Relevant yet Simple Culinary Tips for Theater Artists

Time is an asset among theatre artists. The long hours practicing and mastering the script before they go live in the theater halls means little time is left to take care of their other needs.

Actors have specific roles they play. It means it should also be in line with their physical health.

You may have to cook on screen in some cases if that’s what the plot dictates, why not.

You can take that role when you know your culinary skills are near perfect. That means the timing and perfection in culinary talent come in handy.

In case you are given such a role, your culinary tips act as a savior here instead of gambling onset.

If you are used to kitchen functions, you’ll find the role fun and exciting. That could be the beginning of your public limelight due to the perfection of the role.

As small as it may look, it’s the springboard to a great and prosperous career.

Cooking involves

  • Meal planning
  • Meal preparation
  • Grocery shopping
  • Actual cooking
  • Setting the table
  • Cleaning utensils

Here are a few culinary skills vital in the career of theatre actors. The tips should aim at saving time. After all, even in the cooking roles, time is of the essence. Therefore if you practice them at home, you’ll find the part fun and enjoyable.

Have you acted on something you are passionate about and you love. That is the role that will bring you to public limelight in months.

Invest in kitchen appliances

The kitchen is incomplete without the kitchen appliances. It would help if you had the right kitchen appliances to make work easier and to save time.

Instead of using the regular cooker to make coffee, why not invest in an espresso machine to guarantee your coffee throughout the day.

What of a rice cooker. Theatre actors are jovial and social people. Hosting family and friends is the order of the day.

It’s impractical not to invest in a fire pit for your outdoor cooking.  Getting a propane fire pit is the most prudent decision based on the numerous positive reviews.

Cutting meat is inevitable in the kitchen; it’s like a repetitive task; think of buying a meat slicer to get the thin slice.

Cut all your vegetables once a week

Just like in business operations, technology has taken repetitive tasks. Similarly, when you know, it is a daily routine once you start cooking.

Do them once, like cutting the vegetables, do it once a week and store them in a freezer. It lessens the time taken to prepare a sumptuous meal.

That also helps you to handle your cooking role with ease.

Plan ahead of time

As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. You know you have a busy schedule at the cinema halls, yet you also need to take care of your physical health by taking a balanced diet.

Have a plan of what you want to achieve and how you want to get to that level. Some of the guides in planning for an effective cooking time include

  • Get a meal planner
  • Cooks cereals in bulk and store
  • Do bulk grocery shopping
  • Have a definite cooking time

Wash your vegetables before storing them

It’s the simple things that you fail to do that consume a lot of your time. Use that time to cram your manuscript for your much-awaited movie.

Cooking should be fast, of course not compromising on the quality. You need to have all your vegetable from the fridge then straight to the cooking pot, now that they are already cut into small slices.

As simple as it may sound, it saves you a lot of time you dire need, especially during the peak theatre season. 

Preset the table

There is a reason we have different rooms with specific purposes. When not privileged to have a modern house, you can’t miss a table even if it’s not a dining table.

Things you need to use anytime you are at the dining table should have a permanent residence there.

As long as you arrange them neatly and pleasantly, they form part of the room’s beauty.

Things like

  • Salt shaker
  • Sugar dish
  • Tomato sauce
  • Pepper bowl
  • Beverage set

Freeze your tomatoes

Is there a meal that lacks tomatoes? In fact, in your grocery budget, it tends to take almost 30 percent of the budget.

What that means is that you have to have them in bulk. Remember, they are perishable.

Although there are tips to prolong their stay. One sure way is to freeze them to maintain their nutritional value. Other hacks include

  • Store them in the open air with bulb onions
  • Have some fresh lemons in the tomato storage basket
  • Dry tomatoes and store them in a plastic container
  • Store them in a can with new preservatives

Have a kitchen garden with favorite herbs on it

Vegetables, herbs, and spices, these three categories of foods form most of the grocery shopping.

Did you know you can save a single coin by having a kitchen garden? Look at a small place at the backyard, and engage your mind away from the face of cameras to enhance your creative skills.

It comes with lots of benefits which include

  • Guarantees you fresh produce free from chemicals
  • Saves you time and money
  • Acts as a form of physical exercise
  • Relieves your of theatre-related stress
  • Supports emotional and physical health

Cooking should not be an issue when you are equipped with the right skills and hacks that don’t compromise your time at the acting halls.  It’s also a pass time that deviates your mind away from producers, cameras, and the face of cinema halls.

Profit Maximization Guide for Theater Operators

Contrary to popular belief that movie theaters generate lots of money from movie tickets, the truth is that they hardly make any profits from ticket sales for movies they’re showing. You might be wondering how they manage to stay in business; well, most times, their continual existence, despite all odds, stems from a duty to serve the public’s entertainment needs and the exploration of few income streams resulting from consistent public patronage.

A high percentage of revenue generated in theaters comes from what is known as concession margins. Theaters manage to stay afloat majorly with the help of profits made from the sale of drinks and food items. Items like fountain drinks, soda, bagels, and popcorn get sold at higher costs than are obtainable outside the theater. But, for how long can they keep that up?

Over time, expenses increase in rent, staff pay, maintenance, and a host of others. At this point, the need to generate more revenue becomes pertinent to such a movie theater’s continued existence. Achieving this requires exploring more avenues for revenue generation.

Theaters are entertainment avenues. They’re open to various classes of people seeking relief from everyday stress. Smart theater operators know that to maximize profit, you have to ‘meet people halfway,’ i.e., you have to provide complementary services and products that are capable of satisfying their cravings. You have to give patrons viable reasons to keep coming back.

Profit is the lifeline of any business. As profit increases, so does the business’ chance at survival and growth. One of the ways of maximizing profit at a movie theater is by investing in pellet smokers.

What is a Pellet Smoker?

A pellet smoker is an electric outdoor smoker powered by wood pellets, used for several braising, baking, roasting, grilling, and smoking activities. They typically come with digital controllers that allow users to set their preferred cooking temperature. They’re easy to operate.

How Pellet Smokers Work

Having pellet smokers in theaters would be a viable investment as it’s a sure avenue to boost profit and revenue. People love their meats well-prepared and juicy, and pellet smokers are the ideal equipment to achieve that. They’re mostly an outdoor smoker that runs on electricity. Once plugged in and their digital controllers are activated, a rotating element is responsible for taking wood pellets to the cylindrical fire pot that does the heating.

Many pellet smokers use wood pellets to fuel, flavor, smoke, and cook all kinds of meats. High-quality ones allow operators to achieve the perfect steak doneness. They have enough space to accommodate large quantities of food products, making them suitable for movie theaters.

Why Theater Operators Should Invest in Pellet Smokers

Investing in pellet smokers at movie theaters adds a whole new dimension to the entertainment arena. People are ever ready to part with their money, provided they’re getting value for it. As explained earlier, if adequately planned and implemented, having a pellet smoking section somewhere outside your movie theater, where lots of properly-smoked juicy goodies are available, can cause a change in your fortune.

Below are some reasons why theater operators should go on pellet smoker shopping today.

Flavors Attract Crowd

Their capability to make quality and flavourful food is one of the benefits of acquiring pellet smokers. People are attracted to the sweet aroma and good taste of good steaks. Using wood pellets for smoking produces flavors that are bound to get people coming for more. Pellets are available in various stores in a wide range of flavors, including pecan, oak, hickory, etc., and they allow you to infuse your food with different smoke aroma.

They’re Easy to Operate

Theater employees don’t have to go through fund-consuming intensive training to operate a pellet smoker. Although they’re slightly different from regular charcoal grills that many are familiar with, pellet smokers are highly user-friendly.  They have digital controllers used to direct their operations. All you have to do is fill up the smoker with the preferred pellet flavor, push the start button, and put your steak or other food items on the smoker.

Pellet smokers have a temperature control feature that regulates its temperature automatically. You only have to remove the food item when done.

Good Pellet Smokers are Versatile and Durable

Quality pellet smokers afford you a high versatility rate as they mostly come with grills attached, allowing the operators to explore their creativity. The impressive design and construction of pellet smokers enable them to last for a long time, offering the opportunity to generate lots of revenue from them.

Conclusion While several revenue generation options exist for theater operators to explore, investing in pellet smokers is one of the easiest and readily available. With the right know-how and proper marketing strategies, the opportunities in this venture are limitless.

6 Recent Trends in Theater and Show Production

Technology is fast changing.


This era, the 21st Century, is technology-driven. There’s been advancements in almost all aspects of life, thanks to technology.

The current era is an age of trendy things. Theaters and show production industries have not been left behind. They’ve integrated technology to boost their services.

In the current century, theaters and show production industries are at a different performance level. They’ve become more comfortable and fancier.

Here’re six trends in theaters and show production you need to know:

  • Renovation of already existing theaters
  • Building theaters anywhere, all over the world
  • Diversification of the film industry
  • Constructing temporary theaters
  • Using computer generated images with practical effects
  • Flexibility in show production studios and theaters

6 Worthy Trends in the Theater Production Industry

  1. Renovation of already existing theaters

There has been a rise in the renovation and refurbishing of existing theaters. Some of these theaters have been in existence for decades. Their antique appearance represents the traditions that need to be preserved and passed to the next generations.

Therefore, the old works of art are being integrated with current technology to adapt to the current requirements and meet modern expectations. 

Modern tools are used to give theaters and show production areas a modern touch. There are many tools in use for construction of new theaters and renovation of existing ones.

Some of the best tools in use are cabinet table saws. The saws are produced in various styles to achieve varied desired outcomes.

Cabinet table saws are perfect for use with woods. Most theaters use wood for their construction and even installation of chairs. Therefore, if you’re a contractor who deals with wood, you can get one at a fair price in the market.

The pro of cabinet saws is that they have features such as:

  • Fencing systems
  • Dust collection ports
  • Accident prevention parts
  • Features meant to safeguard your safety.

The fencing systems provide you with ample time and opportunity to easily change the angle of the wood you are working on, so as to make several cuts.

The best cabinet table saw choice for the dollars is functional, durable and effective. It features a sharp blade for faster cuts and an ergonomic handle for comfortable grip.

The saw is also lightweight and compact for easier handling and storage. Other types of saws you may need include:

  • Hack saws
  • Chainsaws
  • Band saws
  • Miter saws
  • Jig saws
  • Coping saws
  • Circular saws
  • Building theaters anywhere

There’s an increasing popularity in constructing theaters and show studios in locations that meet the conditions necessary for such amenities. People construct theaters in any place that they prefer as long as they’re in love with it.

Any existing building can be turned into a theater and a showroom. With creativity on the rise, old warehouses and even car parks can be converted into amazing theater rooms.

  • The film industry is being diversified

The social commentary has diversely increased, hence the need for diversity in film production. More female leads are being used, and racial diversity is also being observed.

The show production industry has become more accommodative to people from different diversities.

  • Constructing temporary theaters

Temporary theaters are cost-effective, and serve the purpose for which they were built, after which they are removed or used for other appropriate purposes. This makes it convenient as the theaters and showrooms do not lie dormant when not in use.

The current designs used in building temporary theaters have made them increasingly popular. People love them so much because they’re flexible and sometimes used even for periods longer than the expected design period.

Some can even be converted into permanent theaters and studios if they turn out to be more convenient and impressive.

  • Using computer generated images with practical effects

Some years back, everybody thought that computer-generated imagery would replace practical effects completely. However, this has not been the case recently.

Currently, the trend in special effects usage in film production is often about effects.

Show production teams prefer and love practical effects more. However, some parts are created using computer-generated imagery.

  • Flexibility in show production studios and theaters

Flexibility makes work and accessing the theaters easier. Both designers and directors have a thing for flexibility.

Therefore, when designing theaters and show production studios, the architects and those working on the structures should keep it in mind.

Flexibility ensures comfort and safety within the theaters. Creativity has to be used to the full potential to think of the best ways to design stages and theater rooms to meet these expectations.


Technology has made life easier and somehow cheaper. Everybody is looking for convenience and comfort nowadays. Proper art and design knowledge help make amazing impressions in theaters and the production of shows. People go with fashion, and the trendier a theater is, the more it’s likely to attract attention.

Cooking Smoked Dishes Using Pellet Smoker For Theater Goers

Pellet smokers are a modern invention that can make smoked dishes into perfection by using an electronically controlled thermostat which automatically feeds wooden pellets into the smoker and can add a wide range of wood-smoked flavors. These devices make it easy cooking by putting the rich and smoky flavor you deserve to your favorite meat. They are easy to install and use and can be used indoors and outdoors, can be used all throughout the year to create delicious meals and are of great value for your money. Theatergoers are now demanding higher quality food and purchasing a pellet smoker for you can help meet their needs. Due to its set-and-forget nature, theater employees do not need to be heavily trained on how to use a pellet smoker meaning they can use it to easily produce high-quality meals by using a preset of hot and fast or low and slow. It is a great treat for theatergoers as the meat will be grilled to perfection each time with an integrated digital elite controller. Meat can be cooked to the customer’s preference depending on whether they prefer rare or well-done it will be a big hit.

Pellet smokers are safer than regular barbecues in multiple ways for both staff and customers. Due to meat probes being included in pellet smokes that check the internal temperature of the meat when it is finished the meat can be easily cooked to food safety standards to lower the risk of food poisoning experienced by the customer. Pellet smokers are safer for staff as they feature advanced grease trays which prevent spillage of grease onto the flow of people which is hazardous. Pellet smokers will be a welcome addition to the theater as they provide a safe way of providing delicious food to theatergoers while being a much lower risk for staff to prepare food. Great treats for theatergoers don’t come easy, but with pellet smokers, great treats can be easily made with a wide variety of meat to meet various budgets. Pellet smokers can be easily transported around as they feature wheels, meaning they can move around the theater kitchen with no hassle and are easy to set up when they arrive from their destination.

Pellet smokers can increase the profit of the theater, as once a customer has paid a moderate amount of money for smoked meat, they are more inclined to buy higher-margin items such as beer or wine to go with their original purchase. The customers can be then funneled into deluxe theaters which have a higher cost of admission with better features leading to more profit. Chicken, beef, lamb – prepare it with the best pellet smoker in order to impress your customers and lead them to come back. Why should a customer go to a restaurant than a theater when they can do both at the theater for more convenience. Pellet smokers can be a unique addition to your theater which elevates you above the rest at a modest price.

How Swimming Can Help Theater Actors

Swimming is an activity that one can be involved in at any age. You can even see adult swim run the jewels or other swimming events. Besides, it can also be done in many areas given that swimming areas are available everywhere. So, how does swimming benefit theater actors? To answer this question, let’s have a look at some of these benefits:

Helps theater actors maintain great shape.
A theater actor is not only expected to master the script but must also be in good shape. With a nice body, an actor is able to fit in more roles. The various techniques used in swimming such as backstroke and breaststroke helps an actor have a nice body. The body helps the actor to be more successful.

Improve stage posture.
Proper body language is a very important aspect of acting. How theater actors pose on stage helps them attract the attention of their audience. Swimming requires an individual to be able to properly balance their body in water. Swimming helps an actor to understand the body better and able to stand properly on stage regardless of the size of the audience. To succeed in this field as an actor, you need to have the ability to maintain a proper and confident posture when acting.

The body becomes more flexible.
Some scenes in a play may require certain body movements that may not be possible if one is mot flexible. Take, for instance, a scene in which the actor should dance seductively. By swimming, an actor is able to flex the body and enable it to maintain the shape that will be appropriate for such kind of scenes. With a flexible body, an actor can fit into different roles and different plays. This can only mean that the actor will be more successful in their trade.

Reduces stress.
The mental health of theater actors plays a significant role in determining the level of success they are able to achieve. Swimming relieves the mind of an actor from the pressure that work gives. The actor will, therefore, have proper mastery of script and scenes. With reduced stress, an actor is able to focus better on the most critical activities.

Increases the level of perseverance of the actors.
Swimming enables an actor to control their breathing, especially when underwater. As a result, the lungs become stronger and their ability to hold more air is enhanced. Besides, swimming also improves the metabolic rate of an individual. With more energy, actors are able to endure the long rehearsals, many hours of work and the involving work involved in the production process. The body of the actor is also better prepared to handle the scenes that may require them to speak a lot or be involved in a energy-consuming physical activity as they will have more power.

Helps the body relax.
The activities involved in acting may make the body tense. Theater actors, therefore, need activities that can help the body relax. Since swimming is fun, it helps the body relax and helps it regain the energy that may have been used. With improved mood, an actor is able to work better.

As observed above, theater actors get a lot of benefits from swimming. Gamecock swimming can provide you with a very flexible swimming schedule to suit your needs.

Indie Theater Now People of the Year 2013

Indie Theater Now proudly presents the 10th annual People Of The Year. These 15 artists represent the cream of contemporary independent theater. All of them have contributed in multiple ways to the diversity and vitality of NYC theater in the past 12 months. These artists are chosen by nominations from NYTE’s contributors and selected by the Board of NYTE.

RANDI BERRY is the Co-Artistic Director of Wreckio Ensemble, and the Executive Director of The LIT Fund. She also serves on the Board of Directors of The League of Independent Theater. One Memorable Thing She Did in 2013: With John Clancy, Randi helped form The LIT Fund whose first Community Grant was awarded to The S.H.I.T. List, a community-based project developed by Gideon Productions, Flux Theatre Ensemble, and Shaun Bennett Fauntleroy and she spearheaded the Rehearsal Space Grants for The League of Independent Theater. Plans for 2014: Randi plans to continue growing The LIT Fund, and expanding The League of Independent Theater’s real estate efforts. She will also be appearing in Wreckio Ensemble’s upcoming production of The Sisters of Arkansas Can Saw.

J. STEPHEN BRANTLEY is a versatile actor and playwright. One Memorable Thing He Did in 2013: His latest play, Pirira, premiered at The Chain Theatre under the auspices of Theatre 167 this past fall in which he played a leading role and he also starred in Kathleen Warnock’s That’s Her Way. Plans for 2014: J. Stephen is working on a semi-autobiographical solo cabaret show that will premiere at Horse Trade’s upcoming FRIGID Festival, under the direction of David Drake. He will also appear in a one-day, site-specific revival of Theatre 167′s Jackson Heights 3am, which he also co-wrote. He is also working on a new full-length play. Learn more at:

JANIE BULLARD is an inventive and ubiquitous sound designer and composer. One Memorable Thing She Did in 2013: She designed sound for both of Flux Theatre Ensemble’s spring rep productions, Honey Fist by August Schulenberg, and Sans Merci by Johnna Adams (for which she also composed original music). Plans for 2014: Janie will be working on two upcoming productions with director Daniel Talbott: the premieres of Sarah Shaefer’s play The Gin Baby, and David Van Asselt’s Foo Fable. She will also be sound designing August Schulenberg’s new play, Jane the Plain, for Flux Theatre Ensemble, David Stalling’s new play, Dark Water, for MTWorks, and a new revival of Love’s Labour’s Lost at the New School for Drama. Learn more at:

BURAN THEATRE is a New York-based theatre company creating new works that straddle genre and artistic production under the auspices of artistic directors Adam R. Burnett and Jud Knudsen. One Memorable Thing They Did in 2013: Their production of NIGHTMARES: a demonstration of the Sublime played The Brick Theater twice (in both January and October); in-between those engagements, the production toured three western states where Buran remounted it from scratch with all-new casts drawn from local actors. Plans for 2014: They will premiere their newest work, Magic Bullets, at the Incubator Arts Project in May, and take it on tour from November 2014 through January 2015. They are also developing a second new work, Mammoth, which will make its New York premiere in late 2014/early 2015. Learn more at:

CECILIA COPELAND is a playwright, and the Artistic Director of NY Madness. One Memorable Thing She Did in 2013: Her newest play, Light of Night, received its world premiere production this past fall at IATI Theater. Plans for 2014: Her next play, Between Here and There, will be presented by Open Hydrant Theater, and Light of Night will receive a second production later in the year. In addition, Cecilia’s company, NY Madness, will finish its spring season with featured guests August Schulenburg, Mia Chung, Jenny Lyn Bader, and David Bar Katz. Learn more at:

ELENA K. HOLY is the Producing Artistic Director of The Present Company, which produces The New York International Fringe Festival every summer. FringeNYC is the largest multi arts festival in North America and is the sixth most attended event in NYC. One Memorable Thing She Did in 2013: Elena led FringeNYC into its 17th year, and her stewardship of the festival helped hundreds of shows and thousands of indie theater artists to develop and present innovative and passionate work to a broad audience. Plans for 2014: Elena plans to revolutionize FringeNYC’s operations and ticketing, continue providing the best possible resources and support for festival artists, further the coalition of a new World Fringe Alliance, and the formation of a FringeNYC Alumni Association. Learn more at:

LESS THAN RENT is a New York-based theatre company of enormous drive and invention. One Memorable Thing They Did in 2013: LTR presented Sean Patrick Monahan’s solo musical Diva at this year’s United Solo Theater Festival, where it won the Best Musical award and the Audience Favorite award. Plans for 2014: LTR is about to enter its second year of residency at Horse Trade Theater Group, which will include world premieres by Peter Gil-Sheridan, James Presson, and Sean Patrick Monahan. Learn more at:

PADRAIC LILLIS is a prolific and accomplished director and playwright, and the Artistic Director of The Farm Theater. One Memorable Thing He Did in 2013: Padraic directed LabRats Theatre Company’s production of The Rise and Fall of a Teenage Cyberqueen by Lindsay Joy Murphy, for which he won the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Director. Three of his plays are published on Indie Theater Now. Plans for 2014: Padraic has a full slate of activities planned for The Farm Theater’s first year, which include developing Brian Luna’s solo show 7th and 11th Dimension, hosting a salon for Russell G. Jones’ play The Blind Spot, and a three-way college collaboration with the University of Ashland, Centre College, and Clark University. Learn more at:

SAMARA NAEYMI is the Producing Director and Curator of Incubator Arts Project. One Memorable Thing She Did in 2013: Samara continued to champion new, innovative work at Incubator Arts Project, presenting such varied and distinct artists as Sara Farrington, Joshua William Gelb, Daniel Fish, Vampire Cowboys, and Dave Malloy & Eliza Bent. Plans for 2014: Samara will continue her work as Producing Director and Curator of Incubator Arts Project as they launch their spring season. She will also start work as a freelance producer for a roster of artists soon to be announced. Learn more at:

TIMOTHY NOLAN is a veteran playwright, and the Literary Manager of Variations Theatre Group. One Memorable Thing He Did in 2013: His most recent play, What’s in a Name?, was produced by Variations Theatre Group at The Chain Theatre last spring. Plans for 2014: Timothy will continue his stewardship of Variation Theatre Group’s staged reading series, Minor Variations Project, and hopes to get a new play development lab off the ground. He is also working on a new play of his own. Learn more at:

DIANA OH is an actress of remarkable range and depth, and the creator of the artist’s retreat Filling the Well. One Memorable Thing She Did in 2013: Diana gave a memorable and scene-stealing performance in Gideon Productions’ world premiere of Frankenstein Upstairs by Mac Rogers this past summer. Plans for 2014: Diana will be seen on stage in the next installment of the One-Minute Play Festival. She will also be recording an EP of her original songs, leading future retreats and residencies for Filling the Well, and working on a reading and workshop production of her original musical, Kimchi Mamas and the Dirty Disco. Learn more at:

AMY LEE PEARSALL is an actress, a company member of Wide Eyed Productions, and a frequent reviewer for Indie Theater Now. One Memorable Thing She Did in 2013: Amy Lee gave a memorable performance in Boomerang Theatre Company’s production of Lickspittles, Buttonholers and Damned Pernicious Go-Betweens by Johnna Adams. Plans for 2014: Amy Lee will soon be seen in PlaylabNYC’s staged reading of e.e. cummings’ rarely seen play, Santa Claus: A Morality. Next fall, Wide Eyed Productions will produce the world premiere of Dan Kitrosser’s new play, Dead Special Crabs. Learn more at:

JIM SHANKMAN is an actor, director, and playwright. He is also the Director of Scene Study for the Conservatory Program at Michael Howard Studios. One Memorable Thing He Did in 2013: Jim performed his solo show, Kiss Your Brutal Hands, at this year’s United Solo Theater Festival, for which he received their Best Actor award. Plans for 2014: Jim intends to submit Kiss Your Brutal Hands to several other New York theatre festivals throughout the year. He also has plans to move his play Suicide Math (which premiered at this year’s New York International Fringe Festival) Off-Off Broadway for an extended run.

MOIRA STONE is a veteran actress of immense versatility. One Memorable Thing She Did in 2013: Moira delivered a knockout lead performance in The Brick Theater’s spring production of Robert Honeywell’s rock musical Mass. And she was in the Matt Freeman’s Why We Left Brooklyn. Plans for 2014: In March, Moira will be appearing at 3LD in UTC #61’s revival of The Pig, or Vaclev Havel’s Hunt for A Pig by Vaclav Havel. Learn more at:

CHINAZA UCHE is a talented and sought-after actor, and a Creative Partner of Flux Theatre Ensemble. One Memorable Thing He Did in 2013: Chinaza played the title role in Kinetic Theatre Company’s revival of William Shakespeare’s Othello. Plans for 2014: Chinaza will be appearing in Flux Theatre Ensemble’s spring production of Jane the Plain by August Schulenberg, and the indie theater-centered webseries Producing Juliet. Learn more at:

The Pigeoning

Indie Artists on New Plays #28: Di Jayawickrema checks out The Pigeoning at HERE

I heard a story on the radio recently about a man who couldn’t spontaneously control his limbs. Every time he wanted to move, he had to carefully imagine the movement he wanted in his mind, and then force his limbs to recreate it. I thought of this feat of concentration as I watched the enormous task of bunkaru-style puppetry in Robin Frohardt’s weird and wonderful The Pigeoning. This meticulously-realized multimedia production, featuring puppetry, video and live music, follows Frank, an obsessive-compulsive office worker in the early 80s, as he comes face-to-face with the chaos that can erupt from trying to build a too perfectly ordered world.

When the audience walks into the theater, each person finds a copy of an Office Safety Manual at their seat. The production opens with a hilarious camp video where an office worker illustrates the manual in the too-bright, slowed-down tones of a flight safety attendant. She guides you through the perils of office life, such as the how to safely walk around corners, and what to do when you come across a plugged cord in your path. The video promises to go through 20-plus chapters but before the joke can grow stale, the play really begins. We find ourselves looking at the puppet Frank sitting at his pristine work desk, engrossed by his own safety manual. You get the sense that the tome has met its perfect reader. Created by the Director/Creator Robin Frohardt and designer Jesse Wilson, Frank is a beautiful puppet, hunched and bespectacled, deep lines creasing his face. As a puppet, Frank is not very big, but you immediately believe that as a character, this is a man made small by incessant worry. Three puppeteers in head-to-toe black man Frank–one puppeteer responsible for making his toes tap nervously, another for drumming his fingers on the desk while the other obsessively straightens his name plate. The fact that the puppeteers don’t always move in perfect unison actually works for this character at war with the world around him. At times, it feels like the hands that swiftly straighten pens and grab tissues to wipe away non-existent spots are just doing it out of pity for the poor, beleaguered man.

It comes as no surprise that when Frank escapes to the park to eat his lunch in peace, his tranquility is immediately shattered by an overflowing trash can abuzz with flies, and a pigeon pecking dangerously close to him. (The flies and pigeons are also gleefully manned by the talented puppeteers.) When Frank flees to the safety of his office, he finds another (or is it the same?) pigeon insistently tapping against his window. With his inner monologue (voiced by the safety manual guide) spinning wildly out of control, Frank flips to Chapter 17 of the manual: “Are you wondering, ‘Is there an inter-species conspiracy against me?’ The answer is probably yes!” Soon, Frank is stalking pigeons through the street, taking the most un-Frank-like risks from letting his desk pile up with clutter to hanging upside down from live telephone wires to record the morse code messages he’s convinced the pigeons are tapping out. Meanwhile, the pigeons are dropping surreal clues, leaving a tiny oar in the park, wearing diving bells, and Frank begins to wonder: are the pigeons trying to torture him, or warn him? The answer to that question is revealed in a wildly artistic journey that is too gorgeous to spoil. As Frank loses his grip on reality, the production takes ever larger flights of fantasy, which push the possibilities of puppetry to its dizzying, dazzling edge. You’re going to want to go down this rabbit hole.

The Perpetual Earth Program

Indie Artists on New Plays #108 Sarah M. Chichester looks at The Perpetual Earth Program part of Planet Connections Festivity

It’s not a particularly common thing to see science or science fiction in theatre. I can only think of a small handful of plays that fits into this slowly growing theatrical genre. So I was particularly looking forward to seeing The Perpetual Earth Program.

Written & directed by Scott Kesselman, this show is about two aliens (who changed their appearance to look like humans) who are tour guides that guide earth humans through the universe to view a planet and creatures that are closest to earth in resemblance. While on the tour, we learn about various aspects of space, time, and the physics of human reality.

The script, which is based on the book Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark (an MIT physics professor), uniquely explores different things that humans can and can’t experience. Going through a number of different ideas and concepts, the dialogue is quite complex. While being well written, it might take an audience member some extra time to think about and process since the script doesn’t simplify the physics being discussed.

The overall production is quite enjoyable. The tour guides, portrayed by Janelle Zapata and Jazmyn Arroyo were exceptional. I applaud both their ability to develop and portray intriguing and strong characters, and their ability to perform such a complicated script so exquisitely. From the interactive nature of the script, it also allowed Zapata and Arroyo to react to unexpected changes within the audience, such as audience members arriving late (after the tour began), and even a chair randomly falling down; which they improvised then went back to the tour quite well. The rest of the cast includes Eric Campos, Jessica Santos, and Cory Herbert- all of whom played the aliens on the visiting planet. While having few lines and lots of physical movement, they simplistically and elegantly portrayed aliens with stunning choreography.

I also enjoyed Kesselman’s staging, the make up and costumes of the aliens, and the projections- that were displayed on two large Styrofoam squares with round cravings out from the middle so we could see the projections in the same way that the aliens view their planet. It was quite an interesting and enjoyable production, which made me leave thinking about a lot of new things (and the few things that I didn’t quite grasp to research when I got home).


Indie Artists on New Plays #13: Steven Cherry looks at B.Madonna playing at the Ellen Stewart Theatre

In architecture, form follows function. In sculpture and dance—the two closest art forms to architecture—form and function are often one and the same. So it is in B.Madonna, a powerful evening of butoh-like dance by the performance artist Maureen Fleming.

Wikipedia describes butoh by saying it “typically involves playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, extreme or absurd environments, and is traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow hyper-controlled motion.”

B.Madonna is indeed playful in its imagery, and Fleming uses to great effect her body as a four-limbed polymorphous substance. The key is her “slow hyper-controlled motion”—it’s what puts her art in the sensually stunning zone between dance and sculpture. One piece, for example, opens with her prone near the top rung of a tier of stadium steps. She then oozes down, like white lava, one step at a time.

Perhaps the most striking effect, used in several of the nine pieces that make up this work, is a black-and-white projection of her, engaged in one set of hyper-controlled motions, while she is on stage, performing the same or related hyper-controlled motions. The projection is several times her own size, and often shows up echoed—as if (and this may actually be the case) there are two, sometimes three mesh screens on the stage that catch the image multiple times. A filter over the projector is manipulated in real time to sharpen or blur the images.

Other props serve architecturally as well—a volcano or tree trunk-like pedestal on which the first piece opens, a pool (of real water) in which the images on stage can appear reflected, a pair of white tree branches that eventually become wings.

Auditory props include music by Phillip Glass (from Koyaanisqatsi, if I recognize it correctly) and two other composers, played live by three musicians in three offstage locations (piano, drums, and accordion); the sounds of running water and thunder; and a few brief sets of words, some by David Henry Hwang, others apparently quoting something Fleming’s mother said.

As a play, “B.Madonna” comes up against the limits of butoh. The quotes of the artist’s mother refer to a car accident they were in when she was two years old, but require program notes to fully make sense. Likewise, Hwang’s brief writings in the playbill explain more than his words during the show. And the accident seems to have inspired, but not really have any connection to, the arc of the show, which refers vaguely to the legend of Persephone. Fleming’s “character” on stage morphs from powerful to wounded to captured underground to ascendant, taking flight with the aforementioned branches/wings. The show’s title, which apparently in earlier iterations was “Black Madonna,” stems from the idea that the Black Madonna is an earlier and more primordial myth from which Persephone springs.

None of this matters. The astonishing geometry on stage—at its most striking, a red garment stretches in an acute triangle from a single point at the top left of the stage to Fleming, wrapped and unraveling in the triangle’s base at bottom right; the asexual drama of Fleming’s bodypainted muscleature; the use of the projector and atonal music to create Hades as a realm of shadows and fog, are worth the price of admission and the two hours of heightened awareness this show—neither play nor dance nor sculpture, but some unique fusing of them—requires.

The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise: youth is not the only thing that’s sonic

Playwrights on New Plays #84: Teddy Nicholas looks at The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise: youth is not the only thing that’s sonic

There’s a moment in The Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise (youth is not the only thing that’s sonic) by Toshiki Okada (playing thru June 29th at JACK in Brooklyn) which slyly sums up–without words–the malaise of urban-dwelling 30-somethings yearning for love/connection/meaning/etc. At a makeshift disco (which may or may not be a dream), a man (Dan Kublick) sits quietly with a couple (Susannah Flood and Jason Quarles) engaged in conversation–one of the members of this couple is more passionate about what’s being discussed than the other, as seems always the case in dyadic conversations–while on the other side of the room, another couple (Rachel Christopher and Moses Villarama) dances (despite what it may look like). The silent man shuffles away from the talking couple towards the dancing couple, making feeble attempts to mimic their dance and join in on their fun, fails miserably, and Snoopy-walks back to his seat only to discover it has been occupied by the more-passionate member of the talking couple. Alone, he sinks into his chair and shrugs at the audience. There’s plenty more where that came from. As staged by Dan Rothenberg, Sonic Life features a quintet of talented performers who nearly always address the audience directly, often implicating us into the ‘action’ of the story. Oh, but now I should say something about the ‘story,’ which will be tough considering the purposeful lack of directness of plot in this beautifully intricate language play. Essentially, our ‘hero’ tells us s/he really hope that [his] way of life improves. “When I say that I hope it improves, I meant that I want to live more fully than I do now.” The other actors seem to take up the mantle of this extended line of thought, morphing the character into an everyperson, shifting the narrative to fit their own needs. While this occurs, there are small, stylized movements interspersed as if the movement of the actors function independently of their bodies. Our hero dreams that their girlfriend is dead (which brings a bizarre sense of calm and comfort to them), despises the idea of travel, then falls asleep on a subway where a mysterious human being invites our hero to a party thrown in their honor for performing an act of kindness. Ultimately, our ‘hero’ finds themselves at work, staring blankly at their work computer. It is here that the audience is implicated in the action. Are we the company staring at the hero, silently judging the effectiveness of their performance? There is very little that I require from theater. A performance space, yes. A performer of some kind (human or not). An audience. That’s about it. Usually, I find less being more. And that is especially true of Sonic Life. The set (by Mimi Lien) is a carpet gray, eggshell-walled office with nothing but a few chairs; all the more fitting for Okada’s language to stretch and fill the space with its impressive poetry of the seemingly banal, accompanied by the strangely beautiful abstract choreography of David Brick. Okada owes a great debt to his frequent translator, the playwright Aya Ogawa, who has transformed Okada’s Japanese to fit into the idioms of our American language. The true hero of this show is the Okada-Ogawa doubleteam of language. This is the language of life, the language of the lonely, of the educated working class, of the subway rider, the dreamer and the lover. This is the language of us. This is my fourth Okada experience (having previously seen Enjoy, also produced by The Play Company in 2010; Witness Relocation’s staging of Five Days in March; and Zero Cost House at Under the Radar last year) and I hope it is not my last. Toshiki Okada is the Thornton Wilder for the Google generation.