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The Engineer Behind the Mask

by moxielicious

DanaB_unmasked

Dana Byrne in JADE HEART. Photo by Daren Scott

A single mask has a thousand faces and the mask that actress Dana Byrne wears in MOXIE Theatre’s San Diego premiere of JADE HEART, playing now through August 10, 2014,  is no exception. The truth is that the actress gives the mask its faces and Dana Byrne has certainly filled the mask she wears as the character “China Mom.”  Dana also plays several other wonderful characters in JADE HEART, including the charming and wise Mu Chang. San Diego audiences may have seen her in the San Diego Choraleers’ Musical Concert Bye Bye Birdie as Kim in May and June 2014, but to many of our audiences she’s a new talent in San Diego. She took a moment between performances to let the MOXIE Blog interview her.

When did you first begin acting?

I loved acting since I was a young girl and was a pretty successful singer and dancer when I was a teenager. After that, due to culture and family influence, I did not continue acting, instead, I was perusing a career as an engineer.  After two of my children grew up, I returned to my beloved acting about 2 years ago.

How has the process been working on JADE HEART?

Delicia is a wonderful director, and it is a  joy when I feel I have made her directions into my real actions.  I am so happy to work with the talented cast and they are my inspirations. I am grateful that Jo Anne spent a lot of time helping with my diction, and when I hear my improved voice, it is full of joy. Having been working at Moxie Theatre will always be in my happiest memories.

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Dana Wing Lau and Dana Byrne in JADE HEART. Photo by Daren Scott

The under-representation of Asia-Americans on stage is something that has been coming more into focus in the public eye over last few years. Obviously for you, it’s an issue you were already aware of. How has working on JADE HEART been in light of those challenges you face as an Asian-American actress?

I appreciate that Will writes this wonderful play that displays Chinese culture, politics, and history. I appreciate that Moxie Theatre embraces this play by using Asian actors to tell the stories.  Asian actors had been under-represented for years and we are not generally considered for many plays. So this production means a lot.

What do you think audiences will enjoy most about JADE HEART?

I think Jade Heart tells a unique story in unique ways. It is a dramatic play with humor. One of my friends said she cried during the play because she felt pain and sorrow for Jade and her two moms and, at the same time, it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the humor in the play made her laugh.

Some people love the non-linear style of the play. One of my friends said the style of Jade Heart provides opportunities for the audience to think or guess what will happen next, and they continue to think when the play has ended.  

JADE HEART is playing now – August 10, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Tickets available at http://www.moxietheatre.com/jadeheart or call 858-598-7620

THAT was Jo Anne Glover?

by moxielicious

JoAnneGlover

Jo Anne Glover in “Mud Blue Sky” Promo Photo Shoot – by Daren Scott

Standing in the lobby after a performance of MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky by Marisa Wegrzyn, I overheard a long time patron say “They were all so good. Who was the blonde?” To which the house manager replied, “That was Jo Anne Glover, you know Jo Anne, she’s one of the founders of MOXIE.” The patron hesitated, “Well, of course I know Jo Anne, but…wait THAT was Jo Anne Glover?” It’s not  surprising that she was mistaken. Glover did grow six inches for the part, go blonde, construct a new strut and virtually reinvent herself as the sharp-tongued, single-minded and fairly selfish, “Sam”,  in Mud Blue Sky (see the image below). Here’s where you ask how she GREW. We can’t explain it but we promise you’ll agree that Sam is taller than the actress who plays her and it’s not the shoes.

Glover fans will tell you that transforming isn’t a new trick for the actress who works all over the city but this transformation is perhaps one of her most complete to date and it’s utterly convincing. 

“Moxie co-founder Jo Anne Glover gives a razor-edge performance as the manipulative and self-absorbed Sam.” -UT San Diego 

 

“Glover’s Sam is utterly convincing in her struggle to succeed in the dual worlds of motherhood and work.  She’s up for anything (and is randy to boot), and the internal fight is evident and riveting to watch” – San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (sdgln.com)

 

“Speaking of timing, Jo Anne Glover’s Sam is right on the button with hers. Both awed and amazed all at once her expressions are priceless..”-examiner.com

 

Glover took time before a performance to tell us about her experience in Mud Blue Sky and also took time to record a fabulous video interview about the character and play. Enjoy both and reserve your tickets for one of the two remaining performances of Mud Blue Sky on Saturday June 7 or Sunday June 8th! Click Here to Buy Tickets Now or call 858-598-7620

 

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Jo Anne Glover as Sam in Mud Blue Sky – Photo by Ash Arrow Photography

What shows have you done recently in San Diego that MOXIE audiences may have seen you in? 

Maple & Vine at Cygnet, Skinless at MOXIE.

How are you like your character in Mud Blue Sky? How are you different? 

I actually think she’s the most different from me than any character I’ve played in a while. She likes to party and talks a lot (I mean, I might talk a lot, but not as fast or as broadly as her).  She’s definitely an “acter”
not a thinker.

What have you learned during the rehearsal and production process for Mud Blue Sky?

I think I’ve learned a bit more about “just doing it” – allowing myself to say and do things I’d never personally do or say with abandon.

What is the hardest moment in the show for you to not break character and laugh? 

 If I say it’d ruin the surprise.

What made you want to be a part of this production? 

The script and the company involved.

What is most surprising to you about this play?  

The way it creeps into your heart and leaves you smiling.

 

It Takes a Strong Woman to Play Fragile

by moxielicious

MelissaFernandes

Melissa Fernandes in promotional photo shoot for Mud Blue Sky. Photo by Daren Scott

We can’t get enough of Melissa Fernandes. Who can? One of San Diego’s most loved actresses, Fernandes is known for bringing depth and humanity to every role she plays. Her loving portrayal of Angie, the recently fired, divorced and haunted, yet painfully cheerful, flight attendant in MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky, is no exception.

“Melissa Fernandes is fragile and tender as Angie” -UT San Diego

 

“Fernandes hides some deep sadness behind those eyes of Angie and at one point, delivers a heart-wrenching monologue that every actress of a certain age should be memorizing for their next audition. If you can come 50% close to what she delivered on stage, you’d be in the running for a call back.” -thedailyactor.com

 

“Fernandes makes it impossible not to empathize and wish Angie Well.” - San Diego Gay and Lesbian News

We caught up with her between performances to learn more one the most sought after talents in our thriving theatre community.

What would MOXIE audiences have seen you in recently in San Diego?  

Last year, I performed in Assassins, Company and A Christmas Carol at Cygnet Theatre. Next up is The Full Monty at New Village Arts.

How are you like your character, Angie,  in Mud Blue Sky? How are you different?

How am I like Angie? Well, I am awkward socially that is for sure! But I also have spent most of my life dealing with body image and physical standards that are almost too high to meet. It is a daily struggle for me. I knew taking this role would be uncomfortable for me because of how Angie is described. It is not easy hearing your character called fat every night. But, I think she proves to be much more than that- funny, flawed, human and very real. I love that about her. 

How am I different? Lots of ways, but you will have to come see the show to find out. 

Have you learned anything new during this rehearsal and production process?

I have loved, loved, loved working with Jen, Jo Anne, DeAnna and Tyler. I have learned so much just by watching them and watching them evolve with their characters. I try to make my mantra “Be Brave” whenever I go into rehearsal for a show. They made it very easy to be brave. Even when it was hard for me. 

What is the hardest moment in the show for you to not break character and laugh?

Lucky for me, the parts I find funniest, I am back stage so I get to laugh my ass off as much as I want. 

What made you want to be a part of this production?

I have been wanting to work with Moxie again for literally years now, ever since I last appeared in Drink Me. I love this group of artists and admire them so much. It is an amazing gift to be able to surround yourself with strong, confident, talented women. I didn’t care what I was doing, I just wanted to come back to Moxie. I am very grateful to this team. 

What is most surprising to you about this play?

The most surprising thing about this play for me, is the depth of the characters. It is very funny, but beyond that, it is heartfelt and very human. The need for human connection in our lives plays such a huge part in this show. It could be a very superficial comedy, but all of these characters have so much heart and some level of pain, it makes them all very complex and deceptively difficult to play. It is a real challenge. 

Don’t miss your chance to see Fernandes in MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky playing now June 8, 2014. Tickets available at www.moxietheatre.com/mudbluesky or call 858-598-7620

“Chalk One Up for Jones”

by moxielicious

That kid! Where did you find that kid? We’ve got news folks. That kid in Mud Blue Sky, he ain’t a kid. Maybe we shouldn’t give away our secret and really, it’s not much of a secret since he’s been on stage around San Diego quite a bit lately, but for many of our audiences, J. Tyler Jones is a new face. Whether or not they knew him before, the critics are in love.

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J. Tyler Jones in a promotional shoot for Mud Blue Sky. Photo by Daren Scott

“Making his debut at Moxie, Jones is the most adorably innocent pot dealer you’ll ever see… he, like the rest of this terrific cast, is funny and completely at ease…”-San Diego City Beat

“Chalk one up for Jones and his ability to hold his own with this trio of acting powerhouses. Jones’ Jonathan comes on as charming, confident, even hard-nosed…”-SDGLN.com

“J. Tyler Jones strikes a nice balance between a veneer of cool control and baffled innocence underneath.”-San Diego Reader”

A newcomer to San Diego, Jones has been seen mostly in dramatic roles locally, but his boyish, sweet-natured performance here showcases his versatility.”- UT San Diego

“Jones…an expressive and generous young artist, who conveys depth and naiveté simultaneously.”- San Diego Uptown News

MOXIE fell in love with J. Tyler Jones in an elevator.  Well, that statement is almost true. MOXIE first worked with him when he was cast in a play that took place in an elevator, Counterweight by Jennifer Barclay Newsham MOXIE’s co-production with the La Jolla Playhouse for the Without Walls Festival. He found his way off the elevator and into MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky and audiences and critics agree that he’s irresistible as the young pot dealer in Marisa Wegrzyn‘s hit comedy playing now at MOXIE Theatre. We caught up with him between shows to learn more about this kid who as it turns out, is a fully grown man who plays the hell out of his teenage role. 

What shows have you done recently in San Diego that MOXIE audience may have seen you in?

Most recently I was in Macbeth at Intrepid Shakespeare. Over the past year or so I also performed in Counterweight (as part of La Jolla Playhouse’s WoW Festival), Blackout on Battery Cliff (as part of Scripps Ranch Theatre’s Out on a Limb Festival), Accomplice: San Diego (in Little Italy as part of LJP’s WoW Series), and Punk Rock (ion). I also understudied and went on for three performances of Shakespeare’s R&J at Cygnet. I’ve done a number of staged readings in the past few months including Holy Name, which was done at Moxie; Tranquil, a part of LJP’s DNA Series; and The Island and Opposite Togetherness, both part of Playwright’s Project’s Plays by Young Writers Festival at The Old Globe.

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J. Tyler Jones and DeAnna Driscoll in Mud Blue Sky. Photo by Ash & Arrow Photography.

How are you like your character in Mud Blue Sky? How are you different?

 I’m playing someone who is almost ten years younger than me, so he’s pretty different in that sense. But in a lot of ways I think I was pretty similar to Jonathan in high school. I was kind of artsy (though I did theatre, I could never draw like he does), not entirely lacking in self-confidence, but pretty clueless when it came to girls.  I certainly didn’t gain the ability he has to go with the flow until I was out of college. That’s one of the really great things about Jonathan.  Sometimes he shows some immaturity, but he really is older than his years a lot of the time. Jonathan carries a lot more weight than I ever have had to. He’s dealt with loss and feeling responsibility for others to a much higher degree than my own experience.

What have you learned during the rehearsal and production process?

Being on stage with this group is like taking a master class in comedic timing, so that’s been a fantastic learning experience for me. But I’ve also had to learn to roll a joint, and that’s a pretty important life skill I was missing. I feel like I’ve filled a gap in my education from college.

What is the hardest moment in the show for you to not break character and laugh?

There are a lot, but probably the most difficult is when I rush out of the bathroom to answer my phone. I’m already laughing back stage because of what’going on leading up to it, and then that moment is just perfect. I always have to remind myself before going on to stop smiling.

What made you want to be a part of this production?

For one thing, it’s always great to work with a company that has a reputation for not pulling punches in their shows. But with this particular production, I just thought it seemed like a chance to do some really fun things on stage while also bringing to life a character that has so much going on underneath the surface. Before I even auditioned I was reading through the script and thinking, “Man, I really want to say those words…ooh, that moment would be really challenging…hey! I want to make a Sprite explode all over somebody!” That’s how I know a rehearsal process is going to be a fun time, when I get giddy about what I’m going to be doing just from reading the script.

What is most surprising to you about the play?

When I started reading the play for the first time I knew pretty quickly that it was going to be funny, but I didn’t realize how much heart it had. I think that’s one thing this play does incredibly well. It sneaks up on you with its messages. Things are moving along and everybody is laughing and having a good time and then suddenly you realize some of the things that these people are going through and you can’t believe you were laughing at them a moment before. It’beautiful.

 

Come see J. Tyler Jones in Mud Blue Sky playing now-June 8, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Tickets available at http://www.moxietheatre.com/mudbluesky or call 858-598-7620

Driscoll is Wickedly Acerbic and Consistently Funny

by moxielicious

Promo images of Driscoll for Mud Blue Sky by Daren Scott

Promo images of Driscoll for Mud Blue Sky by Daren Scott

That’s what the UT San Diego review of her performance in MOXIE’s Mud Blue Sky says.DeAnna Driscoll has long been one of San Diego’s best actors, but rarely has she had a part as rich and multifaceted as Beth. Driscoll’s wickedly acerbic and consistently funny performance is the highlight of the show.”- UT SAN DIEGO

MOXIE can’t say they’re the least surprised by the outstanding press she’s receiving for her performance. After casting her in another Wegrzyn play, The Butcher of Baraboo which she also received rave reviews for, the company was eager to work with her again.  “We never auditioned for the role of Beth. I had worked on stage with DeAnna a few times and seen her work all over San Diego. When I read Mud Blue Sky I offered her the role immediately. She brings truth and humanity to every character she plays and it helps that she’s funny as hell,” says Mud Blue Sky director and MOXIE co-founder, Jennifer Eve Thorn.

MOXIE caught up with DeAnna Driscoll between the show and school. She’s also a teacher at High Tech Middle where she teaches drama and wins the hearts of her dedicated students.

When would San Diego audiences recently have seen you on stage before Mud Blue Sky?

I was last seen in the show, BETHANY at the Old Globe Theater. 

How are you like your character in Mud Blue Sky?

I love playing the character, Beth.  She is very different than I am in so many ways and it has been challenging. As an actor I am always seeking that challenge to take me to the next level of my work and not let me ‘sit back and ride it out’.  The character Beth does exactly that.  The funny part is, even though I thought she was so vastly different than me, there are some ways we are very much alike.  Beth likes her privacy, as do I.  She leads a busy life and is constantly dealing with people and their issues.  As a teacher, when not on stage acting, I am consistently dealing with student issues.  Like Beth, sometimes I want to be a ‘slam locker’.

What have you learned during the rehearsal/performance process of Mud Blue Sky?

Even though these characters look easy to portray on the page, once we dug into rehearsals I was reminded of the depth that Marissa Wegrzyn writes with.  None of the characters are simple minded, one dimensional, or easily portrayed.  Every single character goes through a metamorphosis in this one evening that the audience gets to witness unfold in front of them. 

Driscoll on stage in "Mud Blue Sky"  Photo by Ash & Arrow Photography

Driscoll on stage in “Mud Blue Sky” Photo by Ash & Arrow Photography

What is the hardest moment in the show for you to not break character and laugh?

There is more than one since Marissa’s comedy is smart and catches you a bit off guard.  One of the best is when JoAnne’s character asks me if I am having a stroke based on the physical gesture I make just previous to that line.  I see her face and I can hardly keep mine from cracking.  The other moment is when JoAnne’s character discovers that a porn movie is playing on my t.v. and I have to explain to her why it’s playing.  It’s all about the writing and then relies heavily on the comedic timing of the actors.

What made you want to be a part of this production?

Simple.  Being with the Moxie ladies once again.  It’s always a privilege working with a group of women who are as passionate about theater as I am.  I have had the honor of sharing the stage with Jennifer Eve Thorn in the past, but never the honor of being directed by her.  She gives freedom for the actors to go about their process, but at the same time asks tough questions and makes you work for those moments.  She doesn’t allow actors to do extraneous things with their work and I love a director with that trait.  I also love the fact that I am once again sharing the stage with Jo Anne Glover as well as having the new experience of working with Melissa Fernandes, whose work I have admired for years, and discovering the enormous natural talent that exists in Tyler Jones.  And, ever so important to any successful show is a stage manager that guides you with a firm, yet kind hand, and we have the honor of that being the lovely Brent Beavers.

What is most surprising to you about this play?

The humanity and layers in each character and the unfolding of their journey.  Trying to explain the show to people is difficult.  The good old question, “Oh, what is the show about?”  should be simple to answer, but with this show it isn’t and I love that!  Comedy looks easy to audience members and yet it’s the hardest thing for actors to do well, so it’s my favorite thing to be faced with on stage.  When in rehearsal and saying the lines over and over and over you can forget how sharp and funny the piece is.  Then you get it in front of an audience who is roaring with laughter and you go, ‘Oh yeah, this show is really damn funny!” 

See for yourself just how “damn funny” Mud Blue Sky is. Playing now through June 8, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Tickets available online at http://www.moxietheatre.com or over the phone at 858-598-7620

Sephus’ Godfrey “is a living ache”

by moxielicious

_mg_7590Godfrey Crump is a complex character. In the good old days he liked to party but after a particular batch of moonshine nearly blinded him and his wife past away leaving him with two daughters that are nearly women, he needed a new leaf to turn over and fast. That’s when he discovered Father Divine and the Peace Mission and moved his daughters from the country to Brooklyn…but then his hot communist sister-in-law shows up with temptation and magnetism so he…marries a white german immigrant who is almost a complete stranger. Did we mention it’s 1950? As we were saying, Godfrey is a complex character so MOXIE needed a versatile actor with a strong presence to play the deeply troubled Mr. Crump. In walks Vimel Sephus. As the press said, “Godfrey is a living ache. He’s all questions — presented in a burst of theatricality at Moxie — no answers. Vimel Sephus doesn’t break out as Godfrey. He breaks down another wall and once again shows his versatility as an actor.” -Jeff Smith, San Diego Reader. 

The MOXIE Blog caught up with Vimel between performances to ask a few questions.

How did you become an actor?

Storyville at the San Diego Rep 2010.  Before that I only did music.

Would the MOXIE audience have seen you in anything else in San Diego?

Cygnet, A Behanding in Spokane; Ion, In The Heat of The Night/Chad Deity

What do you think about the script?

Mystical, Historical, deep yet lighthearted

What’s your favorite moment of the play?

Marlene Dietrich’s special appearance.

What’s your favorite line you get to say?

“We don’t keep no liquor in this house.”

What part of the process has been challenging?

Learning about Father Divine and his doctrine.

What do you think audiences will enjoy about the production?

It’s like a soap opera with substance.

What have you learned since working on this production about yourself or the world around you?

Everyone is desperately searching for comfort and acceptance, and will go to virtually any length to get it; whether realized or not. The process of discovery is different for each individual. Through it all, an understanding that you’ll never FULLY understand the happenings of this world is gained.

Catch Vimel and the rest of the incredible CRUMBS ensemble before Crumbs from the Table of Joy closes on March 2, 2014. Click here to buy tickets now or call 858-598-7620

A Performance that Belies her Age

by moxielicious

Jada Temple as Ernestine Crump in CRUMBS. Photo by Daren Scott

Jada Temple as Ernestine Crump in CRUMBS. Photo by Daren Scott

To cast a teenager or not to cast a teenager? If you produce theatre, direct or run a casting department, you probably know the implications of that question. When a script calls for a teenage character, you have to weigh the lack of experience against the power of youthful energy that’s hard for a more mature actor to mimic. You can get away with casting an actor in their 20′s but is what you gain going to be worth what you lose? When MOXIE’s Artistic Director and the director of Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, began the search for the right young actresses, she considered going in both directions but after a round of auditions at San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, she struck gold. Exactly the same age as her on stage character, but with a significantly more experience than your average teenager, Jada Temple seemed to step easily into the shoes of the lead character in MOXIE’s production of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy. As one member of the press said:

“But the true light in this show comes from Jada Temple. She carries the show and her Ernestine, with everything that is thrown at her, always manages to be hopeful and true. Temple is fantastic…In her show bio, she writes that she’s moving to New York in the fall. I have no doubt that good things are in her future.” -Lance Carter, http://www.dailyactor.com

Temple took time between performances to answer a few questions.

How did you become an actor?

Temple: My first introduction to theatre came in pre-school. I was enrolled at Valencia Park Elementary when it was a performing arts magnet and I was immersed in Shakespeare, and musicals at age 4. I instantaneously fell in love.

What do you think about the script for CRUMBS?

Temple: I think the script is a beautiful piece of writing that tells a story in a unique way. The integration of real life and fantasy makes a rather dim story lighthearted and humorous.

What’s your favorite moment of the play?

Temple: My favorite moment of the play is when Gerte arrives at the Crump household for the first time to meet Darling and Devout.

What’s your favorite line you get to say?

Temple: “Oh God, did she have to be German? If he had to have a white lady, why not a French lady?”

What part of the process has been challenging?

Temple: The most challenging part of the process was learning of my lines. I have never had to learn so many before in my life!

What do you think audiences will enjoy about the production?

Temple: I think audiences will enjoy the beauty of it all; the writing, and the story telling done by the actors in addition to the dancing, the music, the lights, the amazing set, and the realistic sounds.

What have you learned since working on this production about yourself or the world around you?

Temple: I have learned that I am truly capable of taking on roles much bigger than me. I have also learned that I have the mental capacity to memorize a bunch.

Temple graduates from high school this spring and moves to New York to pursue her career in theatre. Until then, she’s enjoying the accolades from her outstanding performance in CRUMBS. You can catch her on stage through March 2, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. www.moxietheatre.com/crumbs

 

Video Trailer for “Crumbs from the Table of Joy” Released!

by moxielicious

Trailer for MOXIE Theatre’s production of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy playing Jan 24-Mar 2, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre

Preparing 20 Years to Direct One Play

by moxielicious

fearless-leader

Delicia directing “The Listener” at MOXIE 2008

Find a published copy of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy and flip to the credits page just inside the cover. There you will find the information about the very first production of the play. You’ll also find a familiar name, Delicia Turner, MOXIE’s own Artistic Director before she married and added the Sonnenberg. MOXIE’s production of Crumbs from the Table of Joy begins January 24 at MOXIE. During a holiday rehearsal break, we caught up with her to ask about her history with the play and her experience coming back to it.

CRUMBS isn’t a new play for you. Tell us about your history with the play.

I was the production stage manager for the Off Broadway World Premiere at Second Stage Theatre in New York for the 1994-95 Season

SD Rep's "Intimate Apparel" Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg

SD Rep’s “Intimate Apparel” Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg

You aren’t new to directing Nottage’s work. You also directed Intimate Apparel at the San Diego REP. Can you tell us about that experience?

It was incredible working on that play – Beautiful characters and gorgeous language. I was blessed with a wonderful cast, design team and technical crew.  It was the first play I directed solo for the REP and I felt honored that they trusted me with such an ambitious play on the Big Stage.  It was an amazing experience all around. 

It’s almost the 20th anniversary of the play. What inspired you to direct CRUMBS at MOXIE this season?

I was looking for a classic. Although this play was written by a contemporary playwright, I was struck by the similarities to A Raisin in the Sun. Both are written by kickass women, both are set in the 1950s and both take their titles from Langston Hughes poems.  Also, I learned it has been added to some “required reading” lists for colleges.  So, it’s not a classic, but it feels like one.

What inspires you about the play?

I love how Lynn (the playwright) blends history, fantasy, reality and theatricality in a coming of age story about a tumultuous time in a young girl’s life, at a tumultuous time in American history.

You’ve developed a reputation for directing successful productions by many other award-winning African-American playwrights (Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel, August Wilson’s Fences & The Piano Lesson, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog) not to mention all the other award-winning work you’ve done. Each of those plays portrays a unique aspect of the African-American experience in America. Can you talk about what makes CRUMBS different from those other productions?  

The older I get and the more I work, the more I understand August Wilson’s controversial statements about Black Artists/Black Theatre. When I work on plays by Black writers it feels like coming home. I am grateful those productions have been successful for me, because it’s the work where I get to share my most authentic self more fully with an audience. On one hand it’s familiar territory and on the other hand it’s incredibly vulnerable, because it’s like a glimpse into all that I am.  So to answer the question, Crumbs is not different for me, it’s another opportunity to come home and share myself. 

Has working on this play expanded your own sense of history? How?

One of the things I love about Lynn’s work is her sense of history and how she incorporates it as a part of the storytelling.  I had to brush up on a lot of music and entertainment history as well as family history.  I love talking to my parents about their specific memories.  In this case I would have talked to my grandma, but I lost her.  My parents were born in 1950 &51.  So I ask them things like; “What music did your parents MAKE you listen to growing up? How did you wear your hair when you were little, before you grew the afro?”  It’s a great way for us to connect. 

Thanks for talking with us. Is there anything you want to share with our audience before they see the show? 

Sure. Crumbs from the Table of Joy is a play about a lot of things but at its center is family. I highly recommend coming to see the show with children 12 and over. I think it will inspire some really rich conversations about history and family once you’ve left the theatre.

Moxie-postcard-crumbs-frontCrumbs from the Table of Joy is playing Jan 24-Mar 2, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $20-$40 and available online or over the phone. Call 858-598-7620 or CLICK HERE to buy tickets online now.

 

From Feline to Feminist – Rebek’s Got Us Purring

by moxielicious

Anna Rebek in SKINLESS Photo by Daren Scott

Anna Rebek in SKINLESS Photo by Daren Scott

One of the best descriptions of actress Anna Rebek, who plays Emmi in MOXIE’s Skinless by Johnna Adams, is the story fellow cast mate, Rhona Gold, tells about her. As Gold tells it, she came to see MOXIE’s production of References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, in which Rebek played the role of “cat,” and was so mesmerized by Rebek’s performance, she knew she HAD to get on stage with her. We understand her reaction.

Anna Rebek as Cat in References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot  - Phot by Daren Scott

Anna Rebek as Cat in References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot – Phot by Daren Scott

Anna Rebek is a physical actress who uses her whole body to tell a story. This was obvious when she was playing the role of a “cat” but her technique really shines in the role of Emmi, the determined graduate student in Skinless, playing now through Dec 8, 2013 at MOXIE. Most of Rebek’s scenes take place in a small office, intellectual conversations about academia and theory, but she talks with her whole body. She’s up, she’s down, she reaching, banging things and then in an instant she’s so still the audience holds their breath. We caught up with her just before the closing weekend of performances to learn about her SKINLESS process.

SKINLESS is full of poetry as well as fantastic dialogue. What’s your favorite line in the play?

Her hipbones soared outward and upward until they formed thick walls.” This is a line from Zinnia’s story Housewife. I’ve definitely been seduced by the vibrancy of the anatomical descriptions in the play. And visually hipbones have always seemed so ancient and perfectly designed to house life, that this line was a delight to imagine.

What’s been your favorite part of the SKINLESS process so far?

It’s been cool being in the first production of this show. No one’s every played these  characters before so it has been a privilege to be among the first to give life to the words. Also to observe Delicia, the director, in collaboration with Johnna, the playwright, has given me such insight into how plays travel from an imagined work into a logistical reality, and the thousands of decisions that develop to let the play bloom.

How is your character different from other character’s you’ve played?

I would say that Emmi is the most emotionally grounded and focused character  I’ve ever played. She still has a sweet need for approval and validation from someone who is damaging, which is so human and flawed and true.

What kind of research or prep work did you do to play your character?

In an effort to douse me with a feminist education, Delicia gave me a book called “Manifesta” by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards. This text has lived in my bathroom since then, where those five minute sessions of dense history have caused me and anyone who uses my bathroom to emerge saying, “yeah, I think I’m  a feminist.”

Don’t miss Rebek’s performance which closes this weekend. Buy Tickets Now Online or call the box office at 858-598-7620

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