An interview with Show No Show creators Gabrielle Revlock & Aleksandr (Sasha) Frolov
By Lois Welk
Lois: Tell the story of how you met.
Gabrielle: We met at Art Omi. It’s an amazing artist residency near Hudson, NY. Their motto is “care and abundance.” We made work during the day, took swim breaks and every night there was a happy hour before dinner. Before we arrived we were sent the bios of the other artists. I’m pretty sure that when I read Sasha’s bio I rolled my eyes, it was very formal, but as soon as I saw him perform — something we did for each other the first week– I thought, I have to work with this person.
Sasha: I remember how busy you were, Gabi. And I was relaxed and that’s why I wanted to work with you. It’s good to work with hard workers [laughs].
Lois: What did you do in the first rehearsal?
Sasha: I don’t remember! [pause] I suppose the first time we worked together was not really a rehearsal, it was during an exercise that one of the other resident artists led during the first week. The assignment was to interact with a specific space and our space was a small shed with a table, and that’s still in the piece.
Gabrielle: [laughs] Yes, that was a weird first encounter. We still have an awkward moment with the table but now it’s a fantasy sex scene set in doctor’s office.
Lois: Describe some investigations you designed to generate movement?
Gabrielle: We worked with eye contact, first sitting and then moving. We have another score where we tease each other.
Sasha: Ah yes, we make fun of each other. There are a lot of silly moments in the piece. Awkward dance is another silly place but it’s in the body in a very different way.
Gabrielle: Yes, it takes some inspiration from contact improv but injects more idiosyncratic movements and irregular rhythms.
Lois: How differently do Russian and American audiences respond to your work?
Gabrielle: I’m not sure they are all that different. We’ve performed Show No Show in the US and Russia and in both places we’ve been lucky to have very engaged audiences. People seem to relate to the piece. I had one audience member, not a professional reviewer, send me a two page review.
Sasha: In Russia, people were surprised by your performance quality–your face. It’s not a typical way for Russian contemporary dancers. And my Russian peers were also surprised by me because they weren’t used to seeing me perform with this different quality of humor and lightness. They noticed that I was able to make fun of myself. Oftentimes people look like they are in a bad mood when they perform.
Lois: What comes next for your partnership?
Gabrielle: We are planning a project with Alex Tatarsky who will be leading a post performance activity after the Thursday night show. She’s an amazing clown and Russian scholar so it feels like a good fit. Will be working with language and practice surrounding anxiety treatment. We will also be touring Show No Show in 2019. Stay tuned for info!
Lois: Good luck with your show!
Gabrielle: Thank you. After each show we are inviting the audience to stick around and have drinks with us in the space. There’s a lovely outdoor area. We are also teaching three contemporary dance and improvisation classes at Gibney so I’m hoping people will come not only to see the show but hang out with us, talk with us, dance with us.
The Flea proudly announces the 11 selected playwrights for its newly created SERIALS Writers Room! Since its inception in 2011, the late night programming series for adventurous audiences has served as one of The Flea’s hallmarks. The inaugural SERIALS Writers Room playwrights were chosen from over 100 candidates and include Niccolo Aeed, Oscar A. L. Cabrera, Chloé Hayat, Lily Houghton, Brian Kettler, Yilong Liu, Matthew Minnicino, Liz Morgan, Jessica Moss, Madhuri Shekhar and Marina Tempelsman.
The Flea’s Artistic Director Niegel Smith says of the new initiative, “So many of New York’s talented early career actors and directors get started with a residency at The Flea, it only made sense that we begin to serve playwrights in the same way. From pitch to production these passionate and skilled playwrights will be actively writing the culture of today. We’re all in and can’t wait to share with audiences the compelling and diverse stories they are dreaming up.”
The SERIALS Writers’ Room will be a year-long commitment. Writers will be assigned to a SERIALS team, featuring a director and a group of Bats, The Flea’s resident acting company. Over the course of the year there will be eight cycles of SERIALS. Playwrights will write on a rotating basis: if your play is not voted back, you will get a few cycles off until it is your turn to launch another series with a new pilot.
SERIALS returns to The Flea for its 45th cycle from June 7-16. Performances are on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 11pm. Tickets cost $12 and include a free beer. Purchase tickets by calling 212-352-3101 or online at www.theflea.org.
Niccolo Aeed is a black/palestinian writer and director based in New York. He is half the comedy duo Marina & Nicco, whose sketches and short films have been featured on The New Yorker, Comedy Central, Funny or Die and many more. Marina & Nicco’s plays have been produced at HERE Arts Center, The People’s Improv Theater, New Ohio Theater and Ars Nova. Individually Nicco has written and directed plays for The New York Fringe Festival, the Philly Fringe Festival, NY Summerfest and 7×7. He has written and directed sketch comedy at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and The People’s Improv Theater and teaches storytelling with The Moth. For more of Marina & Nicco’s work check out www.MarinaAndNicco.com.
Oscar A. L. Cabrera is a New York-based actor/playwright born and bred in the panhandle of Texas. Both a son to parents who worked two jobs each and the brother of a sibling with autism, his upbringing has crafted a lens for finding the extraordinary out of the common place. His plays have been developed and produced by The Public Theater, INTAR Theater, Rising Circle, Creede Rep, BRIC, NY Madness, Black and Latino Playwrights Conference, and OMPF. He is a current member of EWG at the Public, company member of INTAR’s Unit52, and co-creator of the NYC Latinx Playwrighting Circle.
Chloé Hayat is a Lebanese-American playwright and dramaturg from Roosevelt Island, New York. She graduated from SUNY Purchase with a degree in Playwriting & Screenwriting and a minor in History. She is the co-founder of After-School Special Theatre, a company of scrappy young female-identifying writer/producers that values accessible, organic, and experimental theatre. She is passionate about finding new ways to make theatre possible with excited and challenging collaborators. Her work has been seen and developed as a part of Young Playwrights Inc., SUNY Purchase’s New Plays Now festival and most recently her first Paranormal Play Spirit Journeyz was performed as part of Clubbed Thumb’s Summerworks readings. She’s a professional makeup artist, an amateur baker, a perfectly fine belly dancer, and the owner of a piece of the Abraham Lincoln deathbed. Chloé is fascinated by ghosts, historical women, stories about delusion, and is currently engrossed by the theatricality of reality television.
Lily Houghton is a twenty-three-year-old playwright born and raised in Manhattan. She wrote her first play at age seventeen before completing her B.A. at Bennington College last May. Her plays have been developed at MCC Theater Company, The Flea, EST/Youngblood, Contemporary American Theater Festival/Shepherd University, NYU, 20% Theater Company Chicago, Yale University’s Writers’ Conference, Bennington College, University of Michigan Theater Conservatory, and the Jermyn Street Theatre in London. Her short someone/something/someone/something (EST/ Youngblood) just won a Sloan Foundation Grant. Lily’s play, Dear, received a PlayLab with MCC Theater in the fall of 2017 and a production at Shepherd University/CATF this April. She is a proud member of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s Youngblood. Just announced: Lily has received an Elizabeth George Foundation grant through a commission from Seattle Rep!
Brian Kettler is originally from Portland, Oregon. Like everyone from Portland, Brian enjoys coffee, beer and nature, is obsessed with the Blazers and plays bass in a rock band. He earned his MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas-Austin, where he studied under Steven Dietz. He is a former recipient of the Oregon Literary Fellowship in Drama.
Last summer, Brian’s full-length play, Poor Boys’ Chorus, premiered in New York City as part of the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival. His short play, Clown Room, was selected for the Theater Masters National MFA Playwrights Festival, with productions in Aspen and New York City. He was recently commissioned by Orphic Theater Company to adapt Euripides’ Iphigenia Among the Taurians and his adaptation, Iphigenia 3.0, was featured in the 2017 Fertile Ground Festival. Brian has worked as a tutor, teaching artist and for the past three years, has coached high school Mock Trial.
Yilong Liu is a New York-based playwright, born and raised in Chongqing, a city in Southwest China. His work has been produced or developed at Stella Adler Studio of Acting, East West Players, Queens Theatre, SPACE on Ryder Farm, WildWind Performance Lab at Texas Tech, FringeNYC, Kumu Kahua Theatre, Living Room Theatre, MOJOAA Performing Arts, and others. Awards include Kennedy Center’s Paul Stephen Lim Playwriting Award (The Book of Mountains and Seas), Paula Vogel Playwriting Award (June is The First Fall, 2nd Place), National Partners of the American Theatre Award for Playwriting (Joker), Po’okela Award for Best New Play (Joker), and a APAFT playwright scholarship. He was a semi-finalist for Bay Area Playwrights Festival and O’Neill Playwrights Conference, a finalist for The New Harmony Project and Lark’s Van Lier New Voices Playwriting Fellowship. When he’s not writing, he’s usually netflixing, people watching, or liking cat posts on instagram. BA: BNU. MFA: UHM. www.YilongLiu.com
Matthew Minnicino is a Virginia-born, Manhattan-based playwright, adaptor, actor, director, teacher, and theatre-maker. He has been a resident with SPACE on Ryder Farm, Exquisite Corpse, Sugarglass Theatre at Trinity College in Dublin, the Barn Arts Collective, Letter of Marque, the box collective, and numerous others. He is a Jeffrey Melnick New Playwright Award Nominee, winner of the 2016 Arts & Letters Prize, and member of Pipeline Theatre’s PlayLab, Everday Inferno’s Writer/Director Lab, Joust Theatre’s Writers’ Round Table, and 2018 Great Plains Theatre Conference PlayLab. He has written for Serials@The Flea, Rule of 7×7, and the NYC Fringe, FauxReal, and Shenandoah Fringe Festivals. He has professionally adapted Chekhov, Strindberg, Ibsen, Gorky, Homer, Euripides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Moliere, and more. His essays on theatre have been published by The Dramatist, Gathering of the Tribes, and HowlRound. In his spare time, he teaches kids about Shakespeare. MFA: Columbia.
Liz Morgan was raised on oxtail, peas & rice. As an artist raised by two Caribbean doctors, she has maintained a dedication to healing and a taste for all things spicy. She’s been published in HuffPo and developed new stage work with The Fire This Time Festival, The Lark, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Fresh Ground Pepper, Liberation Theatre Company, Judson Arts, Amios, Rising Circle, JACK, NY Madness, POTPOURRI! World Women Works Series, and National Black Theatre where she was named a finalist for the I AM SOUL Playwrights’ Residency. Other honors include the Torchbearer for Black Theatre Award, NYNW Theatre Festival (Finalist), Playwrights Realm Writing Fellowship (Semi-Finalist) and the New Works Lab at Stratford (Semi-Finalist). She holds a Bachelors degree and MFA from Brown University where she received the Davis Wickham Prize for Excellence in Playwriting and once twerked the toga off of a frat boy. www.LizMorganOnline.com
Jessica Moss is an actor, writer, and producer from Toronto, Canada. Her work has been developed or presented at Great Plains Theatre Conference, Roundabout Theatre, Premiere Stages, Kitchen Dog Theatre, the Juilliard School, the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the Canadian Stage Festival of New Ideas and Creation, among others. As an actor, she has appeared in shows with Necessary Angel/Luminato, Tarragon Theatre, SummerWorks, Sudbury Theatre Centre, the NAC, and many times at the Toronto Fringe.
Madhuri Shekar is a playwright from Chennai, India, currently based in New York. Productions include In Love and Warcraft (Alliance Theatre and others; 2013/14 Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Award), A Nice Indian Boy (East West Players and others), Queen (Victory Gardens; Kilroys List 2017) and two TYA shows at the Alliance Theatre. Her plays in development include House of Joy (most recently seen at the Pacific Playwrights Festival and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival) and new commissions from Victory Gardens, Audible and South Coast Repertory. Her work has been developed at the Center Theatre Group, the Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Hedgebrook Playwrights Festival, the Kennedy Center, New York Stage and Film, and the Atlantic Theatre.
She is a member of the Ars Nova Playgroup and Ma-Yi Writers Lab, has an MFA in Dramatic Writing from USC, and is a 2016-2018 alum of the playwriting program at Juilliard.
Marina Tempelsman is a writer who was born and raised in New York (where she is still based). She is half the comedy duo Marina & Nicco, whose work has been featured by The New Yorker, Comedy Central, and Funny or Die. Their play Room 4 was a New York Times critic’s pick, and their work has also been featured at HERE Arts Center, Ars Nova, The New Ohio Theater, The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and The Peoples Improv Theater. They recently co-wrote a sketch comedy pilot for Fusion, and wrote and produced a web pilot (Smüchr) for BRIC TV. In the summer of 2010, Marina was a Guest Artist at the Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting Intensive, where she studied with Theresa Rebeck, Marsha Norman, David Ives, Jason Robert Brown, Gary Garrison, and Heather McDonald, among others. She co-wrote the Comedy Central series At the Office Microwave, and currently teaches and directs for The UCB. www.marinaandnicco.com
We’re thrilled when The Bats also get attention off-stage, and we couldn’t be more excited for the lovely Raiane Cantisano!
You may have met her during our Faces of The Flea email series this past December, and seen her onstage in ms. estrada, Cereals, or Serials this season. And the talented Brazilian actress has more work cut out for her in the months ahead.
Click the link below to read Broadway World’s feature on Raiane!Read Article Here
We’re thrilled to share that one of The Flea’s Anchor Partners, EPIC Players, just had an “epic” week!
EPIC rang the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, April 3rd in honor of Autism Awareness Month. In addition, EPIC’s Artistic Director, Aubrie Therrien, and EPIC Company Member and star of the feature film Keep the Change, Samantha Elisofon, spoke at The United Nations for World Autism Awareness on Thursday, April 5th.
ms. estrada written by the Q Brothers Collective and directed by Michelle Tattenbaum is now open in The Flea’s upstairs theater, the Sam. We sat down with members of the cast to hear about why they love this new hip-hop musical adaptation of the Greek classic, Lysistrata, and what The Flea means to them.
The work you’ve put into ms. estrada has been immense, what do you love the most about working on this production?
The raw energy in ms. estrada is addicting. It’s exciting it is to embody a story this large. And as a womyn, it’s a relief to have a temporary home for my rage (which isn’t always welcome in the spaces I inhabit). The writers, the Q Brother Collective and Director, Michelle Tattenbaum have done an incredible job creating an empowering rehearsal room. I hope the audience will feel that when they see the show.
Creating a safe space for actors to do great work is important. What’s your favorite aspect of working in this medium?
I love the sense of community that the theater offers (both from a performer and audience perspective). In an increasingly high-tech world, I’m grateful for the opportunity to sit in darkness with an audience who choose to lend their attention to one thing— the stage. I feel safe in the theater.
And beyond the shared experience with an audience, what lessons have you gained from working in the business?
Saying “Yes!” That has been a fundamental lesson for me. It is scary to take the first step but great things usually come out of taking a chance on something new.
What was the first acting gig you said “yes” to?
My first job in the theater was as a counselor at my childhood Shakespeare camp when I was 16-years old. Learning how to teach from my childhood mentors was one of the greatest artistic gifts I’ve ever received.
Are you working on anything other than ms. estrada?
Yes! I facilitate Contact Improv Jams (a movement form) each month and I recently finished the writing and performance of a cello accompaniment for a reading that was directed by fellow Bat, Jen Parkhill.
And before we go— Do you have any advice for actors who are just starting out?
Don’t take it all too seriously (it’s just pretend, after all). And please, remind me to do the same!
YesBroadway just released 40 Under 40: Broadway Class of 2018 and we are thrilled to see some of our favorite Flea-ple listed! Shout out to…
NSangou Njikam, Writer and Cast Member of Syncing Ink (left).
Nuri Hazzard, Cast Member of Syncing Ink (right).
Tedra Millan, Bat Alum (American Song, The Flying Latke, The Wundelsteipen)
With ms. estrada opening in just a few short weeks, we’re sitting down with members of the cast to hear about why they love this new hip-hop musical adaptation of the Greek classic, Lysistrata, and what The Flea means to them.
What do you love about ms. estrada, the upcoming hip-hop musical?
I love that ms. estrada is a hip-hop musical that serves as a direct response to issues that we are grappling with as a society. I think it is relevant and it is relatable to all ages and backgrounds. Everyone will find a piece of him or herself in this production.
What kind of theater speaks to you?
I really have an affinity for Musical Theater. Musicals such as Color Purple helped me to find myself and people who look like me on a Broadway stage. I’m a singer at heart and hearing the notes and tones these powerhouse vocalists hit, excites me. Storytelling through song requires a lot of emotional stamina to do well and I’m up for the challenge.
What ignites you about the medium of theater?
I have always said— “You cannot fool the audience at the theater.” This is my way of reminding myself that there are no trick cut-aways or fancy angles or edits that can happen in film or television. You’re live and in order to get the story across, actors have to show up fully and give 110%, if not more! You must be fully connected to your objectives, your backstory, and the world you’re serving for 90-minutes with no intermission— every night!
If you could change one thing about the theater process, what would it be?
I would change the casting process. I would love theater to be more inclusive of all ethnicities, and to shake up their “character breakdowns”. How exciting would it be to see an Asian lead in Waitress? Or take the page from Frozen on Broadway and cast a Black person in a lead role.
And how did you end up at The Flea?
I was in a scene study class at Primary Stages with The Flea’s Audience Development Associate, Aleesha Nash. After I went up to do my monologue for the class, she started telling me all about The Flea and The Bats. I never anticipated that I would actually be a member of the company so soon, however, I’m thankful to be working with a group of dedicated and energetic actors that are supportive and hardworking.
What has acting and working as a theatermaker taught you about yourself?
Patience, tenacity, and self-reliance. I’ve been blessed to get as far as I have within the almost 4-years of pursuing my dream of becoming an actor, but patience is still required because not everything I want will happen overnight. I have to accept that. I have to accept that on a daily basis… “sometimes hourly,” he laughs.
Tenacity, because this career can be very harsh at some points and you have really know that this is what you want to do and that you will succeed.
Self-reliance comes out of a place where I’ve had experiences where people will say “I can help you!” or “We should definitely work together!” and although these encounters feel good at the moment, they may not come to fruition and the ownness is still on me to make my own way to get what I want. By creating content, networking, and being willing to hustle is what I can always count on.
What’s your dream project?
I have a lot of dream projects, dream roles and a long list of playwrights and directors I want to work with, but the entire list equates to one thing—I just really want to create PHENOMENAL work.
Beyond any list, I want to push myself and my talents to the very depths of their limits. My dream is to be to be cast in projects that will allow me to expand my capacity and develop skills that I didn’t even know I had. I love the growth process that I experience as an artist. I love having the opportunity to bring to life characters and share amazing stories. The fact that I get to do both in ms. estrada—tell stories and grow as an artist—I am completely here for it!
Alexandra Slater, a member of The Flea’s Bat Acting Company, plays PURRIA in The Flea’s production of LOCKED UP BITCHES written by Catya Mcmullen featuring original music by Scott Allen Klopfenstein. The production, directed and choreographed by our Resident Director Michael Raine, is a sweet, psychotic, queer, and outrageously funny hip-hop parody mash-up of a certain Netflix prison drama and Bernstein-Sondheim musical.
The Flea feels like home. I love the diversity here and the energy. In this crazy city, you need a SAFE place to nurture your art and The Flea does exactly that. The staff cares about what’s going and I truly believe The Flea is doing a great thing by putting a variety of voices on stage. It’s a great time to be a Bat.
Michael and Catya are an actor’s wet-dream. The two of them combined are a powerhouse. They really love to go places that other artists might be afraid to and that’s exciting for us as actors. Catya and Michael both are such great people to work with, they genuinely care about their actors. Hopefully, by watching LOCKED UP BITCHES, you’ll be able to see that. The way they put all of us together with the help of Kerry and Scott is truly amazing. I know this is not the last time I’ll be working with the both of them!
I love LOCKED UP BITCHES because of the many voices and stories at Bitchfield. I love how each character has a story to tell in the show. If you’re on stage, you’re doing something. The script is active and playful.
There’s a lot of love going on behind the scenes. I’ve truly fallen in love with every person on that stage. It helps our onstage fight since we get on and off the stage as friends.
I really would love people to walk away from LOCKED UP BITCHES thankful for their own communities and realizing how important it is to have one. We can’t do this life alone and we can’t do this life not knowing who we are. Take risks. Find your tribe. Love who you are.
My first theatre memory is auditioning for a solo at church. I was four. The song was “Away In A Manger.” I still think about how I slayed that audition. It doesn’t matter that everyone who showed up for the audition got a part— I slayed!
I took a year-long break in my first year of college. I was studying Biology. It was interesting, but eventually, I discovered it wasn’t for me. I also missed the theater. I auditioned for Brooklyn College, was accepted, and was able to continue pursuing my passion of being a theater artist. One of the best decisions I ever made.
What I love about theater is how intimate and fleeting it can be. There’s no pillow to cover your face or fast forward button to press. You can’t hide. It’s in your face. And for all the moments on the stage that you fall in love with, you have to do the work to cherish them. You cannot rewind or hit pause and so the work of being in the moment is one that I love.
I also love rehearsals and getting to know the people that I’ll be working with for weeks. The relationships that are formed in the whole rehearsal process. I’ve met some of the coolest people through this show. So many backgrounds, but yet we all have this passion to create.
The theater has taught me P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E! The right thing will come along, but it’s not always on our time. And when it’s not our time—it’s time to practice, study, and put in the hard work so that I’m prepared.
LOCKED UP BITCHES began its life as seven episodes in SERIALS (Cycles 26-28, 2015). Get a sneak peak of what life used to be like in Bitchfield!
The Flea mourns the passing of Reg E. Cathey, known affectionately as Reggie, whom we lost too soon on Friday at the age of 59.
Reggie was a dear friend and colleague of founding Artistic Director Jim Simpson and Producing Director Carol Ostrow from their days at the Yale Drama School where they were classmates and collaborators. Cathey served as a part of The Flea’s “Artistic Resource Group” that works as a sounding board for artistic ideas for Flea programming.
Cathey starred in two Flea productions, Joseph Addison’s 1712 play CATO in 2008, based on the Roman statesman who sided with Pompey in an unsuccessful civil war against Caesar and A.R. Gurney’s HERESY in 2012, a satire about the state of our union in the future (not very far off from where we are today). In both productions, under Simpson’s direction, Cathey lent his rich baritone, crackling wit and contagious glee in the creation of unforgettable characters.
Though he became well known for his television roles in The Wire and House of Cards, which earned him an Emmy, Cathey was a theater lover at heart and made his home here in the city. His work is an inspiration to The Bats and his legacy will be upheld through their work. He is mourned and will be dearly missed by all of us who loved him.