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"Call Me Adam" chats with...

 

 

Entries in New York City (113)

Friday
Jul242015

Call Answered: Beth Newbery: Actress, Playwright, Director, Founder of infusionarts

Beth Newbery, Photo Credit: Ronnie WrightThen there are times when your friends refer someone to you. So when Jennafer Newberry suggested I interview Beth Newbery, I said, yes, let's do this! Beth and I talk about acting, her latest play Undone, creating her own company, infusionarts, the difference between acting here in the states and over in the UK, and so much more!

For more on Beth be sure to visit http://bethnewbery.com and follow her on Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to be a performer/writer? I met Sidney Poitier right after I left drama school. I kept going back into the acting scene but one day realized that all I wanted to do was perform. Then writing followed when I wanted to do something that had a real personal meaning. I love theatre and films that are also a message for society.

2. Your latest play, Undone, has gotten quite a lot of attention, with the hopes of it being made into a feature film. What made you want to write a play about a former sex slave rebuilding her life? I like stories that are about a social issue or ones that make you think. Even if an audience only discusses it for a while then I have played a part in creating and spreading awareness. Woman who have suffered any type of sexual abuse, particularly for a long time can be seen as "okay" once they get married, have children or simply get a job and move on, but it's all too often a small fraction of what is really happening. So often a deeper level of despair, uncertainty, and insecurity stays in the mind. This is what I wanted to explore and have the actor portray.

Beth Newbery in "Undone"3. When you found out there was talk of Undone being made into a film, what went through your head? How do you feel this story will play out on film as opposed to on stage? First of all I had a two-hour discussion with the playwright about it, thinking about the characters and those who had been involved in this girl's life. I thought about the opportunity to have such a story get seen by many more people using the media of film. It will be different in the film because you can create the external world and show the story of how she got to where she was and the aim will be to have some understanding of her love for her captor. My first reactions was, great, lets do this and was thrilled to have it suggested as a feature rather then a short film.

4. You have acted in both theatre and film. Is your approach to preparing for each medium the same or different? What do like about acting best in theatre and in film? I don’t think it is that different for me in my preparing but for theatre I do get more nervous! I always ask myself about the character and how I have a connection. No matter how different your character, you have to find some understanding of each character you play. I love the thrill of acting in theatre because of the reactions and perceptions are engaged in the moment whilst being watched. In film you are stopping and starting but there is an edge to it with your audience being able to look right in your eyes, and can give away the slightest fear or lack of being’ when portraying your thoughts as a character. This is always something that I am aware of.

5. In addition to acting, you founded your own company called infusionarts, which runs educational, social and community projects in Great Britain and Africa. infusionarts uses the arts to engage and enhance relationships and social issues awareness. How did you start infustionarts?? What do you get from this venture? I started infusionarts after attending the TED conference in Africa along with many others including singer Bono, Bill Ford, and the wonderful Jane Goodall. I had completed a documentary called My Journey’ based on the culture of the Maasai people with amazing footage of weddings, and other ceremonies studying the performative elements. I used it to achieve my Masters degree. I loved exploring theatre whilst there and noticed how quickly the children would engage in theatre based games and workshops so I decided to begin a company that would develop this connection within communities and use the arts to highlight many social issues. It really had grown for my love of Africa and the wonderful playwrights such as Wole Soyinka, Gibson Kente, and Athol Fugard. We fund children as often as possible to attend school for a year with a percentage of any profit made on each project.

Beth Newbery in "Tom Jones"6. You acted in both the UK and US. What differences do you notice between the two? What are some similarities? I think many great actors are both sides of the world and we cannot compare in terms of good and bad, better or worse. But I have read there are two major schools of thought when it comes to acting. And I agree with the different approaches such as: the classical; best known by such people as Laurence Olivier and the Method which began a new art form in America with James Dean and Marlon Brando, who brought it to the film. The classical can be seen as more of an external approach, and then you have the Constantin Stanislavski's approach, naturalistic, more inside out. In the UK we have stressed the training in voice and posture and the physical attributes, whereas in America training is deep rooted in the actors emotions. I think the culture of acting in the UK is much more rooted in traditional styles of training. The similarities: well, with many new ways of using the methods in training I think actors are beginning to grow and realize the need of both speech and physical training but the most important, which is what I begin within my coaching is being comfortable with yourself. Then you can expand and express with more ease and faith with stronger risks. Yes, I coach actors and can be reached at beth@bethnewbery.com or contact www.infusionarts.org.

7. What is the best advice you've ever received? Forget you and your baggage. You have to be comfortable and centered for who you are to be an insightful and engaging actor.

Beth Newbery in Africa8. What have you learned about yourself from being an actress/writer/business creator? I have to say that it’s only in the last couple of years that I truly have understood who I am. I mean the power, the ability and the sense of loving who I am is now within me. It’s through doing all these things and meeting wonderful people that I have grown. Many of my stories and creations are from what I have previously experienced but now I can use this life to enhance and be a part of many people’s lives. I have learned that all is possible. Being creative is who I am and I would rather never know where my next check is coming from then do a nine to five job!

9. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? To remove the fear, greed, and anger within individuals so that poor decisions can be removed and more done to help the planet and it’s people.

10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? "Get over yourself" would be the title of my drink, with good vodka, grapefruit, splash of sec, and flavored gin. Get over yourself is a statement I use when I think of a person who is so over the top, or simply annoying!

Beth NewberyMore on Beth:

Born in Devon, England, Beth grew up on a farm until the age of twelve. Since leaving school Beth has travelled extensively. After trying a number of various career paths, Beth followed her passion for acting. She trained for three years at an Acting School with Patron Peter Brook and worked hard to get an Equity card once she had left. Beth has worked in theatre, TV and film and has enjoyed gaining plenty of insight behind the scenes, especially in producing and directing.

Beth backpacked through Tanzania, which included living in the bush with the Maasai people. Her research here was used to gain her Masters degree after completing a documentary on her journey. Not content with that, Beth has also shark dived to get up close to the great whites in South Africa, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Always one for a challenge, Beth set up Infusionarts to take drama to small communities in Africa, and now explores ways to develop theatre focusing on social issues. Beth has worked as a coach and director with many successful productions including her own play I Wait Till Dusk.

Tuesday
Jul142015

Call Answered: Ginger Minj: Crossdresser for Christ - The Musical: A Drag Queen Confessional at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

"Call Me Adam" chats with RuPaul's Drag Race Season 7 favorite Ginger Minj about her return to NYC's Laurie Beechman Theatre (inside West Bank Cafe at 407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue) with her show Crossdresser for Christ - The Musical: A Drag Queen Confessional! With just two shows left, Crossdresser for Christ - The Musical: A Drag Queen Confessional will play Tuesday, July 14 and Sunday, July 19 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

Crossdresser for Christ - The Musical: A Drag Queen Confessional is a musical comedy that tracks Ginger's quest for spiritual enlightenment in song and story. Raised as a Southern Baptist in Lake County, Florida the self-described "chubby little lady-boy" gets tired of having hell and damnation shoved down her throat. So she begins her own search for alternative answers. It is a wild and wacky journey that promises to have you on your knees before the night is over. A relig-ish experience.

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

1. Your show, Crossdresser for Christ - The Musical: A Drag Queen Confessional is back by popular demand through July 19. What excites you about having this show back at The Laurie Beechman Theatre? There's no better place for music and theatre than New York City, and to play such a well respected venue with such an amazing staff is beyond an honor! If I could move into the dressing room and perform there forever I would!

2. What do you enjoy most about performing Crossdresser for Christ? Our show is such a living, breathing animal, that it's never the same twice! We generally take the same emotional journey through laughter, tears, shock, etc., but the detours are always a little different!

3. If you could give people one reason as to why they should come see Crossdresser for Christ, what would that reason be? I've lead a crazy life, full of amazing ups and downs. I'm sure everyone will find something in the story that they can relate to. Come get a glimpse into the side of me you didn't get to see on TV!

4. What initially made you want to write this show? I initially sat down to write an hour long stand up special in the same vein as Bianca del Rio's Rolodex of Hate, but the story of my life poured out of me, onto the page. It's somehow easier to talk about things you've never even discussed with your therapist when you set it to showtunes! It has evolved from there into a very unique cabaret "experience."

5. How did writing this show help you come to terms with your own spirituality? I don't know that it has effected my spiritual beliefs at all, to be quite honest. I have been pretty steadfast in those for years! It has, however, helped me to come to terms with and move on from certain events in my life that I've never had the courage to face before.

6. You describe yourself as "Florida's chubby little lady-boy." When did you start describing yourself this way? How did describing yourself like this empower you? I refer to myself as a lot of things! Chubby little lady boy, glamour toad, southern fried sass, mouth of the south, etc. I have a pretty self-deprecating sense of humor. If you make the joke first, you're in on the laugh, and everyone is better off because of it.

Ginger Minj7. According to press notes, Crossdresser for Christ will have you on your knees before the night is over. What is it like having so many people kneel before you? I'm only 5'3" out of heels (and without my hair!) so it's nice to have people on my level for for a change! ;-)

8. How do you feel being a plus-size actor/comedian has made you a stronger performer? Regardless of size, I identify as an entertainer first and foremost. I was very thin when I was much younger, but because of a medical procedure I had when I was 11 years old, I started gaining weight rapidly and have never really been able to control it. I learned very quickly how to use comedy to deflect the nastiness that was thrown at me, and I think that's what I owe my quick wit to. I'm also very comfortable being me.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Just be yourself. Warts and all. There's no other you!

10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I would love to fly, I think. It beats having to stand in TSA lines every day!

BONUS QUESTION:

11. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it? I'd call it "The Flooded Basement" and throw a little bit of everything into it! Like a Long Island Iced Tea, but murkier.

Ginger MinjMore on Ginger:

Ginger Minj has long reigned as The Comedy Queen of The South, with the pageant titles, including "Miss Gay United States 2013," "Miss National Comedy Queen 2012" and others. Originally from Leesburg, Florida, she now calls Orlando home. Minj cites classic funny ladies Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball as her idols. "Anyone who can pile three wigs on their head, squeeze their body into a beaded and rhinestoned gown and serve humor alongside the glamour is my hero," says Ginger. Ginger’s future career goals, in addition to winning the title of "America’s Next Drag Superstar," on RuPaul’s Drag Race is to follow in the footsteps of similar plus-sized comedians like Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson. And she’s already got the acting credits; before becoming Ginger Minj, this talented performer was a child actor starring in a series of Christian movies and books on tape, and even won a Best Actor Award for the state of Florida in 2002.

Monday
Jun152015

Call Answered: Rain Pryor: Fried Chicken & Latkes

"Call Me Adam" chats with comedian, actress, and writer Rain Pryor about her one-woman show Fried Chicken & Latkes, Rain's funny take on growing up Black and Jewish as the daughter of one of the world’s most beloved and iconic funny men, comic genius Richard Pryor

Fried Chicken & Latkes, directed by Kamilah Forbes, is making its world premiere at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre (NBT) in Harlem (2031 Fifth Ave between 125th & 126th Street) through June 28! Click here for tickets!

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

1. After several developmental runs, Fried Chicken & Latkes, is now making its world premiere at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre (NBT) in Harlem from June 2-June 28. What made now the right time to have the show's world premiere? We finally had the right level of production team and the right director.

2. Why did you choose to create a one woman show about your life as opposed to writing it as a book? I wrote a book also, but after I had begun my solo show. I never set out to tell my story as much as, I wanted to entertain and show my talents.

Rain Pryor in "Fried Chicken & Latkes"3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Fried Chicken & Latkes? A sense of, we all still have work to do, to make the world a more racially tolerant place. That maybe they audience member can see a piece of themselves or people they know or have known in it.

4. In Fried Chicken & Latkes, you play all 11 characters. What do you like about playing multiple characters in one show and what challenges do you face with this kind of immediate change every night? I love characterization of us humans and the psychology that goes with their movements and choices. The challenge is, to separate each character in specifics as not to have them be one, but to really craft individual people.

5. What was it like to go back through your life to create this show? Did any emotions or memories come to the forefront that you didn't expect? I grew up with telling the reality/truth. So there was no real catharsis, just writing a story that was about us versus them but yet from my perspective.

6. Fried Chicken & Latkes is your take on growing up Black & Jewish as the daughter of one of the world’s most beloved & iconic funny men, comic genius Richard Pryor. What do you think your dad's reaction would be to this show? Dad would love it. He would say he was proud and to keep on keeping on.

Rain Pryor in "Fried Chicken & Latkes"7. Without giving too much away or answering this question with something that is not in the show, what was it like to grow up as Richard Pryor's daughter and how did you come into your own? Do you remember the moment you felt like I have made it on my own? What was that moment like? Dad was a dad. He was strict, which I find funny for a comic and known drug abuser. However, it made me who I am and strong. I think I found my "own" when I had a child.

8. What was one thing your dad taught you that you don't talk about in Fried Chicken & Latkes? Don't ever date a comic. I of course a few times, had to test his theory. He was right.

9. In addition to Fried Chicken & Latkes premiering at The National Black Theatre Festival this summer, your new documentary, That Daughter's Crazy will be shown as well. How does your documentary differ from Fried Chicken & Latkes? The film is a more in depth look of how I came to create the show and why.

10. As if your show and documentary weren't enough, you are also releasing your comedy CD Black & White on the same label as your dad's 12 comedy CDs. What made you want to record your comedy CD on the same label as your dad? What was the recording experience like for you? I did not set out to do a comedy CD. I am still a baby in that world. However when David Drozen approached me, I knew I had to take a leap and do what was presented to me. The experience was a challenge I had to overcome. I had to face the fear that I had/was becoming a stand up.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. What's the best advice you've ever received? Tell the truth no matter what. You'll feel better in the end.

12. What have you learned from being a performer/writer? You must as a writer, write it all down and never edit as you go. As a performer it's to always breathe life into the person or persons you are portraying.

13. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? The ability to control water. It's a powerful and needs to be respected. We depend on it to survive.

14. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it, and what ingredients would you put in it? It would have watermelon, rum, gin. I don't know, but sounds exotic lol.

15. Favorite skin care product? I have two, pure coconut oil great for skin and bacteria. And Kai it's a fantastic oil perfume that smells divine.

Rain PryorMore on Rain:

Rain Pryor is an award-winning actor, writer, producer, standup comedian, activist, dynamic speaker and mother. She wrote and starred in Fried Chicken & Latkes receiving rave reviews during its development. She followed up with That Daughter’s Crazy, an award-winning, autobiographical documentary and her comedy CD Black & White.

Rain made her TV debut on the ABC hit series Head of the Class, playing the tough-talking "T.J." and starred opposite Sherilyn Fenn & Lynn Redgrave as "Jackie" on the Showtime series Rude Awakening. She is currently a co-host of ARISE TV’s Arise & Shine, which airs in New York, London & throughout Africa. Her stage credits include the title role of "Billie Holiday" in The Billie Holiday Story (UK Tour), "Ella Fitzgerald" in Marilyn & Ella (UK tour) and "Lady in Red" in For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

As a standup comedian, Rain regularly headlines across the country, from the Florida Improv (with the Jokes on You Comedy Tour) to Carolines on Broadway & from the Funny Stop & Joke Factory to the Borgata.

Monday
Jun082015

Call Answered: Facetime Interview with author Michael Colby, "The Algonquin Kid"

Live from The Algonquin Hotel in New York City, "Call Me Adam" chats with The Algonquin Kid himself, author Michael Colby, whose newly released autobiography, The Algonquin Kid, chronicles Michael's time growing up in The Algonquin Hotel, surrounded by some of Hollywood's, Music's, and Theatre's biggest names! From Marilyn Monroe to Agnes Moorehead to Lerner and Lowe who wrote "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady at the Algonquin, Michael tells it all, in this rich behind-the-scenes look at a life lived in one of New York City's most famous hotels! Click here to purchase The Algonquin Kid!

Come join Michael at the Historic National Arts Club in Gramercy Park (15 Gramercy Park South) on June 18 at 8pm as Michael reads passages from The Algonquin Kid and Broadway's Christine Pedi, Eric Michael Gillett, Jeff Keller, and Bethe Austin perform some songs made famous by Algonquin denizens! Proper attire is required (For men that means a suit and tie; for women that means evening wear). For reservations, call 212-475-3424!

For more on Michael be sure to visit http://www.michaelcolby.com and follow him on Facebook!

For more on The Algonquin Hotel visit http://www.algonquinhotel.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

"Call Me Adam's" interview with "The Algonquin Kid" himself, Michael Colby, live from The Algonquin Hotel:

Michael ColbyMore on Michael:

Michael Colby is the librettist/lyricist of such musicals as CHARLOTTE SWEET (Drama Desk Award nomination), TALES OF TINSELTOWN, NORTH ATLANTIC (Show Business Award), SLAY IT WITH MUSIC (off-Broadway & London), MRS. McTHING, THEY CHOSE ME!, and LUDLOW LADD. He was chief writer for the Drama Desk Award-winning New Amsterdam Theatre Company, and has been a writer for The NY Festival of Song as well as the Theatre By the Blind.

He wrote continuity for two benefits at the 92nd Street Y: STANDING OVATIONS (starring Carol Channing, Nell Carter, Elaine Stritch, Leslie Uggams, and other great ladies of the theatre) and THE LONGEST RUNNING SHOW ON BROADWAY (a tribute to Maurice Levine, hosted by Angela Lansbury). He also wrote STEPHEN SCHWARTZ: A MUSICAL CELEBRATION, a benefit for the Directors Company, starring Betty Buckley, Paul Shaffer, Kathy Najimi, et al.

He created special material for ANIMAL CRACKERS (PaperMill Playhouse/Goodspeed), lyrics for MEESTER AMERIKA (The Garage Theatre, NJ) and THE HUMAN HEART (at Marymount Manhattan College), and the narration for THE MAYOR MUSICALS, a benefit for Musicals In Concert hosted by Sheldon Harnick. Among the personalities for whom Mr. Colby has written material are: Linda Lavin, Tony Randall, Tovah Feldshuh, Heather MacRae, Robert Cuccioli, Savion Glover, Dina Merrill, Susan Stroman, Michael Feinstein, Jack Gilford, Andrea Marcovicci, Kristin Chenoweth, Bruce Adler, Cliff Robertson, Lainie Kazan, Jane Powell, Eric Stoltz, Julie Wilson, Alison Fraser, Mary Cleere Haran, Donna McKechnie, & Cicely Tyson.

Movie credits include writing the title song for the film HEART OF THE BEHOLDER.

A member of BMI and the Dramatists Guild, he lives in Metuchen, NJ with his wife Andrea and son Steven.

Monday
Jun012015

Call Answered: Conference Call with Jeremy Bloom and Brian Rady: The Upper Room

Brian Rady and Jeremy Bloom, Photo Credit: James Matthew Daniel"Call Me Adam" chats with husband/husband team Jeremy Bloom and Brian Rady about their new play The Upper Room which is part of a new collaboration between New Ohio Theatre and IRT Theater. Running through June 12, The Upper Room is inspired by the back-to-the-land movement. A darkly humorous consideration of spirituality and the dangers of our changing environment, The Upper Room features a live mixed score, antique scuba suits and an overhead projector to create a brand new music theater event. Click here for tickets!

For more on Jeremy and Brian be sure to visit http://www.radyandbloom.com and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Your show The Upper Room, is being presented through June 12 as part of a collaboration between New Ohio Theatre and IRT Theater. You are the second company to be completing your residency as part of this collaboration. What was it like to be selected for this participation with New Ohio Theatre and IRT Theater?

Jeremy Bloom: It was absolutely life-saving/life-affirming! Space and time are crucial elements in making theater. This residency serves up both. Robert, Marc and Kori had no idea what we were going to make and neither did we, but they offered us a commitment to see it grow, and that no matter what happened, we would have space and time to present the work two years later in the type of run we are having now. This kind of residency is incredibly rare, and incredibly beautiful. And what good company, as we have so enjoyed seeing the work of the first year's artists.

Cast of "The Upper Room"2. How do you feel this collaboration will help The Upper Room as opposed to producing this show on your own?

Brian Rady: The fact that the residency came along when it did made the thing happen - it's not a matter of whether it helped us or not. It willed us into being, along with other such support from individuals in our community and from The Drama League and LMCC, but none of it would have happened if Robert Lyons hadn't called us that day and asked us to make something.

3. What made you want to write The Upper Room?

Jeremy Bloom: It's the result of several instances. One being that we wanted to work with Catherine Brookman to base a play around her compositions and the idea that she would perform the music she wrote in the play. After that was established, we became increasingly aware of the Earth and its elements as this mammoth thing that we abuse while it has us in its grasps.

Brian Rady: We definitely wanted an outlet to create something about this overwhelming feeling of how rapidly the earth is changing, mostly due to our own collective actions, and how much these changes are impacting our environment and our health, even in ways that we may not fully realize now.

Julia Sirna-Frest and Govind Kumar in "The Upper Room"4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing The Upper Room?

Jeremy Bloom: I hope they are entertained, moved, and delighted.

Brian Rady: I hope they see the world through a different-colored lens, as we all wonder how to embrace the changes in the landscape and find better ways to be healthy, to eat well, and take care of the atmosphere.

5. What excites you about having this cast bring The Upper Room to life?

Jeremy Bloom: The cast is a phenomenal assemblage of our favorite people in the world right now. Some we've worked with for several years, some less, but each person is someone whose work we are invested in, and it's incredible to watch them onstage in the play.

Catherine Brookman in "The Upper Room"6. In addition to being co-writers on this show, you are also a married couple. What do you enjoy most about collaborating together in so many different aspects of your life? What, if any, challenges do you face with having so much intertwined?

Jeremy Bloom: We are both "project people" and love to have something to work on, and even when we take on individual projects they wind up inherently being an unofficial part of our company by default.

Brian Rady: When it's good it's really great - we have lots to celebrate, but it's also important to keep a healthy perspective on what we're doing so we don't lose the rest of the world.

7. What is the best advice you've ever received?

Brian Rady: "Enjoy your life" were the words printed on the plastic bag the Walrus mask we use in the show came in.

Robert Gadol Lavenstein in "The Upper Room"8. What have you learned about yourselves from being writers?

Jeremy Bloom: Knowing what you want to say is more important than the words.

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

Jeremy Bloom: Invisibility - so as to sneak into buildings.

10. If you could create your own signature drink, what would you call it and what ingredients would you put in it?

Jeremy Bloom: Ice, seltzer, vodka, cucumbers, parsley, sage, mint, rosemary, big basil leaves, all whole and fresh from the garden, with a twist - the twist is instead of drinking it you throw it in your face, and gasp for air, and shout "wow, what a dream, what a garden," as a reminder that drinks are available all over New York City, but refreshing experiences are harder to find.

Brian Rady and Jeremy BloomMore on Jeremy and Brian:

Rady & Bloom Collective Playmaking is the husband/husband team of Jeremy Bloom and Brian Rady. They have worked at Ars Nova, The Flea, New Ohio, IRT, The Brick, the cell, Walkerspace and Exapno. Their major directing fellowships include the Drama League Director’s Project, the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the EST Director’s Residency and the T.S. Eliot Directing Fellowship. They have received support from LMCC’s Process Space and Manhattan Community Arts Fund/the NYS Department of Cultural Affairs, the Archive Residency, The Drama League’s Artist Residency Program and the HERE Artist Residency Program. R&B’s Peter/Wendy is published by Playscripts.