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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

Entries in New York City (77)

Wednesday
Sep242014

Call Answered: Karen Finley: Written in Sand

Karen Finley"Call Me Adam" chats with two-time Obie and Bessie Award winner Karen Finley about her latest work Written in Sand

Written in Sand includes some of Karen Finley’s most searing work on the subject of AIDS, written at a time when medical treatment was ineffective and when she was losing her friends to the disease on a continual basis. Some pieces are excerpted from her earlier shows of the era; others are based on writing she did at the time that has never been published or performed. Interspersing the Finley pieces are musical selections originally written or performed by musicians who died of AIDS during this period, performed by jazz artist Paul Nebenzahl. Written in Sand plays at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street between Lexington & 3rd Avenue) from October 2-23. Click here for tickets! 

Opening night, October 2, is a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Karen Finley performing1. From October 2-23 you will be presenting your new work Written In Sand at Baruch Performing Arts Center based upon pieces and writings on AIDS that you wrote between 1983 and 1994. What excites about presenting this new work? KF Revisiting the texts and memories of loss and youth places the trauma with time in order to process and gain perspective. The performance also memorializes and celebrates the activism for action, recognition and acceptance of those living and suffering with AIDS. The impact of this era, lives lost, all too many was devastating trauma for a generation and in particular those in the gay community. Yet, there has been progress and advances in human rights - and in healthcare. But the piece is about loss and can have a relationship to loss that is too early - and the heartache the loss and missing brings us to a profoundness with the meaning of life though these intimate passages with those you loved - the performance allows for a ritual space in a public forum to bring together the emotions in a human offering through voice music and audience witnessing. But what excites me is the musical accompaniment with the texts - there will be piano, flute, IPAD instruments and bells, drums. The music gives a percussive heart beat to structure the work. Looking forward to performing with my collaborator Paul Nebenzahl who works in jazz and blues.

Karen Finley, Photo Credit: Getty Images2. What made now the right time to present this piece? I was invited by Sur Rodney Sur to participate in the 25 Anniversary of Visual Aids - while doing research of the vast creative responses to the AIDS crisis I compiled all of my texts gathered from various performances, writings - poetry and when I read them together I realized they were its own narrative that had been broken up and scattered. And now with time, the pieces interrupted were put together as a woven testimony of memory and as a homage. When I performed a small section of the work for the 25 Anniversary, the response was tremendous, and I decided to begin the process of performing. Although intense, the 25 years will enable the time to be able to view the crisis in a way that I have been carrying with me for many years.

3. What was it like to go back through these pieces in preparation for this show? What emotions/memories came up for you during this process? The emotions are very deep - heartfelt - yet there is a joy in recalling of the friends that I had such a deep and profound relationships with - so there is also humor and the personality of my friends. Yet this work is a lyrical document of the artist as a historical recorder. And I want to give and perform this work to the community of New York.

Karen Finley as "Jackie Kennedy", Photo Credit: Jennifer Taylor for The Boston Globe4. Do you feel you will be presenting these stories differently now than if you presented some of them earlier in your career? Yes - and No - because I have never performed all of these works together before - I would not have assembled all of the entries. The piece is also about the looking back. The AIDS crisis is still a problem - and being Queer is still a legal issue in Uganda - but this work is situated in a time frame when there were proposals to place those infected with HIV in colonies or camps, the ostracized, the homophobia. This was before gay marriage or domestic partners so victims were shamed - families would not even announce the lives or deaths of their family member. The performance is about a time in our country's shameful history of great cruelty and neglect to those suffering from the illness - first in terms of support of research but secondly in terms of the inhumanity. We can learn from these times and to learn to be more sensitive and prepared to open our hearts. But in human terms in terms of performance - I feel the work transcends time and place and focuses on the emotional voicing of connecting memory and longing.

5. How do feel these writings of yours relate to where things are at with the AIDS crisis today? Do you think progress has been made? Yes progress has been made - but not in certain communities -  If you are white you will have a better chance to have healthcare - and there are places in the world where you do not have access or the expense of medicine such as in Africa. I have many friends who are living healthy productive lives with the disease.

Karen Finley in chocolate, Photo Credit: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders6. What makes Baruch Performing Arts Center the perfect place to present this work? First I am honored to perform at Baruch which is part of our New York State Public University system. And I wanted to work with Chip Duckett at Baruch and his business partner Ron Lasko who is producing events this season for their professionalism, artistry in theater production, and integrity, I first met Chip Duckett performing for an AIDS benefit in the mid eighties.

7. Who or what inspired you to become a performance artist? I have been creating performance or conceptual based work since I was a teen - so I have always been interested in art. I wanted to create work that would disrupt traditional theatrical productions. I also enjoyed night clubs and other spaces to create artistic production to expand the occupation of artistic territory. 

8. What made you go against the grain so to speak to get your work produced? Was there a moment where you were like "I have to do this my way?" I think that is what I have been doing since I have been in my teens - as a feminist artist and a political artist - taking and making space becomes a political act in having a moment to be seen or as a woman to direct myself in a unsocially unacceptable appearances - and to work with that energy makes for tension and adrenaline!

Karen Finley in honey, Photo Credit: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders9. What's the best advice you've ever received? The problem with selling out is that the second time it is easier.

10. What have you learned about yourself from being performance artist? To find the joy in the making of art, to find the joy in being part of the human dimension of sharing a physical aliveness together, to be present with my audience, and to feel the love and emotion flow from my heart into theirs and then back to mine.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I would like to be involved in urban planning.

12. If you could be an original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Coconut - dont know if that is original but I like Coconut. 

13. Favorite skin care product? Honey body creme.

Karen Finley, Photo Credit: Timothy Greenfield-SandersMore on Karen:

Since her first performances in the early 1980's, KAREN FINLEY has become synonymous with performance art. She is the recipient of two Obies, two Bessies, and multiple grants from the NEA and NYSCA. She has toured internationally with pieces including Make Love, George & Martha, The American Chestnut, A Certain Level of Denial and The Return of The Chocolate Smeared Woman. In 1990, Karen became an unwilling symbol for the NEA when she, along with Tim Miller, Holly Hughes & John Fleck, sued the NEA for withdrawing grants on the grounds of indecency. She last appeared at Baruch Performing Arts Center last November in The Jackie Look, in which she played Jackie Kennedy on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

Tuesday
Sep232014

Call Answered Again: The Best of Dina Martina 

Call Me Adam and Dina Martina, Provincetown 2013"Call Me Adam" once again chats with Dina Martina! This time around we talk about her "Best Of" show at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, which runs through September 28. Once again, only a fraction of Dina's humor and quick wit are demonstrated below. For the full effect of Dina Martina's comedy, you'll have to click here for tickets!

For more on Dina be sure to visit http://www.dinamartina.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: David Belisle1. From September 18-28, you are returning to the Laurie Beechman Theatre with The Best of Dina Martina. What made now the right time to do a "Best Of" show? Actually, I think it was kismet. You know, when certain things just feel right, like it's the right thing to do? Like smiling at a blind person on the street and wiping front to back. Not at the same time, but separately. You know, those things just feel right.

2. How did you decide which songs, stories, and film clips you wanted to include in the "Best Of"? Names out of a hat, pretty much. But it was my best hat.

3. How does it feel to be able to create a "Best Of" show? Did you ever think when you first started out that this day would come? I've got to tell you, it feels pretty darn good. And no, I never thought in a million years that I'd be doing this, but I also never thought I'd ever get a bikini tweeze. And I never thought I'd be having a pie eating contest, at my house, by myself. But I did.

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: David Belisle4. What excites you about returning once again to the Laurie Beechman Theatre? First off, the staff is amazing. But also the fact that literally everyone has played there, from Josephine Baker to the Addrisi Brothers to Sandy Duncan to Fatty Arbuckle and the Pointer Sisters – and I'm pretty sure those last two were on the same bill. Plus, I think it's where President Abraham Lincoln saw Our American Cousin, and I can't decide which is more exciting, that or the risotto balls.

5. While this is a "Best Of" show, is there anything new you are including? Yes, I've included the helicopter from Miss Saigon, which I picked up at a tag sale over the summer.

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: David Belisle6. Since this show is The Best Of Dina Martina, what has been the best part about being Dina Martina? Knowing that, as a well-rounded performer, if one of my assets doesn't "wow" the crowd, then one of the others will. I can do it all, and you know what they call you in this business when you can do it all? They call you a threat. If it isn't my voice that "wows" them, it'll be my hair, and if it isn't my hair, it'll be my costumes, and if it isn't my costumes it'll be my sparkling banter, and if it isn't that, it'll most assuredly be my dismount, because I am a classically-trained gymnast. And if all else fails – which only happens about 10 percent of the time - I can show pictures of when I could still do the Chinese splits.

7. What, if anything, have you ever wanted to change about yourself? My panties.

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: David Belisle8. What can we expect next from Dina Martina? More charity work. As you know, I've been working effortlessly to eradicate pink eye - or at least develop a vaccine - and so this next month is going to be National Pink Eye Awareness Month, in my mind, and I'm thinking there'll be several awareness-raising seminars and fundraisers and white water rafting trips. And in the high-risk neighborhoods, I'm going to be setting up mascara wand exchanges and those will be totally anonymous. And all of these events will come to a head on the 28th, when there'll be a marathon benefit, in which the participants will be sleeping in shifts, and I'm hoping that that will raise money somehow. It's called Napping for the Cure.

9. If you could be any original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Was "gravy" one of them?

10. How do you want to be remembered? I'd like to be remembered as a pretty lady who gave 150% onstage, even if only a small portion of that made it to the audience.

Dina Martina, Photo Credit: Bobby MillerMore on Dina: 

Tragic singer, horrible dancer and surreal raconteur, the hysterically funny Dina Martina debuted at Seattle’s Center on Contemporary Art in 1989, instantly gleaning reviews that dubbed her "magically warped," "hilariously unfortunate" and "utter genius."  Since then, she’s packed venues in New York, Los Angeles, London, Toronto and San Francisco and shared the bill with acts such as Modest Mouse, Margaret Cho, Nina Hagen and Village People.

Absolutely packed with ludicrous song, horrifying stories and overburdened costumes, Dina Martina’s shows are impossible to adequately describe, other than that they’ve become synonymous with jaw-dropping pathos and mind-blowing comedy. Dina Martina has been hailed as "Divinely funny" (Time Out London), "Painfully funny and demented" (Seattle Times) and "The most original drag performer working in America today" (Village Voice). What a Dina Martina show is, quite simply put, is a smart and hilarious evening of entertainment that you will never forget.

Recently, Dina Martina’s hugely successful shows in New York and Provincetown have made ardent fans of John Waters, Whoopi Goldberg, Matt Stone, Jennifer Coolidge, Graham Norton and many others.  Martina is the 2012 recipient of The Stranger Genius Award for Theater and has been nominated for an Alpert Award, a SPIT Award for Best Solo Show and two GLAAD Media Awards for Outstanding Off-Off Broadway Theater. She did not win those. Hooray!

Saturday
Sep202014

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with the cast of National Lampoon's Bayside! The Musical!: The Saved By The Bell Musical

Live from their Opening Night at Theatre 80 in NYC, "Call Me Adam" interviews the cast of National Lampoon's Bayside! The Musical!: The Saved By The Bell Musical including Dustin Diamond (Saved By The Bell's original "Screech"), Sam Harvey ("Zack Morris"), Katie Mebane ("Kelly Kapowski"), John Duff ("AC Slater") , Justin Cimino ("Screech Powers"), Shamira Clark ("Lisa Turtle"), Amanda Nicholas ("Every Other Student At Bayside"), Seth Blum ("Mr. Belding/The Max/Others"), April Kidwell and Adriana Spencer ("Jessie Spano", not featured in interview).

National Lampoon's Bayside! The Musical! plays at Theatre 80 in New York City (80 St. Marks Street at 1st Avenue)! Click here for tickets!

For more on Bayside! The Musical! be sure to visit http://baysidethemusical.com and follow the show on Facebook and Twitter!

Interview with cast of National Lampoon's Bayside The Musical:

Sunday
Sep072014

Call Answered: Joan Shepard: Confessions of Old Lady #2 2014 International Fringe Festival Encore Series

Joan Shepard in "Confessions of Old Lady #2""Call Me Adam" chats with actress Joan Shepard about her show Confessions of Old Lady #2, chronicling her 74 year career on Broadway and Television that is part of the 2014 International Fringe Festival Encores Series at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street) on September 18 and 28. Click here for tickets!

For more on Joan be sure to visit http://www.joanhaydenshepard.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Your show, Confessions of Old Lady #2, about your 74 year career on Broadway & television, just finished its initial run in the 2014 NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival and is now being presented in their Encore Series. What excites you about having your show in the Fringe Encore series? Excited & pleased to have been chosen.

2. What made now the right time to present Confessions of Old Lady #2? The last 2 summers I took the show to the Edinburgh Fringe. I loved it and would have gone back this year. But my daughter, the esteemed director Jenn Thompson, persuaded me to shoot for NYC Fringe as a higher target.

3. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helps foster this show in a way another festival might not? Plainly the attention given to Fringe NYC is extraordinary. I  got 4 reviews. The other Festival I applied to, offered a single performance as opposed to 5. 

Joan Shepard in "Confessions of Old Lady #2"4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Confessions of Old Lady #2? The promise that there is life after 80.

5. Since this show is about tales from your career, is there a story that did not make it into the show that you can share with us? In the show I tell about playing a 5 line part in The Member of the Wedding on Broadway. I don't want to distract from the impact of quoting Miss Ethel Waters &  telling how "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" got into the show, so I don't tell how (11 years after Bway) Miss Waters chose me to play the leading role of "Frankie Addams" on the West Coast, opposite her. One of my proudest possessions is a program cover showing me on her lap as we sing the famous hymn.

6. What was it like to go back through your whole life and career to put this show together? Were there moments when it was all too much for you? It was exhilarating rather than upsetting.

Joan Shepard in "Confessions of Old Lady #2"7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was totally hooked by my first show Romeo & Juliet, starring Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh. I never considered any other profession from, that day to this.

8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I would love to work with Liza Minnelli. She's in my show, but we never shared a stage at the same time.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? "Don't ever let yourself be bitter." (too many character ladies have made this mistake).

10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That being scared is okay. I am still terrified before each performance, particularly of CONFESSIONS, and I know it's part of the deal.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? No question: the power to fly.

12. If you could be an original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Mint.

13. How do you want to be remembered? As someone who brought delight.

Joan ShepardMore on Joan:

Joan Shepard has enjoyed 74 years as a working actress, beginning with being cast as an extra in Laurence Olivier's Broadway production of Romeo & Juliet in 1940. Since then she has racked up 8 more Broadway plays, including The Member of the Wedding with Ethel Waters and Foolish Notion in which she played Tallulah Bankhead's daughter. As a child, she was one of radio's Quiz Kids, as a grown up she has had a distinguished career on stage and on television. Most recently she has appeared regionally at such theatres as the Human Race, New Harmony, the Pasadena Playhouse and the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut. At the latter, she served also as Managing Director and was, along with her husband, Evan Thompson, directly responsible for saving that historic theatre from the wrecking ball. At Ivoryton she received a record number, seventeen of Pictorial Gazette Awards for her performances, and on television she was a memorable shoplifter on ABC's What Would You Do? as well as appearing on the HBO series Girls. In 2012 & 2013 she took her one-woman show CONFESSIONS OF OLD LADY #2 to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where she was critically hailed as "a musical powerhouse" remotegoat.com, "a must see for any aspiring performer" StageWon, "Marvellous" (Whats'On), "a wonderful raconteur" Carrie Gooch SGfringe; "fabulous but not fading" (Scotsgay), 4 stars, "a gleeful account" (Libby Purves, the London Times). NYC's Cabaret Scenes described her show as "fascinating and fun" and called her "an eternal sprite whose company is a true pleasure".

Friday
Sep052014

Call Answered: Janet Prince: Murder, Margaret & Me: 2014 International Fringe Festival Encore Series

Janet Prince"Call Me Adam" chats with actress Janet Prince about starring in Murder, Margaret & Me which is part of the 2014 International Fringe Festival Encore Series playing at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street) on September 13, 19, and 20! Click here for tickets!

1. Murder, Margaret & Me just finished its initial run in the 2014 NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival and is now being presented in their Encore Series. What excites you about reprising this show in the Fringe Encore series? Being able to reach more people. The show completely sold out its run even with two extra shows and even my husband couldn't see it!

2. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helped nurture this show in a way another festival might not have? Certainly for an international show there is no other opportunity to stage a production in NY as accessible as this, even to the point that FringeNYC petitions for the visa which is always a difficult hurdle to overcome.

Janet Prince in "Murder, Margaret & Me"3. What made you want to initially audition for Murder, Margaret & Me? The piece was commissioned for me and I was convinced I could never play three different characters; the iconic actress Margaret Rutherford in particular, but the reviews have proved me wrong!

4. What do you identify most with about Margaret Rutherford and "Miss Marple"? Margaret Rutherford and I both love(d) swimming in cold sea...a point I prove weekly at Rockaway beach! and "Miss Marple" and I are both rather nosey!

5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing this show? A real sense of being involved in an extraordinary true story and with a smile on their face.

6. What has been the best part about starring in this show? The whole experience has been a delight...in fact the only downside with a solo show is the last night party is a bit quiet!

Janet Prince in "Murder, Margaret & Me"7. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Stella Sizer Simpson (still remember her name) who took me for speech classes was such a glamorous character with long red nails and bright red lipstick and in my eleven year old eyes was a perfect role model!

8. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Margaret Rutherford!

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Procrastination is the thief of time...my dad wrote it in my autograph book...but I still put everything off till the last minute....still think it is good advice though!

Janet Prince in "Murder, Margaret & Me"10. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? Very confident in youth, wobbly in the middle years and now I fear nothing!

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Pour parler français instantanément!

12. If you could be an original flavor Life Saver, which one would you be? Had to google this...thought a Life Saver was the guy at the pool...so now I am an expert...did you know they were first introduced in 1902...I'd create a margarita flavour....

13. How do you want to be remembered? With a great big laugh!