Blog

RECONSTRUCTING Impulse Threads: Then We Began To Weave

Reconstructing artists Marika Kent, Brenda Abbandandolo, and Kristen Sieh are collaborating on an Impulse Thread project to tease out the visual world of Reconstructing. Marika Kent shares a process update below: 

“We met with a shared desire to explore the tactile/visual world of Reconstructing. Brenda shared with us her recent experience in Mississippi at the Gee’s Bend Quilting Retreat. From salvaged bolts of muslin, loose fabric scraps and swatches, worn denim and retired bed sheets, we found traction in an intuitive, communal process that in itself could be called “reconstructing.” And while we perhaps approached coherency in articulating the thematic potency of a quilt (a durable object that preserves the character of its individual pieces, a crucible of American hand-craft and history, an insulator, a commodity, an art), it was the labor itself that brought us to the instinct to  design and steward costumes collectively, sew together, and as we do, evolve and iterate a sartorial methodology for our production that may also have scenic/sculptural applications.”

Posted by in Blog | Comments Off on RECONSTRUCTING Impulse Threads: Then We Began To Weave

(Re)Meet the TEAM: Our 2023 Sizzle Reel

Video edited by Kate Freer. Interview cinematography by Suz Murray Sadler. Produced by the TEAM.

A few of you have asked me who and what the TEAM is these days. It’s a great question, particularly after a couple years of transition—new producing team, shifting from a membership structure to a fluid collective model, growing our Petri program, evolving our RECONSTRUCTING producing practices, etc. We thought we’d try to offer an answer—one that feels resonant right now, even as the TEAM continues to grow and change: our 2023 TEAM sizzle reel. Watch our sizzle to (re)meet the TEAM (Reconstructing Video Designer Kate Freer did a beautiful job with the edit!) and see how we’ve grown over (almost) 19 years. And thenconsider joining the Builders Circle to keep us growing.

Thanks for staying curious,

Emma Orme, Producing Director

Posted by in Blog | Comments Off on (Re)Meet the TEAM: Our 2023 Sizzle Reel

Meet Sabine Decatur, New Associate Producer!

Helloo, TEAM community!

I’m nearing my official one month-iversary (wild!) as the TEAM’s first-ever full-time Associate Producer, so I wanted to take a moment to say hello and introduce myself to the TEAM community.

I’m an administrator, producer, and dramaturg coming to the TEAM after five years at Baltimore Center Stage, where I held a number of roles, including Special Artistic Coordinator, chair of the Antiracism & Anti-Oppression Committee, and Executive Chief of Staff. My theatrical path has also included independent producing (most recently demons at the Bushwick Starr), plenty of writing (check me out in American Theatre Magazine and Howlround!), and advocacy (I currently serve on the Advisory Council for Groundwater Arts, which aims to bring the arts and culture field towards a decolonized and climate-just future). I’m a Gemini, an Ohioan, a tap dancer, and a lover of cheap beer. And I was also recently named one of American Theatre Magazine’s Theater Workers to Know, so this introduction is well-timed!

I’m so, so thrilled to be joining this community at this moment. I’m a huge believer in the importance of joy, care, creativity, and play in the making of our work—my most used quote might be Lucille Clifton’s “We cannot create what we can’t imagine”— so the TEAM’s ethos of rigorous experimentation and human-centered process is right up my ideological alley. And as an eternally-curious nerd whose academic focus was at the intersection of Black history, performance studies, and interracial embodied empathy, RECONSTRUCTING is a dream first project on the job.

My first few weeks with the TEAM have taken me from our office in Brooklyn, all the way to Iowa City, where we participated in Hancher’s Infinite Dream Festival, and back. As I sit in my new NYC apartment among half-unpacked boxes, blank walls, and piles upon piles of books, I feel full of the possibility of this moment and just so so happy to be here. 

Sabine (sabine@theteamplays.org)

Posted by in Blog | Comments Off on Meet Sabine Decatur, New Associate Producer!

Announcing the 2023/2024 Petri Projects!

We’re thrilled to announce the 2023-2024 Petri Projects! This cycle’s projects are led by Eric Emauni, Brisa Areli Muñoz, Orion Johnstone with Nehemiah Luckett, Jermaine Rowe, Ahmad Simmons, and SB Tennent. Read more about their projects below.

MEMORIES IN LEAVES, LED BY ERIC EMAUNI

A new Afrofuturist Musical based on the life of Rachel Ross, a woman who, despite her circumstances (age, wealth, gender, race, and time), used the land she was gifted to lift up her family and her descendants. Memories in Leaves is an investigation of her will, the ancestral knowledge she carried and planted, and the future she dreamed of.

RISK HALLELUJAH, LED BY ORION JOHNSTONE WITH NEHEMIAH LUCKETT

An unapologetically Queer musical about Jesus!! // A ritual of healing-in-action through the stories and teachings of this radical anti-capitalist immigrant // A love song to Trans and Queer divinity in brazen defiance of Christian Supremacy and the Christian Right’s co-opting of the teachings of Christ

LIGHT CODES, LED BY BRISA ARELI MUÑOZ

Light Codes is an immersive spiritual performance with music that follows a Latine artist and their shaman as they traverse dimensions and timelines to decode intergalactic messages and reconnect with their soul’s purpose.

THE LEGEND OF THE ROLLING CALF: A DUPPY STORY, LED BY JERMAINE ROWE

In this new play with music devised from a Jamaican mythology, the recent death of D’sa could open up a portal for the souls of formerly enslaved people to access a new life. But the portal will only open if D’sa is transformed into a beast version of humanity: the rolling calf—the manifestation of unhealed family trauma. As D’sa attempts to stop this painful transformation, The Legend of the Rolling Calf asks the question: “Who deserves access to life?”

BUBBLES AND GERSHWIN, LED BY AHMAD SIMMONS

John Bubbles, the godfather of tap, and George Gershwin, the great composer, build the world premiere of Porgy & Bess through a series of private rehearsals. In this play with dance, we tell the unexamined story of how two great American masters of time, cut from different walks of life, forged a legacy that would long outlive either man. 

U + ME @ THE EDGE OF THE EARTH, LED BY SB TENNENT

A multimedia love story that traces America’s violent pursuit of happiness as memories of historical events, constructed/reconstructed by our collective psyche(s), come together to try and answer the question: What is true in love and history?

Support for the Petri Projects Program is provided by the Axe-Houghton Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Posted by in Blog | Comments Off on Announcing the 2023/2024 Petri Projects!

TICKETS TO MARCH 27 GALA NOW ON SALE!

Graphic by Nicole Dancel. Pictured (L to R): Vickie Washington, Maxwell Vice, Libby King
On Monday, March 27, join Emcee André De Shields to celebrate 18 years of the TEAM at 26 Bridge in DUMBO, Brooklyn. There will be performances by TEAM artists, delicious food, and plenty of drinks. (We’re adults now, after all.) If you’re interested in sponsoring a table or have further questions, please contact Producing Director Emma Orme at emma@theteamplays.org

Reserve your ticket for Petri Project AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU STAYED (IN.)

As part of the TEAM’s Petri Projects, we would love for you to join us for a workshop showing of Ema Zivkovic’s AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU STAYED (IN.) on June 3rd!

Written by Ema Zivkovic
Directed by Katie Spelman

Friday, June 3, 2022
7:30 PM – 9:00 PM EDT (arrive early for a complimentary beverage!)

Target Margin Theater
232 52nd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220

TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

This 45-minute evening of theatre will examine the experience of being a female-presenting, Eastern-European, queer immigrant performer in the US. What exactly is it to be untrained? Why is untrained considered unattractive? Through a mixture of movement, monologue, drag and sound, this piece will attempt to make the audience reconsider what ugly means to them. Define ugly.

What are Petri Projects?

The TEAM’s Petri Projects program was launched in 2017. Its goal is to foster a pipeline of inquiry and development into new work led by artists in our community. This program provides funding, rehearsal space, and producing support to seedlings of new plays. The Petri Projects are a laboratory in which artists receive support and also vital feedback that sheds light on the work’s integrity.

Support for the Petri Projects Program is provided by the Axe-Houghton Foundation and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Posted by in Blog, Petri Projects | Comments Off on Reserve your ticket for Petri Project AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU STAYED (IN.)

The Petri DISH Episode 5: Sarah Gallegos & Ema Zivkovic

In episode 5 of the Petri DISH, Sarah Gallegos interviews Ema Zivkovic on their new experimental work AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU STAYED (IN), which explores immigration, gender identity, body image, and more. Watch to learn how Croatia, Drag, and Ema’s phone notes inspire their artistic process.

To turn on video captions, click the button marked “CC.” For the full interview transcript please read below.

Sarah: Well, hello, Ema.

Ema: Hello.

Sarah: Cool. So I just have a few questions for you. I guess the first question is who are you and how are you connected to the TEAM?

Ema: Yes. So I’m Ema, Ema Zivkovic or Zivkovic. And I started working with the team a few years ago, initially for PRIMER FOR A FAILED SUPERPOWER through a workshop. And then I also worked with them on ANYTHING THAT GIVES OFF LIGHT and that was an amazing time. And that sort of kicked off sort of an on and off collaboration with the TEAM. And then I had this project and I was like, “Ooh, let’s work on this project.” And the TEAM said, yes. And yeah, it is just sort of been a company in New York that I’ve always had my eyes on and ears out for. Because I really respect the way the TEAM does have artists pay and administration and production and yeah. So here I am. Yeah.

Sarah: What exactly is the project that you’re working on with this?

Ema: So the project is called AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU STAYED (IN), which is the title that I chose after I ordered McDonald’s really late at night and that’s what it said on the bag. And I was like, you know what, why not? This seems like I want this. And it started off as a solo show and it premiered at the Humana Fest with Actors’ Theater of Louisville last year. Yes. Right? Yes. Last year. Wow. Time doesn’t make any sense anymore.

Sarah: It’s like a vortex.

Ema: I know. Was it this year or last year? No, it was this year. It was this year. Yeah. Wow. So premier online and then we had to do the film version because everything was remote. It was like a 12 minute condensed piece that I really tried to put a lot in, but like not too much, so it was sort of, it needs a lot of breath to it.

So now through the Petri Projects, I want to expand it, but not as in like add more information to it, but add like space and like focus and like breath to it. And it’s going to be in person obviously. Well, not obviously. It is going to be in person. And also that balancing whether it’s still going to be a solo show or whether I want to add more people, which I am very seriously considering. Yeah.

And it deals with a lot of different things. Like the experience of being an immigrant in the US, in the industry that we’re in, in the performance industry and a lot of it comes from my experience of course, but then also from the experiences of people who are close to me and people who have also moved to the US from a European country specifically, but also I really want to collaborate with as many people who have an immigrant experience, no matter where they’re from. And yeah. It deals with gender and body image. That’s something that I think about a lot, especially with casting in the film and theater industry. So it’s like a jumble of a lot of things that do come together somehow, but it’s part of the process to figure out how that happens on a stage. Yeah.

Sarah: Do you think you’re going to have any filmed elements brought into this new iteration?

Ema: I thought about that and I also thought about like, oh, I don’t know, do I throw away this, not throw away, but do I sort of put to the side of the film version and just maybe return to it later in the game, but then I have considered because there are some movement sections of it, the filmed ones, that I think would be cool if I got another mover to sort of mirror that on stage because then it’s like having another person on stage but it’s just on the screen. So, I am thinking about adding that but I’m also going to hire a sound designer so there’s someone who can really help me out with the tech-y aspects of sound because I have my music but I need help on that.

And also I’m doing a lot of research into drag, which is part of the project as well, and trying to go into sort of, like get a good grip on the history of it and how it relates to me and why I want to do drag and stuff like that. So I think the filmed aspect might be more towards the movement part of it. And as far as drag, maybe it’ll go into that as well as in the performance of it. Yeah. Because that’s like a good media as well to sort of lift things up. But yeah, that’s what I’m thinking.

Sarah: That’s great. That’s really cool. Can you describe your artistic process?

Ema: I love when people ask that. I know. I love when people ask that because I’m like, “Oh wow. I just go and go into my notes on my phone and figure out why I wrote down what I did at like different points in my life.” Yeah. The notes on my phone are like my main script. I think it’s because it’s so low commitment and I just write stuff down there in the moment and whether I’m super tired or super energetic or tipsy or whatever, I just put it in there and it’s usually horrible, but then there’s going to be like one among like 1500 that will be like, oh my gosh, that’s great. I’m brilliant. And then I sort of go from there. So that, and then I get a lot of material, it’s inspiration from poetry and that, and I love and plays that are sort of written in a nontraditional way, stream of consciousness type of stuff.

I really like sort of an unedited, of course it’s all edited, but like unedited feel to things and that’s sort of where I start. And then I go into like, okay, now you have to figure out is this a character? Is this you? As far as dance goes, with dance, I do really rely on poetry and sound and my inspirations. I love the company Batsheva, they’re amazing. Everyone should look them up. I won’t go into them but they’re amazing, just their quality of movement. They’re amazing. I love the poetry of Warsan Shire. She’s this incredible poet who talks a lot about the experience of being a refugee, an immigrant, about also women’s bodies and how they relate to each other through generations and stuff like that. So that has been helpful in this process specifically, sort of to be inspired by someone who’s so good at talking about all of this that I aspire to be one day. But yeah, that’s my process.

I don’t know if it’s a process more than just me living my life and being like, ah, I’m going to make something out of it. I went to Croatia, which is where I’m from, which has a big presence in this project, for almost three months this summer or summer slash fall. And I feel like that’s really, really important to my process because it gets so kind of crazy in New York. You can forget where you’re from and what you’re doing and why you’re doing the things you’re doing because everyone’s just like, “We’re here, we’re spending a lot of money on everything, and we have no time”, and you forget the rest of the world exists in very different ways. So that was important, and it’s important to regularly go back home to remind myself where I’m from and what has changed, what hasn’t changed, and stuff like that.

So, that is an essential part of the process that I have to remind myself to go back to. Yeah.

Sarah: Is English your first language?

Ema: No. So, I moved to America when I was 16 and I moved with my parents and my brother to Chicago. And then I went up to Sarah Lawrence to study and moved into the city afterwards. So it’s not, but I really, I did my best to get rid of my accent. That was like my huge goal because the obvious issues of wanting to not sound foreign, sadly. My brother didn’t do that. So he has a strong accent. So people think either one of us is faking it. So it’s like even the sound of my voice and the fact that now, I sound very American to everyone.

And even when I travel and when I go back, people are really surprised to know that I’m not American. That also creates this dissonance where it’s like, oh wait, wait, no, I am not, I’m not American. And I do consider myself sort of American as well because I’ve been here for a bit, but it’s like dealing with compartmentalizing stuff where it’s like, oh, it’s so easy to sort of forget the hard parts of moving across the world and the things that were lost in the process and the things that will come up with time and be like, Ooh, that was rough. Let’s explore that. But like, yeah.

So that’s, I don’t know. That’s a really long tangent, but language also is, I wanted to be a linguist for a bit when I was smaller, but then I was like, I can’t do everything. So I love languages and it is part of this piece as well. I want to put in a lot of Croatian into it since it’s also a language that people are not very familiar with. And to now go on for too long accessing the Balkan community in New York is a huge deal for me.

And I would love to do it as much as I can because the arts within the Balkan community are very much not emphasized and not encouraged among most people. And I genuinely know maybe like two Croatian artists in New York, which is insane. So I would love to be like, okay, we can do art. We can have communities. There’s so many different nationalities that have art communities in New York, but we don’t. So, that’s part of what I would love to start, not start. I’m not like this Messiah. I’m just like I would try and get it going so that we have sort of a center to go to as far as art goes. Yeah.

Sarah: When is your project going up?

Ema: It’s going to go up, I am thinking and that’s probably what’s going to happen, in the spring of 20, what is it, 22, 2022.

Sarah: Sometime inside of the vortex.

Ema: Yeah. So spring 2022, it will, probably, April-ish. It feels like a good time and I wanted to give it time to sort, for everything with the health crisis right now, to maybe get a little bit more solid in ways so that we don’t give anyone hopes up. So, that’s what is happening and I’ll keep everyone posted on all the social media and it’ll be a good time. It will be a good time.

Sarah: Awesome. Well, I look forward to seeing it, AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU STAYED (IN), Coming soon, 2022.

Ema: Yes. Thank you.

Sarah: You’re welcome. Yeah.

Posted by in Blog | Comments Off on The Petri DISH Episode 5: Sarah Gallegos & Ema Zivkovic

The Petri DISH Episode 4: Marika Kent, Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez & Ellpetha Tsivicos

In episode 4 of the Petri DISH, two-time Petri artists Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez and Ellpetha Tsivicos interview Marika Kent on her new project, BETTE IN THE DISTANT FUTUREPAST. This new disciplinary work is constructed from Marika’s archive of documents, photos, and oral history about her grandmother. Listen now to learn more!

To turn on video captions, click the button marked “CC.” For the full interview transcript please read below.

Marika: Hello

Camilo: Hi.

Ellpetha: Hi.

Camilo: Excited to be here with you today.

Marika: Same. Thanks for taking the time.

Ellpetha: Well, we love what we heard about your project, so we’re really excited to introduce the world to it.

Camilo: Well, why don’t we start, you introducing yourself?

Marika: Sure. My name is Marika Kent. I am a theater maker, primarily a lighting designer, and I’m working with the TEAM currently on RECONSTRUCTION (STILL WORKING BUT THE DEVIL MIGHT BE INSIDE). And so, that’s how I got keyed into the Petri Projects.

Camilo: Awesome.

Ellpetha: And what is your Petri Project?

Marika: Sure, of course. So, this is a great question. We’ll go background then foreground. So background, I’ve been engaged in this long on and again, and off again, family research project for myself personally. And recently, over the last year, year and a half, it’s been manifesting as a visual art album that I called BETTE IN THE DISTANT FUTUREPAST. And I found out a lot about my family in doing this research. And this is particularly on my matrilineal line, my mother’s mother. But the project BETTE IN THE DISTANT FUTUREPAST is, really the center of gravity is my grandmother, my mother’s mother. And it already exists in an online media form on a web page, where I’m adding images one-by-one until I feel as though this album is complete.

And then what I’m working on via the Petri Project is, thinking about how it might manifest somehow physically in space, which I think I’m not sure yet, but I’m starting with a gallery showing structure, but adding in installation elements like the sound and maybe sculpting the room and designing the room and thinking about how these pieces are presented, and what we hear and what it sits in, not just on the internet.

Ellpetha: I was going to say just from the little bits of images that I saw in-person, which were slides and photos, there are so many different ways to display. Like a slide is translucent. So light goes through it, and then it can be projected, whereas a photo is a flat image. And then I know you have other things too, I think some writing and stuff like that, especially because your background is in lighting, it can be such a cool installation of mobiles of the slides and walking into a future distant past memory thing. It’s such a cool, cool story. Do you want to share a little bit about the story of your grandmother?

Marika: Sure. I can tell you what I know about her. And perhaps, I should say first that she actually passed away before I was born. So I’ve never met her in person. Although, I do feel that throughout my life she’s been a very real presence and a thing that I know, a person I have a relationship to. But at the same time, I feel that that feeling I have about that relationship exists somewhere between ancestral memory and what I have inherited in my body, and also completely my own projection of who I imagined her to be, how my mother has described her and all these things. But in terms of what I know about her life, I know that she was born in Sacramento in probably 1925. And her ancestors were slaves and they migrated to Sacramento shortly after emancipation and stayed there. And then, she, around when she was 17 or 18 enlisted to join the military during World War II. She was part of the 6888 Battalion, which was the only battalion of African-American women to serve overseas in World War II, in Europe.

And so, she went to first England and then France. And then while they were in France, they traveled a couple of different places. And then after that, she came back to the States, went to UCLA for a year, presumably on the GI Bill. And then she ended up working in Liberia for, I think the better part of 10 years. And that’s where my mother was born and my uncle. And then she moved back to Monterey and lived there basically for the rest of her life. And some of these things were things I always knew and some of them were things I found out. I knew that she had served in the military my whole life, but it wasn’t until I started digging that I found out about which battalion and what she was doing there and all these things.

So, those are the touchstones of the story. And in fact, the project is in these three parts, starting with the battalion, going back in time to her origins in Sacramento, and then flashing forwards to her time in Monrovia. So, those are the three big chapters that I’m dealing with. And then again, the more I work on it, and the more I think about what I know, what I don’t know, what I project, and what I feel, the more I come to realize that this isn’t necessarily a telling of her story so much as it is scratching at this thing of that anytime we try to tell a story about the past, is in part, fiction. And so, I think fiction and things that didn’t happen to her also appear in the piece, as it stands now.

Camilo: It’s so interesting and like, there were both huge fans of grandma art in general. So, it’s definitely very…

Ellpetha: And just also the complexity of an American. It’s like Sacramento, an all African-American battalion in a war, female soldier, Liberia, and then Monterey. There’s so many crazy iconic things. What a story? And it’s really cool that you find these little markers in her life that open up access to more research. Like, when you discovered the battalion that she was in, and then you were like, “Oh my goodness, I can search this battalion.” And, she was there. I also remember you telling us about Liberia and everyone in the room was like, “Okay, none of us knew this about Liberia.” It’s so much information that is connected, but who would ever just think that all of those things are connected? So, it’s very, very cool.

Marika: Yeah. And I think too, as I’m bringing this and showing it more to other people and thinking more and more about how is this useful for anyone other than me to see? I think something that I have found about it that has a lot of potential energy in it is this thing of counter-narrative and alternate history. Because what I learned about Black history in school was a very clear and narrow narrative. And that I felt like everything I learned about my own family verged off that narrative. Like, some of the things you were just talking about and it always made me feel like it made my own family very hard to describe and explain to people, these different things.

But then, I think that is really common now. The more I talk about this project with other people, the more I hear other people be like, “Well, yeah, my family’s from here, but you have to understand about this and that. And then this happened and this person moved here and then this person was adopted.” And again, that goes back to how much of the past can we really speak to as fact because, if everyone’s narrative is a counter-narrative, then what is the narrative? Right. And I can feel myself be about to lose the thread of what I’m saying. But that’s one of the things I’m really interested in exploring with the work.

Camilo: I think, yeah, looking at the past is about having all those threads of narratives that you’re like, “You know what, I can’t actually connect this to anything, but I’m going to fill it in with my imagination.” So, what you were saying earlier about, some of it is just your own reflection based on your life and the things you learned about your families. Yeah.

Ellpetha: And it’s just the complexity that exists within one person and memory and nostalgia, and then like you’re saying counter-narrative. I think that’s something I think about also with my family, just like little traits I’ll see in my elders where I’ll be like, “I’m like that.” And then I’m like, “Maybe I’m not like that.” Or, maybe that’s just my own impression, but I’m sure in some of your research, there are things that you’ve seen and you’re like, “Oh, that’s like me.” And then there’s this sense of like, “Well, I’ve never met her. Is that really like me? Or, it’s me imposing it?” But sometimes you have to be like, “I’m sure there are things about me that were like her because I am part of her.” And I don’t know it just, every time you talk about it, it’s like I see this very vivid world. I can’t wait to walk into it, wherever it is. It’s going to be really beautiful. It already is. The story is so beautiful.

Marika: I appreciate that so much. Thank you.

Camilo: Is there anything else you’d love to share about either this project or anything else you got going on?

Marika: Only that I’m really enjoying working on it, and I’m really enjoying, sharing it with you now. And then with this group. All these Petri Projects are so cool and different and I didn’t expect to enjoy sharing with people. So, that’s a pleasant surprise and that’s it, onward into the future.

Ellpetha: Well, I think that’s great. And I think the Petri Projects are just a great opportunity for people to just explore things more deeply than maybe we never would’ve gotten the chance to do. So, it sounds like you’re doing great. And I don’t think we introduced ourselves, so if you’re wondering throughout this interview who we are. I’m Ellpetha.

Camilo: And I’m Camilo.

Ellpetha: And are also Petri artists.

Camilo: Yeah.

Ellpetha: So with that, thanks for watching. Thanks for sharing, Marika, and we can’t wait to watch you along this journey.

Marika: Oh, thanks.

Camilo: Yeah. Really excited.

Marika: Thank you for your questions.

Posted by in Blog, Petri Projects | Comments Off on The Petri DISH Episode 4: Marika Kent, Camilo Quiroz-Vazquez & Ellpetha Tsivicos

The Petri DISH Episode 3: Sarah Gallegos & James Harrison Monaco

In episode 3 of the Petri DISH, James Harrison Monaco interviews Sarah Gallegos on her new project, created in partnership with Brittany Coyne. ANNIVERSARY PLAY: A COMING OF THE NEXT AGE STORY is a new project that ignites a nuanced conversation on the grey areas of abortion, trauma, and preconceived notions of adult women in a patriarchal society.

To turn on video captions, click the button marked “CC.” For the full interview transcript please read below.

James: Cool. Hi, Sarah. How’s it going?

Sarah: It’s going pretty good. How are you?

James: I’m doing well. Are you in New York right now?

Sarah: I am. I am currently based in Harlem.

James: Okay, well hello from down in Brooklyn.

Sarah: Oh, Hey, there.

James: I’m happy that I get to interview about this project. I guess I’ll start, first I’ll start with the question that has been assigned. Which is can you just talk about who you are generally as an artist and however you wish to describe yourself and then what your connection to The TEAM is?

Sarah: Sure. That’s a large order. Well, I guess, no, I am a writer and a filmmaker. I came to the city in 2016 and interned at The TEAM, which is I guess how I personally became connected with them. However, I first learned of them – I saw ROOSEVELVIS at the Royal Court in the UK in 2015 and was obsessed. I really dug the way that they kind of created that show. I bought their anthology after I saw the show.

James: The 5 Plays one?

Sarah: Yes. I don’t know. I learned more about kind of the process and the way that they create work in a really democratic way. It just seems really radical. I was but a fledgling human at that point, but I was like this is the kind of thing I want to do.

James: What were you doing at the Royal Court? Why were you in the UK?

Sarah: Actually, I went to school in England. I studied acting at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts for three years and it was a great time.

James: Cool. Can you talk a little bit then about this, I’m interested both in this specific project and generally. Would you say that your writing and creative process has much relation directly to The TEAM style? Or do you feel like you work in a very different way?

Sarah: I would say that overall at this point in my life, I’m not doing a lot of group devising when it comes to generating material. However, I’m extremely interested in the concept of collaboration when it comes to the bigger picture. I think that the writing and as much as the acting and as much as the design is just like they’re all cogs in one huge kind of machine. Honestly, I think the audience are also part of that machine. I don’t know if machines the right word because that feels very industrial. I feel like it’s a little bit more holistic.

James: Yeah, like an organism. A multicellular organism.

Sarah: Yes, exactly. Anyway, I haven’t had the opportunity really to do much collaborative devising of material, but I really love the intersection that happens after the writings. I’ve been really lucky to work with quite a few wonderful theater companies in the city over the years on a more technical aspect. It’s been wonderful to kind of witness that type of collaboration happening during tech and seeing people’s wonderful and weird and crazy writing come off the page in a way that is inspiring.

James: Cool. Well speaking of the writing, rather than ask you to give the elevator pitch, I’m very intrigued, well I was intrigued hearing you both describe the project when we had the Petri Project meeting sometime in the past. Also the blurb that I have been received in particular. Do you mind if I read it right now and then ask you questions about it?

Sarah: Of course.

James: ANNIVERSARY PLAY. A COMING OF THE NEXT AGE STORY. Already thrilled by that title. That blurb then reads: “a new work about a woman on the brink of her 30th birthday, who teams up with her aborted fetus Dee in the biggest ghostbusting case of their lives. They set off to destroy a demon conjured by an early two thousands botched seance slash 13th birthday party, but end up confronting demons of their own. Through this work, Sarah and Brittany, [the creators],” that’s my parentheses, “want to ignite a nuanced conversation in the gray areas of abortion, trauma, and preconceived notions of adult women in a patriarchal society.”

Okay. My first question. One great blurb whoever wrote it in my opinion. Two, you described yourself as a writer and filmmaker. Are you thinking of it as strictly a theatrical work or strictly a film work or both or something, in what forms are you envisioning this project?

Sarah: I definitely think that this is a theatrical thing. The play itself is quite funny. I think, in my humble opinion.

James: Yeah, I get that sense.

Sarah: It’s very campy and it’s very kind of just a bit out there. I’m really fascinated by this idea of creating environment where it can also be very scary. That’s something I think that can really, I know that you can do that in film and stuff, but again I’m really fascinated by this idea of humans being in a room together exchanging energy. I think that there’s something to be said. I mean, the play itself is inspired by true events. I myself partook in a botched 13th birthday party slash seance. It’s very, I don’t know, I just think there’s something ethereal about sharing a space and how kind of spooky that can actually be in a real felt way. To answer your question, I do think that it’s really, I’m interested in seeing it theatrically.

James: Yeah. I mean, when you talk about it being quite funny and thinking about live space energy and seances. In terms of that speaks to me to some of what you’re were talking about earlier with the feeling of the collaborators, the writer, the performers, the audience, all of what’s happening in there. Something I was thinking about is one aspect of this subject matter. I mean it says right here, the conversation in the gray areas of abortion, trauma, and preconceived notions of adult women in a patriarchal society. There’s the humor and then there is seemingly pain, what many would at least conceive as painful subject matter and the word trauma is a word that you all have used. Can you talk about your interest in the gray areas and in the inner section of camp and humor with subject matter that is maybe not always treated with, that people might not obviously jump to camp and humor for that.

Sarah: Yeah, of course. I think that when we talk about trauma, so I’m going to take this back. Demons, that’s a big theme in my play is like demons. Something that I’m exploring, hypothesizing in this play is the idea of good demons versus bad demons and what it means to live with a demon and what it means to not want that. How do you go about exorcising those demon slash do you want to? When I think about, I think obviously we’re talking about demons in the literal sense, but also I think that there’s everyone has demons that they have that are like demons.

I guess I’m curious about that. I certainly have had things happen in my life that I’m like, wow, that was pretty bad, but things that have happened from that, I don’t know. I’m just curious to explore that. That’s what I mean by the nuance of that because I don’t necessarily think that a traumatic situation and I’m just speaking from my own personal perspective. I don’t necessarily think a traumatic experience is always going to be a hundred percent negative. I mean obviously, yes. I don’t know if I just talked in circles there.

James: No, no, no, that makes sense to me and speaks to the thing I think about a lot. George Elliott, she wrote something like, and I’m quoting it badly, but like: the evil things that happened to you, there are ways that they make you better but it doesn’t make them any less evil and it’s important to hold both. Your personal growth from an evil thing doesn’t excuse the evil thing or make it less evil. Anyway, that’s something I think about a lot.

Sarah: Yes, exactly.

James: It makes sense to me in what you’re saying.

Sarah: One of the things that I’m also very interested in kind of exploring in this is that it’s very… One of the characters, as you said, she basically lives with one of her demons. Her demon is her aborted fetus who is this kind of surreal, it’s a person that’s a character, a grown person. They live together and it’s like whatever. I don’t know, things happen or whatever but… Sorry, I lost my train of thought.

James: No, it’s okay.

Sarah: I got very excited and then, never mind. I don’t know what that was.

James: Totally fine.

Sarah: Yeah, never mind.

James: If you want to take a moment you can think about it or I can throw a different question your way.

Sarah: I guess another thing that I’m trying to explore is the idea, specifically we’re talking about abortion or just a woman’s sexual life. That’s something that I’m trying to kind of create in the world is that it’s not the issue. It is what it is. This demon that she lives with is this demon that she lives with and that’s its own interesting dynamic that has.

There are some really fun nuanced things with that. The demon itself is feeling unseen for the first time in the play, they’re seen by another person. Then that demon’s like, wow, I know what it’s like to feel seen and now I want to like. Anyway, there’s some interesting, but that’s beside the point. This person, this character who has this demon and that’s I think what I’m also really interested in exploring is that the fact that regardless of whatever this person did in her life, it doesn’t matter to the main point of her life. Does that make any sense?

James: It does make sense to me, yeah.

Sarah: I think that like on a grander scale, politically at this point right now, that’s something that I see. It’s an issue that’s frustrating to me because I see that happening and I’m like, why do we have to just be that? Why do women just have to be kind of portal for humanity? Can we be more? Anyway. That’s all.

James: Thank you. We’re at the time we’re supposed to wrap up. Was there anything else about this or about yourself or anything else you wanted to share before or wrapping?

Sarah: I don’t think so. No.

James: Okay, cool. Well thank you Sarah.

Sarah: Thank you.

James: Thanks The TEAM. Happy to have done this interview.

Sarah: Yeah. Fun times.

Posted by in Petri Projects | Comments Off on The Petri DISH Episode 3: Sarah Gallegos & James Harrison Monaco
The TEAM on Instagram
Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.
Follow