I like people who write about damaged individuals struggling with life. Therefore I like watching plays by Jacob Rice Marx. I like writers who are able to switch from humor to pathos on a dime. Therefore I like watching plays by Jacob Rice Marx. The third thing Jacob Rice Marx has a knack for is his ability to consistently spell binding cast. This is his second time working with Lauren LaRocca. I first fell in love with Lauren's work when I witnessed her in her incredibly nuanced performance as Steph the depressive bartender in Jacob's fringe hit last year Chemistry. I was so impressed the other day when I saw her work again as the obsessive compulsive Sara in Coping that I decided to grab her for an interview.
I'm from Glastonbury, Connecticut.
Describe how your team came together How did you meet Jacob . How did the producer and director come on board.
I met Jacob almost two years ago in the Fall / Winter of 2013. I was working as an apprentice at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and a director-friend of mine who was interning there is a friend of Jacob's. She had got her hands on the Chemistry script, pulled another actor and myself to put up a reading of it as an independent project, and the rest was history! We met Jacob once over Skype, when he listened to one of the read-through's, and then we met again in person when he was visiting Louisville sometime later. That next summer I was fortunate enough to move along with the project to Fringe, and then this summer was fortunate enough to go in for round two with Coping.
Jacob and Anna and Audra will be much more suited to tell you their own origin story than I, but as far as I know Anna saw one of the first staged productions of Chemistry, fell in love with it, told Jacob she wanted to direct it, he said yes, they brought Audra on, applied to Fringe, and then one of the best theater-making teams I've encountered (in which I would be remiss not to mention our marketing director, Diana Levy), was born.
Describe three similarities and three differences between rehearsing Chemistry and rehearsing Coping
One of the biggest differences between Chemistry and Coping is being part of a cast of six (in Coping) as opposed to being one of two actors (in Chemistry). Being a piece of a larger puzzle is in some ways more challenging, because it takes more attention and flexibility to discover one's place in it, and in other ways it's easier because you have a much bigger support team around you at all times - you don't feel as alone in the work.
Another difference is that with Coping there was no "getting to know you" introductory period between Jacob, Anna, and I. I already had an intrinsic sense of their individual and collective style and language and the kind of world(s) they create together, and how I as an actor could fit into that, whereas of course with Chemistry that process was much longer.
However, when we began rehearsing Chemistry last summer, I had already had my hands on a version of the script for about six months. The character of Steph was much more infused into the fibers of my being than the character of Sara was at the beginning of the Coping process. There wasn't as much of a marination process with Coping as there was with Chemistry for me - it was a little more, "let's get up and go and you better make some strong choices because this is Fringe and there isn't much time", which was definitely fruitful and productive and fun in its own way.
Both required a significant amount of research and getting comfy with mental illness, suicide, and depression, both as an individual and with the team and cast.
Both started with a significant amount of table work, and then a fast "blocking" process, followed by much time spent honing, tightening, and crafting the play once we were on our feet.
Both are a beautiful dance done by Jacob and Anna, where Jacob is heavily involved in the initial table work, and we all spend time together talking and imagining and clarifying and reimagining. Then once the play is how he wants it to be on the page, he scrams for about a week while Anna does her job like a boss, and that blocking, honing, tightening process occurs. Then Jacob comes back and everyone is terrified and we do a run through, and he offers wisdom and support and tells us how we could make it better and he and Anna chat a lot and then we try to do those things and make him proud while honoring the truths we found in the room while he was gone.
Three things you love about the Fringe three things you find challenging.
I love the sense of camaraderie that can develop among Fringe shows and participants. I love the feeling of going in to do a show, or coming out of the theater from just finishing a show, and seeing other actors loading their set out or in, and audience members waiting, spilling out onto the sidewalk - it leads to such a great sense of excitement and festivity and totally encapsulates what young, downtown, New York theater is all about. I also love the audiences that come to Fringe. They are such open, supportive, and intelligent theater lovers who are willing to take risks with you every time they walk into a theater. They want to be challenged and provoked, and they believe in young artists who can do just that. Fringe would certainly be nonexistent without them.
The most challenging things about Fringe probably all fall under the category of time constraints. Tech is crazy short - if you get a cue to cue and run through during your tech time you're darn lucky. Each show has to bring in and set up everything for their performance in a fifteen minute period before their performance begins, and then take it all down and out of the space after the performance ends, in about five minutes.
Tell me how you approached your role in both plays.
Much of my experience with Sara has centered around this idea of "trying to get it right.", which was not such a strong or recurring theme with Steph, as she's certainly a bit of a nihilist. There's a youth and a hopefulness to Sara, a positivity in the face of absolute tragedy, that Steph does lose at some point over the course of her story. Both women break the fourth wall, however in Sara's breaks she speaks specifically to this Demi-God like character of the Stage Manager, whereas Steph speaks directly to the audience.
Both Sara and Steph are also incredibly stubborn in that they will get what they want, no matter what that is.
What are your ideal roles? . What do you look for in a new script.
Right now, I'm itching to play characters that are very different from myself - maybe someone from another time, another world, a place very different from the one I'm in right now or the one I'm from. And of course strong women - always always always strong women.
I believe I gravitate towards new scripts in which the playwright is just as conscious of what needs to be said as what doesn't need to be said. Words are powerful, and I love a playwright who uses them judiciously and wisely. I also believe its possible to tell when playwrights write with deep love and respect for their characters - no matter how flawed they might be, and I think that's of the utmost importance.
Tell me three things you look for in a director.
I believe one of the most important qualities a director can have is trust - in the actors, in the text, in the process. Trust leads to a space of mutual play and discovery where the focus is never on trying to get it "right", but on uncovering the truth of what a given play, at a given time, with given actors can and will be. I look for directors who have the ability to create that space without showing you or telling you that they are creating that space. A great director is a facilitator, an explorer, a leader, and a follower all at once.
Chemistry, Coping and.... Can we expect a third C titled play to complete this trilogy?
haha, ohhhh if only I knew the answer to that! I don't know about a C titled trilogy, but I do know that no one has seen the last (not even close!) of Jacob Rice Marx.
Being different comes in so many variations and forms, and we should celebrate it...with cake! By Kat Flynn (Actor)
“Celebrate diversity, celebrate life!” is a mission statement I created for my brand years ago. It was inspired by Hilary Swank’s Oscar winning speech, after winning Best Actress for Boys Don’t Cry. At the end she said,
“And last but, certainly not least, I want to thank Brandon Teena for being such an inspiration to us all. His legacy lives on through our movie to remind us to always be ourselves, to follow our hearts, to not conform. I pray for the day when we not only accept our differences but we actually celebrate our diversity.”
It was my first experience with an insight into the transgender community, or at least an insight into Brandon’s life as a transgender. I was blown away. I was extremely pleased to learn Hilary Swank was recognised for the role.
I love people. I love people!
Being an American, living in Great Britain, I always thought it was my handicap. Like, it was extremely bad to be an American working in Britain. I was trying so hard to pass for a British woman. (ie. the accent; the look; the mannerisms, etc) I wanted nothing to do with being an American, or sounding like one! I kept telling myself, “You won’t work in this country. You’re never going to get work in this country.” And you know something, I’m so glad I’ve proved myself wrong.
Look, I’m no John Barrowman (Who’s Scottish by the way but totally sounds American!) But, after the summer I’ve had? I’d say it’s been a pretty good start. And who’s to say I’d be working any more or less if I was in the states? I really don’t know. I guess we’ll never really know.
So what am I really trying to say? Well, it’s just this…
YOU ARE THE BEST THING THIS WORLD HAS TO OFFER.
Being different comes in so many variations and forms. It will never, ever be a bad thing. Never. In fact, the world depends on us being different and thinking different. You're a unicorn. OMG. You're a freakin' unicorn! I'm a freakin' unicorn! I'm a unicorn!! Haha! I strongly believe that one day we will be celebrated for our differences and totally accepted for them too. That we will be seen for so much more than the body parts we have, or the colour of our skin, or the size of our bodies, but seen for who we are and what we stand for.
So, as I conclude my last blog post of the summer for CrazyTown, I want to thank you for having me. It has been such a pleasure sharing my experiences with you. It’s been a great summer for me. I hope it has been for you, too. Go celebrate diversity! Celebrate life! And eat some cake! Omg, and delight in the fact that we are all just mini-unicorns. :)
Thoughts you have on while on a boat on Grand Lake. By Alan Winner (Performer, Writer, Director)
Grand Lake, Oklahoma - without a boat in sight
There’s this feeling inside me that has caused me some confusion, some pain, but mostly relief. It is a feeling that New York is not my home. I thought it was as I sat in my rented bedroom in the far East of London, wrestling with the decision to break up with the two most important people in my life at the time: my boyfriend and my agent.
I was in a similar position with both parties. I was either to decide to commit to what was in front of me, or return to the country of my birth, a country I was meant to return to three years prior, at the end of my training at RWCMD in Cardiff, but was having such a great time, I decided to stay.
I learned early on to pay close attention to my intuition or gut instincts. There are several talented artists in my family who have created amazing works of art based off their instinctual understanding of their medium… my acting is always best when I surrender to my intuition… it has become something I am acutely aware of.
Me, at the helm
It was my intuition that led me to study abroad in the first place. Then, I stayed in Cardiff to sing in Youth Operas and touring Welsh choirs, male and mixed. Off I went, next to London, soon to befriend Kevin Hammonds during the run of the World Premiere of his and Charles Miller’s musical, When Midnight Strikes. I
Because "goodbye" is just too sad. By Jennifer Anderson (Actor/Singer)
Despite the fact that Fall is my favorite time of year (pumpkin spice! hoodies! candy corn!), the end of summer always makes me a little depressed. Perhaps it's a left over feeling from childhood when the waning evenings meant a return to school and all the stresses that came along with it. Regardless, when September looms around the corner, I always tend to need a little pick-me-up. So here's a friendly reminder of all the great things to look forward to that come with the close of summer:
1.New York City won't smell like an infected belly button anymore. "Ah sweetie, don't you just love the smell of waste on a 97 degree day?"
2. Weekend trips to see the leaves change and pick apples. Here come the Leafers, just like Family Guy said.
3. Halloween. Halloween candy. After Halloween candy sales. You know you have a sweet tooth when you've physically pushed children out of the way.
4. "Sweater weather:" that wonderful few weeks between hell-like heat and arctic tundra cold.
You can walk outside and not feel like A) you're sweating out all the water in your body or B) your blood is starting to freeze and form icicles in your chest cavity. Thanks, October!
5. Your favorite TV shows start their new seasons. Personally, I'm very excited for the new season of Castle to start at the end of September. So are the show's other fans, who are all in their 70s.
6. You can take advantage of Back-to-School sales despite the fact that you have no intention of going near a school. "Me? No, I haven't been in a school in 10 years. But I'll take 30% off those shoes, thanks."
Crazytown, I've had a wonderful time spending my summer with you. I hope you've enjoyed having my crazy ass around as much as I've enjoyed being here. Thanks for helping me reconnect with my love of writing, a skillset I've been ignoring for far too long.
Now go out there and enjoy the last days of summer! I'll see you at Starbucks on September 8th.
Looking back and looking forward at the same time. By Rachel James (Treasurer/Writer)
With Labor Day around the corner, the unofficial end of summer is drawing nigh. It has me in a reflective mood, but also optimistic. Once again, summer has flown by, with hardly a notice (except for the sweat dripping from my helmet during my bike commute). But since autumn is my favorite season - and I have a lot of fun stuff planned - I’d make 2 lists: 5 things I miss about the summer, and 5 things I’m looking forward to in the fall.
1. Not enough free stuff
For someone who always boasts about the incredible FREE options we have in New York during the summer, I certainly don’t take advantage of them enough. No yoga, no movies... what have I done? At least I still have until the end of September, so maybe I’ll get one in before then.
2. Not enough beach time
Besides a brief trip to Florida in July, I have not been to the beach very much. Hopefully, I can get one day in before the weather turns too cold.
3. Not enough exploring
I always tell myself that I should do more exploring. Grab my bike and just pedal as far as I can. Maybe hop a train and go to a neighborhood I don’t know very well. The summer should be the perfect time to do this. But, once again, I spent much of the summer hidden indoors trying to stay cool. I need to fix that.
4. Not enough rosé
Just not enough sitting in outdoor spaces, hanging out with friends, drinking and enjoying the company. Basically, I could always use more of this.
5. The city heaving with tourists
PSYCH! I do love the enthusiasm and money that tourists bring to our fair city. I don’t, however, enjoy trying to maneuver around them while they stop in the middle of the sidewalk to figure out directions (please move to the side and keep the walking path clear - it’s a sidewalk, not a sidestand). But thanks for keeping the city commerce moving!
What you missed, and is it worth watching? By Natalie Lovejoy
Courtesy of ABC
Well the mini-series that everyone was watching this summer, The Astronaut Wives Club, wrapped last Thursday and…what? You weren’t watching it?
The Astronaut Wives Club shows the years of the early space program from the wives’ point of view and is based off Lily Koppel’s book of the same name. It centers on the wives of the Mercury 7 astronauts (though it peppers in a few Gemini and Apollo ones), and covers the selection of the Mercury 7 to the famed Apollo 13 (with a mention of Apollo 14 tacked on at the end).
I read Koppel’s book last year, and that, combined with my interest in the early space program and background as a military wife, meant I was go-for-launch to watch this one. If you have’t seen it, all 10 episodes can we watched for free on Hulu.com (which means you can binge-watch it now!)
At first I was weary of this show. It seemed like it was striving to be the astronaut version of the Lifetime soap-opera seriesArmy Wives (yes, I’ve hate-watched it). All the same character-cliches are there: the smart-talking-sexpot redhead, the down-home gal, and the uptight perfect wife with a secretly sad sex life. It had the same corny moments supported by equally corny underscoring (which undermines the whole premise that we should take these characters and their problems seriously). And there were more than a few moments where it seemed like the writers were trying too hard to emulate the copied-of-copied female ensemble showsSex in the City. (Would wives in the 1960s really talk openly about what they did with their husbands in bed? Especially in such a closed-knit and gossipy community of military wives?)
Last week we concluded “The Misadventures of Mr. Stiffens: The Case of the Scratch ‘n Sniff.” Hope you enjoyed it.
The collected book will be published later this fall.
We’re hoping to get some support for the series, so we can afford to bring you more from the Stiffens universe.
Just a little background...
Harvey Stiffens started in a hybrid short story/comic book/poetry collection called, “Stories from Arlington.” Stiffens was basically a bit character in a short sequential story (based on an unpublished poem) called “Rain.” I was intrigued by the idea that Stiffens wasn’t just a small diner owner. When the last dish was washed, the cash register closed, he ran a detective business for those seeking help with the paranormal. And he had some cool friends to aid him: Fargo, the werewolf cop, and Spoken Word, a nightclub owner with magical abilities of his own.
Abel Ramirez was the first to draw Harvey Stiffens, so it made sense to see if he was open to taking on “The Misadventures of Mr. Stiffens” as a serialized comic strip.
Abel and I have collaborated for more than a decade now.
He’s been drawing since his father put a pencil in his hand when he was 5 years old. Abel’s the first children’s books include “Diny Tots” and “Diny Tots and the Hot Air Balloon.” Additionally, he’s the creator of the Pink Crusader, the breast cancer awareness superhero.
Here’s a quick Q & A we recently conducted.
What attracted you most about the idea?
I liked the idea of a sci-fi detective story, but it’s sci-fi related – there’s a werewolf in it, The mishmash. He (Stiffens) looks like a regular Joe Schmo who runs a diner in the city of Arlington, that’s a crazy town (no pun intended).
What was the most challenge aspect of the comic strip form?
With my busy schedule, time.
Your favorite piece of art from “The Case of the Scratch ‘n Sniff”?
The car exploding scene. It was fun to do and the Leslie Long character made it fun.
Who’s your favorite character from the Stiffens universe?
It would have to Mr. Stiffens. I like Fargo and Spoken Word, but Mr. Stiffens is funny to me. He’s an overweight guy and he does a lot of running around.
Sure, this is goodbye for now. But we hope to see you soon.
Thanks for flying the trans-dimensional divide with us. It was fun.
CORNELIUS FORTUNEis a Detroit-based journalist, writer and poet. His work has appeared in Cinema Blend, iPhone Life Magazine, Yahoo News, the Detroit Metro Times and others. His play, “Dislocations,” was featured during the Thespis Theater Festival in New York (2014).
Anello DeVolta's further adventures through time, alternate universes, and an ever-changing doomsday. By David Cocco(Writer)
Anello waited in the rusty station wagon for Lengua to show himself. The file had a layout of his schedule, as well as usual hangouts. Anello usually tried to keep his time to twelve hours. He had already burned two of them driving from western Massachusetts to an alley in Cambridge. Wilson Lengua was on his way down from the lab to buy more Sour Patch Kids from the 711.
The picture in his file showed a prim young man. He looked like a future business leader of America, from back when that was a thing. The bleary-eyed fool Anello saw now was a disheveled mess of cow-licked hair and wrinkled clothes with high fructose corn syrup and aspartame in his veins. It was almost like he was putting him out of his misery. Anello was thankful for that.
While the dead man walked into the store and selected his last meal, Anello got into position. He was dressed in rags and looked about like your average vagrant. He heard a bell clatter against the doorframe and watched Lengua walk out of the store, making his way past the mouth of the alley as Anello waited in darkness. He raised his pistol and put two shells behind the young programmer’s ear. Anello did Lengua the favor of killing him after he had a chance to eat one of his gummies. He felt that was important.
He dragged the lifeless body into the dark of the alley. He rifled through his pockets and took the cash out of the young man’s wallet, even though the last 4 times he returned to 2152 cash was useless. Still, it was important to uphold the fantasy. No time-traveling assassin here, just a robbery gone wrong…