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?

No comments: