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"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

"THE DOORMEN" 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 Doormen” written by playwright and actor Victor Verhaeghe.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?Victor Verhaeghe: The Doormen.MC: What is it about?VV: It is about two doormen, one older and more experienced; the other, young and brash and how the nettle to be doorman of the year through music and hilarity.MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?VV: I was a doorman at a luxury condominium several years ago and I’ve always
wanted to write something based on that experience.MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?VV: Procrastination.MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?VV: I love writing silly songs.MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?VV: I wrote a show for the first and second International Fringe Festivals here in New
York and another one in 2006. It makes me feel good to know that I can still write material this has it’s roots in the alternative comedy universe I started in back in the early 90’s. I love the Fringe!MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?VV: I’m working on that. My co-star, Joe Boover, is much better with the social media, so I’m sure we will
get some kind of twitter action going in the coming weeks.

Check out more interviews by Maya on TheBloodlineofShadrickGrace.com

"THE DOORMEN" 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 Doormen” written by playwright and actor Victor Verhaeghe.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Victor Verhaeghe: The Doormen.
MC: What is it about?
VV: It is about two doormen, one older and more experienced; the other, young and brash and how the nettle to be doorman of the year through music and hilarity.
MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
VV: I was a doorman at a luxury condominium several years ago and I’ve always
wanted to write something based on that experience.
MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
VV: Procrastination.
MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
VV: I love writing silly songs.
MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
VV: I wrote a show for the first and second International Fringe Festivals here in New
York and another one in 2006. It makes me feel good to know that I can still write material this has it’s roots in the alternative comedy universe I started in back in the early 90’s. I love the Fringe!
MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
VV: I’m working on that. My co-star, Joe Boover, is much better with the social media, so I’m sure we will
get some kind of twitter action going in the coming weeks.

Check out more interviews by Maya on TheBloodlineofShadrickGrace.com

Starting from Scratch: Crash Course in Launching a Creative Business in Bushwick

artsinbushwick:

by Max Goodman

image

The Brooklyn Federal Credit Union on Myrtle Avenue

I was told I had one night to move out anything that I wanted to save. It was 8 PM on a Tuesday, and I was packing my car with the haste of someone evacuating for an apocalypse—a feeling not as hyperbolic as it now sounds. Though perhaps not the kilns and tumblers, the hammers, mallets, and torches being packed would certainly come in handy to survive and build anew.

Many people reacted with a confusing mixture of emotions to the closure of the behemoth, self-important, yet vital art studio that was 3rd Ward.  I felt at times sharp loss, sharper anger, defeat, relief, as well as a rueful sense of foreknowledge, imagining myself as a Brooklyn-based Cassandra.  As a lead instructor at 3rd Ward and one of the founders of the education program there, I was heartbroken. Yet, after a series a questionable choices about classes and policy had been made and a number of huge financial risks had been taken, I doubted whether a business could be run in such a fashion. Right then, a part of me decided there had to be a better way.

Though “inside” knowledge had forewarned the closure of 3rd Ward approximately one year before its doors shuttered, as an artist with a BFA I could not have known less about starting a business. In preparation, however, the thought process and (rather extensive) leg work to learn and understand what would be necessary were undertaken. Thus, I blundered forward with equal parts ignorance, naivete, and ambition—further supported by a generous amount of help, I was on my way.

Read More

Great article Max! xo Maya

At FringeNYC in Aug 2014 “The Bloodline of Shadrick Grace”

Producing a show at Fringe means producing a show from scratch. We’re up for the challenge but we need your help!

"The Bloodline of Shadrick Grace" is an independent theater project written by Maya Contreras.

Your support towards our goal of $3500 will go towards:

Rehearsal Space

And most importantly: paying our creative team for their amazing work.

All money raised over our goal will allow us to create an even more fully realized production (Lighting Design, Set Pieces, Costumes, Sound, Design Projections, Participation Fees, Insurance, Marketing, Transportation.) We are so grateful for your support!

One of my favorite Bond movies of all time. Why? Grace Jones + Christopher Walken + Duran Duran = Hot 80s Magic! xo Maya

One of my favorite Bond movies of all time. Why? Grace Jones + Christopher Walken + Duran Duran = Hot 80s Magic! xo Maya

(Source: xex-it)

"Switch Back" by Maryclare McCauley: A FringeNYC Selection. 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 “Switch Back” written by playwright Maryclare McCauley.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?

Maryclare McCauley: Switch Back.

MC: What is it about?

MM: A true story about a restless young woman from Baltimore who goes out west for an adventure. She meets a charismatic cowboy and they fall in love. He invites her to live on an isolated mountain top and -she feels like she is in a dream - Life couldn’t be better! - until she meets his family and friends (who live in the closest town) and dark, strange secrets are revealed. He invites her to live on an isolated mountain top and she feels like she is in a dream! Life couldn’t be better! - until she meets his family and friends (who live in the closest town) and dark, strange secrets are revealed. Her Indian Cowboy (he’s half Souix) is more like a wolf in a sheepskin! What seemed like a fairy tale becomes more like a horror film. The Shining.

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

MM: It’s a true story that happened to me. To write and tell this story 30 years later feels like the next step. I am not wounded by it anymore. It’s a good story.

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

MM: Making the Cowboy as loveable as he was when I first met him, so the audience falls in love with him too. That was very difficult since I know what he was really like.

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

MM: The characters were fun. Unfortunately, I had to make a lot of cuts, so many of them are not in this version I am performing for The Fringe.

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

MM: I am not sure yet! This is my first Fringe. I will be performing in the SF Fringe in September. But I love NYC, so it’s all pretty exciting!

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

MM: I am just building a website, so I ask for people to be patient. My Website is: maryclaremccauley.com

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:
What is your idea of perfect happiness?

To feel healthy and to be in the moment. To be flexible in mind and in touch with the innate joy inside me.

What is your greatest fear?
To fart loudly on stage during a poignant, quiet moment. Only kidding! Probably to drown. I love the ocean but I am terrified of giant waves. I have nightmares about them. When I want suspense, I watch surfing.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I can be a procrastinator. I do not like this about myself.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Cheapskates. I can’t stand a tightwad.
Not to be confused with a frugal sensibility.

Which living person do you most admire?
President Obama. I am not thrilled with everything he has done, but I admire him. I think he has been a great President and could have been even better if there wasn’t so much obstruction.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I am not so extravagant but I guess I like to buy well made clothes (shoes included) and chocolate. I also love to go my favorite Korean spa for a good massage and scrub.

What is your current state of mind?
I feel relaxed at the moment. I am enjoying answering these questions.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Beauty.

On what occasion do you lie?
When I am late.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
The lines around my mouth and my saggy chin. Omg, I actually wrote that!

Which living person do you most despise?
Probably my eldest daughter’s soccer coach from 20 years ago. He was really cruel to her. A real turd.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Cool and kind hearted confidence.

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

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
You know, omg, like, I’m tired.

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

When and where were you happiest?
I loved being in my 40’s. I felt wise, confident, still had my looks. It was just a very creative happy time and I was living in Berkeley, CA.- where I still reside.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to belt out a song, and sing softly too.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I have a temper and I do not like to lose it.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I had a difficult childhood. I feel like I have evolved in a way that beat the odds. Of course I didn’t do this alone. I have great friends, cool siblings, and a supportive husband.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A bird (like an eagle or hawk) or a dolphin.

Where would you most like to live?
Somewhere tropical.

What is your most treasured possession?

My dog. I guess I own my dog, right? Yes, my dog.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Being a friendless, uneducated, homeless drug addict would be pretty miserable.

What is your favorite occupation?
A musician.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Generous.

What do you most value in your friends?

Good senses of humor, sensitivity, intelligence, creativity, spontaneity, generosity, and helpfulness.

Who are your favorite writers?
Flannery O’Connor, David Sedaris, Murakami, Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling.

Who is your hero of fiction?
Anne of Green Gables.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Martin Luther King.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My husband, Congressman Grayson, Stevie Wonder.

What are your favorite names?

Olivia, Bridget, Paige, Adam, Andrew, John.

What is it that you most dislike?

Driving in traffic jams when it’s stinking’ hot.

What is your greatest regret?
Not studying a musical instrument.

How would you like to die?
After making love to my husband, eating a bowl of ice cream and gulping down some soda water, I would like to die in my sleep.

What is your motto?
Practice kindness and tolerance everyday and always see how you can be helpful.

Check out “Switch Back” at FringeNYC in August 2014.

Check out The Bloodline of Shadrick Grace by Maya Contreras as well.

Naughty embroidery by Alaina Varrone. I love it!

xo Maya
p.s. Check out our Indiegogo for “The Bloodline of Shadrick Grace” Thank you!