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"No Visible Scars" written by Deon Denton. 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 “No Visible Scars” written by playwright Deon Denton.  

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show? Deon Denton: No Visible Scars.

MC: What is it about? DD: The show is about a troubled young woman (Myranda) battling demons from her past. She struggles with “daddy issues”, carries a large black box, measures her life by dying things and has already set the date for her next suicide attempt.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?DD: I went through a period of tremendous loss and struggled with depression for a period, as a way of therapy I decided to script some of the emotional elements of my experience. It was a very cathartic experience that resulted in some sense of freedom and liberation as I gave myself hope once I saw my experience on paper.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?DD: Suicide and depression is not a popular topic in the black community and especially in the Church. I was hesitant to identify with the character at first because of the taboo placed on mental illness in our society.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?DD: The creative process of starting out a story with a problem and at the end not having the problem completely resolved but having hope that new strengths was gained to go a little further. 

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?DD: To have my work read and accepted in the New York Fringe is a major milestone for me. I’ve entered the Toronto Fringe a few times before but this is different. The jury based selection process lends a lot of credibility to your work.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?DD: www.promsieproductions.ca, https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleScarsFringeNYCwww.promsieproductions.ca, https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleScarsFringeNYC
https://twitter.com/PromProductions

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

"No Visible Scars" written by Deon Denton. 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 “No Visible Scars” written by playwright Deon Denton.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Deon Denton: No Visible Scars.

MC: What is it about?
DD: The show is about a troubled young woman (Myranda) battling demons from her past. She struggles with “daddy issues”, carries a large black box, measures her life by dying things and has already set the date for her next suicide attempt.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
DD: I went through a period of tremendous loss and struggled with depression for a period, as a way of therapy I decided to script some of the emotional elements of my experience. It was a very cathartic experience that resulted in some sense of freedom and liberation as I gave myself hope once I saw my experience on paper.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
DD: Suicide and depression is not a popular topic in the black community and especially in the Church. I was hesitant to identify with the character at first because of the taboo placed on mental illness in our society.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
DD: The creative process of starting out a story with a problem and at the end not having the problem completely resolved but having hope that new strengths was gained to go a little further.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
DD: To have my work read and accepted in the New York Fringe is a major milestone for me. I’ve entered the Toronto Fringe a few times before but this is different. The jury based selection process lends a lot of credibility to your work.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
DD: www.promsieproductions.ca, https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleScarsFringeNYCwww.promsieproductions.ca, https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleScarsFringeNYC
https://twitter.com/PromProductions

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

"Forgetting the Details" written by Nicole Maxali. 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 “Forgetting the Details” written by playwright Nicole Maxali.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Nicole Maxali: Forgetting the Details.

MC: What is it about?
NM: Family, Filipinos & Alzheimer’s. The show tells my story of being raised in San Francisco by my traditional Filipino grandmother, yet influenced by my free-spirited father, and the struggles we face as a family when my grandma is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s a powerful story that reaches beyond the Filipino American context and touches upon powerful elements of the human experience. Described by Dave Chappelle as “funny, heartwarming, and funny again,” my one-woman show will make you laugh, cry, and remind you that, in the end, it’s not the details that matter.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
NM: I started writing this piece in 2006 during a solo performance workshop I was taking taught by W. Kamau Bell (Host of the FX show “Totally Biased”). During that year, my grandma was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It was a difficult time for my family and for me, especially since my grandma provided unconditional love and stability during my formative years. What do you do when your rock begins to shift into sand? I chose to write. Writing was my coping mechanism—a positive outlet for the pain. After our class final, Kamau told me that it was some of the best writing he has ever seen me perform.
The piece evolved as I performed it in venues around San Francisco. Soon people began approaching me, sharing their own stories about loved ones with Alzheimer’s. They related to this story in a special way due to their experiences with Alzheimer’s. I realized that my show had become something more than just a source of healing for me. It was a way for people to connect to a piece that spoke to their own issues of caregiving, guilt, shame, mental health, and family dynamics. It became a way for other people to heal as well. My desire to add to healing and light in an otherwise dark and painful world of Alzheimer’s disease was my source of inspiration.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
NM: The death of one of the real-life characters in my show occurred suddenly in the middle of the writing process. It was unexpected and devastating for my entire family. I was set to premiere my show November 2011 and this person passed away in July 2011. It was necessary to re-write the entire ending of my show. In those final weeks of rehearsals, I sobbed and balled my eyes out during the last five pages because the feelings of loss were so raw. Unsure if I was going to be able to actually perform without breaking, I told myself that it was okay to be vulnerable because the show must go on. Because of that vulnerability and integrity in the writing, I received standing ovations for my entire run and rave reviews. Yet, all I wanted was to make the person who passed away proud.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
NM: The memories that flooded back to me about my family. The good and bad.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
NM: This is a huge accomplishment! It’s been a dream of mine to get accepted into this festival. I’d love to say one day that FringeNY helped me propel my story and career forward. Former Fringe Participant Mindy Kaling is such an inspiration to young women of color writers out there. She certainly has inspired me to follow down the path she’s paved, while at the same time giving myself space to create my own.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
NM: Website: www.NicoleMaxali.com Twitter: @NicoleMaxali

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Writing on the coast of Big Sur and then months later seeing my words on stage/screen.

What is your greatest fear? Getting stuck in a subway car with a dozen rats.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Writer’s Procrastination.

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

Which living person do you most admire? My mother.

What is your greatest extravagance? Traveling and living a bi-coastal existence.

What is your current state of mind? “Everyday I’m Hustling!”

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Aggressiveness.

On what occasion do you lie? When my livelihood depends on it… Team Tyrion!

What do you most dislike about your appearance? That dairy/gluten causes me to bloat two sizes up.

Which living person do you most despise? Miley Cyrus

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

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Self-Love.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
HELLA!!! It’s hella Bay Arean. “California Love”.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My art.

When and where were you happiest? Camping in Yosemite with my father.

Which talent would you most like to have? Adele’s or Alicia Key’s soulful singing voice.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I was a little bit taller…

What do you consider your greatest achievement? My children…and by “children” I mean my creative projects.

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

Where would you most like to live? Paris, France.

What is your most treasured possession? My faith or my vibrator…it’s a close tie since I’m in a long distance relationship.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The break-up after your first love.

What is your favorite occupation? Solo Performer.

What is your most marked characteristic? Ambition.

Who are your favorite writers? Dr. Maya Angelou & Dave Chappelle.

Who is your hero of fiction? Today, Khaleesi! But when I was growing up, Inigo Montoya!

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Audrey Hepburn.

Who are your heroes in real life? My mother and both my grandmothers.

What are your favorite names? Estrella, Luna & Sol.

What is it that you most dislike? People’s projections of failure and fear put onto others.

What is your greatest regret? Not moving to NYC ten ago.

How would you like to die? At the age of 80, leaving a legacy of art and innovation for those that come after to me…oh yeah and in my sleep.

What is your motto? When I’m passionate about my work, I am devoted to it. Writing is not hard work when it’s heart work.

For more interviews by Maya Contreras go to dirtydurty.com or “maya’s blog” on thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com

"Love at Home" Written by Mary Webb. 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 “Love at Home” written by playwright Mary Webb.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Mary Webb: Love At Home. It’s the title of an LDS hymn and embodies the soul of this show.

MC: What is it about?
Webb: A lesbian and a Mormon. Two sisters, two paths, a family divided. Love At Home follows the lives of two sisters from their early teens in the 1990’s to the adulthood just after Proposition 8 was passed. We journey with them as the struggle to find a loving space between faith and family in this insightful play that questions the complexities of a unique religion in the face of massive social change.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
Webb: The time for building a bridge of understanding between the LDS faith and the LGBT world is now.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
Webb: Avoiding stereotypes of both the LDS (Mormon) faith and the LGBT world.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
Webb: The dynamic between the two sisters. This play is really a love story, when you come down to it, between the two sisters. The process they each go through to navigate the expression of their love for each other is my greatest joy of this piece.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
Webb: It is an incredible honor to be included in this year’s New York International Fringe Festival. To be a part of festival with such a rich history and phenomenal reputation is mind blowing to me. Sometimes I still feel like the girl from the trailer park who used to write stories in the back of her notebook. My dad would always tell me to work hard and some day my ship would come in. I feel like my ship is coming in.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
Webb: Indiegogo:
Website: www.loveathometheplay.com
www.facebook.com/LoveAtHomeMaryMatoulaWebb
Twitter: @loveathomeplay

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being near some sort of body of water, with my husband, the incredibly talented writer and actor, Richard Harrison Webb.

What is your greatest fear? To pay the bills, I work as a nurse at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. My greatest fear is not having the man power, equipment, or facilities during a city wide massive disaster.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My weakness for dark chocolate.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Their inability to share dark chocolate.

Which living person do you most admire? There are many, and I don’t know all their names. Working in the hospital, I see people in many states of heightened emotional states. I am touched deeply and admire those people I see who face pain and suffering with hope and dignity.

What is your greatest extravagance? Flying home to see my family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On what occasion do you lie? I truly don’t attempt to deceive anyone purposefully.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My hair, but only during extreme humidity.

Which living person do you most despise? There isn’t one person in particular. However, I despise the anyone who tries to take away another human beings’ free will and autonomy.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Patience and laughter.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Patience and laughter.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I would be me again, ready to see and hear and feel a whole new life time.

Where would you most like to live? Somewhere I could geographically drive to an ocean, a forest, the mountains, and the desert, in 30 minutes from my house. And someplace where driving to Newcastle, England and Crete, Greece would only be a day trip.

What is your most marked characteristic? I was an incredibly shy kid, so I would laugh silently. Now, when something strikes me as really funny, I’ll laugh loudly. It kinda comes out of no where and can take people by surprise.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Take a big breath and bear down like your pooping.” I say this every shift I work at the hospital. Every. Shift.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? The incredibly talented writer and actor, Richard Harrison Webb. We met when we were seventeen and I remember thinking, “I hope this lasts until prom, because we’d make a cute prom couple”.

When and where were you happiest? The most happiest? Probably in mother’s womb, but who knows, I can’t remember that far back. I’ve had many “happiest” times, most of them with Richard, and I plan on having many more. Having my play accepted to the New York International Fringe Festival is definitely at the top of the list.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Broadway level singing and dancing.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I think I’d be an inch taller.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having my play, Love At Home, in two fringe festivals this year! I’m so excited to have it seen in my two favorite cities. Get ready New York City and San Francisco.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I would be me again, ready to see and hear and feel a whole new life time.

What is your most treasured possession? My hopes and my dreams.

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

Who are your favorite writers?
There are so many. Anyone who makes me evaluate the way see the world.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The inability to forgive oneself.

What is your favorite occupation?
Acting and Writing.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? “Goodness”. It seems vague. Not as specific as the other virtues (righteousness, morality, integrity, dignity, rectitude, honor, decency, respectability, etc)

What is it that you most dislike?
Red cockroaches.

What is your greatest regret?
No regrets.

How would you like to die?
Painlessly.

What is your motto?
“If not now, then when? If not me, then who?”

Check Out “Love at Home” at FringeNYC in August 2014.

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras
on dirtydurty.com and “maya’s blog” on
thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com. Thank you.

Words to live by…

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee jumping or something - I’m not. I’m not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” - Hugh Laurie. xo Maya

Words to live by…

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee jumping or something - I’m not. I’m not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” - Hugh Laurie. xo Maya

"Natural Causes" written by Kevin Clancy. 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 “Natural Causes” written by playwright and actor Kevin Clancy.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show? 

Kevin Clancy:  Natural Causes.

MC: What is it about? 

KC: Inspired by true events, it delves into the complicated decision a doctor made to “euthanize” some patients at a hospital in New Orleans after being isolated for several days by Hurricane Katrina.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?

KC: I usually write plays that express feelings I’ve had in situations in my life, but when I saw this story on the TV news, I was moved to write a play about it. 

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?

KC: The biggest hurdle for me to write this play was, although it is a work of fiction, I felt it was important to represent the situation as realistically as possible and provide each of the characters involved with respect as to their points of view (their jobs, their responsibilities, their humanity) without judgment. I want the audience members to feel what they felt, and come to their own conclusions about the ethical and moral decisions that were made.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?

KC: This was a very different writing experience for me. I’ve written five other full length plays and several one act plays, but this was the first time I’ve been inspired to write a play from the perspective of an outsider, researching this true event and coming up with fictional but comparable plot, characters and themes, so in that sense it was a unique process I enjoyed as a writer.

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

KC:  I am very excited to be a part of The Fringe Festival. It has always represented to me everything I love about theatre: risky, thought provoking, passionate. I thank my director and producer George Domenick and Traci Timmons, who thought “Natural Causes” belonged in The Fringe and gave me the support and encouragement to submit it.

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

KC: My theatre company is Darknight Productions. We are currently in our 13th year. Our website is darknightproductions.com

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

"Natural Causes" written by Kevin Clancy. 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 “Natural Causes” written by playwright and actor Kevin Clancy.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?

Kevin Clancy: Natural Causes.

MC: What is it about?

KC: Inspired by true events, it delves into the complicated decision a doctor made to “euthanize” some patients at a hospital in New Orleans after being isolated for several days by Hurricane Katrina.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?

KC: I usually write plays that express feelings I’ve had in situations in my life, but when I saw this story on the TV news, I was moved to write a play about it.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?

KC: The biggest hurdle for me to write this play was, although it is a work of fiction, I felt it was important to represent the situation as realistically as possible and provide each of the characters involved with respect as to their points of view (their jobs, their responsibilities, their humanity) without judgment. I want the audience members to feel what they felt, and come to their own conclusions about the ethical and moral decisions that were made.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?

KC: This was a very different writing experience for me. I’ve written five other full length plays and several one act plays, but this was the first time I’ve been inspired to write a play from the perspective of an outsider, researching this true event and coming up with fictional but comparable plot, characters and themes, so in that sense it was a unique process I enjoyed as a writer.

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

KC: I am very excited to be a part of The Fringe Festival. It has always represented to me everything I love about theatre: risky, thought provoking, passionate. I thank my director and producer George Domenick and Traci Timmons, who thought “Natural Causes” belonged in The Fringe and gave me the support and encouragement to submit it.

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

KC: My theatre company is Darknight Productions. We are currently in our 13th year. Our website is darknightproductions.com

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

Eight Days left to help Produce “The Bloodline of Shadrick Grace”!

Please check out our campaign! The show will be at FringeNYC in August!

"Hot Steams" written by Zach Wegner. Interview by Maya Contreras.

Photos by David Noles www.davidnoles.com

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 “Hot Steams” written by playwright Zach Wegner.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?

Zach Wegner: Hot Steams.

MC: What is it about?

ZW: A guy wakes up after three years in solitary confinement to find a drunken man dressed as Santa Claus thrown into the cell. The drunk’s suspicious amnesia and the mental instability of the first dweller bring out a sort of existential journey that includes a very nasty law enforcer.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?

ZW: The image of a desolate cell and a quote from To Kill A Mockingbird - about lonely souls who can’t get to Heaven - were bouncing around in my head and it just began to pour out on the page from there.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?

ZW: Deciding what to trash and what to hold on to.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?

ZW: The moment I saw a scene play out, in our original mounting, exactly as I’d written it. The actors transcended my expectations (Braeson Herold and Timothy Wienert). The weird ecstatic joy this brought has been unmatched.

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

ZW: A Summer tradition that I’ve always loved but never directly participated in. Conceptually it’s an artistic asset unlike so many being there’s this invisible cheerleader of sorts chanting “there are no rules”. Most importantly, it means more people will get to share this ride.

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

ZW: Website: cellardoortheater.com Twitter: @nyccellardoor


PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:


What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A Good Read.

What is your greatest fear?
Empty Seats.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Time Management.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Time Management.

Which living person do you most admire?
Jack Nicholson.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Popcorn.

On what occasion do you lie?
At Gunpoint.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
A few missing teeth.

Which living person do you most despise?
Grover Norquist.

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

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

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“That” and “I mean…”

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
A live stage.

When and where were you happiest?
45 Bleeker.

Which talent would you most like to have?
The money making one.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Concentration.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Getting this far.

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

Where would you most like to live?
A Louisiana bayou.

What is your most treasured possession?
The ability to read.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Reality television.

What do you most value in your friends?
Cognition and enthusiasm.

What is your favorite occupation?
Writer.

Who is your hero of fiction?
Buddusky.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Philo Farnsworth.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents. Jack Nicholson.

What are your favorite names?
Tuzenbach and Gilgamesh.

What is it that you most dislike?
Apathy.

What is your greatest regret?

Not taking that soap opera.

How would you like to die?
Quick, easy and loud.

What is your motto?
“He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Check out “Hot Steams” at FringeNYC in August 2014.

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras
on dirtydurty.com and “maya’s blog” on
thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com. Thank you.

"Does This Dress Make Me Look Alone?" By Julie Kottakis. 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 “Does This Dress Make Me Look Alone?” written by playwright Julie Kottakis.  

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show? 

Julie Kottakis: Does This Dress Make Me Look Alone?

MC: What is it about? 

JK: It’s a comedy and a solo show. It centers around how I came about raising a child alone, how I’m still deciding on becoming a mother even though I gave birth about four years ago and the horror of realizing how becoming a mother may mean becoming my mother, who was also a single mom.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?

JK: I’m a standup comic and I really got into standup right after I got pregnant. At the time, I didn’t realize it, but writing and performing standup was what largely got me through my pregnancy and continues to help me struggle with issues of being an “alone mom” (a term I use to describe being a single mom where the dad isn’t involved). When doing standup, I tell jokes from the perspective of an alone mom. I decided to write a solo show to give more meat and background to what my story is really about. 

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?

JK: The biggest hurdle is telling your audience about sensitive topics, but making sure that the audience 
feels comfortable laughing with you, despite the gravity of what’s going on. 

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?

JK: I loved those ‘Aha! Moments’ when I was writing a story. I was discovering myself and my journey as I was writing. 

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

JK: I’m proud and very excited to be a part of anything where there are dedicated and passionate artists. There is nothing more exhilarating and motivating.

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

JK: www.julieisalone.com, @julieisalone

"Does This Dress Make Me Look Alone?" By Julie Kottakis. 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 “Does This Dress Make Me Look Alone?” written by playwright Julie Kottakis.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?

Julie Kottakis: Does This Dress Make Me Look Alone?

MC: What is it about?

JK: It’s a comedy and a solo show. It centers around how I came about raising a child alone, how I’m still deciding on becoming a mother even though I gave birth about four years ago and the horror of realizing how becoming a mother may mean becoming my mother, who was also a single mom.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?

JK: I’m a standup comic and I really got into standup right after I got pregnant. At the time, I didn’t realize it, but writing and performing standup was what largely got me through my pregnancy and continues to help me struggle with issues of being an “alone mom” (a term I use to describe being a single mom where the dad isn’t involved). When doing standup, I tell jokes from the perspective of an alone mom. I decided to write a solo show to give more meat and background to what my story is really about.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?

JK: The biggest hurdle is telling your audience about sensitive topics, but making sure that the audience
feels comfortable laughing with you, despite the gravity of what’s going on.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?

JK: I loved those ‘Aha! Moments’ when I was writing a story. I was discovering myself and my journey as I was writing.

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

JK: I’m proud and very excited to be a part of anything where there are dedicated and passionate artists. There is nothing more exhilarating and motivating.

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

JK: www.julieisalone.com, @julieisalone


During her legendary final photo shoot with Bert Stern - The Last Sitting - Monroe crossed out the negatives that she didn’t want published with a marker.

During her legendary final photo shoot with Bert Stern - The Last Sitting - Monroe crossed out the negatives that she didn’t want published with a marker.

(Source: michellewilliamss, via thearticore)

"Smile" by Clayton Raithel. 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 “Smile” written by playwright and actor Clayton Raithel.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?

Clayton Raithel: Smile.

MC: What is it about?

CR: Here’s the blurb: Clayton’s the man. He graduates from Princeton. He moves to NYC to become a famous artiste. He finds the love of his life. But shit happens. Now he can’t stop puking and crying everywhere. He’s clinically depressed. It’s hilarious! More informally, the show is an autobiographical account of my first year after graduating from college. I had moved to NYC, was dumped by my girlfriend, and eventually developed that hoot of a disease called a “major depressive disorder.” It was easily the scariest, hardest, and most life altering year of my life. So naturally, I wrote a comedy show about it.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?

CR: The show for me began almost as a piece of therapy. I felt that it was something that I needed to write just to move forward with my life. I had reached the point where I was talking about all the terrible things in my life – my ex-girlfriend, my panic attacks, my depression – to anyone who would listen. I’d literally vent to baristas in coffee shops and strangers on the subway. But I noticed two things as I continued to tell my story. First, my experiences were often hilarious in retrospect. Like, I had a panic attack at Les Mis. That’s hilarious. It didn’t feel that way at the time, but it’s hilarious. And second, that many people empathized with my story. I realized that so many people were going through or had gone through their own versions of this story.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?

CR: So, the show is very personal. One of the biggest challenges for me was being so close to the material – not just in a “I wrote this material; it’s my baby” sort of way, but also in a “I lived this material; and I’m still living it” way. The stories I tell in my show all involve real people from my life, people that mean a lot to me in various ways – so it was very important for me to be cognizant of how I was treating them. Also, there are delicate topics that I make humor out of in the show – suicidal thoughts, for instance – and that was hard to approach. I’ve bound up a lot of my therapeutic process in the writing of the show, and that’s been challenging, but ultimately very rewarding. It also helped to have Rick and Jeff (my directors) around, who could provide a critical and objective eye during the process.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?

CR: Coming up with jokes is fun. It’s great that in this show I could just say, “Hey, this funny anecdote happened to me the other day” and I could put that in the show. The fact that we have a literal recording of a love song I wrote for a girl in high school appear in the show is a dream come true. But I think the most satisfying part of the process has been having the luxury to really have long discussions with Jeff and Rick about what it means to be happy, what it means to be fulfilled, etc… Since the show is about depression and the loss of first love – things that most people go through in some way or form, we thought critically about what we wanted to say about them with this show. A lot of our process involved these conversations, and I think we all grew as people and as artists. Quick word from Rick & Jeff, the show’s directors: “A lot of our work is in devised theater, where staging and text come from collaboration, improvisation, and design elements. Smile’s comedy lies in Clayton’s truthful, observant writing, but also in the sound and video design that we all developed just joking around, spitballing. What if Clayton kicks an old lady in the face? We can actually do that with video. What if we see the texts he’s sending? We can do that with projection and sound. Using these tools added a richness and immediacy to the storytelling and lots of opportunities for wackiness and laughs. It was too fun working on this show.”

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

CR: We’re very excited to be a part of it. It means a lot for me to share Smile with more and more people, especially people I don’t know. Like I said, the show was originally just a therapeutic project for me, and to have people respond so enthusiastically to past performances has meant a lot to me. The fact that people have even found it helpful in dealing with their own issues is particularly touching. Everyone deals with this messiness. No one is alone!

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

CR: Smilecomedy.com – check out this website for a video teaser, excerpts, and more!

@claytonraithel