For the 2013 production of 1812’s The Big Time, Scott, Jen and I took two months of dance lessons to learn the opening act of the show, a cross-dressed, three-person tango. I’ve had to learn how to play klezmer clarinet for a production with EgoPo, upright bass for a show at the Walnut, do a Pakistani accent for a show at InterAct, to sing in Russian for a show at the Lantern, and to play the duduk, an ancient, Armenian double-reed wind instrument at the Arden. All, for the most part, are now listed in my Special Skills.
I walked into the room planner in hand with my all black on ready to focus on “the work.” Conservatory style… I wanted to be the “serious artist” who sweats in the studio for seven hours and ends the week with a profound piece of work. However, with the guidance of my collaborator and director Christina May, the week took a radical turn.
“Lo que es interesante, para mí, es que en la tradición clásica de la escritura de dramas, los personajes avanzan en el tiempo, encuentran obstáculos y los superan. Y plantea preguntas en las cabezas de la audiencia: ¿vengará Hamlet la muerte de su padre? Esas preguntas son sobre el resultado y son importantes para nosotros. Hope and Gravity subvierten eso, porque hay preguntas más pequeñas en las que dices ... Me pregunto si esta gente se va a casar, o me pregunto si este asunto será descubierto. No hay clímax clásico en la obra, ningún lugar donde se respondan todas las preguntas en una gran batalla…”
“What is interesting about it, for me, is that in the classic tradition of play writing, the characters are moving forward through time, encountering obstacles and overcoming them. And it raises questions in the audiences heads—Will Hamlet avenge his father’s death? Those questions are about outcome and they are important to us. Hope and Gravity subverts that, because there are smaller questions where you say...I wonder if these people are going to get married, or I wonder if this affair will be discovered. There is no classic climax in the play, no place where all questions are answered in a big battle…”
“I hope I get to stay in Philly for a long time yet to come, (I feel like I might have finally landed in exactly the right place at exactly the right time in my life), but if for some reason the road carries me on to somewhere else, I will, at least, look forward to discovering that new place and the ways in which it connects the people that call it home.“
"How could a movie released 57 years earlier resonate so fully with a teenager bred on the immediacy of YouTube personalities and memes? Simple, good writing is good writing. Writing that trusts the audience and presents them with recognizable surprise, new takes on the experiences we have every day will stand the test of time. We recognize the players and the situations, but the lens through which they present it underlines a familiar and often universal experience in a surprising way. This is at the heart of A Few of Our Favorite Things, Jen Childs and Tony Braithwaite’s newest cabaret."
When I first began dreaming up The Puzzle, my son was very young. I was living in a bizarre world of unusual behaviors that became my norm, and aside from the pain and worry and sadness, there was joy and laughter. It felt like I was living in some absurd play that constantly swung between that pain and laughter. There were so many stories of children 'coming out of autism' and recovering completely. I believed that we would be able to bring our son out of his autism, too. I wanted to document this journey in a play about solving a puzzle from the perspective of a boy with autism.
"Widener is a unique place. The school was founded in 1902 and is specifically for students with physical, medical and mental disabilities. The student body represents a wide range of abilities and socio-economic backgrounds. Regardless of a student’s individual needs, the goal is to help each pupil reach their potential through the various programming and therapy offered at Widener. 1812 Outreach gets to be a variable in that equation once a week throughout the school year."
"Empezó de hablar sobre imaginación, como puede ver cosas en sus mentes pero no tiene que ver los en realidad. Yo digo a todos que cierran los ojos y imaginan París. Digo que por 30 segundos nosotros usamos los imaginaciones, y en este clase no hay examen, no hay libros, estamos aquí para divertirnos, y imaginación es la alma del ser humano. Todos tiene imaginación, y especialmente cuando eramos niños, y el mundo han dicho que es tonto o no es tan chido, pero ni modos todavía los tenemos, adentro."
"I suddenly launch into a speech about imagination, about how you can see things without ‘seeing’ them. I make everyone close their eyes and imagine Paris. I talk about how for the next 30 minutes we will use our imaginations, that in this class there are no tests, there are no books, that we are here to have fun, and that imagination is at the very soul of human experience. That we all possess it, and especially when we were children, and that we’ve been told it’s stupid or not cool, but we still have it, buried beneath us."
"The first rehearsal for a collaborative piece is always slightly nerve wracking for me as a designer. I am walking into a room where there is already a dynamic in place, and it is even worse when everyone is funny and smart. This Is The Week That Is is a show that’s been annually happening longer than I have lived in Philadelphia; if my puzzle piece is to properly fit into this institution I have to go above and beyond as a designer, and get into the brains of these people who are churning out the characters..."
"I guess what I love about this play is that it's very tightly written. The comedy is punchy, the characters are very vivid, and from this bizarre opening premise of this weird detail of Barbra's mall/basement, we get to plunge into a world where all the characters are sympathetic and flawed and complicated."
On November 23, 1963 the cast of the British political satire show, THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS, scrapped all the material they had written that week, went on live television and publicly mourned JFK who had been assassinated the day before. There were no jokes, just tearful and sincere testimonials about an American president these Brits described as a “gigantic marvelous present”.