This past Friday I finished an exhilarating week workshopping with Paul Zimet and The Talking Band. It is experiences like this that remind me why I do what I do, AND how little the trials and tribulations of living the life of a performing artist can matter when you’re working with other honest, sensitive, talented, experienced, and curious artists.
I’ll admit. I was exhausted going into the week. In the week before the workshop I was in Boston with Jay Scheib and BELLONA, Destroy of Cities at the ICA and was in need of a few days to recuperate. I wasn’t looking forward to stepping into a week of intense creation.
In the world of performance a workshop is a period of experimentation designed to explore questions (text, dramaturgy, choreography, character) and the themes that go into the creation of a new work. In my opinion to do it right, as a performer, you’ve got to give it your ALL! And the process of creating a new work of performance requires that you leave no question unanswered — no exercise undone. I find workshops equally enlivening and exhausting. During a rehearsal, after a script or performance text is fixed, I have a set series of questions to explore but during a creative workshop every idea, epiphany, and hiccup, has generative potential. And in order to sift the silt from the gold you have to be open and aware of everything going on. It requires sustaining a certain level of hyper-sensitivity while allowing your mind and body to wander and engage impulses and stimuli from anything and everything. It’s like standing inside a brainstorming cloud. Physically and mentally this can take its toll. But from the first day in the studio with the outrageous performers Paul had assembled I knew the week was going to be a walk through fire, in a good way.
I love actors, and I love working with actors who love what we can learn and teach one another through acting. This bunch did not dissappoint with their intellect, talent, wit, humour, and sheer gall. A few I knew before the workshop. Others I’d never seen perform live before. All are now on my list of exciting artists to follow and I recommend you do the same!
GET INTO IT!
Paul Zimet is an actor, director, playwright and teacher. Born and raised in New York City, he studied clarinet and voice at the High School of Music and Art, comparative literature at Columbia College and medicine at Harvard Medical School. Since 1974, he has been the artistic director of The Talking Band. He has written and/or directed numerous works for the company that have been performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia and South America. Zimet received the John Lippmann New Frontier Award and the 1999 Frederick Loewe Award in musical theater; a Playwrights’ Center National McKnight Fellowship; playwriting fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; a Fulbright Fellowship; and three OBIE awards for his work with the Open Theater and the Winter Project, both directed by Joseph Chaikin.
Ellen Maddow is a founding member of The Talking Band, and has composed for and performed in most of its works. Works that she has written include, DELICIOUS RIVERS, PAINTED SNAKE IN A PAINTED CHAIR (2003 Obie Award; Translated into Czech for INTERPLAY-New Dramatists Eastern Europe exchange 2004), TILT, BROWN DOG IS DEAD, FERN AND ROSE, BETTY SUFFER’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY. She wrote the scores for BELIZE, THE PARROT, STAR MESSENGERS, BLACK MILK, THE PLUMBER’S HELPER, NEW CITIES (all produced by The Talking Band), and 1969 TERMINAL 1996 (directed by Joseph Chaikin). Ellen was a member of the Open Theater. She received the 1999 Frederick Loewe Award in Musical Theater a 1996 McKnight National Playwriting Fellowship, and a 2006 NYFA fellowship in playwriting/screenwriting. She is a recipient of the 2007 NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights.
Daphne Gaines is a graduate of Circle in the Square Theater School and has a B.A. in Theater and Psychology from the University of Georgia. Regional theater: Nella in Gee’s Bend at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Three Children (Hong Kong Fringe Theater), A Christmas Carol at Actor’s Theater of Louisville. Off-Broadway: a six-hour version of Faust (Classic Stage Company), Mystery Of The Charity Of Joan Of Arc (Target Margin Theater), Cedar Creek (Abingdon Theater Company), Rock-opera Orpheus (Here Arts Center), Yokastas Redux directed by Richard Schechner (La Mama Theater), Private Battles (Judith Anderson Theater), Nightvision: A Vampyre Opera (The Public, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and HERE Arts Center), Revelations: The Outtakes (The Public), and Dead Tech: The Masterbuilder (Smack Melon Theater).
Trey Lyford is Co-Artistic Director of the physical theatre company rainpan 43 whose productions include All Wear Bowlers, Amnesia Curiosa, and Machines, Machines, Machines, Machines, Machines, Machines, Machines. He has performed in LA’s Center Theatre Group, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, HBO Aspen Comedy Fest, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Folger Theatre, and London’s Gate Theatre. He is also an Associate Artist with the Obie-Award winning company The Civilians and has created original pieces with Philadelphia’s Pig Iron and San Francisco’s Joe Goode Performance Group. He has received a Princess Grace Award as well as the Fabergé Theatre Excellence Award.
Suli Holum is a Brooklyn based performer, writer, and director. She has performed with Pig Iron Theatre Company, The Talking Band, Theatre of the Two Headed Calf and Off-Broadway: Hot ‘n’ Throbbing, Courting Vampires, Live Girls, Lebensraum; Regional: Arena Stage: Born Yesterday; Humana Festival: At the Vanishing Point, Phoenix. She received a Drama Desk Award for her performance in Israel Horowitz’s ‘Lebensraum’ off-Broadway, and was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Billie Dawn in ‘Born Yesterday’ at Arena Stage. Her first original solo show, The Lollipop Project, was developed through a Independence Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship and a Shell Fellowship in Drama from the National Institute of Education in Singapore. Holum was a founding artistic director of Pig Iron Theatre Company. She wrote Pig Iron’s ‘Gentlemen Volunteers’, winner of a Total Theatre Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, and subsequently toured throughout Europe. She won a Barrymore Award for choreography for Pig Iron’s wordless ‘Cafeteria’ and created roles in numerous other Pig Iron works. Holum was a participant in the 2009 Orchard Project with Emmanuelle Delpeche-Ramey for their original adaptation of Paul Claudel’s L’Echange. She has a commission from England’s Red Cape Theatre to write One Beach Road premiering September 2011.
Andy Paris has made a career of developing new works for the stage and screen, including The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, The Laramie Project, Gross Indecendy: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, by Moises Kaufman, Lucie Tiberghien’s The Quiet Room, and Innocents, by Rachel Dickstein. As an actor he has performed in countless plays in New York, Regionally, and in Europe. Regionally, he has been seen at Cincinnati Playhouse, Hartford Stage, Theatre Virginia, Berkeley Rep and La Jolla Playhouse, Playmaker’s Rep, and The Huntington Theatre Company, where he worked with Edward Hall. FILM/TV credits include Laramie (HBO) and Law & Order (NBC). He has also been the recipient of two Audie Awards for his audiobook narrations. As a writer/director Andy created The Fanmaker’s Inquisition, adapted from the novel by Rikki Ducornet, developed Goldstar Ohio, directing the world premier at The Cleveland Public Theatre, and he worked with Faith Pilger, directing her piece The Stages of Burning. Andy was invited to participate in The Lincoln Center Directors Lab in 2008. He is an Emmy nominated writer (Laramie, 2002). As an original member of Tectonic Theatre Project, Andy has worked under the mentorship of Mr. Kaufman, and now teaches the techniques which Tectonic developed over the past nineteen years. He has taught workshops at New York University, DePaul University, Naropa Institute, NOCCA and in Osaka, Japan, among others. Andy grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a graduate of NYU.
JACK WETHERALL is a distinguished artist in theatre,television and film. He began his professional career as a young actor at the Stratford Festival Theatre of Canada. Broadway: The Elephant Man(title role). Off-Broadway: The Glass Cage (Malcolm), Mint Theater; originated the role of Mario in Tamara; Henry VI (Warwick), Theatre for a New Audience; Swansong (Will Shakespeare), Lucille Lortel’s White Barn Theatre; Bad Women (Phaedra), Talking Band. Stratford Festival Theatre of Canada (under Robin Phillips’ artistic direction): Henry V (title role), As You Like It (Orlando) and The Seagull (Konstanin), the latter two opposite Dame Maggie Smith. Regional:Willi (title role) directed by Charles Towers, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde(Oscar Wilde), The Retreat from Moscow (Edward), Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park;Heartbreak House (Shotover), Goodman Theatre; Cyrano de Bergerac (title role), Guthrie Theatre; Pericles (title role), Hartford Stage Company; Twelfth Night (Orsino), The Rivals (Jack Absolute), The Old Globe; Romeo and Juliet (Mercutio), Long Wharf Theatre; Macbeth (title role), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Berowne), Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Richard II (title role), Utah Shakespearean Festival; The Greeks (Orestes), Williamstown Theatre Festival; The Cherry Orchard (Lopakhin), American Conservatory Theater. Television: Queer as Folk (four seasons as Vic), Guiding Light, One Life to Live, Santa Barbara, Ryan’s Hope.
TINA SHEPARD. This is a press photo from the Village Voice taken by Darien Bates for THE NECKLACE. I couldn’t find more information or a bio for Ms. Shepard but she was a pleasure to work with. And i’m living for this image.