Seasonal Confusion and Lots of Interviews…it must be Directors’ Showcase time!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Silver bells…silver bells…

La da da da da daaaa, it’s time for Hanukkah

November=December=Winter holidays for me. I’m not sorry. But I am currently listening to Mariah Carey’s fantastic rendition of “All I Want for Christmas is You”.

Happy Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving?

BUT, segueing to the point, it is the most wonderful time of the year, because it is time for Directors’ Showcase!

For those of you who don’t know (most of you) Directors’ Showcase was my very first show at Cabaret Theatre, let alone at Rutgers. As an underclassman, being cast in my first show was amazing, and the DS environment was (and still is) the perfect introduction into college theatre. My show was about two waiters, who had ambitions, and one of them ended with an interpretative dance. You don’t need to know any more than that.

#myfirstshow #nostalgia

#myfirstshow #nostalgia

Because DS is so near and dear to me, and many other actors at Cabaret, this week’s blog post consists of interviews with the directors themselves (woooooo)!

What is Directors’ Showcase, you ask? I’ll tell ya! Directors’ Showcase is a collection of 15 to 20 minute plays directed by first time directors.

I talked to the lovely Kayla Votapek (and by talk I mean Facebook messaged–yay technology), coordinator extraordinaire, and asked her to describe Directors’ Showcase to me in her own words. Here’s what she said:

  • “Directors’ showcase is one of the few special events that allows students who never directed, never stage managed, and never acted, to have a chance to try something new. It allows new and old members to be part of an amazing theatrical experience.”

Kayla also added:

  • “The reason why it means so much to me is because of the fact that it was the first show I did as a freshman at Cabaret. DS gave me the chance to show everyone what I can do and allowed me to get to where I am today. This year is my 3rd year doing the showcase and i am so proud to see all my babies grow throughout the entire process and so glad that we have brand new faces at Cabaret Theatre.”
Here's us on Halloween. Ten points for Gryffindor if you know who I am.

Here’s us on Halloween. Ten points for Gryffindor if you know who I am.

Before we begin with the Director interviews, here is all of the information you need about the performances:

The 2014 Directors’ Showcase at Cabaret Theatre

Coordinated by Kayla Votapek and Stage Managed by Jacqueline Malzone

Dates:

– Friday, November 14 @ 8pm**

– Saturday, November 15 @ 8pm

– Sunday, November 16 @ 7pm

**Proceeds from the Friday performance will be donated to the Holt International Adoption Agency.

Performances will be held at Cabaret Theatre, which is located on the corner of Suydam Street and Nichol Avenue on the Douglass Campus

Tickets:

$7 Students/Faculty/Staff/Seniors

$12 General Admission

To reserve tickets please send an email including your name, dates you would like to attend, and number of tickets to cabtheatre@gmail.com.(please arrive at least 20 minutes early to keep your reservation)

THE SHOWS:

Interview with Loneliness, by Ann Wuehler

  • Directed by Chris Price
  • Featuring: Toni Pollitt, Megan Cavanagh and Kim Bollard

Waiting for the Matinee by Eric Coble

  • Directed by Constantina Scoullis
  • Featuring: Kajoree Bhattacharya and Justice Hehir

For Anne by Peter Gruen

  • Directed by Laura Pomykala
  • Featuring: Kelly Lozo and Matt Apploff

Blind Date by Laurie Allen

  • Directed by Eddie Norgard
  • Featuring: Chris Wilson, Kim Bollard, LaJuan Miller, Thalia Peck, Matt Apploff and Kajoree Bhattacharya

Ties that Bind by Eric Coble

  • Directed by Hantz Jean-Francois
  • Featuring: Luke Basile, Alex Esposito, Lajuan Miller, Thalia Peck, Toni Pollitt and Steve Rengifo

That being said, can I get a drumroll please

drumroll

Let us begin!

*cue Who Wants to be a Millionaire Music*

An Interview with Chris Price

Facebook means that no one is safe. Let the pictures begin.

Facebook means that no one is safe. Let the pictures begin.

Tell us a little about your show:

  • “Interviews with Loneliness” is a 3-woman piece that portrays how these women struggle with independence, dark pasts, self-worth, and love. Fearful of being single, but tired of destructive companionship, Annarae, Janet, and Queela have individual stories that have no escape from loneliness. Ultimately, they are in the hot spot to make a choice: be in love, yet feel lonely, or dread the solitude of having never truly loved.

Why did you pick this show?

  • I selected this show because I wanted a show that offered deeper substance and was a bit of a challenge. On paper, there are three stories, simple. However, bringing it to life for 15 minutes was a great journey. Also, I think the overall story is relatable to what we all go through. We know what is good for us, but there is an underlying layer of bad or consequences to every good choice we think we are making for ourselves. That’s life, and life is full of difficult decisions.

What is different about this experience than your other directing experiences?

  • I was blessed with being able to direct this year’s musical revue at Cabaret, Unsung Chapters. However, Director’s Showcase provided me with something different because I have not worked creatively on a straight play since acting in high school. Since coming to Rutgers, I have stage managed one play and performed and been on production staffs for a number of musicals, but I avoided creatively being involved with plays for a long time. This experience gave me the chance to get back into straight plays!

Favorite moment of the show?

  • All of it, simple as that. I really enjoy this show, and I think others will too.

Favorite moment during rehearsal?

  • Chilling with my actresses and have them do weird things like talk to themselves in corners of rooms.

How has your vision come to life through Cabaret Theatre?

  • Cabaret really gave me free reigns with this show, and I was able to change up the script and setting and all that jazz. #thankscabaret

And lastly, why should we come see your show?

  • Because I said so.

The last answer is simple and sweet. I like your style Chris. Let’s be friends.

Next!

An Interview with Constantina Scoullis

connie

Tell us a little about your show:

  • A tribute to Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, two middle-aged women are waiting for the matinee to start. They try and kill time, and amidst hilarious discussion, fall back into the absurdist motif.

Why did you pick this show?

  • I feel like I need some deep answer to this…but I just read the play and thought it would be fun to do. Yeah, that’s basically it.

Are you a first time director? How’s the experience?

  • It has been really great! I was pretty nervous and worried about a lot of things going into showcase—especially since directing is something that you need to figure out, because there is really no one way to direct. As rehearsals went by though, I realized that the things that I was worried about were things that you can (and have to) easily pick up on the spot. Not to say that directing is easy—it’s not. I was just more worried about it than I should have been.
  • Plus, I love my actors, and they were very instrumental in this whole learning experience for me.

What is your favorite moment of the show?

  • The part where Justice and Kajoree show that they are a good audience!

Favorite moment during rehearsal?

  • We went on some pretty…interesting tangents during rehearsal. Also, when Justice and Kajoree would do a little bit of improv in between runs, I basically got a week’s worth of ab workouts done within 2 minutes. They are so funny together. I can’t even.

How has your vision come to life through Cabaret Theatre?

  • Generally—just the fact that Cabaret Theatre offers a chance for people to get a taste of directing a show. In regards to my show specifically—the fact that Cabaret Theatre is a very intimate space, and I want the audience to feel like there’s minimal distance between them and the things happening on stage.

Why should we come see your show??

  • Because Justice and Kajoree. Enough said.

Shout out to my ladies, woot woot!

Also, last year I performed in the Original Play Festival, with one of Connie’s original plays. She’s a very talented lady, and I can’t wait to see her directorial debut.

Next next next…

 

An interview with Eddie Norgard

Yo. This is a pretty cool pic. Very James Dean-esque

Yo. This is a pretty cool pic. Very James Dean-esque

Tell us a little about your show:

  • My show is called “The Blind Date”. It’s a short comedy about two completely different people being forced to find reasons to date just to please their friends. As if the date couldn’t be any more terrible, their friends who set them up on this blind date decide to visit the restaurant they are at to very obnoxiously intrude on their already dysfunctional relationship.

Why did you choose to work on Blind Date?

  • I picked this show for a couple reasons. I had previously been an actor in the short at my high school. I thought it would be nice to direct it with my own vision rather than my old director’s vision. I also picked the show because I wanted to remind people that we can find reasons to love one another despite the most obvious differences that come at face value. If we dig a little deeper we can connect with anyone.

Are you a first time director? If so, how was the new experience?

  • I am a first time director! I found it to be extremely eye opening. I have been acting since I was in 1st grade but I have never sat in the director’s chair and it feels good to finally be on this side of the table. I loved every aspect of it and my cast was extremely supportive and cooperative.

Favorite moment of the show?

  • I think the best moment in my show is when Kayla has simply had enough of the shenanigans being thrown at her and just mentally breaks down. Its funny to see her completely go insane because of how badly her date is going.

Favorite moment during rehearsal?

  • Its hard to pick a favorite moment. My cast was super fun to work with and we were all laughing at every rehearsal. Working on a comedy with naturally hilarious people is just the best time!

How has your vision come to life through Cabaret Theatre?

  • I am so grateful to Courtney, Allie, and Kayla for giving me the opportunity to gain directing experience through this special Cabaret event!! I absolutely have had the best time and have learned so much. Cabaret is really good about allowing artists to express themselves and they give equal opportunity to all despite lack of knowledge or experience. The entire E-Board is willing to help you learn and to guide you. I could not be more happy to call Cabaret my home.

And lastly, why should we come see your show?

  • You should come see my show if you want to laugh but also if you want to think. The comedic atmosphere of my show shouldn’t cover up the deeper meanings found within the script. It’s important to look at any piece of art as multidimensional and that is so true for theatre arts as well. If you wanna laugh and have a good time come to director’s showcase but remember to take away something from each show! Enjoy!

An Interview with Laura Pomykala

laura

Can you give us a little summary of the show, “For Anne” ?

  • While cleaning out their attic, Anne and Peter accidentally find pieces of their past that they have kept from one another. However, the result of true love causing the secrecy can prove if love can conquer all.

Why did you decide to direct this show?

  • When I read the script, the story resonated with me for the rest of the day. I read other scripts but “For Anne” was the first script I read and the one I was thinking about when reading all of the other scripts. I had to share Anne and Peter’s story and to show that chivalry isn’t really lost. You just have to find the right person who understands and respects you.

Are you a first time director? If so, how was the new experience?

  • I am a first time director and it’s been a blast! Because I’m an actor, I definitely approached directing with a very understanding but precise image of how to act. I wanted to make sure I had genuine emotions coming from my actors so that the audience would feel like they were watching their reality. With this said, I wanted my actors to make their own choices about how they felt when being their character and to make choices for their actions. I simply directed the talent and helped bring it out.

Favorite moment of the show?

  • If I do I’ll spoil the ending, but I’ll give you a hint. It’s all about the poem from 1937.

Favorite moment during rehearsal?

  • Seeing my cast during our last rehearsal before tech week and everyone realizing how much the play has grown.

How has your vision come to life through Cabaret Theatre?

  • Being able to bring a story to life from scratch has been an amazing experience! I would have never directed if it wasn’t for the fact that Cabaret had the Director’s Showcase. Through the love people have for theater at Cabaret, I was able to contribute with my passion and now share this story through my favorite art form.

And lastly, why should we come see your show??

  • Because don’t you want to know what my favorite part of the play is?! Remember “the poem from 1937”!

 

An interview with Hantz Jean-Francois

Favorite picture by far. YES

Favorite picture by far. YES

Can you give us a small summary of “Ties That Bind” ?

  • The play focuses on the Amazing Krispinsky, an escape artist, and his escape from life. By using the metaphor of escaping chains, Coble is able to touch upon both positive and negative facets of life and its many phases we endure.

What made you choose to direct this particular show?

  • I just think being in my twenties and going to college gives way to so many challenges that often come about at this point in life. We, as a people and a generation, are dealing with sadness, depression, and doubt but we also experience joy, rejuvenation, and growth. Once I read the play, I knew that it encompassed all of these aspects in a creative way. The fact that it can relate to the lives of every in attendance, as well as, performing really solidified my choice.

Are you a first time director? If so, how was the new experience?

  • I perform spoken word and make hip hop music but I wanted to further expand my artistic prowess and I knew Cabaret would be a great outlet to do that. Directing has been such an amazing experience allowing me to make the play my own, which is really exciting to me.

Favorite moment of the show?

  • One of my favorite parts of the show is when Steve and Espo (Alex) first come out and start selling their food in a very comical way.

Favorite moment during rehearsal?

  • Definitely being able to see different personalities and levels of experience come together to create something cohesive, funny and meaningful.

How has your vision come to life through Cabaret Theatre?

  • After reading the play, I knew that Coble wanted there to be a hint of comedy but to also bring to light the beautiful struggle that is life. What I needed to understand was how to make the play my own so I wanted to be able to balance both comedy and morals with underlying themes. With amazing actors such as the ones I was blessed to work with, I was able to make that happen.

And lastly, why should we come see your show?

  • You should come see my show because it will relieve some of the stress life brings by bringing you some laughs and enlightenment.

 

You heard ‘em, folks. Directors’ Showcase is going to be fantastic, and you should come! I’ll be at the Sunday show if you want to print out a version of my blog…maybe I’ll sign it or something…if I’m in a good mood.

Before I sign-off for the day, I would like to give a shout-out to my number one fan, Kate Thomas! I promised her a place of special honor in my next blog, and this is it. We miss you Kate. Come back. Let’s battle demons in supermarkets again.

One of the most disturbing moments of our young lives. Thanks Dan Conroy.

One of the most disturbing moments of our young lives. Thanks Dan Conroy.

 

N-Shady, out.

 

ALSO Murder Ballad is NEXT WEEK. Expect another blog post soon. Very soon. Super soon. I have to start writing it now.

Spring Awakening – An Interview with the Director

Finally! Inside Cabaret does something that it promised it was going to do! We’ve done it! We interviewed Cabbie-award winning Farnaz Mansouri about her experience directing Spring Awakening at Cabaret! Like we said we would!

Related: Farnaz has adopted this as her Facebook profile picture.

Somewhere between finishing her senior year at Rutgers and serving as Cabaret Theatre’s Artistic Director and being a bad b**ch, Farnaz “Yeah Daddy” Mansouri found the time to direct a critically-acclaimed-so-far production of Duncan Sheik & Steven Sater’s Tony-Award winning musical. Really: people love it! So reserve your spot on the waiting list for tickets, because all them hotcakes be gone!!!

No more hotcakes for Kitty cats.

So check out the interview below, in which we discuss sad things, fun things, boys, girls, cats, musicals, and puberty! And be sure to check out Spring Awakening at Cabaret Theatre this weekend! Last three (3) performances!

###

Inside Cabaret: What was the best comment an audience member made last weekend?

Farnaz: I was overwhelmed by all the lovely things people said this weekend. [Cabaret Administrative Advisor] Matt Ferguson said some really lovely things about the production, which was amazing to hear.

The most touching comment hands down came from Dave Seamon, who said that watching the show felt like he was “watching a passion project movie”, and further continued saying not only how the show was injected with passion, but how alive each character was on stage. Those who know me know that I’m passionate about everything I do; the fact that this passion was able to resonate on stage, through each character, through the entire production, is something truly magical.

[Editor’s note: Check out Dave’s full review by clicking HERE!]

IC: And your parents? What did they say about the show?

Farnaz: My parents actually both really loved the show. They said they thought it was really beautiful, and my mom had really nice things to say about every person in the cast.

IC: Did she talk to them after the show?

Farnaz: My dad did! My mom is a little shy.

Shy Kitty.

IC: Your last directing position was on Streetcar Named Desire; how has this experience compared?

Farnaz: I went into Streetcar with no experience directing, so it was very much a learning experience for me. This time around, I went straight from being Artistic Director to director; and still, I found that it was just as much of a learning process. I had never worked on a musical before, so it was definitely challenging. In a great way.

IC: Why Spring Awakening? What was the thought process that went into proposing it and developing it?

Farnaz: To be completely honest, I wanted to direct Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at first. There were many reasons I changed my mine.  First off, Cabaret Theatre always ends the year with a big name musical, and I have always been intrigued by musicals. I thought, “why the f**k not?”  Musicals allows for a certain amount of freedom, a boundless amount of creativity, which is liberating yet terrifying at the same time.

Who's Afraid of Virg-- Wait. This s**t is bananas.

I chose Spring Awakening because I thought it would be extremely challenging for two reasons. One, it’s so extremely popular and everyone has a preconceived notion about the show already. I wanted to break this idea of what the show should be.  Second, the transition period from adolescence to adulthood that the characters face is something that we [as college students] are facing as well.

IC: What’s the most important thing you as a director try to focus on when putting together a show?

Farnaz: As a director, I make sure to keep the big picture in mind, while attending to all the small details at the same time. Keeping the end product in mind takes a indescribable amount of clarity and focus, while attention to every single detail takes an indescribable amount of patience, understanding, and willingness to collaborate.  Finding the balance between these two different roles is the primary focus of the director.

IC: How has your vision evolved since first proposing this show? What role does your pro staff and the actors play in that evolution?

Farnaz: Without my staff and actors, my vision would remain just that: a vision. I was really lucky to have the best production staff and cast a director could ask for. Before I met with each member of the production staff, I had a few months to myself to really think through every aspect of the show, to figure out what I wanted from each scene, each character, and ultimately what I wanted from the entire show. I had specific visuals meticulously planned out.

In terms of bringing these visuals, emotions, and this story to life, it was collaboration with my staff that really allowed my vision to evolve into something clear, lifelike, and beautiful. After talking through my vision with each staff member, their input helped bring the show to a new level.  Carl’s musical direction, Sarah’s choreography, John’s lighting, Matt and Francesca’s set design/execution, Abby’s costumes, Allison’s perspectives, and all of Mike Bond’s help truly strengthened and amplified my original vision, and to them I am extremely grateful and appreciative.

Director Farnaz Mansouri & Musical Director Carl Phillips collaborating to paint the stage/each-other's-faces.

And then we added the actors. No matter how many times I direct, actors will ALWAYS surprise me. I was fascinated and inspired by the depths each actor was willing to go with his/her character. They each gave such life to each role; it turned the production into something electrifying.

IC: What was one of those surprising moments?

Farnaz: I mean there are a lot. One is definitely the moment when the actors have epiphanies about their characters and say things that you’ve been waiting to hear since day one. That’s pretty awesome. Another would be that rehearsal when everything unexpectedly falls into place and out of nowhere you have an amazing show 1.5 weeks before opening night. Is that too specific?

[Editor’s note: No.]

IC: Why should college audiences come see this show?

Farnaz: For the same reason they tune into their favorite show every week, or go see a movie; it’s the escape into another world, where our minds easily follow another story line focused around others. Our bodies are at rest, while our minds are entertained. Theatre happens to be all the more electrifying, because it’s live. And this show is just f**king amazing, lets be real.

###

So there it is. An interview with the legendary Farnaz Mansouri. Check back in tomorrow for an interview with members of the cast!!!

Also, here’s a gem of a picture of young Farnaz from her Cabbie-award winning performance as Mimi Schwinn in A New Brain:

You're Welcome. (Courtesy Rich Kowalski)

Get to Cabaret! See Spring Awakening! Do it! WOOOOO!