Will vote, am voting, have voted.
Don't even talk to me if you "don't believe in voting."
This is it, people. Let's turn the corner on this hellscape, shall we?
Will vote, am voting, have voted.
This is it, people. Let's turn the corner on this hellscape, shall we?
I wrote this in July 2016--and things have only gotten worse. Which is shocking when I look back at this and remember just how bad it was:
It’s been a rough summer. It’s been worse than rough. Over and over, as I or a friend have been about to joyfully send out an announcement of a production, a reading, or a fundraiser for a cool project, we’ve hit the pause button. Why? Well, there was the horrific mass shooting in Orlando. And then Istanbul. And then the massive bombing in Iraq. There was the one-two punch of the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The shock of Dallas. And through it all, the KKK’s preferred candidate is running his mouth.
So this may come at a bad time.
But I’m still making theater. I’m still going out to see theater. I’m still hanging out with my friends, cooking good meals, seeing my daughter’s dance performances, praising the ceramic… thing produced by a neighbor’s little one at camp, going to the movies, heading out to the City pool, going to the beach, wandering the farmers market with my reusable bags and a pocketful of cash. Horrible things happen and we put our heads in our hands and then we get up and remind our kids to brush their teeth and we get out the door to work to play to live another day.
So I’ll keep sending the announcements and the invitations and the solicitations and the pictures and the stories. We’re all going to be grieving in motion this summer. It’s going to have to be a very active period of mourning. It’s not just salmon that have to swim upstream sometimes. This is a job for an artist, I’m sure of it.
PLEASE keep making stuff, inviting, promoting, laughing, partying, enjoying. We're all contributing, donating, protesting, and screaming into the void on a daily basis. All the good stuff is keeping me going.
Monday, September 24
6pm - 8pm
17 Stanton Street, between Chrystie & Bowery
in the garden out back weather permitting
Send Me Your Info! Seriously. Are you performing? Got a show coming up? An episode you'll be on? A book being published? Because there's going to be a program. My entry will say "Catherine has various irons in the fire that can't be discussed just now but you'll surely know if/when I need to cast!" Don't skip this because you don't have something to announce. Send me your info and I swear I will make a damn program. You can even put your web address on it.
When I was a kid I went to dance class, and one of the hard and fast rules in the ballet studio is no street shoes on the floor. When I came to New York City and began my theater training, I was asked to leave more than my shoes outside the studio. I was trained in a tradition that asks the performer to leave everything at the door, and yet somehow bring everything into the work. It makes a kind of pure sense: you leave your personal life, your dating, your grocery list, your complaints, your job, your schoolwork, the weather, all of it at the door and just live in the world of the play or the world of the theater piece being built. We didn't chat in the studio. We warmed up. We arrived at least 15 minutes before class or rehearsal was scheduled to begin and got physically and mentally prepared to work. It wasn't always silent--vocal warm-ups are damn loud and necessary conversation ("Are we using the props today?") was fine. But it was focused.
Working this way was amazingly freeing because I could drop my day-to-day insecurity, concerns, and problems for the next few hours. But there are people I worked with in the most intense way that I barely knew. People I simultaneously knew with both an intimacy and a distance that is rare. The work created a bond and prevented connection. There were things we were explicitly asked not to discuss outside of class or rehearsal, to strengthen the energy of the room. That works, by the way. But it also means things happened that bordered on not OK or sailed well past the border of OK that were simply never addressed. Things happened that needed some processing and were never processed. People stopped showing up and I'd realize I hadn't any idea why: was it the work itself or did they have a life situation to take care of (which of course they never mentioned)? A closer friend might know, I might hear from a particularly close colleague, but others just came and went without a trace. As I did, eventually. I moved on and the circle simply closed behind me.
I still believe in showing up early to prepare. I still think it's a good idea to leave my personal stuff at the door, for the most part. I still think a focused room works best. But I'm learning to loosen up, to chat a little, to get to know a bit. Connection doesn't undermine the work.
So this season, I'm starting with a party. I can't wait to see you there!
Is August the end of the theater season or the beginning? We're still in full summer mode with annual festivals like 48 Hours in Harlem and the OOB Festival (go see them both and catch the best short-form theater in New York, uptown and down). Off Broadway is launching the new season. Yet it seems as if no one is in town. Until I go to the theater--and it's full.
I can't completely dis August. My mom was born in August. So was my husband. I got married in August. But it's a confused month. Leos and Virgos in the same month? I don't believe in astrology, but I sense this is wrong. Or maybe it explains everything. (My astrologer friends will tell me, no doubt.)
So: August. Season end? Season beginning? I say beginning. This is a start. I started my new theater season on Governors Island in the beautiful and decrepit Audobon House as a guest of The Parlour Salon with an excerpt from Possession. The house has electricity, but no running water, and hasn't been repaired or renovated... ever? Two visual artists in residence (Jenn Cortés and Ash Ferlito) have been working there on bird-inspired art all summer. Ash has painted huge scale birds that seem to swoop in from windows and cracks, while Jenn has nested local birds in the cracks and peelings of the walls. It was a perfect setting for my play. An auspicious start for August.
Huge thanks to this incredible team for bringing 2Y20M--the whole damn thing--to the stage in August at HB Studio:
Susan Izatt, Paul Beban, Dan Shaked, Savannah Faye, Renée-Michele Brunet, SaMi Chester, me, Kelsey Claire, Nicolas diPierro, Toby Miller, Sarah Sirota, Lauren Schorr
You may have seen an excerpt at Dixon Place in The Lounge. You may have heard Act 1 at The Nora Salon. But this is it: all of it. The whole thing at last: 2Y20M (the play does not run two years and twenty minutes, I promise).
You have questions. Such as
Where and When Can I See This?! I Have to See This!
2Y20M (Two Years Twenty Minutes)
by Catherine Castellani
Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22
HB Studio First Floor Studio Theatre
120 Bank Street
email email@example.com for a reservation!
Seating is Strictly Limited by the Fire Code.
with an extra-fabulous cast
Paul Beban, Renée-Michele Brunet, SaMi Chester,
Kelsey Claire, Nicolas diPierro, Savannah Faye,
Susan Izatt, Toby Miller, Dan Shaked*, Sarah Sirota
In 1991 a crew of eight was sealed into Biosphere 2 to conduct the largest closed-system experiment ever devised or attempted. Two years and twenty minutes later they emerged: skinny, triumphant, controversial, celebrated, and maligned. This is one story of their before, during, and after and what it meant for conducting science on a grand scale.
*Actors appear courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.
2Y2OM by Catherine Castellani is an HB Studio Rehearsal Space Residency
This program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Across and down: Timothy Crawford, Alex Gagne-Hawes, me and Nicholas Walker Herbert, Jocelyn Paine, Valdez, Alaska at 1:00 a.m., across Prince William Sound late evening.
When I was in the 4th grade, my family set out on a road trip with Alaska as a destination. A blizzard in Montana changed our minds and we hit the Oregon coast instead. I finally made it to the 49th state this June for The Last Frontier Theatre Conference (soon to be known as the Valdez Theatre Conference). My play In Search of Lost Time was read. In a strange twist, playwright Nicholas Walker Herbert was cast to play a role, and he reminded me that we were in Cusi Cram's ESPA Triathlon together a few years ago, and I wrote a play in a weekend--THIS play! (That's Nick with the goggles. Thank you, Nick!)
I saw a lot of beautiful things and met a lot of beautiful people and heard a ton of plays and ate my 2018 allotment of cookies (always coffee, always cookies, always ice water in the lobby). I listened and wrote and laughed and danced like a lunatic and listened some more. During talks with Gregory Pulver and Danielle Dresden, I put my finger on what's missing in my play. And during my walks to the ferry pier (trying and failing to photograph an eagle fishing), I put my finger on what's missing in my playwriting. I'm better for my trip, that's for sure. A HUGE thanks to Dawson Moore for inviting me to bring In Search of Lost Time north.
A rotating crew of actors, student directors, and Guest Brains has been joining me at HB Studio to hash through this draft of 2Y20M on our way to a Much Better, Substantially Improved, and Awesomely Entertaining next draft, which will be publicly unveiled on July 21 and 22. So cancel all your summer plans: this is it.
I love this image by artist Katie Griesar. She's not only a visual artist and musician, but a theater artist as well. This image captures so much of what working in the theater has been for me: you work hard, racing the deadline of opening night, you get all your rocks in a circle, and enjoy the thrill of the tide rushing in. And then it's over. Half the rocks are gone; the rest are sunk in the sand. It's time to go home. Maybe stop for a fish taco and a beer on the way as the sun sets on all your hard work. Get up in the morning. Dream up something new and labor-intensive and ephemeral to do with your time on earth. It's the best. No really. It is.
(psst: image is used by permission--some of you will be inordinately pleased to hear that!)
2Y20M will be developed at HB Studios as part of a Rehearsal Space Residency between May 30 and two public readings on July 21 and 22. If you are an actor or director who is interested in getting involved, let me know!
In Search of Lost Time will be read the The Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska in June. If you'll be in Valdez, we'll meet (or meet again) there!
The Bigsley Project got a new draft and a new table read at the Lortel offices (thank you, George Forbes!). There should be photos of the wonderful, generous cast: Jennifer Fisher, Spencer Scott Barros, Daniel McCoy, Rachel Casparian, McKenna Cox, Dan Shaked, Dean Imperial, and Mikaela Kafka. There are no photos. See email subject line. I'm the worst at documentation. I will get better at it.
I am thrilled to announce that 2Y20M (Two Years Twenty Minutes) has been awarded an HB Residency! I'll be developing the play at HB Studios from May 30 through July 22, with public readings on July 21 and 22. I've previously shown an early excerpt at Dixon Place in The Lounge, and The Nora Salon hosted a reading of Act One. At HB, I'll get the time and space to spread out with the whoooooole enchilada, and I cannot wait.
Sign says: keep moving.
I am delighted to announce that my play In Search of Lost Time will be read at The Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska this June. Alaska is one of three US states I have never visited, and I can't wait! From all reports, no one has ever failed to have a good time at this conference. It's a solid week of theater: full-lengths, 10-minute plays, a monologue slam, and a late night Fringe in the tavern. I will not return rested.
Possession is a semi-finalist for the first Forward Flux Commission. This is a very cool project by a very cool company, and I'm honored to be in the running.
My favorite thing in the world is rehearsal. Yesterday I spent all day in the Dixon Place Lounge with this crew, rehearsing the first public reading of a portion of Possession. I got so much out of listening to director Sandra A. Daley-Sharif hone in on each character's motivations, vulnerabilities, and hostilities, and from each actor's evolving take on playing the moments. Rewrite: here I come. I want to thank each of these people for the inspiration!
From near to far: Donnell E. Smith, Messeret Stroman Wheeler, Jason Nuzzo, Phoebe Mar, Kristen Vaughan, Sandra A. Daley-Sharif, Dan Shaked, and Jennifer Fisher.
Dixon Place presents an excerpted reading of
a work in progress by Catherine Castellani
7 p.m., Wednesday, February 7
161A Chrystie Street, between Rivington and Delancey Streets
in The Lounge
The Dixon Place Lounge is open before, during and after the show.
Bar proceeds directly support DP’s artists and mission.
That means: Come Early! and Stay Late!
Back in 2016 as the ugliest presidential campaign I've ever lived through ground all good things to dust, I got the urge to write something a bit goth. I like to set myself technical challenges as a playwright--apparently my life is too easy and I compensate by finding ways to tie my brain in knots. I started with the idea of an inheritance: a decrepit townhouse on Albany's South Side. In a closet, an unexpected cache of hundred-year-old gowns. An alternate reality is born inside those walls, a 19th century reality of formality and tea parties, brandy, and the piano. A once-upon-a-time that never was.
And then the Nazis discover it.
Of course the American Nazis show up in my play. This was summer 2016 and they were revealing themselves everywhere. But when you put some fascists on stage the melodrama gets cranked to eleven without even trying. The play was starting to embarrass me, but I'm a lady who finishes what she starts, so I fought my way through the draft, and put it away. I imagined what it would be like trying to workshop this script in the brave new future under our first woman President and it felt a little much. A lot much. Extra, as The Resident Tween would say.
That brave new future didn't happen. A toxic nostalgia took hold instead. Republicans took to openly wishing for the good old days when women couldn't vote, blacks couldn't either, and you never wondered who was in charge. The play stopped looking over the top. It started looking a bit timid, in fact. It didn't go nearly far enough.
And so in 2018, that story needs a revision, a rehearing, and another shot of everything. Like an beginning cook, it all goes in. More brandy, some damn whist, the gently corrupt politicians get less gentle and I really don't care how extra this sounds. I'm dropping all restraint, metaphorically sitting in about the 5th row center, calling out, "More cowbell!"
Please join me for the first read.
Q: Where do I get tickets?
A: It's FREE, but I would love it if you make reservations on Dixon Place or by replying to this mailing.
A: Who's in it?
A: Good question! I'll let you know when it's cast!
Q: You mean you want me to put this in my calendar without knowing the director and cast?
A: It's the Dixon Place Lounge! Come early, stay late, try the Dark & Stormy (HEAVY on the ginger, and you know you will need that come February.)
Q: Can I bring all my friends?
A: YES. In fact, make new friends just so you can bring them. Really.