A Conversation with …Marcina Zaccaria, Playwright/Director VILLAGE, MY HOME

Being a playwright, a critic, and a theater director has given me the opportunity to work with such smart, creative people, who every day search for deeper meaning.  The world can be a challenging place, so I ask myself: What role does our belief structure play?  Is it our friends who lift us out of difficult times?  
Marcina Zaccaria is directing the debut of her new play VILLAGE, MY HOME at the DREAM UP FESTIVAL at Theater for the New City.  We had a chance to chat about her play and what it means to be playwright, director, and arts advocate.
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Share with us a little bit about the germ of the play.  How did it come about?  What was its evolution? 
I used to live in Greenwich Village, and my first husband was a filmmaker who later won an Emmy Award for his work as an Editor for television.  Greenwich Village is sort of Mecca for artists.  When I reflected on what is like to live in such a creative environment every day, I, of course, experienced a wide range of emotions.  
I was so impressed by how “interconnected” the world can be, particularly when you involve people in different stages of their lives.  Also, I thought a lot about the difference between theater and film.  Both are truthful, and shed light on the human condition.  With theater, you can hear the voice re-bounding in space, so it’s very differently “live” than film.  I kept interrogating these ideas about the difference between theater and film, and I tried to find a way for sight to be as important as sound.  Also, I love multi-media art.  So, what began as a concept for a multi-media play became a theater piece, with a Facebook component. 
We were thrilled when the show got accepted to the Dream Up Festival at Theater for the New City.  This would provide a possibility for a live audience in a physical theater space, while, at the same time, not completely abandoning the notion of “live” camera coverage, that would be in use on stage. 
What outcomes do you hope to have with the premier of VILLAGE, MY HOME? 
I hope people will find humor in the show.  Also, I hope that plenty of people will chat with their friends about Village, My Home, and talk about the images. 
The play struggles with the notion of enlightenment, and I hope that the audience can find some recognition in the every day dilemmas they see onstage.
How have The Arts personally impacted your life? 
The arts have had an enormous impact on my life. When I decided to go to Drama School at Tisch School of the Arts, I had no idea that I would wind up feeling so rewarded by the journey I have taken over the last 20+ years.  
Being a playwright, a critic, and a theater director has given me the opportunity to work with such smart, creative people, who every day search for deeper meaning.  The world can be a challenging place, so I ask myself: What role does our belief structure play?  Is it our friends who lift us out of difficult times?  
I do believe in the transformative nature of theater, and I was so glad that Village, My Home is going to be performed the East Village in NYC.  It’s just a very spiritually sound place.
Dream Festival

VILLAGE, MY HOME BY MARCINA ZACCARIA
An exploration of the Village’s many colorful characters

August 27 to September 3, 2017
Theater for the New City,
155 First Avenue

Community Space Theater

Sunday, August 27 at 5:00 PM 

Tuesday, August 29 at 9:00 PM,

Thursday, August 31 at 9:00 PM 

Friday, September 1 at 9:00 PM,

Saturday, September 2 at 2:00 PM 

Sunday, September 3 at 8:00 PM


Tickets $15. Box Office: (212) 254-1109, http://www.dreamupfestival.org
Running Time: 45 minutes. Critics are invited to all performances.
Buy Tickets

In preparation for the New Year, a Village housewife joins businesspeople, locals and tourists as they question what matters to them. As technology continues to fascinate, isolate and shape our lives, how do we encounter our New York City? Village, My Home,  written and directed by Marcina Zaccaria, embraces the very human experience of what it means to live and survive in the 21st century against the backdrop of cultural and political uncertainties.

With theatrical movement and state-of-the-art sound design, Village, My Home promises to warm the heart and calm the most unsettling times.

Village, My Home stars LPTW Member Frances McGarry; Marjorie Conn*; Michael C. O’Day*; Kelsey Shapira; Jeff Burchfield*; Madalyn McKay; Christina Ashby; Maile Souza Sean Evans; Maria Severny; Stephanie Roseman; Meaghan Adawe McLeod; Rebecca Genéve; and Catherine Luciani. Jak Prince is the lighting designer. Maria Ortiz Poveda is the costume designer. Dana Robbins is stage managing.
*Appears Courtesy of Actor’s Equity

The eighth annual Dream Up Festival is an ultimate new work festival, dedicated to the joy of discovering new authors and edgy, innovative performances. Audiences savor the excitement, awe, passion, challenge and intrigue of new plays from around the country and around the world.

The festival does not seek out traditional scripts that are presented in a traditional way. It selects works that push new ideas to the forefront, challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of how art illuminates the world around us.

A unique and varied selection of productions will again be offered that draw upon a variety of performance specialties including singing, clowning, poetry, street music, magic and movement. The Festival’s founders, Crystal Field and Michael Scott-Price, feel this is especially needed in our present time of declining donations to the arts, grants not being awarded due to market conditions, and arts funding cuts on almost every level across the country and abroad.

Extraordinary Women Telling an Extraordinary Story: SHADOWS ROUND THE MOON

“This is a story of incredible love and extraordinary loss. The play is a chance to introduce an amazing woman to the world since Mary Shelley has not received the attention she deserves. People will be astounded to learn about the many tragedies she suffered. And yet, she survived. This play allows her to talk about how she did that, in her own words, her own voice.” ~ Kate Burton

“Many people know Mary Shelley as the writer of Frankenstein, but they don’t know what an extraordinary person she was,” says actress Kate Burton. “I didn’t know until I read Janice’s play.”

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Mary Shelley, author FRANKENSTEIN

Shadows Round the Moon came to Kate after playwright Janice Kennedy presented an excerpt at the Santa Monica Library and an actor in the audience asked her for a copy of the script. “He contacted me later and said he knew someone who would be a great match for the material, ” remembers Janice. “I didn’t know it was Kate, but he was absolutely right. Kate is perfect.”

Janice had a chance to see Kate as Mary Shelley when Kate did a reading of Shadows Round the Moon at a Women in Film benefit in Los Angeles. “It was extraordinary to watch her,” says Janice. “Even with no movement or staging, Kate transformed herself into Mary Shelley and the audience was mesmerized. They gave her a well-deserved standing ovation.”

Flash forward to Spring 2017 with Kate in a critically acclaimed revival of Present Laughter on Broadway. Kate and Janice decided this would be a good time to introduce Shadows Round the Moon to New York people. They set up an informal presentation at the Dramatists Guild and invited several Broadway producers and a rep from the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Janice gave an overview of the play and Kate read a couple of excerpts. The May presentation was so successful that a full reading of the play took place this past Wednesday, July 12th at the Dramatists Guild.

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Janice Kennedy and Kate Burton   Photo Credit Ellis Gaskell 

 

“This is a story of incredible love and extraordinary loss,” says Kate. “The play is a chance to introduce an amazing woman to the world since Mary Shelley has not received the attention she deserves. People will be astounded to learn about the many tragedies she suffered. And yet, she survived. This play allows her to talk about how she did that, in her own words, her own voice.”

 

To find that voice, Janice read Mary’s letters and journals as well as biographies of Mary and her husband, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Janice found that even though Frankenstein was a publishing sensation, Mary did not receive much money for it. Copyright laws at the time she wrote the book did not favor the “creators” of literary works and music.

After Percy Shelley died, Mary was dependent on her father-in-law for money and forbidden by him to write Percy’s biography, even though she was constantly asked to do so by publishers. “This became the catalyst for the play,” says Janice. “What if Mary, as a way to write about Percy, wrote the story of her own life?”

This story begins with the death of Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, when she was but a few days old. In the play, Mary Shelley talks about this being her introduction to “Mr. Bones,” her personification of Death.

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Kate Burton Photo Credit Ellis Gaskell 

The death of Mary Wollstonecraft reverberated throughout England because she was both revered and reviled as the founder of modern feminism with her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women. After Wollstonecraft’s death,  Mary was raised by her father, William Godwin, a radical philosopher whose house was often visited by other philosophers and poets of the day, including Percy Shelley. As Mary grew up, she often hid on the stairs to listen to the talk of these men.

Kate Burton says she can relate to this experience of Mary’s. Recently, an old friend of her father’s came to see Kate in Present Laughter. He told her of sitting on the stairs as a child and listening in on the gatherings his father would have with people like Noel Coward, John Gielgud, Terrence Rattigan and Somerset Maugham.

At sixteen, Mary meets and falls in love with Percy Shelley at her father’s house. Janice’s research told her that the relationship that developed was not typical of the times. “Percy was devoted to the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft and truly believed the younger Mary was his equal — that she was as smart as or smarter than him,” says Janice. “Percy and Mary fell deeply in love and established an extraordinary partnership where they fueled each other’s ideas. Unfortunately, their life together was marked by tragedy after tragedy that began with the death of their first child when she was but a few days old.”

A few days after their baby’s death, Mary woke to tell Percy that she dreamed their little girl was “only cold and that we rubbed her by the fire, and she lived.” This dream of “reanimation,” Mary would say later, provided the seed for Frankenstein.

Two more of Mary and Percy’s children would die as small children and Mary suffered a miscarriage while in Italy that almost took her life as well. It was in Italy that Mary and the world suffered the loss of Percy Bysshe Shelley when he drowned at age 29 while sailing in the Mediterranean. Mary was only 25.

“These are things I do not want to remember,” Mary says in the play. “But remember I must, as we all must. What we have known, we cannot cease to know.”

Janice says she titled her play “Shadows Round the Moon” because Percy Shelley used the moon as his symbol for Mary in his poetry. And as Mary recounts her life in the play, all of the deaths she endured are like shadows surrounding and haunting her. “I made it a one-woman drama so that Mary is finally the focus of the story,” says Janice. “While Mary was alive, no one but Percy seemed to realize her brilliance. The irony is that he was largely credited with writing Frankenstein, something he consistently denied.”

Critics especially had a hard time believing that a young woman, only 17 at the time, could have written such a tale. One reviewer of Frankenstein exclaimed that “this is the foulest toadstool that has sprung up on the dung heap of mankind.”

“But what do critics, know?” counters Kate, who seems to intuitively understand Mary Shelley since Mary was raised in a “British culture” as she was. And Kate grew up in an artistic and literary family as well. Her father, Richard Burton, was an actor as was her mother Sybil, who became a literary agent and then a theatre manager. Sybil, in fact, founded The Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY. But Kate says she didn’t know she was going to pursue the arts until her senior year of college:

I was going to be a diplomat but in my senior year at Brown, I decided to apply to drama schools. I knew that as the daughter of a famous actor, I would need all the proper  training. The basic decision became whether I would go to graduate school in England or  America because I am a British National. So, that was the only big fight in the family. Not with my mom, but with my dad. He wanted me to go to Britain and I said no, I was an American. So I went to Yale. I had a very interesting, good, and hard time while I was there. My first big job after graduate school was playing the ingénue in Present Laughter directed by George C. Scott, which was crazy.

For nearly 17 years, Kate was a working actress and then in her 40s, Hedda Gabler and The Elephant Man came along and “that changed my life as an actress because suddenly I was being moved into a different pantheon: I was no longer an ingénue and I was no longer a character actress. I could do more. That was 16 years ago. Then I went through a fallow period and I auditioned for this television show about doctors called Grey’s Anatomy. I was to be the mom of the leading lady, a mom who had early onset Alzheimer’s. I thought , ‘Oh my God, what a horrible thing.’ And I ended up [with] THAT [changing] my life and that was great.”

What does Kate think about the challenge of doing a one-woman show like Shadows Round the Moon?  “It’s very hard learning an hour-and-twenty-minute monologue and then, of course, I love being on stage with my fellow actors. But it has to be Mary’s story. It has to be her voice.”

Realizing the significance of providing role models, Kate values women writers like Mary Shelley and playwright Janice Kennedy.  “We’re in a time when women are being heralded in a way they haven’t been before . . . I am glad that women are being rewarded not because they’re women but because they’ve done a fantastic job.  We have two plays on Broadway right now written by women and that’s exciting.  They’re both Pulitzer Prize winners from before. They have stayed the course.”

Kate’s career arc is one built over the years:  “I came into my own in my 40s,” she says. “For me, now it’s about focusing in on what I really want to do for the rest of my time.”

After taking five years off from being active in the Union, Kate is running for the Council at Actor’s Equity  “because I know that I’m good at that, I know that I’m good at being a Union person. That’s a place that I can be helpful.” She is on the board of Broadway Cares and works with the AIDS Foundation in AIDS education. Her life is good, says Kate, and she wants to give back.

“I am very lucky to be in this amazing Broadway production right now that is going incredibly well critically and financially,” she says. “It’s so thrilling. Now, I’m about to become a “Professor of Practice” at the University of Southern California in August.” Kate’s husband, Michael Ritchie, is the artistic director of the Center Theatre Group (CTG) in LA so she’s happy she’ll be living on the West Coast again. The CTG includes the Taper Forum, the Ahmanson and the Kirk Douglas theatres.

And the best is yet to come with the possibility of her own one-woman show about Mary Shelley. Helen Mirren once said, “Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. Your 60s are fab.  And 70 is fucking awesome.“ Kate would probably agree with that as she looks forward to more incredible opportunities coming her way.

For more information about the play contact Janice Kennedy

Sound Bites 3.0 Festival 10 Musicals – One Night Only!

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Friend What Are You Waiting For?

I will be performing in the new musical comedy WE HAVE APPLES as the Nurse

January 18th 7 pm 47th Street Theater! It’s a 10-minute showcase that will be sure to please.  Hope you can make it!

Stay tuned for a First Online With Fran interview with Rachel Griffin. .

Jane, a quirky 18-year-old writer, has no choice but to admit herself to a psychiatric hospital when her depression (personified by a female actor) becomes more than she can handle on her own. Bored with the cheesy and condescending group sessions, Jane and another talented patient, Jack, start a writing group. Tension heightens between staff and patients and corruption and mistreatment in the ward start to make everyone wonder: who is really sane here after all?

Music, lyrics, and book by Rachel Ford Griffin

Directed by Branden Huldeen

Music Director/Additional Music Aron Accurso

Go to the We Have Apples show page

Subject: Friend what are you waiting for? 10 Musicals – One Night Only!

Good seats still available BUT HURRY, they’re going fast!
10 Musicals – One Night Only!

The 47th Street Theatre
304 West 47th Street off Eighth Avenue, NYC

www.TNNY.org

Click To BUY TICKETS NOW

Go to the SOUND BITES 3.0 Festival main page

The ten finalists, listed in alphabetical order, featured at this year’s Sound Bites are…

A Cappella Love

A Cappella Love, performed by eight triple-threat singers-actors-dancers (four men, four women) without instrumental accompaniment, is a new musical that, through song, dance, and comedy, explores the universal experiences of falling in, being in, and stumbling out of – what else? – love. The romance! The passion! The brazen innuendo…all a cappella!

music by Nelson Kole, lyrics by Mark Browning Milner, and book by Mark Browning Milner, Lorrie Kole, and Nelson Kole

Go to the A Cappella Love show page

Baked Goods

Gertie may be the worst girl scout the troop has ever seen. When her mother (who is also her troop leader) gives her the ultimatum of selling 100 boxes to continue her girl scout membership, Gertie does her best to rise to the occasion, with a little help from a new friend.

music by Helen Park, lyrics by Christyn Budzyna, and book by Charles Cohen

Go to the Baked Goods show page

Burning Up

A New York City couple awake one morning, burning up with fevers, while their babysitter and their handyman are sizzling with a fever of a different kind. Chaos and Kleenex reign, in this classic yet contemporary tale of love and flu-like symptoms.

music by Rick Bassett, lyrics by Pamela Weiler Grayson, and book by Pamela Weiler Grayson and Rick Bassett

Go to the Burning Up show page

Fictitious

Fictitious is a 90-minute musical comedy inspired by the life of Arnold Schwarzenegger that traces the unlikely success story of an immigrant bodybuilder turned actor turned politician who marries into America’s political royal family and eventually becomes president.

music, lyrics, and book by Paul Cozby and Tom Hyndman

Go to the Fictitious show Page

Gorgonzola

A progressive Sicilian town is thrown into turmoil when they discover they have a rule that the oldest person in town is always right

music by Nolan Livesay, book and lyrics by Gregory Bonsignore

Go to the Gorgonzola show page

Hipster Sister

Brooklyn, 2015. Chelsea is getting fed up with her slacker singer-songwriter sister, Jackie, and it’s time she moved out.

music, lyrics, and book by Andy Roninson

Go to The Hipster Sister show page

Houdin

Eric, a young, failed magician (circa 1902) barters his soul to travel back in time to Paris, circa 1880, to study with the great, Father of Magic, Eugene Robert-Houdin. Eric meets Houdin’s hiding, reclusive daughter, and love complications ensue. “Brigadoon” meets “Damn Yankees”.

music, lyrics, and book by Marcus Pelegrin, additional music by Gio Dormero

Go to the Houdin show page

On Your Mark!

A contemporary re-imagining of the Aesop Fable ‘The Tortoise and the Hare,’ this fun new show takes the familiar classic and exposes the truth behind this infamous woodland race.

music by Aaron Kenny, book and lyrics by Danny K. Bernstein

Go to the On Your Mark show page

Too Much Coffee Man Opera

Too Much Coffee Man Opera is a collaboration between Eisner Award winner and New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler and Emmy Award winning composer Daniel Steven Crafts, the first of what is now called Gonzo Opera. Too Much Coffee Man hangs around the coffee shop waxing prolific about life, love, the universe. Secretly in love with the barista, he has always been too shy to say anything to her. Today, however, he decides to throw caution to the wind…

music by Daniel Steven Crafts, book by Shannon Wheeler

Go to the Too Much Coffee Man Opera show page

We Have Apples

We Have Apples is a musical comedy set in a psychiatric hospital. Jane must overcome her depression (which is portrayed by another character) to be with the man she falls in love with, who happens to be her psychiatrist’s son.

music, lyrics, and book by Rachel Ford Griffin

Go to the We Have Apples show page

graphic design by Lauren Draper / illustrations by Carlos Zamora

Click To BUY TICKETS NOW

SOUND BITES is sponsored in part by…

Theatre Now New York is a professional theatre company whose history originates with two established companies: the Genesius Theatre Guild in New York City and ReVision Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ. Theatre Now New York brings together the founding principles of both these companies: developmental work and main stage theatrical productions.

The mission of Theatre Now New York is to facilitate the creation and development of new theatrical works, the reimagining of previously produced known titles and the reinterpretation of classic works through readings, productions, workshops and work-in-progress presentations and to promote the understanding and appreciation of live theatre and its process by the general public. TNNY provides opportunities for emerging, mid-career and established theatre professional in their ongoing creative process.

Theatre Now New York is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization and all donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Members of Theatre Now New York receive 20% or more off all ticket purchases for a year, plus priority seating at productions and events, VIP invitations to special events and Members Only pre-sale opportunities on future events.