My Summer of New Play Development!

One of my favorite moments from Assembled Identity at HERE Arts Center – and the first time I’ve ever done a scene opposite myself! Photo: Paula Court

When it rains, it pours…

I’m currently en route to Poughkeepsie, NY, continuing my sudden, wondrous summer of new play development (my FAVORITE thing!) with week two of a workshop of Jaclyn Backhaus’s India Pale Ale at New York Stage and Film and Vassar College’s Powerhouse Theater. If you’ll happen to be in or near Poughkeepsie this weekend, please come check us out! Scroll down for info on how to do that.

This came on the tails of a two-week dance/choreography workshop of another project, Rehana Lew Mirza, Mike Lew, and Sam Willmott’s Bhangin’ It, courtesy of Project Springboard. We spent that time exploring and incorporating actual dance (BHANGRA dance – google it) into our musical about intercollegiate competitive bhangra. AKA I spent two weeks sweating non-stop and taking copious Epsom salt baths to keep up with the amazing dancers in the cast, but BOOM I did it! She can be taught! *echo echo echo* Scroll down for some pics!

After IPA, I’ll be home for a few days before heading up to Worcester, MA for a residency (ok a self-made residency) with my writing partners Jessie and Jared Field so we can work on our musical about our hero Vanita Gupta and her time in Tulia. Then I fly to my theatre home-away-from-home in Minneapolis, Mixed Blood, for a series of staged readings of a play about implicit bias in the medical community. I’m so happy to have these opportunities to throw myself into work that’s inclusive, intersectional, and provocative, but once August rolls around I want a vacation!

India Pale Ale Details

Lookit that gorgeous cast! I’m thrilled to be working with old and new friends on this wonderful play, and we’ll be presenting a few staged readings to share our discoveries of this work-in-progress this weekend. If you’re able to join, here’s the important info:

Written by Jaclyn Backhaus, Directed by Will Davis
All readings at the Susan Stein Shiva Theater on the Vassar Campus
Fri, 7/6 at 8pm
Sat, 7/7 at 5pm
Sun, 7/8 at 2pm
Sun, 7/8 at 7pm
CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS!
India Pale Ale is a smart, poignant, and funny new play about legacy, life, and pirates: in a small Wisconsin town, a tight-knit Punjabi community gathers to celebrate the engagement of a traditional family’s only son, just as their strong-willed daughter announces her plans to move away and open a bar. One generation’s cherished customs clash with another’s modern-day aspirations and ancestors from the family’s past haunt the present day, when one sudden event changes everything.

Bhangin’ It Sneak Peek

17 actors + 14 creatives = ONE INCREDIBLE TEAM HOI HOI HOI!

My before/after on rehearsal day 1 – I had NO CLUE what I’d gotten myself into!

Team Bengal Tiger boomerang fierceness!

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Next Up: “Assembled Identity!”

Today is the first day of tech for my next show, Assembled Identity at HERE Arts Center. You know what that means – I’m wearing The Shirt (“Tech week: it’s hell but it’s the only path to glory”), the Dressing-Room-In-A-Box is ready to go (essentials: makeup, hair products, bourbon), and it’s *almost* time to start baking (because unlike tech week, baking is reliable and predictable – science! – if you just follow the recipe).

This piece has been quite a (welcome!) challenge for me – it’s my first foray into hybrid theatre (more on that below) AND my first time doing a two person show. I’m so lucky to get to work with this incredible group of artists and very excited about the issues we’re tackling in our piece. Plus, it’s pretty nifty to be part of HERE’s 25th Anniversary season! I hope you’ll be able to join us (ticket info is also below)! Write back and let me know what you’ve been up to – and if I’ll be seeing you at the theatre <3

About the Show

When twin sisters discover they are actually clones, a blood-tingling reality comes sharply into focus. Assembled Identity taps into our collective unease with a tech-dominant world, explores ethnic ambiguity, race, genetics, and eugenics, and delves into the science of identity formation and who has the authority to define it.

I play one of said twin sisters…and SEVERAL of the clones. 6 characters, 4 languages, 3 accents!

Creators: Purva BediKristin Marting, and Mariana Newhard
Director: Kristin Marting
Performers: Mariana Newhard and Lipica Shah
Projection Design: David Bengali
Sound Design: 
Drew Weinstein
Lighting Design: 
Christina Tang
Costume Design: 
Normandy Sherwood 
Choreography:
 Alexandra Beller
Stage Manager: 
Kendall Allen
Assistant Director: 
Hilarie Spangler 
Rehearsal Assistant: 
Sami Pyne

Ticket Info

Previews: April 24-26
Shows: April 27-May 19
(Tues.-Sat. at 7pm)
Run time: 60 minutes

We have limited space, so please reserve your seat(s) soon! There are THREE ticketing options:

1) Click HERE to reserve $25 General Admission or $45 Premium Reserved

2) Become a Progenitor X by organizing a group of 10 friends to come to the show together. YOU get a FREE ticket and one-of-a-kind clone pin, your friends each get $20 tickets, and y’all get a free wine or beer to enjoy during the show AND a post-show conversation with the director or performers!

3) It’s okay if you don’t have 10 friends – how about 5?! Become a Progenitor Y by organizing a group of 5 friends for $22 tickets.

To participate in option 2 or 3, email Richard at tickets@here.org. He will share a promo code for your group, and everyone can pay individually. Easy peasy!

What is Hybrid Theatre?

I asked myself the same thing! Hybrid theatre is essentially a type of performance piece that combines elements of multiple artistic genres or disciplines. In order to tell the story, the piece requires ALL components in collaboration; remove one and clarity is lost.

Assembled Identity uses original and found text, theatrical movement, live cinematography, contemporary music, and lighting, sound, and projection design. It’s a lot of simultaneous moving parts, and I’m grateful to have Kristin Marting as a director to help me navigate this new world – hybrid theatre is her THING, and she’s damn good at it!

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3…2…1…Happy New Year!!!

A fun shot from my summer shoot with Jody Christopherson of PFA Photo!

A fun shot from my summer shoot with Jody Christopherson of PFA Photo!

Can you believe it’s already 2018?! This time last year I was just embarking on my quest for “alignment” – literally adjusting my spine to bring my body back into alignment and metaphorically focusing on having my actions align with my goals and priorities. What a ride!

This year, I’m going to focus my energies on “accountability/account-ability.” In September I left my longtime survival job (10 years!!) at the Red Cross which means that now…I am an Actor. Period. It is terrifying and terribly exciting to have the privilege of spending ALL of my time pursuing my dreams. I want to hold myself accountable to remaining open to opportunities whenever or wherever they knock, while also learning to better manage my literal accounts and challenging my abilities in new ways. I have no idea how this new chapter will end- I’ll keep you posted!

What are you hoping to focus on this year? Shall we help hold each other accountable?? Reach out and let me know <3

One thing is certain though…

Rachel: the Musical is BACK!! I’ve been helping to develop this piece, about the life, struggles, and triumphs of writer/environmental activist Rachel Carson, since 2015 with sister-brother writing team Jessie and Jared Field and director Ari Laura Kreith. And now we have TWO opportunities to continue to develop the story this month and share our work with the world! I hope you can be there. Take a look:

JDT Lab at Guild Hall

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We’ve been invited to the John Drew Theatre Lab at Guild Hall in East Hampton, Long Island, NY to workshop a new draft of the musical, which we’ll then present as a work-in-progress public staged reading. This version builds upon the discoveries we made during our production at New York Summerfest this past August. Here are the details, in case you’ll be in the area:

DATE: Monday, January 8
TIME: 730pm
PLACE: 158 Main St. East Hampton, NY 11937
COST: FREE!
RSVP: just click HERE!

Union Congregational Church

Union Congregational Church in Montclair, NJ, has invited us to perform what we develop at JDT Lab in their beautiful space!! We’ll spend the intervening weeks rehearsing and committing the updates to memory, and then head to New Jersey to mount the show for a new audience.

New play (or in this case musical) development is my FAVORITE thing to do as an actor, and it’s so wonderful (and lucky!) that we’ve been given the opportunity to present Rachel at each stage of its development. Here are the details:

DATE: Fri. & Sat. January 19-20
TIME: 8pm both nights
PLACE: 176 Cooper Ave. Montclair, NJ 07043
COST: $12-$30
RSVP: just click HERE!


2017 Highlights

Played Priya in Rajiv Joseph’s “The Lake Effect” at Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, NY, directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh, and also featuring the talented Neimah Djourabchi and Clinton Lowe.

I won my first “Oscar”! Well…I won an Oscar pool for the first time haha.

Recorded my first video game, “Modern Combat: Versus” – if you play it, keep an eye out for my badass avatar Revolv!

The indie “A Woman, A Part,” in which I had a scene with the wonderful Maggie Siff, premiered at the IFC Center!

My first understudy gig! So proud to have been a part of Martyna Majok’s “Cost of Living” off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club, directed by Jo Bonney.

I actually finished my run streak!! I successfully ran at least 1 consecutive mile every day for 1 year, rain or shine, in sickness and in health.

Aditi Brennan Kapil’s “The Displaced Hindu Gods Trilogy” was published AKA my name is printed in a play!

Played 10 different characters as part of the ensemble of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” at Mixed Blood Theatre, directed by Jack Reuler, and featuring an amazing cast.

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Hello (again) from Minneapolis!

A fun shot from my summer shoot with Jody Christopherson of PFA Photo!

A fun shot from my summer shoot with Jody Christopherson of PFA Photo!

 

It’s wonderful to be back in the Twin Cities (even if winter is already here brrrrr…)

I’m so grateful that the inimitable Jack Reuler keeps bringing me back to my theatre home away from home, Mixed Blood, to keep telling beautiful stories! I’m here this time as part of the ensemble of Simon Stephens’ The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, based on the novel by Mark Haddon and directed by Jack Reuler himself.

If you’re in the area, please join us – we open ONE WEEK from today and it’s going to be a really special show. Details below!

 

 

About the Show

Curious

MacGregor Arney as Christopher Boone, photo by Rich Ryan.

Christopher Boone, a young man on the autism spectrum, sets out to investigate the bizarre death of a neighbor’s dog, setting into motion a series of events that expose far greater mysteries. As the clues fall into place, they reveal a community of disparate characters, a family with secrets, and a gifted mind in complicated relationship with the world.

To tell Christopher’s story and show the world through his eyes, I’m thrilled to be sharing the stage with this incredibly talented cast: MacGregor Arney as Christopher, Regan Linton as Siobhan, Zack Myers as Father, Miriam Laube as Mother, and Raul Ramos, Bruce Young, Tom Reed, and Tinia Moulder in the Ensemble with me. Us ensemble members will be portraying all sorts of people whom Christopher encounters on his journey. I’m quite enjoying this trend (and challenge) of once again playing multiple characters in the same project!!

Get Your Tickets Here!

Sneak peek of our set!! I'm #terribleatselfies

Sneak peek of our set!! Also I’m #terribleatselfies

Dates: Nov. 10 – Dec. 3, 2017
Times: 730pm except Sundays at 2pm
Cost: FREE thanks to Mixed Blood’s Radical Hospitality program! BUT click HERE if you’d like guaranteed admission or if you want to show your support by becoming a Member.

Never heard of Radical Hospitality?? It’s one of the many reasons why I LOVE working here: admission is provided at no-cost for folks who find cost a barrier to attending Mixed Blood. Admission is on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens two hours before every show; seating begins 30 minutes before show time and is general admission (no assigned seats). Mixed Blood is also physically accessible and offers ASL interpreting, audio description, assisted listening devices, and captioning for its productions. Patrons self-identifying with a disability also can get free guaranteed admission and free transportation to and from Mixed Blood.


Milestone Alert!!!

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See that book in the picture? It’s the PUBLISHED playscript of Aditi Brennan Kapil’s Displaced Hindu Gods Trilogy AKA the first play(s) I did at Mixed Blood (back in 2013) AKA – here comes the milestone! – the first time my name is published as the actor who originated a role! Or in this case – ROLES!! I portrayed Kalki in Part 2 The Chronicles of Kalki and Shiv in Part 3 Shiv. Want your own copy? Click HERE!

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Guess Who’s Back?!

Another fun pic from my recent shoot with Jody Christopherson of PFA Photo!

Another fun pic from my recent shoot with Jody Christopherson of PFA Photo!

 

Who’s back? Marie Rodell and the rest of Rachel Carson’s posse, that’s who!

Next week, I’ll be singing my face off at NY Summerfest with some really wonderful humans as we present a new version of Rachel, a musical about the life of one of my personal heroes, Rachel Carson.

I was lucky to be a part of a workshop of an earlier draft of this piece in the 2015 Fresh Fruit Festival, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to tell her story again- for THREE NIGHTS ONLY. Ticket information is below – it would be great to see you there!

 

 

About the Show

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Written by brother-sister writing duo Jared and Jessie Field and directed by Ari Laura KreithRachel is about the life of biologist Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring,” which sparked the modern environmental movement. Struggling to find her place in the world as a scientist and a woman, her skill as a writer eventually brings her success and critical acclaim. However, when the destructive nature of pesticides is brought to her attention, Carson jeopardizes her health, her success, and the deep relationship she shares with her neighbor Dorothy Freeman to take a stand for the earth.

The show takes place in dual timelines, with the brilliant Rebecca Muller and Erin Fish sharing the role of Rachel Carson in her younger and older years and Amie Bermowitz playing Dorothy (and a few other characters). I’ll be portraying four different women who inspired and were inspired by Rachel, while singing the alto line in the comfy basement – the pic above is what my face looks like when I hold a low F (!!!) for 8 measures. Join us!

Get Your Tickets Here!

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Rachel will have ONLY three performances next week as part of New York Theater Festival’s 2017 Summerfest, and tickets are selling well so far! The dates are:

Tuesday, August 15th at 6:15pm
Saturday, August 19th at 8:30pm
Sunday, August 20th at 1pm
 

Click HERE to purchase your ticket!
 
All shows are at the Hudson Guild Theatre:
441 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001

If you’re interested in learning more about the show’s development and Rachel’s history, check out our website HERE. And if you’re the social media type, please LIKE the show on Facebook and FOLLOW it on Twitter – we really appreciate the support!

Annnnnnnnd if you WILL be coming to the show, please let me know which night so I can come say hello to you afterwards!


Video Bonus 

Did you miss my segment on the Today Show a few weeks ago?! It was chock full of useful information for your summer safety 🙂 I’m proud to have had the opportunity to once again represent the American Red Cross on such a scale, spreading the preparedness, health, and safety Word!

 

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