Monday, March 27, 2017

2017 Interview with Ana Isabel O

"The Aye" is adapted from Ana Isabel Ordonez’s "The Extraordinary Love Story of Aye Aye and Fedor." The choreography came together in a sparkling fusion of music, dance and narration which was performed October 7, 2016 in Cape Town South Africa by the Jazz Dance Theatre with Sifiso Kweyama as choreographer. The shows honored Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in celebration of his 85th birthday, and with the opening choreography for the annual Peace Conference in Cape Town. This was the world premiere of the show. Then on November 15 at a second event the Leah Tutu Unsung Heroes Award was presented outside Cape Town.

In Part II of this interview Ordonez discusses the second event in detail. In Part I she gives us a glimpse into her next project and the elaborate process her brilliant mind goes through in its organization and execution. The photos scattered throughout are of the event from last November 15 in South Africa.


A gigantic play is what I’m concentrating on right now. The experiences I’m now developing on a big project and poetry are a tour de force unleashing of the sundry story-myths-truths-tragic-fatal-magic of what life could have.

It’s undimmed like star galaxies, I’m learning new things based on true life which is more than a collection of poems, it is an unloading of reality. One poem tells the poet what to record next and in this way, the book takes the author on a trip. It’s revealing to me that a rhymer doesn’t write a real story, the story itself rewrites the rhymer.

I have always had an extraordinary faith in my destiny. I can be beaten, broken in pieces either inside or outside, stopped a thousand times; it’s all stimulating to me because nobody can catch my spirit, my freedom and powerful will of being what I really am. I’ll be there where I want to be and at my pace. I’m letting the story be what it wants to be, let it tear me apart, let it metamorphose me evermore. Emptiness changing into things: letting the sun rise on my work of art doesn’t matter when, it can be at day or night but I sure write my ass off. Returning to true Nature, letting myrmidon be stemma. The pages of a rotten old book are gone, they were not to be read at all so there should be a new one, I’m seeing new things, nothing here, nothing there, no boundaries, no differences, no measurements. They are gracious who are asking for me to let them in, even if I don’t understand how or why they are knocking at my doors…

Grappling with the ethereal and transcendent in light of the Human condition is pivotal in Art and Science; its mandatory to mainly focus on the concept of authenticity, what makes things right or wrong; the “this or that” of the normal life is a little wearisome for me so the pages I threw away help me to explore the idea of “lost,” “saved,” and everything in-between.

Faith without religiosity is very important, that’s what brought me to South Africa. Being authentic believers of ourselves first is more important than being a blind believer in faith. Someone I love and admire said he always was "at the other side of the rail" which for me has been "at the other side of the river"…that is where I have found myself and those who love me: the fence riders (smiling). They believe but don’t do what they're told; from them I get inspired and I don’t give a damn about how inconclusive and ambiguous they are. Infinitely small is infinitely large. 

I feel so grateful to experience a time when artists from across the world can gather to create a very tangible performance of art, poetry, music, and dance whenever we feel. Like children: we created imagining worlds together and it feels like falling in love again, but without getting into compliances (laughing loud).

Art and Science are very special but don’t make us human; it stimulates us to act humanely. Art however is the place where we are allowed to wane at wanting better. There is no winning or success in this space, only a chance for growth. If you don’t understand your history, every day tear away the page of the old book and write your own story beautiful, pure and sincere…reborn again, you can do anything when you are sincere and that includes all kinds of quirkiness (laughing!)


Now let’s talk about the Leah Tutu Unsung Heroes Award, what do you want me to tell you ?

DON : Explain the Unsung Heroes event. What happens? Who is honored?

Ai: THE LEAH TUTU UNSUNG HEROES AWARD commemorates a Legacy in South Africa. The Unsung Hero is a South African character who has made a meaningful contribution to the community through their acts of service, their commitment to a cause, their spirit of Ubuntu, and their exemplary persona.

DON : How is the person chosen? Who decides?

Ai: It’s Mama Leah and her team so the Leah and Desmond Tutu Foundation. Last November 2016 Mrs Gawa Sayed was awarded with the Leah Tutu Unsung Heroes Award for her extraordinary service to the community through her voluntary work at Gift of the Givers which is Africa’s largest humanitarian relief organization.

The award was presented to Ms Sayed by the The Revered Mpho Tutu Van Furth of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, at an event in De Grendel Wine and Restaurant  an award winning South African wine farm and restaurant, situated in Durbanville Wine Route, only 20 minutes from Cape Town.

Ms Sayed is a key member of Gift of the Givers, she was instrumental in leading relief efforts during the xenophobia crisis; renovating and replenishing the Sarah Fox Children’s Convalescent Hospital; managing and maintaining feeding schemes around Cape Town; helping at the Athlone School for the Blind with renovation as well as establishing the Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s emergency medical services projects in Lwandle, Strand and building housing units after the New Year’s shack fires in Khayelitsha township as well as the building of a village constructed with 71 houses in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Yeap…Mrs Sayed is a High soul. 

DON : Who usually attends the ceremony?

Ai: The invitations are issued by the Desmond and Leah Tutu legacy.

DON: Explain what the audience saw of your choreography.

Ai: They saw a new version of "the Aye" choreographed by Sifiso Kweyama. The show was beyond delightful, not simply because of the magic that is dance, but because of the amazing people involved in the project. The performance was held in a beautiful vineyard estate with gardens and a wonderful decoration. Sifiso came up with an idea for performance art, the dancers were wearing our masks some of them are made with beautiful local feathers.

The idea for the performance was my first glimpse into Sifiso’s wildly creative spirit. As the time progressed, the encouragement of Dean Jacobs of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation was inspirational and continues to impact me personally. Sifiso and the dancers worked tirelessly and when the day came for the performance they did get some fascinating photographs. The one here is of Fedor and Aye Aye looking fantastic and greeting Reverend Mpho’s arrival to the ceremony. The choreography was totally engaging and smart as well as evocative. I wanted to share my work with others, give this present to Monseigneur Tutu and Mama Leah. It was an unexpected fusion becoming spontaneous combustion of matter turning into energy and movement.

DON: How long was the presentation and was it successful?

Ai: It was a 15 or a little bit more say 20 minute presentation…people loved it! One was all, all was one . When you see things like this, you are already complete!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Interview with Writer/Director of Where The Numbers End ... Amanda Moresco

Amanda began her career as an actress in New York City working for the late Sidney Lumet.  Amanda has appeared in numerous films and TV shows and earned a SAG Award for Ensemble Cast for the Academy Award-winning film Crash. Pursuing her real passion, writing, Amanda has learned from the best by working behind the camera for Woody Allen, Bobby Moresco, and David Chase, and in writer’s rooms as assistant for Paul Haggis, Todd Field, John Lee Hancock, Mark Johnson, and Gil Adler. Amanda wrote two episodes for the first season of NBC’s The Black Donnellys. She has had two feature films produced.  Amanda has written and produced numerous one-act plays.  Most recently, she directed the L. A. production of William Hoffman's "Cal in Camo" which went on to a critically acclaimed Off-Broadway run. Amanda is raising two sons and splits her time between New York and Los Angeles.

by Steve Peterson

When did you first become interested in theatre either as a performer, writer, or director?

When I was little my father would read Edgar Allan Poe to my sister and I, listen to The River by Bruce Springsteen on repeat and talk with us about the lyrics which were just like poetry to me. At 14, my Grandmother helped me get my first job as a Broadway Usherette at The St James theater. The first show I worked was The Secret Garden with Mandy Patinkin. I worked different Broadway theaters and saw tons of shows for over six years. Then, my family moved to LA to support my father in his pursuit of a career as a screenwriter. I learned that craft from him and I fall madly in love with movies and exquisite visuals but always equally with poetry and theater.

How did your father’s film career influence your taking up writing, directing?

My father has been a huge influence on me especially in understanding that this business is a labor of love and the only reason to do it is because you couldn't possibly do anything else with your life. And that if you've stopped loving it for what it is- a grueling labor that has awful lows and incredible highs - then it's time to get out.

How did the idea of the story to come to you and when you did realize this could be a play, rather than a book or film?

When I was in college, I started hearing the voice of louise. She told me that the thing she missed most about being a kid was punching people in the face. I also knew that she had two cousins: Margaret and Caroline and that one was a dreamer who was scared to leave her block and the other was an alcoholic partyer unable to face the present. Eventually, I embarked on writing my first screenplay. I called it "Red to Green". It was optioned four times but never got made. I'm glad it didn't. Eight years later, I started thinking about my old poetry and Louise's monologue about "punching people in the face" which of course I never used in the screenplay because you don't put two page monologues in screenplays, and I realized that I could never get the movie right because the characters were being strangled by the confines of a screenplay structure. That is when I embarked on writing the play. I knew it was right because when I let them speak freely, their voices came pouring out of me.

How did choosing New York City’s Hell Kitchen as a backdrop for the play come about? Had you lived there in any point in time? What is your connection to that neighborhood?

My great grandparents immigrated to Hell's Kitchen in the 1920s. I went to the same grammar school on 51st and 10th that my Grandfather went to and my father after him. My family's roots are embedded in the tenements and high rises between 43rd and 54th on The Westside of Manhattan. It breaks my heart to such an extreme extent that the history of NYC is disappearing for the sake of money and real estate and "gentrification", that I wrote a goodbye love poem to it. And that is what this play truly is.

I understand that this play took a while to evolve and take shape. What was your process in developing the story and characters? Please tell us about the process before the play was workshopped in the Actors Gym at the Whitefire Theatre. Also, life got in the way - - please share that if you are comfortable doing so.

As I was saying before, the idea came to me in college. I wrote the opening monologue and the opening love poem to NYC then. They sat in a notebook for six years. I just didn't know what to do with them. I knew about the characters but I didn't know what the story was. In my 20s I struggled with an eating disorder and the lines between reality and un-reality severely blurred. I felt ashamed and scared and because mental illness runs in my family, I became obsessed with the idea of "what is crazy". That's when the story began to take shape and I was ready to start plotting it out.

Tell us about the play.

The characters came to me right away. But when I realized it was about the question "what is crazy", I realized I needed to be very specific about what each of their "crazy" was. And that is what this play is about. Three damaged women coming to terms with the fact that either they're going to conquer their crazy or their crazy is going to conquer them. And of course being Irish, I can laugh about all of it and I hope the humor shines through in the play the way it shined on me when my grandmother would tell someone to go fuck themselves and everyone would laugh, all while we were sitting at a wake with a dead guy in a coffin.

Why did you feel compelled to tell this particular story? What is the meaning behind the title of the play?

This play had many different titles. "Saturday Night in a Bar in New York" "I Am From Here". And lots of others. But in the middle of a rewrite, a pass that was meant to focus in on Margaret's dilemma of wanting to go some place far away and yet being too afraid to go anywhere by herself, she said in my imagination: "we don't go past West Fourth Street. We don't go past where the Numbers End. Because fuck that." And I knew that was the title. Signifying the neighborhood comfort and claustrophobia that exists so often in NYC. When you have everything at your fingertips 24 hours a day within a ten block radius, why bother going beyond your ten block radius?

Why did you choose to direct the piece?

I wasn't sure if I should at first. The play is written so melodramatically that I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to shake that as a director and the whole experience would be one long sappy roll your eyes puke fest. But when I started thinking about my vision of the execution, it occurred to me that this play really should unfold as a "ballet of words" not a piece of dramatic material. Like a one hour spoken word piece with twists and turns and crescendos. Once I understood that, I felt strongly that I needed to be the one to execute that. Here's to hoping I don't fuck it up.

The play was workshopped in your father, Bobby Moresco’s, Actors Gym at the Whitefire Theatre. What was that process like and how did it contribute to the fruition of the play?

Every week I would bring in ten pages of this play and hear brilliant actors read those pages and get insight from the group. I would then go home and rewrite based on the notes I found most helpful. Two whole drafts were workshopped there. To say that the sharp talented group of artists at The Gym contributed to this play would be an understatement. There would be no play without The Actors Gym. I would never have had the discipline to do it on my own- without the weekly check in.

What do you want the audience take away or feel, after having seen the play?

I can only hope that they laugh and come away with an understanding that we're all crazy in our own way. I hope they understand that mental illness sometimes isn't a choice. I hope they understand that at any moment in your life, you can get up and walk out of a bad place, if you ask for help. And mostly, I hope that when the play is over they will feel like they did just spend Saturday Night in New York. The way I did every weekend of my life with friends and family and a world that just doesn't exist anymore.

What’s up next for you - creatively?

I just finished writing a half hour comedy pilot also based on my time in Hell’s Kitchen. Of course, it's titled: "Fucked Up". :)

The Whitefire Theatre presents the world premiere dramedy “WHERE THE NUMBERS END: A Hell’s Kitchen Love Tragedy” written and directed by Amanda Moresco. March 18 - June 10, 2017. Saturdays at 8:00 pm. Ages 18+. Mature language. Minimal violence. Tickets $22. Information: 818-990-2324.Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bryan Fox (Director) is an award-winning writer, director, and actor, as well as notable photographer whose work has been displayed in gallery shows around the world. Most recently, his photography was shown at the prestigious Art Basel in Miami. Bryan began directing with his short film “Dissonance” which screened throughout the U.S. and opened film festivals in Canada, Italy, Germany, and India. It won over 20 awards including Best Short Film at the Accolade Global Film Competition, Indie Fest Awards, LA Spotlight Film Festival, Waterfront Film Festival, Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival and the Temecula Film Festival. He also wrote and directed the film “We Alone" which took top prize for music video at the Accolade Global Film Festival. Bryan most recently directed an upcoming episode of the web series “Gossip Boy.”

Written by Steve Peterson

When did your first get interested in or involved in theatre?

My experience in theater has been limited to the acting side only. However, after directing in other mediums, I was eager to take on a challenge like this.

How did you get involved in directing plays?

Markus Taylor, who is the producer of Malicious Bunny and also our lead actor, found the material and was immediately passionate about seeing this project come to fruition. He brought the material to me. As my first try at directing a play, I wanted to be on board with not only great material, but with others that were invested completely in the project with their hearts and souls.

How did your directing Malicious Bunny come about? What, in particular, drew you to this project?

I had just come off of more than a year doing the film festival circuit with my short film "Dissonance" as well as mounting two photography gallery shows. I was looking for the next challenge. My photography work is dark and sexy, and Markus felt that I had the sensibilities to take the play in a direction to make it as compelling as possible. That said, the play is also incredibly funny thanks to the playwright, Matthew Sprosty. So the challenge in the rehearsal process is balancing that comedy with what is deeply rooted, very deep pain.

Tell us a bit about the play.

MALICIOUS BUNNY is a dark comedy centered on the character of Jonathon, and his struggle to please his wife and keep his marriage intact. When his wife Angela brings up the fact that she wants a divorce because she feels stifled in their two year marriage - - Jonathon asks what he can do to make her happy with him. Angela shocks Jonathon when she asks him to kill her well to do parents - - which will make the young couple millionaires and keep her from divorcing him. What if the only way to keep his wife is to kill for her - - what will he do?

What has been your big biggest challenge in directing this play?

Really the greatest challenge has been logistical, finding the time and the scheduling - - there are not enough hours in a day, week, or month! The cast and crew have offered their time and talents so generously. We all knew from the beginning that this is not the kind of material that you can take lightly. It's very hard. But if executed correctly, it can be something really special and amazing!

What do you want the audience take away to be - - what would like an audience member to feel or be thinking about when they leave the theatre?

I think the audience will remember laughing really hard, but also have some serious discussions in the car. Without giving away too much, there are issues of abuse, betrayal, greed, and righteousness. I want them to question how far they would go if they were given circumstances similar to those dealt to the characters in Malicious Bunny.

As an award-winning photographer, what skills or sensibilities do you bring from that world to the theatre world and how does that affect your directing?

To be a good photographer you have to have a good eye which means you have to be aware of every single component just in the frame just like you do with the 3 dimensional format of stage work, from the wardrobe, to how the actors look, where they are on stage at any particular time, to the set design and execution to how the lighting affects the scene. All these elements elicit feelings, consciously and subconsciously. In these, photography and theatre are very much the same. At the end of the day, I am a story-teller using a different medium this time around. Where a photo tells a story with one single image and a single moment, on stage I get to use multiple sources of stimulation happening over the entirety of the play to achieve the story’s goals.

What's up next for you?

I have a photography book coming out soon. . I am also in talks to direct some films. I have two film projects that I've written which I'm very excited about. One has a star attached (but that is a secret for now) and the other is nearly ready to shop around. I would also be interested in doing theatre again.

The world premiere of Matthew A. Sprosty’s edgy dark comedy MALICIOUS BUNNY directed by Bryan Fox runs March 17 – April 9. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm. Sundays at 7:00 pm. Mature content/language. Some violence. Ages 18+. Tickets are $30.

Buy Tickets: Guest production at The Actors Company Let Live Theater, 916 North Formosa Ave., Los Angeles 90046.

Monday, March 6, 2017

2017 Interview with Absinthe's Ross Mollison and the Gazillionaire

Las Vegas Weekly, in naming ABSINTHE the #1 greatest show in Las Vegas history ever, said, “A performance of ABSINTHE is almost criminally fun. It is the domain of the Gazillionaire, the gold-toothed, foul-mouthed, lecherous dirtbag who runs the show. For the entirety of ABSINTHE’s 90 wildly entertaining minutes, you feel like you’ve discovered something new, or stumbled onto a secret meeting of acrobats, dancers and reprobates. And the first thing you want to do after is tell everyone you know.”

Spiegelworld’s Impresario Extraordinaire Ross Mollison said, “ABSINTHE is a rare opportunity to see extreme circus acts performed in an intimate environment by some of the world’s most sexy and talented artists. Given the ever growing demand for the production, we are delighted that The Gazillionaire has agreed to a limited run in Los Angeles,” said Mollison.

Celebrities regularly flock to join the audience and have included Britney Spears, James Franco, Neil Patrick Harris, Rebel Wilson, DJ Steve Aoki, Olivia Newton-John, Pink, Channing Tatum, Idina Menzel, Melissa McCarthy, Vince Young, Kaley Cuoco, Ice-T and Coco, David Copperfield, Tony Hawk and more.

For our interview Spiegelworld’s Impresario Extraordinaire Ross Mollison (RM) and the Gazillionaire (G) who runs the show responded to the following questions:
The Gazillionaire

Describe Absinthe for our readers. How does the New York Times review do in their appraisal of your show? “Imagine Cirque du Soleil as channeled through The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

RM: Channeling Cirque du Soleil through the Rocky Horror Picture Show sounds like a 1990s Haunted House in Montreal with fishnets instead of lycra. Jugglers. Lots of make up. Absinthe has no make up. Jugglers can f--- off. We hate silk acts. We really hate clowns and anyone whom speaks French or gibberish. And we hate that wailing music that emanated from Quebec in the late 80s and still wafts south of the border. We need a great big soundproof wall on the Northern Border.

G: It’s a sex fueled rock and roll circus filled with the greatest, hottest, most provocative talent in the world. And it’s hosted by me because anybody else would screw it up. I guess Cirque has done a big show or two so that’s good and Rocky Horror has a guy in drag so I’d say that’s appropriate.

Is this show adults only or are children encouraged to attend? What age specifically?

RM: This show is for children 18 and over. Adults will hate it and should check out Cirque du Soleil.

G: Adults only. Kids are disgusting.

How did the concept come about? What inspired you the most?

RM: The Gazillionaire likes Belgium beer and bought a brewery from a bunch of Monks to make even more money. When he got the business he realized it owned a 100 year old Belgium Spiegelzelt – an incredible antique theatre and bar. Ever the entrepreneur – he thought he could put a show in it to, and sell even more beer. He hired Neil Patrick Harris to be the emcee – and when Neil was cast in the Mother show, he had to host the show himself.
Ross Mollison

G: Well I had all these foreign acrobats and circus performers owing me money so I figured I'd put them to work. And now with the whole immigration situation it was easier to just buy them.

The Vegas show has been an overwhelming success. Talk about this a little bit.

RM: The Gazillionaire is a winner. When he produced Absinthe in New York, he realized that there were so many great shows in NY that he could never compete. “Let’s face it. Some of the talent in NY is amazing. I need not tell Broadway World that I cried watching Wicked,” said the Gaz. “However, no self respecting theatre professional would consider landing their Gulfstream in Nevada. So – I thought – Absinthe is such a crappy show, it may just work in Vegas. If that failed – I was going to transfer it to Reno.”

G: Yeah it's been pretty good. There are a lot of tourists here getting drunk and losing their shit so it's nice to have a show that can take all their money.

Why LA? I know you talk about money in the press release, but there has to be more motivation than money for you to move the show to other venues. What might these be?

RM: “You clearly have no understanding of money. More money is usually the answer to every question a journalist asks in the USA. The other answer is sex. LA ticks that box as well.”

G: Money is about it. There are a lot of Hollywood types that are rich and stupid and in need of life direction. I can’t think of anything better for them to do with their time and money than coming to see the number one show in Las Vegas history in their own shiny backyard. Hell we might as well become the number one show in every city in the world. Also I’d like to f--- Helen Mirren.

Raunchy? You bet! Successful? The Gazllionaire has already collected dozens of trophies (he only keeps the platinum ones), awards, “Best Ofs” and “Top Tens” from Time,, Vegas Best of City Awards, Travel and Leisure,, Fox News, Broadway World Awards, Trippy Awards, Las Vegas Digital Media Awards, and Vegas Chatter Awards, among others. It was voted Best Adult Show by readers and staff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Tickets, starting at $49, are now on sale at The performance schedule is Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30p; Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30p and 9:30p; and Sundays at 5:30 and 7:30p. L.A. LIVE’s event deck is at 1005 Chick Hearn Ct., Los Angeles CA 90015.