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.
Between April and May 2015 I was invited to my second artist residency with Forwardflux for three weeks of intense collaborative exploration of how neighborhoods are transformed, gentrified, or even colonized. Through meetings once a week with the whole group of participants and more intimate rehearsals with two smaller groups, for the first time I worked as dramaturg of a dance piece, Changing Neighborhoods. For the exhibition program, click here.
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. I directed Tics, or Doing the Deed (Apres Coup!… ou Tics) by René Berton with a cast of BATS, the resident company.
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. Tics received the most votes and was extended for a run in January 2015 for the Winners’ Victory Lap.
For pictures and program of Tics, or Doing the Deed, click here.
To publicize the entire event The Flea produced a scary video where my cast experimented with makeup and grandguignol grimaces. You can watch it below.
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, in a cutthroat duel among shows and directors.
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).
Ellen Joffred, The Flea’s Audience Development Associate, published an interview with me about the show on The Flea’s Tumblr blog. If you’re not on Tumblr, you can download a pdf here.
Playwright and theatre critic James Armstrong wrote a couple of reviews, describing the staging as a “splendid production” and “the most successful of the three pieces (“The Best of the Grand Guignol” and “Grand Guignol“)
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.
On October 15, 2013 the Pirandello Society of America sponsored a reading I adapted and directed of Pirandello’s The Giants of the Mountain, with nine actors and two visual artists, who took turns at drawing the characters so precisely described by the author’s stage directions. The play is a “myth” between fable and reality that Pirandello continued to imagine, write, and rework from 1929 to 1934, but eventually left unfinished despite encouraging contracts with American impresarios. Yet, in its present form, the play vibrates with the powerful contradictions of sublime Art torn between the inner necessity to reach out to spectators who may not understand it and the temptation to abandon the world altogether. It was, in the playwright’s opinion, the culmination of his artistic endeavors.
“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
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 The 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.
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.
THE OPPRESSOR. 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.
In April 2013 I was selected as one of the 20 resident artists for a three week marathon on the theme “The Power of Silence” produced by Forwardflux at Theaterlab in New York City.
This was an awesome experience made of fruitful discussion and unexpected discoveries, but most of all of intense collaboration with artists from many disciplines, including visual arts, dance, and even advanced mathematics. Additionally, since I was involved in four projects overall, I enjoyed stepping out of my usual role of director and perform as actor in a couple of them.
For more info, pics and videos, click on the titles below.
Cherry Blossoms, an exploration of the pauses between words in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Director.
The Tortured One, a one act play by Jason Sofge on “weaponized silence”. Director.
Singer, a staged reading inspired by Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Director and actor.
Frameables by Dan O’Neil. Actor.
The residency culminated in a 3 hour performance on May 19, 2013 that took over the three spaces at Theaterlab. For the full program click here.