Saturday, September 3, 2011

Closing of Two Gents is Sunday at 4pm!



It's a double bill for tomorrow, Sunday Sept 4th! At the beautiful Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, right off the 6 train.

At 4pm we have our closing performance of Two Gentlemen of Verona, followed by a 6pm showing ofJulius Caesar. Both shows are free. Bring a blanket or low chair, a picnic, and a sense of fun!

DIRECTIONS: Take the 6 train uptown to Pelham Bay Park. When you exit, go over the pedestrian overpass and come down into the park. Take a right along the path, then a left and keep going. You are looking for the South Meadow Picnic Area, and we are very close to the Dog Run. If you get lost, ask folks where the running track or tennis courts are, since we are just up and over the hill to the right of those spots.

Call our hotline at 646-450-2878 if it looks like rain to be sure we are still going on!

Read our review of Two Gents: http://nerd-girlsromanticsandtime-travelers.blogspot.com/2011/08/retro-two-gents-is-great-outdoor-fun.html

Watch our trailer for Julius Caesar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bca2rITXiL0

VOTE for our shows, actors and designers to win the New York Innovative Theatre awards!

Two Gents: http://www.nyitawards.com/oobshows/show.asp?showID=2100

Julius Caesar: http://www.nyitawards.com/oobshows/show.asp?showID=2101

Julius Caesar, Directed by Robert J. Dyckman, Stage Manager: Shira Segal

Nicholas Urda*: Brutus

Renee Rodriguez: Cassius

Robert J. Dyckman*: Mark Antony

James Ware: Julius Caesar

Emilio Aquino: Decius Brutus/Octavius Caesar

Angela Sharp: Calpurnia/Popilius/Messala

/2nd Commoner

Krystine Summers: Casca/Lepidus/Strato/1st Commoner-Musician

Kimberley Wong: Portia/Soothsayer/Pindarus

/Citizen 2

Manuel de la Portilla: Marullus/Lucius/Caesar’s servant/Publius/Citizen 1/Cato

Al Patrick Jo: Metellus Cimber/Lucillius/Citizen 3

D. Carlton: Flavius/Artemidorus/Soldie

r 2/Citizen 4

Shae Orrick: Trebonius/Volumnius

Holly Dortch: Cinna/Titinius

Kevin Russo: Caius Ligarius/Octavius’ Servant/Soldier 1

Two Gents, Directed by Renee Rodriguez, Stage Manager: Gae Song

Krystine Summers: Launce/First Outlaw

Emilio Aquino: Proteus

Justin Maruri*: Valentine

Angela Sharp: Julia

Bushra Laskar: Silvia

James Ware: Duke/Antonio

Umi Shakti: Lucetta/Third Outlaw

Robert J. Dyckman*: Speed/Eglamour/Second Outlaw

Lola: Crab

*Actors appear courtesy of Actors Equity Association

Fight Director: Rocio Mendez

Costume Designer: Samantha Guinan

JC Music Director: Manuel de la Portilla

Dramaturg: Angela Sharp

Volunteer Manager: Bushra Laskar

2G Props Designer: Blair Khoker

JC Props Designer: Shira Segal

Assistant Stage Managers: Margo Bayroff, Julia Rella, Erin Magner

Weapons provided by Michael Hagins

Find out more at www.curiousfrog.org and Curious Frog’s page on Facebook.

Two Gentlemen of Verona and Julius Caesar are Equity Approved Showcases.

CONTACT: Reneé Rodriguez, Executive Director

646-450-2878 / renee@curiousfrog.org

www.curiousfrog.org

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Manhattan This Weekend: Central Park's Cherry Hill, and Inwood Hill Park





This Friday, Aug 25th, we continue with Julius Caesar. PLEASE NOTE this performance will start at 6:30pm, a change from previous start time.


This performance is actually a debut for our company at this particular venue: Cherry Hill in Central Park. Enter from W. 72nd and CPW for easiest access to this hidden spot, and head toward Bethesda Fountain and go up the hill next to it.


Picnic fare can be picked up at Columbus Circle’s Whole Foods if you are up for a walk, but we especially love Westerly Market esp. since they just renovated! Organic produce and packaged vegan and omnivore goods will allow for a unique, delicious dinner. Don’t forget to ask for napkins and plasticware at the cash register, and tell them Curious Frog sent you!


On Saturday, Aug 26th, at Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan, we think the rain just might hold for our DOUBLE BILL! The comedy, Two Gentlemen of Verona, plays at 4pm and Julius Caesar is at 6pm. Both shows play at Inwood Hill Park’s The Peninsula, which is located next to the Nature Center and the baseball diamond on the marsh. You’ll enter at 218th St. & Indian Road, and walk down the wide road and over the little bridge.


For this location, we always love to recommend Indian Road Café right there at the corner of 218th St. & Indian Rd, and everyone always says, “What a find!” Indeed they are! Just know that sometimes the wait can be long, so give yourself an extra 30-45 minutes to not just wait, but to make it a full, leisurely day of fantastic dining and beautiful surroundings during a Shakespearean play—or two.


As always, look for our chalk arrows on the sidewalks and pathways to lead you to us! Telltale sign that you have found us would be the streamers and balloons to say farewell to Valentine for his trip away from Verona!


See you tomorrow and/or Saturday! Bring a blanket or low chair, and sunblock and a rain jacket. Remember to check our phone line at 646-450-2878 if it looks like rain. We’ll let you know by 2 hours before curtain whether it’s a go.


Looking forward to seeing you there.
Curious Frog



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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Two Gentlemen of Verona - Opening Weekend 8/11-8/13




This weekend, Curious Frog’s FREE summer Shakespeare opens in Queens with the comedy, Two Gentlemen of Verona. We’ll be bringing you back to 1983 for some fun in the feathered-hair world of shoulder pads and converse shoes.

Join us for our preview tomorrow, Friday 8/12 at 6pm on Astoria Park’s Great Lawn, near the water. When you get off the N/Q train at Ditmars Blvd in Astoria, walk down 23rd Avenue until you reach 19th St. If you enter from where 19th St meets 23rd Ave, go down the hill and you should see us there. Telltale sign would be the streamers and balloons to say farewell to Valentine for his trip away from Verona!

We perform again, same spot, for our official OPENING the next day, Saturday 8/13, at 4pm. Remember to bring a blanket or a low chair and plenty of hydration!

Looking for good picnic fare? We recommend Fresh Start for amazing and unique organic sandwiches, produce, and little tubs of picnic fare—fowl- and vegan-friendly. When you get off the N/Q train at Ditmars Blvd in Astoria, walk down 23rd Avenue and it’ll be on your right, at 29-13 23rd Ave. We love their acai drinks especially!
http://www.fsorganic.com/retailer/store_templates/shell_id_1.asp?storeID=1961778F542C42DFB0792E3A61287F8E.

Or, since you are in a Greek neighborhood, Agnanti will totally make you say “Opa!” with their truly authentic fare, at the corner of 19th St and Ditmars Blvd. Here is their menu and phone number, so you can order ahead and not be late for our play. Their tzatziki is to die for! http://agnantiastoria.com/food-delivery-TW/Agnanti-Astoria-NY-Metro.5745.r?QueryStringValue=I5M2V/XGHxxBZMTsXCncyg==

Coming on Sunday at 4pm instead? Sure! We’ll be at Queensbridge Park in Long Island City on that day. Easy to get to as well, since the entrance to this smaller river park is at Vernon Blvd and 41st Ave. The F train will bring you to us, then walk toward the East River, or use www.hopstop.com to find your way from wherever you’ll be starting out from. This particular venue isn’t as close to our favorite dinner haunts as usual, so try to bring your picnic fare with you so you can munch away while you laugh at our antics!

See you this weekend! Remember to check our phone line at 646-450-2878 if it looks like rain.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Family Problems are Universal


Thoughts on Curious Frog's Production of Rope of Sands by Toni Seger

ACTOR'S PERSPECTIVE....

As an actor, auditioning can feel like a full-time job. Soon after I wake up in the morning, I read all the casting notices in my email inbox. Once that's done, I make some phone calls, search jobs at the Actors' Equity building, and then of course, prepare for auditions.

Most of the time, I see roles that are specifically marked for white actors, while other times the following message is placed as a footnote: “Performers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds are encouraged to attend.”Such a notice would give an actor reason to believe that the casting director is interested in assembling a diverse cast. I, along with other performers of color, respond accordingly and audition for these parts.

Months pass, however, and when these roles are finally cast, they usually go to Caucasian performers despite the call for actors of all colors. I respect the vision of the people who made these decisions – the playwright, director, producer, casting director and others – and no one should be forced to cast a show in any way other than how they see fit.

On the other hand, I applaud the theatre companies that take risks in casting. I believe the rewards for these risks include the advancement of art in showing the universality in human problems and experiences.Additionally, non-traditional casting enables underrepresented performers to show the range of their talents in works from William Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams and beyond.

I am thankful to Curious Frog Theatre Company for the opportunity I had these past couple of months to perform in the play Rope of Sands by Toni Seger. Director, Renee Rodriguez had a vision to cast this upper-class family as interracial even though the play had been performed previously with Caucasian actors.Ms. Seger enthusiastically agreed and was so supportive of the production.

My character Peter is the kind of role I have wanted to play for a while – a young professional, educated, sophisticated, but with deeper layers of alcoholism, family strife and an out-of-this-world ego.

While I take pride in the roles I've played previously (which include parts in everything from comedies to slave dramas), the diverse casting of Rope of Sands is very contemporary and necessary in this age of Obama.There are affluent African American and multiracial families dealing with the same troubles as successful white families and while this play never explicitly says that, it more importantly shows it.

The lack of mention of race brings to mind the film, Things We Lost in the Fire, which stars Benicio Del Toro and Halle Berry as husband and wife. In that film, the ethnicity of the family is never brought up. Similarly, my biracial character in Rope of Sands never says, “Hey Dad, you're black,” or “Hey cousin, you're white,” but what this play does highlight is that this family's troubles are relatable to families of all ethnic backgrounds.

I thoroughly enjoyed bringing Seger's work to life under the direction of Rodriguez as well as working with my fellow cast (Barry Phillips and Angela Sharp) and the talented crew.

I hope more theatre companies will follow the “leaps” Curious Frog has made in its mission of non-traditional casting. I believe that is the way forward.

-DeSean Stokes

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Forsake thy cage, thy rope of sands..."


PLAYWRIGHT'S PERSPECTIVE....

Thoughts on Curious Frog's production of Rope of Sands

by Toni Seger

At the time I wrote this play, I never would have imagined it being produced with a mixed race cast, but it works beautifully and adds layers for the audience to ponder. The bias I wrote about was financial. Meredith makes less money than her uncle and cousin and all of their communications with her are colored (small pun intended), by that bias. Adding the element of race, however, compounds the questions it raises. The fact that race is never mentioned in the script also works well. There’s no reason why it would, in this case, when the focus is the effect of a family suicide that is not race based.

As I got to know Renee Rodriquez, I wondered if she might want to approach the claustrophobic suburban world in which Rope of Sands exists with a mixed race cast, but I assumed Meredith would be the character with dark skin. Renee turned the tables on me by making Meredith white, with all the ironies that choice brings, and the beauty of the casting illustrates that an unconscious bias can appear in any form.

I’ve created a lot of characters, but Meredith is one that’s always stayed with me. When I write, I become the conduit for the passions of my characters and I let them speak for themselves (which makes alcohol helpful because it loosens their tongues and they start saying things they’d normally sit on). I created Meredith for all the folks who wish they’d said the thing they didn’t dare say, at the last family gathering they didn’t want to attend…

Frustration is a good dramatic driver for me and frustration is the underlying emotion that drives Rope of Sands. It’s the frustration of people who desperately want and need to connect with each other, but keep failing at it without realizing the role they play in sabotaging things.

I’m thrilled that the feedback has been so enthusiastic and I’m very proud of this production. I’m also very moved at the seriousness and commitment with which everyone involved approached it. A playwright could not hope for more than to have their work treated with respect by the talented people tasked with interpreting it.



Monday, August 30, 2010

Amantrya: A Sad Goodbye






















We have quite a celebration planned this Sunday. We will be closing a tremendous show. Our Midsummer Night's Dream: The Scavengers will perform for the last time at Inwood Hill Park. Afterward we'll perform a great ritual in the world of theatre: The Cast Party.

This particular event, for this particular play, will be a difficult one. It is rare to have experienced what I believe this cast did--a collaboration of perfectly combined actors, a synergy beyond that one normally feels, even with the best of casts. Our reviewers have been incredibly zealous in their praise, and our audience have posted laudatory comments all over their and our Facebook walls. It's that good of a show. Biased or no, I'll stand behind that statement 100%.

In spite of the varied levels of experience on stage, the obvious truth is that there is so much talent up there it's humbling. At least, it always has been for me. There were times during our rehearsal period when I was thankful I had plenty of experience behind me, because this was a cast deserving of a knowledgeable leader. It was a joy to educate, guide, and be inspired further by this group of individuals.

Imagine, if you are an actor, that you've been told to come to callbacks memorized and wearing clothing you don't plan to ever wear again. And then imagine being that actor, arriving with folks you don't know, being taught how to safely beat the crap out of each other and roll all over the dirty ground, and then told, "Aaaand....Go." Over and over and over again.

Or that you are handed a script, assigned some roles, and then told you have 10 minutes to show this scene, and hey, use the park's tree leavings and such as your props. Good luck, see you in 10.

Now imagine you are the director, staring at folks who are already good enough--and pretty much ready--to open the damn show. All before it's even cast.

But that's not what's hard to say goodbye to. And the thing is, I truthfully already had to say goodbye before we opened. Three weeks of rehearsals were what I really had to let go of. Actors who for the first week, took to the words of my adapted script and the language exercises and analysis, sitting on their butts; then for two weeks, tumbling around in the dirt and grass of several parks every single humid day; then for the final week, fairies meet and remember lovers who meet and remember mechanicals--14 people newly re-introduced, but this time with a whole lotta imagination behind them, to execute and show off and bring together. Oh, and then to add in "the forgotten scenes"--those moments here and there, large and small, which needed all the actors at once and were only visited and created 2-3 days before opening.

THAT'S what I found hardest to say goodbye to. I was singing on my way to rehearsals every single day. My step was light, my laughter easy. And I had to let go of 3 hours spent every day this summer, directing pure magic.

So I think I always knew we had a great show. Better yet, I suspected and found out we had an amazing ensemble. When you know who you want to cast, but can't decide where to put them because they'd each be brilliant in 2-3 different roles.....well, that's a freakin' FABulous problem to have.

Our lovers are certified combatants; and how often I've heard from folks that it's the best "lover's scene" they've ever seen in any Midsummer shows you how dynamic these actors (Angela Sharp, Alex Gould, Brandi Bravo & Andrew Sanford) are, especially with the choreography of Rocio Mendez. I mean come on, when you have a badass fighter like her allowed free reign, you're gonna see some pretty cool stuff.

Our fairies (yes, yes, they're pretty close to naked--and in perfect shape) do their own brand of tumbling and magic...nobody can take their eyes off of this Puck because she's mesmerizing; and I swear if my Oberon adds one more back-handspring-flippy-twisty-aerial-impressive acrobatic move to the sequence we already have in there, I'm just going to have a heart attack for his safety. But, of course, it's all in regular stride and easy as pie for that guy--whose acting moments also deepen with each show.

These mechanicals have forever endeared themselves to me. A motli-er crew you've never seen, and the interrelationships are fabulous, funny, and truly inventive. I daresay I've never seen a better Quince, and our Bottom is always one of our audience members' favorites in the show, and our Flute brings out some of the audience's heartiest laughter. But I think the truth is, it's hard for me to decide if our very stout Snout is my favorite, with his sporadic glimpses of frivolity; or our wide-eyed Snug, esp once she dons the cutest Lion's mask I swear I've ever seen. And I have a particular fondness for our Starveling, who in her simplicity has created the most memorable Moonshine I believe I'll ever experience--complete with an adorable hop on her final exit.

So, this will be a bittersweet closing for me--and I suspect for all of these actors as well. Oh, sure, we all have our next projects lined up and ready to plunge straight into; but if we are honest with ourselves, we can admit that while we are always looking forward, this will have been an experience we'll always look back on and wish we could relive even just one of the many priceless, honest, unforgettable moments we created together.

And so I say "Amantrya" to this cast I love so well, bidding them farewell...if only for a short time. Because now these folks are high on the Curious Frog's list!

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Assisting the Maids


Now that spring is here I find myself dining outdoors with friends quite often. Why, just the other day I found myself catching up with a friend while having brunch al fresco. I was telling him about my experience so far working on this French play called The Maids and he gave a little laugh. I asked "what’s so funny?" and he mentioned how Genet was an interesting playwright. Yes, as anyone who knows Genet’s works will attest to...but that got me thinking about how interesting this particular production actually is.

When you think of this classic French play written by Jean Genet, the team I'm working with is not the one that comes to mind. I think what makes this production of The Maids so different from some of the works we often see in the city is that it’s not about the people themselves, but rather about the characters and script. You have two actresses cast as sisters who look nothing alike, but you wouldn’t know that in rehearsals, an exquisite Madame who is in fact a man, and this drama is all coming together under the skilled direction of a woman with great comedic timing. This is a multicultural and female-dominated production, which is what makes it so exciting.

Now this is my first time working on a Curious Frog production, and the company’s mission of hiring people in roles that you wouldn’t normally hire them in is to be applauded. I myself am half Asian and you really have to go deep into the team’s bench to find someone who is a Caucasian male. Nothing against Caucasians or males, I myself am half and all male, but it’s interesting because we’re all minorities, and that’s not the relevant thing to the production. In rehearsals we’re constantly working on the minds of the characters and on the workings of the play. Yes, we’ve seen men in women's clothing and unfortunately time and again minorities as maids, but as French sister maids who dress up as their Madame in order to perform a ceremony in their attempt to overcome oppression? I think not! It adds more layers to these already interesting characters.

I will say as the assistant director of this production I’ve been put into the rare position of learning more about the female mind due to often being the lone male in the room. Now that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does make for some interesting rehearsals. Just the other evening I listened in on a discussion about the milkman which turned into which hunky male celebrity he was in their minds. Even though the team is diverse culturally it seemed clear that all the ladies could agree on the hotness of George Clooney.

So that little laugh that my friend gave about the interesting-ness of the playwright is just a smidgen of how interesting seeing the show will be. This is a unique team putting together a production of a very interesting play from a very interesting playwright making the performances of The Maids not to be missed.

- Don Etheridge, Assistant Director


Curious Frog Theatre Company's production of "The Maids" opens April 24th and runs through May 8th in a loft in Chelsea, 7:30pm curtain Wed-Sun. www.curiousfrog.org to learn more about the production. Tickets sold through Brown Paper Tickets.