Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Interview with Christine Dunford

CHRISTINE DUNFORD made her directorial debut with last year’s production of Good People at the Hudson Guild. She trained as an actor at Juilliard, making her debut in Joe Papp's Two Gentlemen of Verona. Broadway: Serious Money. Off-Broadway: Love's Labors Lost (Public Theater);Serious Money (Public Theater);Tamara; Infidelities (Primary Stages.) LA: I Carry Your Heart (BootlegTheater);The Cryptogram; Old Neighborhood (Geffen Playhouse);7Blow Jobs; Erotic Curtsies (Bottom’s Dream Theater Company);    Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike (Edgemar Theater.) Film: “Ulee's Gold” “Love & Basketball” “American Dream” “Bandit Hound” “Hello Herman” “August Creek” and award-winning shorts “Dos Corazones” and “Lost People of Mountain Village.” Ms. Dunford has appeared in over 100 episodes of television. Series Regular: “Good Sports” “Bob” “Hudson Street” “Something So Right” and “Secret Lives of Men”. Guest Star: “The Gifted,” “Longmire,” “The Mentalist,” “Bones: & many others. Solo Performance: HBO Aspen Comedy Festival. She is currently directing a production of Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories to open at the Dorie Theater at the Complex Friday October 13.


by Steve Peterson


You are known best for your work as an actress.  When did you know that you wanted to be an actress and what inspired to you become an actress?

Lee Grant. 1975. I saw a PBS broadcast of The Seagull, which had been mounted, I think, in Williamstown. We lived in the Bronx and I’d never seen a play outside of school, Catholic pageants, that kind of thing.  Lee Grant as Arkadina absolutely captivated me. She was so alive, so complex, full of contradictions…and so funny. I’ve loved her - and wanted to play Arkadina - ever since.

When did you start directing and what was the play? What are you able to draw from that experience that enhances your process of directing?

I directed Good People last year. It was my first directing experience. I had great actors and an absolutely outstanding design team. My take-away from that experience was that people who speak the same creative language as you are treasures: you put them in your pocket, appreciate them and bring them into every project that you can.  I’ve collaborated with Alessandra Manias (Set Design) David Medina (Sound) and Maggie Lima (Costumes) before and if I’m very lucky I’ll get to work with them all again. And again.

Were you familiar with COLLECTED STORIES before you were approached to direct the play?  What intrigued you about the material?

I wasn’t very familiar with Collected Stories before I was approached to direct it, outside of reading it and knowing that both Uta Hagen and Linda Lavin (two of my favorite actors) had played the part of Ruth Steiner. I liked, of course, that it’s a play with rich and complex roles for two women…And I like very much the challenge of telling a story in a way that doesn’t tilt the scale in the moral favor of either character. And it is a challenge, I can tell you that.


Tell us a bit about the play.

Well, on the face of it it’s a story about creative license, about ownership of the past, about loss, about the loneliness of old age and irrelevance…I think it’s also a play about mentors and protégés – and how ill-schooled we are, as Americans, in the nuance of that relationship.


What is up next for you in regards to acting and/or directing?

Oh, I wish I could say what was next for me as an actor or director! One never knows, it’s the bane of our existence. Once the play opens I’ll go back to auditioning, working as much as I can. I like the rhythm of going from one project to the next. One of my teachers at drama school told me “Darling, don’t ever walk away from momentum.”


Is there anything you wished we had asked or want us to know about the play, the production or about you?

I have very tender feelings toward both Ruth and Lisa. I’ve been the ambitious – even ruthless - young artist hungry for growth, for success...But I’m also at the point now where I look back and wish I’d been more appreciative of, and tendered more care for, the amazing artists at Juilliard who taught me, who gave me everything they had.


ShoWorks Entertainment presents Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories, directed by Christine Dunford.  Susan Fisher and Gretchen Goode star in this intense and often funny look at art and the process of creation.  October 13 – November 5.  Fridays and Saturdays 8:00 pm. Sundays 3:00 pm.  Admission: $30. Tickets/Information: www.showorksentertainment.com/theater
Dorie Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA.

                                                            
                                                             


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Interview with Susan Sullivan

Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actress Susan Sullivan has been delighting audiences onstage and on television for many years. She is currently a part of LA Theatre Works production of Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine. In our chat she talks about her role and others that she has played in her varied career.

Tell us about your role in Watch on the Rhine. This character really makes a great sacrifice. Talk about that.

I play Fanny Farrelly in Lillian Hellman's classic, a timely play Watch On The Rhine. I feel as if I have slipped into Ms. Hellman's skin which is a prickly place to be because she uses so much of her own unique and difficult personality in creating this role. This is what an actor longs for in a character...detail, nuance and complexity. While the play takes place in 1940 it translates to our time because it is beyond time... Dealing with the privileged and isolated Farrelly family who must now recognize that their world is not the simple cozy place they assumed it was. When Fanny is forced to deal with the realities of a world and a family in crisis she comes to discover what she actually stands for and what she must sacrifice to survive. Now  you have the foundation for a drama that crosses into many of the dilemmas that inform our time. Perhaps all time.

Do you think people become as involved in foreign affairs as they should? Right now it seems that some people are not doing enough to help save our world.

I think people are more involved in both foreign and domestic affairs than they have ever been. We’re also more aware of hot spot crises around the world and the vulnerabilities of everything from madmen with guns to climate change science. I do think we are all obligated to be informed and to vote for those reflecting our values and priorities. What’s to be learned from this exquisite play is the necessity of finding the ground you can hold and the unique way you can contribute. But you have to see the whole picture to understand how you fit into it and where you might have something to offer and a sacrifice to make that is authentic and meaningful. 

What is your favorite recording for LATW to date? How much preparation do you do? As much as for a regular play?

My favorite play at L A Theatre Works was Assembled Parties. I played a Jewish mother from Long Island and found myself reconnecting with not only my New York roots but my New York and Long Island rhythms. I did grow up and went to school on Long Island so go figure. As for preparation ––  I love exploring a character and that takes time and interacting with your fellows so it is a bit short circuited by limited rehearsal. Learning the lines also deepens the character and, without that discipline, it can be tempting to skim the surface.  But when a play and a character are this interesting I have a hell of a good time working with myself in the bathroom mirror!

Do you have a favorite play that you have done? If so, which one? Why?

I have several favorite plays I have performed in: A Delicate Balance, The Glass Menagerie, and several of Mr. A. R. Gurney’s plays.  All of these have been interesting and challenging for different reasons. And now the glorious and talented and truthful Ms Hellman!

Is there a role you are yearning to play?

The part I am yearning to play at the moment is none other than Fanny. This play offers a world that enriches the actor and I trust, the audience that enters it's realm.

What about your favorite TV/film role? Do you have one?

I have been blessed to play several women who have informed my life by living through and in each of them. Each enhanced by playing for an extended run.  Maggie in Falcon Crest; the truly "good woman" Kitty Montgomery in Dharma and Greg. My first comedy allowed me to be arch but amusing. And finally my actress friend from Castle, Martha... an homage to my career and my mother... I have been one lucky girl.  And I bathe in the wisdom of gratitude daily!

What's up next for you?

Not sure what the road ahead holds which is sort of the good news/bad news part of being an actor.  But I continue my Twitter adventure giving unsolicited advice on a daily basis.  It keeps me centered and hopeful.  Because hope is an important ingredient in the mix that is our life... 

Anything you wish to add about Watch on the Rhine?

I think this is a special and dare I say important play for today and probably tomorrow since we appear to be slow learners. 



What:
Watch on the Rhine
• Written by Lillian Hellman
• Directed by Rosalind Ayres
• Produced by Susan ALoewenberg
• Presented by L.A. Theatre works




WHEN:
• Thursday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m.
• Friday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m.
• Saturday, Oct. 14 at 3 p.m.
• Saturday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m.
• Sunday, Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.

WHERE:
James Bridges Theater
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
235 Charles E. Young Drive
Los Angeles, CA
(enter UCLA from Hilgard just south of Sunset Blvd.; park in Lot 3 on the lower level)

HOW:
310-827-0889 or www.latw.org
• Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LATheatreWorks
• Follow us on Twitter @latheatreworks


Thursday, October 5, 2017

2017 Interview with Bobby Moresco

Bobby Moresco is an Academy Award-winning writer, director and producer, hailing from Hell’s Kitchen, New York. In 2007, Moresco received an Oscar for co-writing the feature film “CRASH”. Other features include, Academy Award-winner “MILLION DOLLAR BABY” and “10TH & WOLF”, starring James Marsden, which was his directorial debut. Moresco’s TV credits include “EZ Streets”, “Falcone”, and “The Black Donnellys”. He is currently producing WORKING at the Whitefire Theatre to play Thursdays October 12-November 9.

by Steve  Peterson                 

What was the genesis of this project? 

Like everybody else in the country in the last couple of years, I’ve been concerned about the disappearing middle class. In my opinion, it’s the heart and soul of who we are, what we are, the ability for a mother or father to work hard and in return receive some sort of economic stability in their lives. Some sort of security by virtue of the work put forth.

What inspired you to continue exploring workers’ lives in 2017?

 I felt some responsibility to speak to it. The idea of marrying what Studs Terkel did in the original “Working” and what Camus explored in The Myth Of Sisyphus, the idea that work is the essential question in one’s life. And it will either destroy you, or be your salvation. That’s intriguing in a very contemporary way for me. Camus suggests that one must imagine Sisyphus happy. It seems essential.

There was a musical based on Terkel’s book that ran for about a about month on Broadway?  Did you see it or have knowledge of it; and was there anything different you were wanting to achieve with a new piece inspired by his work?

Yes I did see it. And of course I read Terkel’s book. The new inspiration came simply from trying to marry Terkel’s ideas with Camus’.

How did you go about developing the concept in workshop?

I brought the idea into the Actor’s Gym Saturday afternoon sessions, presented it to the writers and actors in the group, and asked them to consider writing a character study that might explore the ideas outlined above. I gave them a structure to work with. And they went to work. It was about a two-year journey where everyone continued to put forth ideas, dialogue, characters, and then a reworking, until we wound up with what is now the play.

Tell us a bit about the play.

It’s everything we speak about above. Eleven characters commune with the audience and share their story of the expectation of who and what they are and how the idea and hope of work impact their lives.

What do you want the audience to take away or feel  from having seen WORKING 2017?

I’m hoping they’ll be emotionally involved with the lives of the people on the stage and they take away whatever they take away from it. It’s not about a message. It’s about the human condition, as the writers and actors performing these pieces, see that condition.

What’s  up next for you in regards to directing, writing and producing?

There’s a play I’m attached to direct by one of the Actor’s Gym members, William Hoffman. I’m tremendously excited about directing that.  I have a new movie called BENT that I’ve written and directed starring Sofia Vergara, Andy Garcia and Karl Urban, as well as about a dozen members of the Actor’s Gym. And I’m working on a couple of new television shows, one with legendary director William Friedkin, and one with legendary comedian Colin Quinn.

Is there anything else you care to mention that we didn't ask you?

Yes, I wish you had asked more about Bryan Rasmussen and the Whitefire Theater, and Bryan’s commitment to new and vital works. Without people like Bryan and the Whitefire, there would be no place to put up new pieces of theater. We’d be back on the street corner, which isn’t so bad, but a theater is better J

Also, I wish you had asked about the collaborative work of the crew. Not just the artists. The crew has been amazing, starting with my partner / live stream director Larry McLean, and our lighting crew Derek McDaniel and David Svengalis.  And of course my stage manager David Branson.

WORKING 2017 run Thursdays at 8:00 pm.  October 5 - November 9.  Appropriate for ages 18+. Tickets: $25.  For tickets and information: go to working2017.brownpapertickets.com or call 800 838-3006.  Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.