Here’s a slideshow created by the great Alex Fishkin, with music he composed for Uranium Madhouse’s 2012 production of Brecht’s A Man’s A Man, with photographs by Travis Shakespeare and Jim Utter.
Greetings, Sammy Fishkin, brand new son of Alex Fishkin, composer for our upcoming production of A Man’s A Man and member of the Uranium Madhouse Advisory Board. We are deeply honored to make your acquaintance!
Brecht Comedy Finds its Men
Uranium Madhouse Artistic Director, Andrew Utter, has announced the cast for the company’s upcoming production, a new translation of Bertolt Brecht’s A Man’s a Man.
The play tells story of a group of soldiers whose burglary of a local pagoda goes disastrously awry, forcing them to replace one of their own men with a local dockhand. An enterprising widow, keeper of the camp canteen, aids the soldiers in evading discovery by their merciless, bloodthirsty sergeant.
The soldiers will be played by Ian Forester, Andrew Perez, Alex Sell, and Chris Wallinger. Terence Leclere has been cast as the mutable dockhand, Galy Gay. Yolanda Seabourne will play beer wagon proprietress, Leucadia Begbick and Kelly Van Kirk has been cast as her sleuthing paramour, Sergeant Charles Fairchild, also known as “Bloody Five.” The cast is rounded out by Feodor Chin, as keeper of the violated pagoda and Megan Faillace, in the role of Mrs. Galy Gay.
Says Utter of the casting process “We took a “keep-it-in-family” approach to casting this time out, eschewing an open call and working with actors in our own network with a clear commitment to theater. It’s worked out really well.”
In addition to directing, Utter also translated A Man’s a Man from the 1953 version of Brecht’s German text.
Of working on the new translation, Utter says “I love Brecht’s sense of the absurd and the ridiculous, and while I was translating the play, I had the distinct feeling that Brecht was sitting there with me, and we would chortle together about the jokes and shenanigans of the characters. It was a deeply satisfying experience.”
Production design will be handled by Uranium Madhouse Resident Designer, Erik Flatmo. Composer Alex Fishkin is creating original music for the new translation.
A Man’s a Man will be the second production for the company that calls itself, “LA’s most fissionable theater cabal.” Says Uranium Madhouse co-founder, Yolanda Seabourne, “we describe ourselves as “fissionable” because it represents potential for power and impact yet unrealized but at the brink of bursting with possibility.”
A Man’s a Man will be performed at Atwater Village Theater, Fridays and Saturdays from July 13 to August 4. Tickets available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/245480.
I am excited about the talented people who have joined the cast of A Man’s A Man to date. To wit:
Ian Forester (Uriah) Ian Forester was raised by two poets in Reading, Pennsylvania in a house where every wall was filled with books.
Wanting some peace and quiet, his mother noticed her son’s fascination with the one wall reserved for plays and took him to a local audition to begin his career in the theater. After his junior year at The Hill School Ian was accepted to the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, where his teachers encouraged him to head west to Northwestern University.
After graduating with a degree in Performance Studies Ian moved south into the city and entrenched himself in the Chicago theater scene. There he worked on countless plays and projects, often wearing multiple hats, while supporting himself with a freelance production career. Highlights include acting in and producing General Desdemona for the Edinburgh Fringe, developing and directing new work as the Associate Artistic Director of Collaboraction Theater Company, and receiving critical praise for his performances in several notable Chicago premieres, including The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis and The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow by Rolin Jones. He also co-created, produced, and starred in the independent pilot The Reynolds Influence, and worked in the production design department of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Recently Ian returned to Chicago to lead the independent feature In Memoriam.
Upon his arrival to LA, Ian broke into the theater scene by winning the LA
Weekly’s Best Director/Comedy Award for his work on the west coast premiere of
Fatboy, by John Clancy. In 2011 Ian became an Artistic Director of needtheater, a company “at the tip of the spear,” according to the LA Weekly, where he oversees all of the company’s production. He also independently produces and directs commercials, music videos, and short films through his production company, Stolen Shot Productions.
Terence Leclere (Galy Gay) — Terence Leclere is proud to be making his debut with Uranium Madhouse. Last year he played the lead in a Hot House workshop of Kyle Jarrow and Nathan Leigh’s new musical Big Money at the Pasadena Playhouse, got great reviews as Eytan in needtheater’s “Guided Consideration of a Lamentable Deed” and completed a year and a half run of a weekly live comedy show at the Lost Souls/Harlem Place Cafe in downtown LA. Select credits include “Silver Lake”, “Hollywood Je T’Aime”, “Land of the Lost”, “Finding Emo”, “Electric Spoofaloo” on Take180.com, NT workshops of “Look At The Trees” (Izzy) and “tempodyssey” (Dead Body Boy), and “Push” at Theater 40. Originally from Paris, France and New York, TL studied at the SUNY Purchase Acting Conservatory, and is a graduate of William Esper Studios in NY and The Second City Conservatory in LA.
Andrew Perez (Jesse)– Andrew Perez most recently played Lee Harvey Oswald in the West Coast premiere of Oswald at Write Act Rep in Hollywood. Other L.A. theatre credits include Darren in Mercury Fur at needtheater (Ovation nomination – ensemble acting). He spent six years in Chicago, where his favorite theatre credits include Zak/Jose in Sonia Flew at Steppenwolf and Curley in Of Mice and Men at Steep Theatre.
He recently played Henry in the suspense feature film Engagement, released by FilmBuff Summer 2012. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and the School at Steppenwolf. Thank you to his amazing parents & family, girlfriend Taylor and his agent Sid Levin.
Yolanda Seabourne (Widow Begbick) — Formerly with the Business and Legal Affairs Department at Vin Di Bona Productions, Yolanda Seabourne facilitated the launch of the licensing division for one of primetime’s longest running entertainment programs. Currently Director of Licensing for FishBowl Worldwide Media, Yolanda is responsible for licensing and strategic repurposing of television’s largest library of user-generated content for use across various platforms, including feature films, national commercials and new media. A graduate of the Theater Arts program at California State University, Fullerton, Yolanda currently studies with Andrew Utter at The Mother of Invention Acting School.
A founding member of Uranium Madhouse, Yolanda appeared in the company’s inaugural production in Charles Mee’s one-person show The House of Cards. Madhouse audiences will next see Yolanda as the lusty, entrepreneurial widow Leucadia Begbick in Uranium Madhouse’s sophomore presentation, A Man’s a Man.
Alex Sell (Polly)– Alex Sell is a native of Northern California where he has done a lot of regional theater. Favorite roles include Student 2 in Shakespeare’s R and J, Mundo in Eddie Mundo Edmundo, and Shep in the Chemistry of Change. Film work includes The Caller and Wolf Moon. You can see Alex in the online webisode series Looking for Grace. Alex is very pleased to be in his first Uranium Madhouse production.
Chris Wallinger (Jeriah Jip) – — Hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Christopher began acting at a young age on any stage that he could convince someone to put him in his small town. Performing in school plays and musicals as well as a Shakespearean touring company and community theaters, Christopher still wanted more. He decided to attend a performing arts high school in a small town in northern Michigan called Interlochen. From there he began moving around the country, and world, gathering as many varied styles of acting as he could while studying at such schools as Stella Adler Studios in New York; Northern Illinois University under Katherine Gately (who was trained by Sandy Meisner himself); and even at the Moscow Art Theatre, where he performed a lead role in Aristophanes’ “The Birds.” From there, Christopher moved to Chicago and contributed to the re-emergence of the venerated Organic Theater Company in 2006 as a Company Member. He performed with other companies as well, and could be seen in multiple commercials and print ads. Escaping the frigid winters, Christopher made the long trek out to the west coast. Since arriving in Los Angeles, he has expanded his credentials with national commercials and numerous short films.
More radioactive talent to follow! Stay tuned!
Yolanda recently posted this inspiring piece on her blog.
x- posted from House on Red Hill
It’s 5:47 am. At 1:30 am, I had just finished some blog surfing while K napped in his recliner. He awoke; put on his jacket and asked if I was ready to see The Rock.
Actually, I was ready to go to sleep. I had forgotten about The Rock.
Thanks for the Dwayne Johnson photo, David Shankbone
No, not that Rock, silly.
This rock, the future element of the piece of art that will be known as Levitating Mass.
If you don’t yet know, it’s a big rock, actually a 340 ton chunk of granite and it’s being moved from its once comfortable home in Riverside to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where it will be installed onto a 456 foot long slot. Apparently, the public will be able to walk under the rock and “experience the illusion that it is floating above them.” Thus the title, Levitating Mass.
We hatched the plan this evening while I was on my way home from work. I was stopped at a light when I saw that the traffic light on Wilshire Blvd. was being dismantled. Of course, I knew it was to make room for the passage of the Rock. I called K because I thought this tiny detail might interest him. That’s when he said he had been thinking we might go to see the Rock on the last leg of its journey. So near us, why not?
At about 8:30, it seemed like a good plan. Five hours and a martini later, mmm, maybe not so much. But K was determined and out the door we went.
It was fun – a bit of a carnival atmosphere. People were happy and in a good mood. Everybody was taking pictures. People brought their dogs. And you know, it was all about a big rock.
I don’t yet know how I’ll react to the experience of walking under the rock when the installation is completed. I actually know very little about the project other than the journey of this rock has been in the news all week. But this is what I’m taking away from the experience tonight: I feel inspired.
The artist, Michael Heizer has wanted to do this project for 40 years. First he had to find the right rock. And then he just had to come up with the 10 million dollars to do it. And someone had to plan a route for a giant piece of granite that would be transported on a truck the width of 3 lanes. And then the city (of LOS ANGELES! no less) had to dismantle all the traffic lights along its path for over 100 miles and it had to be driven at about 2 – 5 miles an hour for 9 days.
Most people, if they ever got such idea into their heads, would quickly come to their senses and say, “Naw, that’s never gonna happen.” But, I just saw it happen. I saw people cheering at seeing it happen.
Michael Heizer is an impressive artist. He has a reputation. He has a lot of support. But, his pieces are all about big stuff – big, giant stuff – big, giant Nazca Lines kind of stuff. It’s the kind of stuff that any reasonable person would say just can’t be done.
So . . . what project do you have in your life that you say you really want to get done but you haven’t done it yet because you have this excuse or that excuse? Maybe it’s too expensive. Maybe you don’t have time. Maybe it’s just not practical. But, your project, your dream, is it as impractical as dragging a 340-ton rock for over a 100 miles at the cost of over 10 million dollars? And do you have to take down miles’ worth of traffic lights in the most car-centric city in the country? And then, do you plan to devise the mechanics to float that 340-ton rock over the public? Probably not.
I have a theater company. It’s just starting out and right now there are only two of us doing pretty much all the producing work. Last year we produced our first show, 2 very small plays with 4 actors total, one of the actors being me. It was a modest endeavor but a good way to get our feet wet in the world of producing theater in Los Angeles. This year, we have a bigger project. Much bigger. It’s a full-length play in a new translation and a cast of over a dozen. The budget will likely be twice that of the first production. Sometimes, I think we’ve lost our minds, the director and I. I wonder how we’re going to pull it off. I get a little discouraged at times. The last show was so much work. I was exhausted day after day after day. There was never enough time and never enough sleep. I got discouraged then, too. I cried at rehearsals. I cried in my car. I wondered if we’d lost our minds thinking we could pull off this creation all on our own (and act in it too – all while building a house of cards).
And this year, bigger play, bigger budget. Surely, we’ve lost our minds again. Or soon will.
But, that’s not the kind of thinking that makes big stuff happen. That doesn’t get art made. That doesn’t get a giant rock carried a 100 miles. That doesn’t get the city to remove miles and miles of traffic signals. That doesn’t get the crowd cheering.
So, maybe we have lost our minds. And maybe Michael Heizer lost his mind a long time ago. But right now, he’s got a big rock sitting on the grounds at LACMA. And soon, we’ll have another play to be proud of. Better to lose our minds than our nerve.
I am delighted to announce the addition of a Costume Designer to the team for A Man’s A Man, Gwyneth Conaway-Benson. Gwyneth has the honor of designing in repertoire for the Rogue Artists’ Ensemble in Los Angeles, contributing also in puppet design for their company, and has been awarded an Ovation honor for the production D is for Dog. She costumed the world premier of Ryan Scott Oliver’s Jasper in Deadland, and has won several awards through the American College Theatre Festival, hosted by the Kennedy Center. Every year, Gwyneth acts as a cultural guide/translator for the National Partners of American Theatre in taking one national design awardee to Seoul, South Korea and has shown her portfolio at the Korea National University of the Arts. You can visit her website and check out her remarkable portfolio. We are delighted to have Gwyneth on board, and I am looking forward to bringing you an interview with her very soon.
Meet the composer who is setting Brecht’s lyrics to original music for our production.
So this past Saturday, the good people of Uranium Madhouse threw a fundraiser, gathering supporters for a few, spirited rounds of Balderdash. The first thing to note is that I won. I say this not only to shamelessly boast but also to assure all the other dramaturgs out there that our position as one of the nerdiest groups in all the land is secure thanks to my ability to come up with plausible-sounding definitions of obscure words.
The fundraiser was to support Uranium Madhouse’s upcoming, planned production of Bertolt Brecht’s A Man’s A Man. Not only did the event raise needed funds for what I promise will be a memorable theatrical production, it also provided some insight into the play itself. Because let me tell you this: there is no place more Brechtian in all of Los Angeles than Shakey’s Pizza in Hollywood, the location of our Balderdash bonanza.
“Brechtian” is an adjective that gets thrown around rather cavalierly in theater circles. It’s sort of like the way people use the word, “ironic.” But for me, a play that’s Brechtian is one that actively seeks to separate the audience from the story told on stage. It’s that feeling of alienation that causes an audience member to really investigate the ideas that are being put forth. I think it’s safe to say I felt a little alienated at Shakey’s. I’m not sure if it was when I first entered and, like the gentleman that I am, held the door for a transvestite prostitute arguing with what I presume was her john. Or perhaps it was when Balderdash wrapped up and the PA system we were using was quickly taken over for Spanish language karaoke. There was something performative about it all; something bizarre and scary (the trannie) and alluring (the karaoke, which I definitely would have participated in if I wasn’t so damn white). It felt alien. It felt like a good Brecht play.
Anyway, we ate (really bad) pizza. We played video games (the version of “Deal or No Deal” is surprisingly addictive). I won 80 bucks. It was lots of fun. Most importantly, it set the stage for a great play to come.