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“A 1940’s Comedy of Errors” written by Michael Hagins. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “A 1940’s Comedy of Errors” written by Michael Hagins.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Michael Hagins: A 1940’s Comedy of Errors.

MC: What is it about?
MH: A set of twins wreck havoc in the small town of Ephesus with mistaken identity and slapstick insanity.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
MH: I’m a huge fan of the 1940s, particularly the cartoons, and with my love of Shakespeare, I created the adaptation that stays true to the text but also brings the audience to the living cartoon world.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
MH: Because I didn’t write the original material, the obstacle was more making sure my concept didn’t interfere with the themes and tones that Shakespeare wrote.

MC:
What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
MH: When I finally felt that I captured the spirit of Shakespeare’s comedy. Once I got I that point, the rest flowed easily.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
MH: It’s amazing. Last year was my first time, so this year I wanted to really raise the bar on the work, and impress a few people.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
MH: www.Facebook.com/CAGETheatre

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

Proust Questionnaire:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being able to truly be considered a success in theatre, someone of importance.

What is your greatest fear?
Natural water (pools, rivers, lakes, etc).

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Paranoia.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Self-centered egoism.

Which living person do you most admire?
Sidney Poitier.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Video games.

What is your current state of mind?
Content in my career, but definitely not happy yet

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I don’t know. They all seem pretty good to me.

On what occasion do you lie?

I’m one to sugarcoat things when needed, to prevent hurt feelings

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I definitely I could walk around shirtless and look like a Greek god.

Which living person do you most despise?
Despise is a strong word. There’s lot of racists out there I hate, but I don’t know them enough to despise.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Humility.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Creativity.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Cool deal” and “Does that make sense?” are basically my catch phrases.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Theatre so far. Hopefully a female will change that one day.

When and where were you happiest?
I’d have to say most summers doing Shakespeare. Can’t pinpoint an exact time.

Which talent would you most like to have? Financial wizardry.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I’d be better at raising money for shows.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Winning the playwright award for Planet Connections in 2013 for Hit and Match.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A knight in the Renaissance, although it may not be the cleanest…

Where would you most like to live?
New York City in a penthouse apartment.

What is your most treasured possession?

My 1920’s replica Tommy Gun.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Monotonous existence with no creative outlet.

What is your favorite occupation?
Director.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Determination.

What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty.

Who are your favorite writers?
Shakespeare, Sophocles, Ibsen.

Who is your hero of fiction?

Batman.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Shakespeare; although I swear I’m not being arrogant.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Martin Luther King, Jr., James Earl Jones, Page Deulin.

What are your favorite names?
Page, Devin, Emily.

What is it that you most dislike?
Failure.

What is your greatest regret?
A few friendships and relationships ended badly.

How would you like to die? Shot in the head at 90 directly after a show.

“BURBAGE…” written by Nick Minella. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “BURBAGE, The Man Who Made Shakespeare Famous” written by playwright Nick Minella.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Nick Minella: “BURBAGE, The Man Who Made Shakespeare Famous”.

MC: What is it about?
NM: Richard Burbage who was perhaps the finest actor during Shakespeare’s time. We have very little knowledge of Elizabethan acting techniques, but we do know from Hamlet’s admonition to the players what Shakespeare, and presumably Burbage, thought constituted a bad melodramatic acting style, and we can infer from this that Burbage eschewed that style. What we do know about Burbage’s style is from a number of elegies written after his death. They praise his power of interpretation; he did not just act the parts he played, but became the parts he played, somewhat like today’s method acting technique, and the parts written for him are some of the greatest from Shakespeare’s pen. He played the title role in Hamlet, Othello, Richard III, and King Lear. His talents were also sought after by the other great playwrights at the time, including Ben Jonson and John Webster.
He could also lay claim to coming from England’s first theatrical family. His father, James Burbage, formed the first professional acting troupe licensed to perform in England, and the older Burbage also built “The Theatre,” London’s first playhouse. Richard Burbage was not just an actor, he was also a renowned artist and there is a claim that he painted the famous Chandos portrait of Shakespeare. He and his brother Cuthbert also took over the management of The Theatre after their father’s death and later rebuilt it as the famous Globe Theater.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
NM: I wrote it especially for my friend Neil McGarry, a great stage actor with a list of credits that Richard Burbage would be proud to have. Neil founded his acting company The Bay Colony Shakespeare Company in part for the purpose of producing the play. There have been three successful productions of the play, the first at the 2010 Sagamore Beach Colony Club’s “Arts On the Beach” festival. Its next appearance was in January 2013 at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre; and then in February 2013 at the Cotuit Center for The Arts.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
NM: Getting the language to sing. I wrote about 11 rewrites, cutting and adding scenes, working to get a rhythm to the language, which I believe must be simple, direct, but which must sing. I strive for this “singing” in all my works. For this play, I didn’t want to write in iambic pentameter and I didn’t want to use too many Shakespearean quotes, I wanted a language that sounded true, but was not an imitation of Elizabethan English.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
NM: The writing. I love Shakespearean theater, its storytelling, English history, and the Elizabethan age in particular, so the research was a joy. I am also at my most contented when I am writing. I have no sense of time when I am at it and I am surprised when I realize that I’ve spent 3, 4, or more hours at it. And I am not alone when I write, my characters are with me, I live with them and for them and I am loathed to part from them when fatigue forces me to put down the pen.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
NM: Everything. It is a confirmation for me that I have some talent as a writer and it gives me confidence to continue writing. It is justification of my friend Neil’s commitment to me and to the play. It is also an opportunity for us to present the play to a New York audience (something every playwright dreams of), at one of the most prestigious theatrical festivals. Who wouldn’t gladly give 10 year from his life for a chance to be presented by the Fringe Festival?

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
NM: At the New York International Fringe website: http://www.fringenyc.org/, and at The Bay Colony Shakespeare Company’s website: www.baycolonyshakespear.com.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Doing what I enjoy doing.

What is your greatest fear?
Being alone in life.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Lack of self confidence.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Selfishness.

Which living person do you most admire?
Any person who respects the rights of others.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Pampering my own ego.

What is your current state of mind?
My mind is in a constant state of flux.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Modesty.

On what occasion do you lie?
To protect others.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Anything I cannot change.

Which living person do you most despise?
Any person who is cruel and vindictive.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
His feminine side.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Her independence.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“If I only had (hadn’t) done …”

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I won’t want to embarrass that person.

When and where were you happiest?

When I was a child.

Which talent would you most like to have?
The talent for self-promotion.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
The century I was born.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My belief in God and man in face of adversity.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A pampered, spoiled, cat living with a rich family.

Where would you most like to live?
Near people who love me.

What is your most treasured possession?
My family and friends.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When you have no goal to accomplish.

What is your favorite occupation?
Reading, writing, and music.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Shyness.

What do you most value in your friends?
Instinctively knowing when I need them.

Who are your favorite writers?
I love the author I am reading at any given time.

Who is your hero of fiction?
Anyone who fights against injustice.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Anyone who has stood up against injustice.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Anyone who contributes to the education, well-being, and happiness of the world.

What are your favorite names?
Names do not matter. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

What is it that you most dislike?
Being alone in the night.

What is your greatest regret?
Holding back my emotions.

How would you like to die?
Loved and admired.

What is your motto?
That would be telling you too much about myself.


Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

“The Text Of Sex” written by Michele Aldin Kushner Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America.  It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “The Text Of Sex” written by playwright Michele Aldin Kushner.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show? Michele Aldin Kushner:  The Text of Sex. 

MC: What is it about? MAK: THE TEXT OF SEX is about A NYC Prep School student, Delilah, who’s arrested for sexing her boyfriend when her nude shot goes viral.  Her father wants Delilah to give up the name the boy.  Her best friend, who convinced her to take the photo, wants Delilah to dump the boy.   Her exasperated mother wants Delilah to stop using her cell phone to communicate.  Delilah wants the school, the District Attorney, and her parents to know that they all misunderstand her – more than they realize. 

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?MAK: I think it’s extraordinary that kids are growing up and exploring their sexuality with the technology of the Internet and mobile computer (the cell phone).  Who wouldn’t?    Adults are addicted to cell phones and texting.  Children only follow their parents’ example.   But kids are being penalized for using what is pervasive and at their disposal.  Of course the legal system gets involved when something like sexting disrupts a school or community.  However, our legal system has not caught up with our current conundrum of children behaving like adults.  And in New York State a child of sixteen can be arrested for sexting: disseminating pornography to other underage children.   This very law that is meant to protect kids is currently being used to prosecute them.  That being said – I really wanted to write a story that includes the teen point of view – which – I think  - still includes a place of innocence.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?MAK: In writing THE TEXT OF SEX, I consulted with lawyers, including a NY District Attorney.   I researched New York State laws on sexting/pornography charges regarding children, and continue to keep up with the many news pieces posted on teen sexting.   However – my biggest challenge in writing this piece is asking the audience to accept the legal devices I chose to use in order to keep the play theatrical.  
My second hurdle has been conveying that this is not a criminal procedure TV show (but I love those) or an after school special.   It’s very much a play – designed to challenge all audiences, adults and teens; how do you cope with omnipresent technology?  

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?MAK: I liked allowing the dad of the family to portray himself as the biggest a**hole possible  (I tend to rally against the necessity of writing likeable characters in general).  I liked writing his rants at his wife and child and pretty much anyone with whom he comes into contact.  Because it felt perfectly justified.  He is a man working to keep his head financially above water, isolated from his family, and heading for a breakdown.  

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?MAK: I’m proud!   This is my third time producing one of my shows for FringeNYC.  Fringe has given me the opportunity to show my work on a larger platform, in great theatres in front of great audiences and allows me to be a part of a larger movement of theatre – one in which people get to re-create the story they wish to tell.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?MAK: Please check us out at www.textofsex.com -  @textofsex – www.fringenyc.orgwww.michelealdinkushner.com

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

“The Text Of Sex” written by Michele Aldin Kushner Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “The Text Of Sex” written by playwright Michele Aldin Kushner.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Michele Aldin Kushner: The Text of Sex.

MC: What is it about?
MAK: THE TEXT OF SEX is about A NYC Prep School student, Delilah, who’s arrested for sexing her boyfriend when her nude shot goes viral. Her father wants Delilah to give up the name the boy. Her best friend, who convinced her to take the photo, wants Delilah to dump the boy. Her exasperated mother wants Delilah to stop using her cell phone to communicate. Delilah wants the school, the District Attorney, and her parents to know that they all misunderstand her – more than they realize.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
MAK: I think it’s extraordinary that kids are growing up and exploring their sexuality with the technology of the Internet and mobile computer (the cell phone). Who wouldn’t? Adults are addicted to cell phones and texting. Children only follow their parents’ example. But kids are being penalized for using what is pervasive and at their disposal. Of course the legal system gets involved when something like sexting disrupts a school or community. However, our legal system has not caught up with our current conundrum of children behaving like adults. And in New York State a child of sixteen can be arrested for sexting: disseminating pornography to other underage children. This very law that is meant to protect kids is currently being used to prosecute them. That being said – I really wanted to write a story that includes the teen point of view – which – I think - still includes a place of innocence.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
MAK: In writing THE TEXT OF SEX, I consulted with lawyers, including a NY District Attorney. I researched New York State laws on sexting/pornography charges regarding children, and continue to keep up with the many news pieces posted on teen sexting. However – my biggest challenge in writing this piece is asking the audience to accept the legal devices I chose to use in order to keep the play theatrical.
My second hurdle has been conveying that this is not a criminal procedure TV show (but I love those) or an after school special. It’s very much a play – designed to challenge all audiences, adults and teens; how do you cope with omnipresent technology?

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
MAK: I liked allowing the dad of the family to portray himself as the biggest a**hole possible (I tend to rally against the necessity of writing likeable characters in general). I liked writing his rants at his wife and child and pretty much anyone with whom he comes into contact. Because it felt perfectly justified. He is a man working to keep his head financially above water, isolated from his family, and heading for a breakdown.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
MAK: I’m proud! This is my third time producing one of my shows for FringeNYC. Fringe has given me the opportunity to show my work on a larger platform, in great theatres in front of great audiences and allows me to be a part of a larger movement of theatre – one in which people get to re-create the story they wish to tell.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
MAK: Please check us out at www.textofsex.com - @textofsex – www.fringenyc.org
www.michelealdinkushner.com

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

"The Road to Odessa." written by Cameron Mckenzie. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “The Road to Odessa.” written by playwright Cameron Mckenzie.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Cameron Mckenzie: The Road to Odessa.

MC: What is it about?
CM: Its about loneliness in men and the subversive types exploitation we commit to women. For me it started with a thought “Wouldn’t this be easier if I just went and got a mail order bride” and the show is an exploration of that. Its also about lost love and family.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
CM: To tell the truth I was looking for a topic to write a show about and when I had the thought about mail order brides it seemed like a good idea. I started writing it and my brother Richard who is a comedian read it and said he just wanted to watch a show about who I am when it comes to love and loss. And then I really started questioning who I was as a man today and that’s when the play genuinely started for me.
It really sparked question of what is loneliness in the male condition and what does it do to me and the people around me. It tells the story of a journey towards getting a mail order bride but to me its really about love and family and humanity and seeing the good and evil in me and other people.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
CM: There has been so many its hard to find a place to begin. Technically its a very ambitious show. I built a camera that shoots video in 360 degree which I was going to use to interview women in the Ukraine but I could find anyone to talk to so I have integrated it into the show in another way which looks like it is working, fingers crossed.
Also making the story an actual cohesive story and not just a indulgent rant about me has been very challenging. Finding something to say about the topic from a unique perspective has required a lot of work. Its funny because I spent so much time trying to plot this story out when all it really required was for me to talk from the heart about my life as a man. I was very concerned that this was all just a self indulgent wank about which is why getting picked up by the NYC Fringe has been such a boost in confidence that I am on a good path with it.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
CM: All of it, absolutely all of it. I have been an actor for a very long time and that process to me has always felt like work. Work that I have a passion for but work none the less. Writing, particularly writing this has just been such a stimulating thing that even the challenges have been nothing short of fun a kind of anxious stressful fun.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
CM: So much! Its given me such a great sense of validation. Its made me believe that I have something to offer as a performer and a writer. I think when someone goes though the process of applying to do something in the arts it seems like such a long shot and it drags up memories of when people said that you weren’t good at things. I always think these thing are a long shot because a primary school teacher of mine said that I couldn’t spell Christmass like the other kids. So when I got the acceptance email from Elena I kinda jumped for joy literally in my lounge room.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
CM: There is the fringe website but I also have a website for my theatre company which is www.goodlittletheatre.com. I don’t know how to use twitter. I think I’m a 80 year old man trapped in a 33 year olds body.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Going surfing on a cold day and then sitting down in the shower.

What is your greatest fear? Becoming paralysed and also anything else that can hurt me.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I do get scared about all the bad stuff that can happen in life. It tries to stop me from living and trying and sometimes I let it.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Narrow mindedness and violence. I also can’t stand slow walkers.

Which living person do you most admire?
My best friend Pat who never thinks of himself and is always there for me when I get scared.

What is your greatest extravagance? Having really long showers. I can’t help myself. The second water its me I just go to a happy place and come out the other end loving life a bit more but its a massive waste of water.

What is your current state of mind? Anxious stressed and happy so I would say Anxstressappy.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Australian larrikinism (a type of charm) which should be a virtue but often justifies bullshit behaviour.

On what occasion do you lie? When the truth will hurt someone but then the lie ends up hurting them.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? I think my jaw is a bit crooked also I can’t grow facial hair which is horrible.

Which living person do you most despise? My best friend Pat who is an economic girly-man that sucks at playing Halo and annoys me about crumbs.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Friendliness.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Kindness.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Bam! and Geez Louise and Holy Shit Balls!

What or who is the greatest love of your life? This is going to sound cheesy but I would have to say surfing and the ocean.

When and where were you happiest? When my niece called me Uncle Cam for the first time.

Which talent would you most like to have? Writing and Performing.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I have a massive fear of dancing that I want to get over.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Making it past 30 with my mind intact.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A really smart rescue dog who saves people and has also found a way to open cookie jars.

Where would you most like to live? On the coast in the Netherlands with a fireplace and a dog and a wife and kids and the rest of my family and Pat.

What is your most treasured possession?
My camera that films in 360 degrees because it took such a long time to work out how to make. Also my car and surfboards.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? When I thought I had MS and when my dad passed away.

What is your favourite occupation? Writing and performing particularly when it takes me on an adventure.

What is your most marked characteristic? Forgetfulness and an obsession with sugar.

What do you most value in your friends? Help and companionship.

Who are your favorite writers? I don’t really read a lot but I love Robert Graves, Edward Albee and Arthur C Clark.

Who is your hero of fiction? It has to be Batman or the dog from UP!

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
When I was in high-school my teacher told us about this guy in ancient China who wouldn’t give up on trying to get an education. He was finally accepted into that Dynasties version of university when he was an old man. I love the fact that he never gave up on what he wanted for himself.

Who are your heroes in real life? My mum who is the absolute boss! And my dad.

What are your favourite names? Cameron, Richard, Scott, Jess, Eva, Adam and Pat.

What is it that you most dislike? Hurtful people and when I’m a hurtful person.

What is your greatest regret? Not getting back on a train.

How would you like to die? During interstellar travel.

What is your motto? Fuck it!

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

"Confessions of Old Lady #2" written by Joan Shepard. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is
“Confessions of Old Lady #2” written by playwright Joan Shepard.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Joan Shepard: Confessions of Old Lady #2.

MC: What is it about?
JS: My life in show business— 74 years so far.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
JS: For many years my friends had been telling me to set my story down on paper. I took a writing class in solo performance. The 12th Night Club asked me to tell the story of my life as an evening’s entertainment at the club. I decided it was time to make it into a one woman show.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
JS: Selecting what stories to tell and making it sound spontaneous, rather than literary.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
JS: How easy it was once I got started.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
JS: Honored to be asked.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
JS: On twitter (@joanhshepard), on my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/joanhaydenshepard), on google (as both Joan Shepard and Joan Shepard Thompson), and soon on my website.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To do a terrific show and go out afterwards with family and friends.

What is your greatest fear?
Being physically unable to perform.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Putting things off— procrastination.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Blaming.

Which living person do you most admire?
Barack Obama.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Taking taxis.

What is your current state of mind?
Worrying over everything. As I once told my husband, “I have to worry, it’s my hobby.”

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Honesty as in “let me be honest”, usually a cover-up for a hurtful personal remark.

On what occasion do you lie?

On all occasions when the truth might hurt and do no good anyway.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My big bloobully stomach.

Which living person do you most despise?
George W Bush.


What is the quality you most like in a man?
Humor.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Humor.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“I have a story about that”.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What: The Theatre. Who: Evan Thompson.

When and where were you happiest?
In 1951 I was a student at the Preparatory Academy for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. For the first time in my life I was totally accepted by my peers, and at the same time immersed in English theatre. In 1959 I was appearing in a hit show and getting married to Evan. There have been many, many happy times since but these two are standouts.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Computer skills.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To stop holding grudges and resisting change.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Playing a major role in saving the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut from the wrecking ball.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A boy player in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Where would you most like to live?
Where I am right now, in Manhattan’s East Village, but London wouldn’t be bad and there’s also Commerce Street in the West Village.

What is your most treasured possession?
My Steinway parlor grand piano. My father bought it for me before I was born, so it is 82 years old.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The Holocaust. I still feel guilty when I read the dates and remember how happy I was then.

What is your favorite occupation?
Being in a play.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Others have said it’s my energy but it is somewhat diminished.

What do you most value in your friends?
Humor.

Who are your favorite writers?
Shakespeare, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Norah Lofls and Alexander McCall Smith.

Who is your hero of fiction?
Jim Hawkins.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Abigail Adams.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Real life? Never heard of it.

What are your favorite names?
For girls: Emily, Charlotte and Jennifer. For boys: Owen and Jeremy.

What is it that you most dislike?
Being out of work.

What is your greatest regret?
Being mean to my mother the night before she died.

How would you like to die?
To give a terrific performance on stage, go to my dressing room and lay my head down on the table.

What is your motto?
Try and stop me!

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

"Dragon’s Breath" written by Michael C. O’Day. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “Dragon’s Breath” written by playwright Michael C. O’Day.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Michael C. O’Day: Dragon’s Breath.

MC: What is it about?
O’Day: It’s about a YA paranormal romance writer who accidentally creates an evil cult.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
O’Day: Short answer: the election of Pope Francis.
A more elaborate answer: Despite not being Catholic, it drove me nuts when all the commentators who were surprised at the election of the current Pope kept wondering what the choice could possibly mean. (Lookin’ your way, Chris Matthews.) In South America, the chief rival to the traditional Catholic church is the conservative envangelical movement. And the whole tenor of Francis’ papacy so far – a return to a classically liberal, socially-oriented, common-sense approach to religion – makes sense in that context. As a response against the excesses of religious fundamentalist movements that re-write the holy texts they claim to worship. And I realized all that at the time of his election. And as I watched that coverage, a thought struck me – what if that exact same schism happened, not with the Bible, but with the most ridiculous book imaginable? With, for example, a YA paranormal romance series? Featuring dragons?

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
O’Day: Since the play is about the writing and promotion of a series of YA novels, I had to figure out what the plot of the books were and weave that plot into the play without overwhelming the story I was actually telling. And I had to do all that with my cat lying on my keyboard the whole time.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
O’Day: Having an excuse to binge-read fantasy novels for three months straight. For “research.”

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
O’Day: Given the insane costs of producing theatre in New York, and the ridiculous levels of bureaucracy and development involved in creating new work, the Fringe is the last truly democratic forum for getting your artistic voice heard. I feel honored to be included in it.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
O’Day: Our website is www.dragonsbreathplay.com. You can also find us on Facebook (“Dragon’s Breath”) and Twitter (@Drag0nsBreath).

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being able to create something and know that it matters.

What is your greatest fear? That it was all a waste.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Indecisiveness.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Willful ignorance.

Which living person do you most admire?
Arthur French. He’s a founding member of the Negro Ensemble Company, he’s still a working actor and director and has taught just about every actor in New York City, and I don’t know anybody with more talent or a greater work ethic, or who’s a better role model for an arts professional.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I’m an actor! Pizza that costs more than a buck a slice is an extravagance!

What is your current state of mind?
My brain feels like oatmeal these days. Is oatmeal a state of mind?

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience. Sometimes shit just has to get done.

On what occasion do you lie? Only if my life’s on the line – I’m really bad at it.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? At my age, I can’t answer that without crying.

Which living person do you most despise?
Who’s on the news right now?

What is the quality you most like in a man?
The ability to resist the temptation to prove they’re the alpha.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
An indulgent sense of humor.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I object to the question. It’s not possible to overuse “awesome-tastic.”

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Ludwig van Beethoven. In a totally hetero bro-mance kind of way.

When and where were you happiest?

Waiting in the calm blue light backstage of the shows I did in college.

Which talent would you most like to have?
At the moment, the ability to stop time would come in pretty damn handy.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d be better with people. Whatever the heck that means.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting out of the 1980s.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? An octopus. They’re going to inherit the earth, mark my words.

Where would you most like to live? A parallel-universe New York City that was actually affordable.

What is your most treasured possession? My grandfather’s Gibson Black Special guitar. He bought it in Madison, Wisconsin at the height of the Depression, and it survived the twentieth century. It’s scratched up and I can only play two or three chords at best, but it was my grandfather’s, and now it’s mine.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Having nothing meaningful to do, and an endless expanse of time in which to do it.

What is your favorite occupation? Ancient Celtic bard. They were the lawmakers and lorekeepers of their world, and if they made up a satire about you, you dropped dead if you heard it. We need an MFA program for that.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Geekiness in all its forms.

What do you most value in your friends?
A high degree of tolerance.

Who are your favorite writers?
Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Ray Bradbury, Christopher Durang. (Crap, that’s a whole bunch of white guys. Sorry.)

Who is your hero of fiction? Sherlock Holmes. The REAL one.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Is it too early to consider Joe Biden a historical figure?

Who are your heroes in real life? Whaddaya mean the Ghostbusters aren’t real?!?!

What are your favorite names? In the interest of self-promotion, I’m going with “Tabitha Wonderley.” (Come see the show and you’ll understand.)

What is it that you most dislike? Garden slugs. Seriously. YUCK.

What is your greatest regret? That it’s taken so long for me to understand things that should be intuitive enough for a child to grasp.

How would you like to die? Incinerated by a nuclear device that I’m flying away from a heavily populated area in order to save the population, like at the end of The Dark Knight Rises. (That lousy coda doesn’t count.)

What is your motto? “One of us! One of us! Gooble gabble, one of us!”

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

"The Truing" written by Joe Norton. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “The Truing” written by playwright Joe Norton.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Joe Norton: The Truing.

MC: What is it about?
JN: Six AIDS Ride cyclists and crew members encounter obstacles on their second day, causing them to realize that they must work together to get back on the route and finish the ride.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
JN: I am positive 22 years. One of the first things I did after my diagnosis was go to work for the Rides. That experience and those people changed my life forever.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
JN: Trying to keep it about the characters, and not about the logistics of the ride; also, making it current, so that it relates to the issues positive people and their supporters face today. Living with HIV/AIDS is very different today from when I was first diagnosed (in 1992) and worked on the Rides.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
JN: Getting to know my characters. They surprised me.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
JN: I’m honored. I love NYC downtown theatre, even though I work on B’way (in another capacity). Everyone I’ve already met whose involved in the Fringe this year is so excited. I love that.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
JN: thetruingplay.com, @thetruingplay

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Peaceful nights with my husband and dog, or sitting around a dinner table with friends and family.

What is your greatest fear? That time is moving too fast. I worry about that.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I doubt myself as an artist, so I procrastinate.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Bigotry and intolerance.

Which living person do you most admire? There are many more than one. Really, I admire a lot of other people. My friends and family, especially.

What is your greatest extravagance? Taking cabs around the city.

What is your current state of mind? Crazy.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Good looks.

On what occasion do you lie? To save someone else from embarrassment.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? My flat butt.

Which living person do you most despise? Hard one. It takes a lot…


What is the quality you most like in a man? A gentle pace.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Confidence.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Shit.”

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, Jason.

When and where were you happiest? Hard to say, but now’s pretty good.

Which talent would you most like to have? Playing piano.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wouldn’t procrastinate so much.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Sobriety.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A theater or a bird.

Where would you most like to live? Besides NYC? Maybe San Francisco? Or Tuscany? There are many places I’ve yet to go.

What is your most treasured possession? Probably my iPod.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The day before I got sober.

What is your favorite occupation? Teaching.

What is your most marked characteristic? I guess my smile. I smile a lot.

What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and laughter.

Who are your favorite writers? It’s a very long list. Martin McDonaugh, Sam Shepard, Raymond Carver, and my friends: playwrights, poets, novelists. They inspire me the most.

Who is your hero of fiction? Hmmm. Is John Snow too recent?

Which historical figure do you most identify with? That’s a hard one. I’m a pretty regular guy.

Who are your heroes in real life? Teachers, people living with diseases, nurses, parents, children.

What are your favorite names? I like all names. Names are cool.

What is it that you most dislike? Intolerance fueled by ignorance.

What is your greatest regret? Not sticking with the piano lessons.

How would you like to die? In my sleep, I guess.

What is your motto? Hang in there.”

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

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"Ryan Is Lost" written by Nathan Wellman. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “Ryan Is Lost” written by playwright Nathan Wellman.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Nathan Wellman: Ryan Is Lost.

MC: What is it about?
NW: Ryan is Lost is a two person play about brother and sister Frank and Avis, who have lost their nephew in the middle of a busy mall. The whole play takes place around the bench where they said they would meet if they got separated, in which they quickly become embroiled in their own selfish fears and disappointments, lashing out because it’s the only way they know how to connect with each other. By the end of the play they’ve practically forgotten all about Ryan, the only truly pure part of their lives, and we see that they are just as lost as he is.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
NW: Probably the initial impetus stemmed from the desire to write about siblings. You don’t have to try to be a better version of yourself in front of your brother or sister. You can scream at them and even hit them and that bond never goes away. In some ways, they see the ugly parts of you that nobody else gets to see. So dramatically, exploring a relationship like that is ripe with exciting opportunities to make some pretty wild statements about human selfishness.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
NW: The whole 70 minute piece is one scene, and features two actors who never leave the stage. It was certainly an obstacle to keep that compelling for an audience, finding consistent conflict and new actions without it collapsing into just two people talking or observing for an hour. But through that difficulty I was delighted to find new paths for storytelling that I’d never considered pursuing before. The play became an insane juggling act, in which I’d throw up a new theme or idea on page 24 and just move onto something else until p.58 when you finally get the payoff. It’s almost a bit of a puzzle in that regard. You never know what offhand remark is going to come back and have a heavier significance later.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
NW: The language. Ah, the beautiful profanity of Frank and Avis. A large majority of the play are quick one line jabs going back and forth, and it was a joy to cruise through a page so quickly. They’re fairly hilarious characters, in a sad way, in that they never seem to know what is going on or what the other one is talking about, because they never really listen to each other. So you get a lot of confusion and repetition permeating the script with plenty of exchanges like “What are we talking about?” “What did you say?” “Why are we stay here still?” “I don’t know!” “You never know anything!” “I know enough.” “About what?” “What are we talking about?!”.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
NW: We got our start at the Hollywood Fringe, which was a blast. Now it kind of feels like we’re entering into the big leagues, considering that FringeNYC has a longer history than the still-young one in LA. It was a joy to be accepted and also of course equally terrifying because we want to be on top of our game among so many other incredible artists.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
NW: We just launched a twitter account that I encourage everyone to follow for info, discounts, and the occasional mindblowing cat video.
https://twitter.com/RyanisLostNYC
And of course our Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/RyanIsLostPlay

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras on DirtyDurty.com or “Maya’s Blog”
on TheBloodlineofShadrickGrace.com

Ian Curtis’ handwritten lyrics for Joy Division’s single most iconic song, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” xo Maya

Ian Curtis’ handwritten lyrics for Joy Division’s single most iconic song, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” xo Maya