As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches, we at Theater 808 would like to take a moment to count all our recent blessings. We couldn’t have asked for a more amazing experience as The Clearing took 59E59 Theaters by storm last month. We completely sold out the entire run one week before we even began performances, and audiences were spellbound during our limited three-week run. Critics hailed Theater 808 and called The Clearing a "masterful revival" and proclaimed, "this outstanding production is one really not to be missed." (Click HERE to see photos from The Clearing.)
There are so many people to thank for helping us bring Helen Edmundson’s beautiful play to life including our generous donors and our enthusiastic ticket buyers. We were honored to have such wonderful artists as Jason Bolen, Justin A. Partier, Matt Stine, Antonio Soddu, Kimberly Matela and director Pamela Moller Kareman work together seamlessly to create our unique version of the play. Behind the scenes, our dialect coach Leah Gabriel, Movement Coach Megan Campisi, Gaelic Consultant Róisín Fischer and Stage Manager Theresa Labreglio were invaluable – as were our dedicated crew members from LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts: Jack Dermer, Lillian Ehrlich, Katarina Solo and Callie Teitelbaum. We were so blessed with a stellar group of actors who are not only incredibly talented, but who made every rehearsal and moment backstage such a pleasure: Hamish Allan-Headley, Quinn Cassavale, Lauren Currie Lewis, David Licht, Neal Mayer, Ron Sims, Jakob Von Eichel, and Tessa Zugmeyer. Finally, we are truly grateful to the entire staff at 59E59 Theaters for making us feel so welcome and creating a stellar environment to present our work.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Theater 808.
On September 6, we finally began rehearsals for our long-awaited production of Helen Edmundson’s The Clearing. For this month's blog, we thought we’d share some behind-the-scenes pictures as we start to bring this beautiful play to life.
First Day Of Rehearsal read-through on September 6, 2016 Clockwise: Róisín Fischer (our Gaelic Consultant), Jakob Von Eichel, Hamish Allan-Headley, Neal Mayer, Ron Sims, and Director Pamela Moller Kareman.
Lauren Currie Lewis rehearses a monologue as Killaine Farrell in a studio at the Neighborhood Playhouse.
Ron Sims doing table work as The Sailor, one of his three characters in “The Clearing.”
David Licht, Jakob Von Eichel and Tessa Zugmeyer on their feet working on Act I, Scene 2.
Quinn Cassavale brings Madeleine Preston to life in our rehearsal space. Note Jason Bolen's rendering of the set on the wall behind her.
Lauren Currie Lewis and Hamish Allan-Headley rehearse their roles as Killaine Farrell and Pierce Kinsellagh.
Our stars, Jakob Von Eichel and Quinn Cassavale, after their appointments with acclaimed hairstylist Antonio Soddu. Suddo has designed for many Broadway productions including, "The Sisters Rosensweig", "An American Daughter", and "The Lyons,” and we're thrilled to have him on our team.
Tickets for our fall production, Helen Edmundson's The Clearing are now on sale! This brilliantly original and heartbreakingly relevant play examines our universal desire for acceptance amid prejudice and fear in a stunning tale of treachery, romance, and passion. It will run at the prestigious 59E59 Theaters from October 6 - October 23, 2016, will be directed by Pamela Moller Kareman and stars Quinn Cassavale, Jakob Von Eichel, Lauren Currie Lewis, David Licht, Tessa Zugmeyer, Hamish Allan-Headley, Ron Sims, and Neal Mayer. To learn more and to purchase tickets, please click HERE
Also, in addition to our previously announced designer team, we are thrilled that lighting designer Justin A. Partier will be joining us for The Clearing. Partier's "expert lighting" (New York Theatre Review) has been seen worldwide. Recently, he designed Red at Arkansas Rep, Verdi’s Requiem Mass for San Francisco Opera, Postcard from Morocco at Merola Opera, Aftermath for the World Tour/Meryln Theater Melbourne Australia, A Midsummer Nights Dream at Schloss Werdenberg – Buchs SG, Switzerland, and Peter and the Starcatcher and Rough Crossing at Bristol Valley Theater. He has been the associate designer on a variety of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Opera and Regional Theater productions and received his MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Upcoming, he is designing Maybe Never Fell at the Axial Theater Company. We can't wait for audiences to see what Justin has created for The Clearing!
Jason Bolen's set for our smash production of Elaine Del Valle's Brownsville Bred
Theater 808 is thrilled to announce that we've lined up three of our favorite designers for our upcoming production of Helen Edmondson's The Clearing at 59E59 Theaters: Jason Bolen, Kimberly Matela and Matt Stine.
Scenic Designer Jason Bolen designed our acclaimed Brownsville Bred at 59E59 with Backstage declaring: "Jason Bolen's set is a clever combination of clutter and junk and soothing poppy colors, perfectly capturing the gritty but sunny remembrances of Del Valle's play." Jason is currently resident scenic designer at Pacific Conservatory Theatre where some of his favorite designs there have included Richard III, Pirates of Penzance, Cinderella, and Man of La Mancha. He's also had the privilege to design an ongoing production of All Hands on Deck in Branson, MO. Very much in-demand, he’ll soon be designing Kiss of the Spider Woman, 9 to 5, and All Night Strut at various theaters throughout the country.
Kimberly Matela's stunning costumes have graced Theater 808's productions of Biography, The Crucible and Nora. The New York Times wrote "Kimberly Matela's costume design makes a vivid contribution to both characterization and storytelling" while The Journal News touted Kimberly's "wildly inventive costumes" as "an explosion of color and whimsy." Recently, Kim designed Obamaland a feature film directed by Aaron Freese, and New York Is Dead, a web series directed by Randolph Harrison. Kimberly received her MFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and is the creator of the costume and sewing blog, The Tailoring Robot, at http://thetailoringrobot.blogspot.com
Matt Stine has been an integral part of every Theater 808 production so far, and The Journal News singled him out in their rave review of Brownsville Bred with "kudos to sound designer Matt Stine — for a great overhead-train effect during one of the evening's tensest moments." Matt has been extremely busy in the past few years, and he is particularly proud of his work on the acclaimed Here Lies Love at the Public Theater. Recently, he worked on the Broadway production of Misery starring Laurie Metcalf and Bruce Willis and on the Classic Stage Company's Mother Courage and Nathan, the Wise. Matt is also very proud of his work on the Shakespeare in the Park productions of Love's Labour's Lost and The Tempest.
We can't wait for our audiences to see the bold designs our team is creating for The Clearing. Performances begin October 5 at 59E59 Theaters!
In light of the tragic mass shooting this weekend in Orlando, we’d like to share a portion of an essay that British playwright Helen Edmundson wrote in the fall of 2001. We here at Theater 808 also share this hope as we pray for the victims, their families and friends.
“...it is easy to believe that we are free to love whom we choose. But looking around, it seems to me that there are very few of us who choose to love beyond what we know. Even in multi-ethnic Britain, in the throes of the Global Economy, where our chances of meeting and mixing with people from very different backgrounds are greatly increased, the majority of us continue to gravitate towards ‘our own kind’. At the very simplest of levels, it seems we cannot underestimate the reassurance of a shared culture: similar food we were raised on, the same books we read at school, shared memories of television programmes; to have these sorts of things in common can give partners a kind of shorthand with which to connect. But at a deeper level, this sticking with what we know, has to come from our innate fear, even rejection of, the ‘other’. This may be a conscious thing, a desire to keep a blood-line pure (this applies to the British upper-class as much as it does to Brahmins or Jews) or it may be that age-old, animal instinct, that what we don’t know or understand means danger...
Within days of September 11th, British mosques were receiving hate-messages, Muslim taxi-drivers were having their windows smashed, Muslim women were being abused and assaulted in the street. For some, toleration of multi-ethnic Britain is a veneer which is very easily stripped. And what would happen if this conflict, or one akin to it, was to come even closer to home? What levels of violence and hatred might not be unleashed?
I wrote The Clearing at the time of the civil war in former Yugoslavia, amidst the expressions of horror and disbelief at fellow Europeans displaying such barbarism. Which one of us can be absolutely certain that, under similar cirumstances, we would not be susceptible to propaganda, that we would not fall prey to the lust for revenge or absolute supremacy? At the end of the play, Madeleine talks about her dream of a world where people “have their lives for themselves, without this pulling back and pulling back”. For many, it remains a dream.
But perhaps there is hope. Perhaps the numbers marching on recent peace-rallies show that more and more people are able to see the bigger picture...
Perhaps, when it comes to loving beyond what we know, it is just early days and by the end of the century, we will all be confident enough to consider ourselves citizens of the world.
Helen Edmundson. November 2001
Spring came in like a lion here at Theater 808 as we began pre-production of our upcoming project at 59E59 Theaters: The Clearing by Helen Edmundson. On April 9, we not only had an informal table read of the play, but that evening we also launched our exciting new website. Web designer Ian Patrick Gibb (ipgwebsitedesign.com) did a spectacular job creating a bold new look for us as we re-launch our company. Soon after, we started our social media push and entered the worlds of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Our TBT posting on April 28 of a photo of Tracy Shayne and Kevin Albert in Biography reached over 2000 people on Facebook alone and even prompted Terry Teachout, esteemed drama critic of The Wall Street Journal, to reply: "OH, that was a good show." Thanks, Terry! We know The Clearing will be something special as well, and all involved are looking forward to rehearsals beginning in September.
Actors Quinn Cassavale and Tessa Zugmeyer on April 9th
In addition, videographer Marcel Simoneau interviewed our board members and company members (Carey Macaleer, Quinn Cassavale, Pamela Moller Kareman, Jonathan Holzman, Lauren Currie Lewis, David Licht, Tessa Zugmeyer, Hamish Allan-Headley, Stuart Cullen, and Neal Mayer) to find out what makes Theater 808 unique. We've had a blast editing this footage as we put together two short videos: one, a brief history of our company, and the the other, a promotional video to kick off our fundraising campaign. Stay tuned for the release of both videos very soon.
Director Pamela Moller Kareman, Videographer Marcel Simoneau and actor Jonathan Holzman
"It's a great, great human adventure. Imagine having a human being stand up on a platform and mesmerize an audience and sometimes even illuminate something for them. You don't need machinery. It's a very primitive art. That's the beauty of it."
Arthur Miller, on the art of theater
This is an exciting time for Theater 808 as we prepare to devote our artistic vision, passion and energy to the "great human adventure" of rehearsing Helen Edmundson's extraordinary play, The Clearing.
Set against England's 1652 attempt to solve its "Irish Question" by conducting a ruthless campaign to rid Ireland of the Irish, this powerful play is, at one and the same time, both huge and intimate. Through the struggles in a marriage between a free-spirited Irish lass and an English squire, Edmundson brilliantly illuminates not only our history but our humanity. A truly provocative and relevant work, The Clearing examines our universal desire for acceptance complicated by our innate fear of "the other".
It is the perfect play for right now, and we are the perfect company to bring it to life. Our bold vision and dedication to truth in art will surely make it sing. We invite you to join us on this adventure!