Limited Engagements

Part of the reason I’ve been off the radar for a while is because I’ve been acting a lot. Needless to say, this is a good reason. In addition to my stint in The Blood Brothers Present: Pulp back in October, I’ve been staying busy with a few limited engagements that have kept me visible and artistically satisfied, and have given me the chance to work with some lovely, talented people.

First up was the Monarch Theater Company‘s One-Minute Play Festival, which ran December 1st and 2nd at The Brick Theater in Williamsburg. Director, gadfly, and man-about-town Dominic D’Andrea curated a program of nearly 70 new plays by 34 different writers, so it was a full evening. Mike Daisey, Clay McLeod Chapman, Migdalia Cruz, Trav S.D., Kyle Jarrow, Qui Nguyen, James Comtois, Ashlin Halfnight, Rajiv Joseph, Edith Freni, Mac Rogers, Emily Conbere, Gary Winter, and Lloyd Suh were just some of the many scribes represented. Eleven different directors took part, including Dominic, Jordan Young, and The Brick’s co-artistic director Michael Gardner. The several dozen actors who participated included by Blood Brothers castmate Anna Kull, fellow nytheatre.com contributor Fred Backus, Brick regulars Audrey Crabtree and Roger Nasser, and my new colleague Toby Knops. At $15 a pop, this was a good value you couldn’t beat. (Apparently, many others thought so, too: the festival drew two of the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen at The Brick.)

I appeared in several fun and challenging pieces by playwrights Sibyl Kempson, Bathsheba Doran, Anna Ziegler, and Matthew Lopez, and a hilarious musical number by Adam Szymkowicz and Isaac Butler. My co-stars were Isaac (who also directed) and Jennifer Gordon Thomas (who co-starred in Mac Rogers’ Universal Robots back in the summer), and I had an absolutely terrific time working with both of them. Isaac is a smart and talented director who knows how to do good work really fast (we rehearsed twice the week of the performances and had a 10-minute tech rehearsal – that’s it). And Jennifer is a funny, intuitive actor I would work with again in a heartbeat.

I only caught a few of the other one-minute plays – the total cast size was so big we had to use the bar across the street as our green room/holding area – but from what I could see everyone else was red hot. The audience seemed to think so, too: they rocked The Brick with laughter.

The following weekend I made my P.S. 122 debut with a short performance at Sponsored By Nobody‘s end of the year fundraiser, which was a swingin’ affair. Catered food, donated beer and wine, silent auction items, the whole nine. Vallejo Gartner and the rest of the good folks at P.S. 122 were nice enough to give us free run of their huge upstairs theater (a space I always enjoy visiting as an audience member), which we decked out with artwork-for-sale and the requisite SBN promotional materials (i.e. still photos from past productions, actors’ headshots, and a big ol’ TV running video footage from their shows). Add to that the neverending stream of pumpin’ music emanating from artistic director Kevin Doyle’s iPod (he’s a bottomless font of knowledge and wisdom when it comes to music), and we were good to go.

I appeared in a scene from Kevin’s hilarious play, The Position, along with original cast members Scott Miller, Paul Newport, and Sean O’Hagan. We all started the scene wearing identical business suits, and ended it with most of us dropping our pants and flashing matching pairs of Christmas-themed boxer shorts (and, of course, acting as if there were nothing unusual about that). That’s how kooky Kevin’s work sometimes gets. Great fun. Later on, Scott and Paul joined Ishah Janssen-Faith and Macha Ross in reprising their roles from Kevin’s play, not from canada – their performance of the opening scene was just as funny as it had been at the show’s FringeNYC 2007 premiere.

I love working with the SBN crew. They are such talented and funny people. I first met and worked with them on their production of FOX(y) Friends/Compression of a Casualty at The Brick Theater’s Pretentious Festival back in the summer, and have since come to know them as both friends and colleagues. My respect and admiration for both Kevin and the SBN ethos is well-documented, and the company’s ever-increasing stable of actors are a joy to watch and play with.

I like these limited engagement gigs because they’re a good way to stay visible, stay sharp acting-wise, and work with cool people, all for a minimal time commitment. Both the One-Minute Play Festival and the SBN fundraiser were great gigs to end the year with because I wanted to keep my Blood Brothers momentum going after the run ended, but didn’t want to jump into another full production right before (or possibly during) Christmas. Considering both the timelines and all the talented people involved, accepting both offers was a no-brainer.

I went through a similar busy period in the fall, during Blood Brothers rehearsals, when I worked on two other short gigs: the 365 Plays, and a staged reading of Trav S.D.’s play, Family of Man, at Theater for the New City. Juggling all three projects was challenging as hell sometimes, but enriching beyond belief all the time. That’s the kind of busy I like to be.

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