Saturday, May 14, 2022




https://www.facebook.com/scott.dreier.7/posts/10225942981537083?notif_id=1651350898933411&notif_t=mention&ref=noti



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Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Coin & Ghost's STAN MAYER

 

Coin & Ghost Presents The World Premiere of
Mama Mama Can't You See
An Existential War Story
By Cecilia Fairchild and Marine Veteran
 Stan Mayer
Directed by Zach Davidson
May 13 – May 29, 2022


Stan Mayer is a former U.S. Marine Sergeant and
Intelligence Officer, He served five deployments in
 Iraq and Afghanistan.This play took shape as an
explorative memoir, with Mayer playing himself in a
story about his first tour. In particular, the events
of the play are centered on a moment in May 2005
when four members of his platoon were killed by a
suicide bomber and the ensuing firefight
These deaths have saturated every fiber of Mayer’s
 life and work He reflects, “Mama Mama Can’t You See
is a meditation on that moment. A moment that
resonates into eternity. A moment when my
post-Norman Rockwell America turned into a dirty
unnamed street alongside the Euphrates River where
the bodies of young men lay slain.”

 

Stan, I know you are writing about a very painful part of your life. You cannot put closure on this, so what do you expect to achieve?

SM: War is continuous, it echoes forever. I tend to lean on the knowns, which are that I was an infantryman in a war, my platoon was ambushed, and four of my friends were killed that night. What I expect to achieve by telling that story is more than a remembering, I want to bring light, and life, and love to what may only seem dark. I tried to write a war story, but what came out was a love story. This terrible thing happened, mothers lost sons, we saw it all, it was real and it happened, scars formed, but then here we are, seventeen years later, and what is happening in this theater is beautiful. 

If the play works, and people come to understand this thing that is so terrible, and also so beautiful, then maybe I get one step closer to returning home.

The pandemic forced you to close the show in March 2020. You have had to make some cast replacements. What else is different? Has there been any rewriting?

SM:Theater in LA is difficult. In military terms, we would call this a non-permissive environment. Working actors are working, many different jobs on different sides of town, and there’s nowhere to park, anywhere in this city…we all know the general terrain. Keeping a cast for two months, let alone two years, is impossible, and so the work evolves, it transforms when these new personalities, new lives, come into the room. That adds layers to these characters. Cecilia and I wrote characters who are real people that really lived.

Tell our readers about your co-writer Cecilia Fairchild? How did you meet and in what way is she so perfect for this challenging topic of war and its devastating effects on all humanity?

SM: Cecilia Fairchild and I were partners for seven years. She knows my story, she knows the characters, and she’s responsible for helping me find my voice as a writer. This isn’t the kind of piece that could withstand collaboration in writing, so we made an art out of not doing that and coming together as one voice. She is the only person I’ve ever known that can drop into that cave with me and write about it in a way that is true, unprecious, and unpretentious. It takes a special writer to command their words with a reverence to the capital T truth and also be free to explore the absurdity and love that exists in these moments of despair, and Cissy is that person. We met in 2014 just days after I returned from my last tour in Afghanistan, and quickly realized that we shared an uncommon language in each other.

Talk about your director, Zach Davidson, and his challenges in putting the play on its feet?

SM: Zach asked Cecilia and I to write this play about four years ago; he has been invested in the telling of this story since before it was written. In short, we got lucky to have him as our champion in taking on this narrative beast. He possesses a true understanding of the full spectrum of the human experience, so there was never any need to explain what was happening. He just gets it at the molecular level. I’ve learned more about my own war story through his interpretation and dramaturgy than I have in a decade of trauma therapy. 

As far as the production hurdles are concerned, Zach gets to solve the same problems over and over, inventing newer movements, seeing new angles in the story every time we bring a new cast into the room. You could say that this is our third run of rehearsals, and that will either make for a very well developed play, or something that is unintelligible at this point. We're so far inside this thing that it’s hard for me to tell which, but that’s up to the audience. It’s a five year long production at this point, and I believe that will show up as the most exalted war play ever told, ever performed.

Your characters, I believe, include a member of each of the armed forces. How is your cast developing in rehearsals? 

SM: Three of the actors are vets, Matt King (Army), Ronin Lee (Air Force), and myself (Marine Corps). Our sound designer and composer is Sloe Slawinski (Navy). It feels good to have that representation here, for they get the landscape, noise, and severity of war. The stakes are inherent to these veterans; they all know what it’s like to sign a blank check for up to and including their lives…but all of the performers have become intimate with these stakes, whether they’ve served or not. 

The cast has evolved over the two years since covid first reared its head. We’ve lost actors who had brought crucial light and humanness to this play, and we’ve gained actors who have brought that back into the room in their own crucial way. 

Every character in this story is me, and every character tends to get lost at times, finding themselves in someone else’s dialogue, melting the story in to one completely mixed narrative that cannot be unmixed, and this feels like war, or love, to me, because it’s often that way

From my point of view, there aren’t four female and four male leads; there are eight actors that represent everything they bring into the room, and everything that happened in the war. I feel so fortunate to have had all these wonderful artists that have come and gone, every one of them is present in the story.

Is there spirituality inherent in the play? When they leave the theatre is there enough hope for the audience to take with them?

SM: Everything at once. When I found myself wounded, on fire, and in the midst of this intense firefight, I was the most hopeless I had ever been. There was no way to live through that, and the doom of it all was overwhelming. My instincts told me to lay down and wait to be killed, because the terror of the moment saturated every feeling. It was an existential murder, but at that very same moment, everything I had ever been, where I’m from, my childhood, the family dog, et cetera, overrode the hopelessness with hope. Pervasive hope. It is in moments like that where you fight, not just to survive, but to put one foot in front of the other and move. 

Movement is survival, and movement is hope. There’s a sense of the universe at work here, God, whoever that may be to the audience, or to me, the irrelevance of time, and the common ties of the human experience make this a very spiritual story with hope in abundance.


Coin & Ghost Presents The World Premiere of
Mama Mama Can't You See
An Existential War Story
By Cecilia Fairchild and Marine Veteran Stan Mayer
Directed by Zach Davidson May 13 – May 29, 2022 

The show will run for three weekends at The Other Space Theater (at The Actor’s Company: 916 N. Formosa Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046). For information and tickets please visit coinandghost.org/mama

 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

shelly g

Actress, cabaret artist and writer Shelly Goldstein never stops working. How I admire her and her unique sense of humor!

WHAT DID YOU DO DURING THE LOCKDOWN?

SG: Like everyone else, I spent most of it inside in my most captivating Hazmat suit, bleaching my produce & learning how to use Purell as a condiment.

But it also was a time to really focus on writing script, rehearsing new shows and serious voice lessons taught by the amazing Julie GarnyƩ.

Of course lots of plans had to be scrapped, notably a cabaret tour of the south and south-east in 2020. When the lockdown got serious, the woman who was producing asked if I’d be willing to perform some of the cancelled shows via Zoom. I said yes and then turned my tiny living room into a cabaret stage. (The ring lights arrived and the furniture had to go!)

I did “living room” Groovy shows for online audiences that ranged from 50 to 500. Singing into a vacuum was fine. Doing comedy into a webcam with the audience on mute felt like Wile E Coyote sawing himself off a limb. It proved the need for absolute commitment – that could prove devastating. Happily the feedback was wonderful.

AND YOU DID SOME GROUP ZOOM SHOWS?

SG: Yes, starting with a concert by The Fabulous Chickies, a group created by Ilene Graff, comprised of women of staggering talent who have become musical sisters: Eileen Barnett, Michelle Brourman, Nancy Dussault, Julie GarnyĆ©, Ilene Graff, Dana Meller, Karen Morrow, Val Perri, Joan Ryan, Lisa Vroman – and me. I pinch myself when I’m with these icons. Our concert was fun – we’re all such different performers -- and best of all we raised some bucks for the Actors Fund who helped so many people through the COVID Zombie Apocalypse.

I also did Zoom shows for Harold Sanditen, who produces cabaret and runs London’s best open mic at Le Crazy Coqs in the West End. He features top talent from all over the world and it led to my getting to know Julez Hamilton, kick-ass performer and producer.

In that minute of time between the Delta & Omicron Variants, when it looked like we might actually be post-COVID, Julez made a dream of mine come true through her 14G Productions. Last November we did a sold-out 50th Anniversary concert of Godspell! The cast was tremendous and I’ve always wanted to do that show. By the finale, the entire room was on its feet, clapping and singing along – which isn’t unusual for an American audience but I’ve never seen a British crowd having so much raucous  fun.

TELL ME ABOUT THOSE CABARETS.

SG: The first one is June 25th at Le Crazy Coqs. Julez and Jenna Ryder-Oliver are reprising their tribute to Kander & Ebb – and I get to be “Pop” in the Cell Block Tango. I will also sing “New York New York” in Yiddish. Because…of course!

On November 27, back at Le Crazy Coqs, we’ll be doing a tribute to Jerry Herman, reuniting the Godspell cast – and I promise you, it will be spectacular.

It’s been such a dark time – we need Jerry Herman’s optimism and glitz. I can’t wait to dive into his catalogue.

And a new GroovyShelly solo show is in the works. Although I don’t want to do a totally solo show. After so much time alone, I want to include lots of duets!

YOU’RE KNOWN FOR COMEDY AND SONG, BUT RECENTLY YOU WERE CAST IN A NEW DRAMA. TELL ME ABOUT THIS.

SGI love making audiences laugh. I love singing. It’s pure joy. It was a surprise to get a call from playwright Stephanie Liss who asked me if I would workshop her new one-woman drama, “Daughter of My People.” The writing is beautiful, often heartbreaking – about Henrietta Szold, a strong, intelligent “woman in a time of men” who helped smuggle more than 30,000 children out of Hitler’s Germany.

We did one performance and all I can say is, the feedback tells us there will be more. It’s very exciting.

YOUVE ALSO BEEN WRITING.

SG: I still write awards shows and special material. But another upside of the lockdown era was that my husband Brendan Foley and I wrote scripts for 3 new international TV series. Our styles, from a distance, are different – but when we work together it forms a 3rd voice that I love. He’s so damned good. Writing with him is like shooting hoops with Michael Jordan. You have to be in top form.

We’ve been doing a Zoom room for one of the projects with two great writers – showrunner extraordinaire, James Duff and screenwriter Micah War Dog Wright. I’d never done a writer’s room via Zoom before and have to confess I love it. Great energy and I think removing driving from the equation eliminates a lot of stress that gets in the way of creativity. Any room I’ve ever been in starts with 2 hours of complaining about LA traffic. This way, we get to work faster. And I’m fine trading the bagels and doughnuts for sweatpants & slippers.

YOU CONTRIBUTED TO A SOUNDTRACK CD?

SG: Yes, a song lyric I wrote was used in a Scandi Noir series on AMC+, Cold Courage. The scene called for a deceptively dark song sung sweetly by an angelic little girl at a British campaign rally that gave the same vibe as CABARET’s “Tomorrow Belongs to Me. The song is called, “England’s White Rose.” Again, very different from my usual canvas, which made it exciting.

Another lyric of mine is sung by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Chicago in a wonderfully cynical documentary called LINCOLN IS CRYING: The Grifters, Grafters & Governors of Illinois, directed by John Davies. Their performance is wonderful and hilarious!

The bottom line on the past 2 years-and-change is we were all forced to figure out priorities. At the end of the day, all that matters is the people you love and doing all we can to celebrate the wisp of time we get to be on the planet.

What better time to march in a Jerry Herman parade!



TWITTER follow me @groovyshelly
INSTAGRAM - GroovyShelly

Thursday, April 7, 2022

ktrowlles

Award winning actress, director and writer Kristin Towers-Rowles has long been a favorite of mine. Even during the pandemic and after recuperating from her own bout with Covid, she got out there and worked.


"I just finished playing Elsa Lowenthal Einstein (the 2nd wife of Albert Einstein) in E=MC2  an Equity Staged Reading at the Victory Theatre Center - April 3,4, 2022. The musical was written by Karen Soroca and Janet Marie and directed by Elaine Moe.

"Next, I am playing Ilona, the Prima Donna, in The Play's the Thing by P.G. Wodehouse, at Theatre 40, directed by Melanie MacQueen. 
We run May 12-June 12th Thur, Fri, Sat Evenings @ 8pm and Sun Matinees @ 2pm

"This is the second show I've done with Theatre 40, the first being The Manor at Greystone Mansion, which closed on March 1st, 2020, just before the world shut down. 

"I also participated in a series of readings of new and rarely done works on Zoom during the past two years. https://theatre40.org/product/the-plays-the-thing-may-12-june-12-2022/

" So excited! I am again directing The Wild Party at the Morgan Wixson Theatre which was all rehearsed and ready to open in March of 2020 and only did a single invited dress rehearsal. We open September16th-October 9th, 2022 .https://www.morgan-wixson.org

Kristin Towers-Rowles


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

K Harris

Sixty-Six Theater Co. (Producing Director Trina Chan) announced the first show of its 2022 Mainstage Season—The Effect, written by Lucy Prebble. Kymberly Harris (below) will direct. 

The Effect had its world premiere at the National Theatre in London in 2012 and was the winner of the UK Critics’ Circle Award. The play had its North American premiere at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York in 2016. Winner of the UK Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play, this funny, provocative and deeply moving play offers a powerful theatrical exploration of the human brain through the heart. Questions of sanity, neurology and the limits of medicine are explored alongside ideas of fate, love and chemistry. 

Kymberly Harris is a director, writer, filmmaker, actor and acting coach. Her work tends to be deeply experiential and process-driven. She teaches acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in West Hollywood and to selective private clients who are working in TV and Film. In her early acting career, she played Maggie in a showcase at her MFA Program directed by Arthur Penn. Now as a director, writer, and filmmaker, she bridges the theatre and film worlds. Her play "Faith" is the only drama published in the new anthology, "Proofread or Die!," featuring works by colleagues and friends of the late David Foster Wallace. She has directed several new and contemporary plays at her resident companies in LA and in the Midwest. She recently wrote and directed an award-winning short, ROSE'S TURN, and her second film, FAITH, won Best Short at the 2018 New York International Film Festival. Her feature I HEARD SARAH received the Robert Rodriguez Best Indie Auteur of the Year Award, and will be distributed by Good Deeds Entertainment. Her upcoming feature is THE BOY IN THE PINK FLIP FLOPS.
--------------------
Tell our readers about the theme of The Effect.

KH:The play is set in a drug trial for antidepressants. Each character has their own conscious reason for choosing to participate or facilitate this trial, and their unconscious reasons for needing to deal with depression and relationships reveal themselves. 

What do you find special about the play?

KH: I can't think of a more timely play for this moment. We are all reeling from feelings of isolation after the pandemic, and we've all had moments, maybe for the first time, to truly self examine our lives, values, and relationships. The world is changing so much, we all have dealt with new feelings of hopelessness. From that state, it is more challenging to let others know you, or to let go of relationships that no longer serve you. What is beautiful about the play is these characters are also forced into introspection by circumstances beyond their control. And they are forced to decide if they will choose to love or self love, or continue to live in isolation. And there is a lot of humor and sexiness inherent in their process.

As director, what are your greatest challenges?

KH: My desire is to live solely in the world of a story when I'm directing. But life doesn't always allow that, so needing to split my focus is challenging for me. Also, with this play, you have two worlds, one that is very monitored and tech savvy, and the world within the clinic that is raw and emotional. So there's a way I'm directing two styles at once and finding where they connect. That part is a thrilling challenge, and I admire Prebble's writing more each day, as I discover this living emotional animal alive and breathing within this very sterile environment.

Talk about your cast and how they match their characters.
 
KH: I knew I wouldn't be able to deliver this play unless I found just the right actors. Leah Verill as Dr. Lorna has the reserve and intelligence of a scientist and the emotional depth of a passionate woman with a troubled past. John Ruby as Dr. Toby is just the right combination of charm and mystery needed for us to believe in his motives, success, and to understand Lorna's emotional and psychological entanglement with him. Jakki Jandrell has a great understanding of the drive and fears of Connie as well as her need to be honest and grow. 

Paul Rush is a complex and layered actor with the ability to transform and live his role, which is what we needed for Tristan because his range throughout the play is so great. And they're all wonderful, wickedly smart human beings with abundant talent.
 
How does the play fit into 66's mission statement?

KH:This is a significant story and I think anyone willing to participate in such a raw and current exploration is an ambitious storyteller. My experience of 66 is that it is a supportive incubator for risk taking and exploration, with a passion for excellent, contemporary, character driven writing. 

What do you hope the audience will take away?

KH: The audience becomes part of the experiment in this play, because as observers we are peeking in at what is meant to be a private process. As "participants", we all become complicit in the decision to take medication for depression or not, and to contemplate how our minds inhibit or encourage our ability to love. Is it irresponsible to test these patients in this way? Who profits from the sale of prescription drugs, and how does that affect the decision making? How does the doctor's subjective experience affect the trial? Is love a decision or an inevitable fate? And finally, is it worth it to show your soul to another, even though you are damaged and may get damaged again? If we achieve the level of thought and empathy around these questions that the story has helped us experience, I think it will be an impactful night of theatre. 

Kymberly Harris
Director @firsthand.films
@staytunedla: an interactive blog for actors

The Effect Opening: Friday April 29th at 8pm Performances: April 29th - May 21st, 2022 Fri, Sat & Mon 8pm, Sun 4pm inside The Strasberg Institute 7936 Santa Monica Blvd

West Hollywood, CA 90046

Tel: 213-926-3150

Thursday, January 13, 2022

 Brilliant artist, singer and songwriter Susan Edwards Martin never rests on her laurels. She sang live throughout the holidays and recently wrote her  “Thank you Song!” 



What motivated you to write this song?

These past two years have been most challenging for us all. Even though the world was slowing down, shutting down, shows being cancelled, and  teaching my students now online in Zoom, I felt I couldn’t sit idle and watch life pass me by.  For me, it is imperative and life-affirming, that I be creative…always.  I continually have ideas that inspire me. I refused to allow this oppressive and daunting pandemic to get me down!  I became very involved with my spiritual communities, which were all occurring on Zoom and found much comfort and peace going within, meditating, practicing my kundalini yoga, praying, continuing my studies to expand my consciousness and to remain faithful to the truth of who I am…who we are. I had to create! I had to write! And I found a safe place to create and record my music with music producer extraordinaire, Tony Campodonico.
  
Tell our readers more about him and how his association helped the song.

Tony has a swell, fully equipped recording studio in a detached garage/studio on his property and I found myself going there two times a week to record my songs.  Tony is a one man band and is an accomplished musician, with keyboards as his main instrument. He is proficient with all the possibilities that the digital realm has to offer and I knew I was in the best place possible.

With my “Thank You Song” I was feeling so much gratitude for my life and my family and with my open heart ready to receive all the good life has to offer. I had an idea of the spirit of the song…a bluegrass, country vibe and I knew I wanted it to be melodic and heartfelt, inspiring, catchy, fun, and danceable! I rejoiced that Tony got to show off his considerable talent on the keyboard in this song! “Thank You” are two very powerful words that will change your life! I felt that it could help heal the current divisiveness and sadness that have been prevalent in the world and our current situation. We need to remember to be grateful for every thing in our lives and give thanks in an uplifting and joyous way through this song!!

Describe your process in songwriting.

The process is always so interesting to me. I had the melody and essence of the song in my head and “Thank You” just seemed to fit perfectly. Then once the “musical hook” was established, I was able to write more lyrics to fully express the sentiment of the song. We thought that it would enhance the song to have a “live” guitarist on the track so Tony contacted his amazingly talented friend Derol Caraco, to give us the pleasure of experiencing his superb guitar playing!  Staying Covid compliant, we sent him the basic track with vocals and piano, and he was able to record his part in his own studio and send it to Tony electronically through the internet cloud!! Amazing!! The way it’s mixed together, it sounds like we’re all in the same room! I love that! Technology at its finest!  I am so pleased with the final recording and I feel I am a very lucky gal to have all this talent to make music with!!!  Thank you!!!  

You can find the THANK YOU SONG! and many of Susan Edwards Martin’s music streaming on Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, Apple Music…just about everywhere!! 
Get up and dance and ENJOY!!