Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Year in Brick: 2012

In 2012, The Brick celebrated its 10-year anniversary and was incinerated into dust during the Mayan Apocalypse!  

Also, we got new curtains.  And mind-blowing performances occurred.  Read all about it in 

The Year in Brick: 2012!

Amtrak Arrive Magazine in their Feature Article “Springtime for Brooklyn: Surveying the theater scene across the river from Broadway” boasts “For a night of sheer joy, don’t miss the opportunity to stop by The Brick Theater, hipster  Williamsburg’s most fertile breeding ground for theatrical innovation.” 
In the first Mainstage of the season, the new noir classic adaptation Bunny Lake Is Missing was hailed as "metronomically propulsive" by the New York Times.

Williamsburg became Puppetsburg at The Brick on Thursday mornings at The Brick for the entertainment and education of local babies and toddlers.  No hipsters were harmed during the incident and irony returned to daily life shortly thereafter.  Asked for comment, explained "The enthusiastic performers really keep the mood lively, and their puppets even sport tattoos!  Funky and fun!"

In addition to Bunny Lake, 8 bold, beautiful, strange and exciting Mainstage productions collided at The Brick in 2012.  The Brick welcomed Everywhere Theater Company's controversial Flying Snakes in 3D!, Old Kent Road Theater's All the Indifferent Children of the Earth, Nosedive Productions' Monkeys and Blood Brothers present…Raw Feed, Glasswork Productions' The Collected Rules of Sleepaway Camp, Buran Theater Company's House of Fitzcarraldo and Target Margin Theater's TMT LAB's festival of Yiddish plays Beyond the Pale!  

The election of 2012 was tight, but in the end, the winner was clear: political theater.  In anticipation, The Brick hosted Democracy, a festival of theatrical candidates who campaigned for President of The Brick in 2013.  The winner, Lamb Lays with Lions, will begin its Presidency this January!  Also returning were Brick classic feasts Game Play, The NY Clown Theatre Festival and Gemini CollisionWorks annual repertory!

In a month of remembrance, The Brick Retro brought back 4 classic Brick productions from its 10-year history.  The soundtrack will be available on 8-track stereophonic sound in the new year.

The Brick postponed its long-gestating 10th anniversary gala after Hurricane Sandy visited our friends and neighbors. In its place, we were blessed with the opportunity to raise funds for The Brooklyn Recovery Fund with The Brick Benefits Brooklyn: A Hurricane Sandy Benefit.

Dainty Cadaver, Tiny Theater, Mother Tongue, Dick & Gina, VCR Love, Antigone: The Lost Translation, Feiffer’s People, The Oven, Graffiti and new curtains!!!

For its 10th year of existence, The Brick asked for a pony and, instead, got a beautiful community of insane theatrical talent, love and inspiration.  Dammit.  

By donating to The Brick theater you are ensuring that new theater work has a home where the artists are free and encouraged to experiment.  And, The Brick is a registered 501(c)3! So, if you donate by December 31, 2012, you will be able to deduct your donation from your taxes in accordance with IRS standards.   Donation information is on our website:  

We remain grateful for all you do for us. It has been a wonderful decade and we anticipate another one with you in our seats and on our stage!   

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meet a Master Mason Monday - Gavin Starr Kendall

My grandfather was a real Mason. So I guess this honors his memory?

Photo: Kent Meister
Tells us about the first person you met at The Brick.
I came into contact with a hodgepodge of Brick regulars during the 2nd Baby Jesus One-Act Jubillee in Dec. 2007. Jeff Lewonczyk and Hope Cartelli were preforming together. Ian Hill and Berit Johnson were in a piece by Carolyn Raship that Daniel McKleinfeld directed. Dominic D'Andrea directed something. Got my first tastes for works by Eric Bland, Qui Nguyen and Matt Freeman. Audrey Crabtree was working box office one night. I thought everyone was pretty cool but it wasn't until the opening night party for Notes from Underground in the new year that I got to know some of them a little better.

Tell us about your first show at The Brick.
Jake Witlen (director) and Eric Sanders (playwright) asked me to be in Hollow Hallow for the 2nd Baby Jesus One-Act Jubillee. I think the only way it fit the theme of the fest was that it was set during Christmas. I played an 
Abu Ghraib soldier a little reluctant to carry out my orders from my commanding officer. It starts out sweetly with me talking to my daughter on the phone wishing her and my wife a Merry Christmas and ends with me freaking out, pulling the tooth out of a planted audience member and then dragging that person backstage and electrocuting him as screams rang out through the theater. I remember Hope had this slightly scared look in her eyes when I first met her in the dressing room after one performance. The Brick was a little nervous too because we had some audience participation where we brought people to the stage, hood them and verbally abuse them. Luckily no one reacted too badly. I certainly left my mark on the place thanks to Jake and Eric. The play really disturb some people. So much so that it became the worst thing they'd seen in awhile. But then later, those same people reversed their opinions saying it was the best thing they had seen for that same reason.

How did you first get involved with The Brick?
After the 2nd Baby Jesus One-Act Jubillee I knew I needed to hang out at The 
Brick more. In February 2008 I ran into Moira Stone on the subway on a Monday. We had been in a festival together years ago and she was opening Notes from Underground that Friday. I promised her that I'd be there. There was an opening night party and I was able to talk with some of the regulars in more depth that night. Jeff Lewonczyk cast me in Babylon, Babylon based on what he'd seen in the festival and rest is history. Most of my professional and personal Brick relationships started at that opening night party.

What aspect of The Brick do you love?
I like some of the ordered chaos that keeps the place running.

What is your favorite show you've seen at The Brick?
Notes from Underground has always stuck with me. It was confined to a small portion of the back stage and only lit by candle light. I still remember the shadows cast by the candles and the way it illuminated the cast. It certainly got me excited about working at The Brick.

What are your thoughts on Williamsburg? How has the art scene changed over the years?
I don't know. I mean, it's a cool place to hang out but I really don't care what the pulse of Williamsburg is.

How has gentrification affected your personal life?
I'm all for revitalizing a neighborhood so people can raise families and hang out with their friends in peace and harmony but instead of creating affordable places to live, it invites Yuppie bullshit-artists to take over.

If you could move The Brick anywhere where would you put it?
I don't think The Brick should move. But a second space would come in handy. Someplace with a bigger backstage, dressing rooms, etc. Where if a production wants to build a set there's room for that. Maybe some office space for our dedicated staff. Or we should move to Broadway and play our rock music real loud, leave empty beers cans all over the sidewalk and throw water balloons at all the Tony nominees.

In your opinion, what makes The Brick an incubator of emerging theater artists?
It takes a certain type of artist to create theatre here. Nothing is spoon fed to you. It's a punk rock world of theater. The staff is creating the same type of experiments and challenging shows so they know what's it like the first time you're putting up something new and creative. It may fail. And they're standing there with a beer for you. It may succeed beyond your wildest dreams. And they are again standing there with a beer for you.

What have you gained from your experience at The Brick?
Friends. And a "No Holds Barred" way to making theater. Sometimes this place leaves with you with a bloody nose and a few bruises after a production. But it certainly makes you stronger for the next one.

What’s the best benefit of being a Master Mason?
Mentioning it in my program bio.

What’s something unknown about you that you want your fellow Master Masons to know?
I'm a cheap date and an easy lay.

What do you think about a production of Ibsen’s The Master Builder done solely by Master Masons?
Cliched and unnecessary.

What is one thing you would change about The Brick?
They need a kegerator that serves Brick Brew!

Would you send your children to The Brick?
Yes. (Who wants to make some with me?) We need to pass on our ways to the next generation. We're doing that with Eddie Kim's students from Game Play (the Video Game Festival). I love the opportunity they have with exposure to an emerging theater genre and being on the cutting edge of it. The kids are alright.

What do you see in The Brick’s future?
I wouldn't say I'm qualified to answer this. I gave up forecasting the future years ago. I never ended up where I thought I would. Change is happening constantly at the Brick. The ebb and flow of running a theater. After hearing a little about some of the upcoming plans they have I think they'll be alright.

What would make a good premise for a Brick-based video game?
Something like Pac-Man with the staff running around the space trying to locate power pill grants while the ghosts of shitty reviewers, audience late-comers and people who leave their cell phones on chase after them. The couch floats around so you can sit on it or take a nap.

If you could commission any playwright, living or dead, to create a new work for The Brick, who would it be, and what would they write?
Sam Shepard could do some damage here. John Patrick Shanley would probably groove pretty well. But celebrities are a dime a dozen. I want to see more work by previous Brick writers like Bland, Freeman, Comtois, Lewonczyk, Lovejoy, Meyer, Nguyen, Skillman with room for some new blood.

Anything you want to plug?
I am co-founder of the Bad Theater Fest with Shawn Wickens. We've all made bad theater so why not celebrate it! Our first set of shows were at The Tank.  We had a strange, crazy line-up and I remounted The Lone Starr of Texas with my sock puppet group Afternoon Playland that I wrote and premiered for Tiny Theater at The Brick in 2010. We got some great international press from The Telegraph and on the heels of that success we're organizing the Bad Film Fest. Currently taking submissions. Please follow us on Twitter @badtheaterfest. And you can follow me @thestarrkendall. And this is a picture of my knees.
Photo: Peter Hapak for The New York Times Magazine

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Greetings and salutations...You a Heather?

Hello Brick aficionados!

My name is Gavin Starr Kendall. Call me Gavin or Starr or at the very least, Mr. Kendall. You’ve probably (hopefully) seen me in various Brick shows. From Old Kent Road to Piper McKenzie to Gemini CollisionWorks to my own sock puppet narratives with Afternoon Playland. And if not, please introduce yourself next time you see me working box office in my black Ray-Bans®.

I asked, and was graciously given permission, to start blogging for The Brick. I look forward to keeping you up to date on goings-on at The Brick, from shows to parties and beyond. The Brick has just finished their 10 Year Anniversary and looks like we’ll all be wearing shades because the future's so bright.

I will admit that I’m a much better actor than writer. The second time I took the SATs my verbal score dropped 50 points where my maths went up 100. And my only published writing credit is the high school column I wrote for my hometown paper in Texas. Letters to the Editor were mailed complaining of my laziness, selfishness and personal pleasure in only reporting events I was involved in or using the column to talk about out-of-town weekend adventures with my friends. But apparently readership went up due to the controversies I stirred. I have promised Artistic Director Michael Gardner that I will be a better reporter, but who knows what my pen will yield. At most I hope to keep Your, You’re and Yer straight.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Meet a Master Mason - Ivanna Cullinan

And we're back with our Meet a Master Mason series. Meet Actor, Director and NYIT Award Nominee Ivanna Cullinan! Not a season goes by where you won't see her handiwork somewhere on The Brick stage. She's a pleasure to work with and an even greater pleasure to know as a friend. Enjoy!

NYIT Nominee Ivanna Cullinan as Ssussu in Piper McKenzie's The Granduncle Quadrilogy. Photo credit: Ken Stein/Runs With Scissors Photography  
Tell us about the first person you met at The Brick.
Michael Yawney introduced me to David Cote who introduced me to Michael Gardner... I was a long time ago in another century.

Tell us about your first show at The Brick.
Michael's In a Strange Room as the Mother.  An amazing production with a gorgeous cast that was set entirely within a small wooden house that the audience sat within as we came at them from all sides. ALL SIDES.  But they did get coffee on break.

How did you first get involved with The Brick?
The theater being absurdly close to my home, once I was aware of it I went in to see most every show on offer.  The generosity of spirit and theatrical styles was astonishing.

What aspect of The Brick do you love?
It is a neighborhood and yet worldly. Not so insular that there is no connection to new ideas and yet does provide a home.

What is a favorite show you've seen at The Brick?
One favorite?  That is absurd.  A few favorites: The Ninja Cherry Orchard, Babylon Babylon, Greed, Jeannine's Abortion, World Gone Wrong and the NY Clown Theatre Festival.

What are your thoughts on Williamsburg? How has the art scene changed over the years?
It used to be cheap and easy but routinely screwed by the MTA putting the L under construction.  Now it is expensive and problematic and the L still goes off schedule when someone looks at it wrong. Seriously, Williamsburg still has a lot of wonderful things and our spot is more accessible than other indie spaces but I do not know how we'll survive without stronger resources and a bigger neighborhood profile. Not to contradict what I said above, but many of our neighbors don't know we're here—that is both the newbies and the old guard.

How has gentrification affected your personal life?
The gentrification is a problem—most of our current residents simply want a chic view of Manhattan or are visiting for a "cool" bar where they can get loaded.  Actually contributing to the neighborhood does not seem part of their consciousness. But to me, more importantly there are older neighborhood folks who don't necessarily see theater as including them. But I live here and am strongly biased about the changes.

If you could move The Brick anywhere where would you put it?
Same area, better space with two stages and a proper lobby.

In your opinion, what makes The Brick an incubator of emerging theater artists?
We curate lightly and allow a lot of projects to try out works that would not be possible otherwise.  I think we're genuinely interested in new voices and modes of expression over what is "hot" or trendy.

What have you gained from your experience at The Brick?
A community, relationships with a broad range of artists whose work I respect and company I enjoy. An artistic home.

What’s the best benefit of being a Master Mason?
It recognizes the strength of my relationship with this theater, not just as a jobbed in actor but as an artist.  It recognizes that this is the place that invited me to direct and challenged me to work collaboratively with writers.

What’s something unknown about you that you want your fellow Master Masons to know?
Please don't ever make me go up a ladder again in show. I will vomit.

What do you think about a production of Ibsen’s The Master Builder done solely by Master Masons?
Not much. Ibsen is wildly under-produced but I don't know that is the show that would be best—isn't the ultimate message there "dream but not too high and now you're too old anyway"

What is one thing you would change about The Brick?
Facilities upgrade and perhaps create a system whereby volunteerism earns you a show or show case night.

Would you send your children to The Brick? Why (not)?
Never had any, so difficult to send and frankly don't think the cats would enjoy it.  But other children would and we need to develop future audiences with short and engaging works.

What do you see in The Brick’s future?
More new works, more new voices.

If The Brick had its own superhero team, what would it be called and what heroes would be in it?
Don't they have one already?  Isn't that all of us making indie theater happen?