Sunday, November 29, 2009

Making an Icon: Mister K

A month ago I interviewed with Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU) to have Playlab NYC put together a presentation of a show in December. The show, called The Arresting Dilemma of Mr. K, is a musical based on Franz Kafka's The Trial. It was written by John Sparks, former artistic director of the Theatre Building Chicago, and Playlab NYC Lab Assistant, Jon Steinhagen.

Shortly after it was agreed that Playlab NYC would produce the reading with TRU, they asked me to get them a piece of artwork for the show in a week. Of course I ran right to our graphic designer/illustrator Rob Ullman.

I passed along a few images to get the ball rolling and show him what was floating around in my head. What I was thinking of was a silhouette of a man running with a gavel coming down on him. Something that recalled the work of Saul Bass.

High contrast, black and white with maybe one color.

I also passed along to an image from the Orson Welles 1962 adaptation of the same book.

Rob soon came back with a sketch of the guy and gavel in white, against a black background. He suggested that the title would be done in blocky Saul Bass-inspired lettering, in a combo of a second color and white.

I liked where Rob was going with the image. I thought that the gavel needed to be more imposing. I found the piece clip art below that I forwarded to Rob.

Looking at the clip art image I wondered if the Saul Bass letters could be over the handle in the top left at an angle that paralleled the gavel. Then in the area under the gavel where that black curve is could be the man running. Bigger gavel. Smaller man.

Whereas our other show graphics were enclosed in a circle, I liked that this time the image was a rectangle. Because the show was a reading being presented by TRU, the image allowed us to keep with Rob's usual visual style while keeping it separate from our more fully produced shows.

Thankfully this image came together very quickly. Once again Rob stepped up with a great design that we love to splash all over anything we can find, T-shirts, postcards, programs, and the internet.

Thanks again, Rob.

Sunday, October 4, 2009 "In One Take"

At Playlab NYC we like to spend our time surfing the internet like everyone else. Sometimes we stumble across a video that strikes a chord and we just have to share.

There are a few "In One Minute, In One Take" videos out there, Forrest Gump, Kill Bill 1 & 2, and Star Wars.

My Favorite one though is a recreation of Danny Boyle's zombie movie, 28 Days Later.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

In the Works: The Velvet Gentleman

Last Monday, playlab NYC got a group of friends together to have an informal reading of a new play, The Velvet Gentleman: Being the Unusual Life of Erik Satie as performed by what's left of The West Scranton Dada Society by Jon Steinhagen.

Erik Satie was a colorful avant-garde composer and pianist in early twentieth century Paris. In the play, a struggling group of artists from Pennsylvania creates a show that examines Satie's life and work.

Reading for us were: Kate Erin Gibson, the artistic director of The Red Door Theater Company; Katie Kozlowski; Amanita Heird; long time friends John Pieza and Todd Courson, who took part in last year's Loss of Breath workshop; from Playlab NYC's production of The Tempest, Molly Garber and Jonathan Wiener. And finally joining us as Erik Satie was Ted Schneider.

The reading was a productive one and we received great feedback from everyone involved. A couple days ago I passed along the actors' thoughts and comments to the author. Playlab NYC looks forward to continuing to develop this new piece.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Join Captain Santa’s Reindeer Space Patrol!

Playlab NYC is looking for a composer/lyricist or an existing songwriting team to collaborate with Artistic Director, Kevin P. Hale on a nostalgic 1950’s Ed Wood-esque Sci-Fi holiday musical.

Playlab NYC’s intention is to develop a signature Christmas show, that can be mounted annually Off-Off Broadway.

At Playlab NYC, we create, support, and perform absurdly enjoyable amusements that unleash the imaginations of artists and audiences by engaging them in the spirit of play. Our goals are to create spaceships out of cardboard boxes, recruit mops for dance partners, and turn blankets into capes. Our motto is, “Taking fun way too seriously.”

Applicants are asked to provide a recording of two contrasting songs; please include a short introductory set-up for each song.

Include a resume and a brief statement why you would like to collaborate on the project.

Leading contenders will be asked to write a sample song based on a scene from an existing rough draft of the script.

Email applications to:

Or send hard copies to:

Playlab NYC

P.O. Box 5838

Astoria, NY 11105

No Pay.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Theatrical Piracy: With Mat Lageman

NOTE: This was originally published on Harshman’s Adaptive Theatricality Blog on January 31, 2009.

For me the spring day in 1993 when Mat Lageman presented his Star Wars infused scene from Hamlet is a day that lives in infamy. Without the aid of action figures, Mat became an unknown forbearer of both Twisted Toyfare Theater and Robot Chicken.

Twisted Toyfare Theatre is a comic strip that began appearing in 1997 in the pages of Toyfare Magazine. The magazine’s staff creates each month’s strip by photographing action figures on sets that they have built themselves. The comic is known amongst comic and toy collectors for its bizarre humor and pop-culture references. An early strip (seen below) included Spiderman giving readers lessons on the Macarena.

The Emmy award winning animated series, Robot Chicken has its roots in Twisted Toyfare Theatre, as more than one Twisted Toyfare Theatre writer has joined the staff of Robot Chicken. The Adult Swim series, which also features animated action figures, first aired on Cartoon Network in 2005.

The jokes on the stop motion animated series tend to fall into two categories. Placing fantasy figures into situations that are meant to shock the viewer into laughter, because the sketch is at odds with their established personas. These sketches usually have violent or scatological results. One episode revealed that Roger Rabbit was responsible for the murder of O. J. Simpson’s wife. The second involves pop-culture characters being placed in realistic situations. One sketch for example revolved around a group of super-villains who are stuck in traffic while carpooling to work.

Mat Lageman’s scene for Bob Hetherinton’s directing class similarly placed pop-culture characters into incongruous situations, this time classic literature.
In darkness, the ghost of Ben Kenobi speaks to Luke Skywalker, to rouse Luke to revenge. Appalled at the revelation that his father has been murdered, Skywalker cries out, “O my prophetic soul!” As the ghost disappears into the dawn, Ben says Shakespeare’s immortal line, “May the Force be with you.” Intensely moved, Luke swears to remember and obey the ghost.
Inspired by recent viewing of Robot Chicken’s second Star Wars episode, I contacted Mat last month to see what he remembered of that day.

HG: Where did the original idea for your Star Wars Hamlet come from?

M@: The idea came from of all things...THE LION KING. Watching that movie, I saw the Hamlet parallels and wondered: "What other Hamlet themes are out there that I missed?" The idea came like a thief in the night.... who.... brought a dime bag of pot with him.

HG: Which scene was it? I seem to think it was Hamlet's first meeting with the Ghost)

M@: Yep. First meeting with the Ghost. This is painful.

HG: Who were your partners in crime? Who was in your cast?

M@: Ray Nardelli played Hamlet/Luke Skywalker and Tim Shinner was Ghost/Ben Kenobi.

HG: How long did you rehearse it?

M@: We had 2 rehearsals. The only thing I wanted was Tim not to laugh on the line I added at the end: “May the force be with you.” The rehearsals were short and I wanted it to be serious...sadly they were more funny the more serious I had them be.

HG: Were Tim and Ray able to get through the scene with straight faces?

M@: Yes, but Tim smirked after the "may the force be with you" delivery.

HG: Was it in costume?

M@: Yes it WAS in costume. Tim was in a large brown robe with a collapsible lance, which was the “light saber”, and Ray wore a long white shirt with the robe's sash around it and a gun holster.... I cannot remember if he had the gun or not. I can't believe I remember as much as I do now...

HG: Maybe this was covered in the class critique, but I need to know: What were you thinking?

M@: This is exactly what I was thinking: a.) Can I Pull It Off? b.) Can I Get Away With It? c.) How Far Is Too Far?

HG: What was the class’ response to the scene?

M@: There was a resounding laughter when Tim said: “May the Force be with you.” There was a cackle of Charlie Clark. Ray Nardelli looked ashamed at what he did. Brian Fagan couldn't believe I messed with Shakespeare’s writing. What I walked away with feedback wise from that day was kudos for the attempt but “no, No, NO!” The overall response was: "Too Much!"

HG: Were you surprised by the laugher in the class?

M@: No. Not at all. It was a gamble and I thought it would come but I HAD to see if I could pull it off. There are times where no matter how many people will tell you the oven is hot that I still find myself waltzing towards the burner just in case they're wrong.

HG: And Bob Hetherington’s response?

M@: Bob Hetherington in his Bill Cosby sweater just shook his head and said: “There are levels in hell for directors like you."

HG: Earlier you said, "Sadly they [Ray and Tim] were more funny the more serious I had them be." Do you mean the more straight they played the scene the funnier the scene became?

M@: Yes. The more they played it straight the more funny it was. Some of the most hysterical scenes ever performed were done with absolute seriousness. Monty Python is a perfect example. The material is preposterous and silly but the delivery is committed and serious. Star Wars Hamlet or as I like to call it: The Denmark Strikes Back is silly...the idea is silly...the whole concept is absurd and obviously silly....BUT...I still touch the burner...

...just in case they're wrong.

HG: What grade did you get?

M@: D+ & the phrase: "This was an exercise in insanity & futility!" I was proud. It doesn't work and that should have been apparent from the start. It was a class. I fell so I could learn to fly. I abandoned the project but I had a whole cast list and everything. I will STILL do it one day as a joke and do a series called: 'Forbidden Shakespeare'

In the age of Twisted Toyfare Theatre and Robot Chicken and You Tube mash-ups what Mat’s Star Wars infused scene work from Hamlet is old hat. But for a select few (meaning me) what Mat had done back in 1993 was a revelation. That day inspired some of my own short plays, including “Master-Smurf Theatre,” and “Scooby Doo and the Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

I can’t help but wonder if Mat would get a better grade now that American culture has caught up to his way of seeing the world. It is with that mindset that I have recruited Robot Chicken in an effort to give you just a taste of Mat Lageman’s Hamlet!

"Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing/To what I shall unfold."

ABOUT M@: Mat Lageman is originally from Columbus, Ohio and he studied acting at Wright State University. After school he moved to Chicago to study Improv at Second City. While in there he performed in Flanagan's Wake (a Irish variation on Tony and Tina’s Wedding), and he was also a founding member of the Baum House Theater Company. Right around the time I made my own way to the City of Big Shoulders, Mat relocated to LA where he is currently an Ensemble Member of Improv Olympic's Mainstage Sketch Cast. His one big dream is to bring the soothing music of Motorhead to those who are lost and alone.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Astoria Artists are Awesome

We’re working on the name...

Last Sunday I went to an artist meeting in Astoria. I was invited by Esther Palmer. She is the Artistic Director of Seen Performance. Esther has a great love of Astoria and this is where she wants to perform and create her art.

But let’s back up a day...

I was at the post office with Kevin and our son Edison. There was a couple behind us and they were there for the same reason we were. We were all turning in our fringe applications. Kevin noticed on one of the packages was labeled with it’s category ‘clown/masque’. Well there they were, and there we were. I wanted to wish them luck but somehow the New Yorker in me kept my eyes on my own paper and we went our separate ways that morning.

Anyway, I went to the AAaA meeting. This month’s location was at Waltz, Astoria. Wouldn’t you know it, the guy that was standing behind me the day before at the post office was there. His name is Jarred. He did actually send in a clown piece and a children’s piece. Within a minute of talking I find out he’s a puppeteer too. It was like Karma was giving me a second chance. We exchanged information and I do hope that we can collaborate on a project.

After Jarred and I networked, most of the conversation involved on how to find free space. I asked what’s the point of business giving up space out of their own generosity if you don’t have an audience. So it was agreed that this is a challenge... perhaps a festival or happening would be helpful. A way to show the area of Astoria that there are artists out here just bursting to be heard. This will not only invigorate businesses, it will help draw up an audience we can pool from for future performances.

We also discussed that Astoria Artists are Awesome needs another name. Is it the word awesome? Yeah, a little. We couldn’t decide really what to change it to. It was suggested by Jarred that Astoria Artists Society might be good because then it includes enthusiasts too.

I’m not sure if AAaA knows what kind of group they want to be, either a service group or a support group. Since it seems to be a gathering of all artists that a support group would be the right way to go. People are working on their projects but they want or need other people and here’s this group that encourages each other and points people in the right direction as needed. I think that’s what I got out of the meeting; I mean how random is it that I meet a puppeteer that I should have said ‘hi’ to the day before! That’s what I’m looking for. I hope this group the best and I hope it figures out what it wants to be. I look forward to the next meeting.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Leap Before We Look: The 39 Steps

At Playlab NYC we recognize like-minded artists when we see them. In that spirit we present Leap Before We Look. Wherein we blindly endorse a theatrical event right up our alley without seeing it first.


The 39 Steps is a farce based on Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film adaptation of John Buchan's 1915 spy novel. Using minimal resources for maximum theatrical impact, the cast of four plays 150 different characters, and simple trunks and chairs are pressed into service for getaway cars and train chases.

Adapted for the stage by Patrick Barlow, the play is based on the original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon from a two-actor version of the play. Barlow is the creator and leading actor of the National Theater of Brent, a comedy double act that creates theatrical epics like Wagner's Ring Cycle with only two actors.

The first version of the play, with a cast of four actors, premiered in 2005 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Originally titled John Buchan's The 39 Steps, the show was revised again and opened at London's Tricycle Theatre before transferring to the West End. While playing at the Criterion Theatre it won the 2007 Olivier Award for Best Comedy.

The show opened January 15, 2008 on Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre's American Airlines Theatre, Ben Brantley in his New York Times review called the show a "frothy exercise in legerdemain is throwaway theater at its finest." Since then The 39 Steps has transferred twice: to the Cort Theatre on April 29, 2008, and on January 21, 2009 to the Helen Hayes Theatre. This production won two Tony Awards, and a Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.

Update: Since the original post the show moved again this time to Off-Broadway at New World Stages, opening on March 25, 2010.

It is because of the imaginative approach to storytelling and the playful nature of the show that we recommend Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What We Eat: Theatre on a Tabletop

Welcome to What We Eat where we take a look at the books, movies, and plays that have influenced the direction of Playlab NYC.

Theatre on a Tabletop: Puppetry for Small Spaces
by Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin

“We do small shows because it gives us the chance to pursue our wildest ideas free from the costs and constraints of big-scale, big-budget theatre production without the burden of having to coordinate dozens of production, crew, and cast people. Using tabletop theatre techniques professionally give us the means to administer, produce, create, and perform a show within our own small organization”

The above excerpt from Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin’s book Theatre on a Tabletop serves a permission slip for Playlab NYC to explore big ideas within our own small company. It is a needed spark of inspiration to carry us forward into our second year.

Using the term “Tabletop Theater” allows the authors to explore three different types of puppetry: toy theatre (a popular Victorian era children’s entertainment), found object theatre, and overhead projection theatre (a type of shadow puppetry). For each of the three forms, they provide a brief history, offer directions and diagrams for building puppets and theaters. Finally each section includes an excerpt of a script the authors have produced.

Theatre on a Tabletop: Puppetry for Small Spaces contains not only inspiration, but practical lessons informed by years of tabletop puppetry work by Fong and Kapin. There are diagrams, photographs, supply lists, eight “Basic Laws of Puppetry,” and a useful bibliography.

With a constant eye toward the classroom, the final third of the book shows what a powerful teaching tool tabletop puppetry can be. It includes outlines for workshops of varying length from two hours to two weeks, offering advice for each step of the development of a workshop production including: story boarding, design, rehearsals and presentations. There is also a short coda for puppeteers interested in creating professional tabletop productions.

It is safe to say that Playlab NYC will be taking some time to apply the lessons that Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin provide. More importantly it is their inspiration that we will take to heart.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Getting Aboard the Bandwagon: Blogs

Playlab NYC friend Harshman Grevelis announced a couple weeks ago at the Playground that he had created a blog called ADAPTIVE THEATRICALITY. I can’t help but notice that everyone has a blog these days. Not to be out done by Harshman, I have started two!

The first one I call TREMENDOUS TRIFLES.

It was created as a platform for me to explore and indulge my interest in tabletop theater. If you visit you will find photos of my collection of toy theaters. I also plan to use the blog as an excuse to create some "original" theaters. Eventually I think a clear connection will emerge between Tremendous Trifles and the work of Playlab NYC.

The second blog that I set up currently has the unimaginative name of THEATER MISSION STATEMENTS. As the generic name suggests, I'm not sure yet what kind of shape this second blog is supposed to take.

I've always been interested in Mission Statements, those short statements of purpose used by companies and individuals to not only let the outside world know who they are, but as a tool to check in with themselves, to make sure that they are on track with their goals.

My hypothesis is that the most successful theater companies are the ones that are very clear in letting audiences, funders, board members, and staff know what makes the company unique.

My goal is to create a dialogue that will allow me to discover what makes a successful mission statement for a theater company.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Leap before We Look: Kaiju Big Battel

At Playlab NYC we recognize like-minded artists when we see them. In that spirit we present Leap Before We Look. Wherein we blindly endorse a theatrical event right up our alley without seeing it first.

Kaiju Big Battel

Created by Studio Kaiju in 1996, Kaiju Big Battel (the misspelling is intentional) is part Japanese style men-in-rubber-monster-suits and part Mexican wrestling. Masterminded by Rand Borden and David Borden, former students of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Big Battel is a multimedia extravaganza that encompasses comics, DVDs, toys, and full-scale wrestling matches.

For a taste of the Kaiju Big Battel take a look at this contest between
Robox and Kung Fu Chicken Noodle on You Tube, or one of their most popular villains Dr. Cube.

Check ‘em out when they come to your town.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What We Eat: Tiny Ninja Theatre

Welcome to What We Eat where we take a look at the books, movies, and plays that have influenced the direction of Playlab NYC.

Tiny Ninja Theatre Presents:
Romeo and Juliet

Chris Head and Melanie Hipchikz as Romeo & Juliet (promotional poster)

You are moving into a land of between classic drama and found object puppetry. You've just crossed over into...Tiny Ninja Theatre.

Armed with the company’s motto of “There are no small parts only small actors” founder and puppeteer Dov Weinstein uses miniature plastic toys to present forty-five minute versions of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

Founded in 1999 Tiny Ninja Theatre made its debut with Macbeth at the 2000 NYC International Fringe Festival. In the nearly ten years since then Weinstein has added Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet to the troupe’s repertory. Tiny Ninja Theatre has also created a backlog of original shows as well including A Brief History of D.U.M.B.O. and The Effects of Nuclear War, and they have presented their performances all over the world.

A couple years ago I had tried to get tickets for a Tiny Ninja performance of Hamlet at PS 122, but the show had already sold out. I was finally able to check out Tiny Ninja Theatre last week, when 92Y Tribeca presented Romeo and Juliet. Located at 200 Hudson Street in New York City, 92YTribeca is the 92nd Street Y's new arts and entertainment venue.

Entering the playing area dressed entirely in white, Dov Weinstein leads a cast of not only tiny ninjas but an “assorted dime store figures” as well. A good puppeteer, Weinstein invests his performing objects with life by giving them total focus. He absorbs himself in the figures, like a child playing with his toys except with much better diction. It is difficult enough to clearly speak Shakespeare’s lines, but the performer makes it even more challenging by taking on 18 speaking parts himself.

There is a lot of wit to be found in the staging. The prince addresses the crowd from on high perched on the visor of a baseball cap. Outside Juliet’s balcony is a grove of trees made up of green plastic forks and spoons. The apothecary is a skeleton key chain, an obvious figure of death that got a laugh. Weinstein indulges in some pop culture short hand. The audience knows that the prince is ineffectual because he speaks with Elmer Fudd’s voice, just as they can tell Tybalt is a bad ass because a tiny figure of Bruce Lee takes the part.

I was startled by how low tech the show was. While the performance is very polished it maintains its low-tech charm, shunning a service gloss that would be easy to achieve after so many years of performance. White boxes suggest the different locals, sometimes opening up to reveal miniature sets contained inside. The unveiling of the Capulet’s disco ballroom yielded applause the night I attended. Each box is self-contained with doubles and triples of each of the cast members, allowing for quick transitions and a minimum of misplaced actors.

What surprised me was the lack of camp. Romero’s meeting of Juliet’s at the Capulet’s party is tender and intimate. When Romeo discovers Juliet in the crypt Weinstein cups a jewelry box with her body in his own hand and takes on Romeo’s role drinking the poison from a cup. Like all children at play the performance is very earnest.

I still want to see the Tiny Ninja cast in Hamlet though.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

In the Works: Loss of Breath

As we prepared Playlab NYC’s Loss of Breath application for the New York International Fringe Festival, Jennifer and I thought it was a good opportunity to sit down and hear the most recent draft.

If you have browsed out website at all you no doubt are aware that back in April of last year we had a two week workshop of Loss of Breath. For two weeks Todd Courson, John Pieza and I took the script apart and began the work of putting it back together again. Armed with Kenn Adams “How to Improvise a Full-Length Play,” Jeremy Whelan’s Tape Technique, and John Wright excellent clowning book, “Why Is That So Funny?” the three of us went back to Poe’s original short story. Using these improv and clown techniques we stripped the story down to its skeleton, allowing me to see which of the actions in the text were superfluous to the story of the play.

After two very productive weeks, I spent the next five months going over what I had learned. In October I had finished a new draft of the show, and decided we should work toward inclusion in the 2009 NYC Fringe.

Wishing to hear this new draft with fresh ears, this past Thursday Jennifer and I met with Jonathan Wiener and Bob Stack. If you saw the Playlab NYC production of The Tempest at Socrates Sculpture Park in June then I don’t need to tell you too much about Jonathan and Bob. Jonathan and Bob as Trinculo and Stephano did a lot of The Tempests’ comic heavy lifting. They had such wonderful chemistry together that I was eager to hear what they brought to the piece.

A casual environment with friends, the four of us sat around a table listening to this new draft. Needless to say the reading went well. I am thankful to Bob and Jonathan for taking time to sit down with us again. We are proceeding with our application. Keep your fingers crossed and check back again for more updates.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Adaptive Theatricality

Playlab NYC’s attempt to get © up this last fall might have been a bust, but working with Kevin and Jennifer on the project has gotten me so fired up to explore derivative works of art, such as mash-ups, fan-fiction and parody that I have started a blog called ADAPTIVE THEATRICALITY.

I started work on it in November when it became clear that our show had fallen apart. The first few entries are cannibalized pieces that Playlab NYC has already posted. But I've stolen as much writing as I can, and I am filled with ideas that I want to tackle in the new year.

In addition to exploring the concepts like mash-ups and fan-fiction, ADAPTIVE THEATRICALITY will discuss issues and ideas related to translating a work from one artistic medium (e.g., novel, painting, poem) into another form, such as a film or a stage play. I want to keep the focus on theater as much as I can, but I know that I will often end up straying into movies as well.

Like anyone who starts a blog, I am putting this together out of love. I love multiple versions of works of art. I am the reason that you can buy a box set with five different versions of Blade Runner. I am the sort of person who is excited by the fact that not only can you read Nabokov's Lolita, but you can see the Kubrick movie, the Adrian Lyne movie, read Nabokov's screenplay, read Edward Albee's play, and take a look at The Enchanter which is a sort of first draft of Nabokov's famous novel.

Tasha Robinson created a column called "Book vs. Film" on the AV Club website. She describes the posts on the AV Club Blog as "a column comparing books to the film adaptations they spawn, often discussing them on a plot-point-by-plot-point basis. This column is meant largely for people who’ve already been through one version, and want to know how the other compares."

I am just the nerd for whom she was writing. However I have become frustrated by the basic compare and contrast approach she takes. I believe that adaptations have so much more to tell us. Adaptations can teach us about the needs a various art forms, a book's needs versus a play's needs. They can teach us about the time period in which the adaptation was created. What does the 1956 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers tell us about the 1950's, or what does 1993's Body Snatchers reveal about the presidency of Bush the First?

I also hope to explore adaptations of the same work, for different purposes, e.g., to work with a smaller cast, in a smaller venue (or on the road), or for a different audience (such as adapting a story for children). Such as the various versions of Frank Wildhorn's Scarlet Pimpernel musical, or Tim Rice's Chess.

I hope that you will check in from time to time, and I hope you will find something of interest.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Road Ahead: 2009

2008 was perhaps not the year to create a new theater company. It seems that everyone is struggling to raise money, and given the economic environment out there no one is donating. A month hasn’t gone by that I haven’t read about another theater company going bankrupt.

In spite of the tough times, Playlab NYC has had some success during our first year. We were able to put together a two-week workshop of Loss of Breath back in March. That our first toe in the water was so productive is due in no small part to the efforts of John Pieza and Todd Courson.

In June we mounted our very first production. The Tempest was presented on Father’s Day weekend at Socrates Sculpture Park. Considering the rain and the heat we attracted good crowds at all three performances, and I look forward to having the opportunity to work with the cast and our director again.

We learned a lot this past year as well, about fundraising, marketing, producing, and much more. Our only disappointment has been in our thwarted efforts to produce our second show, ©. Artistically things were shaping up to be a fun evening skirting intellectual property law, but without the money to rent a venue the show had to be postponed.

Looking ahead to 2009, Playlab NYC is going to pick itself up and push ahead. If we need to be a theater company that is only producing one show a year then that show is going to be the best production that we can put together. We will redouble our efforts to building a company that produces quality shows in line with our desire to bring a spirit of play to artists and audiences.
Based on our Loss of Breath workshop last spring, a new draft of the script was completed in October. This month we are looking forward to sitting down and hearing a reading of this new draft. Playlab NYC is putting together an application for The New York International Fringe Festival. We will know more in spring, but we are looking forward to getting Mr. Lackobreath in front of an audience in 2009.

Taking a page from Theater on a Tabletop by Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin, we are looking toward embracing puppetry for small spaces. “Working small is not the same as thinking small.” By working small we hope to create some imaginative productions in 2009 and beyond, including a new tabletop presentation of The Tempest, and a resurrected ©.

I hope that we will see you around in 2009.