Friday, September 2, 2011

Poe-Dunk Review Roundup

Hurricane Irene caused us to put Poe-Dunk - A Matchbox Entertainment to bed a little earlier than we expected. We had a great time at FringeNYC this year. It turns out that our audiences were having a good time with us. Some even went so far as to say nice things about us!

"Kevin Hale is a charming guy who knows his stuff, yet relates in oblique
ways that make it fun to learn."

"Hale breathes a lively fire into his matchstick characters, crafting subtle
tongue-in-cheek humor with good-natured slapstick." -High 5

" of the most painstakingly-wrought and gleefully-enacted shows of
the Fringe." -Stage Rush

"It's a perfect expression of why the Fringe Festival still, after all these
years, allows for the opportunity of greatness."

"...a delightful performance." -Artsy Fartsy Show Blog

Awww...shucks. You've gone and made Kevin blush.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I thought I'd share how things have been going the past couple weeks. It's been pretty busy, and all to lead up to our opening night!

Venue prep day was pretty much as expected. A lot of cleaning and setting up the lobby area. I believe I swept every single corner of that theater, even the hallway for the audience entrance. There's three other venues in our building and it took everyone's help to get the theaters up and running. On a side note, there's a somewhat new addition to the FringeNYC intern/volunteer staff - the FringeTECHNICIAN. I don't know where they came from, but they rocked the venue prep day. These folks worked very hard and did a lot of the hard work, which was much appreciated by the participants who did not have much technical experience.

Tech was this past Monday. Perhaps since we've been through this a couple times, we knew the rundown and it ran super smooth. Thank you to Kate Gibson for taking some production shots and Molly Garber for a second eye as well as keeping on book during the run.

Yesterday was our opening. Thanks to those of you who shared our evening. Since I am the ACR for the show (that means I act as liaison to the cast and crew as well as sign off on the Box Office tickets), I am required to stay in the lobby area. As I sat listening to the audience laugh and clap, I swelled with pride for my husband. I am so glad that we've been able to share these beautiful pieces of work inspired by Edgar Allan Poe.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Convener(s): Kevin Hale
Participants: Jennifer Wilcox, AL Pearsall, Judith F. Bradshaw

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

After finishing the matchbox Poe show, I was thinking about turning my attention to creating a show that could be told using play-doh. But I haven’t really thought of a story that lends itself to being told in clay. It could be something that takes advantage of existing play-doh playsets, like using the barber shop to tell Sweeney Todd.

It needs to be something that can be built and smashed, sculpted and reshaped during the show.

Suggestions included:

Ovid’s Metamorphoses

The Old Testament

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Kevin and I are so very thankful to the support on Kickstarter this past month! We reached are goal. That's fantastic, and we are so touched that everyone rallied together to help us. Thank you, thank you, a million times thanks you!

This week is Venue Load In day. This is where I will go to our venue, #3, CSV Kabayitos and help hang the lights, focus and generally clean the space with all of the other shows that will be participating in that space.

This is a great segue to talk about how hard at work everyone has been in rehearsal. Every evening our team, John, Kevin, Megan and Andrew work through the show. I sat in recently and it was awesome. I laughed out loud even though I knew what was coming! This week we'll be working with the camera and video projector. This will be how the audience will be able to see all these little pieces.

We've been getting the word out on our little show with fun craft projects. It's just one of those things Kevin and I enjoy sharing with our audience. It fits in that 'spirit of play' we have in our mission. Recently Kevin gave away a couple DIY Pocket Poes to the gang at Dramatists Play Service. As you can see above, they're pretty fun!

Saturday, July 30, 2011


We're getting to our goal on Kickstarter! I'm working very hard for the final days to push this project to success!

I recently went to a Marketing Mixer this week. I brought a prop with me, a matchbox with a little matchstick of Edgar Allan Poe's head, you know, the picture we're using for our Kickstarter. As I was talking with people, they were trying to understand what are we are doing. They were trying to grasp the idea that the whole show is on top of a desk. As we're talking, I pull out the matchbox and hand it to the person I'm chatting with. Oh my God! was one response, Really? as they open it up and see the little Poe-stick inside. The looks of delight as they marvel at the size was so cool. I couldn't help but smile at the playfulness that each person had, one guy even started playing with the Poe-stick on the bar trying to recite The Raven.

I'm going to carry that little prop with me where ever I go now. It's so much fun to show people how tiny the show really is as their face lights up with wonder and amazement!

This prompted me to whip together a sneak peek of the pieces. Enjoy.

Friday, July 22, 2011


A lot of busy going on lately:

Rehearsals are in full swing now. We are pleased to welcome Megan, our new stage manager, to our crew! We also purchased some necessary props recently. Thank you Eric for assisting us!

We had a photo session with our dear friend and photographer Kate a few days ago. Having good photos on hand before the run of a show can be very helpful in promoting. Last year we waited till we got in the space to take production shots. We're ahead of the game this year!

We are very happy with our Venue assignment again this summer. Venue #3, Los Kabayitos is located inside the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, which is also the home of 3 other theaters participating with FringeNYC.

Los Kabayitos is a puppet theater and when not hosting FringeNYC in the summer, it offers a repertory of Latin American children's classics, folk tales, and traditional art forms.

During the participant walk through, you can't help but notice the depth of the stage, about 6 1/2 feet! Since we'll be working on a table top, this is an ideal depth as the little theaters may get lost in a larger stage. The intimacy of the space and the audience is raked, so it will provide optimal viewing of the show.

FringeCENTRAL opens this week. That means we're are going to drop off postcards and say 'hi' to the die-hard FringeNYC fans that are buying tickets now as well as the volunteers that help make FringeNYC possible. Perhaps we'll start our craft project of little matchboxes and lay them about FringeCENTRAL...

Sunday, July 10, 2011


We're happily spending our summer with FringeNYC again this year with Poe-Dunk - A Matchbox Entertainment. This is our FringeSTAYCATION and we're glad you've joined us! We've been pretty busy since the participant town meeting in June. Gathering marketing materials with the help of long time friend Rob Ullman is first on our list. He really sets the tone to all of our shows we've done in the past.

We launched our Kickstarter this past week and we're off to a great start!

Jennifer put her sewing cap on and the costume should be done by next weekend.

Kevin is plugging away at finishing up the matchbox theaters. Our son Edison has been watching Kevin work for some time now. As Edison watches he gives advice on what Kevin needs to add or fix on whatever he might be working on. This gave us the idea to let Edison create his own matchbox theater. He designed a great little theater and we couldn't be more pleased. So this year has really been a family effort!

Our Venue and dates have been finalized:
107 Suffolk Street

Venue #3 - CSV Kabayitos

Performance Dates: 8/12 @ 7:30P; 8/14 @ 5P; 8/17 @ 6P; 8/22 @ 9:30P; 8/26 @ 7P; 8/27 @ 10:15P
Save the date that fits your schedule!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Playlab NYC Manifesto

man·i·fes·to: a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer

A Playlab NYC Manifesto

Stitched together by Kevin P. Hale*

At Playlab NYC we are mad scientists of imagination. We concoct, unleash and support enjoyably absurd and absurdly enjoyable amusements that engage artists and audiences in the spirit of play.

The imagery that guides our aesthetic:

“Mad Scientist” - to be a Mad Scientist, both you and the science have to be mad.

We love to come at things sideways. Putting two concepts on a collision course, even when they don't seem to go together, and even when we can't figure out what their relationship is.

"lah-BOHR-ah-tor-ee" – A laboratory is safe environment conducive to experimentation, investigation, and observation. The lab is the place where the Creations! happen.

“Grave Robbing” – is the primary method of retrieving materials for our Creations!

We seek to unearth defunct or forgotten storytelling techniques, and through our own research and practical work in rehearsal, Playlab NYC tries to find out how they worked when they were living things, to bring them to life again.

“For Science!” – the rally cry of the mad scientist. When a mad scientist says that they do something “For Science!” what they usually mean is that they don't care about the answers to several legitimate questions, for example:

1. Where will I get willing test subjects?

2. Are these experiments ethical?

3. How will I fund my research, and how can I make money off of it?

4. Will it rise up against humanity and/or eat me?

At Playlab NYC our rally cry is “For the fun of it!” and we similarly don’t care about the answers to these important questions.

“Muahahahahaha!” - there are of course many kinds of laughter: polite, nervous, silent, belly, laughing at, laughing with, chuckles, snickers, snorts, cackles, and sniggering, just to name a few. If people aren’t laughing during rehearsal and during performance then we are doing it wrong.

“Patchwork Man” – the Creation! itself, physically built from parts of other works, and literally stitched together.

Our Creations! are amusements, entertainments, and trifles. We seek to make stories breathe; we don’t seek to create theatre.

At Playlab NYC, we are not slick people and we believe that things should look slapped together. We deal in collage and juxtaposition. Our creations are homemade, and the seams should show. “Meticulously messy” is how Playlab was once very accurately described.

As we continue to grow we may become savvier fundraisers, and get better budgets, but we’d still rather see the zipper on the back of the monster and the fishing wire holding up the paper plate UFO.

“Creating Life” - every Mad Scientist worth his blood-stained lab coat has this on their to-do list.

We seek to bring the inanimate to life. Our past works have delved into the inner life of desserts, panda bears, cats, and portraits. Our future works will continue to explore the anthropomorphic and the allegorical.

“Willing Test Subjects” – genuine play must be entered into voluntarily, and be motivated by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself.

It is essential when working on a Creation! that all the participants (performers, designers, audience members, etc…) have genuinely chosen to be there so that they don’t check out of the experience. If someone doesn’t believe in it and thinks it won’t work THEY WILL BE CORRECT!

“Villagers” – what is a mad scientist without a rowdy mob on the loose?

While we hope that Playlab NYC will not be chased from our home with torches and pitchforks, we do want our audience to be users of our entertainments; they are choosers, interpreters, shapers, fellow players, participants and storytellers.

Playlab NYC works to engage the audience, and as a result we have no use for the fourth wall. We toil to create audience inclusion, and sometimes even audience participation.

“What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” – famous last words of any Mad Scientist.

*I am greatly indebted to the work and ideas of Gorilla Rep, Improbable Theatre, Gerard Jones, Charles Ludlam, and John Wright. It is through their inspiration that Playlab NYC exists at all.