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February 8, 2017
FRIGID Festival 2017: A Q&A with this Year’s Artists – Part 2

Now in its 11th season, the FRIGID Festival will bring 30 shows to UNDER St. Marks and the Kraine Theater, February 13 through March 5. We had the opportunity to ask several of this year's participants about their work. Below are responses from seven of them -- read Part 1 here, and be sure to check back later this week for more!

Photo credit: Joshua Simpson
Photo credit: Joshua Simpson

Writer Phoebe Kreutz, "Go! Go! Gilgamesh":

 

Tell us about your show.

The epic of the Gilgamesh is the first story ever written down by human beings and it is a doozy. Sex, power, violence, love, guilt, and death- it's all there. But now the classic tale is getting a lively, irreverent makeover in this high-spirited musical romp complete with cardboard sets, a self-orchestrated cast and toe-tapping joke folk hits!

What have been the most exciting things about seeing your show jump

I wrote the whole show on guitar and there is nothing in the world like hearing songs you've only hummed and strummed suddenly spring from the mouths of a super-talented, foxy cast. They're playing instruments and harmonizing and it's so much groovier than I thought possible.

What would you change about the current state of theater?

We've all been going nuts the last few weeks, (what with the destruction of the union and all) and I know people are craving connection and community. I would love to see the theater become a place where those things can happen again. Theater has always been great for "theater folk" but I think there is a possibility right now to reach a whole new crop of people eager for something real. Also, I would like those plastic wine bottles at Broadway shows to be easier to open.


How to Sell Your Gang Rape Baby featuring Ali Ayala and Libby EmmonsWriter Libby Emmons, "How to Sell Your Gang Rape Baby* *For Parts":

 

Tell us about your show.

A one of a kind dark comedy about an a Trump-loving, life-affirming intern who gets knocked up the hard way, and the HR reps who are determined to get her out of it. In How to Sell Your Gang Rape Baby* *for Parts, Libby and Ali are determined to save the world, one unwanted baby at a time.

Who are your favorite playwrights, past and present?

Lately my favorites have been Lisa d'Amour and Arrabal.

What would you change about the current state of theater?

I would love to see more affordable spaces in which to rehearse and present work. And for the system where people seek entry into their art form from the grant makers, and the grant maker’s feel entitled to determine what's worthwhile in the field, to stop.


Illusion of Choice with Kardenni Photo credit Antwan Towner
Photo credit: Antwan Towner

Writer/Performer Dennis Friebe aka Kardenni, "Illusion of Choice":

 

Tell us about your show.

Illusion of Choice is a concept show of a live magic performance, provoking viewers to consider the choices they make in day-to-day life. It's a magic play, called a magical -- a narrative expressed through drama and magic.

What have been the most exciting things about seeing your show jump from the page to the stage?

This project is something we've been working on for almost four years. It's like baking a turkey, it takes forever. You just can't wait to eat it. We can't wait to share our story.

What would you change about the current state of theater?

Inform people on the importance of live storytelling.

You are coming to us from Orlando. What is something you are looking forward to doing while you're in NYC?

Hanging with old friends and making new ones!


Joe Charnitski's FuneralWriter/Performer Joe Charnitski, "Joe Charnitski’s Funeral":

 

Tell us about your show.

Joe Charnitski has delivered two eulogies in his life, and both were for men named Joe Charnitski. This is his true story of four generations of fathers and sons, of little town blues and swallowing pride when you have to go home again.

What have been the most exciting things about seeing your show jump from the page to the stage?

As a writer and performer of autobiographical material it's particularly powerful to me, moving to me when someone comes up to me after the show and they want to talk about a specific moment or a specific scene, a specific relationship I talked about because they can relate to it so much and they connect to it so much. It might be a cliché thing to say but that connectedness is very moving and very exciting. I have to put the work out there for an audience to be able to receive it. If I just said it to myself in my house it doesn't have that opportunity. It's got to be live with an audience.

Who are your favorite playwrights, past and present?

Edward Albee has always been atop my all-time favorites list. His work can be both brutal and beautiful at the same time. It can be attractive and repulsive simultaneously and I think that's why I found it so compelling. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Three Tall Women, those are two particular all-time favorites of mine. Since my show in the festival is a solo performance I also feel compelled to point out that I saw the revival of Lily Tomlin's Search For Signs of Intelligent Life In the Universe on Broadway in the early 2000's and it was a revelation to me. I've reread it since. I'm in love with it. It's certainly a piece I think about as I've worked on my own material.

What would you change about the current state of theater?

I would like to see it return to being art for everyman. I wish Broadway tickets weren't so expensive. I wish smaller theater in New York and around the country weren't the exclusive right of the upper middle class, or young cultural hipsters. Our need for community is more pressing than ever, and there are few communities as valuable as a diverse audience sharing a common experience in each person's unique way.


Mark Toland Mind Reader_1Writer/Performer Mark Toland, "Mark Toland, Mind Reader":

 

Tell us about your show.

I’m a Mind Reader, so my show is not about me - it’s about the audience. The show is an interactive experience full of fast-paced psychological illusions and mysteries of the mind. Thoughts will be read and minds will be blown.

What have been the most exciting things about seeing your show jump from the page to the stage?

I work full-time as a corporate entertainer so my show developed out of those gigs. However, doing a festival show lets me take more risks and work on exciting new material that I can’t perform at my other events. After years of refining material at private events, I’m thrilled to finally bring my ideas to life onstage at FRIGID.

Who are your favorite playwrights, past and present?

I draw my inspiration from great performers - Derren Brown, Louis CK, Bill Burr, and more. I’m also a huge fan of Roald Dahl, Sherlock Holmes, Alfred Hitchcock, and anyone else who tells captivating stories in an interesting way.

What would you change about the current state of theater?

I think now, more than ever, we need more art in more places. When people see fantastic performances they understand why it’s important for our society, so we need to expose more people to good theater so they can gain a deeper appreciation of the arts. I grew up in the theater and seeing brilliant performers during my childhood changed my life. I hope a new generation of artists can do the same for others.

You are coming to us from Chicago. What is something you are looking forward to doing while you’re in NYC?

Going to Hamilton! Those tickets are easy to get, right?


677fb382-0b70-472f-a8a8-053e0409ed92-c3F1YXJlX3RodW1iLW4tbi0wLTAtMC00NTYtNDk0Writer Manning Jordan, "Mr. Long":

 

Tell us about your show.

Mr. Long chronicles the end of senior year at a Texas all-girl high school. Within the context of an advisory, the play explores female friendships, privilege, single-sex education and teacher-student relationships.

What have been the most exciting things about seeing your show jump from the page to the stage?

The actors' interpretations of the characters has been both invigorating and exciting. In rehearsal we have discussed how we think the characters have become the young women in the text based on their backstories, and how they may evolve once the play is done. It's been so fulfilling to not only see the actors hone into the ideas on the page, but broaden them and create their own expositions for their characters.

Who are your favorite playwrights, past and present?

Sarah DeLappe, Wendy Wasserstein, Arthur Miller.

What would you change about the current state of theater?

It would be great to reach a younger audience in theater. Luckily things like Hamilton have made it somewhat en-vogue to see theatre, but I think we can do better in terms of plays as opposed to just musicals.


Nickys Solo Improvised MusicalPerformer Nicky Nasrallah, "Nicky’s Solo Improvised Musical":

 

Tell us about your show.

Nicky's Solo Improvised Musical is exactly what you think it is. A musical with no script, no score, one actor, one musical director. Every night is a brand new show with, filled with songs and character that you have never seen before and will never see again, all from the mind of one charismatic Canadian!

What have been the most exciting things about seeing your show jump from the page to the stage?

The most exciting thing is that there is no page! The show is written on the spot, in front of the audience. There is nothing more risky and thrilling than walking on stage with nothing prepared and letting the characters take over your voice to tell the story that the audience helps guide.

Who are your favorite playwrights, past and present?

They're very different from each other, but both comedic and poignant. I love the absurdity of Christopher Durang and the heart of Neil Simon.

You are coming to us from Toronto. What is something you are looking forward to doing while you're in NYC?

I'm really looking forward to seeing more comedy and more theatre. Mostly I'm so pumped to check out the other shows in the festival. Since I'm creating a new show every night, seeing as much theatre as possible and connecting with new people can only serve to inspire new stories for me to tell.

FRIGID Festival 2017 is February 13-March 5 at UNDER St. Marks and the Kraine Theater.

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