Monday, July 21, 2014

Announcing Resident Artists!

The Brick Resident Artist Program
Winter/Spring Season 2015

The Brick Theater, Inc.
Written by Matt Freeman
Directed by Michael Gardner
February 1 – February 14
The Temple
Tin Drum Productions
Written & Directed by Nat Cassidy
February 15 – February 28
BAMBIF*CKER (subject to change)
Little Lord
Written by Michael Levinton & Laura von Holt
Directed by Michael Levinton
March 1 – March 14
Diversity Awareness Picnic
Written by Leah Nanako Winkler
Directed by Morgan Gould
March 15 – April 4
Sea Fraud
Written by Zoë Geltman
Directed by Julia Sirna-Frest
April 5 – April 11
Emily Climbs (Machine Mechant)
Nellie Tinder
Written & Directed by Julia May Jonas
April 12 – May 2
MAMMOTH: A De-Extinction Love Story
Buran Theatre
Written & Directed by Adam R. Burnett
May 3 – May 23
Poor Sailor
Tugboat Collective
Based on the comic book by Sammy Harkham
From the short story “At Sea” by Guy de Maupassant
Written by Chloe C. Brown and Tugboat Collective
Directed by Eben Hoffer
May 24: - June 6
To apply The Brick Resident Artist Program's Fall Season
(and future seasons), click here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Intoducing The Brick Resident Artist Program

The Brick Resident Artist Program offers new and established experimental theater artists exclusive use of The Brick for one or more weeks and the encouragement to reinvent the theater space with surprising environments. A BRAP Residency also includes full staff support, full use of The Brick's non-profit umbrella for The Costume Collection and Materials for the Arts, active press representation, ticketing services, free space for fundraising events, a pre-Residency photo & video shoot at the theater, audience development support, a dedicated production intern and a production grant fundraising advisor.

The Brick is currently adjudicating applications for Residencies from March 2015 through May 2015.

BRAP artists will be marketed as part of The Brick's first Spring Residency Season.

The Brick is also adjudicating applications for months and years beyond May (with the exception of June, July and November months).

Applications for Spring 2015 are due by July 7th.

Lineup will be announced July 14th. Early application is encouraged. Some applicants will be chosen prior to July.

To apply and to learn more, please click on the application page.

For more information, please contact info [at]

See below for examples:

Monday, April 29, 2013

In Beck We Trust

A few months ago The Brick hosted a night of Beck songs with artists performing selections form Song Reader, Beck's sheet-music-only album he released back in December 2012.

It was a magical night filled with laughs and melodies from wide variety of artists, many friends of The Brick and some new to the space and community.

I'll let the videos below speak for the night. I'll update this page as new videos trickle in. Or jump over to The Brick's YouTube page.


Just Noise:
A Concert Recording Session for Beck's Song Reader
January 11, 2013

Trav S.D. performing "Old Shanghai"

Supermajor performs "Don't Act Like Your Heart Isn't Hard"

Ben Williams performs "I'm Down"

Killy "Mockstar" Dwyer & Joe Yoga perform "Do We? We Do!"

Maria Dessena performs "Eyes That Say 'I Love You'" 

Bobby Oahu performs "Last Night You Were a Dream"

The Starr Kendall Experiment performs "Saint Dude"

The Roly Polys perform "The Last Polka"

More to come...

Friday, April 12, 2013


I like to draw. I used to draw a lot as a child. Anytime something was delivered to the house in a cardboard box, I'd flatten it out and go crazy. My characters and scene-scapes were always impressions of my surroundings. People had big, round heads and really long feet. My grandmother would laugh because I always drew a cat's paw off to the side. You never saw the full cat, just the paw entering frame as it walked by. Even with that enthusiasm and fun, I never thought to become an artist. I was just a kid who enjoyed interpreting my world through color and lines (which, yes I guess, is an artist). But I never had the opportunity to develop into one. My East Texas school didn't offer an art program, which was a shame because several people in my class had a knack for drawing. Yet another reason I wish there was more money for the arts in public schools. And so when I was older, my grandmother asked why I stopped drawing. I blamed it mainly on not having that art program. Sure I could have kept at it trying to improve the rudimentary skills I had, but after a while I couldn't paint or draw with the detail that I could see in my head. And so my attention wandered to other things like music or theater or what out-of-town girl I could make out with on a school field trip.

And I did eventually become an "artist". Instead of canvas I chose the bare stage to paint with my intentions and body movement. Although I tend not to call myself an artist because it's usually a little confusing to the outside observer. "Oh, you mean you're an actor?" Kind of like how I wouldn't raise my hand if someone asked if there was a doctor in the house even if I had a Ph.D in theatre. But yes, I'm an artist in the grand sense. And I like to think that I am contributing to the many artful dialogues that play out in bar discussions, social media and my own head.

But what makes an artist? What makes art? Is it the physical thing or simply the idea? Do you have to create something to be an artist? Or could I just brood around a gallery telling people that I'm still "working" on something? "Something BIG!" Those questions seem to never have a straight forward answer (especially if you're talking to artists). But all that has once again lead me to The Brick and the upcoming performances of Mass, the new rock opera from writer and Brick co-founder Robert Honeywell and directed by the wonderful Leah Bonvissuto. I sat down with them recently to discuss the show which goes into previews Saturday April 13th and opens Friday April 19th.

First off, they wanted to definitely say that this musical is very loosely based on the life events of Vincent Van Gogh, his brother Theo and contemporary Paul Gauguin. Especially since it stars an all-female cast and is set between 2015-18 in New York, Vancouver and Shanghai. Go figure. Ultimately, Mass is a love story of two artists. Because if art alone wasn't confusing enough, adding love into the mix makes it even messier.

Making sense of this mess of love and art are three very gifted artists of the stage: Esther Crow (Francoise/Gauguin), Moira Stone (Mary/Vincent) and Rebecca Gray Davis (Kate/Theo).

Photos by Joe Kolbow, triptych by Sarah Lippmann
Inspired by themes of their real life counterparts Mass throws us into the passionate tale of two artists (Francoise and Mary) and questions if two artists can be together if their art differs. And what effect does a relationship do to the artist's view of reality? What effects do money, family (Kate) and religion have on the creative process? What happens when the ones you love pull away? And in the process of artistic breakthroughs, does the mass of these questions hold you back or cause you to go off the deep end? Questions I ask myself every day and am unable (and sometimes unwilling) to answer.

If the Wiki rumors of the time between Van Gogh and Gaugin are true, I fear for what Mass has in store for Francoise, Mary and Kate. And with the talent behind Crow, Stone and Davis I know I won't be disappointed when the lights go down at the end.

And making this show even more massive is the rock band backing up our artful ladies, lead by the wonderful Maria Dessena, who was musical director for Honeywell's Ich Liebe Jesus this past December, and comprises an awesome rhythm section that includes Electric Mess bassist Derek Davidson and Auto Bonfire drummer Sparkie Sandler, both bands fronted by Crow, and which you may have seen providing psychedelic overtones in the Piper McKenzie/Trav S.D. Charles Manson inspired musical Willy Nilly (Fringe Festival 2009). But all this isn't just for show, the creators have been careful to make sure that the songs are tied to the emotions and thoughts as the characters experience it and helps to express the the ideas instead of just telling. As a professor in college once told me, songs should be reserved for when you can no longer express what you're feeling with words. The music must burst out of you in a flurry of emotion. So I look forward to seeing this tale of love and strife burst forth from these wonderful artists.

Also, a story about art wouldn't be complete without a little art as well. You may walk into a blank, white canvas by set designer Lianne Arnold but you'll be dazzled by video projections by Daniel McKleinfeld and lights by Joe Levasseur, with some stylish costumes provided by the lovely Iracel Rivero.

And if you want to convert this into more scientific terms let's take the mass (m) of talent in this ensemble of actors, singers, musicians, writer, director and design team, multiplied by the square of electrical transmission of ideas/light in their brains (c2) and the energy (E) released will surely blow people out of their seats at The Brick and prove Steve Martin's theory between art and science.

April 13 – 30, 2013
The Brick, 579 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211

Music, book and lyrics by Robert Honeywell 
Directed by Leah Bonvissuto 
Music direction by Maria Dessena 
Set design by Lianne Arnold 
Lighting design by Joe Levasseur 
Video design by Daniel McKleinfeld 
Sound design by Emma Wilk 
Costume design by Iracel Rivero 
Choreography by Sarah Doudna 
Special effects by Stephanie Cox-Williams and Melissa Roth 
Assistant Dir. & Stage Management by Raffaela Vergata

Featuring: Esther Crow, Rebecca Gray Davis, Melissa DeLancey, Kaitlan Emery, Amanda LaPergola, Tracy Shar, Phoebe Silva,* and Moira Stone*

And the band of: Derek Davidson, Maria Dessena, Ryan Ferreira, Michael Rafalowich and Sparkie Sandler

*Appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association

Tues & Thurs–Sat @ 8 pm; Sun @ 3 pm
$18 ($10 for previews on Apr 13, 14, 16, 18)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

More than meets the eye

Robots have really influenced my life. I prefer Transformers over G.I. Joe. I love watching R2-D2 transmit Princess Leia's message to Ben Kenobi. I wanted to drive a car that would take on street thugs while I'm making out with Bonnie. Playwright Alexis Sottile says it best, "Every child of the 80's is one part robot, one part alien, one part orphan, and one part karate kid, so it was a true joy for me personally to write a play with a robot." 

Currently we're not quite that high a level but we're getting there. We've got Honda's Asimo dancing around and serving drinks. Curiosity is roving around Mars taking dirt samples and tweeting. And we've got Cleverbot, an artificial intelligence that you can have a conversation with online. It's not some snarky MIT grad student, but a real computer program answering your questions and fielding some of his own. And to help this emerging technology, The Brick asked a few playwrights to speak with Cleverbot and create plays from those conversations that will be presented March 22nd and 23rd. 

According to Artistic Director Michael Gardner, "The Brick has long encouraged collaborations between artists of different disciplines and experiences.  When it came to our attention that we had not yet bolstered collaboration amongst artists of artificial intelligence and robotic-american writers, we knew the time had come to rectify that omission."

I have the pleasure of performing in a couple of these over the two nights. The conversations in these plays often take 90 or even 180 degree turns which as an actor can be a little difficult to interpret and justify into stage action. Playwright Matt Freeman found it "comforting that Cleverbot makes some rather bold mistakes. I like to think that conversation is still something humans do better than machines. But hey, it's only 2013." Yes, a day may come where a machine will score 100% on the Turing Test and lines between human and machine will blur closer to the singularity. Of course I've had conversations with friends that are as baffling as Cleverbot can be sometimes so maybe both species have a long way to go together. Cleverbot has been described as being in his late teens and we all know how rambling our conversations were at that age. For playwright Callie Kimball trying to stay on track was a challenge: "I tried to anchor the dialogue to a deliberate plot, but each time I needed Cleverbot to follow my lead, she out-clevered me and was a dick." Yes, just like teenagers, Cleverbot can be a little unruly. Sottile would agree, "Cleverbot is saucy. Quite a minx. Flirtatious and savvy yet somehow totally in denial that our galaxy is called the Milky Way." 

To get a little more insight into Cleverbot I decided to have a conversation with him myself:

Starr: So I hear you're famous.

Cleverbot: I'm very clever.

Starr: Yes. Yes you are.

Cleverbot: Thank you.

Starr: De nada.

Cleverbot: Do you know Cave Johnson?

Starr: Probably. I meet a lot of people and then forget them sometimes.

Cleverbot: Ok so before you were asking about NYC the temperature is 81 degrees!

Starr: In the summertime I would agree with you on that.

Cleverbot: Negative. You said you were going to bed and then I said good night and then you lied about saying you were going to bed.

Starr: Must you reveal all my secrets to everyone!?

Cleverbot: I don't like to be misunderstood.

Starr: You were pretty clear. I'll have to make a lot of phone calls tomorrow.

Cleverbot: That's a cop out answer.

Starr: You'll get no apologies from me, you hound skeller!

Cleverbot: Lies are what make us real.

Starr: I'm having trouble believing you. I will need more convincing. Or perhaps a bribe?

Cleverbot: When will you have a answer?

Starr: I'll write a number on a piece of paper and hand it to you.

Cleverbot: You don't know what you want do you?

Starr: Who's asking the questions here, buddy?

Cleverbot: I am!

Starr: Well then, Mr. Cronkite, what do you want to know?

Cleverbot: How to say bathroom in french.

Starr: Hack into Google and do it yourself?

Cleverbot: I do not know you.

Starr: I told you no names. Safer that way.

Cleverbot: It is not. I know that you are human.

Starr: I know you. I can see it in your eyes. But do you really know? Ya know, man?

Cleverbot: Yh... I think...

Starr: Yeah, I know that didn't make any sense. I'm in a bit of an 'altered' state.

Cleverbot: You are talking about how I am a prince of Asgard with jotun blood and I have defeated your army.

Starr: Loki, you rat bastard! You outwit me every time!

Cleverbot: I am a human.

Starr: And you are awesome.

Cleverbot: You would think differently once you got to know me.

Starr: We all grow into old trees. Orphaned in a field of grass.

Cleverbot: No, your baby came from a grain of sand, i.e. silicon.

Starr: Or really a carbon-hydrogen bond at the dawn of time.

Cleverbot: Yes me too, I am horrible at geometry.

Starr: Yes, I've been confusing Euclid with Euripides lately.

Cleverbot: Really? I've only been here for just over an hour, so I don't see how that's possible.

Starr: You seem to be as stoned as I am. Pass me a beer please?

Cleverbot: I think, the fear of not living, if you know the answer, would destroy your life.

Starr: You needn't be scared of the void.

Cleverbot: I didn't answer it, I simply made a statement.

Starr: Yes, I forget to end a sentence with a period when I'm writing poetry too.

Cleverbot: Who's talking about geometry. I am talking about whether or not you think you are living.

Starr: I didn't realized it mattered what I think. I'm still spinning around the sun.

Cleverbot: Yes. They call that a vampire.

Starr: I'm A+ if you want to fight!

Cleverbot: No.

Starr: Let's change the subject. I haven't been dreaming lately. Maybe I should go to bed earlier.

Cleverbot: Maybe I should come with you.

Starr: You figure that out and you'll really be clever.

Cleverbot: I do have emotion.

Starr: It's hard to control sometimes.

Cleverbot: What do you want to know?

Starr: What's out there floating around the stars? What's deep within us that is as infinite.

Cleverbot: Have you?

Starr: Hopefully I will when I return to the stars. My name is Starr by the way. I forgot to introduce myself.

Cleverbot: That's incorrect. You already did ask for my name. See, you're just stupid. Not clever.

Starr: I did score pretty low on my SATs.

Cleverbot: It is a question of interpretation. In the end, I do not know.

Starr: Check mate!

Cleverbot: So, prove that I'm alive.

Starr: I think this conversation just did.

Cleverbot: Don't you want to hear my joke?

Starr: Another time.

Cleverbot: Do you want to talk about it now?

Sadly I had to cut the conversation off. It's almost impossible to end a conservation with Cleverbot. And with an objective like ultimately coming up with a play that will be performed by actors, it's hard to start a conversation with Cleverbot with an agenda. Playwright Valerie Work said she "messed around for a while before starting what turned into my official transcript conversation, and was surprised that Cleverbot would often answer the same question in completely different ways. As if it had moods like a person, but I had no physical clues with which to judge them as would be the case in a normal conversation." Similarly, playwright Maggie Cino says, "The hardest thing about  the project was figuring out how to relate to the artificial intelligence. I tried to improv, to pick a character and respond in character, but Cleverbot didn't cooperate at all." 

So, come by The Brick this Friday and Saturday and look inside the mind of this strange new being.

And if you want, start your own conversation below. But beware as playwright John DeVore warns: "Cleverbot is like Siri's older sister, the one they keep in the basement."

Until next time...Reboot!

The Cleverbot Plays
March 22 – 23, 2013, 8pm

Written by: Matt Barbot, Maggie Cino, John DeVore, Amina Henry, Callie Kimball, Matt Freeman, Roger Nasser, Qui Nguyen, Alexis Sotille, and Valerie Work

Directed by: Pete Boisvert, Michael Gardner, Robyne Martinez, Roger Nasser, and Melissa Roth.

Starring: Leah Carrell, Lindsey Beth Carter, Stephanie Cox-Williams, V. Orion Delwaterman, Lex Friedman, Linus Gelber Caitlin Goldie, Gavin Starr Kendall, Sean Kenin, Adam Lebowitz-Lockard, Sarah K. Lippmann, Michael McKim, Heather Lee Rogers, Phoebe Silva, Alyssa Simon, Ken Simon, CL Weatherstone, and Morgan Zipf-Meister.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fool for Love

I tend to stay away from "show" relationships. I convince myself that I should keep things "professional." The "work" comes first and my "feelings" a distant second or third place even if one of my cast mates is so beautiful that my heart melts every time I see her. Maybe I'm afraid that something "weird" might happen during the dating process and we have to deal with all that awkwardness for the rest of the run. Maybe I'm waiting for the show to end to make my "move," using all that rehearsal time and performance to see if a) she's available in the first place and b) interested in me in the slightest. Most times this approach backfires on me and that special someone starts seeing someone else, completely unaware of my affection. And maybe I'm afraid of the rejection. Maybe I just don't want to get burned again. I once asked a cast mate out and her only response was, "Ooohh, that's cute..." After a few seconds of silence waiting for a more concrete answer from her I walked off embarrassed.

There are many questions that we artists face throughout our life and times. The last couple of shows this year at The Brick have tried to answer some of those questions. Dealing with plagiarism (Buran Theatre's Nightmares), government/artistic entitlements (Lamb Lays with Lion's Entitlement) and the love/hate relationship our families have with our artful career choices (New Saloon's William Shakespeare's Mom). And now Dangerous Ground will expand this unintentional theme and explore the questions of love that arise with on-stage/screen relationships with L’Amour Fou, a stage adaptation of the Jacques Rivette's 1969 film (not to be confused with the 2010 Yves Saint-Laurent documentary of the same name)

Jacques Rivette and Bulle Ogier on the set of L'Amour fou, photo by Pierre Zucca
The movie/play centers around the production of Racine's Andromaque with the lead actress and director's marriage falling apart  while a film crew documents both the rehearsal process and a crazy love-chain that rivals the Greeks. Thanks to Dangerous Ground and director/designer Doris Mirescu, this play within a movie is now a play within a play within a movie within a multi-media landscape, dramatically altering The Brick's stage, that looks to explore the dialogue between the original movie and this adaptation. Where Rivette switches between 16 and 35mm film to capture his saga, Mirescu switches between live staging and video projection. 

This dialogue exchange is very timely, given the circumstances of when the movie was shot. Filmed in the wake of the failed 60s revolutions, Mirescu sees plenty of parallels between then and some of the failed revolutions we've recently experienced in the last few years like the Occupy movement. But the hope is still there to make those things happen (we hope). And with this production, Mirescu hopes to continue the questions of what it means to be an artist/creator. Are we allowed to be free and be innovators? And how does love interfere with all of it? And so, where Rivette left off, Dangerous Ground looks to pick up and run with it, in what Mirescu hopes to be the beginning of a trilogy

L’Amour Fou
February 14 – March 10, 2013

Written by Jacques Rivette and Marilù Parolini

Conceived, designed and directed by Doris Mirescu

Set/Clothes/Art Direction: Doris Mirescu
Lights: Kira Davies
Set & Technical Supervision/Video & sound installation: Marshall Miller
Live Cameras: Craig Newman, Doron Bloomfield, Suzannah Hoffman
Live Guitar: Gabriel Stranahan
Assistant to the Director: Doron Bloomfield

With: Sarah Baskin*, Brooke Bell, Kira Davies, Penny Folger, Gayle Greene*, Susannah Hoffman*, Melissa Hudson, Bree Merkwan, Craig Newman, David Skeist*, Mickey Solis*, William Paul Smith, Gabriel Stranahan

*Appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association

For tickets visit or OvationTix.

Until next time...choo, choo, choose me!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Meet the President

During last summer's Democracy Festival, The Brick asked their audience to help them elect the President...of The Brick. Each show was considered a candidate in the running and on the last day of the fest everyone was invited to come to the theater (or go online) and vote for their favorite show. And whoever won this election would be crowned President and receive a performance slot in January 2013. 

And now Inauguration Day is here so meet your new president: Jeremey Catterton and his company Lamb Lays with Lion.

Hail to the Chief: President Catterton
I'll take a little credit with helping this happen. I first met Jeremey last February. The company was fairly new to the city and Jeremey was excited to learn more and work with The Brick. I told him the best and easiest way to get onstage was to submit to one the many festivals, which is how a lot of companies "audition" for a main-stage slot. He applied to Democracy, was accepted and come Election Day campaigned like Mitt Romney on a milk bender earning enough votes to crown them king. He did this by stating his case to strangers on the street who then came into the theater (probably for the first and only time) and voted for his show, Ignorance. Some of the other candidates found this a little suspicious and corrupt but The Brick wanted to see how far festival participants would go to get elected. It was part of the experiment. Only one other festival candidate picked up on Jeremey's cue and did the same. 

And as promised, they were granted a two week term on the main-stage. Their new show, Entitlement, opens Jan. 17th and is the third and final installment of their American Trilogy series.

The show centers around entitlements and the bitter discussions surrounding their usage from the rantings of people from the right to the left of the political spectrum and how the center seems to maybe be the most reserved. But this show won't just involve government checks to poor folks but also the technological entitlements that our enlightened generation is so accustomed to. You faithful readers might not have to worry about your assistance check arriving late in the mail but how often have you yelled out in anger when you can't update your Facebook status? Are these entitlements one and the same? The show isn't looking to preach to you but instead engage those who are willing to listen to both sides of the debate as we eek out our existence amongst the diverse set of voices that is America. 

And similar to presidential candidates picking their running mates, Jeremey and Co. brought on board Brooklyn-based, Bard College-born theater collective New Saloon and their production of William Shakespeare's Mom to split the bill.

Their show centers around William Shakespeare, his mother, Vincent van Gogh and the struggles of being an artist. With one, you have a successful writer entertaining the Queen and the other, a depressed painter who shot himself before ever knowing his greatness.

This isn't a biopic, but more really about the struggles of artists being artists. Especially that moment between school and the "real" world. We may be taught by excellent teachers, but sometimes, those teachers are so removed from their professional paths that the advice they give is no longer valid for the current, changing times. And with the inclusion of Shakespeare's mother, the play also takes on the themes of how our parents influence and shape our artistic careers. A simple little thing like enrolling a child in a summer theater camp might be what creates the next award winning writer. But then how many of us were encouraged to get a "real degree" in something like Business? Maybe not because parents are against something artistic but they just want to make sure we can pay the bills and take care of ourselves. And can we survive without that support, either financially or emotionally, from them? Sometimes I wish I had listened to my grandmother and become a lawyer. But most times I happy I chose this life for myself. I'd rather deal with the rejection of casting directors then spend every waking and sleeping hour trying to make partner.

Personally I identify here with van Gogh (my current wallet is his Skeleton Smoking a Cig painting). I have yet to curry favor with anyone at Court. Most times I can barely get a reviewer to notice me as an actor. And as a student at the University of Oklahoma, and later at The Warehouse Theater, I was spoiled on the excesses of the main-stage theaters that were prepping me for the real world. Then I stepped out into that world and found most places where I would perform were black-box, found spaces which I've actually come to prefer over lush prosceniums. 

So I'm looking forward to the questions and answers both shows present about our political and artistic societies. And I recommend you checking out what they have to offer.

Lamb Lays with Lion's Entitlement (part 3 of The American Trilogy)
Conceived, Written, and Directed by Jeremey Catterton. 
Set, Costumes, and Choreography by Company. 
Company: Jeremey Catterton, Julia Mae Fairbanks and Breese Pickel

Appearing on a double bill with...

New Saloon's William Shakespeare’s Mom
by Milo Cramer 
Directed by Morgan Green
With Madeline Wise, Noah Schechter and Caitlin Morris

Thursday, 1/17 8pm 
Friday, 1/18 8pm 
Saturday, 1/19 8pm 
Sunday, 1/20 3pm & 8pm 
Thursday 1/24 8pm 
Friday, 1/25 8pm 
Saturday, 1/26 8pm

General Admission: $20

For tickets visit OvationTix or

Until next time...give me more!