"oh what a tangled interweb we weave..."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Introduce Yourself, Satya Bhabha

Theatre or theater?

Theatre. Who needs the building?

Strangest theatre-related job?

Wearing a full body mouse costumes and catapulting fruit cakes across the stage in Chuck Mee's "Paradise Park" at the Signature Theatre. We also had 800 stuffed supermen and a bumper car on stage.

What experience made you want to become an actor?

Fred Astaire. And Laurel & Hardy.

Very first role on stage?

The Jolly Snowman.

Tragic flaw? 

Addicted to catharsis.

If you were a 1980s television show sidekick, who would you be?

Robin. Ka-Pow!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

god, i love that feeling.

you know that feeling
when you've been running around
on the verge of crazy
for an extended period of time
and then you wake up one morning
on your own volition
(i.e. not aided by an alarm)
and you panic for a second
because the clock
on your bedside table
reads 12.30pm
and you think to yourself
i MUST be missing something right now
because you can't remember the last time that you weren't supposed to be somewhere by eight AM at the latest
and so you bolt from the bed
and you rush into the bathroom to splash some water on your face before throwing on some clothes
when you realize
or rather
you remember
that you didn't set your alarm for a reason
you didn't set your alarm
because the night before
you crossed the very last thing on your very long list of TO DO's OFF of your list
and so
for the first time
in a long time
you are agenda-less
you can actually DO NOTHING
and feel good about that
i love that feeling!

Introduce Yourself, Bekah Brunstetter

Theatre or theater?

Theater unless I am currently eating or holding a scone.

Strangest theater-related job?

Spotlight op for a stage adaptation of a prayer for owen meany, following a very small man around a large stage. 

What experience made you want to become a writer?

When I was pretty little I decided to be a writer because I loved to describe things. Especially what other people were wearing? When I started writing plays my first year of college, I think it was the first time I felt like I was good at something, that I was special. I was hooked! As for experience: it was probably everytime that I couldn't express or defend myself that triggered my interest. 

Very first role on stage?

The ghost of Christmas present! 

Tragic flaw? 

I always always try to do too many things at once and subsequently, sometimes, do nothing Well. 

If you were a 1980s television show sidekick, who would you be?

Is Mary on “Little House on the Prairie” Laura's sidekick? Can we call her that? Definitely her. I loved her. She was pretty, strong, and well, blind.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Introduce Yourself, Harrison Rivers

Theatre or theater?

is it like there and their? cause i still get the two confused...

Strangest theatre or theater-related job?

i was fired from my only theater/re related job. i don't want to talk about it.

What experience made you want to become a writer?

i feel like i've always written. not plays so much, but things... i guess moving to san francisco sort of sealed the deal... that's where i started hearing the voices.

Very first role on stage?

i don't remember my first role. what i do remember is that i was passed over every year for plum roles in my high school's fall musical. i'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that i was black.

Tragic flaw? 

i care too much. no, not really. sarcasm. i'm incredibly sarcastic. when i'm not saying something sarcastic, i'm probably thinking it.

If you were a 1980s television show sidekick, who would you be?

probably simon from alvin and the chipmunks. sidenote: i have the entire chipmunks animated movie, "the chipmunk adventure"  memorized. growing up i was simon, my brother lee was alvin, james was theodore and my baby brother jonathan played all the chipettes.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Do Nothing and Get Everything

Wherever you look, there’s a character – in line with you at the supermarket, cashing in checks at the bank, jogging past you on the bridge…endless characters, endless opportunities as an actor. It’s all essentially research, and such rich unique research with each glance…if you allow yourself to take it all in.

It’s funny, because in Greece, one of the big past-times is to literally sit and have a coffee outside with your friends while watching all the people walk by – granted, they are not really doing research from an artistic standpoint but rather being social (which is very important to do daily and be seen out) while also gossiping/criticizing to their friends at the same time about what they see. Actually, it can be rather mean and horrible to eavesdrop to what some of the Greeks say (usually women with their usual all-female crowd and usually in reference to a tourist/out-of-towner, but if in reference to a fellow Greek townie walking by….woah!!). Technically, what they are doing is people-watching. Every single day. Walking to the supermarket or gym past the Greek cafés in Astoria is quite the hoot I can tell you!

When I am in Greece I do this too. It’s oddly like a ritual – get up, go to the beach, tan like crazy while hung-over (anyone who knows me well knows I am a serious tanner who might I add times each side with an alarm before flipping over…whatever…I get a good tan!!) So after the tanning it’s like this odd time of the day around 5pm and we eat late in Greece so there’s sort of a “break” between then and dinner which is like at 9/10pm. So, usually what happens is we go to a café and get a frappe (amazing iced coffee) or mocha milkshakes or waffles and ice cream or all of it!! And, maybe check our emails as the best Wi-Fi on the island I live on is at these cafés. And, in between the email checking, the sipping and eating, lo and behold there is soooo much to see and comment on with all the people walking by!!

I am a huge people-watcher. Coffee/cafés, sitting down and people – that’s all it takes to make me happy (hmmmm…this combination in Greece outside in the gorgeous weather – that’s more like it!!). So I am Greek and since this is a “Greek Thing” then yes I admit I do occasionally make faces or laugh or make comments about some people who walk by – but not in a bad way, just in a fascinated way – in what I like to credit my other BA degree in Psychology way – I like to study people, characters, personalities and especially people’s choices. It’s actually why I double majored with Theatre and also did a Psychology degree – because it fascinates me, and of course I think is fundamental for acting.

I say Greece, but really people-watching happens everywhere all the time! I do give the Greeks the award as it’s almost built into their daily schedule but I see everyone doing it – NYC is a fast moving city so it’s hard to get the time to actually make a day out of it here but on the subway it certainly happens. When the weather gets nice, there is more of a chance to partake but really it’s all around you all the time if you can just get out of your head, stress, thoughts and look up for a second and see what’s right there in front of you – your next role on stage, on film, with voiceover, even ideas or suggestion for direction, for dialects. And, it’s free (coffee and snacks not included).

The best part of it is as an actor is that this is all research that can be justified as time well spent drinking coffee and lounging doing what appears to be nothing! It’s the best time-out you can take as an actor for you and with your wallet. This is actually a good lesson for myself too because I am always so super busy when I’m in NYC that I too forget to look up and take a breather (and be Greek!). I used to keep a book where I wrote down all that I saw for future reference to draw on – nerdy, I know, but it seriously came in quite handy. No one person is alike, so there was a lot to remember.

I believe the best actor has to be like a sponge – so coffees all around and on me – go soak up the city (and bill me later)!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

my mom is in town.

my mom is in town.

i know that a lot of people dread their parents' visits--mostly because of the massive amounts of energy it takes to shuttle those unaccustomed to new york's quick as a flash rhythm around the city. but my mother... my mother glories in the "big apples'" craziness.

and the best part? she doesn't need me to chaperone. her motto is: have map, will explore!

it's such a relief to know that i don't have to be present every waking moment for my mom to have a good time in the city--or for her to even SEE the city. she's not even staying with me! she's staying with a FRIEND! and she's visiting, yes of course to see me, but MOSTLY to catch the beginning of the tribeca film festival!

so... i love it when my mom visits because... well... my life doesn't really change... it's just... ENHANCED.

p.s. if you're in new york and you're my friend (or even if you're not) and you haven't met my mom--you should. she's real good people.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Introduce Yourself, Colette Robert

Theatre or theater?

R-E.  I embrace my pretentiousness.

Strangest theatre-related job?

I was the wardrobe supervisor/backstage person for a show with rip-away underwear.  And juggling.  And an absurd amount of fresh produce. That’s all I’m going to say.

What experience made you want to become a director?

I directed Three Tall Women for my senior project in college.  And I had a fantastic time, beginning to end.  That show made me grow as a person and artist.  The morning after the final performance, I woke up early and tried to catch up on all the reading I’d neglected during tech week.  After about 15 minutes, I remember thinking, “What am I doing?  What do I care about racial tension in England?*  I should be directing another play!”  That’s when I knew I was in it for the long haul.

*Please note: I actually do really care about racial tension in England.  Peace and love.

Very first role on stage?

In first grade, I was in a play about a community of mice and the big, mean cat that constantly tried to chase and eat them.  My character, Small Mouse, found a bell to put around the cat’s neck, so we’d know when he was around and could hide. 

Tragic flaw? 

I’m a director. I’m perfect.  And I’m always right. 

If you were a 1980s television show sidekick, who would you be?

Jodie from “Today’s Special.”  Anyone else remember that show? It took place in a department store after-hours.  The mall + magic spells + singing Canadians = Amazing television!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Introduce Yourself, Bobby Moreno

Theatre or theater?


Strangest theatre or theater-related job?

I played a zombie Elvis in a haunted hayride during college.  I don't sing, so I was frequently booed and heckled for my "Elvis".  The last night I decided to take some mushrooms, seeing as how it was Halloween and all.  I didn't factor in that for the majority of the night I would be laying in a coffin, in the woods, with the echoes of screams and chainsaws as my only company.  I did not make it through the night.

What experience made you want to become an actor?

I grew up in a house with a lot of fighting, child of divorce, etc., and being the youngest, I assumed the role of tension relief.  Like a lot of comedians, I had to make my family laugh, so I had a lot of practice before I ever got on stage. Then I lost my virginity in my high school theater on the set of Plaza Suite, and that pretty much sealed the deal.

Very first role on stage?

I played the tree who narrated the story of Chicken Little in kindergarten.  I was the only kid who could learn the lines.

Tragic flaw? 

Inattention to detail, or as my girlfriend puts it, "You're a hot mess!"

If you were a 1980s television show sidekick, who would you be?

Jazz from the Fresh Prince – goofy, great taste in music and made a habit of being thrown out of houses.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

carly simon and the staten island ferry

A few weeks ago J and I watched “Working Girl.” It was my second time (though I hadn’t seen it in years) and his first.

The film from 1988 stars Melanie Griffith as an ambitious Secretary and Sigourney Weaver as her manipulative employer. Both women were Oscar nominated for their work, which also features Harrison Ford and Joan Cusack.

Honestly, the film isn’t one of my favorites. I know that a lot of people really dig eighties hair and fashion, but I find them distracting, the narrative moves a little slowly for my taste, and Griffith—in my personal opinion—is almost unwatchable.

HOWEVER, the movie’s credit sequence—beautiful shots of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry set to Carly Simon’s Oscar winning song, “Let the River Run”—is oddly affecting.

First, I will admit—I love that song. Any song with a choir really and I’m in tears.

Second (and more importantly), I love the Staten Island Ferry.

When I was in grad school and unable to complete an assignment, I would take the train to Battery Park and hop on the Ferry. I would sit outside on the deck and wait for inspiration. I was never disappointed. There was just something about the wind and the water and the view that worked for me.

If you’ve never seen “Working Girl” that’s probably okay. If you’ve never listened to “Let the River Run” fine—it’s not the end of the world. But if you’ve never taken a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, you really should.

It might change your life.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I think that everyone, artists or not, has someone that they are jealous of: someone whose career has gone better, who has gotten more of this or that, who just has better hair. I can be a real seventh grader sometimes about my nemesi, but I TRY and keep it to myself as to not totally embarrass myself and reveal how competitive I can be.

But: I kind of also nurture this competitive spirit, as isn't it what keeps us motivated? I mean, at first, it makes us do a bit of sulking and the evil masochistic googling that Collette mentioned....but then, doesn't it light a fire under our asses? I hope that it does. And as a long as we are not stalking anyone, or lighting anyone on fire, I'd say that having a proper nemesis is completely healthy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Introduce Yourself, Roarke Walker

Theatre or theater?

Both - depending on my mood. I like to keep it spontaneous and funky fresh. 

Strangest theatre or theater-related job?

Alright, this is more of a costume story. I did a show in a Cincinnati where I played a super hero called The Red Angel.. so I was expecting an interesting costume (maybe something involving tights ala Superman?). However, when I got there on the first day the costume designer handed me a bright red speedo and that was it. Later I got some "wings" that they had designed. So yeah, to review...  just me in a bright red Speedo and retractable wings.... in Cincinnati. The audience reactions were priceless.

What experience made you want to become an actor?

This is cheesy but true. I remember when i was in Kindergarden, my mom brought home a souvenir program from "The Phantom of the Opera" and I was instantly glued to it. Looking at all the pictures, I thought to myself "I wanna do THAT when I grow up".
Then, I think my first trip to New York solidified it. My parents took me for my birthday one year when I was 10 or something. Saw my first Broadway show (How to Succeed.. with Matthew Broderick).  I was sold. 

Very first role on stage?

The Major General in a fifth grade production of "The Pirates of Penzance" at my catholic elementary school. Now that I think about it, that was an extremely ambitious and insane choice for fifth graders. We should have tackled "Sunday in the Park with George" while we were at it. 

Tragic flaw? 

Poking baked goods. I'm a snob when it comes to cookies, cakes, anything baked... so I have been known to "poke" cookies, breads, etc. to make sure they aren't stale.. when I'm in a deli or bakery (only if they have a wrapper on them of course). "Cause really folks... why waste your time with a mediocre piece of cake... am I right?

If you were a 1980s television show sidekick, who would you be?

I didnt start watching TV till the mid-90's... so I'm not as familiar with my 80's Tv shows. However, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Jefferson D'arcy from Married with Children.  Does he count? 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How "Atlantic City" came to be

A couple weeks back, I went to see John Guare speak at an Old Vic event held at the fancy-schmancy Core Club on 55th between Park and Madison. I had to wear a suit but I wore no underwear out of spite.

I went because a) it was free, b) there was free alcohol, and c) I always wanted to ask John Guare about one of the few movies he’s written in his career: Atlantic City. If you haven’t seen it, go netflix it. Really funny and heartbreaking. Top-notch performances from an old Burt Lancaster and a young Susan Sarandon, who end up sleeping together.

But in scouring the internet I could never find anything Guare said about it – how it came to be, what the process of writing it was like, etc. And almost no one I knew had even heard of it, even though it got Oscar-nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress.

(Lost all of them – Colin Welland, who wrote Chariots of Fire beat John Guare for Best Original Screenplay. Know what the best part of the Chariots of Fire screenplay is? The soundtrack. Boom! Dissed!)

Anyway, John Guare came out, thanked the Old Vic for doing their new production of Six Degrees of Separation, talked about Six Degrees of Separation and then asked if anyone in the audience had any questions about Six Degrees of Separation. I promptly raised my hand and asked him to talk about Atlantic City.

He then told me this story, which was so great I thought I should share it. John Guare called it: The Advantages of Having Your Name In The Phone Book:

John Guare was sitting at home one day when the phone rang. “Hello is this the same John Guare who wrote a play called Landscape Of The Body?” Guare answered that yes, indeed he was that person. The caller identified himself as Louis Malle, a French film director. Malle explained that the Canadian government was offering a 100% tax write-off for movie investments to encourage filmmakers in Canada to make more films. Malle had already secured the funds to make the movie from a Rabbi (what?) in Winnipeg, by putting together a package consisting of “a bankable male star” and Susan Sarandon. And he wanted Guare to write it. Guare said great, he’d love to. “Just one problem,” Malle said. “The tax-write off only applies to movies that finish shooting by the end of the year.” It was August.

So him and Guare got together immediately and started talking. Guare mentioned that he had these relatives in Atlantic City – so they rented a car and drove there for the day. Malle was completely enchanted by the city. And what’s more, one of Guare’s relatives was able to show them around the casinos, where they saw dealers-in-training working the disgusting fish-bars. “That’s Sarandon!” Guare exclaimed. “She’ll be an oyster girl!” Guare had two weeks to finish the script. He did. They tried to get everyone for the bankable male star. They could only get Burt Lancaster. Fine. They quickly started shooting. Finished just before New Years. Cut it, released it. Five academy award nominations.

Now go and watch it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Introduce Yourself, Laura Savia

Theatre or theater?

Theater.  I think it gives a more American colour to this word which is at the centre of our work. 

Strangest theater-related job?

One summer, when I was 19, I was in the cast of YOUNG ABE LINCOLN, a historical dramatic musical about Lincoln's formative years growing up in Indiana.  It featured such numbers as the love duet "Aw, Shucks," and the show-stopper "My Gee-haw Whimmy-diddle" (I'll show you the dance if you get me drunk enough).  Also, for $5 extra a performance, I cleaned the 1700 amphitheater house with a few other actors.  One time I found someone's dentures in an empty popcorn container. 

What experience made you want to become a director?

Finding those dentures. 
No...probably...directing THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES in college.  I had trained as an actor up to that point.  When BLUE LEAVES went up, I thought perhaps I had gotten it all wrong, but was dying to try it again!  I felt the process was the first event in my life that had used every single part of me. 

Very first role on stage?

Litterbug Lauren in a musical about environmental friendliness, at a summer daycamp when I was 10.  I had to tape trash all over my large t-shirt and stirrup leggings. 

Tragic flaw? 


If you were a 1980s television show sidekick, who would you be?

Joey on "Full House." 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

the golden age of artistic inhibition

at player colette robert mentioned to me a few weeks ago that she had been reading about genius--about how today we consider genius to be a constant state (i.e. a person is a genius), but how before (you know, back in the day) genius functioned much like our modern concept of inspiration--a person was visited by genius. as such there was less pressure for a person/artist to continually demonstrate his/her genius, because it was understood that it was outside of a person's realm of control.

i stumbled upon a similar notion while reading joan acocella's twenty-eight artists and two saints. in her essay entitled "blocked", which was originally published in the new yorker in 2004, acocella takes as her subject writer's block, which to me seems a not so distant cousin (topically at least) of genius.

she writes:

"writer's block is a modern notion. writers have probably suffered over their work ever since they first started signing it, but it was not until the early nineteenth century that creative inhibition became an actual issue in literature, something people took into account when they talked about the art.

that was partly because, around this time, the conception of the art changed. before, writers regarded what they did as a rational, purposeful activity, which they controlled.

by contrast, the early romantics came to see poetry as something externally, and magically conferred. In shelley's words, "a man cannot say, 'i will compose poetry.'" poetry was the product of "some invisible influence, like an inconstant wind," which more or less blew the material into the poet, and he just had to wait for this to happen."

i find it interesting that writer's block and genius had almost completely opposite geneses.

writer's block (negative) became a recognized human condition, when writers ceased to believe that what they were doing was rational, that it had a purpose... while genius, which began as a kind of unexplainable phenomenon, became an identifiable human state.

i don't know about you, but doesn't that seem sort of... backwards?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Introduce Yourself, Josh Koenigsberg

Theatre or theater?

Theater, just so no one calls me pretentious.

Strangest theater-related job?

One summer while I was in college, I worked as an ASM/PA/Errand Boy at a theater company called Penguin Rep in Rockland County, NY. During one performance, an elderly woman lost control of her bowels and defecated all over the theater floor in a futile attempt to get to the bathroom in time. Guess who had to clean it up?

What experience made you want to become a writer?

When I was a kid, I went to see a sneak preview of Hot Shots!: Part Deux. The next day in school, a bunch of classmates asked me to tell them what happened in it. I started to recite the entire movie during recess, but had to stop mid-way through since recess was only a half-hour. From recess until the end of the day, they kept bugging me to hear the end. I like to think it was because I was such a good storyteller, but actually it's because Hot Shots!: Part Deux was so good. Anyway, that's when I knew I wanted to be a writer. 

Very first role on stage?

John The Butler in my 6th grade production of "The Man Who Came To Dinner" by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. We were a progressive Greenwich Village school.  
Tragic flaw? 

Mexican food.

If you were a 1980s television show sidekick, who would you be?

A less muscular, more neurotic version of A.C. Slater. We have the same hair, dress in similar clothes and dance the same exact way.