North Coast REP Brings One of Chekhov's Best and it is Not Uncle Vanya

The Cherry Orchard is a special pie with various slices of reality

Front Richard Baird, Katie MacNichol, Bruce Turk. Back L-R Ted Barton, Sofia Jean Gomez, Amanda Evans, Riley Osburn & Katy Tang
 - photo by Ken Jacques

The Cherry Orchard
was the last play written by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov in 1903. North Coast Repertory Theatre is presenting the classic with a version by American playwright Jean-Claude Itallie. Fun fact, the premiere of this play in the early 1900s was directed by Stanislavski! Oh, to have been a fly on that theatre wall...

It is said that 'Orchard is one of Chekhov's best along with Uncle Vanya. I have yet to understand the fascination with Vanya since the production I saw a couple of years before the pandemic left me exactly the same. Anyhow, with no expectations for this Chekhov in turn, it turned out to be a tragic joy.

Richard Baird - photo by Ken Jacques

Marty Burnett's set design is like a magic chest that unfolds to reveal different scenes. The first is the living room and former nursery of the famous estate known and loved for a big cherry orchard. The home of Russian aristocrat Lyubov Ranevskaya (Katie MacNichol) who has returned from a seven-year stay in Paris for the estate's auction. As an unconscious spender, Lyubov has no money left and needs what will come from the auction. The second is an outside view with trees and the third is a dance/party hall with the set folding and unfolding like a Rubik's cube. Matthew Novotny's lighting design colors each unfolding scene with beautiful shades of purple, orange, and pink evoking the season and time.

Lyubov is surrounded by family members and add-ons that do not really amount to much, her brother Leonid Gayev (Bruce Turk), daughter Anya (Riley Osburn), and her teacher Trofimov (Michael Raver). Varya (Amanda Evans) is an adopted daughter that takes care of the estate and lives with anxiety due to the constant spending and also being constantly teased by Yermolay Lopakhin (Richard Baird) regarding marriage. She wants to marry him but Yermolay is purposefully aloof and cocky. He has come a long way as his father was a serf for Lyubov's family. Being in charge of the property's auction and purchasing it at the end. Pishchik (Ted Barton) is a friend/neighbor with no money who asks everybody for it, Yasha (Michael Louis Cusimano) is a travel companion/servant for Ranevsky that is using Dunyasha (Katy Tang) for sex while Yepikhodov (Jackson Goldberg) swoons over her and has proposed, confessing his undying love. 

Firs (James Sutorius) is an elderly butler that takes care of the household warmheartedly as he is able. He has dementia and mumbles all-day also being loyal to Leonid Gayev almost nanny-like. 

The play has various life analogies pertaining to the time, aristocracy, and the lack of care for the real world and its troubles. Firs is truly one of the axes in this story and James Sutorious does a beautiful job. He is endearing, and funny while doing the mumbles, walking around the house. Yermolay Lopakhin is the other axe representing what it looks like to come off of the other side. He is constantly advising the family on how to handle the property to which they never listen but greatly lament at the end. Richard Baird is great in whatever he does with poise, presence, and a deep perfectly articulated voice. Sofia Jean Gomez as Charlotta Ivanovna is like the entertainment, free time in the piece performing magic tricks and jokes. She also represents an aloofness to freedom and being carefree.

James Sutorius - photo by Ken Jacques
The story marks a before and after in Russia that is so well written it continues to be universal and can be seen in current times. The homeless population in California for example.

Elisa Benzoni's beautiful costume design with the long dresses for the women, and the pristine suits for the men illustrate the time well. The soundtrack for the scenes Evan Eason chose as part of the sound design was splendid. Capturing each moment and giving it an added feel as well as even prompting the "view" of the orchard tree.

The cast works well as an ensemble delivering what seems to be a fluffy comedic piece when in reality, what is happening is not that fun or glamorous. How hard real-life punches hit and how sometimes it is better to pretend and just brush it to the side ignoring it is there and maybe it will go away...It is wonderful that San Diego gets the opportunity to see a piece that is not produced that often and is too considered one of Chekhov's best. 

The Cherry Orchard is currently playing at the Solana Beach venue until April 2.

For performance times and ticket prices, please click HERE

Backyard Renaissance Kicks off Their Eighth Season with the French Play "God of Carnage"

A Hilarious, Fun-Filled Ninety Minutes that also Deliver Important Reflections about Human Nature

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

L-R: Keiko Green, Jessica John and Francis Gercke. Photo by Daren Scott.

Even though I have enjoyed theatre all my life and have been committed to it professionally since 2010, there are many firsts for me during the opening season in San Diego. God of Carnage is one of them being produced by The Old Globe in 2012 and at Lamplighters a little bit before the world changed forever in February 2020. This was my first approach to 'Carnage, a piece by French playwright Yasmina Reza, translated to English by Christopher Hampton which sees the light once again as the season opener for Backyard Renaissance. 

A gathering between the couples Alan (Francis Gercke) and Annette Raleigh (Keiko Green) at Michael (MJ Sieber) and Veronica Novak's (Jessica John) house to determine how to move forward after their kids fought in the playground and the Novak's child ended up missing two front teeth after the other one hit him with a stick. What starts as a tense yet very formal meeting with the writing of a contract, escalates to a screaming fest where shoes come off, and feelings and vomit come out. A laugh-filled, fun, shocking comedy perfectly tackled by all of the actors. The added value to the marvelously written play is that the foursome is made by real-life couples that SWAPED spouses for the play. Both the rapport on stage as well as with the audience during the opening night had a high impact energy flowing all throughout the ninety minutes with no intermission. 

Francis Gercke, Keiko Green, Jessica John and MJ Sieber . Photo by Daren Scott.
Jessica John as the "zen", cultured, civilized Veronica is hilarious. Keiko Green let it all out -literally- as the frustrated pigeonholed wifey Annette or well woof-woof, handling timing skillfully. Rob Lufty along with associate director Hannah Meade, did a great job marking the rhythm between the women, the men, and the couples while interacting. Made me think of the roman colosseum while the battle is happening in the round. As intense as the plot gets, it flowed seamlessly. Francis Gercke as the macho jerk lawyer gives a lot of game to his costars and the audience as well as having fun himself portraying Alan. The game aspect that the play lends is too a strength in this production because it reflects how they have mastered the text and the trust that is there. George Ye as the fight choreographer really hit the marks by rounding the chaos but having it be clean and clear. Each of the characters has their shot, and their comedic moment. I can only imagine how fun industry night will be with this type of rapport. MJ Sieber as the momma's boy Michael is intense and thrillingly raunchy. 

Yi-Chien Lee's modern art-esque set design of the Novak's living room is simple yet sophisticated with white as the main color combined with browns and pieces of art that goes well with Chris Rynne's cold lighting design that makes the play truly pop.

As fun as it all sounds and how the laughs kick in, Reza spoonfeeds the audience different reflections about marriage, commitment, being a parent, and the responsibility of raising someone. How human nature works, how society works, and the way all that leaps out the door when instinct kicks in.

Other aspects too about our own unique governments, what we consider right and wrong, the volatility of it all with the risks of change and going to the opposite end. God of Carnage is truly a great piece of work that Renaissance dove into head first, with a great big splash.

Currently playing until March 25 at Tenth Avenue Arts Center with an Industry Night on Monday, March 20th. For ticket prices and performance times please click here


Onstage Playhouse Debuts San Diego Premiere of SLOWGIRL

 A Timely Piece About Empathy in Youth, Adulthood, and Family. 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Ava Smithmier and Jason Heil in Slowgirl. Photo Daren Scott

Onstage Playhouse's slogan is "Theatre worth talking about". With their current San Diego premiere Slowgirl the theatre company located in south San Diego definitely brought again a piece for table talk starting with the title alone...written by American playwright Greg Pierce, Slowgirl tells the story of Becky (Ava Smithmier) a high school student that is visiting her uncle Sterling (Jason Heil) in Los Angeles, Costa Rica for a week. More than seeing him, it is like killing two birds with one stone because Becky literally fled the scene of a caused tragedy during a house party where one of her classmates Mary Beth, who is probably on the Autism spectrum and made fun of by her peers, and being called "slowgirl". During the party, Mary Beth becomes the center of attention while jugging jello shots unaware of the alcohol. Becky thinks it's a hoot and scales it up by taping wings on her arms. Between the jello shots and the hype, Mary Beth thinks she can fly and prompted by Becky and others, jumps out of the window to supposedly land in the pool but misses...

During Becky's week's stay with Sterling, while going back and forth with her versions of what happened, the uncle also comes clean about his failed marriage and law career as well as why he left or tried to leave it all behind.

You would think the one-act piece with no intermission and just two actors would be a simple one but, it is almost like a rule. The fewer actors there are, the more complex and dosed for the audience to de-layer the plot will be. Onstage Artistic Director James P. Darvas again rose to the challenge by leading the cast through these histrionic tiers that reflect meticulous care teaming with scenic design by Duane McGregor and assisted by Herbet Siguenza. Becky describes herself as the most outgoing person in her class and boy! is she a full-throttle, energy-max cannonball that cannot stay still or quiet. Ava Smithmier in her Onstage debut, imprints that high energy with sprinkles of young naiveness that can be confused or passed as really a lack of awareness due to a lack of life experience but no, I believe this is a very timely piece. Becky is a total poster child for Gen Z with a combination of freedom, owning and commanding the space as well as vast selfishness and ego. (promise I am not proyecting). 

Uncle Sterling, Becky's mom's brother on the contrary, is calm and even introverted. Jason Heil who I had not seen on stage in a while nailed the "inside out" perspective of a man who has gone through it and decided to reclude and leave it all behind. The yin-yang combination between Smithmier and Heil is balanced, well-paced, and truly enthralling. Greg Pierce's writing as well as ripe is real and funny as he has Becky using curse words like cuntcum juice, and another array of combinations with cum. Intertwining those words released the tension buildup during the scenes. Pierce also includes in the dialogue annotations regarding America being a continent, not a country AND Costa Rica being in Central America and not South. That just warmed my soul. 

Ava Smithmier and Jason Heil in Slowgirl. Photo Daren Scott

This company is also known for presenting wonderful and elaborate set designs that defy the room and use it all from the first inch to the last. In their past musical productions or plays that have musical elements like 2021's Ezequiel Scrooge or 2022's First Date where house left/stage right or the entrance to the theatre, that area was used to place musicians totally taking advantage of the area, where in Slowgirl it was an extension of the Costarican living space with a trail and a labyrinth created by Sterling that the characters go to and have their meditative moments. Combined with painted green leaves and black to give the nighttime/jungle effect, where even the back of the doors was painted, Anthony Garcia truly nailed this set design that also had a kitchen, open elevated space with a hammock, bathroom, and living room. Props to Javier Guerrero who brought the vision to reality as he constructed the set.

I do have a directional note regarding the actor's use of the space. The good thing is that while using all of it, they came inches close to the audience in the first row which made it livelier, rawer, and even more uncomfortable -in a good way- giving the experience an added punch. The not-so-good thing is in the high-intensity scenes where the uncle and niece have heated arguments, they go up and down the elevated space between the living room and the hammock area. Yes, I appreciated it, yes it makes sense and as they do it over and over it seems like mice in a wheel which also adds and makes sense to what is happening giving it that feel of entrapment but it also gets a tad dizzy. 

Craig Noel Outstanding Specialty Artist 2022 award winner, Kevin "Blax" Burroughs continues impressing as his lighting design was amazing truly capturing the twilight effect with the shadows, the lights, and the colors, totally imitating nature and since the plot takes place IN nature, even better. The same goes for Estefania Ricalde's sound design which guides the piece throughout, but it is the special sound effects with parrots and iguanas that scratch the ceiling during the night which freaks Becky out, that totally rounds it out.

Aside from the obvious questions like "what would you have done as a parent?" or "what would you have done as Becky?" Slowgirl brings many topics to the table like what empathy looks like? the lack of...responsibility, actions, and consequences. What are we teaching our kids and are we really preparing them to be functional adults in this vortex of a society? as well as the strength in a family unit when it truly exists.

Currently playing until April 2 at the ChulaVista venue. For ticket prices and performance times please click here. 

La Jolla Playhouse Debuts World Premiere Musical, The Outsiders

Bringing a New Artistic Take on the Classic Story with an Impressive, High-Caliber Production 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Cast members in THE OUTSIDERS; photo by Rich Soublet II.
The Playhouse is known for incubating blockbuster productions that transfer to Broadway and as with all new things, you get a little bit of everything. Some pieces need a rewrite here and a tweak there... with their latest premiere The Outsiders, I had not seen something so round since Come From Away. This production has many key elements: harmony, musicality, choreography, lighting, set design, and what brings it together, high-caliber artistry. 
Based on S.E. Hinton’s novel -which she wrote at 16 years old and celebrated the 50th-anniversary edition in 2017-, and the film adaptation directed by Francis Ford Coppola, the musical features a book by Adam Rapp, music and lyrics by Jamestown Revival duo Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, and Justin Levine. In Spanish the title of the movie was "Los Marginados", the marginalized, the excluded, the alienated... even though they are all synonyms, each word hits differently. The teens that feature in this story are marginalized and alienated. Now here is the kicker: I had never heard of the book or the movie! The movie, I do not understand why, the book... well, I did not go to school here! So my point is, I did not have anything to compare the musical to. You can say I saw it with fully fresh eyes.

(L-R) Ryan Vasquez, Brody Grant, Jason Schmidt and Daryl Tofa in THE OUTSIDERS;
photo by Rich Soublet II.
The story takes place in Tulsa Oklahoma in 1967 with the audience being immersed in a movie theatre with the film Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman, Ponyboy's favorite actor. Ponyboy Curtis (Brody Grant) and his two older brothers,  Darrel (Ryan Vasquez), and Sodapop (Jason Schmidt) are struggling to survive as they were left orphaned due to a car accident. Darrel and Sodapop dropped out of school to get jobs to pay the mortgage, and have Ponyboy stay in school. All three are good kids and Ponyboy loves to read and is doing well in school being a fan of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and the American poet Robert Frost. The thing is, the Curtis boys are "greasers", part of the alienated, underprivileged group on the East side, also known as the archenemies of the "socs" (short for socials and pronounced "soshie") the rich, entitled kids in Tulsa who are always up to no good, you would think it is the opposite. One night, Ponyboy and his best friend Johnny (Sky Lakota-Lynch) are attacked by the socs and while they are trying to drown Ponyboy, Johnny reacts quickly and kills soc leader Bob (Kevin William Paul) with a knife that Dallas (Da'von T. Moody), an older brother type greaser gave to him for protection. They flee the city and while hiding in a church that catches fire during a field trip, Johnny saves a little girl, and both greasers are cleared and go back home. If things were bad before the stabbing, they get worse and Ponyboy sees life through a more transparent lens.
The stabbing from Johnny in defense of Ponyboy made me think, what would have happened if it was the other way around? If Bob had killed Ponyboy or stabbed Johnny, would that have had a different outcome? it lingered in my brain for a while...

The musical develops in two acts and 21 songs set in a junkyard/playground with monkey bars and two cars. Tatiana Kahvegian's set design is both original and somber using different shades of brown where it feels like you could smell the dirt and the rusted metal. Isabella Byrd's lighting design softly caresses each character and pops every suspenseful scene sharply. One of which is the infamous rumble for the territory between both gangs as water pours on the stage simulating rain while punches are flying and screams belting. Between the effect itself of the rain by Jeremy Chernick, special effects designer, and Justin Ellington's sound design, not only are audiences enthralled but not a single gasp could be heard aside from what was happening onstage at that moment. Beautifully done. 

Cast members in THE OUTSIDERS; photo by Rich Soublet II.
Outsiders' is also extremely physical. Rick Kuperman & Jeff Kuperman's choreography is challenging and very bold with precise, marked steps, flips, and jumps that add to the tension everyone is feeling. Each song in the piece has its own personality and for me, the songs that I appreciated the most not only because of the lyrics and sound but because of the creative angle, like Great Expectations alluding to Ponyboy's favorite novel and how he relates that to life. The song is high pitched, very beltie, and fantastically performed by Brody Grant. Even made me think if he could keep that up every night. Definitely not an easy song to perform but a great one, I could hear it on loop all day. Stay Gold, is another really cool song inspired by Ponyboy's favorite poem by Frost, Nothing Gold Can StayJamestown Revival along with Levine definitely imprinted the country folkie feel in the songs. I greatly appreciate these creative efforts as the work becomes even more special. 
The cast is made of impressive, high-caliber young artists: Daniel Marconi, Kevin William Paul, Brent Comer, Ryan Vasquez, Da’Von T. Moody, Jason Schmidt, Trevor McGhie, Piper Patterson, Kiki Lemieux, and ensemble members: Annelise Baker, Barton Cowperthwaite, Tilly EvansKrueger, Sean H. Jones, L’ogan J’ones, Renni Magee, Melody Rose, and Daryl Tofa; swings: Jordan Chin, Milena J. Comeau, and Tristan McIntyre; and understudies: Spencer McCabe Hunsicker, Junior Nyong’o and
Trevor Wayne. 

Sky Lakota-Lynch delivers a sweet yet troubled portrayal with amazing vocals and Da'von T. Moody as the bad boy, big brother figure Dallas, embodies difficult emotions like frustration, anger, love, and defeat with strength and conviction, giving the idea as well that even though he does not know what he is doing necessarily, it is leading from loyalty.

Hearts will beat, race, and break. I am looking forward to seeing the many lives this musical has ahead. This is an opportunity that should not be missed.

The Outsiders has been extended by popular demand and is now running until April 9th.
For performance times and surrounding events please click HERE. 

Interviews From Another Zero: Kandace Crystal Comes Back to the Stage in the Role of Neat

A Co-Production Between Scripps Ranch Theatre and Loud Fridge Theatre Group

by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Kandace Crystal in NEAT. Photo Ken Jacques
Kandace Crystal returns to the stage in NEAT, a play written by Charlayne Woodard and directed by Claire Simba. 

We had a fantastic conversation with Kandace who let us into her world fora little bit not just as an actress and artist, but also as an intimacy director.

Let us get right into it and start with the main question, WHO IS Kandace Crystal?

I would like to think, I am an actor, director, intimacy director, and really and truly, I am just a theatre maker. I enjoy it, I love it, I embrace it...sometimes it makes me happy, sometimes it makes me cry, and sometimes it's hard but I live, eat and breathe theatre.

As an artist and person, how do you find the balance between that because it is very hard you know? Theatre is a jealous partner, so how do you keep your sanity and have me time which can also be a blurred line doing what you love...

She's a jealous one, and I think for me, I lean back a lot on my intimacy work, self-care, and closure, and kind of leaving the work on the stage as hard as that can be, especially a show like NEAT that is so big, sooo big! and I find myself a lot like you know what? it is ok to put down your script, step away and not think about it for a little bit, and, as hard as that can be, balancing is everything, and all of my work currently is centered in some sort of theatrical realm, even in my teaching artistry. So I have been really enjoying being in my house and finding that joy at home, whether that's allowing myself to sit with my boyfriend and watch The Mandalorian, or if it's cooking dinner at home, or I am going to go and grab some dinner at the grocery store but we're going to sit out on the back porch and eat together. I think letting home really be home and allowing that has been the most beneficial and easiest way to find balance.

So...NEAT is one of the many projects that you are working on because you're IN IT...two things, how did that project come to you, and what is it about because it is just you.

Yeah, that is really exciting, so NEAT found me because I got the casting notice from three other people, and they were like "you gotta see this casting", and I was like "let me check it out". I saw Claire (Simba)'s name and I had worked with her in a Powers New Voices reading, in I think April of '22. I was like "Oh I really like her, I think we mesh well and I would love to work with her again, I want to audition for that and put my name in the hat." I think it being a one-person show is even more exciting because it is such a great acting challenge, and I haven't been doing as much acting in this last year as I have been with intimacy and directing work so if I am going to return to the stage, let it be with a bang and NEAT was this story that did that. 

It is about a young woman coming into her own and also being forced to, I would say examine the world through the eyes of her aunt who has a disability, which keeps her in this childlike state and, there is something really beautiful about exploring that legacy that someone leaves behind, and I am trying to be careful and not give out any spoilers! It is a really lovely story and it makes me think of my own aunt, she and I are very close and my dad always used to say I was just like her, sometimes it is one of those reflective moments of who came before you? what impact have they left? how does that shape who you are as a person? and, how do you continue their legacy when they are gone? 

What did you do to prepare for this piece?

Gosh...I did a lot of research because it is so many different characters. I am a firm believer in using the script, going back to it, and how did they describe these characters? What is the perception of this character from Charlayne, but is the perception from everyone else as well? and that really helped me with the physical and the vocals. I am really playing with a range and it's been "oh you know what? this is not going to be a sustainable voice for three shows a weekend or, physically, this is going to be too much on you and I have to recognize that Kandace in her 30s is not the same as when Kandace was 22...also recognizing how that changes things and modifying movements for what I thought I was going to be able to do compared to "you can do this if it was a one-time thing... could you do this three nights a week for a month? maybe not" and that is ok too. Letting myself feel those things in those moments and setting that really sharp boundary.

Kandace Crystal in NEAT. Photo Ken Jacques
Amazing! with that, what can audiences expect of NEAT?

I would say, you get to witness Kandace in all of her personalities. You get to witness what it was like from the words of a woman who lived in the sixties and seventies as a Black woman. I think you get to examine what life is like through the eyes of someone with a disability during that time and, I think it is a really lovely expression of family, and it's fun! Sometimes it is a little sad, sometimes it is really happy, and sometimes it is, "oh I cannot believe somebody would say that" and I think those are really all necessary conversations. 

Speaking of conversations, because we are in a society full of labels, categories, and groupings, things like that, people with disabilities or family members that have a disability come together. In your experience, and with this piece being a BIPOC person, do you think that those add to the condition of having a disability as in general to us, that it always adds because of who we are?

I think, one of the beautiful things about NEAT as a person was the fact that even though she had this childlike wonder, she was still very much a whole human being and I think a lot of times, we look at folks with disabilities in a deficit of oh, they don't have use of x,y, or z, this is all the things they're missing out on so, I think what NEAT explores is how her life was so full because of her disability. Because she was slightly different it completely changed how the folks around her were, but it was not necessarily for a negative. I think we should stop looking at folks who are disabled as at a deficit because that is not the case.

Mmm, totally. We are at a certain level and there are some things that are hyped because it compensates and the body is very wise that way. I think that we need to understand those types of things so, thank you for clarifying! That is why these conversations are cool :) So! all the practical aspects of this piece, where is it at? how long will it be running? where can you get tickets? all of that stuff

We open on March 25th and close on April 16th. There is an industry night -'cause I understand theatre is not cheap-, on Monday, April 3rd, and I am very excited about that because I am a firm believer in accessibility. We are running Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m., it will be fun, it will be a little crazy but that is the beauty of it, right? a one-person show, anything can happen! and if you are a supporter of Kandace Crystal, I mean come out and have some fun with me.

It is at Scripps Ranch Theatre...yes! and it is also a co-production with Loud Fridge Theatre Group who I have been working with a lot this year in very different capacities, which is kind of exciting and fun. This level of support from both organizations when I first even auditioned was amazing but through the actual process of the rehearsal, they have been there every step of the way and I guess in a way you wonder will you get that in a one-person show? cause it's just me, you know? what are you guys worried about? but it's kind of nice to know that, even though it is just me, they are treating me like a large company or me, and actually there is a lovely dancer named Nicole Diaz-Pellot who is also in it, and she is phenomenal so, come support us both.

Nicole Diaz-Pellot and Kandace Crystal in NEAT. Photo Ken Jacques
OH! THAT'S RIGHT! I mean, I do not want you to spoil it but, how is that going to look?

Uh, AMAZING! (laughs)... You know, I will say one thing, the first time Nicole and I met, we were doing a promo photo and they said something like, "can you guys try like back to back" and I'm like "like this?" and she said "You can just put your body weight on me, I got you" and actually, Sandra Ruiz told me once, that she used to say this a warm-up: "I will hold you up and not let you fall" and Nicole has literally been the embodiment of that with production and without any spoilers! 'cause I am terrible at that, she is not just like ridiculously talented, but she is a gorgeous human being inside and out and it has been such a pleasure working with her and to watch her work. Especially when movement is not always my strongest point, but the way she explains things to me, the way she talks to me, the way in which, you see her mind working when it's just dance moments and I am like YOU ARE SO COOL. So I cannot wait for the audience to experience the way she moves and experience that level of talent in such a different medium and that's an exciting, exciting thing to explore. 

This is great. One more question and I will let you go! So, intimacy direction...having an intimacy director, coordinator, there, we've been hearing about that more and more, and there is like a shift, a style of or, in the style of it to be there. Can you explain to us, what that means to have an intimacy director in the room and why should there be one?

I am trying to think of the condensed version of this response because we can talk about this all day... In my mind, the beauty of having an intimacy director is from an actor's standpoint, sometimes it is hard to say no to your director when they are asking you to do something that you are wholely uncomfortable with, and I think the beauty of having an intimacy director is that they're there to be your advocate, they are there to help relay your thoughts and feelings from you to other members of the team but also if you are like "look, I am not a strong mover, I do not know what to do with my hands", they also have that background where they can help you with that choreo and I think, too often, we have left actor out of that conversation of what will your body be doing onstage in these intimate moments. Which typically have been around simulated sex acts but recognizing too on the receiving end of abuse, it tends to be not just women, but, women of color. And so, as I look at that big picture and the changes that I want to make in this industry because I want women to look like me, and people who look like me, to feel loved, supported, and held when they're doing work that might be scary and challenging, and concerning. A kiss is more than just a kiss if you are trying to tell a story. I want folks to realize that with intimacy, touch has evolved post-covid and I do not think people think enough about that. I don't think enough people consider "I was really good with hugging everybody" then covid hit and it is like "maybe it is not for me, maybe it is for you", 'cause we don't always know what is going on behind the scenes so, being able to explore at the actor's pace is really exciting and I think from an organizational standpoint there is a lot of liability that goes into what kind of rehearsal rooms we are creating and so, I think, if anything as organizations look into "should I hire an intimacy director or not?", I mean, why not air on the side of safety and making sure that your actors feel held and advocated for or maybe, your communications style does not work for your performer right? so how can you create a room that has balance but also puts some power into the person who is doing the artform every night.


I think we covered everything! anything you would like to add or for people to know?

I think therefore I am...No! in all seriousness, it is a really lovely story, its a really lovely show and to be very honest with you, it is a little scary and intimidating but, from an actors standpoint the level of vulnerability in this for me is all the love I can pour into a piece and I think it has been a labor of love for all of us involved so, if anything you are supporting Scripps Ranch, you are supporting Loud Fridge, Loud Fridge is a newer company and they are doing really incredible work. I think folks should come out and support that. Having this life experience under my belt, to present a show like NEAT is like a chef's kiss.