For Joe Kinosian Protocol Says: No Cell Phones

Joe Kinosian no cell phonesIf you’re a theatre lover and a user of social media you’ve probably found yourself recently clicking a link to read about a certain incident involving Patti Lupone and a cell phone, or maybe it was about that small confusion over the usability of an outlet on the set of Hand to God. Either way this summer in theatre circles seems to have been consumed with that pesky question of how our increasingly digitally dependent habits should be dealt with in the theatre. Do we get tougher on such crimes and start kicking all offenders out, do we try to educate more about theatre etiquette, or do we embrace the times with options like tweet seats so those who can’t unplug can type away their experiences during a show? There may not be a wholly right answer for every theatre except to say that cell phones and other devices aren’t likely to go away.

Murder for Two writer Joe Kinosian, though, found a way to work possible digital interruptions into the actual performance when he was playing the role of The Suspects during the show’s initial run and tour. Last year he explained to In New York Magazine how the show’s ‘wink, wink’ relationship with the audience allows it to play with unexpected live occurrences during any performance. “It’s different from other plays, I guess, in that if someone’s phone goes off in the audience, you can directly turn to them and start screaming at them, ‘You can’t do that in The Coast of Utopia.’…There’s some free rein to make up lines depending on the kind of audience you have that night.”
He recounted one night when he had to get particularly creative about the use of a cell phone during the show. “We were doing our final performance in San Francisco, Halloween 2010, and a woman answers her phone. She’s sitting way in the back of the theater, and it’s a big theater, like a 400-seat theater. She comes way to the front of the stage, where there’s an exit and where, I guess, she got better reception… It was one of the few moments of silence in the play, and she’s down there, hanging out by the exit door, talking and talking. She was one of the donors to the theater, so I guess she thought she owned the place. We [actors] couldn’t go on [with the show] because it was too distracting. So, I hopped down from the stage [in character] as the widow Dahlia and grabbed the phone out of her hand and said, “She’s going to have to call you back. There’s been a horrible murder,” and showed the woman on her way. Afterward, I found her in the lobby. We had it out a little bit and discussed proper theater protocol. I hope she learned her lesson. I’d just like to say to all the other [Editor’s note: name withheld to protect the not so innocent] out there, “Don’t you dare answer your phone [when I’m onstage].”

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Non-Equity Auditions for LWT’s 2015-16 Season

NEW HAVEN – Local Non-Equity actors, ages 18+, with access to local housing are invited to audition for the 2015/2016 Season at the Tony Award-winning Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT.

Actors will be seen at the theatre on Thursday, August 27 from 10 am to 6 pm. Actors should prepare a brief modern or contemporary monologue not to exceed three minutes in length. All actors should bring a current resume and headshot. While walk-ins will be accommodated, appointments are strongly recommended and may be made beginning today by calling the Long Wharf Theatre box office (203-787-4282) between 10:00am and 5:00pm.
For more information: www.longwharf.org.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Because Long Wharf holds auditions in NYC for each production, we are especially seeking actors with access to local housing at this call.

2. Actors will be seen by Drew Gray, Associate Producer.

3. Long Wharf will be casting for all available roles for the 2015/2016 season at these auditions (see attached list).

4. Directions:
a. Train: Metro North to Union Station, New Haven, CT, and take a cab to the theatre.
b. Car: Take Exit 46 off I-95 and follow the signs.

Long Wharf Theatre is casting the following roles for our 2015-2016 Season:
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DISGRACED**
Written by: Ayad Akhtar
Director: Gordon Edelstein

**Co-production with Huntington Theatre Company
First Rehearsal: September 15th, 2015
Runs October 21st, 2015 – November 8th, 2015

SEEKING:

EMILY: early 30s, white, lithe and lovely.
AMIR: 40, of South-Asian origin, speaks with a perfect American accent.
ABE: 22, of South-Asian origin. About as American as American gets. Vibrant and
endearing.
ISAAC: 40, white, smart, attractive. A curator at the Whitney.
JORY: mid to late 30s, African-American, is commanding, forthright, intelligent. Almost masculine.

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HAVING OUR SAY**
THE DELANY SISTER’S FIRST 100 YEARS

Written by Emily Mann
Directed by Jade King Carroll

**Co-production with Hartford Stage

First Rehearsal: January 19th, 2016
Runs February 17th, 2016 – March 20th, 2016

SEEKING:

MISS SADIE DELANY- a 103 year old African American female
DR. BESSIE DELANY- a 101 year old African American female

++++++++++++++
LEWISTON

Written by Samuel D. Hunter
Directed by Eric Ting

First Rehearsal: March 11th, 2016
Runs April 6th, 2016 – May 1st, 2016

SEEKING:

MARNIE- early to mid twenties, female.
ALICE- early to mid seventies, female.
CONNOR- fifties, male.
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SHINING CITY

Written by Conor McPherson
Directed by Gordon Edelstein

First Rehearsal: April 5th, 2016
Runs May 4th, 2016 – May 29st, 2016

SEEKING:

IAN – forties, male
JOHN – fifties, male.
NEASA – thirties, female.
LAURENCE – twenties, male.

 

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A Match Made in Musical Theatre Heaven

Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian Murder for Two

Kellen Blair (L) and Joe Kinosian (R)

The creation of musical theatre is no stranger to lighting in a bottle partnerships; take familiar names like Kander and Ebb or Rodgers and Hammerstein, for example. Murder for Two is all about partnerships. It’s two actors working together to create the physical world of the show. It’s two characters working together to solve a murder. And it’s paralleled in real life through creators Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair who worked together to write the show. “I have definitely found we work better together than apart,” Kinosian said to The Huffington Post of his partnership with Blair. The writing team had not worked together previous to embarking on Murder for Two. They met in 2008 at the BMI Musical Theater Workshop. “It’s like speed dating for musical theatre writers,” Blair joked last year to The Playbill Collector, “They let about 15 lyricists and 15 composers in every year. We got randomly paired to write a “Charm Song” for It’s A Wonderful Life. We did it totally wrong.” They may not have gained a hit song from that first collaboration, but they did find in each other the perfect creative partner. “Joe and I have a similar sense of humor, like the same movies and books and other things. It just seemed like a perfect match from the beginning.”

Like most other musical theatre writers they really wanted to write the next great Broadway musical with hundreds of actors and a thousand piece orchestra, but seeing as how their partnership was beginning in the midst of a recession they decided instead to start with something more economical. “Kellen and I sat down one day to write something fast, funny, and producible — a show that would need nothing more than a piano on a bare stage and two piano-playing actors to play it,” explains Kinosian in The Broadway Blog. The stars aligned when they discovered they both were lovers of murder mysteries and the Marx brothers. There was nothing more interesting and challenging to them as a team than the idea of writing a two man farcical murder mystery musical. So that’s exactly what they did, working together every step of the way. “The book was very collaborative,” Kinosian shared via phone to In New York Magazine. “We handed it back and forth, and back and forth. We’d rewrite drafts and send them back and forth. It’s now at the point where we don’t know who wrote which lines because we both had a hand in all of them.” Creating music for their projects he says is a little different, but no less a partnership. “Together, we discuss and discuss and discuss the idea of what the song is going to accomplish, what it is going to feel like, what information needs to be conveyed through it. But then I’ll definitely step aside, do my music and come up with a draft. We’ll go over it, change what needs to be changed, pick up a note or add one. I’ll say that line isn’t as funny as it might be, and we’ll adjust accordingly. Then we’ll have a reading, and no one will laugh, and we’ll write a new song,” Kinosian joked.

With a successful off-Broadway run completed and a nationwide tour underway for Murder for Two, the pair are happy to remain together creating theatre. These days Kinosian likens his now well established partnership with Blair to a marriage of sorts. “There’s no way to talk about it that doesn’t make it sound like a marriage,” he laughs. “I mean, anything I’m going to say is going to sound like a cliché definition of what makes a successful marriage. You have to compromise. You have to support your partner, and you have to respect your partner. Where writing is concerned, specifically, you have to do what’s best for the play and not push your own agenda.” And anyone who’s been married knows that kind of partnership is not always smooth sailing. “We’ve definitely been tested by things and definitely have had challenges. I think all of that truly has reaffirmed how much we enjoy working together and love each other’s work. We get each other’s sense of humor. We know what we’re trying to do. It’s fun to be the two people in the room, who really understand each other.”

 

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The Marx Brothers Meet Agatha Christie

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the Marx brothers performed a murder mystery piece by Agatha Christie? It’s an interesting thought to say the least. Probably something as twisted, campy and hilarious as the movie Clue  would come to mind, or perhaps for you theatre lovers (which of course there are many of you reading this blog) something as thrilling, clever, and spoofy as the play The 39 Steps.  What if we said the Marx brothers not only performed an Agatha Christie work, but did so in the style of a musical? No doubt you would exclaim “where has this brilliant, toe-tapping, laugh-inducing piece of entertainment been my whole life?!” Well it’s been percolating in the minds of creators Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair who in 2011 brought their idea of a musical Marx brothers Agatha Christie mash up to life in the form of Murder for Two. In this hit musical comedy two actors play all the characters, including the comically kooky list of 13 suspects, and manage to not only sing a repertoire of quite catchy songs, but play the piano live on stage at the same time!  Not surprisingly when it premiered in New York at Second Stage Theatre’s uptown home, the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, in July, 2013 no one was saying ‘close, but no cigar’. It was more than cigar-worthy in the eyes of reviewers and audiences. In honor of its upcoming run here at LWT we’re creating some of our own funny mash ups of classic Marx brothers and Agatha Christie films. What do think? Can you come up with any good ones?

1. Monkey Business Meets Murder on the Orient Express

Monkey Business on the Orient Express
In 1935, on a train bound for London from Istanbul, the Marx brothers get up to their usual antics and manage to annoy just about everyone on board, but when the train is stopped by deep snow, fellow passenger, detective Hercule Poirot, is called on to solve a murder that occurred in his car the night before. Are the notoriously mischievous brothers’ impediments to the detective’s investigation simply for fun, or are they the criminal culprits hiding in plain sight

2. Ten Little Indians Meets The Cocoanuts

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Ten Little Cocoanuts
During the Florida land boom, the Marx brothers are running a hotel, auctioning off some land, and generally acting like themselves. When 10 people are invited to the isolated Marx hotel by a mysterious stranger for the weekend and begin to be killed off one by one they soon become suspicious of each other as well as the hotel’s proprietors.  The brothers have to jump in to action to thwart the killer in a way only they can before they are locked up for murder or, worse, become his next victims.

3. Duck Soup Meets Death on the Nile

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Duck Soup on the Nile
Rufus T. Firefly is named president/dictator of bankrupt Freedonia and his first decision is, of course, to declare war on neighboring Sylvania. To keep his new state and war afloat, Firefly needs the money of wealthy Mrs. Teasdale’s husband. To secure his funding he decides to woo Mrs. Teasdale secretly and takes her on a luxurious cruise down the Nile.  Unbeknownst to Firefly his own travel entourage now includes clumsy, traitorous spies Chicolini and Pinky, who are both tasked with assassinating the dictator, but can’t quite seem to get it right. Even more worrisome may be the fact Mrs. Teasdale’s husband is on board in disguise and not too happy with Firefly either.  Detective Hercule Poirot soon picks up on the ill-intentioned hijinks of his fellow passengers. When Mrs. Teasdale is murdered on board he is tasked with figuring out whether it was love, jealousy, greed, or just another failed assassination attempt that did her in. Can Poirot decipher the real killer from the jokesters before the ship reaches the end of its journey?

 

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Long Wharf: A Beginning

Long Wharf Theatre: A Beginning

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The Artistic Directors Come Together for the 50th Anniversary

Long Wharf Theatre Artistic Directors

(L to R) Arvin Brown, Jon Jory, Gordon Edelstein, and Doug Hughes

The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, William Shakespeare’s theatre company, did not last fifty years. The Group Theater, known for rousing social justice dramas featuring some of the iconic talents of the 1930s, did not last 50 years. In the ephemeral world of the theatre, 50 years can be an eternity.

Therefore, Long Wharf Theatre’s 50th anniversary, celebrated in earnest this past weekend, is something to be immensely proud of. “It is a staggering accomplishment. This is the great era of American theatre,” said former Artistic Director Doug Hughes.

By way of celebrating Long Wharf’s storied history, all of the artistic directors came together for the first time on Sunday, June 7. The four men – Jon Jory, Arvin Brown, Doug Hughes, and Gordon Edelstein – walked out to a rousing round of applause and a standing ovation, something Long Wharf Theatre audiences only give when completely deserved. The mere mention of Long Wharf’s iconic productions brought murmured appreciation from the audience. The quips and stories were met with raucous laughter. Managing Director Josh Borenstein correctly described the event as a pep rally.

The artistic directors engaged in a wide ranging conversation, talking about their own backgrounds, and some of the challenges of programming a regional theatre. They spoke of the changes they’ve seen over the past fifty years. And sometimes they just told stories. Sure, there was a bit of dishing, but for the most part, the four men engaged in a jocular but serious discussion about the history of the institution and just how important the art form is in our culture. “(Long Wharf Theatre) did not feel like a regional theatre. It felt like a theatre in dialogue with world theatre,” Hughes said. “There was something beguiling about the fact it was at the food terminal.”

Jon Jory, one of the founders of Long Wharf Theatre along with Harlan Kleiman, spoke of how things got started. Long Wharf Theatre was founded in 1965 as part of the regional theatre movement. Jory and Kleiman, then freshly minted graduates of the Yale School of Drama, wanted to get in on the movement. As always, money was a concern. They needed about $125,000 to get the theatre going, money they simply didn’t have or have access to. So, they started reading the society pages of the New Haven Register and cold calling the people listed to ask them if they would be on the steering committee of the new theatre, he said. “We were just two kids … when people came to the office for a meeting we would hire people from the Yale School of Drama to be the receptionist,” Jory said.

The first leaders of the organization – Jory and Brown – comparatively speaking, were neophytes to the profession. In fact, Brown had not directed a full length play before working with legendary actress Mildred Dunnock in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. In his effort to prepare for the project, Brown had moved little white figures around a model of the set. The first time he tried to suggest his blocking to Dunnock, the actress simply asked “why?” Brown was befuddled. “None of the little white figures had said anything like that”.

While each man offered the theatre a different style and sense of taste, there was one thing they uniformly agreed to – the task of putting together a season that would please everyone is an almost impossible task. “Long Wharf audiences are literate, open, educated, and honest. They are a great audience to perform for. However, virtually everything you do, you get complaints,” Edelstein recalled.

Arvin Brown recalled a production that culminated in the beheading of one of the characters. “People were not happy about that at all,” he said. Later that season, he was invited to the home of a loyal subscriber who was particularly vocal in his dislike for the play. Brown was concerned, but dinner moved along in a convivial fashion. Dessert was another matter. “It was a cake with a severed head,” Brown said to audience laughter. “It’s true. That took some planning and some bucks.”

Edelstein recalled several recent productions that for one reason or another caused consternation in the audience – puppet sex in Paula Vogel’s The Long Christmas Ride Home and fake urination in Curse of the Starving Class. On a more serious note, he pointed towards a production of Sixteen Wounded, which explored the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a real lightning rod. “Sixteen Wounded sparked such a strong response there were fistfights in the lobby. You knew the power of the ideas on the stage,” Edelstein said. “How fantastic! I really mean it,” Hughes said. “It makes the case for the perpetuation of the form.”

They find that for all of the machinations in a rehearsal hall, whether they view themselves as a proxy for the audience during the process or completely make decisions based on their own lights, once performances start the surprises begin. “Always always always,” Edelstein said. “After a couple of weeks of performances, though, you know what you have. There is no play without the audience.”

The 50th anniversary allowed for a certain amount of introspection. Each artistic director could speak to a very specific moment during their tenure that reminded them of the importance of their work, and why they wanted to devote their lives to this profession. Doug Hughes remembered his production of The Importance of Being Earnest, and the waves of laughter cascading through the theatre. “All you are saying when you put on a show is ‘we feel this way. Do you feel this way?’” Hughes said.

For Brown, it was working with his long time friend Al Pacino on the seminal production of American Buffalo by David Mamet. “Watching him walk out on stage for his famous first monologue … I enjoyed the sheer brilliance of his craftsmanship,” Brown said.

Both Jory and Edelstein reminiscences were about a particular personal accomplishment. Jory’s memory was of nothing less than the first moment he set foot into the warehouse that would become Long Wharf. “When we moved into this building, there were no lighting fixtures,” Jory recalled. “I thought, ‘I’ve always wanted to be in the theatre and I’m here.”

Edelstein re-imagined Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, making the whole play something the young man Tom was writing in a small hotel room. It added another layer onto the family drama, introducing the idea of artistic creation into the performance. “I had no idea whether the idea was going to work. I’ve never been so scared in my life,” Edelstein said. “When I heard a gasp from the audience that night, I had a feeling of not pleasure, but relief. It was very overwhelming,” he said.

Edelstein’s story was one that could be analogous for the theatre’s history as a whole – it was a palpable risk, but when it worked it was nothing short of beautiful.

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Non-Equity Auditions for Ages 13-21 for New Production of THE ODYSSEY

NEW HAVEN – Long Wharf Theatre announces non-Equity auditions for local actors between the ages of 13 to 21 for its upcoming production of The Odyssey Devised, directed by Education Programs Manager Mallory Pellegrino.

Auditions for the show will take place Saturday, June 27 between 10 am and 1 pm. Actors will be expected to perform a one minute, memorized monologue. To book an audition appointment, e-mail Pellegrino at mallory.pellegrino@longwharf.org.

There will be callback scheduled for Sunday, June 28 from 1 to 4 pm by invitation only. At the callbacks actors will read from sides, as well as doing movement work and improvisation. There are between 10 and 12 slots available in the company.
Rehearsals will start on July 20 and take place each day from 1 to 4 pm. Performances take place August 13 through 15 at 7 pm on Stage II.

The rehearsal process presents a unique opportunity for performers – the actors will collaborate with Pellegrino to create the play. “I am so thrilled that Mallory will be devising this new work in collaboration with young artists. Mallory’s vision and creativity are boundless and I know her actors will have an incredible experience. I think it is vital to support an artistic forum for self expression and creation and I am thrilled we will create and premiere THE ODYSSEY DEVISED this summer at Long Wharf Theatre,” said Beth Milles, director of education.

She will work with the ensemble to create the show from scratch, using Homer’s Odyssey as the jumping off point for the story. Through a series of improvisations and movement workshops, and using found objects, scenes and characters will begin to take shape. That creative process will yield a script, which will be produced. “It’s a process that requires bravery and commitment on the parts of the actors,” Pellegrino said. “It is about finding your voice as an artist and letting that speak.”

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Long Wharf Theatre Recognizes Barbara L. Pearce with the Founder’s Award

Barbara Pearce Long Wharf Theatre NEW HAVEN – Long Wharf Theatre will honor Barbara L. Pearce, former chair of the Board of Trustees and a board member for over 30 years, with the organization’s Founders Award.

The ceremony will be held on Monday, June 15 at 7 pm during the theatre’s 2015-16 season preview event, taking place on Stage II. The Founders Award was created to acknowledge those organizations, businesses and individuals who have made long term outstanding contributions to Long Wharf Theatre. The theatre’s founders were known for their commitment and dedication and the award seeks to honor those who mirror the same qualities. To RSVP to the event, call the box office at 203-787-4282.

“I have been involved at Long Wharf Theatre for 33 years, and am proud of its reputation for world-class theatre. Many of my efforts over the years have focused on both raising money and awareness, both to promote the theatre’s importance to New Haven, to Connecticut, and to the arts community worldwide. I have every hope that Long Wharf will continue to delight and engage audiences for years to come,” Pearce said.

“Barbara Pearce has been an indelible and essential member of the Long Wharf Board over three decades. Her contributions are far too many to mention and her impact on this theatre and this community has been profound and long lasting. We all thank and honor her for her service,” said Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein.

“Barbara’s passion for Long Wharf is evident from her leadership of the 50th anniversary committee,” said Joshua Borenstein, Managing Director of Long Wharf Theatre. “She led that group with tremendous energy and dedication, and all of us are very thankful for her successful efforts.”

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to congratulate Barbara on her Founders Award. Barbara has been tireless in her support of Long Wharf Theatre over the years, but what many people might not realize is that she contributes her times and efforts not just toward Long Wharf and the arts, but towards many kinds of organizations. She really believes in giving back, and she has certainly done that over her years of service at Long Wharf Theatre. We look forward to continuing our long relationship with her,” said Sandy Stoddard, the chair of Long Wharf’s Board of Trustees and a colleague at Pearce Real Estate.

Barbara Pearce is the President and CEO of Pearce Real Estate. She is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Business School. She majored in Psychology, rowed Varsity Lightweight Crew, and won her HBS Section Marketing Prize. She practiced law at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom before returning to New Haven to work in the business, which was started by her father.

She has been extremely involved as a community leader in Connecticut. She has chaired many Boards, including The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Long Wharf Theatre, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the United Way of Greater New Haven, and the Hospital of Saint Raphael. She founded Women Organizing Women Political Action Committee (WOW), of which she is the current President. She has served on the Connecticut Real Estate Commission, the Committee to Visit Harvard College, Campaign Chair of the Greater New Haven United Way, and Chair of the National Arts Stabilization New Haven Fundraising Committee. In addition, she served as a NEA panel member reviewing theatre grants. She also attended the National Critics Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

Barbara holds honorary degrees from Albertus Magnus College and the University of New Haven, and has been honored by Glamour Magazine, the Connecticut Council on Philanthropy, Junior Achievement and was named a Woman of FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) in 2011. She is currently Chair of ArtSpace, the New Haven-based visionary and dynamic non-profit organization which champions emerging artists and builds new audiences for contemporary art, and Chair of the Burry Fredrik Foundation, which was created to support professional theatre in Connecticut. In 2014, she was named by the Arts Council Of New Haven as a recipient of its Arts Award for decades of contributing her time, energy and impassioned leadership to organizations that promote New Haven as the regional epicenter of the arts. She is a Trustee and former Chair of Long Wharf Theatre and co-chair, with Linda Lorimer, of the Theatre’s current 50th Anniversary committee. She is a marathon runner who lives in Guilford with her attorney husband, Norm Fleming. They have two grown children.

For more information, visit www.longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

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6 Questions for Teaching Artist Daniel Passer

Daniel Passer Cirque du Soleil Zarkana Long Wharf Theatre

Daniel Passer in Cirque du Soleil’s ZARKANA

On May 30-31 we are offering a studio class for adults in Clowning and Commedia taught by Daniel Passer. Daniel is an acclaimed Cirque du Soleil Clown, Comedy Conceptor and Master Teacher at CalArts, Harvard, Brown University, The Second City and The Moscow Art Theatre. Most recently, he played the lead clown in the world tour of Cirque du Soleil’s latest spectacle Zarkana directed by Francois Girard. You can find out more about Daniel’s extensive body of work by visiting his website: www.danielpasser.com or read our interview with him below.

LWT: How did you become a theatre artist?

DP: My mother used to perform in old age homes with a bunch of other middle aged matrons (translation: housewives and mothers). I must have been 4 or 5 at the time. I still remember the outfits they wore – I think they were red white and blue skirts and blouses and sometimes they would don a cardboard stars and stripes hat. They sang a lot of George M. Cohan mixed in with 1920’s poo poo pee doo songs. I would run free in the audience – climbing on the wheelchairs and pulling their necks. The joy these women brought these kind old folks was priceless and I felt myself an essential part of that experience. I didn’t have an inkling then that 40 (something) years later I would be earning my living crawling through an audience and pulling the necks of over 2000 people a night at Radio City Music Hall.

LWT: What is your teaching philosophy?

DP: Joy and Rigor. Playing like a child and playing with total commitment and intention. We all had it as kids. The challenge is getting our “put together” adult selves out of the way.

LWT: Could you briefly explain the technique you will be teaching in your  class?

DP: It’s not really linear, but here goes. This is what I send to my prospective students:
Delving into the beautiful chaos and ferocious simplicity of your individual Fool.
Exercises will be customized to each player as we investigate playing and playing hard.
This is a place to further explore or find anew. Discover, Surprise and Offend your senses!
Hasn’t it been long enough since recess? Run Wild. And be ready to Belly Flop!

LWT:  Is your class appropriate for those with little to no acting experience?

DP: Sometimes, the individuals who really click in Clown Work are those with little or no experience. I think this is because they can’t help but approach the play with a beginners mind.

LWT: What can students expect to gain from taking your class?

DP: I can only speak from experience about how this work benefits theatre practitioners. In Drama School, I was introduced to 2 techniques that completely changed/enhanced the way I played as an actor. The first was Clown which I had the great fortune to study under a wonderful teacher. The second was Viewpoints which I practiced under the direction of Tina Landau and Beth Milles. Both of these forms are completely focused on moment to moment work and being present.

LWT: What is one piece of advice you would give other theatre artists?

DP: Difficult question. In general, I stay away from giving advice to other theatre artists as I feel it’s such an individual journey. Maybe that’s it. I wish someone had told me that when I was first starting out. There’s no one path.

About the Class:
Clowning and Commedia with Daniel Passer
Saturday, May 30 from 10am-1pm and Sunday, May 31 from 1pm-4pm
Ages 18+; Cost: $125

In this two day master class, participants will explore the elements of clowning and Commedia dell’Arte. There is no need to be physically fit—or need to have any previous experience with clowning—this is a place to explore further or start anew. Exercises will be customized to each player as we investigate playing and playing hard. Discover, surprise and offend your senses! When was the last time you let loose?

For more information or to register contact Mallory Pellegrino at 203.772.8272
or email mallory.pellegrino@longwharf.org

- Mallory Pellegrino

 

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Meet the Cast: Fred Applegate

How many people can say that the rock star Sting wrote a song for them? Fred Applegate can.

Long Wharf Theatre THE SECOND MRS. WILSON Fred Applegate

Applegate as Secretary Joe Tumulty in THE SECOND MRS. WILSON.
Photo: T Charles

Fred, currently playing secretary Joe Tumulty in The Second Mrs. Wilson, running through May 31, can point towards the recent Broadway run of The Last Ship, Sting’s new musical, as one of the highlights of his career. One day he came home from rehearsal for the show to find out that Sting was giving his character, Father O’Brian, another song in the second act. “It was an extraordinarily heartfelt and difficult show with breathtaking music. Everyone put his heart and soul into that one,” he said.

The Second Mrs. Wilson marks Applegate’s return to straight drama. The last non-musical play he’d done was 16 years ago – a successful production of Uncle Vanya in Los Angeles. Earlier this year, he’d finished another musical at the Alliance Theatre when he decided that getting back into a play would be just the thing for him. His agent contacted Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein and the rest was history.

For all practical purposes, Applegate has had several different careers. He began his career working in regional theatre, spending several seasons in the Guthrie Theatre’s repertory company. “I was in my 20s and had boundless energy – who doesn’t have boundless energy in their 20′s? I was at the theatre every day from 11 am to 11 pm. When I left the theatre at night, I wanted to go back. When I got up in the morning, I wanted to go back. It’s was where I wanted to be,” he said. “It was a tremendously creative period.”

But, California sang its own siren song. Applegate and his wife drove from Minneapolis to Los Angeles to visit some friends. While he was there, Applegate booked a national television commercial and a guest appearance on a television show. He and his wife were about to begin a family, and the pay was certainly good. “I said to my wife, this is easy,” he recalled. He didn’t make another penny for the next seven months.

Applegate kept plugging away, taking theatre jobs at the Mark Taper Forum, among other theatres. Television casting directors saw him in a play there, and Applegate went on to do over 150 television appearances over the next decade, including in Newhart, Growing Pains, Seinfeld, and a host of others. “The harder you work and the quieter you are, the more likely they are to have you back,” he said.

About a decade ago, Applegate decided to return east and concentrate on the theatre. He missed being on stage, interacting with an audience, being part of an ensemble. “You show up in New York at age 54 and you are the new kid. They respond to you differently,” he said.

It’s been quite a run – he’s appeared in six Broadway shows in the past eight years, including The Producers, The Sound of Music, and Young Frankenstein. He’s got two more lined up for the next season. “During the performance of a play, no matter the technical events, you are responsible for everything you do. You are expected to make a contribution to that night’s performance,” Applegate said. “In television, you are responsible for bringing what the director wants you to bring to the taping. But you don’t know how they are going to use that.”

Television is fun and certainly pays the bills, but for Applegate there is nothing like being part of a theatre community, bringing a show to life, interacting with an audience. “I am very close to not having to work anymore, being able to retire. I only want to do what I love,” he said.

-Steve Scarpa

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