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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

Petersen Swings Right Into Our Hearts

by moxielicious

ErinPetersen_is

Erin Petersen in SKINLESS – Photo by Daren Scott

We were looking for someone irresistible when we cast Erin Petersen for the first time at MOXIE. That was in 2011 for our production of Marisa Wegerzyn’s Ten Cent Night.   We needed an actress who could play a young, irresistible, tough and fragile young woman.  That’s a tall order and we felt damn lucky when Erin read for the part. We had been introduced through Intrepid Shakespeare Company, one of MOXIE’s “theatre bff’s”. Petersen had played Juliet at Intrepid in their production of…well you can probably guess.  It’s safe to say we haven’t been able to resist her since. Since then she returned to MOXIE for the very popular production of  Hickorydickory (also by Wegrzyn) and now she’s back in MOXIE’s production of Skinless. Petersen plays the playful and wide-eyed Bluebell, the youngest Wells sister with an affinity for romance and horror stories.  When she isn’t on stage at MOXIE, she’s one of the busiest young theatre makers in San Diego.  She’s a triple-threat actress, a director, a theatre educator, a sometimes costume designer and the internship program director as well as company member at Intrepid Shakespeare. In short, she gives us hope that the next generation of theatre leaders will lead American theatre into a bright future.  We caught up with her between performances in SKINLESS.

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

I have to say that it changes every time I listen to the play and something new stays with me each time I hear it. Although, I do have a slight obsession with how Jo delivers the line, “Beulah!”. For some reason it gets me giggling every time. Really SKINLESS is filled with nuggets of genius and beautifully crafted lines that are linked together so masterfully. It’s not the kind of play you hear once and you’re done. I can’t get enough of it!

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

Is it okay to say that I love swinging on my tire swing? Because I LOVE swinging on my tire swing! I’ve always wanted one but I never had any suitable trees around my house. In fact, the neighbors up the street had a tire swing for years and I was always not so secretly jealous of it. Childhood dreams aside, I am having the greatest time working with this fabulous cast, crew and production team and we’ve become such a close knit group. Throughout this process we sometimes find ourselves laughing at the most grotesque and dark things. I guess,after working on a production like this, your sense of humor shifts a little to the kind of dark humor only people who have been working on an eerie and twisted show for a couple months would get.

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

Bluebell lives vicariously through Zinnia’s stories and develops strong relationships with these fictional characters. The fact that she’s one of four sisters is something that really sets her apart for me. This is the first time I’ve played a character with so many sisters! — And I’m truly in the best of company. Tire swing? Check! Three badass sisters? Check!

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

Upon reading the play, I realized that all four sisters were named after flowers. So I felt compelled to look up all the possible meanings behind these flowers and tried to make connections between their meanings and our characters. When our phenomenal playwright, Johnna Adams, was asked about her decision to name the sisters after flowers at one of our talk back sessions, she said that she just picked ‘em and didn’t think anyone would notice. So I felt a little like a goober for researching flower language and looking up where the best place to plant Bluebells is…

Come see Erin in Skinless playing now-December 8, 2013 at MOXE Theatre. Buy Tickets Online Now or call 858-598-7620

Morrow is the “un-blithe” spirit in SKINLESS

by moxielicious

_mg_7364Standing in the lobby on opening night of Johnna Adams' SKINLESS at MOXIE Theatre, after the performance when the actors come out in their opening night finery,  you can hear someone whisper, "Oh look, there is that girl. She looks so...normal now."  That "girl" they're referring to is Amanda Morrow, the shape shifting woman so many San Diego theatre audiences adore. The press has a field day trying to describe Morrow's performance in SKINLESS. The San Diego Union-Tribune calls her "soiled and silent" and says she "skulks about like Gollum," while The San Diego Reader calls her  the "un-blithe spirit." SDTheatreReviews.com says "her obsessive behaviors are so intensely focused - that she seizes our attention" and goes on to compare her to one of the greatest comedic geniuses of all time, "what Harpo Marx did in comedy, Morrow is able to do in noir drama." It's no wonder they're all tempted to try and contain her performance in words. Watching this graceful gymnast contort herself into a sunken, silent and belligerent woman/child every night, and then unfurl after each performance back into a graceful and buoyant woman, is theatre in itself. We caught up with Amanda between performances to learn more about her SKINLESS process.

SKINLESS is full of poetry as well as fantastic dialogue. What’s your favorite line in the play?
Honestly, it’s simply “Beaulah?”, because I love the way Jo delivers that one word. I almost break every time I hear it. She is such a fantastic storyteller. I think that all of the storytelling is captivating and beautiful. I also love, “He took her silence for contentment, as he always would”. Beautifully worded and can stand alone.
 What’s been your favorite part of the SKINLESS process so far?
Playing and working with such a talented group of women. It’s been an honor.
 How is your character different from other character’s you’ve played?
Well, she’s selectively mute. That is a definite first. It’s been a great challenge for me, one that I am still discovering! Words are so powerful, and as an actor, they give us a bridge offstage, to rehearse in the dressing room, run lines before scenes, find our grounding and connect as an ensemble.  The words remind us of our intention, what we want onstage. Words inform our movement. They are clues to who our character is that we are getting inside of. So, I am having a wonderful and challenging experience in finding all of these things without words.

Don’t miss Amanda’s performance in SKINLESS playing now – December 8, 2013 at MOXIE. Tickets available at moxietheatre.com or call 858-598-7620

Lisel Gorell-Getz Taps June Carter Cash and The Walking Dead

by moxielicious

Lisel Gorell-Getz in SKINLESS Photo by Daren Scott

Lisel Gorell-Getz in SKINLESS Photo by Daren Scott

Detail oriented doesn’t begin to describe one of San Diego’s most diligent and meticulous actresses. Lisel Gorell-Getz is fascinating to watch on stage. She makes acting look easy and simple but when you watch her night after night, you see her beautiful focus and dedication to details.  While in high demand as an actress, Lisel is also a teaching artist at The Old Globe, the Director of Education for MOXIE Theatre and happily married mother of two boys. She plays the oldest of the Wells sisters, Marigold, in SKINLESS. We found time to chat with Lisel between shows and find out how she’s enjoying the process. Take a peek and get excited to see SKINLESS. Tickets available online now or call the box office at 858-598-7620.

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

I love when Zinnia Wells (played by Jo Anne Glover) reads aloud from her novels. The words are so juicy and evocative and thrilling!  Like this one: “The forest was close on her shoulder and seemed to breathe down her collar, a heavy whisper of pine scented mystery…” I love listening to it every night.

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

I really like how all the technical elements have added to the mystery of the play. It’s definitely a disturbing story and as the production came together over our final rehearsals with sound and lights and set, the story really came to a vivid and creepy life.

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

My character (Marigold Wells) is so practical and grounded, but still has a sense of humor about her circumstances. I like her matter-of-factness and sense of responsibility.

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

I play a woman living on a farm in Georgia in the 1950′s. So I did research into the world of the play…. among other things, I listened to a lot of June Carter Cash and the Carter sisters to get into the lives of these women stuck on the farm in the middle of the woods. Also, I watched a lot of  The Walking Dead….

Dame Rhona Gold?

by moxielicious

Rhona Gold in DRINK ME photo by Emil Brown

Rhona Gold in DRINK ME photo by Emil Brown

She hasn’t been officially honored by the monarchy but we’re pretty sure that’s only because we’re selfishly keeping her in San Diego. Rhona Gold IS, however, San Diego theatre royalty. Anyone who’s seen her on stage knows what we’re talking about. After our first preview of SKINLESS,  an audience member leaned back to the director and said “Who is that woman playing the professor? She’s got gravitas!”  Gravitas indeed.  You may have scene Rhona in past MOXIE productions Drink Me, Expecting Isabel, Eleemosynary and The Crucible (co-produced with Intrepid Shakespeare).  In Johnna Adams‘ SKINLESS, which opens Nov 9, 2013 at MOXIE, she plays the ruthless Women’s Studies Professor, Sylvia Diaz. We caught up with her after a preview performance to learn more about how the play has gotten under her skin. Take a peek and then buy your tickets to SKINLESS!

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

“And their eyes would meet, and girls who had hated one another the class before–cheerleaders who had looked at math nerds with contempt as they walked into the room, would find a painful sisterhood in the absence of satisfying answers.”

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

Working with these extraordinarily talented, astute, and generous women.  Both on the stage and off.

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

This woman is more of a shark than I’ve played before.

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

 I researched  the 18th century woman/writer, Frances Burney, who’s referred to in the play.  As I was doing this, I began to feel a little like the academic that my character is.

Catch Rhona Gold in SKINLESS by Johnna Adams playing Nov. 1  - Dec. 8, 2013 at MOXIE Theatre located at 6663 El Cajon Blvd Suite N. San Diego CA 92115.  Tickets Available Online Now or call 858-598-7620

Jo Anne Glover – Dark, Daring and Delicious

by moxielicious

W_NL_Glover286754x003If you see theatre in San Diego, it’s very likely you know MOXIE founder, Jo Anne Glover. Fans (and she has a few) often say that the most remarkable thing about Jo Anne as an actress, is that she transforms so completely into every character she plays. Directors and actors love working with Jo Anne because she’s so dedicated, humble, professional and frankly damned good EVERY TIME. Most artists have hits or misses but the critics agree that if Jo Anne is on stage, she’s good. MOXIE is thrilled to offer San Diego audiences the chance to see her in a whole new light as the dark daring and delicious Zinnia Wells in SKINLESS by Johnna Adams playing Nov 1 – Dec 8 at MOXIE. If you love Jo Anne (and chances are you do) you won’t want to miss her in this! We caught her between rehearsals and had a chance to ask a few questions. Enjoy!

 

 

You’re playing 1950′s Science-Fiction and Horror writer Zinnia Wells in SKINLESS. Throughout the play you read some of your/her work aloud. What’s your favorite line that Zinnia has written in one of her short stories or novel?

Glover: Hmmm…tough one – but I think it’s a line of Paige’s that Bluebell (Zinnia’s sister) reads near the end of the play  “Oh, baby, this is magnificent. I’m so happy for you. So very happy. You are going to be free and strong and more beautiful than you can imagine.”

Jo Anne Glover as Zinnia Wells Photo by Daren Scott

Glover as Zinnia Wells
Photo by Daren Scott

 

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

Glover: Working with the actresses playing the sisters and Delicia to discover the family dynamics.  Also playing this intensely gifted and loving character.  She has a fierceness within that has kept her going through trauma.

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

Glover: I’m hesitant to use the word “crazy” to describe Zinnia, because I actually don’t think she is – but I’ve never played someone so immersed in her own view that is very different from reality.

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

Glover: Getting in touch with my own artistic, storytelling voice. Studying the Georgia accent.  Luckily, having grown up in the South, that world is pretty ingrained in me – so just remembering the sensory dynamics of the rural South.  Also, deciding just how “crazy” or not I believe she is.

Buy Tickets Online Now or Call 858-598-7620. SKINLESS plays Nov 1 – Dec 8, 2013 at MOXIE Theatre. Thurs-Sat at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm.

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