Within the Raucous Caucus political theatre festival organized by Box Wine Theatre at The PIT, I directed Tom Reed’s Whereas Puppies Are Adorable, a scathing critique of the current over-conflicted Congressional atmosphere. Everything is debatable, even the most innocuous bill proposed by a rookie house representative simply arguing that “puppies are adorable.” On stage an ensemble of energetic “political animals” embodied by Charlotte Grady, Mahmoud Hakima, Anthony Paglia, Maya Schnaider, and Dennis Zavolock. With them, I worked on a gradual transition from civil discussion to grotesque physical confrontation when the beastly natures of politicians emerge. Everything, of course, is immediately broadcast through social media as the representatives soon find out.
In my second collaboration with Chilean NYC-based company LaMicro Theater, I directed Berioska Ipinza’s Fru Mary, an exploration of how two siblings use their imagination to cope with being abandoned by their mother. Digging into the potentiality of this play, two talented performers, Daniela Thome and Roberto Sanabria have made rehearsals a true process of discovery. We presented this piece during LaMicro’s Summer Session.
The Fall season of 2014 at The Flea was dedicated to the Cutthroat series, eleven Grand-Guignol plays organized in four pods. Each of them replicated the concept of the douche écossaise, a mix of gory and lustful pieces. Not only did the title of the series apply to the stories portrayed, it also meant that each evening the audience voted for the best play, eliminating the others.
I directed Tics, or Doing the Deed (Apres Coup!… ou Tics) by René Berton with a cast of BATS, the resident company. In this outright farce, animal instincts resurface and human impediments disrupt the tranquil and boring routines of the bourgeoisie in the country. Everything ends with a loud and chaotic pandemonium. Tics received the most votes and was extended for a run in January 2015 for the Winners’ Victory Lap.
For more info and a full color program click here (Gore) and here (Victory Lap).
The 110th anniversary of The Cherry Orchard prompted me to stage this phenomenal play with my company, on the exact dates of the anniversary of its premiere at the Moscow Art Theatre. For this show I wore several hats: director, producer, set designer, event manager, translator, and a few others. You can find the Playbill for the show, including my director’s notes, here.
Here’s the promotional video for the show, which captures the mix of serious and funny that Chekhov writes in every line and we sought to match at every step.
“What is there in the empty space of the role? […] You have to discover material for the role and organize the scenes in pauses, between phrases, between the lines and even between words.”
Jurij Alschitz, 40 Questions of One Role
Cherry Blossoms was developed for the May 2013 Forward Flux collaborate:create “Power of Silence” 3-week residency at Theaterlab. For more info click here. With Rebecca Tucker and Kelly Sloan.
I see silence as the zero-point energy of theatre, the point where everything can be created from nothing. How can a short scene expand – and to what extent – into a longer piece, and at what distance lines and fragments of the text can still cohere or instead become other?
To attempt a response to this question, in “Cherry Blossoms” I explored the silence between lines and words, as a place for events to occur in the absence of speech.
The actors and I devised three versions of the same brief dialogue from the first act of Anton Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard. Two sisters, Anya and Varya, reunite after one of them has been on a long trip. The different lengths of these versions – about 1, 3, and 5 minutes – depend on how the silence in the interstices of the text is either ignored or allowed to blossom.
Verminous game, thou art caught! Ensnared as a loathsome bug stuck in the great spider’s silken strands.
Jason Sofge, The Tortured One
The Tortured One was developed for the May 2013 Forward Flux collaborate:create “Power of Silence” 3-week residency at Theaterlab. For more info click here. With David Riley and Joyana Feller.
As we struck up a conversation on our first creative meeting, Jason Sofge had an idea for a character to be able to use silence as a weapon. In this harsh power struggle, one character would always speak, while the other would remain silent throughout.
In addition to the peculiar disproportion in the dialogue, the final text provided a fascinating directorial challenge: how to stage a piece in which, due to the extreme violence described in detail in the text, what occurs can hardly be shown on stage in a realistic fashion? With the freedom we were given to explore by the playwright, the actors and I discovered an uncanny territory of ambiguity between the heightened language of the piece and an everyday situation around a tea table.
Stevens Theatre, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA
An adaptation in four parts for the students of my Modern Italian Theatre course. Based on a list of physical actions, we devised and rewrote four versions of the same play, which was set, in turn, in an informal college environment, a morbid Eighteenth century, a flashback from the point of view of one of the minor characters, and a world of puppets.
An account of the theory underlying this course can be found in my article “The Short Play and Postmodernist Stage Directing: A Virtual Experiment with Pirandello’s Cecè.” published in Quaderni d’Italianistica 32.2 (2012)
The Theatre Arts Department at Gettysburg College asked me to direct a mainstage production during the 2008-09 season. Thus, I adapted and translated the play into English in collaboration with Susan Russell, Chair and Professor of Theater Arts. The action was set in contemporary Venice Beach, California and the Italian aristocracy was transformed into its American counterpart based on wealth.
Also, in line with Goldoni’s biography, I imagined that the playwright himself was writing in a haste, in order to keep his promise of delivering as many as 16 new comedies during a single season, and thus win a bet against his competitors. Since everything was being created on the spot, the actors received their parts page after page and the set itself was brought in piece by piece and moved around as the play developed. You can read more in my director’s notes here.
Since we were dealing with lying at its “best”, I asked each member of the production to write a biographical note with a twist, and include a half lie and a full-blown one. You can read the entire program here: try to find the lies! Some are really funny and you can probably tell without knowing the person directly.
Some obscure black-box room in snowy Madison, Wisconsin
In this theoretically infused production I worked with Stephen O’Connell, a talented MFA actor, to deconstruct the idea of “presence” by having the actor play both parts of the play, first in front of a mirror, then to a video of himself previously recorded.
Below you can find both the final product and a series of steps that led to it. For a director, the process is at least as important as the end result.
The first day of rehearsal was a lot about finding various approaches to the text in a constant process of exploration, starting with the alliterative sounds in the play. Although the video is not always in focus – directing and filming at the same time is not advised 😉 – this rehearsal demonstrates a post-modern style of acting/directing that does not ever come to a closure, while at the same time never giving up on potential further meanings. It also details the game of mirrors that will produce the final video.
The second day we tried to gauge the boundaries of the text, from a jazz version to a more expressive one with words only, up until an esoteric experiment of inner displacement in front of a mirror (first part). Finally we tapped into the forces of the four elements: water, air, fire, earth with surprising results (second part).
The third day’s rehearsal tried to blend all layers previously explored, but was also mostly devoted to figuring out how to record a video of the Listener to be played, later, to the same actor playing the Reader.
S. Giovanni Bosco Theatre, Modena, and San Martino Theatre, Bologna, Italy
By special arrangement with the Yourcenar Estate, I presented this monologue within the context of the “La manica tagliata” (The Cut Sleeve) LGBT festival, with Francesco Stella as the protagonist. Since the piece is particularly long, it offered a challenging field for experimentation in the areas of dramaturgy, storytelling, and composition.