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Entries in HERE Arts Center (4)

Friday
Jul212017

Call Redialed: Conference Call: Marina Tempelsman and Nicco Aeed: "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark" at HERE

Niccolo Aeed and Marina TempelsmanOnce again Marina & Nicco have answered my call! Their haunting comedy Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark is returning to the stage, but this time, the run is at HERE. In an unconventional staging, the audience lends a hand by lighting the stage for a couple that is literally, and figuratively, feeling their way through the dark. Flashlights will be provided.

In Unpacking, a happy couple has just moved into their new home. But the novelty of homeownership quickly fades as they face a sea of boxes, a major blackout, and, shortly thereafter, the ghosts of all their past relationships. The newest play combines two of our biggest fears: the dark and commitment.

This production will feature Temesgen Tocruray as "Anthony," SJ Son as "Melissa," Emily Mathwich as "Serena," Jeff Solomon as "James," Monique Moses as "Lona," Odera Adimorah as "Lou," and Sarah Heveron-Smith as "Catherine."

Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark is written & directed by Nicco Aeed, Written & Produced by Marina Tempelsman, Produced by Michelle Francesca Thomas, with Set Design by Ally Spier, & Lighting Design by Kaitlyn Cecchetti.

Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark will play July 26-August 13 at HERE (145 6th Avenue). Click here for tickets!

For more on Marina and Nicco be sure to visit http://www.marinaandnicco.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Funny or Die!

1. This summer you're show Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark is returning for a new run a HERE! What made now the right time to bring this show back, as opposed to say, around Halloween?

Marina Tempelsman: We were particularly excited for it to go up this summer, since the Fringe is on hiatus. Our play (and the rest of HERE’s SubletSeries and other curated rental programs like it) are testaments to how independent theater will always find a way to thrive.

Nicco Aeed: I bet our ghosts would be upset if we only thought of them during Halloween when I feel like they’re putting in hard work haunting us year round. I bet something is haunting you in July, and if something is haunting you, it’s the right time to see this play.

I’m also pushing 30, and I feel like everyone’s coupling up and having babies, creating new lives and moving away from old ones. I guess maybe it’s a feeling that will be around during Halloween, but who knows if America will be around then, so why wait?

2. What did you learn from the previous run at The People's Improv that will make this run better?

Marina Tempelsman: Well, one major thing we learned is that the flashlights get dimmer as the battery power fades. The second show in our first run was probably a littttttle darker than we intended. But it still looked great!

Nicco Aeed: Yeah there were a lot of flashlight and lighting based discoveries, but I think the thing I learned that stuck with me most is that it’s a blast to watch couples watch this play. Couples definitely move closer together and further away from each other depending on the scene. There’s something voyeuristic about watching the play on the stage, but also it’s fun to be a voyeur of the audience as well.

Jeff Solomon in the original production of "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark", Photo Credit: Zach Kelly3. In this show, the stage is lit by the audience, who's holding flashlights throughout the show. What was the funniest thing that happened as a result of this in the show's previous run?

Marina Tempelsman: It’s funny to see the different types of flashlight holders that emerge. You get the voyeurs, who really hone in on the action of the stage, and the sleuths, who are hellbent on making sure nothing’s going to surprise them in some dark corner.

Nicco Aeed: The audience seems to mostly act like a collective group of fireflies following cast members as move off and on stage.

4. Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told in the Dark is part mystery, part romance, and part comedy. You have been working together since 2006, both in performance & writing. What part of your relationship is a mystery? What part is romantic? What part is comedic?

Marina Tempelsman: Someone recently said "You’ve been working together for 11 years? You must know EVERYTHING about each other." But I think in a good writing partnership you’re always surprising each other with new ideas and experiences, even as your minds meld in some respects.

Ours is a deep friendship and a writing partnership -- we’re not dating and never have. It’s not a romantic relationship, except in that creating worlds together and being a part of each other’s creative process is an intimate thing to do. Seeing early drafts of each other’s work is, I guess, the collaborator equivalent of seeing a significant other put in their retainer before going to bed. (Nicco thinks this is very funny and true).

Nicco Aeed: Yeah none of our relationship is romantic. People sometimes seem surprised by that or wish there was a juicier story but we disappoint them. That being said yeah, knowing someone for 11 years does NOT mean that new mysteries aren’t revealed all the time. I heard that all the cells in your body die and are replaced within seven years, so on like a cellular level I have known like at least two completely different Marina’s and she’s seen a couple different me’s. The funnest part of the mystery is seeing who we’ll be and what we’ll create in the future. (Marina loves this answer).

Temesgen Tocruray and Priya Patel in the original production of "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark", Photo Credit: Zach Kelly5. This show is about a couple, who shortly after moving in together, begin to see the ghosts of their past relationships in every moving box and unpainted corner. When you and Nicco write together, what ghosts do you see in each other?

Marina Tempelsman: This is a really interesting question. I think that we see ghosts in any long-standing relationship, romantic or not. Nicco and I have never dated, but we’ve written together for almost eleven years. There are times where I feel like I can feel snapshots of past-us in our meetings, though (unlike the characters in the play) I tend to react to those feelings more with a sense of security in how our writing and our process has evolved. Take any life stage, add a pinch of time and nostalgia or uncertainty, and boom! There are the ghosts.

Nicco Aeed: Yeah we wanna emphasize this is NOT a romantic relationship. It’s more like what "Marley" and "Scrooge" had in A Christmas Carol. I’d probably see Marina’s ghost before I saw the ghost of The One That Got Away, or a haunting vision of my children in the future.

But what would be our ghosts? Once in college, we did a show in Philly where there were more people on stage than in the audience, and there were like four people on stage. That’s always a little haunting. But mostly I don’t feel like I see ghosts in our relationship, because that would’ve meant something in our relationship died or ended or just went away but our relationship is immortal and undying.

6. The play is about the pieces of ourselves that we just can't (or don't want to) let go of. What pieces of yourselves can't you or don't you want to let go of?

Marina Tempelsman: This is a tough question to answer! I feel like part of growing up is just feeling safe and secure in letting go of the traits and things in your life that no longer serve you. I feel lucky that I have people around me who tend to nurture the good parts of me, and make the "letting go" process much less painful. But I’m a very nostalgic person in general, so even when I know I’m evolving past something in a good or productive way I tend to get emotional about it.

Nicco Aeed: Such personal questions, Adam! I feel like spaces are haunted for me, and that no matter if I feel like I’ve left something behind for good, if I go back to a certain place (the apartment I was a kid in and grew up in, or visit my old high school) as soon as I step through the threshold I’m brought back to the person I was when I spent time in that place.

Rasheda Crockett in the original production of "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark", Photo Credit: Zach Kelly7. When in your life have you felt your way through the dark?

Marina Tempelsman: When I stayed in an AirBnB that had no lamps and the lightswitch was all the way on the other side of the room opposite the bed.

But also, I think feeling your way through the dark is a pretty apt way of describing trying to pursue a life in the arts. It can be very hard to orient yourself and know when you’re making forward progress, when there’s no clearly-defined context for what a career track can or should look like.

Nicco Aeed: Good answer Marina. Yeah career is definitely a place where I’m feeling my way through the dark.

8. What is one ghost that you still have yet to unpack?

Marina Tempelsman: I think that we’re constantly making new ghosts for ourselves as we live life, make decisions, and live with the memories or the what-ifs. And I should also say not all ghosts feel bad to see -- sometimes it’s comforting to be visited by what once was or what could have been. There’s a beautiful passage in Rabbit Hole, by David Lindsay-Abaire, where a character talks about how the feeling of grief evolves.

She says "At some point it becomes bearable. It turns into something you can crawl out from under, and carry around — like a brick in your pocket. And you forget it every once in a while, but then you reach in for whatever reason and there it is: 'Oh, right. That.' Which can be awful. But not all the time. Sometimes it’s kinda...not that you like it exactly, but it’s what you have instead of your son, so you don’t wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around. And it doesn’t go away, which is…fine, actually."

Of course not all ghosts are driven by grief, but I do feel that they generally come from some sort of friction with your current reality. And sometimes bringing traces of the past or what could have been into your reality is comforting.

Nicco Aeed: I think parents (living or dead) are ghosts you have to unpack for the whole of your life. What I admire in my parents and what I see of them in me changes at every age I'm in. As you realize how many people you become as you live and grow older, it makes you realize how much of your parents you didn’t know throughout your life.

Oh yeah, maybe it’s worth talking about happy ghosts. I think anytime you experience something beautiful, something really beautiful, that you know a picture won’t do justice, that when described to friends they won’t really appreciate how awesome that moment was, those things are haunting. That beauty is passing and short and something that you have to work to keep with you in your memories.

The original production of "Unpacking: A Ghost Story Told In The Dark", Photo Credit: Zach Kelly9. What is one aspect of your life that is like an unpainted corner?

Marina Tempelsman: I just had chunks of plaster drop straight out of my ceiling a few months ago, and I FINALLY got that repainted this weekend. So that’s the only unpainted corner I have on the brain and it is officially taken care of.

Nicco Aeed: I feel like I’ve lived in a couple apartments where the bathroom ceiling has fallen in a couple times. Though it does get plastered back up there, it never gets painted. Oh but you mean metaphorically?

10. If you had to choose five "Ghost" themed songs, movies, or TV shows to describe this show, which ones would you use?

Marina Tempelsman: Oh, interesting question! So there is quite a bit of music in the show, but I’ll try to exclude those songs from this answer. I would say…

It’s not exaaaactly a ghost TV show, but I do feel like The Good Place seems related, both tonally and thematically. It’s funny and poignant, but it’s also about characters trying to overcome their circumstances by sheer force of will -- and eventually coming around to acknowledging that it takes something more profound to bring about the change they need.

And WOW I’m drawing a blank, now! I guess ghost movies tend to be scary (unlike this show, which is largely a comedy and drama), and I hate scary movies. So I don’t see a lot. Nicco, what do you think?

Nicco Aeed: Below is a weird youtube mixtape just for you Adam! It’s a bit ecclectic but all about the past:

Chris Pureka Covering Haunted

Relevant Lyrics: We are all alive but you would never know

We walk side by side like invisible ghosts

Everyone is lonely and everyone is sad

We all want the things that we have never had

I got somethin' to say but no one's here

We march on and on and we damn the fear

But we are haunted

Office Musik (Lil Wayne Hustler Music/The Office Themesong mashup)

Relevant Lyrics: See I be riding, just riding alone

With my daddy on my mind

Like you gotta be kidding

How the hell you ain't here

To see your prince do his thing

Sometimes I wanna drop a tear

But no emotions from a king

Juke Jam by Chance the Rapper

Relevant Lyrics: We never rolled at the rink

We would just go to the rink

You ain't buy tokens no more

You just hip roll at the rink

You had a man then, I couldn't stand him

But when they play "Take You Down", Chris Brown,

I am his stand-in

I mean it's just dancing

It's harmless as fuck

Then I put my waist through your hips and your legs in my arms just to harness you up

Then we hit the floor

All the kiddies stopped skating

To see grown folks do

What grown folks do

When they grown 

And they dating

Space Captain by Joe Cocker

Relevant Lyrics: Until we die, until we die

We are just learning to live together

Learning to live together

Learning to live together

Till we die

New Lover by Josh Ritter

Relevant Lyrics: Praise the water under bridges, the time they say will heal

Praise the fonder, that still grows on the absent heart and fields

Praise be to this pain, these days it's all I seem to feel.

But I will not chase your shadow as you go from room to room,

Droppin' handkerchiefs and daggers, smokin' guns and other clues

For what someone did with someone and who did what to whom.

I've got a new lover now, I hope you've got a lover too.

 

Marina TempelsmanNicco AeedMore on Marina and Nicco:

Marina and Nicco are playwrights and screenwriters based in New York, who emerged from the underground sketch comedy scene. Their most recent play, Room 4, was met with sold-out shows, standing ovations, and was listed as a New York Times Critic’s Pick in addition to receiving international coverage. Prior to Room 4, that they were playwrights-in-residence at The Peoples Improv Theater, and Marina Tempelsman’s play Simon’s Street ran at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre for eight months.

In addition to their theatrical work, their sketches and videos have been featured in The New Yorker's Shorts and Murmurs, on Comedy Central, and Funny or Die. They wrote for Morgan Spurlock’s Call Bullshit, and were finalists in the LA Film Festival Make Em LAFF competition -- in addition to their regular live shows at major comedy theaters in New York. They co-wrote the feature film Delusions of Guinevere, which was called "a surprisingly dark satire of modern celebrity" by The Village Voice and "sly and smart" by The New York Times. They have also written several pilots, a radio play series (MURDER!), and a number of original plays. They just finished a six-month playwriting residency at The PIT, and are currently developing an original web series for BRIC TV.

Tuesday
Sep022014

Call Answered Again: Zachary Infante: Pyre Cantata

Zachary Infante"Call Me Adam" reconnects with actor Zachary Infante. This time around we talk about him starring in and co-producing in Trevor Bachman's Pyre Cantata which will play HERE Arts Center (145 6th Avenue) from September 4-7Click here for tickets!

A mythic, soulful, vocally pyrotechnic adaptation of Antigone, this electric new musical follows four young siblings as they try to fix the broken city of Thebes. The music, a soulful fusion of R&B, gospel, and musical theatre exquisitely sews together quick humor with alarming tragedy. Appealing to lovers of Greek drama and good music alike, Pyre Cantata is a fiery new twist on a centuries-old myth.

For more on Zachary be sure to visit http://zacharyinfante.wix.com/zacharyinfante and follow him on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. From September 4-7, you are co-producing and starring in Pyre Cantata, a new musical retelling of Antigone. What made you want this project to be your first venture at producing? Why did you want to star in it as well? Watching Trevor Bachman’s work grow over the last five years has been an enriching experience for the soul. I feel that producing his work is the right step forward at this point. Being able to play and develop Pyre Cantata with Trevor keeps my eyes open to the reality of these characters.

2. How do you balance both producing and acting? Do the lines ever get blurred? Thankfully our director, Chris Bowser, has been a great hand in this balance. After one of our production meetings I left my script in the rehearsal studio. He reminded me that he’s happy to have me on the team and wants my passion for the production to stay as strong as my love for the story. That was a real game changer and has kept my eyes on the ball.

Zachary Infante and Travis Kent in Trevor Bachman's "Pyre Cantata"3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Pyre Cantata? Throughout the the life of this piece, it's music and lyrics have managed to reverberate beyond the theater. An audience will undoubtedly find the controversy in Pyre Cantata to be relevant in our world today, and I hope it will stir a dialogue about war and corruption.

4. What do you identify most with about the story and your character "Eteocles"? This guy is driven by his faith. "Eteocles" puts so much trust in the people he loves and I believe that to be true of my relationships with friends and family.

5. What has been the best part about working with this cast and creative team so far? I’ve loved coming into the rehearsal room and being able to greet other young professionals working toward a common goal. I see the passion in everyone’s eyes during our runs and how easily we’re able to pour love on each other in and outside of rehearsal.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

6. If you could be an original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Crema de Piragua. It’s been my favorite flavored ice since childhood and I’d love that taste to last after the summer.

7. How do you want to be remembered? I’d love for my children’s children to remember me as an honest and romantic old man who was generous and faithful.

Zachary InfanteMore on Zachary: 

Born at Mount Saini Hospital in Spanish Harlem, Zach's Dominican and Puerto Rican roots run deep. Though a native New Yorker, his family made a move to the suburbs of New Jersey where he spent most of his childhood. The theater community in Roselle Park shaped Zach into the young professional he is today, and fostered his passion for the arts at a young age. After years of performing in his living room and with local theater companies he began working professionally scoring roles in commericals and on television, and so the legend beings.

Tony Award winning director Julie Taymor and Zachary InfanteAt the age of ten Zach landed a role in Paramount Picture's School of Rock starring Jack Black, Joan Cusak, and Miranda Cosgrove. Fueled and desiring more he pursued a BFA in Drama at New York University. While studying at NYU he was in his first musical theater production at The Paper Mill Playhouse. It didn't take this sprite to realize that the stage is where he would be able to hone his craft.

Following the completion of his training at the Collaborative Arts Project (CAP21) and the Experimental Theatre Wing (ETW) Zach began working on the classics with Tony Award winning director Julie Taymor (The Lion King, Across the Universe) in the inagural production of Brooklyn's newest premier company Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA). The fall 2013 production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream led him over to Hartford Stage where he worked with Matthew Lopez on his most recent development of Somewhere a play with music by Bill Sherman (In the Heights) starring Tony Award Winner Priscilla Lopez (A Chorus Line, In the Heights).

Zachary Infante in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"The classics seem to be where the stars have pulled him as he'll be returning to TFANA in the fall for Sir Michael Boyd's production of Tamburlaine in a major production of the rarely produced play by Christopher Marlowe. Through the inbetweens Zach has been working with Tony Award nominated director Michael Greif (Rent, Next To Normal, If/Then), and as a reoccuring character, Senate page "Tomas A.L Quiroz," on the Amazon Prime original series Alpha House starring John Goodman and Mark Consuelos.

Zach has also been developing several new works with composers Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, Trevor Bachman, and Bobby Cronin. Most recently has been given the opportunity to host the national singing competition Can U Sing with judges Erin Christine (American Idol), Kristen Huffman (Company), and Greg Nobile, (Tony Award winning producer of A Gentlemans Guide to Love and Murder).

Monday
Sep012014

Call Answered: Kiah Victoria: Pyre Cantata, The Lion King, and Music

Kiah VictoriaMaking her Broadway debut at 10 years old as "Young Nala" in Disney's The Lion King, "Call Me Adam" chats with actress and singer Kiah Victoria about starring in Trevor Bachman's Pyre Cantata which will play HERE Arts Center (145 6th Avenue) from September 4-7Click here for tickets!

A mythic, soulful, vocally pyrotechnic adaptation of Antigone, this electric new musical follows four young siblings as they try to fix the broken city of Thebes. The music, a soulful fusion of R&B, gospel, and musical theatre exquisitely sews together quick humor with alarming tragedy. Appealing to lovers of Greek drama and good music alike, Pyre Cantata is a fiery new twist on a centuries-old myth.

For more on Kiah be sure to visit http://kiahvictoria.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

1. From September 4-7, you will be starring in Pyre Cantata. What made you want to audition for this show? This music is killer and the cast is not only full of incredible artists but also my dearest friends. It’s a win across the board.

2. What do you identify most with about the story and your character "Speaker"? The "Speaker" posses a feminine power that I admire and in may ways aspire to. In a male dominated world she’s still running shit. She knows the secrets of the city and uses that knowledge and wisdom to protect her family. 

Kiah Victoria rehearsing "Pyre Cantata"3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I hope audiences leave the room feeling a sense of triumph. Whether it’s from the incredible music, or the plight of "Ismene," I hope people feel that amidst darkness there is a spark of light. This story is as much about dysfunction as it is about pure potential.

4. What is the best part about being in the early stages of show's creation? It’s such a RIDE. I was in the first reading of Pyre about 4 years ago, so to hear the development since that time is pretty remarkable. The best part is witnessing all of Trevor’s work and growth being manifested into this production. And as a cast we’re making new discoveries that are further building upon his genius.

Cast of "Pyre Cantata"5. At age 10, you made your Broadway debut as "Young Nala" in The Lion King. What was it like to make your Broadway debut at such a young age? Was it everything you dreamed it would be? The Lion King was kind of magical. It was one of those experiences that completely clarified for me that the stage is where I belong. The music, costumes, lights, dancers, singers and the beautiful New Amsterdam became my home. My dad also made his Broadway debut in The Lion King playing drums in the orchestra! We were the first ever daddy-daughter team. That was such a surreal, proud moment to see him up in the balcony holding it down, while I was riding around on an ostrich with "Simba." AH!

Cover design by Rog Walker6. Since then, you also started writing your own music, releasing 2 EPs and some singles as well as perform around the world in concert. What do you get from working on your own music and performing concerts that you do not get from being on stage? I feel a deeper sense of ownership when I’m writing music. It’s much more of a challenge for me than being on stage. But ultimately each piece of my artistic creation and development makes me feel alive. I wouldn’t trade one for another.

7. What is the best part about meeting your fans around the world? Well, this question makes me feel rather fancy. I feel love from all angles when I come into contact with people who appreciate my artistry and what I create. That enthusiasm is so special.

8. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I always felt a deep, inexplicable desire to perform. I’m not sure if I had a say in the matter. It feels like that desire always was and will be forever.

Kiah Victoria singing9. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Oh man, so many people! Nabil (Video Director), Miguel (Artist), and 40 (Producer) come to mind.

10. What's the best advice you've received so far? "Treat everyday as a rededication to your craft." – Martin Scorsese (NYU ‘14 Tisch Commencement)

11. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Hmmm, probably that I have more strength than I realize.

12. Having success at such a young age, how have you been able to stay grounded? I’m a person. I think if I remember that, I’ll be good. 

BONUS QUESTIONS:

13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Flight.

14. If you could be any original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Raspberry. For sure.

15. How do you want to be remembered? As a giver of joy and ferocity.

More on Kiah:

BLENDING INTIMATE VOCAL PERFORMANCE WITH THE OBSCURE SYNTHETIC TEXTURES OF TRIP-HOP PRODUCER TOLU, 21-YEAR-OLD KIAH VICTORIA EMERGES FROM THE GREAT CITY OF NEW YORK.

THE MTV COLLEGE WOODIE NOMINEE HAS TAKEN HER TRAVELS AROUND THE GLOBE, LIVING IN BOTH GERMANY AND KENYA FOR A SHORT TIME BEFORE RETURNING TO HER RIGHTFUL SPOTLIGHT IN MANHATTAN.

KIAH HAS GARNERED THE ATTENTION OF NYC’S BROADWAY STAGES, NBC’S THE VOICE, AND THE CLIVE DAVIS INSTITUTE OF RECORDED MUSIC. SHE HAS STUDIED ABROAD IN BERLIN, EXPLORING THE DIVERSELY RICH MUSIC CULTURE OF THE HISTORICAL CITY WHILE CONTINUOUSLY COLLABORATING WITH HER PRODUCER TOLU, AND INTRODUCING HER DISTINCT SOUND TO THE EUROPEAN CITY-CENTER.

Wednesday
Feb292012

Mark Snyder: As Wide As I Can See Interview

Photo Credit: Matthew MurphyI first interviewed playwright Mark Snyder in 2011 when At Hand Theatre was presenting a reading of "As Wide As I Can See." A year later, "As Wide As I Can See" is being fully produced at HERE Arts Center in New York City.

"As Wide As I Can See" is set in the backyard of a recession-stricken Ohio town, where the beer is on ice and the citronellas are ready to be lit. Dean, a disillusioned journalist, and his freeloading best friend unwittingly prepare for the most explosive barbecue of their lives. Tensions mount when Dean's girlfriend inadvertently invites a mysterious woman from his past to the party. Burgers are flipped and scores are settled in this new drama about remembering who you were and confronting who you've become.

"As Wide As I Can See" will play from February 23-March 10 at HERE Arts Center (145 Avenue of Americas at Dominick Street, one block south of Spring Street). Tickets are $18. Click here to purchase!

 

1. What made you want to write "As Wide As I Can See"? I grew up with two wonderful brothers who, for different reasons, wound up staying in our hometown in the northeast corner of Ohio (where the play is set), and the love and dedication they had for the area always moved me and at the same time (in my urbanized view) felt very foolish. My own relationship with the region has been particularly complicated, especially while watching job opportunities, natural resources, and the communities themselves dry up and vanish over the past seventeen years since I’ve lived there. There is a reason that Obama and whichever yin-yang they choose as the other candidate will campaign heavily in that part of the country --- we embody so much of what challenges and ails our country’s economy and the deep, very human, need to be heard. People don’t feel listened to in Ohio, and they are very frustrated.

So I was curious as to how the concept of “place” and “home” can impact characters at various points of their lives, all forced together out of necessity, with all the conflict that situation implies. I started writing on New Years Day 2010 in a borrowed cottage in East Hampton – about as far away from the rust belt of Ohio as you can get! The play is my attempt to see our hometown through my brothers’ optimism and the relationships they forged with other locals who are all eager to bring the area back to prominence. Gradually, as Dean and Tyler and the women in their lives took the play over, it grew more and more fictional – except for the setting, which remains in essence a heightened version of where we are from.

2. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing "As Wide As I Can See"? I must admit to being very curious as to how the play will be received by sophisticated New Yorkers. It’s a tricky group of characters, in this play; alliances shift and initial impressions morph as you learn more about them.  And the play is set very specifically in 2010, when optimism in our country had really started to wane. While I don’t feel like the play is “political” in that traditional sense, I do feel that the current environment is a huge backdrop for what happens and colors many decisions the characters make in the play. My dream is that audiences stop referring to Ohio as “the Midwest”; it’s closer to our coast then one might think, both in attitude and values.  Maybe these characters will be the faces our mostly-insulated city places on the troubles in the rest of the country, who knows?

3. What does it mean to you to have your work at HERE Arts Center? It’s a dream come true, really; HERE is an artistic home to some of the wildest and boldest original voices in the city, and their spaces are both scrappy and elegant at the same time. My play’s decidedly well-made and traditional from a structural standpoint, but what’s happening inside the play is most definitely not. I like to think we are a good fit for each other.

4. This is your second collaboration with At Hand Theatre (Lila Cante, 2009). How did you initially get involved with them? A mutual friend suggested I send my plays to them, think we might work well together. I think it took me about four minutes sitting with Dan Horrigan, Justin Scribner, and Sara Sahin (LC’s director) to be completely excited by the company. Not only does their mission really appeal to me, but the warm vibe and the long-term commitment they’ve made to my work makes me feel so grateful and thankful and blessed. I can bring them anything I’m working on, and I know I will be supported, nurtured, and advocated for by everyone in the company. It’s such a rare thing. I read A Comfortable House, which is all about Circle Repertory Theatre and Marshall Mason’s collaboration with Lanford Wilson, and I just didn’t think those companies existed anymore in New York; they do!

5. What is it about At Hand Theatre that made you want to work with them again? Ha ha, like I’m fielding invitations all over town, Adam…Honestly, I came to them in December 2010 to meet about a reading slot I had scheduled for January 2011 with the company, for a different play. I walked into the room and handed them an early version of this play, and said that I’d like to do a reading of this instead. They said yes right then and there, before even reading it. As the company continues to grow, I’m developing alongside it.  That’s really exciting for a writer.

(AHT Artistic Director) Dan Horrigan, who is directing "As Wide As I Can See," asks really smart and probing questions, and then leaves me alone to answer them for myself about the play. Working with him, and these crackerjack designers, and this beautiful company of actors – it just feels like the right time in the right space with the right people.

6. What is your favorite part of the creative process in writing a play? I’m scribbling all the time – I really love honing the play over many drafts and many different actors reading the parts – and in the process, I understand why I wrote the play in the first place. It’s not one of those gigs where someone can say “Write me a play about ____” and I’ll just leap into the abyss of my subconscious and pull out something related. Playwriting is essential and we tell stories so we can illuminate the darker and oft-neglected parts of what it means to be human. And when the tiny epiphanies that occur when you are writing closer and closer to the truth of the moment, for that character, happen – it’s terrific.

And I love the first day on the stage with all the design elements in place. Theatre designers are the coolest people in the whole world.  An entire world is created from what I wrote! Unbelievable!!

7. If you could write a play for anyone, who would you choose? I keep lists and lists of such names, but I would prefer to be surprised – and surprise you!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright? Deeper empathy.

9. If you could have any superpower, which one would you choose? The ability to mash-up; apparently the kids are loving it these days...

10. Favorite way to spend your day off? Last summer, I took a marvelous entire day and biked from Brooklyn to Fort Tilden/Far Rockaway beach for some sun and hipster frisbee. Best day ever.