Friday, March 30, 2018

6 Questions: Jax Jackson

Photo by Marina McClure


We caught up with Jax Jackson, one of the stars of The Assembly's SEAGULLMACHINE, and Jax took a stab at our 6 Questions. SEAGULLMACHINE is a mashup of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull and Heiner Muller’s Hamletmachine and begins performances on Saturday, April 14th in the Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa.


1. Who do you play in SEAGULLMACHINE?
I play Konstantin in The Seagull, then in Hamletmachine I'm Hamlet, the Actor Who Plays Hamlet, and Ophelia as well. The layers of performance make this a more complicated question than it is with many shows. I can say I'm the actor who plays the actor who plays Konstantinhamlet.
2. The play asks “What’s the good of making theater anyway?”  How would you answer that?
I hope it isn't the kind of thing that, once you name why it's important, it isn't important anymore. I think it has something to do with how we dream. I've heard that we dream to 'rehearse' scenarios in our nervous system without the consequences of waking life. I've also heard that we can imagine what we perceive others experiencing in ourselves. If these are both true, I suppose that theatre is kind of like dreaming on someone else's behalf, to offer them a chance to rehearse a different life without subjecting them to the consequences of that world. I think that's important, because if we can imagine ourselves in another reality, we can appreciate what is salvageable or dismissible from our own, and create ways to make it better. Right now we need as many tools as we can to make this reality better, to see the good in the world, and to come together in shared space and time without fear.
3. Do you have a preference: Anton Chekhov or Heiner Müller?
Neither? Don't get me wrong, they've both got a lot of fascinating elements that are fun to pick through and play around with, but they both also have problems that I don't especially want to be committed to.
4. Do you have a “dream role” or a favorite role you've played?
I enjoy surprises so I don't exactly have dream roles. More like dream circumstances, where I'm challenged and cared for. I also call myself a "devising actor"; I like crafting new roles collaboratively, so this role in SEAGULLMACHINE feels pretty special.
5. What is the last good book/play/film/art exhibit you’ve seen/read?
-I saw Is God Is at Soho Rep and was blown away.
6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
I've seen many pieces of work at La MaMa that exploded my mind. I treasure this space, the programs, most of all the community that's built around this questioning, this openness. I feel honored to add myself to that community as a performer for the first time.


_____






La MaMa in association with 
The Assembly presents 

SEAGULLMACHINE 

Created by The Assembly 
Conceived by Nick Benacerraf 
Co-directed by Jess Chayes & Nick Benacerraf 
Text by Anton Chekhov, Heiner Müller, and The Assembly 

 April 14 - 29, 2018 

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

Tickets: $30 Adults; $25 Students/Seniors; first ten tickets to every performance available for $10 each, advance sales only, as part of La MaMa 10 @ $10 ticketing initiative.

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Thursday, March 29, 2018

6 Questions: Kyle Griffiths


Actor Kyle Griffiths is currently appearing in Takeshi Kawamura and John Jesurun's Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence at the Ellen Stewart Theatre here at La MaMa.  Kyle answered our 6 Questions about Distant Observer, who inspires him and working at La MaMa.  You can read his answers below and get your tickets to the final weekend of Distant Observer: HERE.

1. Who do you play in Distant Observer?

A friend, an embassy worker, a bureaucrat.

2. What made you want to be a part of this project?

It's a unique opportunity to work with both John and Kawamura. The script is such an interesting amalgamation of writing styles and it's a wonderful experience to immerse yourself in the world they have created.

3. What is your favorite part of (or favorite line from) the show?

"I thought I was an actor but now I am lost in a sea of words."


4. What is the last good book you read (or film or theater piece or museum exhibit you saw etc)?

I spent a day at the Met recently, it was a bit overwhelming, there are so many great exhibits. However, what stuck with me the most was a fantastic exhibition of Thomas Cole paintings.


5. Who inspires you?

My father, he's a very adventurous person and always willing to take chances.  Also many of my friends who are involved in the arts, we are always sharing ideas and pushing each other forward.


6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?

It's a great pleasure to be able to perform at La MaMa, there's a lot of history here, and being surrounded by people who are so passionate about the arts makes the experience truly special.

_____




La MaMa presents

Distant Observer: 

Tokyo/New York Correspondence



Written and Conceived by Takeshi Kawamura and John Jesurun

Translation by Aya Ogawa

Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence is a collaboration between Japanese playwright/director Takeshi Kawamura and American playwright/director John Jesurun. The project is conceived as a play written and directed in collaborative partnership by both artists. Written in corresponding chapters by each playwright, it combines two established artists of the same generation, both with distinct voices and significant work, in a deep creative conversation across cultures.

CAST: 
Anastasia Olowin | Kotoba Dan | Claire Buckingham | Kyle Griffiths | Samuel Im

March 16, 2018 - April 1, 2018 - Final 4 performances!

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

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; La MaMa's 10 @ $10 tickets available for all performances, while supplies last

For Tickets & Info: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

La MaMa Alumni: John Jarboe @ Joe's Pub


If you missed John Jarboe's You Can Never Go Down The Drain: a Musical Children's Program for Adults in 2018, when it was at La MaMa in February - you're in luck.  John brings The Bearded Ladies Cabaret show to Joe's Pub at The Public Theater for one night only:  Thursday, April 19th at 7pm.


You Can Never Go Down The Drain: a Musical Children's Program for Adults in 2018 is created by The Bearded Ladies Cabaret  and written and performed by John Jarboe. Mr. Rogers was known for saying no matter how bad things are "You can never go down the drain." Using and abusing iconic songs from the program, Philadelphia's Bearded Ladies Cabaret, puts this to the test. For this workshop performance, expect a gold fish funeral, gay romps into the land of make-believe, and some earnest questions about irony.

For more info and tickets: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

6 Questions: Nehassaiu deGannes & Ben Beckley

Photo by Marina McClure




Nehassaiu deGannes and Ben Beckley are two of the cast members of the upcoming SEAGULLMACHINE by The Assembly Theater. Nehassaiu and Ben took time out from rehearsals to answer our 6 Questions about the show, their dream roles and working at La MaMa. SEAGULLMACHINE begins performances on April 14th, 2018 in The Ellen Stewart Theatre at La MaMa - a handful of $10 are still available.





1. Who do you play in SEAGULLMACHINE?

Nehassaiu: "Arkadina” and “as cast”

Ben: Boris Alexeyevich Trigorin

2. The play asks “What’s the good of making theater anyway?” How would you answer that? 


Nehassaiu: Go make theatre for the same good reason one makes bread - for sustenance, for pleasure, to have something to chew on, for the patient rigorous work of it, to break it and share it with others, for the feast, for the communion.

Ben: Theater brings people together in a room -- audience and actors -- to share a little space and time in the service of a story or experience that unfolds no more quickly than it needs to. It's a challenging proposition nowadays, because it's more convenient to find the nearest screen and retreat into the internet's vast and dizzying array of solitary (and generally more-or-less shallow) activities. Theater matters, though, because it's challenging, and it's challenging because it matters.

3. Do you have a preference: Anton Chekhov or Heiner Müller?

Nehassaiu: Why compare the two? They were up to totally different experiments, writing in very different contexts and responding to quite different socio-political and aesthetic urgencies. Since both Seagull & Hamletmachine are in part responses to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, it does seem exciting to mash them together... To see what results from the conversation... or should I say, the combustion!

Ben: A playwright once told me writing a scene with half-a-dozen characters is like keeping half-a-dozen plates spinning in the air. If that's true, then Anton Chekhov is a goddamn three-ring circus. Nobody is sharper with subtext or character. Nobody knows better how to negotiate a middle path between comedy and tragedy. Nobody understands more clearly the awesomely difficult art of appearing artless. That said, Heiner Müller is a brilliant, fearless motherfucker, relentlessly, brutally confrontational in a way that still feels raw and surprising a quarter century after his death.

4. Do you have a “dream role” or a favorite role you've played?

Nehassaiu: These last few years, I’ve had the incredible good luck of fulfilling some roles on my wish list: “Cordelia” in King Lear at Chicago Shakes, “Prudence” in Danai Gurira’s The Convert, “Esther” in Intimate Apparel, along with playing a bunch of roles I didn’t even know I was dreaming to play. I’ve been secretly hoping to do Chekhov (and came close once or twice,) so The Assembly’s invitation to play “Arkadina” is definitely a dream come true. I was assigned the bandage scene in grad school and guess my acting teacher must have seen a glimmer of “Arkadina” in me then. Now that I’ve played “Gertrude,” a role most certainly in Arkadina’s repertory, I may be ready to take her on. Let’s see!

Ben: I tend to play two types of roles: shy guys with good intentions (like Ned in SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS) and brutal, brooding, melancholy men with unplumbed depths (like the title role in SWEENEY TODD). Trigorin, happily, sort of falls into both categories.

5. What is the last good book/play/film/art exhibit you’ve seen/read?

Nehassaiu: Good books I’ve read this past year include: Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, David Chariandy’s Brother and Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, which I read with my niece over Christmas break. My current reading is all source material for “Arkadina:” Maupassant’s On The Water (in translation,) Camille by Alexandre Dumas, fils - both the novel and the play (also in translation,) and so on... I’ve been acting steadily since last May and am looking forward to museum going this spring! I’d love to make it to the David Bowie exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum. Tracy K. Smith’s Life on Mars remains one of my favorite poetry collections.

Ben: I'm reading Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you? 

Nehassaiu: Wow, when I was studying poetry at Brown U and acting in the MFA Playwrights’ plays, and in that way being catapulted into a life in the theatre, I would walk by La MaMa posters and announcements stapled to various bulletin boards. My mentors championed plays by playwrights whose work had been shepherded by Ellen Stewart. I was drawn to this Black woman, visionary, experimentalist, with a theater in NY and a lab in Italy. I would dream of one day working with her. I sadly never met Ms. Stewart, but I’ve had the privilege of working with and being taught by artists who honed their craft at her anvil. It was exciting to perform at LaMaMa ETC with Theatre of The Two-Headed Calf, and now to be in The Ellen Stewart Theatre for the first time is SWEET!

Ben: In 2013, I saw GOOD PERSON OF SZECHWAN at La MaMa -- the most riveting Brecht production I've ever seen. Last December, working at ACT in San Francisco, I came across Cindy Rosenthal's Ellen Stewart Presents: Fifty Years of La MaMa Experimental Theater in the window of City Lights Bookstore. Earlier this week, I caught a show at Broadway's Circle in the Square, where "Six From La MaMa" (including original works by Sam Shepard and Jean-Claude van Itallie) transferred in 1966. La MaMa has been and will continue to be one of the most exciting theatrical venues in NYC. 


_____







La MaMa in association with 
The Assembly presents 

SEAGULLMACHINE 

Created by The Assembly 
Conceived by Nick Benacerraf 
Co-directed by Jess Chayes & Nick Benacerraf 
Text by Anton Chekhov, Heiner Müller, and The Assembly 

 April 14 - May 5, 2018 

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

Tickets: $30 Adults; $25 Students/Seniors; first ten tickets to every performance available for $10 each, advance sales only, as part of La MaMa 10 @ $10 ticketing initiative 

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Monday, March 26, 2018

Promo Video: Jane Comfort - 40th Anniversary Retrospective


Jane Comfort | 40th Anniversary Retrospective from La MaMa on Vimeo.

Jane Comfort and Company will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a retrospective concert in April 2018 here at La MaMa. Over 23 former and current company members will perform excerpts of seminal works ranging from 1978 to 2018, including the gender and race reversed Clarence Thomas hearings from S/He, scenes from the Bessie award winning Underground River, ‘The Glass Menagerie’ based Faith Healing, the spoken word opera Asphalt, created with Carl Hancock Rux and Toshi Reagon, and many others.

_____


La MaMa presents

Jane Comfort: 
40th Anniversary 
Retrospective

Choreographed by Jane Comfort
Presented in association with Lumberyard

Jane Comfort and Company celebrates 40 years of making dance with an Anniversary Retrospective concert. Twenty-three former and current company members gather to recreate excerpts of works spanning from 1978 to 2018, including such favorites as the provocative take on the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings from S/He, scenes from the Bessie award-winning Underground River, archival videos and much more. 

This performance contains brief nudity.

Jane Comfort: Artistic Director
Joe Levasseur: Lighting Design
Lianne Arnold: Video Design
Alexandra Nikolchev and Sean Donovan: Documentary Video
Liz Prince: Costume Design

April 5, 2018 - April 8, 2018
Benefit Performance: Thursday April 5th: Tickets $200
Regular Tickets (April 6-8): $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors

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

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE

Friday, March 23, 2018

Video: Meet the cast of SEAGULLMACHINE


The cast of SEAGULLMACHINE - Why are you an artist? from Samovar Film Productions on Vimeo.


The Assembly comes to La MaMa in April with the world premiere of SEAGULLMACHINE - a mashup of Anton Chekhov and Heiner Müller.


Russia 1896. Germany 1977. USA 2018.
In a world gone mad, when do you take arms against the sea of troubles?

A diverse, multigenerational ensemble takes refuge in an abandoned theater. Caught in an endless rehearsal, they struggle with the pull between action and distraction on a planet where waters rise, wages stagnate, and visionary leaders are nowhere to be found. The Assembly’s newest performance smashes together two iconic riffs on the Hamletstory – Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull and Heiner Muller’s Hamletmachine – combining theatrical realism, immersive staging, live video, poetry, comedy and tragedy to excavate the legacy of 20th- century drama in the light of the present-day, and ask: What’s the good of making theater anyway?
“I can’t stand what she calls ‘theatre.’ She sees a temple,
a place of sacred art for the benefit of all humanity;
I see a rotten building with a foundation of
convention and prejudice.”
The Seagull
“My drama, if it still would happen, would happen
in the time of the uprising.”
Hamletmachine




Tickets now on sale, including La MaMa's 10 @ $10 Tickets for all performances!



Thursday, March 22, 2018

Distant Observer: Post-Show Discussion

 
Distant Observer | Full Talkback from La MaMa on Vimeo.

On Sunday, March 18th there was a post-performance discussion with the creators of Distant Observer at La MaMa:
Takeshi Kawamura and John Jesurun.


Moderated by Dr. Frank Hentschker, Executive Director of Programs at Martin E.Segal Theatre Center,City University of NY
Guest panelist Japanese Theater Scholar and Journalist Kyoko Iwaki


_____




La MaMa presents

Distant Observer: 

Tokyo/New York Correspondence



Written and Conceived by Takeshi Kawamura and John Jesurun

Translation by Aya Ogawa

Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence is a collaboration between Japanese playwright/director Takeshi Kawamura and American playwright/director John Jesurun. The project is conceived as a play written and directed in collaborative partnership by both artists. Written in corresponding chapters by each playwright, it combines two established artists of the same generation, both with distinct voices and significant work, in a deep creative conversation across cultures.

CAST: 
Anastasia Olowin | Kotoba Dan | Claire Buckingham | Kyle Griffiths | Samuel Im

March 16, 2018 - April 1, 2018

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

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors; La MaMa's 10 @ $10 tickets available for all performances, while supplies last

For Tickets & Info: CLICK HERE

Special Events for Hess Collective's LOVE TRADE

Two post-show events are planned for Hess Collective's LOVE TRADE.


Saturday, March 31 
Approaches to Embodied Performance

Writer and dramaturg Martha Steketee will lead a discussion with performer/playwright Elizabeth Hess
and award-winning filmmaker/theatre-maker Erica Fae.
_____

Friday, April 6 
Re-imagining Myths in a Multi-cultural World

Moderated by Saviana Stanescu, award-winning playwright; ARTivist; founder of Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York.
With featured panelists:Marvin Carlson, Sidney E, Cohn Distinguished Professor of Theatre & Performance, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies,
The Graduate Center, CUNY;
Orietta Crispino, Performer; Playwright; Artistic Director of Theaterlab;
David Diamond, Coordinator, La MaMa Umbria International; Core Member, Theatre Without Borders;
Caridad Svich, OBIE Award-winning playwright; Founder of No Passport Theatre Alliance and Press.
_____

Love Trade plays The Downstairs at La MaMa for 8 performances only from March 29 - April 8, 2018.  

For tickets and info: CLICK HERE