these shores, beyond the pale of what we all knew to be commercial or even commercially viable. The tradition continues. The Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage group is an ongoing resident artist group at LaMaMa ETC, founded over 20 years ago by Artistic Director Potri Ranka Manis to assert and reclaim her indigenous culture and empower and educate Filipinos through the use of ancient art forms."
Read the full review: HERE

Saturday, April 26, 2014

6 Questions: Daniel Koren of THE MOST IMPORTANT THING


1. What was the original idea behind your show, The Most Important Thing?
English is not my native tongue, and my accent, how to say this lightly, is quite noticeable. When I moved to the US eight years ago and started performing, I realized it'd be better to embrace it rather than to try and hide it. This resulted with a peculiar music-man character, trying to make the most professional show ever seen on stage, and is on the search for The Most Important Thing.

2. How do you describe what the audience’s experience will be at the show?
The show is funny, so laughter is one of the key things the audience would experience. There are also a lot of 'oh-I-acutally-never-thought-about-it-like-this' moments, and some 'what-the-hell-just-happened' moments.

3. How do you use technology in the show?
The entire show is accompanied by bigheaded figures that function as an interactive choir. They are projected on a big screen right behind me, and we have a complicated relationship.

4. What was the best book you read recently?
 One Hundred Years of Solitude

5. Name someone or something that inspires you.
Disney's old songs.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
I am a big fan of La Mama and its radical productions. When I just moved to the city I thought: "one day..." I'm extremely grateful to say that that "One Day" arrives really soon! 


Check out the promo video for the show:


La MaMa presents
The Most 
Important Thing
by Daniel Koren

Two Performances Only!
Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 8pm

Emmy-nominated composer Daniel Koren (@danielkoren) sits by the piano, accompanied by his projected figures In this bizarre and visually mind blowing musical stand up Special. In his own provoking way, Daniel reveals his stream of consciousness, making a virtuosic act that redefines comedy and live music.

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

For Tickets and Information: Click Here

Friday, April 25, 2014

La MaMa Galleria Director Talks to Visual AIDS


La MaMa Galleria Director, Matt Nasser, spoke to Visual AIDS about the history or La MaMa Galleria, the first ever Galleria Art Auction and Space Lottery and his favorite memories at La Galleria:
"When Ellen founded La Galleria in 1984, she wanted to create a space for interdisciplinary artists. She had actors, directors, set and costume designers that also created visual art and visual artists, such as Chris Tanner, John Kelly, and many others that were also performers. Today, La Galleria has become a core program of La MaMa and is dedicated to supporting the dialogue between the visual arts, new media, and performance."

Read the full interview: HERE


La MaMa Galleria presents


La MaMa
Benefit Art Auction



Saturday, May 3: 7pm to 10pm


La Galleria 
6 East First Street
(Between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Cocktails & hor d’oeuvres catered by Veselka
Last Look Closing Party & Final Bidding

For Tickets and Information: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Coming Soon: Compagnie Affari-Esteri's EMBRACE

 
Teaser du duo "embrace" (Janvier 2012) from Compagnie Affari Esteri on Vimeo.


La MaMa Moves kicks off next week with Compagnie Affari-Esteri's EMBRACE at La MaMa's First Floor Theatre.

Two men face each other constrained in their search for different forms of identification. Poetic notions are employed, from a lovers’ narrative to duplicity, from a social body to a perceptive body, and of the other as witness, mirror, support, and companion. Two New York artists were invited into the process, poet Christina Clark and musician Oren Bloedow. This four-part composition questions the juxtaposition of these different languages creating a symbolic receptacle for disparate artistic voices, a choreographic journey of relation coming into being and a reflection on the existence of one through another.

La MaMa presents
EMBRACE
by Compagnie Affari-Esteri 

Choreography By Shlomi Tuizer & Edmond Russo
Music By Oren Bloedow
Poems By Christina Clark

Three Performances Only!
May 2, 3 and 4, 2014 
Friday and Saturday @ 10pm; Sunday @ 5:30pm 

Tickets: $15; ten tickets priced at $10 are available for each performance, in advance, via web, phone or boax office as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing program. 10@$10 tickets are not available day of performance.

For tickets and information: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

6 QUESTIONS: Ralph Lewis, Peculiar Works Project


Ralph Lewis of Peculiar Works Project is at the helm of the staged reading of Tom Murrin's SON OF COCKSTRONG as part of the Tom Murrin Full Moon Performance Festival. Ralph took a break from putting the show together to answer our 6 Questions. Here are his answers:

1. What did you know about Tom Murrin and his work prior to directing SON OF COCK-STRONG? 
Initially, I saw a few of his solo performance pieces, and now, wish I had seen more. I’m not sure what Peculiar Works show Tom first attended, but he became a big supporter of the Company. And, like everyone else says, his support was always unconditional and totally encouraging. In 2007, we did a staged reading of Cock-Strong at the old Ohio Theater, and he spoke about the play and his work afterward. He was everything that everyone in this community wants to be – just the nicest, most-giving artist. The world is a lil’ less of a good place without him in it.

2. SON OF COCK-STRONG premiered at La MaMa in 1970. What do you think it has to say to audiences today? 
A lot has changed in the downtown theater community since the original Son of Cock-Strong, but the play’s themes of power and love will always prevail. Peculiar Works just had to find a contemporary key to unlock its message. There’s a great old quote that ends with, “…and some people have greatness thrust upon them.” That’s what happens to Arthur Cock-Strong, Jr., and there’s much to be learned about how events and people can push us to places we don’t want to go. Do we control our lives and chart our own course through it, or do the people we meet and what happens along the way determine where we end up?

3. How are you using technology in this reading? 
Technology is still a scary proposition in the theater today – things can always go wrong, and yet the show must go on as they say. We’re using it anyway! Our goal is a “paperless staged reading,” so there will be no scripts, but there will be teleprompters and cue cards like a Saturday Night Live sketch; projections, video, and microphones like the Wooster Group; as well as laptops, palm pads, cell phones, walkie-talkies, and more. If anything goes wrong, it could be wild, but it will be worth the price of admission, and really, I think Tom would appreciate the risk-taking.

4. Who or what inspires you? 
Peculiar Works and I are most inspired by those who have come before us. My partners and I spent 3 years studying the origins of Off-Off Broadway for a previous piece, so I think there is no one who knows more about our forebears than we do. But, we are also inspired by other artistic movements and the artists who made them happen. We’ve researched the hell out of DaDa in the ‘20s, Abstract Expressionists at the Cedar Bar, the Provincetown and Washington Square Players of early Off Broadway, and recently, I’ve even been boning up on the very first theater in Manhattan on Nassau Street and Park Row. Famous artistic movements come together and often explode, but there’s so much to learn from them all – “originality is lack of information.”

5. What is next for Peculiar Works Project? 
On May 9th at 10pm, we’ll be doing 30 minutes of my partner Barry Rowell’s new play, Nobody Brings Anything Small into a Bar in the Dixon Place Lounge, and on May 17th at 2pm, I’ll be giving a book-talk on Before and Behind the Curtain at the Tompkins Sq. Library for LES History Month. It’s a great 1851 book, all about what was going on in the theater at the time when the Broadway theater district went no farther north than Astor Place. There’s more on our website: peculiarworks.org

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 
This is a great time to be working at La MaMa. I mean, we all miss Ellen terribly, and I’m so influenced by the half-century of legendary-ness she built here, but she also did a great job preparing this theater for the future. No one can tell if the transition is difficult for the staff, and that is to their great credit, but Mia Yoo is doing a fabulous job of steering this theater forward. I have no doubt that La MaMa’s best days are ahead. Peculiar Works is incredibly grateful to be part of it and the Tom Murrin Full Moon Festival.


La MaMa presents

Son of Cock-Strong


Peculiar Works Project
part of Tom Murrin Full Moon Performance Festival
Saturday, April 26 at 5pm

The Club @ La MaMa

Buy tickets here

Ralph Lewis leads Peculiar Works troupers on a wild ride to the top in Son of Cock-Strong. This non-sequel sequel (originally directed by La MaMa bad boy John Vaccaro) follows Arthur Cock-Strong Jr.’s rise to power in a ridiculous musical with new compositions by Spencer Katzman.

Featuring: STAN BAKER* • CRISTI CASTRO • MEGAN COOPER • TIM CUSACK* • ROB GAINES • DENIS GAWLEY* • MICK HILGERS* • KING MAN HO • CAITI LATTIMER • JOYCE MILLER • SYLVIA MILO • RACHEL NAAR • KEVIN PERCIVAL • CATHERINE PORTER* • GABRIELE SCHAFER*



Jacques Schwarz-Bart: Confetti Jazz Festival


The French dubbed their colonies “Le Confetti” as if they were merely a place to party, but the rich musical heritage from Guadeloupe, Haiti, La Reunion and Martinique show deep roots and magical connection that go well beyond confetti.

Confetti Jazz Festival is a fusion of French and Caribbean musicians, featuring Jacques Schwarz- Bart, creating unique crossover sounds often called an intersection of sacred Haitian voodoo music and jazz, sounds destined to inspire conversations about race, politics and musical methodology. The Confetti Jazz weekend is a first attempt to showcase some of the artists and sounds, which emerged from these cross-pollinations.

"In the 21st century, there is no better news for jazz music than Jacques Schwarz-Bart: A sound like a messenger of the Gods, a loyalty to the rhythms, an incandescent furor, a flexibility of melodies played right." 
- Francis Marmande, Le Monde 

La MaMa presents 
Confetti Jazz Festival 
featuring Jacques Schwarz-Bart 

Two Performances Only! 
Thursday, May 1 and Friday May 2, 2014 @ 7:30pm 

Ellen Stewart Theatre 
66 East 4th Street 
(Between Bowery and Second Avenue) 
New York, NY 10003 

Tickets: $20 Adults; $15 Students/Seniors; ten tickets priced at $10 are available to each performance as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing initiative, in advance only, via web, phone or box office. 10@$10 Tickets not available day of performance. 

For tickets and information: CLICK HERE

Tom Murrin Full Moon Performance Festival: WEEK 2



THE TOM MURRIN 
FULL MOON PERFORMANCE 
FESTIVAL 
continues this week with a full line-up of new shows!


























Myth or Meth (or Maybe Moscow?)
Radiohole

April 24–27 
Thursday to Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm and 5pm

La MaMa First Floor Theatre

Tickets: $20
Buy tickets here

The performance group Radiohole, one of New York’s most uncompromising experimental ensembles, presents Myth orMeth (or Maybe Moscow?). In a shack somewhere on the steppe of Missouri three sisters drink Coke®, eat hamburgers, fend off the local romantic axe-wielding WWI vet, and carry on the family business selling sweet jam. But the hamburgers aren’t great and they long to return to their childhood home Moscow. Or Port-au-Prince. Or whatever. When their Pa unexpectedly returns from Ju├írez by way of Sebastopol, hungry and spouting neoliberal ideology, the shit really hits the fan. Myth or Meth (or Maybe Moscow?) features Radiohole’s first-ever all-male (more or less) cast with Radiohole founders Eric Dyer and Scott Halvorsen Gillette along with Jim Findlay, Ilan Bachrach, Jon Okabayashi, Ryan Holsopple, and special guests TBA.



























Deviants Arise!
Mike Iveson

Wednesday, April 23 at 10pm

The Club @ La MaMa

Buy tickets here

A reading of Murrin’s 2002 play in which he deals with the excesses of the George W. Bush era by focusing on behind-the-scenes tensions at a televised “perv-tacular, or perv-stravaganza, or perv-ocalypse.” The reading will include some of the performers from the original production as well as some new music made specifically for this revival.

Featuring: Anthony R Brown, Zbigniew Bzymek, John Collins, David Cote, Jim Fletcher, Anne Gridley, Jeffrey M. Jones, Vin Knight, Young Jean Lee, Richard Maxwell, Sarah Michelson, Julie Atlas Muz, Kristina Satter, Scott Shepherd, Susie Sokol and Mike Taylor













Sport-Fuckers

Gary Ray

Thursday, April 24 at 10pm

The Club @ La MaMa

Buy tickets here

Sport-Fuckers looks at the world of suburban swingers and the issues that arise during an intense sex party. First produced in 1999 at Theatre for the New City, Gary Ray is bringing it back as a staged reading with a hilarious cast of actors and special surprise guests that will make you laugh to tears.

Featuring: Penny Arcade * Kimberly Kiki Flynn * Joel Blumsack 'Zeroboy' * Mike Amato Celest Villanueva * Regge Allan Bruce * Michele Carlo *  Walter Novak * Matthew Wells and Gary Ray





























Whores and more
Lucy Sexton

April 25–26 
Friday and Saturday at 10pm

The Club @ La MaMa

Buy tickets here

Readings of Murrin’s short and hilarious plays Whores on the Range and Hide the Baloney. Directed by Lucy Sexton.

Featuring: Kate Benson, Karen Finley, Annie Iobst, and Lucy Sexton


















Son of Cock-Strong
Peculiar Works Project

Saturday, April 26 at 5pm

The Club @ La MaMa

Buy tickets here

Ralph Lewis leads Peculiar Works troupers on a wild ride to the top in Son of Cock-Strong. This non-sequel sequel (originally directed by La MaMa bad boy John Vaccaro) follows Arthur Cock-Strong Jr.’s rise to power in a ridiculous musical with new compositions by Spencer Katzman.

Featuring: STAN BAKER* • CRISTI CASTRO • MEGAN COOPER • TIM CUSACK* • ROB GAINES • DENIS GAWLEY* • MICK HILGERS* • KING MAN HO • CAITI LATTIMER • JOYCE MILLER • SYLVIA MILO • RACHEL NAAR • KEVIN PERCIVAL • CATHERINE PORTER* • GABRIELE SCHAFER*


6 Questions: Richard Stein of CUT + PASTE

photo by Jennifer Mirsky

Actor and Celebrity Hairdresser Richard Stein reveals the tricks of the trade and oh, so much more in Cut + Paste. Richard took some time out of preparing for the show and answered our 6 Questions:


1. How did your show CUT + PASTE come about?
I had begun work on this piece several months ago.  And somehow was offered the opportunity, while I was cutting a brand new client's hair - who happened to be involved with La Mama. When she heard I was working with Andrei Serban as the director she was impressed. He happened to call at that moment and the rest is history.

2. What will the audience experience at CUT + PASTE?
The evening is a walk through the mirror of the life of a 'celebrity' hair dresser who's looking for beauty. The auditorium becomes a beauty salon where entertainment is key.


3. Your a very well known as a celebrity hairdresser. How is that like theater?
The beauty salon is a form of theatre where transformation has to take place. I started out doing hair in London at age 15 by the time I was 17 I was working on style shoots for Vogue and Harpers Bazaar. I've always cut and styled iconic people in the arts,models, actors, writers, etc. I always got my best cues from them I had to develop my own timing. 


4. Whose hair would you LOVE to cut/style?
I'm always on the lookout for a face that begs to be famous.


5. Name someone or something that inspires you.
For years I've been searching for the miraculous written about by P.D.Ouspensky.


6.What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
It was a big thrill to work at La Mama in 2000 with Andrei Serban, in Richard 3.  I got to meet Ellen Stewart and help promote that production. Returning back home to this theatre is the best magical history tour ever.



La MaMa Presents
CUT + PASTE: 
A Musical Memoir
by Richard Stein

CUT + PASTE: A Musical Memoir is cabaret evening replete with refreshments and ample lunacy, heart warming tales, songs, a dance or two and some well timed improvisation,that  takes the audience on a journey through the mirror of life from a man who has spent his in front of the looking glass. From London’s down and out East End to New York’s swanky Upper East Side Richard Stein cuts and pastes an evening you will not soon forget. 

One Performance Only!
Sunday, May 4th at 5pm

Tickets: $100 cabaret seating, including wine; $25 Adult/$20 Student/Senior.  Ten tickets priced at $10 are available, in advance only, via web, phone or box office as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing program.  10@$10 tickets are not available day of show.

For tickets and info: CLICK HERE

Sunday, April 20, 2014

La MaMa Benefit Art Auction


Raise a glass, bid on one-of-a-kind artwork 
and help keep the Lower East Side a home for artists!


Featuring works by:

Cindy Sherman 

Alan Cumming


The Bruce High Quality Foundation


John Kelly


Roberto Juarez


Justin Vivian Bond 


Vito Acconci


And much more...


La MaMa 
Benefit Art Auction


Saturday, May 3: 7pm to 10pm

La Galleria 
6 East First Street
(Between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Cocktails & hor d’oeuvres catered by Veselka
Last Look Closing Party & Final Bidding

For Tickets and Information: CLICK HERE

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dicks on Parade @ The Club


Readings of stories from Murrin’s 2010 work The Talking Show, the Magical Ridiculous Journey of Alien Comic.

La MaMa Presents

Dicks on Parade


Directed by Lucy Sexton

part of THE TOM MURRIN FULL MOON PERFORMANCE FESTIVAL

With Mike Albo (4/19 only), Jonathan Ames, Steve Buscemi (4/19 only), David Ilku, Jennifer Miller, Nicky Paraiso, and Chris Tanner

Two Performances Only!
Friday April 18 and Saturday April 19, 2014 at 10pm


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


For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Benefit Performance: Meet the Stars of Velocity of Autumn



Estelle Parsons, a long-time La MaMa artist and Board President Frank Carucci have organized a special benefit! Attendees will enjoy choice orchestra seats for THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN and the unique chance to meet Estelle and the rest of the cast after the performance.

Tickets from $150. RSVP to: web@lamama.org

Tuesday, April 29th - 7pm at the Booth Theatre 222 W. 45th st.

Broadway World on Theodora Skipitares's THE CHAIRS




Broadway World reported on Theodora Skipitares upcoming adaptation/response to Eugene Ionesco's THE CHAIRS which comes to The Ellen Stewart Theatre on May 22, 2014.

"Ionesco is himself a chair in this play, as are Gertrude Stein, Malala, Ai Wei Wei, Stephen Hawking and 25 others. Most are well-known and some are not, like an auto mechanic from Willets Point, a woman from Estonia who witnessed the "Singing Revolution," and a young man named Ismael Nazario who had once been in solitary confinement. What unites them is that they all have something to say. Their words are sometimes taken from public utterances and other times, from what they shared when meeting Skipitares."


Read the full article: HERE

La MaMa presents

The Chairs 


by Skysaver Productions 
Conceived and Directed by Theodora Skipitares 

May 22 – June 8, 2014 
Thursday, Friday and Saturday @ 7:30pm; Sunday @ 2:30pm 

The Ellen Stewart Theater 
66 East 4th Street 
New York, NY 10003 

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; ten tickets priced at $10 are available for every performance, in advance only, as part of La MaMa's ongoing 10@$10 ticketing initiative to make theater tickets available to everyone. 10@$10 tickets are not available day of show.  

For Tickets and Info: Click Here

Thursday, April 17, 2014

6 Questions: Gavin Price


Gavin Price of St. Fortune Productions is directing the revival of Tom Murrin's COCKSTRONG for The Tom Murrin Full Moon Performance Festival.  Gavin took time out (during tech!!) to answer 6 Questions for La MaMa Blogs:

1. What did you know about Tom Murrin prior to directing COCKSTRONG?
I knew that he was a staple of the downtown theater scene. I knew he had influenced the people who have influenced my work as a theater-maker the most. I also had the incredible opportunity to see him perform within a month or two of his passing, at Dixon Place. We happened to perform in the same Little Theater night. Eliza Bent and I performed two monologues by Sibyl Kempson, and he closed the night with a ring of mind-bendingly obtuse props surrounding him. That was my first encounter with his work, and I was immediately awe-struck. Sibyl hinted at who he was, and later, when the producers asked Saint Fortune to do one of his shows, we did a lot of research on his life, work and his place in the world of performance. I found his MTV commercial spots. The man was on MTV when I was being born.

2. How is this production going to differ from the original production? 
We got a TON of information about the original production from Michael Arian, who was in the touring production, and a staple of the Play-House of the Ridiculous. When we would come in to rehearse at La MaMa, Michael was there at the front desk, requiring us to listen to his stories about what the original performances were like. He gave us some tremendous insights that seemed to coagulate so many of the loose ends in the surreal comic script. At first, we were flabbergasted to hear that there was so much music, and we wondered, did they just write songs in between the scenes? Michael sang us a number of songs every night, and we scratched our heads in bewilderment as to the mystery of these songs. A part of the way through the process, we discovered that we didn't have the full version of the script. What we had been working with was an original draft that Tom had given to John Vaccaro, with only the Prologue, Six Tableau, and Epilogue with four songs. We were rehearsing a play with four songs. Then, we discovered the performance version of the script. With... Seventeen songs. We immediately did a reading of the new script, and all of the narrative pieces fell together. The music of the original production, though totally undocumented, was written by John Vaccaro, Ralph Czitron and the Silver Apples. The Silver Apples were a really experimental kind of minimalist synthesizer-based band. Michael indicated that the production which toured in Europe in 1971 was very simple in it's instrumentation and composition, but we all love writing music. We wanted to make it weird and synthesizer-y, but inevitably, since the play charts the course of this concept of the death of heteronormativity, we wanted to really push the musical-theater-ness, and so ended up trying to write a lot of "show stopping" numbers. The instrumentation is still minimal, but the choruses are pretty hefty. In terms of the staging, I think we do the Theatre of the Ridiculous justice, while also keeping our own voice of controlled chaos alive.

3. What have you learned from directing this production? 
I've learned quite a bit about diving into work that is not from within Saint Fortune. We are a group of devisers, performers and writers, and so most of our work comes from within. We usually have the room to play with the text, change it, make it fit to what we find in the room. We had to cater to Tom's voice in this, which was thrilling, but also frustrating in the rehearsal room. People wanted to change stuff, but we had to be pretty diligent about keeping the voice of the page alive and as the source of our inspiration. It was an exciting balancing act, to dive into an outside voice, working as an ensemble like that. There was a ton of push and pull, but we came out with a stronger sense of what our performance voice is, which actually really lines up with Tom's early writing.

4. When did you know you wanted a career in the arts? 
In the Sixth grade, I was playing baseball, football, basketball, and I even wrestled. And was pretty chubby. And the worst athlete on all of those teams. One day after school, I was walking past the cafeteria, I heard a huge clatter, and peeked in. I saw my closest friends running around crazily, and no one was stopping them. In fact, there was a teacher who was goading them to continue, a coach of silliness of sorts. I peeked my head in, And Big George and Little George both ran at me and dragged me into a warm-up circle. It was then that I discovered that there is method to madness. I had found my passion in the arts. Later, in college, I had my mind on diplomacy (but was still doing every single theater production), and was majoring in International Relations. Nevertheless, I failed about a third of my politics courses, missing assignments because of rehearsals, and writing essays citing sources and opinions that would never be seen in a million years in the course syllabi. The teachers didn't like me, and I hated the ideas of so many of the political philosophers we read. I came to the realization, perhaps nudged by a little instance of academic probation, that diplomacy will never be achieved through politics, but through the arts. Once that landed, I knew there was no going back. 

5. Who or what inspires you? 
My parents inspire me probably the most. They are the most positive people I had ever known. We never had cable, so I was forced from early childhood to sit on the floor with a heap of action figures and create narratives out of the air. It was a tremendous developmental force. They come to every piece I do. Also, the Saint Fortune collective inspires me greatly. We may be the most existentially wrought people you've met, but within those crises, a creative energy arises that is unlike anything I've ever known, and when the group gets together to work on something, it's as if the entire Amazon rainforest of noises, wetness and trees being cut down is shot through a canon of laughter and yelling over one another. Finally, I've worked recently a lot with Elevator Repair Service, and their work inspires me to achieve the same level of focused technique, collaboration and expression. Every time I'm in the room working with them, there's a voice in the back of my head that screams "these people are masters."

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 
Our show at La MaMa is our biggest production yet. It is an incredible opportunity. I have to thank Scott Adkins and Erin Courtney for letting us into their home to perform a crazy Saint Fortune piece a few years ago, and seeing the parallel between our work and Tom Murrin's voice. I had no idea he was one of the first La MaMa playwrights. For Saint Fortune, it is a huge stepping stone. We are a young company, still finding our voice, still testing out and coagulating our methods, but this show is an incredible light in the very frustrating and garbled world of New York performance. Personally, I am so proud to represent Tom's work on the stage where he began his career. Stepping into La MaMa is truly a spiritual experience. So many historical figures have passed through, it seems to me like a rite of passage. I will hold my head a little higher knowing that we have now had the opportunity to share the space with people devoted to creating uncompromising art in New York around the world.



La MaMa presents
Tom Murrin's
COCKSTRONG
Directed by Gavin Price

Starring: John Gasper, Natalie Mack, Michael Wiener, David J Goldberg, David French, Jack Frederick, Kristina Tortoriello, Samantha Seerman, and Danny Carroll

April 17 - 19, 2014

Thursday, Friday- 7:30pm,
Saturday- 2:00pm and 7:30pm


Tickets: $20 Adults; $15 Students/Seniors; a limited number of $10 tickets are available, in advance only, as part of La MaMa's 10@$10 ticketing initiative.  10@$10  tickets not available day of show.

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

For tickets and info: CLICK HERE