Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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American Demigods Local Heroes Reading Series

August 1, 2013

The American Demigods Local Heroes Reading Series spotlights plays in development from some of Chicago’s most exciting local playwrights Sundays this August.

August 4th at 5pm, we will present “Until Death” by Dana Lynn Formby.

August 11th at 2pm we will present “The Outlaws of Gallica” by Rory Leahy,

August 18th at 5pm, we will present “Annie Jump and the Library of Heaven” by Reina Hardy, and we conclude

August 25th at 5pm we will present Last Cadillac by Reginald Edmund.

The Local Heroes series focuses on Chicago playwrights. Unlike other reading series, we don’t pick the plays. Instead, we invite great writers to participate so they can hear a reading of the script they want to work on most.

Come see these future theatrical classics at the moment of their birth!
 
Admission is free, beverages available for suggested donation.
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August 1, 2013
It seems we went all of 2012 without posting. Which is too bad! Cuz we did some great stuff in 2012! That May, we presented The Factory That Makes Devils, a series of horror/comedy shorts written and directed by Artistic Director Rory Leahy.
Two pieces from Factory, “So You Thought You Might Like To Go To The Show” and “The One With The Zombies” were remounted later last year by EndTimes Productions in New York! A prose version of the former was also published in the online fiction journal, Dream Quarry!
Another piece from Factory, “He’s Really A Great Guy” is being published in The Best Ten Minute Plays of 2013 anthology from Smith And Krauss, and rumor has it a film adaptation may be in the works.
Later that year, we produced the very first workshop of what was then called Conmusical, by our longtime friends Matt Board and Reina Hardy. Now known as Fanatical, this brilliant musical set at a sci fi convention is taking the United Kingdom by storm, currently a finalist in the Search For A Twitter Composer competition.Where will an American Demigods show go next?

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Office Hours with Dr. Stafford

May 10, 2011

Erratica’s Lisa Herceg was kind enough to indulge our sillier impulses by thoughtfully answering our ridiculous questions.

Tell us a little about your character.
Samantha Stafford is sharp-tongued, prickly and totally irreverent – in a massively multi-syllabic kind of way.   She is way too smart for her own good and sees the world entirely through the prism of the printed page.   She has a tendency to get suddenly carried away with her own cleverness and finds herself in those “Aw, crap, what just came out of my mouth?” kind of places from time to time…but most of the time she just doesn’t care.   Diplomacy is for wimps.   Her general feeling about other people is that if they’re smart enough, they’ll give as good as they get…and if they’re not, they’re not worth her time.

Do you worry about Stafford coming off as harsh or shrew-ish, or is that exactly the sort of thing that someone not worth Stafford’s time would say?
No, I don’t.  I did early in the process – I actually worried about the opening monologue in particular a LOT.  (That is still a little bit on the b*tchy side.)  But Dan Foss’s direction pushed me toward a much more likeable, more comedic Stafford: she’s exasperated instead of angry;  laughing because there isn’t really anything else to do, rather than railing.   I think we succeeded; so far no one has told me they find Stafford harsh or unlikeable.  (At least, they’re not TELLING me so.)


What was the first show you ever did?
My very first role in a full-length play was Clytemnestra in Iphigenia in Aulis.   I was 16 years old and had no business in the world with that kind of material.   But I attacked it with everything I had…and it bit me back.   I haven’t stopped acting since.


16 would be high school, right?  What possessed your high school to do Euripides?

My highschool was bizarre – tiny little private school that used only primary texts, never textbooks, and utterly devoted to “The Classics.”  (With Capitals).  They ONLY did Shakespeare and Greek tragedy – no musicals, no modern plays, these weren’t worth their time.  And ALL the students had to be involved, so I’m afraid they did them…rather badly.  (Probably still do.)  But hey, everything else from there was cake.

What is your dream role?
Only one??   Ummmm…Rose in Gypsy…Lady Macbeth…Regina in The Little Foxes…Phyllis in Follies.   I’m finally getting old enough to actually PLAY the roles that interest me most.

You get one super-power.  What is it?
Flying.  Figures in my dreams all the time.

Where would you go?  Do you think you’d have any interest in fighting crime?
I would go…wherever I wanted to.  Quickly.  And I wouldn’t have said I had any interest in fighting crime until very recently when I suddenly developed a very keen sense of injustice and a rather quick reaction time to it.   I’m suddenly finding myself doing things like running down purse-snatchers (successfully) and screaming obscenities at men kicking a drunken buddy on an El platform.  It’s fabulously cathartic but my wife is pretty sure it’s going to get me killed.

Magic genie.  Three wishes.  Go.
No more war, bloodshed or violence of any kind, ever, anywhere.  (Is that three right there?  If not, then….)   Unending health for everyone I come into contact with, but they won’t know it.   And the ability to earn a fantastic living doing theater without ever worrying about what happens between gigs.

Ok, what if I gave you two more?
Perhaps super-human strength, now that you mention it.  Ability to fly would be nice, too.  (Doesn’t that all just tie in beautifully?)

What really pisses you off?  I mean REALLY.  I’m talking murderous rage here.
Violent criminal behavior.   (How’s THAT for ironic?)

Seems like normal survival instinct, honestly, although the irony isn’t completely lost on me.  Like refusing to tolerate intolerance. (See Dan’s interview.)
Dan and I are frequently joined at the head.

What is your personal motto?
When in doubt, say nothing.   (I rarely follow this but it sounds like a good idea.)

If, hypothetically, someone wanted to seduce you, how would they go about it?  In theory.
Dress elegantly; turn on a low-pitched, sexy voice; use loads of eye contact; and employ accidental brushing.   Or just be Helen Mirren.   Helen Mirren from the late 90s would be good, but Helen Mirren anytime would work just fine.

Who do you consider a modern-day demigod?
See above.

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I should have known…more than you ever wanted to know about Kelly Yacono

May 3, 2011

Kelly Yacono took some time out to tell AD a few secrets, a few lies, and several other things, some of which are printed below.

Tell us a little about your character.
Well, I consider myself a generous person, I like to think of myself as humorous, happy….wait…did you mean my character in the play? I misunderstood the assignment….


What’s your favorite thing about playing Lisa Milkmin
?

I have never played a character like Milkmin before. It’s so much fun for me because we are exact opposites. She’s manipulative, devious and trendy. 3 things I’m totally not (at least I don’t think I am). If Milkmin and I went to the same Jr. High she would have made fun of me constantly…..then pretend to be my friend and coerce me into giving her my lunch money.

What was the first show you ever did?
My first show was the Fantasticks. Long story long, 16 year old Kelly saw a notice to audition for Grease (which at the time was her absolute favorite musical). But 16 year old Kelly had a problem. She was supposed to be on the varsity softball team that year. What to do? Quit softball (which had been her life since 2nd grade up to that point) or miss out on possibly being part of her favorite musical? So, Kelly 16 built up the courage to go up to varsity Coach Murphy and tell him she wasn’t trying out for softball that year. She expected Coach Murphy to blow a gasket but instead, he hugged her and wished her luck. Aw. Kelly 16 auditioned for what she thought was going to be Grease but something happened and the musical turned into The Me Nobody Knows aka the Musical Rarely Anyone Knows. Kelly 16 got a singing role! Huzzah! What happened next is a little hazy so I’ll just say due to circumstances beyond the school board’s control, the musical once again changed to The Fantasticks. Kelly 16 was given the part of Ladder Mover Number 1. Sadness. But then something miraculous happened! Someone dropped out of the musical! And since Kelly 16 was such a ham back then (back then she says. like anything’s changed) she was given the role of Henry. She didn’t get to sing, but she did get to wear a bald cap, a spirit gummed mustache, and act as a befuddled old man tripping and falling onstage. It also solidified her love for slapstick comedy. The rest as they say…You were recast three times before the show started?  Did that prove to be an omen of some kind?  Did you ever get to sing in high school?
You’d think, right? In the end, it was the best experience I had in high school. After that, I was hooked on theatre. And yes! I DID get to sing in high school. I was lucky enough be in my high school’s production of Bye, Bye Birdie as Mrs. MacAfee.

What is your dream role?
This is such a tough question. I like roles that are interesting, unpredictable, and out of my comfort zone or productions that tackle new angles or push boundaries. If we’re going for dream of dreams probably not in my future, Elphaba from Wicked.

You get one super-power.  What is it?
I’d have to say a combo of Phoenix Jean Gray/Professor Xavier so it’s a balance of good and evil. Phoenix Jean Gray is badass but a little too unstable. I’d like a dash of Professor X to keep things level. Can I do that? Technically, they DO have the same super power….

I hate to look like I’m trying to out dork you here, but while Charles Xavier was telepathic, Jean Gray was telepathic and telekinetic as well as …(What followed here was a long rambling commentary on the differences between Charles Xavier and Jean Gray and has been cut for it’s extremely high nerd quotient.) So would you go full on Phoenix with all that entails or settle for Jean Gray?
Oh, dude. You just pwned the hell outta me. Given this new information, I’d go full on Phoenix.

Magic genie.  Three wishes.  Go.
1) For all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace.
2) Do a huge grossing movie, get paid residuals, and do theatre the rest of my days. 
3) I’d wish the genie to be free!What really pisses you off?  I mean REALLY.  I’m talking murderous rage here.
Condescending people. Ooooh, I cain’t STAN’ you!What is your personal motto?
I try to remember this one as often as I can: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Nice.  How deep into Dune did you get?  What did you think of the crazy David Lynch adaptation?
Man. You’re so calling me out on all my crap today. Dune is actually on my list of things to read. My girlfriend is a huge Dune fan and she showed me the Litany of Fear. It’s such a great way to face life when you’re feeling the most insecure. I imagine the David Lynch version was, well, David Lynch-y. Dune is next after the Dark Tower series.

If, hypothetically someone wanted to seduce you, how would they go about it?  In theory.
I guess I’d have to answer your question with another question…..What kind of bear is best?

Hmmmmm.  I’m kindof torn between the Spectacled Bear and the Sri Lankan Sloth Bear.  Unless we’re bringing fictitious bears into this.  Then I’d have to go with Fozzie Bear from the Muppet Show.  So, what would that make the answer?
False.  Black Bear.

Who do you consider a modern-day demigod?
Charlie Sheen

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Chicago Reader!

April 27, 2011

ERRATICA is a hit with the Chicago Reader! “Hardy writes with punch and verve…Dan Foss’s staging for the American Demigods zips along and Lisa Herceg conveys a nimble wit as Samantha.” You don’t want to miss this show!

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Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

April 22, 2011

Erratica director Dan Foss sat down with AD to talk about the show and life in the theatre.


How’d you get into theater?

When I was 12, my father passed away unexpectedly.  My junior high school chorus teacher thought that encouraging me to audition for the school musical would be good distraction/therapy.  I auditioned and was cast as the title character in “Tom Sawyer”.  So, Ms. Bohart, if you’re out there somewhere, I have you to both thank and blame for my addiction to theatre!

I understand you’ve worked with Reina Hardy before.  What show did you do?  Any thoughts on that experience?
My first introduction to Reina was when Babes With Blades asked if I’d be interested in directing a series of staged readings to help develop a play that they really liked.  I read it and was smitten with Reina before we ever even met!  The show is “Susan Swayne and the Bewildered Bride”, a comedy about a secret society of female detectives in 1880s London.  I was (and still am) majorly impressed with Reina’s use of language and the way she can incorporate wacky comedy into really intelligent dialogue.  I like my comedy both smart and silly…Reina delivers!

What appealed to you about Erratica?  Why did you want to direct it?
I really love directing comedy.  Though Erratica isn’t technically true to the farce genre, Reina calls it an “academic farce”.  All farces that I’ve directed in the past have featured strong male roles, while the women are relegated to playing airheads and tramps, running around half-naked and delivering lame dialogue.  Erratica has some of the smartest and strongest female characters of any script I’ve read!

What is your dream role/project?
As a director, I really want to do a musical again soon!  I just got a taste of that by directing a ten-minute musical for Point of Contention, but that wasn’t enough for me.  I’ve wanted to direct “Batboy: The Musical” since the first time I heard that music!  As an actor, the list of dream roles is long…but right there at the top would be George in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”…preferably opposite our current leading lady (and my dear best friend) Lisa Herceg as Martha!!

You own a lot of Wizard of Oz stuff.  What’s with that?
The easy answer here is … I’m gay!  But I’ve always been touched by the themes of the story.  The idea that you always have everything you want (brains, heart, courage, home) if you remember to embrace it.  I’ve done a lot of shows over my almost-30 years of theatre and playing the Cowardly Lion remains one of my favorite experiences.  His story, in particular, is one that I can personally relate to.

Your cats are Tootie and Belvedere.  I’m detecting a theme.  Why that period in television?
Tootie and Belvedere are in fact named for two of my favorite 80’s sitcoms (I also had a cat who was named after Weezie Jefferson, but she was very sick when I adopted her and too soon passed away).  For me, the 80’s were my teen years…and the television and I had a very close relationship.  All of the crazy sitcoms of that era – Gimme a Break, Silver Spoons, Family Ties, etc. – still inspire my direction.  I learned comedy from that genre, which definitely colors my style a little.

You get one super-power.  What is it?
Invisibility…hands down!  I can’t count the number of times that would come in handy at my day job!!

Magic genie.  Three wishes.  Go.
1)  a magic checkbook that is never ever empty…oh the things I could do…for myself and others!  2) the ability to time travel — there are things I’d love to do differently and people I’d love to see again!  3) more wishes!

What is your personal motto?

It’s cheesy, but I think that Jonathan Larson’s RENT lyric “No Day But Today” is a great motto to live by.  There are days when repeating it to myself like a mantra keeps me sane.

If the zombie apocalypse, or zombocalypse, hit tomorrow, what would your plan be?
I immediately take refuge in the company of my friends Jamie and Eric Prahl…they know more about zombies than any sane people should.  I know I would be safe with them!

Who do you consider a modern-day demigod?
I’d worship at the altar of Jon Stewart!

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Meet the Author – Reina Hardy on Writing

April 11, 2011

Reina Hardy, author of Erratica, recently indulged the interrogatory whims of the AD web monkeys and participated in an interview via email.

As a writer, what do you generally do once the script is done and rehearsals have started?
I glower in the background and do stuff on my laptop during rehearsals.  That’s what I’m doing right now in Orlando for my play, “Glassheart.”  That’s the character I have for every show.

How active are you in bringing your plays to fruition?  Do you tend to argue with directors about different points or ideas?  Are you more hands-off or hands-on?
Depends on the parameters of the development process.  “Glassheart” is still being rewritten, so I’m here all the time, working and talking with the director.  “Erratica” is totally complete, so I just came to a readthrough, and otherwise let the director and cast work on their own.

Where do the words come from?  Who do you think has influenced your voice?
Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis and “Labyrinth” were my childhood influences.  I’m not sure where the words come from and I don’t ask in case they stop.

What makes a story worth telling?
1. It should be, in some fundamental but not literal way, true.
2. It should not make the world worse by propagating narratives and tropes that re-inforce the worst aspects of the world as it is.
3. Someone should love it a whole lot.

You get one super-power.  What is it?

Flight!  Or self-healing. I probably NEED self healing.  I’m injury-prone.

What really pisses you off?  I mean REALLY.  I’m talking murderous rage here.

Lazy writing. Also, the patriarchal system of oppression sometimes really gets up my skirt.

What do you mean by lazy writing?  Can you offer some examples of particularly lazy writing in some popular medium?  Films, books, other plays?

You don’t want to get me started.

What is your personal motto?

Remember the Hotel Night Manager Does Not Give a Fuck.

That sounds like there’s a story in that.
There are several.

If, hypothetically, someone wanted to seduce you, how would they go about it?  In theory.

Have good breath and an erection.

Bar seems kindof low.  Is that really all it takes?

I am a simple girl.

Who do you consider a modern-day demigod?

David Milch, Robert Downey Jr., and Nora Ephron.