Audition for an Amazing Production!!!

Hey hey there!

 

Want a great theatrical experience that won’t take up an enormous amount of your time??

Then audition for the 6th Annual Original Play Festival!!!

Rehearsal schedules will fit around YOUR schedule, so DO IT UP!!!

 

Here is the audition information pulled from the Facebook event:

“The Sixth Annual Original Play Festival Auditions:
Monday, March 10th – 9:00pm-12am
Tuesday, March 11th – 8pm-12am
Callbacks: Wednesday, March 12th – TBD

Sides will be provided.

Show Dates:
Friday, April 25th at 8 pm
Saturday, April 26th at 8 pm
Sunday, April 27th at 7 pm

The plays selected for the 6th Annual OPF are as follows:

Snow
Written By Johnny Dellaluna
Directed by Courtney King

Peter
Written By Courtney King
Directed by Kate Thomas

Coffee Cups
Written By Megan Cherry
Directed by Thalia Peck

The Cosmo Diner
Written By Justice Hehir
Directed by Johnny Dellaluna

Ugly
Written By Constantina Scoullis
Directed by Kayla Votepek

You’re Mistaken, Love
Written By Allie Kroeper
Directed by Christen Demnitz

When attending auditions, please remember to bring your RUID# and a schedule of conflicts, including class, work, and miscellaneous commitments.

You must be a full-time undergraduate student at Rutgers University to audition for this production.

If you have any questions, contact OPF Coordinator Justice Hehir at justicehehir@gmail.com or Producer Meg King at producer.cabarettheatre@gmail.com.

RUSA Allocations, Paid for by student fees.

Cabaret Theatre is located at 7 Suydam St. on Douglass Campus”

 

Well, there ya have it!! You must, must, MUST audition for this lovely Cabaret Theatre tradition!!

And, just in case you didn’t notice…I’m one of the playwrights…so…yeah.

No.

I don’t sign autographs.

But like. I might.

If you ask.

nic-cage

 

…So!

In other news, our second main stage of the semester (and final main stage of the season) is Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson!!!

The cast list for this hilarious show is as follows:

Eddie Norgard –John Quincy Adams and other parts
Ryan Gentek –Andrew Jackson
Michael Maxham — Martin Van Buren and other parts
Patrick Wu — Chief Black Fox and other parts
Gabe Marquez — John Calhoun and other parts
Dan English — Henry Clay and other parts
Jake McDonnell — James Monroe and other parts
Emily Johnson — Storyteller and other parts
Sam Vargas –Lyncoya and other parts
Shachar May –Rachel Jackson
Jillian Hanna — Various parts
Alyssa Krompier –Various parts
Na-Lee Ha — Various parts
Kristen Ferris –Various parts

Congratulations to this wonderful cast and to the wonderful Leah Christians, the show’s director!!!

Come see the show on April 4th-6th and/or April 11th-13th!!!

You don’t want to miss it!!

215px-Bloodybloody

 

 

A-Kroeps out!!

 

Original Play Festival and Original Pointers!

Hello hello hello all!

I am here to remind you of important updates for the Original Play Festival (OPF)!!

 

Now let’s get right down to it:

Play submissions are due at 11:59pm on Monday, February 17th. They should be emailed to the fest’s coordinator, Justice Hehir, at  justicehehir@gmail.com and cc’d to producer.cabarettheatre@gmail.com and artistic.cabarettheatre@gmail.com. Please keep your submissions at around 10 minutes (about ten pages), but it’s all right if you go over that a bit.

 

Interested in directing a piece? The director applications are due on the 24th, and are available on the Cabaret Theatre Sakai site.

I directed an original play in last year’s festival. It’s called The Loser and it was written by JJ Focarracio.

Here’s a picture of me and the cast.

The Loser Cast (and Me)

(Minus Leah Christians. Where were you, Leah Christians?!)

 

Directing was a TON of fun!! And it is a lot of hard work, mind you. Directing is more than just telling people what to do when. You gotta read the play over and over until you know it better than your own face.

And when you can’t recognize yourself in the mirror anymore, that’s when you know that you’ve truly made it as a director.

 

Auditions for this kick-patootey production (OPF) will be on March 10th and 11th, times to be announced. Callbacks will be March 12th, times to be announced.

 

Nervous about writing and submitting a play?

No need to worry, because the Playwrights Collective is here!!

The Cabaret Theatre Playwrights Collective meets every Sunday at noon on the second floor of the DCC. We read an article about the current theatrical climate, watch videos about/by current playwrights, and do some writing of our own! (We even have tea.) It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time meeting-attender, or a fifty-fifth time meeting-attender; you are certainly welcome to come on over and write with us!!!

 

One of the coolest parts about the Collective is that Justice Hehir, the OPF Coordinator and Collective Founder, comes up with really cool prompts to get people’s brain-juices flowing, and she puts them on Facebook.

Some said prompts are:

“OPF Countdown Prompt #3:
Write a play that is made up entirely of questions.
Have fun!”

Having fun — always important to do.

“OPF Countdown Prompt #9:
Write a play with no words. Just movement and sound.”

I call this prompt the “Nic Cage Prompt.” I call it that because that’s the only way I’d tolerate Nicolas Cage in a play — not speaking at all.

Nic Cage Eyes

He is always watching you with his many eyes and angry expressions.

 

“OPF Countdown Prompt #11:
Write a play with no assumptions.”

Because you know what happens when you assume…?…(nudge, nudge)

“OPF Countdown Prompt #12:
Write a play that’s all poetry–lyric at its core, strong where it counts.”

Such good writing advice, yah?

Yah!

Here’s a picture of me and Kate Thomas thinking deep thoughts during a meeting:

Von Thun's FarmCTPC Meeting 023

Look at that paper!

And here’s some advice from Justice Hehir herself:

“The Cabaret Theatre Playwrights Collective is helpful and makes OPF seem less scary because then you’ll be getting feedback and help throughout the writing process. It helps us to be more creative thinkers by coming together and working in the same space. We all have our own visions and stories to tell.”

She also gave me really beautiful and brilliant advice when I was unsure of what to write. She said, “Write what only you can write. What story can you tell that no one else can? Write that.”

If you would like some more updates and lovely writing prompts, then add CabaretTheatre PlaywrightsCollective as a friend on Facebook.

CabaretTheatre PlaywrightsCollective

“He’s” a really schnazzy “guy”! And a writing wizard, I might add.

Which I did.

 

Anywho!

I wrote a play once in my day. It is called, The Cookie-Crumb-Complex and it starred so many talented people it was hard to keep track of how many there were.

Cookie-Crumb Cast

Editor’s Note: There were seven. There were seven of them.

This experience was one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of my life. I learned which dialogue worked and which didn’t work. I also learned how to clear up plot points.

And, most importantly, I learned that something only I could write had touched a lot of people.

I cannot recommend it enough to at least try to have your work produced at Cabaret.

Seriously, though. Do yourself a favor and submit to this play festival!!

When you do, I’m sure you’ll feel like this.

 

A-Kroeps out!!

Senior Interviews: Deep Thoughts Edition!

Today’s the day. University Commencement commences, as does “real” life for the Class of 2012! We’ve spent the last few posts profiling a few of the graduating Cabbies, particularly those that took the time to fill out our patented Cabaret Cuestionnaire! Are there more seniors than are profiled here? Of course, but interviews take time, and time is precious, particularly the time of those Cabbies that are busy being awesome, as all Cabbies are all the time.

So here it is! The final post of Cabbie Cuestionnaires! This one is entitled the “Deep Thoughts Edition,” and you’ll soon see why!

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Sabrina Blackburn is one cool cat. She dazzled audiences last season as a small boy in the Cabbie Award Winning Cloud 9 and as a small girl in the also-Cabbie Award Winning Eleemosynary. Apparently, Sabrina brings the gold with her everywhere she goes. Of course, we don’t actually give away gold statuettes or plaques, but the metaphor still stands.

Also, adorbs. Bringing back backpacks.

– Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions

Edward/Lin in Cloud 9, Juror 12 in 12 Angry Men, Echo in Eleemosynary

– Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

 I am from Manalapan, New Jersey, and though I am a Jersey girl, I love a change. I would love to move Rockaway Beach, Queens, or Manhattan, or Paris (Why not? Dream big!).

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

I got to say Chipotle. I literally crave a burrito bowl every day of my life. I have a problem.

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

My little nugget toes prefer not to be confined by socks but neon pink fuzzy socks are truly very comfortable.

– On what TV show would you like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

The Real Housewives of New Jersey! I can flip tables! I can get in someone’s face calling them a prostitution whore! It would be the highlight of my acting career, and quite a stretch.

Here, we see Sabrina playing a hyper-intellectual chimpanzee (is there any other kind!?) alongside fellow Cabbies Marc and Amanda during the recent Senior Showcase.

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

I don’t know if I could ever punch someone, but I would give Adam Sandler, Nicolas Cage, and Ben Stiller the dreaded stink eye if they ever passed me on the street.

– What’s your degree supposed to be in?

Double major in Theater and History

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Theater Practice: I planted potatoes on the Mason Gross stage. I received 2 credits. YAY!

– What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I always wanted to be an actress, but was too shy ever to express that want.

– What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

I still have the confidence to say that I will be a working actress.

– What would you like to be when you grow up?

I want to be a person who is 100% content with their life; someone who follows their passion and dreams. I want to inspire people through theater. I want to affect people and have them learn via the vehicle of the arts.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?

My favorite Cabaret experience was performing in the final show of Eleemosynary. It was electrifying on stage. I am my own harshest critic, but there was nothing I wanted to change about the performance after my final bow. To see my family and friends utterly moved by the show, put me in this odd state of contentful shellshock.

Sabrina “acting” alongside Jasia during Eleemosynary.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?

Every time I see a Cabaret show, I am blown away by the prestige and caliber of these student run productions. Watching Elegies was one of the best theater experiences I have ever had. I was so moved by the beautiful simplicity of the show. The actors (who were brilliantly casted) never had to push their emotions, it was just there in that moment. Elegies + Sabrina= ugly crying

– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

Of course it would be having more of a budget, but I wish we could bring more college students who don’t normally see theater.

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

I have been at Rutgers for two years, so therefore have only seen two seasons worth of Cabaret shows. But what a two seasons they were! From Streetcar to Cloud 9, all of Cabaret shows have challenged the actors and production staff. They challenge the boundaries of Cabaret Theater and prove that there are no constraints to college theater.

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

August: Osage County! Who cares about having a 3 story house. Cabaret could totally kick butt doing that show.

– What makes Cabaret special?

The fact that we are a completely student run organization boggles my mind. Cabaret constantly challenges us, and we challenge the theater to push its vision even further. It is a safe environment to challenge yourself artistically. When I was in high school, I never thought I could even attempt to play an 8 year boy and a lesbian in the same show. Yet, Cabaret gave me a gift to explore a new plethora of characters that I never thought were possible to play. The most special thing about Cabaret is the people. The people of Cabaret became some of my closest friends. Every member of Cabaret has impacted my life and made my college experience special.

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

College theater became my college experience. When I look back to my college years, I will automatically revert to Cabaret and the fun times we have all experienced in that black box. The college theater experience has made me a more confident person. By exploring new characters in every play, I have discovered something new about my own self. Cabaret Theater has made me even more passionate for my love of theater. I am so proud of the amount of work we put into this theater.

As Edward in Cloud 9, which was directed by…

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Danny. Period. The man with the plan, Danny served as Artistic Director for Cabaret between 2009 and 2011. He ran directing workshops, he wrote plays, he co-directed productions of The Goat; Or, Who is Sylvia? and Streamers and Cloud 9 and Elegies, he acted in Lieutenant of Inishmore one time, where he had (stage) blood explode out of his eyeballs (Editor’s note: may be an exaggeration). Ask any director or actor or writer or janitor at Cabaret who they turn to for creative advice and input, and they’ll say Danny. The man is that damn good.

And his hair is absurd 85% of the time.

Danny and the cast of Cloud 9. He’s the one in the middle with the AFRO. Yeah, the one like Justin Guarini.

Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions

Webmaster, Directors’ Scenes Coordinator, Artistic Director, General Board Representative, Actor, Director, Playwright.

– Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

I am from an average suburban town in NJ. I would like to go some place beyond the northeast of the US, but I feel like I will be around here for a while.

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

Houlihan’s.

[Editor’s Note: F**K HOULIHAN’S]

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

Same color.

– On what TV show would you like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

Law and Order: SVU.

Danny with Co-Director and fellow Cabbie Spencer, looking cool on the Streamers set.

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

I’ve actually never had the urge to punch someone in the eye. I can sure think of a few people who are in need of a metaphorical punch in the eye, and it’s awesome when theatre does that!

– What’s your degree supposed to be in?

It’s supposed to be in Computer Science or Engineering but that didn’t work out too well. Now, it’s in something called “Humanities”? But seriously, I’m getting a degree in Information Technology and English, with a specialization in Creative Writing.

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Management of Technical Organizations. Eugh.

– What did you want to be when you were growing up?

When I was growing up I wanted to be a lawyer. These questions are making me realize how much of a cliché I am. Oh, there was a brief time in my life when I wanted to be a virologist. (This was after reading a series of mass-market fiction by Richard Preston on various horrifying infectious outbreaks.)

– What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

I will most likely get a job in the IT industry. I am hoping I can find a career that combines both my passion for technology and the arts.

– What would you like to be when you grow up?

I would like to be happy, financially comfortable! , and involved with some sort of creative field.

Despite not performing in the Senior Showcase, Danny managed to steal all the attention away anyway… @$$****.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?

Making friends! As much as I value the actual productions we create, I think what really matters are the friendships that are created and incubated through the production.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?

It’s impossible to pick one! I have sat through many shows at Cabaret and there have been many times when a particular moment in a production literally sends shivers down my spine. When the body reacts so viscerally, you know the production has reached something, I don’t know, sacred? It becomes something much more than college theatre.

– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

Please, please, air conditioning.

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

Cabaret has made enormous improvements in so many different areas during my time at the theatre. It is really amazing! I also believe the theatre will definitely continue to break its own boundaries in terms of what it can achieve, both in its artistic and community endeavors.

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

Anything by Brecht, Beckett, Pinter, Albee, Churchill, Kushner… I would also like to see more contemporary things go up, like from the past decade at least.

– What makes Cabaret special?

I think the space is very much a large part of what makes Cabaret such an amazing environment because the people who are drawn to the space, who help transform the black box into the unique world of every production, are very talented and passionate.

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

So much! But most importantly, probably, is that I need a public and collaborative space where I don’t feel vulnerable for my ideas or looming questions. Cabaret not only offered me this but also showed me that the desire for such an environment is not a personal need, it’s a human one.

Here, we see Danny in his natural habitat, “directing.”

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Marc is one wild and crazy guy. This season, Marc performed in 3 out of the 5 mainstage productions, the R3Vu3, and the Senior Showcase. In other words, Cabaret 2011-2012 was Marc; Marc was Cabaret. As a handsome gentleman with genuine vocal and acting chops, Marc became a pivotal player at Cabaret starting with his performance as Jesus (?) in a re-imagined production of Godspell in the Spring of 2010. Marc’s passion for student-theatre, however, is not restricted to his on-stage prowess; Marc could often be found helping out with builds and clean-ups and pretty much in any way possible, partly because he wants the shows to be damn impressive, and partly because he’s just damn impressive as a person.

Also, he is built like Captain America.

ABS! AND ANGST! Student-theatre at it’s best.

– Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions

Spring Awakening, How I Learned to Drive, Elegies, The R3vu3, Cloud Nine, I Love You Because, Godspell.

– Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

I’m from freehold, and would like to live in New York City in the near future.

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

Definitely Tumulty’s. Before and after turning 21.

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

I usually do the same color but always mix-match socks within that color.

Here’s Marc “acting” REAL HARD in Spring Awakening.

On what TV show would like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

Malcolm in the Middle.

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

Genghis Khan.

– What’s your degree supposed to be in?

Supposedly Psychology, Theater minor.

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Least favorite class was Elements of Electrical Engineering (which is especially ridiculous seeing that I’m no longer and Engineering major – thanks theater). Almost vomited during the final.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

An Animorph!

What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

A therapist (who helps other animorphs integrate themselves into society)

What would you like to be when you grow up?

An actor in a marvel comic superhero movie.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?

When I cut off Edward’s doll Vicky’s head with a butter knife like a bad@$$ African man (mostly because I am none of those things….except a man. I’m a man.)

Here, Marc cuts the head off of Sabrina’s doll during Cloud 9.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?

When Joel Chokkattu pulled out a gun at the end of Suburbia. FTW

– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

The ticketing system.

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

Well, it runs very differently each year but the important things are always the same, like is the sense of community for everyone who works there.

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

Comedic plays have been too few and far between recently, so I’d like to see more comedies at Cabaret in the future.

– What makes Cabaret special?

It has what I think a lot of professional theaters work very hard to replicate: a genuine interest in collaboration, creativity, and natural connectivity between the actors in each cast. People who work in Cabaret take their work seriously while enjoying the fact that they are creating something beautiful together and they have fun getting deeper into knowing those they work with.

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

It has taught me everything I know about performing. On cabaret’s stage I learned how to constantly push the envelope with what my voice, my body, and my mind can do as an actor in both straight plays and musical theater and there have been people to help me actualize that goal every step of the way. Cabaret has been a home to me, I will miss it dearly, and I know performing elsewhere will never be quite the same.

It also taught him how to SPOIL WONDERFUL GROUP PICTURES!!! WTF MARC!!!

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Boris Van Der Ree. We’d write a witty introduction for him, but we wouldn’t be able to match the histrionic profundity that he himself produces every time he speaks or writes or is present. We’ll let him do the talking in his introduction below. We will say that his mainstage directorial debut on Twelve Angry Men revolutionized the use of the Cabaret space, and he constantly schools his fellow actors everytime he graces the stage.

Look at that eyebrow. That’s some method s**t right there.

–  Past Cabaret Credits/Roles/Jobs/Positions

  • Spring 2009: Bradley – The Cocktail Hour
  • Fall 2009: Assistant Director – Shakespeare in Hollywood
  • Spring 2010: Scott – “Welcome to Caffeine World”/2nd Annual Original Play Festival
  • Fall 2010: Doctor – A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Fall 2010: Director – “The Sh!t Play”/3rd Annual Original Play Festival
  • Fall 2010: Host – Rutgers Night Live
  • Spring 2011: Harry/Martin – Cloud 9
  • Fall 2011: Director – Twelve Angry Men
  • Spring 2012: Male Greek Chorus – How I learned to Drive
  • Spring 2012: Adult Male – Spring Awakening

 – Where are you from? Where would you like to live in the future?

I was born in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England. At the age of five our family moved to Chester Springs Pennsylvania. And the year before my senior year of high school we moved again to Pennington New Jersey, where my family still lives today. By the end of this summer I plan to return to England, hopefully London, to try living there for a while and see how involved I can become in the theater culture there.

– Favorite Culinary Establishment in the New Brunswick Area?

Nothing beats MyWay on George Street. Cheap, delicious, abundant food, hilarious wait staff, and the most linguistically confusing menu in New Jersey.

– Same-color or Mix-match socks?

Same Color

Boris “acting” with Amanda and a cookie during How I Learned to Drive.

– On what TV show would you like to guest star in a 3-episode mini-arc?

Easy, HBO’s Game of Thrones. Been a fan of the book series since I was sixteen.

– Who do you most want to punch in the eye?

No one specifically, but anyone who acts pridefully and out of self-interest

 – What’s your degree supposed to be in?

My diploma will say “Graduated with Bachelors of Arts in Communication and Theater Arts”

– What was your least favorite class at Rutgers?

Introduction to Principles of Public Relations. Not that it was a boring topic, or that it was really difficult, it was actually pretty interesting and easy. But our professor never really had a coherent syllabus in mind and the class slowly collapsed into chaos by the end of the semester. She once stopped in the middle of a lecture and said “why are you taking notes? There aren’t any more exams.”

Boris “acting” with fellow graduating cabbies Joey and Nick during Spring Awakening.

– What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I went through many phases. Lawyer, garbage man, aerospace engineer, hotel manager, but ultimately I realized that I needed to be in theatre.

– What are you probably going to be when you grow up?

Homeless, and I’m totally fine with that.

– What would you like to be when you grow up?

I would love to be a grandfather one day. It would also be nice if I had a small cafe on a quiet street in rural france.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as a performer/prostaffer?

When I directed Twelve Angry Men. I truly felt, for the first time, that I was utilizing my whole creative energy and focusing it on one piece. Few things are more gratifying.

Boris with HIS cast of 12 Angry Men.

– Favorite Cabaret experience as an audience member?

Anytime I’ve gone to Rutgers Night Live. If you’ve never gone, you’ve missed out.

– If you could change one thing about Cabaret, what would it be?

The abandoned pool in the basement would be turned into a second performance space. It would be perfect.

– How has Cabaret changed in your time there?

Policies have changed, people have changed, the lobby has been renovated, the floors redone. I’ve seen it all over the past four years. But the spirit has never changed, and that’s why I call it a home.

– Budget & talent pool aside, what show would you most like to see Cabaret do in the future?

Glengarry Glen Ross. I f**king love that s**t.

– What makes Cabaret special?

No one else on earth does exactly what we do. Cabaret has given me and countless others the opportunity to be creatively liberated without the pressures of critics or the professional theatre world. That is enormously valuable. Cabaret is a safe place, and not once have I ever felt alone there, even if I was the only one in the building.

– What has the college (theatre) experience taught you about yourself?

That I both love and hate theatre. Sometimes I would do anything to save the art form and to practice it regularly, but the other half of the time I want nothing more than to see a show close. It is this process of creation and destruction that makes theatre so dynamic and alive, and in turn, makes me feel more alive than anywhere else.

A favorite photo here at Inside Cabaret.

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Check out the other Cabbie Cuestionnaires below!

Three Lovely Ladies

1-4-9

Again!

Backstage Edition

A Letter to the Class of 2012

Otherwise, it’s been a real pleasure working with for you all, true believers. We hope you’ve enjoyed the commentary and interviews and pictures and all the other stuff. We happily bequeath the cabaret blog over to the newly appointed Social Media Director (Abigail!), and… yeah.

So that’s it. Finito. Complete. Done. Adios. Peace out. TTFN. IC OUT DAWG!

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The Ridiculousness of Paula Vogel

A Self Serving Blog Post by an Obsessed Director

Paula & Me

By all accounts, Paula Vogel is an unassuming person. She is a stout woman with short grey hair and glasses. But, behind this relatively plain appearance is a mind that has left a deep and profound influence on American Theater. Her plays serve universal themes while delving into topics that make you slightly (read: extremely) uncomfortable. To read a Paula Vogel play once is to do it a disservice. You probably have to read the piece twice, three times or more. (In the case of How I Learned to Drive, I lost count around August of 2011, by which time I had lived in my room for a period of three weeks, leaving only to use the restroom or microwave a Celeste Pizza for One.) But, on top of just reading her work, there is a lot to appreciate about this woman.

Her plays are fast paced, vivid and exciting.

They are also absolutely insane and follow the dictionary definition of ‘mindf**k.’

I'M COMING FOR YOUR BRAINZZZZ

Picture this: a sweet elementary school teacher acquires a deadly communicable disease and travels, with her brother, to Europe to visit a doctor specializing in the disease. While traipsing through Europe she sleeps with a number of European men, including a fifty year old Dutch man still dressed in children’s lederhosen. When she finally get to the doctor, a senile Belgian man in a fright wig, she finds out that the doctor specializes in “urinalysis” (read: he drinks peoples’ pee and analyzes the taste for medical purposes). After he drinks the pee, he pulls his wig off and screams to the woman that (SPOILER ALERT!) her brother is dead. Suddenly, the scene flashes to a hospital where the teacher is standing with a different doctor, who explains how her brother actually had just died of complications from AIDS. It is then explained that the entire trip to Europe and the rest of the story (which includes  a sub-plot involving smuggling stuffed rabbits across international lines) were just a dream that flashed through her head IN THE TWO SECONDS after she learns of her brother’s death.

Really, though.

That is basically the short version of The Baltimore Waltz, a play she wrote in 1992. Its only eighty minutes long and is played by only three actors. (Fun story: the man who originated the role of the pee drinking doctor was Joe Mantello, the same Joe Mantello who directed Wicked and recently starred in The Normal Heart in its Broadway revival.)

No matter what the topic is, Paula adds a ridiculously weird sense of humor and humanity to all of her work. Here is a short list of some of her other work:

1. The Oldest Profession

Five eighty year old women sit on a park bench and ruminate on their careers and lives.

The Twist: They are all hookers, working a beat together off a park bench in Manhattan. And then, at the end of each scene, there is a blackout and ONE OF THEM DIES! Also, around the sixty minute mark, the play slowly turns into a parable for the pitfalls of Reganomics. This play is widely considered to be Vogel’s most “straightforward” play.

2. The Long Christmas Ride Home

A family of five take a road trip to their Grandparents’ house, while revealing the emotional turmoil that the average family undergoes.

The twist: the three children are played by traditional Japanese puppets.

Non-traditional Japanese Puppets. Query: Will you do the fandango?

3. And Baby Makes Seven

A family prepares for the arrival of their newborn children.

The Twist: The family is a gay man and two lesbians, who already have three children together, all of whom are imaginary.

4. Hot N’ Throbbing

A divorced man returns to his former home, despite a restraining order from his wife, and attempts to make amends.

The twist: The wife is a “feminist porn” writer. When her ex-husband returns to the house, she shoots him in the butt, tends to his wound, and then gets strangled with a belt. All of this is interspersed with voice overs, reading the script of her latest “adult” screenplay, while the descriptions are acted out by her TWO CHILDREN!

Mind you, these plays are not just odd and ridiculous for the sake of being so (Christopher Durang has that market cornered). Every piece that Vogel writes has another element that pulls the plays away from being absolutely f**king bonkers: heart.

Heart. Bonus: Bear.

Her plays, while wild in description, are filled with realistic emotions, clever dialogue and a story that is both universal and unambiguous at the same time. The themes she brings to her work are a testament to what American playwrights look to achieve in their work today.

Actually, its more than a testament. As an educator, Paula has taught such playwrights as Sarah Ruhl, Lynn Nottage, Bridget Carpenter and Adam Bock.

When I selected How I Learned to Drive as the play I wanted to direct, I did not pick it because of its subject matter or its twisted method of storytelling (I’ll spare the details, because if you have read this far without going on Facebook, you are probably (read: definitely) going to see it this weekend and I don’t want to spoil anything), but because the story she told me in that little yellow acting edition script that I bought for seven dollars spoke to me, with its universal themes of maturing, learning and the power of manipulation.

Also, it has boobs.

Boobs.

Paula’s work is amazing and I sincerely hope you grab a copy of one of her plays. I promise you, you will finish reading it, shut the book, grab a drink of water and a snack, and then promptly reopen it and start again from the beginning.

-Jordan Gochman

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See How I Learned To Drive by Paula Vogel this weekend at Cabaret Theatre! Performances on Friday at 8 pm and Saturday at 3 pm & 8 pm! E-mail reservations to cabtheatre@gmail.com!

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